Listen In: Home For The Holidays

Just like with the habits of yesterday, it’s time to throw out the formulas.

Ayzenberg CCO Gary Goodman chats with host Matt Bretz about changing norms and just plain old changes—something we have all experienced with a heightened frequency this past year. During the episode, we look to brands that are reformulating their public personae for one example of this.

Goodman also discusses how COVID has given us tools we’ll be using well beyond the pandemic and how it’s innovating how content creators are discovered. Lastly, we pick apart some select creative output that Gary finds particularly moving.

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.

Media Assurance & Transparency Still A Global Issue With Rizwan Merchant

On this 239th episode of “Marketing Today,” I speak with Rizwan Merchant, CEO at Media Merchant. Merchant is the first guest from Pakistan and brings over a decade of experience in the Pakistani Media Industry. Today, we talk about the 2016 ANA Transparency Report and how these issues are still present today, four years on.

We start our conversation with the exploding media industry in Pakistan, which has gone from less than $100M in advertising expenses to over $550M in just ten years. With that massive growth has come a plethora of problems, not only in Pakistan but also for marketers worldwide. Merchant has seen “exactly what goes on behind the doors.” Merchant then takes us through the ANA Transparency Report that came out in 2016, which identified a myriad of problems and fraudulent practices among the agencies that bridge the gap between the media houses and advertisers. The advertisers have forgotten that “agencies are there in the business to make money as well,” so their intentions may have nothing to do with the benefit of their client. Advertisers are still losing boatloads of money because of their inability to structure contracts for themselves. Merchant says, “the easiest way to plug that financial outlet is to start paying the media directly instead of going through the agencies.”

Merchant suggested that the best way to battle this problem is for clients “to upgrade their knowledge when it comes to the media supply chain.” Another problem now is that “many agencies have started to own the media that they are pushing to advertisers.” It seems if there is money to be made, agencies will find a way. The onus is on marketers to be smarter and more vigilant.

Highlights from this week’s “Marketing Today”:

  • Rizwan currently lives in Pakistan, part of Southeast Asia, and is a growing market with a booming media industry. 1:45
  • The Pakistani media industry has grown from less than $100M in advertising expenses to $550M in the last ten years. 2:30
  • An accountant by education, Rizwan joined Mediacom on the finance side when he returned to Pakistan in 2004. 3:35
  • In 2015, Rizwan started his media audit agency, Media Merchant. 5:10
  • The ANA Transparency Report identified problems with the rebates received by the agencies based on advertiser money. 6:00
  • Principal transactions came up in the ANA Transparency report, showing that agencies were buying inventory through holding companies. 6:50
  • Agencies were found to be selling free inventory they received from the media houses to their marketing clients. 7:15
  • Advertisers were found to be trusting agencies blindly, a failure on the part of the advertisers. 7:47
  • Rizwan identified multiple problems that didn’t come out in the ANA report. 8:15
  • Media Buying Houses came into existence by providing the agencies with multiple suggestions that acted as a financial bomb. 9:20
  • The agencies exploited the lack of connection between the advertising clients and the media outlets. 11:50
  • While there are specific rules and regulations in different countries, this is still a problem all over the world. 12:24
  • With media outlets being drained of their finances, their ability to create content is greatly affected. 14:30
  • The relationship between the media and advertising industries the opposite of what it should be right now. 16:00
  • As a result of the ANA report, guidelines were created to guide the creation of the contracts. 17:34
  • The main problems are found in the governance of the agencies within the creation of the contracts. 19:24
  • The creation and execution of one’s own media plan make it hard to do their own homework. 23:28
  • Marketers and financing departments should act as the custodians in the creation of contracts. 24:05
  • The best thing that marketers can do is stay up to date on policies and control the abundance of fraud amongst agencies. 26:20
  • Agencies are in this to make money, and because of that, Rizwan does not blame them for the problem. 29:41
  • The Big 4 financial institutions do not know the media industry and therefore are less effective when it comes to auditing services. 32:10
  • A desire to challenge himself has shaped Rizwan as a person as he has taken on many different positions throughout his life. 34:20
  • Patience is a virtue that Rizwan wishes he had learned earlier in his life. 36:16
  • Fragmentation in the Pakistani social-economic classes inspired Rizwan to start a soccer league for over 10,000 kids to earn money and skills. 38:15
  • Digital marketers have the opportunity to connect directly with consumers in a way that has never existed before. 40:26
  • A lack of knowledge threatens marketers as agencies are the ones that provide them with information. 41:50

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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.

Focus Brands Names New Marketing Leadership Roles

This week in leadership updates, Focus Brands names new marketing leadership, Lego hires Colette Burke as EVP and CCO and Mercato taps Jean-Michel Boujon as CMO.

Focus Brands Appoints New Marketing Leadership

Focus Brands, parent company of Cinnabon, Auntie Anne’s, Carvel, Jamba, Moe’s Southwest Grill, McAlister’s Deli and Schlotzsky’s, has named new brand management and brand marketing roles.

Kendall Ware was appointed chief brand officer for Carvel and Cinnabon. Alisa Gmelich will assume the role of chief brand officer for Auntie Anne’s, and Cynthia Liu is now vice president of marketing for Auntie Anne’s. Lastly, Danielle Porto Parra has been named VP of marketing for McAlister’s Deli.

Lego Appoints Colette Burke To Executive Vice President And Chief Commercial Officer  

According to Toy News, the Lego Group has named Colette Burke EVP and CCO.

Prior to Lego, Burke spent nearly a decade at Bose Corporation, most recently as vice president, global consumer sales.

Mercato Taps Jean-Michel Boujon As Chief Marketing Officer

Mercato has brought on Jean-Michel Boujon as CMO.

Boujon joined Mercato from Getaround, where he served as VP of growth for over four years.

TikTok Debuts New Small Business Resource Center

This week in social media news, TikTok launches a new small business resource center, Telegram is looking for ways to monetize the app, Google Shopping rolls out augmented reality beauty try-on ads, TikTok and Walmart a host shoppable livestream event for the holidays, Twitter shares how public feedback shaped its new verification policy launching in 2021 and more.

TikTok Launches New Small Business Resource Center

TikTok has created a new Small Business Resource Center where marketers can access case studies, global insights and expert-led webinars on how to grow their audience.

Why it matters: Even during a pandemic, the number of new small businesses has surged. Applications for the employer identification numbers that entrepreneurs need to launch a business exceeded 3.2 million this year, compared with 2.7 million at the same time in 2019, according to the US Census Bureau. In addition, the hashtag #smallbusiness on TikTok has nearly 14 billion views.

The details: One of the case studies TikTok highlights involves personalized jewelry brand Slate & Tell, which utilized in-feed ads that reached 4 million people with 1,000 single session add-to-carts—enabling the brand to see twice the return on ad spend.

Also on the digital hub, marketers can access free resources on how to create TikTok-ready ads, view popular ads from around the world and learn how to run successful TikTok campaigns via webinars.

Telegram Explores Ways To Monetize The App

As it approaches 500 million users, instant messaging app Telegram is looking for ways to monetize its service, TechCrunch reports.

Why it matters: According to TechCrunch, Telegram garnered 400 million monthly active users at the end of April, up from 300 million.

The details: Telegram founder Pavel Durov said he’s looking to launch Telegram’s own ad platform for public one-to-many channels, a move that would give the channel owners free traffic in proportion to their size. Another avenue he’s exploring is premium stickers with additional expressive features.

Google Debuts Augmented Reality Beauty Try-On Ads

Google is debuting a new AR ad within Google Shopping listings that lets people virtually try on a range of makeup products from brands including L’Oreal, MAC Cosmetics, Black Opal and Charlotte Tilbury.

Why it matters: YouTube launched a beauty try-on ad format in June, which lets viewers virtually try on beauty products seen in creators’ makeup tutorials using their phone camera.

Now that non-essential stores are limited to 25 percent of the maximum occupancy allowed, shoppers seeking an in-store experience will be more inclined to make online makeup purchases through Google listings’ new AR try-on ads.

The details: Google’s new AR beauty ads, developed with ModiFace and Perfect Corp, will also let users virtually try on makeup products within the Google app. Additionally, users can access product recommendations from beauty, apparel and home experts via Google Shopping or the Discover feed in the Google app.

TikTok, Walmart Partner On New Shoppable Livestream Experience

According to TechCrunch, TikTok and Walmart hosted a shoppable livestream experience on TikTok where viewers could buy apparel from Walmart.

Why it matters: The partnership comes just months after Walmart expressed interest in investing in TikTok when the Trump administration mandated the app to sell its US operations to an American company.

The details: As reported by TechCrunch, TikTok users were able to purchase Walmart fashion items—featured in video content from 10 TikTok creators—within the TikTok app during a “Holiday Shop-Along Spectacular” event on Walmart’s TikTok profile on December 18.

Those who tuned in could purchase items in two ways—via clickable pins that appeared during the video and directed them to a mobile checkout, or via clickable pins they could browse at the end of the event.

Twitter Announces Updates To New Verification Policy Launching In 2021

After asking the public for feedback on how to improve its verification policy, Twitter is sharing how the 22,000 responses it received shaped its new policy, which is set to launch on January 20, 2021.

Why it matters: Twitter’s verification program has been on pause for the past three years due to users complaints that the process was “arbitrary and confusing.”

The details: In response to the feedback it received, Twitter updated its definition of a “complete” profile to no longer require a profile photo or header image, updated its references to Wikipedia and clarified the titles of the “News” category to include “News and Journalists” and the “Sports” category to include “Sports and esports.”

Twitter also updated its follower count requirement to be on a per-region basis to make it “less susceptible to spam and more equitable across geographies.” It says it’s also exploring dedicated categories for verification, such as academics, scientists and religious leaders.

In 2021, Twitter will relaunch public applications for verification through a new self-serve process that will be available in the account settings page on the Twitter app and desktop version. The platform says it will use automated and human review processes to review submissions.

Snapchat Teams With Google On Augmented Reality-Powered ‘Year In Search’ Trends Experience

Google launched a new Snapchat Lens that takes users on an AR-powered immersive journey through its “Year in Search” trends overview, reports Social Media Today.

Why it matters: As per Snapchat, this marks the first time that Google’s trends recap has been brought to life in AR.

The details: The Google Lens on Snapchat displays a series of images highlighting events from 2020 that users can tap on to view more information. According to Social Media Today, Google says it will also run the “Year in Search” video as ads on Snapchat.

What We’re Reading—Week Of December 21st

Dear Fashion Brands: Why Aren’t You On TikTok?


With over 800 million active users and clear youth appeal, TikTok has seen a number of verticals flock to the app. Yet with a few exceptions, fashion brands have yet to embrace the app.

Why it matters: Even the fashion brands that have gotten involved in TikTok, like Gucci and J.W. Anderson, did so coincidentally after user-generated styling challenges went viral. For other fashion brands looking to test the TikTok waters, creating content with a popular TikTok creator may be the best entry point.

What 2020 Taught Impossible Foods’ Rachel Konrad: ‘Normal’ Is Now

The Drum

Rachel Konrad, chief communications officer at Impossible Foods, says that by March 6, the brand had formed a task force and started planning strict safety protocols at its plant, lab and test kitchen. In addition, the brand improved fertility assistance benefits for all employees, made recruiting more inclusive and hosted anti-racism seminars, while its employee resource groups founded a mentorship program,

Why it matters: In March, the brand’s flagship product, the Impossible Burger, was carried in fewer than 150 grocery stores. Within six months, the product was in more than 15,000 stores. According to data from retailers, at least 75 percent of people who try Impossible become repeat customers.

The State Of OOH Advertising In 2021


As the world opens back up and more programmatic advertising solutions emerge, out-of-home advertising will see a sharp rebound.

Why it matters: A mass exodus out of large metropolitan cities presents a new, untapped opportunity for brand marketers who have consistently targeted such cities like Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco.

How Fashion Got Marketing Right In 2020

Vogue Business

A strong connection with customers built through incentives to shop with brands over long periods of time—as opposed to a specific moment—has become essential for survival.

Why it matters: With a neutral stance not an option this year, many fashion and beauty brands pledged to match their representation of black business owners to the black population of the US, while others acknowledged the opportunity that virtual fashion shows and gaming, respectively, represent.

Disruption, Not Regulation, Should Be Tech Companies’ Top Concern

Harvard Business Review

Research by Bain & Co conducted last year of more than 1,300 companies’ performance from 1996 to 2018 shows that tech companies are 12 percent more likely to be disrupted than companies in retail and 25 percent more likely than those in financial services.

Why it matters: The two forces driving tech companies’ ability to create value are: their ability to create a dominant platform, or their ability to reposition their core business or extend into new areas.

The Game Awards Sees More Than 83 Million Livestreams Globally

The Game Awards’ 2020 show hit a new global record, with more than 83 million livestreams, an 84 percent increase from last year’s 45.2 million livestreams.

The Awards aired across more than 40 digital video networks, including Twitch, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook Live, GameSpot, IGN, TikTok Live and Steam. Worldwide, the program aired on more than a dozen networks in China, six networks in India and some in Japan, Russia, South East Asia, South Korea and Brazil.

Fans were able to engage with the Awards through six Instagram augmented reality experiences around Game of the Year nominees, which they could share across Stories and Reels. Giving fans more ways to interact was the Game Festival, a digital consumer event that showcased over a dozen new gameplay demos to fans, distributed via Steam on PC, Xbox console and Nvidia’s GeForce Now.

In addition, 9,000 creators co-streamed the show on Twitch, where live viewership reached over 2.63 million viewers, more than double last year.

On YouTube, live viewership more than doubled, with the official livestream seeing an 84 percent year-over-year increase in peak concurrent viewers.

Conversations about the program were up 31 percent on Twitter YoY, while unique authors were up 65 percent—making it the most-talked about Game Awards to date. The show also trended number one worldwide on Twitter, with 12 of the 29 worldwide trends being about the show. Additionally, a Branded Like helped the show see usage of #TheGameAwards surge 107 percent YoY.

According to Stream Hatchet, live hours watched grew over 129 percent across Twitch, YouTube and Facebook Gaming.

Fans not only tuned in—they also made their voices heard when it came to voting. The show saw 18.3 million authenticated votes across the Game Awards’ website and on Bilibili in China for a 20 percent increase YoY in total fan votes.

All this to say that the video game industry is thriving as the pandemic persists. According to the NPD Group, consumers spent $11.2 billion on video games in Q3, a 24 percent increase YoY. During that same period, video game sales reached $10.04 billion, with significant gains observed in mobile and subscription spending, full-game downloads for consoles and portables and video game accessories.

NerdWallet CMO Kelly Gillease On COVID-19 Lessons And 2021 Marketing Trends

As personal finance remains a critical topic of discussion amid the third wave of COVID, we spoke with Kelly Gillease, chief marketing officer at NerdWallet, to understand where the brand stands since she spoke on “Marketing Today” back in May.

Ahead, Gillease shares the lessons she gleaned from the pandemic, including how vignette-style ads were a coincidental saving grace for the company, and her 2021 trend predictions on marketing budgets, out-of-home advertising and first-party data. And perhaps most importantly, the strategy she thinks marketers underutilized most this year. 

Tell us about how and why NerdWallet embraced vignette-style ads during the pandemic?

Our key 2020 brand campaign was called Money Questions, a vignette-style ad that was not necessarily intentional. We weren’t really building it because we thought, oh, this will be really flexible to change later. I just like how it evolved because as everyone’s money questions changed a ton, we could easily change the ad. So while some of the questions in the vignette were still very relevant, some of them weren’t relevant anymore. For example, there’s someone in a restaurant thinking about what credit card points are right for eating in a restaurant with their friends. Not so relevant anymore. A lot of people were thinking about refinancing their house or getting into investing. And so we could add in vignettes for those things because we actually shot a lot of footage that we didn’t use. So it was relatively easy to edit. 

What we realized from this exercise around COVID is that vignette-style ads are really flexible for certain environments. As we went into planning for the new year, we wanted to film a spot for Q1 2021, so we shot hours of footage of people talking about different personal finance topics so that we would have the flexibility to recut or choose a different ad over the course of 2021. So that if suddenly travel comes back and everyone’s traveling, we’re prepared for that because we have footage for it, and we can update our vignette-style ad. But we’re not going out the door with that because that’s not where we are right now culturally. So I think for us, the vignette style ads really helped us to realize that we value flexibility and the better performance that comes with being more relevant in the moment.

Is there anything else NerdWallet has embraced since the pandemic, and if so, what have you and your team learned as a result?

It’s really vital for us to be nimble and responsive to what’s going on outside of NerdWallet, so a key learning that I took away from the experiences of the past year is that if there’s a really dramatic cultural event that happens, I’d like to be able to act on it really quickly as an opportunity. To that end, I’m thinking about how to have a view of future events and where it would make sense for NerdWallet to jump into a cultural conversation and what would we want to say, so that we’re not spending time working through that in the moment. Knowing if we don’t have a place in that conversation or if we have a very strong place in that conversation, and here’s what we want to say about it. But now let’s go execute on doing that and then do that as quickly as possible. In some of the things that have happened over the past year, it took us a while to figure out what being responsive meant for us. We can cut down on that time.

Is there one process or strategy that NerdWallet successfully adopted during the pandemic that it will continue to utilize in the new year?

The accidental vignette-style ad approach. We really have embraced shooting ads this way moving forward so that we can be really flexible and we can recut them and pivot in other directions quickly. Larger companies, particularly big P&G type companies that are selling a lot of consumer goods, can shoot a lot of ads quickly. We’re a mid-sized startup, so we don’t have the luxury of being able to reshoot an ad all the time. For NerdWallet, having a flexible style to adapt quickly and change mid-campaign or for a new campaign is really valuable and it gives us a lot of message optioning. We’re trying to have good check-ins ahead of all of our deadlines for campaigns to decide, are we going to move forward or are we not going to move forward? 

NerdWallet upped spending in Q2. Has the company’s budget increased, decreased, or remained the same since then?

In Q2, we upped our budget because we exceeded our Q1 benchmarks. Our CEO and my boss, Tim Chen, was like, ‘“Hey, what more can you do? This seems to be a great lever for our business.” In Q2, we committed to doing a bigger budget, then COVID hit and took some wind out of our sales. But we found that we still wanted to spend a little bit more than we’d spent in Q1 and maybe not as aggressively as we could. Knowing that many Americans’ financial concerns changed a lot with COVID, we made some adjustments to that campaign to reflect the more relevant questions. But with so many people looking for financial guidance and searches for financial help at an all-time high, we felt it was important that people knew we could be a resource for them in both good times and bad times.

So we made a decision, unlike many brand advertisers, that we didn’t want to totally turn off or substantially decrease our brand effort, but channel it in a different way. So for 2021, our brand budget is larger in part because we scaled something back in light of COVID and we’re coming back with a lot of those things. But we do plan to do more brand spending because we’re seeing a lot of opportunity there and a lot of business results from those investments. As long as we’re seeing that they’re really paying off in moving our business and brand forward, we’re going to keep investing in them.

What’s been working at NerdWallet in terms of pandemic messaging?

One thing we didn’t talk about that’s not the [vignette-style] ads is our vision is to answer all consumers’ money questions. With so many people looking for financial guidance, we felt it was really important that people knew we could be a resource for them. At the start of the pandemic, we made adjustments to the ads, but we also changed our content strategy to reflect these current needs. We offered new resources that were tailored to specific concerns people were having. So we launched a guide to COVID-19 that’s been updated daily since the start of the outbreak to reflect new developments. It did stuff like analyze the CARES Act and provide answers to all of the front burner questions people now had, like when am I going to get my stimulus check? 

Then we updated our content marketing strategy to highlight the topics that are most impactful versus doing what we originally planned. We had a whole slate of content marketing on our calendar, but we basically threw it away and we were like, all right, what does everybody really care about right now? And as a result of that, we had some of the highest engagement rates we’ve ever seen across social, email and all those places where content marketing is really important. Taking a step back and redoing that plan was really smart of our teams to do. It ended up being much more impactful.

Looking ahead, what processes should marketers implement to ensure greater flexibility amid disruption?

Expecting unexpectedness is something to think about in 2021. Being ready to capitalize on opportunities or pivot when they arise is important to build into the process too. And some risk-taking.  

The other thing is that in this kind of environment, part of it is process and part of it is perspective. Marketing can feel very tricky because the short-term payback might be down or it might be harder to see. But the long-term payback is probably like showing up at a time that’s difficult for people because being really helpful builds a lot of trust in your brand. We decided at NerdWallet that if we can get a long term payback around the marketing we’re doing now in two years, then it’s worth doing. If we think that our business is going to be fully recovered and that people are going to be back to doing what they were doing a couple of years from now, then it’s probably worth us not stopping everything in the short term and grinding to a halt, but continuing to plow on through. We’re fortunate that we’re in a good position as a profitable startup and that we don’t have to be that extreme in some of our cost-cutting.

How do you see marketing budgets changing in the new year?

It’ll be interesting to see if engaging people in person, like at Coachella or through airport billboards, will come back in 2021 or maybe the second half of the year. And whether trends like consumption of streaming media, which was up about 80 percent at one point, will persist as people get back to being out in real life again.

There’s been a lot of change in travel, rewards-based credit cards and travel adjacent marketing. On the flip side, there’s a lot of increased interest in things that aren’t related to travel, like cashback cards or getting free food delivery and having DoorDash pass or things like that. And we can all expect to see a lot of marketing related to pharmaceuticals and the vaccine. So I think that there are ebbs and flows into different areas and whether or not those areas will persist and really be a new consumer behavior or not, is the open question for me. Marketing budgets need to be able to ebb and flow into that as well.

I anticipate 2021 is going to be a different situation for a lot of the year, so continuing to think about how to either take advantage of behaviors that are coming back or new behaviors that are going to be persistent, will be important.

With people stuck at home for most of the year and a third wave of COVID-19 upon us, how does NerdWallet view out-of-home (OOH)?

We’ve run OOH advertising in the past, and it’s something we really pulled back on given the change in commutes. As offices reopen and commuting returns, OOH is going to come back. What I think about right now is that if we want OOH as part of our mix here at NerdWallet, is this a great time for us to jump on potentially cheaper inventory and lock things up for later in 2021 when other people are hesitant? To me, it’s a ‘when,’ not an ‘if.’

There has been a change to work life, but I don’t think it’s large enough that people are going to be coming back to offices in large numbers where OOH would be worth it. When they ride public transportation and are out and about a lot like before, how do we want to show for that?

How can advertisers acknowledge the pandemic in the new year without stirring fatigue?

Advertisers are probably going to look to give a nod to the new normal without necessarily speaking about COVID directly. You don’t want to be tone-deaf or pretend like nothing’s ever happened on the one hand. But on the other hand, nobody wants to hear anything else about COVID. For our ads, we’re thinking about how things are different in terms of behavior without having to dredge up the whole situation we’ve all been through.

What’s one tactic or thought process you think marketers have been underutilizing in the pandemic that will be critical in the new year?

I love this question because I got really excited about my answer to it, which is positivity and optimism. I think we’re all over 2020. It was a really tough year even for people maybe not as financially impacted and for people who didn’t lose their jobs or have a lot of struggles. No one wants to hear the word “unprecedented” ever again. We’re just over it. We’re ready to take things back and reclaim the things we love. As the new year commences and our return to normalcy happens slowly over the course of this year, having positivity and optimism about our futures, taking good things we learned from the tough times with us and saying, you know what? I learned this about myself. I learned this about consumers, or it was really good that I figured this out about my friends, my family, my job or whatever. That will be really important.

So I’m thinking about how we go into this year with those feelings of optimism and the right spirit around our futures. For other marketers, optimism is a very powerful tool versus dwelling on the past or going back to business as usual. So it’s about how you encompass that feeling.

Any thoughts on first-party data needs and challenges in 2021?

I actually think about this a lot. Given the future of third-party cookies being uncertain, I think it’s a really critical time for businesses and especially people who work in marketing those businesses to have a proactive first-party data strategy. If it wasn’t a big priority for you, you got to really start thinking about it. For us at NerdWallet, first-party data really helps us to help consumers make informed decisions about how to improve their finances and personalize things because personal finance is really personal. So the more we can do that, the better off we are.

There are legit sensitivities around personal data and we always want to be very careful about it, not only about what’s legally right, which is of course, the minimum standard we all need to comply with. But what’s ethically right for us as a business. 

We actually have privacy governance around that internally. It’s a big area for companies to be thinking about. If you put it off, 2021 is a year where you need to start getting serious about making plans to increase your first-party information because 2022 is going to be on you before you know it. And you’re not going to be able to rely on third-party cookies anymore, potentially.

Reddit Partners With Oracle Data Cloud’s Moat For Ad Views Third-Party Verification

This week in social media news, Reddit announces third-party certification for ad views with Oracle Data Cloud’s Moat, Instagram adds new audio features to Reels, Facebook rolls out holiday-themed augmented reality effects on Messenger Desktop, Facebook Gaming debuts new monetization features for livestream chats, TikTok updates its community guidelines, YouTube publishes a 2020 digital trends recap and more.

Reddit Announces Integration With Oracle Data Cloud’s Moat

Reddit is partnering with Oracle Data Cloud’s Moat to provide third-party certification on Reddit ad views, marking the platform’s first viewability measurement collaboration.

Why it matters: The announcement comes after Reddit, which has 52 million daily active users, debuted stricter brand safety controls this year, including a Limited Inventory tier.

The details: As Reddit notes, the latest integration with Moat aims to produce more in-depth campaign performance metrics to help advertisers maximize awareness and reach. Advertisers who already have a relationship with Moat can access their Reddit data through their own Moat dashboard. Reddit will provide a Moat report to those who don’t have an existing relationship.

The server-to-server integration, which is currently in the Alpha phase and open to a limited number of partners, has already delivered promising results. Reddit says that across campaigns, its native in-feed ads outperformed Moat’s in-view rate benchmark by up to 17 percent.

The integration will be more broadly available in early 2021.

Instagram Introduces New Audio Tools To Reels

Instagram is testing a variety of new features for Reels and Stories, including TikTok-like audio and camera options, reports Social Media Today.

Why it matters: The addition of new audio features, Audio Mix and Voice-over, brings Reels one step closer to competing against TikTok, where music-powered videos were popularized.

The details: Audio Mix and Voice-over, two features spotted by social media expert Matt Navarra, enable users to add either a music clip or voice clip to their Reels. Navarra also found that Instagram has added a ‘Reels’ watermark to the top left of clips—another feature copied from TikTok.

Additionally, Social Media Today reports that Lindsey Gamble has discovered a new ‘Edit Clips’ option in Reels, which gives users greater control over editing clips.

As for Instagram Stories, Amrit Kumar has spotted a new ‘Camera Booth’ feature that lets users snap several photos in sequence.

Facebook Adds New Augmented Reality Effects, Filters To Messenger Desktop

After launching the Messenger Desktop app in April, Facebook is rolling out new holiday-themed AR effects, filters and immersive 360-degree backgrounds for people to use during group video calls on Messenger and Messenger Rooms. 

Why it matters: The updated backgrounds arrived just in time for virtual company holiday parties on Messenger Rooms. Facebook launched the Zoom competitor during lockdowns when video calling on Messenger and WhatsApp more than doubled.

The details: Users can choose from a variety of AR effects including a winter village, festive lights, a grumpy yeti, a Christmas elf, gold new year and snow day. New holiday stickers for Messenger Desktop include a Hanukkah with dreidel stickers, Christmas stickers and “Bye 2020” New Year’s Eve stickers.

Facebook Gaming Debuts Two New Livestream Chat Monetization Features 

As Facebook Gaming steadily grows, the company announced that it’s testing two new monetization features in gaming livestream chats and a discounted Stars activation that lets fans buy Stars at a reduced price.

Why it matters: Over the past year, Facebook says gaming creators have received more than 5 billion Stars, the equivalent of $50 million. In addition, it has more than 2,000 creators making more than $1,000 per month from Stars, fan subscriptions and ads.

The details: The first new monetization feature Facebook Gaming is rolling out for livestream chats will include larger Stars, which will receive a more highlighted comment lit up in a bright pink and purple gradient.

The second is a new Stars ticker that automatically pins large Stars comments to the bottom of the chat window for a period of time. 

The two new features are currently being tested and will roll out to more users soon.

In addition, Facebook Gaming’s holiday Stars activation, running from December 15 to January 1, will enable fans to purchase Stars at a reduced price, receive a unique badge for sending one and send a limited time “Hand Raise” virtual gift.

TikTok Updates Its Community Guidelines To Support Users’ Mental Health

TikTok has updated its Community Guidelines to reflect the mental health needs of its users, as well as to provide clarification on the types of content that are unwelcome on the app. In addition, it’s launching opt-in viewing screens atop videos that some may find graphic or disturbing.

Why it matters: TikTok has always been explicit about the importance of its users’ mental health, providing guidance and public health information from experts on topics ranging from the pandemic to bullying. In October for World Mental Health Day, it debuted a network of self-care ambassadors, popular TikTok creators who published advice-driven content around mental health and well-being.

The details: TikTok’s new guidelines incorporate feedback and language used by mental health experts with the goal of preventing content that displays or makes mention of self-injury behaviors and eating disorders.

The platform also strengthened its policies on bullying and harassments, making more explicit what types of content are prohibited, including doxxing and cyberstalking. In addition, it has bolstered its policy against sexual harassment.

TikTok has added a harmful activities section to its minor safety policy to reiterate videos that promote dangerous dares and games.

Lastly, TikTok says its guidelines around dangerous individuals and organizations now describe in greater detail what’s considered a threat or incitement to violence.

YouTube Publishes 2020 Digital Culture And Trends Report

In a video recap, YouTube’s head of culture and trends Kevin Allocca has shared the biggest 2020 digital trends. Based on its global team’s ongoing data analysis and a new survey it conducted with Ipsos, the findings reinforce that gaming, livestreaming and DIY content had a strong year.

Why it matters: Lockdown-induced behavior gave YouTube a huge boost this year. In Q3, its ad revenue grew to $5 billion, from $3.8 billion in Q3 2019, and it reported a total of 30 million music/premium paid subscribers and 3 million YouTube TV subscribers.

The details: According to the full findings, YouTube’s total daily livestreams grew 45 percent in the first half of 2020. Over half (58 percent) of livestream viewers report that watching livestreams helps them feel connected to something bigger than themselves, specifically noting how fun the live comment feed is. In addition, 56 percent of people agree that watching livestreams can be just as good as being at an event in person.  

People flocked to YouTube for DIY content even more this year. In fact, 82 percent said they used YouTube during 2020 to learn to do something themselves. And videos with variations of “beginner” in the title garnered over 9 billion views globally this year.

Creators took advantage of lockdowns to start their own channel or grow their current audience. New channels trying to build an audience on YouTube were up 95 percent. YouTube and Ipsos’ survey shows that 58 percent of people are open to watching digital content made by creators of any age, and 47 percent are open to watching content from fictional or virtual characters or creators.

Gaming in general also saw explosive growth this year, with 73 percent of people reporting they watched gaming on online video platforms this year.

LinkedIn Launches New Product Pages

LinkedIn has announced a new “Products” tab, which will allow company pages to showcase product endorsements and testimonials by users. 

Why it matters: LinkedIn says its goal with Product Pages is “to build the world’s premier marketplace.” Currently, LinkedIn has more than 10,000 Product Pages across the business-to-business (B2B) software category.

The details: The new Product Pages lets marketers and social media managers highlight products, gather ratings from current users and generate leads with a custom call-to-action button via videos or product screenshots, descriptions and more. The feature also lets you specify the job roles that best fit your product’s purpose.

In its FAQ, LinkedIn says the Product Pages are reserved for tangible product offerings to the market.

Twitter Doubles Down On Third-Party Brand Safety Measurement Solutions

In an effort to elevate its third-party brand safety solutions, Twitter has announced a partnership with DoubleVerify (DV) and Integral Ad Science (IAS) to provide independent reporting on the context of Twitter ads.

Why it matters: Early research from Twitter’s data science teams show that on the platform, adjacency between ads and divisive content hasn’t yet been found to affect brand favorability.

The details: In addition to announcing its partnership with DV and IAS, Twitter has shared more details around its commitment to undergo accreditation across the Media Ratings Council’s four pillars, including viewability, audience measurement, sophisticated invalid traffic filtration and brand safety. Twitter says it has already begun the proposal process for brand safety accreditation.

Twitter Announces Tweet Integration With Snapchat Stories

Twitter announced that iOS users can now share tweets directly to their Snapchat Stories, and will soon test the integration for Instagram Stories.

Why it matters: Given people share tweets everywhere across social media, the integration will help drive more users from Snapchat and Instagram to Twitter at a time when Twitter’s growth has slowed due to the pandemic. In Q3, it reported a net gain of only 1 million daily active users—its slowest growth in at least three years.

The details: To share a tweet in Snapchat, users can tap the “share” icon on a tweet then select the Snapchat icon at the bottom of the share menu. This will create a sticker of the tweet, which, once shared, will link back to the tweet on Twitter where you can view the whole conversation.

Twitter says that soon it will test sharing a tweet as a sticker on Instagram Stories for iOS.

LinkedIn Tests Ads In LinkedIn Stories

After rolling out LinkedIn Stories globally in September, LinkedIn is testing ads within Stories in a closed beta.

Why it matters: LinkedIn says that to date, more than 600 advertisers have run campaigns on the platform with “positive performance in clicks, views and cost metrics.”

The details: Marketers will be able to run full-screen video and single-image ads in vertical and square formats using LinkedIn’s range of targeting tools. The ads will be served to users in between members’ Stories and LinkedIn Page Stories atop the mobile app.

Snapchat Shares Insight Into Users’ Holiday Shopping Trends

Snapchat recently shared findings that highlight what holiday shopping for its global Gen Z user base will look like this year.

Why it matters: The pandemic has already caused Snapchatters to shift their buying habits as one-third of them globally report that they’re making more purchases on their phones than they previously had.

The details: For 52 percent of Snapchat users, buying gifts is a big part of the holidays. Nearly half of US and UK Snapchatters also buy presents for their friends during the holidays. Just a little over half of users in the UK and US say that their friends rely on their recommendations when deciding what to buy and use. Additionally, Snapchatters’ favorite large retailers to buy from include Nike, Amazon, Adidas and Zara.

Pinterest Publishes Its 2021 Predictions Report

Pinterest has published its “Pinterest Predicts” report, which features over 150 trends the platform anticipates will rise in 2021.

Why it matters: Pinterest says that 80 percent of its 2020 trend projections came true, including the rise of global influencers, outdoor-inspired searches, thrifted home decor, at-home music rooms and 2000s fashion.

The details: According to Pinterest, next year the major trends in travel will include car date nights, RV accessories and luxury vacations. Wellbeing trends will include protection crystals, manifestation techniques and bath tea recipes, while food and beverage trends will include tomatillo enchilada sauce, breakfast charcuterie boards and bread art. Home trends will include neon rooms, minimalist bathroom design and copper cookware, fashion trends will include oversized outfits, quilted clothes and jean painting ideas and lastly, beauty trends will include face yoga exercises, indie nails and knotless box braids.

Twitter Taps Beverly Jackson As Vice President, Global Brand And Consumer Marketing

This week in leadership updates, Twitter appoints Beverly Jackson to VP of global brand and consumer marketing, Swisher elevates John Haley to chief growth officer, RingCentral promotes Matthew Bishop to chief digital officer, Marriott Vacations Worldwide names Lori Gustafson executive vice president, chief brand and digital strategy officer and more.

Twitter Names Beverly Jackson Vice President, Global Brand And Consumer Marketing

Twitter has appointed Beverly Jackson as VP of global brand and consumer marketing.

Jackson is joining from Activision Blizzard, where she served as VP of franchise communication and social, working on social media and public relations campaigns for games such as Call of Duty and Crash Bandicoot.

Prior to that, she held similar roles at MGM Resorts International, Yahoo and the Recording Academy.

Swisher Elevates John Haley To Chief Growth Officer

Swisher has named John Haley chief growth officer, a newly created role for which he will oversee the company’s new corporate growth department.

Haley has been with Swisher since 2013, most recently serving as senior vice president of sales and marketing.

RingCentral Elevates Matthew Bishop To Chief Digital Officer

After joining in April, Matthew Bishop, RingCentral’s senior vice president of global operations, has been promoted to the role of chief digital officer.

Prior, he served as chief administrative officer for Core Scientific, and over 18 years at Microsoft.

Marriott Vacations Worldwide Names Lori Gustafson As Executive Vice President, Chief Brand And Digital Strategy Officer

Marriott Vacations Worldwide has appointed Lori Gustafson as EVP, chief brand and digital strategy officer.

Gustafson, a member of the company’s executive committee, previously worked for Wyndham Destinations as senior vice president of global brands and digital. Prior to that, she was corporate VP of digital, ecommerce and media at SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment.

Nissan Motor Corporation Taps Yukio Ito As Corporate Vice President Of Marketing And Sales, Japan

Yukio Ito, Nissan’s corporate VP of Japan business, has been elevated to the role of VP of marketing and sales for the Japan-ASEAN region, the company announced.

Ito has been with Nissan since 2014 when he first joined as regional vice president.

FC Cincinnati Names Meg Ryan Its First Chief Marketing Officer

FC Cincinnati has announced the appointment of Meg Ryan to the newly created role of CMO.

Ryan joins FC Cincinnati from Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, where she served as vice president of marketing for the Denver Nuggets.

Prior to that, she was the Atlanta Hawks’ VP of marketing strategy.

What We’re Reading—Week Of December 14th

Adidas Reviews Strategic Options For Reebok

The Business of Fashion

After purchasing Reebok in 2006 and redeeming its profitability in 2019, Adidas will announce its decision of whether to sell the division, potentially to VF Corp., parent company of Timberland and North Face.

Why it matters: The move is part of Adidas’ new five-year strategy. According to German publication Manager Magazin, chief executive Kasper Rorsted had hoped for about $2.4 billion from selling Reebok before the pandemic, but he would now be happy with less than that.

Could Gen Z Consumer Behavior Make Capitalism More Ethical?

Harvard Business Review

In an effort to support racial equity and enhance customer value, companies such as Netflix, Twitter and PayPal are transferring funds into black-owned banks. 

Why it matters: The move comes as Gen Z’s desire for brands to address social justice issues increases. 

How Leading Companies Are Innovating Remotely

MIT Sloan Management Review

According to a study that MIT conducted among 1,000 innovation leaders across 17 countries between April and August 2020, companies responded to the disruption of COVID-19 in one of two ways. Businesses that mostly ignored innovation, namely “mourners,” struggled to adapt, taking a conservative approach and re-purposing their offices. “Stormers,” or businesses that focused on innovation, such as Twitter and Amazon, focused on increasing interactions with their audiences to inspire loyalty.

Why it matters: Innovation in a remote work model will require defining a schedule and sticking to it, introducing service culture, turning leaders into stewards and letting employees own customer relationships.

Inside Diageo North America’s Marketing Strategy


Edward Pilkington, Diageo North America chief marketing and innovation officer, says his team has responded to the drop in on-premise alcohol sales by considering new consumer dynamics, such as a rise in in-home consumption and mixology, online shopping and spending over $100 on luxury brands.

Why it matters: Brands that wish to survive the pandemic must pivot and ensure their media is as targeted as possible with more people in lockdowns. 

Pandemic And Programmatic Push Mobile Gaming Into A New Era

The Drum

According to Adverty co-founder and CEO Niklas Bakos, while in-game has all the makings of a major media channel, mobile specifically will dominate, making programmatic the only route forward into a sustainable in-game ad business.

Why this matters: Global mobile game downloads are projected to increase by 35.7 percent year-on-year in 2020 to 57 billion, up from 42 billion in 2019, reports