August 28, 2018: Facebook nixes 5,000 ad targeting options and launches new mobile-first video tools, Amazon begins beta testing video ads in search results, Whole Foods sees slight uptick in traffic & sales since Amazon acquisition and Google gets phygital.

Here’s what’s worth knowing this week:

Facebook Nixes 5,000 Ad Targeting Options

The Story

Facebook has removed over 5,000 ad targeting options in yet another attempt to prevent discriminatory ads/targeting on its platform.


The change has been a long time coming. For years, FB has been criticized for how its ad targeting tools can be misused for discriminatory means and most recently, the Department of Housing and Urban Development hasn’t been too thrilled.  

What’s FB saying?

“While these options have been used in legitimate ways to reach people interested in a certain product or service, we think minimizing the risk of abuse is more important. This includes limiting the ability for advertisers to exclude audiences that relate to attributes such as ethnicity or religion.”

What does this mean for the industry?

It’s cookie time. While we don’t know exactly which targeting options have gotten the axe, we do know that most of them are exclusions, meaning that marketers looking to reach hyper-specific audience segments will need to begin building first-party data and other targeting efforts.  

Your move

Marketers looking to reach a specific target audience on FB have the opportunity to work with influencers to gain access to their following as well as developing first-party data such as cookies from fans and followers engaging with influencer-generated content.


Facebook’s Mobile-First Video Tools

The Story

Facebook has released a new set of tools to help advertisers easily transform still images and text into mobile-first video ads. Mobile-optimized videos created with the social network’s Video Creation Kit can be framed in 1:1 for feed environments or 9:16 for stories on Facebook and Instagram.


Mobile optimization, FTW. Facebook has found that “mobile-first creative has a 27% higher likelihood of driving brand lift and 23% higher likelihood of driving message association compared to video ads that are not optimized for mobile.”

Your move

Have a library of influencer-generated images? Turn them into influencer-generated videos.


Amazon’s Testing Video Search Ads

The Story

Amazon has begun testing video ads in search results. According to the e-tailer, ads for the new “Video Search” format must be less than 90 seconds and contain audio. Ads are shown below the fold in search results and will either drive shoppers to a product page or directly to an Amazon Store or custom landing page. Lastly, the ads will only be seen by people searching Amazon on either an iPhone or an iPad – for now…

Who’s testing them?

Some of Amazon’s biggest advertisers. (P&G and other brands that have at least $35k for the test)

Your move

Marketers should begin testing the waters as they would any new feature, keeping in mind that what works on Amazon (i.e., format, content), may not work on Facebook, Google, etc. Try this – considering Amazon is fueled by ‘social proof,’ i.e. ratings and reviews, test video ads that feature an influencer providing their opinion of a product.


Whole Foods’ Using Prime To Mine the Offline

The Story

One year after Amazon took over Whole Foods, sales and traffic are up slightly. Amazon has, however,  continued to centralize Whole Foods’ operations in order to standardize the supply chain and lower costs.

So what’s changed?

On the surface, not much. Physical stores look similar and stock most of the same products. The most noticeable difference is Amazon Prime, the massive membership program that’s been unleashed at Whole Foods, offering store discounts, a cash-back credit card, savings on online orders and more.

Why Whole Foods?

Let’s be honest, Amazon wasn’t only interested in Whole Foods for its massive brick-and-mortar presence, Amazon is now collecting more precise data on its customers. And, as Amazon continues to combine its Prime service with its Whole Foods in-store shopping experience, it’s getting even more insight into how the same person shops on and offline – something that is huge for grocers and e-tailers alike.

What’s next?

If the success of the Amazon Go stores are any indicator of what the future of Whole Foods holds, we’re in for an (organic) treat. As Amazon continues to combine high-tech retail with an in-store connection, look for the convergence of data and personalization to drive the enhancement of the customer experience. Think along the lines of scannable QR codes, infrared tech cameras, fully cashierless checkouts. Also, similar to how Amazon licensed its Alexa technology to others (including some competitors), it’s possible that it could do the same with their potential soon-to-be smart-store model for Whole Foods.

Your move

With Amazon continuing to make moves that emphasize the importance of the frictionless in-store to online experience, influential content – including ratings and reviews – are going to be increasingly important to a brand’s physical presence. Imagine a Whole Foods where influencer-generated content, including ratings and reviews, are highlighted at the point-of-purchase.  

Google Gets Phygital, Phygital…

The Story

Google is reportedly close to signing a deal to open its first real store, a flagship-level outpost in Chicago’s Fulton Market district. Although Google has opened numerous pop-up shops and mini-shops, the company has never opened a dedicated retail store of its own.


Although little is known specifically about Google’s soon-to-be physical presence, one thing’s for certain – the walled gardens are going toe-to-toe at every touchpoint, fighting for attention and data to make those experiences frictionless. Influential content is important – it will be interesting to see how these technology companies will continue to push the envelope and bring this to life in a retail setting. Where Google’s latest moves have emphasized localization, a localized influencer strategy that incorporates content as well as ratings & reviews is important.



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