How Small and Medium-Sized Businesses Can Thrive on Amazon

How Small and Medium-Sized Businesses Can Thrive on Amazon

Marketing

Amazon wants to play nice with small and medium-sized businesses. The technology giant has launched a new section on its site, Storefronts, designed to promote small and medium-sized businesses in the United States. The Storefronts portal directs Amazon site visitors to 20,000 small and medium-sized U.S. businesses, including women-owned businesses and family-focused businesses.

About 300,000 U.S. small businesses operate on Amazon, according to TechCrunch. Storefronts should help them in a number of ways such as:

  • Providing one simple portal for shoppers who want to support smaller businesses, thus making it easier to find them.
  • Categorizing smaller businesses by different areas of interest to enrich the discovery process. In addition to family-focused and women-owned businesses, Amazon curates other categories such as Halloween and Back to School.

The move should be a win/win for Amazon and small and medium-sized businesses:

  • Amazon strengthens its position against competitors such as eBay that have attracted smaller businesses.
  • Smaller businesses enjoy more visibility and support.

Smaller businesses can win in Amazon’s world by:

  • Treating Amazon as one important element of your commerce ecosystem. Amazon should complement your presence on sites such as eBay, Etsy, and Facebook, in addition to your own website and brick-and-mortar storefront.
  • Capitalizing on Amazon’s advertising tools. As we have noted on our blog, Amazon offers tools that make it easier to rely on Amazon as an advertiser. For instance, Amazon’s Marketing Services and Advertising Platform products offer options ranging from Sponsored Products (a keyword-based campaign promoting a single product) to Amazon Managed Service (Amazon manages display ads on an advertiser’s behalf). These products make it possible to capitalize on Amazon’s increasing popularity as a search platform.

Amazon is rolling out an advertising program to support the launch of Storefronts, including a testimonial from Michigan-based Little Flower Soap Co. According to Little Flower co-founder Holly Rutt, “Since we started selling on Amazon in October 2016, our sales have nearly doubled. Due to our success, we have been able to hire new team members from our community, including full and part time jobs.”

For more insight into how to succeed on Amazon, contact True Interactive. We’re here to help.

Apple Offers a Glimpse of an Augmented Reality Future

Apple Offers a Glimpse of an Augmented Reality Future

Branding

Apple’s September 12 special event was mostly about hardware product launches, as it usually is. But Apple also reminded us of the company’s commitment to building an augmented reality future.

First, let’s recap a few of the big announcements:

  • Pushing into healthcare: Apple also revealed the latest version of the Apple Watch 4, which features a slew of personal wellness features such as the ability to monitor and report when the wearer experiences a fall and better heart monitoring/reporting. The Apple Watch is one essential element of Apple’s growth as a healthcare player, with the development of wellness apps being another essential element. In coming months, watch for Apple to make more announcements about healthcare as part of a broader strategy to develop its services.

The above announcements have dominated the news. In addition, two developments caught my eye:

  • Augmented reality for learning: the launch of a new iPhone app, HomeCourt, which uses augmented reality (AR) for basketball training. As reported in GeekWire, HomeCourt uses AR to track basketball shots. According to GeekWire, “AR tech built into the iPhone — including the newA12 Bionic chip— and artificial intelligence technology developed by HomeCourt maker Nex Team can detect a hoop and basketball to measure kinematics, trajectory, release times, and number of shots made.”
  • Augmented reality for play: the announcement about a new real-time augmented reality game, Galaga AR. As VentureBeat reported, “This AR adaptation of Galaga comes from Directive Games. When you look at your iPhone screen, you can see a bunch of alien-bug spaceships that you have to shoot down. You’re not only trying to survive, but you’re also trying to beat the other players. It was a pretty cool demo, with a lot of blasting onscreen and loud sounds.”

These launches are not so much about sports and gaming – they are signs of Apple’s continued growth as an AR leader. CEO Tim Cook has made no secret of his passion for AR. It’s telling that Apple demoed two very different forms of AR – one for training and one for entertainment. Both learning and entertainment comprise the sweet spot for AR.

As I noted earlier this year, various AR apps and games are currently being introduced into the App Store and Google Play, and many more are in the process of being developed using Apple’s ARKit and Google’s ARCore. Consequently, incorporating AR technology into new tools or games for phones, tablets, and laptops will become the new norm.

You can take it to the bank: AR is going to continue growing for both business and pleasure – and Apple will have a leadership role in that growth. For more insight into how businesses can use AR to build their brands, contact True Interactive.

Why WhatsApp Matters to Advertisers

Why WhatsApp Matters to Advertisers

Marketing

WhatsApp is one of the most rapidly evolving and exciting apps on the market. The platform recently launched several new features for iOS users, such as status search, notification extension, and suspicious link detection. And with more than 1.5 billion users, WhatsApp is also arguably the most popular messaging app in the world. These points are all well and good, but does WhatsApp matter to advertisers?

Short answer: yes.

As I discuss in a new Adweek Social Pro Daily column, Facebook is making some big moves to monetize WhatsApp. For instance, the newly released WhatsApp Business API (application-programming interface) will make it easier for companies to communicate with current and potential customers through end-to-end encrypted messages. Businesses will now be able to send customized notifications with relevant non-promotional content such as shipping confirmations, appointment reminders, or event tickets, all at a flat rate. According to Sale Stock, a company that uses WhatsApp to deliver product recommendations, order updates and customer service, customers read 90 percent of delivered messages.

My column discusses in more detail how and why Facebook is monetizing WhatsApp. Meanwhile, I believe businesses need to understand how WhatsApp can help them improve both their branding and online commerce strategies. Consider this: people spent 85 billion hours in WhatsApp in the past three months — versus 31 billion in Facebook.

Although Facebook Messenger has a larger base of users in the United States, WhatsApp dominates the messaging app space in countries like Malaysia, Singapore, Spain, Turkey, Brazil, Chile, and Mexico. In those countries, users rely on WhatsApp to share pictures, videos, as well as breaking news. As I discussed in a previous column, WhatsApp is also used around the globe for informal business, connecting local buyers with sellers.

Local businesses in the tourism and restaurant industries are already adopting this tool to connect with customers and prospects. Larger business-to-business and business-to-consumer companies (especially those with interests in the markets mentioned above) should consider implementing WhatsApp in their business development and PR efforts, as the app’s popularity seems to be as high as its potential of driving business.

WhatsApp is wide open for businesses. Contact True Interactive to learn how you can win on WhatsApp.

How Instagram Can Win More IGTV Fans

How Instagram Can Win More IGTV Fans

Social media

Instagram’s IGTV feature is off to a slow start.

TechCrunch reported recently that IGTV, which allows people to upload lengthy videos in a mobile viewing format, has seen a noticeable decline in weekly installs since its June launch.

As TechCrunch noted, “IGTV risks becoming the next Google Plus — a ghost town inside an otherwise thriving product ecosystem.” TechCrunch speculates that the main reason IGTV is struggling to gain a foothold is that YouTube already owns the market for longer-form video. In addition, IGTV has yet to give us any truly breakthrough, viral content, as other social platforms have. There is no “Chewbacca Mom” of IGTV to help people grasp the potential appeal of the app.

Is IGTV in trouble? I don’t think so. If we’ve learned anything about Instagram, it’s that the app is resilient. And IGTV enjoys a huge advantage: a large built-in audience on Instagram, with one billion actively monthly users. But IGTV does need to take some steps to gain more traction. Here are three ways Instagram could do so:

  • Make IGTV more discoverable inside Instagram. Unless you use the IGTV standalone app, you may not even know IGTV exists. For several weeks, Instagram hid IGTV behind a small icon inside Instagram. It was too easy for users to ignore the icon on their screens. Recently Instagram has been making IGTV videos more visible via a more prominent notification call-out with a clickable “watch” button. A more noticeable call-out should help. When Facebook relaunched Marketplace in 2016, giving the feature more prominent real estate on mobile devices helped Marketplace gain traction.
  • Make it possible to livestream IGTV content. The only way to make IGTV videos is to record them on your mobile device and upload them. The process is easy, but people can do the same on YouTube. IGTV should differentiate by giving people the ability to record in the moment as Facebook does with Facebook Live. Doing so would create more opportunities for real-time engagement through viewer comments as happens with Facebook Live.
  • Promote big names and big moments. Instagram could help its own cause by collaborating with its more popular names (such as blogger and performer Baby Ariel) to build excitement for their content. People might be more likely to stop what they’re doing and make room for IGTV if they knew their favorite internet celebrity was going to post a new song or blogging episode at 5:00 p.m. Wednesday instead of discovering the content after the fact. Building excitement for forthcoming content would raise more awareness and get viewers primed to watch and comment on what they see. If you know that Universal Pictures is going to air an interview with Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson from the set of his latest movie, you just might set aside time to watch if you’re a Rock fan – even more so if you know the event would be livestreamed (see suggestion one above).

IGTV’s biggest threat right now? YouTube already does everything IGTV can except give users an elegant way to upload content created in vertical mobile-only mode. But by building more excitement around IGTV and introducing a live experience, Instagram can succeed in the long term. For more insight into how to use IGTV to build your brand, contact True Interactive.

Image source: Embedsocial.com

Google Ruffles Feathers with Suggested Search

Google Ruffles Feathers with Suggested Search

Search

One of Google’s many useful search features is the “users also searched for” suggestion that appears in your search results. When you make a query for, say, car insurance or car loans, Google suggests similar phrases or words that people are also using. It’s a great feature, right? But not everyone thinks so.

Here’s why Google is ruffling some feathers with suggested search: businesses have begun to notice that Google has been dropping suggested searches amid advertising results. And those suggested searches can lead people to an advertiser’s competitor sites – potentially hijacking the ad. For instance, as depicted in Search Engine Land, if you search for car loans, Google may serve up ads for car loan offers, but then also tell you that people are also searching for car loan rates, new car loans, and other similar phrases:

The problem is that if you click on the eight suggested searches depicted in the above options, you may very well be taken to a site that competes with the advertisers such as Lending Tree and CarMax where the suggested searches appear – which is hardly good news for Lending Tree or CarMax.

Why Suggested Search Is Good for Advertisers

As Search Engine Land reported, advertisers are annoyed. But maybe they shouldn’t be. Here’s why:

  • If your ads are compelling with good creative and strong calls to action, you have nothing to worry about.
  • With the suggested searches, Google is providing ideas for you to test copy and to bid on keywords that might have escaped your notice.

By meeting the needs of users first, Google might actually be helping advertisers.

What do you think?

Facebook Shows Mobile Games More Advertising Love

Facebook Shows Mobile Games More Advertising Love

Social media

It makes sense for Facebook to be paying close attention to mobile gaming, as this industry reportedly generated 40.6 billion dollars in 2017 worldwide. Last year, 42 percent of the industry’s global revenue came from smartphone and tablet games. According to some 2016 reports, U.S. gamers played an average of 3.6 mobile games per month, and 1.3 games on a daily basis. True value for game developers, however, does not usually come from game install volume, but from game usage (time and money users spend on it), especially for those games with ad-based revenue models.

With the recent launch of playable ads, Facebook seems to be focusing on driving real long-term value for gaming companies, rather than promoting mere app installs. With this new ad format, users can experience a preview of the game from within the ad. Giving users a chance to interact with the game in the feed before they install it creates higher intent, according to Facebook, and I agree.

At first, ad format will look like a simple video ad, but it becomes a rich experience once the user taps on it thanks to the capabilities of HTML5. Hopefully we will see Facebook releasing new immersive ad formats to use with other campaign types, or the highly anticipated capability to use 360 videos in ads.

After more than a year in Beta, game developer companies like Rovio have seen favorable results. Rovio, owner of the popular Angry Birds game franchise, claimed that it saw a 40 per cent lower cost per paying user when using playable ads, along with a 70 per cent lift in day seven ROAS. Similarly, Bagelcode, creator of Club Vegas virtual slot machine game, saw 3 times higher ROAS on Android as well as 1.4 times higher ROAS on iOS.

Furthermore, the new retention optimization will increase the chances of a game to be downloaded by a more engaged user. According to Facebook, gaming marketers will now be able to deliver their ads to those users who are most likely to play their game. Its official rollout is planned for later this year on Facebook, Instagram and the Audience Network.

Retention optimization is not the only refreshment Facebook has given to its app marketing toolbox. Its latest update to the value optimization tools include minimum ROAS bidding, which will enable advertisers to “set a minimum spend to find the players most likely to make in-app purchases, and eliminate spend on connecting with players less likely to engage.

It would be interesting to test this minimum ROAS bidding in conversion campaigns and compare results with the currently available Target CPA bidding. I believe there is much more yet to come, and that we will soon see new, more interactive ad formats like the recently released collection/canvas ads.

I encourage brands to monitor these new features and test them in conversion campaigns. For insight into how to maximize the value of Facebook advertising products, contact True Interactive. We’re here to help.

Image source: https://marketingland.com/facebook-launches-playable-ads-tests-retention-optimization-for-app-advertising-245312

 

Why Facebook’s Woes May Have a Silver Lining

Why Facebook’s Woes May Have a Silver Lining

Social media

Last week I was surprised to receive both an email and phone call from a dedicated Facebook Ads representative interested in setting up a meeting to discuss my current Facebook Campaigns as well as future opportunities. On the surface, a call from a salesperson might not seem newsworthy. But for those of us who have been advertising on Facebook for the past few years, that level of customer service is a sharp contrast from what we have grown to expect from the social media giant. Is it possible that Facebook’s woes, including a steep decline in its stock value, are making Facebook pay a little more attention to customer service?

I sure hope so.

Then and Now

Let’s go back four ago when I first began testing Facebook ads for some of my clients. If I ran into an issue setting up a campaign, had a question about targeting features, or was interested in tips for better results, the chances of finding a way to connect with someone from the Facebook team were slim. There was no chat feature, no easy-to-find customer service phone number, and no email address. Among my agency teammates, it was common to hear, “Hey, does anyone know how to get a hold of someone from Facebook?”

So what’s changed? Frankly, a lot. Do a quick search of recent news stories, and you’ll see that Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s net worth fell more than $16 billion in one day after the company’s stock plunged 20 percent and issued guidance that the financial future of the company isn’t quite as rosy as some investors thought it might be. This news, coupled with Facebook’s privacy issues and recent discovery of inauthentic social media campaigns ahead of the mid-term elections, has proven to be a PR and financial nightmare. Earlier in the year I, predicted that it would be tough sledding in 2018 for Facebook. It’s possible that the company’s woes will turn into improved customer service for advertisers.

Facebook Has an Opportunity

Despite negative press surrounding Facebook, I still believe the platform can be an effective marketing channel, especially when used as a brand awareness tool.  Advertising costs on Facebook are a fraction of those on Google, and there is still an impressively large number of active users to engage. My advice is to take full advantage of the more robust customer support at Facebook.

And Facebook’s customer service can help you, too. A recent call with a Facebook expert led to me testing some new targeting methods as well as adjusting my campaign structure. While it is still early in the test, I am seeing improved engagement and more conversions.  This is a critical time for Facebook as they work to rebuild the integrity of their brand. It is in Facebook’s best interest to help ensure advertisers enjoy as much success as possible using their platform.

Are you seeing better customer service from Facebook? Let me know!