Pinterest’s Q4 Revenue Increased 46 Percent Since Last Year

This week in social media news—Pinterest and Twitter release Q4 earnings, Instagram tests IGTV monetization and eMarketer finds that half of companies use LinkedIn for marketing.

Pinterest Reports Better-Than-Expected Q4 Earnings

MediaPost reports that Pinterest released its Q4 earnings report which shows 26 percent YoY (year-over-year) user growth and over $400 million in revenue, up 46 percent YoY.

Why it matters: Pinterest has been aggressively developing products for their advertising business such as the mobile “Try On” feature, powered by Pinterest’s Lens visual search technology. This, and the platform’s universal brand appeal, has positioned Pinterest as the third-largest social media platform among U.S. consumers.

DetailsPinterest sees a strong 2020 ahead. Brands including YSL Beauté, Lancôme, Urban Decay from L’Oreal, Neutrogena, Estee Lauder and Sephora are already leveraging Pinterest’s latest “Try On” feature.

Instagram Tests IGTV Monetization

Instagram is beginning to test monetization of IGTV videos by allowing creators to run ads, as discovered by Jane Manchun Wong and reported by Adweek.

Why it matters: Monetization of IGTV content with ads would be big news for publishers creating for that product.

Details: While details from Instagram are still scant, head of Instagram Adam Mosseri has stated that “IGTV is still in its early days, but it’s growing, so we’re exploring more ways to make it sustainable for creators.”

Twitter Generates $1.01 Billion Revenue In Q4  

Thanks to a 12 percent increase year-over-year in ad revenue sales, this is the first time Twitter’s revenue surpassed the billion-dollar mark.

Why it matters: Though the report shows a drop in net income and earnings per share (EPS), the figure reflects a comeback for Twitter after Q3 when it missed on revenues and earnings as a result of costly ad-related glitches.

The details: Analysts predicted revenues of $997 million with EPS of $0.29. Twitter exceeded analysts’ prediction with its $1.01 billion in revenue, but its net income of $119 million and diluted EPS of $0.15 were both lower than those in the same period last year—$255 million net income and a diluted EPS of $0.33. Twitter’s operating income for Q4 was $153 million. Its monetizable daily active users (DAU) increased by 21 percent in Q4 to reach 152 million due to algorithm updates, which presented users with more relevant content.

Half Of Companies With 100+ Employees Use LinkedIn For Marketing

EMarketer found that 50.3 percent of companies will use LinkedIn for marketing by 2021 and in 2020, 49.6 percent of companies with over 100 employees will use the platform.

Why it matters: LinkedIn as a marketing tool mirrors the user growth the platform has seen as it recently reached 675 million members, a new milestone. 

The details: eMarketer’s forecast excludes companies that use LinkedIn strictly for recruiting. The researcher sees more business-to-consumer brands using LinkedIn in years past but there’s a limit on how many can use it for marketing or advertising. That’s despite the platform’s efforts to give advertisers innovative offerings like Campaign Manager, which launched in September 2019. 

Snapchat App Hoop Downloaded 2.5 Million Times Within A Week

From Snapchat’s developer platform Snap Kit, Hoop is the Tinder-like app that lets people swipe to discover other users and make new friends on Snapchat.

Why it matters: Snap Kit-backed apps like Hoop give users new reasons to sign up for Snapchat and continue using it, ensuring user growth. 

The details: Snap Kit launched in June 2018 and lets other apps like Hoop piggyback on Snapchat’s login for sign up, its big selling point being privacy. Now, Hoop has reached the number two spot on the overall iOS chart and first on the social apps chart on January 24. Hoop’s monetization strategy includes a 10-limit chat request for users. When they run out of in-app “diamonds,” they must earn more by inviting new friends to Hoop, adding new friends on Snapchat and logging in each day. 

Reports Show Millennials, Gen Z Still Use Facebook

Recent reports show Facebook still holds sway with younger generations. 

Why it matters: In 2018, Pew Research found that Facebook was lagging behind YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat, making it the fourth most popular social network among US teen users. While recent reports show that Gen Z and millennial still use Facebook, it’s Instagram that may be keeping it afloat as Instagram generated more than a quarter of Facebook’s revenue in 2019.

The details: A report from 5W Public Relations in New York surveyed 1,000 US adults aged 18 and over, and found that 77 percent are active on Facebook. Another report, from Ofcom in the UK, surveyed over 2,300 British parents and children ages 5-15 years about their online activity. Sixty-nine percent of those aged 12-15 said they use Facebook while 68 percent use Snapchat and 66 percent have an Instagram account. 

Instagram Reportedly Brought In $20 Billion In Revenue In 2019

According to Bloomberg, Instagram generated $20 billion in revenue in 2019, more than a quarter of Facebook’s total revenue for the year.

Why it matters: Instagram’s revenue indicates that it’s generating more money than YouTube as Google’s year-end report revealed it brought in $15 billion in revenue in 2019.

The details: Facebook generated a total of $70.7 billion in revenue in 2019, a majority of which came from advertising. Instagram was estimated to have a $100 billion valuation in 2018, and the figure will likely rise given its reported revenue for 2019.

Facebook To Close Mobile Web Arm Of Its Audience Network

Digiday reports the company confirmed it will shut down the mobile web arm starting April 11.

Why it matters: The move to close Audience Network’s mobile web arm follows Facebook’s 2016 retrenchment of LiveRail, the video ad exchange and ad server it bought in 2014 for a reported $400 million. Also in 2016, Facebook discontinued the in-house desktop ad exchange it built. The trend continued when it closed the Audience Network’s connected television service in 2019.

The details: Audience Network was launched in 2014 and Facebook expanded it to include mobile websites in 2016. On its decision to shut down the mobile web arm, the company said it’s focusing its resources in other formats across mobile apps, a growing demand from its partners.

Byte Gets 1.3 Million Downloads In Its First Week

Data from Sensor Tower found that Vine’s successor Byte hits the ground running with 1.3 million app downloads.

Why it matters: Strong performance in its first week may not be enough to carry Byte to the finish line against Instagram and Snapchat. Byte’s founder Dom Hoffman said the app is working on providing influencers with monetization opportunities but the efforts could be backfiring. Byte users have recently complained that comment streams are inundated with users who are aggressively trying to boost their follower counts.

The details: Byte received 1.3 million downloads in its first week, exceeding Vine’s downloads in the same time period after launch.

Snapchat Revenue Increases 44 % Year Over Year

Missing analyst’s expectations slightly, Snapchat increased its revenue by 44 percent year-over-year to $561 million in Q4 2019.

Why it matters: 2018 reports predicted that Snapchat could slip back as growth rates slowed and infrastructure costs continued to rise, but the data show that it’s still growing—it added 8 million more daily active users (DAU) in Q4, reaching 218 million DAU in 2019. Still, the platform’s efforts in emerging markets haven’t produced major returns in ad spend.

The details:  Snapchat’s users grew 17 percent year-over-year as it added 2 million more DAU in North America and Europe, and 3 million additional users in its “Rest of the World” category.

Google Reports YouTube Ad Revenue Of $15 Billion

Per a year-end report, YouTube’s revenue grew by 36 percent to $15.1 billion in 2019 from a year prior.

Why it matters: YouTube’s revenues are higher than eMarketer’s prediction, which was 20 percent growth in ad sales to about 11.4 billion by the end of 2019. While Google’s total ad revenue for Q4 increased 17 percent, its growth is less than Facebook’s 25 percent gain to 20.7 billion and Amazon’s 41 percent increase to $4.8 billion.

The details: YouTube’s ad revenue growth surpassed the 15 percent gain of Google’s search ad revenue to a record $98.1 billion for 2019. In Q4, Google’s total ad revenue rose 17 percent to $37.9 billion from a year earlier, matching the 17 percent growth of the prior quarter.

Facebook Ad Spending Grows 15 % Year Over Year In Q4

According to Merkle’s Q4 Digital Marketing Report, spending growth for Facebook ads, excluding Instagram, increased for the third consecutive quarter. 

Why it matters: Facebook spend may be up but the platform’s impressions growth has slowed. In Q4 2019, its ad impressions fell five percent year over year, down from a 20 percent increase the prior quarter. Mobile devices and tablets accounted for 95 percent of Facebook ad clicks in Q4, which could produce an even greater rise in mobile-first ad content in 2020. 

The details: Though Facebook ad spend was up, Instagram ad spend decreased from 44 percent in Q3 2019 to 38 percent year over year in Q4. Merkle found that Instagram ad impressions grew 29 percent year over year in Q4 and average CPM increased by seven percent. Ads on Instagram stories generated 25 percent of Instagram ad clicks in Q4 and accounted for 21 percent of total spending. Across all platforms, data shows that display ad spend grew eight percent year-over-year in Q4. Additionally, social media platforms generated 4.3 percent of all organic search visits in 2019, up 3.2 percent in Q4 2018.

Study Finds US Voters Distrust Social Media As Political News Source 

Data from Pew Research Center’s Election News Pathways Project is based on responses from 12,043 US adults—consisting of both Republicans and Democrats—a majority of which don’t trust the political news delivered by Facebook and Twitter.

Why it matters: In 2018, Pew’s study found that 68 percent of Americans get some form of news content via social media. Despite more Americans getting news information from social platforms, Democrats and Republicans alike distrust these sources by large margins.

The details: The platforms with the highest percentage of distrust among all adults are Facebook (59 percent), Twitter (48 percent), Instagram (42 percent) and YouTube (36 percent).

LinkedIn Reaches 675 Million Total Members 

Microsoft reported record levels of engagement on LinkedIn in its FY20 Q2 report, which the company published this week.

Why it matters: Though the report shows an increase in total members, not active users, the growing engagement levels and memberships reflect the success of LinkedIn’s “Marketing Solutions,” which LinkedIn says is its fastest growing business for connecting with members. 

The details: In November 2019, LinkedIn reported reaching 660 million members. This week, Microsoft reported it now has 675 million total members, which means in three months LinkedIn gained 15 million more members.

Twitter Officially Launches Conversation Threads On iOS

After beta testing conversation threads for the last six months, Twitter rolled out the feature on iOS.

Why it matters: The new threaded conversational feature could lead to an improvement in tweet engagement among users’ communities especially considering the feature only displays threads for replies from people you follow.

The details: The company tweeted the announcement, noting that when people you follow are in a conversation, you’ll see their replies in a new way in the home timeline. According to Twitter, the new layout will make it easier to see who’s replying to who so that users can join in on relevant conversations. Twitter says the new feature will be available on Android soon.

Editor’s Note: Our weekly social media news post is updated daily. This installment will be updated until Friday, February 7. 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

Pizza Hut U.S. Names Interim President, CMO

This week in marketing leadership moves, Forbes selects a CMO internally, Calvin Klein hired two interim marketing executives, OWN and Fever-Tree name new CMOs and J.C. Penney makes marketing appointments.

Pizza Hut U.S. Names New Marketing Leadership

Pizza Hut U.S. has named Kevin Hochman, who is also president of KFC U.S., as president of Pizza Hut U.S., according to Ad Age

Hochman has already brought in George Felix, former director of marketing for KFC Global, as CMO for Pizza Hut U.S.. This role has been vacant since the departure of former chief marketing officer Zipporah Allen for Taco Bell. 

Additionally, David Graves has been made chief brand officer for Pizza Hut U.S..

The Wing Makes First Executive Hire

Adweek reports that co-working space The Wing has hired Celestine Maddy as SVP of marketing and communications. 

Maddy previously served as VP of marketing at Foursquare and was also VP of marketing at Reddit prior to that.

CoreLife Eatery Names VP Of Marketing

Julia Baker will be joining CoreLife Eatery as their VP of marketing, according to QSR Magazine. Baker comes to CoreLife from Epic Wings, where she was director of marketing.

“Forbes” Promotes New CMO

Forbes announced the promotion of Lynn Schlesinger to the role of chief marketing officer today.

Schlesinger recently served as group VP of brand and demand marketing. According to Forbes, Schlesinger “works closely with all aspects of the organization, including editorial and digital, as well as the teams responsible for Forbes’ signature BrandVoice, Insights and ForbesLIVE offerings.”

USA Gymnastics Hires Chief Communications And Marketing Officer

Around The Rings reports that Carol Fabrizio has been named by USA Gymnastics as chief communications and marketing officer, effective February 13.

Fabrizio spent the last nine years at Vail Resorts before this appointment. She most recently served as VP of communications and marketing operations.

Chevrolet Marketing Chief Leaves General Motors

Ad Age reports that Paul Edwards, Chevrolet’s U.S. VP of marketing, has left General Motors. 

Edwards has been replaced by Steve Majoros, who joined GM in 2013 as director of global Cadillac. Majoros recently held the position of director of cars and crossovers marketing for Chevy; a replacement has yet to be named for that position.

Marriott International Names Neal Jones Chief Sales And Marketing Officer (EMEA)

Twenty-four-year Marriott International veteran Neal Jones is picking up from his role in Dubai as chief sales and marketing officer for Middle East and Africa and relocating to London. Jones will serve as Marriott International’s new chief sales and marketing officer (EMEA), according to Prolific London.

Calvin Klein Names Two Interim Marketers

According to WWD, Calvin Klein has brought on Greg Stogdon and J.D. Ostrow to serve as interim marketing and branding supervisors. Stogdon and Ostrow come to Calvin Klein from game and design studio Frosty Pop, and will serve as chief branding officer and CMO, respectively.

Ostrow’s previous CMO experience includes 10 years at Burberry.

Shopify’s CMO Is Out Amid Team Restructuring

IT World Canada reports the termination of Shopify chief marketing officer Jeff Weiser. 

Shopify CEO Tobi Lütke, in a letter announcing the termination, noted that the company would be integrating product and marketing teams. 

“At one point in the past, marketing and product were integrated and growth was planned into the product work from the build phase onwards. We need to get back there,” Lütke said. “The rebooted marketing team will operate less like an agency and more like one company.”

OWN Taps Netflix Marketer As CMO

The Oprah Winfrey Network has picked up a chief marketing officer from Netflix. Adweek reports that OWN hired Jennifer Giddens to lead strategic marketing for the network and affiliated podcast.

Giddens was most recently the global marketing head for the kids and family division at Netflix .

Dunkin’ Sees More Leadership Changes

Marketing Dive reports that Dunkin’ Brands promoted Jill McVicar Nelson to VP of marketing strategy for Dunkin’.

The promotion comes in the wake of Dunkin’s’ marketing department realignment we covered last week and a year after CMO Tony Weisman, who spearheaded dropping the “Donuts” from the brand name, left the company to seek other opportunities.

There has been no word yet on filling the vacant CMO seat.

Allegiant Names Scott DeAngelo EVP, CMO

Budget airline Allegiant has named Scott DeAngelo EVP and CMO, where he will lead strategic direction and marketing functions.

His previous title with the airline was SVP and CMO, a role he began in 2018.

Fever-Tree Hires Ex-Diageo Marketer As CMO

Campaign UK reports that Jeremy Kanter, former marketer for Diageo and top marketer for Guinness, has started his new position as chief marketing officer at Fever-Tree. Kanter left Diageo in September after more than 15 years with the company.

Saskia Meyer, who has served as Fever-Tree’s UK marketing director since 2007, will remain in her current role.

Marketing Leadership Moves At J.C. Penney Company

CSA reports the naming of six new VPs at J.C. Penney Company as part of a revitalization of the company’s leadership team.

In terms of marketing leadership, Penney named Jill Feldman VP of marketing and Roger Worak as VP of customer engagement and insights.

Feldman spent 11 years with Famous Footwear and recently served as VP of marketing and brand strategy, while Worak served as VP of digital engagement at Front Burner Brands as well as with Hard Rock International as senior director of digital marketing, CRM and loyalty.

Editor’s Note: Our weekly careers post is updated daily. This installment is updated until Friday, February 7. Have a new hire tip? We’re looking for senior executive role changes in marketing and media. Let us know at

Job Vacancies 

VP Of Marketing Operations Califia Farms Los Angeles, CA
Head Of Media, Digital Marketing And Community Calibra Menlo Park, CA
SVP, Integrated Marketing Zillow Group Pasadena, CA
Vice President, Marketing Strategy Paramount Pictures Los Angeles, CA
Chief Marketing Officer NPR Washington D.C., DC

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


How Brands Are Activating Employee Influencers

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.)

Out of YouTube and Instagram was born the social media influencer, on which marketers today spend anywhere from $1,000-$500,000 a year. Now a different figure in influencer marketing is emerging: employees. Employee advocacy leads to authentic content, which gives consumers what they ultimately want: trust. This has the potential to trump content created by an influencer who maybe hasn’t even tried the product or service they’re endorsing. Here we explore which brands are using employee advocacy and how employee influencer programs have solved major problems.

LinkedIn found that there’s a 561 percent increase in audience for a brand message when shared by employees versus sharing on a corporate channel alone. Macy’s ran with this when in fall 2017 it launched an in-house influencer team. What started as the Macy’s Style Crew, which included 20 employee ambassadors, has turned into a 400+ team of Macy’s employee influencers who are active across social media channels. 

Macy’s pays its employee influencers, who range from executives to cashiers, an unspecified percentage of each sale they drive. The average Macy’s employee influencer has less than 10,000 followers and any Macy’s employee can apply. Once accepted, they have access to all of the store’s products for free to promote via social using the hashtag #MacysStyleCrew and a link to shop the item in their profile bio.

Employees are strong vehicles to carry your brand message because they’re knowledgeable and have a more unique story to tell about products and services than an influencer who may be trying it for the first time. In fact, employee content is proven to drive action as 26 percent of employee influencer programs have been shown to increase revenue by year on year.

H&M US also started activating its employees’ voices when it launched the H&M Insiders program, which includes 15 of the fast fashion retailer’s employee ambassadors from across the country, “who have their own unique take on our brand and incorporate H&M into their everyday lives.” H&M features the 15 members’ photos, Instagram handles and H&M style picks on a dedicated page on their website.

Brand ambassadors have long contributed to the success of General Electric’s (GE) employer branding. In 2013, the company started an employee ambassador program after it faced difficulty recruiting for open positions. The program, which began with the goal of aiding hiring, human resource managers and talent acquisition, led to an 800 percent increase in applicants. In Q1 2017, GE’s employee-generated social content created engagement worth $3 million for the company.

“When employees start sharing their ‘story’ or their ‘why’ they cause an emotional connection in anyone reading their profile/post. When this emotional connection happens people tend to start feeling their cause, their ‘why’, in what they do and connect to the purpose. Purpose driven careers and recruiting will only become more and more important with soft skills currently passing hard skills needed in each space,” global employment brand leader at GE, Shaunda Zilch, told LinkedIn.

Zilch says that engaging GE’s employees and allowing them to represent themselves and the company instills a pride in each employee, which helps retention and makes the program stand out as something others want to be a part of. Many consumers also see the value in employee advocacy: 53 percent of all global consumers see employees as the most credible sources for learning about companies, according to Edelman’s 2019 Trust Barometer. Sixty-seven percent of respondents said they agree that, “a good reputation may get me to try a product, but unless I come to trust the company behind a product, I will soon stop buying it.”

Stop Asking Clients to Be Brave. Help Them Feel Brave.

Originally published at AW360 by Paul Charney.

Article takeaways: 

  • How agencies can better prepare their clients for riskier work
  • How to create and nurture better creative partnerships
  • How radical transparency can foster stronger relationships

As brands’ needs continue to evolve and shift, everyone keeps writing about the need for braver clients—complaining that anxious brands only market by the numbers, steamrolling creative agencies and disrespecting their ECDs. Too often, this leads to over-calculated, under-budgeted, poor output with fewer clients willing to roll the dice and take risks on ideas that truly stand out.

But let’s hold up. Is that really the only reason for clients not being brave? The numbers?

I have an alternative theory. Perhaps agencies are too focused on asking clients to be brave instead of making them feel brave.

We’ve all lived the scenario: an accomplished ECD locks eyes with a brand CMO and says, “I know this work might make you uncomfortable, and it’s not exactly the brief, and it seems impossible to pull off, and it’s a smidge over… ok twice your budget, but it will be beautiful and iconic work. It will inspire and change things for your brand, forever. It’s going to work. It’s why we have all those awards in the lobby.”

“You need to trust me.

I can hear you CMOs wincing already. Why? Because for every few times the ‘trust me’ convo has led to huge success, there are twenty other times the results have either been ok, not good, or so bad that CMOs have to start looking for new jobs. Those are terrible odds and to every good CMO, numbers matter.

As Tom Cruise in Risky Business says: “If there was any logic to our language, ‘trust’ would be a four-letter word.”

So, how do we avoid that ‘trust me’ conversation and help clients feel brave instead? I have a few suggestions:

Have a little empathy

For some reason that ‘trust me’ conversation always seems to be more about the agency’s needs and less about the client’s needs. But trust is a two-way street and clients are people, oftentimes with a lot of stress and anxiety. Sometimes they reveal it to the agency, oftentimes they don’t. If they don’t, this can be a real barrier to building real, shared trust and openness to new ideas.

This seems obvious but, as an agency, make sure you put in the time to get to know a client and don’t be afraid to ask them questions that are on the nose like “What are you most nervous about with this assignment?” and “What is your nightmare scenario?” These are questions that demonstrate you’re listening and understand there’s something at stake for them. Empathy is one of the foundational pillars of trust.

Invite them into the process 

This is a big and important one. Figure out a way to make collaboration with a client, less of a transactional relationship and more of a creative partnership. That means letting them in earlier and further into the creative process. This can happen in many ways, but the goal is to get them to add their knowledge of their brand and category into the creative thinking in ways that go beyond an email or brief.

Have them come to the agency for a brainstorm. Have them come over and put some stickies on rough ideas before you spend too much time going in a direction that doesn’t work for them. Or, better yet, explain early on why you think an idea is so awesome. Let them into your thought process before the relationship devolves.

Stop keeping secrets 

If you reveal your process and not obsess over protecting the mystery of how your team generates non-traditional ideas, the ideas won’t seem as non-traditional or risky. Remember, it’s not about selling the dark arts of creativity. That’s old and played out. Shine a bright light on your creative process. Make it public. Show them the step-by-step way you broke down the strategy and how that strategy became multiple executions.

Really digest their numbers

If the client has compelling data, which good clients should, run with it and incorporate it into everyone’s thinking. Help the client look at the potential meaning of those numbers in new ways.

Despite the creative industry pushback on data, numbers can lead to non-traditional thinking. For example, if the numbers say that older audiences only respond to messaging about their kids, this should open you up to really unique and unpredictable truths about that data. And it takes the pressure off of your team if every creative decision refers back to the client’s own data points.

Evaluate ideas using the client’s own words

This is a simple one, but often gets overlooked. Make sure to take copious notes in your early meetings with the clients, asking them questions that are simple, but give them a chance to give you anchors to help them evaluate the work later on. For example, early on ask them “How do you know if the project is a success?” and “What does success look like?” Direct questions can help everyone align on whether the goal is increased sales, to make their brand to be more famous, or for millennials to give a shit about them.

Now, bring those goals back when you’re sharing ideas with the client, literally posting their words on a board as they see your ideas and let them evaluate those ideas based on their past comments, looking at each concept through a lens they created. In this way, you are reminding the client of what is important to them.

There are a lot of ways to avoid telling clients to trust you as the only path to doing exciting work. The key is to create a process where the work doesn’t ask clients to do something risky but instead gets them energized to fix their business problems.

AR/VR Hits Big In Enterprise Solutions

This week we’re highlighting a few announcements in the enterprise space for Mixed Reality (XR). This is telling for the XR space as more and more businesses are using virtual reality and augmented reality to better develop tools and work collaboratively with remote employees. As a marketer we should always be aware of how technology is shaping our business and how we can implement tools to complement workflow. This week we’ll discuss a few items that can do just that. 

Spatial Brings Remote Employees Together

What’s Happening: Spatial looks to build out how brands and teams work collaboratively with a global workforce and has raised 14M to continue work on their collaborative AR tool that let’s remote employees work together through augmented workspaces. Think Slack or Google Hangouts, but one where you can visually see and work with each other through a shared virtual workspace. 

Why It Matters: Over the last 5 years there has been a 44 percent growth increase in remote work. In order to adapt to this shift of flexible work becoming the new standard, tools will be necessary to bring employees across disciplines so they can collaborate effectively. Spatial looks to jump into that market to bring people together over work in a way that feels natural and supports collaboration.

Canon Still In The Augmented Reality Game

What’s Happening: Canon announced it’s AR successor with some really impressive visuals. Beyond hyper photorealism, Canon is touting many new features to make AR 3D models seamlessly integrate with real life objects. 

Why it Matters: Oftentimes when we think of augmented reality, it’s for fun or marketing purposes. However, advancements in technology are providing businesses with the tools to create efficiencies across many development processes. If you’re looking to create a better workflow, it might be time to look into XR enterprise solutions for your business.

VR In The Cloud

What’s Happening: Amazon announces Wavelength, a new addition to Amazon Web Services (AWS) called Wavelength for 5G devices. Wavelength promises single digit millisecond latency for AR/VR applications that are latency-sensitive applications over 5G connections. 

Why It Matters: Currently high-end virtual reality devices rely on expensive local computing. Wavelength aims to take that processing into the cloud to render and AR and VR content remotely. This drastically reduces the processing power required for applications that require low-latency and can let battery-powered devices take advantage without the need for said expensive local computing and enables these devices to access from any 5G location. Varjo, the maker of high-end VR enterprise headsets, believes this is a necessary step to scale VR usage. 

Voice Shopping Via Smart Speaker Is Growing Slower Than Expected

The number of US consumers warming to the idea of shopping via smart speakers is smaller than eMarketer initially predicted. Now 21.6 million people will have made a purchase through a smart speaker by 2020, compared to eMarketer’s Q2 2019 prediction of 23.6 million. Smart speaker usage forecasts have also been updated from an expected 84.5 million users in Q2 2019 to 83.1 million users.

The revised forecast is a result of a lack of trust between brands and users. Friction in the voice-based buying process includes consumers’ concerns about secure payments and privacy. The absence of screens is also an issue as consumers want to visually see what they’re shopping prior to purchasing. According to eMarketer, some voice buyers resolve the issue by using other voice-controlled devices like smartphones and tablets to make purchases. 

Most of the purchases consumers make on voice-controlled smart speakers today are reorders and items that don’t need to be inspected. Many smart speaker apps that simplify things for consumers such as ordering takeout and finding recipes are being underutilized, according to eMarketer principal analyst Victoria Petrock. Instead consumers use more direct commands such as playing music or asking questions. 

eMarketer also readjusted estimates for the types of activities users engage with on voice-based devices. eMarketer lowered its percentage of smart speaker users who would shop via voice-controlled devices in 2020 from 27.9 percent in Q2 2019 to 26 percent.

Though the researcher lowered its outlook for the number of smart speaker buyers and users, smart speaker activity is growing and will reach a new milestone in 2020 when 10.8 percent of all US digital buyers will buy something via a smart speaker.

A recent study from NPR and Edison Research shows that 54 percent of the US population has used some form of voice-command technology. To leverage this lucrative means of consumer targeting, marketers are investing more in audio ad spending, which the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) says reached $2.25 billion in 2018.

Brand Hacks With Author Emmanuel Probst

During the 193rd episode of “Marketing Today,” I interview Dr. Emmanuel Probst, the author of “Brand Hacks: How To Build Brands By Fulfilling The Human Quest For Meaning.” He holds a doctorate in consumer psychology and teaches market research at UCLA. He also works for Ipsos, advising clients on how to measure and optimize their marketing efforts. 

Probst has been studying “why people buy” for about 15 years and shares with us his definition of “meaning” and what he means when using that term. We discuss his book and the tools and tactics a brand manager has at their disposal.

Probst shares that he got into the industry because he is “curious about people,” and notes, “I like to understand why people do what they do, and how people make decisions as individuals, but also as a community, as a group and as a society.” He wrote the book because he wanted to take a different stance on building brands. He felt it important to, “take a step back, understand what consumers want to achieve as individuals, and from there, build brands that fulfill these quests for meaning.”

Highlights from this week’s “Marketing Today”: 

  • Emmanuel’s background and path to becoming an author and consultant. (01:38) 
  • The reason for writing his book “Brand Hacks.” (02:34)  
  • What people are really looking for in brands. (03:48)  
  • The definitions of “meaning,” according to Dr. Emmanuel Probst. (04:25)  
  • The nuances for the right to define our own meaning. (06:17)  
  • Three types of “meanings” and examples of each. (07:33)  
  • The importance of “nostalgia” in meaning. (10:17)  
  • How does the approach to “meaning” and methodologies in “Brand Hacks” compare to other methodologies? (11:47)   
  • An example of one brand that bridges the gap of multiple methodologies. (14:42)   
  • CrossFit and the notion of community. (18:36)  
  • Top recommendations for brands or marketers leading brands. (20:40)  
  • The experiences of Emmanuel’s past that defines who he is today. (22:20)  
  • Advice for Emmanuel’s younger self. (24:18) 
  • What keeps Emmanuel doing what he does? (25:27)  
  • Brands, companies or causes to take notice of. (27:17)  
  • Biggest opportunity or threat to marketers. (29:51) 

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.

Ad Spend On Sports Sponsorship Expected To Reach $48 Billion Worldwide

Advertiser spend on sports sponsorship is predicted to increase five percent in 2020 to reach more than $48 billion globally, the strongest growth in a decade, according to a new study from WARC, “Sports Sponsorship Investment.”

Record investment ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics is the source of recent market growth as the event is expected to bring in $5.94 billion in revenue from sponsorships, nearly double the previous event. According to WARC, Olympic partners Coca-Cola and Procter & Gamble will spend $1.95 billion worldwide on the event, while domestic sponsors like Canon, Asahi and Fujitsu will spend $3.33 billion, four times higher than the Rio Olympics in 2016.

The majority of investment is concentrated in North America, fueled largely by the financial services sector ($5.3 billion in 2019) and automotive sector ($.24 billion). WARC predicts US brand associations with the National Football League (NFL), Major League Baseball (MLB) and National Basketball Association (NBA) will reach $3.97 billion in value in 2020, just over a quarter of total spend of $18.8 billion this year. The value of NFL sponsorship is forecast to reach $1.53 billion in 2020, up 4.9 percent from 2019. MLB partnerships are projected to increase 5.6 percent in value to $1.05 billion in 2020 and NBA tie-ins are expected to rise 7.1 percent in value to $1.39 billion for the 2020-2021 season.

In the European market, sports sponsorships will grow five percent to $12.9 billion this year, with Germany being the largest market and a projected value of $1.89 billion. Asia is expected to account for 23.9 percent of the global total at $11.6 billion, followed by five percent, or $2.4 billion, from Latin America.

WARC says that brand investment in esports is also growing rapidly and will reach $795 million worldwide this year, an increase of 23.1 percent from 2019. Sponsorships will account for about three quarters of that total, or $584 million, while spots during ad breaks will account for $211 million. 

Despite investment growth, one in four advertisers has no confidence in measuring return on investment (ROI) from sports sponsorships. 

Kia Hosts Multiple Experiential Activations At Australian Open 2020

Kia, the longest-running major partner of the Australian Open since 2002, highlighted its new 2021 Seltos SUV at the two-week tournament with a host of immersive activations held at the “Seltos Studios,” where guests can experience deconstructed elements of the car’s design.

The studio’s exterior wall is covered with the same built-in Bose speakers and neon light features found in the Kia Seltos. Visitors can play a digital tennis game called “Beat the Beat” where they must stomp tennis balls to accelerate a virtual Seltos as they learn more about the car. 

Other experiential activations from the car maker include the Kia “Junior Drive,” where kids can ride mini Kia go-karts to assist with the early development of driving skills. Fans can also go inside the Kia Stinger and snap a selfie with an augmented reality (AR) image of Rafael Nadal. 

Nadal, who became a Kia brand ambassador in 2004, is also featured in Kia’s social media #HitItChallenge. The carmaker released a video to its YouTube showing Nadal try to hit tennis balls through the backseat windows of various Kia cars then watch videos of fans recreating the challenge.

A purpose-driven component, the Kia Ball Drive, lets visitors win tennis balls from last year’s Australian Open at a ball vending machine located on the tournament compound. Proceeds will go toward Australian junior tennis development.  

In addition to multiple consumer touch points, Kia will supply 120 of its latest vehicles to transport tennis players, VPs, officials and media during the tournament. Kia is also partnering with Uber to give free Seltos rides to app users within the Melbourne central business district heading to Melbourne Park.

Kia doubled down on marketing for a cause when it debuted an emotional 60-second Super Bowl spot against homelessness. The spot shows Tulsa, Oklahoma native Josh Jacobs, the Oakland Raiders’ rookie runnerback who grew up homeless, running the streets of Tulsa with an overlay of Jacobs’ voice offering his younger self advice.

On the brand’s transition from funny to heartfelt, Russell Wager, Kia’s US marketing chief told Forbes, “What I looked at was a different way of positioning Kia: as a grown-up brand. It’s our 25th year in the United States. As opposed to just being known for great value, or for the Soul hamsters, the brand and its products are outstanding—not just Telluride, but the other ones too. We’ve started trying to become a bit more about telling the story of the Kia brand and what we stood for.”

Kia donated $1,000 per yard gained during the Super Bowl game to charities helping end youth homelessness, totaling nearing $750,000 in donations.