Thanks for subscribing to The Cache - a weekly summary of the most important stories, trends, & commentary in eCommerce marketing, curated by Rob Bettis.
The death of expertise.
I’ve been thinking about this for several months. But it was no more evident than in recent weeks.
What does it mean when experts disagree? With a lifetime of learning and limitless information, they arrive at different conclusions. More so, what happens when they arrive at different conclusions and both point to the same set of facts for their reasoning?
In the context of the moment, what does it mean when an Ivy League trained physician and infectious disease expert thinks one thing about the world’s pandemic and a second physician with equally impressive chops vehemently believes the opposite?
What happens when our government’s handling of a pandemic is both a perfect example for ‘Medicare for all’ and a perfect example against it.
In a social media world, everyone has an opinion. And for a moment, most were uninformed and subsequently easy to ignore. But that has evolved. Now everyone has an expert - an honest, qualified expert - to support their opinion. The point and the counterpoint are equally supported. What are we to believe? And what does that mean for the business expertise?
Our family is very close to a wonderful ministry that serves the students of our local college. (I vividly remember the year in which incoming freshman where an age in which their whole lives had been documented on Facebook. 🤯)
Today’s generation of students wear a different label. They are apathetic to expertise.
A PhD? A best-selling author? A talking head from tv? An individual who has spent their entire lives dedicated to the study of a particular topic carries no more weight than you or me. Why?
Because there is someone else with equal credentials who is saying the opposite. And so truth and conviction and reality become obscure.
In our world of permission marketing, the trust economy, and thought leadership, what does this mean to us?
It means things are changing. That the future generation of buyers are not the same as the current. It means the 20,000 Instagram followers you purchased in 2017 are becoming utterly worthless. And that influencer marketing is past its prime.
Looking into the future, brands will need to become more authentic, more generous, and more honest. Our customers will have a BS-meter that is more powerful than ever before and our motives will thereby need to be more pure. And although perhaps still marketable, expertise will mean nothing in terms of building trust with normal people like you and me.
So the natural question is: What does this mean for the future of your business?
Search engines are now smart enough to realize what are headings or titles, even if we don’t explicitly tell them.
We don’t need to specifically have an H1 tag, or only one H1 tag to help SEO.
Advertisers may be asked to provide information about their business operations as part of a new verification program. This includes, but is not limited to, their business model, services offered by the advertiser, and their relationships with advertised brands or third parties.
Advertisers who are required to complete business operations verification will be notified and given 30 days to submit the verification form.
Failure to fully complete the verification program within the specified time period may result in restrictions on advertiser’s ads serving.
I’ll be watching this closely, as it has the potential to be a huge mess.
Engagement rates decreased on Instagram, stagnant on Facebook and Twitter - The world’s most engaging social channel became a little less engaging this year while Facebook and Twitter managed to maintain engagement levels from 2019.
Posting frequency is down - Brands are posting a little less often on every channel.
All about the giveaways - Contests and giveaways were popular hashtags across almost every industry, so brands should seek out opportunities to engage followers with contests.
Carousels are key for Instagram - Carousels lead to high engagement across all industries, so brands should look for opportunities to combine photos into carousels. Why? Instagram carousels get re-served to users who don’t engage the first time, earning them more impressions.
Two new industries this year - We included Financial Services and Tech & Software for even more social insights for 14 top industries. You might be surprised to learn that Financial Services performs above average on each channel, while Tech & Software is an unexpected Instagram powerhouse.
There is a lot of great data in this report. Be sure to dive deeper than the headlines.
Facebook is testing the option to cross-post Stories to Instagram, instead of just vice-versa.
Instagram is now testing an option which would enable you to share your Instagram live streams direct to IGTV as soon as the broadcast has ended.
This feature would make building a library of IGTV content a whole lot easier.
Attribution in Google Ads (previously known as Search attribution) gives you detailed information about the paths that lead people to convert for your business. Every business is different, so reports cover a range of insights–from the most common sequences of ad interactions leading up to a conversion, to how much credit is assigned to each interaction along the way.
To make it easier for you to uncover these insights going forward, we’re launching a new experience in Google Ads that features a simplified and intuitive set of attribution reports.
Half of advertisers (50%) have no plans to use artificial intelligence (AI) in their marketing, according to the results of a survey conducted by Advertiser Perceptions that was shared with Marketing Dive. That number is up from 36% in April 2019, when the company conducted a similar survey.
What is AI’s most promising place in marketing?
AI’s role in creating ads is small but shows signs of growth, with 20% using the tech only for campaign strategy, 42% to customize existing creative and 38% saying it is inevitable they will use it to create original ads. The majority (60%) use AI to develop banner ads, 54% for social media posts, 45% use it for digital out-of-home campaigns and 36% for TV and connected TV video ads.
And the ‘Why?’:
The latest Advertiser Perceptions report supports findings from another recent report from Bynder which found that 77% of marketers are concerned about how automation and AI will affect branding. The 2020 State of Branding Report found that 56% of surveyed marketers think AI could negatively affect their brands by diminishing creativity, reducing jobs or impacting differentiation.
As it turns out, marketers provide a complicated and nuanced service. And AI isn’t even close to being able to replace it.
If you don’t believe me, just check your Google Ads’ recommendations tab. 🙃
While online shopping may benefit in the short term, supply chain issues and uncertain consumer demand could dampen the e-commerce outlook.
The world’s biggest web retailer said it has “several” signed deals with customers it would not name. A new website Monday will invite others to inquire about the service, dubbed Just Walk Out technology by Amazon.
The highly anticipated business reflects Amazon’s strategy of building out internal capabilities - such as warehouses to help with package delivery and cloud technology to support its website - and then turning those into lucrative services it offers others.
Could Amazon be targeting brick & mortar right where it counts - in the data?
Much like their marketplace, interaction-less commerce is wonderful for commodities. But for many retailers who are building brands, the interaction is a vital part of the brand experience, for better or for worse.
Perhaps this will push brick & mortar retailers to improve upon their in-store experience.
The UK said Wednesday that it’ll begin taxing digital services April 1, a move that’ll impact a broad spectrum of US tech giants, including Amazon, Google and Facebook.
The tax will amount to 2% of the revenues of search engines, social media services and online marketplaces that derive value from UK users. Known as the Digital Services Tax, or DST, it’ll apply to all digital services with global revenues of £500 million ($647 million) or more, with at least £25 million ($32 million) deriving from users in the UK. It’s expected to bring in £65 million ($84 million) this year, and around £87 million ($113 million) annually.
I’ll be interested to see how this impacts ad network pricing in the UK.
According to Charlie Gowans-Eglinton, senior fashion editor for the Telegraph, the customer experience on Amazon “is quick and easy rather than special,” and that’s a problem because luxury is all about specialness and exclusivity. Furthermore, most consumers associate Amazon with bargains, low-priced goods, or lifestyle basics. Nothing about that screams ‘luxury’ or ‘extravagance.’
More validation for the automated checkout story above.
One of the reasons why off-price retailers have been able to pay little to no attention to their e-commerce operations is because their store sales are growing faster than those of many other retailers. Burlington Stores reported that total sales grew 10% year-over-year to $2.2 billion during the fourth quarter of 2019, while TJX’s sales also grew 10% to $12.2 billion over the same time period.
So instead of building out an e-commerce site, off-price retailers spend that money instead remodeling the stores where customers are already continuing to visit at a healthy pace, or open up new stores elsewhere.
Together with kind contributors, Iconfinder is giving away more than 200 free vector icons related to hygiene and awareness about the virus spread.
But the infighting in one of the internet’s most niche communities is about more than just politics and knitting. It’s a glimpse of how otherwise ignored populations—here, predominantly older women—are using online platforms to organize and make their voices heard. And the Ravelry falling-out highlights questions other platforms, like Facebook and Twitter, have tiptoed around: What constitutes hate speech, and how should censorship work online?
Sometimes it feels like the world is just as crazy as it seems.
He thought about it more. “I honestly feel like it’s a public service,” he added. “I’m being paid for my public service.”
As for his stockpile, Mr. Colvin said he would now probably try to sell it locally. “If I can make a slight profit, that’s fine,” he said. “But I’m not looking to be in a situation where I make the front page of the news for being that guy who hoarded 20,000 bottles of sanitizer that I’m selling for 20 times what they cost me.”
This idiot in my hometown has purchased all the hand sanitizer in the region (covering two states) to surge-sell on Amazon.
Thankfully Amazon & eBay are closing the accounts of sellers capitalizing on the pandemic.
I believe it was in 5th grade when I learned that capitalism requires moral restraint.
Questions, comments, inquiries? I’d love to hear from you! Email email@example.com.