Friday Download: The power of social media, banner ads rise from the dead and WhatsApp goes corporate…

Last weekend, the sporting event that everyone was waiting for came and went, and millions of dollars were duly generated for all involved. But for a long time, a matchup between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor was thought to be impossible. So how – I hear you ask – did the fight come about?
It started with an Esquire story in 2015. When writer Chris Jones asked McGregor how he’d do in a scrap with Mayweather, he responded with his usual abundance of well-articulated confidence: “If I fought Floyd, I would kill him in less than 30 seconds”.

That quote went viral and it wasn’t long before McGregor and Mayweather started using their social media accounts to talk about a potential fight. Whenever they did, their fans went wild and so did the press. Exploiting social media and creating a deafening buzz of discussion meant that what started off as nothing snowballed into a monumental commercial success. It was a PR masterclass; a reminder that a powerful social media strategy can elevate an individual’s – or a company’s – fan base into something that’s more than just a guaranteed market, but an impassioned support group.


Like bodies from beyond the Wall (a Game of Thrones reference for those of you drawing a blank), banner ads have risen from the dead to assault us once more. After years of criticising sites that acquiesce to third-party ad software, BuzzFeed has announced it will host ads next to content on its site.

Placing in-depth current events coverage next to ads for lip gloss might seem like a step backward for a company that’s been working to establish itself as a reputable news source; however, if the rumours about BuzzFeed gearing up for IPO in 2018 are true, it makes sense that the company is welcoming the targeted ads that have driven the fortunes of Facebook and Google.

There’s a risk of course that visitors to the site (which currently loads over 2 seconds faster than competitor, Vice) will bounce away if the ads slow the load-time, but if it’s lucky, people won’t even notice. BuzzFeed says it’s been running tests of programmatic ads since last year without backlash from the community. So as long as those flashing, garish things from 2013 don’t return, things are set to run smoothly.

According to a post on its website, WhatsApp is experimenting with giving businesses verified accounts on the platform, displaying a green tick next to users when it has confirmed that the phone number associated with the account belongs to a business.

The move has been rumoured for some time and whilst it’s only currently available to a small number of businesses, we expect this to roll out a lot more widely in the very near future. After all, opening up the platform to businesses might be just the monetisation pipeline that WhatsApp’s been looking for.


  • Coming soon to Facebook Watch: sponsored shows – [DIGIDAY]
  • Instagram Stories are coming to the web – [TECH CRUNCH]
  • Celebrities are vanishing from social media to make a statement – [ENGADGET]



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