Rabbbits Weeekly: On Trend
Or, the one where we talk about retail a lot. Plus, more headlines and things about the æconomy, algorithms, ads, analytics and attack vectors.
Make sure you’re on trend this Halloween with Google’s Frightgeist. That means: witch, Spider-man, dinosaur, Stranger Things, fairy, pirate, rabbit (how did I not think of this?), cheerleader, cowboy, Harley Quinn, etc and so on.
Or, if you want to go unique, opt for the Cereal Killer.
Retail Tea Leaves
Deloitte has released their holiday survey for 2022 (PDF) and it’s about what you’d expect, inflation is the headliner. Overall, people are planning on spending more, which will mean less stuff. But the split isn’t evenly distributed (a trend of the current economy), the low-income group is planning on spending more, while the high-income group, less.
5 shopping behaviors to prepare for this #holidanszn:
Shoppers want to save money, but might still reward themselves with little luxuries
E-commerce may have fallen from pandemic highs, but it’s far from dead
Shop, shop, shop around the clock. Work hours doesn’t mean a shopping pause, probably because they’ll spend so much time scouring for deals
When in doubt, shoppers are likely to put their dollars where it matters to them (American made, small business, minority owned, etc)
Free shipping is the gift everyone wants to receive
In prep for the holidays, retailers are both stockpiling to ensure inventory and discounting to clear excess inventory.
The holiday sales sprint is now a sales quarter, with big retailers and DTC brands alike spreading things out and not going all in on the Black Friday-Cyber Monday shopping bonanza.
Supporting the holiday sales quarter are the following strategies / drivers: all the promos; paid search, affiliates and partnerships; email and SMS as top sales channels; a fear of data-loss and inflation.
Target is starting their dealz szn already. All these early sales and promos could mean less money being spent around the “traditional” shopping times later in the quarter.
The future of Black Friday is…football? Amazon will be airing an NFL game of BF23. Could the annual stampede be slowly replaced by experiences and events?
Klarna is going full Zuck and copying from everybody:
Google - full featured, “unbiased” shopping search (which totally makes sense for Klarna (how long until ads show up?))
TikTok - (shoppable) short form videos (legally mandated of all digital platforms)
Influencer, sorry Creator, marketing tools - the name is self-explanatory, find influencers/creators to market with
Patagonia - “Tools to support our planet’s health” (which appears to means an easy way to donate to environmental non-profits and a product carbon footprint tracker)
Secondhand shopping and resale may be primed to break out of their niche status.
Buy* clam flavored mayonnaise from Target and find a pack of cards inside! It sounds outrageous, until you realize it’s a promo partnership with Cards Against Humanity and it makes perfect sense. (*sorry, you can’t, it’s sold out.)
Da Goog is bringing its visual first shopping features from mobile to desktop, like filters and product details without leaving the search results. (Another reminder that Google is in the business of delivering information to users, not traffic to your website.)
A Capterra survey found that online shoppers expect checkout to take 4 minutes or less, and over ¼ of respondents said it should take less than 2. It also found that 72% of guest checkouts are actually returning customers who didn’t log in. This can cause issues for lifetime value calculations, site personalization efforts, etc. So, how do you get them to login? Well…
Offer incentives (points, discounts, etc.)
Don’t be sketchy, be transparent about what the data you collect is for (also see: privacy regulations)
Dig into the “new user” analytics to see if you find any patterns
Turn your site into a concierge machine
A/B test (do this anyway)
Amazon has a retention problem (of employees, not customers). Big enough that internal data predicts they could churn through the working age population in some metros in a matter of years. Retention is why Henry Ford doubled the minimum wage. This also explains why The Everything Store is plowing so much money and R&D into automation and robotics of all kinds, you don’t have to retain a robot or algorithm, you just reset it.
2023 could be the year of Where Did the Marketing Dollars Go? (I’m assuming this survey is of national brands that’ll get hit hard by any recession versus “average” companies that advertise).
Netflix is launching (a stripped down version of) their ad platform next month (and related ad-supported subscription tier). But it might be sold out by the time it does.
Twitter continues to build on their (current) shopping ambitions (we’ll find out what Elon thinks about all this soon enough, I suppose) with a new ad asset: product cards. Cards are the Twitter name for the different types of rich assets you can place in promoted tweets (like images, videos, links, etc). The cards allow brands to highlight new products and drive traffic to their Twitter Shop by highlighting different products.
Google has announced pumpkin spice ads. Not really, but they did announce seasonal video ad templates, so kind of.
Big G is putting (some of) the power in users’ hands when it comes to the ads they see with the launch of My Ad Center.
YouTube content targeting conversion campaigns is no more. Mixing audience and content targeting creates an AND relationship, meaning you get the overlapping part of the venn diagram only. They claim it’s to improve conversion performance, I guess the increased revenue generation is just a happy side effect.
But it does have some new toys. Moment Blast is their version of a Super Bowl commercial, big time attention during a big moment. Product feeds are coming to Discovery ads. And it’s getting into the podcast ad game with audio ads. (I would imagine they’ll find a way to work these into smart speaker placements too.)
An Amazon Ads crash course if you need one before the holidays.
Caffeine, a hybrid social media-streaming platform at the "crossroads of streaming culture, sports, and music" (I think), is launching video ads. Do with that what you will.
Where have you been, where are you going, and how can we sell ads based on that? Uber’s new plan for profit, jump on the first-party data train to deliver ads in-app. Or sponsor an entire ride with Journey Ads and deliver 3 different ads to one user during their ride. Also, commerce capabilities in-app. Because of course.
Having issues with fake leads from your Performance Max campaigns? Google has some tips for that:
Facebook’s weird auto-generated ads promoting random businesses are back. To opt out, go to Commerce Manager: settings > general > find “promote products from your shop” > edit > turn off, and then click it again to confirm.
TikTok is giving ads the Full Algorithm treatment with the new Smart Performance Campaigns (working title should have been Trust In TikTok campaigns). Pick your objective, country, budget, and creative and the algorithm that ate the world does the rest.
A clever use of AirDrop and billboards to promote a Netflix show. Clever until it’s overdone that is. (And no airdropping strangers while on mass transit, please.)
Snap’s stock cratered again, will it be a sign of bad things to come again? But don’t give up on the ghost, it just barely missed revenue expectations and grew its user base.
TikTok’s next play in becoming an Everything App™ might be podcasts.
The Trend Machine is very popular (with the under-35 set), but not as popular as YouTube…for now.
Pinterest further TikTok-ifies Idea Pins with a newly licensed music library for creators.
Meta is still keeping it Reels, this time working on a collaboration feature. (Also, Reels are coming to Groups.)
Will the next wave of streaming services be from sports teams? The Los Angeles Clippers are either about to start a trend or create another memeable moment for Steve Ballmer. (For reference, NBA League Pass is $100 for the season, but excludes national broadcast games and local blackouts.)
The team at Twitter tasked with coming up with a decentralized social protocol may finally have something to show off, something that sounds a lot like Mastodon and ActivityPub? Maybe?
Forget “tap to pay,” Apple is planning the future of “blink to pay” with XR headsets. (XR means augmented and virtual reality.)
Consumers are now more worried about inflation than COVID. The most common behavior change in response is brand switching.
The IRS is increasing standard deductions for the upcoming tax season, hoping to help make inflation sting a little less.
FedEx is predicting lower ground shipping volumes to end the year, so supply chains and shipping times may not be the biggest concern this holiday season.
Google might not own the post-cookie future of tracking and targeting. FLEDGE is the most recent effort of theirs that has failed. (FLEDGE is the retargeting “solution.” Topics covers the interest based targeting, not sure how its faring.)
Automatically import cost data to Google Analytics on a regular cadence from an FTP server. The cost import tool can be super useful, it’s the actual importing that can be a drag (especially if you’re doing it manually), so any automation is always welcome.
YouTube is testing out Data Stories, which appear to be an Instagram or Snapchat story style experience in YouTube that gives you the highlights and insights from your channel analytics. So it’s YouTube content about your content’s performance on YouTube.
A watchdog group tested YouTube, Facebook, and TikTok with blatant misinformation ads about US midterms. YouTube passed, the other two very much not.
California is getting another privacy bill, the California Privacy Rights Act. It expands the CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act) by ditching the “selling data” language that was very easy to circumvent (Meta does not sell user data, it sells access against the data) and replaces it with “data sharing.” I think the safe interpretation is that any company that interacts with consumer data of California residents in any way needs to make sure they’re playing by these new rules.
Remember all those concerns about TikTok being used as a tool for espionage by the Chinese government, turns out they might not have been totally wrong.
Elon might buy Twitter (and slash headcount by 75% (Blue Bird says there are no plans for this)), but he definitely tweeted his way to federal scrutiny. The US government is getting uncomfortable with some recent tweets friendly to Russia and his funding triumvirate for the purchase of Saudi Arabia, China, and Qatar.
The UK has told Meta they have to sell Giphy in the interest of competition. No word on if Zuck is planning a tea party.