Once Upon A Storm

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I’ll begin today’s issue with a very personal note.

One week ago tonight, my community was hit by a tornado.

The aftermath was documented in a wonderful commercial by our local power company.

Prior to his passing three years ago, my dad managed a utility company for a small town in East Tennessee. In that small town, our home phone (landline) was listed as the after-hours number for reporting power outages.

On nights like last Sunday night - or nights with any severe storms - the phone would ring all night long as dad took calls and routed crews.

Every time a storm rolls through and every time the power flickers, I think of what goes in to restoring power after a major event. I think about the local technicians, some of who are dealing with their own personal damages, that immediately kick into overdrive (and overtime - working 12-16 hour days). And the linesmen who voluntarily leave their own comfortable homes in surrounding towns to step into a war zone.

In my humble opinion, power crews are among the unsung heroes of natural disaster response. If you are one of my neighbors, be sure to show them some love as they work in your area. If you are elsewhere in the world, I hope this note will come to mind next time a severe storm blows through your town.

In the arena of national discourse, I have heard a lot about how ‘we are all in this together’. That was never more true than this week, as a community risked their own health to help their neighbors.

On to the news.

🔎 Search

YouTube’s Struggle: Soaring Views, Declining Revenue

YouTube publishers are feeling something that has become a larger ripple effect across display and programmatic mediums:

Advertisers don’t want their ads to appear with Coronavirus content.

When running display ads, advertisers have the ability to opt out of site types, such as news. They can also supply a list of content and keywords they want their ads to stay away from.

This is translating to millions in blocked ads, with one ad verification company noting there was a 36% blockage of ads for the New York Times in March. This is a marked difference from the 3-6% ranges at the start of Q1.

And while we are on the topic…

Negative Keywords List For The Current Pandemic

With coronavirus disrupting the daily course of action, businesses have been silently working on measures to tackle the situation. One of the ways in which this can be done is by adding terms related to the pandemic.

We have dug into existing accounts to identify what possible variations of coronavirus can be added as negative keywords. You should ideally pick these set of terms and create a shared keyword list from it, applying it to active campaigns.

YouTube Tests ‘Video Chapters’ to Skip Through to Relevant Sections in a Video

YouTube has enabled users to timestamp markers in videos for some time, while you can also link to specific sections of a YouTube clip when sharing, but this new variation would provide more specific info on what’s actually included in each segment, making it easier for viewers to skip through and find what they’re after in longer clips.


🗣 Social

Facebook advertising costs

Since we’re in April, we compiled over $200M in ad spend data from Revealbot managed Facebook ad accounts from Q1 2020 - January, February, and March. Although you might experience something difference from your individual ad accounts you manage, this is what we saw. Also take note that most of our customers are in the United States and most likely targeting audiences in the US.

In short, this study found 2020 KPI’s were cheaper across the board. So if you are in a position to do so, it is a wonderful time to be advertising on Facebook.

“Plaintiff argues that it is unfair for Instagram to force a professional photographer like Plaintiff to choose between “remain[ing] in ‘private mode’ on one of the most popular public photo-sharing platforms in the world,” and granting Instagram a right to sub-license her photographs to users like Mashable. Unquestionably, Instagram’s dominance of photograph- and video-sharing social media, coupled with the expansive transfer of rights that Instagram demands from its users, means that Plaintiff’s dilemma is a real one. But by posting the Photograph to her public Instagram account, Plaintiff made her choice.​”

That’s an interesting perspective - in order to gain exposure, photographers, in many cases, need to post their work to platforms like Instagram, which has over a billion active users, to reach an audience and compete in the market. But in doing so, photographers, and any other relevant professionals, also need to agree to Instagram’s rules, which effectively allow their work to be re-produced via embedding.

To be clear, re-producing Sinclair’s work without embedding, and isolated from Instagram, would be violating copyright, but embedding the content from Instagram, as per this ruling, is not.

Facebook Outlines Plan to Return Employees to Work, Cancels Planned Physical Events Through to June 2021

We will require the vast majority of our employees to work from home through at least the end of May in order to create a safer environment both for our employees doing critical jobs who must be in the office and for everyone else in our local communities. A small percent of our critical employees who can’t work remotely - like content reviewers working on counter-terrorism or suicide and self-harm prevention, and engineers working on complex hardware - may be able to return sooner, but overall, we don’t expect to have everyone back in our offices for some time.

It seems Facebook ad review times won’t be improving anytime soon.

Facebook adds new ‘care’ emoji reactions on its main app and in Messenger

As a lot of us continue to stay indoors, Facebook has become a go-to platform for many people to check in with their friends, family and neighbors during the current coronavirus pandemic. Today, to give us another way of showing support and presence in its apps, the company said it would add a new reaction for “care” — in the forms of an emoji face hugging a heart, and a pulsing heart — that will appear alongside the “thumbs up” for like, the basic heart, and the laughing, shock, sadness, and anger emojis.

Although Facebook has temporarily swapped out reactions in the past, this is the first true addition since Facebook expanded beyond the simple ‘like’ back in 2015.

I for one, welcome this addition. The heart reaction has always seemed inappropriate when someone posts something vulnerable on Facebook.

Facebook Post: My mother died. Me: ♥️ (Either I love that your mom died or I love you in this time of suffering.)

New Instagram Stickers To Help Small Businesses Survive The Pandemic

Instagram is introducing new stickers that enable Instagramers to purchase gift cards, order food, or donate to fundraisers.
new instagram stickers covid-19The new Instagram stickers for gift cards (and profile button) and food orders are available in Canada and the US starting today and will roll out globally in the coming weeks.

The fundraiser sticker, which links to personal fundraisers started by owners or supporters of small businesses, will follow soon.

Instagram Live Streams Can Now Be Viewed on the Web

After rolling out access to Direct messages via the web last week, Instagram is now also giving users the option to view Instagram Live broadcasts on desktop PCs, which comes with a new, less intrusive format, and URLs to cross-promote your streams.

Facebook Adds New Metrics to its Ad Library Listings to Improve Transparency

Facebook has added a few new elements to its Ad Library listings in order to provide more transparency over the displayed ads, and make it easier to find relevant info in the app.

As shared by Facebook Integrity Team Lead Rob Leathern, Ad Library listings will now include a new “potential reach” measure, which represents “an estimate of the size of the audience that is eligible to see an ad”.

Up till now, you could somewhat estimate this manually based on ad spend and audience targeting, but the new listings will make it easier to sort ads based on their potential influence, and get a better understanding of each campaign.

📦 Distribution

Amazon to Expand Shipments of Nonessential Items, Continue Adding Staff

Amazon.com Inc. will begin allowing third-party sellers on its platform to resume shipping so-called nonessential items this week, a signal that the company is ramping up to meet broader consumer needs, according to people familiar with the matter.

🦠 Coronavirus

Advertising During the COVID-19 Outbreak: What Audiences Want

The report was based on data conducted in March 2020 among 489 consumers in the United States age 18 and older.

Only 2% of respondents say brands should pause advertising during the COVID-19 outbreak. However, 96% say brands should change their content to address the situation.

They want brands to deliver advertising that shows how companies are supporting their staff and customers (22% cite this as the best way to address the situation), provides informative messaging about COVID-19 (21%), creates a positive or funny distraction (17%), provides a sense of continuity and normality (17%), and highlights how they are supporting good causes (5%).

Some 7% of respondents say brands should not create messaging that specifically addresses COVID-19.

Of course, as advertisers, we know how difficult it would be to create messaging that specifically addresses COVID-19. But the results of this study still fall contrary to most popular opinion.

Influencers’ currency has increased during Covid-19 crisis

With creative studios closing and social distancing requirements in place, brands are finding it increasingly difficult to create quality content using traditional methods, Black says. As such, she believes those who will succeed during this time will be the ones who leverage influencer partners with a deep connection to their audiences that stems from years of interaction. “Smart brands will use these partners to reach customers with content that truly resonates,” Black said.

Ad Giant Publicis Warns of Unprecedented Spending Pullback

The head of one of the world’s largest ad-agency conglomerates warned the industry is facing a far more severe pullback in advertising spending than the one that buffeted Madison Avenue in the wake of the financial crisis.

I would love to see expectations between traditional ad spend and online ad spend.

🛠 Tips & Tools

Shopify Email Is Rolling Out Now and Completely Free Until October 1, 2020

Email’s role as a direct line of communication to your customers has never been more critical. Now, email marketing is a lifeline for the countless businesses that need to reach out to and build trust with customers during this sudden period of uncertainty.

That’s why we’re releasing Shopify Email early to all merchants and making it completely free to use until October 1, 2020. In the coming weeks, you’ll see Shopify Email appear in your admin in Shopify Marketing, and you’ll also receive an email once you have access.

Shopify Email lives alongside all your other marketing campaigns within Shopify Marketing in the admin, so it’s easy to manage your efforts across channels from a single place. There’s no setup required, and in just a few clicks, you can create, send, and track beautiful emails that integrate with your existing design and products.

With Mailchimp’s focus on expanding to other services, Shopify is making a strong step toward their (formerly?) core business.

Video creation is fast, easy and free with YouTube Video Builder

For businesses who don’t have resources to create videos from scratch, Video Builder can help. It’s a free beta tool that animates static assets—images, text and logos—with music from our library. You can choose from a variety of layouts based on your message and goals, customize colors and font and quickly generate a short YouTube video (6 seconds or 15 seconds).

You can request access to the beta here.

🤷🏻‍♂️ Just For Fun


It’s Time To Build

Our nation and our civilization were built on production, on building. Our forefathers and foremothers built roads and trains, farms and factories, then the computer, the microchip, the smartphone, and uncounted thousands of other things that we now take for granted, that are all around us, that define our lives and provide for our well-being. There is only one way to honor their legacy and to create the future we want for our own children and grandchildren, and that’s to build.

This is both the most honest commentary on the current moment and the most inspiring post I’ve read this year. Kudos, Marc Andreessen.

👋 Holla!

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