North Thinking
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North Thinking


A monthly look at the marketing and advertising industry from NORTH’s point of view.


Alexa, Play My Podcast
Nicole Bell, Media Director

Earlier this year, Amazon acquired the podcast network Wondery. A few of Wondery’s most popular podcasts include Dr. Death and Dirty John. At the end of June, Amazon made another power-move in the podcast world and signed a multi-million dollar deal to gain exclusive rights to the popular podcast, SmartLess. In recent years, podcasts have skyrocketed and ad spending for US podcasts is expected to surpass $1 billion in 2021. With these recent acquisitions, it’s obvious that Amazon is setting the stage to become a major podcast player. With Amazon flexing its podcast muscles, the ad industry is hoping for more innovative solutions along with more advanced measurement.

eCommerce Trends Worth Noting
Nicole Bell, Media Director

As the pandemic rages on, eCommerce will continue to evolve for consumers. Most brands are ramping up for the 2021 holiday season, which is just a few months away. Here are a few trends to keep in mind as brands and advertisers continue to evolve their eCommerce strategy.

  • Think mobile first: This year, roughly 73% of online sales will take place on a mobile device.
  • Shopping on Social Media: Over 110 million users engage with shopping posts to learn more about products.
  • Lean into sustainability: Climate change is real, and consumers are willing to pay a pretty penny for eco-friendly products. About 73% of shoppers would change their buying habits to reduce environmental impact.
  • Personalization: Consumers want to feel special. About 77% of consumers have picked, or paid more for brands that offer personalized experiences.
  • Seamless buying experience: Believe it or not, the digital payment experience is a major player in online shopping. Consumers want a fast and easy way to make a purchase. Buy now, pay later options are on the rise (After Pay, Klarna, etc.), along with QR codes.
The Verge

Instagram Stories Switches to Sticker Links
Madelyn Engel, Senior Performance Marketing Strategist

In June, the Verge reported that Instagram was testing a new feature to move external links in Stories from a Swipe Up button at the bottom of the story to a Sticker link that can be formatted and moved anywhere on the page. Social Media Today reports that this feature is starting to roll out this week. While this feature was originally being tested for all users, it is starting to roll out to accounts that could already use the ‘Swipe Up’ feature, i.e. accounts that are verified or have over 10K followers. This change gives accounts more creative control and has potential for more user engagement. Currently, the Swipe Up button removes the bottom bar that allows followers to send quick reactions or directly reply. By using stickers instead, these features will still be available. The downside is that this swipe up behavior is already instilled in users, and may take time for users to learn to tap rather than swipe up. For now this change seems to only affect organic story posts, but stay-tuned for updates to stories ads run through Facebook Ads Manager.

TikTok Usage Trends and User Behavior
Madelyn Engel, Senior Performance Marketing Strategist

TikTok recently released new insights on their app’s usage trends and their users’ behavior. Through a partnership with Kantar, TikTok sought to find out if their users felt that time spent on TikTok was ‘time well spent’. The results were overwhelmingly positive. Overall, users are spending more time on TikTok and it is shifting user behavior away from other entertainment sources like TV and podcasts. Users are highly engaged with the content and more likely to be paying attention. Lastly, TikTok was found to be a mood booster, and users reported feeling happiness, joy, and creativity. Read the full report here.

Instagram Focuses on Video
Stephen Lawrence, Media Planner

For many Instagram users over the past month, there have been a couple key changes to the platform — simply changes like less ease of resharing photos to Instagram Stories. However, in a video posted to Twitter, the head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, discussed his interest in making Instagram more video-friendly, and less of a photo-sharing app. This comes at a time when TikTok has increased their video limits to three-minutes, and pushes for longer form videos have been on the rise. However, many individuals are interested in the long-term interest in the shift — will users stick around for longer videos? How does this change impact content creators? (Source: The Washington Post)

The Byte

A Billboard in Space
Stephen Lawrence, Media Planner

As advertisers, it sometimes feels like the sky’s the limit when it comes to ad space. However, NPR reports that the sky may actually be an upcoming option for advertisers — starting with SpaceX. In the article by NPR, there is discussion that a Canadian company has partnered with SpaceX to put a screen into space that is about 4in x 4in that can be livestreamed from Youtube or Twitch. The company says that the options will be open, with the ability from companies to put their logo on display, or for more personal and artistic reasons. Fortunately, the billboard won’t be able to be seen from the ground, but the idea of space billboards is truly an interesting idea.

Podcast Advertising Continues to work for DTC Marketers
Stephen Lawrence, Media Planner

Podcasts have an interesting landscape for advertisers, as the platform is still pretty new to the scene and the data on the effectiveness of ads continues to be released. However, Forbes released an article this month diving deeper into the effectiveness of podcast ads, specifically in relation to DTC marketers. In the article, they discuss the Nielsen study which showed that 78% of the consumers surveyed don’t mind hearing podcast ads, and 62% would consider buying a product after hearing an ad. In addition, the article discusses the key reasons podcast ads work so well — ad recall, the scale of podcasts, and the user’s trust in the podcast themselves. All valid reasons for advertisers to continue to seek out the audio space, building off the trust users have to podcast hosts.



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