Virtual Marketing Teams With Planable Founder Xenia Muntean

On this 232nd episode of “Marketing Today,” I interview the founder of Planable, Xenia Muntean. Planable allows marketing teams to collaborate, and even more importantly, visualize the content that they are creating before posting it online.

Our conversation starts with Muntean’s experience growing up in the Republic of Moldova, a post-Soviet country in Eastern Europe. This environment taught Muntean the discipline, resiliency, and work ethic that led her to land on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list, though the journey wasn’t always smooth. Muntean says, “it’s only a path now looking back, connecting all the dots and looking backward.”

She then talks about how the problems with collaboration in her first marketing business led her to create Planable out of necessity. The best part about Planable is “the clarity that the tool gives you around your content.” Now, marketing teams all over the world use Planable to help “them simplify their content workflows.” Muntean then discusses how Planable is “more about the people than it is about the content itself” and removes miscommunication during collaboration. Finally, we discuss the current state of the world and the challenges that have been presented by the global pandemic. Muntean simply states, in the beginning,” uncertainty was the biggest challenge.”

Highlights from this week’s “Marketing Today”:

  • Xenia was born and raised in the Republic of Moldova, a post-Soviet country in Eastern Europe. 1:27
  • Xenia learned a lot about independence, resilience, and survival from spending her life in such a unique country. 2:08
  • The path from Moldova to Forbes 30-Under-30 list was a long one filled with its unique challenges. 3:00
  • During her second year in university, Xenia started her first social media marketing business. 3:58
  • Collaborating with clients and her team while trying to build incredible content was a very big struggle at first. 4:46
  • Planable was built out of a necessity to collaborate on content with both clients and employees. 5:49
  • In a country that was not her own, pitching to the venture industry in London was made easier by a welcoming community. 6:52
  • Tech Stars was made up of a majority of female CEOs, which made the transition that much more comfortable for Xenia. 7:49
  • Xenia built her business on what she could control and didn’t pay attention to any bias towards her as a woman. 8:46
  • Planable is designed for teams to collaborate on content and is used by companies all over the world. 9:10
  • As a workflow system, Planable allows social media teams to visualize and coordinate content before it is ever posted. 10:30
  • Planable takes the guessing out of posting content on social media. 11:30
  • B2B marketing for Planable relies a lot on inbound marketing and just recently started using influencers. 11:44
  • The first season of the People of Marketing Podcast is wrapping up and has proved very difficult but useful as a marketing tool. 13:27
  • Xenia has used her podcast to listen to the journeys and challenges that marketing leaders have faced on their way to the top. 14:20
  • Planable focuses on the people in the marketing teams rather than the content itself. 15:20
  • Though the ongoing pandemic didn’t change the product, it did change how Planable had to communicate the product to clients and potential clients. 16:28
  • Offering a free trial and discounts was Planable’s way of helping clients that might be going through financial struggles. 17:20
  • Cuts may have hit the marketing space the hardest, and COVID slowed the expected growth for collaboration tools. 18:50
  • Embracing remote work requires an understanding of the issues and challenges that are facing your team. 20:16
  • Planable replaces all the tools that present opportunities for gaps in communication and clarity. 21:28
  • Xenia’s Facebook business, crafting jewelry with her mother, taught her quite a bit about discipline and work ethic. 22:28
  • Do whatever you can to stay out of your own way; you are capable of amazing things. 23:50
  • The multitude of companies in the alternative-meat industry inspires Xenia with how they market themselves. 26:03
  • Silos are the largest threat to marketing teams in the current world environment. 26:57

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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.

Snapchat Launches Advanced Courses For Direct-Response Advertisers

This week in social media news, Snapchat debuts advanced courses for direct-response advertisers, Instagram tests a direct reaction feature for Stories, TikTok experiments with a dedicated “Learn tab,” Snapchat lets creators publicly display their subscriber count for the first time and Twitch announces a virtual version of TwitchCon, GlitchCon, for November 14.

Snapchat Debuts Advanced Courses For Direct-Response Advertisers

Snapchat has announced an educational program called Snap Connect to give direct-response advertisers deeper insight into strategies, formats and opportunities on the platform, as reported by Adweek.

Why it matters: In its Q1 earnings call, Snapchat reported that over the past two years, direct-response advertising had almost doubled as a share of its ad revenue and accounted for over one-half of its total revenue.

The details: Snapchat will expand Snap Connect programming into more ad verticals and publish a shopping trends report later this year to help brands ready their 2021 campaigns.

Instagram Tests Stories Reaction Feature That Doesn’t Require DMing

Instagram is testing a new feature that would enable users to react to Stories on the story frame itself rather than having to react via direct message, as spotted by mobile developer Alessandro Paluzzi.

Why it matters: A direct reaction process would enable a more seamless user experience and encourage more engagement between users and brands.

The details: Currently, reacting to someone’s Stories requires sending a DM to the person, which they receive in their inbox. 

TikTok Tests A Learn Tab To Highlight How-To Videos

A new “Learn” tab has been spotted on TikTok alongside the app’s “For You” and “Following” tabs.

Why it matters: The tab being tested comes after TikTok in May rolled out a #LearnOnTikTok initiative together with 800 public figures, experts and media publishers to share creative videos that offer instructional tips on a variety of topics affecting people during the pandemic. At that same time, TikTok formed a $50 million Creative Learning Fund to help creators fund the production of learning content.

The details: Some users have seen a message appear on TikTok prompting them to explore the Learn tab, “a feed of fun and informative videos across science, art, cooking and more!”

Snapchat Enables Creators To Display Their Subscriber Count For The First Time

In response to requests from its creator community, Snapchat has introduced a feature that gives users the option to publicly display their subscriber count on their profiles, as reported by Tubefilter.

Why it matters: Snapchat’s addition of public follower count comes nine years after its launch and long after major competitors like Facebook and Instagram introduced the feature. The move is the latest in a series of influencer-focused updates from Snapchat.

The details: Snap creators can choose to toggle the follower count on and off in their settings. The feature is available to any creator or business with a public profile.

Twitch Announces Virtual GlitchCon Event For November 14th

Twitch posted a 30-second video announcing a virtual replacement for TwitchCon this year, GlitchCon, which is set for November 14.

Why it matters: Last year, TwitchCon San Diego saw some 28,000 attendees.

The details: Twitch hasn’t shared any details around timing for GlitchCon, but if it’s anything like TwitchCon, the event will feature some of the platform’s biggest streamers and interactive experiences.

Snapchat Publishes Creative Best Practices Guide For Advertisers

Snapchat has published a guide that includes tips for advertisers looking to increase engagement and drive high returns on Snapchat ads.

Why it matters: Snapchat posted the highest daily active user growth in Q3 since 2017 with an added 11 million users and a quarterly record revenue of $679 million.

The details: First up, Snap advises that advertisers choose the right ad format for their goals. Among Snap’s ads are Dynamic Ads, Single Image Ads, Video Ads, Story Ads, Collection Ads, App Install attachments and Lens AR Experiences—which can drive online sales, prompt users to download your app, build brand awareness and drive customer loyalty.

Next, Snap says it’s best to showcase products you sell front and center, or if you’re an app/game, to show the app’s user interface, features and benefits. For local businesses, Snap says it helps to spotlight key visual features of your storefront or location.

According to Snap, short (five to six seconds) ads that feature user-generated content (UGC) and/or Snapchat-inspired features get viewed in full compared to more polished ads.

Adding audio to your Snapchat ads is also key as 64 percent of Snapchat ads are viewed with noise on. The company says to consider including a spoken testimonial of your product or brand within the ad creative.

Driving urgency with relevant messaging, linking your ads properly, using goal-based bidding, broadening your targeting and using Snap’s Audience Insights are also important things to keep in mind.

Twitter Brings In $936 Million In Revenue For Q3

Twitter’s Q3 performance update shows the platform reached 187 million monetizable daily active users (mDAUs), a 29 percent increase year-over-year, and saw $936 million in revenue, up 14 percent YoY.

Why it matters: Twitter says that many brands “slowed or paused spend in reaction to US civil unrest, only to increase spend relatively quickly thereafter in an effort to catch up.” That does seem to be the case as ad revenue reached $808 million in Q3, up $106 million YoY.

The details: According to Twitter, the primary driver of increased average mDAUs was global conversation around current events and product improvements.

US revenue represented $513 million of Twitter’s total Q3 revenue while total international revenue accounted for $424 million. Japan, Twitter’s second largest market, contributed $132 million. 

Most of Twitter’s growth in the mDAU department came from abroad as it grew international mDAUs by 32 percent and US mDAUs by 20 percent.

Contributing also to Twitter’s strong Q3 was its expansion of the number of “Topics” users can follow to more than 5,100, up 25 percent quarter-over-quarter. The amount of accounts following “Topics” also surged, reaching 70 million by the end of Q3—up 40 percent QoQ.

Facebook Sees 1.82 Billion Daily Active Users In Q3

Facebook reported its Q3 results, including a strong boost in both revenue and overall active users. The platform reached 1.82 billion daily active users (DAUs), an increase of 35 million users from the previous quarter. It also brought in $21.5 billion in revenue and net income of $7.8 billion for the quarter.

Why it matters: Facebook’s latest performance update shows no signs that it was affected negatively by the #StopHateforProfit boycott that erupted in July. In fact, the company says that it expects its fourth quarter ad revenue growth rate to be higher than that of Q3, driven by strong advertiser demand during the holiday season.

The details: Facebook saw a slight decrease in DAUs and MAUs in the US and Canada from Q2 and expects the trend to continue in Q4.

Across its apps, Facebook sees 3.21 billion users per month.

Sinclair Names John Zeigler As Its First Chief Marketing Officer

This week in leadership updates, Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. appoints John Zeigler as its first CMO and McDonald’s appoints Reggie J. Miller as VP and global diversity, equity and inclusion officer.

Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. Hires John Zeigler As First Chief Marketing Officer

Sinclair has appointed John Zeigler as its first CMO, according to the Baltimore Business Journal.

In the newly created role, Zeigler will focus on marketing strategy for all of Sinclair’s affiliate television stations and 21 regional sports networks.

Zeigler joins Sinclair from the YES Network, where he served as vice president overseeing marketing. Prior to YES Network, he worked at Z Living Network, WGN America and other local stations.

McDonald’s Hires Reggie J. Miller As Vice President And Global Diversity, Equity And Inclusion Officer

McDonald’s has announced the appointment of Reggie J. Miller to VP and global diversity, equity and inclusion officer.

Miller comes from VF Corporation, where he most recently served as VP of global inclusion and diversity and implemented the company’s first-ever formal diversity and inclusion strategy.

Prior to working at VF Corporation, Miller was director of diversity strategy and support for Walmart US stores.

Emarketer: US Ecommerce Sales Will Reach $794.5 Billion This Year, Up 32.4 Percent YoY

According to eMarketer, US ecommerce sales will reach $794.5 billion this year, up 32.4 percent year-over-year—a level not previously expected until 2022 and a much higher growth rate than the 18 percent the researcher predicted in its Q2 forecast.

“While much of the shift has been led by essential categories like grocery, there has been surprising strength in discretionary categories like consumer electronics and home furnishings that benefited from pandemic-driven lifestyle needs,” said Andrew Lipsman, eMarketer principal analyst at Insider Intelligence.

In an Inmar Intelligence survey of more than 300 US consumers, 78.7 percent reported shopping online for groceries after the onset of the pandemic, up 39 percent from before the crisis.

Of those polled by Inmar, 51.4 percent reported buying groceries on Amazon since the start of COVID-19, up 32 percent from before the pandemic. Similarly, brand manufacturers saw a 117 percent surge in direct-to-consumer (DTC) grocery sales after the pandemic started, while online grocery stores saw a 48 percent increase.

Ecommerce sales will reach 14.4 percent of all US retail spending this year and 19.2 percent by 2024. When excluding categories sold almost exclusively offline, such as gas and auto sales, ecommerce penetration surges to 20.6 percent, according to eMarketer.

The researcher says that online shopping is so solid that it will more than offset the 3.2 percent decline in brick-and-mortar spending this year, which will decrease to $4.711 trillion. The result will be flat total retail sales in the US.

The surge in ecommerce will also mean a widening of shares of the top 10 ecommerce players, who will account for 63.2 percent of all online sales this year, up 57.9 percent in 2019.

According to eMarketer, Amazon’s share will increase to 39 percent this year and Walmart’s will reach 5.8 percent. In addition, Best Buy and Target—both expected to surge more than 100 percent—will see their ecommerce sales more than double, due in large part to the popularity of their curbside pick-up services. New to the list is The Kroger Co., which will displace Macy’s as the 10th biggest retailer by ecommerce sales.

Merkle: Spending On Facebook Ads Rebounded In Q3

As advertisers ready for the holiday season, Merkle’s latest digital marketing report offers some insight on how paid and organic search, paid social and display ad spend in Q3 fared in the pandemic.

The data show that Google search ad spending rose 11 recent year-over-year (YoY) in Q3, up from nine percent in Q2. Travel advertisers cut Google search spending 40 percent YoY in Q3, up from a 47 percent decline a quarter earlier. Retail search spending growth increased slightly from 11 percent YoY in Q2 to about 12 percent in Q3. For financial service companies, Google search spending dropped five percent.

Average cost per click (CPC) declines improved slightly from a 22 percent decrease in Q2 to a 10 percent decline in Q3. And as consumers started leaving their house again, Google click growth slowed from 39 percent YoY in Q2 to 24 percent in Q3.

Spending on Google Shopping ads saw a five percent increase in Q3 compared with Q2, while Google text ad spending increased nine percent compared to 10 percent in Q2.

Overall spending in retail and ecommerce categories led platform growth in Q3 YoY, with retailer sales from Google search ads up 44 percent YoY in Q3, down from an 87 percent increase in Q2.

As far as organic search, retailers and consumer goods brands saw the largest growth rates, with visits up 42 percent YoY in both Q2 and Q3. Travel organic search visits dropped 37 percent YoY in Q3, an improvement from a 50 percent decline in Q2.

Visits for non-essential goods brands were up 54 percent in Q3 while apparel brands saw an 11 percent decrease in organic search visits.

Google organic search visits on mobile increased 33 percent in Q3, down from 35 percent growth in Q2. Together, phones and tablets accounted for 64 percent of Google  organic search visits to brand sites.

Across all platforms, Merkle’s research reveals that paid social ad spend was up 19 percent YoY in Q3, up from 11 percent growth in Q2. Meanwhile, spending on traditional display ad platforms dipped three percent YoY, albeit it was an improvement from an 11 percent decrease in Q2.

Spending on Instagram ads was up 34 percent YoY, a four percent increase from Q2. Similarly, spending on Facebook ads grew 12 percent YoY in Q3, up from four percent growth in Q2.

Pinterest and Snapchat accounted for 17 percent of total social budgets among advertisers whereas Twitter accounted for 11 percent. For LinkedIn, the rate was six percent.

Click and sales growth for Amazon Sponsored Products ad slowed in Q3, but continued to outperform major digital ad products. Ad spending on Amazon Sponsored Brands was up 74 percent YoY in Q3, up from 58 percent growth in Q2. In addition, the format’s average CPC rose 16 percent YoY in Q3 after dropping 19 percent in Q2.

Chipotle Launches Sustainability Impact Tracker For Digital Orders

Chipotle has introduced a new feature on its app and website called Real Foodprint that details the brand’s supply chain practices and shows the sustainability impact of customers’ digital orders, which they can share on Twitter.

The sustainability impact tracker compares average values for each of Chipotle’s 53 ingredients to their conventional counterparts against five key metrics provided by independent research company HowGood.

Chipotle enlisted Bill Nye the Science Guy to demonstrate how the Real Foodprint feature works in his latest TikTok video where he plays both the part of a Chipotle patron and employee. Within six hours, the video amassed  237,700 likes and nearly 2,400 comments.

When placing orders on Chipotle’s app or website, the order confirmation message will display data on environmental savings based on averages for the ingredients that comprise a customer’s order. Those savings include less carbon in the atmosphere, gallons of water saved, improved soil health, organic land supported and antibiotics avoided. Customers can share their order’s tracker results on Twitter.

To determine the impact each Chipotle ingredient has on the environment and animal welfare, HowGood collects information from Chipotle’s suppliers and over 450 data sources like peer-reviewed scientific literature, industry findings and research from government and non-governmental organizations such as the United States Department of Agriculture, World Health Organization and the United States Food & Drug Administration.

According to its latest earnings report, Chipotle’s sales surged 14.1 percent from last year to a quarterly record of $1.6 billion as digital sales grew 202.5 percent and accounted for nearly half of total sales. However, its profit dropped 19 percent due in part to delivery expenses. Chipotle says its delivery fees don’t fully cover the commissions it pays to partners such as Grubhub and DoorDash.

Listen In: Creating Video At The Speed Of Politics

On today’s episode of Listen In, Matt Bretz chats with Max Orenstein, director of creative for the office of Governor Cuomo and the State of New York.

Max explores how journalism led him to serving as director of creative for the Governor as well as his four years at the Clinton Foundation. Max describes his team composition and the elements at play when creating content for an elected official, from how content is sourced to how it’s created and delivered to a national audience.

Max’s past projects include the #MaskUpAmerica campaign as well as national policy and advocacy initiatives “to share the facts,” especially around coronavirus in the past 7 months. “The most important thing we can do is help people understand how government makes a difference in their lives.” 

Brands should take note of the parallels between the world of advertising and that of creating content for elected officials, specifically changing audience behavior. “We got a lot of people to change the way they behave in the world, and very quickly,” notes Max.

About Listen In: Each week on Listen In, Bretz and a rotating cast of hosts from Ayzenberg interview experts in the field of marketing and advertising to explore uncharted territory together. The goal is to provide the audience with actionable insights, enabling them to excel in their field.

Digital Drive-Thru Menus Expected At 10,000 Chains In The US And Canada By Mid 2022

Restaurant Brands International has announced that it’s testing digital drive-thru menu boards with loyalty program and remote, contactless payment integration at more than 10,000 Burger King, Popeyes and Tim Hortons chains in the US and Canada by mid 2022.

The company says it plans to install more than 40,000 waterproof digital screens featuring predictive selling technology that allows for special offers to be tailored based on customers’ previous orders, weather patterns and the time of day. The technology can “learn preferred ordering habits” and will show the latest and trending menu items most-ordered in a customer’s location.

The 46-inch digital screens, powered by Stratacache Media Engines, are featured in 800 Tim Hortons locations in the US and Canada and 1,500 Burger King locations in the US. They’ll arrive at Popeyes chains later this year.

RBI is currently testing digital menu boards with integrated loyalty programs, enabled via scanning, bluetooth or near-field communication, at 30 Tim Hortons locations in Canada.

Immediate, remote contactless payment backed by Verifone will also be available through the digital menu boards. A Tim Hortons restaurant in Canada is home to the first prototype of this payment method, with 15 additional locations to test the functionality by January 2021.

To further increase the efficiency at its restaurants, RBI is installing, where possible, double drive-thru lanes at some locations.

RBI’s push to modernize the drive-thru experience comes as over 100,000 bars and restaurants have permanently closed due to the pandemic and many intact restaurants are slow to offer socially-distanced outdoor dining services.

According to research from The NPD Group, drive-thru restaurant visits surged by 26 percent in Q2. Even as more restaurants reopened in July, drive-thru visits increased by 13 percent.

Rapid digital transformation has enabled brands to adapt to the crisis and will be a strategic necessity to thrive during the process of an economic recovery. But with automation comes large amounts of data and therefore, risk, especially with the enactment of data privacy regulations such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). Remaining agile in the new normal will require brands to invest in automation tools that not only enhance consumer experiences but also protect their privacy.

Ayzenberg Partners With LA Promise Fund To Host Virtual Career Day For High School Students

As Ayzenberg continues its efforts to foster black and Latino leaders in design and advertising, the agency partnered with LA Promise Fund (LAPF)—a nonprofit organization in Los Angeles that helps prepare local students for college, career and life—on a virtual career day to give more than 75 students from Santee Education Complex a glimpse into the careers of Ayzenberg employees and show them how to apply the skills they’re learning to real-world career options.

At Santee, a public high school located in South Los Angeles, the students are mostly first-generation Americans, low-income and of black and Latinx descent.

To educate students who otherwise wouldn’t know about or become exposed to careers in advertising, Santee’s students heard from Ayzenberg junior designer Jessica Mendez, senior art director Anna Andreen and associate project manager Caroline Johnson on their She Can Stem campaign.

Presenting on their campaign for Elder Scrolls Online were Ayzenberg associate creative director Markus Walker, technical lead Jordan Balagot, account supervisor Max Ornstein and associate director of strategy Nevada Carney.

While the gender gap has made progress within the marketing and advertising industry, the same can’t be said when it comes to racial diversity. In 2018, the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) surveyed its 13,700 members, eight percent of which identified as Hispanic/Latino and six percent as African American/black. For leadership positions, the gap widens, with just 12 percent of ANA chief marketing executives identifying as African American/black and four percent as Hispanic/Latino.

LAPF’s Career Day is part of the nonprofit’s Career Pathway Connections program, a state-funded initiative that gives under-resourced public high school students across Los Angeles access to various career-related workshops.

Ayzenberg will continue to find ways to partner with LAPF on additional career days to help students discover the pool of opportunities available to them in design and advertising.