February 4, 2020: TikTok has its Super Bowl moment; Amazon advertising moves beyond search; Facebook releases new set of rules for gaming community management; Buzzfeed News launches teen-focused ambassador community; Pinterest introduces virtual ‘Try On’ feature
Here’s what’s worth knowing this week:
TikTok’s First Super Bowl Appearance
The Kansas City Chiefs may have won the Super Bowl, but TikTok was the game’s real winner.
TikTok may have opted out of spending $5.6 million to buy a spot during the game, but that didn’t stop the publicity the platform received. Countless brands featured the platform and its well-known creators in their own Super Bowl ads. ICYMI – Sabra’s first-ever prime-time Super Bowl commercial featured TikTok star Charlie D’Amelio and simultaneously ran a #HowIHummus hashtag challenge on TikTok. Mountain Dew also launched its own hashtag challenge (#AsGoodAsTheOG) to go with its Super Bowl ad, Chipotle collaborated with TikTok creators to promote its Free Delivery Sundays, and Hyundai and TurboTax also launched their first-ever hashtag challenges. Even Jbiebs was hoping his fans would tune into TikTok.
From hashtag challenges to brands launching their TikTok campaigns on mainstream TV, TikTok was the biggest winner of this years’ Super Bowl. As seen Sunday, the benefits TikTok can provide both brands and creators appear to be unrivaled by other social networks in its abilities to expand the lifecycle of Super Bowl investments. For TikTok creators, the biggest benefits lie in crossover potential and added exposure — as seen with well-known TikTok creators being featured in spots next to mainstream celebrities for brands (see: Charlie D’Amelio and Sabra).
For brands, the potential lies in capitalizing on broader hashtag challenges, with countless brands launching their TikTok campaigns using a Super Bowl commercial. It’s not surprising that brands turned to TikTok for this year’s Super Bowl. Not only is the awareness and widespread adoption there, but by tapping into TikTok, brands have the ability to contribute to mainstream culture through the app’s innately entertaining and viral content (especially knowing that most people are watching the game with phones in-hand). Even more, by launching Super Bowl campaigns on TikTok to coincide with TV spots, brands are able to extend the shelf life of their Super Bowl investments. If we continue to see TikTok emerge as the companion to TV commercials, this is a significant game changer.
Amazon Advertising Moves Beyond Search
As Amazon’s ad business continues to mature, marketers are beginning to test more brand awareness and storytelling campaigns on its platform. Previously, advertisers had primarily focused on paid search advertising.
Amazon isn’t just where consumers are starting product searches and then quickly leaving. More and more, consumers are spending more time on the platform interacting with brands. Simultaneously, Amazon has begun testing ways to drive more people to brand pages, with new features for Store pages, like the ability to post earned media lifestyle content, and new follow buttons on those pages as well as on Amazon Live. As a result, advertisers are starting to build out their Amazon brand pages for both earned and paid media placements to reach consumers.
When did Amazon start to expand its ad offerings?
This shift, as advertisers increasingly view how they can tap Amazon’s site for brand awareness and storytelling, has happened over the last year, but has especially accelerated in recent months, according to agency buyers. Eric Heller, executive vp of marketplace services at Wunderman Thompson Commerce explains, “a year ago we began to see brand [awareness] dollars move into Amazon, the same dollars that went to booking subway ads, bus ads and billboards were now going into Amazon. It is far more increasingly an awareness and even a launch platform.”
It’s no secret that Amazon’s advertising business is a large part of its secret sauce. According to its Q4 2019 earnings, Amazon reported $4.8 billion in revenue from its “other” category, which is largely made up revenue from its advertising business. To put things in perspective, this is a 41 percent increase from the $3.4 billion reported in Q4 2018.
Even with this massive success, Amazon is still looking to strengthen its advertising offerings beyond lower-funnel conversion ads, likely in a bid to compete with the duopoly that is Facebook and Google. While this may be Amazon’s first major foray into upper-funnel ads, what differentiates Amazon, in addition to the sheer audience growth, size and buying power of its platform, is the volume of social proof widgets brands can leverage on its platform.
With Amazon now allowing all brands (big and small) to use Store pages to insert more Pinterest-like, lifestyle content, brands have the opportunity to leverage more influencer-generated content to populate these Brand Store pages — expanding beyond just reviews or a UGC widget. The expansion of brand storytelling capabilities enables marketers to pair influencer-tested brand narratives and content with the marketplace power of Amazon, potentially taking “social commerce” to the next level.
Facebook’s New Resource for Gaming Communities
As Facebook continues to push into gaming, the social network has released a new set of rules aimed to help gaming creators foster inclusive communities online.
To develop this new set of rules, Facebook collaborated with the Fair Play Alliance, a group of game companies which are working to encourage healthy communities in online gaming. The goal of the initiative was to provide creators and moderators with a new set of rules that can be applied to provide clearer guidelines within their streams.
How do they work?
While it’s not mandatory for creators to apply the rules to their communities, they are an option for creators who want to establish more definitive parameters within their communities. Creators will be able to access them via a new “Chat Rules” button in the streamer dashboard before going live and, if and when a creator selects rules, fans will be asked to accept the rules before they’re allowed to leave a comment.
What’s Facebook saying?
“People form communities over a shared love of gaming, but we know some groups of people, like women, can be targets of negative, hurtful stereotypes — so, rules like “Be Accepting” and “Respect Boundaries” can help maintain a positive environment for everyone, regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or ability. Similarly, “Don’t Criticize” can help newer players feel welcome. The rules will promote inclusion and respect to help people feel safe sharing their voice.”
Facebook continues to expand into the gaming world, most recently launching dedicated streamer programs and revenue-sharing options to incentivize participation. As of late, it appears these efforts are paying off. Facebook Gaming saw its live-stream gaming market share increase from 3.1% in 2018 to 8.5% in 2019, helping to contribute to its $21.08 billion in revenue, up 25 percent year-over-year according to its most recent Q4 2019 earnings report.
What’s particularly noteworthy about Facebook’s new guidelines aren’t necessarily the rules themselves, but instead, their application and open collaboration with other industry players. With Facebook not making these rules mandatory, it is giving the power to creators to dictate the rules for their own communities, acknowledging creators’ responsibilities in setting the tone for behaviors that will be tolerated. It’s clear that Facebook has developed this feature with creators in mind through a partnership that increases its credibility, and is specifically looking to optimize creators’ experiences on its platform — something that social platforms must do if they want to be creators’ platform of choice.
Buzzfeed News’ Teen Ambassador Community
As part of Buzzfeed News’ initiative around the 2020 Election coverage, the publisher is recruiting teenage ambassadors to make election-themed TikTok and Instagram videos.
How will the ambassador program work?
Three teen ambassadors, aged 16 to 19, will be selected to make weekly videos for TikTok or Instagram stories based on their passion for political issues and creative storytelling abilities. Selected ambassadors will work remotely from swing states or “other places that might be overlooked in the nationwide political conversation.”
When asked about the insight behind the creation of the ambassador community, Sara Yasin, Buzzfeed News’ director of news curation said the company was leaning into the idea of videos for Gen Z platforms by Gen Z users. She cited the teens creating micro history lessons on TikTok as one example of the creativity she hopes to see from applicants.
Ambassador communities aren’t limited to just brands. As seen with Buzzfeed News, publishers, too, have the ability to leverage ambassador programs to drive always-on awareness and conversation around key topics or events. The biggest benefits of ambassador programs can offer brands and/or publishers is the ability to seamlessly activate influencers at scale, increased brand affinity and community growth over time.
For Buzzfeed News, many of the teens in this audience will be voting for the first time and, even if they won’t be eligible to vote in the 2020 election, their ability to influence those voters could be prolific. As we continue to see more and more creators and artists becoming outspoken about their views, Buzzfeed News’ ambassador program allows the publisher to become part of the conversation in an authentic way.
Pinterest Introduces Virtual ‘Try On’ Feature
Pinterest has launched a new ‘Try On’ feature, which leverages AR to allow users to virtually try on products before buying.
How does it work?
While the feature will likely expand to include other items and brands, currently users are only able to virtually try on lipstick from retailers like Estée Lauder, Sephora, bareMinerals, Neutrogena, NYX Professional Makeup, YSL Beauté, Lancôme and Urban Decay. To use the new feature, users can open up “Lens,” Pinterst’s smart camera, and then, while in search, click “Try it” to explore the different shades available. To shop the products, users can swipe up.
Notably, Pinterest is not looking to directly monetize the feature — there are no revenue shares on sales it results in. Instead, Pinterest will continue to monetize through advertising, using the new feature as a ploy to draw in more users who are ready to shop, in turn driving engagement for those brands investing in ads on the platform.
While Pinterest certainly isn’t first-to-market with a virtual makeup experience — YouTube’s AR Try-On feature and Snapchat’s various branded AR filters function the most similar to Pinterest’s – Pinterest’s larger goal is to be first: attracting shoppers to the platform before they’re ready search for a brand name on Amazon or Google, and enabling shoppers to find their way directly to retailers through Pinterest instead.
According to Pinterest, more than 52 million people search and engage with beauty content on its platform in the U.S. every month and of these individuals, 87 percent come to the platform when actively considering what to purchase. Where Pinterest users often come to the platform undecided and are unsure what brand, style or shade they want, ‘Try On’ lets them experiment with different shades until they get the right look — capturing consumers before they want to buy.
As well, unlike YouTube and Snapchat which use video and filters to bring AR to life, Pinterest is the first to merge AR and static content, fueling a deeper connection between AR, influencer content and its visual search capabilities.