Mastercard Woos Digital-First Consumers With New AR App

Mastercard plans to release a new app that will allow cardholders to access their rewards via an augmented reality (AR) experience. 

Upon launching the app, cardholders must scan their Mastercard and then scan their surroundings. Doing so will present users with three interactive portals that correspond to their available benefits: experiences, everyday value and peace of mind. Tapping the peace of mind portal, for example, will bring to life a virtual spa in which users can look around and discover benefits, each represented by a relevant item. When tapping a set of golf clubs, the app will display a cardholder’s “Priceless Golf” benefits.

Creating an app that clearly communicates cardholder benefits is a surefire way for Mastercard to reach digital-first consumers, who may not be utilizing full benefits. As Mastercard notes, according to the J.D. Power 2019 US Credit Card Satisfaction Study, rewards are a main driver of consumer satisfaction with cards, but only a third of credit card holders completely understand all the benefits available to them.

“Digital first consumers are the first to explore and use technology enabled touchpoints across the entire payments journey. With the new Mastercard benefits app, these cardholders will experience an immersive and truly unique environment where every tap delivers the value and benefits of their card in a fashion never experienced before,” said Tim Sloane, vice president at Mercator Advisory Group, an independent research and advisory services firm focused on the payments industry. 

The Mastercard benefits app will launch in Q2 for iPhones, with additional regions and devices launching later this year.

USPS, Amazon, Google Are Most Trusted Brands Across Generations

Gen Z shoppers are less trusting of brands compared to Boomers, according to Morning Consult’s report, “Most Trusted Brands—The State of Consumer Trust.”

Ongoing data and privacy breaches in the last few years have cost brands big—that’s in terms of dollars and a loss of consumer trust. Yet the findings indicate consumers tend to have more trust for larger brands. According to Morning Consult, three-quarters of Americans trust the average major company to consistently fulfill its promises. 

While most brands remain largely well trusted by consumers, there’s still a generational gap between those trusted by young consumers versus older generations. Morning Consult found that USPS, Amazon and Google are the most trusted brands across generations. Gen Z and millennials have the most faith in Google, which earned the top spot, followed by Netflix, Amazon, YouTube and PlayStation. Gen X and Boomers, on the other hand, trust USPS the most, followed by Google, Amazon, The Hershey Company and PayPal.

On why consumers trust USPS and Paypal, reasons include they’re reliable, they deliver the mail no matter the weather, they have security measures and you’re guaranteed to get what you order.

Younger consumers are more likely than older adults to prioritize ethical matters when considering which brands to trust. A majority of Gen Z and millennials are less likely to buy from brands that are not ethically or responsibly run.

Reliability and data protection remain necessary blocks to retain consumer confidence, as 73 percent of participants said protecting personal data is very important when considering whether to trust a company. This is followed by 71 percent who said making products that work as advertised is important. Of the most trusted brands, only two—YouTube and Android—were founded after 2000.

The three areas of distrust that brands need to address to gain more consumer trust are protecting data privacy, making what’s in fine print clear and easy to understand and treating employees better than required by law.

Morning Consult’s findings are based on 16,700 interviews per brand for 2,000 brands conducted from October 2-December 2, 2019 as well as interviews with 2,200 US adults from December 3-5. The surveys asked participants: “How much of you trust each brand to do what is right?” with the options of answering “a lot,” “some,” “not much” or “not at all.”

Why Mixing Influencers And Events Is The Next Big Thing In Experiential

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.)

Nearly half of marketers are spending a quarter of their marketing budget on events and 41 percent of marketers deem experiential as their top channel. At the same time, brands are expected to spend up to $15 billion on influencer marketing by 2022. Combine the two—influencers and events—and you have one of the biggest trends in experiential marketing today. Ahead we take a deep dive into the dynamic event model and share an expert’s take on how to throw successful events that mix influencers and experiences and ultimately drive results.

Digital and social media marketing efforts help pique consumers’ interest, but experiential events drive action. That’s where influencer events play into a brand’s larger strategy. When brands invite influencers to an event, more likely than not the influencer will post an organic or sponsored Instagram photo or video highlighting a particular item or service. This type of promotion, known as user-generated content (UGC), could save the brand the money it would’ve spent on creating an ad or sending out mailers featuring the same item or service. 

UGC as a result of events with a heavy influencer presence has a two-fold effect. One, it increases brand awareness, leading to more followers or visits to a brand’s site, helping to drive sales. Because influencers are more trusted spokespeople than celebrities, UGC inspires consumers to try a product themselves. And given 82 percent of people are more likely to buy an item after seeing or trying it, UGC also has the power to get consumers into brick-and-mortar spaces.

“These events not only help with brand awareness but also enable us to get face-to-face time with our influencers and editors as well as fans of the brand, as a way to thank them for their continued support. It’s good to get them connected with the people behind the brand as well as educate them on a personal level. This makes them more loyal to the brand,” explains integrated communications senior manager, and frequent events organizer Francia Cooper.

In pursuit of the ultimate brand experience last year, Taco Bell opened a branded hotel and resort in Palm Springs for super fans, peppering in influencers to make the overnight stay one for the books. The fast fashion of food invited mega makeup influencer Jeffree Star as well as singer-songwriter Tyler Conroy and Tarun Sinha, the Taco Bell sommelier who pairs wine with Taco Bell menu items.

“The overall strategy with these types of events is to invite influencers who have a genuine love for the product and the brand overall,” said Cooper,  who has helped major beauty brands host similar influencer events.

Last year Twitch’s yearly three-day convention TwitchCon drew in 25,000 attendees per day. There, both major gamers and gamer fans engaged in cosplay competitions, music performances and a singing competition known as Stream Star that ends in a record deal with Columbia. At TwitchCon 2018, mega Twitch gamers DrLupo and Ninja were the focal points of a branded Hershey’s booth, which Ninja told followers about in advance on his Instagram.

Pop-ups are also a popular type of event that direct-to-consumer brands use to create buzz. To celebrate its 20th anniversary, Shopbop held an influencer-studded New York Fashion Week pop-up. Before even entering, guests were greeted by branded Shopbop billboards on the subway walls leading to the party. Event standouts included influencers like the founder of fashion blog and collection Something Navy, Arielle Charnas, and co-creative director behind Oscar de la Renta Laura Kim, and interactive activations such as a customization booth and iPhone monogram station.

As for how to get the best return on investment (ROI) on your event, Cooper says to conduct competitive research then find a way to stand out from what everyone else is doing in the events space. An out-of-the-box, multidisciplinary approach, and ensuring the event is inclusive, is critical to leaving a mark. However, Cooper notes that a brand should only host influencer events if it aligns with their overall 360-degree strategy and end goals.

Tim Hortons Names New Chief Marketing Officer

This week in B2C marketing leadership announcements, Canadian fast food restaurant chain Tim Hortons names a new CMO, Lululemon picks Nikki Neuberger as chief brand officer, Marisa Thalberg is tapped by Lowe’s as chief brand and marketing officer, Mars Food announces former PepsiCo’s marketing exec as the company’s global chief marketing, research and development officer and British Airways’ Abigail Comber joins Debenhams.

Hope Bagozzi Joins Tim Hortons As New Chief Marketing Officer

Tim Hortons’ regional president announced that Hope Bagozzi will be joining the fast food restaurant’s marketing leadership team as CMO. The appointment brings her 15-year career with McDonald’s Canada, where she led the national marketing team, to a conclusion.

“This is an incredible opportunity to lead marketing for Canada’s most iconic brand,” said Bagozzi.

Nikki Neuberger Joins Lululemon As First Chief Brand Officer

Retail Dive reports that Nike brand veteran Nikki Neuberger will be joining Lululemon as their first chief brand officer. 

Neuberger’s career includes nearly 15 years at Nike, during which time she spent 4 years as VP of global brand marketing for Nike Running. She most recently served as global head of marketing for Uber Eats.

Ex-Taco Bell Global Chief Marketer Joins Lowe’s

Marisa Thalberg, formerly Taco Bell’s global chief brand officer, has been named EVP, chief brand and marketing officer at home-improvement company Lowe’s. 

Thalberg’s appointment will go into effect on February 10, according to Forbes.

PepsiCo’s Marketing Veteran Joins Mars Food 

Rafael Narvaez, who most recently served as VP of marketing and transformation for PepsiCo’s global foods group, was appointed Mars Food’s global chief marketing, research and development officer.

Narvaez is to replace Clarence Mak, and in his new role, Narvaez will be in charge of a “strategic approach” to brands marketing, innovation, digital, R&D and consumer insights for Mars’ “dinnertime” portfolio, according to The Drum.

Fiona Dawson, global president of multi-sales and global customers at Mars Food, said about Narvaez’s appointment: “I am delighted that [Narvaez] will bring his bold thinking, leadership and rigorous focus to Mars Food so we can help billions of consumers around the world enjoy healthier food at the dinner table.”

Debenhams Welcomes New CMO

Former British Airways head of brand and marketing, Abigail Comber, was hired as chief marketing officer for Debenhams. 

Comber has extensive experience as a marketing lead, most recently working as commercial and customer experience director at L3 Technologies and prior to that being a CMO at Oyster Yachts. 

Stefaan Vansteenkiste, Debenhams chief executive, said: “Abigail’s track record speaks for itself and her experience and understanding of customer engagement and developing digital service initiatives will be particularly important as we continue to work on transforming Debenhams into a business that can compete effectively in the rapidly changing retail environment.”

Editor’s Note: Our weekly careers post is updated daily. This installment is updated until Friday, January 10. Have a new hire tip? We’re looking for senior executive role changes in marketing and media. Let us know at

Job Vacancies 

Vice President, Global MarketingShiseido Americas CorporationNew York, NY
Vice President, Creative MarketingFOX CorporationNew York, NY
Chief Marketing OfficerForresterCambridge, UK 
Senior Vice President Of MarketingClear Channel OutdoorNew York, NY
SVP–Creative MarketingWalt Disney TelevisionBurbank, CA
Vice President, Marketing StrategyParamount PicturesHollywood, CA

Make sure to check out select job vacancies on our Careers page.

In-Housing In 2020–Why We Need To Embrace The Change

Originally published at AW360 by Ashley McCarthy.

Article Takeaways:

  • An insight into how consultancies are creating partnerships with agencies.
  • Agencies and brands need more streamlined processes.
  • The continued shift in agency models in 2020 is an inevitability

Agencies are suffering from a trust problem. Clients are looking for transparency in how their agencies work and charge, and while agencies, for the most part, have been unwilling or unable to make changes fast enough, larger management consulting firms have seized the opportunity to apply true-tested rigors and techniques to this value chain, offering audits of gaps and overlaps.

Consultancies are increasingly making recommendations for what clients can and cannot handle in-house, often by advising which technology stacks they need to invest in, to best handle these newly in-housed responsibilities. In 2020, big brands will still be heavily invested in a combination of traditional technology stacks and SaaS solutions. Given the lack of transparency in this space, the growing trend of bringing these core competencies in-house has been overwhelming. But, that’s not to say that agencies are being done away with completely, in fact, they should be a key part of the movement as we head into this new decade. There will always be a need for experts to advise brands on how to use their newly-acquired technology, and that is not going to change.

Consultancies see the value in agencies, so much so, that some are even buying agencies in an effort to control the entire vertical. The main reason this trend hasn’t wiped out creative agencies completely is that it’s very hard to retain creative talent once earn-outs are over. The same challenge exists for brands, acquiring top tier creative talent is hard, especially if you are not a top tier advertiser located in a popular market like New York or San Francisco. While P&G might be able to attract excellent creative teams and persuade them to move to Cincinnati, the brands with that kind of industry pull are few and far between.

Brands want their agency partners to deliver more on core offerings, including design and creative work in addition to transparent pricing models, and nimbler ways of working. In order to adhere to these desires in 2020 and beyond, agencies need innovation to leverage on-demand technologies and work in more agile ways. This new decade will see the usual ramp up and down with freelancers replaced with networks of creatives who are standing by to heed the call when it’s required.

The rise of social media has created opportunities to track behavior (and in turn to target ads). This, coupled with the rise of connected devices (TV’s, phones, watches) has fragmented the media landscape beyond all recognition, resulting in an accelerated media cycle with viewers spending less and less time with individual pieces of content. To keep pace with these changes, brands and agencies need more tailored content, faster. Personalizing and localizing content is not something that agencies can typically do at scale. Multicultural agencies (who were themselves late to the game) are also not well placed to produce this vast volume of hyper-specific content, even if they are better at developing culturally relevant messaging.

This results in an overarching need for a streamlined process between agencies and brands, but also technology that can provide an arsenal of creative minds ready and willing to develop compelling content. We should not be afraid of a shifting model or rise in tech replacing our creative roles, instead, we should be embracing how these changes will enhance the creative process as a whole.

Instagram, Growth Hacking And Personalization: Three Trends That Shaped The Decade

The past ten years have been a wild marketing ride. Although it’s hard to be hyper-critical reflection while the paint still drying, it seems we’ve weathered one of the most turbulent and pivotal decades in the last fifty years, rivaling the 1980s, in terms of innovation, social upheavals and rapid change.

As marketers, the period from 2010 to 2020 has completely transformed the way we conduct business. The promises of the digital world finally caught up to and in some ways superseded its physical limitations. Smartphones took over the world, social media reached a global audience and the rise of streaming and personalized content services fundamentally changed our relationship with government, the media and our neighbors. 

But like the black goo in the movie Prometheus, these innovations have warped and mutated almost everything they’ve touched. It’s also been a decade of rampant disruption, and the flipside to all this has been the rise of a whole new set of problems caused by new technologies, including culture wars to fake news and declining consumer trust.

To close the book on the last ten years, I’ve picked three of the broadest trends that shaped marketing over the decade—from the maturation of the sharing economy to the disintegration of the CMO role.

The Instagram Decade

The rise and (higher) rise of social media is easily the most significant trend of the 2010s. As hard as it might be to believe in 2020, when almost every marketing plan begins and ends with a social component, at the beginning of the decade most marketers didn’t know what to do when it came to social media.

It’s an understatement to say it was a decade of revolutionary change for social media. But, while Facebook and Twitter’s position at the top of the pile remains curiously unchallenged, there has also been a proliferation of new platforms including Snapchat, Vine, Pinterest and TikTok. However, if you could point to the one brand that defined the past decade, it would be Instagram. Launched in 2010 and acquired by Facebook in 2012, the photo-sharing app has grown like wildfire, ending the era with over a billion regular users and an estimated market value of $100 billion.

Instagram’s effect on marketing has been profound. Getting over an early reputation as a repository of food pics and selfies, the app has since gone on to redefine the relationship between brands and consumers. A state of affairs that anyone who has people queuing for a selfie at the Eiffel Tower or witnessed the punters lined up for brand activation at Coachella can readily testify to.

By encouraging its users to post authentic snapshots of their lives, Instagram has also been the main driving force behind the can of worms that is influencer marketing. Since emerging in 2013, spending on influencer marketing had hit almost $8 million by the end of the decade, but it remains a channel that is fraught with uncertainty. By the end of 2019, over-exposure to influencer techniques and an explosion of superficial, inauthentic content, faked results and declining conversion rates seemed to be blowing the bottom out of the influencer bubble.

Big Data, Growth Hacking And The Death Of The CMO

In the past ten years, marketing has gotten a lot more complicated. In the heady days of 2010, when programmatic and real-time bidding was still a very new technology, most media buying moved at a relatively stately pace. CMO’s had to concentrate on choosing a message, figuring out a media strategy and seeing what stuck.

By 2015, the world had changed. The introduction of ever more sophisticated artificial intelligence and martech produced ads that now moved in real-time, while machine learning meant that campaigns could be tweaked on the go. What’s more, the increasing adoption of media led to customers demanding two-way conversations with their favourite brands. The end result? Marketing departments suddenly had to think and move faster than they ever had before.

Around the same time, the marketing manager was also expected to do more. The rise in growth hacking from 2010, with its emphasis on long term growth over short term customer acquisition, extended marketing into almost every part of the business. Not only was the CMO now a vital cog in the product development cycle by the middle of the decade, but data and optimization had come to rule almost every department. The key to business is customer retention through seamless omnichannel experiences. To succeed, c-level marketers had to become a jack of all trades, juggling technology, analytics, creativity and brand.

If this sounds overwhelming to you, then it won’t surprise you to find out that chief marketing officers often have the shortest lifespan of the average c-suite. At the dawn of the 2020’s many companies including Uber, McDonald’s and Johnson & Johnson are doing away with the role, and instead, spreading marketing responsibilities around the boardroom. 

Engagement, Personalization And The Ascent Of Content Marketing

If you wanted to get a laugh from a room of marketers in January 2010, then the best way would have probably have been to tell them that the next decade was going to be a renaissance for content marketers.

Much of the industry viewed it as an appendage of search marketing and most of the output was unashamedly keyword-based. In fact, the only thing most marketers worried about was how to pump it out quicker and reduce costs further, as illustrated by a report from the Content Marketing Institute in 2010 reporting that the top challenge cited by marketers was quantity based over quality based.

That was until social media changed the landscape. By the mid-2010s, the rise of blogging, peer-to-peer platforms and data-led targeting produced a more informed buying audience who were less willing to believe overly branded messaging. The growth of on-demand services, in turn, led to a more independently minded consumer and the job of content marketing changed from push to pull.

By 2017, engagement had taken over clicks and interaction as the main focus of most brand’s content marketing strategies. Creatively, the emphasis shifted from answering questions and extolling virtues to inspiring customers, harnessing audiences and building brand love. Freed from the shackles of always having to employ the hard sell, content marketing started to rival traditional publishers in terms of creativity and quality. Data-led personalization turned customers into creatives, and ever more creative use of user-generated content has strengthened the bond between brand and customer.

Heading into the twenties, content marketing largely sits at the center of most brand communication. With Generation Z now coming of age, the importance of personalized content that’s relevant and shareable won’t be diminishing any time soon.

Delta Air Lines Transforms Mobile App Into Digital Travel Partner

Delta Air Lines recently announced plans to overhaul its mobile app, Fly Delta, and shared details about its expanding partnership with Lyft to potentially let customers pay for rides using travel miles.

The airline’s goal is to transform its app into a digital concierge that appeals to mobile-savvy consumers. The improved app will offer customers curated partner services, such as the linking of Delta SkyMiles and Lyft accounts helping customers earn miles during Lyft rides. 

The app will proactively notify users of any travel-impacts such as weather and traffic and is powered by Delta’s new artificial intelligence-driven machine learning platform. Travelers will also be alerted when their seat is boarding when virtual queuing comes to the app later this month. Updates to the mobile app follow Delta’s recent moves to integrate Transportation Security Administration (TSA) wait times in select airports and offer international automatic check-in and pre-select meals. 

“Customers tell us they want Fly Delta to become their ‘home base’ for managing their travel day. That’s why we’re evolving the app to become the ultimate travel companion for all points of your journey–with an eye on expanding the convenience and value of using miles as a form of payment for services with Delta and partners, throughout,” said Ed Bastian, CEO of Delta Air Lines.

Integrating ride shares into the Delta travel experience follows findings from an independent study Delta conducted that shows ride-sharing helps make travel days more enjoyable. Delta and Lyft first teamed up in 2017, a partnership that has since earned SkyMiles members more than 1.5 billion miles nationwide.

Twitter Tests New Ways To Control Conversations

This week in social media, Twitter said it’s testing four new ways for users to control their conversations, Twitch fell short of ad revenue expectations and Facebook and eBay pledged to take the selling of fake online reviews more seriously. Also, Facebook announced two new deadlines that advertisers who use its marketing API must adhere to, TikTok is testing a music tab that lets popular artists promote their songs, YouTube is releasing a Coachella documentary and LinkedIn’s user growth is expected to be higher than previously estimated.

Twitter To Let Users Control Tweet Replies Via Four New Ways

The platform detailed its plans to give users more control over their conversations as part of a slew of industry announcements at the Consumers Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

Why it matters: More options to limit the spread of tweets is said to help prevent bullying and harassment on the platform. But Twitter says it’s already doing its part to manage tweet violations. Currently, over 50 percent of tweets that Twitter removes for terms of service violations happen proactively.

The details: As part of an experiment running in Q1, Twitter will provide users four new options which will appear on the compose screen: Global lets anyone reply, Group lets a user’s followers reply, Panel is for people you mentioned in the tweet and Statement lets users turn off all replies. The head of conversations for the platform said these updates build on a feature the company launched in 2019 which allowed users to hide replies. Twitter is also testing a thread-like conversation view which leads users through replies.

Twitch Misses Ad Revenue Expectations

According to The Information, the Amazon-owned streaming platform’s ad revenues fell short of expected ad revenues by 50 percent. 

Why it matters: Twitch projected ad revenues between $500-$600 million in 2019 but reached only $230 million in ad revenue for 2018 and a midyear annual projection of $300 million for 2019. Comparatively, YouTube is reportedly bringing in billions in ad revenue alone. YouTube, Mixer and Facebook have all signed major streamers away from Twitch which could be one reason why it fell short.

The details: The report says that Twitch is profiting more from commerce like subscriptions but that it sees a better profit margin on ads given that top streamers get a majority cut from subscriptions.

Twitter Makes New Ad Placement “Promoted Trend Spotlight” Global

With its new takeover ad offering, advertisers can place six-second videos, GIFs or static image ads at the top of Twitter’s Explore tab.

Why it matters: Global behavioral research company EyeSee found that people spent 26 percent more time looking at the Promoted Trend Spotlight as compared to the standard Promoted Trend unit, generating 113 percent higher ad recall.

The details: Promoted Trend Spotlight will be generally available in the US, UK, Japan and 12 additional markets. Ads will appear at the top of Twitter’s Explore page for the first two visits per person, per day. After the initial two visits, the ad placement moves to the standard Promoted Trend placement.

Facebook, eBay Commit To Stopping Fake Reviews Being Sold

TechCrunch reported that last June, UK markets regulator Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said it found “troubling evidence” of a “thriving marketplace for fake and misleading online reviews.”

Why it matters: The CMA estimates that more than three-quarters of UK shoppers base purchase decisions on online reviews.

The details: After not making any progress to prevent fake reviews, Facebook today has removed a total of 188 groups and disabled 24 user accounts while eBay has permanently banned 140 users. Both platforms said they’re improving systems to identify and block listing for the sale or trade of online reviews.

Facebook Gives Advertisers New Compliance Deadlines

Advertisers who buy Facebook ads through third-party platforms and tools must comply with new deadlines that the platform has set forth. The news comes after Facebook announced in March last year, and again in December, that it was limiting the set of ad targeting categories for housing, credit opportunities and employment ads. 

Why it matters: Not complying with Facebook’s “Special Ad Category” restrictions and deadlines will mean the removal of ads.

The details: The first deadline requires that businesses located in the US identify any active campaigns belonging to a “Special Ad Category” that were created before December 4. Businesses have until February 11 to do so. Additionally. by March 31, all Facebook advertisers in the US creating new ads offering housing, employment or credit must specify a “Special Ad Category” and update targeting settings otherwise the ads won’t be allowed to run. Those running ads that don’t offer the aforementioned must be indicated “None.” 

TikTok Testing New Music Tab For Improved Artist Discovery

According to Social Media Today, TikTok is adding artists’ songs to a select group of verified musicians’ profiles.

Why it matters: Letting influential musicians like Justin Bieber and Camila Cabello promote their work will drive consumer behavior and establish fan connections, both important given the centrality of music to TikTok’s success with short-form videos.

The details: This new tab will become the third music tab listed on artist profiles. Upon tapping the music note icon to the tab’s left, a listing of all the musician’s songs will appear. Users can then browse the songs and use them in their own videos.

YouTube To Premiere Feature-Length Coachella Documentary

YouTube Originals has partnered with Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival to create a documentary, “Coachella: 20 Years in the Desert,” premiering March 31.

Why it matters: This year marks the tenth consecutive year that YouTube is the official playlist and exclusive live stream partner for both weekends of Coachella. YouTube Premium members will get Coachella perks like access to members-only allocation of passes for purchase. 

The details: The announcement of a documentary follows the release of Coachella’s official 2020 lineup, and is meant to celebrate the festival’s 20th anniversary. Never-before-seen footage and interviews in the film will depict the festival’s colorful beginnings.

LinkedIn To Grow Faster Than Expected 

According to eMarketer’s latest estimates, there will be 62.1 million adult LinkedIn users in 2020, and the figure will grow 4.2 percent in 2021.

Why it matters: Though it lags behind Facebook and Instagram, LinkedIn has recently launched features to boost user activity such as its live video broadcast “Live,” launched in February last year, and “Events,” debuted in October last year.

The details: LinkedIn will see $1.59 billion in ad revenues this year, growing to $1.77 billion in 2020. Its users will make up about a third of all social network users in the US, which will stay the same for the next few years. That number will grow from 62.1 million users to 64.7 million in 2021, and to 68.8 million in 2023.

Twitter Launches Promoted Trend Spotlight

The company announced the launch of Promoted Trend Spotlight, a new ad product on Twitter. 

Why it matters: The new ad product has three key features: capture the users’ attention with its immersive creative; differentiate a brand by making ads appear next to highly curated editorial content; and finally, surface conversation by tying together the prominent placement and expansive coverage atop Twitter’s Explore tab.

The details: Promoted Trend Spotlight is now available in the US, the UK and Japan, and is expanding to Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Spain and Thailand. 

EMarketer’s Report Shows A Decline In Instagram User Growth 

A new report from eMarketer predicts Instagram’s user growth dropping to single digits in 2020. 

Why it matters: According to eMarketer, Instagram is facing two major problems: losing its older users and experiencing tougher competition from other popular platforms, like Snapchat and TikTok. However, it is important to note that Instagram is still serving over a billion monthly active users, which makes it one of the top platforms for advertisers. 

The details: The researchers concluded that “in 2019, Instagram’s US user growth rate will have dropped to single digits for the first time to 6.7%, down from 10.1% in 2018. Starting in 2020, and through the end of our forecast period in 2023, we estimate that the social media platform will grow slower than previously expected.”

Snapchat Will Launch Bitmoji TV In 2020

According to TechCrunch, Snapchat is preparing to release “Bitmoji TV,” a personalized cartoon show. 

Why it matters: Creating original content has the potential to differentiate Snapchat from the other short-form video competitor platforms, such as YouTube and TikTok (which don’t yet own an avatar platform) and provide unique opportunities for advertising. 

The details: The initiative will launch in February 2020 globally and will feature customizable Bitmoji avatars as the characters of a full-motion cartoon series called “Bitmoji TV.” 

SnapChat And TikTok Spotted Working On Deepfake-Like Features

SocialMedia Today reports that both platforms are busy developing features that closely resemble deepfake technology, allowing users to easily overlay their face on existing content. This comes as Snapchat acquiring AI Factory, and images show that TikTok is working on a deepfake-style addition within its app.

Why it matters: The new developments rise one major concern: overlaying other people’s faces over existing video content may be misused and pose a threat to brand safety.  

The details: Snap has purchased AI Factory, the company Snap collaborated with in developing its Cameo feature, a feature that enables users to overlay their face over a selection of pre-made scenes.

And according to TechCrunch, Tikok is working on a deepfake-style feature, which asks users to take a multi-angle, biometric scan of their face and allows them to add their image into a selection of videos.

Apptopia Estimates TikTok Q4 Revenue To Reach $50M

TikTok revenue is expected to rise 300 percent in Q4, according to Apptopia, a startup that tracks mobile app revenue and usage. 

Why it matters: The numbers indicate the company’s rapid year-over-year growth (compared to a Q3 in-app top-line figure of around $20 million).

The details: TikTok’s in-app purchase revenue rise 310 percent on a year-over-year basis reaching $50 million. 

Editor’s Note: Our weekly social media news post is updated daily. This installment will be updated until Friday, January 10. 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

Smart Speaker Market, Audio Advertising Continue To Grow

A recent survey conducted by NPR and Edison Research shows that 54 percent of the US population has used some form of voice-command technology, such as smart speakers and smartphone voice assistants. “The Smart Audio Report” also found that 24 percent of the US population (over 60 million) own a smart speaker.

The average smart speaker household now owns 2.6 devices, up from 2.3 devices per household at the same time last year and up from 1.7 in December of 2017. This represents a 135 percent increase in the number of smart speakers in US households in two years. Of the respondents who use voice assistants, 24 percent said they use the technology daily. Juniper Research predicts there will be over 870 billion voice assistant-enabled devices in the US by 2022.

A lucrative opportunity for consumer targeting, smart speakers are also becoming critical touchpoints for reaching shoppers. eMarketer estimates that 11.8 percent, or 34.7 million, consumers will use a smart speaker to make purchases this year, growing to 38 million by 2021.

Digital audio has also provided advertisers with new ways to reach target audiences as the average US adult will spend more time listening to digital audio than listening to radio in 2020. The IAB estimated US audio ad spending totaled $2.25 billion in 2018, up from 22.9 percent in 2017. 

To reach these consumers, advertisers are investing more of their ad dollars into streaming audio platforms such as Spotify and Pandora. Last month, Pandora launched mobile interactive voice ads that listeners can talk back to with a simple “yes or no” in order to reduce friction with the listener experience. Pandora’s voice ads will fill part of the gap that exists in audio ad measurement. 

Findings from “The Smart Audio Report” are based on telephone interviews with 1,015 adults ages 18 and older conducted from December 31, 2019 to January 5, 2020.

Jim Geikie On Creating A Positive Impact With One Better Ventures

During the 189th episode of “Marketing Today,” I interview Jim Geikie, one of the partners at One Better Ventures. This recording took place before a live audience in Durham, NC. Jim spent 18 years at Unilever, then joined Burt’s Bees where he led retail strategy, brand marketing and business development. He also led Cree’s entry into consumer lighting and the commercial strategy for skincare maker, Lalumiere. 

One Better Ventures nurtures and develops consumer brands that have a positive impact on the world. They advise, invest in and incubate mission-driven ventures with breakthrough sustainable business models.

Jim shares the importance of purpose for the success of companies. “The world is full of problems and there is nothing more powerful on the planet than business.” He discusses the obligation for companies to leave the world a better place as they make profits. One Better Ventures has the ability to “play this nice balance of avoiding work we aren’t good at, working a stage that we’re good at and being able to hand off appropriately.”

Highlights from this week’s “Marketing Today”: 

  • How purpose directly impacts profit. (03:50) 
  • The way to get big without “selling out.” (07:07) 
  • The high BS meter of consumers. (08:25)  
  • One Better Ventures focus on “growth stage” ventures. (09:05) 
  • Five things that matter when One Better Ventures assesses a company’s potential. (13:02) 
  • One Better Ventures’s focus on the health and wellness business. (15:43) 
  • Key “exits” for One Better Venture and three important lessons learned. (18:11) 
  • What’s next for One Better Ventures? (21:42)

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.