The only thing constant is change.

Fallout from Google Ad's match type changes. Facebook is implicated in falsifying data to advertisers. And video ad performance is growing in all shapes and sizes.

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Lately, I’ve felt like every channel I manage is in flux. Google’s match type changes, legislative pressure in the social space, and I feel like a fart in a fan factory trying to follow all of Facebook’s changes.

This week’s newsletter touches on a broad swath of topics from across the spectrum of eCommerce concerns. So, let’s get to it. 


🔎 Search

Google Ads Developer Blog: Changes to phrase match and broad match modifier

What impact should advertisers expect?

Impact will depend on each advertiser's usage of phrase and/or BMM and how comprehensive their query coverage is. 

  • Advertisers predominantly using phrase match are expected to see an incremental increase in clicks and conversions - This is due to the additional queries to which these keywords will now be eligible to match. For example, “holidays in zambia” as a phrase keyword will now begin to match to “holiday spots in zambia”, which was previously only eligible for BMM.

  • Advertisers predominantly using BMM are expected to see a slight decrease in clicks and conversions - The majority of this loss is from BMMs where the modifier was only applied to part of the keyword, e.g. tennis +shoes. In addition we are now considering word order when it’s important to the meaning of the keyword, so some matches that previously matched to BMM will be filtered out.

Two weeks ago, we covered Google phasing out the modified broad match type in Google Ads. I thought this was a helpful summary of what to expect once that change is fully deployed. 

Google My Business Messaging Now On Desktop

If you log in to Google My Business, click on your business and then you may see a "messages" menu item on the left navigation bar, that is where you can manage this. There is a new help document with how to use this and how to manage the messages.

🗣 Social

Have you ever wondered how accurate the “potential reach” tool was in your Facebook Ad account? Not very. 

Facebook knew for years ad reach estimates were based on ‘wrong data’ but blocked fixes over revenue impact, per court filing | TechCrunch

The unsealed documents pertain to a U.S. class action lawsuit, filed in 2018, which alleges that Facebook deceived advertisers by knowingly including fake and duplicate accounts in a “potential reach” metric.

Facebook denies the claim but has acknowledged accuracy issues with the “potential reach” metric as far back as 2016 — and also changed how it worked in 2019.

While the litigants have continued to accuse Facebook of continuing to misrepresent the ad reach estimate in updates to their 2018 complaint.

Redacted documents from the lawsuit, reported by the WSJ last year, included the awkward detail that a Facebook employee had asked “how long can we get away with the reach overestimation?”

But sections of the filing pertaining to Sandberg and other Facebook executives were redacted.

Newly unsealed documents from the suit — which we’ve reviewed — now reveal that in fall 2017 Sandberg “acknowledged in an internal email she had known about problems with Potential Reach for years”.

They also show Facebook repeatedly rejected internal proposals to fix the issue of fake and duplicate accounts inflating the estimates its platform showed to advertisers of the number of people who could see their ads — citing impact on revenue as a reason not to act.

IMO, a 10% drop doesn’t warrant a potential PR disaster. Facebook data seems more than 10% wrong most of the time anyway. 

Does every second really count? A closer look at video-ad insights | Snapchat for Business

On Snap, 6-second ads were more persuasive than 15-second ads for both younger and older generations.

This is because shorter ad lengths recorded highly positive perceptions that were equal among both younger and older generations. When 6-second ads were viewed on Snap, the majority of participants considered the ads immersive, innovative, and represented the brand well.

📺 Video

Capital One deepens bet on Twitch to reach ad-averse gamers | Marketing Dive

As more non-endemic brands turn to Twitch to reach newer and younger audiences, sponsorships for events like SUBtember demonstrate how marketers in any category can connect with the gaming community through tactics tailored to their behaviors and preferences. Seventy-nine percent of people in the U.S. aged 13 and up identify as a gamer, and the average consumer spends more than an hour a day gaming, per data provided by Twitch. Gamers tend to be especially passionate about supporting their creator community, as subscriptions allow streamers to produce a steady flow of videos, Lindberg said. The branded SUBtember event was one way for Capital One to align with target audiences' values.

📓 UI/UX

Citibank just got a $500 million lesson in the importance of UI design | Ars Technica

Citibank was acting as an agent for Revlon, which owed hundreds of millions of dollars to various creditors. On August 11, Citibank was supposed to send out interest payments totaling $7.8 million to these creditors.

However, Revlon was in the process of refinancing its debt—paying off a few creditors while rolling the rest of its debt into a new loan. And this, combined with the confusing interface of financial software called Flexcube, led the bank to accidentally pay back the principal on the entire loan—most of which wasn't due until 2023.

💃 Influencers

SAG-AFTRA Approves New Influencer Agreement | Backstage

“The Influencer Agreement was created in response to the unique nature of Influencer-generated branded content and offers a new way for influencers to work under a SAG-AFTRA agreement. We want to be able to support both current and future SAG-AFTRA members in this space and for them to be able to access the benefits of union coverage,” said SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris in a statement to Backstage.

Previously, the union had covered advertising done by YouTubers. This new influencer agreement takes it one step further: it will cover advertising work across all social media platforms, including Instagram, Facebook, Twitch, and TikTok. 

According to a representative from SAG-AFTRA, the new agreement will categorize “influencer-generated branded content” as a form of advertising, and SAG-AFTRA members who do that type of work will be able to qualify for health and pension benefits. The branded content that would be covered under the influencer agreement is video or audio work, it does not include still imagery. But what constitutes video is left broad: It can be an Instagram story or a short TikTok video.

⚖️ Legislation

Big Tech’s Next Big Problem Could Come From People Like ‘Mr. Sweepy’ - The New York Times

His case is one of what is expected to be a host of private antitrust lawsuits stemming from the government cases against Google and Facebook.

Already, more than 10 suits echoing the federal and state cases have been filed against one or both of the Silicon Valley giants in recent months.

The private suits follow the government ones for a simple reason: Regulators have distinct advantages when it comes to obtaining evidence. Federal and state investigators can collect internal documents and interview executives before filing a suit. As a result, their complaints are filled with insider knowledge about the companies. Private individuals can seek that kind of evidence only after they file lawsuits.

If the government cases succeed against Google or Facebook at trial, the win is likely to bolster the case for private lawsuits, experts said. Lawyers could point to those victories as evidence the company broke the law and move quickly to their primary aim: obtaining monetary damages.

The people bringing the cases against the tech giants include publishers, advertisers and users.

🛍 Marketplace

Amazon acquires small digital commerce platform to challenge Shopify | Retail Dive

More than half the goods sold via Amazon are from its third-party marketplace sellers, but third-party digital storefronts are only found on Amazon, and not all sellers have one.

Climbing back into the multi-channel business was probably easiest done via acquisition, and, having raised just $11 million so far and in need of distribution, Australian startup Selz was an easy target for the e-commerce behemoth, according to Rick Watson, founder and CEO of RMW Commerce Consulting.

Speaking of Amazon feeling threatened by Shopify...

Shopify — Benedict Evans

Shopify is riding a wave of both consumers and brands becoming ready to go direct. For 20 years Amazon had trust and it had your address and credit card. But for all sorts of reasons, we now have an explosion of new consumer brands using the internet as their first channel, and most of them want to go direct and own their own customer relationship. In parallel, there are all sorts of giant companies that have consumer brands and make consumer products but that have always been B2B businesses. Unilever doesn’t sell soap - it sells pallets of soap. Now all of those companies want to try to go direct as well, partly to compete with those new brands (small brands have driven most of the growth in CPG in the last decade, for example) and partly to create some tension against Amazon and Walmart.

That meets a huge wave of new companies building all kinds of tools and plumbing to power ecommerce. Part of the story is that the move to cloud, SaaS and unbundling means that anyone can use the same tools now, but that doesn’t mean small people get access to the same tools as big people. Rather, it means that giant companies, perhaps, can get access to the same tools as startups. Andy Warhol said that a millionaire drinks the same CocaCola as the man in the the street, but a lot of the story of tech in the last few decades has been that small companies have much better tech than big companies, stuck in legacy systems that take months to change anything. Only some of this is a technology problem (it’s also what ‘digital transformation’ is about).

For most of these companies, selling online isn’t ‘technology’ - it’s retailing, but with a new channel that needs new tools. The tools have to be good and you have to know how to use them, but most of the questions are retail and brand questions. Will Heinz built a giant D2C businesses? Ask an FMCG analyst. To understand Casper’s margins, look at the mattress business, not the tech stack. The interesting question for Shopify is how far it can move from being a tool to becoming a network, and to become part of retail. And so (to close the loop), the idea that all of this will be swallowed by Amazon makes about as much sense as the idea that all physical retail would get swallowed by Walmart, not because of software but because of retail. So perhaps software isn’t eating retail - retail is eating software. 

🏬 Brick & Mortar

An augmented reality shopping boutique is here | Vogue Business

To enter, a QR code scan prompts a digital rendering of a sales floor where customers can explore and view the Autumn/Winter 2021 collections, unfinished pieces and personal messages from the designers sharing their inspiration or personal views on the future of fashion. The QR code will be embedded in fly-posters and billboards across London from Peckham to Notting Hill and Soho, where Machine-A is based. The Institute says the store is a “larger-scale AR experience”, mixing digital content with augmented reality.

Once a nice-to-have feature, AR has quickly become an essential technology for retailers to engage consumers and offer interaction and discovery, says Matthew Drinkwater, head of the Fashion Innovation Agency. Already Gucci, Estée Lauder and L'Oréal offer AR-powered virtual try-ons, so customers can see how different products look, while material innovation firm Pangaia and Balenciaga have tried virtual worlds. And with storytelling an important component of luxury, AR can help brands and retailers do this in an “emotive and genuine” way, says Catty Taylor, co-founder of the Institute of Digital Fashion (IoDF).

If you are interested in exploring AR opportunities for your brand, let me know. I have a great resource. 

📦 Distribution

Jet co-founder Nate Faust is building a more sustainable e-commerce experience with Olive | TechCrunch

Nate Faust has spent years in the e-commerce business — he was a vice president at Quidsi (which ran Diapers.com and Soap.com), co-founder and COO at Jet (acquired by Walmart for $3.3 billion) and then a senior vice president at Walmart.

Over time, he said it slowly dawned on him that it’s “crazy” that 25 years after the industry started, it’s still relying on “single-use, one-way packaging.” That’s annoying for consumers to deal with and has a real environmental impact, but, Faust said, “If any single retailer were to try to tackle this problem right now on their own, they would run up into a huge cost increase to pay for this more expensive packaging and this two-way shipping.”

So he’s looking to change that with his new startup, Olive, which consolidates a shopper’s purchases into a single weekly delivery in a reusable package.

Olive works with hundreds of different apparel brands and retailers, including Adidas, Anthropologie, Everlane, Hugo Boss, Outdoor Voices and Saks Fifth Avenue. After consumers sign up, they can install the Olive iOS app and/or Chrome browser extension, then Faust said, “You shop directly on the retailer and brand sites you normally would, and Olive assists you in that checkout process and automatically enters your Olive details.”

The products are sent to an Olive consolidation facility, where they’re held for you and combined into a weekly shipment. Because the retailers are still shipping products out like normal, all that packaging is still being used — but at least the consumer doesn’t have to dispose of it. And Faust said that eventually, Olive could work more closely with retailers to reduce or eliminate it.

🛠 Tips & Tools

frameshift — free browser mockup generator

Awesome Browser Mockups for your next Project

A really helpful tool for marketing and support. 

🤷🏻‍♂️ Just For Fun

Mike's Hard Lemonade Enlists 'I'm Not A Cat' Lawyer 02/17/2021

WorkInProgress, a Boulder, Colorado-based creative agency, is launching an organic and paid digital effort for Mike’s Hard Lemonade starring the most recent viral pop cultural star.

In its first work for Mike’s Hard Lemonade, WIP incorporated “unreleased footage” from the original viral video, which has more than 7.6 million views on one news site alone, to illustrate how “a hard day calls for a hard lemonade.”

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Hanging out with friends, deep conversations over Gin & Tonics, meeting great new people, the atmosphere.

Even though these things will never be replaced, at Maverick we’ve made this modern digital artifact to keep you company while this awful pandemic, which profoundly affects our industry throughout the world, finally passes and we can meet again safely.

👋 Holla!

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