Poshmark Adds ‘Posh Markets,’ Explains Immersive Ecommerce Strategy

Social marketplace Poshmark added features this week that aid in targeted discovery and open possibilities for limited time events.

Poshmark is a mobile app for iOS and Android that allows anyone to buy and sell designer clothing. Much like Instagram, the users—called Seller Stylists—post photos, gain followers and tag items for easy browsing. Users interact with the posts through likes, comments and shares.

“Traditionally you’d think of eBay and Amazon as our competition but when you start to look at the way we’re innovating, it’s really blending commerce with social,” Poshmark CEO Manish Chandra told AList. “It’s part Instagram, Amazon and eBay all together on the platform.”

The Poshmark community can now choose from a drop-down menu of six in-app user categories called Posh Markets. These markets include women’s, men’s, kids’, boutiques, plus-size and luxury. While menus of this type are common on ecommerce sites Posh Markets pull from seller accounts, offering its users a better chance of targeted discovery.

Chandra explained that Posh Markets could also be used to automatically curate content for a limited time around a popular event, holiday or theme.

“We would use to data science technology to reclassify and tag all of our inventory around a style,” said Chandra, using boho-chic as an example. “That immediately curates the entire marketplace for an event like Coachella. It could be permanent or temporary. That’s the power of data science and data technology on which the markets are based where we can do this level of dynamic curation with no extra effort on part of selling and no change to the core platform.”

Posh Markets could be targeted based on demographics and style, tapping into current interest and FOMO marketing.

Poshmark has grown tenfold in the last five years, Chandra said, with tens of millions of members and four million Seller Stylists. He attributes this success to the app’s social interaction—a lesson to be learned for retail brands.

“We believe the future for brands and retail is this personal connection between the seller and the shopper,” said Chandra. “[This is] the same kind of personal connection that existed ten years ago between a boutique stylist and shoppers—we’re bringing it back online but at a massive scale using the power of mobile, social and data.”

The idea of social selling hasn’t been lost on retailers, with brands like MeUndies and Glossier building organic communities on Snapchat and Instagram. Poshmark has an advantage in that it’s an ecommerce platform first, rather than trying to work brands into a social network after the fact.

Brand Safety Institute Launches With Aim To Educate Digital Advertising Industry

The Brand Safety Institute (BSI) is a newly launched initiative that offers certified training to advertising executives so that they can minimize brand risks while capitalizing opportunities. To mark its launch, the Institute prepared a white paper in partnership with the Trustworthy Accountability Group that outlines the challenges brands face in digital advertising while offering some tips on achieving “brand suitability,” which describes the marketer’s desired balance between content adjacency (brand safety) and viewability (ROI).

One of the problems with discussing brand safety is that it’s both a hot button and broad topic. As the report states, the term has come to describe everything from ad fraud to user experiences and appropriate content adjacency—the digital environments where ads can be found. While many use the term to describe the protection of a marketer’s brands, the report states that publishers have also said that inadequate controls in the advertising supply chain put their brands at risk too. At the same time, the broad definition has caused confusion among supply chain parties, some of which have shifted significant resources to ensure a sense of transparency.

To help clarify the topic the report interviewed over 20 company executives who work with the digital advertising supply chain to establish a more narrow definition of brand safety. In doing so, it allowed the report to discover newly used descriptions, isolate execution issues and understand how various companies see their responsibility with regards to the marketer’s brand safety.

The report established the following definition: “The term ‘Brand Safety’ describes the controls that companies in the digital advertising supply chain employ to protect brands against negative impacts to the brand’s consumer reputation associated with specific types of content, criminal activity, and/or related loss of return on investment.”

In creating the definition, several phrases were frequently used by respondents in association with brand safety. The most common were “association with criminal activity,” “negative press,” and “ad placement analysis.”

However, the report admits that some industry terms are subjective. For example, placing a brand adjacent to violent content may be viewed negatively by consumers, depending on the context. But at the same time, marketers understand that this kind of positioning may lead to better conversion results.

BSI advises having brand suitability standards, defined by the marketer’s tolerance of different content types, audience demographics and viewability percentages. But the challenge to implementing that kind of standard is that “execution is heavy on tools, light on understanding and knowledge.”

The paper makes two recommendations to help overcome brand safety challenges, which include appointing brand safety officers and pursuing safer targeting. Given how many of the challenges are based on risk tolerance, marketers should charge an individual with the task of pursuing quality control, preferably someone who is well educated on the topic.

As for safer targeting, the report refers to how the Media Ratings Council’s addendum to the 2012 Ad Verification Guidelines as a source of technical guidance, stating, “This at a minimum will start to standardize the tools used by practitioners of media buying.”

After having established a definition for brand safety in this survey, BSI will continue to co-publish future white papers that will focus on understanding brand safety practices across various areas of the digital advertising supply chain.

Coca-Cola Earnings Call Reports Organic Growth Through Youth Engagement, Global Markets

Coca-Cola revealed an eight percent decline in its Q2 net revenues, attributed to the bottler re-franchising, but emphasized that its organic revenues grew by five percent, driven by balanced volume and price/mix. A significant aspect of that organic growth is the company’s success in emerging markets, particularly in Central Europe and Turkey, through expanding and diversifying its portfolio alongside effective marketing.

“We’re encouraged with our performance year-to-date as we continue our evolution as a consumer-centric, total beverage company,” said The Coca-Cola Company president and CEO James Quincey in a statement. “We have the right strategies in place and remain focused on achieving our full year guidance.”

Despite the drop in net revenue, Quincey assured investors and the public that the beverage industry is doing better than it did last year by stating, “Consumers are buying more beverages, but they’re buying a bigger diversity,” during the earnings call.

A Drink For Every Occasion

The company is following a “Beverages for Life” strategy, which involves launching a broad variety of products around the world coupled with marketing to provide consumers with drinks that accompany everyday moments and situations. At the same time, Coke is responding to shifts in consumer trends by investing in teas, juices, coffees and other categories in addition to promoting reduced or sugar-free beverages.

Quincey noted that this approach has resonated well in global markets, and it speaks particularly well to younger generations in the US who are increasingly turning away from sugary beverages in favor of alternative drink options. To underscore the point, Quincey noted that North American sales were up three percent, driven largely by both volume and pricing. Standout performers include sugar-free options, with a recently restaged Diet Coke and the double-digit growth of Coke Zero Sugar in North America, which can be attributed to smaller packaging through mini-cans and marketing innovations that encourage young consumers to try them.

“The reason we’re doing Beverages for Life is also because [the market] isn’t going to go back to what it was 40 years ago, where there were a relatively limited number of beverages,” he said.

In order for Coke to engage with the global market the company needed to expand its portfolio with a focus on relevant categories such as sparkling beverages. He added that consumer engagement and marketing played major roles, but so did innovations such as smaller packaging.

Prominent marketing campaigns include “Share a Coke” and “Share the Summer,” where the Coca-Cola logo was replaced by first names to encourage consumers to pick up a beverage along with others, preferably during fun summertime gatherings. The campaigns were reinforced with a digital docuseries called One Last Summer, which launched in July and follows the lives of recent high school graduates who are spending their last summer with friends before moving on to college.

Meanwhile, World Cup promotions helped boost the sales of sports drinks such as Powerade, which are especially popular in the Americas while bottled water does well in other markets.

“I think part of what you’re seeing is the payoff of the marketing programs and the linkage into football,” he said.

Quincey added that other drinks that are performing well are Fuse Teas, which recently launched its products in parts of Europe and in Russia, and Coke Zero Sugar. Overall, the company launched over 500 products globally in 2017.

Responsible Marketing

Coca-Cola is also emphasizing its leadership and sustainability initiatives to further increase its engagement with the young generation and global markets. In June, the company hosted the “Dear Future Leaders” challenge, a contest for 18-24-year-olds in North America to come up with ideas to improve their communities or respond to national challenges.

Additionally, while a growing number of companies have been getting on board with reducing or eliminating single-use plastic straws, Coca-Cola has been conducting an initiative to reduce disposable cups by allowing consumers to use special microchip tagged reusable bottles at Coca-Cola Freestyle dispensers. The “World Without Waste” initiative was launched in 2017, with the goal of collecting and recycling a bottle or can for each one sold by 2030.

The company also emphasizes its responsible marketing policy, which involves providing accurate information about its products and not marketing directly to children under the age of 12. The policy applies to all of its products and media channels, including television, radio, print, internet and mobile phones.

On Brand: Spotify’s Danielle Lee Discusses Data Storytelling

Streaming music has become a way of life—and a $5.6 billion industry that has become attractive to brands hoping to reach consumers engaging in a pastime they enjoy. For Danielle Lee, global head of partner solutions at Spotify, data generated on the platform creates more than statistics—it tells a story.

“Data storytelling is something we’re super passionate about. It’s something we use to inform our own brand messages back to consumers and to advertisers,” Lee told AList. “When we think about leveraging streaming intelligence in terms of forming the creativity, we bring that offering to our brand partners in really smart ways using our API tools and consulting on how they can create experiences that are additive.”

Lee used the example of a Snickers campaign that displayed “You’re Not You When You’re Hungry” ads when a Spotify user deviated from their usual music taste. Tapping the ad redirected users to a sponsored playlist called The Hunger Hits.

“People have such a personal relationship to music,” said Lee. “The biggest insight is that [users] learn a lot about themselves based on how they stream.”

In addition to Spotify’s end of year billboard campaign, users get personalized reports on their streaming activity, as well as recommendations for music they might have missed.

“The thing I think a lot about is how to get the most out of the data,” Lee explained. “Big data is just that but if you can extract the insights that are going to resonate with different communities, [those] insights are going to allow us to tell stories that haven’t been told before.”

In this way, Lee hopes to use Spotify as a way to bring consumers closer to themselves and to brands they can enjoy.

“[Spotify sits] at the intersection of the music industry, tech and media spaces and it has been quite remarkable. We’re super focused on creating amazing consumer experiences—ones that are personalized and help people discover more about themselves and the communities we live in.”

Advertising, Data Privacy Prominent In Users’ Social Media Dissatisfaction, Study Shows

Users aren’t happy with social media. The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), which measures US customer satisfaction across multiple industries, released a report indicating that users are growing increasingly dissatisfied with social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, which the organization names as having the least satisfied users.

The reason: the amount of advertising found on the platforms coupled with data privacy concerns.

According to “The ACSI E-Business Report 2018,” which surveys 5,169 consumers between July 18, 2017 and June 28, 2018, satisfaction with social media as a whole has dropped 1.4 percent down to a score of 72 on ACSI’s 100-point scale. This ranks social media among the bottom of the five industries the organization covers and the lowest of its three e-business categories, which includes internet news and search engines.

“Privacy concerns, bots and toxic online discourse have taken their toll on social media,” ACSI managing director David VanAmburg said in a statement, but those concerns are eclipsed by the number of ads users are presented with on these platforms.

He explains that even though data privacy remains an important topic for users, it’s “often in the back of their mind.” In terms of advertising, VanAmburg notes that “users don’t want to be inundated with ads while looking at pictures of their grandkids or watch a commercial before a YouTube video.”

Specifically, satisfaction with Facebook fell by one percent down to a score of 67, putting it near the bottom of the industry despite remaining as the largest social media platform in the world—a signal that user growth is slowing.

Facebook users ranked it as the worst when it comes to privacy protection, likely because of data scandals involving companies such as Cambridge Analytica, and the platform’s influence on the 2016 US Presidential Election. The social network has since been working to regain users’ trust by rooting out other potential privacy threats and working with Google, Microsoft and Twitter on a way to protect and transfer personal data between platforms. But most of all, users find advertisements on Facebook intrusive, with poor video and navigation speeds and stale content.

Similarly, the Facebook-owned photo-sharing platform Instagram saw a four percent drop to 72, driven largely by changes made to its order-feed algorithm, which haven’t been offset by feature upgrades such as Instagram stories. Despite being one of the most popular platforms for marketers, survey respondents said that the content doesn’t seem fresh, the site and video performance is poor, and the ads are too intrusive. However, the study does not take into account the recent implementation of IGTV, which could change things around for Instagram by letting users post longer videos.

Twitter saw a more severe drop in user satisfaction, falling four points to 66. Meanwhile, the Microsoft-owned LinkedIn platform gained two percent in rankings, tying it for last place alongside Twitter. Most other services including Tumblr remained static.

But not all social media platforms are doing poorly. Of the three services to gain points in the survey, Pinterest is named as the most satisfying social media platform, growing by three percent to 80. This makes for the second consecutive year the platform has improved, with its active user base doubling since 2015.

Unlike on most other social platforms, Pinterest users are more receptive to advertising. The report notes that even though most of the ads on Pinterest are content marketing-based, users state that it’s on par with Wikipedia, which has no ads.

The only other platform to see gains is YouTube, which rose one percent to a score of 75. Users enjoy the video streaming service’s speed and reliability, and they seem to have become accustomed to commercials appearing before their videos. It is unknown if subscription offerings such as YouTube Premium, which removes ads while providing access to additional content, will have a marked impact on user satisfaction going forward.

Cord-Cutting Picks Up Steam; Cable TV Continues Rapid Decline

Things are not looking well for cable TV providers such as Comcast, Charter and Dish, as a recent eMarketer study shows that cord-cutting—quitting traditional pay TV services—is continuing to outpace projections. The number of viewers who will give up their cable television subscriptions is expected to rise by 32.8 percent this year to 33 million, which is about 10 percent higher than July 2017 projections.

The decline in subscribers is happening despite how traditional TV providers are putting aside rivalries and establishing partnerships with OTT rivals such as Netflix, in an effort to retain customers. Both Comcast and Charter Communications—two of the largest cable providers in the US—have integrated services such as Netflix and Hulu into its set-top box offerings. Comcast in particular also includes Netflix, YouTube and Sling TV on its X1 service in the hopes that subscribers will prefer to have everything on one platform instead of having to switch between inputs and figuring out which remote control to use.

“These partnerships are still in the early stages, so we don’t foresee them having a significant impact reducing churn this year,” said eMarketer senior forecasting analyst Christopher Bendtsen. “With more pay TV and OTT partnerships expected in the future, combined with other strategies, providers could eventually slow—but not stop—the losses.”

Conversely, these digital streaming platforms are growing at the expense of traditional television, driven by demand for original programming and multiple services. These services continue to invest heavily in original shows to attract viewers. As a result, eMarketer has increased its viewer growth estimate for YouTube, Netflix, Amazon and Hulu—in spite of Netflix’s subscriber growth underperforming in the last quarter.

According to the report, about 186.7 million adults in the US will watch cable television in 2018, which is 3.8 percent less than last year. Of the major cable operators, satellite providers will suffer the biggest decline due to cord-cutting.

Bendtsen explains, “Consumers increasingly choose services on the strength of the programming they offer, and the platforms are stepping up with billions in spending on premium shows. Another factor driving the acceleration of cord-cutting is the availability of compelling and affordable live TV packages that are delivered via the internet without the need for installation fees or hardware.”

The projected growth of OTT platforms comes in stark contrast to the June study conducted by Parrot Analytics, which found that almost half of US viewers refuse to pay for even a single video streaming service. In comparison, 45 percent of British respondents, 43 percent of Brazilians and 82 percent of Italians said that they were willing to subscribe to one or more digital service.

Shark Week 2018 Counts Record Number Of Partnerships; Is Marketing Boon For Discovery

Discovery Channel debuted its 30th annual Shark Week this week. It is currently the longest-running cable-TV programming event in history. The event is so popular that it rivals shows such as Orange is the New Black and could generate an estimated $18 million in sales of themed retail products with additional partner tie-ins—according to Discovery.

Shark Week 2018 boasts the highest number of licensed partnerships in the event’s history, with 26 partners spread across nine product categories. Some of the most prominent partners are Walmart, the Build-A-Bear Workshop and apparel company Vineyard Vines—all of which launched themed collections to coincide with the event. Shaquille O’Neal is the official spokesperson for this year’s Shark Week (get it: Shaq Week) and starred in the week’s premiere show.

Southwest Airlines launched a shark week fleet with five aircraft featuring exterior artwork of different species of shark. This marks the fifth consecutive year the airline has partnered with Discovery. Southwest is also hosting the “Dare to Dive” contest, which offers a five-day all-inclusive Great White Shark cage diving trip as its grand prize. The winner will be flown to San Diego, then transported to Guadalupe Island, Mexico to swim among great white sharks. Swedish Fish is also hosting sweepstakes where it will fly one family to Oahu for a real-life shark encounter. The candy brand is giving away prize packs that contain themed Shark Week swag as well.

Discovery Channel is incorporating other partners through an extensive social media campaign where researchers, filmmakers, conservationists and others engage with audiences by sharing stories, photos and videos in addition to having sponsored factoids. Discovery also released 100 shark-themed GIFs and stickers for fans to use via the GIPHY platform.

“Shark Week is all family viewing; it’s fun, educational and entertaining,” Leigh Ann Brodsky, executive vice president at Discovery Global Enterprises, said in an interview. “What better way to bring families closer together than by buying great gear and tuning into the event each night.”

Discovery’s 30-year blockbuster event has grown into a cultural phenomenon, driven largely by audiences’ fascination with these sea creatures, but also by both aquariums and pop culture icons alike. With popular children’s brands such as SpongeBob SquarePants, Pokémon and the Schultz Museum giving Shark Week shout-outs on social media, along with immensely popular video games like Fortnite getting into the action, it will likely remain a marketing boon for Discover, Inc. for years to come.

Marketers Increase Ad Spend In Q2; Growth In Digital And Primetime TV

The national advertising market gained five percent in the second quarter, led by digital platforms and cable TV, according to data provided by Standard Media Index.

Marketers poured their budgets into digital platforms in the second quarter, increasing spend in the category by 12 percent. Out-of-Home spending wasn’t far behind with an increase of nine percent. National TV and radio experienced modest drops of one percent each, while print declined 22 percent.

The Telecommunications industry was the largest spender in the second quarter spending two percent more year-over-year (YoY) across platforms. The automotive industry increased its overall spending by 10 percent YoY but 12 percent less on TV than the first quarter. Similarly, Quick Serve Restaurants increased YoY spending by 23 percent across all platforms but just three percent more than the first quarter.

National TV revenue declined in the second quarter due to a 3.4 percent drop in the average paid unit cost for a 30-second commercial.

“As upfront season comes to a close, the industry now needs to quickly move its attention to the Scatter market,” James Fennessy, CEO of Standard Media Index said in a statement. “In Q2, revenue from the Scatter market grew by 11 percent YoY while revenue from Upfronts fell four percent and Direct Response advertising remained flat.”

Primetime Original Programming led the way in terms of TV ad revenue this quarter. Of all the TV networks, 21st Century Fox grew the most, gaining nine percent revenue thanks to shows like Empire and The Big Bang Theory. At $322,659, TV spots for Empire were the second most expensive after AMC’s The Walking Dead.

June marked the premieres of several talent competition programs across NBC and Fox. New episodes of America’s Got Talent, World of Dance, So You Think You Can Dance? and The Four: Battle for Stardom earned $76.9 million combined.

Excluding the World Cup, revenue from Sports fell 6.6 percent YoY in the second quarter. Standard Media Index attributes this drop to changes in basketball schedules both at the professional and college level.

“This year’s NBA Finals only lasted four games compared to five last year, causing the series to earn 12 percent less revenue YoY,” noted the analyst firm. “However, when looking at average revenue per game, this year was up 10 percent, having brought in $45.7 million per game for ABC.”

Google’s Q2 Ad Revenue Earnings Up 23 Percent

Google parent company Alphabet, Inc. announced second quarter revenues of $32.7 billion, an increase of 26 percent YoY. Google stock rose four percent following the earnings call.

Unsurprisingly, Google’s advertising business accounted for a majority of revenue, reaching $28 billion in the second quarter—an increase of 23.9 percent YoY. Mobile search and YouTube were the main drivers of this growth, according to Alphabet, Inc. CEO Ruth Porat, adding that the company’s ad platforms are “firing on all cylinders” as they use machine learning to help marketers succeed.

Paid ad clicks on Google’s own sites and apps rose 58 percent YoY to $23.3 billion, the company reported, only a slight drop from the first quarter’s 59 percent growth. The amount of money Google receives on the average ad click fell 22 percent. Traffic acquisition costs accounted for 23 percent of ad revenue in the second quarter.

Reported second quarter income includes the $5 billion fine imposed by European antitrust regulators last week. Google was accused of forcing device makers to install its search engine and Chrome browser on Android devices. Alphabet plans to appeal the fine but the ruling forced the company to readdress how it handles its smartphone partnerships.

“There’s more work to be done, and it’ll become clearer as we go along,” Google CEO Sundar Pichai said during the second-quarter earnings call. “I’m confident we can find a solution that makes Android available at scale to users everywhere.”

The company’s capital expenditures jumped nearly double YoY to $5.5 billion, attributed to an increase of investments in data centers and facilities, as well as production equipment.

Non-ad businesses within Google earned $4.43 billion, compared to $3.09 billion a year ago. This total includes revenue from the Play Store, hardware such as Google Home speakers and Pixel smartphones and Google’s cloud computing platform.


Huawei Launch Pop-Ups Where Users Can Smash Their Old Phones

According to Huawei Mobile, about 63 percent of UK consumers carry around outdated technology, manage poor battery performance or deal with similar nuisances. In response, the mobile phone maker has been hosting a series of “destruction booth” and “phone break-up party” pop-up events at select London stores as part of its recent “A Phone Anonymous” campaign and in support of the company’s P20 Pro smartphone.

At these events, users who are fed up with their phones are invited to come and select from an array of tools including baseball bats, hammers and sledgehammers. Then they smash their phones to bits, providing a more literal sense to the term “break up.” Not only did the events provide attendees with a much-needed chance to vent their frustrations and perhaps party alongside some local celebrities, but they walked away with brand new Huawei P20 Pros for free.

Locations for pop-up events were shared on social media and attendees were encouraged to share their smashing experiences using the hashtag #APhoneAnonymous. However, the public response to the chance to smash for a free phone turned out to be much greater than anticipated, forcing the phone brand to cancel its final destruction booth event at the last minute as the line grew ever longer. The good news is that there were no angry mobs reported, unlike the recent Build-A-Bear promotion.

Huawei Mobile launched its “A Phone Anonymous” campaign earlier this year with a study that found that short battery life, autocorrect text fails, lack of storage, poor reception quality and outright phone freezes were among the top complaints for consumers. In fact, respondents said that running out of battery at a crucial moment was more stressful than being late to a meeting or starting a new job.

As part of the campaign, Huawei Mobile opened a helpline for people who are sick of their smartphones. Consumers were invited to call “0800 020 9348” and get frustrations off their chests, presumably before their phones ran out of battery life.