New Year, New Fees: Enshittification Comes for Marketers

Will TikTok's latest move create a waterfall effect, spiking sellers fees industry-wide?

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In Today's Issue

TIKTOK • Fees to Merchants Going Up

The days of platform discounts to get marketers on board might be coming to an end.

TikTok just hours ago announced that it will be raising its fees and cutting back on deals for its e-commerce arm called TikTok Shop.

The most significant change is a hike in the commission that TikTok takes on most sales. The company will raise its commission from 2% to 8% over the next few months. But they’ll take a lower cut of 3% on portions of sales over $10,000 in some categories.

In addition to raising fees, TikTok is also cutting back on some of the subsidies that it has been offering to sellers. The company has been offering deep discounts on many products listed on TikTok Shop, but it is now limiting these discounts to just a handful of best-selling items. TikTok also previously covered the cost of some returned TikTok Shop items, but it is no longer doing so.

TikTok Shop has been growing rapidly in recent months, but it is still unprofitable. The company is hoping that the new fees and reduced subsidies will help it to reach profitability. However, the changes could also alienate sellers and shoppers.

What to watch for now? A potential ripple effect across the e-commerce landscape, as other platforms tighten the screws as well.

Has the trend of enshittificiation finally come to digital marketing?

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LINKEDIN • Twitter’s Loss = LinkedIn’s Ad Gains

If you’ve been thinking about trying an ad campaign out on LinkedIn for the new year, you might want to think again — ad prices on the business platform have spiked in the last couple of months, and the Financial Times says you can blame Elon Musk.

Apparently, last year’s advertiser boycott of X, the platform formerly known as brand-safe, is what’s behind the rise.

One agency executive told the Times that LinkedIn CPMs for their clients have been running an eye-watering $300 — that’s 30¢ per impression. Not click, not conversion — impression! By contrast, the cost for a single impression on Meta’s platform runs around a penny or two.

Why so high?

To be fair, LinkedIn’s prices have always been stratospheric. So have Twitter’s for that matter. In fact, they’ve usually been considered the two most expensive social platforms to advertise on.

Prices for ads are set by auction, so when advertisers focus more on one platform, it makes sense to see the prices spike there.

Insider Intelligence says LinkedIn’s ad revenue was up 10% last year compared to the previous year, clocking in at almost $4 billion.

TIKTOK: The Next B2B Platform?!

So if you don’t want to spend the crazy CPMs at LinkedIn, where do you turn for B2B marketing? How about TikTok?

Yes, eMarketer says TikTok is emerging as a contender for organic and creator-based B2B marketing.

Why? Three reasons.

First, TikTok has a massive audience that’s highly engaged — in the U.S., almost one out of every three adults are active on the platform. Those adults average about 55 minutes per day on the platform. That’s five minutes more than YouTube and 25 minutes more than Facebook. (These numbers are from eMarketer’s forecast back in June, but that group has a pretty good track record with accuracy.)

Second, B2B influencers are already on TikTok — they’re teaching viewers how to use Microsoft Excel, offering career advice, and (ahem) reporting on the daily marketing news at the account @TodayInDigital. And big companies like Adobe, Grammarly, and Monday.com all have at least some kind of B2B content up.

But perhaps most importantly, Gen Z and millennials are becoming B2B buyers.

These generations are getting older and taking on more decision-making in the B2B buying process.

People aged 25 to 34 will make up nearly a quarter of US TikTok users in 2024, a higher share than any other age range. This age group includes those making B2B buying decisions or those working with decision-makers who could be influenced by this age group’s media habits.

All that said, LinkedIn and Meta do still hold the lion’s share of B2B focus — combined, eMarketer forecasts the two will eat up more than 42% of the U.S. B2B digital ad spend in 2024.

PODCAST ADS • Rates Fell a Bit Last Month

Even with last year’s ad market jitters, podcast ads held their own in December. 60-second midrolls cost advertisers an average of just under $23 CPM. That’s down from 2022, but only by about 90¢.

Of course, different podcast genres rock different rates. Art shows are closer to $26 per thousand downloads. Tech podcasts were at $25; Health & Fitness: $24

Surprisingly, the true crime category — despite being among the format’s most popular — came in under $20, around the same gaming and history podcasts.

[source]

INSTAGRAM • That Meme Post Might Be Dangerous

A popular trend on Instagram is raising eyebrows among cybersecurity experts, who warn the seemingly harmless "Get to Know Me" challenge could be a treasure trove for hackers.

The trend involves answering 11 personal questions displayed on a template, ranging from "favorite food" and "biggest fear" to "date of birth" and "height."

While many participants see it as a fun way to connect with followers, some experts see a more sinister side.

Like Eliana Shiloh, a cyber and strategic risk analyst at Deloitte, who posted this on TikTok:

@elshiloh

literally delete rn save yourself!! #cybersecurity #hackers #instagramtrend

Her concerns stem from the potential for social engineering, a tactic where attackers use personal details to gain trust and steal information. Knowing someone's birthday, for example, can unlock valuable clues for password recovery questions or online account verification.

While some dismissed Shiloh's claim, arguing security questions rarely involve favorite foods or phobias, experts like Lisa Plaggemier, the National Cybersecurity Alliance's executive director, disagree. She told Business Insider:

You're really giving a bad guy everything they need to social engineer you. What you're doing here is making their research a lot easier.

Lisa, Plaggemier, executive director, National Cybersecurity Alliance

This isn't the first time a social media trend has sparked security concerns. In 2020, #ClassOf2020 graduation photo challenges raised similar red flags for potentially exposing vulnerable details like college and graduation year.

META • Creepy Tracking is Actually an Improvement

It’s no surprise that Meta never liked Apple’s changes in iOS14.5. They didn’t like the privacy legislation in Europe. And they’re not going to like the removal of third-party Chrome cookies later this year.

Until now, Meta has tried a number of things to combat this loss of signal data — everything from doubling-down on machine learning to running full-page ads in the New York Times asking Apple to please, please let them have their cookies back.

But now, Meta has come up with a new approach, sort of — Link History.

They’re selling this to their users as as a convenient way to "never lose a link again," but of course we know — and, to be fair, Meta even admits in that user notification — that this is about data collection and targeted advertising.

Link History is enabled by default, and while users can opt-out, the data collected remains stored for 90 days even after disabling.

But while media focused on the privacy aspect of this over the weekend, most missed the point that this is actually an improvement to privacy.

Meta has always kept track of the links you click on, and this is the first time users have had any visibility or control over this corner of the company’s internet spying apparatus.

In other words, Meta is just asking users for permission for a category of tracking that it’s been using for over a decade.

Link History also creates a confusing new regime that establishes privacy settings that don’t apply if you access Facebook outside of the Facebook app. If you log in to Facebook on a computer or a mobile browser instead, Link History doesn’t protect you. In fact, you can’t see the Link History page at all if you’re looking at Facebook on your laptop.

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As you might recall, late last year, Elon Musk removed headlines on link previews on the X web site and the Apple app. Why? It’s all part of his business plan, called: “Go Fuck Yourself.”

Nobody liked it — it made links look just like images, and clickthrough rates plummeted.

I shouldn’t say “nobody” liked it… Elon said he thought it looked cleaner. Which, I guess, it did.

But never mind because just a couple of weeks later Elon posted that he’ll bring the headlines back, sort of, by overlaying the page titles at the top of the image.

Weeks came and went, and nothing happened.

But then, over this past weekend, people discovered that X indeed were putting the titles back on link previews.

It was in tiny print at the bottom, and didn’t make for a compelling call to action, but hey it was better than literal nothing.

This morning, those titles were gone again.

Nothing makes sense any more.

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