Is 2021 The Year When Everything Becomes An Ad?

Fresh perspective from a bumpy week in social advertising. Google shows their hand on the future of Google Ads. And eCommerce brands aren't the only ones focused on first-party engagement data.

Thanks for subscribing to Cache - a weekly summary of the most important stories, trends, & commentary in eCommerce marketing, curated by Rob Bettis. Last week’s issue had a 33% open rate.


If you rely on Facebook Advertising at all, you surely noticed this week. 

Facebook strikes back against Apple iOS 14 IDFA privacy change

Facebook is testing the effects of this update now, before Apple makes it mandatory for all apps early this spring.

As part of this test, Facebook will begin showing some users its own prompts starting on Monday, explaining why it wants to track this activity and asking users to opt in. These prompts will appear on Apple users’ screens immediately before the Apple pop-up appears.

Many advertisers, myself included, noticed significant fluctuations in performance starting Monday. And I’m afraid that is just a sign of what is to come.

While in this season of transition, advertisers need to keep the big picture in mind. There is a danger in knee-jerk reactions. Instead, I recommend keeping your eyes on the horizon. 

One tangible way is to shift your focus from ROAS metrics to MER - media efficiency ratio (Total Revenue / Total Paid Media Spend). If your business’ top-line revenue and/or MER are stable, it is easier to weather the choppy waters of the iOS14 transition. 


🔎 Search

Mmmhmmm...

🗣 Social

Will Social Commerce Disrupt Retail in U.S., Europe? | Practical Ecommerce

This combination makes it possible for China’s style of social commerce. If you want to sell grocery baskets while someone is thumbing down a social feed and deliver those baskets in 30 minutes, you need to be integrated — from attention to payments to fulfillment.

“China has the advantage of being a communist country,” said Vaynerchuk, speaking about corporate infrastructure. “It gave those companies the ability to hold off their competition, be vertically integrated, play politics, be good at innovation, and just scale.”

Corporate infrastructure, then, is likely essential to social commerce. Disruption in the retail infrastructure could be on the way if social commerce is coming to the West.

As you likely know, I am bearish on social commerce. But there is such an interesting convergence on the horizon. 

On one hand, you have iOS14 incentivizing social networks to keep transactions on-platform. They will certainly use all of their skills & tools to accomplish that goal. You also have increasing partnerships between folks like Facebook and Shopify vertically integrating the tools. 

But on the other hand, you have increasing government pressure that makes “attention to payments to fulfillment” integration seem like a pipe dream. 

Reddit Announces New Partnership with Omnicom Media Group to Expand Ad Opportunities | Social Media Today

Over the last few years, Reddit has been working to effectively clean-up its platform, with a view to maximizing its ad potential. Back in June, for example, the platform removed more than 2,000 subreddits after a revision of its policies around hate speech, while over time, the Reddit community has also become more accustomed to in-stream ads and seeing sponsored posts within their feeds.

That's now positioned Reddit to take this next step - and with over 400 million users, and 52 million daily actives, there are significant potential opportunities for those who can get their ad creative and targeting right.

It feels like Reddit is ready for primetime. 

📺 Video

Why popular YouTubers are building their own sites - BBC News

"Starting a business on YouTube is like opening a brand new store in a shopping centre," founder Dave Wiskus explains.

"Except you might come in to open your shop one day, and the shopping centre has just moved you to the other end where there are no customers, there's no foot traffic. And you'll never know why."

There are no content-recommendation algorithms, and video-makers are not penalised if they do not publish the "right kind" of content.

Floatplane. Corridor Digital. Nebula. A lot of platforms on the rise, giving way to alternative video advertising channels and sponsorship opportunities. 

🛍 Marketplace

When You’re a Small Business, E-Commerce Is Tougher Than It Looks - The New York Times

Ms. Roy, a first-generation Indian-American, grew up making hair masks and other beauty products with her mother and grandmother, but she never felt proud of her heritage or her formulations until she met her business partner, Justin Silver, in business school.

Together they’ve raised nearly $3 million from investors and introduced the first iteration of Aavrani in 2018. The response was lukewarm, so they pulled back and rebranded. Last summer they relaunched the New York City-based company with new packaging and a new plan for connecting to customers.

The company primarily uses digital ads to generate sales, but Ms. Roy has also been using Instagram, TikTok and Clubhouse to connect directly with shoppers. She has developed a following on those platforms, she said, because she doesn’t post just about the products. She posts about what matters to her: the struggles of building a business, her upbringing, even confusion about what she is “supposed to look like” as the owner of a beauty brand.

“This is so different from the last version of the brand,” Ms. Roy said. “It’s less transactional, more authentic to who I am. It has really contributed to our growth.”

In 2020, the company recorded $1 million in sales, Ms. Roy said. This year, she anticipates $6 million.

The 10 most innovative retail companies of 2021

Many of the companies that stood out in this environment innovated to create a seamless experience between physical and digital spaces, building communities as well as customer bases. Nike made its Training Club app free and built a loyal following. Ulta enabled customers to try on makeup with AR and experiment with beauty products, even while on lockdown. Canada Goose created special cold rooms in its physical stores so that customers can see feel how its jackets really perform. And Shopify empowered retailers both small and large to reach customers wherever they may be, from TikTok to Main Street. In the brave new world of retail, consumers expect immersive, seamless experiences however they choose to connect with a brand. 

🦠 Coronavirus

CMOs reflect on how COVID has reshaped marketing 1 year in — and what they would've done differently | Marketing Dive

"The pandemic reinforced how important it is for brands to be committed to their mission through action and not just messaging alone," Dominic Gallello, CMO of Bumble, said over email. "Throughout the pandemic, we saw that the Bumble community was struggling with feelings of loneliness as social distancing measures and lockdowns continued. This motivated our team to double down on Bumble's mission to create a world where all relationships are healthy and equitable."

🛠 Tips & Tools

49% of brand and retailers upgraded their e-commerce platforms

In this most recent survey, 49% said they upgraded their entire e-commerce infrastructures. Meanwhile, 19% said they added new types of fulfillment or logistics to handle the increased demand.

Soona

Welcome to fast-casual content. 

Super interesting concept. Use code “friendrequest” for 1 photo on me. 

👋 Holla!

Questions, comments, inquiries? I’d love to hear from you! Email newsletter@robbettis.com.