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Rabbbits Weeekly: Facebook...What? Nevermind...
Zuck & Co are back on their shenanigans again. Plus, other marketing stuff and things about the æconomy, algorithms, ads, audiences, analytics and attack vectors.
🤦♀️ 🤦♂️ 🤦
This week in What The F*ck is Zuck’s Bucks Machine Thinking?!
At a high level, the Zuck’s Bucks Machine (ZBT) is thinking “More bucks! More ads! More bucks from ads!” Which, depending on the department, breaks down to (amongst others, I’m sure):
“More short form, vertical video!”
“Less short form, vertical video!”
“Less TikTok, more BeReal!”
“More robot control over the feed!”
“More user control over the feed!”
“More shopping features!”
“Less shopping features!”
“More data from in-app browsers!”
“More data from advertisers via all the pixel-adjacent things we can think of!”
“More users (or at least the appearance of more numbers via The Wells Fargo con)!”
“More VR!” (This is Zuck, shouting into the void that is the meeting he scheduled in Horizon Worlds, or whatever it’s called)
Ultimately, the goal is to get more users (or at least “lose fewer users”), keep them in the apps longer, and provide attractive tools for advertisers to pay to reach them. Sprinkle with magic algorithm dust to minimize the labor force (I’m guessing on the last bit) and create some secret sauce catnip for eyeballs. Bake at 451 degrees for just shy of however long it takes to foment a near societal collapse.
It appears someone accidentally dropped that recipe card in the mysterious data lake and the resulting Rorschach inkblot led to their newest brilliant idea.
This is not a mistake (at least Meta doesn’t think it’s one), it’s the new “product promotional program for shops.” That’s right, not only did they mean to do this, but they think brands will like it!
Basically, Facebook / Instagram will run an ad on one of their accounts promoting and linking to one of your brand’s products and you don’t pay for it.
The program is being tested with “selected advertisers” currently. The selection process is so special that selected brands weren’t even informed of their selection, allegedly. But wait, there’s more!
Once onboarded, you are free to opt out of the program at any time. If you opt out, you will be given the option to opt in again if you wish.
While Meta media relations believe this whole thing is a bug, some Meta account managers and the Twitterverse are predicting changes are coming:
The ad may come from your brand, not a Meta branded account
Maybe you can approve things
Maybe you can even track stuff via UTMs
Or maybe the Meta team thinks this is a no-brainer great thing and will just block you if you question them
You may also be automatically and selected and upgraded to their Checkout on Facebook and Instagram feature in the coming month, allowing users to buy your products without leaving the app. Or going to your website. But don’t worry, Meta won’t start taking their 5% cut until the new year.
On the flip side, you know that gif (or scene, depends how you think) of Homer backing into a bunch until he disappears? That’s what Instagram is doing when it comes to its social commerce push. The former photo sharing app is scaling back their shopping ambitions to focus on what drives ad revenue. Maybe if they made it easy to point ads to a brand shop they could have their cake and eat it too. (If it is easy, please tell me (that’s what the comment section is for, right?).)
Of course, an influencer marketing "solution" released a white paper saying social commerce is going to become imperative via influencers. Although I don't know if they mean "social commerce" like commerce functionality built into social platforms, or just, like, driving sales on your website via social content. It does say that livestream shopping will become a "must do" channel for brands, which doesn't jive with many recent announcements from these platforms. At least not in the West. All the smoke is signaling the livestream shopping fire is spreading like, well, wildfire outside of Asia.
Of course, you could always copy Snapchat (again) and Twitter and launch, drumroll… 🥁
(If I had planned this out better, this is where I’d announce a paid tier right here (where I would charge for double the pointless yet witty-adjacent commentary?))
One of Meta’s plans to make up for the drop in ad revenue is to get it directly from users. The new New Monetization Experiences team (doesn’t it make you excited to experience giving them your money?) is tasked with figuring out how to monetize…something that probably doesn’t exist yet. But that thing is definitely not an ad free experience. Welcome to The New Facebook, where everyone pays to use it.
(I wonder if they staffed this new team with all the people from the Responsible Innovations team they shut down?)
Netflix snapped up two execs from Snapchat (couldn't resist) to run their nascent ads business.
Speaking of Snap, these two aren't the only ones to leave. Although, the other 20% of the company didn't really choose to pursue new opportunities. Along with the layoffs The Ghost is pulling back on all investments that aren't directly tied to the app and its growth.
The last time Snap had a bad news day it was just the start for the tech sector. Time to buckle up?
The Camera Co isn’t ready to give up the ghost yet, though. It has a recovery plan: more users! More revenue! More AR (including Spectacles)! Sound familiar?
First, how to get more users? Go international and go old(er) (by getting more 30- and 40-somethings on board. Every platform’s street cred dream.)
Second, revenue. More ads! Including AR ads. And grow the number of paid subscribers.
AR is an obvious focal point for the platform, the interesting reveal is that they also see the Maps and Spotlight features as competitive advantages (and “harder to copy” (for Meta)).
This post from The Verge also includes the full internal memo, which is a great look inside one of these platforms.
Everybody loves social. And by “everybody” I mean “brands that respond to surveys.” According to HubSpot and Wpromote, social media is now the top marketing channel for brands and, in some cases, the top traffic driver.
BeReal is now getting more weekly downloads than Instagram (in the Apple App Store, in the US). Which is impressive, but Instagram reached critical mass a long time ago. BeReal is the shiny new upstart that more people will check out as more headlines are written about it. Could the Authenticity App pose a real threat to Insta? Sure. But it also doesn't have monetization plan yet (that we know of) and has to stick around for a while to prove it's not a fad.
How did TikTok grow so fast? Snap(chat)'s CEO chalks it up to "billions and billions and billions of dollars in user acquisition."
Insta is giving users more control over what they see in their feed(s). In the Explore tab, you can now tell the algo you're not interested in multiple posts at a time. You can create a blocklist of keywords, phrases, and emojis. Is this the death of the eggplant?
But should you use a lot of hashtags in your post?
What do Disney and Elon have in common? They both almost bought Twitter. Sounds like Disney backed out for very similar reasons.
Former Fail Whale might have 99 problems, but a bot ain’t one. At least when it comes to the percentage of active users. It might when you look at volume of content generated. Similarweb estimates 20%-29% of tweets are not generated.
Big Blue Bird wants to help your business do better on its platform. Enter Flight School, a series of workshops to help you up your game.
The co-founder of Anchor has a nice piece up on the videofication of podcasts. I would say it's due to the tech being (relatively) cheap and easy, the explosion of video conferencing tools, and video-based discovery platforms like YouTube and TikTok becoming the channels du jour.
Is bad blood brewing between Shopify and Amazon? Green Bag is warning users that have added Buy With Prime functionality to their Shopify sites that it violates their terms of service so they won’t protect against fraudulent and it could steal customer data. Which, and I’m no expert on the feature, seem like things the feature would handle by requiring a Prime account. Responsibility is shifted to Amazon at that point. Feels more like a page from Apple’s playbook to protect their alternative and, with it, more revenue.
Yahoo (still a thing!) bought a company that uses algorithms to rank the credibility of news stories with the goal of rolling it into Yahoo News (again, still a thing!).
Spend October 11 listening to the Meta VR crew rave about the metaverse and why you need to be involved.
Bets are the Fed adds another .75% to the interest rate figure later this month. The rate has had 2.25% added to it so far this year, over four raises. Fed Chair Jerome Powell is telegraphing raising rates until they get high enough to restrict economic activity and rein in inflation. Is it all a ruse to invoke animal spirits and not have to actually follow through?
The president of the Cleveland Fed is saying the rate will probably top 4% by next year.
One economist sees the rate hitting 3.5% by the end of this year and will start getting cut next year as we enter a small recession. Silver lining? All these raises free us from being trapped against the 0% rate line.
It's less expensive to ship stuff via container these days. Which is good news for anyone banking on last minute holiday shopping, since it's partly due to a slow down in volume. Of course, it could also mean a recession is coming. Or that China is shut down due to Covid Zero and not shipping anything. But let's be positive for now, yay lower costs!
Superstar investors like SoftBank and Warren Buffet are starting to back out of China. SoftBank sold $17B in forward contracts of Alibaba (China’s Amazon), Buffet is selling off BYD stake (China's Tesla?), and Dutch group is selling $7.6B of Tencent (TikTok's parent company). I'm sure this won't have any trickle down effects.
Buffet might be cashing in before a rumored executive order tackling US investment in China is signed.
Doesn't matter what they say, Gen Z's use social media. A lot. Ranking generations by frequency of use in the US, your leaderboard looks like: Get Z, Get X, Millennials, Boomers. Change that to duration of use and you get: Get X, Boomers, Get Z, Millennials.
Why your marketing isn’t reaching Hispanics (or other specific audiences you’d like to):
the people in your visuals don’t look like them
you’re not using the right language, both actual language and way of speaking (word choice, tone, etc)
your context is wrong
your targeting is wrong (probably too reductive)
you didn’t get personal
you’re not using the right delivery channels (doesn’t matter how badly you want to reach someone or how well you tailor your ad if they aren’t on the platform you’re showing it on)
They end the post with some gold:
Savvy marketers are using the right channels where Hispanics over-index, including audio streaming, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat. These channels allow for targeting the Hispanic market by interests and cultural cues. Video must be a key component in your campaign, along with an understanding that the Hispanic market does more mobile viewing.
Why target Hispanics (if you aren’t)? “The $1.9 trillion in spending this market has to offer.”
Microsoft rolled out some new import features. First, Pinterest! That's right, you can turn your Pinterest ads into Microsoft. display ads. The Windows Company has started testing how to import Performance Max campaigns from Google to their Smart Shopping and Local Inventory formats. The Multimedia Ad format has also rolled out wide, if you like playing around with shiny new toys.
Oh, and you can now run ads across Microsoft, Google, Facebook, and Instagram all from within Microsoft Ads. It's called Multi-platform within Smart Campaigns.
And the people behind Office 365 still really want you to change over to Responsive Search Ads, but you can have a little more time to do it. But you better get it done by February. For real this time. We're being so super cereal. (Seriously though, start at least testing them out. If the platform wants you to do something you usually get benefitted for doing so.)
Google is here to help your advertising this holiday season. How, you ask? By telling you:
shopping will start early (duh)
Recommending their preferred ad types (Search, Perf Max, YouTube Video action campaigns (aka the OG and the New News))
People use mobile devices 🤯
Google Merchant Center
People are looking to save money but also want to get their gifts in time
People remembered a world exists outside and might venture out into it to shop
So, basically, not much new.
But they did roll out some new shopping features. I mentioned the conversion value stuff last week, but also product insights (more data for you), deals via the api (more data for goog), and shipping and returns annotations (more data for shoppers).
You can no longer use top content bid adjustments in Google Ads.
Goog has new Better Ad Experience guidelines rolling out later this month. They basically boil down to "knock off the annoying shit." I think a good rule of thumb is: if it annoys you on someone else's site, don't do it on yours. The golden rule for digital advertising.
Big G will also begin disapproving any ads that don't conform to the Better Ads Standards for destination pages starting next month. Again, "knock off the annoying shit."
Report finds that Apple's iOS privacy moves benefitted their mobile ad business, surprising no one. The reason I'm including this is because it left me wanting to see more of the data. Where were Apple Search Ads before ATT was rolled out? These numbers don't show it vaulting into contention from nowhere. What story are they trying to tell and did they do it successfully?
Apple is getting aggressive about growing its ad team though.
Want to know what’s hot like Hansel in ad tech right now? Here’s a largely worthless list from Digiday that relies on a rhetorical technique I used to great effect in high school (and still do? (Perhaps)). (I do agree with the third-party cookie and contextual advertising ones, numbers “I stopped counting” in the list.)
Yikes, Instagram is being fined €405 million for breaching GDPR in regards to kids’ data handling.
Double yikes, turns out you could download a file of 120k taxpayers’ info from the IRS website for about a year thanks to a “human coding error.” The info was from business tax returns for tax-exempt entities. In tech, unicorn used to be a startup worth $1B. Now it should be what we call people who haven’t had personal info exposed in some way on the internet.
The American Data Privacy and Protection Act may be dead in its current form. Thanks to California. Officials from the state want their view of privacy protection to be the minimum, or at least be able to add-on to any federal legislation. IIRC the main difference between Cali’s law and GDPR (in the EU) was it being opt-out vs. opt-in. Being homemade to many a tech giant either makes CA an expert on digital privacy or vindictive over property values, the earnings gap, and other general complaints related to being overrun by tech bros.
Get ready for more fun information operations targeting a US election. Threat intelligence and cybersecurity firm Mandiant “assess with moderate confidence that cyber threat activity surrounding the midterm elections will cause disruptions and divisiveness, but we believe notable compromises of actual voting devices or other activity impacting the integrity of votes is unlikely.”
The FTC sued one data broker, turns out law enforcement uses another. Your phone’s advertising id can advertise your “pattern of life” to those interested.