You’ll see there’s a lot to unpack this week when it comes to policy, including a milestone executive order targeting competition directives for companies, to Facebook’s seemingly flying under the radar delaying its brand safety audit to the impressive appointment of a Twitter grievance officer in India. There’s a lot to track and understand when it comes to companies and policy and governance, but who’s to say TikTok‘s new policy allowing job recruitment won’t support all the new “twerk” from home policies 😉

IBM Watson Takes Aim at Algorithmic Bias…

The foundations of digital advertising are rapidly transforming with the introduction of new policies and regulations. Just last month, the world’s largest tech company sent advertisers scrambling to understand new privacy policies to improve data transparency. Now, IBM has announced a 14-person team is working to ensure ad “fairness” by identifying biases that algorithms unintentionally perpetuate through audience identification, ad delivery and optimizations. Initial auditing results from IBM’s own media indicate that advertising equity can be gained “without affecting measures such as the percentage of users who click an ad.” Additionally, despite concerns from privacy watchdogs who question allowing artificial intelligence to access patient data, the Ad Council has approved an audit of the “It’s Up To You” vaccine PSA campaign, the largest in the nonprofit’s history.


…. While Mozilla Checks on YouTube’s Own Rules

Mozilla released the results of a 10-month-long investigation into YouTube’s recommendation algorithm, which appears to violate YouTube’s own policies. Mozilla collected the crowdsourced data via the RegretsReporter extension, but kept the concept of a “regret” vague as it judged that 12.2% of reported videos violated YouTube’s own rules for content. Misinformation was the dominant category of flagged videos followed by violent and graphic content and hate speech. YouTube fired back stating that “over the past year alone, we’ve launched over 30 different changes to reduce recommendations of harmful content.”


Reinforcing Body Positivity Online

Earlier this month, Pinterest announced a policy update that would “prohibit all ads with weight loss language and imagery.” In a blog post, Pinterest reinforced that this policy continues to build on its existing ad policies against body shaming and weight loss scams, but this change is driven by a report from the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) claiming “there’s been a rise in unhealthy eating habits and eating disorders in young people since the COVID-19 pandemic started last year.”

The body positivity movement was even listed as a “topic to watch” in Facebook’s June IQ report, which stated, “Since December 2020, the number of conversations and groups created around body positivity has grown on social media. The Body Positive Movement is helping people reevaluate their relationship with their bodies and feel welcomed and accepted during a time of uncertainty.”

While Facebook hasn’t gone as far as Pinterest, its advertising policy does restrict promoting before-and-after imagery and unexpected weight loss results, and prohibits ads that generate a negative self-perception.

Will other social platforms follow in Pinterest’s footsteps to reinforce body positivity by updating their advertising policies? That’s something we’ll be keeping a close eye on.


In Other News… 

A federal judge dismissed the FTC antitrust complaint against Facebook that threatened to break up the company citing that it did not accurately prove a monopoly. Legislators and regulators have to go back to the drawing board. See Forbes summary.

The travel industry is booming again as Marriott debuts its biggest campaign to date. The campaign leans into elements that would boost engagement – with quizzes, Pinterest Boards for wanderlust inspiration, and a soundtrack for TikTok travel influencers.

Real Chemistry’s The Scoop is brought to you by an editorial collective, featuring industry updates and insights from subject matter experts across social media, digital and influencer activation teams.

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Summer is here and we’re spending like crazy on return to work clothes 👔. It’s not only because we’re eager to get out of our loungewear, but partly because of our pandemic-related weight changes 😋. Speaking of summertime, our favorite digital platform, YouTube is looking to reach younger viewers during the controversial 2021 Summer Olympics with its Olympic-themed programs that will be hitting us in July! I think all of this engaging content might have contributed to “our” pandemic-related weight changes 😉

Amazon’s Push into Healthcare and Other Updates

With Amazon Prime Day 2021 wrapping up, let’s zoom in on some interesting updates and innovations from the tech goliath:

  • Health – One of Bezos’ strategies is flipping business costs into profitable endeavors, such as Amazon Web Services. The company is making big moves into healthcare by opening three healthcare centers in Detroit, launching Amazon Pharmacy for Prime members, and expanding its telehealth services nationwide to other employers. And it even received FDA Emergency Use Authorization for its COVID-19 diagnostic test.
  • Video – Amazon claims it now reaches over 120 million users a month via its ad-supported video content on platforms such as Twitch and IMDB TV. Twitch is expanding beyond its gamer roots by developing brand partnerships with Lexus and Capital One as it begins to focus on finicky Gen Z audiences.
  • Advertising – Amazon is emerging as a competitor in the digital advertising industry, which is dominated by Google and Facebook. Its ad business grew by 52% during the pandemic, making up nearly 10% of the market. While most of the revenue comes from e-commerce promotion, it’s also eliminating third-party


Spotify Has Entered the (Audio) Chat, Along with Other Apps

Spotify is attempting to own as much of the audio streaming space as possible with the development of its own audio chatroom: Spotify Greenroom. This new app is outfitted with the following features to  ensure early adoption:

  • It’s available to users worldwide.
  • It has the ability to turn live audio conversations into podcasts by requesting access to download the audio file from the hosts live discussion.
  • It launched a Creator Fund in parallel to ensure future content.
  • Listeners can further engage in conversations through “applauding” speakers by awarding them virtual gems and through a live text chat feature in live audio rooms.
  • It has improved platform moderation. Spotify will record all audio chats so it can further investigate any reports of abuse or harassment.

And Speaking of Audio Apps: Clubhouse was everywhere for a while, but other than making the app available to Android users last month, it hasn’t provided many new updates since it skyrocketed in popularity earlier this year.

Several social platforms have jumped on the opportunity to develop their own audio offering (in record time) after seeing Clubhouse’s popularity. In addition to Twitter Spaces, Facebook just launched its version. But which of these copycats will last?

Despite being able to swiftly develop new offerings, some features aren’t always a cohesive fit for a platform based on how people typically use it. Compared to other social platforms’ live audio features, Spotify’s advantage is that having an audio chatroom seems like more of a natural fit, as people already use the platform to listen to their favorite music and podcasts. For users, having all their entertainment in the same place will be a huge convenience if Spotify decides to merge the two platforms. Will Spotify’s audio feature win out?


Case Study: J&J Promotes Vaccine Efficacy with LinkedIn Live

LinkedIn usership is on the rise (topping 740M+ users), and the platform is experiencing “record engagement,” according to Microsoft, but that’s not why Johnson & Johnson said it chose LinkedIn as a distribution channel for its Road to a Vaccine video series. The series, which aims to promote the efficacy of its vaccine by featuring health experts, sought a professional audience on a trusted platform. “It’s important for us to be able to hone in and target global advocacy, and target politicians and doctors and nurses,” said Lauren Ruotolo, director of creative partnerships at J&J. The company used sponsored content and message ads to help amplify the regular live stream broadcasts, ultimately producing 1M+ views and 983K+ minutes watched, with 97% of live-stream sentiment coded as neutral or positive.


Mounting Legislative Changes for Social Giants

With recently introduced legislation entering the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this month, more eyes are looking at social and tech giants and their monopolistic reign over the industry. The new bills include:

  • Prohibiting platforms from giving preference to their own products
  • Restricting business mergers in the tech sector unless the acquirer can demonstrate that the acquired company was not in competition with any product or service the platform already offers
  • Improved user data portability, with platforms under legal obligation to allow users to transfer their data elsewhere if they choose, including to a competing business
  • Increased funding to the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice in order to help enforce antitrust cases, including cases currently underway against Facebook and Google.

Section 230 also remains on the agenda for Congress and the Biden administration, with continued examination of the implications of sharing data with China and other foreign governments.

Any new legislation has a long road ahead before any bills are voted on, but if any one of them passes, there will be major implications for how social and tech giants can operate.

While challenges to social platforms are by no means new, countless examples over the last few years have demonstrated the real-world influence these digital platforms have on society, renewing calls to evaluate the operational boundaries of how they integrate into people’s lives.


In Other News… 

The year of mobile may have been back in 2013, and now mobile marketing is often at the core of any major marketing campaign. The Drum took a dive into which brands and platforms are truly standing out in our multi-device world.

Real Chemistry’s The Scoop is brought to you by an editorial collective, featuring industry updates and insights from subject matter experts across social media, digital and influencer activation teams.

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With all the ongoing digital updates, we almost forgot about VR! 😎 Back in the news because of Facebook and BigBox, VR is being put to good use by helping researchers combat COVID-19. These new VR technologies are gaining more interest from pharmaceutical companies, which have long been interested in leveraging digital experiences to further advance science and research to benefit patients.

First-Party Data from Retailers and CRM Platforms Are Gaining Traction

Amazon and Salesforce are making waves in the advertising data world as marketers are shifting away from third-party cookies and finding innovative ways to activate their first-party data. Retailers such as Amazon and Walmart are finally starting to make good on long predicted industry forecasts by developing technology that will allow advertisers to attribute real-world purchases from exposure to online ads by aligning data between their DSPs and brick and mortar locations. Salesforce recently announced partnerships with Snapchat, WhatsApp and Google that will allow marketers to maintain and improve the personalized advertising tactics many brands have relied on while keeping data privacy considerations in mind. Any of this sound familiar? It should since platforms and brands have been collecting first-party data for years, but now the industry is able to scale these initiatives into actionable omni-channel programs.


Unmasking the Marketers’ Dilemma

Vaccine passports have been raising questions and further expanding the conversation around health privacy and data tracking, asking such questions as who has access to these health records? How can we ensure the records are secure? If the approach from government and business varies drastically depending on your location, what is the best path forward without a centralized system? A few examples that exemplify this issue: New York’s Excelsior Pass recently surpassed 1 million downloads while new Texas legislation bans vaccine passports. A Florida law created $5,000 penalties for businesses that require proof of vaccination (with some exemptions for healthcare organizations).

A controversy that began with a debate over the legality of disseminating medical information is also evolving into a larger debate over discrimination, according to digital rights experts, who say access to vaccines and testing restrict the social mobility of those with lesser privilege. Even small business owners are learning in real-time that they must consider the potential for social media backlash when evaluating or implementing vaccine requirements. We will be watching this topic closely to see how it evolves and impacts the public, policy makers and even digital marketers.


Improving Mental Health on Social

Naomi Osaka’s choice to prioritize her own mental health over her career, and a growing concern from parents about their children’s mental health related to their social media usage, has added more to the ongoing mental health conversation.

Social media platforms are responding by adding new features aimed at helping improve and preserve the mental health of their users:

  • Instagram and Facebook recently announced that users will have the option to hide “like” counts on both their own posts and the accounts they follow.
    • “We tested hiding like counts to see if it might depressurize people’s experience on Instagram. What we heard from people and experts was that not seeing like counts was beneficial for some, and annoying to others, particularly because people use like counts to get a sense for what’s trending or popular, so we’re giving you the choice.” – Head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri
  • Reddit established a partnership with Crisis Text Line, a mental health service text line that offers 24/7 support for people in crisis.
    • This partnership enables Reddit users to flag others whose posts indicate they’re struggling or in crisis. The flagged user is then immediately sent a private message offering resources and an optional helpline where they will be connected with a crisis counselor.
  • Twitter rolled out conversation controls that enable users to pick and choose who they want to have conversation threads with on their own content, helping filter out spam or abusive replies that can have an impact on mental health.
    • For the last few years, Twitter has also partnered with local mental health organizations to offer #ThereIsHelp – a notification service that provides valuable mental health information and resources via Twitter and email.
  • Pinterest offers emotional health resources to users who search for terms related to anxiety, emotional distress and other related topics. Currently, this experience is only available in the U.S. through the Pinterest mobile app.


TikTok Stars Battle Burnout and Anxiety with Everyone Watching

Influencers are also speaking out about the toll that living in the public eye and going viral can have on their mental health and well-being. As the app continues to thrive, more creators are sharing their mental health struggles with their followers. Some of the biggest names, including Charli D’Amelio and Spencewuah, announced they’re losing passion or stepping down from the platform. This recent trend is similar to reporting that focused on Instagram influencers and YouTube influencers in the past few years. In each case, top influencers were leaving their respective platforms to combat fatigue and burnout. With 50 million people currently considering themselves creators and this cycle continuing to repeat itself, the question must be asked: Can fame be healthy and should the platforms that help create these mega-stars invest in their mental well-being?


In Other News… 

Amazon has launched Amazon Sidewalk, a networking project that automatically shares your internet connection with your neighbors via Echo devices and Ring cameras, to help pool bandwidth for everyone. But if that’s not your thing, make sure to opt out today.

And now we have memes to worry about in a different way: A Meme Stock Is Born: How to Spot the Next Reddit Favorite.

Real Chemistry’s The Scoop is brought to you by an editorial collective, featuring industry updates and insights from subject matter experts across social media, digital and influencer activation teams. 

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We’re heading into summer with ~51% of the U.S. population having received at least one COVID-19 vaccine shot and ~206 countries having administered more than 1 billion doses of the vaccine. Uber and Lyft continue to support free rides for those needing the shot, and we are watching the world try and cancel (#cancelculture) the sale of cigarettes. Maybe we will have a world that focuses on health first after all. 😜☀️👏 P.S. Read to the bottom and take our short survey below! 👇

Mask Off: Best Reactions and Where the CDC Went Wrong

“Public Health 101 failure.” That’s how some epidemiologists, including former U.S. health official David Michaels, are describing CDC’s latest mask guidance, which gave vaccinated Americans the green light to “start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic.” The focus on guidelines for vaccinated Americans left many wondering how to account for the unvaccinated portion of the population.

While state governments and businesses scrambled to assess how they will implement this guidance, the internet was happy to share an assessment of the CDC’s communication. (A few favorites: @randomhouse, @CaseyNewton, @socialistdogmom.) Competing messages from spokespeople, a lack of “exactitude” and a failure (or unwillingness) to acknowledge the new social debate that would ensue all contributed to the hysteria. Now might be a good time to double check your own omnichannel approach.

Sources: POLITICO, THE BALTIMORE SUN, THE BALTIMORE SUN, Real Chemistry Social Media Team (pop culture division)

Health Fact or Health Fad?

Whether it’s chlorophyll water or the 12-3-30 treadmill workout, there’s a seemingly endless number of health and fitness fads taking over TikTok and other platforms. These fads are often short-lived, and they usually fizzle out after media outlets or experts debunk their efficacy, only to have a new trend start the cycle all over again. A recent study found a large drop-off in follow-through of users who actually cook the healthy recipes they like and pin on Pinterest (they typically end up cooking recipes high in fat, sugar and calories). Lack of follow-through and short lifecycles of these fads point to a larger trend of users looking for quick fixes for their health and fitness, which poses a challenge for health and pharma brands on social. To avoid fading into the background, brands need to foster the connections they’re creating to continue to stay top of mind with their audience, helping them maintain sustainable and healthy behaviors.


Mental Health is Top of Mind for Corporate America

As workers slowly start heading back to the office, more and more companies are reassessing how they address mental health needs for their employees and customers. Amazon launched a series of health programs in its warehouse and distribution systems focused on mental wellness exercises and stretching, even creating a designated stretching space. Chipotle has added a mental health program for managers that gamifies mental wellness activities, while SAP and EY have boosted mental health offerings through coaching and the addition of mental health days. This mental health prioritization doesn’t stop at the office. Recently, CVS started hiring clinical social workers to work at its in-store clinics, and Walmart announced plans to acquire MeMD to support its health centers.


Paid Campaign Tools Get a Boost

Thought about activating a new paid social media campaign? Many social platforms are announcing ad updates:

  • Reddit unveiled its new in-house creative strategy agency “KarmaLab,” aimed at helping advertisers navigate the platform and deter existing brand safety concerns that some advertisers may have.
  • TikTok made a similar move earlier in the year when it announced a partnership with LiveRamp to help advertisers implement better targeting in paid campaigns.
  • Twitter reportedly began working on a new set of paid tweet options paired with a monthly subscription model and added benefits including auto responses on Tweets, the ability to undo sending a Tweet 30 seconds after being published, and more.
  • LinkedIn provided a recent overview of effective ad targeting and tips to maximize campaign performance.

Although this activity is beneficial to interested advertisers, it hints at platforms’ concerns about reductions to their ad operations business in the coming months as a result of IOS 14. Facebook and Twitter have recently started showing users a prompt upon opening IOS apps, asking that users do not decline the permission to track their data. While the full effect of the update is still being determined, more advertisers will begin to reevaluate campaign ROI and how much they’re willing to allocate spend.


Nielsen Set to Revamp TV Measurement

We’re all guilty of having watched more TV during the pandemic, but there’s been some debate on exactly how many hours we’ve wasted enjoyed during the past year. Recently, the Media Ratings Council found that Nielsen has been undercounting the total usage of TV time among viewers in the 18-49 demographic by 2% to 6%. These shortcomings may have helped spur Nielsen’s announcement that its new ratings platform will be launching in 2022 and should be the new standard by 2024. This new platform promises to combine streaming views with traditional television measurement – a change that could impact the $60 billion dollars spent on TV ads every year.


In Other News… 

#FOMO: We didn’t get the invite, did you? 149 Arrested at “Adrian’s Kickback” in California After TikTok Invite Goes Viral

We didn’t see this coming: Charlie Bit My Finger Is Leaving YouTube After $760,000 NFT Sale

  • Speaking of NFTs – Should we do a special Scoop edition all about NFTs? [vote here]

Real Chemistry’s The Scoop is brought to you by an editorial collective, featuring industry updates and insights from subject matter experts across social media, digital and influencer activation teams.

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We get it: Gen Z likes TikTok and Snapchat (and making fun of millennials). But there is so much more to this generation when it comes to social, digital and health trends. They are “digital natives,” meaning they have no memory of a life without a smartphone. The most racially and ethnically diverse generation, they are more open to talking about their mental health, and the pandemic has them doubling-down on taking care of their physical and emotional health, too.

Authenticity and transparency are two essential qualities brands need when marketing to Gen Z.

If members of Gen Z find that your brand values don’t align with theirs, they’ll spend their money on another that does. Studies have found that Gen Z prefers to buy from sustainable brands and would be willing to spend more on sustainable products.

This generation “walks the walk” when it comes to their values. Members of Gen Z take action on social media to speak out and educate others about issues important to them. Vaccine hesitancy is the latest issue Gen Z has taken on, sharing their vaccination stories and igniting a TikTok “dance” trend being dubbed as “the windmill.” And this group has no problem calling out wrongdoing for what it is, leading many brands to issue apologies on social media after missing the mark.

As members of Gen Z start to become a growing part of the global workforce, with an almost seven-fold increase in their disposable income, brands need to start building a foundation of trust and credibility with younger audiences now to ensure their future with members of Gen Z.

And what are they doing with that disposable income? A spring 2021 Piper Sandler survey revealed that about half of U.S. teens purchased or sold a secondhand product. The increased activity on resale platforms such as Poshmark and Mercari, paired with the sustainability-conscious mindset intrinsic to this generation, is a trend marketers should pay attention to.

We don’t think it has to apply to clothing either. Apply the “what’s old is new” mindset to your content, too. Millennials aren’t the only generation that loves a good throwback.

Another drastic shift in priorities: Watching TV or movies at home ranks as the fifth most popular entertainment activity for Gen Z, behind activities such as video games and social media. Both Gen Z and millennials are not as interested in live TV, forcing sports leagues to adjust their strategies to focus on short clips and highlights to maintain engagement (see: the rise of playing video games as a way to stay connected). Marketers will need to consider a unique media landscape that caters to these digital aficionados.

Z to Alpha: If Gen Z is rapidly becoming our present, Generation Alpha is the near future. The oldest of this generation is nearing age 11, making them the first generation to exist entirely in the 21st century. Having mobile digital devices since day one, these future consumers are already influencing the purchasing habits of their parents. Need proof? It’s estimated that Ryan’s World branding, a channel featuring 9-year-old Ryan Kaji, generated $250 million in sales in 2020, and the family pulled in an estimated $29.5 million in revenue.


In Other News… 

Cheugy- adjective \ chew- gee \ — someone who is out of date or trying too hard. The opposite of trendy.

TikTok is the new Instagram (for Gen Z): More Gen Zers now use TikTok than Instagram in the U.S.

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