Welcome to The Martech Weekly, where every week I review some of the most interesting ideas, research, and latest news. I try to look to where the industry is going and make sense of it all.
📆 Year In Review
Over the Christmas break I’ll be writing one essay each week over the next three weeks. I’ve taken some time to reflect on the biggest shifts in marketing tech in 2020 and three distinct themes have emerged. This series will be for email subscribers only so if you'd like to receive them sign up below 😁
🏦 Enterprises don’t self serve tech. A great write up this week from Coleman McCormick’s blog analysing the Salesforce and Slack acquisition from the lens of product vs sales led growth. Slack has been a champion of the product lead growth (PLG) movement over the past decade, along with Atlassian and Twilio which is effectively a lead generation strategy allowing people to use the product for free or on a trial before committing to a purchase. Effectively allowing companies to self serve. In the early 2010’s this was a total guerilla move but is now the mainstay of most tech companies who want to scale fast. But there are ceilings to PLG, especially when dealing with enterprise. Slack is a unique story as it built a groundswell of loyal and raving users, generating awareness and credibility and used that as leverage to get into some of the largest global brands. But with Microsoft teams now in the market it has become clear that product lead growth can’t do the legwork without an expert salesforce talking to CIOs and CTOs. The reason for this is that selling packaged software, whether it be a marketing automation platform or a CDP, requires more than one or two stakeholders to sign up for a free trial, it takes conversations with procurement, management and implementation teams to work. Selling tech in an enterprise environment needs a sales and product lead growth model. Both work hand in hand to generate awareness, leads and credibility but at some point the sales team needs to step in to wrangle with those large-scale enterprise companies. Link
🎥 Video shopping is the new marketplace. Live shopping in China is a $137 billion dollar industry. What most people don’t get is that the format, although still in its infancy, is a highly effective way to move product, take questions and do sales at scale. In the past we’ve had product placement in movies and TV shows, we’ve had product ads in newsfeeds and in podcasts. But what is emerging in commerce is a concept haphazardly named “shoptainment” which blends entertainment with commerce, and content. This kind of format started emerging in Asia in the early 10’s but has gained more prominence in the west recently. And for good reason, advertising agencies are always looking for new mediums. But this medium is unique. Which formats combine the social proof of live purchases tickers in stream, demonstrations of product benefits like you would see in store, live Q&A chat handled by moderators, and a seamless commerce stack to purchase in one click? Shoptainment is the closest thing I’ve seen that brings the in store experience into the device as scale.
TikTok and Instagram appear to be the most important players when it comes to bringing these new(ish) formats to the west, and without a doubt, it will become an important aspect to any customer journey plan in the future. The benefits are also non-vertical specific. Although the format nicely fits ecommerce, there are a few other examples such as software walkthroughs for SaaS, insurance product breakdowns, game previews, walkthroughs of property listings, car test drives and the list goes on. As the medium starts hitting our newsfeeds, we should start thinking about how this is going to work from a data perspective, because if we already know the players who will own this format (Insta and the Tok), it’s likely that this will sit in the media category of the CMO’s portfolio instead of a substantial part of the customer journey - playing an important role in educating informing and selling to customers externally. There are reasons why Instagram has added the shop tab prominently in-app and Facebook has a dedicated newsfeed for video only. They are preparing to own the next evolution of how commerce is done in social contexts and taking cues from China in how they’ve reinvented the marketplace forever.
👩⚖️ Facebook, Google and the mountains of lawsuits. These past 48 hours have been a mind boggling flurry of international news targeting Facebook and Google on multiple fronts of anti-competitive behaviour, collusion and breaches of user privacy. An important industry-wide problem with using 3rd party data in advertising is dealing with literally the two biggest players in the market when it comes to programmatic advertising - Facebook and Google. These two have been constantly in legal battles centering on the misuse of customer data, privacy violations and monopolistic practices. These platforms thrive off third-party, browsing-based data, and so now that tracking is being phased out, it makes sense that marketers are now embracing “contextual” advertising, but also investing into first party-data and making that work in some advertising contexts. The two big stories to come out are about data privacy and monopoly power.
The first is in Australia where the regulatory body (ACCC) has filed suit against Facebook because of their use of a Facebook owned VPN app to collect customer data and analyse it to make strategic decisions to acquire rival apps. The VPN product is supposed to protect the privacy of companies that used the product. Clearly this needs to play out, but the important thing to remember is that Facebook’s acquisition strategy is all about leveraging what they have to determine what they need to buy.
The second important case is filed in the US and centres on illegal trading of priority bidding between Facebook and Google in display networks. Facebook made a deal with Google, limiting where its audience network can push ads on websites external to Facebook in exchange for better bidding conditions, prioritizing facebook over more than 20 other bidders. Without a doubt as we step into the new year, confidence in the effectiveness and legitimacy of programmatic trading will decline globally. Although the industry is still booming and cases like these are still just skirmishes, the trajectory for display advertising is heading towards a correction, either enforced by government regulation or backlash from advertisers going elsewhere. These lawsuits will continue to build the narrative happening in most corporate boardrooms about advertising - the concern is about legitimacy, and then effectiveness. AU lawsuit | US conspiracy case. This thread is a helpful breakdown.
📈Chart Of The Week
Here’s a counter argument to brands pulling away from programmatic advertising. Dominos in conjunction with Ad Week has released a report on their growing global advertising budget. Topping more than $600 million, it’s a significant slice of the business (and a lot of pepperoni pizzas). But what's interesting is how Dominos works with their franchisees. About 6% of total revenue from each store is contributed to a centralised ad fund which is then dispersed into local, international and national strategies. Coinciding with Domino’s swelling ad budgets is the increasing use of digital channels for customer acquisition. This year, 75% of Dominos sales were done online. And because of this they have cemented themselves as leaders in the fast food category in personalisation, use of data analytics, machine learning and advertising on digital channels. It’s smart because investing heavily into the digital market helps the chain differentiate easily and positions them as the sophisticated option among hungry millennials and Gen Z’s. Link
📚 Everything Else
Google acquires dataform. An interesting move from Google, they have acquired a business that helps manage data warehouses in the UK. Dataform has been building what is effectively an operating system for data environments. This looks to me like a further push into commoditizing data and analytics. Link
LinkedIn is chaotic. A hilarious and kinda scary analysis into why LinkedIn is the most intense social media platform. What can be more chaotic than a notification every time someone checks out your profile? Also, it’s the only social media platform that is the most closely aligned to your actual identity, making the dynamics incredibly high stakes for people actually using it. Link
Spotify’s wrapped but for advertisers. For the first time, Spotify has released analytics breaking down the listening trends of their audience by regions and other segments. The tool aims to help advertisers with their planning. Link
CX and igital transformation are just becoming the same thing. You could argue that most of a digital transformation is to improve the customer’s experience. An interesting argument for how these two concepts are really just talking about the same thing Link ($)
Reddit buys Dubsmash. Dubsmash went viral in 2014 and then went quiet. But the video social app has a substantial audience: More than a billion views of its videos with 30% who use it daily. This is about Reddit trying to keep up with a hot social format - vertical video. Link
Collecting customer insights during the pandemic. Finding and analysing quality customer data both qualitative and quantitative, is never easy and made harder during the pandemic. Customers have changed how they deal with brands through the pandemic. And so people working in intelligence have to change their ways too. This is a short guide to aid in thinking about building a customer intelligence stack that is adaptive. Link
Burger king donates it’s Instagram. I really love this positioning move from Burger King. They have basically handed over the reigns of their Instagram account to struggling restaurants so they can promote themselves. Link
How the media covers technology companies. An interesting take on how news publishers decide how and what kind of coverage emerging tech should get. Link
Farewell Periscope. Twitter is closing down the video app after months of poor performance. Twitter is still pushing ahead with live video, but they are using other tech to do it. Link
Domain names are the new natural resource. A tiny island-nation in the pacific ocean bought a .tv domain years ago and it might just be it’s most valuable asset. The internet is changing wealth distribution in wild and unpredictable ways. Link
Why are there so many CDPs? An interesting perspective explains why there are many different types of customer data platforms (CDPs) and what the difference is between say a marketing suite and a CDP. Link
How Facebook sees the world. A Buzzfeed reporter was able to live tweet the end of year all hands at Facebook. A lot of direct insight into how the company explains the swirling regulation challenges and PR woes and how they are innovating despite it, including a product to summarise news articles (what a great idea!) and scanning your brain. Insightful. LInk
Mailchimp’s annual report. One of the most interesting data visualisation projects I’ve seen this year. People ask seriously if anyone actually uses Mailchimp anymore. But they did send 333,000,000,000 emails in 2020, so their trajectory to become a proper eCommerce platform makes sense. TMW contributes 0.000000007% to that number. Link
Apple vs Facebook. Facebook is now putting full page ads out against Apple’s stance on privacy. Tim Cook has been chastising Facebook for years, and clearly differentiating when it comes to privacy. Facebook says that limiting what they can collect will ultimately just hurt small businesses. It’s a thinly veiled threat. Link
The Marketing Weekly. A different kind of marketing newsletter. The writer calls it an automated curated digest of the best marketing content. Includes blogs, newsletters, podcasts, news, tweets. Link
Blob Opera. I spent a good hour with my daughter playing with this little experiment from Google. It’s an ML app trained on the voices and notes of different opera singers. Very fun (and there’s even a Christmas mode!) We need more cool things like this on the internet. Link
Make sense of marketing technology.
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