Rabbbits Weeekly: Listening to YouTube
Or, every tech company is a podcast company now (except Facebook, it left). Plus, other marketing stuff and things about the æconomy, algorithms, ads, audiences, analytics and attack vectors.
Let’s Talk About YouTube
For all the talk about TikTok, YouTube is still tops for teens. Based on the numbers, it’s basically their media gateway. Sketchy math suggests that ~18% of teens are using it “almost constantly.” While that doesn’t extrapolate out to the entire US population, it does help illustrate that it’s a popular platform.
Why am I bringing this up? One word: podcasts.
While the fanfare is likely being held for an upcoming dog-and-pony show, it’s been revealed that YouTube is launching a podcast homepage. This isn’t the first time you’ll read about a companies’ new(ish) podcast efforts in today’s issue, but this is the biggest one. Why? Because YouTube is the number one podcast platform in the states. Red is (Not) For Radicalization has decided to make their standing official, which can’t be good news for Spotify. How did YouTube take pole position? Because, just like Big Brother Google, its discovery capabilities crush everyone else. Finding new podcasts is the achilles heel of the sector, solving that is a recipe for dominance.
YouTube is also adding some goodies to its smart TV experience. Shorts are coming to the big(ger) screen, better music integration, and a split screen feature called Mosaic that allows viewers to simulcast up to 4 live streams at once.
TikTok may be drinking Meta’s milkshake but YouTube is holding its own. Thanks to having a regular audience, functioning as a popular search engine, and being backed by one of the biggest digital ad platforms. TikTok has to figure out how to onboard more advertisers, YouTube just has to figure out ways to make it even easier for advertisers to create assets. And because defaults matter (the TV app is preinstalled, unlike TikTok) which is why Google pays to be the default search engine whenever and wherever they can.
The biggest question for YouTube moving forward is: does the current wave of anti-tech anti-trust fetishization split them off from their revenue stream via Google Ads?
Ad Market Split: Revisited (Again)
Big spenders and big events are propping up advertising spend estimates this year. Confidence falters when the calendar turns over to 2023. Only a 2.6% increase in spend is forecast (thanks, in part, to the drawn out death of third-party cookies).
So what about that split?
Advertising holding companies – which serve many of the world’s biggest brands – have recorded a positive start to 2022, with all major firms upwardly revising forward guidance for the year ahead. Conversely, small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs), who largely buy ad space directly, are bearing the brunt of worsening economic conditions.
Expectations show social media bearing the brunt of this slow down, despite nearly all sectors planning on increasing spend (overall, which means the big players should bet big while the smaller ones may scale back). While this means you should probably start experimenting with other channels now to see what works, it also means there could be some bargains in the channels being left behind, if you can find a strategy that works for you.
The split carries over to consumers as well. High earners will continue to spend, while low earners are divvying out a larger chunk of their pay to food and energy expenditures.
Getting ‘canceled’ has a new meaning now. If you’re student debt, that is. The Biden administration is wiping out up to $10k ($20k for Pell Grant recipients) in college debt for most borrowers. My quick reactions: he had to do it at some point based on campaign promises and party pressure; now seems well timed to boost consumer confidence (along with the final extension of the payment pause); and this isn’t the answer to the real problem, just addressing a symptom. Long term it will be interesting to see if this becomes a tool in the Modern Monetary Theory toolkit to address inflation and/or recessions with. There is plenty of evidence that direct cash payments to children (via parents) works after recent experiments. Could erasing chunks of debt do the same?
Trends watch: Microsoft released some search trends from their advertising verticals of focus:
Travel: people want to travel, but they want to do it on the cheap
Automotive: people are going green, it’s about EVs and hybrids
Retail: it’s all about the benjamins, people want savings
Tech & Telecomm: smartphones aren’t going anywhere, but older and budget models are where the action is at
Health & Wellness: drugs are getting pricey, and it’s stressing people out. It’s also driving them to the finance sector in an effort to find money to buy what they need
Financial Services: people want to save money (savings accounts) and be rewarded when they do spend (cash back, points, etc)
The meta-trend: people are still spending money, but looking to do so in a budget-conscious way.
Those that can afford it are subscribing their way out of ads, which means that highly coveted high-net worth audience is getting harder and harder to reach. The post linked above is short enough to see what channels they recommend. This is my newsletter / blog / yelling-into-the-void thing, so I’ll share my opinion here instead. This means you need to craft a compelling message that resonates with your aspirational audience and you need to behave like a publishing company to spread that message.
Under the Influence
Feel like you’re seeing a lot more influencers when you scroll your feed(s)? You may have Apple to thank for that. The release of iOS 14.5 shifted some spend away from the digital channels with uncertain futures (cough cough Facebook cough) and into the pockets of influencers, a channel that is more or less privacy-compliant by design.
Don’t expect to see it slow down anytime soon either. Gen Z wants to be influencers (to the tune of 1 in 4 according to one survey). No surprise there, but at what point does it just become influencers trying to influence other influencers? This is the most valuable finding, in my opinion:
Survey results showed 26 percent of respondents said they trust influencer product reviews over product page reviews
(And here’s a take on why, maybe, that’s not a great idea.)
Even Walmart is getting in on the action, looking to launch a “creator marketplace” to grow its ad platform offering.
It’s not all rosy for the influencer machine though, conversion rates may be on the decline. Naturally, the platforms and their algorithms are partially to blame, but the influencers may just be trying to make too much money and, in so doing, diluting their audience appeal. This can still be a solid channel for brand metrics, but where will performance marketers turn next?
DTC advertising is back, baybee. Apple’s app tracking change with iOS 14.5 seemed to signal the death of a business model, but the phoenix may be rising from the ashes. Reports have it that spend is increasing on the typical bottom-funnel approaches of DTC. But it’s not business as usual. This new wave is doing what Instagram couldn’t and going TikTok (at the expense of Facebook, so at least that’s the same as the Insta saga).
Twitter decided to share some tips for advertisers, the most specific being keep the tweet between 50-100 characters and the video between 6-15 seconds.
Amazon has a large audience and their display ads offering can drive traffic to links off Amazon. I’m guessing this placement is underutilized by non-Amazon sellers. Here’s a case study that might shake some ideas loose.
More ads in more places:
Gopuff is getting in on the retail media craze in an effort to find some easy money.
Apple Maps starting next year (maybe, but definitely at some point)
The free version of Outlook for mobile is basically ad supported now. Of course, this is following in the footsteps of Google, per usual.
B2B marketers like social, but content marketing appears to be the choice when revenue is on the line. They also like the idea of spending more, as budgets are expected to increase (along with competition I would imagine). Keep in mind, execs like email as a revenue driver, but don’t become a spammer.
First the death of Chrome cookies gets delayed, now the start of FLEDGE testing is delayed. Things are going well at Big G.
Are you a fancy pants Google Display & Video 360 user? Good news, you can now use it to advertise on digital billboards! It's been a while since their first acquisition into this space, so imagine the Google Ad peasantry have a long time to wait to see this functionality, if they ever see it.
You can now self-upgrade your Local campaigns in Google to Performance Max if you don't want to wait until next year. (Smart Shopping auto-upgrades are happening now, you’ve been warned.)
AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA Meta’s newest Widely Viewed Content Report is out and the most viewed link was…TikTok! In a continuing bad look for the company in this reporting series, 2 of the top 5 and 5 of the top 20 widely viewed links were removed for violating their “Inauthentic Behavior Policy”. That being said, 90% of viewed posts did not have a link (to a source outside of Facebook (whatever that means)).
Instagram has added QR codes for increased sharing capabilities. This is also known as ripping off Snapchat's snap codes.
And here’s a great breakdown of Instagram post format performance from HypeAuditor:
All short videos are now reels
Don’t over index on Reach, that’s the easiest metric for the platform to gain
Speaking of Meta’s competition:
Some brands are testing out BeReal by sharing behind the scenes content or promo codes.
Twitter is testing out a new rich link format called Tiles with select publishers.
It's coming full circle for Twitter. Blue Bird is returning to its roots and getting into the podcast game. It looks like the app will have a Stations tab that combines podcasts and Spaces, both live and recorded, into one audio feed for your discovery and enjoyment.
Speaking of podcasts (again), Apple remembered they helped pioneer them and decided to make some updates. Podcasters will no longer be required to have their contact info show in the feed, which should help with spam. There are some crawling and retrieving updates and new shows will now appear immediately so you can promote it, but review and approvals could still take up to 24 hours before it starts appearing in the discovery channels.
Just because your page is indexed by Google doesn’t mean it will stay that way. URLs can, and do, drop out of the index, making sure you link to the page from elsewhere on the site is a good first step to keeping an important page in The Goog’s good graces.
Have an Android device? Want to get early access to mess around with Google AI experiments? Check out Google's AI Test Kitchen.
YouTube is expanding access to their “Other Videos Your Audience Watched” feature. A useful tool to get a better feel for audience and maybe stumble on some content ideas to add to the to-do list.
You may have heard Twilio was hacked (mentioned here a couple weeeks back), and it led to Signal being compromised. Turns out the encrypted messaging app was only one of more than 100 customers that got hacked thanks to the hack. Including Authy, the company’s 2 factor authentication app. Twilio may not be the only service that was used for this phish either.
LastPass was also hacked (again via a compromised developer account, people are always the weakest link in the security chain) but it doesn’t seem like anything happened that would impact users.
The former head of (cyber)security at Twitter is blowing the whistle. Blue Bird is, of course, denying the allegations, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a decent amount of merit to them. The company is a case study in indifferent management. The claims center on not adequately protecting user accounts and data and not really doing much about spam. Oh, and lying about it on filings and such. Elon is delighted right now.
Alternates & Assorteds
Forgot logic gates, computation would be rendered as ripples across the surface with this liquid crystal computer idea.
I have more things I plan on talking about, want to read them?