FLoCs start leaving the nest: Wednesday’s daily brief
Plus, email conversions are a trend to watch
Good morning, Marketers, and we apologize for the delay this morning.
Technical issues prevented us from sending today’s newsletter earlier (yes, we recognize the irony in MarTech blaming the tech). We have now sorted it all out.
We’re in the midst of the first full week of MarTech, our unified destination to serve the modern marketer.
In covering marketing, I’m especially interested in the emergence of new tools and channels. Some of these technologies began as distant (possibly empty) promises. It’s thrilling to see some of these promises take shape, as is the case of the voice channel. It’s actually many channels, and cross-channel, as you’ll see below.
We’re also thinking about strategies for Prime Week next month, and the staying power of email. Further down, you’ll see what preparations publishers and adtech platforms are taking to boost their data offerings. If you have thoughts on those topics, send me a note at [email protected]
With voice, brands listen and expand reach
Customers want to be heard, and the rise of voice assistants and audio channels are giving marketers more options to listen to them.
This trend has been gaining steam over the last year, as homebound customers reached out to brands through new channels they hadn’t previously tried. In 2020, nearly 30% of consumers called a brand by phone for the first time, for example.
Many of the voice and audio technologies have been around for years. But as brands have adopted them, either to manage high volume during the pandemic or to gain a competitive edge, these technologies might have earned a permanent home in marketing stacks.
Not only does AI technology improve as it learns, but companies using natural language understanding get smarter about their customers, too.
“There’s a wealth of conversational data that we feel is really insightful,” said Lana Pagnoux, Consultant for CX support technology company Everise. Because Everise sits on the customer support side, they don’t see sales and conversions themselves. But brands can connect the dots and build data from conversations powered by natural language understanding.
For instance, Everise can connect with the omnichannel messaging solution Bright Pattern, Greenough said. This allows marketers to understand and operate voice and texts from WhatsApp, on social platforms, or through their own website and owned channels. For Everise’s healthcare customers, it links up with Zendesk, he added. From there, the data can be stored and managed in a CRM.
Messaging channels allow customers to contact brands for service requests. Brands can cast a wider net by tapping into committed audio channels.
“Where we’ve seen a lot of potential is where brands are enabling their community to say something, to talk,” said Ahmed Bouzid, Founder and CEO of voice startup Witlingo. (Previously, he was Head of Alexa’s Smart Home product at Amazon.) “Social audio has exploded. Voice is no longer within the confines of Alexa and Google Assistant.”
Emails ready for Prime time
Although email predates ecommerce, marketers know that it’s an important channel in the modern retail landscape. It’s about to play an even bigger role this year, as Amazon Prime Day approaches, suggests a new study from retail marketing technology platform Bluecore.
2020 shift. Begun as a single day of Amazon ecommerce deals, this artificial event has attracted other retailers to react and follow suit, such that the holiday, slated for June, will likely last an entire “Prime Week.” During the pandemic, a lot of marketers upped their email program because the channel is dependable and low-cost. This affected the role emails played during last year’s Prime Week, as compared to Cyber Week 2020, the study showed.
Trend to watch. It’s email conversions. Last year, conversions were in a virtual dead heat between Prime Week and Cyber Week performances (2.50% vs. 2.51%, respectively).
There was a 160% YoY increase in email volume in December 2020, which is staggering. But sending more emails doesn’t necessarily lead to higher conversions, the study found. The retailers that were reviewed for the study sent out nearly 130 million daily emails for Cyber Week, compared to over 77 million for Prime Week. And, again, they got roughly the same conversions.
Why we care. We understand that Bluecore is in the personalization business, but the findings are from a large sample of 5.5 billion emails sent out by over 400 brands. And they show higher success rates for personalization. Conversion rates for personalized emails held steady at around 2% at Prime Week and Cyber Week, while promotional emails dropped from .52% during Prime Week, down to .42% at Cyber Week 2020. Since marketers are using more emails these days, “batch and blast” promotional tactics just won’t get the job done.
Mediavine starts sending FLoC IDs to SSPs
Mediavine has become the first ad management platform to begin sending FLoC IDs to SSPs for use in ad auctions. FLoC, an initiative which emerged from Google’s Chrome Privacy Sandbox, assigns users to interest and behavior-based cohorts which are stored at the browser level. Although FLoC has not satisfied privacy advocates, there’s an impetus to experiment with it before third-party cookies are deprecated by Chrome.
Mediavine is collecting the FLoC-based IDs from its network of 8,000 publishers. The Media Grid is ingesting them directly from Mediavine Exchange and passing them to its DSP partners to serve cohort-targeted ads.
Why we care. There are three important questions about FLoC which need to be answered. First, does it adequately protect the privacy of members of the cohorts? Second, is it Google’s route to creating its own walled garden in competition with Facebook? Third, does it actually work? To be clear, does FLoC-based advertising get results comparable to cookie-based advertising, or at least results better than advertising to random audiences? As platforms like Mediavine start to actually deploy FLoC IDs, maybe we’ll see an answer to the third question.
Publisher launches audience data project
G/O Media, the company behind popular digital titles like Gizmodo, The Onion and The Root, is now offering a new privacy-focused data product providing insights about their audience, called G/O Veritas.
With all this audience data at the ready, advertisers will be able to connect with readers alongside the content, through creative partnership opportunities. Interest, intent and performance are driven by their original engagement platform, Kinja.
Why we care. In our anticipation of the third-party cookieless future, two avenues of likely success are first-party data and contextual advertising. G/O Media is improving its first-party data assets for the benefit of advertisers, but it’s also using context by deriving purchase intent linked to the content it serves to audiences.
Quote of the day
“The question of risk is uppermost in people’s minds today, given recent events and the volatility and velocity of change. How are you thinking about your own risk-taking today in the context of your work?” Mark Stouse, CEO, Proof Analytics