10 min read

Is The Next Big Ad Network Right In Front Of You?

How the pandemic is pulling future advertising opportunities into the present.
Is The Next Big Ad Network Right In Front Of You?

Thanks for subscribing to Cache - a weekly summary of the most important stories, trends, & commentary in eCommerce marketing, curated by Rob Bettis.  Last week’s issue had a 43% open rate.  Share this issue with a friend.


We have not covered the streaming wars in Cache, but you have undoubtedly noticed them. Once called ‘channels,’ every content producer is aggressively compiling distribution rights to their shows from distributors like Netflix and spinning up their own streaming service.

Two weeks ago, it was HBO Max. This week, it was NBC’s Peacock. And this thing called Quibi happened before that. But that is probably not important.

The internet blew up cable bundles just to stitch it back together over fiber instead of coax cable.

Why is this relevant to us? Advertising, of course. Where the eyeballs go, the ads will follow.

And as streaming platforms begin to mature, their ad inventory is opening up beyond major brands and offered as affordable and targeted channels to SMB’s.

The production standard for primetime commercials is high. But to a generation who claims YouTube as their primary TV source, expectations are much lower. The convergence of these two realities could create a gold rush moment for advertisers looking to escape the expensive clicks and political drama social media advertising.

This week we will cover four different ways the pandemic is slingshotting video from the future into the present.


Google opens image extension beta, adds countdowns to responsive search ads

In May, Google announced it would sunset gallery ads and move forward with image extensions . On Wednesday, the company officially launched an image beta. It has also added dynamic countdown functionality to responsive search ads.

When enabled and activated on an ad impression, image extensions show a single right-justified image alongside your text ad. The beta is open for both responsive search ads (RSA) and expanded search ads (ETA)

A new look for responsive display ads - Google Ads Help

This month we’re rolling out three new responsive display ad layouts that use automated image enhancements including smart image cropping and text overlays. These layouts are designed to help you improve performance and deliver even more engaging ads.

🗣 Social

Instagram launches its redesigned Shop, now powered by Facebook Pay | TechCrunch

Earlier this month, Instagram began testing new navigation in its app that gave its shopping destination a more prominent position. Today, the company is moving forward with its plans to promote Instagram as a place to shop with the launch of its new Instagram Shop, a place to shop from inside Instagram Explore, as well as the launch of Facebook Pay for purchases and donations in the U.S.

I have not yet purchased anything through this social-integrated stores. It has not been a conscious decision, rather I have not been prompted too. Are brands actually using these new third-party Shop options? And do the fees associated with Facebook Pay outweigh the improvements in conversion rate?

If you have experienced these new flows, I’d love to hear about it. Hit me up - newsletter@robbettis.com.

Snapchat Gives Some Brands Their Own Profiles – Adweek

For the first time, brands will have their own profiles on Snapchat. The social platform will beta test the feature with 30 brands before offering it to all businesses, it hopes, by the end of the year.

If you want to snag your brand’s name.

Instagram confirms its TikTok rival, Reels, will launch in the US in early August – TechCrunch

Instagram confirmed it’s preparing to soon launch its TikTok competitor, known as Reels, in the U.S. The company expects to bring the new video feature — which is designed specifically for short-form, creative content — to its platform in early August, according to a spokesperson.

Hulu launches self-serve ad platform for small businesses

Hulu’s new Ad Manager tool is launching Wednesday, the company’s Faye Trapani, director of self service platform sales, said in a company blog post set to publish later in the day.

The new tool lets advertisers buy with a minimum campaign spend of $500 and will enable advertisers to buy without the help of a sales team, but will have access to support. That’s far cheaper than typical ad buys on Hulu, and opens the platform up to a broader range of sponsors.

Perhaps it is no surprise that Hulu would make this announcement on the same day NBC launches their own streaming service, Peacock.

Amazon Will Now Let You Create Your Own Streaming Service, Using Twitch Technology - Tubefilter

Amazon has announced today the launch of a new tool called Interactive Video Service (IVS) — which harnesses the same technology as Twitch to enable business owners to add personalized live video to their mobile apps (iOS and Android) and websites.

If your brand does much live-streaming, now you can own it. Instead of sharecropping a social network, Amazon is making it easy to leverage its backbone for a direct channel to your audience.

📧 Email

Why Consumers Subscribe and Unsubscribe from Email [New Data]

In HubSpot's 2020 State of Marketing Report, roughly 80% of marketers said their brand's email engagement had improved in the last year. Our researchers also discovered that brands make an average of $42 for every dollar spent on email advertising.

To help you think like your subscribers, I polled 400 consumers to ask them about why they've joined or removed themselves from marketing email lists in the past. Here's what they said.

There is a lot of great data from which to draw insight, but here are the headlines:

Why Consumers Subscribe to Marketing Emails
  1. Deals, Discount Promo Codes, and Coupons
  2. Links to Valuable Content From the Brand
  3. Company Announcements
Why Consumers Unsubscribe to Marketing Emails
  1. Email Frequency
  2. Low-Value Content
  3. Unexpected Promotions or Content

📈 Reporting & Revenue

New predictive capabilities in Google Analytics

By applying Google’s machine learning models, Analytics can analyze your data and predict future actions people may take. Today we are introducing two new predictive metrics to App + Web properties. The first is Purchase Probability, which predicts the likelihood that users who have visited your app or site will purchase in the next seven days. And the second, Churn Probability, predicts how likely it is that recently active users will not visit your app or site in the next seven days. You can use these metrics to help drive growth for your business by reaching the people most likely to purchase and retaining the people who might not return to your app or site via Google Ads.

Yes, please.

In pandemic era, private equity-owned retail is as vulnerable as ever | Retail Dive

"Those are the kinds of things private equity firms go back to the table and negotiate in times of stress," Mickey Chadha, vice president with Moody's, said in an interview. "They do want to avoid Chapter 11, because that has a bigger chance of wiping out their equity."

As they try to keep their companies liquid and out of court, private equity firms can also be aggressive in how they interpret documentation around those companies' debt. "Private equity firms are notorious in exploiting any documentation weaknesses in their benefit," Chadha said. "That's been the case for as long as I can remember."

Fortunately for those retailers in distress, credit markets remain relatively liquid and open to refinancing deals, which wasn't a given by any means when the COVID-19 crisis began and markets went into free fall. Refinancing could keep retailers out of bankruptcy court, and potentially make a company healthier, if the deal eases its balance sheet.

🛍 Marketplace

Why cutting product prices is a bad idea—even during the coronavirus pandemic | Fortune

Even when financial concessions are unavoidable, maintaining the established price is crucial. In B2C commerce, several Four Seasons hotels are offering a third or fourth night free, the same strategy they followed in the last downturn; the customer gets more, but the room rate on the bill remains the same. Ritz-Carlton is offering some guests a daily “resort credit” of $100 to be applied toward meals, spa treatments, or other services, reducing the customer’s total cost without cutting the room rate.

But wait: Is anyone really fooled? If customers are being given more for a stated price, isn’t it obvious that the price has been cut? In fact, there is a difference, and it’s important. In pricing theory there’s something called the reference price, which is the lowest price customers ever paid for a product or service. They tend to remember it and compare all future prices against it. One-time add-ons to a product or service may be hard to remember or hard to value, but the reference price is clear. Reduce it, and customers will wonder why they should ever pay more.
According to our most recent forecast, the top 10 US ecommece players will collectively grow their share of the overall ecommerce market to 60.1% in 2020. That’s up from 58.2% last year, as consumers shift toward retailers of essential goods and brands they can count on for reliable delivery and fulfillment.

During times of uncertainty, it’s no surprise that many consumers look for tried-and-true offerings, which are often found when shopping at large retailers. Per a March 2020 survey from tech firm Red Points, majorities of US internet users said product quality (62.1%), speed of delivery (56.6%), price (53.6%) and trustworthiness (51.8%) were the factors of digital retail they valued during the pandemic.

🦠 Coronavirus

Coronavirus-Hit Retailers Create New Curbside Shopping Experiences

For many stores, curbside pickup of online purchases has been a lifeline. But a few are going a step farther, building up their window displays and adding colorful touches to sidewalk services to bring back some of the serendipity and fun of pre-pandemic shopping.

Customers can enter Stoney Clover Lane LLC’s lifestyle accessories stores in Palm Beach, Fla., and East Hampton, N.Y., but executives know not everyone wants to shop in person during the pandemic—a problem for a retailer that specializes in bags and pouches that shoppers customize in-store. The company now offers a “menu” of premade accessories, such as a pouch with the word “travel” on it, that people can choose from on the premises, order for quick pickup or buy online. Employees wearing aprons bring preordered merchandise out to shoppers in new to-go boxes labeled “Stoney Clover Lane Takeout and Delivery.”

“We still want to give them something fun and exciting even if they can’t step foot in the store,” said Kendall Glazer, co-founder and co-creative director of Stoney Clover Lane.

Two stores operated by the fashion brand Everlane Inc., meanwhile, are supplementing curbside pickup with a form of sidewalk shopping.

The stores have revamped their window displays, which before the pandemic showed off the newest items, to incorporate staples such as tank tops as well.

Employees near the entrance are available to relay prices and available sizes, then can fetch items from inside and finish the transaction at curbside pickup desks near the door. Customers can use curbside services to return and exchange items as well.

“We’ve received very positive feedback from customers—many of whom are excited to be able to shop again or take care of returns in person,” said Tara Shanahan, vice president of retail at Everlane.

Majority of consumers won't return to economic activities for 1 month or longer, survey finds | Marketing Dive

Kantar's research pinpoints six distinct "coronavirus tribes" based on levels of concern and consumption to help marketers develop messaging. Ostriches (12% of consumers) don't understand or care what everyone is so worried about. Que Seras (22%) consider the rules excessive. Hibernators (12%) accept what's going on and don't want constant updates. Good Citizens (22%) want to be informed and see the rules followed. Distressed Dreamers (18%) are concerned about personal health and finances but have an optimistic outlook. Precarious Worriers (13%) are very scared and wish the government did more.

Post pandemic ecommerce changes, challenges and opportunity - Tamebay

Ecommerce merchants should be prepared for ever more change in the second half of 2020. If things were busy online during the pandemic, if there is a second wave then when the Black Friday season comes around the levels of online trade seen during the lock down will be dwarfed when the Christmas present shopping season starts.

Finally, don’t forget that there is still the danger of local lock downs which could interrupt operations for short periods of time with little notice. These could not only directly impact you, but could also impact supplies of everything from inventory to packaging if your suppliers are in a lock down area.

🛠 Tips & Tools

Zoom introduces all-in-one home communications appliance for $599 | TechCrunch

Zoom has become the de facto standard for online communications during the pandemic, but the company has found that it’s still a struggle for many employees to set up the equipment and the software to run a meeting effectively. The company’s answer is an all-in-one communications appliance with Zoom software ready to roll in a simple touch interface.

The device, dubbed the Zoom for Home – DTEN ME, is being produced by partner DTEN. It consists of a standalone 27-inch screen, essentially a large tablet equipped with three wide-angle cameras designed for high-resolution video and 8 microphones. Zoom software is pre-loaded on the device and the interface is designed to provide easy access to popular Zoom features.

Imagine a world where front-facing laptop cameras are so bad that this is a viable product.

COVID is accelerating TV advertising's transformation into an addressable medium

Prioleau touts CTV’s ability to target and segment addressable audiences using household demographic and economic data, as well as location-based behavioral and intent data. The targeting can be general or precise and based on actual behavior. Campaigns can be tracked online or off, including website traffic, e-commerce conversions and physical store visits.

Like all precision targeting, it might be concerning to consumers, but it’s pretty compelling if you’re a marketer. (Prioleau says that consumer privacy is protected on the platform.)

Prioleau further explains advertisers can also target by device type and screen size: large monitors (TVs), PCs and mobile devices. Marketers can exclude screens and device types as well. He told me that traditional TV advertisers tend to “favor the big screen,” while “digital advertisers want smaller screens.”

🤷🏻‍♂️ Just For Fun

My Bizarre Stint As an Amazon Reviewer for Hire | OneZero

I didn’t intend to become a liar for hire, a purveyor of fake news on that terrible site, Amazon. But I knew I went too far when I woke up shrouded by my untruths. My blanket, pillows, and even my duvet were a lie. The pajamas, my night light, the Christmas lights that I hung on the wall: all falsehoods.

For the last nine months, I’d been writing positive Amazon reviews in exchange for free merchandise. Like most criminals, I started out legit...

👋 Holla!

Questions, comments, inquiries? I’d love to hear from you! Email newsletter@robbettis.com.