August 13, 2019: Facebook’s plans to launch news tab; Twitch launches broadcasting software; Instagram and YouTube run into privacy concerns; Kraft Heinz shifts marketing dollars in-house; Influencers’ roles in shaping the future of brands.
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Here’s what’s worth knowing this week:
Facebook’s ‘Complicated’ Relationship with Publishers
Tell me more.
According to reports from The Wall Street Journal, Facebook is approaching big-name news publishers (think: ABC News, Bloomberg, Dow Jones, The Washington Post) in the hopes of securing licensing deals to republish stories and other news content. FB is reportedly offering up to $3 million a year for licensing rights for some outlets.
WTF is going on with FB’s on-again off-again relationship with publishers?
Just last year, FB appeared to be adamantly against publishers, with the company’s head of news partnerships infamously telling them to get off the platform if they didn’t like it. As well, while FB used to be a place where publishers turned to reach an unprecedented volume of readers and traffic, the inverse also proved to be true as the platform infamously began throttling publisher content in the news feed, rendering entire media companies extinct. As for Facebook, an unintended consequence of preventing news publishers from thriving on its platform was the decline of credibility on its platform and the proliferation of fake news.
Trust takes years to build, seconds to break and forever to repair, as the adage goes, so how much would you pay for credibility’s sake? With FB attempting to bring back authoritative news publishers to the feed in the hope of reestablishing itself as a destination for authoritative and trustworthy news, the ball is back in publishers’ courts. Will big-name publishers even trust FB this time around? While it may be too soon to tell, if publishers do decide to play ball with FB, it’s safe to say eyes will be wide open. The moment a story from a trusted publication appears next to a fake news story, trust in that publication plummets, which is likely to make publishers exceedingly nervous.
Building on the observation that 68% of people say they come to Instagram alone to interact with creators, as well as Instagram’s crackdown on meme accounts, the other driving force of these changes is the dependence of social networks on credible, authentic content and social proof. It’s part of the delicate balance of managing a feed’s ad load, the care that creators take in their balance of editorial and sponsored content, and Amazon’s reliance on user-generated content and reviews to sell products. Credible content and other forms of social proof are the driving forces behind the health of these platforms – and once that trust is compromised (see: FB News Feed, Instagram likes), the value and utility for consumers is compromised. How critically remains to be seen – Facebook revenues may still be exceeding analyst’s expectations, but the state of the News Feed may be in dire straits.
Now Presenting: Twitch Studio
Twitch has launched Twitch Studio, the company’s first broadcasting software.
Twitch Studio is aimed directly at new streamers and is designed to make it easier for emerging creators to get started with streaming from their PC, hiding the traditional multi-step process it takes to stream and complexities that come with it. Previously, people who stream their gaming of lives on Twitch have done so through a PS4, Xbox One, Twitch’s mobile app ( Twitch sings)or third-party software.
While Twitch Studio is currently in closed beta-testing, interested creators can apply here.
What’s Twitch saying?
“We’ve been listening to our users give us feedback, talk about their experience, how they started streaming, how they progress, and one really consistent pain point was that multiplayer entertainment is really fun, it’s really engaging, but the bar to really get started is quite high.” – Cheng Cheng, Twitch’s Director of Product Management for the Creator Experience
Creator feedback, FTW. What’s also interesting to note here is Product Management of Creator Experience is now a role, validating the importance of the Creator Experience to creator adoption and retention on these platforms.
Twitch is taking a broader approach its influencer experience and adoption by making creating really easy and rewarding for emerging creators to engage and build an audience. As we discussed last week, the platforms that gain creator preference, from monetization to audience growth, will lead in overall share of audience attention. Where YouTube leads in creator monetization, getting started and becoming eligible for monetization has become even more difficult. As well, with an algorithm primed for long-form content, YouTube’s moat is also its barrier to entry.
The insight for new platforms and brands alike to compete (see also: TikTok) and increase influencer share of voice is in making it easy for emerging influencers to not just create, but create quality content. There’s a ‘build it and they will come’ mentality for challenger platforms to foster a native creator community, essentially creating a farm system of talent, and equal pressure on all to provide superior monetization channels for established creators and influencers.
Instagram and YouTube Plagued with Security Issues
Another week, another scandal. Who are in the hot seats this week? Instagram and YouTube.
Let’s start with Instagram.
HYP3R, a member of Facebook’s trusted Marketing Partners program, has been caught secretly collecting and storing location and other data on millions of users. In doing so, HYP3R created tools that allowed it to collect public Instagram data, includer user posts, profile information, locations they visited and Instagram Stories which, notably, are not accessible through tools Instagram makes available to third parties. That data was then used by HYP3R’s clients to target and serve ads.
What was Instagram’s response?
A Facebook spokesperson confirmed the report, saying: “HYP3R’s actions were not sanctioned and violate our policies. As a result, we’ve removed them from our platform. We’ve also made a product change that should help prevent other companies from scraping public location pages in this way.”
What about YouTube?
New research confirms that YT’s powerful recommendation system directs users towards extremist content in attempts to keep users engaged. Specifically, in Brazil, YouTube’s search and recommendation system appears to have systematically diverted users to far-right and conspiracy channels. This fueled the far-right’s rise to the highest levels of power in Brazil (including the president), not only by artificially boosting the far-right channels that proved effective at keeping users engaged, but also by radicalizing individual users.
What’s YouTube saying?
While YT’s recommendation system now drives 70 percent of total watch time on the platform, the company claims the system is engineered to maximize watchtime (among other factors), not to favor any political ideology. A YouTube spokesperson said the company has “invested heavily in policies, resources, and products to reduce the spread of harmful misinformation.”
As seen with the cases above, social media platforms are still not ahead privacy and security issues, even with the combined help of AI and tens-of-thousands human moderators. As we’ve said before, the responsibility falls on marketers to be informed and stay up-to-date on scandals affecting platforms they’re advertising on. As well, it’s also marketers’ responsibilities to depend not just on one platform, but to invest in a diversified marketing strategy – in terms of both content and platforms.
Kraft Heinz Shifts Marketing Dollars To Its Brands and People
Kraft Heinz is rethinking how it spends its marketing dollars, looking to cut back on areas such as agency fees, production and research so that it can invest more money in its brands and people.
Speaking on an investor call last week, Kraft Heinz’s CEO Miguel Patricio stated that the company’s media investments are “below where they should be,” but, before increasing marketing spend, it will be looking at how it can “reorganize and redeploy” budgets it already has. Specifically, Patricio highlighted Heinz ketchup and Philadelphia as brands where Kraft Heinz has invested in product, innovation and marketing and are, in turn, outperforming competitors and exceeding internal benchmarks.
What’s Kraft Heinz saying?
“Our strategy has to be based on understanding the future and the consumer. The industry is in a state of huge transformation, but that is also a moment of opportunity. The ones that take the opportunity are the ones that understand the future better than the other; they will lead and others will follow, and [followers] will not win.” – Miguel Patricio, CEO of Kraft Heinz
The brands that are quickly gaining relevance, market share, and disrupting entire industries are the ones mentioning influencers in their earnings calls and IPO filings (see: Revolve) while, on the flip side, you have the legacy brands struggling to transform their businesses to compete in this new market – of which influencers a critical part of the business.
With Kraft Heinz, P&G and other large, incumbent organizations trying to figure out new ways to contemporize and gain relevance among new demographics, in-house consolidation has become the norm. As well, what also holds true for success in this new ecosystem is the need to not only have a disproportionate amount of marketing spend going to paid media, but it is now becoming imperative for influencers to be apart of that strategy.
“The brands of the future will have three core elements. First, a creative tastemaker able to leverage digital channels to engage a global community; second, best-in-class design, planning and manufacturing; and third, direct-to-consumer global online distribution, complemented by a connected wholesale presence in the most prestigious physical boutiques.” – José Neves, Founder and CEO of Farfetch
TLDR; In discussing what defines a brand of the future, José Neves, the founder and CEO of Farfetch, believes access to a powerful influencer is the most critical component to the brand’s success. For the rest of Neves POV on influencers’ roles in the future of the fashion industry, check out the full article here.