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Student-athlete Influencers Work Like Magic for Meta-shoppers

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Student-athlete Influencers Work Like Magic for Meta-shoppers

The past couple of years have accelerated some significant changes in the realm of commerce. First, because of COVID uncertainty, shoppers have gone phygital — mixing online and in-store shopping and expecting a seamless experience between the two. Second, in 2021, new NCAA rules finally emerged, giving student-athletes permission to monetize their name, image and likeness. So, just as more and more shoppers were spending at least part of their shopping time online, a sudden availability of fresh, high-impact influencer talent from student-athletes emerged. Like fresh lemonade squeezed from over a year of lemons, this new class of influencers dove into social commerce just as consumers started craving new ways of mid-pandemic shopping.

In surveys conducted by Inmar Intelligence, the growing importance of social commerce and phygital or cross-channel shopping became even more apparent. More specifically, shopping that lives alongside regular day-to-day social media experiences tops the charts for engagement and ROI.

  • 56% of shoppers spend over 7 hours per week on social media platforms, and 18% spend over 13 hours weekly.
  • 66% of all demographics have already begun purchasing through social media platforms. 
  • 46% of shoppers would perform at least half and up to 100% of their shopping online and/or through social platforms, technology permitting.

Influencers are — not surprisingly — dominating the omnichannel purchase funnel. After all, it’s an ecosystem that created the influencer role, and one that relies on their authority. 77% of Gen Z and Millennial shoppers admit being influenced by social media in their purchases. And, 70% of internet users in the United States already follow influencers on social media.

 

The introduction of student-athlete influencers initiated the second evolution of influencer marketing. Over 500,000 collegiate sports stars entered the influencer marketplace overnight, bringing with them large, loyal, pre-built audiences. These audiences are more localized, and surround personalities from all sports and events — some of the highest potential earners don’t even come from the most-watched sports, schools, conferences, or divisions.

And follower count on social media is one thing — the real measure of an influencers’ capability as a driving force behind purchase decisions is engagement. While the traditional influencer typically achieves between two and three percent engagement, the average student-athlete hits over 10% — some reaching 34% and beyond. When you consider the fact that almost 80% of young-to-mid-aged shoppers are buying based on influencer recommendations, the implications of the new athlete-influencer role are profound.

Marketers recognize the enormous potential of student-athlete influencers. Of 300 industry professionals surveyed:

  • 61% believe that student-athletes will be more effective at driving awareness than traditional influencers
  • 87% feel that student-athletes are capable of producing effective content as influencers
  • And 74% have activated, or are currently activating, student-athletes as influencers

Because such a massive opportunity can’t come without a small catch, activation of student-athletes does take a touch more effort than activation of traditional influencers. A complex system of rules and regulations at the state, school, and organizational level governs student-athlete implementation and is challenging to navigate without guidance. Engaging with a prepared partner solves this problem. Inmar Intelligence, for example, employs proactive, AI-enabled multi-layer compliance monitoring to make the complicated pre-activation steps a non-issue.

The stars of college sports are ready to get to work. Hundreds of thousands of loyal fan bases are ready to make purchases. All you have to do is prepare the playing field. Are you game?

When you’re ready to give student-athlete influencers their shot at driving prime-time revenue, get in touch with Inmar!


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EU Officials Launch Investigation into TikTok Over Potential DSA Violations

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EU Officials Launch Investigation into TikTok Over Potential DSA Violations

EU officials are wasting no time enacting their new powers under the Digital Services Act (DSA), with the European Commission announcing a new investigation into whether TikTok is currently in violation of DSA rules in relation to the protection of minors in the app.

Concerns have actually been raised around TikTok’s compliance on several fronts, including systemic risks related to app addiction, its age verification processes, its security measures for minors, data transparency, and more.

As per the European Commission:

On the basis of the preliminary investigation conducted so far, including on the basis of an analysis of the risk assessment report sent by TikTok in September 2023, as well as TikTok’s replies to the Commission’s formal Requests for Information (on illegal contentprotection of minors, and data access), the Commission has decided to open formal proceedings against TikTok under the Digital Services Act.

It’s the second major probe under the new DSA laws, with X also currently under EU investigation over its efforts in restricting illegal content, and stopping the spread of misinformation in the app.

TikTok will now need to provide further information to EU investigators to assess its efforts, with a maximum penalty of up to 6% of its global earnings on the cards if it is found to be in violation.

Though that’s probably unlikely, given that the DSA also includes clauses that enable investigators to “accept any commitment made by TikTok to remedy on the matters subject to the proceeding”.

Given that the DSA has only recently been initiated, this will probably be the outcome of these early investigations, though EU officials may also want to send a strong message early, in order to underline the seriousness of the new rules.

Though there’s also this:

The duration of an in-depth investigation depends on several factors, including the complexity of the case, the extent to which the company concerned cooperates with the Commission and the exercise of the rights of defence.

So any investigation could carry on for some time, meaning we won’t know the outcome for a while yet. But again, potentially, TikTok could face big fines if it is found to be in breach, and it fails to take action to address any highlighted concerns.

It’ll be interesting to see how EU officials look to enact the regulations, and keep each platform in line with these more restrictive processes. That could get especially complex with the DSA, given the variable interpretations around what constitutes adequate action on certain fronts.

As such, these early cases could play a key role in establishing precedent, which could indeed see big fines coming, and could even force apps to reassess their operations in the region as a result.  

I mean, Meta has threatened that before, and depending on how EU officials approach these new laws, there could be further concerns on this front.

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Josh Brolin Summarizes Dune 2 in Greatest Instagram Caption of All Time

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Josh Brolin Summarizes Dune 2 in Greatest Instagram Caption of All Time

The Dune: Part Two star took a unique approach to marketing the movie. Dune: Part Two is so close to hitting theaters, and no one is more excited than …

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Reddit’s Exclusive Data Sharing Deal with an Unnamed AI Company Could Mark a Key Industry Shift

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Reddit’s Exclusive Data Sharing Deal with an Unnamed AI Company Could Mark a Key Industry Shift

Is Reddit’s actually data worth $60 million per year?

That’s reportedly how much an as-yet-unnamed AI development company has paid to gain exclusive access to Reddit’s full data set, which will see said AI company incorporate Reddit user responses into its large language model (LLM), with a view to the system providing more human-like answers and insight, and becoming a bigger challenger in online search.

As reported by Bloomberg, after working to restrict access to its data over the last year, in order to stop AI companies from profiting off its content, Reddit has now signed an exclusive contract with “an unnamed large AI company”, which will see that company integrate Reddit insights into its models.

Which is a high price tag, considering that the top tier of X’s API access (200 million posts per month) costs around $2.5 million per year.

So could Reddit’s data be worth significantly more than that, and if it is, does it then make sense for Reddit to provide such on an exclusive basis?

The value of Reddit data is that it provides actual, human usage insight, which can often be of more value than online reviews that can be gamed and skewed by paid responses. That’s getting even worse in the age of generative AI, with some companies now employing AI tools to create human-sounding reviews online, in order to boost their product ratings.

As a result, more and more people have been turning to Reddit to get honest product reviews and performance insight. They’re still using Google, but more people are using the “site:reddit.com” qualifier to glean more specific insights from Reddit communities.

For example, if you were looking for a new hair dryer, you can look up “best hair dryer” on Google to get this:

Or you can add “best hair dryer site:reddit.com” for this:

Google example

The Reddit forum links connect through to actual people’s experiences, and include solid, functional insight from those who’ve used each device. The Reddit responses are also up and downvoted, making it easier to find the best response to guide your search process.

The more specific, personal insight can add significant value to the answers provided, and many people have found that this is now a better, more valuable discovery process than trusting Google results within themselves.

And now, one AI company will get all of this insight exclusively to itself.

That could be a big boost to its business ambitions, with a view to making AI chatbots more of a rival for traditional search behavior. Already, more people are turning to conversational chatbots for online discovery, and with this, whichever LLM can access Reddit data will have an exclusive trove of valuable consumer insights, which it can repackage within its responses.

For example, using the same hair dryer prompt in ChatGPT, the system currently gives me a listing of technical considerations and recommendations based on top sellers. But with added Reddit commentary, it could also provide a more personalized addendum:

“According to users, the best hair dryer for curly hair is the Ella Bella Ionic hair dryer, while those with straight hair tend to prefer the Dyson Supersonic.”

The system could then provide more specific answers based on your requirements, by sourcing that info from subreddit communities.

It’s a significant value-add, which will make whichever company gets this info a far more viable option as a search consideration, though the $60 million per year ongoing price tag is high, and is also at least somewhat reliant on Reddit continuing to grow, in order to maximize its value and utility.

And Reddit is growing. Reddit’s added 20 million more users over the past three years, and it continues to see strong engagement in over 100,000 active communities. The company’s been working to highlight its business value, ahead of a planned IPO, which could come next month, and this deal will now be factored into the valuation of the platform moving forward.

In some ways, it’s possible that Reddit could be limiting its opportunities by signing an exclusive data contract. But that’s why the price tag is so high, and it’ll be interesting to see which chatbot comes out with “Reddit exclusive insights” as a value add sometime soon.

I mean, it seems likely that it’ll be OpenAI, with the backing of Microsoft, as it looks to take on Google’s Search dominance. With the rise of conversational searches, that does seem like a logical investment, and with another data source taken out of the mix, that could also lead to more differentiation in the market.

It could also point to similar exclusivity deals in future, as each company tries to differentiate and dominate with their chatbot tools. Current AI chatbots have been able to scrape vast amounts of data from across the web, which means that their initial models will all be relatively similar as a result, but in future, as information evolves, and new data is required to match search intent, fresh sources will also be required to maintain relevance, and audience interest.

Meta claims to have an advantage in this respect, because it has all of the insights published to Facebook and Instagram to work with, while Elon Musk will view xAI as holding a lead, due to his platform being the leading real-time news discussion app.

But maybe, considering broader trends, Reddit insight is actually the real leader in terms of refining search queries.

And maybe, that will prove to be more important than most think.  



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