Snapchat Gives Influencers More Stats And Marketers Free Ads

Snapchat is finally giving additional analytic support to its most popular users, giving an “Insights” feature to its Official Stories creator community.

Currently, the company will give its verified creators information on total and unique views, completion rates, time watched and audience demographics, interests and geographic data, which these influencers will be able to use to obtain brand sponsorships on their own.

“We have historically neglected the creator community on Snapchat that creates and distributes public Stories for the broader Snapchat audience,” Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel said during the company’s Q3 earnings call in 2017. “Developing this ecosystem will allow artists to transition more easily from communicating with friends to creating Stories for a broader audience, monetizing their Stories and potentially using our professional tools to create premium content.”

As its platform stands now, Snapchat offers no official options for these verified influencers to partner with brands on its platform, either through sponsored or joint posts, meaning that the company will not see any direct revenue from empowered influencers.

The influencer tools are just one more effort by the social media company to take a loss-leader approach to consumer and marketer audience building. On Tuesday, Snapchat offered advertisers who had purchased video ads from its competitors free ad credits on its platform.

With the price of Facebook ads soaring year over year, the “ghost” is ready to swoop in with a tempting offer for those who have never tried Snap Ads. Mobile or social marketers who can provide proof of vertical ads purchased in the past three months can apply to receive credits to use toward their first Snapchat campaign. The credits would be worth “several hundreds of dollars with no minimum spending requirements,” a source told Recode.

The company has made considerable changes to attract marketers in recent months, including tools for app developers and new tracking features. Snapchat also announced Lens Studio in December—a tool that allows brands to design and distribute their own AR activations. Advertising revenue for Snapchat grew 38 percent in the fourth quarter of 2017. Meanwhile, price per impression fell 25 percent over the third quarter.

The timing of Snap’s current credit offer may be fortuitous. EMarketer just revealed that teenagers are losing interest in Facebook—a demographic traditionally attracted to Snapchat.

“Brands should know that there’s a highly unduplicated, extremely engaged young audience on Snap that is 13-to-34 years old,” Marni Schapiro, director of sales at Snap told AListDaily in a recent interview. People under the age of 25 use Snapchat for 40 minutes on average every day. You won’t find these users in the places you used to find them.”

Teenage users of Snapchat were less than thrilled with the app’s recent overhaul, however. Distaste for the new app design has resulted in an online petition to revert back to its old design. The plea to Snapchat has earned over 650,000 signatures to date.

Snap’s move to woo marketers away from its biggest competitors isn’t the only way to qualify for free advertising. A program called Snap Accelerate already gives special deals to startups that want to advertise on Snapchat, as well.

Snapchat was famous for vertical video messages and augmented reality filters until Instagram introduced Stories and AR. That’s not to say Snap hasn’t borrowed its fair share of features, but as a publicly-traded company, the disappearing-message app is feeling even more pressure to produce results.

While its user base is growing, Snapchat trails far behind its biggest competitor Instagram. The two social networks are expected to reach 86.5 million and 104.7 million users respectively in 2018.

‘Uncle Drew’ Is A Movie, An Ad And Pop Culture

Uncle Drew is a comedy basketball film based on a series of ads for Pepsi Max—the latest example of advertising that goes on to influence pop culture. Lionsgate released a teaser trailer on Thursday ahead of the movie’s June 29 release, gaining extra traction on social media thanks to its all-star cast.

Although it remains to be seen how much Pepsi will be featured in the film, Uncle Drew was filmed in partnership with PepsiCo’s Creators League Studios.

NBA star Kyrie Irving wrote, directed and starred in the first “Uncle Drew” advertisement in 2012. Based on the Pepsi Max slogan, “zero calorie cola in disguise,” Irving dressed as an old man and hustled some local basketball players at a pick-up game. He showed up with a camera crew under the guise of filming a documentary. After pretending to struggle, Irving as Uncle Drew surprises everyone with his professional-level basketball skills.

While there is some debate as to whether the reactions are real—one girl just happens to be drinking a Pepsi 2.5 minutes in—the video went viral and has over 51.1 million views to date. Pepsi went on to create three more chapters, followed by 11 spots timed around NBA All-Star Games, NBA Finals and the NBA Playoffs. Irving’s fans often yell “Uncle Drew” at his games.

Uncle Drew‘s big picture debut has Kyrie Irving in the title role, joined by real-life basketball pros Shaquille O’Neal, Chris Webber, Nate Robinson, Reggie Miller and Lisa Leslie.

Uncle Drew is a perfect example of how marketing can entertain just as much as it can inspire a purchase, and Pepsi has intentionally created a new pop culture reference for fans to remember.

Advertising has often shaped pop culture, especially in beverage marketing. Coca-Cola’s “Mean” Joe Greene spot from 1979 is continuously parodied on TV shows and was re-imagined for FIFA 18.

Your Brain on Drugs,” an anti-narcotics campaign launched in 1987 by Partnership for a Drug Free America, has also seen its fair share of parodies, as has its 90’s follow-up.

Budweiser lays claim to some of the most iconic pop culture moments. Anyone alive in the 80’s could tell you that Spuds McKenzie was the ultimate Bud Light party animal. His public recognition is so great that the dog’s ghost returned for a Super Bowl spot last year.

In the 90’s, calling your friends just to say “Wazuuuuuuuup,” became all the rage, as was imitating the Budweiser frogs.

These days, you might hear “Dilly Dilly” exclaimed among drinking buddies, as Bud Light rides its latest wave of pop culture adoption.

Virtual And Augmented Reality Moving Away From Apps, Toward Web

While brands have taken advantage of virtual and augmented reality to showcase products or provide immersive experiences, marketers still find that making users download an app for an experience is one step too many. It’s like they’re asking their customers to download a commercial.

Google, Mozilla Microsoft and others are taking out that middleman by developing ways to access VR and AR directly through web browsers. And it’s happening relatively quickly.

WebVR is the Application Programming Interface (API) that enables Chrome, Firefox, Edge and other browsers to work with VR headsets, and though this tech came out just last November, it’s already going to work for brands.

Pepsi used WebVR and the brand’s Google’s partnership to create “Pepsi Go Back,” a web-based experience that complements the “Pepsi Generations” Super Bowl commercial. Users can step into old Pepsi commercials using their desktop computers, VR headsets or mobile devices.

Following this trend, brands can expect augmented reality for web to follow once WebXR is adopted. The API is currently in an experimental phase through custom browsers and viewers, but is expected to start appearing in mainstream browsers sometime later this year, and developers hope a cross-platform standard will be adopted shortly thereafter.

But even with browsers offering WebVR and experimental support for WebXR, brands have been slow to take advantage of them. That may be because quality web-based experiences are still relatively new.

“Distribution for WebVR is largely desktop based, whereas brands have been more excited about 360 video on mobile and VR on headsets,” said Vince Cacace, CEO for the Vertebrae advertising platform, which launched its web-based AR ad suite last fall. “We see WebAR as much more powerful, as it is more of a reality today compared to WebVR due to the quality of the experience . . . Brands realize the challenges in making consumers download an app to have a marketing experience, which is why WebAR is gaining steam so fast.”

Vertebrae integrates AR experiences into website banner ads, and Cacace points to its partnership with Lionsgate to promote the movie Jigsaw as an example of how some of the major technical challenges of WebXR— including face recognition and positional tracking through mobile devices—are already being addressed. The promotion works similarly to a Snapchat Lens or Facebook filter, except that it’s not limited to a specific social platform. Some users were rewarded with coupons to see the movie in theaters.

“Given the targeting opportunities afforded by the immense scale of mobile Web, we were able to help Lionsgate make all the specific audience-based buys they desired,” Cacace told AListDaily. “The web is best for shorter AR experiences that provide utility—i.e. trying on glasses, putting a car in your driveway, a chair in your living room, a character mask on your face, etc. Apps offer room for longer-form entertainment, at the cost of making users download an app.”

However, the principal research scientist on Mozilla’s mixed reality team, Blair MacIntyre, explained that there’s still some ways to go. Unlike VR, web-based AR must overcome a wide variety of diverse platforms. Development tools such as ARKit from Apple and ARCore from Google may eventually establish standards for mobile device viewing, but things become more complicated when trying to find common ground across the different headsets, which do all the heavy lifting for these experiences.

For example, MacIntyre said that Microsoft’s HoloLens is technologically different from ARKit and ARCore, as are viewers that being developed by Magic Leap, Meta, Daqri and others—which all use different methods for sensing and interacting with the world.

Shrenik Sadalgi, director of next generation experiences at Wayfair, one of the earliest adopters of augmented reality technology, agrees that there needs to be standards set for the most common features across all AR and VR platforms. But he also said there is a risk that each browser will support the features they believe are important and handle things in specialized ways. That being said, he doesn’t think that apps will be completely left behind.

“With web, you sacrifice performance to gain a wider audience, and ease of development,” said Sadalgi. “So, it depends on what your application does. If it’s a game, you can expect a user to take the time to install it, to be rewarded with a grand experience. If it’s retail, you’re probably looking to develop the experience quickly, reach a wider audience and can work around the lower performance.”

Tony Parisi, the head of VR/AR strategy at Unity Technologies, doesn’t think a post-app era will happen anytime soon either.

“I’m not sure we will ever get to a place where everything AR/VR is done with web browsers,” said Parisi.

Although Parisi acknowledges the clear advantages web browsers have, such as having no download and install process and easier discovery without having app stores act as “gatekeepers,” there are still many scenarios where native apps are more appropriate. These situations are motivated by two primary factors: performance and features.

Even though HTML and JavaScript have significantly improved, native applications still maintain an edge in that they give developers full control over major aspects of performance. This is especially important for VR, which requires high frame rates for a comfortable experience. Parisi also added that browsers may take years to catch up with surfacing native features from each platform. For example, location services were available on mobile phones for years before they were included in browsers.

Additionally, monetization is an issue that premium experiences will need to take into consideration.

“Mobile app stores and desktop game distribution systems like Steam provide clear ways for developers of certain types of applications to make money—in particular, games,” said Parisi. “In contrast, the web does not have an established pay-per-download model. It was originally built on a foundation of advertising, with a bit of in-app purchase and subscription layered in over time. So, the store model, which can be seen as an encumbrance for some developers, is actually a major benefit for others, depending on the business model.”

However, MacIntyre pointed out how the web has one major advantage over other platforms, and that’s the emphasis on privacy and security. Mozilla expects that as AR and VR technology progresses, privacy will become an increasingly important element.

“The web platform goes to great lengths to ensure web pages cannot access data on the computer or private information such as user location, the video camera or microphone without user permission,” said MacIntyre. “So, especially for short quick-and-dirty experiences that some brands might want to create, users might be much happier visiting a website than installing an app.”

He added, “Prior to WebVR, browsers could not provide compelling VR experiences using standard browsers; it’s still not possible to provide a compelling AR experience in a web browser. That will change when WebXR is implemented in most browsers. As we’ve seen with past technologies, some brands will experiment early, but most won’t commit to using the technology until it’s available in all the major browsers that their audience are likely to be using.”

Parisi believes that, at least for now, apps are still the way to go, but that will change as browsers offer more features and hit a more reasonable level of performance. Once that happens, he believes that we will see things diverge between apps and the web.

Although Parisi said that the performance gap for VR may close fairly soon, he sees plenty of complex challenges ahead, especially when it comes to augmented reality. These concerns include the browser’s interface, which hasn’t changed much from its original 2D roots. While Samsung and Google have experimented with VR web browsing, we have yet to see an “AR browser.”

He also said that we might never see a web-based business model emerge beyond the tried-and-true advertising and subscription models, but that may be OK. He believes that the app store model will continue to drive the distribution of high end VR and bespoke AR applications, which includes premium content such as games and movies and utility applications like travel services.

Ultimately, Parisi admits that, “Apps will be more practical until they’re not, because eventually developers will want to reach more consumers with less friction, and that means via the web. Once we have achieved an acceptable level of performance and features, expect to see a big movement toward web-based AR/VR experiences.”

Google, Facebook Provided Highest Mobile Marketing ROI In 2017

Singular, a mobile attribution and campaign analytics platform, has released its annual ROI Index that ranks global return on investment across mobile platforms. Google AdWords yielded the best return on investment (ROI) on Android devices in 2017, but Facebook still holds the top spot across iOS devices worldwide. For game marketers, iOS provided the highest return, but Android is closing the gap.

Ranks are Calculated based on 30-day ROI taking into account revenue, cost and fraud.

Previously, Facebook held the top spot across both Android and iOS platforms in terms of ROI, but Google AdWords took the lead in 2017. This was the case across all regions except Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA). There, Google was out-shined by Facebook, Unity and Vungle at first, second and third place, respectively.

Mobile marketing ROI varied depending on whether the campaign was gaming-related. Apple’s iOS yielded 1.2 times higher return for mobile game marketers than Android in 2017. Non-gaming marketers experienced similar ROI on both platforms. Android is catching up, however, driving eight percent annual growth in ROI since 2016.

Spending on Twitter marketing increased across both iOS and Android devices last year. Compared to 2016, marketers achieved improved ROI on Twitter in 2017, especially among non-gaming campaigns. Twitter delivered the second highest ROI in 2017 across both Android and iOS for non-gaming marketers.

When game marketing performance added in, Twitter jumped from 13th to the 8th highest ROI on iOS and from 18th to the 7th highest ROI.

Marketers also increased spending on Snapchat in 2017, with positive results. On iOS, Snapchat drove the sixth highest ROI for non-gaming marketers and the 15th highest ROI across all verticals. This revelation bodes well for Snapchat, which opened its marketing API to the masses just this week.

Video-focused media sources Vungle, Unity Ads and AdColony all moved to the top five on Android in 2017. This is the second year in a row that all three earned top spots for ROI, shining a light on the effectiveness of mobile video marketing. Each of the media sources also captured a greater share of marketing budgets on both platforms last year.

Despite launching less than two years ago, Apple Search Ads has delivered high ROI for iOS mobile marketers. It’s no wonder, then, that marketers poured more money into it last year. Apple Search Ads rose from twenty-third to sixth highest-volume media source on iOS based on total ad spend between 2016 and 2017.

Apple Search Ads drove the second highest return on iOS in 2017. The platform jumped six spots in the rankings, from the 10th highest return in 2016 to fourth highest in 2016 worldwide.

Twitter’s First Profitable Quarter Hides Opaque Treatment Of Advertisers

For the first quarter in its history, Twitter has reported turning a profit, coming from increased ad revenue driven by improved ad engagement. However, despite this good news for investors, the social media network remains tight-lipped about metrics necessary for advertisers.

In its letter to investors, Twitter reported a 7 percent year-over-year increase in ad revenue growth for Q4, citing major improvements in the rate of ad engagements (an increase of 26 percent) and cost per engagement (a decrease of 42 percent). Click-through rates have also improved, though the company declined to give any specific figures.

Likewise, Twitter claims, without giving figures, that cost per impression (CPM) has increased despite the continued reduction in cost per engagement (CPE).

When asked about the company’s predictions for future CPEs on its earnings call, Ned Segal, Twitter’s CFO, again declined to give specific figures, saying:

“We’ve seen our CPMs be really healthy and we expect the CPM trend to continue and we try to think more about CPMs than we do about the inputs; that is, CPE or other things.”

Twitter has acknowledged that CPMs are the most significant metric for advertisers, yet refused to disclose specifics on what those numbers might be. Other important statistics for marketers, such as click-through rates and average time spent per user, are also notably absent from Twitter’s reporting.

“We feel good about where we are from a time spent perspective, but what we really talk about when we think about audience and engagement and the best way to measure the usage of Twitter as a daily utility is that [daily active user] growth,” Segal said when asked about time spent.

Twitter’s rivals in the social-media space, Snapchat and Facebook, have all disclosed specific information about CPMs and time spent to investors, even when those figures dropped significantly.

The platform’s own investor presentation reveals that not everything is in order with its ad business. While its ad revenue for the quarter did increase, it was only by one percent from Q4 last year, and was motivated entirely by international investment in Twitter ads: US spending on ads on Twitter dropped by 10 percent over Q4 2016.

In an announcement today, Twitter announced its intentions to “go back to basics” with its ad products, promising to use machine learning to improve targeting and make it easier to make media buys. But if the company won’t disclose vital information to advertisers, it may not be worth the price of admission.

History Shows Marketers Won’t Pull Ads Even If Fraud Persists

Despite a lot of posturing, history and studies show that most marketers will not reduce digital ad spending even if fraud and brand safety concerns persist.

During the annual Interactive Advertising Bureau conference on Monday, Unilever chief marketing officer Keith Weed challenged tech giants to stop spreading toxic content or the company would take its money elsewhere. Companies like Proctor & Gamble and Unilever have been vocal about their threats to pull digital ad dollars, but most companies can’t afford not to advertise on these platforms.

When asked if brands would reduce their digital ad spend if brand safety, viewability and fraud aren’t resolved, 49 percent of brands and 47 percent of agencies agreed, according to a recent study by Warc.

The hard truth is that Google and Facebook are just too big to be seriously impacted by a boycott. Even after the “great YouTube boycott of 2017,” ad revenue for parent company Alphabet climbed to an all-time high in the fourth quarter.

Forrester predicts that 70 percent of companies will spend more on both mobile web and app advertising in 2018. In fact, 39 percent of companies that spend more than $5 million per month will up budgets by more than 30 percent.

This leap in digital ad spend is planned despite the risk of fraud. Of the marketers it surveyed, more than a third estimated that over 40 percent of their budgets were at risk of fraud. Only 19 percent reported taking systematic action to prevent fraud, though assigning high priority to fight ad fraud in the next 12 months was almost unanimous.

The ends may also justify the means when it comes to brand concerns. Google Adwords still has best ROI in 2017, according the Singular ROI Index released Wednesday.

Under Armour’s App-Connected Shoe Ties To Long-Term Strategy In Gaming Space

This month, the Under Armour has had professional athletes test out its new UA HOVR Phantom and Sonic sneakers, which have an embedded chip that tracks data like time, distance, cadence, and speed. All of this data is fed into Under Armour’s apps MyFitnessPal and MapMyFitness.

Under Armour’s new line of sneakers that gamify running comes during a year of embracing games and gaming culture, as the brand is focusing its marketing activities at younger generations.

“As we’ve delved deeper into consumer behavior, we see the amount of time that Gen Z and young Millennials are spending on gaming,” said Jim Mollica, Under Armour’s vice president of digital marketing. “Gaming provides an opportunity beyond advertising within a specific game, which doesn’t really add that much value. Our idea was if we can appear in these gaming spaces and places and increase the value to our consumer in a cool way, and add to their experience, then ultimately that will come back to us.”

Gaming has become a staple for the brand: Under Armour has worked with Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton to launch an endless runner game for Snapchat, and for the launch of NBA star Stephen Curry’s “Curry 4” shoe, the company brought NBA 2K18 gamers to its Baltimore headquarters to compete on a 30-foot-high video screen.

“The amount of exposure from that streaming event completely outpaced what I thought it would do,” Mollica said. “The day it started I was getting all of these pings from people outside the company commenting about the tournament . . . I realized that these are unbelievably deep, immersive channels that also have scale.”

Under Armour can use all the help it can muster in connecting with new consumers. Like Nike, the apparel and shoe brand has struggled to keep pace with European giant Adidas. At the same time, all sports brands are facing increased competition from Amazon, while retail partners like Foot Locker, Finish Line and Dick’s Sporting Goods are struggling.

Stephen Curry’s love of video games—a common trait among many top athletes—has helped the brand further integrate digital and real worlds over the past four years. When the Curry shoes first launched, the NBA All-Star’s in-game avatar wasn’t as good as the real-life version on the hardwoods. The company worked around that with a campaign creating user-generated content.

“We did a partnership with 2K when we launched the [Curry] shoes that if you bought the real shoes and put them on, you would be at 100 power for 30 hours, which correlates his jersey number 30,” Mollica said. “We had people that were scoring 100 points in the first quarter and posting those videos across all of these amazing channels.”

The brand is integrating with opportunities in the gaming space—in May, the NBA and 2K launch the NBA 2K League, letting amateur gamers play for one of 17 NBA gaming clubs in a league format.

“This is a really interesting opportunity for a lot of brands to engage in a really deep manner to an audience that is harder to reach now than they were before,” Mollica said. “One of the things we keep seeing is the amount of time that these kids spend with our brand in these gaming environments is unbelievably high and we couldn’t get that kind of retention rate in traditional marketing tactics.”

As gaming continues to draw young consumers, Under Armour remains dedicated to remaining in the space as part of its marketing strategy. “We’ve completely gamified those communities where there are always competition challenges, recognition, encouragement, rewards and badges,” Mollica said.

Brands Show Their Love To Compete For Valentine’s Spend

Valentine’s Day is a time for celebrating love, and US consumers love to shop—spending is expected to reach $19.6 billion on February 14 and these brand activations are waiting with open arms.

According to the National Retail Federation, 55 percent of the US population plans on celebrating Valentine’s Day this year, and spend an average of $143.56 while they’re at it. Competition, as always, is fierce, but here are some marketing campaigns that stand out.

Love: Play It Or Say It

On Feb 7, Teleflora gave secret admirers the opportunity to confess their love in a big way—literally. As part of its ongoing Love Out Loud campaign, the floral brand created a pop-up film set and romantic’s corner in New York where over 100 participants recorded a video message confessing their secret love. The videos were transmitted in real time onto a giant billboard in Times Square.

Valentine’s Day is the second-largest holiday for exchanging greeting cards, according to Hallmark, and this year the legacy brand is offering something different—cards with vinyl records built in.

Through a partnership with Rhino Records, each Hallmark Vinyl Record Card comes with a 45 RPM vinyl record featuring two songs from either Bruno Mars, Aretha Franklin or INXS built into a sleeve on card’s cover.

Timed with the Valentine’s Day holiday without mentioning it specifically, “What It Means to Love” is the third chapter in American Greetings’ “Give Meaning” campaign. The latest video ad depicts a number of scenarios in which people don’t or can’t say what they mean, even though they care—a problem remedied with the help of a greeting card.

https://youtu.be/b0qVZXR2uac

 

Love, Delivered

Tinder partnered with Maroon 5’s Adam Levine and Postmates to surprise select users on Valentine’s Day. Levine showed up at their homes with gifts ranging from a private concert to beer. Twitter users can also have their Valentine’s day wishes granted if they tweet Tinder and Postmates using emojis of the gift they would like to receive and the hashtag #VDayandChill.

If you ask Bachelor star Arie Luyendyk, Jr. the best way to show affection this holiday, he’ll say that safety is the new sexy. Luyendyk, Jr. partnered with Cooper Tire’s Tread Wisely program to educate teens and young adults on how to check their tire pressure and tread depth. Videos featuring the reality show personality are now available on the Tread Wisely mobile app.

“Nothing says love like keeping yourself and the people you care about safe on the road,” said Luyendyk, Jr.

You’re A Wizard, Valentine

Warner Bros. Studio Tour London is offering Harry Potter 18+ fans Valentine’s Day dinner in the Hogwarts Great Hall set from the movie franchise. On February 9 and 10, February, guests attending the event will receive a Love Potion cocktail, magic wand and access to other key sets from the Harry Potter films such as the Gryffindor common room, Dumbledore’s office, the Weasley kitchen at The Burrow, Forbidden Forest and Platform 9¾.

Ring, Bling Or Just Be Bitter

Jolly Ranger encouraged fans to Tweet about their last-minute gift giving woes to win jewelry shaped like hard candy. The two-day event ran Feb 12-13 and required the hashtags #Sweepstakes and #ValentinesDaySucks to enter. The jewelry, made to look like Jolly Rangers candy, was designed by Mary Ping and Fabrice Covelli and come in five “flavors.”

A toll-free WingStop hotline is available to call through Feb 14, offering everything from vocal warm-up routines to a Valentine’s Day mixtape. Callers can cycle through the comedy recordings and press zero to pre-order the Wing Luv kit, which turns chicken wings into a bouquet. The kit contains a heart-shaped wing box, skewers for wing “roses,” decorative cellophane, tissue paper, ribbon and DIY instructions.

The Golden Arches are giving away some actual gold this Valentine’s Day with a diamond-encrusted ring made to look like a Big Mac sandwich. Dubbed the “Bling Mac,” this ring can be won by pledging one’s undying love for the famous burger on Twitter.

https://twitter.com/McDonalds/status/961254108132007937

McDonald’s has also teamed up with American Greetings to offer Valentine’s Day crafts inside Happy Meals this holiday.

A Dunkin’ Donuts Instagram contest running through February 15 offers customers a chance to a trip for two to any US city of their choice. Followers can enter the #DDLoveContest by sharing how their friendship or relationship “runs on Dunkin’” on Instagram. Valentine’s Day emoji are also now available on the Dunkin’ Donuts Emoji keyboard through the Dunkin’ Donuts mobile app.

A Snapchat game by champagne brand Moët & Chandon challenges users to shoot corks at a tower of glasses. “Love Unconventional” is a repeat of a successful Snapchat game first introduced for New Year’s Eve. This time, however, winners will get to collaborate on a love poem generated with input from poet Cleo Wade.

Valentine’s Day can be hard on those not in a relationship, but Hooters is encouraging the bitterness with a promotion called “Shred Your Ex.” Customers are invited to bring a photo of their former lovers to Hooters restaurants on February 14. Tearing, shredding or having the waitress destroy the photo earns them 10 free chicken wings to soothe their broken heart. Photos can also be shredded through the restaurant’s website. Users answer a few questions about the doomed relationship such as how long they were together and how it ended. The site then recommends the “most satisfying” method of disposal and allows virtual destruction by uploading the offending photo.

Calling Cupid

1-800-Flowers has launched an Alexa Skill that allows users to order flowers with their voice. The skill is integrated with Amazon Pay and responds to streamlined dialogue such as “Alexa, ask 1-800-Flowers to send my wife roses.”

Valentine’s Day marketing for 1-800-Flowers focuses on the brand’s AI integration, including Gwyn, a chatbot that lives on the official website and the Facebook Messenger chatbot. The brand is encouraging users to try digital methods of ordering by offering discounts exclusive to the mobile app, PayPal, Google Assistant and Facebook Messenger.

Huawei ecommerce brand Honor is offering a limited edition red version of its 7X smartphones for Valentine’s Day. Five Honor Instagram followers can win two red Honor 7X phones through a contest called “You had me at . . .” Consumers are asked to post a reenactment video on Instagram of the first time they met someone or something they love.

https://www.instagram.com/p/Be1I_6fhHWs/?taken-by=honorusa

Ad-Blockchain: Salon Gets Around Ad Blockers With Cryptocurrency

With ad blocking becoming so prevalent that browsers like Google and Yandex are implementing top-down efforts to stem the tide, the pressure is on for publishers to find stable sources of revenue. For Salon, the answer lies in blockchain technology, specifically cryptocurrency.

Soon, Salon readers who use ad blockers will begin to see a different sort of pop-up window than they might on many other sites: rather than just ask visitors to whitelist the site, Salon will request permission to use their excess computing power to mine Monero, a blockchain-powered cryptocurrency.

“This is not a farce,” Salon Media Group CEO Jordan Hoffner said to Digiday. “We were intent on being the first media company to make this part of our monetization strategy.”

Salon is not the first ever to monetize web browsers’ extra processing power—Starbucks was briefly embroiled in a scandal last year when it came to light that the Wifi provider in one of its locations was hijacking customers’ computers to mine Monero without their consent or knowledge. It should be noted, however, that Salon asks for the user’s consent twice before mining for Monero, and stops when the browser is closed.

“We realize that specific technological developments now mean that it is not merely the reader’s eyeballs that have value to our site—it’s also your computer’s ability to make calculations, too,” the program’s FAQ section reads. “Indeed, your computer itself can help support our ability to pay our editors and journalists.”

Reporting only $3.9 million in earnings in the last nine months of 2017, Salon has plenty of reason to experiment with alternative revenue streams, and blockchain seems to hold the most potential. Just today, The Washington Post‘s vice president of innovation and commerical, Jarrod Dicker, jumped ship to helm a blockchain for journalism startup called Po.et.

“Right now, this is a ‘better than nothing’ strategy,” Hoffner said. “But down the line, we will get there. We just need more information to build the product.”

Teenagers Are Leaving Facebook As Older Generations Sign Up

Facebook is losing ground with US users ages 24 and younger this year, according to forecasts by eMarketer. As older users join, younger generations are becoming less interested, with many turning to Snapchat over Instagram.

For the first time, eMarketer predicts that Facebook will lose users across age groups between the ages of 11 and younger, 12-17 and 18-24. The largest decline will be in users aged 11 and younger, at 9.3 percent. Teenagers and young adults are leaving at similar rates as one another. Users ages 12-17 and 18-24 will decrease by 5.6 percent and 5.8 percent, respectively.

Facebook acknowledged the decline in users in its fourth quarter earnings call to investors. According to the company’s estimates, its users spent five percent less time on its platforms, resulting in 50 million fewer hours on Facebook per day. For the first time in the company’s history, the number of daily active users in the US and Canada dropped, as well.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t seem concerned, citing quality of engagement over quantity.

“I want to be clear, the most important driver of our business has never been time spent by itself,” Zuckerberg said in the call. “It’s the quality of the conversations and connection.”

Ages 55 and over will become the second-biggest demographic on Facebook this year, which begs the question for youngsters—is the social network still cool? As parents and grandparents sign up en mass, younger users, especially teenagers, begin to crave privacy and camaraderie with friends.

There is some hope for Facebook in that many, but not all of its estranged users are migrating to Instagram. EMarketer predicts that Instagram will add 1.6 million users ages 24 and younger this year.

Instagram is still more popular in the US than Snapchat, however. Instagram users are expected to increase 13.1 percent in 2018 to reach 104.7 million.

Snapchat, meanwhile, is also expected to grow but at a slightly slower pace of 9.3 percent. The company will add 1.9 million users aged 24 and younger and continue to have more users ages 12-24 compared with that of Instagram. EMarketer predicts that Snapchat users will number 86.5 million this year.

In the fourth quarter of 2017, Snapchat saw the addition of 8.9 million daily active users, the highest number of quarterly net adds since the third quarter of 2016.

Snap, Inc. CEO Evan Spiegel told investors that the app’s redesign is easier to use and is attracting older users. On the surface, this appears to be good news, but Snapchat is known for being very niche—i.e. attracting primarily young consumers.

“Snapchat could eventually experience more growth in older age groups since it’s redesigning its platform to be easier to use,” eMarketer principal analyst Debra Aho Williamson said in a statement. “The question will be whether younger users will still find Snapchat cool if more of their parents and grandparents are on it. That’s the predicament Facebook is in.”