OOH Advertising Up 38% In Q3 2021

Based on the Out of Home Advertising Association of America’s (OAAA) out-of-home (OOH) ad revenue report, OOH advertising revenue increased 38 percent in Q3 2021 to $1.75 billion compared to the previous year. Surging 56 percent compared to Q3 2020, digital OOH is leading the overall OOH recovery. Since the beginning of 2021, OOH ad revenue has increased 10 percent over 2020 reaching $5.1 billion.

All of the top ten industry product categories increased by double digits in Q3 2021, including Local Services & Amusements, Retail, Media & Advertising, Insurance & Real Estate, Restaurants, Government Politics and Organizations, Financial Services, Public Transportation Hotels and Resorts, Automotive Dealers and Services and Schools Camps & Seminars.

Local Services and Amusements, a category that represents more than 25 percent of total OOH spend, increased by more than 33 percent while Media & Advertising increased 85 percent.

The top 10 advertisers in Q3 were McDonald’s, Geico, Apple, Amazon, American Express, Walt Disney Pictures, Allstate, Dunkin’, Chevron and Barclays—in that order.

OAAA’s report also found that of the top 100 OOH advertisers, 88 percent increased their OOH spend as compared to Q3 2020. Additionally, of those advertisers, 51 percent more than doubled their spend. Companies like Credit Karma, Webull, DuckDuckGo and ADT, along with 36 percent of the top 100 OOH advertisers, increased their spend by 10x or more. Close to one-third of those advertisers were technology or direct-to-consumer brands such as Amazon, Apple, AT&T and BetMGM, among others.

MAGNA anticipates OOH will be the second-fastest-growing ad channel in 2021 with a projected annual increase of 16.4 percent.

“OOH has come roaring back after a year full of uncertainty the world over. Our industry is both a marker of public sentiment, and in its own right, a morale lifting vehicle for engaging, inspiring and empowering consumers. These Q3 figures should be welcomed as a sign that we’re back and have an exciting next chapter ahead,” said OAAA president and chief executive officer Anna Bager.

Trend Set: Year-In-Review

Ayzenberg Junior Strategist Ashley Otah recounts this week’s trends including “ultra-fast” delivery demand and year-end lists.


Developing a new future with Doja. Doja Cat and Girls Who Code collab to bring the first-ever codable music video to life. The interactive coding tutorial allows users to play along without prior coding experience. In a step to show new generations of girls and women the vast opportunities a tech career can encompass, the move underscores a shift towards leaning into Dictionary.com’s word of the year—“allyship.” The future of brands relies on meaningful and mindful partnerships, and the next generation is taking notes.


The delivery demand continues. Accustomed to convenient and consistent delivery that never misses the mark, consumers are looking for even faster delivery times. DoorDash has taken note and is now introducing “ultra-fast” deliveries in New York City alongside a full-time employment model to handle the deliveries. The tension between sustainability, convenience, and ownership is on full display. To succeed, brands will need to shed old strategies and shine a light on brand-specific innovation as there is no one-size-fits-all model for the digital age.


A recent MSL and The Influencer League study shows a 29% pay gap between white and Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) influencers and a 35% pay gap between white and Black influencers. The influencer space continues to grow at a colossal rate, and if not quelled, the discrepancies will continue if not widened. As influencers find their footing and their voice within the ever-changing vertical, the demands for transparency and equity continue. A tide is turning, and the onus should not fall on these individuals to reimagine the space, so agencies and industries must recognize their hands regarding the issues and forge a new way forward.


Marching into the Metavearth. Snap rolls out its “layers” feature on Snap Map that adds dimension to any experience. The first two layers include Explore, which allows users to see what others are up to, and Memories which will enable users to revisit specific places where previous Snap memories were made. Although some say Snap may be a thing of the past, the continued global connectivity is ushering in a new future.


A year in review for all of you. From Google to GrubHub, Tinder, and now Instagram, everyone can see how their year stacked up in bite-sized and shareable pieces. The exciting yet straightforward form of publication has become increasingly personalized. Customers want customization, and brands will have to meet them as expectations evolve. One foreseeable roadblock, however, will be privacy.

Ayzenberg Introduces Next Iteration Of Its Social Index, SI 3.0

With 70 percent of consumers saying trusting a brand is more important than in the past, marketers are increasingly seeking earned media mentions, which research shows helps gain consumer trust. Earned media, namely media that marketers haven’t paid for and don’t own, comes in many forms, including organic influencer tags, op-eds, interviews, news segments, documentaries, and the like.

Using Ayzenberg’s Social Index and Earned Media Value Index (a.EMVI), over 3,000 companies worldwide have measured the dollar value of their social media actions and endorsements that comprise modern earned media. The company recently debuted the latest iteration of its Social Index, SI 3.0, with four new updates exclusive to members, including an updated algorithm, a dashboard and EMV visualizer, global EMV for key markets and daily EMV updates.

First up, SI 3.0 boasts a new EMV engine and algorithm for improved accuracy. The Index’s API—built on decades of media buying, analytics reporting for Fortune 500 companies, third-party research and Ayzenberg’s Orchestra Tech platform—provide marketers with more precise vertical values, which enhance the value proposition to their customers.

Next, a new dashboard and EMV visualizer, the latter which is in beta, will allow analysts, media planners and integrated marketers to select a date range all the way back to January 2020 to understand how a specific key performance indicator (KPI) performed on a specific platform and location. 

This time-bound visualization, helpful for enhancing postmortems, is available for seven top social media platforms including YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, LinkedIn and Twitter. Last November, Ayzenberg introduced TikTok values to its Social Index.

SI 3.0 also now offers global values across key markets including NA, EMEA and APAC countries. With these expanded regions and the program’s EMV visualizer, marketers can choose any two locations and compare the difference between the areas for the same industry platform and KPI.

Lastly, marketers can keep an eye on the EMV of their influencer, content marketing, PR, and organic and paid social media campaigns with a.EMVI’s new daily EMV updates. A snapshot of the day’s Index is dynamic and updated on the fly, according to Vincent Juarez, Ayzenberg CMO and a.EMVI author.

The variables used to calculate EMV are nuanced, which makes it more difficult to accurately quantify than paid and owned media. But it’s critical to do so given earned media’s growing impact on the bottom line. For example, an Edelman survey found that 44 percent of consumers were influenced by positive press to choose a brand. And Yale researchers concluded that op-eds are a cost effective way to influence people’s views, finding that an op-ed costs from about 50 cents to $3 per mind changed.

Influencers are particularly useful for driving earned media and influencing consumer buying behavior. According to a new GRIN report, over half of consumers said that general, word-of-mouth and social media are their preferred mediums for discovering new brands. What’s more, about 80 percent told GRIN that social media directly impacts their purchasing decisions and 35 percent have confirmed that they were “very” or “extremely likely” to purchase influencer-endorsed products online.

SI 3.0 offers two subscription plans, a monthly $600 plan and an annual $6,000 plan. Click here for more information.

If you’re interested in seeing how your social campaigns stack up, a.network developed the Social Index tool with the goal of becoming the industry standard for measuring earned media value (EMV) and campaign ROI.

Social Index 3.0 leverages a combination of expert analysis, machine learning algorithms and vast amounts of proprietary and public data. The index helps brands and agencies take engagement and earned media ROI measurement to the next level.

TikTok Is Named VidCon 2022 Title Sponsor

VidCon is set to return in June 2022 with TikTok as title sponsor after a two-year hiatus induced by the COVID pandemic. The four-day event will take place at the Anaheim Convention Center and will feature a roster of popular creators including Molly Burke, Walter Geoffrey the Frenchie, Hannah Meloche, Alyssa McKay, Brent Rivera and more.

If the June 22-25, 2022 event goes according to plan, TikTok, as title sponsor, will present the keynote address, bring its native talent and resident executives to participate in all three of VidCon’s tracks (i.e., for fans, creators and industry execs), and sponsor some of the expo hall stages.

TikTok was set to title sponsor VidCon US 2021, nabbing the position from YouTube after it held the role of lead sponsor since 2013. The upcoming event is TikTok’s chance to shine.

“At TikTok we’re thrilled to expand upon our partnership with VidCon, where helping creators learn, collaborate and elevate is at the core of our shared mission,” said Bryan Thoensen, head of content partnerships at TikTok.

VidCon, owned by ViacomCBS, has released the first set of creators who will be attending IRL. The list includes: Alan Chikin Chow, Alex Ojeda, Alyssa McKay, Amanda Rach Lee, Benjamin De Almeida (aka Benoftheweek), Brent Rivera, CaptainPuffy, Courtney Quinn (aka Color Me Courtney), Crissa Jackson, DangMattSmith, Devon Rodriguez, Elliana, Gigi Gorgeous, Hannah Meloche, Hannahxxrose, Jasminexgonzalez, Jonny Morales, Julian Bass, Kira Kosarin, MeganPlays, The Merrell Twins, Molly Burke, Nadia Caterina Munno (aka The Pasta Queen), Nia Sioux, the Onyx Family, SeanDoesMagic, SkincareByHyram, Sir Carter, Tubbo, Walter the Frenchie and Wasil Daoud. 

After celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2019, VidCon will return to Anaheim with both a digital and in-person ticketing option for the first time. The move is part of its 2020 brand refresh that debuted a new logo and worldwide release of VidCon Now, its digital programming arm that features free creator-made content each week.

The Five C’s Of Marketing With Emburse’s Grant Johnson

Grant Johnson is the CMO at Emburse, a spend management company offering solutions that help organizations manage employee expenses, process invoices and make payments.

In this episode, Grant and I discuss his journey to become CMO at Emburse and his philosophy of five Cs for a CMO’s playbook—culture, coaching, campaigns, category, and courage. 

Grant says that “the only constant in the market is change, and your ability to adapt to it is key to ongoing success.” Listen to the full interview to hear Grant’s advice for emerging marketing leaders and how being clear, compelling, and consistent plays a major role. 

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • Category isn’t restricted to your product
  • The courage of conviction 
  • Adapting to the change

Key Highlights:

  • [01:22] Grant is a nationally ranked tennis player
  • [03:00] Grant’s career journey 
  • [05:34] Coming up with the five C’s
  • [07:34] Talking about culture 
  • [09:19] Where coaching is important
  • [11:05] Coaching the coach vs. coaching the employee
  • [12:15] How Grant thinks about campaigns 
  • [14:55] Thinking about category
  • [18:12] Having the courage of conviction
  • [19:56] Advice for first-time CMOs
  • [23:53] An experience that defines Grant, makes him who he is today
  • [25:10] Grant’s advice to his younger self 
  • [26:48] What marketers should be learning more about
  • [27:54] The brands and organizations Grant follows 
  • [29:06] The biggest threat and opportunity for marketers 

Resources Mentioned: 

Follow the podcast:

Connect with the Guest:

Connect with Marketing Today and Alan Hart:

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 brand, customer experience, innovation, and growth opportunities. He has consulted with Fortune 100 companies, but he is an entrepreneur at his core, having founded or served as an executive for nine companies.

New Doja Cat Music Video Introduces Coding Techniques

In an interactive microsite for her new music video “Woman,” Doja Cat partners with Girls Who Code to allow fans to unlock hidden features via coding for the first-ever codable music video. With 18 million views and counting so far, the collaboration is exposing many of Doja Cat’s young fans to coding for the first time.

The site introduces CSS, Javascript and Python to those who may not be familiar with coding and showcases their utility as a creative outlet my changing aspects like nail color and special effects through four different challenges that anyone can do.

In a press release, chief executive officer of Girls Who Code Tarika Barret said “[…] We know first-hand that girls and young women are some of today’s most powerful creators and change-makers. However, too few know that they can have a career in computer science, and that it can open up an entire future of possibility to nurturing their passions. Learning to code enables you to change the world around you […].”

You can view Doja Cat’s new video via dojacode.com.

Trend Set: Spotify Wraps 2021, Square Becomes Block

Ayzenberg Junior Strategist Ashley Otah recounts this week’s trends including everyone’s favorite time of the year: Spotify Wrapped season!


Shifting shopping habits. Black Friday in-store shopping is up by 442%, with a 34% increase in orders through the Afterpay platform this holiday season year-over-year. These purchasing habits reach beyond fashion and beauty and seep into fitness, footwear, and more. With compounding factors such as supply chain issues, inflation, and more at play, shopping habits will continue to change, and brands must adjust accordingly.


The name game. Square, a financial services company, has recently changed its name to Block a month after Facebook’s move to Meta. The name change underscores companies’ need to redefine themselves as consumers are being inundated with campaigns, brand mission statements, and slews of products daily. The action may continue to be necessary for brands across many verticals to cut through the clutter and better reflect their purpose in real-time.

‘I Hate U’ SZA

TikTok made me listen to it. American singer and songwriter SZA officially releases a Soundcloud experiment thanks to the power of TikTok. The colossal rise is not the first instance a song has resurged, or an act has become prominent beyond the confines of the platform. The platform continues to be a space to watch as it has a heavy hand on cultural moments, including music. So much so, many songs nominated in major categories for the upcoming Grammys have gone viral on the TikTok platform.

Spotify Wrapped

Data done right. As the week rounds out for everyone’s favorite holiday (Spotify Wrapped), the discussion for the highly-anticipated round-up continues. The unique blend of product and experiential marketing has created a cultural moment many brands hope to achieve and even partake in. Although entrenched in user data, consumers feel connectivity and actively share their charts each year. As legislation passes and Google abandons third-party data in 2023, brands must strategically navigate information regarding their customers — a great way to do so is by making consumers feel their data is safe and included in the process.


Need for new policy. Twitter to ban sharing of private people’s videos and photos without consent. The platform will now let private individuals request takedowns of content featuring them. A significant step in how not only users but also brands interact with and navigate content and tracks with demands for privacy and transparency.

WARC Announces The Most Awarded Campaigns And Companies Of 2020

WARC has released its list of the most-awarded campaigns and companies for creativity, media and effectiveness. This year’s WARC Creative 100, Effective 100 and Media 100 include rankings from 2020, which WARC normally releases in Q1 2021 but postponed due to the pandemic. The 2022 WARC Rankings, which will judge work from 2021, will return to a Q1 release.

WARC’s rankings are determined by combining the winners’ lists from the industry’s most important global and regional awards in 2020, as determined by the WARC Rankings Advisory Board and a global industry survey. A proprietary three-step methodology is also applied. Brand winners include Ikea, Nike and Coca-Cola and among campaign winners are “The E.V.A. Initiative” by Volvo, “The Shape of History” by Hulu and “I’m Drinking It For You” by DB Export. See the full list below. 

Creative 100


  1. Moldy Whopper · Burger King · Ingo Stockholm / David Miami / Publicis Bucharest · 800.9 points
    • Burger King’s “Moldy Whopper” campaign was, by far, the most highly ranked campaign. A food artist creates a picturesque Whopper before over a month’s worth of footage of the decaying burger is shown over the course of 30 seconds. The experience ends with the words, “The beauty of no artificial preservatives.” Still images depict macro shots of the decaying burger well into the 30 days it sat out. Burger King’s agency partners Publicis, Ingo and David Miami collaborated to produce the campaign.
  2. Stevenage Challenge · Burger King · DAVID Madrid / DAVID Miami · 483.5 points
    • By sponsoring the relatively unknown club at the bottom of football’s fourth division Stevenage FC, BK’s branded kit featured in the FIFA 20 video game. The Stevenage Challenge invited players to compete as Stevenage FC and complete a series of in-game tasks such as simply scoring a free kick or scoring from a corner while wearing one of the BK-sponsored Stevenage FC shirts. Players placed football’s best players in the shirts, shared their goals online and earned rewards. Before long, 25,000 goals were posted online and the club sold out of their shirts for the first time in its history. 
  3. The E.V.A. Initiative · Volvo · Forsman & Bodenfors Gothenburg · 272.1 points
    • Volvo has been collecting crash data since the 1970s to understand what happens to the human bodies of various sizes, genders and shapes during a collision. Volvo’s The E.V.A. Initiative saw the company share that research with the rest of the automotive industry so that all cars may be produced with greater safety features for every body.


  1. Burger King · 680.3 points · no change from #1 
  2. Ikea · 564 points · up from #4
  3. Diesel · 359.7 points · up from #9


  1. Restaurant Brands International · Canada · 816.9 points · no change from #1
  2. Anheuser-Busch InBev · Belgium · 811.3 points · up from #3
  3. IKEA · Sweden · 564 points · up from #8

Media 100


  1. Rabbi Bot · Always · MediaCom Connections Tel Aviv / ACW Grey Tel Aviv / GO Digital Marketing Netanya · 95.4 points
    • After every period, Jewish women must request that a rabbi visually inspect their pads to determine whether they are approved for intercourse. Always addressed this through an AI-based app that scans an image of the pad to determine whether menstruation has completed. Attendants of the ritual baths served as the company’s branded app promoters. Nine thousand women logged on in the first month.
  2. The Shape of History · Hulu · UM Los Angeles · 81.1 points
    • One of the primary themes in The Handmaid’s Tale is ‘History is written by those with power.’ Hulu’s campaign changed the narrative to emphasize that history is actually shaped by those who tell it. So, in June 2019, Hulu addressed the fact that only 8 percent of all statues in the US are of women by erecting 140 new female statues in New York City (where the percentage drops to just three). The statues were made of mirrors, symbolizing Hulu’s invitation to everyone to take part in shaping history. The company went on to install statues in Boston, Atlanta and San Francisco.
  3. Naming The Invisible By Digital Birth Registration · Telenor · Ogilvy Islamabad · 70 points
    • Sixty million Pakistanis are unregistered citizens in Pakistan, causing severe obstacles in enjoying many of the rights most people take for granted. Telenor, Pakistan’s second-largest mobile network collaborated with the government, UNICEF, Ogilvy and others to create Digital Birth Registration (DBR), an app that helps the country’s children obtain a birth certificate—a document required for medical care, schooling and protection from illegal child labor. Today, more than 1.2 million children have obtained birth certificates.


  1. McDonald’s · 135.3 points · up from #8
  2. Nike · 118.6 points · up from #4
  3. Always · 92.7 points · new entry


  1. Unilever · Netherlands / UK · 346.4 points · no change #1
  2. Procter & Gamble · US · 278.8 points · up from #3
  3. The Walt Disney Company · US · 183.7 points · up from #10

Effective 100


  1. I’m Drinking It For You · DB Export · Colenso BBDO Auckland / Carat Auckland / Red Star Auckland · 51.7 points 
    • New Zealand beer company DB Export celebrated Valentine’s Day with a romantic ballad to low-carb beer. The campaign featured a full-length song, “I’m Drinking It For You” and a music video depicting all of the romantic things one can do for their partner while holding a beer, encouraging couples to choose the new Gold Extra Low Carb beer as a romantic gesture for their significant other. The song was also supported by radio appearances, live performances, singing telegrams, “beer bouquets” on gift sites and broadcast in key locations like gyms. The song played on the radio with custom intros that changed depending on the time of day, location and musical interests of the listener. It reached number two on the Apple music charts and was viewed 5 million times across all platforms as sales met eight-month targets in two weeks. 
  2. Can’t Touch This · Cheetos · Goodby Silverstein & Partners San Francisco · 50 points
    • MC Hammer’s hit single “Can’t Touch This” turned 30 years old last year as it was used to promote Cheetos Popcorn. The 30-second spot featured an unassuming man in various settings eating a bag of Cheetos Popcorn who was able to avoid several situations due to his Cheetle-covered fingers. “Cheetle” is the dust that the brand has become infamous for. MC Hammer popped up intermittently throughout the commercial.
  3. Michelin Impossible · KFC · Ogilvy Sydney · 47.2 points
    • Kentucky Fried Chicken Australia set out to change the public’s perception of its food quality. It partnered with Ogilvy Sydney to create a campaign to earn for one of its remote restaurants the highest award in the restaurant industry—a Michelin star. Northern Territory Alice Springs KFC franchisee Sam Edelman, a bearded and grinning ginger, was the brand’s spokesperson for the campaign. He and KFC created a series of stunts, activities, media appearances and radio interviews before Edelman interviewed Michelin Star chef Louis Stephane Pitre for advice on achieving the award. Michelin didn’t award the star but the campaign reached 850 million people via earned media and achieved a 16:1 return on investment. It also achieved its primary goal as 65 percent of Australians surveyed reported improved perceptions of the brand’s food quality.


  1. McDonald’s · 209.8 points · no change #1
  2. KFC · 163.3 points · up from #4
  3. Coca-Cola · 135.9 points · down from #2


  1. Unilever · Netherlands / UK · 240 points · no change #1
  2. McDonald’s · US · 209.8 points · up from #6
  3. The Coca Cola Company · 166.3 points · down from #2

How CPG Marketers Are Facing Waning Brand Loyalty, Rising Prices And Stocking Issues

Consumer packaged goods (CPG), retail and financial services dominate digital ad spending in the US. eMarketer anticipates the CPG industry alone is set to spend over $30 billion in 2021: about $7 billion more than in 2020. The only other industry that outpaces CPG in digital ad spending is retail, which spent $20 billion in 2018 and is projected to spend $57.2 billion by the end of 2022, according to the firm.

Overall digital ad spending in the US increased by $19.79 billion between 2019 and 2020 as ad spending in traditional formats (e.g., TV, radio and print) decreased by 18.1 percent. eMarketer predicts that digital ad spending will reach $191.09 billion this year, $38.83 billion more than 2020.

Mobile advertising is the preferred destination for digital ad spending in the US and globally, followed by connected TV. CPG, entertainment, computing products and consumer electronics, financial services and telecom will spend more than 70 percent of digital ad budgets on mobile, which is greater than the national average.

For its latest Industry Insights: Spotlight on CPG report, eMarketer spoke with CPG leaders from White Castle, The Vitamin Shoppe and Spice Cafe to understand how they’re pivoting their marketing strategies to keep up with current challenges including waning brand loyalty, rising prices and stocking problems.

Lynn Blashford, White Castle Chief Marketing Officer

Blashford tells eMarketer she seeks to optimize consumer loyalty by curating products specifically for fans of the brand who choose to celebrate it in different ways. The Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle film, for example, was written by New Jersey natives who were themselves White Castle fans.

The brand’s foray into the freezer section of grocery stores in 1987 followed consumers’ frequent requests for large amounts of sliders to take on cross-country road trips to freeze and reheat. White Castle’s third-generation president Bill Ingram was rejected by several prominent CPG manufacturers when he requested that they sell White Castle sliders in the freezer section. So the company took matters into its own hands. The majority of White Castle consumers have never been to a restaurant—a testament to the product’s merit.

White Castle has recently made changes to its CPG retail model. For example, to grow awareness and become more tactical, the company hired a shopper marketing agency. New customers who shopped in the freezer section but were not selecting White Castle emerged, especially as consumers stocked up their freezers during the pandemic. The company can now barely keep up with demand and has even had to reduce shopper marketing, according to Blashford.

White Castle continues to use traditional channels for the restaurant side of the business given that it is a regional chain. It engages with almost every channel, which means it has access to an abundance of customer data. One interesting insight the company discovered leveraging social listening is that its CPG product is regularly eaten in bed. The company took this information and depicted a couple eating sliders while kicking back at the end of the day in its recent round of campaigns for “Long Live Sliders.”

Nadina Guglielmetti, The Vitamin Shoppe Vice President And General Manager Of Marketing 

eMarketer spoke with Guglielmetti to find out how The Vitamin Shoppe is balancing the needs of IRL shoppers with a growing online customer base and how social media, loyalty programs and partnerships are advancing growth as vitamin and supplements sales grew 24 percent last year.

The company’s target audience online is younger and more value-oriented than its retail audience, according to Guglielmetti. Online, customers seek promotions and shop across every vendor whereas in-store, the individual has already committed and decides between brands as opposed to between platforms or retailers. The Vitamin Shoppe has attempted to make shopping between its stores and website seamless by improving its in-store pickup and curbside capabilities. It also communicated its value message of being quality-driven and that it holds expertise in health and wellness, while also offering more competitive pricing and promotions. Sales increased with very little disruption.

The Vitamin Shoppe seeks to convey its credibility by working with micro-influencers who are passionate about health, wellness and fitness. It also works with mid-tier athletes and quality-focused Olympians. Last year, it partnered with Instacart, which boosted brand awareness.

Guglielmetti measures the success of the company’s content marketing by looking at how people engage with it and asking whether it’s driving people to the website’s blog, inspiring conversation, inspiring customers toward becoming healthier, and whether it’s presenting itself as one that cares about quality and innovation. 

The company’s loyalty program has been critical in customer retention. Ninety percent of its customers engage with its loyalty program. As a result, it has acquired plenty of first-party data, including frequency of shopping and products purchased, that it uses to tailor how it communicates with customers and surfaces promotions or content to help customers.

Guglielmetti isn’t concerned with new marketing strategies or partnerships, but rather how the company can improve its communication across the channels it currently has and how it will operate in a cookie-less arena. It’s in the process of launching SMS and learning about TikTok, a sign that it doesn’t try to be everywhere at once.

Sameer Malhotra, Cafe Spice Chief Executive Officer And Co-Founder

Cafe Spice produces ready-to-eat meals sold at grocery stores around the US after starting as a family-run restaurant in New York City. The shift occurred when Whole Foods opened a market in Columbus Circle, tried Malhotra’s food and began selling his products at several of its locations. Malhotra recognized his desire to expand the business as a wholesaler rather than as a retailer. So, instead of supplying college campuses with grab-and-go meals, he supplied Whole Foods with them.

Since 2018, the company has been selling through Amazon Fresh. What started out as a slow source of customers has blown up in the last year as people began working and eating at home more often. Cafe Spice’s marketing strategy shifted to include more social ads and keyword searches through Amazon.

The company leveraged a large keyword marketing campaign through Instacart. It also launched with Kroger and its online platform. Additionally, Hungryroot recently began selling Cafe Spice chicken burritos and potato samosa small bites.

Given that one of Cafe Spice’s core pillars is a healthy lifestyle, the company says it uses as many fresh and Hudson Valley-grown ingredients as possible. And in order to build brand awareness, the company has engaged direct-to-consumer more than any other channel. Malhotra says Cafe Spice is inundated with questions about where to find its products and has seen its grab-and-go sales triple.

Everything Is Becoming TikTok

A recent update to the YouTube app took me by surprise. Instead of the usual recommended YouTube long-form content I’ve been curating since forever, I was taken straight to vertical video content and a new interface that looks like a near-copy of TikTok. YouTube is heavily pushing “Shorts,” which more often than not, is the same content you see on TikTok also, verified by its logo hovering over the video. They’ve even ripped off TikTok’s music functionalities. 

And right now, YouTube is providing some pretty big reach to those leveraging the Shorts format.

Over on Snap, one of the pioneers of the vertical video format, Discover is riddled with TikTok compilation-style content. This, however, doesn’t appear to necessarily be an intentional strategy by Snap, just that the same content is leaking over to the app by virtue of it also being vertical video. 

The same goes for Instagram, but they have taken cues from TikTok’s interface for how it promotes its Reels format.

Virtually everywhere, I am seeing the same content. 

Have product heads at every social app decided that TikTok’s video format is necessarily superior? Because Reels, Shorts, Stories are—let’s call it what it is—copies of TikTok.

The TikTok-to-Everywhere Pipeline

From a content creation perspective, this does go far in simplifying things. If you focus on creating for TikTok — the same rapid-fire editing style cut to music, utilizing fun TikTok-native voiceover effects, it makes creating content dramatically simpler.

Instead of shooting the same concept with different executions across platforms with various aspect ratios and quality expectations, we are now focusing on generating TikTok-styled content and exporting that everywhere else.

For creators who have become experts at making things on TikTok, YouTube Shorts has become a very attractive place with more reliable reach than hit-or-miss TikTok using the same exact content. They’ll go where they will see growth.

But how does this affect the users of these apps? Is this trend dampening creativity that other formats have afforded?

The Reupload Frenzy Begins: Piggybacking Off TikTok Creativity

It is not uncommon now to come across the same video on different platforms these days and users are extremely sensitive to this.

Seeing the same content everywhere is by nature going to make you less engaged with that content. Also, the advantage of TikTok’s For You page algorithm makes content on the platform feel more curated and tailored to the user based on what you’ve been following. This is not true for YouTube Shorts or Instagram Reels which have a heavy-handed approach, at least at the moment.

For users who have gotten used to specific content types across each platform — going to YouTube for longer-form videos, going to Instagram for eye candy — the TikTokification of these platforms is making the reason users choose to open a particular app less intentional. 

What is good for creators is not necessarily good for a platform’s users.


What’s Next For Short-Form Vertical Video?

By having virtually the same video format, platforms are putting themselves in an arms race to see who can pull ahead in terms of user retention and viewership. It remains to be seen how this will go. 

YouTube has a large existing user base it can cull from to generate views in the near term, but will Shorts be sticky for users in the future? Instagram Reels have begun to set itself apart with content geared for an Instagram-focused audience but is still drowning in TikTok reuploads. 

Time will tell if users get tired of social platforms ruthlessly copying the app of the moment.