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MarTech and AdTech News Headlines Update on January 28, 2022

Platforms

YouTube says it may allow NFTs on the platform as a way for its creators to make money. “The past year in the world of crypto, nonfungible tokens, and even decentralized autonomous organizations, has highlighted a previously unimaginable opportunity to grow the connection between creators and their fans.

TikTok creator Hank Green has 6 million followers. But he’s not making as much money on TikTok as he could on YouTube for one reason: YouTube actually gives creators a majority share of ads sold on their channel. Here’s his rant.

BBC News, which has seen great success on Instagram, is staying away from TikTok.We haven’t really got the resources to do video solely for TikTok so we’re not going to do that.”

Substack is testing video uploads. It realised that newsletter writers were not just writing emails but also publishing accompanying videos. Format crossovers are a big opportunity for both creators and platforms this year.

Content creation in the metaverse

Metaverse content is all about the immersive experience. Brands are already building their own virtual worlds where people can do stuff just like in real life, such as shop and play games with their friends. But really, how does the production process work? Can you measure ROI? With so much ambiguity, this new frontier can be a scary place. That’s why a group of tech firms have pledged to create a safer metaverse with strict controls and self-regulation. I’m just waiting for the metaverse equivalent of swiping away from things I don’t want to see.

Real world digital clones

Capitalising on their 3D computer graphics technology and experience creating Non-Playable Characters (NPCs) in video games, game engine developer Unity is looking for a way to create a digital twin of the real world. That includes objects, environments and more recently, even people. The idea is that these digital twins can be used to gather accurate data about their real-life counterparts through simulated events. Great for testing new roller coaster designs, but much more concerning when it’s used by the military.

Performative activism

Electronics giant Samsung recently came under fire for choosing to take down an ad featuring a drag queen in Singapore. The depiction of a Malay-Muslim mother’s love for her son, despite queerness being frowned upon by their religion, inevitably ruffled some conservative feathers. But it was the decision to remove the ad that drew the ire of netizens. Corporate activism is trendy and good for PR these days, especially on social media, but it remains to be seen if it is a force for effecting actual change.

A growing AR/VR/MR market

As the metaverse goes mainstream, so does interest in its related technologies. In fact, the global Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR) and Mixed Reality (MR) market is seeing a steady increase in market size over the last years, and is forecasted to be worth close to US$300 billion by 2024.

The global Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR) and Mixed Reality (MR) market is seeing a steady increase in market size over the last years

Adventures in reader revenue

Telegram (the Croatian news org, not the messaging app) went big on subscriptions. The result? Good news and bad news. It’s quite the ride.

  • The really good news is that Telegram has 1.2m unique monthly users.
  • The bad news was that advertising still dried up. They needed a subscription model.
  • Good news: big corruption stories are huge drivers of new subscriptions.
  • Bad news? Very expensive intimidation lawsuits against Telegram.
  • But the good news? Raising money for the lawsuits became one of its appeals for donations, and the Croatian public was willing to chip in.
  • The bad news is that Croatians are reluctant to pay for online news. The Reuters Institute report says only 7% do so.
  • The good news, on the other hand, is that the Croatian public says they’re willing to support Telegram.
  • However, the bad news is that if the publication only monetised some of the stories, there would not be enough content to pay for. So they pay-gated everything.
  • And finally, we’ll end with some good news: Telegram is listening to their audience. They recently published a book about architecture and urban planning that was popular with subscribers, and they have plans for documentaries and long-form video.

Stickers are product too

The Line sticker marketplace is booming. The messaging super-app that’s big in Thailand, Taiwan, and Japan, is all about the stickers, which are like emoji but on steroids. Here are the numbers.

  • “In 2020, direct sticker sales accounted for more than $200 million of Line’s revenue, according to the company’s earnings report.” Apple and Google get 30% of that, and the rest is evenly split between the app and the creator.
  • The thin sliver of top creators have made over US$10 million over their sticker design careers.
  • There are 4 million designers on the platform
  • Line’s merchandising arm earned US$70 million in 2020.
  • The Line Creators Support Program supports emerging creators with about US$2,600 a month, and coaching in branding with Line
  • And finally, as with everything else on the web, cats rule — cat stickers are on fire.

Trends

Are you seeing hexagonal profile pictures on Twitter? Don’t worry: it’s just those pesky little NFTs. (Here’s what it looks like on Coinbase’s profile.) If all you really want is a six-sided profile pic of your own, you need

  1. the Twitter app for iOS
  2. a Twitter Blue subscription for a minimum of US$2.99 a month
  3. an authorised crypto wallet like Coinbase or Ledger Live, and
  4. an NFT

Old media products

New music is in trouble — 70% of the U.S. music market is old songs. There’s more bad news: old music is growing, and the new music market is actually shrinking. The tv audience for the Grammy awards did a freefall from 18.7 million to 8.8 million — in one year — and when the Grammys, “the biggest annual event in new music”, was postponed, barely anybody noticed or cared. You can’t blame it on the pandemic btw — ten years ago, the Grammys’ tv audience was five times bigger. “The problem isn’t a lack of good new music. It’s an institutional failure to discover and nurture it.” One weird reason for the stagnation? The fear of copyright lawsuits; what if you’re a music label or producer and listen to a new demo that sticks in your head and then “get sued for stealing its melody—or maybe just its rhythmic groove—five years from now”?

New media products

As if stories about domestic abuse IRL aren’t bad enough, now there’s one about men who abuse their AI girlfriends. Here’s how it unfolds: users create AI chatbots on an app called Replika that “can carry on almost-coherent text conversations”. Users can create any sort of relationship with their chatbot, but Replika’s success comes from users creating “on-demand romantic and sexual partners”. This is where the story takes a dark twist: there is an entire Reddit trend of users creating AI partners, “act abusively toward them, and post the toxic interactions online.” Old wine, meet your new bottle. (There’s an upside, thankfully: “the majority of conversations with Replika chatbots that people post online are affectionate, not sadistic.” Phew.)

Could there be an entire dark media product trend around Wordle? Scores, blockers, support groups, therapy…and spoilers? Steady on, Satan. But the evil Wordlinator bot did just that: it replied to people’s Wordle tweets with rudeness, and worse, spoilers for the next day’s game.

The bot was clearly the work of an anti-Wordler, because what do some people hate more than Wordle spoilers? Wordle tweets 😅

“I increasingly wish everyone who created products truly tried to put themselves in users’ shoes — empathy is still a sorely under-rated trait.” – Daniel Burka, product designer

Event

WAN-IFRA will present its recent international study documenting the extent of sexual harassment in newsrooms. On average, 40% of women journalists have experienced sexual harassment of some kind in the workplace; less than 20% choose to report. The presentation is in in English, with simultaneous translation will be available in Arabic, Indonesian, and Vietnamese. Today (Wednesday, Jan 26, 2022) at 12pm GMT. Register here.

Transformations

The FLOC is dead. This was Google’s plan to replace cookies by grouping people anonymously into buckets of people with similar interests (but that was too controversial). Instead, it’s now rolling out Topics, which will be used to categorise your interests into 300 topics of interest (for now). Google says it won’t include any attributes based on race or gender.

The post-pandemic world will need different newsroom leaders and management skills. For example, how do you onboard a new employee remotely? And what new skills will you need as a manager if you’re running a remote newsroom? Federica Cherubini at Reuters Institute has a list of things to consider.

The Atlantic has done an amazing job documenting how they’ve been listening to what their audience wants. They’ve been asking the right first questions: Why do people seek us out? What do they get from the time they spend with us? They’ve uncovered five really clear intentions from audiences across their articles and podcasts:

  1. Give me deeper clarity and context
  2. Help me discover new ideas
  3. Challenge my assumptions
  4. Let me take a meaningful break
  5. Introduce me to writers at the top of their craft

All of this has gone on to inform their product and editorial strategy. All soooo good. This is the kind of journey your newsroom needs to take.

Well-meaning media entrepreneurs often get stuck repeating all the cliches of the news industry that got us here in the first place.

  • “We need more deep reporting!”
  • “We need more storytelling!”
  • “We need to give voice to the voiceless!”
  • “We’ll give you what’s important, not just “what’s new!
  • “People want more hard-hitting stories!”
  • “There need to be more exclusive exclusives!”

Notables

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky wants to make a point that you can live anywhere in the world. So he’s spending the next few months living in Airbnbs from city to city. “Why am I doing this? I think the pandemic has created the biggest change to travel since the advent of commercial flying.”

Marketing in the metaverse

The metaverse entered the mainstream when Facebook rebranded as Meta and turned its attention to the virtual reality world. Predicted as the future of online interaction, the digital world is already being used for gaming, business, socialising and, you guessed it, marketing. Gucci, Deliveroo and Samsung have all entered the metaverse with campaigns that extend to the real world. Meanwhile, patents submitted by Meta show the organisation looks to monetise the metaverse with eye and face tracking technology that will trigger hyper-personalised advertising.

Family influencers

India is seeing the rise of the family influencer. It’s not exactly an easy job. One of the country’s more famous families, the Singhs, produce “75 Reels and 35 video posts for Instagram, and 35 Shorts and 20 full-length videos for YouTube” a week. It’s a lot of video and pretty much means everything the family does is potential content. While the family makes a comfortable living, you have to wonder what the long term costs are when being a perfect family on screen — all the time — is your job.

A real world NFT gallery

The rising popularity and cost of NFTs lead many people to ask the question — “How do you actually display NFT art?” On January 27, the world’s first NFT art gallery will open in Seattle. The concept is to build a bridge between the virtual and physical art world. Custom designed screens give artists flexibility in how they display their work while QR codes will be used for audience interaction. Could this be the first step to NFTs making sense?

NFT art sales are growing

If NFT sales are any guide, the gallery should have no trouble attracting visitors. Although erratic, NFT art sales, both primary and secondary, hit just under 100,000 last September. There was a drop in November but sales are on the rise again. And as they become more mainstream, this will grow further.

Although erratic, NFT art sales, both primary and secondary, hit just under 100,000 last September.

THE GAMIFIED CO-FOUNDER

You’re a lonely entrepreneur and you need a co-founder. What do you do? a. advertise online and wait b. ask for introductions c. make a game called Cofounder Quest, pop it on floppy disks, and surreptitiously leave them “in places where a software engineer is likely to stumble into it”. Genius.

Tools

The 2022 Twitter Planner is a marketing masterclass wrapped in unfortunately tired visual design. It’s a bit of an odd bird, but it features marketing “best practices, how to align your campaigns with your business objectives, and tips for setting campaign targets.” Corporate tweeting can be bland at best and offensive and cringey at worst, so there’s some refreshingly good advice in here around setting guidelines and guardrails around creating a brand with personality and voice. So good. Why did it have to be a PDF, though?

#EDITORSAREPRODUCTPEOPLETOO

I love this complex profile of Hanya Yanagihara, the editor-in-chief of T, the style magazine supplement of the New York Times. This Japanese-Korean-American is also an enormously successful Booker-nominated novelist on the side — with a cult following; “TikTokers post videos of themselves crying after finishing the book.” Her strength as an editor lies partly in being able to “detect emerging cultural patterns—and identify old aesthetics that are reëmerging”. She also says “…I put out T only for myself”, which contradicts almost every media product principle I stand for. But then again, the singularity of her personality emphasises how important it is for a media product, such as a style magazine, to have a point of view. It is one of the important ways in which specific audiences connect with brands.

Media Products

Adorkastock is a one-person, one-model reference image agency. It’s all Creative Commons and they use Imgur for user research and customer acquisition. Sarah Forde, the founder and main model, was an artist and illustrator, and realised the problem she wanted to solve was that artists had limited access to quality poses and references. That’s when Adorkastock was born. The models wear form-fitting clothing for anatomical clarity without nudity, which allows for artists of all ages to view and access the stock images. There is a paid Patreon tier which takes pose requests and commissions.

Trends

VLOOKUP your K/D ratio. Microsoft’s $69 billion acquisition of Activision means the same people who brought you the Excel wars can now inflict spreadsheet warfare in Call of Duty in the metaverse. Or something. Either way, this deal will change Microsoft (by making it the third largest gaming company in the world) and invite regulatory scrutiny.

Instagram rolled out subscriptions for a small group of creators. It’s part of a test to see if people will actually pay to subscribe on the platform. IG won’t take a cut “until at least 2023”. The app is a late entrant to the subscription space — YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter already offer subs. We’ll also have to see if TikTok follows its rivals down the same path.

Have you ever used Bluejeans? The video conference service, which I hated just because it was even worse than Zoom, was bought by Verizon in 2020. Bluejeans is now pivoting to creators: You can now start a livestream on the web app and share it across YouTube, Twitch, Twitter, and other platforms at the same time.

Bluejeans is now pivoting to creators

Finally, all hosts can now record their sessions on Twitter Spaces. All recordings will be available for public listening for 30 days.

Have you been experimenting with Twitter Spaces? Here’s what some newsrooms learned about hosting these live conversations. “The real special feature to social audio is the social part, opening the mic to the audience to ask questions that can help us figure out topics we haven’t covered yet or get their reactions.”

YouTube is out of the originals business. Six years in, and millions of dollars spent, it still can’t compete against Netflix. But why should it? YouTube is the world’s most powerful video distribution platform and doesn’t need the distractions of owning its own content IP.

The latest Reuters Institute survey of global media leaders was interesting for one reason: Folks actually seemed excited. Most executives are optimistic about this year after an advertising market that performed better in 2021.

  • 59% said revenue increased last year — even in the face of stagnating audience traffic
  • Digital advertising picked up as more people are buying stuff online
  • 79% said they will press forward on subscriptions and memberships
  • Publishers also said they will pay less attention to Facebook and Twitter, and instead focus on Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube as they chase younger audiences

Have you heard of Locket? It’s a new-ish app that’s now sitting on the top of the iOS App Store charts — and that’s why you should pay attention. It does one thing: it takes a photo shared by your friends and puts it into a widget on your iPhone’s home screen. Think of it as a micro-social network and you can see where this is headed (news, perhaps?). “I built it as a present for my girlfriend for her birthday last summer,” said its creator Matt Moss. “We were about to start a long-distance relationship… [so] the process of getting a little photo from her on my homescreen… seemed really appealing.”

Subscriptions

Here’s an unusual case study of how a small newsroom bundled coffee beans and other local products with its subscriptions. The coffee was a big subscription magnet. The newspaper went on to offer candy, baked goods, soap, oil and vinegar, rum, and chocolate to draw subs. What didn’t work: soap.

Entrepreneurship

Y Combinator is behind some of the smartest startups around the world. Here’s a great collection of advice from co-founder Paul Graham to entrepreneurs. One of my favourites: “The way to succeed in a startup is not to be an expert on startups, but to be an expert on your users and the problem you’re solving for them.” (It’s all so good, you’ll want to read it twice.)

Media Startups

Italy’s Fanpage started as a Facebook page. It’s now one of Europe’s most ferocious media startups going after politicians… and the mob. Their secret sauce — draw in young news consumers who don’t care for the stuffy mainstream newspapers. “Our main concern is never to grow old. We mustn’t make the mistake of growing old with our readers.”

STAT, a media company focused on medicine, is one of my favourite case studies. It’s a B2B and B2C business built on all sorts of revenue streams — subscriptions, events, research — and it’s incredibly niche. It’s the Politico of health. Here’s a podcast interview that’s worth your time.

NFTs

AP is setting up a marketplace to sell NFTs of its extensive photo archive. It’s promising “broad and inclusive price points”. Not a totally new concept; Quartz and NYT have been down this road.

Reporting

Wired wants to make this clear: All statements are on the record by default. “This means that what you say or write can be quoted and attributed to you by name, not just as ‘a company spokesperson.’” Wired is still open to doing conversations “on background” — but only if it’s agreed to in advance.

Deals

Is NYT’s $550 million purchase of The Athletic good or bad for local community newspapers in the U.S.? It comes down to whether you think the combined product is competitive or substitutable.

Audio

Spotify launched clickable ‘CTA’ cards — a new ad format for podcasters. A card shows up when the podcast plays. Advertisers can use that to run campaigns. But would you bother clicking on something if you’re focused on listening to the podcast?

LinkedIn is finally launching its Clubhouse competitor now that every other platform has a Clubhouse competitor. It only took them forever. Still, this probably has the best social graph of the lot.

The U.S. podcasting industry hasn’t produced a hit in years. That tells you just how difficult it is to get a podcast discovered.

What happened to Clubhouse?

Remember the hype around Clubhouse? It feels like yesterday when everyone was seeking out an invite to the social audio app. The thing about hype is it always dies down, especially when clones like Twitter Spaces and Discord Stages launched. In South Asia though, uses of the app have become very niche. In Pakistan reciting Urdu poetry is popular, while in India taboo conversations have found a wide audience. Just goes to show it’s the content not that platform that matters.

Fake business reviews

Back in the noughties Web 2.0 brought the world user generated content (UGC). For many businesses this meant online customer reviews. In Australia, there’s been a push from the small business ombudsman for tech platforms to make it easier to remove fake negative reviews. In a case last year, one reviewer was fined AUD 170,000 for a review vendetta against a podiatrist. There are calls for a more transparent review system but how do you determine a fake review? And will they target fake positive reviews too?

SO MUCH MEDIA, SO MUCH PRODUCT

Axios just launched a Pro version. As with any good paid product created to solve specific audience problems, it’s all a depth game. Signing up to Axios Pro gets you “3 core areas of coverage: Fintech Deals, Retail Deals and Health Tech Deals, with more industries to come.” You also get daily newsletters, subscriber-only access to events, and live discussions, and it all comes at a booming US$1,799 with a free two-week trial.

Last year, almost every story about Clubhouse was about whether or not it was dead yet. But in South Asia, the live audio app is still going strong—especially after they launched their Android version. The formats are exciting: it’s used for Urdu poetry in Pakistan, socio-political discussions in Bangladesh, stock market movements in Nepal, “conversations no one else was having” in India, and psychology-based topics in Sri Lanka. One user hopes “there will always be space for an audio platform because it really is such a refreshing change from the constant focus on imagery and video.” I agree. (Plus, how cool is music mode.) It’s clear that Clubhouse prevails, ever-zombie-like, undead forever. Have you been using live audio for your audiences? I’d love to know — just reply to this email.

I’m not big on best-of lists, but two apps in this list jumped out at me. They’re both very simple, and they both feel like they capture our pandemic-ridden zeitgeist well. The first is Call Your Friends, which wants you to, well, call your friends. I’ve been doing a great deal of this in the last two years with my friends around the world, because so often it feels like we tend to prioritise work communication far more than anything else. It’s been truly wonderful, and I’m so grateful for the relationships that have been strengthened by this happy little habit. The other app is Mapless, which is a map app with a difference: it encourages discovery and exploration by turning off strict turn-by-turn directions. All it has when you pick a destination is a nice big arrow to point you in the right direction.

Taco Bell, a fast-food restaurant chain in the U.S., is selling a monthly taco subscription. (Tacos are arguably one of my favourite snacks in the world, and it’s a Mexican snack made from a small corn or wheat flatbread rolled around a meat and vegetable filling.) I’m working from San Francisco this month and making sure I get plenty. Taco Bell is often parodied online as a surefire way to instantly destroy your digestive system, but I have to say this $10 monthly subscription idea sounds very cool indeed. If you’re a member of their rewards program and have their app, you get one taco a day for 30 consecutive days. It sounds like a great way to boost sampling of your product with the hope of converting fly-by customers to deeper loyalty.

What goes well with a news subscription? Coffee. Also other local products like candy (big hit), baked goods, oil and vinegar, rum, chocolate, and soap (not a big hit). Alan posted this one in our School of Splice Slack group. I love that the case study takes us through the economics of this exercise to solve the problem of digital subscriber churn. The ability to make this work for the news org, the subscribers, and the retailers involved is a real feat — so impressive!

Did a subscriber just end their subscription? There’s a non-creepy way to actually ask them to reconsider. A fave from last year.

MEASURING SUCCESS AND FAILURE

Goal-setting is a great way to set up your year in media. But how you do it is a big deal. “If you can answer the questions “how much” and “by when” when setting a goal, you’ll set yourself up for success.” Ideally, the best targets are 1. challenging (so you push yourself), 2. measurable (so you can tell how close or how far away from success you are), and 3. actionable (so that these are actually things you CAN do). Number 4 is my favourite: your target should be self-set, because that means it’s a target you want to achieve, not because someone made you do it.

GRAPHIC DESIGN AND ILLUSTRATION

I have worshipped the amazing Adrian Tomine for ages, ever since he drew his first New Yorker cover. Here he is on his Substack responding to a reader request asking him to do a “detailed “process post”” on what it’s like to draw a cover. His post lets you in to the techniques, thought processes, and references of an artist at the very top of his game.

I give you Doodle Ipsum. That’s right: lorem ipsum for illustrations, by the always-impressive Pablo Stanley. So any time you need a placeholder illustration for that website mockup or landing page, just specify your illustration style, size and dimensions, and embed. There’s even an option to embed a random image on every page load.

THE STATE OF HIRING

Here’s how Really Good Emails looked for a CEO last year. They opened up their financials, projections, performance, and goals. I love the writing and transparency in there. “The industry is moving at a rapid pace. People understand that email is a direct requested customer communication and everyone wants in on the action. When the content serves the customer, the impact is far more effective at retention and engagement than any other medium out there – thus making customers and businesses happy… and ultimately the tools that facilitate this through their SaaS platform in the process.”

Minimalist rebranding

Many established brands are embracing the less is more ethos when it comes to logos. It’s common for brands to rebrand and the exercise can further strengthen key information about your business to your audience through symbols, text, and images. While the process isn’t simple, there is a trend towards simple logos via minimalist design.

Can AI feel?

Anyone with a Gmail account would be aware of Smart Reply — an algorithm that suggests three responses to an email you’ve received. It makes things easy for a quick response but researchers are seeing wider usage for AI-mediated communication. OurFamilyWizard is a co-parenting app for divorced parents that uses AI to monitor sentiment in messages — it flags problem words. With social platforms starting to use similar technology, could AI be the key to online civility?

Programmatic ads on podcasts

For many brands, advertising on podcasts delivers authenticity. Listeners develop a deep level of trust and familiarity with their favourite podcast hosts, so when these hosts recommend a brand or product the message is more likely to stick. The podcast industry has received a lot of investment recently and to justify these costs, big players like Spotify have invested in programmatic advertising. The problem is some ads are appearing where they shouldn’t. How will podcast platforms balance scale and authenticity?

TikTok Is The Gift That Keeps Giving

TikTok had the best Christmas ever. App Annie reported that TikTok was the top downloaded app worldwide on capitalism’s favorite holiday (Christmas).

Downloads | Top Apps & Games Christmas Day 2021

Smiling’s My Favorite

TikTok ranked ahead of Instagram and Facebook, presumably due to a number of tablets, smartphones, and other tech making an appearance under the tree. TikTok’s commitment to a great user experience isn’t stopping anytime soon. TikTok is testing out a new re-post option to not only increase content distribution but create the potential for brands to reshare branded content from their creator partners in a big way.

TikTok is testing out a new re-post option

TikTok is testing out a new re-post option

In addition, the development of live-stream intros allows creators to add short text descriptions to their broadcast as a preliminary welcome to new viewers.

The development of live-stream intros allows creators to add short text descriptions to their broadcast as a preliminary welcome to new viewers.

These subtle upgrades point to TikTok’s prioritization of creator-generated content. But it doesn’t stop there, especially for creators who specialize in streamed content. TikTok’s new desktop streaming app add-on is only in its testing phase, but the possibilities are endless, especially for creators and brands active in industries like gaming.

Alexa, Where Can I Buy Kewpie Mayo?

So many viewers found themselves indulging in FoodTok’s most delicious and viral recipe videos that TikTok took it a step further and said “let there be delivery.” That’s right–TikTok-famous food may be coming to you via TikTok Kitchen’s impending launch.

TikTok Kitchen’s impending launch

This mouth-watering advancement will utilize local restaurants to make the meals you’ve come to know online, delivered by your friendly neighborhood GrubHub delivery person. That means that next time the algorithm shows you a mouth-watering clip, you might be able to order it with just a tap. Talk about OOH advertising!

Speaking of the algorithm, TikTok announced that they’re working through algorithm reformation that will reduce the number of repetitive topics that users see through their “For You” page. TikTok acknowledged the dangers posed by seeing excessive similar content, especially sensitive material. It’s not just about broadening user experience anymore; it’s about protecting those in a vulnerable state from consuming too much triggering media.

STC POV

Not to brag, but we totally called it. We already predicted that TikTok would be the biggest app on social media and this spike in downloads points to just that. Marketers shouldn’t ignore TikTok’s popularity as it’s a viable channel ripe for more sponsored content and continues to prioritize creators. This growth also suggests that an influx of dedicated creator-driven content is close behind.

Plus, we already know that TikTok is wildly popular amongst Gen Z users. As the population continues to grow and Gen Z ages up, we’re anticipating that TikTok’s user base will explode as we approach one billion content creators in five years.

TikTok’s new and growing advertising opportunities, coupled with more robust e-commerce features and experiences that merge social media with reality, mean that creator monetization is poised to make a modern middle class out of influencer marketing. After another year of TikTok crushing it with in-app shopping experiences, branded collabs, and an explosion of user-generated content, we pose the question: is there anything they can’t do?

Meta Makes Moves

TikTok may have reigned supreme worldwide on Christmas Day, but Meta’s Oculus virtual reality app was the fave in the United States.

Merry Crisis

Many Americans scored a new Oculus headset off their wish lists and have been hopping on the virtual reality train. Virtual reality is growing at a fast pace as Web 3.0 approaches, and it’s clear why. With a pandemic that has deprived many of face-to-face interaction for long stints, early adopters are finding community and camaraderie in virtual reality.

The option to collaborate during unprecedented times is quickly becoming a social movement in addition to an entertainment platform. But there already seems to be insidious cracks in Oculus’s metaphorical armor as parental controls on the system are easily manipulated. The concern is that users—particularly kids—are left open to harassment, highlighting the dark side of VR and the opportunity for abusers to access young users.

It’s Like A Reward

Meta is full of surprises, and one that raised eyebrows came at the end of 2021 in the form of a system shift toward an outcome-driven ad experiences model (ODAX). In simpler terms, Meta advertisers will be able to set up their campaigns in a more intuitive way that priorities their business outcomes.

Outcome-driven ad experiences model (ODAX)

Advertisers will see changes rolled out throughout 2022, and a visual change to the ads manager will accompany the functional updates. Two thumbs up for a more streamlined, clearer setup. And as a marketer, we’re sure you’re pumped too.

STC POV

Meta’s developments are moving toward a better user experience for advertisers and future-friendly products like virtual reality, which will set the tone for other brands to follow suit. Brands can expect more platforms to make advertisers’ experiences more streamlined and intuitive in the future as technology advances, much like how virtual reality has become prominent as of late. But with greater technology comes risk, and brands should proceed with an open mind as well as caution.

Meet Qaya

Google has launched Qaya, a new opportunity for creators to monetize their content and businesses with the launch of their new platform.

Google has launched Qaya, a new opportunity for creators to monetize their content and businesses with the launch of their new platform.

Money Honey

The intent is for creators to use Qaya as their business activity hub with options to link to or create their own storefronts and promote product offerings. This lets creators sell just about anything and manage it all from one place.

In addition to Qaya’s development and launch, Google is working through the logistics of a new subscription service and more monetization plans that reward creators for their products and services. Qaya will be linked to any property under Google’s umbrella, like YouTube. Plus, creators will have access to a reporting suite and customer management tools to enhance their businesses.

Make It Rain

Qaya knows that content creators are the new generation of entrepreneurs and they are making big money. They’re running businesses and need the same tools that other business owners in brick-and-mortar locations would need.

By providing tools and monetization opportunities, Google is making it clear that they support the creator economy and want it to succeed. And Google certainly isn’t the last to do so as more tools and financial services for creators become commonplace.

STC POV

With Google jumping on the monetization train and other platforms strengthening their offerings, the creator community has made it loud and clear that what they want is compensation and they won’t accept anything less for their work. Creators looking to monetize their content will follow the ever-important cash flow, and brands who provide it will build successful partnerships.

As marketers make moves to partner with creators who can help them drive sales and brand awareness, it’s important to be a valued collaborator in all ways possible — not just in brand deals, but in supporting the monetization of their work.

Interesting Marketing Video and Report

If you thought assembling LEGO Star Wars kits took a lot of effort, try turning the end results into a brick film.

HEAD combines in-depth information and bombastic hyperbole to tell the story of its new tennis racquet design.

MINI leverages authentic artist stories and designs to push diversity and support the American Immigration Council. #MINI #BIGLOVE #MINIRooftops

A PR activation between the new Spider-Man movie and insurance company (who do you think pays for superhero damage?) with a real-life copy of the Daily Bugle. #SpiderManNoWayHome

Snake-like animation brings alive the relief of computer cable de-cluttering.

How do you engage with an info heavy, preachy script? With dynamic backgrounds, b-roll and unique animation.

An institution in Australia, the annual lamb ads get punnier and funnier each year.

The perfect innuendo laden script can make even strategy software engaging.

If you think some brands are simply incompatible, Oreo and Batman are here to prove you wrong.

The force is with this Russian Stars Wars fan who managed to build an actual lightsaber. #GWR #GuinnessWorldRecords #WorldRecords

This beautiful animation using stunning hand-painted frames illustrates how cochlear implants address the isolation faced by people who experience hearing loss.

A real estate investment trust’s thirty-second animated elevator pitch.

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