March 19, 2019: Facebook adds dedicated gaming section to news feed; Instagram releases in-app shopping; Amazon tests pop-up windows for private-label products; Pinterest CPMs drop 20.6 percent since Q4 2018 but impressions rise; Billabong launches first influencer-to-consumer brand

Here’s what’s worth knowing this week:


Facebook’s Playing Games

The Story

In an effort to tap into the growing gaming market, Facebook is updating its mobile app with a dedicated gaming section where users can explore game content on Facebook.

Tell me more.

After clicking the new Gaming tab, users will see a feed of content that points to: instant games that they can play with friends; videos from top streamers, esports organizations, and gaming publishers; and updates from various gaming groups. Facebook says the goal of the new section is to help people to more easily find games, streamers, and gaming groups that they follow, as well as to discover new content based on their interests.

Why don’t I see the Gaming tab?

Not all users have access to the new Gaming tab. Facebook says that more than 700 million people engage with games or gaming content on the platform each month. For testing purposes, Facebook has decided to give initial gaming access to a selection of those 700 million people, with the potential for a further roll-out from there.  

Anything else I should know about?

Within the last year alone, Facebook has added a Gaming Creator program to help provide more opportunities for game broadcasters, live-stream tipping to enable those broadcasters to monetize their streams, and has added Stars, an additional revenue option for game broadcasters who are part of its “Level Up” program.

It’s also worth noting that, by Facebook essentially giving Gaming its own news feed (similar to how it first broke off Watch over a year ago), Facebook is able to test a new combination of content to better understand what increases time spent to better monetize that attention(i.e., games you can play with friends, gaming videos).

Snapchat’s playing for the $140b gaming market, too.

According to Cheddar, Snapchat also has plans to launch a gaming platform in the next month. The service, code-named “Project Cognac,” will include games from third-party developers that work inside Snapchat. While platform deets are still very much on the DL, it will be interesting to see if the move into gaming helps to boost the platform’s slowing audience growth. TBD.  

Oh, and Google.

During today’s Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco, Google unveiled its Stadia cloud gaming service. The service allows people to play high-end games without purchasing expensive consoles or computers. Google is calling this a “gaming platform for everyone.”


With social media platforms like Facebook and Snapchat fighting to keep mobile users engaged, gaming presents the next big opportunity to do so. Not only is the global games market set to reach $148.1 billion this year, but 50 percent of mobile users have opened up a gaming app in the past week, highlighting the enormous engagement opportunities for platforms, brands, and marketers tapping into this space. The arms race for the gaming market is clearly on for devices, distribution, and streaming capabilities. Right now, gamers need expensive hardware and service support to graphically-intensive games, which are large in size and require real-time input from other players.

While Google-owned YouTube and Amazon-owned Twitch are the primary platforms currently dominating the gaming space, Facebook’s advantage is the money that it feeds back to gamers who receive tips (Facebook’s cut is around 5-30 percent, compared to YouTube’s 30 percent and Twitch’s 50 percent). This, in addition to the sheer reach of the platform, makes Facebook an attractive option for streamers who want to diversify or reach a wider, mainstream audience.

If Facebook begins to prioritize gaming content in the news feed (similar to how it did with Watch content), marketers in relevant verticals (i.e,. Food and Beverage, Delivery Services, Tech, Home Goods) have a first-mover opportunity to partner with relevant gamers Given the $900 million value of the esports market, brands have the opportunity to partner with and co-host/sponsor esports championships on Facebook, and potentially expand that reach through Facebook Watch and Watch parties via groups, to further reach target audiences, test new advertising possibilities and fuel new sales channels on Facebook.


Instagram, Just Take My Money

The Story

Instagram launched in-app checkout for shoppable posts from more than 20 different brands, including, Nike, Adidas, Dior, H&M, MAC Cosmetics, Kylie Cosmetics, Michael Kors, Outdoor Voices, Prada, Uniqlo, Warby Parker, Zara, and more.

Go on.

Items eligible for in-app checkout have a big blue “Checkout on Instagram” button below them. Once users tap on the button, they will be asked to provide their email so that the seller can complete the order. From there, users enter delivery info, payment method, and, after reviewing order details, they can place their orders.

What’s in it for Instagram?

Data and money. Instagram will keep a small cut of the sales for facilitated purchases and it’s partnering with PayPal to process the payments. Additionally, by seeing what products, sizes, and styles users purchase, Instagram could use that information to serve better and more relevant ads to users on the platform.

What’s Instagram saying?

“Checkout is just one part of our long-term investment in shopping. We’re excited to introduce even more ways for people to enjoy shopping on Instagram this year.” – Instagram spokesperson.


There’s no denying that Instagram has made a conscious push into shopping this year. From shoppable tags, the shopping collection tab, and rumors of a standalone shopping app, Instagram has gone from photo-sharing app to a frictionless all-in-one shopping app. If your brand isn’t part of the beta launch, start planning now by making sure your shopping catalog is uploaded to Facebook so that when this feature does roll out widely, you’ll be able to act pronto.

It will be interesting to see if Instagram will eventually grant creators access to this new feature – for instance, will creators be able to add the checkout button on brand-tagged sponsored posts, enabling marketers to better track sales?? The result is a massive improvement in experience from using a trackable link/coupon code in bio.


Amazon’s Private-Label Pop Up Windows

The Story

According to a new Wall Street Journal report, Amazon recently tested a pop-up feature on its mobile app that showed its private-label goods on some of the product pages and ads of its rivals.

I’m listening…

The pop-up windows were hard to miss, filling up the majority of the smartphone screen, forcing app users to either dismiss the window or click through to a lower-cost Amazon product page before continuing to browse. The test ran on top of both sponsored and non-sponsored listings, but did not run on every customer’s mobile device. For sponsored listings specifically, Amazon declined to comment on whether or not it notified the advertisers when the test surpassed sponsored listings or if it refunded sponsored ad payments.

What’s Amazon saying?

“We regularly experiment with new shopping experiences for customers, and this was a small test. The similar, lower-priced product options shown to customers featured relevant items from a range of brands on our website and were displayed when a customer clicked any type of listing.” – Amazon spokesperson.

What are sellers on Amazon saying?

“[The tactic is] sneaky, but building a business on Amazon requires having a stomach of steel and taking whatever they throw at us. We try and be a little less emotional and say this is Amazon being Amazon” – Kevin Pasco, Chief Marketing Officer, Nested Naturals Inc.

What’s the latest on Amazon’s private-label brands?

A recent study found that despite Amazon capturing 52.4 percent of all online spending in the U.S. this year, its private-label brands are not yet viewed as threatening to other retailers in the space, as shoppers are no more likely to purchase Amazon brands even when the company elevates them in search results. Keyword here is “yet.”


Private-label products are having a huge moment. This has been largely driven by Amazon, which now has and is testing 559 of its own exclusive and private-label lines. Retailers who once heavily relied on wholesale partners have been forced to turn product production inward, building their own private-label brands to compete.

Getting the private-label game right means disrupting market share for the few big players that have dominated for decades (i.e., Unilever, P&G). However, a private-label strategy is only as good as the social proof that validates the lower price and questionable quality. For a private-label brand, positive reviews are paramount in gaining consumer trust. This is especially true for brands that are new to the market without established brand equity, as is the case with Amazon’s private-label products.

For Amazon specifically, we have yet to see the full convergence of Amazon’s Influencer Programs with its private-label brands, aside from its “Vine Voice”  review program. It is, however, worth noting the sheer mass of private-label products that the e-commerce giant is testing (23,000) online and in brick-and-mortar pop-ups, which screams that the company is working to determine which private-label products are worth investing in long-term.

Where Amazon has won the trust of shoppers for convenience and price, brands have the opportunity to win on quality and value, but not if they spread themselves too thin. In addition to launching private-label brands, retailers can continue to gain relevancy and market share by supporting  influencer-to-consumer brands, where their supply chain and physical footprint can become assets to amplify influencers’ collections to the masses, and retailers can benefit from influencers’ social credibility and established social trust.


Less Is More On Pinterest: Lower CPMs for More Impressions

The Story

Pinterest’s ad business may be growing, but CPMs on the platform have dropped 20.6 percent since the fourth quarter of 2017,  giving advertisers access to cheaper rates for more impressions this year compared to last year.

Give me the numbers.

According to Staci Mellman, Visit Florida’s VP of Brand, compared to other online media owners, Pinterest delivers competitively. A CPM on Facebook is between $2.62 and $3.94 depending on the vertical, whereas a CPM on Pinterest is around $1.97. The average engagement rate on Pinterest is around five to eight percent depending on the business vertical and creative. The aggregate average click-through rate was one percent in the fourth quarter, up from 0.62 percent in the third quarter, 0.48 percent in the second, and 0.46 percent in the first.


Although Pinterest’s ad business is growing, it’s possible for advertisers to save money this year because it’s still relatively quiet in comparison to ad buying activity on other platforms.  

If your audience is on Pinterest, there’s no time like the present to invest in a Pinterest strategy. Not only will investing in a Pinterest strategy right now give you access to the platform’s best rates, but it will also enable you to maximize the sheer quantity of a/b tests you can run while paying significantly less than you do on other platforms.

To start, focus on testing what creative and calls to action resonate with Pinners and remember, in order to capture the future orientation of consumers on Pinterest, it’s recommended that marketers think about a longer attribution window (minimum 30 days for clicks and engagements and 1 to 60 days for views). For more tips on working with content creators on Pinterest to create and amplify the performance of influencer-generated content on the platform, check out our Influencer Marketing on Pinterest Playbook.


Billabong Goes Influencer-to-Consumer (I2C)

The Story

Last week, Billabong launched and globally distributed its first influencer-to-consumer brand in collaboration with Julie Sariñana, the macro-influencer behind the account @SincerelyJules. The 40-piece Billabong x Sincerely Jules capsule collection launched last week on, in Billabong stores, and across the sites and stores of the brand’s retail partners.

Go on.

Billabong wanted the collaboration to have a strong, global impact. Katie Singer, Billabong Women’s Global VP of Merchandising and Design, noted that Sariana’s popularity among retail buyers, particularly in Europe, steered the brand’s retail strategy for the collection. When speaking about the collaboration having a global impact, Singer stated, “The proof we’ve seen from retailers alone serves as proof. The buyers know Julie, and they were excited to see the product.”


We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: the next generation of influencer marketing is here and it’s influencer-to-consumer (I2C) brands. Influencers, because of their powerful consumer networks and highly engaged communities, understand the types of ideas, products, and comms that resonate with these audiences. For brands, partnering and co-creating with influencers is a must-test opportunity, as the Instagram shopping improves and lower barriers of entry for influencers to launch their own brands continue.



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