App Annie: Time Spent On Mobile Shopping Apps Expected To Surge During Holidays

The pandemic redefined consumer spending behavior, spurring a boom in mobile shopping that isn’t slowing down, according to a report from App Annie, Liftoff and poq. At the time of its early September release, the Mobile Shopping Apps report found that the typical mobile consumer is currently spending $88 every time they order from a shopping app. 

By May, Android users had averaged 2 billion shopping hours per week—up 51 percent from pre-pandemic levels. What’s more, over the past 12 months, the average spend was $78, up 22 percent year over year. 

App Annie’s latest research highlights a record-breaking 2021 holiday season, both in terms of time and consumer spend on mobile shopping apps. The firm estimates ​​that US shoppers will spend over 900 million hours in mobile shopping apps in Q4 2021—a 20 percent increase in time spent YoY.

Historically Q4 ecommerce sales trump all other quarters. This year, though no exception to that phenomenon, is paving the way for new development. According to the US Census Bureau, online sales in Q4 2020 reached $200 billion and Q2 2021 has already reached about $225 billion in online sales. 

App Annie’s data show that mobile app usage during the holiday season is also on the rise in the UK, with a forecasted 145+ million hours spent on apps in Q4 2021 as compared to 138 million hours spent in the same period in 2020. Despite the fact that in-person shopping will be more of an option this year than it was last year, App Annie predicts a 45 percent increase in time spent on shopping apps in Europe during the holidays vs. Q4 2019. 

Next, App Annie anticipates that fashion retailers and ‘buy now, pay later’ services will disrupt this year’s holiday shopping season. Some of 2021’s most downloaded breakout shopping apps globally include SHEIN, Blush Mark, AliExpress Russia and H&M. In May of this year, SHEIN surpassed Amazon as the most popular shopping app in the US based on iOS and Google Play downloads, according to App Annie.

Women’s fashion apps aren’t the only ones experiencing greater success lately. Fashion marketplaces with resale elements are also among the most popular heading into Q4 2021. Poshmark, for example, rose in popularity in Australia since launching there in February 2021 and WOO! Fashion ranked first in South Korea among breakout apps. Vinted, Vestiaire Collective and Meeshoo—all secondhand marketplaces and online stores—ranked similarly among breakout shopping apps globally.

Buy now, pay later apps like Klarna and Afterpay are the third and fourth most downloaded breakout shopping apps in the US. In Singapore, Atome SG is the highest-ranked breakout shopping app by downloads to date while Hoolah ranks fifth in the most popular shopping apps. Notably, some buy now, pay later apps are listed under the ‘Shopping’ category on Google Play and iOS, while others are listed under the ‘Finance’ category. App Annie’s analysis includes those listed in the former.

Mobile remains central to the omnichannel shopping experience; it drives contactless payments, loyalty programs and access to in-store benefits. App Annie recommends marketers seeking to capitalize on the shopping rush reevaluate and revamp their App Store Optimization (ASO) strategies before the end of the year. With 2021 on course to breaking new mobile shopping records, brands should begin prepping mobile strategies immediately. 

Ayzenberg’s Sp[a]ce Gallery Launches First Virtual NFT Auction

Ayzenberg’s sp[a]ce gallery has launched its first-ever virtual NFT (non-fungible token) gallery. Titled “NotForThought,” the gallery’s inaugural NFT being auctioned is an exploration of the brave new world of “ownership” and was created by Somsara Rielly—Los Angeles artist, illustrator and animator whose work unearths hidden connections and messages.

All of the animation for the one-of-a-kind stop-motion NFT, which is one minute and 16 seconds long, was created in-camera with hand-cut practical materials, Rielly told AList. “NotForThought” marks Rielly’s first NFT.

“I had been experimenting with stop-motion animation for a while and was hearing about NFTs. I was a little reluctant frankly about the whole thing. It’s all very new and experimental. So I dove into it. Ultimately, what I came away with is I don’t know how I feel about all this, so I’m just going to explore it by using the medium to explore it,” said Rielly.

The NFT’s soundscape was composed by music producer and composer Lem Jay Ignacio, whose music has been featured by the likes of Pokémon, Netflix and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

“NotForThought” is for sale on NFT marketplace OpenSea from now until August 9th at 5 pm PDT. Bidding started at $749.89, or 0.2895 WETH — Wrapped ETH, a currency that enables users to make pre-authorized bids that can be fulfilled at a later time without any further action from the bidder.

“The reasons behind why people buy [NFTs] is fascinating to me. Whether it’s futurists, people who are hedging their bets or people who are like, “I have to own this for nostalgia purposes.” It raises so many questions. It’s fascinating. In some ways, that means anything can be an NFT,” Rielly added.

Put simply, NFTs are digital collectibles. They exploded onto the digital art scene in March when Christie’s’ first online NFT auction saw digital artist Beeple’s “Everydays: the First 5000 Days” get sold for the unprecedented price of $69 million. Ever since then, notable brands have entered the NFT space including Taco Bell, Gucci, Charmin, Coca-Cola and Anheuser-Busch InBev.

Opened three years ago in Old Pasadena, sp[a]ce is a Kunsthaus project that showcases the work of progressive local and international artists in an environment created by Corsini Stark Architects. 

According to Alana Balagot, Ayzenberg’s creative solutions lead who’s overseeing the digital aspect of the new gallery, sp[a]ce has plans to auction additional NFTs in the near future.

EMarketer: Privacy Is A Key Opportunity For Differentiation

Nearly 90 percent of consumers care about data privacy, yet only about 30 percent worldwide have actually switched providers over data policies, suggesting there’s a market for privacy. 

To understand how marketers can increase their share of the market, eMarketer’s latest report about privacy as a competitive advantage unpacks case studies on how Apple, Amazon’s Alexa, WhatsApp and Facebook’s Reality Lab are creating, maintaining and in some cases, losing consumers’ trust with their strategic data practices and privacy-centric approach to product development.

In 2018, Europe enacted its General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Shortly thereafter, the US adopted the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and the subsequent California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA), which was signed in 2020.

Though helpful frameworks, this patchwork approach to data privacy rules is a leading privacy compliance challenge, according to 37 percent of US marketers, as Treasure Data found. Consumers, on the other hand, are struggling to feel empowered when it comes to controlling their data. As Cisco’s June 2020 worldwide survey found, just under half of consumers didn’t feel they were able to effectively protect their personal data, primarily because it’s too difficult to figure out what companies are actually doing with it.

At the same time, consumer trust in technology is waning. Edelman’s 2021 Trust Barometer found that trust in the technology industry declined 6 percentage points between 2020 and 2021.

In response to these shifts in consumer opinion on privacy, tech giants like Facebook are exploring product designs that gather and process data on the device rather than in the cloud. With 50 percent of executives worldwide saying that cybersecurity and privacy are now baked into every business decision or plan, it’s safe to say that privacy and trust are evolving beyond a compliance concern and into a strategic initiative.  

Amazon Alexa

Despite rapid adoption rates, voice assistants and smart speakers still suffer from trust issues. Most US internet users who don’t own a smart speaker are wary of devices that are always listening and stated that they don’t trust companies to keep information secure, according to a 2020 NPR and Edison survey.

According to eMarketer’s forecasts, 27.2 percent of the US population will have smart speakers in their homes this year, and about 67 percent of smart speakers will be Amazon devices. Gaining the trust of its users required a steep learning curve for Alexa. To maintain consumer privacy and trust, Alexa has launched several commands that help provide users with transparency. For example, a user can ask Alexa to repeat back what it has heard, or ask “Alexa, why did you do that?”

In addition, Amazon recently added the ability to ask Alexa to “delete everything I’ve ever said,” which wipes out the audio history of processed interactions. To maintain consumer trust in Alexa, Amazon also has an entire team called Alexa Trust dedicated to consumer perceptions of its smart assistant.

As eMarketer suggests, Alexa could do more to guide new users through privacy preferences from the get-go as well as be transparent about how Alexa is using transaction data to customize and target experiences.


Apple has established itself as a privacy-friendly company, but the company is poised to set the privacy protection bar even higher as Apple CEO Tim Cook said that “business built on data exploitation without consumer choice deserves reform.”

To this aim, Apple has implemented a multi-faceted strategy that includes privacy-focused ad campaigns, allowing users to easily opt-out of location tracking by apps in iOS 13, privacy “nutrition labels” and App Tracking Transparency requisites in iOS14.5. 

Apple’s privacy nutrition labels translate policies into layman’s terms, requiring that app publishers detail what data is being collected and for what purpose. This tool has already seen success as 72 percent of US iPhone and iPad owners were aware of the labels’ introduction, according to a January 2021 SunCell survey. The labels can also function as a comparison tool as users compare one app to another in hopes of choosing the more privacy-centered one.

App Tracking Transparency, on the other hand, mandates that apps ask users for permission to track activities across other apps and websites. This tool is the platform’s inceptive attempt at preempting shifts in policy by deploying a tangible, opt-in consent option for advertisers utilizing Apple’s Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA).

It seems Apple’s efforts around privacy are paying off. Of those who switched to an iPhone from Android in the last five years, 24 percent believed Apple was safer, 18 percent did so for better privacy protections and 15 percent did so for apps that have been vetted for privacy and security, according to Consumer Reports’ research.

While 31 percent of US smartphone owners would allow app-tracking to avoid paying a subscription for them—according to an AppsFlyer/MMA global survey—Apple’s IDFA changes have had a devastating impact. Last month, Venture Beat reported that iOS advertisers are experiencing a 15 percent to 20 percent revenue drop and inflation in unattributed organic traffic.

In light of Apple’s new policies and tools, Google has announced that it will require app developers in the Google Play app marketplace to offer details on data collection and use. Contrarily, Facebook has opposed Apple’s measures by indicating that such changes would “severely impact” social media’s ad business. WhatsApp has similarly denounced the new privacy requirements as unfairly advancing the iOS iMessage app only.

Despite Apple’s shifts being scrutinized as gatekeeping, the company has led the way on privacy. As eMarketer notes, its first-party data experiments may cause users to question how Apple intends on using personal data, forcing the tech giant to proceed with caution in order to preserve the trust it has garnered over the last couple of years. 


After WhatsApp users received a push notification requiring that they must accept new terms and privacy policies to continue using the app, their data began to be shared with Facebook, and the messaging app’s reputation for “privacy as a priority” was tarnished.

Shortly after purchasing the privacy-friendly messaging app for $19 billion, Facebook prioritized a monetization strategy and began sharing data for personalization and ad-targeting features, sparking an EU investigation, fine and data integration “EU pause” pending GDPR compliance.

Given that the ultimatum to accept the new terms or stop using the app wasn’t explicit about what data would be collected, shared and with whom, WhatsApp users interpreted the new terms to mean that Facebook could access encrypted messages. WhatsApp sent countless clarifying messages educating users on the terms, which delayed the rollout almost three months. The app went on to announce that rejection of the new terms would result in a gradual loss of functionality.

As a result, Signal and Telegram downloads soared with 7.5 million downloads and 5.6 million downloads, respectively, between January 6 and January 10, according to Apptopia.

Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp diminished the trust that had been built throughout roughly five years of service. The rollout was further hindered by misinformation and a sense of betrayal. As eMarketer notes, when a company builds its reputation on trust and privacy, it must continue to meet and exceed user expectations of those principles. 

Facebook Reality Labs

Facebook Reality Labs is on a mission to help people feel connected anytime, anywhere, which is why roughly one-fifth of the company’s workforce is working in Reality Labs.

The challenge here is winning back users’ trust in order to harness the full potential it envisions for Reality Labs given that trust and privacy are indispensable for introducing a new computing interface. In eMarketer’s June 2020 Digital Trust ranking of the largest social media platforms, Facebook came in dead last, as only 3.4 percent of US adults trust the tech giant with personal information, according to a June 2020 eMarketer/Bizrate survey.

Dubbed “The Big Shift,” Facebook’s new approach stresses data minimization and bakes privacy into its entire design process. According to Andrew Bosworth, head of Reality Labs, Facebook will be starting with the assumption that they cannot “collect, use, or store any data” and that they will maintain the burden of informing why certain data is required to produce a workable product. 

Reality Lab’s integral principles for responsible innovation include 1) never surprise people, 2) provide controls that matter, 3) consider everyone and 4) put people first. These principles, along with internal teams focused on privacy, trust, responsible innovation and a privacy review process, aim to redeem Facebook in the eyes of consumers.

It’s still too early in Facebook’s roll-out of new privacy changes to determine how they will manifest in augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) experiences. Although only 8.5 percent of Americans own a VR headset, in 2020 Facebook’s Oculus accounted for 53.5 percent of global headset shipments, according to Counterpoint Technology Market Research. 

Bosworth, with his optimistic and privacy-centric approach to Reality Labs, has said that he will focus on technology development and product experience before worrying about the business model. Unfortunately, Facebook’s history has shown that developing the tech before the business model has manifested with, as eMarketer puts it, “significant risk and potentially perverse incentives.” Additionally, Bosworth’s own history running Facebook’s News Feed has shown that despite his contentions, his remarks don’t set policy. In short, the company’s data minimization stance is long overdue.

Digital Business Transformation: Defending, Differentiating, And Disrupting With Publicis Sapient’s Teresa Barreira

Teresa Barreira is the CMO at Publicis Sapient where she works to transform businesses in the constantly evolving world.

In this episode, Teresa and I discuss her path to becoming CMO at Publicis Sapient, the new internship program she’s launched, and why she believes that diversity and inclusion are not only HR functions.

Along with her passion for D&I awareness, Teresa is passionate about transforming businesses. In her eyes, an organization should be like an operating room, constantly evolving and gleaning expertise and counsel from the experts in the room to accomplish a goal. Marketing plays a large role in driving that change. She says, “marketing is not just about telling a story or managing the brand. It is now about transforming the business.”

Listen to the full conversation to learn how you can also defend, differentiate, and disrupt within your organization and industry.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • Why content is the king and queen of a service company
  • Why diversity and inclusion doesn’t only belong in HR
  • Digital business transformation: defend, differentiate, and disrupt

Key Highlights:

  • [01:35] Growing up in Portugal and coming to the States
  • [03:38] From medical student to CMO
  • [07:16] What Teresa loves about the services division
  • [09:25] Selling a service as well as the people 
  • [10:30] Lessons learned by being your authentic self
  • [15:40] Publicis Sapient’s internship program
  • [22:11] Diversity and Inclusion is a company-wide endeavor
  • [26:34] An organization should be an operating room
  • [28:00] What is a digital business transformation 
  • [32:22] Transforming McDonald’s
  • [37:00] What Teresa says is today’s biggest opportunity for marketers

Resources Mentioned: 

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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.

Marketers Can Measure Their Digital Audio Investment With Innovid’s New Solution

Gearing up for what’s expected to be an increasingly audio future, Innovid has added audio ad-serving to its advertising suite. The offering will enable marketers to effectively measure their digital audio media investment together with TV, video, display and social.

Already utilized by over a dozen clients including Nationwide, Innovid’s new capabilities will give marketers insight on audio ad impressions and clicks to quartiles and completes for a holistic view of their media mix.

Innovid’s latest move comes as nearly 51 percent of US adults’ total audio time will be spent listening via digital services this year, according to eMarketer. This figure marks the first time digital audio surpasses traditional radio in time spent, reports the firm.

That’s after digital audio accounted for 11 percent of total media time per day for US adults last year and will account for 11.7 percent in 2021. Hence the reason eMarketer revised its 2020 estimate from 1 percent decline in the time US adults spent with digital audio to 8.3 percent growth, for a total of 1 hour, 29 minutes per day.

The resilience of digital audio has ignited a race among social media titans to pump out audio-only features users are already flocking to on standalone social audio apps such as Discord and Clubhouse. If they make them, listeners will come as eMarketer estimates nearly 1.5 billion global consumers will listen to digital audio formats such as podcasts and streaming music at least once a month in 2021.

According to WARC’s Marketer Toolkit 2021, 16 percent of advertisers worldwide plan to increase investment in audio in the coming 12 months, while another 38 percent plan to increase spend on podcast advertising.

Discord, which started in 2015 as a chat platform for gamers, boasts 140 million monthly active users who can communicate with each other via audio, text or video in invitation-only servers, namely ‘Stages,’ on a variety of subjects.

Then came Clubhouse, the invite-only live audio conversation app that launched last April. Thanks in part to celebrity appearances by Tesla chief executive officer Elon Musk and Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, the platform now reports more than 10 million weekly active users and says more than 300,000 rooms are created each day. Available only on iOs until recently, Clubhouse launched on Android in May and in doing so added one million Android users.

In April, among a string of new audio products, Facebook announced a Clubhouse copycat called Live Audio Rooms for Facebook and Messenger. Facebook recently hosted its first public test of the feature in the US, hosted by Zuckerberg. Similarly, after a year of testing, Twitter opened its live audio conversation feature, Spaces, to all accounts with 600 or more followers in May. LinkedIn, too, has confirmed it’s developing a social audio feature in its app.

Spotify is the latest to jump on the audio bandwagon, announcing the launch of a new mobile app called Spotify Greenroom which lets users globally join or host live audio rooms, conversations from which they can turn into podcasts. Spotify is betting big on the new app as it also announced a Creator Fund that will help enhance the app’s content.

Why NFTs? Ayzenberg’s VP Of Digital Explains

Imagine having a deed to a coveted work of art or a one-of-a-kind baseball card that can’t be forged, duplicated or lost because it exists in a permanent database. This kind of deed exists. It’s called an NFT, which stands for non-fungible token, and it’s creating a frenzy in the digital world.

By definition, an NFT is a digital certificate of authenticity for a real or virtual object. This digital file is stored on a digital ledger, also known as a blockchain network, that certifies it to be unique and interchangeable. So, what’s all the hype about these tokens? Basically, NFTs create digital scarcity, enabling people to acquire and then flaunt collectibles or certain assets. They give people the power to say, “Hey, I own this and it’s the only one like it in the world.” Needless to say, NFTs as technology are a really smart idea and definitely have a future in a world that’s increasingly being dominated by tech and the desire to stand out.

With the recent buzz around Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey’s auctioning his first tweet, the sale of several high-profile memes and digital artist Beeple’s creation of the first all-digital NFT (sold at Christie’s for $69.3 million)–it’s not hard to understand why some are fascinated with NFTs. NFTs aren’t currently being used as deeds to homes or cars, but they are primarily being used for cards, art and collectibles.

Despite making headlines in recent months, NFTs aren’t necessarily new. One of the first consumer-facing NFTs was actually an Ethereum blockchain trading game called ‘CryptoKitties’ by CryptoPunks. Launched in June 2017, it involves the purchase, collection, breeding and selling of virtual cats. Some fetch enormous price tags and are among the most expensive NFTs to date, like the $390,000 CyrptoKitty Dragon. Since CryptoKitties was born, people have spent $174 million on NFTs and a bunch of industries have tried cashing in on them.

In the art world, NFTs are all the rage. In March, digital artist Beeple compiled his 13 years of art into a collage, titled it ‘The First 5000 Days” and auctioned the piece at Christie’s for $69 million. The sale sent shockwaves throughout the art world overnight. The interesting thing about this though is that it’s not as revolutionary as people would imagine.

Before NFTs, blockchain and computer technology, an art collector could purchase a work of art, own it, then display it indefinitely at a gallery or museum. In essence, the collector bought bragging rights and potentially an investment. Now, NFTs serve nearly the same purpose, just with non-tangible items instead. In a digital world, NFTs are the answer to owning, displaying, and investing in digital art. And I believe that, moving forward, NFTs will play a more important role in the digital art trade and subsequently inspire the creation of more digital art.

The use of NFTs in the digital art space benefits both artists and collectors and may allow the artist itself to act as a collector or as an investor would, but without the total loss that a sale of the art would bring. NFTs allow the creator to specify a “royalty” that they get every time the NFT gets sold. So imagine you create an artwork and sell it. Then that person sells it in a few years, you can get, say, 10 percent off of each time the artwork gets sold. That’s HUGE because in the past the sole beneficiary from the sale of art is the dealer. They buy it cheap while the artist remains unknown. But many years later the artist is either retired or dead and at that point the art is worth way more money. Now when it gets sold, a royalty gets paid to the artist (or their family).

Another industry that stands to gain something from the rise of NFTs is the events space. Concerts, sporting events and conventions are ripe for a convenience haul. NFTs could digitize tickets and may even incentivize event organizers to offer special perks to loyal fans. In turn, these fans would be able to effortlessly display their super-fandom given that their NFT tickets indefinitely remain on the blockchain. Plus, NFTs as a concert ticket could be a way to stop scalpers. In fact, the Dallas Mavericks are thinking about switching their tickets to NFTs.

Record labels and musical artists are also tapping into NFTs. One early adopter is Warner Music Group (WMG), which just announced a worldwide partnership with Genies, an avatar technology company that just debuted its 3D Avatar and Digital Wearables NFT SDK. According to the press release, WMG artists’ favorite cultural moments will be transformed into “Digital Wearable Drops”—apparel, accessories and tattoos—and sold to fans’ Genies avatars. Fans can own and use these digital wearables on their Genie avatar until the end of time. The process will take place on the Genies Marketplace, which will run on Dapper Labs’ Flow Blockchain. Side note: Dapper Labs is the blockchain technology company and maker behind NBA Top Shot (which WMG is invested in).

If the NBA’s dabbling in NFTs via Top Shot is any indication, the events industry is edging closer to NFT adoption. Top Shot is the Association’s attempt at selling officially licensed digital collectible ‘Moments.’ Moments are just that—moments in which a player did something in a game worth converting into an NFT. NBA Top Shots are appealing in part because they boast common, rare and legendary game day moments, causing new packs to sell out within minutes after release. Collectors who miss a drop can purchase a specific moment from other collectors. This gives fans the flexibility to “own their fandom,” according to the NBA. Seeing how simple and successful the NBA has been with Top Shot, it wouldn’t surprise me if other sports and game franchises like Pokémon venture into the NFT space.

The fast-food space has also leveraged NFTs as a marketing tool. Around the time that Beeple’s art was being auctioned off at Christie’s, Taco Bell issued 25 digital assets, taco-themed GIFs and images, on the NFT marketplace Rarible. As The Verge reports, the NFTs sold out in 30 minutes and proceeds benefited the Live Más Scholarship through the Taco Bell Foundation. 

Lest we forget how the luxury fashion brands fit in the NFT picture. In March, Gucci tested the waters before going full-on NFT by dropping $12 augmented reality (AR) sneakers on its app and the Wanna app. The label sold the AR sneakers as a part of an access pack that let shoppers virtually try on the shoe by taking a picture or a video, which would then unlock the shoe on Roblox. As some critics have already noted, when luxury brands support NFTs, they contradict their sustainability commitments because of their environmental impact.

You’re probably wondering how something intangible like blockchain technology can have a negative impact on the environment. In a nutshell: NFTs are bought and sold on digital marketplaces that use the cryptocurrency Ethereum, which is like Bitcoin but also supports NFTs. In order to “mine” Ethereum, a lot—and I mean a lot—of energy is required. And it has to be energy-intensive in order to prevent anyone from messing up the ledger. In total, Ethereum uses almost as much electricity as the entire country of Libya. That’s no joke.

Other than addressing its environmental footprint, if NFTs are to last, there’s a lot of work in terms of regulation that has to be done. As of this writing, there are no laws that say the seller of an NFT has to do one thing or another. There’s no rule mandating that the NFT URL for a piece of digital art remain intact indefinitely, or even that the artist must maintain the site or keep the artwork displayed on that URL. What if the artist were to take the site down or trade the artwork for another? The buyer is screwed. Unfortunately because a regulatory body governing this space doesn’t yet exist, those involved in NFT transactions must have a high risk tolerance. That, or an immense amount of trust in the technology. 

For those working with Christie’s, the NBA, or Taco Bell, there isn’t much to worry about. But for ordinary folks engaging in transactions with each other, the issue of trust, accountability and integrity come into play. Anytime anyone in the NFT space is asked what the solution is to this caveat, the response is the same: “We’re working on it.” I say–don’t hold your breath.

One other area that hasn’t been fleshed out that I think we’ll hear of more in the coming years is the intersection between crime and NFTs. Think about it—it’s the perfect arena for money laundering and other shady activities. Even the infamous Christie’s transaction makes me a little nervous given that the buyer of “The First 5000 Days” was actually a business associate of the artist! Not quite sure how this didn’t raise any red flags. Or maybe it did, but there were no regulatory bodies to look into it. 

Ultimately, I believe NFTs could permeate every sector in some way. When you purchase a house or even a car via NFT, you could avoid banks and the bureaucracy involved with ownership of such assets. That means less title issues and more confidence about these assets’ existence and authenticity. As for influencers and reality television personalities, NFTs could create scarcity and monetization opportunities around content and episodes. If that happens, the number of brand partnerships could plummet. 

NFT is simply a new technology that decentralizes the marketplace, which isn’t necessarily a novel concept. It’s simple and straightforward once you get past all the blockchain jargon. The issue is, blockchain technology is still on the fringe of people’s minds. They’ve heard of it, they know it has something to do with Bitcoin, but it’s still pretty alien to them. Once NFTs become more mainstream, the possibilities for brands, influencers and fans are limitless.

How Digital Media Wire’s Annual LA Games Conference Pivoted To Online

For the second consecutive year, Digital Media Wire’s annual LA Games Conference (LAGC) is going all-virtual. With the gaming industry seeing unprecedented growth throughout the pandemic, there will be a lot of ground to cover at the online event, which is set to take place from May 10-12. The agenda is divided into three categories—Games Business, Hollywood and Creators, and Mobile and Esports—and features more than 50 speakers.

Ahead of the event, we caught up with Tinzar and Ned Sherman, co-founders of Digital Media Wire and LA Games Conference, about this year’s theme, best practices for pivoting to online, how they tackled the absence of in-person networking and more. 

What is the theme of this year’s LAGC and what, if any, was the inspiration for this theme?

LAGC2021 focuses on the intersection between Hollywood and Gaming with focus on popular gaming trends such as UGC, Metaverse, NFTs, esports, diversity and inclusion in games and investment.  Our theme is inspired by the latest business and investment activity in the games ecosystem, which monitor throughout the year through our community and network of news and events.  

Do you have any best practices for putting together an event like LAGC online? 

Whether producing an event online, in person or as a hybrid, our advice is to focus on community and execution.   

What has been or continues to be the most challenging part about pivoting LAGC from in-person to online? 

We use Zoom as our online platform. Since everyone was already familiar with it, the transition from in-person to online conference was smooth. The challenge is to provide a meaningful networking opportunity to attendees looking to meet new contacts. Our attendees are active on chat during the panel sessions and have successfully used the chat format as a way to meet new contacts with whom they connect with after the event. 

Were there any takeaways from taking LAGC online the first time last year? 

The speakers and attendees were highly engaged in the online format.  We also had more global attendees who joined us last year and we are expecting similar global attendance this year. 

How or in what ways does online LAGC differ from the in-person event?

The in-person event had 3 simultaneous tracks and it’s a 1-day event compared to the online event being 3 days for 3 different tracks. The days are shorter for the online conference too so attendees are not sitting in front of the screens the entire day.  

For many, a big drawback of online events is the lack of face-to-face networking—after last year’s online event, do you have any insights on this new form of networking?

Yes, we had explored the alternatives but found that our attendees and speakers are quite good at connecting via Linkedin.  We encourage people to share their Linkedin profiles during the sessions. When we can safely gather again, we hope to host more in-person gatherings and to experiment with hybrid formats. 

How do you see LAGC’s event model evolving? 

We think that the online version is here to stay but there is value in face-to-face meetings and hope to host hybrid events going forward.

The following list represents this year’s LA Games Conference keynotes and featured speakers. See the full list of speakers here.

  • Angela Roseboro- Chief Diversity Officer, Riot Games
  • Ben Feder- President, International Partnerships (North America), Tencent Games
  • Bernard Kim- President of Publishing, Zynga
  • Chris DeWolfe- CEO and Co-Founder, Jam City
  • Jaci Hays- Chief Operations Officer, FaZe Clan
  • Jeonghee Jin- CEO, Pearl Abyss America
  • Maxim de Wit- Global Head of Content, Unity Technologies
  • Samantha Ryan- Senior Vice President, Group GM, BioWare, Full Circle, Maxis, Motive, Electronic Arts
  • Saxs Persson- Co-Chief Creative Officer, Mojang Studios, Minecraft
  • Simon Sim- President and CEO, Netmarble US
  • Stanley Pierre-Louis- President and CEO, Entertainment Software Association (ESA)
  • Ted Schilowitz- Futurist, Paramount Pictures

The IAB 2020/2021 Internet Advertising Revenue Report

Last year, spending confidence and economic activity plunged, with advertisers pausing campaigns and shifting ad dollars from traditional to digital media. According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s 2020/2021 Internet Advertising Revenue Report, that shift resulted in an overall 12.2 percent increase in digital ad revenue last year compared to 2019.

The first half of 2020 was hit particularly hard, with digital ad revenue growth in Q2 declining 5.2 percent YoY. Nevertheless, IAB’s analysis reveals that those losses were offset by revenues in Q3 and Q4—an increase of 11.7 percent and 28.7 percent, respectively.

Lockdown-induced behavior, including the rise in adoption of connected TV, online shopping and at-home services, as well as the surge in social media usage, are among the reasons why digital ad revenues rebounded, and will continue to grow this year.

First off, social media accounted for 29.6 percent of all internet ad revenue, as revenues ballooned to $41.5 billion in 2020—a 16.3 percent YoY growth.

Search continues to dominate, bringing in $59 billion in ad revenues, a 7.8 percent increase since 2019 and representing a 42.2 percent share of total ad revenue.

Yet it’s digital video that saw the biggest ad growth last year, with a 20.6 percent increase in revenue since 2019. It now accounts for a 18.7 percent share of total ad revenue for 2020, a 1.3 percent increase YoY.

Pointing to the format’s rising prominence, IAB mentions that total digital video ad revenues were 61 percent higher in 2020 compared with 2018.

Mobile accounted for a majority of digital video’s growth, surging 25.3 percent to $18.5 billion—the strongest revenue growth across all formats when compared to desktop.

IAB also observed gains in audio revenues. The format grew by over $350 million in 2020, a 13 percent increase YoY largely driven by higher mobile audio revenues.

Programmatic ad revenues grew by $14.2 billion, a 25 percent increase YoY in line with the uptick in agencies and brands that shifted from performance to mission-based marketing. Digital video in particular has seen the biggest increase YoY versus other non-search ad methods, reports IAB.

In 2020, display just slightly increased its share as revenues totaled $44 billion—a 15.4 percent increase. During Q4, display format revenues experienced the strongest YoY growth in revenue, up 35.4 percent since 2019.

In addition to internet advertising, the only other media types with positive ad revenue growth were eSports and video games, at 17.9 percent and 2.5 percent, respectively.

As far as revenues by pricing model, IAB’s data show that 67.1 percent of 2020 internet ad revenues were priced on a performance basis, up from 62.9 percent in 2019; 32.4 percent were priced on a cost per thousand (CPM) basis, down from 35.2 percent in 2019;  and 0.5 percent were priced on a hybrid basis, a 1.9 percent decline from 2019.

Consumers Expect More Digital Experiences From Brands

Over half (53 percent) of consumers believe that online experiences will be more important than in-person ones, according to Appnovation’s latest report, “The Digital Consumer: Shifting Expectation and Digital Readiness.”

The research, based on an online survey among more than 1,500 consumers in the US and Canada, revealed that consumers have two key expectations from brands—to deliver more online experiences and create more digitally-enabled in-person experiences that include touchless technologies.

The top consumer expectation of brands is to care for the safety and wellbeing of their employees (72 percent) and educate consumers about measures they’re taking against the virus (51 percent). But apart from COVID-related expectations, 44 percent of consumers expect more digital experiences from brands, while 45 percent of respondents expect brands to improve existing digital product and service offerings.

Digital self-serve options are also a priority for consumers. Sixty-six percent say they want brands to offer tap-and-go payment options, 65 percent want the option to book appointments through a website or app and 51 percent want to see self-service kiosks.

A majority of consumers surveyed understand that brands struggled to keep up with the digital acceleration amid the pandemic, yet not all are forgiving. Fifty-eight percent of consumers believe brands should have been better prepared to meet their online needs. 

Nearly half of consumers say the pandemic has shown them that everything can be done online and that in-person interactions are no longer needed to have great customer experiences. What’s more, half of millennials say they switched to a new brand based on the digital innovation they leveraged in response to COVID-19.

Looking ahead, though 84 percent of consumers in both the US and Canada say they expect brands to offer a seamless experience between online and in-store shopping, the same number of people say online shopping experiences will never fully replace in-person ones.

Still, brands that don’t increasingly adopt digital solutions will suffer, as 50 percent of consumers say they won’t engage with a brand as often if it doesn’t offer online experiences.

Online interactions surged during the pandemic and are expected to increase even further moving forward, reports Appnovation. This increase will be more pronounced among 25-54 year olds across a variety of verticals–from travel and tourism planning and insurance claims to health and wellness advice and buying non-essentials like clothes.

Consumers–particularly those aged 25-54 who say digital experiences are extremely or very important across all industries–show a strong digital readiness when it comes to the banking, travel and tourism, healthcare and insurance industries.

“Gone are the days when consumers measured and compared your digital experiences to experiences in the same space. Today, they’re comparing you with the very best digital experiences across completely different industries,” says Anton Morrison, Appnovation vice president, experience design.

Some consumers believe that brands have work to do in making certain experiences more digitally-enabled. For example, one in three feel that technological innovation is required to enhance interactions during a car purchase and shopping for essentials such as groceries.

With 67 percent of consumers saying touchless technologies make them feel safer interacting with brands in-person, it’ll be critical for brands to develop these experiences as more people resume pre-pandemic activities. Currently, 58 percent say that when outside their home, touchless technology is part of their everyday routine. Yet another 36 percent say using a self-service touch screen at a public place makes them anxious.

A little more than half of consumers are completely comfortable with sensor and gesture recognition and touchless technology. In addition, 74 percent perceive companies using touchless technologies as caring towards their customers.

Consumers expect their use of voice assistants and faceless recognition usage to grow in the next year or so, at 62 percent and 56 percent, respectively. They see public spaces like hospitals, airports and hotels being a better fit for gesture and sensor recognition technologies. 

Ayzenberg VP Of Digital Michael Marina On The Future Of Virtual Events

Over the past year, virtual events proved critical to the survival of brands. Online concerts, conferences and the like afford organizers benefits that physical events never could, such as reduced costs and carbon footprint, greater accessibility and the ability to reach more digitally connected consumers. However, seeing how some brands have labeled a set of pre-recorded videos “a virtual event” raises the question: What defines a virtual event?

The answer is, we’re still figuring it out. On a foundational level, any time you can get a group of people to congregate, communicate and react to something at the same time, you’ve got yourself a live event to some extent. But according to that standard, there are thousands of live events happening all the time across platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitch. There has to be something more to virtual events than that.

I better understood what that something more entailed when I attended GatsbyConf in March. The free two-day virtual event, hosted on the Hopin platform, was exactly what I’d expect a virtual event to look and feel like. A keynote from Gatsby CEO Kyle Mathews kicked things off before talks and workshops proceeded from various speakers, including those who worked at Gatsby and others from companies like WordPress, Contentful, AgilityCMS and others.

GatsbyConf felt well thought-out for a few reasons. Like CES and other virtual conferences that took place last year, the presentations were pre-recorded videos. But what made these stand out is that after the pre-recorded video ended, GatsbyConf switched to a live stream of the speaker from the video as well as a moderator. Viewers could then submit questions in the chat room and the speaker would answer them live. This elevated pre-recorded content gave it that real-time feeling, which is one factor I think will separate effective virtual events from the rest.

I also noticed a function that directed viewers to a networking section, something similar to Chatroulette, which paired you with someone who had a mutual interest in networking. This feature is particularly important for virtual event organizers to nail as sixty-nine percent of event marketers said in a Bizzabo survey that networking is the biggest problem with virtual sessions. What would’ve made this networking feature on GatsbyConf even better is if participants could choose who specifically they wanted to network with.

Lastly, there was a trade booth area that showcased the logos of the different event sponsors. Upon “entering” that area, there was a live stream where the organizers were taking questions and answering them, but you could also enter a one-on-one chat with them. This felt nearly as natural as it would at an in-person event.

Virtual events have their limitations. For one, engagement can be a problem, like sixty-eight percent of event marketers expressed in the aforementioned Bizzabo survey. Admittedly, I was multitasking during GatsbyConf, trying to focus on presentations while answering work chats and emails.

Moving forward, I imagine events will take on a hybrid form, much like where the workplace is headed, mostly because brands can’t risk hosting super-spreader events. There might be some in-person events, but they’ll be smaller and more exclusive, perhaps only accessible to those in the C-Suite then available for others to livestream. 

Bizzabo predicts this hybrid format will involve micro-events that have virtual components, in other words, an in-person event that takes place one day and a continuation of the event that takes place online the day after. This year, IACC Americas will adopt a similar hybrid format where intimate, in-person events will offer unique experiences while the event’s main elements are broadcast together.

Since virtual experiences are replacing stores, the brands that will truly stand out from the rest will enable shopping directly within live events. As noted in the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s 2021 Brand Disruption report, while the goal of marketing in the age of COVID-19 is still to create a customer, the new way to achieve that goal is through “participation via ongoing communities, social selling, live virtual events, classes, and other forms of active involvement in the brand.”

A brand that I think is getting virtual events right is Bud Light, both for its weekly music series, “Bud Light Seltzer Sessions: Your Flavor,” live-streamed on its YouTube, and its live New Year’s Eve concert headlined by Post Malone. During the latter event, viewers were able to switch between performances, join breakout rooms to watch the show with friends and family, post photos of themselves to a fan wall and enter a giveaway for a chance to win a meet-and-greet with performers.

Another example of a virtual event that exceeded my expectations was the second part of DC FanDome, “Explore the Multiverse.” This was a 24-hour experience that gave fans across the world free access to more than 100 hours of on-demand content, and the ability to choose from panel sessions, screenings and exclusive content from the franchise’s film, television, comics and games. The organizers were wise to include a kid-friendly portion that gave parents a break from the stresses of remote learning. 

Until consumers can decide their comfort levels with dining and shopping out, let alone attending in-person events, brands should utilize virtual events whenever possible. Though they’ll never supplant physical events, virtual events will be a powerful tool for engaging audiences at scale. If Grand View Research’s $78 billion valuation of the industry in 2019 is any indication, virtual events aren’t just a pandemic-induced trend. The firm expects the space will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 23.2 percent from 2020 to 2027.