October 30, 2018: Pinterest releases three new features related to its visual search capabilities, Facebook revamps Messenger, Google launches its Discover feed on mobile, Amazon invests in Tastemade, and Domino’s teaches us all about the importance of customer insights.

Here’s what’s worth knowing this week:

All Eyes On Visual Search

The Story

What do Home Depot, Farfetch, and Wayfair have in common? All are going all-in on visual search capes. According to eMarketer’s 2018 Visual Search report, about 1 billion visual searches happen per month and on Pinterest alone, visual search features  have increased traffic to retailers’ sites by 40 percent.

TLDR; we’re on the brink of a visual search revolution, here’s what marketers and retailers need to know to take advantage of it.

First, tell me more about Pinterest.

Among top social platforms, it’s safe to say Pinterest is leading the pack in terms of visual search capabilities at scale – with monthly visual searches increasing from 250 million per month in February 2017 to 600 million per month in February 2018. ICYMI – Pinterest has released three new features related to its visual search capes, the most notable being a “Products like This” section below the pin that includes stylistically similar products that Pinterest thinks the user will like. Best part? The products are listed are all in stock online so you can shop til’ you drop.

What’s the move for retailers/brands?

Whether the strategy is build, partner, or buy – the race is on to connect images (and video) across touchpoints with products available in-stock. It’s all about capturing intent and enabling customers to (quickly) act on that intent in the moment. With platforms like Pinterest bringing visual search at scale, retailers have to be ready on the backend and make sure e-commerce sites are buttoned-up (i.e., updating e-commerce sites to better catalog their imagery, improving checkout pages so that consumers can easily purchase when they land on a product, especially on mobile).  


Consumers can only discover products that available to be found. Having the backend of your e-comm ops on point is only half the battle. As consumers move beyond the feed to act on their inspiration, the products available to be discovered are the ones captured in content. Lots of SKUs = lots of content needs. Influencers, the repurposing of influencer-generated content across touchpoints (esp. product pages), and strategically amplifying that content on platforms like Pinterest is what keeps this engine moving forward at scale.

Prepare for the future – start cataloging your IGC by product and incorporating that imagery on product pages. That way, when you hand over the keys to Pinterest, or visual search partner, that content is the content tagged and maximizing your ability to drive purchases (vs. a plain product shot, and you stuck doing this all manually).


Americans’ ‘Complicated’ Relationship With Facebook Messenger

The Story

For 70 percent of Americans, Facebook Messenger has gotten too complicated and Facebook has since updated the app to a “new, simplified version.” The update, called Messenger 4, will continue to roll out to users globally in the coming weeks.  

What’s included in the update?

For starters, Facebook reduced the number of tabs from nine to three. According to Facebook, the new tabs can be described as follows:

  • The Chats tab area is where you’ll hold one-to-one and group conversations, as well as a place to shoot and share a selfie
  • A People tab area is where your friends can hangout and share Stories and where you’ll see who is currently active
  • The Discover tab is the place to follow the news, book a vacation, play games and connect with businesses

Other new features include the ability to personalize chats using customized color gradients to reflect the mood or topic of conversation and a “Dark Mode” interface that minimizes phone screen glare.

Why does this mean for Facebook’s broader plans for Messenger?

Over the past few months, FB has been steadily increasing its investment in Messenger to bring all the features you know and love from FB to the app, as people continue to migrate away towards from the News Feed. The latest updates and redesign take a page from Snapchat’s playbook – which isn’t exactly surprising, given FB’s track record of cloning other apps’ features.


Facebook’s continued investment in groups also highlights the widespread adoption and power of groups in forming niche communities and, in some cases, even new social networks. Also, it’s worth noting that while the earlier versions of Facebook Messenger included a “Discover” tab, Messenger 4 will give more real estate to the area of the app where users can find and communicate with businesses directly. This, along with the other new features are a test and learn opportunity for brands – start by testing a Messenger group with select influencers and consumers to understand how they use these  features in their day-to-day.


Discover Google’s New Feed on Mobile

The Story

As promised back in September, Google’s Discover has touched down on mobile.  

Back up… What’s Discover?

Long story short: Discover is Google’s rebranded news feed. While you’ll still see the same listing of current topics and upcoming events, it is even more tailored to your interests. You’ll see new topic headers explaining why you’re seeing  a particular card in Discover and you’ll be able to dive deeper on topics that catch your eye. You’ll have the opportunity to follow topics to start seeing more of certain topics in your experience. Lastly, you’ll see new types of content in Discover – think more videos, fresh visual content, as well as evergreen content – articles and videos that aren’t new to the web, but are new to you, according to Google.


Think about it as the convergence of convenience and personalization in the battle for relevance – powered by the last 20 years of your search history. Similar to Instagram’s Explore feed and FB Messenger’s new Discover feed, this continues the ongoing shift and investment in interest-driven comms.  The rebrand is representative of Google’s shifting attitude toward surfacing information, where the platform is increasingly trying to predict and anticipate the info you want before you actually know you want it.


For Your Coworker Who Won’t Stop Sending You Tastemade Videos

The Story

Last week, Amazon invested in Tastemade, an online food and lifestyle video channel, shedding light on  Amazon’s broader push into video content, as well as its continued dominance with its overarching content strategy. And they released their Q3 earnings report.

Amazon’s content strategy, explained.

Beyond Amazon Prime’s original videos, the company’s content investments include: online business TV channel Cheddar (which is now available through Amazon Prime), Clique Media Group, which owns a number of  “shoppable content” and product review sites, and Wikia, a social platform with pop culture and gaming content. Not only do these investments fuel Amazon’s content marketing engine, but they also bring more of consumers’ social data around likes, dislikes, and interactions into the Amazon ecosystem – something that makes Amazon’s hyper-relevant ad targeting successful.  

How are brands challenging?

Simply put, brands have two options for content distribution: surrender their data to Amazon (& other tech giants) in exchange for uber powerful channels for content distro OR build their own content platforms and social networks in order to have sole ownership and access to their customer data (& protect it from being leveraged by competitors). Leading brands like Anheuser-Busch InBev, Glossier, and L’Oreal have found success with the latter – acquiring/launching their own content and social commerce platforms, specifically using user-generated and influencer-generated content sourced from their own communities to fuel branded content strategies.


In today’s day-in-age where tech giants like Facebook, Google, and Amazon more or less have to be a part of your marketing mix, future-proofing your brand can be hard – but not impossible. As seen in the above examples, launching your own community and network of influencers, advocates and employees is not just a content play, but a future-proof strategy – one that gives you direct access to first-party data, content, and commerce activity. As such, the value of content creators in driving purchase activity and being able to connect those dots becomes even more apparent. Where Amazon will always be about breadth and convenience – brands can win on depth of experience.


What Domino’s ‘Paving for Pizza’ Campaign Reminded Us About Insights

The Story

Back in June, Domino’s announced that it would help American cities and towns fix some of their chronic pothole problems with its “Paving for Pizza” campaign initiative. The pizza chain’s effort was so successful that it has decided to launch a second phase of the campaign.

Where did the idea come from?

“The core of this idea came from what we have heard from our customers: bumps and potholes in the road that cause customer anxiety about pizza getting back to their home safely,” explained Jenny Fouracre-Petko, director of PR at Domino’s.

What were the results?

In its first week, the campaign received 35,000 organic mentions on social media. To date, the campaign has received more than 54,000 social media mentions, measured across all platforms.


Calling this out because loyal, vocal consumers continue to be marketers’ most powerful (and undervalued) marketing assets. In brief, why you don’t want to poll just any consumer when researching for insights for your next campaign. Big emphasis here on the growing importance of brand-owned influencer, consumer advocate and employee networks; their value to brands extends way beyond just content creation with a massive opportunity for results.


Facebook is developing a feature that would allow you to find your doppelganger

Younger Americans are better than older Americans at telling factual news statements from opinions – which means they’re also probably more likely to discern branded and sponsored content

Insights from the  Ad Archive Report on FB: Trump is spending $3M for 50,000 ads on FB. The next  closest? Beto O’Rourke spending $5M on 6,000 ads.