How Effective Is TikTok as an Advertising Platform?

How Effective Is TikTok as an Advertising Platform?

TikTok

By Tim Colucci, Taylor Hart, and Bella Schneider 

TikTok is an advertising juggernaut. The app doubled its ad revenues in 2022 according to an industry estimate. Rivals such as YouTube were directly affected. And TikTok continues to roll out new capabilities that appeal to businesses, such as livestream commerce. This is all the more remarkable considering the fact that TikTok has been operating under the threat of being banned in the United States for the past few years.

But just how effective is TikTok as an ad platform? Our own experiences working with TikTok have seen mixed results.

Inconsistent Performance with Conversions

TikTok has both impressed and disappointed us when it comes to conversions such as app downloads, purchases, and leads. On the positive side, one of our clients running social ads increased ROI on TikTok by over 18% in Q3 compared to Q1.

In Q3 on TikTok, we launched conversion campaigns (as well as upper-funnel) for this client, which definitely affected the increase in ROI because in Q1 we only were running upper-funnel campaigns on TikTok.

But when we look at results for other clients – specifically for lead-generation-based mobile app campaigns — we have seen disappointing conversion numbers. For those clients, the cost per conversion on TikTok is higher than on other apps. Why? Probably because TikTok compels users to stay on the app and scroll continuously through a stream of content – as any TikTok user can attest. Taking the time to disengage from TikTok to download an app or to make a purchase is counterintuitive to how TikTok operates.

TikTok does offer tools for advertisers to drive conversions, such as an instant lead form, which creates a customized lead generation form with a call to action. As a result, the user need not leave the app to fill out a lead form. We have seen some success using the instant lead form, but nowhere near the conversion rates we’ve experienced on Facebook and Google. As a result, the cost per lead for TikTok is much higher than for Facebook and Google for lead-generation-based mobile app campaigns.

Awkward App Optimization Feature

Apps such as Facebook and TikTok offer features that make it possible for businesses to optimize multiple app campaigns based on different audiences, creative assets, and objectives. These are known as app event optimization (AEO). With AEO, a business can ensure that multiple campaigns are not competing with each other as they maximize their performance. We found that TikTok’s AEO feature is less effective than Facebook’s. For example, on Facebook, a business can optimize for both web and app campaigns together a lot more effectively than on TikTok. In at least one case, we found that multiple TikTok campaigns for the same brand were competing with each other, but fortunately our own team caught the issue early on and adapted our strategy.

Advice for Brands

  • Monitor your TikTok performance closely. As noted above, conversions can differ by type of campaign (in our case, social ads versus lead-generation-based mobile app campaigns). TikTok is still evolving as an ad platform, and TikTok ad accounts require more maintenance and proactive communication with the TikTok ad team. Keep on top of your performance and be ready to shift gears quickly as we have done.
  • Consider TikTok for brand awareness, but the jury is still out when it comes to conversions. Our campaigns have performed especially well when our objectives have been to achieve reach and brand lift. In our experience, TikTok CPMs are typically less expensive than CPMs for Facebook, Snap, or Pinterest.
  • Watch for new tools. TikTok will continue to roll out new tools to maximize its value, including more livestreaming features. Be alert for them and decide which ones are a possible fit for your brand – but treat them as experimental.
  • Consider the big picture. The conversation about TikTok as an ad platform could become moot if the app is banned in the United States owing to ongoing concerns about the app posing a security and privacy threat. Advertisers are staying true to TikTok as the app’s parent company ByteDance negotiates an agreement with the U.S. government. Could TikTok get sold? That’s a real possibility. Watch developments and be ready to adapt.

Contact True Interactive

At True Interactive, we work with our clients to maximize the value of all their online advertising, including social media spend. We strongly advocate for our clients as we work with apps such as TikTok. Contact us to learn how we can help you.

Why YouTube Is Turning to Shorts for Social Commerce

Why YouTube Is Turning to Shorts for Social Commerce

YouTube

Short-form video is an important battleground for brands and consumers right now. TikTok really changed the game for video content creation by inspiring millions of people to create TikTok videos that typically last anywhere from 10 seconds to 60 seconds. Since then, a host of imitators have appeared, including Meta’s Reels on Facebook and Instagram; and YouTube Shorts.

Many businesses have quickly cracked the code for creating short-form video, and everyday users continue to up the ante, too, which has accelerated the rise of the creator economy, or everyday creators who monetize their content with the help of the host app.

Short-form video is also rapidly evolving as a format for creating ads, free content, and shoppable experiences. The latest example: YouTube Shorts is expanding shopping features.

What Is YouTube Shorts?

Shorts is a feature available to YouTube users. With Shorts, people can quickly and easily create short videos of up to 15 seconds, similar to how TikTok and Instagram Reels are used. The videos are created on mobile devices and viewed, in portrait orientation, on mobile devices. And once a person opens one Short, they get access to tons more of them (again, think TikTok or Reels playing one after another.) According to Google, YouTube Shorts now averages over 30 billion daily views (four times as many as a year ago).

It did not take long for businesses to get involved with Shorts. As we have blogged, brands everywhere are connecting with the vast YouTube audience with organic content and advertising.

For instance, Kitchen and home marketplace Food52 is posting Shorts that offer sneak peeks at its longer-form content on the traditional version of YouTube, as well as repurposing some recipe videos. Drupely’s olive-oil brand Graza says it is creating user engagement by posting how-to cooking and recipe content. According to Graza, videos focused solely on Graza products do better on TikTok than on Shorts.

Social Commerce on Shorts

If YouTube has its way, more brands will be using Shorts to sell things to people. New shopping features are being tested by YouTube in order to accelerate social commerce on YouTube. The new shopping features allow users to purchase products as they scroll through Shorts.

In the United States, eligible creators can tag products from their own stores. Viewers in the United States, India, Brazil, Canada and Australia can see the tags and shop through the Shorts. (The plan is to expand tagging for more creators and countries.)

YouTube is also experimenting with an affiliate program in the United States. This makes it possible for creators to earn commissions through purchases of recommended products in their Shorts and regular videos. YouTube says that this test is in early days. The program will be expanded in 2023.

This is just the latest in many efforts by YouTube to inject social shopping into the user experience. For instance, YouTube launched shoppable ads and the ability to shop directly from livestreams hosted by creators. YouTube has good reason to make it easier to buy and sell products on Shorts. Shorts has topped 1.5 billion monthly users. According to gen.video, YouTube ranks third overall in terms of where consumers do their product research before buying, only behind Amazon and Google directly.

YouTube Shorts is in a race with Instagram and TikTok to win attention from shoppers. Both apps have a head start on Shorts, and TikTok is testing TikTok Shop in the United States. TikTok Shop allows users to buy products directly through the app. All of them are trying to get a slice of the social shopping pie: social commerce is expected to be a $2 trillion market by 2025.

Brands are already figuring out how to sell products via Shorts. Glossier sold products through Shorts in June by creating a challenge for users to try. Glossier gave about a hundred influencers a new pencil eyeliner and encouraged them to create Shorts videos with the hashtag #WrittenInGlossier in the caption. People who tapped the hashtag were brought to the Glossier website. There, they could buy the eyeliner and were asked to recreate a look as part of the challenge. Any Shorts video that included the hashtag was shoppable.

2023 will likely be a year for more shopping features to proliferate on video platforms, with Shorts, TikTok, and Instagram duking it out for consumers’ attention amid a recessionary economy. Who will win? We’ll report progress here.

Contact True Interactive

We deliver results for clients across all ad formats, including video and mobile. To learn how we can help you, contact us.

Why Google Is Bullish about Winning Its Fight with TikTok

How Brands Are Using YouTube Shorts

Why Google Brought Advertising to YouTube Shorts

Why YouTube Shorts Matters to Brands

Why Google Is Bullish About Winning Its Fight with TikTok

Why Google Is Bullish About Winning Its Fight with TikTok

Google YouTube

Alphabet, Google’s parent, announced third-quarter earnings that fell short of expectations. Normally an earnings miss is cause for concern especially during recessionary times. But the company sounded upbeat. In fact, Alphabet believes it’s making the right investments for long-term growth, including one crucial YouTube feature.

The Numbers

First, let’s take a look at the numbers. For the third quarter, Alphabet reported:

  • Revenue: $69.09 billion vs. $70.58 billion expected, according to Refinitiv estimates.
  • Google advertising revenue: $54.48 billion, up 2.5 percent year over year but down 3 percent between the second and third quarters. (By contrast, Google’s ad revenue jumped 43.2 percent between the second and third quarters of 2021.)
  • YouTube advertising revenue: $7.07 billion vs $7.42 billion expected, according to StreetAccount estimates.

The decline in ad revenue for YouTube is most bothersome for Google, especially because YouTube rival TikTok continues to pick up steam. Advertisers are finding something better on TikTok: younger, highly engaged audiences who prefer TikTok’s short-form video content.

According to Statista, TikTok generated $4.0 billion in advertising revenue in 2021, a figure that is expected to double by 2024 and triple by 2026.Digiday reported just a few days ago that ad agencies are shifting content creation from Instagram and YouTube to TikTok. In April, Insider Intelligence predicted that TikTok’s ad revenue will grow 184% to nearly $6 billion in 2023 (that amount tops Twitter and Snap combined). Meanwhile, Insider Intelligence says that Influencer-marketing spend on TikTok will overtake YouTube in 2024.

YouTube Is Fighting Back

But Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai says he is confident that Google will turn things around. One reason: the company has developed an answer to TikTok.

YouTube recently launched Shorts, which is YouTube’s version of short-form TikTok videos. Shorts is basically a TikTok copycat. Using the YouTube app, people can quickly and easily create short videos of up to 15 seconds. The videos are created on mobile devices and viewed, in portrait orientation, on mobile devices. And once you open one short, you essentially access the motherlode in that videos start playing one after the other. Just swipe vertically to get from one to the next.

According to YouTube, more than 1.5 billion people use Shorts – impressive numbers that actually surpass TikTok’s user base. As a result, more brands are creating campaigns on Shorts. It’s early days for Shorts and brands, but Shorts has two big advantages over TikTok:

  • Integration with YouTube, which has 2.6 billion active users. This is important because YouTube can promote Shorts to the built-in user base, and brands can connect Shorts content to their already established YouTube presence.
  • A creator monetization program that is more favorable than TikTok’s. YouTube recently announced Shorts will soon be eligible for monetization, and creators will keep 45 percent of the revenue generated from viewership. Having more savvy and popular creators on Shorts will generate more ad revenue for YouTube – and likely attract more brands.

Shorts is a fledgling operation. It only recently launched an ad program. But in an earnings call with investors, Pichai voiced optimism that the company’s investment into Shorts will pay off. He reiterated YouTube’s commitment to Shorts monetization, challenging TikTok directly, and attracting creators to the platform.

He has one other reason to feel upbeat. TikTok continues to grapple with a recurring and very ugly issue about its possible threat to national security related to accusations of privacy breaches — an issue that flared up in 2020 and is making headlines again. Who knows how that is going to turn out?

The best course of action for YouTube is the one that the company has chosen already: answering TikTok as it has done and capitalizing on its built-in user base. This will take time, and investors are impatient, especially during a down economy. But Alphabet has the cash to ride out the down times and continue to make YouTube more appealing to advertisers and creators.

Contact True Interactive

We deliver results for clients across all ad formats, including video and mobile. To learn how we can help you, contact us.

Why Walmart Connect Expanded Its Advertising Partnerships

Why Walmart Connect Expanded Its Advertising Partnerships

Walmart

As the 2022 holiday season kicks into high gear, retail analysts are watching closely how much consumers will spend during a time of inflation. But it’s equally fascinating to understand how people shop. Walmart Connect, Walmart’s fast-growing advertising arm, believes that holiday shopping online – indeed all shopping online — will increasingly happen via social media, television commerce (t-commerce), and livestreaming. That’s one reason that Walmart Connect has expanded its advertising partner program to encompass social apps such as TikTok and streaming platforms such as TalkShopLive.

What Is the Walmart Advertising Partner Program?

Walmart Connect wants to help businesses advertise across the digital world beyond Walmart.com. To do that, Walmart Connect’s partnership program works with platforms to help brands scale, automate, and optimize their Walmart Connect advertising. These include partners that make it possible for Walmart Connect to expand self-service advertising through an application programming interface (API). Those API partners can be found here.

The partnership program is becoming more important to Walmart as it positions itself as a strong retailer-based ad platform alternative to Amazon Ads. And Walmart says the program is increasingly delivering value. For example, when BirdRock Brands turned to Pacvue (an enterprise software suite for eCommerce advertising) to scale its manual Walmart Sponsored Products campaigns, BirdRock was able to help design a campaign that ultimately experienced a return on ad spend 11 percent greater than its target, and an 83 percent increase in sales quarter over quarter.

What Did Walmart Announce About Its Advertising Partner Program?

Walmart has added a slew of advertising partners known as innovation partners. According to Walmart, these innovation partners will provide test-and-learn opportunities with formats such as social, entertainment, and live streaming throughout the entire holiday season. The newly expanded offering includes additional touchpoints and channels to reach customers wherever they are with new ad formats:

  • TikTok: this partnership provides an opportunity for advertisers to connect with potential shoppers on the red-hot TikTok platform. As Walmart noted, more than 50 percent of TikTok users say they watch ads on their feed instead of scrolling past them. The first-to-market pilot between TikTok and Walmart Connect will provide advertisers with the opportunity to serve in-feed ads on TikTok. This will leverage TikTok’s sound-on full screen video format together with Walmart Connect’s targeting and measurement.
  • Snap: the partnership with Snap enables advertisers to buy ad units including augmented realityCollection Ads and Snap Ads through Walmart Connect and take advantage of the Walmart Connect’s geo-based measurement. This is the first time advertisers can buy Snap ad units through Walmart Connect and get in front of the unique Snapchat audience (75 percent of 13-34 year-olds in the U.S.), who hold over $1.9 trillion in spending power.
  • Firework: this partnership enables supplier-funded shoppable livestreams and short shoppable videos on Walmart.com/live. Walmart Connect is testing how brands can leverage Firework’s capabilities to create premium, engaging, mobile-first video experiences and, to start, has partnered with Johnson & Johnson and Procter & Gamble.
  • TalkShopLive: Walmart Connect is expanding its relationship with TalkShopLive to partnership enable supplier-funded shoppable livestreams on Walmart.com/live, TalkShopLive’s platform, brand and publisher sites, as well as across the web. Walmart Connect is testing how brands can amplify their content and connect with shoppers at scale. To start, it has already executed livestreams with Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble, and Samsung, among others.
  • Roku: Walmart wants to help make TV streaming the next e-commerce shopping destination. Walmart touts Roku as America’s Number One TV streaming platform (citing Hypothesis Group research). So, Walmart has become the exclusive retailer to enable streamers on Roku to purchase featured products and have the transactions fulfilled by the chain. Walmart Connect will connect brands to customers through the Roku platform, and checkout will be seamless for customers, while advertisers receive insights on effectiveness via Walmart Connect measurement.

In announcing these partnerships, Walmart discussed how online search and shopping has become more diversified especially in the post-pandemic age. Seth Dallaire, Executive Vice President and Chief Revenue Officer, Walmart U.S., wrote in a blog post:

Consumers who turned to online shopping during the pandemic have chosen to stay there, with those returning to in-store relying on online research to guide their decisions. Consumers realized the importance of “connection” and were forced to adapt and connect in new ways including social feeds, livestreaming, mobile and more, specifically across video and connected TV. In fact, the predicted growth of social commerce from 10% of all e-commerce to 17% by 2025 will be driven by Gen Z and millennial consumers and nearly two-thirds (64%) of social media users — an estimated 2 billion social buyers — said they made a purchase on social media in the past year.

Now, Walmart Connect intends to do its part in connecting social media discovery to actual sales. So far, Walmart Connect’s partnerships have been hands-on in nature. Brands get custom reporting about their campaigns, based on activations on Walmart.com’s live shopping, TikTok, Snap, and Roku. But Seth Dallaire told Advertising Age that the partnership program expanding to the point where it would be more automated and widely available within Walmart Connect, so that brands could better target ads on social media and connected TV.

Contact True Interactive

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

For Further Insight

Why Walmart Connect Is Winning,” Tim Colucci, February 25, 2022.

Why Retailers Are Launching Ad Businesses,” Tim Colucci, January 11, 2022.

Walgreens Doubles Down on Its Advertising Business,” Tim Colucci, May 19, 2021.

Amazon Unveils New Ad Units Across Its Ecosystem,” Kurt Anagnostopoulos, May 4, 2021.

Why Macy’s Launched an Advertising Platform,” Tim Colucci, March 3, 2021.

Walmart Asserts Its Leadership in Advertising,” Tim Colucci, February 8, 2021.

The Most Popular Social Media Apps for Teens

The Most Popular Social Media Apps for Teens

Social media

How are teens spending their time on social media these days? This is an important question for advertisers. That’s because teens spend money. They talk about their favorite brands with each other. Their preferences influence the popular cultural trends that advertisers need to understand in order to stay relevant. And if advertisers play their cards right, they can, in turn, influence teen behavior.

A new survey of Americans aged 13-17 from Pew Research Center reports some eye-opening findings about where and how teens are spending their time online. Key findings:

  • YouTube reigns. 95 percent of teens use YouTube, followed by TikTok, Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook.

Social Media Apps

  • Only 32 percent use Facebook, compared to 71 percent in 2014-15. Not only is there a smaller share of teenage Facebook users than there was in 2014-15, teens who do use Facebook are also relatively less frequent users of the platform compared to the other platforms covered in this survey. Just 7 percent of teen Facebook users say they are on the site or app almost constantly (representing 2 percent of all teens). Still, about six-in-ten teen Facebook users (57 percent) visit the platform daily.

Leading Social Sites

  • Many teens are always on. 46 percent of teens say they’re on the internet “almost constantly,” up from 24 percent in 2014-2015.  Roughy one in five teens are almost constantly on YouTube, which leads all platforms.

Social Media Usage

  • The vast majority of teens have access to digital devices, such as smartphones (95 percent), desktop or laptop computers (90 percent) and gaming consoles (80 percent). Since 2014-15, there has been a 22 percentage point rise in the share of teens who report having access to a smartphone (95 percent now and 73 percent then). While teens’ access to smartphones has increased over roughly the past eight years, their access to other digital technologies, such as desktop or laptop computers or gaming consoles, has remained statistically unchanged.
  • More affluent teens are particularly likely to have access to all three devices. Fully 76 percent of teens that live in households that make at least $75,000 a year say they have or have access to a smartphone, a gaming console and a desktop or laptop computer, compared with smaller shares of teens from households that make less than $30,000 or teens from households making $30,000 to $74,999 a year who say they have access to all three (60 percent and 69 percent of teens, respectively).
  • U.S. teens living in households that make $75,000 or more annually are 12 points more likely to have access to gaming consoles and 15 points more likely to have access to a desktop or laptop computer than teens from households with incomes under $30,000.
  • Habits vary by demographic. Teen boys are more likely than teen girls to say they use YouTube, Twitch and Reddit. Teen girls are more likely than teen boys to use TikTok, Instagram and Snapchat. Higher shares of Black and Hispanic teens report using TikTok, Instagram, Twitter and WhatsApp compared with white teens.

Implications for Brands

  • Short-form content on TikTok is popular, but so is longer-form content on YouTube. Within just a few years, TikTok has famously rocketed to popularity by featuring videos that are about 30 seconds in length (often shorter). But YouTube’s popularity demonstrates that teens also like more in-depth video content, as Mashable points out. Longer-form content lends itself to content marketing, such as “how to” topics and podcasts, as noted here. On the other hand, shorter-form TikTok videos lend themselves to catchy, engaging micro-moments. To use a television analogy, TikTok is the place for 30-second spots, and YouTube for advertorials. As one influencer on LinkedIn wrote, “If digital media is hunger, TikTok feels like McDonalds, and YouTube feels like [insert fairly decent quality restaurant]. TikTok gives you dopamine hits. It’s addicting, you can become consumed by it, but it doesn’t mean you’re satisfied with the quality. Each swipe is, ‘okay, now what’s next.’ Before you know it, it’s an hour. YouTube, even with most videos watched being through recommendations, provides a deeper connection with the viewer. If you watch a video for >1min, you’re truly invested. This also means that creators will build more meaningful viewer connections through YouTube. All data shows that Gen Z appreciates the quality and connections of YouTube.”
  • Teens are not all the same. Variances exist by income level and demographic, as noted above. It’s important to understand the differences depending on your audience. In addition to the statistics cited above, we also noticed the popularity of gaming consoles among more affluent teens. And overall, Hispanic (47 percent) and Black teens (45 percent) are more likely than white teens (26 percent) to say they use at least one of the five most popular social media online platforms almost constantly. And teen girls are most likely to be social media loyal than teen boys: teen girls are more likely than teen boys to express it would be difficult to give up social media (58 percent versus 49 percent). All of these nuances influence any company that wants to launch a credible multi-cultural marketing strategy.
  • Facebook still matters, but Instagram does even more. Even though it’s less popular among teens than it was in 2014-15, it’s still more popular with teens than Twitter, Twitch, WhatsApp, Reddit, and Tumblr. As teens get older, they may very well spend more time on Facebook. And Facebook the platform still enjoys widespread usage among adults, as seen in other recent Center studies. However, it’s clear that among Meta’s brands, Instagram is more important for reaching teens, especially as Instagram morphs into a social selling site.

Contact True Interactive

We deliver results for clients across all ad formats, including social mediavideo, and mobile. To learn how we can help you, contact us.

Photo by Rami Al-zayat on Unsplash

How Brands Are Using YouTube Shorts

How Brands Are Using YouTube Shorts

YouTube

The rise of TikTok is one of the most phenomenal stories in the digital world. Since launching globally in 2018 through a merger with Musical.ly, TikTok has become a multi-billion-dollar advertising machine. TikTok has more than 1 billion members, has surpassed Snapchat to become the most popular app with teens, and is on course to earn more than $11 billion in ad revenue in 2022.

TikTok has succeeded by becoming the preferred app for short-form videos. Although users can post videos that are as lengthy as 10 minutes, the ideal TikTok video is about 30 seconds long. Some of the most popular TikTok videos of all time, racking up billions of views, are blink-and-you’ll-miss-them short.  As a result of TikTok’s popularity, brands are spending more money advertising on the app, which is a threat to more established apps such as YouTube and Instagram.

Because of TikTok’s popularity, YouTube and Instagram have responded in kind by launching short-form video features. For example, in 2021, YouTube rolled out Shorts globally after a more limited launch in India in 2020. Although YouTube Shorts is not yet a source of meaningful advertising revenue for YouTube, it is gaining traction with brands.

What Is the YouTube Shorts Feature?

Shorts is basically a TikTok copycat. Using the YouTube app, people can quickly and easily create short videos of up to 15 seconds. The videos are created on mobile devices and viewed, in portrait orientation, on mobile devices. And once you open one short, you essentially access the motherlode in that videos start playing one after the other. Just swipe vertically to get from one to the next.

Shorts, much like TikTok, provides editing tools you can use to flex creative muscle. Users can string clips together, adjust playback speed, and add music and text. And as YouTube has blogged, creators can play off of existing content: “[Y]ou can give your own creative spin on the content you love to watch on YouTube and help find it a new audience—whether it’s reacting to your favorite jokes, trying your hand at a creator’s latest recipe, or re-enacting comedic skits.” (Notably, creators are in control of their material; they can opt out of having their long-form videos remixed in this way.)

According to YouTube, more than 1.5 billion people use Shorts – impressive numbers that actually surpass TikTok’s user base. It was only a matter of time before YouTube made it possible for brands to get involved creating their own Shorts. And they are.

How Are Brands Using YouTube Shorts?

As reported in The Wall Street Journal, brands are increasingly experimenting with ways to engage with users on Shorts. For example:

  • Kitchen and home marketplace Food52 is posting Shorts that offer sneak peeks at its longer-form content on the traditional version of YouTube, as well as repurposing some recipe videos.
  • Drupely’s olive-oil brand Graza says it is creating user engagement by posting how-to cooking and recipe content. According to Graza, videos focused solely on Graza products do better on TikTok than on Shorts.
  • Glossier sold products through Shorts in June by creating a challenge for users to try. Glossier gave about a hundred influencers a new pencil eyeliner and encouraged them to create Shorts videos with the hashtag #WrittenInGlossier in the caption. People who tapped the hashtag were brought to the Glossier website. There, they could buy the eyeliner and were asked to recreate a look as part of the challenge. Any Shorts video that included the hashtag was shoppable.
  • Danessa Myricks Beauty used a short to promote its launch in Sephora. The Short built excitement for the launch by featuring the sending off a package of its product to be sent to Sephora stores.
  • NBC’s The Voice relied on Shorts to feature hosts for its most recent season. The ad included a banner at the end with clear directions for viewers on when and where to watch the show.

This is all encouraging for Shorts, but the feature is not yet a revenue generator, and YouTube is under pressure to staunch the flow of ad dollars to TikTok. On top of that, Instagram is turning up the heat with its own TikTok challenger, Reels.

Even so, YouTube is striking a note of optimism.

Philipp Schindler, senior vice president and chief business officer at Google, said during second-quarter earnings call in July. “…[E]arly results in Shorts monetization are also encouraging, and we’re excited about the opportunities here.”

It’s early days for Shorts and brands. Meanwhile, Shorts has one big advantage over TikTok: integration with YouTube, which has 2.6 billion active users. This is important because YouTube can promote Shorts to the built-in user base, and brands can connect Shorts content to their already established YouTube presence.

What Brands Should Do

  • Know your audience. YouTube appeals to the 15-25-year-old demographic. It is also very popular among 26-35-year-olds. TikTok skews younger: it is most attractive to 16-24 year-olds.
  • Be ready to capitalize on Shorts ad formats when they become available widely. For instance, brands will be able to connect their product feeds to their campaigns and make video ads on YouTube Shorts more shoppable.
  • Understand how to integrate Shorts ad formats into a broader YouTube advertising strategy that includes skippable video ads, bumper ads, overlay ads, and others.

Contact True Interactive

We deliver results for clients across all ad formats, including video and mobile. To learn how we can help you, contact us.

Where Amazon, Google, and Meta Are Headed

Where Amazon, Google, and Meta Are Headed

Amazon Google Meta

Technology earnings week is always watched closely. The rising and falling fortunes of Alphabet (Google), Amazon, Apple, Meta, and Microsoft have a direct impact on adjacent industries such as retail, advertising, and marketing. During a topsy turvy year such as 2022, the most recent quarterly earnings announcements of the Big Tech firms were followed especially closely. And here are some of the highlights from the Big Three of online advertising – Amazon, Google, and Meta — with implications for online advertising:

  • Amazon beat analysts’ estimates and enjoyed a strong quarter with the exception of its core retail business. The big news was the continued strong growth of Amazon Ads, which is Amazon’s advertising business that has quickly challenged Google and Meta for leadership of the online ad market. Ad revenue climbed 18% in the period for its most recent quarter. All told, Amazon Ads raked in $8.76 billion in the second quarter. Notably, in its earnings announcement, Amazon highlighted the recent launch of Amazon Marketing Stream, which “automatically delivers hourly Sponsored Products campaign metrics to advertisers or agencies through the Amazon Ads API.” This is a sign that Amazon is developing ad tech data and marketing services, which is a direct challenge to Google. What it means: the success of Amazon Ads dovetails with the ascendance of a more privacy-focused era. Apple in particular has initiated privacy controls that make it more difficult for advertisers to target consumers with ads that use third-party data. Amazon Ads is beyond the reach of such privacy controls because Amazon Ads is based on first-party data that Amazon collects from its customers. Amazon is not the only retail business building its own ad network. But it’s the leader. We expect more businesses will choose Amazon Ads as an advertising platform, and we have developed services accordingly.
  • Meta suffered its first-ever revenue drop for the quarter. The reasons are complicated. First off, TikTok is threatening the popularity of Facebook and Instagram (both owned by Meta), and Meta’s response to TikTok, Reels, doesn’t generate money as efficiently as Instagram Stories and the main news feed. Meta has also reeled from the impact of Apple’s privacy controls. What it means: Meta is in a time of transition – but never count out Meta. The company is investing heavily into the emerging metaverse, which is dragging its profits down but may boost Meta over the long run. And although Reels are a work in progress, progress is being made. As analysts at JMP wrote, “With Meta making progress with Reels while AI improves recommendations across content and advertising, we expect growth to rebound from current levels while the company is more disciplined in its cost structure.” And, overall, the company’s base of monthly active users continues to increase. The real threat to Meta in the near term: how well the company can rebound from the threat of Apple’s privacy controls. The long-term threat: how well Meta can attract and keep Gen Z users.
  • Google is sitting pretty. Alphabet’s search ad sales grew more than 13 percent in Q2 2022 to $40.7 billion, beating analysts’ expectations of $40.2 billion. Search, of course, is Google’s bread-and-butter business, and Google’s investments into its core search ad units are paying off as advertisers lean into performance marketing tactics amid economic uncertainty. But life isn’t all rosy at Google. At YouTube, ad sales rose 0nly 5 percent after jumping 84 percent in the same period a year ago. This reflects the impact of TikTok’s popularity. What it means: Google is going to flourish in 2022 and 2023 especially as advertisers weather economic uncertainty. Google is a safe bet, and Google continues to develop new ad units that enhance its performance marketing capabilities. Watch for Google to continue to push artificial intelligence-related services and tools that automate online advertising — while managing the increasingly thorny challenge of developing alternatives to third-party cookies, which the company had said it would do by 2022 and now is rescheduling for 2024.

What Advertisers Should Do

  • Keep a diversified ad portfolio across the Big Three: Amazon, Google, and Meta. If you are satisfied with the results you are seeing, don’t let Meta’s challenges scare you away. But do a gut check with your agency partner on how your ads are performing.
  • Work closely with your agency partners to understand the impact of privacy controls, especially from Apple.
  • If Gen Z is an important audience, take a closer look at TikTok. TikTok looms large as it challenges YouTube and Meta especially.

Contact True Interactive

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