Friday Five: Football dominates Google’s year in search

Zone’s Ross Basham handpicks and shares the five best new stories on digital trends, experiences and technologies…

1. Football dominates Google’s year in search

The three top trending terms on Google UK this year were football related, with only one reference to Covid in the top 10. “Euros”, “Premier League” and “Christian Eriksen” — the Danish player who had a cardiac arrest on the pitch — were the top three, with “Covid vaccine” fourth. Covid had dominated last year’s list.

There were rises in queries about second-hand goods and sustainability, as well as searches for new trends such as nail art and ice-coffee recipes. Covid was never far from people’s minds though, with six of the top 10 searches beginning with “When” relating to lockdowns (two of the others were related to Love Island).

2. Why GSK has created a cross-functional team

GSK Consumer Healthcare’s global CMO, Tamara Rogers, says the pharmaceutical company is on a mission to break down silos within its organisation, using a central cross-functional team to ensure its brands remain “future-proof” and connected to the business’s core purpose of improving human life.

Rogers said brands in the company’s portfolio collaborate with this cross-functional team to ensure they deliver messages “with humanity”, and not “for humanity”. “We have an internal agency team with real marketing experts that work with our brand teams whenever they want to do a refresh in ‘brand heart’,” she said.

3. Instagram to bring back chronological feed

Instagram says it’s bringing back the chronological feed so users can easily see the most recent posts first and in the order in which they were shared. The Facebook-owned company ditched the feature in 2016 in favour of an algorithm-generated feed, which surfaces posts that it thinks you’ll like most.

The algorithmic feed will remain as an alternative viewing option, possibly with another style that it’s experimenting with called Favourites. Instagram’s decision to reintroduce a chronological feed mirrors a similar move made by Twitter in 2019, which brought it back as an option after widespread grumbling from users.

4. Virgin Media O2 completes gigabit upgrade

Virgin Media O2 says it’s completed an upgrade enabling gigabit speeds at all 15.5 million homes on its network. Gigabit broadband means speeds of over 1,000Mbps (megabits per second) — 20 times the average home connection speed. Reaching such speeds has been a government goal since an election pledge made in 2019.

Virgin says it has “single-handedly” delivered nearly two-thirds of the government goal. The scale of the rollout, which took two years, is “extremely impressive”, said an PP Foresight analyst. But Virgin had an easier task than other broadband providers, as it updated its systems to provide better performance on existing wires.

5. Tesla allows drivers to play games in motion

Tesla has updated its software allowing vehicle occupants to play video games on the centre touchscreen while in motion, raising questions about safety and driver distraction. Previously, video games were only playable while the vehicle was in park, but an over-the-air software update was pushed out in the summer.

A notification asks the player to confirm they aren’t the driver before launching the game, but the message is hardly a deterrent. A driver could easily tap “I AM A PASSENGER” and play a complex action game like Sky Force Reloaded while in motion. Needless to say, this is a very bad idea.

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