Why and How Instagram Is Leaning into Video

Why and How Instagram Is Leaning into Video

Instagram Social media

Instagram isn’t just about the photos anymore. As reported in The Verge, the social networking service is embracing entertainment and video in a bid to stay competitive with platforms like TikTok and YouTube. This isn’t the first time Instagram has gone head-to-head with TikTok: as we’ve blogged, Instagram launched Reels last August as a means of connecting with TikTok’s Gen Z audience. What do these new changes mean? Read on to learn more.

Not Just For Square . . . Photos

In a video posted on his Twitter and Instagram accounts, Instagram head Adam Mosseri explained that the platform no longer wants to be identified as a “square photo-sharing app,” rather as a hip general entertainment app driven by video — and algorithms. Mosseri says focus is on four key areas:

  • Creators, where Insta’s recognition of “the shift in power from institutions to individuals across industries” underlines Instagram’s desire to empower its creators.
  • Video, which is, as far as Mosseri is concerned, where it’s at. As he notes, “Video is driving an immense amount of growth online for all the major platforms right now.” His message: Instagram users have spoken. They want to be entertained. To stay relevant, Instagram is making video a tentpole of its offerings. Mosseri promises changes along the lines of users getting full-screen, recommended videos in their feeds, including videos from accounts a user may not already follow.
  • Shopping, to reflect the leap commerce has made from offline to online, a change accelerated by the pandemic.
  • Messaging, to honor the way close friends keep connected now — not by Feed and Stories, as has been the case in the past.

Reactions So Far

Reactions to Mosseri’s announcement have been mixed. Journalists are saying Instagram is responding to the rise of TikTok and YouTube, but as noted in Axios, warn that “[a]s social networks continue growing, they run the risk of overwhelming consumers and losing what made them special and distinct to begin with.”

And while Mosseri specifically names creators as a priority in his video, some creators, specifically photographers, are feeling marginalized and voting with their feet: Digital Photography Review reports that some photographers are defecting to Twitter in order to share their work in a space they feel is more dedicated to their art. Photographer Bryan Minear is a case in point. “In my eyes, Instagram stopped caring about artists and independent creators a long time ago,” he says. Minear, who switched to Twitter as his primary social media outlet in 2019, has found a vibrant photography community there.

Although Mosseri later tried to retract some of his wording — “We’re no longer a photo-sharing app or a square photo-sharing app” drew particular ire — his initial statement has aggravated photographers who feel an algorithm championing entertainment doesn’t put a premium on quality. “Instagram has done nothing but promote video-centric features at the expense of still photographers,” Minear says. “They’ve made it loud and clear that we aren’t welcome anymore.”

What Advertisers Should Do

What does all this mean for your brand? Is this “new” Instagram a good fit? We recommend that you:

  • Re-examine how you use video in your marketing and advertising. Clearly, video is getting bigger: 86 percent of businesses use video as a marketing tool, and 93 percent of marketers who use video say that it’s an important part of their marketing strategy. Instagram is showing where its allegiance lies. If video makes sense for you, Instagram might just be a viable advertising platform for you.
  • Consider the different ways influencers on Instagram are using both video and imagery as you find influencers to partner with. Who does a great job with video? Are they the right fit for your brand?

Contact True Interactive

In short, video is hot. Trying to figure out how to embracing video in your online advertising and marketing? Contact us. We can help.

Why Advertisers Should Never Bet Against Facebook

Why Advertisers Should Never Bet Against Facebook

Facebook

Facebook has done it again. On April 28, the company announced quarterly earnings that crushed Wall Street’s expectations, demonstrating a remarkable resilience. Facebook continues to ascend as a premier advertising platform, too, second only to Google in terms of online ad marketshare. Let’s take a closer look.

What Facebook Announced

Facebook’s quarterly results were impressive by any measure:

  • Earnings: $3.30 per share vs. $2.37 per share forecast.
  • Revenue: $26.17 billion vs. $23.67 billion expected.
  • Daily active users (DAUs): 1.88 billion vs. 1.89 billion forecast by FactSet.
  • Monthly active users (MAUs): 2.85 billion vs. 2.86 billion forecast by FactSet.
  • Average revenue per user (ARPU): $9.27 vs. $8.40 forecast by FactSet.

The increase in active users is key. Demonstrating that it can continue to grow its user base helps Facebook attract more advertisers.

Why Facebook Is Succeeding

Why is Facebook continuing to grow quarter after quarter even amid controversies and threats from legislators and competitors? Here are some reasons:

  • Advertisers remain loyal to Facebook. Facebook said its impressive revenue growth came from a 12 percent increase in the number of ads delivered – and a 30 percent year-over-year increase in average price per ad. Even as businesses were being rocked by the pandemic and faced an uncertain year, they were willing to pay more for ads on Facebook. And why not? Social media platforms such as Facebook enjoyed tremendous growth in 2020 as the pandemic drove more people online. Advertisers wisely went where their audience was.
  • Facebook is monetizing its user base beyond ad targeting. This is important. By its own admission, Facebook’s ability to deliver targeted ads is being threatened by Apple’s app tracking transparency privacy initiative in which users of iPhones will now need to agree to allow a business to collect information about them – known as an opt-in policy. The world’s largest social network is upset because its advertisers will have a harder time tracking its users off Facebook and serve up personalized ads to them. But Facebook has been steadily finding different ways to monetize its app (and Instagram’s) beyond ad targeting. For instance, in its earnings announcement, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg discussed how the company continues to build social commerce features. And Facebook’s Marketplace service, where users can buy and sell goods, continues to grow. These features keep businesses and people engaged on Facebook, generate more ad revenue for Facebook, and give Facebook a stockpile of first-party search and purchase data to deliver more personalized experiences.

Going forward, Facebook will continue to monetize that user base in creative ways – an example being the launch of several audio features that will generate revenue for creators and inevitably create a more engaged user base – which generates more advertising revenue.

 What Advertisers Should Do about Facebook

  • Continue to capitalize on tools to help you connect with your audience on Facebook. For instance, as Mark Zuckerberg mentioned to investors on April 28, Facebook launched Shops in 2020 to help businesses more easily conduct online commerce, and there are now more than 1 million monthly active Shops and over 250 million monthly Shops visitors.
  • As always, balance your advertising among the major platforms that continue to deliver value, including Amazon Advertising, Facebook, Instagram, Google, and Microsoft Advertising.
  • Monitor expected privacy legislation and the impact of Apple’s ATT initiative, but don’t overreact. Facebook continues to show a remarkable aptitude for managing threats from competitors and legislators.

Whatever you do, don’t count out Facebook regardless of what you read and hear about the headwinds the company faces. Facebook is not going away. It’s the world’s largest social media network for a reason. Follow your audience and engage with them.

Contact True Interactive

At True Interactive, we help businesses capitalize on social media advertising to build their brands. We can help you, too. Contact us to learn more.

 

Google Responds to Apple’s App Tracking Transparency

Google Responds to Apple’s App Tracking Transparency

Google

We recently blogged about a consumer privacy feature being built into iOS14.3, Apple’s latest operating system. As widely reported, under iOS14.3, users of iPhones will now need to agree to allow a business to collect information about them – known as an opt-in policy (in Apple’s words, app tracking transparency, or ATT). This imminent change has triggered a spat with Facebook. The world’s largest social network is upset because its advertisers will have a harder time tracking its users off Facebook and serve up personalized ads to them. And now Google has weighed in on iOS14.3.

Google’s Reaction

In a January 27 blog post, Christophe Combette, Google Group Product Manager, Google Ads, wrote:

Apple’s ATT changes will reduce visibility into key metrics that show how ads drive conversions (like app installs and sales) and will affect how advertisers value and bid on ad impressions. As such, app publishers may see a significant impact to their Google ad revenue on iOS after Apple’s ATT policies take effect.

He recommends that developers to upgrade to version 7.64 of the Google Mobile Ads SDK for new features like SKAdNetwork support.

He also encourages advertisers to monitor the performance and delivery of all iOS App campaigns — and, if necessary, make adjustments to budgets and bids to achieve their goals.

How Will Google Advertisers Be Affected?

Now, it’s helpful to consider his post in context of how Google makes ad revenue. Google makes most of its ad revenue from people searching on Google and being served up ads alongside search results. It is unlikely that advertisers will see a performance drop from search ads on Google.

But advertisers using the Google Display Network may see an impact on their ad performance. That’s because the Google Display Network encompasses a vast collection of  websites, including specific Google websites like Gmail, and YouTube,  that show ads. This network also includes mobile sites and apps. If iPhone users decide they don’t want apps on the Google Display Network tracking them, then advertisers using those networks may see declines in performance because they won’t be able to track user behavior and serve up more personalized ads.

What Advertisers Should Do

No one knows for sure when ATT takes effect – there’s a lot of speculation that it will happen in March 2021. In the meantime, we suggest that advertisers:

  • Prepare your app for iOS14.3. Google has published detailed steps here.
  • If you use Google Analytics, be aware that Google recommends advertisers upgrade to the latest version of Google Analytics for Firebase for new features like SKAdNetwork support.

If you work with an agency to manage your advertising on Google, ask them how they are preparing.

Contact True Interactive

 To succeed with online advertising, contact True Interactive. Read about some of our client work here.

The Facebook Spat with Apple: Advertiser Q&A

The Facebook Spat with Apple: Advertiser Q&A

Facebook

If you operate a business on Facebook, you’ve probably received pop-up notices from Facebook warning you about ominous changes coming because of Apple’s latest operating system update. What’s exactly happening, and why? Our new advertiser Q&A takes a closer look.

Why Is Facebook Upset with Apple?

The conflict comes down to access to customer data.

Apple’s new operating system update, iOS14.3, contains new privacy tools that prevent apps from being able to track user activity across the internet. All applications need to ask iPhone users for permission to track their activity for the purposes of advertising. There an estimated one billion people around the world who own an iPhone.

Put another way: under iOS14.3, if a person has a business’s app on their iPhone, that person needs to agree to allow the business to collect information about them. iPhone users now have more control whether they actually want personalized ads generated as the result of an app following them around the internet.

Facebook believes that this opt-in approach could create a major problem for Facebook’s app. Most Americans have expressed discomfort with the way Facebook tracks their personal data. Since almost all of Facebook’s revenue comes from advertising, Facebook sees the new opt-in policy as a threat.

How Has Facebook Responded to iOS14.3?

Facebook has attacked the update publicly. For example, in December, Facebook argued on its own site that tougher privacy controls will hurt small businesses that rely on Facebook advertising to reach people. Dan Levy, Facebook’s vice president of Ads and Business Products, wrote that Apple is “hurting small businesses and publishers who are already struggling in a pandemic.” He elaborated:

These changes will directly affect [small businesses’] ability to use their advertising budgets efficiently and effectively. Our studies show, without personalized ads powered by their own data, small businesses could see a cut of over 60% of website sales from ads. We don’t anticipate the proposed iOS 14 changes to cause a full loss of personalization but rather a move in that direction over the longer term.

Facebook has also reached out to businesses, news media, and agencies (including us) to voice its position through content such as webinars.

What Is Apple’s Response to Facebook?

Apple continues to go about its business without a corporate response with one exception: the following tweet from CEO Tim Cook, which speaks for itself:

Tim Cook tweet

Otherwise, Apple has spoken with its actions by going forward with the iOS 14.3 update.

When Does the iOS14.3 Update Happen?

Although Apple made iOS 14.3 effective in December 2020, the company has not yet enforced the opt-in prompt. None of the changes discussed here is happening as of this writing. Apple has not announced when it will make these changes and enforce the prompt.

What Should Advertisers Do?

First off, we recommend monitoring the development closely. But don’t panic. No one knows how many iOS 14.3 users will opt out with their apps – Facebook or otherwise. To be sure, people opting out will compromise everything from conversion data to attribution to custom audience sizes. Facebook says it plans to roll out new features in events manager to help mitigate the impact of those changes. We are monitoring this situation for our clients. Stay tuned.

Contact True Interactive

To succeed with online advertising, contact True Interactive. Read about some of our client work here.

How Nextdoor Helps Businesses Connect with their Communities

How Nextdoor Helps Businesses Connect with their Communities

Advertising

As people are spending more time close to home, Nextdoor, the social networking service for neighborhoods, is capturing more interest: from users, and also from brands. That’s because Nextdoor is more than a place for people to hang out and talk to one another about what’s going on in their neighborhood—it’s also a place to advertise. Nextdoor is especially appealing to businesses that have a local presence. According to a national consumer survey by Access Development, 93 percent of consumers typically travel less than 20 minutes to make their everyday purchases—a powerful incentive for local businesses to make themselves known. As the platform grows, there is serious talk of Nextdoor going public, too. Let’s take a closer look at how Nextdoor can play a role in connecting brands with their communities.

What Is Nextdoor?

Nextdoor, founded in 2008, describes itself as a platform “where communities come together to greet newcomers, exchange recommendations, and read the latest local news.” Users can report on local news, ask about local service-provider recommendations (according to Hootsuite, “67% of members share business recommendations with their neighbours”), and access local-community alerts during extreme weather. Think of it as a sort of virtual town hall.

Who hangs out on Nextdoor?

The app is currently used in 11 countries worldwide—countries including Germany, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the United States. In the U.S. alone, according to Nextdoor, one in four households use the platform. Sixty-two percent of users are female, and 74 percent are homeowners. But insights derived from Nextdoor go beyond clinical stats. In an article that appeared in The Atlantic, writer Ian Bogost notes how the platform can offer a nuanced peek into life in any given neighborhood. Bogost says, “Nextdoor’s virtual communities—which cover more than 180,000 U.S. neighborhoods, including more than 90 percent of those in the 25 largest [American] cities—are becoming representative of the country’s actual populations.” In short, the platform is a mirror a community holds up to itself: “this is who I am.” And that’s powerful intel for a brand looking to connect with the people who live nearby.

How Does a brand Engage with Nextdoor Users?

Once a company creates a business account on Nextdoor, it can use the platform to run Local Deal ads, which could look like anything from $2 off a sandwich to an online discount code. By connecting with the community on the platform, brands can also get a sense of how they are perceived by locals. As Hootsuite details here, a participating business should track metrics, anything from how many recommendations it’s earning to the number of times users clicked on its Local Deals to see more information.

Companies can also elevate awareness through participation in initiatives like the annual Nextdoor Favorites Competition (according to Nextdoor, winners of this competition benefit by earning up to 30 times the recommendations on their business page as compared to the average).

Finally, sponsored posts on Nextdoor allow brands—usually large regional advertisers—to reach out in myriad ways, from videos, to carousels showcasing products and services, to “click to call” functions allowing users to call a brand directly from Nextdoor’s in-app newsfeed.

What Makes a Successful Sponsored Post?

Like any advertising, sponsored posts require an understanding of the audience and the medium. Nextdoor recommends that sponsored posts be:

  • Content might offer tips or solutions. Brands might also include a deal to inspire consumer interest—and action.
  • Tone can be everything! A neighborly tone paired with appealing imagery encourages engagement.
  • A post that references local landmarks or a specific neighborhood invites recognition and resonance.

Contact True Interactive

Does Nextdoor’s friendly outreach look interesting? Wondering what next steps you can take to connect your brand with local consumers? Call us. We can help.

How Adjusting Your Facebook Ad Objectives Can Deliver More Conversions

How Adjusting Your Facebook Ad Objectives Can Deliver More Conversions

Facebook

Facebook’s user base keeps growing as a reflection of an increased adoption of digital among the general population in 2020. Businesses want to use advertising to squeeze as much revenue as they can from this massive audience, as well they should. At True Interactive, we’ve been helping advertisers succeed on Facebook for years, and one way we do that is by trying different approaches with Facebook’s advertising tools. Recently, we’ve been demonstrating to our clients how a fresh approach to choosing Facebook ad objectives can make Facebook ads more effective.

The Conventional Wisdom about Facebook Ad Objectives

When businesses set ad goals, they typically have two strategies in mind: build brand awareness with prospects (i.e., people who have never been to their site before) and also retarget website visitors and existing customers to drive conversions. From there, businesses select ad objectives for a given campaign. Now, conventional wisdom says that when a business wants to attract new customers (as opposed to retargeting existing ones), it’s best to choose brand awareness or consideration ad objectives such as reach, traffic, engagement, and app installs (among others). But for a retargeting campaign, it’s better to choose conversion-based objectives such as conversions, catalog sales, and store traffic.

Makes sense, right? Why set the bar too high for brand awareness by actually trying to measure conversions? It’s far better to save conversion-based objectives for retargeting existing customers, who already know about your product and are more likely to buy it.

Setting Conversion-Based Goals for Prospects

And yet, we’re delivering results by setting conversion-based goals for prospects, too. It sounds like a simple thing to do: set a conversion goal for a prospect. And you can literally do it with a click. By experimenting with some of our campaigns, we’re learning that a powerful ad targeting prospects can indeed drive them to conversion.

Now, I’m not talking about running the same ad for a prospect that you would for a current customer. You still need to customize different ads for different audiences. Ads for prospects require different calls to action than ads for existing customers, and indeed you may need to do completely different ads for each, such as special offers that apply only to new customers.

To be sure, conversion costs for retargeting-oriented campaigns are lower. But so far the conversion rate for prospects justifies the effort of running brand-awareness ads on Facebook – because these ads can do more than raise awareness.

What Happens If You Lack Conversion Data?

What happens if your business lacks enough conversion data to set up a conversion goal? In that case, we suggest that you use the conversion step before your final conversion so that the Facebook algorithm will have more data to optimize towards (example: if you don’t see a lot of sales, then don’t set your conversion goal to sales — set it to “add to carts”).

So, why might conversion-oriented ad objectives work for prospects? I believe that social media in general is becoming less of a lean-back-and-scroll experience. More users are spending time on social with intent to learn more about products and buy them. That’s because more Gen Zers and Millennials are growing up with a social experience that includes the presence of ads, more so than their predecessors did. They’re more comfortable viewing social as an intent-based platform. So they’re more likely to convert on an ad that introduces them to a new product.

Have you been experimenting with ad objectives? What have your results been?

Contact True Interactive

To succeed with online advertising, contact True Interactive. Read about some of our client work here.

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

Instagram Reels: A New Way for Brands to Connect with Gen Z

Instagram Reels: A New Way for Brands to Connect with Gen Z

Facebook Social media

On August 5, Facebook released a new feature on Instagram called Instagram Reels: “a new way to create and discover short, entertaining videos on Instagram.” Sound familiar? Facebook has been accused of cloning multiple popular social media app features in the past; given the rising popularity of TikTok, especially with Gen Z, we knew it would not be long before Instagram debuted its own short-looped video feature. The release of Instagram Reels also comes at an interesting time, as TikTok and Microsoft try to hammer out a purchase deal in the face of concerns that TikTok poses security threats.

Regardless of TikTok’s path forward, Instagram Reels has legs. And while Instagram Reels may seem identical to TikTok, that doesn’t mean brands should ignore it. Here are some reasons why:

Connect with Gen Zers on Instagram

It’s no secret that Gen Z is growing up in a world where many aspire to be an influencer or creator. TikTok, which became available worldwide in 2018, quickly gave teens the creative opportunity to do so. Many brands whose main customer base is Gen Z started using TikTok as a way to engage with that demographic. But some brands have felt hesitant about working with a new social media platform.

Now with the release of Instagram Reels, many Gen Z influencers and creators are bringing their successful TikTok content over to Instagram. The shift gives those brands reluctant to engage with a new social media app a familiar platform on which they can connect with Gen Z. And on Instagram Reels, brands have an opportunity to create fresh, engaging content to reach that audience.

Refresh Your Content for Your Instagram Community

If you were already seeing success with TikTok, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. On Instagram Reels, you can share the same or similar content with your Instagram following, which most likely will include a broader age range than Gen Z alone. Instagram Reels is a great way to refresh your current Instagram content and stay relevant.

If you don’t know where to begin on Instagram Reels, scroll through Instagram to get a feel for the popular short videos of dancing, lip syncing, or tutorials already on view. And consider making Instagram Reels part of your Influencer strategy.

Post Creative Videos Without Breaking the Bank

Instagram Reels doesn’t just help brands stay relevant. The platform makes sense economically, too. Because let’s face it: when it comes to video content, many brands, hampered by limited resources or limited budget, struggle to produce high-quality videos. Instagram Reels (and TikTok) allow brands to be creative without needing a full production team or deep pockets. A variety of editing tools include audio, AR effects, timer, speed, and more, giving users the ability to share high-quality videos in minutes.

Brands Already On Board

Brands eager to appeal to young consumers are already giving Instagram Reels a go. Dunkin’, for example, has posted a video, set to original Dunkin’ music and making good use of the platform’s filters and stickers, promoting the brand’s drive-through service and cold brew coffee.

And Maybelline has debuted a video starring influencer and model Nikkie De Jager, who lip-syncs Maybelline’s catchphrase—Maybe she’s born with it, maybe it’s Maybelline—while applying makeup.

Red Bull, Louis Vuitton, and Sephora have also already posted to Instagram Reels.

Contact True Interactive

Eager to learn more about how Instagram Reels can bring attention to your brand? Contact us.