Rabbbits Weeekly: Earnings Tricks & Treats
Earnings were announced, acquisitions were made, and an ad policy kerfuffle. Plus, more headlines and things about the æconomy, algorithms, ads, retails, analytics and attack vectors.
A quarter ended and the Elon-Twitter saga started a new chapter. So some things happened. Let’s get into it.
Facebook is updating its self-serve ad policies. The updates have generated a lot of hoopla, but turns out the only real change is switching “Facebook” to “Meta,” along with some other minor stuff. But I read the policies (for the first time) before learning that, so I have some highlights that struck me as particularly interesting. Including this mea culpa (which is probably more about minimizing legal exposure than admitting dark secrest):
when serving your ad, we use best efforts to deliver the ads to the audience you specify or to achieve the outcome you select, though we cannot guarantee in every instance that your ad will reach its intended target or achieve the outcome you select.
(We're not always great at what we say we're gonna do, but we try real hard, promise.)
This super handy clarification of their random disapprovals:
We may reject or remove any ad for any reason.
Looks like the got a bulk deal from Equifax:
By placing an Order, you authorize us to obtain your personal and/or business credit report from a credit bureau, either when you place an Order or at any time thereafter.
Apparently platform security is on you:
You are responsible for maintaining the security of your advertising account, and you understand that you will be charged for any Orders placed on or through your advertising account.
Time truly is meaningless:
You can cancel an Order at any time, but your ads may run for 24 hours after you notify us, and you are still responsible for paying for all ads that run.
(Really I think this one is based on the ad targeting and delivery system, the ad cache loads when a user opens the app/site.)
Always check your payment method:
Past due amounts will accrue interest at 1% per month or the lawful maximum, whichever is less.
Translation: we break shit a lot, sorry, not sorry:
You understand that, from time to time, we run tests on our Self-Serve Ad Interfaces and related systems, which may impact your use and experience thereof, including campaign performance.
A helpful note:
If users have interacted with your ad, your ad may remain on our Products (e.g., shared until the users delete it or visible to users through their account tools).
Big Brother Blue shared the Performance 5 framework for growth. Simplify your account, partner with creators, use all and different creative format options, use the Conversion API, and sue Conversion Lift.
Running Facebook Ads right now? Keep three things in mind:
Test visuals more than you test copy.
Don’t be afraid to use casual product photos.
Sell the lifestyle, not the product.
The tables have turned in the publisher-adtech vendor relationship (thanks Apple!) , which could mean more publication-by-publication ad buying. Or, hopefully, less terrible ad vendors (bye Taboola!).
Google Ads is giving advertisers all the things. Like a new placement: podcasts. The spot will accept audio and video ads.
And a magic robot tool that turns your long video into 6 second clips. Could be a handy way to get in on the YouTube Shorts game.
Target YouTube users based on their music mood with the 5 new music mood lineups in topic targeting.
Those YouTube audio ads will be “served to users exhibiting signals of listening, such as accessing content through a Google Nest smart speaker.” Called it.
Christmas has come early for Performance Max users, the new toys include:
performance planner works for them
schedule asset groups
now with up to 15 headlines
let the robots tell you what's working with Explanations
first-party audience insights
Amazon is adding more video ad features. The format is coming to the self-service Sponsored Display tool and a video building tool is in beta.
Amazon says its on-box ads work quite well. Wonder what they cost.
Apple’s privacy solution for app download advertising should be a little better now.
Despite concerns around market conditions, newsletter ad spending remains strong. The sector has recovered from a summer slump and posted the highest revenue month of the year in September. Within that total, crypto is on its way down while travel is coming back. Consumer Goods spends the most as a category but is down slightly from a May high. Finance & Investing and Software & Technology helped drive a strong September with noticeable increases in spend month-over-month.
About those brand safety concerns…
Elon wrote a letter to Twitter advertisers that (I think) basically says: Twitter will be more or less the same but with a looser user banning policy. With a hint of a potential protocol-over-platform future (“where you can choose your desired experience according to your preferences”). And a potential conundrum for the ad review and approval systems (“low relevancy ads are spam”). At least that’s what it seems like. Guess someone told Elon where the salaries come from.
Here’s a good response/reaction post.
There’s a new Hansel in town when it comes to social. Say hello to Gas, an app that encourages anonymous compliments amongst high schoolers. It’s overtaken TikTok and BeReal in terms of downloads.
BeReal could have to face reality soon if it wants to stick around. Apparently ads are now on the table (which makes sense since it signed on to the VC handshake), but timing could be of the essence with the looming 2023 marketing dollar squeeze. (I hope they find an alternative to ads that keeps them around, you don’t have to be massive to be worthwhile.)
TikTok will teach you how to TikTok for marketing.
Brands are starting to create content with a TikTok-first approach and agencies are responding by building out TikTok teams. This feels a bit like letting the tools use you, instead of the other way around.
YouTube is getting tab happy. Channel pages will now be broken out into tabs for Shorts, Live, and Videos (a.k.a. OG YT).
The Video Box also rolled out pinch-to-zoom, better playback location dragging, and it’ll set the mood with the new ambient lighting effect.
Remember when I said there’s an API for everything (or something to that effect)? Well, now there’s a Facebook API for cease & desist notices, more or less.
Apple has revised the App Store in-app payment rules to further clarify that all it cares about is its cut. Specifically from Zuck.
It’s long wanted a chunk of Meta Money, looks like this is the new plan to get it. (And maybe wants to stifle an emerging audiobook threat in Spotify?)
Yay, push notifications for Safari, just what no one wanted.
Shutterstock is adding AI-generated images to its product offerings. So you’ll presumably still have to worry about licensing.
You can now visit Interpol in the metaverse. But why? (Community and training might be the “why”.)
Amidst falling revenue, Meta shareholders are over the metaverse and want Zuck & Co to focus on actually making money and being a viable business in the here-and-now. (Does Meta need its own Jobs-to-Cook moment?)
Q3 earnings reports and, once again, Snap was the canary in the coal mine.
Google, Microsoft, and Spotify all reported ad revenue growth below expectations. Oh, and YouTube revenue dropped, I’m sure it’s fine. Right?
Amazon saw growth, but less than forecasted. Advertising helped make up for slowing Web Services growth. The latter will be interesting to watch as this could be a signal that saturation is being reached and it may be transitioning to a phase of maturity from hyper-growth.
But it wasn’t all bad news:
Pinterest pulled an anti-Snap and posted revenue growth (PDF). Active users, however, are flat compared to Q3 2021 and up slightly compared to Q2 ‘22.
Shopify posted growth across the board (I think) including a ballooning operating loss.
Corning, the glass company, reported some not so great numbers, expect Apple and Samsung to follow suit.
Or Apple will report some great numbers. Q3 was just fine, thank you very much, with revenue up 8% year-over-year, and set a new quarterly record. This growth was driven primarily by iPhone and Mac sales, with services chipping in a bit, and iPad sales tumbling. Just don’t expect the party to continue this quarter.
US GDP grew over 2% last quarter, first time this year it’s been positive.
Yelp’s data is showing a continued increase in consumers’ inflationary experiences, especially when it comes to food and experiences. There are lots of great charts and breakouts so it’s worth a click through.
Retail Tea Leaves
People's sense of power can be impacted by things like economic conditions, pay, and sports, and these feelings of power can impact their browsing behavior. People experiencing low feelings of power want more choice, high power needs less choice. Why? It's all about control.
2/3 of Shopify stores close within a year, according to one analysis. That’s higher than the 20% small business first-year failure rate reported by the BLS, but ecommerce reduces many of the barriers to startup, so this makes complete sense to me. Setting up a Shopify might seem like a path to easy money for some, the reality that doesn’t match expectations leads to closure.
Will live-stream shopping in the West become TikTok’s Reels?
If you want to turn your e-commerce ads over to the algorithms then Facebook’s Advantage+ Shopping Campaigns are for you, and now you can try them for yourself. I haven’t had a chance to try them yet, but I’ve heard less than great things from a beta tester. On the other hand, the Advantage+ audience expansion option is showing some early positive returns for me.
Shipping shenanigans, an annual tradition. Most (all?) major carriers are raising their rates which could mean more logistics induced fun for the holidays.
In an effort to make the transition easier, Google is improving their Analytics 4 setup tool. It should now transfer more of your Universal Analytics setup. (It really feels like they rushed this out and what should be the beta phase is actually the mass onboarding period.) And, if you use Analytics 360, you get an extra year to transition.
Also, behavioral modeling! Better ROI! More buzzwords soon to come, surely.
A/B tests aren’t a game of prediction, they’re for learning and improvement.
China is threatening to attack Taiwan (what you might call, pulling a Putin), which is the home of TSMC, otherwise known as the manufacturer of 92% of the world’s computer chips. 😬
Welcome to Australia: Northern Hemisphere Edition. Canada wants platforms like Meta and Google to share the wealth with news publishers. While I understand the sentiment, it’s a bit interesting that governments require these platforms to pay some sectors for the privilege of sending them attention while all others have to pay. Ben Evans wrote an essay on the Australia saga.
Content moderation jobs are a thing out of dystopic sci-fi. TikTok moderators report having to watch 900 videos a day, allocating 15 seconds per video, to scrub out all the terrible shit we don’t have to see. For their efforts they’re paid $10 a day.
Add Amazon to the list of data leaks. A database (named Sauron) of Prime Video viewing habits was accidentally left open to the internet and wasn’t password protected. Whoops!
Redaction: White House doesn’t care about Elon’s Twitter acquisition, at least not on national security grounds.
Alternates & Assorteds
A story from Hoover about how to put your company out of business via marketing.
Chip engineering could be the next big major, at least at Purdue.