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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.

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The long list of grievances against Facebook

Over 900 advertisers have paused buying ads from Facebook at least until the end of July. While this boycott is related to Facebook’s failure at curbing hate speech, advertisers have many other grievances with the platform.

Digiday wrote that; 

“Funding hate speech is on a list of bugbears advertisers have with Facebook, which also includes their inability to properly validate campaign data as well as concerns over the efficacy of video ads in its news feed.”

For advertisers banding together to make Facebook accountable would have been illegal, but #StopHateForProfit gave them the platform they needed to poke Facebook.

Perhaps it’s the pressure from the boycott but Facebook committed to a brand safety audit last week.

In a separate article Digiday reported that the purpose of this audit is to;

“assess its ability to apply brand safety controls within other partner publishers’ content that includes advertising slots and appears in-stream, in Instant Articles or on the Facebook Audience Network. Facebook said it also expects the audit to cover its partner monetization policies and content monetization policies — the rules publishers and creators must abide if they want to make money from their Facebook content through ad revenue — and how it enforces them.”

This isn’t the only MRC audit facebook is committed to and as WSJ reported they’ve been running into trouble with how the measure video ad metrics.

What do consumers think of this boycott? An impromptu survey from MarTech discovered that the majority of consumers in the US were either unaware or undecided. The highest awareness and approval was among Gen Z.

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TikTok pulls out of Hong Kong

Last week India banned 59 apps from Chinese developers including TikTok. The ban means big losses for ByteDance and influencers.

As Forbes reported;

“ByteDance has invested more than $1 billion to build its vast Indian user base, and now faces losses of as much as $6 billion, as hundreds of millions of users are cut off.”

The latest hit to TikTok came on Monday night from the US Secretary of State. TechCrunch reported that the US is “certainly looking at” banning the app over security concerns.

In the latest move, the app pulled out of Hong Kong. So far their efforts to distance themselves from China aren’t really paying off. It remains to be seen if their political struggles will curb their seemingly unstoppable revenue growth.

TikTok’s absence in India is helping other platforms fill in the gap with their clone apps as TechCrunch reported.

TikTok is baring it all

TikTok is no stranger to underhanded policies.

From discriminating moderator guidelines that discourage content with people deemed ugly, poor or disabled to listening in on your conversations even when you’re not using the app.

But TikTok wants you to forget about it.

This year they hired an ex-Disney executive as their CEO. They also made him the COO of ByteDance, the China-based parent company that owns the app.

They’ve also opened a Transparency Centre in California which is open to the general public.

TikTok is inviting experts and users to visit them in person, share their concerns and see its policies and processes in practice.

ByteDance wants to show people and governments in the EU and the US that it’s distancing itself from China.

Disclosing how its algorithm works or getting incorporated in the Cayman Islands isn’t likely to curb the suspicions around China’s influence over the app anytime soon.

Conspiracy theories around Chinese companies aren’t novel but there’s more to this story.

We’ve gotten used to having our tech made in California and only ‘harmless’ American companies hoarding our data.

But times are changing.

As more Chinese apps and technologies grab global audiences, it may be the time for the developers, users and policymakers to adjust attitudes and policies for a world less centred around America.

Google wants Facebook advertisers to sit up and pay more attention

Last year Google introduced two new ad-formats, Gallery Ads and Discovery Ads.

The first didn’t make it past the beta but the latter was launched globally this April.

What are Discovery Ads?

Discovery Ads are a new automated, multi-channel ad-format available across YouTube, Gmail and for the first time ever in the Discover Feed on Android devices.

Automated Campaigns? Introduced in 2018, allow you to set your budget and ad-copies, then let Google take care of ad serving and optimisation.

Google wants a share of your social media budgets

For a long time, Google has wanted to grow past the search intent and offer more advertising across more touchpoints throughout the purchase funnel.

Google would like you to know that with Discovery Ads you can reach 2,9 billion people across YouTube, Android devices and Gmail.

Or roughly the same amount of users across all Facebook apps combined.

According to Google, 86% of people expect to discover new brands as they watch videos and browse the web – and Google wants you to know that they’re on it.

“With Discovery Ads, you can rely on Google’s understanding of consumers’ intent across our properties to engage these audiences as they scroll through their favourite Google feeds—no search query needed,” writes Jerry Dischler, VP of Ads Platforms & Google Properties.

Setting the bar high for quality

The biggest attraction in this new ad-format is the Discover Feed on Android devices.

While Discovery Ads are targeted based on Google Audiences (but advertisers can also use Custom Intent Audiences), Google only wants to show ads that are the most relevant and include high-quality images, one ad at a time, in the Discover Feed on Android devices.

Are Discover Ads expensive?

Google recommends setting a budget at least 10x your target CPA bid.

Basically, if the maximum you’re willing to pay for acquiring a customer is 10 €, the set up a daily budget of 100 € and get at least 40 conversions before making any changes to the campaign.

Are Discovery Ads a good alternative to advertising on social media?

While paid search is focused on capturing people in the knowgodo and buy moments, where the intent is expressed by the user through keywords, Discovery is about spontaneity. 

Besides YouTube and Gmail, the biggest charm of this new ad-format is really the Discover Feed on Android devices. People often habitually browse this feed the same way they browse Instagram or Facebook.

In markets where Android is the dominant device, we might see more advertisers testing Discovery Ads.

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