This Week’s Tech, Digital and Business News: 29 March – 1 April

In this week's tech, digital and business news, we look at exciting new features from Instagram, Google, Twitter and more in addition to other notable updates.

Top Tech, Digital & Business News from 29 March – 1 April 2021

Monday, 29 March 2021

Big 4 Banks Rolling Out Flood Relief Packages

ANZ, CBA, NAB and Westpac have announced special arrangements and relief support to their customers affected by the March 2021 floods. 16 areas were declared disaster zones as of 22 March.

Assistance includes credit card and loan relief, access to complimentary counselling, waiving fees for restructuring business loans, emergency accommodation for some product clients and many other options.

For more information:
anz.com.au/support/natural-disaster-support/
www.commbank.com.au/emergencyassistance
nab.com.au/disaster
Westpac Assist: 1800 067 497

JobKeeper has Officially Ended

JobKeeper officially ended at midnight on 28 March 2021, bringing lots of concern for employers and employees who relied on the $90 billion wage subsidy.

After 12 months of financial assistance, Aussie businesses who were receiving JobKeeper payments now have to choose to keep or cut employees.

While there have been estimates as to how widespread the impacts of JobKeeper ending will be felt, the federal and state governments are rolling out support for different industries. Such initiatives have already included travel vouchers and other grants in anticipation for the end of JobKeeper.

News Corp Announces New Hyperlocal News Technology

News Corp Australia has announced their two new news features, My News Feed and My Local. These features will allow users to personalise their news experience by filtering news by their postcode and by following individual journalists, topics and subtopics in their local areas.

Michael Miller, News Corp Australasia’s Executive Chairman, said My News Feed and My Local will help make it easier for audiences to filter and browse news stories that matter to them.

“These innovations deliver subscribers all the news they want, how they want and when they want seamlessly across all devices, whether it’s hyperlocal, state or international news.”

These new abilities aim to give users better access to relevant news important to them and make news a more cohesive experience. There is yet to be news on localised advertising through the platforms.

Tuesday, 30 March 2021

Instagram Testing New Advertising Feature for IGTV

Instagram will begin testing advertising on IGTV to share revenue with creators in Australia. The ads will appear when users click on IGTV videos in their feeds and can be up to 15 seconds long.

Creators will receive 55% of the revenue from the ad appearing on their content, with the social media giant already having tested the new ad feature in the US last year. Selected creators in Australia will receive the feature in the coming months.

When announcing the advertising test in Australia, Instagram said the IGTV ads, “Is part of our broader commitment to building a suite of tools to support creators’ various needs and ambitions, no matter who they are.”

Afterpay Announced New Digital Card to Tackle Untapped Industries

Afterpay has announced a new digital card, aimed at capturing new merchants, available for both Apple and Google Pay.

Afterpay Co-Founder Nick Molnar claims the new card will help Afterpay transition into the competitive BNPL markets and industries like healthcare.

“To be able to get the next generation to engage with the health they want and give them the flexibility to make the transaction when they may not have necessarily budgeted for the filling at the dentist is a really important part of our value proposition,” Molnar said.

“Afterpay users can split dental, skincare and cosmetic services, encouraging younger generations to use health providers more frequently. The millennial cohort is not using health providers as frequently as other generations have before.”

Applications for Amazon Launchpad Innovation Grant Now Open

The 2021 Launchpad Innovation Grant is now accepting applications from small businesses and startups. Finalists will virtually pitch their products to Amazon Australia HQ to have the chance to receive a $20,000 grant, Amazon advertising support, access to Amazon experts and more.

The Head of Launchpad at Amazon Australia, Chadd Ciccarelli, said Amazon has seen an increase of small businesses using eCommerce as a result of the pandemic.

“Amazon.com.au. sellers are an integral part of Amazon’s DNA, and have grown to more than 50 percent of paid units sold globally. By selling in our store, small businesses don’t need to invest in a physical store or the costs of customer discovery, acquisition, and driving customer traffic to their branded websites,” said Ciccarelli.

Businesses can apply at www.amazon.com.au/launchpad before 11:59pm AEST, 10 May.

Wednesday, 31 March 2021

Google Releasing New Live Maps AI Direction Feature

Google has announced a new AI indoor directions feature, called Live Views. The feature would place live in-map indicators to help users find their way indoors — such as airports, shopping centres, etc. — as well as options for more fuel efficient routes and more.

Select U.S. cities are currently receiving the feature for testing, with Tokyo and Zurich to also be added to the list. It’s expected the in-map AI direction features will be available in Australia in the coming months, with further features, like air quality and weather forecasts to be rolled out later this year.

The features will also give businesses with a Google My Business profile more features to engage with their community.

LinkedIn Developing Audio Rooms to Better Connect Users

LinkedIn has confirmed they’re developing an audio-based networking feature, giving users even more online global networking opportunities within the platform. A UX mockup of the feature showed audio room hosts would be able to be joined by multiple speakers with large audiences listening in.

The feature is currently in testing, with LinkedIn saying the feature has been created to respond to the growth of video engagement on the platform.

“We’re seeing nearly 50% growth in conversations on LinkedIn reflected in video shares, stories and posts on the platform,” LinkedIn shared.

“And, we’re looking at how we can bring audio to other parts of LinkedIn such as events and groups, to give our members even more ways to connect to their community.”

Twitter Rolling Out New Pre-Roll Video Ad Feature for More Precise Targeting

Twitter has announced new updates to its Amplify pre-roll video ads, allowing users to better target their ads through positioning and curated categories. An updated ad campaign setup and design is also said to be rolled out with the update.

The platform has said they hand select the publishers in each niche curated category, even as specific as a particular sport, light-hearted content or gaming personalities.

While the update will first be available in the United States, UK, Middle East, North Africa and Brazil in the next few weeks, it’s been said to roll out to more locations soon after.

Thursday, 1 April 2021

Major Google Ranking Update May Be Rolling Out Sooner Than May 2021

Google confirmed how they rank web pages will change with the Page Experience Algorithm Update in May 2021, which will impact all websites. However, Localsearch‘s Head of SEO, Mike Andrew, has found signs of the update rolling out sooner than expected.

To be prepared, Localsearch has advised businesses with websites need to ensure every part of every page addresses:

  • Ensuring content is placed well and answers the searcher’s intent completely.
  • Page speed is below 2.5 seconds.
  • Having visual stability within 0.1 milliseconds.

Anyone concerned about their website is being encouraged to contact Localsearch for a free website audit.

Google’s Stack App can Categorise Your Documents

Google’s latest experimental app, Stack, will use the company’s DocAI technology to give users the ability to analyse and categorise scanned documents.

After taking or importing a photo to the app, it will automatically place it into a “Stack,” which relates the document to its relative category. Users can scan receipts and the app will recognise the date and transaction amount, which you can search for later to easily find documents, without all the clutter.

Currently, Stack is only available for Android users in the US as it’s still in its early stages, but we’ll keep you updated when this technology becomes available in Australia.

Instagram Story Drafts are Coming Soon

Instagram announced last week that Stories drafts are coming soon. This feature will allow users to create Instagram Stories in the app and have the option to draft the stories to post at a later time.

The highly requested feature will make it easier for content creators to create stories and post at any time. It will also be useful for businesses wishing to post updates at the best times for their audience.

Currently, there is no set date for when the feature will be released, but it is expected to roll out soon.

Note: Friday is not included in this week’s news due to it being a public holiday.

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