August 8, 2019: Pinterest introduces two new personalized shopping features, Instagram and WhatsApp’s big Facebook ‘re-brand’, popular YouTube creators’ average video length has doubled, TikTok explores its monetization options, Mixer proves influencers’ pull extends beyond Twitch
Here’s what’s worth knowing this week:
Pin to Purchase: Pinterest Expands Browsable Catalog Features
Just in time for back-to-school basics and holiday wish lists, Pinterest introduced two new ways for brands to increase product discovery and for consumers to shop its feed: a “Picked for You” hub that features personalized ideas and recommendations at the top of your home feed; and a ‘More from [Brand]’ hub that expands below Pins featuring similar products from that brand.
Tell me more.
Expect a lot more product Pins in your future. Both hubs serve as launchpads into Pinterest’s catalog experience, which provide more entry points for consumers to see prices and discover similar in-stock products (“in-stock” being the notable positioning statement there).
With the introduction of the Catalog experience back in March, marketers could expand their breadth of product coverage on Pinterest nearly overnight. These updates add to the suite of shopping features Pinterest is layering into its feed experience for consumers to act on all that product inspo.
All about that feature parity. As much as social networks continue to court creator talent (more on that below), the social arms race to become marketers and consumers’ go-to social shopping platform is accelerating just as quickly. Pinterest is putting all the data and insights it has collected over the past few months since its Catalog introduction to work with these new features that introduce even more personalization and customized recommendations to its feed – while still driving traffic to brands and retailers’ sites.
Its increased focus on closing the loop from “inspiration to purchase” seems to be working. In a new case study with Neustar, participating retail brands are seeing 2X higher ROAS from Pinterest than social, and 1.3x higher return than search. Pinterest also reported that it hit the 300 million monthly active user mark for the first time, with a 62% increase in revenue YoY – beating analysts forecasts.
Instagram, From Facebook (Officially)
Nearly a decade after Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram and following the departure of Instagram’s founders last year, Instagram will become ‘Instagram from Facebook’. WhatsApp will also be rebranded as ‘WhatsApp from Facebook’.
Are we really that surprised?
Well, sort of. Apparently, according to a 2018 survey, 57 percent of Americans don’t know Facebook owns Instagram, and 50 percent don’t know it owns WhatsApp. But also, Facebook could certainly benefit from positive associations. Since the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook has faced near-constant negative press and increasing pressure to breakup the three entities. This is Zuck’s power play.
The future of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp is “interoperability” as Mark Zuckerberg noted last year. Branding is not the only thing that’s changing. Instagram, WhatsApp, and Facebook will be incrementally more difficult to separate once all are operating from the same tech. Facebook just took its first real steps to integrate Instagram Direct Messenger and WhatsApp with FB Messenger.
As noted last week, messaging’s role in this ecosystem continues to grow as consumers shift away from FB and the newsfeed towards Stories and DMs – fueling user and revenue growth. Consider, for instance, that the future of Creator publishing and content distribution lives entirely within DMs (which the removal of visible likes also supports). Anticipate with all messaging apps operating from the same platform, that more integrated advertising and creator features within Messenger to be introduced in the coming quarters.
Top YouTube Creators’ Long Game
The length of the average video from YouTube’s top creators has doubled, increasing from 7-8 minutes to 13-14 minutes long.
What’s driving the change?
What comes first – viewership or revenue? Not all viewership is equal – there is a difference between a consumer who watches five 2-minute clips and one that watches one 10-minute feature, and YouTube’s algorithm prioritizes content that keeps consumers engaged for the long term.
As well, the 10-minute mark is the point that YT lets creators insert ads into the middle of videos. YouTube creator Shelby Church shared that she made 3x more revenue for videos that ran over 10 minutes than those that were shorter. Her longer videos also had more viewers, incentivizing her to make longer videos with more ads.
Longer videos aren’t necessarily better videos – despite what YouTube and its algorithm prefer. But it is a key differentiator for YouTube to continue to optimize for longer videos and creator monetization – where it still dominates – while YouTube Stories continues to struggle amid increasing competition from Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, and Facebook. As well, deeper consideration is needed to understand where that viewership is coming from; are consumers seeking longer-form content on YouTube rather than seeking it on TV or OTT streaming network, or are Instagram and TikTok users following clips to YouTube for videos in full?
What this does indicate, for marketers executing YouTube influencer marketing campaigns and creators aspiring to make YouTube’s Trending page, is that the ten-minute mark could be the new benchmark for success – provided the content warrants the length (think tutorials, in-depth interviews, explainers, and series).
Not Unrelated: TikTok Creators Wonder When They’ll Get Paid
With growing GenZ audiences, live stream tips, exclusive merch, and increasing brand sponsorships, TikTok creators (aka TikTokers) want new ways to cash in.
Show me the money!
TikTok just introduced ads this year – but none run directly on creators’ videos or offer any sort of rev-share model. For comparison, YouTube and Facebook take a 45 percent revenue cut from videos, Twitch takes 50 percent from most creators.
What is TikTok saying?
It’s in no rush. The company is “exploring a variety of opportunities to create value for our brand partners, with our main focus being on creating a great experience for our community,” a TikTok rep told The Verge.
In the battle for Creator favor and for video talent in particular, compensation is at the center. The challenge for TikTok is that videos don’t run longer than 60 seconds – putting a bumper at the front or an ad in the middle of a clip would ruin the app’s appeal. On the other side – Vine couldn’t figure it out, and we all know what happened there.
As it stands, other platforms are starting to cash in as TikTok tries to chart its own path forward, from Spotify playlists dedicated to trending songs to popular creators redirecting fans to their YouTube accounts. Which for marketers, in addition to TikTok remaining a solid opportunity to engage younger audiences (thoughtfully), it offers big cross-platform appeal for creators to distribute branded content across channels.
Is Mixer The Next Big Thing?
After abdicating Twitch for an exclusive offer on Microsoft’s video game streaming platform, Mixer, Tyler “Ninja” Blevins is the first Mixer streamer to reach 1M subscribers.
That’s a big bet.
Ninja was formerly the most followed streamer on Twitch. While 1 million subscribers is a small percentage of his Twitch audience of 14 million, the move has inspired other creators and consumers to test it out.
A hallmark example of how essential creator talent is to platform growth and health, as well, how creators’ influence is often bigger than the platform itself. What’s interesting is the move towards exclusivity as more platforms seek to hold on to its creator talent and as creators work to diversify their influence beyond the content and channels that built their business to start. While this isn’t the first exclusive deal – Facebook Watch, Snapchat, Quibi and YouTube all developed exclusive content deals with creators – this is among the first we’ve seen that’s platform-specific. Too soon to tell if this model drives the platform’s staying power in the long term.