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Facebook Evolving Trends Research: Mindful Wellness [Infographic]



Facebook has published a new set of reports which look at evolving digital media trends amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The reports are based on a combination of internal data insights from Facebook, commissioned survey insights and third-party research, in total, incorporating responses from over 34,000 consumers. 

And they highlight some very relevant data points for digital marketers – Facebook has identified five key trends of note:

  • Safer Shopping – Relating to new shopping measures to limit the spread of COVID-19, and the shift to eCommerce
  • Mindful Wellness – More people are turning to calming recreational activities to counter the stress of the situation
  • Glocal Community – The pandemic has brought communities closer, leading to an increase in support for loal businesses
  • Gen Z’s Regeneration – The pandemic has solidified Gen Z’s support of causes
  • Connected Convenience – More people are relying on messaging to stay in touch, including with brands 

Each of these trends has significance for brand marketing. You can read Facebook’s full report here, but below is an infographic looking at the key points within the second shift – ‘Mindful Wellness’.

Could be some relevant pointers for your marketing approach.

Mindful wellness infographic


Meta Announces New Partnership to Broadcast NBA and WNBA Games in VR as Headset Sales Stutter



Meta Announces New Partnership to Broadcast NBA and WNBA Games in VR as Headset Sales Stutter

It’s difficult to truly measure the potential of Meta’s metaverse push as yet, because so much of its VR content is restricted, and limited in what exactly it can do at this stage.

Case in point – today, Meta has announced a new partnership with the NBA and WNBA, which will see more than 50 games broadcast within its VR environment, ‘including five in immersive, 180-degree VR’.

As per Meta:

Five games will feature celebrity broadcasters and be shown in 180-degree immersive VR, and WNBA games, NBA G League games and NBA 2K League games will be available to watch as well. In Meta Horizon Worlds, you’ll also be able to access game highlights, recaps and archival content.

Which, as an NBA fan, sounds pretty cool. I mean, most of these games won’t be in full, immersive VR, which is the real lure, in providing an experience that simulates being at the actual game, which is not possible for those outside the US.

That would be even better, if all of these games were being broadcast in 180-degree, or even 360-degree VR, so you could take in the full stadium experience.

But they’re not – and even more than that, there’s actually a range of restrictions on this content:

  • XTADIUM, where these games will be broadcast in VR, is only available in the US
  • Meta Horizon Worlds is currently only available in the US, Canada, the UK, Iceland, Ireland, France and Spain
  • To top it off, geo-restrictions mean that a lot of this content won’t be available in some regions

So, basically, the only way to get the best version of this experience is to be in the US, where you can already attend these matches in reality. Also, the expanded Horizon Worlds content is only available in some places.

The restrictions underline the ongoing frustration with Meta’s metaverse push, in that it’s a) not very good, b) not utilizing full VR, and c) not even available in most regions.

So it’s hard to even measure what the metaverse will actually be, because most of us can’t access it to assess.

Of course, there are technical limitations here, including licensing, as Meta notes. But the difficult spot for Meta is that it’s being forced to promote a sub-par VR experience, in order to showcase the work that it’s doing, while it’s also working to get users excited for what’s coming, when the experience right now is just not that great.

Ideally, Meta would prefer to keep things under wraps until it’s at an optimal level, which would then provide a full-force VR experience, which may well be amazing, and beyond what we can imagine as yet. But when you’re investing tens of billions of dollars into a project, your shareholders are going to want to see where that money’s going.

And right now, it’s difficult to see it. I have a Quest headset. I never use it, neither do my teen kids. I go back to it every now and then to see what’s happening, but it’s just not engaging – there’s nothing that keeps me coming back, as yet, and nothing that will truly spark the next-level of adoption that Meta will need to make its metaverse experience a thing.

The risk for Meta, then, is that declining interest in VR could de-rail its plan entirely. Sales of VR headsets declined in 2022, year-over-year, which is not a good sign for the company’s broad-reaching ambitions.

If Meta can’t generate interest, and spark more hype around the tech, it’ll have a hard time getting people to even try out its metaverse experience, when it does become available in more regions.

But it’s early days. Meta itself has repeatedly noted that it will be a decade before we shift to the next stage of metaverse adoption, which, at present, pegs that at around 2030.

Can Meta weather the criticism and financial impact of such for another 7 to 8 years?

Really, it has little choice, as it’s gone all-in on the concept as the future of its business – and maybe, sometime soon, Meta will come out with a killer application or process in VR, that switches people’s thinking entirely. But right now, it’s a lot of empty hype, for half-baked VR offerings, at last from the consumer side.

I can see the vision, I get where Meta is headed. Just not sure it’s current development is helping much in this respect.

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Marketing Briefing: TikTok is making search a bigger focus, but marketers, agency execs say it’s early days



Marketing Briefing: TikTok is making search a bigger focus, but marketers, agency execs say it's early days

As some younger consumers are changing behavior and using TikTok as a search engine, marketers and agency execs say that it makes sense for brands to be early movers and find ways to stand out. 

“With Gen Z preferring TikTok to traditional search engines as their source for information gathering, brands are going to have to re-think their search strategies,” said Amanda Shapiro, Deutsch LA senior vp, group strategy. “It’s all about content discoverability, which needs to be a consideration from development through posting.” 

Brands tend to follow consumers wherever they go so doing so that makes sense. That said, how much investment or time spent on owning search on the platform, given it’s still early days, will depend on the brand and its focus on the demo spending time there. It’s unclear how much marketers are spending on paid search ads just yet though agency execs say it’s a small percentage of clients are testing out right now and doing so as an experiment.

“The most exciting part about TikTok search for media buyers is finally seeing a legitimate disruptor to Google, at least among Gen Z,” said Neil Sawhney, director of media, west at Pereira O’Dell. “That demo’s increasing preference for TikTok as a search engine is clear, so now it’s up to brands to weigh what level of experimentation is justified.”

Agency execs say that while some brands are using TikTok’s paid search ads, which have been in beta since last March, others are taking an organic, SEO-driven approach. By adjusting organic for search, some agency execs believe that marketers can test out how well search can work for their brand while the value of the paid search ads on the platform are still up for debate.

“It’s not enough placement wise to warrant much excitement,” said David Herrmann, president of Herrmann Digital, when asked for his POV on TikTok search ads. “It’s slowly coming along.” 

Herrmann continued: “Essentially TikTok seems poised to compete with Google in this regard. They’ve built it into their organic side with keywords. One of my brands owns a bunch of key terms organically on TikTok (they have five of the top eight most-watched videos in a popular category). For ads purposes we always include those key terms in our ads. That’s the best way to do this. But still small potatoes right now with reach being very tiny.” 

That TikTok search is often used for “how-to” type content i.e. how to use a product or how to do something as well as recommendations, brands that are looking to do organic content as an approach to search are leaning into that type of content when doing so. As for brand categories, beauty brands, food brands and travel brands, among others, are those experimenting with search.

Aaron Levy, Tinuiti’s vp of paid search, noted that, “We’re not viewing TikTok as a threat to Google Ads, but more an opportunity for horizontal expansion. [Cost-per-click]’s on Google are increasing year-on-year and the market is becoming saturated – we view TikTok as a way to reach new users at a lower cost.” 

How important search ads on TikTok will be for marketers is still unclear. “The story of ‘search on TikTok’ being a threat to Google is a bit overdone though,” said Belsky. “It happens to be true in very visual categories like restaurants or recipe selection, but when you think about things like credit card or insurance research, this is just not true.  Like most things in ad-land, the truth is more in the middle.”

3 Questions with Matt Leonard, CMO at Purple Carrot, a plant-based meal kit company 

The meal kit space took a hit after Covid restrictions ended and people ventured back out. How is Purple Carrot managing those changes? 

The meal kit world was evolving in 2019. It was on the upswing a bit. Obviously, Covid came in and created very unnatural demands. For me coming in new, it’s on the reset time, where the backdrop of that natural demand is not there. I won’t say it’s slowed down to perilous levels by any means. But it’s not the organic demand, obviously, when people really didn’t have many ways to actually eat food, to get the food. We will probably be biasing towards organic growth, strengthening the brands, focusing on conversion [and] building out our LTV [Life Time Value]. It’ll be a mix of organic, local marketing. We’ll be thinking about regions, very hyperlocal, that makes sense, where our product fits well for people, where there’s a need. 

What’s the current marketing mix to manage said changes?

Early on we’ll still be in the demand capture stages. We’re looking at ways to expand affiliate partnerships, things along those lines where our message gets out to a really relevant audience at a controlled [customer-acquisition-costs]. Maybe ballpark 20% of the mix could come from something like that. I wouldn’t be surprised to see 20%-plus come from customer sharing. We’re doing a lot of work on the virality side to really focus on what that factor looks like, how people share within their network, when they share, what the costs look like in that space. We probably have a 20% allocation from search. [For] programmatic paid social, the display channels, we’ll throw in another 20% there. That left me with about another 20% to really start thinking about influencers, partnerships, developmental channels, CTV and different sorts of areas. 

With the social landscape changing so quickly, does that impact how Purple Carrot is thinking about marketing? 

It’s harder than ever to track. It’s harder than ever to target. When we think about those, and really what the cost is, there’s the trade off of how good attribution is and how much you’re willing to invest in a not perfectly tracked channel. [Where] media costs have gone to with the lack of tracking leaves us in a state where I think there’s other ways to to deliver your message more effectively, or differently. — Kimeko McCoy

By the numbers

Although once considered the future of shopping, social commerce and livestream shopping has yet to take off the way marketers predicted it would. Facebook, Instagram and TikTok last year all took a step back from social commerce, and apparently, so are shoppers, according to new research from The Influencer Marketing Factory. Find out how in the data points below:

  • Only 36% of U.S. and 25% of U.K. responders have ever purchased something during a Livestream.
  • The first choice for American responders is Facebook Live (26%), while U.K. responders prefer TikTok Live (30%).
  • U.S. responders (27%) spent between $20 and $50 on Livestream shopping in the last 3 months. Comparatively in the U.K., (31%) of responders have spent between $10 and $20 — Kimeko McCoy

Quote of the week

“The world changes every year or two in our industry, so maybe you have people that were brought in during the huge bubble. There are a lot of people receiving very good paychecks that maybe aren’t contributing to the top or bottom line like they were in 2021 or 2022.”

— A source referencing the growth of tech companies in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic when asked about Google’s layoffs.

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Can Elon Right the Twitter Ship?



Can Elon Right the Twitter Ship?

Should we be concerned about Twitter?

I mean, Elon Musk is been able to steer his other companies to massive success, there’s no reason, as yet, to believe he can’t achieve the same at Twitter. Right?

It’s impossible to say, of course, because Twitter’s very different to his other businesses, which focus on hardware, on actual physical products, as opposed to Twitter, which is essentially driven by engagement. But as Elon’s vision for the platform continues to take shape, it is worth noting the current state of the app, and where it needs to be to get on, and stay on the right track.

Revenue Status

Twitter’s biggest challenge is on the revenue front, with Elon estimating that the app was losing around $4 million per day when he took over at the helm.

Elon’s main additional revenue push thus far has been subscriptions, via Twitter Blue, which he’s hoping will eventually generate around half of the app’s total intake.

This is a critical peg in his ‘Twitter 2.0’ plan, for several reasons – for one, more direct income from users means less reliance on ads, and Elon is notoriously not a fan of advertising in any form.

Relying on ad dollars also means aligning with advertiser expectations around moderation, which potentially goes against Elon’s ‘free speech’ vision for the app, while getting more users to pay could also help to weed out bots, because if the majority of users are paying subscribers, that then makes it harder for bot farms to create armies of fake profiles, and have them blend in – at least, without having to pay a significant cost for such.

So how is Twitter Blue take up looking?

According to analysis by Travis Brown, as of right now, there are between 275k and 325k Twitter Blue subscribers. Taking the top-end of that estimate, we’ll assume that Twitter is generating around $2.6 million per month from Twitter Blue subscriptions as of right now (325,000x$8).

That equates to $7.8 million per quarter – which is a lot, but it’s still not close to where Twitter needs it to be to be a relevant revenue driver.

To clarify, in Q4 2021, Twitter generated $1.57 billion in revenue. Half of would be $785 million – or around 100x what Twitter Blue is currently bringing in.

Of course, Twitter Blue still has a lot of room to grow – it’s currently only available in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. But then again, these regions account for around 70% of overall Twitter users, and if these initial take-up figures are indicative, that doesn’t bode well for this being a viable pathway to broader revenue growth.

What’s worse, Twitter has also reportedly lost around 40% of its ad revenue, due to the broader economic downturn and Musk’s decisions, including the reinstatement of previously banned users and revising its rules around moderation. That’s an estimated $642 million hit in Q4 alone.

At the same time, Twitter has reduced its costs, with Elon culling 70% of the company’s workforce, while also shutting down offices, data centers, cutting employee benefits, etc.

We don’t know how significant these cuts will be to Twitter’s bottom line, but Twitter’s staff costs in Q2 2022 were $950 million, and its operating costs were $540 million.

As an estimate, if you assume its staff costs have been reduced by 70% (it could be more than this due to exec salaries being culled), and the operating costs have been halved, that would reduce these from a cumulative $1.49b to $555 million.

Add in owed interest on Musk’s loan to purchase the app, and Twitter’s current operational costs, at a rough estimate, are around $930 million per quarter.

So, to clarify – incoming per quarter (based on estimates):

  • Ad revenue = $942 million
  • Twitter Blue = $7.8 million
  • Data licensing = $150 million

Total Twitter intake, per quarter = $1.1 billion

Twitter outgoing per quarter:

  • Staff costs = $285 million
  • Operating costs = $270 million
  • Interest on loans = $375 million

Total outgoing = $930 million

That’s a pretty thin edge, in relative terms, but once Twitter has paid out staff costs, and settled its current rent agreements, etc., it could be on the right track to generating revenue this year.

But a lot has to go right, and anything breaking or falling apart – which is increasingly likely due to reduced oversight – could put it in a seriously dangerous predicament.

I recently noted that it’s possible that Twitter could go bankrupt within 6 months – which Musk himself has admitted. This is why, and while the company is seemingly in a more stable situation, financially, at present, it’ll be a delicate balancing act until Elon can bring in more revenue for the business.

Future Plans

So, how will he do that?

Twitter’s still working out the details of its next steps, and while it continues to roll out smaller tweaks like updates to Bookmarks and view counts, the real push is revenue drivers, and bringing in more money at the app.

On this front, Twitter’s working on several elements:

Each of these has potential to bring in incremental value, but a lot will depend on how many people and businesses are willing to put more reliance on Twitter – and as its decline in ad revenue has shown, many are not comfortable with the direction that Elon’s currently taking at the app, at least at this stage.

But then again, a lot of big advertisers have re-committed to Twitter spending. And while some will hold off on making investments in the app, if Elon and Co. can increase engagement, and get more people spending more time in-stream, ad spend will follow, whether those brands agree with Musk’s personal stances or not.

Which is the longer-term push, and why Twitter’s comparatively smaller UI tweaks and updates are important – if Twitter can grow its audience, and get more people tweeting, ad dollars will follow, regardless of the media narrative around Musk’s political views and their impact.

The Singular Solution?

With perspective on the challenges at hand, you can see why Musk felt the need to cut thousands of staff, and reduce the app to its bare bones across the board.

Because, really, he had to. Twitter was operating at a loss, and has been since 2019, and the only way to get it back on track is to make drastic changes, whether we like them or not.

Those come with a high level of risk. Former Twitter staff have warned that the app will break at some stage, due to reduced monitoring and oversight, and Musk’s ‘hardcore’ management style, which prioritizes rapid deployments and tweaks, could kill engagement, and sink the ship.

As usual, Elon is flying close to the sun – but then again, why wouldn’t he? It’s worked out pretty well for him so far.

In April last year, former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said that Elon was ‘the singular solution’ that he trusts to right the ship, and get Twitter back on the right track.

That, of course, was before Elon cut so many staff, before he started releasing troves of internal documents, which are highly critical of those that operated under Dorsey’s management, and before he relaxed the platform’s rules around what’s acceptable and what’s not, and let all manner of questionable individuals back on the app.

But maybe, despite all of this, despite everything that we’re seeing. Despite Musk’s bravado and confrontational Twitter persona, maybe, he could actually steer things in the right direction.

It would be against the odds, and again, a lot has to go right. Even small missteps will have big consequences, but if anyone can handle that pressure, Elon, and his unwavering self-assuredness, could actually be fit for the task.

Or it could be gone before the year’s out. Either outcome feels entirely possible at this stage.

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