Twitter’s Day Of Reckoning: Why Earned Media Value Matters More Than Ever

As some of the world’s biggest companies—like General Motors and Dyson—halted their advertising campaigns citing concerns about brand safety, other brands and influencers, like Balenciaga and Gigi Hadid, have left altogether. With 92% of Twitter’s 2022 revenue derived from advertising, new owner Elon Musk has warned employees that the company could face bankruptcy. What’s a social media-focused marketer to do when a client or agency hits pause or delete on a specific social media platform? Look at earned media value.

What is earned media value – and why should it guide marketing decisions?

Earned media value is a metric that adds context and quantifiable value to social media content. It’s key to making decisions about what platform to use or abandon. Earned media value looks at more than clicks—it also examines results—the performance of content within the context of marketing and revenue goals. Earned media value’s data is exceptionally relevant because it looks at opt-in engagement, users voluntarily interacting with content in multiple ways beyond a simple click or a passive scroll-through. When looking at engagement rates on one social media platform or another, it can be helpful to have data-driven insights—or a tool like an earned media benchmarking index that can deliver real-time contextual data—around the clicks and comments that delivered the best results.

Each user interaction is assigned a value based on external, real-world insights through an earned media benchmarking index. This information can be used to guide short-term ad spend strategy pivots as well as long-term social media marketing plans.

Graph displaying values in fluctuation from’s Earned Media Value index. Source: Unmetric

Why earned media value matters more now

Despite Elon Musk’s recent efforts to calm skittish advertisers during a town hall, marketers have been vocal about their concerns about brand safety and Twitter’s future. That makes access to deep audience insights about social engagement performance critical to decisions about campaigns on new platforms and choices about pausing or ending Twitter media spending.

We spoke with the VP of Insights and Analytics at Ayzenberg’s marketing science division, Jocelyn Harjes, about the Twitter debacle.

“At Ayzenberg, we’ve believed in the power of social since the beginning,” stated Harjes. “As a practitioner, key moments in time have stuck out to me – Shoes (Kelly Song), Planking in 2012, and the Harlem Shake in 2013, Mark Zuckerberg testifying to congress explaining what Facebook was, and most recently Corn Kid + The Gregory Brothers bringing us the 2022 song of the year. Social media is a force that can be used to drive good or malice.”

The change in Twitter has been stunning, according to Harjes, and something that begs scrutiny.

 “As Elon took over Twitter, we’ve seen the platform quickly succumb to trolls, as anyone could buy Twitter Blue and impersonate brands. Sure it was funny as the meme-makers utilized the Captain Phillips meme where the hijacker tells the captain that he’s Tom Hanks now. Still, it quickly became something to watch as an impersonator handle of Eli Lilly announced that insulin was going to be free.”

Twitter’s rollercoaster is now no laughing matter for brands and their marketers, according to Harjes. “Through this one tweet, we now have a quantifiable impact that social can have on the value of a company. Additionally, Eli Lilly lost billions of dollars in market cap due to one Tweet, only further supporting the need to understand your Earned Media Value and optimize your marketing efforts through its application.”

For marketers seeking to alter or pause a Twitter campaign, we’re sharing four tips to keep in mind below.

Focus on people, not platforms

Brands on Twitter or any other social media platform are looking for ways to connect with consumers when they are talking about or searching for information that might lead to a conversion. Since consumers search and discuss products and services on multiple platforms, marketers looking to reallocate budgets can look to platforms that deliver content or immersive experiences that spark these social conversations or searches. Platforms like Twitch, for example, can provide new opportunities to engage consumers through influencer content and high-impact video ads and present valuable social listening data that can inform future strategies. While social media platforms may evolve or disappear, social content will still be the most powerful way to create brand ambassadors and build brand awareness.

Deliver utility, not just content

Twitter’s core utility for consumers and brands is connected to its announcement functions—it can broadcast to millions, opens up conversations to a global audience, and provides real-time engagement data in a way that’s hard to duplicate. When it goes wrong—such as the recent faux free insulin announcement by a blue-check account that was not connected to the Eli Lilly company, results can be catastrophic for brands and marketers. Regardless of the future of Twitter—consumers will go where their digital experiences deliver a specific utility that they can’t get elsewhere. For marketers, that means a shift from “Here is what we want to tell you” to “Here is something you can use.” That engagement offer may take the form of a live stream with live comments or a metaverse event that delivers access to reusable downloadable content.

Rethink old ideas about audience segments

As Twitter’s ongoing challenges are causing marketers to rethink social media as a marketing channel, the audience may also merit a rethink. Consumers interact with Twitter for conversation and news, and creative brand marketers can deliver the same type of utility wherever there is an opportunity to engage with them; that means finding audiences wherever they are and learning how to connect with them in more efficient and enduring ways—beyond limited audience segments tied to a single platform. This may entail gleaning insights from new platforms and looking beyond traditional audience segments to broader cultural shifts, such as gaming.

Successful brand messages are really about values

Consumers are not leaving social media, even if its old format has evolved well beyond what it looks like today. Audiences congregate, interact and shop based on values—in every sense of the word. Marketers know how to craft messages to match what consumers care about on a heart level and a wallet level. Decoupling that skill from a single social media channel means translating that expertise into a new model of what social media is and may become. A consumer may be on Twitch while scrolling TikTok on their phone—they may voice search a product from Alexa and they won’t care where the content that delights and surprises them comes from. Marketers who understand the need for balance in messaging, frequency, and context will be able to find them and engage with them based on their old-school skills: wrangling data, creativity, and a deep understanding of their brand to connect—with or without that pesky blue check on their brand profile.

Reaching Today’s Consumers Means Understanding Twitch

Much like film, television and social media, gaming has transformed culture and become part of consumers’ lifestyles. With most adults and youth gaming at least once per week, brand marketers are waking up to the potential of reaching consumers on the gaming platforms they love, like Twitch. However, matching brand messaging to the moment and developing the right long-term strategy to connect with consumers can be complex, even for seasoned marketers. For game publishers, a long-term Twitch marketing strategy is essential—long before a game moves from ideation to development. As a game develops, publishers need access to granular insights on shifts in consumer preferences and gameplay behaviors—insights that can be difficult to glean without access to a powerful analytics suite.

Helixa, an audience intelligence platform, has partnered with Ayzenberg to deliver a webinar on Nov. 16 on how to understand what motivates audiences on and off Twitch, as well as how to build a powerful marketing strategy—or game—that engages consumers and meets their expectations.

Ahead of the meeting, we sat down with Laia Pescetto, VP of global marketing at Helixa, and Alex Lawson, senior research analyst, to hear some of their thoughts on why Twitch is central to audience engagement for brands and game publishers.

Gaming is not just a pastime anymore—it is as essential to our lives as texting or social media. So how did gaming shift from a pastime to a cultural force and lifestyle?

Laia Pescetto: Film, TV and music all had a way of reaching large audiences almost from conception, and with the rise of streaming platforms, we’ve seen an insane increase in content consumption and creation, providing pockets of niche interest to the most passionate audience segments.

Gaming has had the direct inverse journey, starting with a smaller niche and siloed audiences, with no way to easily connect with other gamers at scale. Not to mention the various gaming categories drew extremely loyal fanbases, people identified via the types of games they play, whether first-person shooter or fantasy, etc. The expansion of the gaming universe into online gaming and streaming platforms provided the scale that made it possible to connect with other gamers from anywhere in the world.

Platforms like YouTube and Twitch also allowed gamers to make themselves part of the cultural zeitgeist by playing games for an audience. Combining that with the ability to host esports and game tournaments in a public space like a stadium has made gaming a true cultural force by making it easier for like-minded individuals to connect and share their passion. Now brands have caught up and are creating relevant experiences via partnerships or their own products to connect with this audience that is growing in influence by the day.

What can brands and marketers learn from looking at gaming insights, and what might those insights tell us about how people will relate to media and/or advertising in the future?

Alex Lawson: Product placement has been popular in film, television and advertising for a long time now. For example, many of us remember the iPod commercials and how the songs featured in them would often reach the top of the charts. So if you look at another massive cultural phenomenon in the FIFA games, you can use insights to know what genres of music that audience loves, and if you’re managing talent that would resonate with this audience, it would be a great platform to be included in next year’s game.

The same approach is true for the gamers that stream on Twitch and YouTube as well as the esports teams that play in front of crowds of thousands. Esports teams like FaZe Clan are rebranding themselves as creators and doing brand partnerships that live outside the constraints of digital gaming. We can now do this with everything ranging from what clothing brands our characters could be wearing to what beer should be on the tap heads in a game’s bar to furniture brands in home-building games. The options are nearly limitless for partnerships between game developers and brands/marketers.

We can use those insights to inform campaigns relevant to the passion of every segment under the gaming umbrella. Deeper audience intelligence can also inform game design and marketing to develop new gaming experiences.

The Nov. 16 webinar will cover:

  • Who are Twitch users?
  • Twitch users’ interests, lifestyles and favorite videos games
  • How Helixa can assist with game design and development

Click here to learn more and register for the webinar.

Takeaways From Elon Musk’s Live Twitter Q&A

As Twitter boss Elon Musk faces advertiser flight and brewing controversy over his layoff of thousands of Twitter employees, including 15% of its Trust and Safety staff, he took to Twitter Spaces to respond to questions and deliver his take on the last few weeks. We’re sharing six takeaways based on participants’ questions below.

Musk knows that his personal brand is co-mingled with Twitter’s—and that it can be an issue.

“Twitter cannot simply be some extension of me because then anyone who doesn’t agree with me will be put off. So, Twitter must be as a platform as neutral as possible. That doesn’t mean I am. But it is important to have broad acceptance, and the platform be neutral and as inclusive as possible to the widest demographic possible. That is the only path to success”.

Brands want scale, relevance, brand safety, suitability and the ability to measure ROI: Twitter has got some serious work to do in these areas.

“I think we’re probably not doing great on any of them. We’re doing okay on some (of these); we’re terrible at relevance. And one of the ways we’re going to address that is by integrating ads into recommended tweets. So the relevance of recommended tweets is much better than the relevance of the ads. Because they’re two different engines, we need to have them be the same software stack. So I’ve reorganized Twitter software from having three different software groups to having one, that’s occurred just in the past week. So we really need to improve the relevance of the ads. If an ad is highly relevant and timely, then it’s really information. Like, it’s something you might actually want to buy when you want to buy it, that’s great. But if it’s something you’d never want to buy, then it’s annoying. And it’s spam. And that doesn’t serve the advertiser or the user. So that’s incredibly important to improve that. So that’s a major priority. And I think you’ll see that get way better in the coming months.”

Musk sees brand safety as a key driving factor in advertisers’ willingness to work with Twitter.

“When I hear brand safety, what I think I’m hearing is that we need to make sure that the brand overall is protected reputationally in the long term. So that, you know, there may be something that drives short-term sales, but it’s next to hateful content. And that may drive short-term sales, but it’s ultimately detrimental in the long term. So if I would put myself in the CEO / CMO position of any advertiser, I’d say, ‘Well, I want to make sure we do drive sales in the short term, but we’re also not doing anything that damages our reputation in the long term.’ So we obviously need to address both shorter and long-term factors.

Video is a key area that Musk plans to develop on Twitter and eventually connect to verified profiles

Video is definitely an area where Twitter has been historically weak, and it is an area that we’re going to invest in tremendously. I did ask people what (they thought) about Vine, not that we would want to resurrect Vine in its original state, but just would they want a ‘Vine-like’ thing, but reimagined for the future. And people were excited about that,” Musk said.

He continued on the topic of increasing video length for verified Twitter users: “There are a bunch of fundamental tech technology architecture changes needed at Twitter to support significant video. So, we’ve got to make those core software upgrades and server upgrades to support a large amount of video, but we are going to do that. It’s kind of a no-brainer.”

Musk envisions Twitter as a future ecosystem for content creators to monetize their content and manage earnings easily

We also need to enable the monetization of content for creators. And if we provide creators with the ability to post what they create on our platform, and to monetize it, at a rate that is at least competitive with the alternatives, then, of course, creators will natively post their content on Twitter; why not? So those are, those are kind of no-brainer moves. Then – tied to paid verified accounts from someone who has been authenticated by the sort of conventional payment system. Now we can say like, okay, you’ve got a balance on your account. Do you want to send money to someone or money to someone else [on] Twitter? And maybe we pre-populate the account and say, ‘Okay, we’re gonna give you 10 bucks, and you can send it anywhere within Twitter. Then if you want to execute, get it out of the system, then, okay, well, now you send it to bank accounts, attach an authenticated bank account to your Twitter account, then the next step would be this offer an extremely compelling money market account to get an extremely high yield on your balance, then why not move cash into Twitter? And then add debit cards, checks and whatnot. And I think it will just basically make the system as useful as possible. And the more useful and entertaining it is, the more people will use it.

Musk sees Twitter as a future hub of one-click social shopping

We’ve got a lot to do on the software side, I can’t emphasize that enough. So we’ve got to write a lot of code here. And we’ve got to change a bunch of the existing code base. We want advertising to be highly relevant and timely. How do we get the ad to be as close to content as possible? I mean, if you are shown an opportunity to buy something that you actually want when you want it, that’s great. That’s content. Then from a commerce standpoint, if you’re able to buy things quickly, you know, effortlessly on Twitter, with one click, that’s like—that’s great. Like, the more we don’t want to make buying things inconvenient or require, you know, going through many steps, the easier it is to get to obtain the product or service that you want, the better it is for the user.

TikTok Made Me Play It: Four Takeaways From TikTok’s First Gaming Webinar

TikTok recently hosted a webinar to showcase the platform’s most successful use cases in game discovery. The webinar, introduced by TikTok’s Blake Chandlee, president of global business solutions, highlighted TikTok’s success as a game discovery platform as well as its ability to provide new collaboration opportunities for brands. Other hosts included:

  • Assaf Sagy, Head of Global Gaming, Global Business Solutions, TikTok
  • Julia Victor, Head of Brand – The Sims, Electronic Arts
  • Naor Itzhak, Senior Director of Creative Marketing, Playtika
  • Sami Thessman, VP of Global Marketing, 2K
  • Ioana Hreninciuc, Chief Product Officer, Homa Games
  • Vincent Tan, Senior Marketing Manager, VNG

Below, we’re sharing four key takeaways from the event.

Cultural Shifts Have Transformed The Way Game Marketers Launch And Promote Games

According to Chandlee, TikTok is benefiting from game publishers’ desire to create more impactful marketing campaigns by taking a different view on how to approach gamers.

“Leading publishers are completely changing the way people discover and play their games,” Chandlee told attendees. “They’re building mainstream culture through entertainment. They’re innovating and finding new players for their games through organic and paid [search] and running live event campaigns.”

“Gaming is now mainstream entertainment. They’re not only about playing anymore; they’re about engaging with culture,” Sagy said. “This shift in consumer behavior also drove evolution in our industry. Leading publishers have elevated their strategies. They’re now focused on launching games [to a] mass market. They’re targeting very broad audiences. They’re building cultures around their games as entertainment brands. With TikTok, you can build the hype required for a successful launch and can engage with mass audiences rapidly. You can design a culture around your game driven by the power of the community and generate performance results in the next few minutes.”

TikTok Is A Must For Game Publishers Seeking New Audiences

According to the company, TikTok has produced some exceptional metrics in game discovery and game brand engagement:

  • 75 percent of TikTok gamers discovered new gaming content on TikTok.
  • 41 percent of TikTok gamers co-created on TikTok.
  • TikTok mobile gamers are 70 percent more likely to talk about games on social media.

TikTok Users Are Active Gamers Who Convert Frequently

TikTok users game frequently and respond to messaging around gaming well. According to data gathered by the social media giant’s research partner, marketers who employed TikTok as a component of their marketing strategy saw high conversion rates:

  • 41 percent of users downloaded the game.
  • 26 percent purchased to play.

There Is A Shift From Long-Form To Short-Form Content, And Game Publishers Are Owning It

TikTok boasts one billion users and those users have helped the platform amass billions of hours of gaming content views. Game publishers and gamers are dominating on TikTok. It’s not just because gaming lends itself to quick and addictive Let’s Plays, but because TikTok users see the platform as a place to discover new brands and engage with them. According to the company:

  • On average, TikTok’s gaming audience follows 12 Business Accounts.
  • 61 percent of TikTok users see brands more favorably if they create or participate in a trend on TikTok.
  • TikTok followers are 191 percent more likely to like or comment than non-followers.

View the entire webinar here.

Twexit: Why It May Be Time To Rethink Social Channels (But Not Run Away)

Like Brexit, very smart, professional people have convincing arguments for abandoning Twitter or staying on board and riding through the (possible) storm. The dustup is causing brand advertisers are rethinking their platform strategies. But shouldn’t everyone?

What The Little Bird Already Told Us

As he famously requested by carrying a bathroom sink into Twitter headquarters, corporate America let Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter sink in, and then some brands jumped ship—or put their Twitter strategy on hold. It isn’t just that Musk says and does a lot of controversial things or that—as in the case of General Motors and Ford—he also runs a direct competitor to their businesses. The concern is what could happen to Twitter, according to at least 12 major brands that requested their agency of record to pause their Twitter campaigns, as reported by The Wall Street Journal.

Many brands and influencers have voiced concern about Twitter sliding into questionable territory with respect to fringe politics. To Twitter’s credit, the company already admitted many of its issues, ranging from algorithmic bias to audience measurement, long before Musk bought the company.

In October 2021, the company told the BBC that its algorithms were causing the platform to surface some content in users’ feeds based on political alignment. After reviewing millions of Tweets sent in 2020, Twitter’s researchers presented evidence that its algorithms automatically promoted content with specific political leanings in Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Spain, the U.K., and the U.S.

Twitter has also made no secret of its issues with audience estimation. In August, the company revealed that 23 million accounts, representing 8.5 percent of its user base, were bots. The company also stated in September that it had overstated its audience by nearly two million since 2017, according to the Financial Times. This is not a huge percentage of its total user base, but it matters. Also, Twitter’s heavy tweeters, which account for less than 10 percent of users, generate 90 percent of the platform’s content and half of its revenue. According to Reuters, an internal report states that heavy tweeters have been in steady decline since 2020.

Then, there is the issue of problematic ad placement. Just last month, Coca-Cola, Disney, Dyson, Forbes, PBS Kids, and others found their ads next to tweets soliciting child pornography and subsequently paused or canceled their campaigns. The issue isn’t due to a lack of vigilance on Twitter’s part, however. It appears to be an issue of scale. If Twitter, or any other social media platform, is unable to identify and block inappropriate content, algorithms simply do their work and place ads where they are likely to find an interested audience.

According to The Verge, a research team assessing Twitter’s ability to detect exploitative content at scale consistently admitted the platform currently lacked the tools necessary to launch its version of an adult content business with a paywall, as it was still struggling to manage its existing filtering efforts. According to The Verge, which quoted an internal Twitter report, Twitter’s efforts to filter out offensive or illegal content—the type of posts the platform bans in its terms of service—sometimes fail, and if these failings continue unchecked, it may place Twitter at “legal and reputational risk.”

But that’s the kind of risk that social media platforms and brands with their own online communities face constantly. Twitter’s issues are social media issues: A change in Twitter’s leadership may make those posting inappropriate content feel like it may be easier to fly under the radar; there’s no place that will be friction-free for brands.

Fleeing Twitter won’t solve fundamental technical and human resource problems that make it difficult for social media platforms to keep ads and inappropriate content apart. That’s also true for other problems like audience measurement and algorithmic bias: they are everywhere and brand marketers must do the work—monitoring and calling out inconsistencies in brand safety policies or performance reporting—wherever they land in social media. Considering a Twexit? Here are three things to keep in mind:

It’s Time To Decouple Audience From Platforms

It may be wise to rethink social media strategy and decouple a pursuit of audience from a specific platform. Your Twitter audience is also likely elsewhere on social, so focus on content and the value that your messaging will bring at that moment. Your messaging should be relevant to your audience wherever they are. If your audience leaves Twitter, your marketing strategy should be agile enough to adapt quickly.

Leaving A Platform Means Leaving Its Unique Context—And Its Potential For User Engagement

According to Hootsuite, 65 percent of Twitter users lean toward or identify as Democrats, 42 percent hold college degrees, second only to LinkedIn, and 30 percent are women. While only 0.2 percent of Twitter users use the platform exclusively, your messaging may miss a vital context for specific audience segments. When building brand awareness, be just as audience-aware as you are context-savvy. Deliver a message that makes sense for your potential audience and for how they tend to interact with content or ads on Twitter as opposed to other platforms.

Be Vigilant: Don’t Leave Your Brand’s Safety To An Algorithm—Anywhere

Keep up with brand safety standards (like Twitter’s) and, if possible, keep tabs on the keywords users employ to arrive at content that appears next to your ads through your ad manager. While Meta is introducing a new tool to show brands where their ads appear in users’ feeds and allow them to block post content types on a more granular level, Twitter’s new boss has promised to help keep brands safe but offered no specifics. That may change, but brands can protect themselves best by maintaining and keeping watch over ad placements and ensuring that marketing strategy plans include trusted brand-safe environments that can accommodate campaigns if (or when) a Twitter-exit becomes necessary.

TikTok Amps Up Brand Appeal With Ad Tech Tools

This week in social media news, we’re looking at the launch of TikTok World, Kanye West’s new social platform purchase aspirations as well as a new brand activation in Roblox from Invisalign.

Welcome To TikTok World

TikTok launched TikTok World, its global product summit, on October 13th by presenting a slew of user engagement features and ad performance monitoring tools designed to make the platform more appealing and user-friendly to brand marketers.

The Details:

TikTok announced a new performance monitoring tool called ‘Focused View’, which will charge advertisers based on user attention and engagement rates. Advertisers only pay when users interact with an ad or watch an ad for six seconds. This may help advertisers get better insights into their ad spend and craft their campaigns around unique user behaviors (like rapid swiping past ads) that can make it harder to judge true engagement. The company also added new customization capabilities to its lead generation forms, a ‘Showtimes’ ad unit for movies that allows users to see showtimes and buy tickets in-stream, and new search options its creator marketplace that may help brands find the right influencer more easily.

Why It Matters:

Boasting more than 1 billion monthly users, with an average 80 minutes per day of viewing by the average American viewer, TikTok earned more ad revenue than Twitter and Snapchat combined in 2022. But the platform has recently experienced controversy over the possible influence of its ownership by China-based ByteDance and even a high-profile misfire—such as the ultimately reversed effort to expand TikTok Shop, the company’s live e-commerce feature in July after lackluster customer engagement. Many brand marketers see an immense opportunity in TikTok, but many remain hesitant: About half of the world’s biggest brands have no TikTok presence. TikTok may hope to change that by enhancing its ad tech tools. 

Kanye West Wants To Purchase Parler

After Kanye West was pilloried for recent anti-semitic comments and a denial that George Floyd was murdered and banned from Twitter and Instagram, the performer announced that he is following Elon Musk and intends on purchasing a major social media platform. 

The Details:

Parler, which billed itself as a home for social conservatives, was briefly shut down by Amazon Web Services after the Jan. 6 attack on the capital for doing too little to monitor and report messages and posts promoting violence. The company, once valued at $1 billion, has struggled to regain followers after its shut down by Amazon web services.

Why It Matters:

Parler’s downloads increased ten-fold in the aftermath of January 6th before the website was shut down. Whether those users were simply joining out of curiosity or seeking like minds, a divided country appears to be developing an equally divided social media universe. The increased attention social media companies are devoting to influencers making inflammatory statements post-Jan. 6 means that more unpredictable influencers may be creating their own echo chambers in the near future.  

Smart Shopping App Karma Offers Single Checkout, Multi-Brand Shopping

Smart shopping app Karma has launched a single-swipe checkout option for shoppers. Once consumers enter their payment details, they can shop at multiple stores and websites and choose their payment options, ranging from credit and debit to installment plans.

The Details:

Pay With Karma allows consumers to pay the lowest price and choose from a range of payment methods without paying separately at each store.

Why it Matters:

Simplified payment options make it easier for brands to lead consumers from engaging with deals-focused content to a purchase. This also means that price-conscious consumers will have more options to comparison shop, making the “other” motivations for conversion, like customer service and brand affinity, important components of a successful campaign. 

Social Campaign Spotlight: Invisalign In Roblox’s LiveTopia 

This August, Invisalign created an “interactive dentist office” in Roblox’s Livetopia.

The Details:

The campaign, created by Publicis Groupe, Starcom and IF7, makes a dentist’s office an explorable open world with examination rooms and two mini-games. The games allow users to play through the challenges of traditional braces and explore the benefits of the Invisalign product by chewing gum, eating popcorn and corn on the cob, and then joining a football game. Since its launch, 2.1 million users have interacted with the “Invisalign Confidence” experience.

Why it Matters:

Brands are becoming more creative in the way they leverage the unique features of virtual space. Instead of simply relying on banner-like branded content, the most successful campaigns are making metaverse experiences that feel native to their environment because they enhance or add features to the experience consumers want.

What Marketers Need To Get Right About Social Commerce

Consumers are returning more items than ever before when buying from social commerce marketplaces: Marketers should be aware of why some aren’t coming back after a purchasing misfire.

Social Commerce Is Popular, But Trust Is An Issue

SimplicityDX’s Social Commerce Returns Survey asked 1,002 U.S. consumers about their perceptions of their shopping experiences.

While 82% of consumers are shopping through Facebook-branded marketplaces (52% via peer-to-peer shopping), Instagram is consumers’ destination of choice for name-brand products (15% of sales), with TikTok serving 9% of social commerce shoppers.

Regardless of where shoppers are finding products, their choice to shop on social commerce rather than, say, Amazon is either because they’ve engaged with an ad or branded content, or because they are searching for something not found easily on an alternative site. That makes user experience critical for brands selling on social commerce marketplaces.

SimplicityDX’s findings revealed that a single negative experience could transform consumer perceptions of social commerce. After making a return, 66 percent of social commerce shoppers stated that they are unlikely to purchase via a social commerce marketplace again and would exercise caution if, at some point, they decided to do so.

According to a recent survey by Accenture, nearly half of consumers who shop via social channels do not trust that their purchases are secure and anticipate that returns will be an issue. Social commerce shoppers ranked easy returns and refunds, clear product descriptions and images and loyalty rewards as their top three priorities. When consumers are unhappy with the user experience on social shopping journeys, they tend to bail on the experience, and for users flush with shopping alternatives, it may be hard to convert them a second time.

That means brand marketers’ efforts to drive sales through social channels may be wasted if user experience falls short. The study shows that 49 percent of consumers who made a return after purchasing on a social commerce marketplace stated that they would prefer to buy directly from the brand in the future—just 17 percent were willing to chance another social commerce purchase again.

Of course, this looks like an opportunity for brands—even if consumers are dissatisfied with a social commerce storefront. The problem is that a consumer simply Googling for their favorite brand might end up anywhere, with consumers purchasing from private resellers on eBay, Amazon, Etsy or even sites selling knock-offs.

User experience on social commerce sites really matters. Thankfully, marketers aren’t powerless to protect their brands. Below, we’re listing three rules to employ when developing social commerce campaigns or launching a new storefront:

Ensure that the shopper’s journey is simple and value-focused.

Users don’t want complexity when they look for new items or make a purchase. Make sure that checkout processes are smooth and easy to navigate (or use a platform plug-in that makes this easy).

Make it easy to view and learn about new items without too many clicks.

It is easy to lose sight of what consumers really want when the temptation to overwhelm users with content is so strong. Shopping on social commerce sites should be as effortless as reading a news feed—consumers don’t want to work at learning about a product when they are in lean-back mode.

Make social commerce more rewarding than going to their favorite ecommerce site.

Everyone loves rewards, but social commerce shoppers are in a unique position that makes rewarding them rewarding for marketers as well. When consumers are shopping on their social media accounts, they are already connected to other consumers who value their opinion—making them happy with rewards, a great deal or a fun shopping experience can transform them into instant brand ambassadors. 

The bonus for getting social commerce right? According to the Accenture study mentioned above, social commerce shoppers are two times as likely to buy from a brand they’ve never heard of before and also twice as likely to buy a bundle of recommended products as other shoppers.

Snapchat’s AR Gambit: What Marketers Should Know

Snapchat’s AR offerings may be a sleeping giant for brand marketers seeking to engage Gen Z users resistant to traditional banner or video ads.

Why Marketers Shouldn’t Overlook Snap 

Snapchat has 347 million daily users who spend an average of 27 minutes a day on the site—that’s more active viewers than the entire population of the U.S. and just three minutes less than Facebook. Snapchat also has great demographic engagement for those seeking to reach 13-34 year-olds. According to the company, 75 percent of millennials and Gen Z use Snapchat, and most of these users are also Instagram and TikTok users. Brand marketers can reach the same audiences on those sites through Snapchat—with the added benefit of engaging creative options like AR.

Outside – There Be AR Dragons

Before HBO’s House of the Dragon launched on August 21, Snap helped HBO bring the show’s iconic dragons to life through a dragon-themed AR lens. Snap’s selfie Lens allows users to transform their image into a fire-breathing dragon and fly and interact with other dragons in worldview mode.

Customized location-based AR experiences for Los Angeles, Rio De Janeiro, London, Mumbai and Prague will continue to roll out throughout the season. HBO’s use of AR with Snap is telling, with an estimated $100 million in media spend available for House of the Dragon. Why AR for a network that could seemingly spend almost “anything” on “anything?” Well, they work, according to a recent study, even better than many traditional ad formats. According to a recent study by Magna Global, AR ads perform just as well as pre-roll video ads for brands and outperform them when it comes to purchasing intent and consumers stating that the ad made them feel closer to the brand and excited about using the product or service. Per the report, those results were uniformly positive among respondents in Australia, Canada, France, and The US—with purchase intent showing a 13 percent boost at the beginning of the sales journey after the initial viewing. 

How Marketers Can Use AR To Boost Brand Engagement

AR has plenty of non-fantasy applications to offer brand marketers. Here are just three:

Product Interactions

Leveraging AR technology to get users to engage virtually can be a powerful tool for promoting brand recall. According to the Magna Global report, 70 percent of consumers surveyed reported that a virtual try-on option would boost their purchase intent.

Adding AR Into The Mix Of Retargeted Ads Or A New Ad Sequence

Users already on a purchase journey may react best to an engaging AR ad. Users in the middle of an ad sequence showed a 27 percent increase in their “excitement about the brand.”

Use AR As A Content Alternative

AR delivers what few other ad formats can: a user’s full attention. Getting a consumer to sit still and consume ad content is hard work—but not when it is engaging—and AR goes a long way to deliver on the “fun” aspect of content by gamifying interactions. 

A big plus for brand marketers seeking to dabble in AR is that 63% of Snapchat users, about 200 million people, interact with an AR feature daily, according to the company. Whether marketers use an influencer to promote preexisting AR content or develop original content, AR can be a painless way to bring a brand into the metaverse.

What YouTube’s New Podcast Play Means For Brand Marketers

According to a recent survey of 3,000 consumers aged 13 and up by Luminate, YouTube edged out Spotify and Apple Podcasts as the most used platform to listen to podcasts—but there’s a catch: A lot of it is actually video.

The Details:

Luminate’s Podcast360 report reveals that 78 percent of consumers surveyed use YouTube to discover new podcasts and keep up with favorites. That makes sense: YouTube adds an extra layer of immersion to podcast listening—video—and it also gives creators the opportunity to share extras—like links in their bios, images or other video clips that audio-only listeners miss.

According to the Luminate study, 59 percent of podcast listeners watch their podcasts on a video platform, with YouTube as the undisputed leader. That power is not lost on YouTube, which is facing competition from TikTok and Snap for users’ attention. The difference is that for advertisers seeking to reach Gen Z and millennials, YouTube has the lion’s share of users’ attention when it comes to content. According to eMarketer, two-thirds of the U.S. population visits YouTube at least once per month. That’s a huge audience that could be primed for new podcast discovery and that could help increase YouTube’s online engagement rates. Approximately 104 million Americans listen to podcasts on a regular basis and 66 percent of those listeners who identify as podcast fans are 18-34, per BuzzSprout. Boosting YouTube’s podcast appeal may not only keep young podcast fans online, but it may also help YouTube reach aging populations like millennials who, along with Gen Z, show respectable rates of daily podcast listening (both 32 percent of those who listen to podcasts) according to S&P Global

This brings context to YouTube’s recent, US-only launch of a dedicated homepage for podcasts. The page will not only help users find their favorite podcast content and discover new ones, but it may also be part of an A/B test to get emergent creators excited about shifting their brands to YouTube from its competitors over time. While purportedly leaked plans for an expanded podcast strategy hints at practical improvements for creators (like RSS uploads), YouTube’s soft launch may have been nudged along by TikTok’s reported plans to launch a music service. YouTube is currently offering incentives of up to $300k to creators willing to deliver video versions of popular podcasts, according to 9to5Google. Merging formats as a creator is a lot easier when there is a search, ads and video behemoth like Google behind an offer. While TikTok has a powerful draw for Gen Z viewers, YouTube is still the OG with a powerful ad network, analytics and brand name penetration among all demographics, not just the kids. Only about 42% of millennials use TikTok, while 82 percent use YouTube.

What It Means For Marketers:

There will be some intriguing opportunities for brand marketers to get in on the “ground floor” of YouTube’s podcast push. Podcast creators and influencers looking to expand their content range may find YouTube eager for quality content. The good news for brand marketers is not just that there are opportunities to reach new audiences with creative ad formats. There will be new content options, too. Creatives can deliver powerful branded content, from fiction to video/podcast hybrids that take advantage of YouTube’s live-streaming and watch party features to drive new levels of brand engagement. But it may take a while for YouTube to roll out all of its planned creator goodies. That gives marketers some breathing space to create a strategy that can leverage creator relationships to develop exciting new content formats.

Check out YouTube’s new page here.

TikTok Is Testing Snapchat Copy ‘Nearby’ Feature

TikTok’s rapid ascendance has taken vertical content and mobile viewing to new heights yet unrealized by Snapchat and now to seemingly pour more salt in that wound, TikTok is stealing what was arguably Snapchat’s best feature: being able to see what’s going on nearby.

Given the level of niche insights into an individual’s interests, the TikTok version of this feature has the potential to be highly targeted, just like its For You page algorithm.

A foodie? How about these cool places nearby where other folks have been filming TikTok’s? Big on travel? Check out these hotels for a top-tier staycation.

Currently, the Nearby feature is only appearing for some users at the moment and has been fully confirmed by TechCrunch.

“We’re always thinking about new ways to bring value to our community and enrich the TikTok experience,” a spokesperson for TikTok replied via na email to TechCrunch.

It appears that location tags on the app are about to get far more important and brands with physical retail presence should begin to incentivize consumers to tag their locations as much as possible.

Instagram also ripped a searchable map tool as of July this year, signaling that we could soon have enhanced geo-targeting capabilities on social platforms beyond where people live, but also places they frequent and support.