Without marketing strategy, the LUMAscape is one hand clapping

It’s difficult not to be awed by the LUMAscape, both in its growth rate and in the level of innovation that it represents. Consider this: in 2011, there were only 150 unique companies on the LUMAscape, in 2018 there are 7,000. And it’s not merely a matter of vendors throwing their hats into the ring to take advantage of a flush industry; these are enterprises on the cutting edge of Big Data, AI, machine-learning and programmatic technologies.

Click to enlarge

Clearly, this innovation has been a boon to marketers and publishers, and yet, to a large extent, it represents just one hand clapping, with the entire LUMAscape ecosystem focusing on marketing operations and execution. The people who are responsible for buying media have a great deal of technology and data at their disposal, but what about the marketing strategists, who are responsible for generating personas, campaign ideation and targeting? They have nothing like the level of tools enjoyed by the marketing orchestration team.

Marketing strategy is still created using old (in our field, it’s fair to consider them ancient) methodologies. Back in the 1950s, strategists relied on demographic data to build personas because it was both widely available and reliable. If women, aged 25 to 50, purchased this product from this brand, then other women with similar demographics are likely to exhibit the same behavior. The personas were beefed up with psycho-demographics, developed through consumer surveys.

And to be fair, these personas delivered good results, because there were few channels to reach consumers back then. If a family-friendly vacation brand wanted to reach every American family, it could reliably do so by purchasing a 30-second spot on Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom on Sunday evenings. Reach used to trump relevance.

The world looks nothing like that today. We now live in a world where there are infinite ways to reach a consumer, thanks to the explosion of digital and social, and the myriad ways for people to consume content. Yet the strategy is still dominantly based on demographics and psycho-demographics.

With both sides of marketing operating in vastly different worlds, a gap between strategy and execution is inevitable. When the media-buying team receives a marketing brief the first thing they need to do is interpret the marketing goals. With just segments based on generic demographic and behavioral data, they must translate the personas into actual segments they can target in the complex execution ecosystem. Not too long ago, I spoke with the head of marketing for a large brand. He told me his team received a 150-page report on their ideal “buyer personas” that didn’t match any syndicated audience segments, so they had to try to “translate” these personals into targetable segments based on their media buying platforms.

Is it any surprise that digital campaigns — designed to reach and engage consumers with ads that are groundbreaking in their creativity – fall short of expectations? The process is broken, and it is neither the strategy team’s nor the execution team’s fault. The problem is that the machine learning and artificial intelligence is being applied to marketing execution but doesn’t address the needs of the marketing strategist. Marketing strategists need the same level of audience segmentation and insights that are available to the marketing execution team.

Until the strategy side catches up, the inherent power of the execution ecosystem, represented by the LUMAscape, will be under-utilized. It will remain the equivalent of one hand clapping.


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.


About The Author

Tim Burke is CEO of Affinio, the marketing strategy platform that leverages the interest graph to understand today’s consumers. With over 12 years of experience in building companies and developing technology that solves some of the world’s hardest problems, Tim co-founded Affinio to mine the billions of relational network connections that exist within any given social audience to shed data-driven light on who each audience segment is and what they truly care most about. Tim, along with co-founder Stephen Hankinson, previously developed and successfully commercialized tether.com, the most commercially successful application of its kind, with over 300,000 paid users worldwide. From 2007-2013, Tim founded and led 26ones Inc. (formerly Quark Engineering and Development Inc.), an IP and product development engine. From 2000-2007, Tim held engineering R&D/design positions with Skillz Systems Inc., Innovation in Design Lab (Dalhousie University), Heidelberg, and Creare. Tim holds a Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical) from TUNS and a Masters of Engineering (Mechanical) from Carleton University.

Gravy’s ‘location data forensics’ seeks to identify, minimize fraud in programmatic bidstreams

Location intelligence company Gravy Analytics is introducing what it’s calling “location data forensics.” Its purpose is to filter out unreliable, inaccurate or fraudulent location data from the bidstream.

Location data often unreliable. Mobile ad exchange bid requests including location are often significantly more valuable than those without. That results in a lot of questionable location data being passed in the system. A publisher or app may pass questionable or fake location just to satisfy the bid request. According to Gravy CEO Jeff White, between 40 and 80 percent of bidstream location data it sees is either “fraudulent or suspicious.”

White added that the scale of the problem is largely unrecognized by advertisers and even the exchanges themselves. Location data is used for a widening array of marketing and analytics purposes: audience segmentation, offline attribution, proximity marketing, internal benchmarking and competitive intelligence, among still others.

Location accuracy matters more for some scenarios than others. For example, store-visitation attribution requires more precision than proximity marketing. And if you’re buying an audience of “auto intenders,” for example, you want the people who’ve actually been on car dealer lots in the past 30 days, and so on. The reliability of the data is critical — garbage in, garbage out.

Suppressing ‘anomalous’ location signals. There are lots of sources of location data that make their way into the bidstream: cell-tower triangulation, GPS, Wifi signals and other sources. Then there’s fraud and spoofed location. Gravy’s White says that the company is providing full transparency to its partners surrounding every location-data signal and source, which can be audited if desired. Its machine learning algorithms will separate valid signals from dubious ones. (Nearly all of Gravy’s competitors also say their proprietary technology ensures accurate location data.)

White says the system will help the company’s partners, including DSPs and DMPs, “suppress anomalous location signals.” He added that Gravy will start blacklisting publishers, apps, locations and devices that are found to be bad or inaccurate. These will be filtered automatically.

Why you should care. Location data is an increasingly critical (and controversial) component of mobile and programmatic advertising. Inaccuracy and fraud have plagued location in programmatic inventory since the beginning. Multiple companies have been seeking to educate marketers about the problem. With its new location data forensics, Gravy is trying to build more confidence in its and its programmatic partners’ location data sets.

This story first appeared on MarTech Today. For more on marketing technology, click here.


About The Author

Greg Sterling is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog, Screenwerk, about connecting the dots between digital media and real-world consumer behavior. He is also VP of Strategy and Insights for the Local Search Association. Follow him on Twitter or find him at Google+.

3 inspiring campaigns that remind brands to be human during the holidays

We’ve heard a lot lately that brands need to show empathy, that they need to make a “human connection” with consumers. While that has always been true, it’s recently become more important with consumer trust at a historic low. This development makes trust a vital trait for brands to build—more than one in three consumers rank “trust in brand” as among their top three reasons they shop at a particular retailer.

The holidays represent an unusually promising time for brands to show their human side. When it comes to branding, major American companies tend to focus a lot on the Super Bowl. Meanwhile, across the pond in the U.K., yuletide campaigns have long been valued as the best branding juncture on the calendar. During this moment in time when empathy and authenticity are seen as keys to branding success, U.S. marketers have an opportunity to reimagine their holiday season strategies as more inspirational and less transactional.

Sure, some leading U.S. brands have made a habit out of appealing to consumers’ humanity during the holidays. Take Lexus’ “December to Remember” tagline, which resonates with Americans like few other campaigns—in fact it’s the leading car name for brand awareness during the holidays. Budweiser has regularly had the Clydesdales in Christmas ads. And Coca-Cola practically made Santa Claus part of its logo for decades to tap into the holiday spirit.

There’s an opportunity for more U.S. marketers to adopt the holiday playbook. With that in mind, here are three campaigns from Europe that should inspire marketers everywhere to tell more empathetic stories during this season and in seasons to come.

The Tear-Jerker

Merkle launches bidding platform tailored for Amazon sponsored brand ads

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The brand storytelling genius of the Coca-Cola Santa

Images courtesy of Coca-Cola

Since 1995, Santa trades in his sleigh once a year for a Coca-Cola truck and tours the UK, sharing the soft drinks that have become closely associated with the winter holidays. This year, facing pressure from health advocates, Coca-Cola plans to scale back the campaign.

Controversy aside, the Christmas trucks are a prime example of brand purpose and messaging aligning. The brand, which encourages consumers to “share happiness,” enacts this same principle on tour – embodied by the festive Santa that adorns the modern sleighs.

Coca-Cola and Santa Claus have developed an effective “partnership” in a series of holiday ads that stretch through the better part of a century. The two are so close in the popular consciousness that many (falsely) attribute Santa’s modern appearance to the brand.

In truth, the Santa that we know and love didn’t spring fully-formed from a hat (or a Coke ad). Brought to the U.S. as St. Nicholas—a benefactor to the poor and sick — Santa Claus gradually took shape in our collective imagination through a decentralized evolution.

Building a snowy story world

Over the years, Santa has been depicted as a gaunt gift-giver armed with a birch rod—for disobedient children, a supporter of the Union during the Civil War, and as a George Washington-esque figure riding a broomstick. Fortunately, none of those stuck.

Writers like Washington Irving and Clement Moore helped fill in Santa’s backstory, while artists like Thomas Nast popularized the Christmas hero’s iconic red coat and white beard. Though each iteration was created independently, together they formed the Santa we know today.

By the 1920s—when he first appeared in a Coke ad—the Santa story world was already a robust collection of poems, songs, and images. Coca-Cola built their holiday advertising campaigns on this edifice, linking themselves to a story that already had a place in our hearts.

coca cola santa ad

While most brands won’t be lucky enough to tap into a ready-made story world that is so closely aligned with their brand purpose, Coca-Cola Santa can serve as a model for how such worlds are effectively built on — and where their greatest strengths lay.

More than milk and cookies

One of the most powerful aspects of the Santa story is its disruptive potential. While fully-formed stories do invite participation, when we are presented with an incomplete narrative we are more compelled to try and fill in the blanks — a phenomenon that drives empathic engagement.

We store Santa’s North Pole workshop, complete with Mrs. Claus, elves, and reindeer, snugly in our memories. The story is enriched by our personal experiences with the characters — and holidays past. Santa is thus never just a jolly elf; he calls us back to his world in its entirety.

Each time we see a Santa ad, we fit it into our own Santa — and Coca-Cola — story. In broad strokes, we know how the narrative begins and ends, but the colorful details (think a hungry Santa raiding the fridge) renew the story for us and draw us in again year after year.

Even Santa loves a bit of drama

Kris Kringle sits at the center of a story world that is well suited to brand messaging. The emphasis on sharing joy is not only a fortuitous partner to Coca-Cola’s brand purpose; it is at the heart of a compelling narrative structure that engages and informs.

The most effective stories are simple, clear, and dynamic; the contrast between beginning and end create a dramatic tension that encourages the reader to move from one to the other, while the middle offers a clear roadmap from a suboptimal present to a brighter future.

Christmas songs and storybooks teach children that if they behave well — if they share in the holiday spirit — they will be rewarded. As adults, we no longer think of this as a quid-pro-quo, but the essential message (really the Golden Rule) still resonates with us.

Transportation to a winter wonderland

As kids, we all participated in the Santa story as recipients (if we were good); as adults, we keep the story alive by assuming the role of gift-givers. Just as we enact the story in our own lives, we can see ourselves in the Santa that adorns Coca-Cola cans and ads every Winter.

Research has shown that this narrative immersion, which is triggered by dramatic tension, is driven by a measurable increase in the production of oxytocin, the neurotransmitter responsible for building empathic bonds and encouraging prosocial behavior.

The same neurological infrastructure that allows us to bond with our favorite characters in movies supports our struggle to enact the Santa story in our own lives. Oxytocin brings us into the story world and helps impress the values of kindness and generosity the tale imparts.

Not just nostalgia, it’s science

Every year we add to our personal Santa story, and Coke’s ubiquitous ads ensure that the brand plays at least a small role. These stories are cumulative and, adages aside, familiarity breeds fondness — the older we get, the more these stories mean to us.

Known as the mere exposure effect, even the grinchiest among us become fonder of the Santa story — and ads — over time; the same effect is what lodges that annoying pop song in our head and, after a few dozen listens, convinces us that we like it.

Though it seems obvious, it is important to note that at the heart of Coca-Cola’s strategy is their association with the story of Santa Claus. This goes beyond the symbolic linkage of purpose, or the fond memories it may call back: the relationship makes us feel better about Coke.

Known as the halo effect, the more that we associate Coca Cola with Santa (and we do), the more that our feelings about Santa (and the holidays) will inform our perception of the brand — a link Coca Cola encourages in their holiday ads (Taste the Feeling).

The Santa story sticks; yours should too

It is no surprise that the Santa story leverages so many narrative and behavioral principles. After all, it has become one of the most popular narratives among children and adults alike. It is difficult to imagine a world in which Santa isn’t ubiquitous but, even a century ago, he wasn’t.

The Santa story features a clear and compelling narrative arc; a plot that leverages the neurological infrastructure of empathy. Developed over decades with the input of countless writers, artists, and oral storytellers, the distinct pieces came together into the story we know.

Coca-Cola made excellent use of the similarity between their brand purpose and Santa’s and developed a close association between the festive figure and their products. In doing so, they were able to reflect some of the holiday cheer he elicits onto their messaging.

Both the Santa story and Coca-Cola’s ads apply behavioral and psychological principles that have been used for millennia to make stories stick. Modern research has begun to define, if not understand, these tools, which can be used to craft impactful content of all kinds.

The cynics among us may decry the appropriation of a heartwarming symbol for the sale of soft drinks, but smart marketers will see in the Coca-Cola Santa the well-executed transformation of a complex but powerful story world into a refreshingly clear branded narrative.


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.


About The Author

Peter Minnium is President of Ipsos Connect, where he leads the US team in helping companies measure and amplify how media, brands, and consumers connect through compelling content and great communications. Prior to his switch to market research, Peter was Head of Brand Initiatives at the IAB focused on addressing the under-representation of creative brand advertising online.

How to Lower Your Facebook Ad Spend

social media how toDo you want to reduce your Facebook ad costs? Wondering how to spend less to convert cold audiences?

In this article, you’ll find four tips for reducing the cost of acquiring and converting new customers with Facebook ads.

How to Lower Your Facebook Ad Spend by Brad Smith on Social Media Examiner.
How to Lower Your Facebook Ad Spend by Brad Smith on Social Media Examiner.

#1: Use Relevance Score to Optimize for Message Match

AdWords has a quality score to control ad performance. A higher-quality score results in a better ad position with a lower CPC (cost per click). As far back as 2016, analysis from Jacob Baadsgaard showed that a 1-point quality score increase can drop your cost per conversion by 13%.

Similarly, Facebook has a relevance score that performs largely the same function. And, in 2017, AdEspresso found strikingly similar results, where a higher relevance score meant a lower CPC.

So how do you work toward a good relevance score?

First, create a Facebook sales funnel with top-of-funnel (TOFU), middle-of-funnel (MOFU), and bottom-of-funnel (BOFU) campaigns. It’s the same inbound marketing playbook but applied to ad campaigns.

Second, build audiences around each of these three goals. We’ll dive deep into audiences in the next section, but suffice it to say that retargeting campaigns will make up your MOFU and BOFU campaigns, while lookalikes should make up your TOFU campaigns.

Option to create a Custom Audience, a Lookalike Audience, or Saved Audience in Facebook.

Third, organize individual Facebook campaigns around message match so that the audience, creative, and offer align perfectly.

Pulling these three items together can drastically reduce your content promotion costs.

The image below shows the difference between targeting a generic, saved, cold audience (on the right), and a lookalike audience created specifically for the campaign (on the left).

Example comparison of Facebook ad results between a generic, saved, cold audience and a lookalike audience.

The CPC for the cold audience was $0.477 (which actually isn’t terrible) but it dropped to only $0.125 for the lookalike. That’s a 74% cost decrease! If your budget is $1,000, that means you’re getting almost 4X as many visits.

Learn how to improve your Facebook ads relevance score.

Choose Ad Content Carefully

Better content will perform better—it’s as simple as that. Content engagement will be better on-site, and promotional costs will be less off-site.

As evidence, below are the results from three Facebook TOFU content campaigns targeted to similar audiences, with similar ad creatives and placements, yet CPC differs significantly among the three campaigns. It’s $0.17 per click on the low end and $0.82 on the high end.

Example of CPC results from several TOFU Facebook ad campaigns.

So yes, you should follow the suggestions above but don’t lose sight of the fact that better content will be the underlying force that drives results, more than split testing a few creatives or placements.

The three campaigns above consisted of a long-tail keyword post (B2B Marketing Ideas), an in-depth case study (Content Writing Services), and a first-person contrarian post. Guess which campaign won? The first-person one that recounted painful lessons with a contrarian angle.

The other two are good for different things. They can help you drive search traffic over the long-term and emphasize your value to new leads who are on the fence.

#2: Base Top-of-Funnel Cold Audience Outreach on Current Customer Details

Big brands or high-volume sites can easily create lookalikes from past visitors or customers. Smaller, boutique sites don’t have the same luxury.

So instead, grab an email list of all of your decent leads and clients, and upload it to Facebook. Then create a lookalike of 1% based on this list, plus a few more lookalikes for site visits and Facebook post engagements. That will give you a good-sized TOFU audience.

Option to create a 1% Lookalike audience for your Facebook ads.

To take this a step further, run Facebook video ads and then build a video view audience for a few cents per view.

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Option to create a Facebook ad custom audience of people who watched a portion of your video.

Now reaching enough leads isn’t the problem; qualifying them is. You’re trying to reach a bunch of targeted yet random people in hopes of sparking interest. In short, you’ll spend a lot on TOFU content distribution but it’ll pay off in the next section.

Learn four ways to build Facebook lookalike audiences to expand your targeting.

#3: Split Test Ad Creative to Reduce CPC

Facebook ad campaign performance will likely start sliding after a few weeks due to simple ad fatigue. Frequency begins creeping up so your ads stop cutting through the noise. This is especially true if you’re running evergreen content campaigns over and over again.

Fortunately, the fix is pretty easy: You have to spend time creating images. I’ve found that when you’re promoting stuff on social media, simple images get higher click-through rates (CTRs). Two years ago, I would have put text and a CTA on the image, but now I tend to do the opposite. The simpler the image, the better it performs.

And there’s no single winner for ad creative, either. So instead of chasing some mythical best practice, get in the habit of routinely split testing many variations. No, not A/B tests. Those often don’t work. Test big changes.

For example, we tested a custom image, regular featured image, and a video commercial for the same post. The results varied widely. The custom image performed best with a $0.571 CPC, while the featured blog post image (which almost everyone uses as their default social image) performed worst at over $1.00 per click.

Example Facebook ad results of a split test between a custom image, a featured image, and a video commercial for a post.

We repeated the test with another campaign, and this time, the video outperformed the custom image by about $0.30.

What’s the point? Big changes lead to big improvements in performance or decreases in cost.

Learn how to use Facebook’s Dynamic Creative feature to reveal the optimal ad for your audience.

#4: Split Test Ad Placements to Optimize for CPC

The news feed and right column ad placements on desktop devices are prime real estate for us. They convert well, which makes them great for our MOFU and BOFU campaigns and terrible for TOFU ones. But you’ll need to test Facebook ad placements for yourself to see what works best for your business.

I know these placements work for us because I have the data. I ran the same content ad creative on mobile vs. desktop, and got about a $1 per click difference, which is massive. And these results were basically repeated in every test we ran. Mobile-based placements all generated low CPC.

Comparison between Facebook ad results between placement on Mobile + Messenger Home vs. Desktop Feed + Right Column.

The best part is that mobile placements work perfectly for TOFU content-based promotion. Remember, the goal here is to build retargeting audiences of people who engage with your ads and click over to your website. You don’t necessarily care about exit or opt-in rates at this point. That will come later. For now, you’re just trying to maximize results for ad spend with real prospects.

Learn how to run Facebook split tests that identify which ad placements give you the best results.

Conclusion

A Facebook sales funnel means you’re using multiple campaigns to drive those first few initial micro-conversions (e.g., opt-ins and form fills).

Unbounce recently tweeted a Facebook CPC benchmark stat from Veronica Romney:

Unbounce tweet from August 28, 2018 noting Average CPC on Facebook is $1.72, per @VRomney at #CTAConf.

With a $1.72 average CPC, your ability to consistently drive new leads will eventually hit a budget cap. Fortunately, you don’t have to be stuck with those CPCs. If you use the tips above to build real, engaged audiences, it will pay dividends lower in the funnel.

This is also where you can get more aggressive, focusing on mobile lead ads, or news feed and right column placements. In general, these will cost you more but better audience targeting throughout this entire process means your CPCs shouldn’t increase too drastically.

What do you think? Which of these tactics for lowering Facebook ad spend will you try first? Do you have any tips to add? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

More articles on Facebook advertising:

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Find four tips for reducing the cost of acquiring and converting new customers with Facebook ads.

Online shopping revenues will reach $126 billion by December 31, says Adobe

The Saturday before Christmas is known as either “Super Saturday” or “Panic Saturday,” depending on your perspective, and it should see higher retail foot traffic than Black Friday, according to location intelligence firm, Cuebiq. By the same token, online revenues are soaring and will continue to set records this year according to Adobe Analytics, which measures transactions from 80 of the top 100 U.S. online retailers

Super Saturday outpaces Black Friday in store visits. Cuebiq analyzed 2017 holiday visitation patterns for major U.S. retail chains, including Target, Walmart, JC Penney, Macy’s, Kohl’s and others. The company found that these retailers actually saw more store visits the Saturday before Christmas than on Black Friday, which is popularly seen as the high water mark for in-store holiday shopping. In 2017, Black Friday actually had about 83 percent of Super Saturday store visits.

Now is also the time when many people shift their focus back to stores because of online-shipping times. For that reason, many people will take advantage of Buy Online Pick Up In-Store (BOPIS) where it exists. Adobe said that BOPIS shopping is up 47 percent year-over-year.

At least $126 billion. Adobe also reported that as of December 19, U.S. consumers had spent almost $111 billion online, during the holiday period, which beat 2017 online sales to that point by nearly $17 billion. And when the wrapping paper finally settles, the period from November 1 to December 31 will emerge as the “biggest online shopping period of all time” — coming in at least $126 billion according to Adobe’s forecast.

Mobile devices (smartphones, tablets) have so far been responsible for roughly 58 percent of site visits and about 39 percent of purchases. Just over $33 billion in sales have been generated by smartphones alone, which represents a 57 percent year-over-year increase.

Direct navigation the top channel. The following are the top channels for online revenue according to Adobe:

  • Direct site traffic — 27 percent
  • Paid search — 25 percent
  • Organic search — 21 percent
  • Email — 20 percent
  • Social media — less than 2 percent

Why should you care. Even as online shopping has surged to new levels, gone are the days of “online vs. offline” as consumer shopping patters and the customer journey have become more complex and multifaceted. More than ever online and offline shopping are interconnected.

As the data above also make clear, there are relatively distinct phases to holiday shopping, likely connected to customer personas. Retailers need to clearly understand their customers and these patterns, and manage the timing of their marketing spend, messaging and channels accordingly.


About The Author

Greg Sterling is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog, Screenwerk, about connecting the dots between digital media and real-world consumer behavior. He is also VP of Strategy and Insights for the Local Search Association. Follow him on Twitter or find him at Google+.

Instagram and LinkedIn Rising: How Social Media Marketing Changed in 2018

social media researchWelcome to this week’s edition of the Social Media Marketing Talk Show, a news show for marketers who want to stay on the leading edge of social media.

Join us for this special “year in review” episode of the Social Media Marketing Talk Show, where we explore the major Instagram and LinkedIn marketing news of 2018.

Our special guests this week include Tyler J. McCall discussing IGTV, Instagram shopping tools, and new Stories features. Viveka von Rosen and AJ Wilcox examine this year’s updates from LinkedIn.

Watch the Social Media Marketing Talk Show

If you’re new to the show, click on the green “Watch replay” button below and sign in or register to watch our latest episode from Friday, December 21, 2018. You can also listen to the show as an audio podcast, found on iTunes/Apple Podcast, Android, Google Play, Stitcher, and RSS.

For this week’s top stories, you’ll find timestamps below that allow you to fast-forward in the replay above.

Instagram Introduced IGTV: On the June 22 and September 7 broadcasts of the show, we discussed the rollout and expansion of IGTV, a new Instagram app designed for watching long-form, full-screen vertical videos from your favorite creators. (4:30)

It’s a big day for Instagram. We’re launching IGTV — a new app designed for watching and creating video on your phone. The experience is native to mobile, with full-screen vertical videos, and the videos can be longer, not just short clips. It’s built on Instagram, so you’re already connected with your friends and favorite Instagram stars from the start. We also announced today that Instagram has reached 1 billion people. There are few products this widely used — congrats Kevin, team, and the whole community who use Instagram every day to inspire, educate and entertain each other. I’m excited to see the new ways all of you will use IGTV.

Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Two months later, TechCrunch reported that the long-form video hub experienced a slow start and was difficult to adopt when compared to other features like Stories. According to TechCrunch, six of the feature’s launch partner creators’ “recent feed videos are getting roughly 6.8X as many views as their IGTV posts.”

For IGTV, Instagram needs slow to mean steady https://t.co/jxDx2WOmog by @joshconstinepic.twitter.com/6NWFHChjit

— TechCrunch (@TechCrunch) August 25, 2018

Instagram Rolled Out More Robust Shopping Features: On the September 21 broadcast of the show, we explored two new ways Instagram is making it easier to shop directly from the app. These include expanding Shopping in Stories and testing a new shopping channel in Explore. Instagram began testing Shopping in Stories in June 2018 and began rolling it out globally to 46 countries earlier this year. (10:39)

Instagram began testing Shopping in Stories in June 2018 and is now rolling it out globally to 46 countries.

The new Shopping channel in Explore features content that’s specifically tailored to a user’s style, tastes, and interests. It will feature brands users already follow and brands they might like. At the time, Instagram announced that the Shopping channel in Explore was being tested and expected to roll out globally over the “coming weeks.”

The new Shopping Channel in Explore will feature content that's specifically tailored to a user's style, tastes, and interests.

Instagram Shared Algorithm: In June 2018, Instagram shared which factors are weighed by its algorithm to decide which posts appear in a user’s personal feed. On the June 8 broadcast of the show, we examined the three main considerations used by the platform for determining what to surface in the Instagram feed. These include interest, recency, and relationship. Instagram also addressed several “myths” about how it ranks content. (14:27)

How Instagram’s algorithm works https://t.co/Fmg15ZK2Qc by @joshconstinepic.twitter.com/loqDIhuQx8

— TechCrunch (@TechCrunch) June 1, 2018

Instagram Tests Exclusive Creator Accounts: Instagram is testing exclusive creator accounts with a “small group” of high-profile influencers. The tools are tailored just for influencers and include growth insights such as data around follows and unfollows, direct messaging tools that allow users to filter notes from brand partners and friends, and flexible labels that allow users to designate how they want to be contacted. (17:56)

Exclusive: @instagram testing creator accounts with direct message filters, growth insights https://t.co/u3hiv4kH0Hpic.twitter.com/uuQjBGbSfI

— Hollywood Reporter (@THR) December 11, 2018

Instagram Rolls Out Interactive Countdown Clock Sticker for Stories: Instagram introduced a new interactive countdown clock sticker for Stories. Users have the option to select the date and time for their countdown clock and the ability to customize the message and color of the sticker. Their followers can then opt to receive reminders about the countdown or share it with their own audience on Instagram Stories. (22:08)

I love the new Countdown sticker on @instagram – can think of so many fun ways to use it for brands. pic.twitter.com/R4GgWUHpeT

— Geoff D. 😎 (@Geoffdx) December 13, 2018

Instagram Expands Question Stickers: Instagram added more versatility to its question stickers for Stories. Instagram Stories users can now respond to questions with music. Question stickers are also coming to Instagram Live videos to help better organize Q&As and streamline the conversation on-screen. (23:58)

Instagram Stories’ question stickers can now be used to share music https://t.co/L4jyS5y61Dpic.twitter.com/gDiLnenccb

— The Verge (@verge) December 19, 2018

LinkedIn Updated Personal Profiles and Company Pages: On the April 13 broadcast of the show, we reviewed LinkedIn’s new look for personal profiles with our guest, Viveka von Rosen. LinkedIn added more details and connection information to the headers of members’ personal profiles. Some of the updates included a shift in the profile image placement that may affect the background image, a new Contact menu to the right, an extended Summary section, and more. (39:55)

LinkedIn added more details and connection information to the headers on members' personal profiles.

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In November, LinkedIn announced it rebuilt company pages “from the ground up” and began rolling out the new experience in the U.S., with plans to expand globally in the following weeks. On the November 16 broadcast of the show, we explored each of the new tools and features now available on LinkedIn’s company pages. These include the Content Suggestions tool for page admins, a suite of tools that help businesses better engage employees on the platform, and more advanced analytics.

LinkedIn Relaunched Groups: On the August 24 and September 28 broadcasts of the show, we discussed the newly rebuilt LinkedIn Groups, which now offers more dynamic conversations with embeddable videos; multiple images; and other rich media in posts, alerts, and much more. The new LinkedIn Groups experience was released across mobile and desktop in September. LinkedIn stated that all groups should have been migrated to the new experience. (42:44)

LinkedIn rebuilt LinkedIn Groups from the group up and began re-releasing it across mobile and desktop earlier this month.

LinkedIn Introduces Video Captions, Articles Quotes, Translations, and More: On the July 20 broadcast of the show, we broke down each of the several new improvements LinkedIn rolled out to help members start conversations on the platform. These new features included the option to add closed captioning to videos posted from the desktop, as well as the ability to easily highlight and share quotes from LinkedIn articles and save drafts of posts to edit and complete later on mobile. (48:01)

LinkedIn members now have the option to add closed captioning to their videos uploaded to the platform.

LinkedIn also rolled out a new Me tab, which offers a “quick and easy” shortcut to all of the content members have shared, written, or recorded for the site.

Linked is also rolling out a quick and easy shortcut for users to access all of the content they have shared, written, or recorded on the site with the new Me tab.

On the November 30 broadcast, we noted that LinkedIn is currently in the process of rolling out a revamped Share box, with completion expected in the coming weeks. The new Share box makes it easier for users to select the audience for each of their posts: public, connections only, or to specific groups.

LinkedIn Rolled Out Several New Updates to LinkedIn Messaging: In addition to improvements to LinkedIn’s news feed posts, the company also debuted several new features to LinkedIn Messaging on mobile. On the July 20 broadcast of the show, we also covered the platform’s new expandable message Compose box, and the ability to send attachments and start a group chat on LinkedIn Messaging. (48:16)

LinkedIn rolls out updates to LinkedIn Messaging.

LinkedIn also added the option to include emojis in messages sent from the desktop, @mention people, and seamlessly copy and paste images from screenshots or the web into your LinkedIn messages.

This past April, LinkedIn partnered with Google-owned Tenor to integrate GIFs directly into LinkedIn’s Messaging platform. On the April 13 broadcast, we discussed how members can quickly and easily search for GIFs within the messaging text field and send them on the spot. The GIFs feature in LinkedIn Messaging began rolling out to all users several months ago and should now be available globally.

LinkedIn and Google-owned Tenor partnered to integrate GIFs directly into LinkedIn's Messaging platform.

LinkedIn added the ability to share a location to meet up with 1st-degree connections directly in LinkedIn Messaging. This new feature began rolling out to all mobile users on both the iOS or Android at the end of November 2018.

LinkedIn announced a new addition to its messaging functionality which enables users to share their location, or a location nearby, to meet up.

LinkedIn Began Testing Events Tool for Offline Meetups: On the November 16 broadcast of the show, we shared that LinkedIn is experimenting with a new Events feature that works very similarly to Facebook Events. With LinkedIn Events, members will be able to seamlessly create and join professional events, invite their connections, have conversations with other attendees, and stay in touch online after the event ends. LinkedIn is currently testing this new feature as part of a pilot program with 500 event organizers in New York and San Francisco. (51:29)

LinkedIn Overhauls Campaign Manager and Introduced Several New Ad Products: In July 2018, LinkedIn released a newly redesigned Campaign Manager interface and reporting experience that makes it “easier to understand how your campaigns are performing and quickly optimize for better results.” On the August 3rd broadcast of the show, we explored the major enhancements to this update, which include new fresh navigation tools, faster-loading data, improved search capabilities, and much more. (53:30)

LinkedIn overhauls Campaign Manager for marketers managing high-volume accounts by @AmyGesenhueshttps://t.co/Xhz8SuFqUW

— Marketing Land (@Marketingland) July 26, 2018

On the September 28th broadcast, we explored two new ad products for the platform, LinkedIn dynamic ads and automated bidding for Sponsored Content. Earlier in the year, LinkedIn also introduced native video ads, carousel ads, and lead gen forms for Sponsored Content.

LinkedIn Dynamic Ads are now available in Campaign Manger.

In early November, the company announced the beta release of objective-based advertising optimization and pricing in the Campaign Manager. According to LinkedIn, this new campaign creation experience will “make it easier to create campaigns and measure their impact” and expected to be available to all LinkedIn advertisers sometime in mid-2019.

Other News Mentioned



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Marketing Day: Ad agency CEO calls out Facebook, in-app advertising, first party data

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Initiative CEO calls out Facebook, says he’s advising clients to pull ads

Mat Baxter, CEO of the ad agency Initiative, used his LinkedIn profile on Wednesday to criticize Facebook over its latest user data scandal. Baxter called Facebook’s behavior “egregious” and said he was advising clients to stay off the platform. In all of Facebook’s user data privacy and security issues this year, the CEO is one of the first major ad executives to say his agency would advise clients not to advertise on the platform.

What prompted the comment? Baxter’s LinkedIn post was in response to the New York Times report on Tuesday that Facebook had shared more user data than previously disclosed with the likes of Apple, Amazon, Microsoft’s Bing, Netflix, Spotify and more. Baxter’s LinkedIn post drew 262 likes and more than 60 comments. Some commenters cheered on Baxter for taking a stand, while other industry professionals pushed back. One social media account director commented that it would be, “… absolutely detrimental to a brand to not advertise with Facebook.”

The Wall Street Journal called more attention to Baxter’s LinkedIn post the following day when it ran a feature in its CMO Today section highlighting the CEO’s call for more marketer’s to take a stand against Facebook.

A spokesperson for IPG, the parent company of Initiative, told the Wall Street Journal that Baxter’s comments were not an official statement from IPG’s network or company, and gave the following statement from IPG CEO Michael Roth: “We look to all media platforms to be transparent about their usage of consumer data and will continue to work closely with our media partners, including Facebook, to ensure we have the best information when advising our clients on a case-by-case basis as to how best to invest their media budgets.”

Responses from marketers. Following the New York Times report, media buyers told Marketing Land Facebook’s data deals would not impact advertising investments on the platform. In Marketing Land’s report on Wednesday, Aimclear founder Marty Weintraub said his digital agency clients cared more about performance marketing results than Facebook’s legal kerfuffles.

“Decisions as to our media spend mix and Facebook have only to do with likely marketing results,” Weintraub told Marketing Land. In response to our report, Marketing Land did hear some consternation from marketers, but no one admitted they were they were pulling ad dollars from Facebook or advising clients to do so.

Tony Verre, VP of eCommerce at The Integer Group in Dallas, said Baxter’s stance on advising clients not to advertise on Facebook was a commendable gesture, and he would like to see other global media agencies would follow suit. But he also said but believes agencies have a responsibility to do what best for their clients.

“As true a moral and ethical a stance as it is, Baxter and Initiative have a fiduciary responsibility, in my opinion, to provide agency for their clients to maximize ad dollars and revenue,” said Verre, “Until users begin to move off of Facebook, until users reject the platform’s misbehavior, mismanagement, and malfeasance, other media agencies will continue to feed it because, as the saying goes, that’s where the money is.” (As a partner in the Omnicom network, The Integer Group is 100 percent engaged in Facebook campaigns said Verre. And while he is not directly involved any any Facebook ad campaigns currently, he has managed a Facebook campaign as recently as September.)

Verre points out Baxter didn’t mention how Initiative is the global media agency for Amazon — a company that, according to the New York Times report, was one of the Facebook partners given access to user data that benefited from Facebook data sharing policies.

“Will Baxter also be dropping Amazon as a client and not spending ad dollars there? While Facebook is the easy target — the big, bad monster — Baxter and Initiative dropping Amazon as a client would really show his commitment, no?” asked Verre.

Facebook’s response. In response to Baxter’s LinkedIn post, Facebook’s VP of global marketing solutions Carolyn Everson told the Wall Street Journal Facebook was focused on educating users about privacy options. She gave a comment on the company’s relationship with Initiative parent-company IPG: “Every day we work hand in hand with our advertising partners to help them grow their businesses and better serve their customers. We have a strong partnership with IPG agencies around the world and look forward to that continuing for years to come.”

Facebook was quick to respond to the New York Times report when it broke on Tuesday, claiming it had done nothing wrong.

“To be clear: none of these partnerships or features gave companies access to information without people’s permission, nor did they violate our 2012 settlement with the FTC,” wrote Facebook’s director of developer platforms and programs, on the company’s news blog.

Why you should care. Baxter’s comments are getting attention because he is one of the few top ad executives to speak out directly against Facebook for its continued mismanagement of user data. It’s rare that you find an ad agency CEO — especially one that represents the likes of LEGO, Unilever, Victoria’s Secret and Revlon — willing to go as far as Baxter has by advising clients not to advertise on Facebook.

It’s difficult to determine what will “sway the masses” in terms of industry leaders speaking out against Facebook, a company that has long been a crucial revenue driver for thousands of ad agencies. In 2017, brands were ready to leave YouTube over brand safety measures, and many spoke up — including Unilever CMO Keith Weed. But that was a different situation as YouTube was placing brands front and center of extremist content.

Facebook data privacy issues are not posing a direct threat to brands. In fact, it’s the opposite — Facebook’s management of user information benefits brands and agencies alike because it allows for the highly targeted ad practices that deliver unparalleled results for advertisers. But, if more and more industry leads push back, and actually do pull advertising dollars, then there potentially could be a reckoning on the ad side of Facebook’s business. The catch-22 here is whether or not advertisers will go against their business objectives to take a moral stand against Facebook’s user data policies.


About The Author

Amy Gesenhues is Third Door Media’s General Assignment Reporter, covering the latest news and updates for Marketing Land and Search Engine Land. From 2009 to 2012, she was an award-winning syndicated columnist for a number of daily newspapers from New York to Texas. With more than ten years of marketing management experience, she has contributed to a variety of traditional and online publications, including MarketingProfs.com, SoftwareCEO.com, and Sales and Marketing Management Magazine. Read more of Amy’s articles.