Why Discord Matters to Advertisers

Why Discord Matters to Advertisers

Social media Uncategorized

Discord is a free voice, video, and text chat app that’s used by people aged 13 and up to chat and essentially hang out. Initially launched in 2015 as a home for gamers, the app has since expanded its reach and now attracts users from gaming and non-gaming communities alike. To say it’s popular is something of an understatement: the app enjoys more than 150 million monthly active users as of July 2021. But it accepts no advertising.

Why should advertisers care about Discord? Read on to learn more.

What Is Discord?

Users have embraced Discord as a way to connect with friends on a daily basis. Available for Mac, PC, iPhone, and Android devices, the app facilitates talk around any number of topics, from homework to mental health to travel.

Discord is mostly used by small and active communities who like to connect regularly, and for these groups the app follows an invite-only protocol. But larger, more open communities also flourish on Discord; these larger communities can be public, and tend to focus on specific topics like gaming, the app’s original mandate. Minecraft, for example, draws a large following.

As Discord puts it, shared interests drive the conversation.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, an entire vocabulary exists to help users navigate the app: “servers” are the spaces created by communities or friend groups (as Business Insider describes it, servers are a less-formal version of the Slack app). Any user can initiate a new, free server, and invite their friends; individual servers promote their own topics and rules. Discord servers are subsequently organized into text and voice “channels,” which are typically devoted to specific topics. Users can post (type) messages on text channels; they can also upload files and share images. Voice channels allow users to communicate real-time through a voice or video call.

There are literally thousands of Discord servers, so whether your jam is cute cats or a game like Fortnite, a Discord server that reflects your interests probably already exists.

Why Discord Matters to Businesses

But there’s no advertising. So, why should businesses care?

In a word: presence. Even though Discord is an ad-free platform, brands can and do maintain a presence there. Think of Discord as a social-listening tool. As reported in Marketing Dive, Discord is a source for learning about emerging culture and trends. By following Discord, brands can figure out fresh was to become culturally relevant with their marketing.

What does that look like, exactly? Essentially, brands can create their own branded communities on Discord, places where they can interact head-on with their most loyal customers. These communities are a zone where brands and consumers connect over common interests — and there might be a perk or surprise in there for the customer, to boot.

Virtual events are popular on the app: consider the Q&A fashion retailer AllSaints hosted in May, in which the menswear designer gave users a peek into how its styles have changed over the years. Chipotle took a different tack, hosting a virtual job fair on Discord that allowed the fast-casual restaurant chain to announce a hike in wages (to $15 an hour), and gave current employees an opportunity to talk about benefits and career paths.

Of course, for some brands, the app’s gaming roots are a rich vein to mine. Consider teen retailer Hot Topic, which initiated a Discord server specifically targeting fans of Japanese anime. Hot Topic relies on its own presence to support anime fandom, which overlaps with Hot Topic’s own audience.

What Brands Should Do

What does all this mean for your brand? We recommend that you:

  • Keep in mind Discord’s audience. Are they your audience? In other words, does Discord promote a niche that represents common ground for your brand and a community of Discord users?
  • Do your homework and learn from how other brands are succeeding on Discord. Discord users seem to respond to authentic conversations and events on the app. How can you capitalize on this? Keep in mind the Hot Topic example: the retailer tapped into a theme already established as part of the Hot Topic brand — then ran with it. They didn’t pretend to be something they’re not or try to shoehorn themselves into a conversation that didn’t make sense.
  • Listen and watch closely for ideas to inform your advertising beyond Discord. What can you learn from the ways Discord connects with its audience?

Contact True Interactive

Interested in exploring Discord—or another chat app? Contact us. We can help you stake your claim.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Businesses Are Navigating Back-to-School Season with Digital Marketing

How Businesses Are Navigating Back-to-School Season with Digital Marketing

Advertising

Back-to-school season is complicated this year. On the one hand, the proliferation of vaccines has created a certain sense of Covid-19 being sometime we can live with. But for kids, there isn’t necessarily a clear-cut “back to normal.” Although teens can be vaccinated, there is no vaccine ready for kids under 12, and the Delta variant is emerging as a real threat. Brands find themselves in a situation awkwardly similar to what they faced in 2020: welcoming kids back to school during an uncertain year. Read on to learn how some brands are navigating this delicate situation in their back-to-school digital marketing.

Embracing the Positive

The American Eagle campaign Future Together. Jeans Forever underlines the brand’s established mission of positivity. In a 30-second spot featuring singer Addison Rae and actors Caleb McLaughlin, Jenna Ortega, Chase Stokes, and Madison Bailey, the message is clear: this fall, students can at least look forward to the joy of being in the same room with their friends at school. And with the return to in-person learning, American Eagle is leaning in to the denim category. The implicit message? Now that students are back in the classroom, those go-to sweatpants that have dominated for the last 18 months of Covid and remote learning might just get kicked to the curb in favor of fun new styles—denim in particular.

The Joy of Creativity and Personal Expression

As reported in Ad Age, last year Dick’s Sporting Goods found success partnering with TikTok, and the retailer is returning to the platform as they double down on back-to-school messaging for 2021. This time around, the focus is on a “Lock In” TikTok challenge that underlines creativity: e.g., creators spend an evening in a Dick’s store and put together their own styles and content. As Ed Plummer, Dick’s chief marketing officer, explains, “We basically give them the keys to the store to see what they can come up with from a style perspective and share that with their followers.” The campaign’s energy and optimism not only reaches young consumers where they like to hang out (TikTok), but it underlines a simple message: joy in personal expression is a constant, no matter the uncertainty of the times.

Pop Art

Pop-Tarts also have personal expression on the brain. In a collaborative first for the Kellogg brand, Pop-Tarts partnered with Lyrical Lemonade to co-host a pop-up experience in Los Angeles. On August 13, select visitors were invited to decorate traditional back-to-school gear—from backpacks to notebooks and sneakers—with Pop-Tart-inspired art. The partnership gives Pop-Tarts greater access to the Gen Z demographic, as Lyrical Lemonade enjoys a wide social following. Case in point: the announcement of a limited-run Pop-Tarts x Lyrical Lemonade Toaster Pastry—the flavor is Lemon Creme Pie—generated more than 115,000 likes within 24 hours. And the benefits appear to go both ways. As Lyrical Lemonade founder Cole Bennett said in a press statement, “It’s been a while since everyone has been back together in school, and we loved the idea of collaborating with Pop-Tarts to get creative and make that first day back amazing.”

Meet the Parents

Meanwhile, Kohl’s recognizes that it’s not just students embarking on a new chapter: parents used to having their kids at home may be making their own transitions right now. As part of a campaign meant to run earlier and longer than past initiatives, a 30-second Kohl’s spot depicts a father dropping his son off at school. As the dad sits in the car singing along to a Zombies song, the son circles back to wish him a “great first day.” Greg Revelle, chief marketing officer of Kohl’s, notes, “It’s not just about your kid going back to school but all the changes going on for parents and loved ones as well.”

Lessons Learned

What can we learn from these brands?

  • For starters, make no mistake: even during uncertain times, it’s okay to be upbeat. By now people are accustomed to living with uncertainty. And as Ad Age points out, consumers are “craving optimistic, forward-looking marketing.” By focusing on the positive aspects of this new school year, American Eagle generates excitement—and hope.
  • That said, be careful not to promise “back to normal.” Celebrating rekindled friendships recognizes that one aspect of school is coming back for many kids via in-person learning. But ads that promise a complete return to the way things were before the pandemic risk coming across as tone deaf. Consider the Pop-Tarts campaign that celebrates fun—in the Now.
  • Use digital wisely to appeal to the digital generation. As Dick’s Sporting Goods shows, relying on TikTok is a smart play that will reach teens and inject a sense of fun that we don’t always associate with back-to-school.
  • Finally, even as you reach out to Gen Z for back-to-school, don’t neglect other demographics. Kohl’s wisely gives a tip of the hat to the parents who are helping to keep things stable during Covid—and beyond.

Contact True Interactive

Trying to figure out how to navigate this not-quite-post-Covid era in digital? Contact us. We can help.

Why Advertisers Love Baby Boomers

Why Advertisers Love Baby Boomers

Advertising

Baby Boomers are hot! While Millennials and Gen Z continue to capture love from marketers, brands are also reaching out to the Boomer audience. This post will take a closer look at why:

Baby Boomers Defined

Baby Boomers are the generation sandwiched between the so-called Silent Generation and Generation X. Roughly defined as the cohort born from 1946 to 1964 during the post-World War II baby boom, Boomers were shaped by post-WW II optimism, the cold war, and the seismic changes wrought by 1960s counterculture.

Boomers make up a large segment of the U.S. population. In fact, they are right behind Millennials in terms of size; according to 2019 stats published by Statista Research Department early this year, just under 70 million Baby Boomers live in the United States, compared to about 72 million Millennials. Furthermore, as Forbes points out, the Baby Boomer generation, at 40 percent market share, make up the largest piece of the consumer pie.

And they’ve got money to spend.

Why Boomers Matter to Brands

Craig Millon, the chief client officer of IPG’s Jack Morton Worldwide, reminds brands that while younger generations are a worthy target audience, the importance of Boomers should not be underestimated.

“A lot of people spent an insane amount of time focused on Millennials,” Millon says. “Boomers are an incredibly good, loyal, and wealthy segment of our population that probably do not get as much attention as they used to.”

And yet the Baby Boomer generation continues to manifest the values that have characterized them all along: this cohort is defined by a tendency to be hard workers who have spent wisely and saved. Many are still working full- or part-time, which means that their choices continue to have a powerful impact on the economy. In fact, Boomers “make up the only population group experiencing growth in the workforce.” As a relatively health-conscious generation, Baby Boomers are also poised to take advantage of advanced medical technology to live healthier and longer. As Forbes has noted, “Unlike their parents, who desired to relax during retirement, the baby boomer generation wants to get out and do all the things they’ve always dreamed of doing.”

How does this manifest in a world moving beyond pandemic-era lockdowns? The headline is this: Boomers are motivated to spend. Business Insider describes a generation that’s been vaccinated, is resuming travel, and with no young children at home, is eager to spend the money they saved during the past year. Research from ad EGC Group shows that Boomers are increasing their spend levels by 10-to-15 percent in 2021. And brands from Mercedes-Benz to candles maker Glasshouse Fragrances are taking note, increasing their outreach to this group by 30 to 40 percent.

Of course some advertisers might still be reluctant to divert precious resources to the Boomer cohort. Their logic — that resources need to go to reaching younger generations — is not uncommon. And yet marketing to Boomers can be a win/win. Baby Boomers not only have the spending power, they also stand to share their brand experiences with children and grandchildren.

“Give the boomer a reason to love your brand,” Steven Seghers, CEO of Hooray Agency, says. “The boomer generation brings other generations with them.”

Tips for Marketing to Baby Boomers

 How does a brand connect with the Baby Boomer audience? Some recommendations:

  • While Boomers are more tech-savvy than they are sometimes given credit for, make sure that your digital outreach addresses Boomer needs. Many Boomers wear glasses and have a harder time reading small text, for example. On your website, pay attention to font size, visual contrast, and button sizes, all of which an inform the usability of your site.
  • Finally, don’t jettison phone support options. Live chat is a popular support tool for Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z , but many Boomers still prefer interactions where they can express themselves verbally — and go hear another human voice. Prominently displaying a phone number on your site (and including a link that can easily work on mobile so that users can make their call with one click) speaks volumes about your dedication to an easy, reliable consumer experience.

Contact True Interactive

Interested in making inroads with the powerful Boomer demographic? Contact us. We can help.

Photo by Marcus Aurelius from Pexels

How Twitch Is Appealing to Advertisers

How Twitch Is Appealing to Advertisers

Advertising Gaming

Twitch, the popular streaming site owned by Amazon, is expanding marketing partnership opportunities beyond its competitive esports channel, Twitch Rivals. The gaming platform’s new Official Marketing Partner program creates branding opportunities for /twitchgaming, a Twitch channel dedicated to non-competitive gaming. Already Chipotle and Ally Financial have signed up. Does it make sense for your brand to join the party? Read on.

How Twitch Has Grown during the Pandemic — and Who Likes Twitch

Twitch has definitely enjoyed a growth spurt. The platform exploded in popularity during the pandemic, as gaming and streaming became reliable sources of entertainment in a world locked down against the virus. According to Ad Age, “Twitch has nearly doubled its daily visitors and minutes watched since the pandemic began.” That translates into an average of 30 million visitors daily — up from 17.5 million in 2020. This growth is good news for brands who want exposure. In January alone, according to Modern Retail, Twitch users devoured more than two billion hours of content.

Who are these viewers? Ad Age reports that almost half of Twitch users are 18 to 34 years old; 21 percent fall into the 13-to-17-year-old demographic. That’s a big piece of the Gen Z/Millennial pie. Lou Garate, the head of global sponsorship sales at Twitch, also notes that Twitch followers tend to be online loyalists who seek nearly all their entertainment online, making them hard to reach via more traditional advertising channels.

Twitch Expands Marketing Opportunities

Given the elusive nature of that demographic, perhaps it was inevitable that Twitch would grow as a branding destination. At first, only brands with a clearly defined tie to gaming tested the waters: headphone companies like Hyper X, for example, and energy drink brands like Red Bull and Monster tested out promotion with campaigns that proved popular. Doritos also was in this vanguard, in 2018 sponsoring a Twitch competition called the Doritos Bowl.

But while headphones and snacks make perfect sense when it comes to partnering with a gaming platform, brands in other arenas are starting to explore how they might connect with Twitch users. Understanding that Twitch actually supports an increasingly diverse array of niche communities has been key. Chess, for example, is popular on the platform. So is anime.

As a result, any number of brands are starting to think about partnering with Twitch. Consider Lexus, which in January recruited the Twitch community to create a custom version of its 2021 IS sedan. Twitch streamer Fuslie hosted a livestream in which viewers could vote on modifications to the car, including gaming consoles and car wrap; more than half a million viewers showed up. A second livestream on February 17 disclosed the car’s design.

Brands like Chipotle have certainly seemed to do their homework in order to find a home on Twitch. According to a 60,000-person user panel called the Twitch Research Power Group, a whopping 97 percent of Twitch users eat at quick service restaurants — 57 percent of them on a weekly basis. In addition, arbiters like McKinsey & Company have identified Gen Z (a significant percentage of the Twitch audience, as noted above) as the “True Gen,” a generation dedicated to, among other things, ethical concerns. Chipotle speaks to these factors in a Twitch campaign that reaches out to Gen Z in particular in a meaningful way. As Ad Age reports, Chipotle will in coming months sponsor custom segments in /twitchgaming show The Weekly, including a “Chipotle Build Your Own PC” segment in which guests build their own PCs —much as customers build custom burritos at Chipotle. After the segment, Twitch and Chipotle will give the equipment to a nonprofit.

Twitch’s expanded Marketing Partners Program

Let’s take a closer look at the new Official Marketing Partner program. The Chipotle campaign is part of this effort, which essentially has meant Twitch opening up sponsorship opportunities on its /twitchgaming channel. “With the launch of this new Official Marketing Partner program, we’re taking a unique approach in sponsoring non-competitive content, to reach a new audience of elusive gaming enthusiasts on /twitchgaming,” Garate explains. The new program demonstrates Twitch’s desire to work with brands and connect them with gamers across the platform — not just those interested in Twitch Rivals’ esports content.

What Brands Should Do

 Interested in exploring opportunities to partner with Twitch? We recommend the following:

  • Understand your audience. As noted above, the demographic skews young, and they don’t necessarily respond to traditional advertising. Take a page from Chipotle’s book and get to know the Twitch audience — and how to speak their language.
  • Understand the nuances of Twitch. As Jamin Warren, the founder of the gaming-focused consultancy Twofivesix, notes, “Of all the platforms that we look at, Twitch is really one of the most interesting, and it’s the most complicated as well.” One reason? Part of Twitch’s draw stems directly from the appeal of its streamers. Brands launching channels must find authentic, identifiable streamers to run their accounts. Otherwise, they may find themselves speaking into the void.

Brands also need to get comfortable with the nature of this beast: livestreams are by definition hard to script, and the best content tends to be spontaneous. Maintaining that spontaneity while keeping things from going off the rails can be an art — and one that brands need to learn in order to thrive on Twitch.

Contact True Interactive

Does it make sense for your brand to reach out to the Twitch audience? Contact us. We can advise.

Why Google Delayed Its Plan to Scrap Cookies

Why Google Delayed Its Plan to Scrap Cookies

Google

Not so fast, Google. The company has announced that its campaign to kill cookies on the Chrome browser is slowing down. This is an increasingly complicated story with a simple conclusion: no matter what Google does or does not do, ad personalization is alive and well.

What Google Announced about Blocking Third-Party Cookies

In a blog post, Google said that its plan to block web tracking on Chrome – originally planned to happen in 2022 – will be delayed until later in 2023. The company also indicated that its timeline is subject to its engagement with the United Kingdom’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). In other words, Google will need the cooperation of legislators who are growing very concerned about Google’s growing power. This is an important development. Previously, Google was rolling along unchecked with its anti-cookie measures despite an outcry from advertisers and ad tech firms — who are concerned that Google is amassing too much power and restricting their ability to deliver personalized ads by tracking users across the web.

A Brief Timeline of Google’s War against Third-Party Cookies

Google’s announcement is best understood in context of a series of moves that the company has made since January 2020. Let’s break it down for you:

January 14, 2020: The Bombshell

Google said it will phase out support for third-party cookies on Chrome, which is the most popular browser in the world. Advertisers rely on third-party cookies to track user behavior across the web in order to serve up personalized ads. Google said it wanted to make the web more private. Google said it would work with advertisers to create alternatives to third-party cookies through its Privacy Sandbox project.

The news created a wave of protest from advertisers and ad tech firms. They accused Google of stacking the deck against them by denying them the ability to use third-party cookies to personalized ads. Meanwhile, Google’s own powerful ad platforms, such as YouTube and Google Search, would be exempted from Google’s phasing out of cookies. That’s because those platforms use first-party data, or data collected from user behavior on those sites. They don’t rely on third-party cookies. Advertisers complained that Google was creating an unfair competitive advantage.

January 8, 2021: A Regulator Steps In

The United Kingdom’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced it was investigating Google’s Privacy Sandbox because the CMA was getting concerned that Google was potentially violating anti-trust laws. This was an important development leading up to Google’s June 24 announcement.

January 25, 2021: Will FLoC Float?

Google announced it was developed an open-source program that would ease the pain of businesses eventually losing access to third-party cookies. This open-source program is known as FLoC (Federated Learning of Cohorts). FLoC will make it possible for businesses to group people based on their common browsing behavior instead of using third-party cookies.

March 3, 2021: Google Doubles Down

Google doubled down on its campaign against cookies. Google said that once third-party cookies are phased out of Chrome browsers, Google will not build alternative identifiers to track individuals as they browse across the web, nor will Google use them in its products. Examples of those alternative identifiers include Unified ID and LiveRamp IdentityLink. Instead, Google pushed advertisers to adopt FLoCs developed out Google’s own Privacy Sandbox initiative (as noted above).

Notably, Google  also said, “We will continue to support first-party relationships on our ad platforms for partners, in which they have direct connections with their own customers. And we’ll deepen our support for solutions that build on these direct relationships between consumers and the brands and publishers they engage with.”

March 11, 2021: Google Keeps Pushing First-Party Data

Google announced some product developments intended to make it easier for publishers to use their first-party data programmatically for ad buys. The announcement was seen as another sign of Google’s intention to bring about the demise of third-party cookies and push businesses toward using first-party data to personalize content.

June 11, 2021: Google Feels the Heat

Feeling the heat from the CMA investigation, Google made some public commitments to protect free competition, such as “no data advantage for Google advertising products” and that “We will play by the same rules as everybody else because we believe in competition on the merits. Our commitments make clear that, as the Privacy Sandbox proposals are developed and implemented, that work will not give preferential treatment or advantage to Google’s advertising products or to Google’s own sites.”  Google also pledged to cooperate with the CMA.

June 24, 2021: The Cookies Are Still Baking

As a byproduct of pledging to cooperate with the CMA, Google agreed to slow down its phasing out of third-party cookies. The CMA wants Google to proceed more cautiously and thoughtfully with the CMA’s oversight, especially amid the ongoing outcry from advertisers, ad tech firms, and competitors.

The New Timeline

Google shared a revised timeline. Here’s exactly how Google describes it:

“After this public development process, and subject to our engagement with the CMA, our plan for Chrome is to phase out support for third party cookies in two stages:

  • Stage 1 (Starting late-2022):Once testing is complete and APIs are launched in Chrome, we will announce the start of stage 1. During stage 1, publishers and the advertising industry will have time to migrate their services. We expect this stage to last for nine months, and we will monitor adoption and feedback carefully before moving to stage 2.
  • Stage 2 (Starting mid-2023):Chrome will phase out support for third-party cookies over a three month period finishing in late 2023.

Soon we will provide a more detailed schedule on privacysandbox.com, where it will be updated regularly to provide greater clarity and ensure that developers and publishers can plan their testing and migration schedules.”

What Does All This Mean?

  • The demise of third-party cookies is still happening – just not as quickly as Google originally planned.
  • Google now has oversight. The CMA could pull its support or impose more restrictions if it feels Google is not playing fair. And who knows what would happen to Google’s Privacy Sandbox if that were to happen?
  • Personalization is alive and well. As we noted on our blog, even if Google succeeds ultimately, businesses have access to alternatives to third-party cookies such as Unified ID 2.0 — is a next generation identity solution built on an open-source digital framework.
  • First-party data is more important than ever. That’s because Google isn’t the only Big Tech firm clamping down on web tracking. So is Apple with its Application Tracking Transparency privacy control, which requires apps to get the user’s permission before tracking their data across apps or websites owned by other companies for advertising, or sharing their data with data brokers.

What Businesses Should Do

  • Heed Google’s advice and monitor the detailed schedule for its next moves on privacysandbox.com
  • Work with your advertising agency to understand what’s happening and how you may be affected. That’s exactly what our clients are doing with True Interactive. That’s what we’re here for.
  • Don’t abandon ship with ads that rely on web tracking. As you can see with Google’s June 24 announcement, things may not proceed the way Google plans.
  • Do invest in ways to leverage your own (first-party) customer data to create personalized ads. We can help you do that.
  • Consider ad platforms such as Amazon Advertising and Walmart Connect, which give businesses entrée to a vast base of customers who search and shop on Amazon and Walmart. True Interactive offers services on both platforms in addition to our longstanding work on Google, Bing, and other platforms.

Contact True Interactive

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

Photo by Mitchell Luo on Unsplash

For Further Reading

Apple Announces New Privacy Features,” Mark Smith.

Why the Google Ad Juggernaut is Back,” Tim Colucci.

Why Amazon and Facebook Are Catching up to Google,” Kurt Anagnostopoulos.

Google Unlocks First-Party Data for Publishers,” Mark Smith.

Google Rejects Alternatives to Cookie Tracking,” Mark Smith.

Google Responds to Apple’s App Tracking Transparency,” Taylor Hart.

The Facebook Spat with Apple,” Taylor Hart.

Google to Stop Supporting Third-Party Cookies on Chrome,” Mark Smith.

Apple Announces New Privacy Features

Apple Announces New Privacy Features

Apple

Apple has once again made some moves to make the internet more private. At its 2021 Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), Apple announced new features intended to give consumers more control over how businesses interact with them. Let’s take a closer look.

What Privacy Controls Did Apple Announce at WWDC?

Apple announced that later in 2021, the company will roll out new features to help people control how their online data is used by third parties. They include:

  • Allowing people to disable the ability of marketers to see if and when an email is opened via Apple’s Mail app.
  • Making it possible for people to hide their internet protocol (IP) address information in order to prevent businesses from tracking web usage on the Safari browser.

In addition, Apple indicted that premium iCloud users will be able to access the internet with a feature called Private Relay. This feature will  block network providers from using IP addresses and web usage to create a user profile for tracking.

Why Does Apple’s WWDC Announcement Matter?

The news from WWDC is the latest in a series of actions from technology giants Apple and Google to make it more difficult for businesses to track users in order to deliver personalized advertising. For instance:

  • In 2020, Google announced it would stop supporting third-party cookies on the Chrome browser. In 2021, Google toughened its stance by saying it would not support workarounds for third-party cookie tracking.
  • Apple recently launched a privacy control known as Application Tracking Transparency (ATT), which requires apps to get the user’s permission before tracking their data across apps or websites owned by other companies for advertising, or sharing their data with data brokers.

The advertising world has reacted with a mixture of concern and resignation as businesses adapt to a reality in which third-party cookies will be less useful for creating targeted advertising. In addition, Facebook has argued that Apple’s ATT will hurt small businesses that rely on Facebook’s advertising tools to create personalized content.

How Will the WWDC Announcement Affect Advertisers?

It’s really too early to say yet how advertisers will be affected by Apple’s latest announcements. For one thing, they have not been launched yet. In addition, although Safari is the second-most popular browser in the world, it lags far behind Chrome in terms of usage. On the other hand, Chrome and Safari together constitute 83 percent of the global market share for browsers. The real impact will be seen when both Google’s and Apple’s tighter restrictions take hold together. It will be interesting to see the impact of the restrictions in Apple Mail, which has the largest market share among email apps.

What Should Advertisers Do?

As I noted in a recent blog post,

  • Don’t assume targeting and personalization are dead because of the way Apple and Google are focusing on privacy. You can still use your own data to buy targeted ads on Google properties such as YouTube, Gmail, and Google Search – so long as you bring their first-party data into Google through the company’s existing Customer Match product. Moreover, as we noted in a recent blog post, if you want to use your own data to serve up targeted ads outside Google’s walls, Google is developing its own cohort-based alternative to third-party cookies to help you do that. Stay tuned for more product developments.
  • Do consider tapping into your own first-party data more effectively to create ads (and True Interactive can help you do so). For example, collect more first-party data by using cookies to understand who visits your site; or run a promotion that collects email addresses. Collect purchase data if applicable to your site.

My blog post “Google Unlocks First-Party Data for Publishers” contains more tips.

At True Interactive, we’re doing the heavy lifting to help our clients navigate these changes. Bottom line: be ready to adapt. But don’t panic.

Contact True Interactive

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

Photo by Laurenz Heymann on Unsplash

For Further Insight

Why the Google Ad Juggernaut Is Back

Why the Google Ad Juggernaut Is Back

Google

Google’s advertising business has come roaring back. In 2020, Google found itself to be in the unusual position of seeing a downturn in its advertising revenue for the first time in 29 years. That’s because a pullback in ad spending among Google’s clients, many of whom come from a travel/hospitality industry ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic, hurt Google even as ad competitors Amazon and Facebook were reaping a windfall. But Google’s recent financial results show that the downturn was temporary, and Google will continue to exert an enormous influence on the advertising world.

Recently, Google’s parent firm Alphabet announced quarterly earnings that exceeded investors’ expectations. Although the growth of Google’s cloud computing business had a lot to do with Alphabet’s success, the rebound of Google advertising played a big role, too. Google’s advertising revenue rose to $44.68 billion for the first quarter of 2021, up from $33.76 billion the year before, prompting CNBC to note that the ad revenue spike was the fastest annualized growth rate in at least four years. So, what can we conclude form the turnaround?:

  • Google is benefitting from the popularity of video. YouTube earned $6 billion in revenue for the quarter, increasing 49 percent from a year earlier. Earlier in 2021, we predicted a surge in online video consumption, a reality that has been borne out during the pandemic. To be sure, online video is much bigger than YouTube, as the success of TikTok demonstrates. But as Google reported later in 2020, during the pandemic, people were turning to video more as a learning tool when in-person learning options were shut down, which benefits YouTube given the amount of instructional content that exists there. The only question that remains now is whether the popularity of online video, and, by extension, YouTube, will remain as strong in a post-pandemic world.
  • Google’s Knowledge Graph is becoming more powerful. The Google Knowledge Graph consists of all the sources of information that Google draws upon to provide search results to queries. It’s a wonky concept that people in the search engine optimization (SEO) industry follow closely. But the Knowledge Graph applies to advertising, too. When Google provides answers to searches such as “Where can I find a plumber near me?” or “Where can I find Anime T shirts?” Google draws upon sources such as Google Maps, Snippets, and a company’s Google My Business (GMB) listings (among other sources) to share information about relevant businesses. Well, guess what? Google is doing such an effective job tapping into its Knowledge Graph to serve up answers on search engine results pages (SERPs) that people are finding answers to what they need on Google without needing to click anywhere else. More eyeballs on Google SERPs means that Google can deliver a larger audience to advertisers through Google Search. As Google becomes an even stronger all-purpose search tool (hard to believe given Google’s dominance in search already), the company becomes even more valuable to advertisers.
  • Google is creating its own future. As widely reported, Google has intensified its war against third-party cookies that are essential for businesses to deliver ads based on a person’s browsing behavior across the web. As Google forces the demise of third-party cookies, advertisers will need to tap into businesses that possesses first-party data (such as Amazon) in order to continue to deliver effective personalized ads. And as it turns out, Google is sitting on a lot of first-party data through that Knowledge Graph I mentioned. When people use Google Maps, YouTube, and other Google properties, they give Google a ton of information about their search and purchase habits, which Google uses to create better ad products. According to Brendan Eich, cofounder and CEO of the privacy-focused browser company Brave, “The reality is that Google already has first-party access to nearly every site—via Google Analytics, ad words, Google Tag Manager, Google Maps, etc.—and that its users are being data mined for profit.”

All of this is not to say that businesses need to dial up their advertising on Google. We’ve always recommended that advertisers go where their audience is, period. At the same time, Google has demonstrated the wisdom of businesses taking the long view with their advertising. The Big Tech ad platforms – Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft – have carved out a powerful space in the advertising world. Those companies are all big targets for critics, which has resulted in antitrust action and negative PR. But the negative PR can lead a business around by the nose, too, resulting in short-sighted thinking. The ad giants are not going away. If they’re important to your business – and I suspect they are if you’ve read this far into my post – don’t pump on the brakes in 2021.

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Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash