Direct-To-Consumer Trends With Marcus Startzel, CEO At Whitebox

During this episode of “Marketing Today,” I interview Marcus Startzel, chief executive officer at Whitebox. Whitebox is powering the DTC economy, providing an entire eCommerce operation in a single package. They combine all the functions of the eCommerce process into one service, making it easy for a manufacturer or a brand to sell on a global level and shrink their overhead. They just closed a $5 million Series A funding round led by TDF Ventures. Startzel’s previous experience includes chief revenue officer at AppNexus, chairman and CEO at MediaGlu and general manager at Millennial Media.

On the show today, Startzel discusses the direct-to-consumer economy, many of the current trends in DTC, some examples from his client base at Whitebox, what Whitebox is all about and who is doing DTC well from large companies to smaller digitally-native companies. He also discusses the importance of having powerful awareness campaigns, great reviews and having strong partners.

Startzel defines Whitebox by saying, “In its simplest form, Whitebox is an eCommerce technology sales and logistics platform. Very plainly spoken, we help our clients sell stuff and move stuff as they engage with consumers.” 

What does it take in Startzel’s opinion to succeed in DTC? “The bottom line is you have to have a great product. Great products shine. You could have great marketing that sells an average product. But when you are talking about standing up a direct-to-consumer today and taking it to market, it’s got to start with a great product that answers some consumer demand.” 

In terms of advice, Startzel shares, “Be more confident in your talents. You can do much more than you think.”

Highlights from this week’s “Marketing Today”:

  • Where did Marcus start his career? (01:23)
  • Marcus shares what transferable skills he learned as a submarine officer. (03:01)
  • What is Whitebox? (04:55)
  • What role does Whitebox play in the DTC space? (06:16) 
  • What does it take to stand up for a DTC brand? (11:34)
  • Are there other advantages of selling on other platforms other than their own? (14:14)
  • What advantages does Whitebox provide to the customer? (19:10)
  • Are there any large companies that he feels are playing the DTC game well? (22:09)
  • Is there an experience in Marcus’s life that has defined who he is today? (26:03)
  • What advice would he give to his younger self? (29:56)
  • What fuels Marcus Startzel to keep going in his career and life? (30:55)
  • Are there brands that he thinks we should pay attention to? (32:17)
  • Where does Marcus see the future of marketing going? (33:56)

Alan B. Hart is the creator and host of “Marketing Today with Alan Hart,” a weekly podcast where he interviews leading global marketing professionals and business leaders. Alan advises leading executives and marketing teams on opportunities around brand, customer experience, innovation and growth. He has consulted with Fortune 100 companies, but he is an entrepreneur at his core, having founded or served as an executive for nine startups.

New Balance Creates Pop-Up Pizzeria For New York City Marathon Campaign

New Balance announced a fully integrated campaign to celebrate the forthcoming New York City Marathon and the brand’s TCS New York City Marathon Collection. The official footwear and apparel sponsor of the marathon for three consecutive years, New Balance is engaging with runners via a pop-up pizzeria, out-of-home (OOH) ads, social engagement and a race day block party.

The NB Pizza Co. pop-up shop will be open to the public on October 11 and every weekend thereafter ahead of the marathon including the marathon weekend. New Balance is encouraging runners to participate in the campaign’s “Miles for Pizza” challenge, where runners from around the world can log their miles wherever they are via the Strava app. To redeem their reward, runners must show staff at the pop-up shop their logged miles in the app to receive free pizza provided by L’Industrie Pizzeria in Williamsburg. Runners will receive one slice for five miles, two slices for 10-25 miles, four slices for 50 miles, six slices for 75 miles and a full pizza for 100 miles. Runners in New York will have additional opportunities to cash in their miles leading up to the race which falls on November 1.

In addition to the “Miles for Pizza” challenge, New Balance is hosting experiential activations including Friday happy hour run, Saturday long runs and single Sundays where the first 50 runners to join receive a free branded singlet. 

New Balance is also creating a multi-sensory shopping experience at the 2019 TCS New York City Marathon Expo, October 31-November 2. The retail space will bring the streets of New York to the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, where the expo is taking place, through hero displays and photo opportunities for runners to enjoy. The TCS New York City Marathon Expo, the largest running expo in the US, features over 130 health and fitness vendors. There, runners can shop the New Balance collection and also polish their race strategy with tips from the “NYRR Running Lab,” presented by New Balance.

OOH ads for the campaign will start on October 28 across the ABC super sign, Footlocker and Champs digital signs in Times Square. 

On race day, New Balance will once again host a block party at mile 16 to cheer on runners during their last few miles and hand out free swag to spectators. Sounds will be provided by the Brooklyn United drumline, all-female Brazilian Samba drumline Fogo Azul NYC, DJ Cory Townes, Cobra Performing Arts Majorettes drumline and all-female brass brand the Pinettes.

For Smart Audio, Engagement Is Key

Originally published at AW360 by Tom Webster.

In our most recent edition of The Smart Audio Report, our research partnership with NPR, we learned that privacy concerns remain an issue with people who have not purchased a smart speaker. In fact, 57 percent agree with the statement, “You worry that hackers could use your smart speaker to get access to your home or personal information,” which is undoubtedly a significant barrier to purchase for many. This stat is perhaps not very surprising. But here’s one that did surprise me: the percentage of people who DO own these devices agreeing with the statement above is… 58 percent. Nearly identical.

In fact, owners and non-owners alike share similar fears and concerns about their privacy and the security of their data. With the latter, these concerns affect their decision to pass, at least for now, on inviting these always-listening devices into their homes. With owners, it’s a little more complicated. In our qualitative research, we detected a fair amount of resignation. After all, the smartphones in our pocket are doing far more egregious things to our privacy every day. Also, a slight majority of owners (54 percent) say that they trust the manufacturer of their device to keep their information secure, so there is currently a little goodwill there.

The privacy concerns of owners might also manifest themselves in other ways, however. While data security may be a barrier to purchase for some, it might also represent a barrier to experimentation for existing owners–in other words, they may be comfortable asking for a song or to have a timer set, but might draw the line at health or financial-related applications. The primary use case for these devices for most owners is to consume music or spoken word audio, information services, and other more mundane tasks such as setting timers. And that might be just fine with the current universe of users.

In fact, in one of the most intriguing findings from the NPR/Edison Research Smart Audio Report is the juxtaposition of these two data points: first, the longer you have owned your device, the fewer things you do with it. For people who have owned one for less than three months, they use an average of nearly 12 different skills weekly, while those who have had their devices for over two years use seven.

You might interpret this to mean that the devices become less important over time, but that’s where the second data point comes in: the percentage of owners who agree with the statement “You wouldn’t want to go back to life without your smart speaker” increases over time. In fact, nearly three times as many in the greater than two years camp agree with that as persons who just received theirs in the last three months. In other words, people love them even more, despite the fact that they pare down on skills and features they might have experimented with when they first got their devices.

For brands seeking activations on smart speakers, then, it is not discovery, but engagement–that is the real challenge. Trial of branded skills and content can be encouraged through native advertising in on-speaker content streams, but the real trick is in making skills or services that are truly useful, and not just novel. It’s very easy to get caught up in the promise of what these devices could do and lose track of what we need them to do–entertain us or be genuinely helpful in our day to day lives. With genuine utility will come greater trust, and with greater trust, a greater willingness to try voice assistant technology in more areas of our lives.

IRONMAN Taps New CMO In Time For Annual World Championship

This week in marketing moves, The IRONMAN Group, a Wanda Sports Group company, names a new CMO; former Moosejaw marketing executive, Dan Pingree, joins Park West Gallery as CMO; Monkey Knife Fight, a fantasy sports platform hires former Nike VP; Iliana Williams joins Oak Street Funding as chief marketing officer; The Meatless Farm Co. acquires a new CMO and Karen Walker joins Intel as senior vice president and CMO.

The IRONMAN Group Names Ellen Newberg As Chief Marketing Officer 

Almost a week before The IRONMAN annual World Championship in Kailua-Kona, the company announced the appointment of Ellen Newberg as the company’s new chief marketing officer. 

Newberg joins The IRONMAN from Professional Bull Riders (PBR), where she held several executive marketing roles for nearly ten years, most recently as CMO.

In her new role, Newberg will be in charge of the event marketing, including IRONMAN, IRONMAN 70.3, Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series and the Epic Series. 

Matthieu Van Veen, chief revenue officer for The IRONMAN Group, said about the new addition to the company’s marketing team: “[Newberg] has deep firsthand knowledge of our athletes and demonstrated years of success in sports and entertainment marketing. She is a proven leader and will be able to contribute immediately to the success of our events through event marketing and programs.”

Former Moosejaw CMO Appointed Chief Marketing Officer For Park West Gallery 

A privately-owned art dealer, Park West Gallery, tapped former Moosejaw CMO Dan Pingree as chief marketing officer.  Pingree has almost 20 years of experience leading digital marketing, e-commerce and product teams. 

“Over the past 50 years, Park West has built an amazing brand story, and Dan is the ideal person to help us tell that story to the world. He brings with him a unique [skill set] and understanding of digital marketing and e-commerce, and has a strong track record of building and developing robust teams, which makes him a tremendous addition to Park West,” said Park West Gallery Founder and CEO Albert Scaglione.  

Oak Street Funding Names New CMO 

A First Financial Bank company, Oak Street Funding, hired Iliana Williams as chief marketing officer to replace Sharon Robbins who is retiring from the role. 

Williams previously held marketing roles at MasterCard Worldwide, GE Finance and Procter and Gamble. At Oak Street Funding she will be responsible for the marketing and communications direction of the company to drive further growth.

“I’m thrilled with this opportunity with Oak Street, its talented marketing team and to be able to spend time with Sharon which will allow for an extremely smooth transition. I look forward to the challenge of taking the organization to the next level while also taking pride in working for a company that recognizes the value of building quality relationships with their employees, customers and the communities they serve,” Williams said.

Former Head Of Global Digital Brand Innovation At Nike Joins DFS Platform As CMO

The North American fantasy sports platform, Monkey Knife Fight, tapped Danny Tawiah as CMO. 

Tawiah previously held the role of head of global digital brand innovation at Nike, where he was responsible for Nike’s largest global digital brand campaigns, such as the 2010 FIFA World Cup (South Africa), 2012 Olympics (London) and 2014 FIFA World Cup (Brazil). 

At Monkey Knife Fight, Tawiah will be tasked with building a brand from the ground up. He said on the matter: “From the moment I met the MKF team and heard their vision, I knew this was a team I could work well with and together we could do something special. This is a brand that is only just beginning to scratch its true potential. I’m excited for the opportunity.”

Lone Thomsen Named Chief Marketing Officer For The Meatless Farm Co.

This week, The Meatless Farm Co. announces the appointment of Lone Thomsen to the role of chief marketing officer. 

Thomsen joins The Meatless Farm Co. from The Coca-Cola Company, where she served as head of media and connections strategy and IMC lead, portfolio expansion, for The Coca-Cola Company, Western Europe. Prior to that, Thomsen held global strategy roles in several media and advertising agencies.

At The Meatless Farm Co, she will be tasked with the international expansion of the company, as well as its strategic growth.  

“It’s fantastic news that Lone is joining the Meatless farmers. It’s such an important time in the company’s evolution as the global market heats up. Lone has been a strategic advisor to us since launch and as chief marketing officer, her experience, knowledge and passion will really help drive the company and its continued growth, globally,” founder Morten Toft Bech said about Thomsen’s appointment. 

Karen Walker To Join Intel As Senior VP And CMO

Former Cisco CMO Karen Walker will join Intel as senior VP and CMO, effective October 23, where she will lead the company’s global marketing team to build and strengthen Intel’s brand and be responsible for growing demand for Intel’s products and solutions worldwide. 

Intel’s CEO Bob Swan said about Walker’s appointment: “Karen is a truly a world-class CMO. She has deep experience with many of our most valued customers and a keen understanding of what it will take to play an even larger role in their success. We are excited to have Karen on our leadership team.”

FMG Welcomes Industry Veteran Andrew Lipman As CMO 

Campaign US reports that Future Media Group Inc. hired Andrew Lipman as the company’s new CMO.

According to Lipman’s LinkedIn, he spent four years as global communications director at Cadillac before joining FMG. Previous to that, he also served as a general manager at Audi of America and as a vice president at Ketchum. 

Warner Bros. Pictures Welcomes Former Disney Exec As SVP, Marketing EMEA

Charlie Coleman, who spent more than 20 years at Disney, most recently as a VP and managing director, franchise management, was named senior vice president of marketing EMEA at Warner Bros. Pictures. 

Coleman will lead Warner. Bros. EMEA development and campaign oversight, oversee the regional marketing team including strategy, media, digital, publicity and creative. He will report to Julien Noble, executive vice president, international marketing.

“Charlie is a highly experienced marketing executive, incredibly creative with an amazing track record. We’ll look to his expertise to help us continue to push our strategic approach for our marketing campaigns. I’m excited for him to join us, he will be an incredible addition to our Warner Bros. team,” Noble said. 

Check out our careers section for executive job openings and to post your own staffing needs.

Editor’s Note: Our weekly careers post is updated daily. This installment is updated until Friday, September 30. Have a new hire tip? We’re looking for senior executive role changes in marketing and media. Let us know at

Job Vacancies 

Chief Marketing Officer ThirdLoveSan Francisco, CA
Vice President, Film MarketingNew York UniversityBrooklyn, NY
Chief Communications And Marketing OfficerUC San DiegoSan Diego, CA
Senior Vice President Of MarketingClear Channel OutdoorNew York, NY
SVP–Creative MarketingWalt Disney TelevisionBurbank, CA
Vice President, Marketing Int’l International Distribution And ProductionsSony Pictures Entertainment Inc.Culver City, CA

Make sure to check back for updates on our Careers page.

What Marketers Need To Know About Amazon Influencer Storefronts

Originally published on ION.

(Editor’s note: AList is published by To get up to speed on the rapid changes affecting the influencer marketing landscape, click here.)

In its ongoing attempt to join the likes of the Google and Facebook digital duopoly, Amazon rolled out personalized online storefronts for social media influencers. An extension to the influencer program it launched in 2017, the move could help marketers better tie influencer activity to hard product sales, in addition to amplifying reach and engagement. Here we explore the steps marketers should take to stay in front of the new platform and how to make the most out of Amazon storefronts right now.

The central difference between Amazon affiliate links and the Amazon influencer storefront is that the storefront houses links to products recommended by influencers. The storefront provides influencers with their own page and a URL to showcase their recommendations which is helpful where hyperlinking isn’t possible—for example, on Instagram captions and videos. 

Influencers must have a YouTube, Instagram, Twitter or Facebook account to qualify for an Amazon storefront. Amazon doesn’t provide much detail on how follower size impacts qualifications beyond noting that it “looks at the number of followers and other engagement metrics of the influencers’ social media presence.” Influencers who become verified on Amazon have a verified badge and link on their storefront as well as access to Amazon social experiences, called bounties, and forthcoming new benefits that Amazon has yet to disclose. Once set up, virtual storefronts can be customized through photos and a bio. The influencer program is currently available in the US, UK, Canada and India.

The move helps consumers, too, letting them easily follow storefronts to they can stay up-to-date on products their favorite influencers suggest. From there, shoppers will receive updates via email and push notifications whenever the influencer contributes new content to the site, including reviews and the creation of new “Idea Lists” on the storefront’s page.

According to Liane Mullin, COO of WhatsUpMoms, a parenting network with 1.6 million subscribers on YouTube, sales commission depends on the product category. Marketing Land reported that Amazon approached Mullin’s team about setting up their own storefront. “Our community has always asked for our product recommendations, but we didn’t really have a great solution to aggregate all of our favorite products. Amazon is a trusted site for a lot of parents, so it was an easy decision to partner with them for our first online store,” Mullin told Marketing Land

As for commission rates, they vary from one percent to 10 percent, as Business Insider noted. The storefront is equipped with a reporting tab within Amazon that tracks the sales of products and bounties. In addition to tapping major influencers, Amazon is also targeting micro-influencers who have small but highly engaged audiences.

In addition to Amazon influencer storefronts, there is Storr and Like To Know It, two retail concept platforms that allow users to curate collections and shopping experiences much in the same way that Amazon storefronts work. San Francisco-based Storr, which launched earlier this year, allows anyone to open their own store via their phone. Storr owners can make up to 15-25 percent on commission. Similarly, Like To Know It was created in 2017, and by the end of its first year, had over 1.3 million registered users on the mobile app and over $300 million in sales coming from its shoppers. The platform is driving influencer sales at scale, as research mentioned on Forbes noted that four of five of Nordstrom web visits came from influencer-driven referral traffic, 79 percent of which came from Like To Know It and its parent brand, rewardStyle, in 2017.

With Amazon influencer storefronts, Storr and Like To Know It, influencers are crafting experiences that are more shoppable for followers on platforms where it’s not easy to link out to a product. For example, to shop on Instagram, one must remain in the app. Custom links to storefronts simplify the user experience and expose followers to new products they potentially wouldn’t search for on their own.

While the storefronts provide influencers a new way to monetize their popularity, it’s not clear yet to what extent Amazon’s initiative will benefit marketers. The program is in its early stages and marketers currently have no access to influencers’ storefront metrics. In the beginning stages, brands will have to rely on influencers to provide traffic data, making the storefront retail concept not entirely immune to fraud.

The storefronts will, however, move marketers one step closer to understanding the value of influencer marketing beyond awareness raising. After storefronts become more established, marketers will have better insights into the conversion rates of each influencer and that data will help them navigate those relationships accordingly. The question that remains for marketers is whether or not they can retarget influencers’ audiences beyond their storefront and incorporate those consumers into their larger brand strategy. 

West Elm Experiments With Creative Home Design Game Challenges

West Elm is transforming a boutique condominium in New York City into an interactive concept store, presented by New York City-based real estate marketplace, StreetEasy and open now through the end of October. The brand’s first-ever holiday house hosts experiential activations featuring several lifestyle partners and will extend to digital “holiday house challenges” to gamers across the world. 

The interactive holiday house marks the first time the design and lifestyle company is offering tutorials and seasonal activations beyond its global retail stores. Programming at the holiday house includes a Facebook Live panel with Sherwin-Williams and a three-part digital series that shows guests how West Elm teamed with StreatEasty to find the perfect home for its holiday house. In addition, customers can try three mattresses from sustainable mattress brand, Leesa Sleep. Sonos will display its new Sonos Move products and Johnnie Walker will host cocktail classes. Visitors can also take floral workshops and participate in free 30-minute, one-on-one consultations with West Elm design experts about holiday decorating.

For those who can’t make it to New York, mobile game Design Home created two home design challenges modeled after West Elm’s New York City pop-up. From October 1-8, Design Home players who enter the challenges will receive $10 off on their next West Elm purchase when they spend a minimum of $20. The game is open to users in the US, Canada, Australia and the UK. 

West Elm’s virtual game initiative is riding the wave of a strong gaming community, especially among its core demographic, as women make up 45 percent of US gamers, and 30 percent are women between the ages of 18 and 35. Similarly, 46 percent of UK gamers are female. Given 60 percent of US female mobile gamers play daily, it’s a good bet that West Elm is leveraging the medium to attract the Design Home player, whose average age is 38-years-old.

Through creative game play, Design Home empowers over 1 million women to discover the latest home décor trends and brands. The game, launched in 2016, reached 30 million downloads and $71.5 million in bookings in its first year.

‘Brands Should Want To Give Back To Communities They Serve’ Laverne Cox On How Marketers Can Be Inclusive

We sat down with Emmy-Nominated actor Laverne Cox to talk about her work with Smirnoff and how she is helping to make brands truly inclusive. Our conversation not only touched on Laverne’s recent advocacy but also Smirnoff’s recent campaign work and her advice for brands on how to be allies for the LGBTQIA+ community.

Can brands actually change the world? Smirnoff certainly thinks so. The world’s largest vodka brand has a purpose that is nothing if not ambitious. Since 2015, the company’s “We’re Open” campaign has spent more than $5 million to drive real, worldwide societal change by making global LGBTQIA+ communities more visible.  

Smirnoff invested in programs that challenge the perception of LGBT people, from educating British lads with a partnership with LADBible, to choosing to ally with high-profile members of the non-binary community as its brand ambassadors.

Nothing illustrates this more than Smirnoff’s work with Laverne Cox, an Emmy-nominated actor and one of the most vocal activists for the American trans community. Beginning their relationship with 2018 “Welcome to the Fun%” campaign, the Orange Is the New Black star, has worked closely with the brand ever since. The most recent iteration of this partnership is “Welcome Home,” an old-school house track that reuses the words from Cox’s ad campaign and has gone on to become an unlikely club hit.

Last week Cox joined Diageo CMO Jay Sethi for a Fireside Chat at Advertising Week NY, where the pair talked about how brands can truly be inclusive, including a five-step program to be more inclusive. They urge brands to:

  • Be persistent in marketing support throughout the year 
  • Represent the FULL community 
  • Invest meaningfully with significant financial support 
  • Defend policy with advocacy 
  • Empower people through a commitment to hire

AList sat down with Cox after the panel to discuss her work as a brand ambassador for Smirnoff, how brands can work with communities to ensure authenticity and how the marketing industry can follow through on a commitment for greater visibility when it comes to representing marginalised communities and groups.

Smirnoff has long been a supporter of the LGBTIA+ community, did that attract you to working with them?

Yeah. What’s great is that even before [working with] me, Smirnoff has a history when it comes to supporting the LGBTQ community. Before I was involved with them, I can remember the Love Wins bottles, where every bottle sold came with a commitment to donate to HRC. I think they ended up raising $1.5 million and they’re only halfway there–and HRC is such a vital organisation that does a lot of work to advocate for the LGBTQ community, not only in helping push forward new legislation but across the board. 

That is the kind of commitment I think all brands should aspire to—they should want to give back to communities that they serve.

What does authenticity mean to you? 

Authenticity has become a bit of a buzzword—I completely understand that. For me, it means making sure that you have real values and making sure what you do align with those values. It’s about acting like a real person. It’s stating “I have a value system, and my behavior corresponds to that.” Brands should be doing the same. 

Your relationship with Smirnoff feels like a very two-way collaboration. How can other brands make sure that they are good allies to the non-binary communities? 

Whenever I tire of these conversations on authenticity, I like to allude back to Renee Brown’s work on the subject. She says that authenticity is about “letting go of who you think you should be and being true to who you really are.” 

When companies are targeting specific audiences, they must find ambassadors who embody their values. I feel blessed that I get to show up as the real Laverne and do what I do. With Smirnoff, I don’t have to be a different person at the Emmy Awards than I am when I’m advertising a product. I get to show up as me, and I don’t have to check my behavior because I’m representing this brand. 

It’s vital that I work with brands that are OK with me being who I am. I have moments when I’m like “Oh no, I’m saying this, they’re going to be sad,” but Smirnoff knows who their getting. I’m political. I’m going to be talking about what’s going on at the supreme court, I’m going to talk about issues–always with love and empathy, but also asking questions about how to push forward.

What are some practical things marketers should be mindful of when portraying the LGBTIA+ community?

I think it comes down to more jobs and more opportunity. With campaigns that ran over PRIDE month, we all see beautiful LGBT people in front of the camera fronting campaigns, but we need that year-round.  We also need to think outside of PRIDE. I am not just a trans woman–I do so many different things in the world, and I think marketers need to acknowledge that and reflect that in the campaigns they create and the depictions that they use. 

We also need to ask the question “what do we need to do behind the scenes?” If we don’t have diverse people in decision making roles, how are going to change perceptions in front of the camera?  We need to make sure we hire diversely, extend training and intern programs to people from minority backgrounds and ensure that we’re giving this new generation of marketers opportunities. We need to think carefully about how we train the new generation.

How do we ensure brands commit to message all year round, rather than just wheeling out inclusive messaging during PRIDE week?

I think it comes down to what marketers do year-round. I’m proud that my relationship with Smirnoff, for example, didn’t start with PRIDE. It was the fall of 2018 with their Welcome to the Fun% campaign, where I worked with Mr Ted Danson, who is just delightful. I love that Smirnoff is trailblazing this conversation that can happen year long and not only one month of the year.

Brands need to ensure that they do more than the bare minimum. It’s not enough to support the community for one month and then also be giving money to political candidates that are working against my interests. We should be mindful about what our advocacy looks like, because the truth is, these brands are massively influential. Millions of people can enjoy a product, and you should ensure that a product is working for and not against them. It goes beyond ad campaigns; brands need both consistency and authenticity.

Lastly, how should brands be committing to this message in a way that genuinely helps the LGBTQIA+ Community?

Put simply, by continuing to do great work. I believe that when other marketers see how great brands like Smirnoff are doing great work by working with people like me, they’ll get on board. It’s tricky to touch the zeitgeist, but these communities are full of smart, creative people and brands need to tap into that.

Brands need to think outside the box and think more inclusively. Everyone needs to be listening, and I need to be listening as much as possible. We can never stop listening to the consumer–I think where we can do that, particularly in the US, I don’t think we can go wrong.

WhatsApp Tests Self-Destructing Feature; Facebook Expands Keyword Alerts For Groups

This week, WhatsApp started testing a feature that would allow users to redact texts and images, Facebook expands on its test of keyword alerts for groups and consumers express their distrust over Facebook news stories.

WhatsApp Is Testing A Feature That Would Enable Texts, Images To Disappear After Self-Determined Time Period

The Economic Times says the feature will come on the back of a similar feature that’s launching on Facebook Messenger.

Why it matters: The option to redact messages after a fixed time frame has lapsed could put WhatsApp on the same playing field as rival Telegram, which has a “secret chat” feature that deletes sensitive information. 

The details: WhatsApp will support the self-destructing messages feature in group chats. Some third-party apps once had the option of sending self-destructing messages, but they were soon outlawed after WhatsApp cracked down on apps that undermined the privacy of users.

Over Half Consume News Via Facebook But Most Don’t Trust It

A survey from the Pew Research Center shows just how poor Facebook users’ perception is of the platform’s news stories, per TechCrunch.

Why it matters: Facebook is getting ready to launch a “news tab” this month full of stories that complement the headlines appearing in people’s social feeds.

The details: About 52 percent of participants in Pew’s survey revealed they get their news from Facebook, followed by 28 percent from YouTube and 17 percent from Twitter. More than 88 percent believe that social media controls what news stories people see and 62 percent believe that social platforms have too much control.

Facebook Improves Testing Of Keyword Alerts For Groups

Facebook is refining a feature that would give Facebook group admins the ability to stay on top of relevant discussions.

Why it matters: Business who want to use groups to stay connected with potential customers could benefit from the feature. Its true purpose, however, is to catch content that violates group rules.

The details: The improvements include a new format and easier ways to stay notified. Group admins can add all relevant discussion words that they want to monitor within their group and receive notifications when those words are mentioned. Members who use keywords won’t know the admin has been alerted. Then the admin has the option to immediately react by either deleting the mention or allowing it to go through.

Facebook Can Be Ordered To Remove Posts, Europe’s Top Court Rules

According to The New York Times, a former leader of Austria’s Green Party sought to have Facebook remove scathing remarks about her from a user’s personal page.

Why it matters: Big internet platforms like Facebook may be tasked with more responsibility to patrol their sites for content ruled illegal.

The details: The court said today that an individual country can make Facebook remove posts, photographs and videos and restrict global access to such material. Facebook criticized the ruling, saying that, “the judgement raises critical questions about freedom of expression and the role that internet companies should play in monitoring, interpreting and removing speech.”

Instagram Creates “Creators” Account To Help Foster More User Activity

The app launched a new tool today called @creators, which will provide video content tips to people who want to become more active on Instagram.

Why it matters: The tactic could encourage YouTube creators who not seeing ROI on their platform to move their efforts to Instagram.

The details: Instagram posted a series of FAQ to the @creators’ story with testimonials from actual creators using the platform. Creators can use the account to gain helpful insight into what works well. For example, tips on how to get verified, and other useful info, like the fact that 60 percent of people listen to stories on the platform with the sound on, to help them create content that resonates with viewers. 

Facebook Enables Messenger In Stories Ads

According to Marketing Land, businesses with messenger templates set up in their Facebook ads accounts can now drive Facebook, Instagram and messenger stories ad traffic to start conversations via messenger.

Why it matters: The integration is appealing for businesses with longer conversion cycles who want to increase engagement.

The details: Users can now swipe up on stories ads via the “Send Message” call-to-action to start a conversation with the brand without leaving the app they’re in.

Twitter Rolls Out Spam, Abuse Filter For Direct Messages

Twitter has launched a feature that filters direct messages deemed offensive, available on Twitter’s iOS, Android and web apps.

Why it matters: Unsolicited messages and content on Twitter are commonplace, leading to criticism that the platform is an unsafe place that lacks tools to protect its users. The latest spam and abuse filter may reduce these qualms.

The details: The filter adds a new section to the “additional messages” inbox, where DMs from users you don’t follow go. When you click on it, messages containing potentially offensive content have their previews hidden. Users can also delete the messages without opening them first.

Instagram Makes Anti-Bullying Tool Available To Everyone

After testing the feature, Instagram finally launched a tool called “Restrict” that lets users block individuals and make all future comments from them invisible to the public.

Why it matters: “Restrict” mode comes after the app announced it was testing an artificial intelligence (AI) feature that warns people against leaving negative comments. The latest move, which will give users more control over their experience, is part of Instagram’s National Bullying Prevention Month efforts which will happen all through October.

The details: Should a user decides to restrict someone, the tool will make comments invisible to third-party Instagrammers, but the bully will still be able to see their own comments. 

LinkedIn Is Most Trusted Social Platform For The Third Year Running

The third annual Digital Trust Report 2019 from Business Insider Intelligence revealed that early adopters trust LinkedIn the most for the third straight year, followed by Pinterest and Instagram.

Why it matters: Earning digital trust is critical for brands because it impacts the way customers engage with ads on social media. Respondents said elements such as frequency of fake news, a sense of community, data privacy and relevant ads have a moderate to very high impact on whether they engage with social media ads.

The details: The survey asked participants to rank seven major networks—YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Pinterest—on six pillars of digital trust including security, legitimacy, community, user experience, shareability and relevance. LinkedIn came in first on three of six pillars, and second place in the remaining three—user experience, relevance and shareability. Pinterest took the top spot for user experience while Instagram did on relevance. Interestingly, this marks the first year Pinterest was included in the survey, and it outranked every social platform except LinkedIn. Instagram improved on shareability and relevance from last year, however, respondents admitted to being more annoyed by ads on the platform than they were last year. Facebook ranked last again, and performed the lowest across all pillars year-over-year. Fifty-nine percent of respondents said they’re “not at all” confident that Facebook is protecting their data and privacy.

Instagram Is Testing Alerts That Notify Users About New Product Launches

Given the adoption of unconventional shopping strategies such as creator collaborations and limited releases, Instagram wants to make it easier for users to discover and shop product launches via product launch stickers on Stories and launch tags in the feed.

Why it matters: The product launch notifiers will allow consumers to stay up to date on the most recent fashion, beauty and luxury brand drops, hoping to provide users yet another reason to stay on the app, browse and shop, benefiting brands and Instagram alike.

The details: The in-feed product launch tag lets people set reminders for the launch date, preview product details and buy as soon as the product launches. The feature will be available to 21 brands in the US over the coming weeks, including Adidas, Anastasia Beverly Hills, Soul Cycle, Chinatown Market, H&M and Warby Parker.

Instagram Expands Branded Content Tags To IGTV

While not available to all users, Instagram’s branded content tags will be available for longer-form branded content, per Social Media Today.

Why it matters: Brands will not only increase the visibility of influencer marketing practices, but influencers will have more opportunity to monetize their efforts and remain relevant for longer.

The details: To use the branded content tag on IGTV, users must be on a business or creator account. When applied, the tag adds “Paid Partnership with . . .” in the video post’s header.

Facebook Begins Hiding Total Likes On Australia Posts

TechCrunch reported that Facebook’s new test to hide likes will begin with Australian users this week.

Why it matters: Facebook user perception and trust of the platform is at an all-time low, and hiding likes could help users feel more comfortable sharing on the platform and expressing themselves.

The details: A spokesperson told TechCrunch that the limited test, conducted by the News Feed team, will make likes, reactions and video view counts private. The team will then analyze feedback to understand if the change improves people’s experiences.

Twitch Launches First Brand Campaign At TwitchCon2019

According to Mobile Marketer, Twitch released its first brand campaign, introduced a new slogan and updated its “Glitch” mascot at TwitchCon2019 in San Diego.

Why it matters: Twitch’s highly engaged user base is difficult to reach through other media platforms so it only makes sense that it would launch its first campaign to broaden its appeal.

The details: As part of the campaign, Twitch released its new slogan “You’re already one of us.” The campaign also includes a series of teaser videos featuring comedian Eric Andrew that demonstrate the updates its users can expect. At the same time, Twitch’s parent company, Amazon, announced that Twitch has a deal with the National Football League to stream “Thursday Night Football” for the third straight year.

Editor’s Note: Our weekly social media news post is updated daily. This installment will be updated until Friday, October 4. Have a news tip? We’re looking for changes to and news surrounding social media platforms as they relate to marketing. Let us know at

Ad Investment Shifting To Digital In Most Sectors While Television Remains Top Choice For Soft Drinks

Television continues to attract 70 percent of the ad investment from the soft drinks sector and about two-thirds in the food category, according to WARC Data’s “Global Ad Trends Report: Benchmarking Ad Investment By Product Category.” The report notes these sectors are more immune than other sectors to ecommerce, reducing the need to spend big on digital ads. However, most other sectors, especially financial services, are transitioning to online media.

Among the 19 product categories analyzed, WARC found that total global ad spend within the soft drink category reached $15.1 billion in 2018—just over a one percent increase year-over-year—$10.5 billion of which was spent on television and $1.9 billion on internet. Soft drinks $1.9 billion investment in internet has eroded television’s share of the sector spend by 4.4 percentage points over the five years to 2018.

Total global ad spend in the food category in 2018 reached $25.3 billion, $16.5 billion of which was spent on television, $3.7 billion on internet and $2.8 billion on print. While television spend in the sector rose one percent YOY, it has dipped by 3.7 percent each year since 2013 on a compound basis.

Additionally, the total global ad spend in retail in 2018 was flat at $62.3 billion. Internet spend in this sector increased 9.1 percent YOY, which was offset by a decline in spend for all other media, except out of home (up by 12.7 percent) and cinema (up by 4.9 percent).

As for financial services, total global ad spend in 2018 amounted to $43.2 billion, $19.7 billion of which was spent on internet and $12.9 billion on television. The findings suggest a dramatic shift to digital over the last five years, generally at the expense of print media. The shift in spend is most apparent within financial services and retail, sectors that have heavily developed digital platforms to deliver highly personalized and seamless experiences to customers in recent years.

Conversely, magazines still play a role in advertising toiletries and cosmetics as they invested $2.9 billion in the medium last year. The category’s total global ad spend was $25.7 billion, with television accounting for $14.9 billion and internet for $5.6 billion.

According to WARC Data’s managing editor, James McDonald, the most effective media mix requires a number of channels working in synergy. And he notes that the right data is critical to find that mix and maximize ROI.

Findings are based on a new measure of net ad investment data across 19 categories that WARC created with Nielsen. WARC worked from the macro level to calculate new gross totals across major categories. Thereafter, the totals were balanced using the net ad revenue data they received from the industry.

Merging Art And Science With Dara Treseder Of Carbon

During this episode of “Marketing Today,” I interview Dara Treseder, chief marketing officer at Carbon. Before Carbon, Treseder was the CMO at GE Ventures, which is GE’s corporate venture capital arm and GE’s business innovations, focused on new business creation and new marketing development and technology licensing. Before GE, Treseder led various marketing efforts at Apple and Goldman Sachs. Treseder talks about her current role at Carbon, her Nigerian roots, insightful lessons and mentors she’s had along the way. She later discusses marketing and product development.  

Dara explains how Carbon, the world’s leading digital manufacturing platform, is helping companies accelerate product innovation. She talks about the three key things that were critical during her entrance into Carbon. They include elevating Carbon as a brand, having people understand who Carbon is and what they do and driving growth by setting up the marketing and communications program for success. She also shares how Carbon uses technology and innovation to protect football players and how they marketed this idea during a Super Bowl. 

What made Treseder such an excellent fit for Carbon? She says, “at the core of who I am, I am an analytical thinker. But I am also a true creative. I love marrying art and science, and I think, for the future of marketing, that is what it’s all about.”

Treseder discusses how Carbon is impacting the marketplace, noting, “it is all about how can you use data and technology to reach people and how can you communicate and connect with people in a way that truly resonates with them.” What does it take to be as innovative as Carbon has consistently? “The only way you can really create breakthrough products is innovation across those three elements: the software used to create designs, the hardware  used to make it and the material from which the product is made.”

Highlights from this week’s “Marketing Today”:

  • What does Dara miss the most about Nigeria and what is her favorite food? (01:40)
  • Where did Dara start her career? (04:06)
  • What was her charter as she was coming into Carbon? (06:50)
  • What exactly is Carbon and when was it founded? (07:35) 
  • Dara talks about her past start-up and what a ‘fat start-up’ is?  (08:37)
  • What drew Dara to Carbon? (10:40)
  • How are partnerships driving Carbon’s business? (12:33)
  • How did Dara turn around a Super Bowl in early February so quickly after just joining in December? (15:10)
  • Is there an experience in Dara’s life that has defined who she is today? (22:39)
  • What advice would she give to her younger self? (27:00)
  • What fuels Dara Treseder to keep going in his career and life? (27:43)
  • Are there brands that she thinks we should pay attention to? (29:11)
  • Where does Dara see the future of marketing going? (30:32)

Alan B. Hart is the creator and host of “Marketing Today with Alan Hart,” a weekly podcast where he interviews leading global marketing professionals and business leaders. Alan advises leading executives and marketing teams on opportunities around brand, customer experience, innovation and growth. He has consulted with Fortune 100 companies, but he is an entrepreneur at his core, having founded or served as an executive for nine startups.