🐇Rabbbits Weeekly: Schrödinger’s Social Commerce 🕳️
It is projected to both flourish and fail. Plus a bunch of other stuff if you like marketing and market news-like things.
Hey, it’s Kyle, the guy who remembers hearing that one story about an informal Mastodon engagement test so he re-downloads and skims a few podcast episodes to find the guy’s name to search to eventually track down a tweet with a screencap of another tweet deleted for having a Mastodon link so he downloads the image to use the iPhone camera’s native Optical Character Recognition (OCR) feature to click the link to access the toot to pull the info all so you didn’t have to.
This weeek: One-time messages, Schrödinger’s Social Commerce, how to determine influencer rates, Google’s always changing ad targeting, and some headlines about ads, retail, the æconomy, audiences, analytics, algorithms, and attack vectors.
This Message Will Self-Destruct
WhatsApp now has one-time messages. These messages can only be viewed once and are then deleted—for both sender and receiver.
While I think messaging apps and features will play an increasingly large role in the space formerly dominated by traditional social media, I don't care too much about features and announcements like these. But what about one-time ads?
In traditional media these are nothing new, an ad run once in the Sunday paper is a one-time ad. But digital typically aims for a certain level of repetition to maximize the chances any one user sees the ad (and remembers the brand / message).
At the extreme you could set a frequency cap of 1, and maybe users who interact with it are your truly engaged audience. This could be interesting for a big flash sale you want to run as a quasi-secret. "Save 50% if you order today. But act fast, you'll only see this deal once!"
This makes me realize that I don't know if the big social platforms stop showing ads to users that click on them.* Or if that is an option. Guess I have a new rabbbit hole to go down.
*I assume lead gen ads will stop delivering to users that have completed the form. So you can use that format as a proxy for this idea.
Social Commerce is Dead, Long Live Social Commerce
Western social platforms have been dreaming of WeChat for ages and the first step was supposed to be social commerce—discover, shop, and buy all without leaving the app. A platform’s wet dream. Especially since they’d collect a cut on both ends, selling the ad that drives the purchase that gets them a processing percentage. But it’s never caught on in the West (at least not yet, TikTok may still have the last word).
Side note: this is why I’m bearish on everything apps in “the West.” If you can’t even get users to finish the purchase process in your app how are you going to get them to do everything else?
What’s next for social commerce? A return to basics. And the basics are ads.
The No. 2 biggest reason for US social media buyers to purchase is in response to seeing an ad
So what should marketers do? This advice is solid all around, even if you remove the social specifics:
Meet consumers where they are (on TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook) with content they’ll respond to (ads and influencer posts).
The Cost of Influence(rs)
If you’re considering influencer marketing, this Shopify guide might be helpful. I’m partial to the price benchmarking equations:
Rate = ((# of Followers / 10,000) * $100) * # of posts + additional required expenses (as agreed to)
Rate = (# of Followers * 4%) * # of posts + additional required expenses
Influencer CPM = Average # of views + likes + comments for last 5 posts / cost of content production
Agency / management cut
Long running campaign partnerships
Short turnaround time
Adding a link
And maybe see if you can get a wholesale or AAA member discount.
Keyword Targeting: Broad Match 2.0
Google's broad match for keyword targeting ads used to be garbage. There was no better way to waste budget on irrelevant and junk searches. The search query reports were fun to review though (and unsettling at times).
But that might be changing now.
As further proof that bots are running the company, the broad match matching system now leverages other signals from your account (like keywords and landing pages) to help better match ads to queries.
To help clarify this, Google indulged in Silicon Valley's favorite signaling mechanism: a name change. Broad match keywords will now trigger on "relevant" searches, not just "related" searches.
The secret to using them effectively: let campaigns / ad groups train on more specific match types first and make sure you're using a Smart Bidding option when you add broad match in.
Google's Post-Cookie Potluck
Google really wants people to start testing out its post-cookie targeting ideas (Topics, FLEDGE, Attribution Reporting), so a Googler wrote a post about them.
How will these impact "audience creation"?
Topics is the new Google-based interest targeting and will be used for Affinity and In-market audiences. It can be extended with contextual data (about the page the user is on, so contextual advertising) and Attribution Reporting (which could help unearth other topics of interest to converters (say, the overlap of sports fandom and international news interest).
FLEDGE allows implementers to create their own user segments (which live on-device / in-browser for privacy purposes) and covers all 4 audience types: Affinity, In-market, Remarketing, Audience extension (I think this one is like lookalike / similar audiences). In all cases this is accomplished by assigning site visitors to custom interest groups to be used for targeting.
Inflation isn’t over, but it is slowing. Prices were up 7.1% year-over-year in November, which marks the fifth straight month-over-month of year-over-year decline. That weird wording is because November prices were up 0.1% compared to October. So basically flat.
Janet Yellen (the Treasury Secretary) suggests inflation should continue to cool off through 2023. Recession not required? And does saying we don’t need a recession increase the chances of not having one? And does helping avoid a panic increase consumer confidence?
Regardless of the answers to the above and whether the chicken or the egg came first, the Federal Reserve increased interest rates again. But this time only by 0.5%, so even that indicator is slowing down.
On the flip side, the Fed also expects that rates will rise higher than its previous target. And that inflation will remain about its 2% target until 2025.
Europeans are cutting back on spending, anticipating high energy bills and even bigger inflation.
Oh, and vegetable prices are way up. Why? Drought.
Retail Tea Leaves
The party may be coming to an end for retail as brands gear up for slower sales. Nearly half of survey respondents expect their holiday sales to take a hit thanks to the economy. Looking into 2023 this jumps to nearly 2/3 of respondents.
This attitude is well-supported by the current consumer environment: Given the record-breaking start to the holiday shopping season, it’s clear that people are ready and willing to spend, despite all of the economic headwinds at play. Brands are likely looking to do what’s best for their bottom lines with the decision to forgo steeper discounts, and bet on shoppers’ willingness to pay full price (or close to it) to shore up their sales as much as possible heading into the uncertain environment waiting for us in the new year.
Reality begins where the free money train ends. And how much of this is a normalization from the recent boom?
First cookies were given a stay of execution, now ad blockers. Chrome is planning an overhaul to its extension framework that will all but prevent ad blockers and other privacy preserving plugins from doing their thing. And like cookies, we don’t know when (if?) these changes will actually take place.
There’s a new AI-powered tool that determines the “host suitability” of podcast hosts to put advertisers at ease.
The heat got too high for Apple so it’s leaving the exclusive App Store kitchen. In Europe. But, just like security backdoors, if you put the opening there for one party, others will soon follow. And this could only be the first domino of many to fall (camera, browser, and the infrastructure that enables Apple Pay (NFC) are mentioned).
I’m interested to see how Apple handles the security aspects of these openings. Android is rife with malware (Bible apps are a popular vehicle) and, while iOS is not invulnerable, that security has long been part of its appeal. (Mac users sideload apps all the time without issues so a lot of Apple’s grandstanding is just to protect their current mafioso approach to the App Store.)
Everything is customer service, even SEO. Google has added an E to its E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness) content rating framework: Experience.
Does content also demonstrate that it was produced with some degree of experience, such as with actual use of a product, having actually visited a place or communicating what a person experienced?
Sounds like this is an anti-ChatGPT, anti-fake review measure.
Netflix got its ad supported tier out in time to beat Disney+ and lure in some holiday budgets from big brands, but now they’re giving those advertisers their money back. Some of it at least. Turns out they don’t have a big enough audience to meet their guarantees, so they’re refunding the difference.
It’s a classy move. But is it also a sign of more revenue troubles ahead for the OG streaming service? Based on viewing habits, they don’t have a competitive content moat and gaming hasn’t saved the day yet. 2023 could be make or break.
Reddit officially has its own “we’re business friendly” microsite, the surest signal that Twitter’s blood is in the water.
As does David Krebs informal test on engagement levels which finds that Mastodon beats Twitter and LinkedIn (hint: Mastodon has no financial incentive to keep you on-platform or gamify feed engagement(which also means brands may find it tough sledding compared to what they’re used to)).
I checked a recent toot of my own and calculated a 60% engagement to follower rate. Granted, I barely use the platform and have almost no followers.
Instagram account get hacked? The former photo sharing app will help you with that now.
As further proof that Meta is pivoting to a novel focus on revenue and the core business, Big Blue has shut down its Cameo clone and its LinkedIn rip off, creatively named Jobs.
YouTube went TikTok so now TikTok is going YouTube and testing out horizontal video.
Sports fans are more likely to be interested in international news, finds Fox. (Sometimes the easiest way to reach an audience is through a side door.)
Just when I thought I’d be closing out the year by creating a whole bunch of landing page reports in Google Analytics 4 for clients, it goes ahead and gets its very own native version (Merry Christmas to me).
A bipartisan bill to ban TikTok in the US has been put forward. The concerns about Chinese access is valid, but interesting that this comes after all the Oracle partnership and US data center stuff. But does it need to be banned?
Assorteds & Alternates
The US Department of Energy announced successful nuclear fusion ignition. A process that creates more energy than it needed to create it. Fusion has been a green energy dream for a long time and if this is the first breakthrough of many our future could look a lot brighter (and greener).
Thanks for stopping by! With the holidays, I have no idea when I’ll be publishing what, so consider everything from here on out this year as an advent calendar or white elephant gift exchange.