April 3, 2019: Instagram adds polling stickers to Stories ads and considers IGTV monetization; Village Marketing introduces influencers as creative directors; Sephora launches #SephoraSquad; Reddit on track to reach $119 million in ad revenue
Here’s what’s worth knowing this week:
Do You Like Instagram’s Polling Stickers?
Instagram added polling stickers to Stories ads, giving brands and retailers another way to engage users with interactive content.
What’s Instagram saying?
“Interactivity adds a whole new dimension to the world of Stories ads on Instagram that help bring people closer to brands [and they] allow businesses to be more engaging and playful in order to build better connections. Not only do they help Stories ads stand out, but they can generate more impact for your campaigns by encouraging people to watch longer.”
Have brands seen results with Polling Stickers?
You bet. In nine out of 10 beta campaigns, the polling sticker increased three-second video views. Also, brands like Dunkin’ achieved a 20 percent lower cost-per-video-view using the polling sticker, and Next Games’ polling ad drove 40 percent more app installs.
As fabulous as three-second video views are – we’re more excited about being able to poll a statistically significant sample of influencers and consumers on the fly in-app. The latest feature designed to increase users’ time spent in-app, interactive Stories polling ads also make it increasingly easy for marketers to directly engage targeted segments of influencers and consumers for research, insights, product feedback, in-moment co-creation, and all sorts of gamification. It also opens up a whole world of new opportunities for marketers who are working with influencers to develop cookie pools. Where we’ve found that influencer referral traffic conversion rates are 2x – 4x higher than average, retargeting influencers and influencers’ audiences across channels can be a serious customer acquisition strategy.
Not Unrelated: Instagram Considers Ads on IGTV
Instagram is talking with advertisers about monetization opportunities for IGTV, specifically outlining plans to turn the video service into revenue-generating opportunities for both creators and publishers.
Over the past few weeks, several anonymous ad execs have said that Instagram has quietly been discussing allowing brands to buy ads on IGTV. While Instagram did acknowledge that it was exploring ways to support creators, no specifics have been discussed and it’s unclear when the ad opportunity will roll out.
What’s Instagram saying?
“While ads are not currently a part of IGTV, we are exploring ways to help creators monetize. Just like our thoughtful approach to introducing ads in feed and Stories, we are taking our time to evaluate different monetization strategies in order to ensure we roll our features that are best for businesses and our community.”
Currently, many influencers are hesitant about creating content for IGTV because of the lack of user adoption and monetization opportunities. When asked if IGTV is seen as a viable feature for influencers, Candace Hampton of TheBeautyBeau stated, “Only if they start monetizing IGTV videos.”
Although Instagram has not provided any public data on IGTV usage, if Instagram is even considering serving ads on the platform, it means user adoption is progressing upward. When considering the sheer mass of users on Instagram, IGTV could represent a significant, scalable opportunity if and when monetization for creators is introduced.
For brands interested in testing IGTV: invest in serial programming, keep it between three and 10 min, and partner with industry influencers to tap into the interests of niche audiences.
Influencers as Next Gen Creative Directors
Vickie Sager, the influencer behind the famous “Instagram penthouse,” is introducing a new model that aims to turn influencers into the next generation of advertising creative directors.
Much like a traditional agency, the agency will receive a brief from a brand, decide which combination of two or three influencers might best fit the business, and will then pitch ideas to the client. Once ideas are chosen, the influencer-creative directors then work to find the best influencers within the Village Marketing’s larger pool of collaborators to actually take the campaign public.
We hear you, Sager.
“Brands are very used to traditional media. They’re very used to speaking at people and controlling a message. It’s about a brand speaking at someone instead of with someone. Influencers are really the true creative directors of social media and the way that social media functions. They’re the ones that have a media platform, are connecting with an audience, producing content, and then getting it out into the world.” – Vickie Sager, CEO Village Marketing
While the majority of brands are working with influencers, the majority are doing so in a limited capacity, treating influencers more like transactional celebrity spokespeople as opposed to creative collaborators, research consultants, and strategic advisors. Where Village Marketing is looking to flip the switch is on recognizing influencers-as-experts. Sound familiar?
The #SephoraSquad Has Arrived
Sephora has officially announced the first 24 influencers to join its #SephoraSquad program. The program, which began accepting applications in February, received more than 15,000 applicants from all over the world.
What’s the #SephoraSquad?
The #SephoraSquad is Sephora’s newest partnership program with a select group of beauty influencers. Essentially, the influencers selected will create content to promote new Sephora campaigns, product launches, events, and more. As a result, the squad members will get connected to insider experts as well as a network of top beauty brands.
Sounds like a great gig, how do I apply?
Although Sephora does have plans to double the size of its squad later this year, the beauty retailer is only opening up the casting call to current Sephora Beauty Advisors (AKA: its own employees). As the retailer noted, [Sephora Beauty Advisors] are the “heart and soul of our client experience and represent everything that is ‘experiential’ about Sephora and as such, it’s absolutely fitting they are a part of this community.”
What else is Sephora saying?
“We were trying to get a sense from the community what was meaningful to them in beauty, and see what kinds of conversations they were having around issues of beauty – not just our perspective as a company.” – Deborah Yeh, CMO, Sephora
Sephora’s latest #SephoraSquad efforts perfectly highlight what we’ve been observing and emphasizing for so long: the benefits of long-term partnerships for both the brand and the influencer involved.
Influencers have noted the increased authenticity and decreased likelihood to work with competing brands as two of the benefits that long-term relationships can offer brands. As one influencer stated, “This is where I think long-term collaborating with influencers is especially useful. You keep the authenticity of having your brand consistently popping up in the feed and, if you’re continuing that paid partnership, they’re less likely to be looking for other brands to work with – or [less likely] say yes to other brands that are approaching them.”
It’s because of the ongoing success of these longer-term partnerships that we’ve seen an increasing number of brands tapping influencers to consult on more than just content over the last few months. Whether it be through the creation of entirely new influencer programs (like the #SephoraSquad), bringing influencers-as-investors into the board room, supporting (and selling!) influencer-created products, or tapping influencers to serve as creative directors, the time has come for brands to evolve to mature influencer marketing strategies that integrate influencers and their knowledge with all marketing functions and processes.
Reddit’s Advertising Push Payoff
Reddit is on track to reach $119 million in net U.S. ad revenue in 2019 — a 55 percent increase over 2018 — and its ad business is projected to more than double to $261.7 million by 2021.
You have my attention…
Over the past year, Reddit revamped its platform and launched a variety of new ad products, and it’s safe to say that its efforts are paying off. Advertisers are attracted to the platform for its large audience of highly engaged, tech-savvy consumers who are tough to reach on other platforms. According to eMarketer forecasting director Monica Peart, “A large portion [of Reddit users] are unique users, meaning they don’t use other social platforms. That means advertisers have the potential to reach new audiences in a highly targeted way.”
While Reddit might not be right for every brand, if your audience is on Reddit, it’s worth exploring. In addition to providing brands with the opportunity to reach a unique and notoriously hard-to-reach audience segment, the platform has much less competition than other platforms.
Marketers have the opportunity to leverage influencers and community managers to tap into relevant chat rooms, conversations, and subreddits, or co-host a chat room featuring in-demand influencers based on popular conversations and subreddits as indicators of content interest. Real-time conversations give Redditors the ability to ask influencers questions or give suggestions about a product, which provides marketers with noteworthy insights.