January 30, 2019: Zuckerberg announces plans to integrate messaging features of Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram; Facebook adds brand safety capability to Marketing Program; Pinterest expands skin tone range search tool; American Eagle gives Gen Z customers creative freedom for new ad campaign; Ad buyers shift budgets to LinkedIn
Here’s what’s worth knowing this week:
It Goes Down In the Facebook-WhatsApp-Instagram DMs
Facebook announced plans to make it possible for WhatsApp, Messenger, and Instagram users to send messages to one another without switching apps. While the three standalone apps will remain separate, they will be integrated under a single messaging platform.
Facebook says it’s still figuring out the deets, but thousands of employees are at work on the strategy, which is in its early stages and is expected to be completed by the end of 2019 or early 2020. In addition to the integration, the apps will also include end-to-end encryption, meaning that only the participants of a convo can see the messages being sent. Currently, only WhatsApp messages are end-to-end encrypted by default.
Users are spending more time in DMs and less time in-feed. By integrating the apps, Facebook is hoping to get its users to spend even more time texting/messaging in its chat apps rather than turning to other texting services by competitors Apple and Google. This would allow Facebook to better monetize users’ time spent through ads and other services, increasing the platform’s ad revenue, which hasn’t been doing so hot post-Cambridge Analytica. However, the idea of bringing Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger together has reportedly confused and frustrated employees who have been under the impression that the apps would operate in separate ecosystems. The US government isn’t too enthusiastic about the plan either.
Zuck has been extremely vocal in saying that he expects messaging to play a much bigger role in the company’s future and it’s easy to see why. The top messaging apps now have more users than the top social networks. On Instagram, approximately half of all users also use the platform’s direct messaging options, while previous reports showed that 85 percent of the messages shared on the platform were distributed to the same three friends, highlighting the desire for more intimate sharing.
For brands and influencers alike, integrating platform messaging features would assist in DM management, helping to streamline all communications and messaging across WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Instagram. As well, as direct messaging influencer activations become more mainstream, it makes it easier for influencers to conduct research or execute brand campaigns across platforms to targeted consumer segments.
Facebook’s Brand Safety Certification
The Facebook Marketing Partners program added a new brand safety capability to its offering to help advertisers on the platform review content options and have control over where their ads appear.
Tell me more.
Marketing measurement company DoubleVerify and digital video analytics company OpenSlate were the first two companies to earn Facebook’s brand safety certification, both of which developed automated tools to deal specifically with Facebook’s platform. Both companies’ tools dynamically automate Facebook’s block lists, as well as monitor Facebook’s in-stream video inventory.
Facebook is doing everything in its power to push video content on its users. However, more video ad inventory = more brand safety concerns for advertisers. Since 2016, advertisers have been demanding better brand safety tools for Facebook’s video ads. Prior to the release of this capability, advertisers were only able to identify three categories of video content with which their ads would not appear – “debatable social issues,” “mature,” and “conflict” – and could only block approximately 1,000 Facebook Pages for an in-stream video campaign.
As Facebook pushes further into video ads, it is trying to do its due diligence in avoiding the same pitfalls YouTube succumbed to last year, which resulted in the platform not only losing lots of money, but also, most notably, losing advertisers’ trust. By enlisting third-parties to dynamically automate block lists and monitor video inventory, Facebook is effectively adding an extra layer of security to the ad placement process. While the new capabilities may decrease some advertisers’ brand safety concerns with the growing number of videos on its platform to which Facebook attaches pre-roll and mid-roll video ads, marketers still need to remain hyper-vigilant when advertising on any platform.
Pinterest Brings Inclusivity and Diversity to Search Results
Pinterest has announced the expansion of its skin tone range search tool, which began beta testing in April 2018. The feature enables Pinterest users to customize and filter their beauty searches further by selecting one of four shade ranges most relevant to their needs – the idea being that those looking for beauty tips will be able to find more relevant makeup and hair advice.
Beauty is one of the most searched categories on Pinterest and nearly 60 percent of the top 100 search terms for skin-related topics on its platform in 2018 included keywords related to skin tone, such as “pale,” “olive,” or “dark complexion.” So what does Pinterest do? Launch a new feature that allows users to filter results by skin tone, duh. The feature, which has been in testing since last April, is said to be a direct result of the Diversity and Inclusion team working closely with the technical and engineering teams within the company.
What’s Pinterest saying?
In an emailed statement, the company said: “Pinterest is a visual discovery engine that serves billions of recommendations to hundreds of millions of people in areas like beauty and style, and so we need to offer a personalized and relevant product, otherwise it just won’t be useful.”
What are influencers saying?
“Beautiful images are fun to look at, but if they don’t reflect something that I think I can actually achieve at home, they’re not really useful or inspiring. But Pinterest allows me to bypass that so that I can use keywords and tools like this to find incredible content being created by and for women who look like me, with real ideas that I know I can actually use.” – Alejandra Ramos, a blogger and Pinner who reviewed the update ahead of launch.
With platforms like Pinterest bringing visual search at scale, retailers have to be ready on the back-end and make sure e-commerce sites are buttoned-up (i.e., updating e-commerce sites to better catalog imagery, improving checkout pages so that consumers can easily purchase when they land on a product, especially on mobile). Additionally, as consumers move beyond the news feed to act on their inspiration, the products available to be discovered are the ones captured in content. Lots of SKUs = lots of content needs. Influencers, the repurposing of influencer-generated content across touchpoints (esp. product pages), and strategically amplifying that content on platforms like Pinterest is what keeps this engine moving forward at scale.
Prepare for the future. Start cataloging your influencer-generated content (IGC) by product and incorporating that imagery on product pages. That way, when you hand over the keys to Pinterest or another visual search partner, that content is tagged and maximizing your ability to drive purchases.
American Eagle’s Gen Z-Led Campaign
American Eagle enlisted its Gen Z customers to star in its new marketing campaign and granted them full creative control. The retailer says that the new #AExMe campaign, which was photographed, styled, and creatively directed by 10 Gen Z’ers, represents a “first-of-its-kind marketing concept by placing the creative direction in the hands of the customer.”
Tell me more.
The campaign is an extension of the brand’s #AExMe initiative, which was initially launched as a way to find real authentic people that the brand could use in its marketing efforts. It was then leveraged to source all 10 teens for this campaign, who used iPhones to photograph themselves in their own authentic environments.
As American Eagle’s CMO and EVP of Marketing, Kyle Andrews, put it, “Gone are the days when brands dictated to customers what they should look like, what they should feel like and what they should do to be cool. This generation is cool because they are such individuals and they are so creative and inspiring.” 80 percent of American Eagle’s shoppers are part of Gen Z, so putting the marketing power in their hands was an “easy” choice, according to Andrews.
Like American Eagle, brands have the opportunity to monitor an existing brand hashtag to source influential brand advocates for a myriad of use cases (i.e., focus groups, campaign ideation, content creation). By tapping into an existing branded hashtag, American Eagle was able to source individuals who owned American Eagle clothing and were already fans of the brand, making for more authentic and trusted content.
Ad Spending Goes Up, Up and Away on LinkedIn
LinkedIn is proving to be an increasingly popular platform for ad buyers, with 42 percent planning on increasing their ad spending on the platform in 2019. Specifically, since LinkedIn released video to all users in August 2017 (and to all company pages in July 2018), millions of people, companies and publishers have created videos on LinkedIn, making it the “fastest growing type of content on the platform.”
It’s easy to see why LinkedIn is becoming an increasingly popular destination for ad buying – although the CPMs for ads on LinkedIn are more expensive than ads on other platforms, LinkedIn’s targeting parameters are often times superior. Just last week, the company announced interest targeting, where advertisers target ads to LinkedIn users based on professional interests. The company is also said to be also working on lookalike audiences, which is one of the key features of Facebook’s ad platform.