Rabbbits Weeekly: Trend Spotting
The ad market splits and platforms diverge, your Facebook ad account might be under attack, winter is coming, and your analytics might be illegal.
Mixing up the format this week. I didn’t keep on top of headlines last week but noticed a few trends that feel worth touching on. If you like it, let me know.
The Instagram section just kept growing, so I’m going to post that solo later this week.
According to Google Docs’ AI summary: This week we covered Facebook's attempt to post-puberty affiliate marketing, the Ad Market, and the ineptitude landscape.
The Ad Market Splits
I have to admit, part of my interest here is for the nerdy academic angle. Last time we had a Recession of Note™ I was studying economics and helping launch my school’s Mock Federal Reserve team (yeah, I’m that kind of cool). This will be the first time I experience one in my chosen field of employment and nerdery: marketing.
There is a split forming in the advertising market between those who are continuing to spend and those who are tightening the purse strings. Unsurprisingly, based on inflation and earnings news, the companies that can pass price increases along to consumers (aka The Traditional Biguns™) are continuing to spend, the digitally-native minded companies that rely on the platforms are reigning it in.
If you want to act like a Big Brand, advertise your way through this downtown/recession/readjustment for as long as you can.
economic slumps are usually the best chance to buy share of voice cheaply at the same time rivals reduce their own.
This divergence will converge at some point (hopefully for positive reasons). The question is, what will you do in the meantime?
General consensus is to play the long-game. Most of the current shifts are prioritizing short-term results. Keynes may have said, “in the long run, we’re all dead,” but companies need to survive the short-term to have a long-term they can plan for. So this shift isn’t unexpected. But forgoing the long-term now, makes it harder to catch up when better times return.
brands that cut ad spending in categories where their competitors maintain or increase it, historically lose vital market share.
How much market share can you lose? The analysts behind a report (covered in the post quoted above) calculated it at 15% if a competitor increases spending. Of course, it considers brand building channels to be traditional media, so YMMV.
The Ad Platforms Diverge
Facebook is shedding experiments and features in an attempt to stabilize the container ship full of money after seeing their revenue graph take the dreaded down-and-to-the-right turn. Other players in the sphere are capitalizing on their good times to roll out new features.
Cookies may live to crumble another day, but Da Goog™ will be testing FLEDGE (one of those interest group based ad targeting things they’re working on) with publishers starting later this month. The test should slowly expand and evolve until they’re convinced they can can cookies.
4 new announcements for Discovery ads including: better ads for Gmail (novel idea) by launching more details in the client, more info on what type of assets to ad during the creation process, more insights on asset and audience performance (another novel idea), better audience building (or so they claim)
The search giant is also trying to avoid layoffs by getting more from what they already have.
Not to be left behind, Microsoft made some of their own ad announcements.
Say hello to Automotive ads, or at least get an overview of how the data feed powered vertical ad types work on the platform (available for travel, financial services (including real estate), and automotive)
Dynamic remarketing, which… is this really new?
The above is powered by their Universal Event Tracking tag, which got some new parameters allowing for new audience list options
More bid optimization options for the audience network: more(?) options for the video beta and algorithmically-powered automated bidding (but you have to ask permission first (how are these worthy of announcement?))
Better reporting interface (I would refute this based on recent experience)
And, finally, migrate to Responsive Search Ads or die. Er, I mean, lose editing privileges for currently running and unsupported non-responsive ads.
But really, the big news from Big M™ is from LinkedIn (did you forget they owned it?). The professionally-minded
digital resume site social networking platform is revamping their Discover feed. But not like that! It’s not a TikTok-ification, Recruiters R Us is taking a page out of Yahoo’s playbook (what a role model). The new feed will feature content, regardless of type, hand selected by the LinkedIn News team.
New Kid on the Block: Apple
Apple wants a piece of the advertising pie (which was a conspiracy theory about the 14.5 updates). To that end, they announced more App Store ads, expanding out of Search into the Today screen and product (app) pages. Very Amazon.
And further proof they’re going all in on ads. They’re hiring for a position to develop a demand-side platform, which is a fancy way of saying a Google or Facebook ads competitor.
Facebook Ad Attacks
This week, let’s up the ante. The Today in Digital Marketing podcast did a special episode on Meta account security. The takeaway, bad actors (like hackers, not d-listers) are using the API to takeover ad accounts and hide their tracks. They add users, launch duplicated campaigns that look like the originals, and run their scam ads, all on your credit card. The change history tab doesn’t show anything, so you have to check your ads to see if they are actually for your business. And keep an eye on that spend.
One potential attack vector is apps that are connected to your personal profile. Go here and see if anything looks fishy, or just delete anything and everything you aren’t using.
Google Analytics (GA) is still in the crosshairs of multiple Euro authorities. The interesting thing is, they’re on the hook not for how they handle user data, but where they handle it.
GA has been deemed illegal in Italy, France, Austria, and The Netherlands because transferring data back to the US doesn’t provide enough safeguards around euro data from US government surveillance. There doesn’t appear to be an easy way out for Google either, so it could become illegal across the EU. If this could materially impact your business, it’d be wise to setup a secondary analytics platform just in case. (The link above linked to this list of options.)
Charles Farina @CharlesFarinaGoogle has a preview of the new "Google Tag" in their GA4 demo account that they announced at Google Marketing Live in May. Anyone using the gtag.js version of tags for Google Ads, Google Analytics, etc will soon receive new functionality. (No retagging is necessary) https://t.co/6Q6JaVsfQC
The gtag.js is one tag to rule them all. For Google products. At some point. And you may need to redo your setup. At some point.
It should make life easier as it means one tag for all products instead of one tag per product. I wonder how this impacts their data handling issues. Does one tag make it easier to send all data from an EU site to EU servers? Or is this doubling down on The Google Way and trying to call regulators’ bluffs?
Unlike grocery and energy prices, gas prices, airfare, and mortgage rates are down. Which is a small comfort as we head into a recession. (Reminder, this isn’t a “bad thing”, it’s a reality of market cycles.) Earlier this summer, container prices from China finally dropped.
And then there’s Verizon and AT&T:
Industry executives say that consumers already numbed to surging prices for other necessities might absorb slightly higher rates instead of switching providers or dropping service.
That’s called “greedflation”. Here’s a 101 from The Hustle
Here’s how it works:
Consumers become accustomed to higher prices as a result of inflation (along with supply chain issues and the war in Ukraine, in this case).
Corporations use the opportunity to increase prices and boost profits, even if their own costs haven’t changed.
And here’s just a fun one to cap this section off with. Why are cans of AriZona iced tea still just 99 cents?
How can you not love this?
I’m committed to that 99 cent price — when things go against you, you tighten your belt, I don’t want to do what the bread guys and the gas guys and everybody else are doing. Consumers don’t need another price increase from a guy like me.
Tech experienced a massive pull forward during the height of the pandemic. Now the hangover may be setting in. (Ecomm also experienced a pull forward of about 5 years, whether or not it’s returning to the trend is up for debate.)
In addition to (waves vaguely) all the other stuff the industry is making headlines for right now, there are two that suggest it better bundle up for winter.
First there aren’t enough chips, now there aren’t enough buyers. Markets are weird. Global semiconductor sales have slowed, which is perfect timing with the passage of the CHIPS act. Nvidia warned they’ll miss targets and blamed the gaming sector. Downstream sales are slowing and the upstream sales are following suit.
Venture capital’s free money train ran out of steam once the Fed raised interest rates. Combined with so many startups losing unicorn status, it’s no surprise that Y Combinator (the Ferrari of startup accelerators) has shrunk the size of this summer’s crop.
Less money, fewer startups, lower sales. That’s a recipe for some long, cold nights.
Google might have to give Rumble (a free speech touting video platform) a peek under its algorithmic kimono, says a judge. The dispute is over how much Do No Evil favors YouTube in search results. (I find it weird that Greenwald, in the original post, says Rumble is YouTube’s main competitor, I can’t recall hearing about them before this.)
Here is a Ben Evans quote that I am sure is in no way related.
I always used to feel that when people complained about how Google worked or how recommendation engines worked, what they were really complaining about is that the recommendation engine wasn't recommending their post.
According to Pinterest:
shoppers who visit Pinterest weekly outspend non-users by two times every month and have an 85% larger basket size.
Pinterest’s partner Shopify’s 2022 research also backed that up, noting that intent to buy was the primary factor in an e-commerce platform’s revenue success: “With privacy laws that limit marketers’ ability to target ads and consumers who are better at blocking ad interruptions, it’s becoming tougher to get a decent return on advertising spend. The cost per click for paid search ads increased by 15% between the second and third quarters of 2021 alone.”
Also, realtime analytics for pins. You know, just in case you’re a true workaholic and need another excuse for 24/7 hours.
The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency has released an alert covering the top malware strains of 2021. These included remote access trojans, banking trojans, information stealers, and ransomware. Most of these have been in use for more than 5 years. Lots of technical details at the link, including the Essential Eight mitigation strategies.
Digiday did a survey on daily social posting, which I will now recap a recap of. Responses show that more agencies were posting on a daily basis for clients despite no real change in the % that said these platforms drove revenue and a decrease in the % that say they're good for brand building.
Instagram to undertake a study of users’ race with an outside partner. What could go wrong?
Shopify had a rough earnings call and announced a 10% reduction in staff. But they are also making a strategic investment in Klaviyo, the ecomm focused email marketing tool. It makes sense based on the rise of Klaviyo and seems like a return to the core focus for Shopify.
More good news for Shopify. Bounty, a TikTok influencer marketing app that let’s brands pay customers for the engagement their TikToks generate (after the customer buys the product themselves), just raised a $5 million seed round.