October 4, 2017:  Audio on for one, audio on for all – Insta video make sound waves, Watch what FB is doing, Twitter tests its character limits, and IoT continues to dominate. Here’s what’s worth knowing this week:

The Sounds of a Not-So-Silent Scroll

The world just got a whole lot louder. Last week, Instagram updated the sound settings for videos in its app and it’s making (sound) waves. Now, users who activate sound for one video will automatically hear sound for all other videos during that session – including ads – unless they turn the sound off. Previously, users had to activate sound for each video individually –  there was no autoplay audio. Grab your headphones because we’re about to hear a lot more from the ‘Gram.

What it means, IRL: Up until now, ‘audio on’ has had a bad rap – from autoplay display ads to Facebook’s report claiming that 80 percent of users ‘react negatively’ when video ads play loudly – we’ve been instructed not to ‘assault consumers with sound’ as they scroll. But that doesn’t necessarily apply when it comes to video from people and brands that consumers actually want to engage with. The launch of this new feature comes the obvious – an increased likelihood of videos and ads now being played with sound.

Make it work: Influencer and brand-generated video content needs to be designed to be seen and heard (que the end of social’s ‘silent movie era’ and the start of its Hollywood golden years). To start, work with your influencers and social team on the backend to understand what percentage of your video content is played on and off, and the performance implications of each. Also of note – despite Instagram and other platforms’ push for ‘sound on’ video comms, they’re also introducing more choice of how consumers engage with video. Context remains evermore critical when creating video + sound for social consumption.

To subtitle or not to subtitle, that is the question.  

We Hear You, Facebook

While Zuck & Co. claim the vast majority of video ads are played with ‘sound off’ – the reality is that the vast majority of video ads (Youtube and Snapchat in particular) are sound on. Despite the fact that Facebook has been notorious for their muted ads, the latest move from Zuck & Co. would suggest otherwise.

Let’s be real, Facebook’s news feed has been failing for quite some time now. With ad consumption and engagement at an all time low, Zuck & Co. were desperate to create revenue generating opportunities. So, like any billionaire genius would, Zuckerberg simply created a whole new news feed just for ads. Welcome to Watch, Facebook’s reincarnated news feed. Unlike Facebook’s original news feed where videos could be scrolled past and autoplay could be tuned out, Watch follows a TV-like ad model format with commercial breaks in shows, designed for sound-on viewing. Since there’s no proof that people in a social mood want to sit back and watch longer videos, we constitute this as a risky, yet necessary, move for Zuck & Co.

BTW, rumor has it this series pairs nicely with #WineWednesday.

Bye, Bye, Birdie?

1/ Twitter confirmed reports that it is departing from its ‘hallmark’ 140-character limit to begin testing a 280-character limit. Until now, Twitter’s defining characteristic was its limited character count, making its content easily scannable and digestible. Now? Not so much.

2/ Does this mean death or rebirth for the Blue Bird? We think it’s too soon to tell.

Siri, What Is The Meaning of Life?

Conquering the next ad frontier!

Jk, but seriously – what do Siri, Alexa, FitBit have in common? They’re all part of the growing Internet of Things (IoT) universe of connectivity and it’s safe to say the industry is crushing the game in 2017. To put things in perspective, in 2015 there were about 15.4 billion connected devices and this number is projected to approximately double to 30.7 billion in 2020 and grow to 75.4 billion by 2025.

The increasing number of connected devices comes with the volumes of consumers connected to them – and mass amounts of behavioral data. And with consumers’ attention, IoT presents the next big opportunity for marketers as the next ad frontier – think next-level content, programmatic and omni-channel integrated comms strategies. The potential for IoT lies in the ability to deliver more relevant, contextual and personalized content at scale with less waste – say only delivering that wine promo to Alexa when your pl smart fridge knows you’re down to your last bottle.


“Most of us who are already making the ads are in a completely different bubble from a large number of people who see the ads. That’s a problem … because the difference between data and insights is empathy. Data tells us answers, while empathy asks the right questions in the first place” – Maggie Windsor Gross, Head of Strategy, Heat, You Are Average – And That’s Just Fine.

#Preach. Most of us know this already – there’s an obvious difference between the top 10 dmas, and the remaining 200. But what to do about it? We need to go straight to the source. If we’re creating ads to reach moms in Detroit, we shouldn’t be relying on hipsters in Brooklyn to guide our marketing strategy. The real people we need to be talking to are influential moms in Detroit, especially in our research, insights, and planning process.

It’s even more difficult when the platforms we’re using are widening the gap – rather than bridging it. The point of social platforms used to be about connecting people authentically and transparently, but can we trust them to deliver meaningful information as a marketer and consumer? Now that even Facebook is being questioned by Congress, what social responsibility to platforms, publishers, and brands have to truth? It’s an opportunity for brands to step up in an authentic, empathetic way and be accountable to the truth of their content, products and customer experiences.


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