November 27, 2018: Instagram tests new user profile layouts, YouTube debuts “ad-pods,” Google semi-rolls out Duplex, new report sheds light on marketers’ influencer marketing experience, inside Rimmel London’s new influencer marketing strategy

Here’s what’s worth knowing this week:

New Insta Profile, Who Dis?
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Instagram announced that it is testing new layouts for user profiles and business accounts.

What’s Instagram saying?

“Over the next several weeks, you may see features re-arranged at the top of your profile, including changes to icons, buttons, and the way you navigate between tabs, which we hope will make profiles easier and cleaner to use. The photos and videos you’ve shared on your grid won’t change.”

What are the potential changes?

On regular profiles, the profile image will be shifted to the right, with users’ “Followers” and “Following” stats de-emphasized, shrunken and shifted to the bottom (not dissimilar to Twitter’s most recent profile changes to encourage more “meaningful” conversation).

It also appears that Instagram will put “Mutual Followers” front and center, helping to provide more context as to how a user is linked to others in their own network.

Lastly, side-by-side “Follow” and “Message” CTA buttons may also be tested on profile pages, with even more options for business accounts, such as “Email,” Directions,” and “Start Order.”


Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen more social media networks de-prioritize metrics such as followers and likes, and shift emphasis and focus on mutual connections and “meaningful” conversations. Where each one of those metrics can still be gamified on every level (even despite recent efforts to eradicate fraud), it seems the only thing left for users to trust are their own connections.

Given that we trust those who are in our own circles of influence more than anyone else, it makes sense that the next signals of influence, trust, and social capital isn’t how many followers someone has, or how many likes a post gets, but instead, how many friends follow the same person, watch this show, have purchased this product, etc. This type of relational influence is another layer of social proof that adds some much-needed context to often superficial metrics. As the power of fans and followers diminishes, it’s this relational context that is becoming more and more important.

It’s likely that the future of how consumers experience influencer-generated content, ratings, and reviews will be customized and personalized based on their social graph, with an emphasis on “people like you” and mutual connections to establish trust and authenticity.


Double the Ads, Double the Fun

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YouTube is attempting to create a more enjoyable viewing experience by bundling its ads together to reduce the number of interruptions that viewers have to tolerate while watching a video.  

Tell me more, tell me more.

YouTube is calling the new preroll package an “ad pod,” which allows for a commercial break with two messages that can run before or in the middle of a video. Call it a win-win: the change increases the volume of ads played before or during a video, while doubling them up means fewer interruptions, which, at the end of the day, is what matters most to YouTube users.

Viewers will also have the option to skip directly to the main content if it’s “not the right ad for them.” The new format is set to launch on desktop devices this year and will subsequently roll out to mobile and TV screens.  

Why is YouTube doing this?

Evolving user patterns have YouTubers “quite sensitive” to the frequency of ad breaks. Those patterns include: longer viewing sessions, more self-directed discovery, and increased viewing on TV screens. For marketers, early experiment results also showed an 8-11 percent increase in unique reach and a 5-10 percent increase in frequency for advertisers, with no impact to Brand Lift metrics.


Who said the 30-second spot is dead? Turns out, the commercial TV model is as relevant as ever. As competition in the video streaming market continues to heat up among Amazon, Google, Roku, and now Apple, ad pods are YouTube’s latest effort to gradually replicate a TV-like experience for viewers and advertisers alike. YouTube is also investing in longer-form videos, including Hollywood movies, which it now shows for free with ads.

For influencers and influencer marketers creating videos on YouTube, it’s time to update any YouTube influencer briefs: encourage longer-form content creation; include a list of mission-critical keywords to use in video descriptions and SEO optimization tips to increase overall video discovery; and use YouTube’s TV screen device type tool to reach users on connected TVs (for ads only). It’s now even more important to connect influencer, paid, and owned YouTube strategies, particularly for sponsor call-outs (i.e., in the way brands encourage influencers to highlight the product).


We’re Perplexed By Google’s Duplex Release

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Google has (very) slowly but surely begun rolling out its Duplex feature, which can automatically make voice calls to restaurants and other businesses on a user’s behalf, to a small group of Pixel owners in “select” cities around the U.S.

Catch me up on Duplex.

You may remember Google’s demo of Duplex at its I/O developers conference back in May. It received a lot of hype for its human-like speech ability, even throwing in a casual “mhmm” (and upspeak) when booking a haircut.

Fast-forward six months, and Duplex isn’t quite there… yet. However, the most notable progress is that Google has expanded the capability from a “set of trusted tester users” to a “small group” of Google Pixel phone owners, and the booking capability is no longer limited to businesses with which Google has explicitly partnered.


The growth of connected devices and smart home digital assistants like Amazon’s Alexa, Google Home, and now Duplex will continue to influence the way we shop. As such, marketers with any type of retail or e-commerce experiences will need to understand what these voice-activated integrations mean and how information (such as ratings, reviews, and recommendations) enables them.

Given Google’s track record for prioritizing ratings and reviews in text-based search rankings, it’s likely that it will continue to be influential for voice search as well. Localization plays a significant factor. Since the majority of voice-activated searches are local in nature, It’s (still) important for any brands dependent on a local footprint to claim your Google My Business listing and to prioritize a Google reviews strategy. For more tips on how to optimize your Google voice SEO strategy, check out this post.


The Search For Influencer Marketing Talent Will Be Easier in 2019

The Story

More of today’s marketers have influencer marketing experience than traditional marketing experience, with 69 percent of marketers reporting having had “direct influencer marketing experience,” compared to 47 percent who have had experience with “TV advertising of any kind.”

Anything else?

Yes. In addition to this shift away from traditional advertising, there is also an increase in marketers’ intentions to use influencer marketing as an “established technique.” The report, from IZEA, states that 73 percent of marketers are “somewhat likely” or “very likely” to use influencer marketing in the future (compared to 88 percent of marketers who are “somewhat likely” or “very likely” to use content marketing in the future).


Influencer marketing has evolved from a standalone tactic to a comprehensive marketing strategy – one that touches nearly every department of an organization. As influencer marketing continues to gain traction among marketers, the ability to rise above the noise and stand out is going to get harder. As such, the solution is not pumping the Instagram ecosystem with more branded content, but instead, embedding influence at every customer experience touchpoint (as opposed to just prioritizing one or two), in addition to providing influential customers across the spectrum of influence every opportunity to share their thoughts on the products/services they love. For tips on how to get started in 2019, check out our Strategy and Planning playbook.

Rimmel London’s Micro-Influencer Push

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As part of a massive rebranding strategy, Rimmel London is testing an updated influencer marketing strategy with the help of “beauty enthusiasts,” or non-paid micro-influencers. Over the past year, Rimmel has grown its work with non-paid influencers by 300 percent.

Tell me more.

In an effort to test a more targeted product discovery for its summer Wonder Ombre Holographic eyeliner and drive renewed interested in Scandaleyes, Rimmel sent more than 2,000 custom product boxes to 18-to-30-year-old “regular women” beauty fans in Dallas and San Francisco (two of Rimmel’s top-five U.S. markets). The results? A 44 percent higher sales lift among the two products and a 69 percent higher sales lift for all Rimmel eyeliners and mascaras, demonstrating a “larger halo effect.”

What is Rimmel saying?

“We have seen a massive shift in terms of trust,” said Henry Giddins Jr., Coty’s head of insights for global color cosmetics. “Peer-to-peer recommendations bring a level of objectivity to consumers, and we cannot replicate that with celebrities and paid influencers completely. We view this strategy as having more value now.”


Although Rimmel does still work with celebs like Cara Delevingne and Rita Ora, their fundamental approach to influencer marketing has shifted to organic partnerships, which have, time and time again, proven to be more trusted, cost-efficient, and influential in driving purchases.

When recruiting and curating influencers for a campaign or larger brand partnership, it’s important to consider influencers and advocates who are already organic fans of your brand. Not only are their posts more genuine and authentic, but they’re much more likely to go above and beyond when they actually believe in the product/service,  which is a win for both parties involved.


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