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Instagram Checkout : l'intrigue se corse

On March 19th, Instagram unveiled the Checkout feature which allows users to purchase products without having to leave the app. This new feature is currently in a closed beta for businesses and is available for people within the US.  Notable brands included in this closed beta include adidas, H&M, Nike, Burberry, Zara, Dior, Uniqlo, and the list goes on. How does this complexify any already fragmented ecosystem and what does this mean for advertisers? The Social Commerce Ecosystem The walled gardens continue to wall up. Instagram Checkout is proof that each walled garden (Google, Facebook, Amazon) needs to offer full-funnel solutions, from Awareness to Commerce, which allow advertisers to thrive in the direct-to-consumer era. While Instagram Checkout is a cautious first step, being dubbed a closed beta that isn’t available in Canada at the moment, Vishal Shah, Head of Product said that Instagram is out to build a complete shopping experience.  For context, this is not Instagram’s first step into commerce as they have been working up to this by testing out the shopping feature organically, without an in-app checkout. This approach is in line with Facebook’s product approach of initial organic testing followed by the paid product release. Given the sheer dominance of Instagram and Facebook’s other platforms, we’re certain consumer adoption is set to follow. An example of this can be seen from the launch of Stories, proving that if they build it, consumers will use it.    From a revenue growth perspective, Facebook Inc. had a fabulous 2018. According to fourth quarter and full year 2018 financial results, Facebook Inc. revenue grew by 37% YoY to $56Bn, with a bulk of their revenue coming from advertising. Their non-advertising revenue was relatively flat with a meagre, by Facebook standards, $100Mn YoY increase. Seen in isolation this seems great. While Amazon doesn’t break out ad-revenue in its quarterly calls, its revenue under “Other” category surpassed $10Bn in 2018. The category which according to financial statements “primarily includes sales of advertising services, as well as sales related to our other service offerings” has gone hand-in-hand with a consistent evolution of Amazon’s ad-tech stack. With its proprietary eCommerce data, Prime Video, Alexa and programmatic tools, Amazon is arguably best positioned to go after Facebook’s brand dollars.  Conversely, with the massive time spent on the Facebook family of apps, Facebook Inc. has both the opportunity and the incentive to move into Amazon’s turf. Whichever way this pays out, we’re in the midst of a tectonic shift and in the heart of the battle for the future of premium retail online. What does this mean for advertisers?  Consumer behaviour will change. Social platform usage dominates the amount of time spent online by consumers and Facebook’s family of apps account for a vast majority of those minutes, therefore their ability to navigate users to new features on their apps is enviable.     For large advertisers, this will represent a meaningful channel to distribute on. Any inertia on this front is likely to be filled quickly by smaller and nimbler competitors. Most importantly, unlike offline trade partnerships, success in an auction environment isn’t linked to scale alone; value extraction is now a function of savvy data management and algorithmic optimization. This means that sophisticated advertisers are more likely to discover and build equity with the juiciest consumer segments; something sporadic marketers are less likely to deliver and thus, in the long term, lose market share.     Secondly, much like relationships with large distributors like Walmart & Costco in the offline world, brands will find it easier to initially scale with one of these dominant platforms. This convenience comes at a cost of data-ownership and of not having a true 1:1 relationship with customers.  It’s more critical than ever for brands to invest in data partnerships, collection and management especially around their first party assets.     Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, we will have to raise the stakes in digital and given that there’s no cross-platform data-operability between walled gardens, invest in each major platform independently. This is true from both an ad-spend and human resource perspective as it may result in nearly tripling the volume of work on attribution processes due to the lack of cross-platform data-operability.  Doing lip service to any of these platforms or choosing to sit individual platforms out is likely to be filled in by other category competitors relatively quickly, especially with the emergence of the direct-to-consumer revolution. Facebook, Google & Amazon are likely to mobilize their current bases rapidly and an early move is likely to provide sustainable value. What about Canadian brands? Instagram Checkout is not available north of the border, but it is coming - and coming fast. Canadian brands should be keeping their ear to the ground for learnings and best practices so when that inevitable launch date comes, they have the Canadian first mover advantage. Now is the time to prepare accordingly for what could be the single most important shift in social commerce for the foreseeable future. Ian Cameron, Rachel Banks and Lisa Gamble also contributed to this article.   0

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La transparence dans l'univers des influenceurs

You’ve likely heard of the 6 key principles of persuasion that people respond to in human behaviour: Reciprocity, Scarcity, Authority, Consistency, Liking and Consensus. All are used in Digital Marketing strategies and the ad industry as whole. When you look at Influencer marketing, it taps into a unique space in the social ecosystem, using both ‘Authority’ and ‘Liking’ to drive a desirable outcome. Authority = influencing others by the opinions of credible, knowledgeable experts Liking = others tend to behave favourably towards people they like Influencer Marketing is not new but has been catalyzed by the rise of social in recent years. Lately you’ve witnessed the pure strength of influencers as shown in the popularized documentaries surrounding the Fyre Festival. A simple orange square yields enough power to generate massive amounts of virality with no shortage of reach, engagement and of course, revenue. Fully tapping into the power of influencers is no easy task though. There is a right way to do influencer marketing, and a wrong way. The latter makes the brand come across what is best described in meme form of the pandering Steve Buscemi in 30 Rock:   It’s no argument that Influencer Marketing works and works extremely well. Digging deeper though, there can be serious consequences for advertisers and brands who fail to adequately disclose these relationships to consumers. I would like to focus more on the this here because a brand engaging in non-compliant influencer practices is much more detrimental than just being uncool. The Canadian Competition Bureau have recently clarified how competition and advertising law in Canada applies to Social Media Marketing tactics in its latest volume of the Deceptive Marketing Practices Digest. Here is a checklist for both parties: Canadian Advertisers – What do we need to know? Advertisers/Brands may be liable for representations made through influencers, even if the advertisers/brand was not involved in the wording or format of the post Ensure that influencers clearly disclose all material connections Disclose material connections in each post Ensure that the representations are not false or misleading Verify that influencers aren’t making performance claims on your behalf, unless based on adequate and proper testing Canadian Influencers – What do they need to know? Ensure that disclosures are visible as possible towards to reader Disclose material connections in each post Use clear and contextually appropriate words and images Ensure disclosures are inseparable from the content so they stay together when shared Base all reviews and opinions on actual experience Avoid ambiguous references and abbreviations, such as “Thank You Company X!” “Ambassador”, “Partner”, “Company X”, “SP” or “Spon” It is important to get this right. The disclosure of material connections is not simply a consumer protection or law enforcement issue, it’s also the reputations of all parties involved. The modern-day savvy digital consumer will quickly abandon a brand trying to pull the wool over their eyes, so it is more important than ever to foster the kind of goodwill allowing the brand, advertiser, influencer AND consumer to win. 0

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La bataille de l'attention à l'ère du multi-écrans

72% of the Canadian population declare they use a digital device while watching TV As the battle for consumer attention continues to be driven by the proliferation of devices and platforms, consumers are more distracted than ever before.  According to Dentsu Aegis Network’s Consumer Connection System (CCS) survey, the Canadian population is experiencing a similar shift in TV viewing habits as 72% of the Canadian population declare they use a digital device while watching TV. This trend is also true for the Quebec population at 65%, lagging only slightly behind the national average. As a result, Canadian brands are competing to gain the attention of their target audience across multiple platforms and devices.  Furthermore, much like our US counterparts, Canadians are taking to Search and Social platforms to learn more about brands and products they’ve seen in TV ads. According to CCS data;  42% of Canadians and 38% of Quebecers use a Search Engine (such as Google) to find a brand/product they have just seen on TV 30% and 27% of Canadians and Quebecers respectively, search on Social Media for a brand or product they have just seen advertised on TV The emergence of multi-screen viewing is a symptom of diminishing consumer attention span and based on our findings, this trend will only continue to grow. Brands who embrace this shift in consumer behaviour and are able to create an environment to tell their story in a more engaging and interactive way across device touchpoints will be successful. iProspect’s latest whitepaper dives deep into how brands can consistently tap into this opportunity by focusing on the halo effect of TV & Search and developing clear recommendations across categories with empirical evidence. Download it now   0

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Une approche de bas en haut peut équilibrer la tension entre les initiatives de marque et de performance

For many traditional advertisers, the old ways of planning and executing marketing remain as entrenched as ever. The mindset of spray-and-pray persists with the stubborn focus on volume of impressions instead of conversions. To complicate this further, some digital players retrofitted their value narratives and based them on metrics such as viewability or reach. Now that audiences are ubiquitous and mobile video is a mainstream medium, brands feel an ever-pressing need to be visible everywhere. What was traditionally one campaign has now evolved into 20 different ones, trying to achieve various and often disjointed objectives. And since we have the ability to measure everything, everything needs to be measured. As a result, we constantly see and measure noise – everywhere and nowhere, measuring everything and, in the end, nothing. To overcome this complexity, change management consultants preached the silver bullet of digital and organizational transformation. The strategy is based on a pivot to a single technology stack to realign the entire organization around the first-party consumer and CRM data. While this approach seems to make sense in theory, this vision is overly simplistic and ignores the difficult reality of legacy and data integrity, including sharing business intelligence with a third party, legal compliance and costly integrations. Marketers from large organizations face overwhelming complexity and cost blowouts in implementation, which require ongoing staff resources to manage the platforms. What was originally promised as marketing automation ends up being a costly mail program. What is the solution then? Another, hopefully simpler way is emerging, and it is rooted in gradual, bottom-up evolution rather than a top-down revolution. For example, marketers should start by assuming that all media, at some point, will be addressable and bought in a biddable auction. Based on that premise, marketers can “walk back” to their current position and see which parts of their marketing strategy are future-ready and which are not. Running efficiency analyses to determine the point of diminishing returns for each channel is the next step. From my experience, clients overspend on average between 20% to 30% per channel. By isolating the addressable, digital channels, it’s possible to zero in on the accountability (ROAS) and impact from marketing investments on the bottom line. Since most of marketers’ budgets are already flowing to online, everyone should approach planning with a digital-first mindset, using traditional channels to complement rather than drive the overall communications strategy. As the true digital-first brands and direct-to-consumer disruptors prove, success is achieved through a singular focus on ROAS. This brings me to another point: Knowing what to measure is the single most important thing, since everything is measurable, and the ultimate success is a consequence of this single decision. Media metrics, such as impressions or click-throughs, detract from what’s truly important and obscure the often-difficult reality of business performance. Measurement and KPIs can be drivers of sustainable business change, and a focus on true performance helps to clear the noise. If the industry begins to approach the transformation challenge from the bottom up, we will arrive at a point where the transformation becomes an output, rather than the often-seen, top-down mandate. It’s a more sustainable and impactful way of transforming the marketing function and one which finally may overcome the ever-present tension between brand and performance. This article was originally published by Adexchanger on May 3rd, 2019. 0

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Ce que l’acquisition de Promote IQ par Microsoft pourrait signifier pour l’industrie

This past Monday, Microsoft announced its acquisition of Promote IQ, a technology provider that allows sponsored products to appear on the digital shelf within retail search. Here at iProspect, we have a specialized ecommerce department that helps brands promote their products online for category-specific shopper searches, or to ensure that the product is given high exposure across a retailer platform or network.  In the announcement, Promote IQ refers to themselves as “the leader in this space.” However, they are in fact a fairly new tech provider in a space that we know is dominated by Amazon, Criteo and Walmart. It is important to remember how each of these three entities work: Amazon’s proprietary technology serves sponsored ads on Amazon, while Criteo’s technology works on retailer sites across the U.S. such as Target, Best Buy, and CVS. Walmart is slightly different in that they use a combination of its own technology and Criteo’s to serve advertisements. The difference for Promote IQ and what they are bringing to the space that is unique is outlier retailers like Kroger, Kohl's and Overstock.com. Why is the Microsoft and Promote IQ an important deal? As we know, traditional search engines like Google and Bing usually show a product sold by a retailer within the SERP in the form of a shopping ad.   Now, for the first time, Microsoft advertising has a view into how brands convert through a retailer via Promote IQ. The merger also allows Microsoft to give retailers an alternative tech provider to (re)negotiate with, all while using shiny new Microsoft assets and infrastructure, which is likely to offer tempting commercial partnerships underlined with technology. It is this potential underpinning of technology that really excites us here at iProspect. Microsoft understands the traditional search engine audiences and audiences across the open web via their display opportunities. If they can layer this audience segmentation into a retail environment, it will truly be a game-changer. Imagine a world where someone is looking for “jeans” on Overstock.com. Microsoft probably has a good education of user demos like age, gender and previous open web searches. Therefore, what is served at the top of the shelf could be really ground-breaking and relevant because of this new partnership, as it is likely to be more tailored to an audience or shopper when the gender and preferred style of that shopper is not shown by a simple one word “search.” Are the changes immediate? Of course, the usual caveats apply, as with any major acquisition in the tech space. For the moment, Promote IQ will operate as a standalone unit, so nothing will immediately change. Only time will tell how they’ll partner more with their new owners and what a joint venture with Microsoft will look like. We sincerely hope they find a solution quickly and make every effort to work together, as the opportunity to entice knew retailers into their network and overlay the rich audience data that Microsoft holds is incredibly exciting. Lilie le Prevost, Lead, Paid Platform Merchandising, iProspect US, was the original author of this article. 0