North Thinking
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North Thinking

TRENDING NORTH: SEPT ‘21

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

Source: Google

MUM’s the Word
Nicole Bell, Media Director

Google has upped its search game with its new technology called Multitask Unified Model, or MUM for short. MUM is multimodal, which just means it can process multiple and different information at once. It understands both text and imagery at the same time, and in the near future MUM will allow users to search using visuals as a reference rather than keywords, or search queries. For example, I will be able to take a picture of an office chair I like, upload that picture into Google and search for it that way instead of entering different keywords like “office chair” and going through pages of results to find what I was looking for.

The rollout of this advanced technology is still in the testing phase. So it’s unclear what impact it will have on the Search Engine Results Page, or SERP. All we know at this time is that Google is making it easier and more visual for users to search, and brands have the opportunity to get a head start on a new SEO, ecommerce, and paid search strategy.

Less than 60 Days Until the Holidays
Nicole Bell, Media Director

If your 2021 Holiday campaign isn’t live yet, it should be. Actually, it should have launched a few weeks ago. I know, it’s September. Why are we even talking about Black Friday? Because eMarketer predicts that online shopping will increase by 11.3% this year, estimating that $206 billion dollars is up for grabs. Snapchat’s Holiday Trends report says that most users start creating wish lists 2–3 months before the December holidays. Shopping and gifting daily conversations on Reddit increased 2.7x in October, also proving that consumers start planning for the holiday season early.

In 2020, Pinterest found that holiday shopping started to pick up in September, and then saw a huge spike in October. Pinterest also found that when users are exposed to ads earlier in the holiday season, they are 4.7x more likely to make a purchase.

For this holiday season, the biggest takeaway for brands is that the early bird gets the worm. Of course, as mentioned in the Trending North August ’21 brands that lean into ecommerce with a mobile-first strategy will also have a successful holiday season.

Instagram for Kids Put on Pause
Madelyn Engel, Senior Performance Marketing Strategist

Instagram has put its new project, “Instagram for Kids,” on pause after backlash from press and parents alike. The issue is actually quite interesting. Instagram requires users to be at least 13 years old to use its platform. However, many kids and tweens can easily bypass that restriction and view content that is potentially harmful and inappropriate for them. As an alternative, Facebook is looking to make “Instagram for Kids” for tweens ages 10–13, which could be managed and overseen by parents. This project has been put on hold after the Wall Street Journal published findings that Facebook is well aware that it’s platform causes psychological harm, like body issues and depression, especially among teen girls, which Facebook disputes.

Instead, many want Instagram to uphold the age restrictions it already has in place. However, an improved identity and age verification process raises a whole new set of questions. Asking all users to verify their age and identity would surely keep kids out, but many would be uncomfortable attaching their government ID to their social media profile, which would begin a whole new level of tracking and raise concerns over citizen surveillance, as well as exclude users without official IDs. This could lead to more legal enforcement for online activity, which could be a good thing, but the situation quickly becomes reminiscent of the Circle.

#TikTokMadeMeBuyIt
Madelyn Engel, Senior Performance Marketing Strategist

As TikTok continues to grow and looks for ways to monetize the platform, it is pointing to Community Commerce, the digital version of word-of-mouth, as the secret to success for many brands. While most Social Commerce is focused on brand-building and selling at consumers, Community Commerce “encourages ​​audiences to create entertaining, compelling content that just so happens to feature brands.” This type of eCommerce has not only proven wildly successful for many brands, but also gives TikTok creators the potential to earn money through brand partnerships. Another key advantage to TikTok is its algorithm. TikTok shows users videos that align with their interests, rather than filling their feed with videos from creators they follow (like Instagram), allowing videos to gain a broader reach. TikTok recommends creating TikToks, not ads, and leaning into entertaining content, which is what most users come to TikTok to see. To further your reach, create videos that can be easily remixed and shared.

TikTok Overtakes YouTube in Average Watch Time
Stephen Lawrence, Media Planner

In a new study by the app monitoring firm, App Annie, app users in the USA and UK are spending more time on TikTok than on YouTube, indicating that the average time per user spent on the apps is higher for TikTok (ie. higher levels of engagement) than on YouTube. Although YouTube users are still spending more time overall on the app, TikTok continues to climb in user activity — finding that TikTok users are spending more time in each sitting on the app. Although the studies are only pulling from Android users, it can be assumed that short video apps will continue to grow across all devices.

Media Rating Council Updates CTV + OTT Definitions
Stephen Lawrence, Media Planner

At the end of August, the MRC (Media Rating Council) released their official definition of CTV (Connected TV) and OTT (Over the Top TV), based on new categorizations of the media landscape. While in the past CTV was always seen as the top of the digital video pyramid, the MRC now puts OTT at the top of the list with CTV and non-CTV underneath it. As a reminder, CTV allows brands to reach their audience on Smart TVs (like Samsung, LG), while Over-the-top TV (OTT) is streaming content delivered over the Internet, such as Hulu and Roku. Check out the updated chart below!

Source: Media Rating Council

Comscore Begins to Distinguish Co-Viewing Behaviors
Stephen Lawrence, Media Planner

For many households across the country, watching television isn’t always done alone. Whether it be the family sitting down in front of the TV set or a couple watching Netflix together, the landscape of TV watching is continuing to evolve. While in the past the data was hard to gather to determine viewership, Comscore (one of the leading media measurement and analytics companies) has begun the process of breaking down the viewing behaviors to determine what households are watching and who exactly is watching what, down to the individual viewer. While in the past, measurement was provided on a higher level of general household viewing, this update will provide a closer look into individual behavior. With the upcoming October release, Comscore will continue to push to become the leader in media measurement for the country.

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