The Metaverse And Money: How Brands Are Driving Investors’ Virtual Habit

The metaverse is more than Meta; It’s an amalgamation of all the technologies and tools that allow consumers and brands to interact efficiently in virtual spaces. It has been mocked as the exclusive domain of gangly avatars and semi-creepy AI chatbots, but a practical side is bringing investors and brands to the table.

Keanu Reeves’ naysaying aside, the Metaverse offers a lot more than freaky AI avatars. Investors see it as a tool for commerce and other practical, needful things—like medical training tools and expanded educational resources for developing nations. Big brands—like Walmart—are using metaverse-adjacent technology, like VR headsets, to reduce employee training time from eight hours to 15 minutes, without sacrificing results, according to a post by The World Bank. Brands’ potential to innovate in the space is driving billions in investment

Why Keanu Reeves Is Right—and Wrong—About The Metaverse

“It’s this sensorium. It’s spectacle,” Keanu Reeves said in a recent interview with AV Club. “And it’s a system of control and manipulation. We’re on our knees looking at cave walls and seeing the projections, and we’re not having the chance to look behind us. Or to the side.”

While the metaverse may be a little of all of that, it’s also a powerful tool for consumers to interact directly with brands, influencers and multi-sensory versions of the content that they love. Its power is in its immediacy and the user’s ability to choose how intense or how little immersion with a content experience they choose.

For many investors, the metaverse is more than a place some people game: it’s a reservoir of consumer data and a potential destination for all kinds of activities that go along with gaming platforms, like live-streamed events and shopping.

Roblox, for example, has accelerated its music label partnerships since 2020, with artists from Lil Nas X to K-Pop stars NCT 127 launching events on the platform. Roblox is also appealing to investors as it defies inflation fears by showing a 22 percent growth in in-game purchases. That boost has perhaps piqued the interest of brands like Walmart, who launched a branded content experience, Walmart Land, which features a Livetopia experience, virtual merchandise and concerts. Roblox stock soared recently based on its strong earnings.

According to a recent report by Grandview Research, the total addressable market for metaverse commerce is immense and growing.

The Metaverse is Actually Making Money—The Old Fashioned Way

A recent report by Statista shows that it isn’t just investors that are bullish on specific metaverse properties. Consumers are using virtual spaces for gaming, interacting with content in new ways and connecting with new retail experiences. Successful metaverse companies are actually earning much of their appeal to investors by delivering services and experiences consumers want.

“Metaverse e-commerce sales alone could grow to more than $200 billion by 2030 from currently just around $20 billion,” writes Statista’s Katharina Buchholz. “Gaming is expected to grow even more, from just around $10 billion as of now to around $163 billion in 2030. The next biggest applications for metaverse revenue are health & fitness, workplace, and education.” 

The Takeaway:

Marketers may be using certain platforms to target very young consumers. Still, due to the widespread popularity of gaming, brands can reach broad audiences that include millennials and even Gen Xers and up by investing in gaming platform partnerships. Because the majority of consumers game, a marketing strategy that leverages gaming platforms’ multi-generational appeal can help brands engage new audiences with hybrid retail experiences that introduce them to products or services that they may not go looking for otherwise. That means getting back to basics – building powerful and useful content experiences that consumers want to interact with on a regular basis.

According to a recent report by KPMG, the metaverse’s potential is enormous but difficult to navigate—especially for brands seeking to create compelling content in the metaverse.

“While the outlook for metaverse’s profound and fast-emerging impact cannot be overstated, access remains a work in progress for now,” reads a recent KPMG report. “Creating immersive content is difficult, and current XR hardware and software can pose friction points for today’s early adopters and first-time users. But barriers to entry are expected to fade quickly.”

Cordless And Connected: 65% Of Gen Z Are Cord Cutters As Streaming Soars

According to recent reports by Tubi and Samba TV, most Americans are not only cord-cutters; they’re “cycling” subscriptions and turning to ad-supported free channels. Gen Z Americans are the least subscribed demographic when it comes to viewing linear TV via cable or satellite services. 

Generation Unplugged: Gen Z Has Definitively Cut The Cord 

According to Samba TV’s State of Viewership Report, linear television viewership is at its lowest level in almost two years. The report, which presents findings from the analysis of approximately 47 billion hours of linear and streaming during the second half of 2022, reveals that only 48 percent of Americans reported that their household has a monthly cable or satellite TV subscription. Consumers are also watching less linear television: Less than half of U.S. households reported watching linear TV daily throughout the second half of 2022. 

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Source: Samba TV The State of Viewership

Gen Z consumers are the least likely to have a cable or satellite TV subscription or watch television that way. The survey shows that 65 percent of Gen Z do not have a cable subscription.

“We have reached a critical turning point in television and viewing consumption,” stated Samba TV CEO and co-founder Ashwin Navin. “For the first time in history, a majority of Americans report they no longer have a monthly cable subscription and are totally unreachable by traditional linear advertising.” Meanwhile, streaming has become ubiquitous among every age group and ad-supported streaming has gone fully mainstream with significant expansion across new platforms including industry leaders like Netflix and Disney+ entering the world of ads.” 

Subscription “Cycling” Is Still A Thing

While consumers may be turning to streaming services to get their fill of their favorite shows, they are not necessarily loyal to the platform. According to the Samba TV report, consumers sign up to watch their favorite shows and then cancel their subscription once they’ve binged or watched a season. They then replace that subscription with another, and the cycle repeats. According to the Samba TV data, 29 percent of consumers have cycled their subscriptions in the last six months, and 69 percent plan to do so in the next six months. With 71 percent of those polled describing themselves as “binge-watchers,” the report states that most new shows have a window of opportunity lasting just two weeks to capture a binge-watcher’s interest and keep them subscribed.

Surprise! Consumers Like Streaming Free

More than 225 million Americans streamed content last year, according to new research from Tubi TV. As consumers remain wary of the economy and inflation persists, consumers show a willingness to trade ad views for premium, on-demand content – especially when that content is free. Just over half of streaming consumers stated that they felt most comfortable with six minutes of standard format video ads per hour, a relatively light ad load. 

According to the report, ad spend on connected or streaming channels, which rose by 33 percent from $14.2 to $18.9 billion, between 2021 and 2022. Linear TV ad spend but by only a 4 percent, from $65.7 to $68.4 billion. According to the report, which quotes eMarketer data, ad-supported VOD services will likely continue to rise if consumers’ shift away from linear TV continues and streaming services see more subscriber churn.

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Source: eMarketer

What Marketers Need To Know:

According to the Samba TV report, 93 percent of all ad impressions reach just 55 percent of American households. Gen Z is the least likely to tune in to a linear broadcast according to this data, but they still watch “network” TV. That provides a significant opportunity for marketers to reach consumers on platforms or channels where they are following their favorite shows. Gen Z still watches shows on linear TV—just on the platforms and devices they choose. According to the Samba TV report, 89 percent of Gen Z and 85 percent of millennials stream entertainment content on their mobile devices. That means marketers who know what Gen Z watches and loves can reach them wherever they are via mobile devices and present a range of creative ad formats that are tailored to the mobile experience. It also opens up new possibilities for brand partnerships as streaming channels develop new methods of engaging fickle audiences.

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CES: Brands Showcase Emergent Tech That Amplifies Convenience And Inclusivity

CES 2023 will feature more than 2,200 exhibitors this year; some of the world’s most recognizable brands are showcasing tech that removes friction from consumer experiences and supporting innovations that fast-track their ability to deliver on brand promises.


Samsung has been leveraging technology to appeal to an appetite for multi-platform content since its first connected TV launched in 2008. Last year, they launched an NFT IRL event, Samsung Next, at the recent Art Basel Miami to showcase its creator collaborations and future plans for Web3 innovation. 

“Historically, consumers relied on dedicated hubs to connect each of their devices,” said Mark Benson, Head of Product and Engineering at Samsung SmartThings. “By integrating SmartThings Hub technology into select Samsung products, we are eliminating barriers to entry and streamlining the entire process to enable consumers to create the connected home of their dreams.”

Samsung is showcasing creator-friendly consumer electronics from its connected appliances line at this year’s CES, such as the Bespoke AI Oven, which the company says is “great for content creators and avid chefs who want to share their dishes.” The oven features an internal camera that can record the cooking process and upload footage to an online video or social platform. This tracks with recent Samsung social campaigns, such as #BespokeMyHome, which promotes the company’s Bespoke lines and its promotion of global food influencers for several years.

There may be another benefit to connected appliances — help for consumers with cognitive differences, such as ADHD, who may benefit from automation taking over tasks that require monitoring and focus. According to some research, IoT technologies can help adults with ADHD manage household tasks more effectively.

“At CES 2023, we are continuing to build on the success of our Bespoke lineup with the introduction of new Bespoke refrigerators and built-in appliances that give consumers even more ways to express themselves in their kitchens,” said Junhwa Lee, EVP and Head of the Customer Experience Team of the Digital Appliances Business at Samsung Electronics.”

Amazon’s Alexa Fund

Several startups backed by Amazon’s Alexa Fund are presenting IoT products that propose tangible benefits to consumers with disabilities and a range of smart home tools that may make eco-friendly choices easier. One, Cognixion, is focused on making communication easier for those with physical challenges.

Cognixion is showcasing the Cognixion ONE “Assisted Reality” headset which helps individuals with severe speech impediments to use eye-tracking or a noninvasive brain-computer interface to spell out letters on an augmented-reality keyboard. This keyboard then uses AI to predict their completed sentence. Then, an Alexa-powered device will speak the sentence and use commands to interact with other smart home technologies.

According to the founder, the goal is to use Cognixion to open new possibilities in the metaverse for those who have limited speech capabilities.

“Cognixion is solving usability and accessibility issues for AR/XR and enabling new capabilities for people with disabilities today,” says Andreas Forsland, Cognixion founder and CEO, “And in the near future, we see our innovations becoming a fundamental part of the metaverse, as a biological interface plus highly adaptive algorithms that unlock new use cases for XR.”


L’Oréal is showcasing Hapta and Brow Magic at CES, tools that support beauty inclusivity for the estimated 50 million people with limited fine motor capabilities.

HAPTA is a motorized applicator that allows people with limited hand and arm mobility to apply lipstick precisely. L’Oréal’s Lancôme brand will launch the product. Brow Magic, another product to be released through Lancôme, uses L’Oréal’s Modiface AR technology. Users scan their faces using an app and receive microblading, micro-shading and filler guidance. Once a recommendation is selected, a user can move the device across the brow area and receive a customized brow design.

“Inclusivity is at the heart of our innovation and beauty tech strategy,” said Barbara Lavernos, Deputy CEO in charge of Research, Innovation and Technology at L’Oréal. “We are dedicated and passionate to bring new technologies powering beauty services that augment and reach every individual’s ultimate desires, expectations, and unmet needs.”

“For years, Lancôme has sought to provide every woman with beauty solutions adapted to their needs. Beauty tech has enabled us to fulfill this mission in an even more powerful way, revolutionizing the way we develop beauty products and services and enabling greater personalization,” said Françoise Lehmann, Lancôme Global Brand President. “With HAPTA, we are going one step further by making beauty more accessible to use because everyone should have equal access to it.”

Snap Leans Into AR Brand Experiences: Q&A With Snap Canada GM Matt McGowan

Back in 2011, Snapchat was brand new and augmented reality was just beginning to generate buzz as a potential tool to drive consumer engagement. Yet with the launch of Pokémon GO in 2016 and IKEA’s introduction of an AR-powered app in 2017, new consumer-facing applications for AR took center stage. 

Today, AR has been adopted by the world’s largest retailer, Walmart, through Snapchat’s Catalog-Powered Shopping Lenses, which resulted in 161 million product trials for the brand.

“We’re always looking to create moments of product discovery on the channels where our customers spend their time,” notes Amanda Mulligan, Walmart’s director of social commerce. AR adoption is growing, and Catalog-Powered Shopping Lenses allow us to keep pace by enabling lens creation at scale and in an always-on capacity,” she said in Snapchat’s article, assessing the partnership’s success.

We spoke with Matt McGowan, Snap’s general manager for Canada, about how providing user-friendly AR tools has presented an opportunity for brands and creators.

Snap has come a long way in just over a decade. Can you tell us why the company has moved into developing these brand marketing tools? Is Snap still a social media-focused company?

It’s been a fun and educational three-plus years for me as GM here, as Snapchat has evolved as a technology company and continues to lead the way in augmented reality. From the beginning, Snapchat was built deliberately to be different: as an antidote to traditional social media platforms. Snapchat is, first and foremost, a visual communications app meant to enhance friendships and how people see the world without the pressure to be popular or perfect. We have an engaged community of over 363 million daily active Snapchatters worldwide, and we’re innovating every day to provide them with the power of AR at the palm of their hand for both fun and utility.

AR is something that a lot of people think of as mostly belonging to the gaming sphere. What would you say are some real-world applications for brand marketers? 

We truly believe AR is the future of computing, and the numbers are compelling. On average, over 250 million Snapchatters engage with AR every day on the app, and Snapchatters play with AR Lenses 6 billion times per day—that’s pretty telling.

Real-world applications for brand marketers are countless […] I like to think if you can imagine it, you can likely achieve it with AR. We’ve seen auto companies set up AR showrooms so consumers could see the features of the car they were planning to buy via an AR immersive experience; take a look at the Jeep Code campaign. We’re also seeing huge uptake when it comes to brands/retailers of all sizes utilizing AR for “try-on,” including accessories, shoes, makeup, and clothing. AR allows the consumer to go from “that looks good” to “that looks good on me!”

What are some ways you’ve seen marketers use AR beyond retail?

Interestingly, now with events back to live and in-person, we’re seeing AR being used to enhance these experiences in addition to entertainment purposes, like promoting new movies and facilitating fan and audience experiences at sporting events, musical festivals, and concerts. Education is another interesting use case too. Whether it’s product education or advocating for causes, AR has been used to engage, educate and inspire Snapchatters worldwide.

We see success using AR across so many verticals and varied use cases because AR delivers almost two times the level of visual attention compared to non-AR equivalents, leading to improved memories and more powerful consumer responses. Additionally, brands with branded AR experiences are 41 percent more likely to be considered by consumers.

What about influencers and other creators—are they also using Snap AR? If so, what has worked for them?

Well, that’s the beauty of AR; it can be used for so many use cases and by virtually anybody. When it comes to creators, we definitely see AR continuing to be used by influencers and other creators—and celebs—to engage audiences. Think about some of our most popular Lenses from 2022. For example, the “Crying Lens” was used on Spotlight by David Dobrik, King Kumar and Jack Doherty, and Kylie Jenner took the Snapchat Lens to her other social platforms, using it at the Met Gala to poke fun at her sisters. Since launch, Snapchatters engaged with the Crying Lens more than 9.7 billion times.

When we talk about creators, we must also consider the AR dev community. Are there some examples of how that community is working with Snap and brands?

From a more technical standpoint, Snap has a robust and extremely talented creator community. AR creators, developers and partners are tapping into our community’s engagement and excitement about augmented reality today and its vast potential for the future. As we recently announced at Lens Fest 2022, there are over 300,000 creators, developers and teams around the world who’ve built more than 3 million AR Lenses. Additionally, AR developers are building strong businesses on our platform using Lens Studio.

Matt McGowan is GM of Snap Inc Canada.

Why Embedded Finance Could Transform Social Commerce

With over 4 billion views of videos under the hashtag #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt, the potential for social media platforms to shorten the sales funnel for brands is evident. However, payments technology—and consumer trust—present a challenge for brand marketers amidst an $80 billion-dollar opportunity.

Social Commerce’s Surge Has A Notable Hitch – Payments And Consumer Trust

According to a recent report by Insider Intelligence, over half of American consumers will have purchased through a social media platform by the end of 2022. According to the report, consumer spending in the US via social commerce will likely reach $80 billion by 2025—and global spending will reach $1.2 trillion. With 92 percent of consumers stating that they discovered a new product on social media and 40 percent of consumers reporting that they actively search for products while interacting on a social platform, the opportunity for brands to benefit from a social commerce storefront is significant. Results can be impressive—for example, a two-hour live shopping event on TikTok resulted in more than a week’s worth of sales at a brand’s flagship retail store. 

In addition, social commerce appeals to the consumer segments that shop the most. For example, millennials and Gen Z. An October 2022 survey reveals that 78 percent of Gen Z and 70 percent of millennials reported that they are likely to purchase directly from a social media platform in the next 12 months. One reason for Gen Z’s and millennials’ high levels of engagement with social commerce is their reliance on influencers as they make shopping choices. A recent survey revealed that over 70 percent of consumers who regularly watched influencers’ live streams were likely to buy products that they recommended. 

More than half of millennials and Gen Z have purchased based on a social media influencer or content creator recommendation. That means coveted demographics are looking for product purchasing guidance, interacting with influencers’ product-focused content, and are willing to buy—all on the same platforms. And many social commerce consumers want to become repeat customers: a 2022 McKinsey survey found 75 percent of live shopping event attendees wished to attend another virtual sale.

But there’s a hitch: 43 percent of consumers who would not purchase via social media said they distrusted the platforms with their payment information. 

How Trust And A Payments Infrastructure Drive Social Commerce Sales

According to a Mckinsey report, more Gen Z consumers purchase directly online via social and creator platforms. A Forrester survey quoted by the McKinsey survey shows 61 percent of Gen Z adults made an in-app social media or creator platform purchase, up from 53 percent in 2020.

That growth—and consumers’ willingness to buy directly on social platforms, may be boosted—or hindered—by how user-friendly and trustworthy payment processes are for shoppers. For example, in China, where social commerce has exploded in recent years, the integration of seamless social shopping and payments made it simple for social media consumers to shift purchasing to social channels.

“Over the years, mega-platforms such as Alibaba and Tencent have used the trust they built among Chinese consumers to create a sprawling digital ecosystem and enable the rapid growth of social commerce,” the report reads. “Creator content, product discovery, community sharing, and digital-payment infrastructures are all integrated into a seamless one-stop-shop digital universe.”

While there are certainly differences between Chinese and American shopping behaviors, one point of symmetry is the significance of influencer culture to consumers’ shopping interests and the opportunity user-friendly digital payments present for brands.

“Just as the arrival of Alibaba’s Taobao Live in 2016 ushered in a new type of e-commerce, social-commerce adoption in the United States is being driven by social media and content creation platforms (such as Pinterest and TikTok) adding new shopping capabilities,” according to McKinsey’s Social Commerce: The Future Of How Consumers Interact With Brands. “These tech-enabled features allow platforms to process transactions and, in doing so, gain access to first-party customer data and expand their ability to offer value to advertisers.”

According to the report, the ability to securely manage transactions through a platform provides benefits to brands and platforms. “Instead of merely targeting consumers with top-of-the-funnel awareness campaigns, social media platforms can now draw a much more direct line between advertising impressions and verified sales.”

But gaining that first-party data from consumers requires gaining consumers’ trust, something complicated by social media’s slew of recent controversies regarding data privacy.

While a recent survey showed that 47 percent of consumers stated that they “strongly distrusted” social media platforms concerning their financial or banking data, they held high trust for traditional banks. A payment tool tailored to social commerce provided by a bank may offer a solution for social media platforms and brands attempting to boost social shopping adoption.

Enter embedded finance: a trending shift in payments strategy among retailers that may address some consumers’ reluctance to trust their payment data to a social platform. Embedded finance typically means a nonbank, such as a retailer or a brand, offering customers financial services, such as providing access to a digital wallet or branded Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) payments. FinTechs often offer embedded finance services in collaboration with banks for their brand or retailer clients. For example, a brand or retailer selling in-app or via a live-shopping event could offer shoppers customized payment options through the bank or FinTech and assure customers that these services must comply with strict financial data handling regulations governing financial institutions.

According to a recent survey of European retailers presented by Finextra: 

Seventy-four percent of the retailers surveyed currently offer embedded financial products or services to customers, and a majority, 56 percent, plan to roll out new offerings over the coming 12 months. Retailers surveyed cited a range of reasons for creating or planning the integration of embedded finance options, such as creating a new revenue stream (41 percent), increasing customer loyalty (40 percent) and improving customer brand satisfaction (38 percent).

Per a recent report by Bain & Company, financial services embedded into e-commerce and other software platforms accounted for $2.6 trillion—approximately 5 percent—of all US financial transactions in 2021. According to the report, these transactions will likely reach $7 trillion by 2026.

Read the full McKinsey 2022 Global Payments Report

Personalization Will Drive Consumer Shopping In 2023

According to recent studies by Twilio and Nielsen, consumers are curating their shopping experiences according to their in-the-moment demands—convenience and choice. Retailers who want to achieve customer loyalty amid the uncertainty of 2023 will have to do the same.

Consumers are looking at shopping and the economy as a whole. According to a Nielsen study, 81 percent of US consumers are reevaluating their priorities or new priorities concerning how they shop. Personalized shopping experiences top the list. As a result, consumers are taking more control over their shopping journeys.

According to survey data from Mckinsey, consumers learned how to curate their shopping experiences during the early days of the pandemic, choosing shopping channels and brands that offered the most value for their time and money. Seventy-five percent of consumers found new brands, stores, or websites to rely on at the start of the pandemic. Moreover, a majority—60 percent—anticipate that they will keep shopping with those new merchants when the health crisis ends. But consumers are doing much more than looking for new brands or using multiple shopping channels to get the prices and value they want. Instead, they now wish retailers to intuit their needs and offer them the same kind of personalized shopping journeys that they’ve been creating for themselves.

Personalize It (Just Don’t Ask Me How)

According to the Twilio report, 49 percent of consumers would become repeat customers if merchants offered personalized shopping experiences. Yet, only 40 percent said they trusted brands with their data and believed the company would use it responsibly. That means retailers must either intuit customer needs or hope to induce them to share their preferences for shopping experiences. But even that may be a challenge, since only 47 percent of companies surveyed can personalize communications, based on consumer behavior, in real-time. Moreover, the lack of personalization is more than an inconvenience for consumers. According to the report, 62 percent of shoppers surveyed said a retailer would lose their loyalty if they encountered an ”un-personalized” shopping experience.

Consumers Spend More When Shopping Experiences Are Personalized

The value of personalization is evident for retailers, 80 percent of whom state consumers spend 34 percent more on average when their shopping experiences are personalized. But finding out what consumers want when only a minority trust retailer with their data is a challenge.

What It Means For Marketers:

According to Twilio, marketers need to hone in on first-party data to gain insights into customer preferences and develop intuitive shopping experiences. 

“Due to regulatory changes and subsequent moves from tech giants like Apple and Google businesses are facing a “now or never” moment to build a strategy for collecting, managing, using, and protecting first-party consumer data in a responsible way,” the report reads.

Read the full report.

Brands And Social Ecommerce Face Uncertainty As UK Sets Sights On “Critical Third Parties”

A new UK Bill proposes potentially far-reaching powers over the tech companies driving the social eCommerce boom. In addition, regulatory uncertainty may complicate innovation, sending both in search of a modern banking solution.

Tech companies have long helped to drive consumer-facing payments innovation for eCommerce. Still, they also often serve as the engines of growth for social media companies that have—or plan to—adopt shopping options. Brands marketing products through deep integrations with social media platforms via live shopping events or through virtual pop-up shops have transformed how consumers and brands connect.

But these cozy relationships may face new scrutiny if a new bill is adopted.

The UK’s Financial Services and Markets Bill would allow HM Treasury, the UK’s economic and finance ministry, to expand the range of business categories subject to oversight—including third-party payment service providers. Currently, under review in The House of Lords, the Bill would grant regulators broad powers to impose new compliance tasks on any selected entity or restrict the commercial activity of that entity on a case-by-case basis. 

Under the Bill, HM Treasury would be able to “modify any legislation” under the current Payment Services Regulation of 2017, “confer new powers on the Treasury,” “grant rule-making powers to a regulator,” “enable a regulator to charge fees” about their functions, and “to create among other things, new criminal offenses or modify existing ones.” 

New Treasury Powers Leave Key Categories Open To Interpretation

That’s a lot of power—all of it to be focused on businesses chosen at the discretion of the Treasury, as the Bill’s research brief puts it, “in connection with protecting and enhancing the integrity or stability of the financial system operating in the United Kingdom.”

According to the brief, the broad terms are intentional—the Bill’s teeth lie in its emphasis on potentialities. Its goal is to leverage regulatory power to avert latent risk within the B2B payments and financial services ecosystem. The Bill, presented to parliament in July, was promoted as an effort to mitigate systemic risk to the UK’s economic infrastructure. 

“Even though these third-party providers are not financial services firms,” the research briefing for the Bill reads, “some of them are used widely enough that their failure could significantly impact the financial services sector – for example, by restricting firms’ ability to make payments or access important data.”

Big Brands And Social Media Companies Could Face A New Compliance Regime

The chosen remedy, the briefing continues, is to create a framework to designate businesses as critical third parties (CTPs) when in the event of their failure, there would be a risk to “UK financial stability or confidence.” 

That could include some of the world’s biggest tech or social media platforms companies—businesses that have long been subject to significant regulatory oversight through the Payment Services Regulation of 2017.

Under the proposed definition of critical third parties, any company—such as a social media brand or a platform with a large client base and deep connections to large marketplaces—could be designated a CTP.

In “312M: Power to make rules,” the Bill states that a regulator may “direct a critical third party to— (a) do anything specified in the direction, or (b) refrain from doing anything specified in the direction.”

While much of this legislation was put forth as focused on businesses connected to the financial services industry, the UK government formed a Digital Markets Unit in late 2020 which was designed to examine the role of “tech giants” and designate certain businesses as having “strategic market status,” a term that echoes a  “critical third party” designation concerning financial markets. According to a recent analysis, large businesses with digital roots—or customers—in the UK may also be fair game for this regulatory initiative. 

“The scope of the DMU’s powers are yet to be confirmed,” according to a post on JDSupra in mid-2021. “It is anticipated that the DMU will work to promote online competition, including by ensuring that consumers are given choice and control over the use of their data.”

But the DMU is not only looking at consumer-facing data policy. The DMU, publishing excerpts from a speech by Sarah Cardell, Interim Chief Executive of the Competition and Markets Authority, presented a broad vision for the DMU. According to the posting in November, the DMU will focus on promoting “dynamic competition in digital markets to create an attractive ecosystem for investment and innovation.” That broad definition gets a bit wider later on.

“Network effects mean people benefit from being on the same platform as each other: the more people who join a platform, the better the user experience may be,” Cardell states. But this effect impedes people’s ability or appetite to switch to new platforms when they have lower initial user bases.”

After mentioning Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, and Meta as examples of market domination, Cardell talks about the ramifications of a “winner-takes-all” digital landscape.

“We must be mindful of the risks that come from significant and entrenched market power – particularly in markets that have become essential for our way of life and commerce,” Cardell writes. “But so-called ‘dark patterns’ can emerge whereby consumers end up paying more or being caught in subscription traps, and online fake reviews can significantly distort consumers’ choices. This can be particularly significant for consumers in vulnerable situations, who may already find it harder to access the benefits of digitalization.”

While large brands and social media platforms are on the DMU’s radar, according to Cardell, businesses entwined with the world’s biggest names in tech may be impacted by default. An example might be brands or individuals selling to consumers directly via social media accounts or through eCommerce integrations. 

Of course, UK regulators have traditionally held power to compel those under their jurisdiction to comply with directives under existing law. However, The Financial Services and Markets Bill’s expansive powers to designate businesses of any sector as critical third parties represent a shift that leaves social media platforms and tech companies uncertain.

Shaping The Future Of Engineering And Technology With NI CMO Ana Villegas

Ana Villegas knew early on that she wanted to be a CMO and achieved that goal by staying focused on gaining the skills necessary to do so. As the recent CMO at NI, she oversaw everything from “brand to demand,” including corporate communication, ESG strategy, and ensuring NI’s values manifested in the marketplace.

In this episode, Ana and I talk about how her experience as a successful female business leader informs the way NI is increasing diversity in its engineering talent. We also discuss what she is doing to help modernize the company’s purpose and impact strategy and how the company is being intentional in shaping the future of the industry. At the time of this recording, Ana was with NI and has recently become the new CMO at Affinipay.

In this episode, you’ll learn: 

  • How Ana is helping to modernize and rebrand an established company
  • The three pillars NI has established to drive its corporate impact strategy
  • Ways to directly impact the pipeline of talent and improve diversity in technology

Key Highlights 

  • [04:20] Ana’s path from being an engineering student in Peru to CMO at NI 
  • [09:35] How is the CMO role defined at NI
  • [10:55] Why does NI classify ESG under the marketing umbrella
  • [12:30] The way corporate impact manifests in the marketplace
  • [14:30] The unique position NI is in to shape the future of engineering 
  • [18:15] What NI is doing to “change the faces of engineering”
  • [23:15] The important role women play in business leadership
  • [24:50] Practical ways Ana is focusing on diversifying the workforce
  • [26:30] The importance of being mindful of leadership succession plans  
  • [30:00] The impact Ana’s grandmother had on who she is today
  • [33:15] Shifts in marketing towards being more multidimensional 
  • [35:00] Which companies are leading efforts to get more women into STEM
  • [37:45] The benefits of being agile in the way we engage customers

Resources Mentioned: 

Follow the podcast: 

Connect with the Guest: 

Connect with Marketing Today and Alan Hart: 

*Note: at the time of this recording, Ana was with NI and is now the CMO at Affinipay*

Alan B. Hart is the creator and host of “Marketing Today with Alan Hart,” a weekly podcast where he interviews leading global marketing professionals and business leaders. Alan advises leading executives and marketing teams on brand, customer experience, innovation, and growth opportunities. He has consulted with Fortune 100 companies but is an entrepreneur at his core, having founded or served as an executive for nine companies.

Survey: DTC Marketers Want A More Accurate Alternative To Click-Based Data But Most Still Rely On It

Last-touch data accuracy is a top concern for 69% of DTC Marketers, yet click-based data still reigns as their primary measurement tool.

Measured’s The State of DTC Marketing Measurement Survey 2022, produced in collaboration with Sequent Partners and released this week, reveals that for 69% of marketers, the accuracy of click-based data gives them cause for concern, but 80% still use it as a primary metric. In addition, based on responses from over 300 DTC marketing executives, the study showed that the average executive spent about a quarter of their time managing data reporting activities. Some respondents spent more than 25 hours per week wrangling reports. 

While 81% of marketers report that they can tie media spend to the business results that they’re after, that doesn’t mean that they are not ready for better ways to measure and test the success of their marketing plans.

Not surprisingly, the report also revealed that DTC marketers’ technology investment budgets were earmarked primarily for acquiring new data reporting and strategy testing tools.

Better The Data You Know? 

Compliance complexity and tech changes have kept DTC marketers hungry for alternatives but bound to legacy tools and methods, innovating when they can and sticking with what they know when they cannot find better tools.

“New privacy rules restricting user-level tracking and shortening attribution lookback windows have had a significant impact on measurement systems and capabilities for media platforms and attribution vendors,” said Alice Sylvester, Partner at Sequent Partners, in a press release. “These challenges, added to rapid shifts in consumer behavior caused by unpredictable global events, have kept marketers in reactive mode for the past few years.”

DTC marketers also shied away from incrementality experiments (4.7%) and multi-touch attribution (2.5%) as a primary measurement tool, due to compliance concerns, according to the report.

The study also revealed that, as in years past, Facebook, Instagram, Google, and YouTube are the most often used channels by DTC marketers, with Meta and Google holding over 63% of the average DTC marketer’s spend. 

The Big Four may do exceptionally well with US-based direct-to-consumer brands in the future, as they have outspent other types of companies in terms of the share of revenue directed to marketing for years—and revenues are rising. Currently, 1 in 7 sales online is through a D2C channel per an eMarketer study. In addition, US-based direct-to-consumer eCommerce sales rose from $36.08 billion in 2016 to $128.33 billion in 2021, with some analysts predicting the market will reach $212.90 billion by the end of 2024

The Takeaway:

As direct-to-consumer continues to scale, marketers will need tools that offer a broad range of attribution management features and compliant tracking and testing options. That’s an opportunity for enterprising ad tech companies and the Big Four to gain marketers’ loyalty and more of their ad spend and MarTech dollars.

Leading Through 7X Growth With Qualcomm’s Don McGuire

Don McGuire is the senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Qualcomm Technologies. Don leads the global marketing organization, supporting Qualcomm’s advancement into new and existing markets and growth areas. He’s redefining Qualcomm’s strategic approach to product marketing, leading to innovative campaigns and collaborative partnerships that are bringing cutting-edge products to market.

On the show today, Don and I talk about how Qualcomm has increased its total available market by 7X, what that means for their strategies, and how they’re managing the organization through growth. We also talk about the brand strategies they use for their B2C brand, Snapdragon, as well as the enterprise brand of Qualcomm itself.

Listen in to learn how to elevate your brand and prepare for rapid growth.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • Why partnerships can elevate your brand
  • How to develop a compelling brand narrative
  • Tips for restructuring your marketing organization and leading through change

Key Highlights

  • [03:00] Don’s journey to Qualcomm
  • [06:30] Splitting the Qualcomm and Snapdragon brands
  • [12:00] Elevating the Snapdragon brand with a Ferrari partnership
  • [18:00] Developing mutually beneficial partnerships
  • [22:30] Fueling explosive growth with connectivity
  • [28:30] Developing a compelling brand narrative
  • [34:30] Restructuring Qualcomm’s marketing organization
  • [41:00] Experiences that define Don
  • [43:30] Don’s advice for his younger self
  • [44:30] What marketers should be learning more about
  • [49:00] The biggest opportunity for marketers today

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