Why Pinterest Matters to Advertisers

Why Pinterest Matters to Advertisers

Social media

During a tough pandemic year, the image-sharing and social media service Pinterest rebounded mightily. According to cnbc.com, shares of Pinterest surged in trading late in October, closing up nearly 27 percent after a third quarter in which total revenues jumped to $443 million. That’s an increase of 58 percent year over year. Why is Pinterest growing, and what sets Pinterest apart from some of the other big advertising apps? What can you do to capitalize on what Pinterest has to offer? Read on to learn more.

Why Is Pinterest Growing?

As reported by The New York Times, widespread shelter-in-place during the pandemic has meant that expenses like travel, restaurant dining, and even clothing shopping have dropped considerably for most people. Some consumers have channeled money that might, in a different year, have gone towards an exotic vacation into purchases that help make their homes a cozy sanctuary during an uncertain time: updated furniture, for example, or new dishware. Enter Pinterest, which has become an important site for people to share ideas with one another about everything from recipes to decorating. As Emarketer analyst Andrew Lipsman notes, Pinterest is “especially well positioned for the moment.” That’s because users are looking to Pinterest for inspiration during a time when the idea of “nesting” seems more attractive than ever.

What Sets Pinterest Apart?

That connection with audience is one of the things that makes Pinterest especially interesting to advertisers. As CFA Andres Cardenal notes here, Pinterest’s business model lends itself to a symbiotic relationship between consumers and advertisers. When Pinterest users “pin” images they like to specific boards (much like someone tacking a physical artifact of a favorite recipe or vacation destination to a cork board in their office cubicle), Pinterest’s algorithm takes note and suggests new pins based on the user’s interest. (Think the coworker who might notice your Grand Canyon virtual Zoom background, and recommend checking out the hiking at Yellowstone.) Some of Pinterest’s suggestions can take the form of advertising, and as Cardenal points out, a useful ad that “gets” a user is a very different animal from invasive advertising. He also notes, “Pinterest is focused on inspiring and uplifting content, which sets it apart from the big social media platforms.” And during a chaotic year, the power of inspiration and uplift cannot be underestimated.

Another reason Pinterest is popular is because it is highly visual. We live in a visual age! As far back as 2014, Business Insider reported that people were uploading 1.8 billion images to platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat every day. Recent stats shared by the Omnicore digital marketing agency indicate that as of 2020, on Instagram alone, 995 photos are uploaded every second. And people respond to images: as HubSpot noted earlier this year, Tweets with images earn 150 percent more retweets than tweets without; Facebook posts with images enjoy 2.3 times more engagement than those without; and articles with an image every 75 to 100 words get double the social media shares compared to articles incorporating fewer images. Bottom line: content with visuals gets shared and liked more than content that lacks visuals. There is no turning back.

Finally, Pinterest is interesting to advertisers because it’s a hub for cultural trends. As noted in yahoo!finance, Pinterest and its advertisers take trend-watching seriously. Witness the Pinterest 100, the platform’s annual report that showcases emerging trends around the world. Pinterest is a goldmine for understanding not only what is popular, but what’s coming next. And if, as a brand, you understand the trends, you can learn where your particular “in” is. You’ll stay relevant.

What You Can Do

Advertisers can benefit from Pinterest’s uplifting connect with its users, visual nature, and understanding of what’s cool. We recommend that you:

  • Dig deeper into Pinterest’s user base. Understand who they are. As reported by Omnicore, 69 percent of Pinterest users are between the ages of 18 and 49. These are folks with a lot of earning power—more so than younger teens, say, who might more likely be found on TikTok or Snapchat. Pinners are also more likely to be women: 71 percent, according to the Omnicore stats. How does your messaging resonate with this audience?
  • Get to know Pinterest advertising options, such as:
    • Promoted Pins appear in the search results and home feed as regular pins do, but they are boosted and targeted to deliver more reach. Users can pin them to boards, comment on them, and share them. Note that after a Promoted Pin is shared once by a Pinner, the “Promoted” label disappears, with repins considered “earned media.”
    • Promoted Carousels feature two to five images that users can swipe through. This can be a useful format for brands who wish to showcase multiple products or features.

Contact True Interactive

Can Pinterest help you connect with your audience in new and exciting ways? Contact us to learn more.

Why Businesses Need to Step up Their Digital Advertising in 2021

Why Businesses Need to Step up Their Digital Advertising in 2021

Advertising

When COVID-19 first took hold in 2020 and the world entered a time of seismic change and uncertainty, we urged businesses to stay in the ring with a strong digital presence. We wrote, “You don’t want to be caught flat-footed when consumers shift their behaviors again as the current disruption subsides. And subside it will; not knowing when is different from not knowing if.”

As we look to the new year ahead, this truth resonates more strongly than ever. Here’s what you should know about why digital advertising remains important, how digital presence relates to consumer—not to mention competitor—behavior, and what you can do going forward:

Consumer Behavior Has Shifted Online — Have You?

IBM’s U.S. Retail Index indicates that the pandemic has deeply informed the way people shop: the shift from visiting brick-and-mortar stores to shopping online has in fact been accelerated by approximately five years. The types of goods consumers deem essential has come into sharper focus, too. Clothing shopping, for example, has dipped in an era when more people are attending school and working their jobs online. By contrast, sales in categories such as groceries, alcohol, and home improvement materials have all accelerated.

The question to ask yourself: when people go online to shop, will your brand be present with targeted online advertising, such as paid search, that is relevant to what consumers are looking to buy?

Your Competitors Are Connecting with Consumers Online — Are You?

Ad revenues for the Big Three—Amazon, Facebook, and Google—can also shed some light on what a successful path forward can look like for brands. As reported in The Wall Street Journal, the Big Three are enjoying a surge of online revenue: Amazon and Google have reported strong quarterly sales, and Facebook has also enjoyed record revenue. All three had a great third quarter, evidence that businesses continue to connect with people, online, on multiple levels, from retail to social media to digital advertising. Even the StopHateFor Profit ad boycott did not seem to take a lasting bite out of Facebook’s advertising revenue, which was up 22 percent in the third quarter as compared to a year ago. (It’s worth noting that changes in consumer habits have manifested themselves not just in terms of venue—e.g., the move online—but timing. As Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos notes, “We’re seeing more customers than ever shopping early for their holiday gifts.”)

Social media ad spend overall is also on the rise. In the third quarter, global social media ad spend increased 56.4 percent. According to The Drum, that’s almost double the average spend recorded during the COVID-19-related spending nadir of late March.

In short, brands that understand where, and when, to connect with consumers will benefit. If you are ignoring trends in online advertising, you are probably falling behind competitors who are speaking to these tendencies. Are you taking the prevailing trends to heart?

What Businesses Should Do

To stay competitive, we recommend that you:

  • Keep focused on digital. That’s where the action is, according to the data.
  • Invest in creative advertising. As more people go online and interact with brands, it’s going to be harder to stand apart from the pack. As we’ve blogged, it’s critical to invest in strong creative—and creative that is consistent across all your touch points.
  • Keep growing as digital tools evolve. An understanding of—and investment in—new technology helps brands communicate that what they have to offer is cutting edge. And that new technology is out there for the taking. For example, Consider Google’s new visual search tools:
    • Google Lens allows shoppers to tap and hold an image in the Google app or Android Chrome browser in order to find it in an online store.
    • AR Autos will soon allow shoppers to look for a vehicle in Google Search, then see it rendered in 3D or augmented reality. The result? A more immersive look at key features before consumers even arrive at a dealer lot. This advance “peek” is particularly beneficial at a time when many shoppers are trying to limit in-person contact during the pandemic.

Google’s offerings are just a taste of the new opportunities out there. The headline is this: staying on top of new technology can help position you for success.

Contact True Interactive

The changes brought by 2020 won’t go away with the flip of a calendar page. Rather, they have invited brands to adapt. Curious as to how digital can elevate your brand in 2021? Contact us.

Image source: https://www.pexels.com/photo/apps-blur-button-close-up-267350/

The Consumer Privacy Rights Act: Advertiser Q&A

The Consumer Privacy Rights Act: Advertiser Q&A

Advertising

The state of California has passed the Consumer Privacy Rights Act. This legislation allows consumers to prevent businesses from sharing personal information and limits businesses’ use of personal information including precise geolocation, race, ethnicity, and health information.

It’s important to understand the Consumer Privacy Rights Act. California is a bellwether state. What happens in California may influence how other states enact consumer privacy laws. With that in mind, I have provided answers to some commonly asked questions.

What is the Consumer Privacy Rights Act?

The Consumer Privacy Rights Act (CPRA), also known as Proposition 24, is an update to the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). The CPRA provides more safeguards and protections to consumer privacy.

What was the original California Consumer Privacy Act supposed to do?

The CCPA, which became law on January 2020, granted new rights to California consumers. The CCPA imposed requirements on how businesses collect, use, and disclose information about California residents. For instance, businesses subject to the CCPA must provide notice to consumers at or before data collection. Read more about the CCPA on our blog.

What does the Consumer Privacy Rights Act do?

The CPRA makes the CCPA stronger. Here are some specific features:

  • Greater protection of California residents’ personal information, ranging from their location to their ethnicity.
  • Tougher safeguards to protect minors’ information. For instance, the law requires businesses to include an opt-in requirement to sell the data of consumers under age 16.
  • The establishment of a California Privacy Protection Agency to enforce the above requirements, which will be funded by up to $10 million per year.

Having an agency dedicated to CCPA will likely lead to more businesses in compliance and enforcement of penalties.

Does the Consumer Privacy Rights Act apply only to businesses in California?

The CPRA may apply to you no matter where you are located. If a California resident can access your website, compliance is required. This was true with the original CCPA as we blogged. Those requirements remain very much in force.

When does the Consumer Privacy Rights Act go into effect?

Most of its provisions will go into effect on January 1, 2023. Meanwhile, the CCPA remains in effect.

What should I do about this?

Do your homework now. Remember, the CCPA is the law – so it’s important to ensure compliance on an ongoing basis. At the same time, make sure you understand the additional provisions of the CPRA.

Understand the tightened requirements. For starters, double check the strength of your opt-ins and opt-outs. Do you have a process in place to quickly address privacy requests? Err on the side of being more conservative in consent for data capture.

Take a closer look at how the law defines personally identifiable information (PII). The definition is becoming more complex as privacy law evolves. Now is a good time to examine how you are using PII.

Make sure you have a clear snapshot of how you are doing business with California residents.

Consult with your advertising partners, including any ad tech firms you work with, to ensure they are compliant with the privacy law.

How do I ensure I am compliant?

A number of security firms provide compliance services. Unless you have a strong in-house security team, your best bet is to look for compliance help from a specialist. Also, here is a resource for additional insight:

The CPRA Will Bring New Rights, Responsibilities and Regulators to California Data Privacy Law,” the National Law Review.

Contact True Interactive

To manage advertising online effectively, contact True Interactive. We’re here to help!

Three Reasons Why Snapchat Is Back

Three Reasons Why Snapchat Is Back

Social media

Snapchat has come roaring back. Its parent company, Snap Inc., was once on the verge of collapse, but recently it posted stronger-than-expected quarterly earnings: according to a FactSet poll, while analysts had estimated revenues around $557 million, Snap’s quarterly revenue in fact enjoyed a 52 percent rise to $678.7 million. And its stock value is soaring, with shares gaining 74 percent this year through the October 20 close.

Why is Snapchat rebounding?

Reasons for the Rebound

Understanding Snapchat’s renaissance means understanding the factors in play during a complicated year:

  • Snapchat’s user base has grown. According to Adweek, the social media company has seen 249 million daily users in the third quarter of 2020: that’s an 18 percent increase from the 210 million users noted for the same period last year, and 11 million more new daily users since last quarter. Notably, the growth is not restricted to the United States: in India, for example, daily active users in the third quarter are up almost 150 percent from the same time in 2019. The growth makes sense: as The New York Times reported earlier this year, “Stuck at home during the coronavirus pandemic . . . Americans have been spending more of their lives online.” That online phenomenon has been repeating itself again and again around the globe during this year of COVID-19, and at least some of those users are gravitating to Snapchat.
  • Advertisers are spending money on Snapchat. The July ad boycott of Facebook, which protested the company’s policies on hate speech, may have helped Snap in terms of where advertisers are channeling their dollars. TikTok’s troubles, both domestically (attempts by the Trump administration to ban it) and abroad (India’s successful TikTok ban) also likely gave advertisers pause. While Snap has declined to draw a direct line between other companies’ struggles and its own resurgence, Chief Business Officer Jeremi Gorman said in a prepared statement, “As brands and other organizations used this period of uncertainty as an opportunity to evaluate their advertising spend, we saw many brands look to align their marketing efforts with platforms who share their corporate values.”

In another example of innovation, Snap Inc. worked with Headspace to mark World Mental Health Day on October 10, releasing two new meditations in Snapchat’s Headspace Mini. During a year when Snapchatters in the U.S. are feeling significant stress — a survey by independent research company GroupSolver indicates that COVID-19, finances, politics, and school are leading sources of that stress —the meditations, called Snap Minis, are “bite-sized utilities” that require no installation and are accessible via chat and search. Headspace director of meditation Eve Lewis guides the meditations, which run approximately six minutes each and focus on practicing kindness and navigating uncertainty during the school year.

What Should Advertisers Do?

What does this news about Snapchat mean for brands? We recommend that advertisers:

  • Consider Snapchat if you are interested in the Millennial and Gen Z markets. As we’ve blogged, the app appeals to these demographics. Meet your desired audience where they are at—and right now, these powerful demographics can be found on Snapchat.
  • Consider Snapchat to be a complement to your advertising with Amazon, Facebook, and Google. Snapchat is not going to challenge the Big Three. But if you are interested in experimenting with technologies such as augmented reality, Snapchat is a good platform to try.

Contact True Interactive

Should Snapchat be part of your digital plan? Contact us. We can help.

The Google Anti-Trust Lawsuit: Advertiser Q&A

The Google Anti-Trust Lawsuit: Advertiser Q&A

Google

On October 20, the Justice Department filed a long-anticipated anti-trust lawsuit against Google. The lawsuit alleges that Google is “unlawfully maintaining monopolies in the markets for general search services, search advertising, and general search text advertising in the United States.”

In other words, Google wields an unfair competitive advantage.

Google, of course, holds a commanding share of the online advertising market, at roughly 29 percent, followed by Facebook and Amazon. Ironically, Google’s share has been dropping, and 2020 has been rough on its ad business. But the lawsuit isn’t about market share; it’s about allegedly unfair business practices. Read on for answers to questions you might have about the matter.

What exactly is the lawsuit accusing Google of?

According to the Justice Department, Google illegally protects a monopoly in its core search business. That monopoly is harmful to consumers and Google’s competitors. Google pays companies like Apple billions of dollars to make its search engine the default option on their devices – giving Google an unfair advantage. In addition, the Justice Department alleges that Google capitalizes on its dominance by collecting data from users, thus giving its search-based advertising business even more of an unfair advantage.

What is Google’s response?

Google disagrees strongly. In a blog post, Google’s Senior Vice President of Global Affairs Kent Walker wrote, “People use Google because they choose to, not because they’re forced to, or because they can’t find alternatives. This lawsuit would do nothing to help consumers. To the contrary, it would artificially prop up lower-quality search alternatives, raise phone prices, and make it harder for people to get the search services they want to use.”

Walker contends that Google paying businesses like Apple to make its search engine the default search engine is no different from a cereal brand paying a supermarket to stock its products at the end of a row or on a shelf at eye level.

When will the anti-trust case be resolved?

The case could take years to be resolved. Google has deep pockets and will defend itself aggressively. Don’t hold your breath waiting for an outcome anytime soon.

How will the outcome of the presidential election affect the lawsuit?

No matter who wins the presidential election, the lawsuit will move forward. The Justice Department has gone on record saying it is committed to the legal action. Attorney General William P. Barr has aggressive pursued a lawsuit, and the action will simply continue if President Trump wins the election. If Joe Biden wins the election, the consensus legal opinion is that the lawsuit would remain in place.

What happens if Google loses?

Google could get broken up, thus reflecting a growing “break up big tech” sentiment among lawmakers. In the complaint’s “request for relief,” the U.S. is seeking “structural relief as needed to cure any anti-competitive harm.” In other words, Google might be forced to be restructured, or broken up.

What should advertisers who use Google do?

For now, everything is business as usual. The case may take anywhere from six to 18 months to even go to court. We recommend:

  • Do manage your Google advertising account very closely. As we have blogged, Google has been known to introduce features and policy changes that could increase your advertising costs.
  • If you advertise with Amazon Advertising and Facebook, keep a close eye on current events. In recent years, lawmakers have been critical of the Amazon, Facebook, and Google because of their growing dominance. The Google lawsuit may not be the last against them.

Contact True Interactive

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

No More Shopping Stampedes: How Black Friday Is Changing

No More Shopping Stampedes: How Black Friday Is Changing

Retail

Black Friday is changing radically in 2020.

A Google-commissioned Ipsos survey found that 74 percent of U.S. shoppers said they plan to shop online more than they have done in previous seasons. And people who shop in stores will rely on services such as curbside pickup to limit their contact with other people. In response, retailers are taking a hard look at their Black Friday experience.

Retailers Reinvent Black Friday

Consider what some of the heavy hitters are doing to re-imagine what Black Friday means during a year when many people simply don’t want to go into stores.

As noted in RetailWire, “Walmart has long been one of the retailers noted for performing at a high level when facing down natural disasters and economic tumult.” The retail monolith’s response to Black Friday is no exception. As reported by CNBC.com, Walmart is taking an innovative approach, staggering three holiday sales events through the month of November. Each sales event will begin on the Walmart website. Brick-and-mortar stores will continue the sales a few days later, after some demand has presumably been satisfied online (thus mitigating crowds). On the holiday sales days, stores will open at 5:00 a.m. local time. Shoppers will encounter COVID-era precautions: single-file lines; limits on the number of shoppers inside at any given time; sanitized shopping carts; and store “health ambassadors,” who will greet shoppers and remind them to wear a mask. Bargain hunters who prefer to bypass in-store shopping can shop online, or take advantage of Walmart’s curbside pickup.

As Scott McCall, executive vice president and chief merchandising officer for Walmart U.S., shared in a news release, “By spreading deals out across multiple days and making our hottest deals available online, we expect the Black Friday experience in our stores will be safer and more manageable for both our customers and our associates.”

Walmart’s not the only one to re-think what Black Friday looks like this year. Many other retailers have announced that they are redefining the traditional in-store Black Friday sales as a digital experience that occurs over days, weeks, or even months. Home Depot set the tone early, announcing in September that Black Friday prices would be available throughout the entire holiday season, both online and in-store. Though a few “unique deals” are planned to launch later in the season, the store is orchestrating a campaign that consciously sidesteps that single day of crowded, feverish shopping.

Retailers are also capitalizing on opportunities like Amazon Prime Day to generate a surge in sales that businesses often associate with Black Friday. This year’s event ran for two days, October 13 and 14, during which marketplace sellers netted $3.5 billion+. Third-party merchants on Amazon generally reported good results. As noted in practicalecommerce.com, along with the increased sales came increased advertising costs. At the same time, the results speak for themselves: for one of our clients, we secured 44 percent more revenue and a 33 percent increase in return on ad spend on Prime Day — with only an 8 percent increase in advertising costs. We were happy with the outcome, as our client was.

Shipping during the 2020 Holiday Season

As retailers respond to a changing retail landscape, they must also face the reality that with a surge in online ordering throughout November comes the potential for shipping delays as businesses send more packages. More packages being delivered puts more of a strain on shipping services – and possibly a strain on retailers’ fulfillment capability. On the other hand, FedEx has said it is hiring 70,000 seasonal workers to manage an expected surge, and bellwether retailers such as Target are hiring aggressively to ensure they can handle the increased volume in online orders.

What Should You Do?

How do you plan to stay competitive during an unprecedented year? We recommend:

  • Don’t wait for Black Friday to promote your holiday deals. Activate your display advertising, search marketing, and paid social media programs now.
  • Consider creating events of your own. Don’t worry about creating a blowout on the scale of Amazon’s Prime Day. Instead, take a page from Walmart’s book and ask yourself how you might create your own “Black Friday” digital events. Learn from the bellwether brands!
  • It goes without saying, on the operational side, prepare yourself for the expected uptick in orders. Assuming you have done so, promote any deals you’re offering on shipping (something we’ve blogged about here). In addition, set expectations with your customers. Let them know that waiting until the last minute to order and ship may incur additional delays this holiday season in particular.
  • Be mindful of tone in everything you do. People want to shop, yes—but as we’ve blogged here, they are also under stress. Many shoppers will be ordering gifts for loved ones from whom they will be socially distanced this holiday—and feeling a sense of loss as they do so. Others may be overwhelmed by COVID-19 news: fearful of a spike in the virus, or a lockdown of stores and businesses. Be sensitive to these anxieties in your messaging.

Contact True Interactive

In a year like 2020, even traditions like Black Friday are going to look different. We can help you maximize digital and rise to the occasion. Contact us.

Photo by Justin Lim on Unsplash

How Adjusting Your Facebook Ad Objectives Can Deliver More Conversions

How Adjusting Your Facebook Ad Objectives Can Deliver More Conversions

Facebook

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

The Conventional Wisdom about Facebook Ad Objectives

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

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

Setting Conversion-Based Goals for Prospects

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

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

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

What Happens If You Lack Conversion Data?

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

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

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

Contact True Interactive

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

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash