Ties Between Facebook And Oculus To Strengthen Soon

This week in social, it’s reported that Facebook will soon collect data from Oculus, Instagram is working on a feature that would create quick clips of different images and TikTok evolved its green screen video effect.

Oculus Owners Must Log Into Facebook To Access New Features

Facebook will soon harvest data on Oculus for use in most relevant content including ads.

Why it matters: In the past few years, Facebook has been criticized for a number of privacy failures.

The details: Oculus has added various new Facebook-powered social features including messaging friends while using the Oculus virtual reality (VR) headset and automatic joining with friends in multi-user apps and games. New and existing social features on Oculus will now prompt users to log in with Facebook. Facebook may soon collect data for purposes such as recommending VR apps and Oculus events.

Instagram Developing Stop-Motion Style Stories Feature

The new stories camera option, called “Poses,” will stitch multiple photos together into a stop-motion story.

Why it matters: With news of a surge in ad spend on stories, Instagram is keeping the momentum going with new features such as Poses, Layouts and Shoutouts. 

The details: “Poses” will create quick clips of different images, similar to photo booths.

TikTok Upgrades Its Popular Green Screen Video Effect 

The green screen effect has been used in more than 54 million creations. Now, TikTok is updating it so that users can shoot over videos playing in the background

Why it matters: The update comes at a time when TikTok is receiving backlash for postponing meetings with lawmakers over its privacy practices and ties to China.

The details: Due to the popularity of the green screen effect, TikTok has evolved it so that TikTokers can choose a video from their album to use as a background for other videos.

Instagram Stories Ad Spend Jumps 70 Percent In Q3

Growth on Instagram Stories outpaced the 0.3 percent adspend gain that Facebook Stories made—a similar product— according to Socialbakers, as Mobile Marketer reported.

Why it matters: The engagement aspect of Instagram stories has made it appealing to mobile marketers, so much so that they’re seeing better results from campaigns on Instagram than on Facebook Stories.

The details: Ad spend on Instagram Stories saw a 70 percent surge in Q3 from a year prior. While 62 percent of total ad spend on Facebook apps went to Facebook’s news feed, Instagram feed’s share of total ad spend on Facebook grew to 21 percent in September, compared to 18 percent a year earlier.

Pinterest Rolls Out Trend-Tracking Tool For US

In a company post, Pinterest announced Pinterest Trends, a new feature that gives brands a view of the top US search terms within the past 12 months.

Why it matters: The new tool will give brands deeper insight into planning behaviors on the platform, and help them allocate budgets accordingly.

The details: Pinterest’s trends tool will show trending terms in the US as well as when the top search terms peak. Albertsons has already successfully used the feature for a holiday campaign that drove in-store sales for their private labels. The feature will be available to US users over the coming weeks on desktop.

YouTube Announces New Harassment Policy To Include All Creators, Public Figures

YouTube outlined updates to its harassment policy after hearing from creators about offensive incidents time and time again.

Why it matters: YouTube’s expansion of its anti-harassment policy comes after long-standing criticism that it hadn’t done enough to protect users and creators.

The details: YouTube is taking its video removal process a step further by prohibiting explicit threats but also veiled implied threats including content simulating violence toward an individual or language suggesting physical violence may occur. The platform will also no longer allow content that maliciously insults someone based on protected attributes such as race, gender expression or sexual orientation. 

YouTube plans to remove comments that clearly violate its policies. It has already removed over 16 million in Q3. It is also giving creators the power to review a comment in question before it’s posted, and this feature has already resulted in a 75 percent reduction in user flags on comments. 

YouTube will use machine learning to identify offensive comments, a feature that has been applied to YouTube’s largest channels and will roll out to most channels by the end of the year.

Twitter To Fund Team To Create Decentralized Social Media Standards

In a series of tweets, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey explained the initiative, which will involve a small, independent team of five open source architects, engineers and designers that will create decentralized standards for social.

Why it matters: Twitter has become increasingly centralized, making it tricky to enforce global policies around misinformation and abuse. It’s Twitter’s goal to be a client of the new standard which Dorsey intends on helping create.

The details: Dorsey wrote that he expects the team to build an open community, inclusive of companies and civil society leaders, around these decentralized social media standards.

Facebook Adds Cross-Account Reporting And Custom Ad Metrics

Facebook introduced new reporting tools that streamline ad measurement across accounts, channels and different publishers just in time for the holidays.

Why it matters: Facebook’s new ad metric features will give advertisers more specific insights into their ad performance, especially for those who work on broader scale ad initiatives.

The details: Users can now view overall ad performance across multiple ad accounts within the Ad Manager dashboard, eliminating the need to manually extract data for each account. Facebook also introduced an ad metrics option that enables advertisers to create metric formulas tailored to their goals then save the formulas for ongoing tracking.

Snapchat Publishes Monthly Trending Topics Report

The platform released its monthly “Snap Chatter” report on what trended in November globally.

Why it matters: Marketers can use Snapchat’s monthly report to gauge the evolving interests of Gen Z which combined with millennials make up 90 percent of the platform’s user base.

The details: Trending Snapchat topics in the US included Starbucks’ reusable holiday cups, Popeyes’ restocked chicken sandwich, Disney+ and Black Friday. In Australia, Snapchatters kept a close eye on bushfires and observed fallen soldiers on Remembrance Day. Meanwhile, in Iraq, users cheered on their favorite teams during the 24th Arabian Gulf Cup.

Snapchat Prepares To Launch Bitmoji-Like Selfie Chat Feature

According to TechCrunch, Snapchat Cameo lets you use your selfies to replace the faces of people in videos and then share the resulting video.

Why it matters: An alternative to Bitmoji, Cameo could make Snapchat messaging more interesting. Given Instagram and WhatsApp have successfully copied Snapchat’s Stories feature, Snapchat must stay ahead of the chat game.

The details: Today Snapchat announced that it’ll launch Cameo on December 18 globally for iOs and Android users. The feature, which lives inside the Bitmoji button in the Snapchat messaging keyboard, lets users “deep fake” their faces into videos. In the meantime, the feature is being tested in limited availability in some international markets including France.

Editor’s Note: Our weekly social media news post is updated daily. This installment will be updated until Friday, December 13. 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 editorial@alistdaily.com.

Will Virtual Influencers Replace Real People?

Originally published on ION.

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

Virtual influencers have almost three times the engagement rate when compared to real influencers, according to HypeAuditor’s report of the most popular virtual influencers. That finding may produce an eyebrow-raising or two considering the fact that half a million active human influencers are operating on Instagram—compared to just a few hundred virtual influencers on the same platform. 

With full reign to make them look real, act however they want and promote any product or message, brands could find virtual influencers more appealing than their human counterparts. Brands like KFC, Yoox, Calvin Klein and Balmain have already gone against the grain to work with designers and start-ups to create digital influencers via computer-generated imagery (CGI) for themselves.

“That’s why brands like working with avatars—they don’t have to do 100 takes. “Social media, to date, has largely been the domain of real humans being fake. But avatars are a future of storytelling,” Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit, told The New York Times.

On the top spot of HypeAuditor’s roundup, a majority of which are from the US is “Lil Miquela,” the CGI-born beauty and lifestyle influencer who boasts 1.8 million followers and a 1.97 percent engagement rate. In 2016, media studio Brud debuted Miquela, who calls herself a “robot” in her Instagram bio and has since turned her into a popular YouTuber and musician. Her first music video on YouTube amassed 2.6 million views, and her song, “Automatic” is also available to stream on Spotify, Apple Music and SoundCloud. She landed the cover of Elle Mexico and even teamed with Samsung to promote the company’s Galaxy S10 phone in a sponsored Instagram post, among various other brands including Prada and Calvin Klein.

In 2018, Balmain introduced three digital models for the fashion label’s pre-fall 2018 collection campaign. Photographer Cameron-James Wilson helped Olivier Rousteing, the brand’s founder, bring the models to life on screen. A “virtual army” of ambassadors aligns with Rousteing’s goal to bridge the gap between fashion and technology. Last year, Rousteing created a virtual reality experience and headset called “My City of Lights,” to showcase his creative process.

Virtual influencers are starting to find their way into the strategies of quick-service restaurants too. In April, KFC launched a campaign featuring Colonel Sanders as a CGI influencer. From April 8-22, virtual Sanders took over KFC’s Instagram through a variety of posts that highlighted his lifestyle including sponsored posts promoting brand partners such as Dr. Pepper, Casper and TurboTax. A spoof on the modern-day influencer, the CGI Sanders was the brand’s opportunity to “poke a little fun at the advertising world.”

It may take a while before a majority of marketers get on board with pixelated influencers given consumers crave authenticity, the one quality virtual influencers inherently lack. Eighty-two percent of those in the US trustrecommendations from people they know and 58 percent of consumers said being authentic is a very important trait for influencers to have. The question then arises: if a majority of the data out there supports human connections as powerful marketing tools, where’s the value in utilizing a manufactured figure to form connections with consumers?

The short answer is millennials and Gen Z. Virtual influencers present brands an opportunity to reach these younger, digital-savvy audiences as 32 percent of virtual influencers’ core audience are women 18-24 years old, and 11 percent include those between 13 and 17 years old. Additionally, some brands are seeing a boost in social media presence thanks to their virtual influencer of choice. For example, Yoox created a CGI influencer of its own and named her Daisy. Since Daisy’s takeover of the Yoox Instagram account, the online fashion retailer has seen an “incredible upsurge” in the number of followers and its engagement rate.

Chanel Opens Holiday Ski Lodge In String Of Experiential Events

Chanel is hosting an experiential holiday ski lodge inside The Standard High Line in New York, between December 12-15. Open free to the public, the activation, “Chanel No.5 in the Snow,” is inspired by the luxury fashion house’s campaign for its No.5 fragrance perfume. 

The Chanel ski lodge will feature Instagrammable moments like an ice skating area and seasonal drinks and snacks. Chanel will reveal an augmented reality-enabled snow globe photo opp during a private event it’s hosting on December 10. Thereafter guests can access the AR feature through Snapchat and online at Chanel.com.

In 2017, Chanel was named the most influential luxury brand on social media. Chanel’s creative videos, which form the core of its strategy, generated more than 300 million views on both YouTube and Facebook, more than any other luxury brand.

What sets the brand apart from the rest is its ability to give consumers a behind-the-scenes glimpse at branded content via its “Inside Chanel” series. Rather than highlight products’ accessibility, Chanel emphasizes the brand’s aspirational qualities. 

More importantly, the brand has ramped up the experiential side of its marketing efforts. In February 2018, Chanel inked a deal with global ecommerce platform Farfetch to expand its digital initiatives and create a personalized shopping experience for its customers, online and in real life.

In 2018, the French luxury house published its financial results for the first time. Delivering a revenue of about $10 billion, Chanel is the second-largest luxury brand in the world, following Louis Vuitton. Chanel also saw revenue growth of 11.5 percent in 2017 compared to the year earlier, driven by strong consumer demand in Asia Pacific.

This year, Chanel opened its second US store in Palm Beach. The two-level, 13,260-square-foot boutique houses mostly ready-to-wear, which is the brand’s fastest-growing category in the US. Inside, custom touches such as a dining room and an event space add to the experience for its Palm Beach clients. 

With this new brick-and-mortar addition, Chanel’s goal is to build activations around the local community. President and chief operating officer John Galantic told WWD that they’re already growing by double digits in Palm Beach.

At Art Basel, Popeyes Hawks Sandwich For $120,000

Popeyes duct-taped its popular chicken sandwich to a canvas for a last-minute installation at Art Basel Miami Beach. The fast-food chain’s goal? To parody an original art installation titled “Comedian,” which consisted of a banana plastered to a wall via one strip of duct tape. After the duct-taped banana went viral, Popeyes quickly followed suit and deployed its own debate-triggering art. 

Created in partnership with San Paul Gallery Urban Art, Popeyes’ installation, “The Sandwich,” is listed at $120,003.99. The brand describes it as “a mixed media work of art consisting of a toasted brioche bun, two pickles, fried chicken, mayo and duct tape on canvas.”

When, or if, a sandwich-art lover purchases the piece, the proceeds will benefit Popeyes Foundation, a non-profit organization that helps communities with food and support in times of need.

Burger King wanted in on the fun too, so it created an ad featuring a Burger King french fry duct-taped to the wall with a side-by-side of the original banana installation.

Popeyes inserting itself into the Art Basel scene reflects the brand’s goal to keep the conversation going around its infamous chicken sandwich. 

In September, a Twitter debacle that erupted between Popeyes and Chick-fil-A led to the chicken sandwich wars, of which Popeyes was declared the winner. The social media siege led to Popeyes receiving 1.1 million mentions and 6.8 million engagements from 110,000 unique authors. A nationwide shortage of its chicken sandwich soon followed.

When Popeyes restocked its sandwich, around November, the company forgoed television ads and instead relied on paid digital and social media as well as print and out-of-home advertising. 

“It was all to drive talkability on social and get coverage through PR. Normally we do a lot of TV, a little bit of digital, and really push on launch—here we have the most successful product launch since I started here six years ago, and it involved zero TV advertising,” global chief marketing officer for Burger King and Popeyes, Fernando Machado, told The Wall Street Journal.

Still riding that chicken wars wave, Popeyes today announced its partnership with UglyChristmasSweater.com to create ugly holiday sweaters featuring Popeyes’ chicken sandwich and brand colors of orange and red. The sweaters are selling online at $45 each.

The Power Of Audio With Audible CMO John Harrobin

During the 183rd episode of “Marketing Today,” I interview John Harrobin, chief marketing officer at Audible. Audible is an Amazon company that was founded in the late 1990s out of an oral storytelling tradition. They began as an audiobook medium and have expanded to become a subscription service, including original programming, access to newspapers, magazines and free short-form content. Harrobin’s previous experience includes serving as chief marketing officer at Verizon and various roles with NBC Universal. 

On the show today, Harrobin discusses the audio content market, how his professional background led him to marketing, mentorship, the future of his industry and the future of marketing in general. He also discusses the importance of diversity in marketing departments and on boards. 

Harrobin says he views marketing as being in the center of the action. He adds, “What I really love is driving growth and launching products. That’s where you really get immediate gratification in the form of metrics and customer feedback. Is what you are doing working? If not, you need to know how to adjust.”

What sets Audible apart? “Our goal, in many cases, is to guide creators, provide them with data and help them understand what to expect. We also help them with marketing and help them reach new audiences. We like to consider ourselves the best partner because we can provide better results through our reach and strength of distribution in marketing. We want to help them build their personal brand.” 

Highlights from this week’s “Marketing Today”: 

  • Where did John start his career? (01:30)
  • John shares how his background as a finance consultant led him to marketing. (01:59)
  • Did John have any significant mentors along the way? (05:00)
  • What is the origin story of Audible? (06:20)
  • Why does John think audio has remained such a popular medium? (08:57)
  • What does marketing at Audible look like? (12:00)
  • What does the future of audio look like? (14:18)
  • What are the advantages for a creator working with Audible? (16:05)
  • How do Audible’s content marketplace and original content work together? (19:56)
  • Does John have a specific experience he feels defines him as a person,(23:27)
  • What other brands does John admire? (26:45)
  • Does John see any big opportunities or threats staring marketers in the face? (29:46)

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.

As Doubt Continues To Be Cast On VR, New Devices Come To Market

From gaming, live concerts and sports, promotions and education, there’s no denying the appetite to use virtual reality and augmented reality (AR) across mediums and campaigns. Mixed reality, or XR, is a space that’s rapidly growing and expanding and it’s something we’re keeping a close eye on. 

To bubble up what’s happening in the space, we’re introducing a weekly recap of what’s developing in the XR world to better inform how we can use these current events to create stronger campaigns and be on the cutting edge of technology. Oh, yeah—it’s also pretty cool.

Phil Spencer: “Nobody’s Asking For VR

What’s Happening: Phil Spencer states that “nobody’s asking for VR” and Project Scarlett will not be focusing on VR features at launch. This is an interesting move considering Sony is moving PSVR hardware (4.2 million units sold since 2016 launch), Oculus has made huge efforts to fund and create new games built for VR (Sanzaru Games’ Asgard’s Wrath and Insomniac Game’s Stormland), Nintendo has explored with Labo VR, and Valve is getting even more into the VR game with the Index and the announce of Half-Life: Alyx.

Why It Matters: While VR may not be in a space right now where big companies like Xbox aren’t ready to jump in, there’s no doubt that they’re exploring the space. So when does one determine the right point to jump into developing console support for VR? Once we see a big win or killer app succeed (looking at you Half-Life: Alyx) this will dramatically shift the world’s perspective on the VR gaming landscape as adoption rates for VR hardware rise.

EDEN Labs Makes Snacker VR Headset For Museums, Stores

What’s Happening: The Snacker headset from EDEN Labs looks to provide opportunities for the public to experience VR in an accessible pickup and play setting. The Snacker isn’t targeting gaming, but looks to be focusing on museums, shops, and expos to provide attendees a ‘snackable’ VR experience getting first-time VR experiencers a glimpse at what the future of virtual reality has in store. The lack of straps and controllers should make it less scary for average people to give it a go.

Why It Matters: VR devices like the Snacker provide many opportunities for brands in the experiential space to look at how they can implement VR into their marketing campaigns. Additionally, marketers could identify and work with locations that support the Snacker to determine how they can get people experiencing their content in VR, while keeping in mind that many people trying this may have never used VR before.

Another AR Device Heads To Market: Nreal Light AR 

What’s Happening: The exploration of AR is still kicking strong as Nreal announces that their developer kits are now available for pre-order for $1,200. Consumer models will be coming in 2020 for $500. Looking more like sunglasses than something like google glass, the glasses feature 6DOF with inside out tracking, a 1080P display, and options available for prescription lenses with a “wide range of diopters for nearsighted users.”

Why It Matters: AR devices are continuing to diversify. Many tech companies are leaning more and more into AR. Google has AR map integration and search results, Instagram and Snapchat have AR filters, and even Apple is in the AR space.  

Users Adapt Sign Language For VR

What’s Happening: When it comes to gaming and social hangouts online, there’s no arguing that communication is key. What happens when deaf people can’t hear what’s happening? The community comes together to create a VR-adapted sign language. While current controllers don’t have as many options to support all signs in VR, this adapted version is letting users with and without hearing communicate together and it works

Why It Matters: Companies are spending more time and care on accessibility tools and features with good reason. We’ve seen gaming take a hard focus on accessibility from the Xbox Adaptive Controller to websites like caniplaythat.com focusing on accessible gaming. Tech advancements are constantly improving our lives, when it comes to building within this newer medium, we should be aware of and think about how we can integrate accessible features becoming more inclusive to everyone that might be in VR. 

Digital Ad Sales Account For Over Half Of Global Ad Sales, But Show Signs Of Maturity

For the first time this year, digital ad sales will represent more than half of global ad sales at $306 billion, according to Magna’s Advertising Forecasts winter update. Digital ad sales, however, might level off soon due to an overall decrease in ad spend over the last four years and a weakening economy.

Fueled by heavy spending in industries such as tech and entertainment, ad spend grew 5.2 percent year-over-year in 62 of the 70 countries Magna analyzed, including a five percent increase in the US, a nine percent increase in China, a seven percent increase in Russia, a 13 percent increase in India and a seven percent increase in the UK.

Similarly, Zenith’s December 2019 “Advertising Expenditure Forecast” predicts the US ad market will grow by $39.1 billion between 2019 and 2022 while China’s will grow by $10.3 billion. Over the next three years, the US and China combined will account for 56 percent of all growth in ad expenditure. India’s ad market, on the other hand, will grow $4.3 billion between 2019 and 2022.

The digital category grew 15 percent this year globally, but all digital ad formats are slowing down due to the maturity of digital media consumption and digital marketing in most markets. Up by 25 percent, social media is the fastest growing digital format, according to GroupM’s “This Year Next Year Worldwide Media Forecasts,” but the figure still represents a decrease from the 34 percent growth it saw in 2018. Online video will grow 16.6 percent a year on average between 2019 and 2022, as Zenith reported.

Traditional linear ad sales including linear television, print, radio and out-of-home (OOH) declined by 3.4 percent to $289 billion, accounting for less than half of total ad sales for the first time. While print ad sales declined by 10 percent and radio ad revenues remained stable, OOH was the only traditional media to show growth, a six percent increase. In the US, national television ad sales slipped by three percent to $42 billion this year and will decline further in 2020.

Today, digital-first brands account for a major share of global advertising. Yet despite Amazon, Facebook, Netflix and Alibaba each spending over $1 billion in advertising—accounting for $36 billion in spending in 2018—GroupM has downgraded its 2020 global ad growth forecast to 3.9 percent, and 3.1 percent for 2021. 

The weakening economy will have an impact on ad spend growth as the worldwide real gross domestic product (GDP) is forecast to decrease to 2.5 percent in 2020. According to the GroupM study’s author, Brian Wieser, global president of business intelligence, if the forecast proves accurate, it would mark “the slowest pace of growth in any non-recession/non-recovery year over the past two decades.” Helping sustain marketing growth in 2019 has been growth in personal consumption expenditures (PCE), which might be more important to track than GDP given consumer spending represents more than half of all economic activity. 

In positive news, Magna predicts that cyclical events such as the US political elections and Olympics, increased marketing activity of tech and entertainment and the reallocation of trade marketing budgets from brick-and-mortar to ecommerce platforms’ product search will help mitigate the global economic slowdown.

Biggest Mistakes Brands Make With Influencer Marketing, And What To Do Instead

Originally published on ION.

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

As influencer marketing investment is expected to reach $10 billion by 2021, better data and campaign measurement are critical to hitting the nail on the head with influencer activations. And while marketers’ confidence in influencer marketing is growing, brands still have some lessons to learn in terms of what not to do if they’re to achieve full return on investment. 

We spoke with Mike Heller, the CEO of Talent Resources, about the mistakes brands make with influencer marketing, and what to do instead. Keep reading for Heller’s tips on growing influencer marketing campaign success.

How are marketers missing the mark in terms of driving ROI on influencer campaigns?

Aligning influencers with a brand by audience and true social interest. Where influencer marketers are missing the mark in terms of driving ROI most often stems from not properly putting data tools to use when pairing an influencer with a brand or product. The most successful influencer and brand partnerships use data to inform campaigns. If you’re not measuring the outcomes of your influencer campaigns to optimize for the next, you’ll be missing your own mark as well as the opportunity to improve ROI.

What’s one thing marketers are doing wrong with influencer marketing on Instagram/Stories and Snapchat, respectively? And what should they be doing instead?

Stories on Instagram and Snapchat stories are each steps behind in the customer journey on Instagram. Utilizing these tools can seem like a space to run transient partnered content, but you should use Story frames to pre-qualify followers for the end call to action (CTA). Make sure your influencer is methodically walking their followers through story frames while providing context to the final sell, which will keep interest high toward conversion.

In terms of measuring success of influencer-led campaigns, what are marketers having the most difficulty with?

Measuring conversions are one thing, the challenge comes when it’s time to measure retention, both in the short term and more specifically in the longer term. Common question: How can you attribute new fans to past influencer marketing campaigns?

Given its nascence, TikTok influencer marketing is uncharted territory for some brands. What do marketers have to know before spending influencer marketing budget on TikTok activations?

Know that if you’re leaping into TikTok, a sizable budget will at best help complement any brand awareness initiatives. Conversions and true measurements of success with engaging TikTok influencers are still to be seen, despite interest from brands in engaging in what may be a fad.

Influencer marketing on YouTube can be daunting for some marketers given the lack of a centralized influencer marketplace on the platform. What advice would you give to marketers who are reluctant to get on board with YouTube?

Brands looking to convey a message or promote a product and have it linger in consumers’ minds would be wise to test the YouTube waters. On the Google-owned video platform, influencers have more time to genuinely connect with consumers and actually have their messages be heard, differing from Instagram, where just 60 percent of stories are viewed with the sound on. 

Marketers should consider two popular types of influencer activations, Direct Response (DR) and Brand Awareness. Campaigns are generally a mix of the two. It’s a right of passage for many YouTubers to start producing direct response campaigns. YouTube makes these campaigns especially easy due to the handy inclusion of the “Link in Description.” Creators can ask their audience to click on the link to achieve the brand’s conversion goal. These DR campaigns can be placed further up the marketing funnel when used to generate leads or newsletter sign-ups. They can also be the bottom of the funnel when the influencer specifically asks the viewer to buy the sponsor’s product/service. 

Brand awareness campaigns get new fans to enter the top of your funnel, a great entry as fans have a personal connection with their favorite creators. Aside from the influencer being required to disclose the sponsorship, the creator’s brand awareness ad can feel more like one friend recommending something to another.

Which platform or channel has the steepest learning curve for influencer marketing today?

Inherently, a new platform with new functions such as TikTok would present the steepest learning curve both for influencer marketing and users alike. Being said, just because influencer marketing has been a practice through Instagram for some time already doesn’t mean the learning curve has flattened out. Instagram as a platform changes so frequently that there’s always a learning curve with influencer marketing, that’s what makes the landscape on one platform alone so exciting.

Where’s the most growth potential for influencer marketing?

As far as platforms, Instagram remains the space with the most potential for growth of influencer marketing. Regarding growth for ongoing campaign success, the opportunity is with the agencies who are focused on data-informed decisions and use a minimum of two software partners to do so. 

We may have come to find the best influencer marketing strategies on Instagram for today, but influencer marketing on Instagram will only grow greater and greater in new solutions. The next frontier of growth for potential influencer marketing won’t necessarily be a direct pivot to a new platform as much as it will be enhanced campaigning, more sophisticated based on data that’s increasingly becoming available through our own technology and previous influencer marketing efforts.

McDonald’s New Online Pop-Up Store Will Sell Merch Year-Round

McDonald’s launched its first-ever online pop-up shop, giving its US fans year-round access to exclusive apparel and accessories that aren’t available anywhere else. The quick-service restaurant prides itself on having partnered with multiple fashion brands and retailers to create branded merchandise since the 1980s.

At “Golden Arches Unlimited,” fans can shop more than 20 casual apparel and accessories items, including a Big Mac sandwich bag, McDonald’s hair ties, Golden Arches stainless steel tumbler and “World Famous Fries Lounge Set.” A sesame seed PopSocket, Happy Meal ornament and ugly Christmas sweater are among the items in the pop-up’s winter collection. 

McDonald’s says that while debut collection supplies may sell out, it plans to restock and drop new merchandise on a regular basis.

Colin Mitchell, who assumed the role of senior vice president of global marketing earlier this year, said that the brand has been ingrained in the fabric of culture for years and that McDonald’s is excited to help its customers wear their love for the brand on their sleeves.

In 2017, KFC opened a limited-edition online merch shop stocked with Colonel Sanders-inspired shirts, enamel pins, framed artwork and a 400-year-old meteorite that sold for $20,000.

Last month, Dunkin’ also launched its first online pop-up store with limited-edition apparel and accessories like fanny packs, one-piece pajamas and a custom electric guitar. Dunkin’ recently partnered with home fragrance and lifestyle brand Homesick to launch three limited-edition candles inspired by the brand’s coffee blends and donuts.

Though selling merch is nothing new to the QSR category, selling branded items year-round could help McDonald’s maintain a competitive marketing advantage during busy seasons.

Verizon, Serena Williams Launch Shoppable Video Series For Athlete’s New Line

Verizon Media and Serena Williams recently launched a shoppable video series on Yahoo’s new commerce platform, Yahoo Shopping, featuring the tennis champion’s “S by Serena” clothing collection. The short-form digital series was created to empower viewers to embrace size inclusivity, the line’s key selling point.

The digital series, powered by Verizon Media’s new shoppable video format, will take viewers on an immersive journey, with clickable content that allows for seamless purchasing. In the first episode, “Everybody, Every Body,” Williams gives fans a look at her favorite seasonal pieces from her autumn/winter 2020 collection including tips on how to style them. Additional episodes will air through February 2020.

In July, the fashion entrepreneur debuted a red twist front dress that sold out in nearly all sizes.

The partnership marks Verizon Media’s effort to build upon its commerce strategy. This fall, Verizon Media launched Yahoo Shopping, which powers commerce across the company’s brands and curates and price tracks deals for shoppers. A suite of capabilities including shoppable content videos and different ad formats through augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and cross reality (XR) have also been added to its lineup.

In July, Google debuted a new shopping platform for US users, giving them access to tailored suggestions and a “Buy with Google Guarantee” that promises a refund if the recommended retailer fails to deliver on time.

In April, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) predicted that brands are expected to increase spend by over 25 percent to $18 million on digital video this year. Comparatively, advertisers spent $14.2 million on digital video advertising, up from $12.2 million in 2017. The data also found that direct to consumer brands expect to allocate more than half of their digital spend on digital video advertising, a 50 percent YoY increase.