Walmart Asserts Its Leadership in Advertising

Walmart Asserts Its Leadership in Advertising

Walmart

Walmart is thinking big.

After a year during which the world’s largest retailer doubled ad revenue, Walmart is partnering with advertising technology company The Trade Desk to build a new advertising platform. The goal? To make Walmart an even bigger player in the advertising landscape than it is today, and take on rival Amazon as an advertising leader. Read on to learn more.

What’s In A Name?

The initiative begins with a name change. Janey Whiteside, chief consumer officer at Walmart, has announced that the retailer is rebranding its media business. Goodbye Walmart Media Group. Hello Walmart Connect. The new name hints at the sea changes in Walmart’s approach to advertising, including an expansion that links the retailer’s advertising business to in-store media.

Walmart Connect

It’s a canny move. While many retailers ignore their physical properties by conflating digital with online-only, Walmart is integrating digital with brick-and-mortar, in the process competing with Amazon’s muscular online presence. According to Reuters, the retailer will sell ads on more than 170,000 screens—including televisions and self-checkout kiosk screens—located inside more than 4,500 U.S. stores. Mark Boidman, managing director and head of media and tech services at the independent investment bank and financial services company PJ Solomon, believes the plan has promise. He notes:

The ability to use on-premise media, and in particular digital signage and digital out-of-home media, allows brands and retailers to be reactive and provide contextually relevant content and advertising, Think coffee promotions in the morning or marketing hot chocolate or snow shovels ahead of a big snow storm.

That means the messaging can’t — and won’t — be one-size fits all. After all, shoppers in Florida are unlikely to relate to snow shovel ads at any time. Walmart understands this; as reported in Ad Age, brand messages will be delivered specific to date, time, and geography.

Part of Walmart’s initiative also capitalizes on the company’s access to in-store and online shopper data. As the Wall Street Journal reports, this trove of data may well give Walmart’s demand-side platform an advantage over that of rival ad sellers, and help the company effectively compete for a bigger share of marketer dollars.

Implications of Walmart Connect for Brands

Walmart wants to share its data riches — with brands. By doing so, Walmart creates a win-win situation in which consumer needs are anticipated and marketers can remain agile in the face of changing need. “Walmart is pioneering a new frontier in digital advertising, providing marketers with access to shopper data for the first time, in a way that both protects consumer privacy and improves the consumer experience, Jeff Green, CEO and co-founder of The Trade Desk, noted in a statement. “In doing so, marketers will be able to create much more refined, relevant and measurable advertising campaigns, which can be adapted on the fly.”

What would that adaptation look like? For starters, marketers can target ads to audiences based on data about shopping behavior. In addition, advertisers can monitor sales in brick-and-mortar Walmart stores in real time, subsequently tweaking marketing campaigns as needed.

“We have this unparalleled source of data that we can bring to bear,” Whiteside says. “Who else can actually tell you if a customer saw something online and then a week later, physically bought it in the store?”

Smarter Advertising across the Web

Walmart isn’t just sharing data with brands available in Walmart stores. The company’s demand-side platform will allow brands not even sold at Walmart to use the trove of data — for a price — to better understand consumer habits, and subsequently craft messaging appropriate to those shoppers. In the past, most advertisers used the company’s data to expose shoppers to ads on Walmart properties — Walmart’s website and app, for example. The retailer means to expand that reach across the entire Web.

Contact True Interactive

In-store digital advertising. Capitalizing on consumer data so that both brands and shoppers benefit. In its aspirations to be a media powerhouse, Walmart is thinking outside the box to bring digital advertising to the next level.

Learn more about our expertise with Walmart Connect here.

Google to Expand Phrase Match and Drop Broad Match Modifier

Google to Expand Phrase Match and Drop Broad Match Modifier

Google

On February 4, Google announced changes intended to help advertisers reach searchers more efficiently and precisely in context of search intent. Within the next few weeks. Google will expand phrase match to include additional broad match modifier traffic. In addition, Google will end support for broad match modifier. As a result, Google says that advertising on Google will become more relevant to search behavior.

In a blog post, Google explained how the expansion of phrase match will work. Google cited the example of a moving service wanting to have its ads appear alongside someone searching for “moving services NYC to Boston.” The way phrase match works now, that ad might appear alongside a “moving services NYC to Boston” search – but it also might appear alongside “moving services Boston to NYC” searches, which is obviously an irrelevant ad placement. But this problem will go away over the next few weeks with the expansion of phrase match, as Google depicted on its blog:

Google search query

Google also shared more examples to illustrate how matching behavior will change after this update:

Google Content

Meanwhile, Google is phasing out support for broad match modifier. Google intended for broad match modifier to trigger a business’s ads if keywords were present in the search query in the exact or close variant form.

To minimize disruption, Google will roll out the change over several months. According to Google:

  • Starting mid-February, both phrase match and broad match modifier keywords will begin to transition to the new matching behavior. Advertisers will keep their performance data and will not need to migrate their keywords.
  • In July, once the new behavior has been rolled out globally, advertisers will no longer be able to create new broad match modifier keywords. But, existing broad match modifier keywords will continue to serve under the new behavior – so Google suggests that advertisers start now by create new keywords in phrase match going forward.

What Advertisers Should Do

Google suggests that advertisers:

  • Monitor performance and shift budgets where necessary. Traffic may fluctuate due to these changes; so make adjustments as needed.
  • Regularly check Recommendations page: “Add new keywords” helps an advertiser maintain keyword coverage, and “Remove redundant keywords” helps an advertiser consolidate duplicate keywords.
  • Consider using broad match with Smart Bidding. If an advertiser is concerned about losing coverage, broad match with Smart Bidding helps reach more relevant searches that meet an advertiser’s performance objectives. Google cited the example of online food delivery service Just Eat Takeaway.com, which just tested the combination of broad match with Smart Bidding. The business said, “[W]e’ve been surprised by the results of using broad match with Smart Bidding. We saw a 127% increase in conversions while hitting our goals.”
  • Continue to use negative keywords: Exclude matches an advertiser doesn’t want with negative keywords.

In the near term, advertisers will find themselves busy adapting their campaigns, and they may experience some traffic fluctuations – so it’s best to watch performance metrics closely during the transition.

Of course, if you are a True Interactive client, we’ll do all the heavy lifting for you. We’ve got you covered!

Contact True Interactive

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

Photo by Solen Feyissa on Unsplash

Live Commerce: Advertiser Q&A

Live Commerce: Advertiser Q&A

Marketing

Twenty years ago, online shopping transformed retail; today, live streaming is poised to shape e-commerce. “Live commerce” is a term applied to the partnering of streaming video and shopping. Read on to learn more about the concept dubbed “QVC for the digital age.”

What Is Live Commerce?

The QVC analogy is an apt one. Back in the 1980s, home shopping network QVC expanded shopper reach by connecting with consumers in their homes. Television was the medium; suddenly, shoppers could browse and buy in the middle of the night, from the comfort of a favorite living room chair. With live commerce, consumers can still make purchases from their homes, but the fusing of online retail with live streaming brings shoppers even closer to the energy of an in-person experience. Live commerce can take different forms:

  • Online marketplaces. Marketplaces like eBay have traditionally allowed users to buy and sell online. These same marketplaces are now responding to consumer behavior by incorporating live streaming into their platforms. The real-time interactivity replaces static exchanges with the energy and experience of actually “being” in a marketplace.
  • Live auctions. Live video streaming gives auction houses an opportunity to bring bidders from all around the world into the saleroom. The benefit? An institution like Sotheby’s can reach a broader audience with widely varied interests.
  • Influencer streaming. Using live streaming, influencers can leverage their personal brand to promote their favorite products in an interactive format. While influencer streaming got its start on social media, the practice is now common across e-commerce sites, as well. (Brands targeting Gen Z take note: influencers especially resonate with the Gen Z generation. According to Wowza, 44 percent of that demographic make purchase decisions based on social influencers’ recommendations.)
  • Live events. Events like product launches, limited edition drops, and retail holidays such as Black Friday are well suited to shoppable live broadcasts.

Why Is Live Commerce Popular Now?

Before 2020, online commerce was already gaining traction. Then the pandemic hit. According to IBM’s U.S. Retail Index, COVID-19 hastened the shift from shopping at brick-and-mortar stores to digital shopping by approximately five years. And home shopping channels like QVC, which had already started exploring on-demand video shopping prior to 2020, enjoyed a surge of popularity with Americans staying home because of COVID-19. Econsultancy reports that between March and May of 2020, viewership for networks like Home Shopping Network and QVC rose 10 percent.

The interactive nature of live commerce has made it particularly resonant during the pandemic. People are social beasts. They crave connection. During COVID-19 lockdowns, when social interaction has been limited, being able to ask questions about a product or directly interact with an influencer online helps fill that need to connect.

Who Is Embracing Live Commerce?

Live commerce is a huge market in China; according to a survey by AlixPartners, reported in November 2020, two-thirds of Chinese consumers say they made purchases via livestreaming in the previous 12 months. But United States brands are also getting on board:

  • An early adopter of livestream shopping in the US, Levi Strauss reached out to consumers afraid to visit brick-and-mortar stores during the pandemic. Shoppers could ask questions—and make purchases—during 30-minute to one-hour sessions devoted to featured products and tips.
  • Walmart and TikTok recently worked together on a livestreamed shopping event. During the “Holiday Shop-Along Spectacular,” TikTok creators like Michael Le showed off their favorite Walmart fashions on Walmart’s TikTok profile, and shoppers could buy the same products using mobile checkout.

How Should Brands Be Involved?

Live commerce can help brands connect with consumers in meaningful ways, even when physical contact is limited. Interested in experimenting with what live commerce can do for you? We recommend that you:

  • Do your research before working with an influencer. Find the right match for your brand. Does it make sense to work with a superstar? It can be more economical to work with micro-influencers who draw a strong following from a geographical region or niche industry relevant to your brand. (According to Econsultancy, micro-influencers can also generate higher levels of trust and authenticity.)
  • Pay attention to the “commerce” part of live commerce. Does your checkout process run seamlessly? Make sure it does before unrolling a live commerce campaign.
  • Continue to make customer experience a priority, even after checkout, even from afar. Live commerce can never exactly re-create the in-store shopping experience, but taking shoppers’ needs into consideration goes a long way towards building customer satisfaction—and brand loyalty. Zappos, an early e-commerce adopter, is an instructive example. By encouraging customers to order multiple sizes of an item, then making it not only easy, but free to return anything that didn’t fit, Zappos built satisfaction and encouraged return visits.

Contact True Interactive

Want to learn more about live commerce—and how digital can elevate your brand? Contact us. We can help.

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.

Why Triller Is a Thriller

Why Triller Is a Thriller

Mobile

Have you heard of Triller? The video-making social app has been around since 2015, but only recently has it started to show signs of becoming a genuine rival to TikTok. Should marketers care? In a word: yes. Read on to learn why.

What Is Triller?

Like TikTok, Triller is deeply connected to music; introduced as a video-editing service by co-founders David Leiberman and Sammy Rubin, Triller has always employed artificial intelligence (AI) to create music videos. But by 2016, the app had also become a social-networking service that allowed users to follow one another and share the videos they created. Today, users can film different takes of themselves rapping to songs (hip-hop is particularly popular on the app), and then use the AI to cull the best clips and make a professional-looking music video. The editing is pretty painless: as refinery29.com notes, “[Y]ou perform and the app edits your video for you.”

How Does Triller Compare to TikTok?

While similar to TikTok, Triller is trying to position itself as being all about the music. The app has raised investment from artists like Snoop Dogg, and music fans are considered the prime audience for the app. Though some critics point to the fact that Triller has recently permitted users to share a wider range of content, such as quirky videos, the fact remains that the app is music friendly. One example of the emphasis on music: Triller allows users to pull complete songs from their Apple Music or Spotify playlists, as compared to the 15 seconds allowed by TikTok.

Who’s on Triller?

As noted in Fortune, Gen Z is currently “establishing the winners and losers online,” and Triller, which has started to gain traction with Gen Z, may be one of those winners. The app has certainly been flexing its muscles of late, having poached some of TikTok’s influencers. Former TikTok creators like Josh Richards have made the switch (Richards is now also Triller’s chief strategy officer). Other former TikTok luminaries—Noah Beck, Griffin Johnson, and Anthony Reeves—have jumped to Triller and signed on as investors. And performers like Alicia Keys and Eminem have used the platform to create music videos.

Advertising on Triller

According to Digiday, “Triller’s commercial model revolves around letting influencers raise money from fans, advertisers and partnerships with music labels.” The approach can be a lucrative one. As noted in Influencer Marketing Hub, influencer marketing allows brands to reach a young, urban audience through influencers who have already cultivated the kinds of relationships that make marketing successful.

In October, Triller also partnered with ad tech start-up Consumable to sell digital and video format ads meant to be placed between videos on the app. Mark Levin, CEO of Consumable, shared, “This is an exciting partnership given our collective focus on delivering innovative, bite-sized content. It combines Triller’s short-form entertainment with Consumable’s short-form digital advertising to deliver the first social video discovery platform on media publisher websites.” As noted in Business of Apps, the partnership will give marketers a crack at new audiences.

Also notable: advertising on the app can be nothing short of groundbreaking. E.l.f. Cosmetics, which set trends in late 2019 with an innovative TikTok campaign, redefined cool yet again in late 2020 by working with Triller. As e.l.f. CMO Kory Marchisotto noted, the cosmetics brand ended the year with “a big music bang,” partnering with Triller to release an entire holiday-themed album featuring not only danceable electronic beats but also plenty of “e.l.f.-isms.”

Meanwhile, Triller is going to do some advertising on its own in a big way: reportedly, Triller is gearing up for its first-ever Super Bowl ad.

We Recommend

There are lessons to be learned from apps like Triller, as 2021 ushers in a new era of music, advertising, and innovation. We recommend that you:

  • Don’t get complacent. Stay attuned to new apps and new ways of communicating.
  • That means staying in tune with your audience. Are you reaching out to Gen Z? Know what language they speak. As Triller demonstrates, music can be a key way to connect. And ad length may differ depending on your target market.
  • Finally, understand how relationships with influencers can elevate your brand. Influencers can get your product in front of users in an authentic and meaningful way. Think about which influencers might have an organic connection with your brand.

 Contact True Interactive

Triller, of course, is just one way to connect with audiences. Eager to expand your reach in a fresh way that rings true? Contact us. We can help.

Why the Honk Messaging App Matters

Why the Honk Messaging App Matters

Mobile

There’s a newcomer in the messaging world, and it’s aimed squarely at Gen Z. Honk, which describes itself as the “all-new way to chat with your friends in real time,” comes from app publisher/software company Los Feliz Engineering (LFE), and is determined to make messaging a “present” experience for a younger generation. Why does Honk matter? Read on to learn more.

What Is Honk?

There’s no send button. There’s no saved chat history. With Honk, conversations take place in real time: when someone types a message on Honk, the recipient of the message can see the sender’s content unfold in real time, warts and all, including revisions that the sender makes. (Honk calls this interface a live typing experience.) The app notifies recipients immediately if someone has left a chat. To get someone’s attention, you can send a “Honk,” described by TechCrunch as “a hard-to-miss notification to join your chat.” Users can even press the Honk button repeatedly to up the ante; the spamming sends notifications to the recipient’s phone if they’re off the app, or a cascade of emoji if their Honk app is open.

Honk accommodates 160 characters, and because the conversation is real time, no messaging is saved. Users who have maxed out their character count simply tap a double arrow “refresh” button to clear the screen and continue the communications. Users can send emoji, which display as huge images temporarily filling the screen. And photos can be accessed from a user’s camera roll to illustrate the chat.

Honk’s Target Audience: Gen Z

If giant emoji and repeated honks sound off-putting, you might not be Honk’s target audience. The app is unapologetically targeting Gen Z: though of course anyone can use Honk, when you set it up, the app asks for your age, and there are exact numbers to answer that question — 18, 19, etc. — up to a point. The last option available is “21+,” a sort of “and the rest” acknowledgement of who Honk is really courting.

Gen Z, of course, has been attracting the interest of brands because of its growing influence. It’s a sizable demographic: as reported by Brookings, more than half of the United States population are part of the Millennial generation or younger. Moreover, Gen Z is poised to overtake Baby Boomers to become the second largest generation in the nation.

Savvy brands also understand that this is a generation shaped by digital. According to the Pew Research Center, 95 percent of teens either own or have access to a smartphone, and 45 percent say they are online “almost constantly.” That’s significant to note because an app like Honk would come naturally to the Gen Z demographic.

All the Rage

Honk is also significant because messaging apps are all the rage, period. Most of the major tech firms have invested heavily into messaging apps because messaging is considered an authentic, immediate form of communication appropriate for the digital age. As we have blogged, behemoths like Facebook acknowledge the value of messaging, having already developed their own messaging app, Facebook Messenger, which brands use to communicate and even share ads.

Messaging features have also cropped up in apps like Google Maps. Social Media Today reports that Google has added new message options to its Maps and Search to make it easier for potential customers to reach out to businesses and ask questions. As Google notes, while business profiles can easily answer the frequently asked questions — the hours a business is open, for example — messaging takes things a step further. Messaging allows users to ask specific questions — for example, do you make vegan baked goods? — and in the process strengthen the bond between business and customer.

What Businesses Should Do

Honk. Gen Z. Messaging. What are the takeaways for your brand? We recommend that you:

  • Keep an eye on Honk and apps like it. For now, Honk does not offer any opportunities for advertising — but that day may come soon!
  • If Gen Z is a target market for your business, make sure you understand the way this generation communicates so that you know how to reach them in an authentic, meaningful way. Think of Honk as a way to learn, and be open to adapting your own approach =
  • Take a closer look at how well you are integrating messaging into your marketing and communications strategies.

Contact True Interactive

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

2021 Advertising and Marketing Predictions from True Interactive

2021 Advertising and Marketing Predictions from True Interactive

Advertising

If 2020 had a few surprises up its sleeve, the year certainly set the stage for 2021. In the months ahead, businesses are poised to transition more boldly to a digital-first economy, which includes a more seamless approach to e-commerce and increased opportunities for engaging with people through immersive experiences such as e-sports. At the same time, businesses will continue to navigate an increasingly complicated consumer privacy landscape. All those trends, and others, will influence the uptake of digital advertising and marketing in 2021. Read on for our fearless predictions for the year:

E-commerce Grows Up

We’ve all heard the same statistic bandied about: in 2020, the pandemic accelerated the shift to e-commerce by five years, according to IBM. But that doesn’t mean the acceleration went smoothly. As we saw during the holiday season, the surge in online commerce has exposed cracks in the seams for many retailers. Sellers struggled with a variety of issues ranging from stocking items properly to following through with orders. Going into 2021, these challenges are forcing companies to integrate all their processes (online, in store, shipping logistics, etc.) more seamlessly. Larger retailers such as Target and Walmart have already successfully expanded services such as curbside pick-up, which make it possible for shoppers to buy online and pick up merchandise at the store without needing to go inside. Going forward, they’ll follow Amazon’s lead and invest more in their own shipping and delivery services to own the order fulfillment process (Target and Walmart already have them – they’re still refining them, though). As we have seen during the holidays, the strain on shipping services such as FedEx and UPS is becoming unacceptable to retailers, and if they lack the resources to build out their own delivery services, they will partner with businesses such as InstaCart.

In addition, learning from the events of 2020, retailers will likely become more nimble in their approach to advertising and supply chain management in order to adapt to quickly changing shifts in consumer demand. They’re going to do a better job using tools such as Google Insights to adapt their campaigns to consumer behavior. The key will be to ensure their supply chain processes are as nimble.

— Kurt Anagnostopoulos, co-founder

Rough Sledding for Facebook

It may be rough sledding ahead for Facebook in 2021. Do a quick Google News search for Facebook and you will see a slew of articles depicting the challenges the social media giant currently faces. At the top of the list? News that more than 40 attorneys general and the U.S. government are expected to sue Facebook for alleged antitrust violations. And while Mark Zuckerberg has routinely appeared at congressional hearings addressing concerns of privacy, misinformation, and censorship, this latest lawsuit might be a final awakening for businesses who use Facebook as an ad platform.

Adding to Facebook’s already uphill battle is the release of the Netflix documentary, The Social Dilemma, which explores the dangerous human impact of social network platforms as told by tech experts who expose secrets behind their own creations. Many media outlets reported a wave of people canceling their social media accounts after viewing the documentary. Of course, Facebook has slammed the documentary, claiming it’s full of misinformation, but is the damage already done? Even if the documentary did not get all the details right, it has undeniably affected public perception of social media platforms. And if even a fraction of current users de-activate their accounts, this will absolutely have a negative impact on audience size available to advertisers. More importantly, with the continued negative publicity surrounding the biggest social media platforms, are businesses really going to want to ramp spend on Facebook and Instagram? My prediction is no. After a crazy year filled with pandemic fears and general social unrest, I do not believe businesses are looking to invest in platforms embroiled in controversy. And if media spend is pulled from some of the social media giants, it may leave the door open for other search engines or community-based ad platforms to emerge. Stay tuned!

— Beth Bauch, director, digital marketing

Walmart Gains Ground as an Ad Platform

The Walmart marketplace is still very much in its infancy. I believe that 2021 will lead to exponential growth of Walmart’s advertising services, and the company will become more competitive with Amazon in this regard. The current platform is still very small scale and, technically, still in beta or just out of it. Many larger advertisers have not been invited to join the Walmart marketplace because it is still so brand new. I believe that Walmart will enjoy a large jump in advertising on their app and site Q1-Q2 2021.

— Tim Colucci, vice president, digital marketing

Augmented Reality Takes Hold

I think in 2021 we will see more brands invest money into creating virtual experiences for their customers. Augmented reality (AR) was already becoming popular before the onset of COVID-19, but now, given the urgency to shop online during the pandemic, consumers are missing the in-store experience of physically trying on items. And retailers are responding with AR: Warby Parker, for example, has created a virtual try-on for their glasses via their app. My glasses broke this weekend, and instead of going to a Warby Parker store to try on different frames, I could use their app to see what the glasses would look like on me, and felt more confident ordering online. Another brand capitalizing on the opportunities inherent in AR? A make-up line called NARS. They allow you to experiment with their products, such as blush and eye shadow, through a virtual try-on feature. Overall, I think more retail brands will create virtual shopping experiences for their customers in 2021.

— Taylor Hart, senior digital marketing manager

E-sports Dominates

The world of e-sports is never one to stop changing. With e-sports accumulating a total revenue that reached more than $1 billion in 2020 (a $150 million increase from 2019), we can only expect that to continue to rise in 2021. Given the ongoing global pandemic and application of stricter stay-at-home rules, more and more people will turn to e-sports as another form of entertainment. It all starts with streaming services that allow e-sports players to become household names in the gaming industry. Giving these players an opportunity to reach tens, potentially hundreds of thousands of viewers without leaving their home is something advertisers can only dream of. Players will do sponsored streams, with designated ad reads to be presented at certain points during the broadcast. The NFL is also getting involved with Twitch (the biggest live streaming platform), getting some of the big name streamers (e.g., NICKMERCS and TimTheTatman) to watch Thursday Night Football on stream with various advertisers as sponsors. Watch for more professional sports and entertainment services to follow in the footsteps of the NFL and try to reach this large, somewhat untapped market.

— Max Petrungaro, digital marketing associate

Privacy Dominates the Executive Agenda

For years, CEOs and CMOs have treated consumer privacy as a problem for their information technology teams to worry about. No longer. Privacy is rapidly becoming a C-level problem that can damage a company’s reputation if managed poorly. A variety of forces have elevated the importance of privacy in the United States. First off, the state of California rolled out a tough privacy act, the California Consumer Privacy Act, in January 2020, and then made the law more strict in November. Because California is one of the world’s largest economies and is a bellwether state, what happens there will influence how other states treat consumer privacy. In addition, the big technology firms are already under close scrutiny, and the new presidential administration is likely to take an even closer look at their privacy practices.

Speaking of the tech giants – their actions are casting a spotlight on privacy. As widely reported, Facebook has launched a public campaign attacking Apple’s privacy iOS 14 updates, which are going to make it harder for Facebook and other platforms to target users with ads. Meanwhile, Google continues to move forward with its plans to stop supporting third-party cookies on the Chrome browser by 2022 – an action that continues to reverberate across the ad industry. In 2021, businesses will face a year of transition as they navigate an increasingly complicated consumer privacy landscape. The challenge involves more than reacting to changes in legislation and cookie tracking technology; advertisers also need to stay on top of emerging tools such as Verizon Media’s ConnectID, designed to manage ads without the use of third-party cookies. School will be in session constantly.

— Mark Smith, co-founder

More Social Shopping

With the world of online shopping expanding in 2020 due to the pandemic, I predict that 2021 will bring new ways to shop across social. Instagram has already released its e-commerce store to elevate shopping online. I predict that the platform will continue to refine its online shopping tools, even as more social networks follow Instagram’s lead and create additional opportunities for shopping right from consumer smart devices.

— Bella Schneider, digital marketing manager

Online Video Explodes

Online video is going to explode as the number of streaming services expands. I believe we are also going to see a cheaper, monthly subscription option (akin to the base Hulu subscription) that includes video ads as a way to subsidize lower-cost services. It is rumored that HBO Max will offer this option, but I believe we will see similar offerings from Peacock, Disney+/Hulu (which I believe will be combined at some point . . . in 2021?), and Amazon Prime. I think the opportunity for more ad space is going to be too good to pass up as more and more consumers cut the cord OR sign up for multiple streaming services. In addition, I believe we will see other live TV options becoming available from streaming services: cord cutters will still have the opportunity for live TV . . .  plus the ad space that goes along with it.

— Tim Colucci, vice president, digital marketing

Contact True Interactive

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

Photo by Ian Taylor on Unsplash