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New science discovers how "just for you" marketing can backfire.

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In Today’s Issue:

💵 Do the risks of “extended” Black Friday sales outweigh the benefits? [Premium Exclusive]

📱 Mobile buyers prefer uniqueness over popularity

🎙️ Podcast ad CPMs are down, but interest is way up

💬 Reddit introduces new ad formats for conversations

🎁 TikTok’s plan to dominate live commerce will lose them $0.5B

💸 Shoppers coping with financial stress by ‘doom spending

👩‍⚖️ Meta challenges FTC ban on using kids’ data for ads

👃 Snapchat patents stickers that can send smells. God help us all.

META MARKETING
How Black Friday Performed This Year, and the Brand Damage of “Extending” the Season

Andrew Foxwell is our Meta ads correspondent. He joins us every Friday, exclusively in the Premium Newsletter and Premium Podcast.

This week, Andrew and I discussed:

  • How Black Friday was for commerce brands

  • What was working, and what didn’t

  • Should marketers use “extended” sales (e.g., “Black Friday weekend”)

  • New ad products for Reels

Be sure to check out Andrew’s Foxwell Founders community of digital ad buyers and his extensive training in the digital ad space.

🔐 This column is a Premium Exclusive. Upgrade today!

PERSONALIZED PURCHASING
Mobile Buyers Prefer “Selected for You” Choices

New research reveals a surprising insight in online shopping — and it could change the way you position your products.

Mobile: Make It Personal

A study published recently in the Journal of Marketing Research found that shoppers who are on mobile devices prefer personalized recommendations.

These users are more likely to choose items that are presented as “just for you” or “based on your preferences.” For instance, they preferred a wine described as “suited to your taste” almost 20% more than a popular choice.

Desktop: Make It Broad

That might sound obvious, but what’s interesting here is the study found the opposite is true when someone is using a desktop browser.

Desktop users were more drawn to popular and non-personalized recommendations, like a list called "Bestsellers."

If you try to use the “Here’s what we recommend for you” on Desktop users, you’ll probably lose sales.

Why the Difference?

The researchers think it’s because of the personal nature of smartphones, which store intimate details from messages to photos. When using their phones, people tend to focus more on their personal tastes and emotions.

That might explain why the study found this effect only happened when people were using their own smartphone. When they used someone else’s, that effect disappeared.

When we use our phone, we feel immersed and insulated from the world around us. This makes us focus more on our emotions, opinions, and beliefs, and increases our awareness of our personal preferences and feelings. 

This makes us act in ways that express these inner views. So when we are buying online, we’re more likely to choose unique options that are customized for us.

It’s Not Just for Sales

Consumers were 41% more likely to support a charity they were told was chosen especially for them, rather than a more popular option.

Some retailers already do this, the study noted. Companies like Rezek Studio and Old Navy mix personalized and popular recommendations for both platforms.

The study is called Phone and Self: How Smartphone Use Increases Preference for Uniqueness. You can find it in the Journal of Marketing Research.

AUDIO ASCENDANCY
Podcast CPMs Down Slightly; Overall Spend Way Up

Advertising on podcasts is getting cheaper. The audio hosting platform Libsyn reports that the average CPM rate for a 60-second spot was just under $23 last month. Compare that to the same month last year, and that’s about 7% lower.

The three highest CPM categories in November based on delivered advertising were:

  • Kids & Family: $27 CPM

  • Arts: $26 CPM

  • Education: $25 CPM

While CPMs might be dropping a bit year-over-year, interest in the space is not. According to IAB research, U.S. podcast ad revenue is projected to be up 25% over last year, reaching $4 billion by 2025.

In a news release, Libsyn said it believes brand safety technology has matured enough to allow risk-averse brands to dip their toes in the water. And more granular controls over geotargeting may also help there.

An untapped opportunity lies in the underutilization of cause-based advertisers collaborating with podcast hosts.

The influential voice of podcast hosts presents a powerful platform for promoting social and environmental causes…

We see this strategy being applied for political advertisers gearing up for the 2024 election cycle.

You can find a link to historical monthly podcast CPM rates on AdvertiseCast’s website.

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PRODUCT PLACEMENT
Reddit Drops Carousels and Product Ads Into Conversation Streams

Reddit is launching two new ad formats.

In 2021, Reddit introduced Conversation Placement, targeting users within conversation threads where they are most engaged.

Now, after more 60,000 campaigns, Reddit today announced Carousel Ads and Product Ads within Conversation Placement.

  • Carousel Ads allow up to six images or GIFs, each with a link. Early tests show a 44% increase in click-through rate compared to the previous format.

  • Product Ads, launched earlier this year, target users in their research phase.

Reddit says smaller businesses in particular have also found success with Conversation Placement.

The company this week also changed its logo and introduced a new font, all said to be in preparation for an expected IPO in the coming months. They are still recovering from the black eye they gave themselves earlier when they jacked up API prices and forced many beloved third-party apps, like Apollo, out of business.

Carousel Ads and Product Ads are now available in Conversation Placement to all Reddit advertisers globally.

LIVESTREAM LURE
TikTok’s Big, Expensive Bet on Shopping

We are beginning to see just how committed TikTok is to dominating the online shopping space.

An interesting report in The Information this week looks through the lens of a makeup brush business that’s doing well. It’s called BK Beauty and its owner told the publication that orders from TikTok now make up about 35% of its business. And last month it shipped more orders than it did in 2019, 2020 and 2021 combined.

Part of the path to these numbers has been through influencers, who are signed up through TikTok’s creator affiliate program, which launched earlier this year.

But real promise is coming from its occasional livestreams, which its employees host.

BK Beauty has also signed up for several live streaming campaigns TikTok has offered... Those campaigns reward accounts for hitting certain sales goals while streaming by sending traffic to livestreams and offering their shoppers extra coupons or bigger discounts.

TikTok has been footing the bill for most customer discounts so far, paying brands the full price of items sold. This strategy will likely cost TikTok more than $500 million in e-commerce-related losses this year…

The discounts TikTok offered each shopper depended on both the user and the product they were looking at. First-time buyers got higher discounts… and best selling products received the steepest discounts…

One thing the beauty brand figured out quickly: The more polished they made the livestreams, the worst they performed in terms of engagement — supporting the industry-recognized truism that the more laid-back and informal the stream, the better the results.

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STRESS SHOPPING
'Doom Spending' Rises Amid Economic Stress

Americans are increasingly engaging in "doom spending" due to financial stress. 

A new study reveals that over a quarter of Americans are shopping excessively to cope with concerns about the economy and foreign affairs. Key worries include inflation, which saw the Consumer Price Index rise by 3.2% in October, rising living costs, unaffordable housing, and inability to afford luxuries or necessities.

This idea of 'doom spending' is akin to 'doom scrolling' on social media, and is made easier by how little friction there is on many online commerce platforms — take the One-Click Purchase pioneered by Amazon.

This doom-spending trend is particularly pronounced among younger generations, with 35% of Gen Z and 43% of millennials admitting to such spending habits.

Credit card debt in the U.S. hit a record high last quarter, nearing $1.1 trillion.

The study was by Intuit Credit Karma, based on a survey of more than 1,000 American adults last month.

PRIVACY PUSHBACK
Meta Fighting in Court for the Right to Monetize Children’s Data

Meta is suing the American trade regulator, the FTC, challenging the agency's authority to enforce privacy regulations.

This all comes from FTC allegations that Facebook violated an agreement they had that the app would not monetize data it collects from users under 18.

Meta accuses the FTC of exercising "structurally unconstitutional authority," particularly in what Meta says is the agency’s dual role as both prosecutor and judge.

But they’re not getting a lot of sympathy. One lawmaker, Frank Pallone, Jr. said:

It speaks volumes that Meta would rather launch a frivolous lawsuit against the agency tasked by Congress with protecting American consumers, especially our children, than do the serious work needed to reform their platforms.

[This is] a stunt intended to distract from the serious concerns regarding Meta's social media platforms and business practices.

Frank Pallone, Jr., (D)

Meta is asking for a jury trial.

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AROMA ADVENTURES
New Ad Format: A Functioning Scratch-and-Sniff On Your Phone?

There are a surprising — no, worrying — number of fart videos out there. On YouTube, there are more than 26,000 compilation videos of (and I can’t believe I’m writing this) the best farts.

But lucky for the unfortunate viewer who swipes up to a flatulent TikTok, at least there’s no smell alongside that video.

Well, maybe not for much longer, thanks to a patent filed by Snapchat called “Olfactory stickers for chat and AR-based messaging.”

Their patent imagines special stickers, that when used in a chat, allow the recipient at the other end to experience certain scents. This is achieved by the recipient interacting with the sticker on their screen through a tap or rub, triggering the release of the associated smell.

They have drawings showing imagined examples of the interfaces needed to pull the actual smell off — this filing is more about Snapchat trying to own the software side of things.

But if this comes to be, can you imagine? Perfume companies. Bakeries. Movie theatres with popcorn. This could be huge.

I, for one, look forward to the day when Meta’s learning phase goes haywire, and starts shooting out the smell of a decaying chipmunk corpse — then to give me 2¢ credit back for the error.

Good times ahead.

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