Digital Marketing News Update – Changes at Spotify, More on Google Farmer and the Facebook Appeal


Google’s Farmer update

Google’s Farmer update has now been rolled out to all English speaking users following its U.S. roll out last month. And as predicted it has had some tweaks made to it to incorporate user feedback.


Ahead of it’s main update, Google launched a feature which allows users to block entire domains from their search results, for example if your results bring back several links from the same site and you’re not a fan then you can ask Google not to show you results from that site in the future.  While this added functionality seems to indicate that the Farmer update, which aimed to reduce results from low quality sites, is not entirely effective, it’s a great move towards users being better able to control and personalise their own search results.


Giving the power to the users is a great response from Google who were heavily criticised in the U.S. when some sites found their ranking in search results detrimentally affected by the algorithm update. Its like saying “ok we didn’t get it completely right, but why not fill in the gaps yourself”. A company of Google’s size can’t be all things to all people and neither should it try and if this recent update is the first of many more functions which enhance the user experience they’re intentions are certainly in the right place.


However their recent statement that went along with the Farmer roll out suggests that they will be using the data collected from “blocked” sites to further improve their ability to return high quality search results. This could mean that sites which are blocked regularly by users might find themselves suddenly falling off the radar altogether if Google decides that a significant percentage of users don’t find them helpful. Yet another blow to low quality sites who have found success in navigating around Google’s rating systems.


However, Google’s announcement of the blocking functionality carried with it the following quote “while we’re not currently using the domains people block as a signal in ranking, we’ll look at the data and see whether it would be useful as we continue to evaluate and improve our search results in the future.” Given this update is only a week old, Google appear to have incorporated this data already which begs the question whether enough time has passed for the data to be meaningful and actually provide some insight when assessing these sites.


Regardless of how this has come about, the message is clear; create good quality content and you’ve nothing to worry about. And of course no business should be relying on search engine results alone as a way to engage with their customers. And more power in the hands of the user can’t be a bad thing.

Editor: We’ve got some great stats on this that I’ll publish in the next few days. This is having a significant impact on a lot of people.

Spotify halves its free music allowance.

Earlier this week Spotify bosses announced drastic changes to its free service which has been met with some pretty strong views from its users. From the 1 May, users with a free account will only be able to listen to 10 hours of music a month, half of the current limit and the number of times you can play each song will be limited to five.


However this only applies to current users, new accounts will get six months of free content before the changes kick in which is likely to anger customers even more as not only is their loyalty not being rewarded but they’re actually being penalised.


The company have come under strong criticism from its users that the changes are a way to push customers to its premium services which will allow greater freedom on airtime and song choices as well as allowing users to listen to their music advert free. While bosses have denied this claim, there does appear to be a certain amount of sense to the move in light of recent developments around alternative cloud based music products.


It seems Spotify are now up against some stiff competition which threatens its previously unrivalled unique selling point and it must up its game in order to survive. However this is easier said than done, nobody likes change even if its necessary and the first comment on Spotify’s blog read “So long Spotify. It was nice knowing you. Guess I’ll go back to pirating music again then.” Does that say it all?

Editor: They’ve done this to placate the US music companies as they want to move into that market. Its not their fault but really a reflection of the music industries lack of ability to cope with change and accept that delivery models need to change.

Read the full statement on Spotify’s blog


Facebook appeal overturned.

And now something that put a smile on my face this week is the recent failed attempt by the Winklevoss twins to reopen the settlement deal made with Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg because apparently the original £42million payout wasn’t quite as much as they’d hoped for even though they accepted the offer back in 2008.


The appeal has of course been rejected and rightly or wrongly there is something strangely satisfying about the outcome for this over-privileged pair. My advice; change the record and lets all move on, it made for a great film which we all enjoyed but enough already.

Editor: 😉

Read the full story including the judge’s response to the appeal.

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