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Markets are fickle but marketers don’t need to be

Snap Chat adds 9 million new users and 17% increase in revenue – but falls behind analyst expectations.

During the lockdown, Snap Chat introduced a slew of new features around AR and reported a 37% increase in user engagement with community-generated AR content.

Snap also sees Facebook’s recent troubles an opportunity to pitch their own platform as the brand-safe, community-friendly choice.

Not long ago, they rejected Facebook’s $3b takeover bid.

Remember 2013 when Snap brushed Facebook’s $3bn offer off the table?

In response, Facebook vowed to kill the platform with Instagram Stories – and almost succeeded when Snap Chat’s growth came to a standstill in 2018.

But Snap has recently done a lot of growing up by:

  • introducing a dedicated app for Android (resulting in an uptick in growth from India)
  • adding Brand Profiles (making the platform more mature for advertisers)
  • introducing Creator Profiles to highlight content creators (and going against their own policy of not treating influencers differently)

They’re sticking to their guns and building a more private social network –  a strategy that seems to be paying off in the current climate.

More users mean more ad revenue.

But their growth in the US and EU is stagnating. The majority of their user growth is coming from developing markets.

And it’s hard for marketers to find promising platforms when new ones pop up every day.

You’ll want to follow this advice to win.

Look for platforms that aren’t just introducing new and exciting features, but are also learning from their competitors.

TikTok is a great example.

Despite everyone’s best effort, there seems to be no end in sight for their growth.


Singapore’s virtual island getaway is bloody brilliant

After getting hit by COVID restrictions, Singapore’s Sentosa island resort and BBH created (read: hacked together) a virtual version of the famous island getaway in Nintendo’s Animal Crossing.

In an interview with The Drum, the BBH explained:

“[We] created over 50 custom-made designs for the island, which represented individual brands and attractions on the island, such as restaurants and clubs.”

NintendoSoup described the virtual resort as:

“Beach bars, nature trails, the Skyline Luge, the Shangri-La and Capella hotels, and a spot for yoga by the beach, all recreated within Animal Crossing: New Horizons.”

This is a whole new level of creativity in advertising and brand activation.

Why should you care?

Video games are now mainstream.

Several times a week thousands of people choose to spend their free time playing games like Fortnite and Animal Crossing.

As Owen Williams wrote on his blog:

“Not only is Fortnite the new hangout spot, replacing the mall, Starbucks or just loitering in the city, it’s become the coveted ‘third place’ for millions of people around the world.”

With fewer young people watching TV (and even when they do it’s often an ad-free streaming service) brand activation needs to go where people are instead.

As BBH Singapore’s Chief Creative Officer told The Drum:

“We‘re living in times where our audience literally is paying money to avoid seeing our work. We really need to work a lot harder to provide value. A shortcut to that are those cultural moments… because they immediately make you relevant and interesting. It‘s really important that we leave this bubble of the hip, Netflix-watching ad men and women and really look out to see what the majority of people really care about.”

These are still early days.

And many brands are still building their approach to gaming. You can go the influencer route or run strategic campaigns like Samsung

But no matter the road you take, you need to start talking about your approach to gaming with your team. Now.

Newzoo’s Remer Rietkerk has relevant advice for any brand manager looking to define their approach to gaming:

“Brand activation in games can take many different forms. Fortnite is a trailblazer for in-game activations, making it a perfect case study. Travis Scott performed an in-game virtual concert, a collaboration with Nike which generated 27 million unique virtual attendees. This was only the latest in a series of events Epic Games launched in its Fortnite game world, with previous examples including Marvel, Batman, and Star Wars.”

He also advises sticking to these key principles:

  • Any collaboration must make sense in the game‘s universe; it shouldn‘t feel forced.
  • It needs to feel authentic, resonating with the community the promotion is servicing.
  • Promotions cannot interfere with gameplay, especially in big-budget games

Video e-commerce expands outside China

Live video and e-commerce were born to be together.

There’s an online sales revolution in the works. It’s already huge in China.

Shopping channel QVC is going digital with a stoppable app built around video e-comm.

Amazon Live launched quietly in 2019. Their live streams are similar to the shopping channels where celebrities and influencers sell products from Amazon vendors.

Facebook and YouTube are also launching in this area. Their biggest shortcoming is the lack of integration with their native e-comm solutions.

While Facebook and YouTube drag their feet, brands are getting their feet wet with things like Livescale and Bambuser that offer live-streaming that can be integrated into the brand’s own e-comm site.

There’s been more cynicism lately towards influencer marketing, but maybe video e-commerce will create a new generation of influencers. Such as China’s Live Stream Queen who can supposedly sell anything.

Video e-comm isn’t a fad.

And it needs to be a part of any e-comm brands digital strategy.

Even if going full-scale QVS isn’t your cup of tea, now’s the time to start taking baby steps into video e-commerce.

If you get in now, you’ll get a leg up by getting in before it turns mainstream and gets saturated.


Marketing leadership in a recession

Our hope for economic recovery are tied to people starting to spend money again. Go places. Buy things. Eat out.

The IMF said that this is a “crisis like no other”. There’s so much uncertainty. A lot depends on the epidemiology of the virus, the effectiveness of containment measures and, finally, getting a vaccine.

All of these are hard to predict. And that’s just the outbreak itself.

Now, we’re starting to feel the after-effects with wide-spread redundancies. People’s lives and livelihoods hanging in the balance.

Survey suggests (US) that 34-42% of COVID related layoffs may be permanent.

In Europe, business and consumer confidence have plummeted close to the all-time lows of the financial crash of a decade ago.

In the current climate, short-term thinking is a real problem.

HBR explains how it can hurt your business.

I know it’s hard, but now is when you need to plan your path through this crisis and decide how you’re going to come out at the other end.

Instead of thinking through an excel sheet, it’s time to double down on your strengths. 

Your customers are struggling and may be looking for cheaper alternatives.

Remind them why they chose you in the first place and how sticking with you will help them succeed in the long run.


Recessions fuel adoption of new technologies

The results from research into automation highlights how recessions fuel adoption of new technologies and eliminate low-skilled jobs.

Writing about the findings Brookings wrote, “Several economists have outlined this cyclical nature of automation. Nir Jaimovich of the University of Zurich and Henry E. Siu of the University of British Columbia reported that over three recessions in the last 30 years, a whopping 88% of job loss took place in “routine,” automatable occupations—meaning such jobs accounted for “essentially all” of the jobs lost in the crises.”

In terms of the pace of adoption, researchers discovered that “automation happens in bursts, concentrated especially in bad times such as in the wake of economic shocks, when humans become relatively more expensive as firms’ revenues rapidly decline. At these moments, employers shed less-skilled workers and replace them with technology and higher-skilled workers, which increases labour productivity as a recession tapers off.”

Even though this research specifically looked into the Americal job market, the insights aren’t specific to any one economy or region.