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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.

Sources: ADWEEK, VENTUREBEAT, HEALTHCARE IT NEWS, REUTERS, MARKETING BREW

…. 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.”

Sources: MEDIAPOST, THE VERGE, MOZILLA BLOG, MOZILLA VIDEO

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.

Sources: THE VERGENPRPINTEREST, THE DRUMNBC, FACEBOOK

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

Sources: BECKERS HOSPITAL REVIEW, MOBI HEALTH NEWS, FIERCE BIOTECH, MARKETING DIVE, CNBC, AD EXCHANGER, EMARKETER

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?

Sources: TECHCRUNCH, SPOTIFY, THE VERGE, ADWEEK, THE DRUM, AXIOS

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.

Sources: SOCIAL MEDIA TODAY, LINKEDIN, SOCIAL MEDIA TODAY, JOHNSON & JOHNSON

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.

Sources: SOCIAL MEDIA TODAY, REUTERS, STAT NEWS, BROOKINGS

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.

Sources: FORBES, DIGIDAY, MARKETING DIVE, PR NEWSWIRE

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.

Sources: THE NEW YORK TIMES, THE HILL, ORLANDO WEEKLY, NPR, RALEIGH NEWS OBSERVERSECURITY MAGAZINE

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.

Sources: SOCIAL MEDIA TODAY, TECH CRUNCH, NPR, NEW YORK TIMES, TWITTER, PINTEREST

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?

Sources: HARPER’S MAGAZINE, NEW YORK TIMES, BBC, VOX, THE VERGE

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.

Sources: FAST COMPANY, INSIDER, DISTRACTIFY, SHAPE

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.

Sources: THE VERGE RESTAURANT BUSINESS, CNBC, NEW YORK TIMES

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.

Sources: REDDIT, SOCIAL MEDIA TODAY, LINKEDIN, TIKTOK, SOCIAL MEDIA TODAY

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.

Sources: ADWEEK, WALL STREET JOURNAL, CMO TODAY

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.

Sources: MARKETING MAG, FORBES, THE DRUM, USA TODAY, TODAY, SOCIAL MEDIA TODAY, OXFORD ECONOMICS, FAST COMPANY, EMARKETER, PIPER SANDLER, MODERN RETAIL, BUSINESS INSIDER, YPULSE, VARIETY, THE STREAMABLE, THE DRUM, THE AUSTRALIAN, BUSINESS INSIDER, BLOOMBERG, FAST COMPANY

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.


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.

Get the latest marcom news directly to your inbox! Sign up to receive The Scoop updates here.

“What is ‘the new normal’” is a question we’re all figuring out together. So, we decided to turn last week’s look at post-pandemic marketing into a series we’ll update each time something notable hits the news cycle. See below for this week’s topic: health and fitness. On that note, one online publisher is building out its self-care/mental health vertical with a focus on navigating the “return to normalcy”, while more people traveling this summer will mean a different kind of vacation prep. Other news to note? Twitter is launching a campaign encouraging users to support local news and follow local journalists. P.S. May the 4th Be With you.

This Week in “The New Normal”: Health and Fitness

Despite the explosion of at-home, digital-first fitness this past year, a staggering 42% of adults reported “undesired weight gains due to COVID-19,” with an average increase of 29 pounds. At-home fitness brands such as Peloton say they expect the increase in digital workouts to stick. “It is the future of fitness, COVID or not,” said CEO John Foley. Moreover, Fitness companies including Barry’s and Orangetheory report notable increases in membership, and Crunch is revamping its marketing efforts, more than doubling its budget for customer reacquisition from 10% to 25%. Time will tell if we see at-home sticking around or if heading back to the gym causes dips in engagement, and how this dichotomy will affect other consumer activities such as grocery shopping…

Sources: CNBC, MARKETING BREW

What if AI Isn’t Intelligent?

We have all become accustomed to algorithms, but have we stopped to ask whether AI is intelligent after all? AI is designed by human engineers, leading to the introduction of bias into their code. As Kate Crawford describes in her new book, Atlas of AI, artificial intelligence isn’t artificial or intelligent as it isn’t able to discern things without extensive human training. This understanding is starting to take hold as people have begun questioning the usefulness of photo recognition services such as Clearview AI. Even Twitter is examining its own algorithms to understand potential bias in the platform. Now, policy makers are starting to get involved to try to limit AI use in high-risk systems such as employment or housing and potentially healthcare. Even though AI may help detect A-fib in some patients now, it may not be the future we were promised.

Sources: HARVARD SITN BLOG, THE VERGE, TECHDIRT, TECH REPUBLIC, FORBES, STAT, AP NEWS

The Making of the Audio Room Underdog Story

Clubhouse continues to grow – even securing a new funding round valuing the app at $4 billion – despite increasing competition. The recent expansion of Twitter Spaces has highlighted an area Clubhouse lacks – reaching Android users – though the app is moving forward in that direction. Clubhouse also recently announced its first official sports partnership with the NFL, giving football fans a compelling reason to keep using the app and invite their friends to join the conversation. While impressive, this activity begs the question of whether the app will be able to continue its growth and remain a top choice for users when more options become available.

Sources: CLUBHOUSE, SOCIAL MEDIA TODAY, CLUBHOUSE

Don’t Forget About the Other Audio Boom: Updates in Podcasting

Every social media platform seems to be developing its own Clubhouse duplicate, but podcasting continues to grow in popularity, and its two biggest players are undergoing a major update. In 2021, 41% of the U.S. population age 12+ listened to a podcast at least once a month, and The Daily (from The New York Times) reached more people per day than primetime views of popular cable news networks. Apple recently added paid subscription capabilities, enhanced reporting metrics for creators, and a design revamp. Apple’s biggest podcast competitor, Spotify, is deepening its partnership with Facebook to integrate its player into the newsfeed, allowing users to listen to and comment on shows on the social network.

Sources: THE INFINITE DIAL, TECHCRUNCH, THE VERGE, EMARKETER

How Social Platforms Have Prepared for Apple’s IDFA Update

Apple’s new, highly talked-about App Tracking Transparency requirements are now live and part of the latest iOS14 update. New and existing apps must declare what form of tracking the app will use and share an explanation that can be included in the opt-in system prompt to explain why the app would like to track the user. It’s expected that many users will choose to opt out of data tracking, which will have a monumental impact on factors such as targeting and measurement for digital advertisers.

Here’s a collection of iOS14 resources from social platforms, outlining the anticipated impacts of Apple’s IDFA update:

  • Facebook shared guidance on how to prepare for iOS14 and has worked to inform advertisers on the update’s other impacts such as delayed Ads Manager reporting and limiting the number of website pixel events.
  • Twitter released an internal statement on how to prepare for iOS14’s IDFA updates and created an iOS14 resource center that provides information to help understand the impact the update will have on Twitter’s different advertising products from App install campaigns to audience targeting.
  • TikTok published a statement on how it plans to support its advertising partners, highlighting the anticipated impact the IDFA updates will have on app install and catalog sale objective campaigns.
  • Snapchat launched an iOS14 resource hub to detail the impact the update will have on its advertising products, including web campaign measurement, web campaign targeting, and web campaign optimization.

Sources: APPLE, FACEBOOK, TWITTER, TIKTOK, SNAPCHAT, QUARTZ

In Other News… 

Citizen Kane may be a cinematic classic, but it’s no longer on the top of Rotten Tomatoes. After a Twitter user found an 80-year-old negative review of the film, its perfect score on the Tomatometer dropped from 100% to 99% and made Paddington Bear 2 the top-rated film on the site.

When Josh Swain challenged strangers on the Internet (also named Josh Swain) to a Highlander-esque duel, he never imagined it would come to fruition in a Nebraska field. But what started as a joke ended up raising over $11,000 for Children’s Hospital & Medical Center Foundation, all thanks to a viral tweet.


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.

Get the latest marcom news directly to your inbox! Sign up to receive The Scoop updates here.

We may be biased, but we’re loving this week’s Scoop, because it focuses on several ongoing key themes for 2021: the increased attention on the use of audio and accessibility within digital communities, connected TV’s insane rise in viewers and relevant ad campaigns within an industry that doesn’t usually get “positive” coverage ✈️.

We leave you with a taste of what’s bubbling up on the Gen Z front: Snack, a Gen Z specific dating app that seems a lot like TikTok. Stay tuned for more to come on Gen Z…

The Race is on to Retain Audio Users…

Clubhouse remains the go-to audio platform, but soon it won’t be the only game in town (and downloads are beginning to decline). Recent rumors have revealed that LinkedIn is developing its own audio rooms, joining Facebook in the race to potentially increase the time users spend on their respective platforms. Twitter is continuing to push its Spaces feature with an announcement that it is opening its current beta to users with Android devices, expanding to an area where currently Clubhouse has no stake. Twitter also has an upper hand, as Spaces will be available to all users when the feature is fully rolled out and will not require an invitation.

Sources: TWITTER, SOCIAL MEDIA TODAY, TECHCRUNCH, SENSOR TOWER

…But Clubhouse is Building a New Addition with Influencers in Mind

Amid reports that Clubhouse is seeking a new valuation of $4 billion, the audio-based platform has turned to its influencers to help keep audiences engaged, announcing that influencers in its accelerator program can now receive direct payments from their audiences. What’s more, Clubhouse will not take a cut of these payments (minus a small transaction fee via Stripe). While most companies would have grabbed onto this monetizing option, Clubhouse is embracing the new direct-to-consumer influencer model that has seen sites such as Patreon grow in recent years. Clubhouse benefits by building goodwill with influencers and appealing to those who enjoy the exclusivity, but this version of direct payments seems to be upping the ante with competitor features such as Twitter’s “Super Follows.”

Here’s how our team is reacting to the update:

This is a good first step by Clubhouse toward monetizing the platform. It’s clear that it hasn’t made any decisions on how best to allow companies to advertise, but providing the ability for content creators to get paid seems like a great way for Clubhouse to attract new users to its platform. – Chuck Hemann, Practice Leader, Integrated Intelligence & Activation

This “tipping” feature will benefit influential moderators in the short-term, but true financial gains will be made when Clubhouse facilitates connections between brands and moderators to support them in a more substantial and sustainable way. – Missy Voronyak, Managing Director, Social Media & Influencer Activation

Sources: MARKETING INTERACTIVE, SOCIAL MEDIA TODAY, BLOOMBERG

With All that Audio, Accessibility on Social Media is More Important than Ever

Some social media apps are making moves to become more accessible for people who are hearing impaired, but there’s still work to be done. TikTok recently announced the launch of auto-captions on videos, and Instagram began testing closed captioning on Stories. But many creators and users who are deaf or blind say they are still often excluded from major updates, driving them to find complicated workarounds themselves. (For example, TikTok users, such as Andy Marks, provide tips to fellow creators to help make the platform more accessible.) In the meantime, brands should prioritize making their own content inclusive, whether by captioning videos or capitalizing the first letter of each word of a multiword hashtag for voice readers to read each word clearly. Doing so will not only help reach a wider audience but allow for an equitable experience for all users.

@andycmarks#SpreadTheWord #CapitalizeHashtags #Accessibility #FYP #Blind♬ original sound – Andy Marks

Sources: THE WASHINGTON POST, SOCIAL MEDIA TODAY, TECHCRUNCH, SOCIAL MEDIA TODAY

Digital Streaming Growth Beyond Just Netflix and Hulu

The increase in time spent streaming digital video at home during the pandemic has been well documented, but most discussions have centered on premium platforms such as Netflix and Prime video. However, ad-supported video on on-demand platforms (AVOD) have also experienced a boom with Roku’s channel gaining 63 million viewers, Pluto TV’s ad revenue surpassing $1 billion, and Tubi considering developing original content. This shows that streaming has a diverse, yet segmented, ecosystem with many unique opportunities to reach consumers while leveraging data targeting and cost efficiencies.

Sources: EMARKETER, BLOOMBERG, MOTLEY FOOL

Airlines Offer Fresh Look at Evolution of Safety Messaging

Americans have long been ready for a return to normal, but last month’s emotional “Get back to what you love” video from Google (we’re not crying, you’re crying) made that seem more tangible than ever. Queries such as “round trip flights to Florida” surged 350% in the last 90 days, and airlines are evolving their messaging to match. What started as a social mandate for airlines to explain how they would ensure the safety of passengers has evolved to a declaration that airlines are ready to help consumers “reclaim their lives,” in which even discount codes – such as “BUCKETLIST” –  reflect the understanding that travelers are ready to make up for lost time. In a statement provided to Marketing Brew, Charuta Fadnis, SVP of research and product strategy at Phocuswright said, “We’ll still see some level of safety related messaging continue, at least for the near term. But it’ll shift from ‘It’s safe to fly’ to ‘Here’s how we are still keeping you safe.’”

Sources: CNN, GOOGLE TRENDS, THE POINTS GUY, YOUTUBE, MARKETING BREW

In Other News… 

Celebrities are joining the push for vaccinations as NFL Star Russell Wilson hosted Roll Up Your Sleeves on NBC while Selena Gomez will host a Vax Live: The Concert to Reunite the World on May 8.

As Microsoft is set to buy healthcare speech transcription company Nuance Communications, the New York Times asks if medical computing can make us healthier.


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When we set out to draft this new “special edition” of The Scoop focusing on one topic – personalization – we quickly saw first-hand how varied and complex this topic can be for digital and social media marketers and strategists. A few spirited conversations and Teams chats later, we all came back to one definition of personalization: creating and delivering a digital and social experience tailored to a specific audience segment.

We like to say “gone are the days of one size fits all” when it comes to posts/ads because, now, data and technologies allow us to not only discover the variety among our audience segments, but also create content that resonates more deeply with those audiences. Personalization ultimately drives a more unique and relevant experience for a user, making them feel valued.

How did personalization start?

This idea popped up a few years ago and quickly became mainstream. Social platforms were already delivering “personalized” experiences for users directly in the platform, constantly evolving their algorithms to serve people in-app content that matched their interests. Newsfeed changes and additions such as Instagram Explore helped shape this trend. But data, technologies and paid really took it to the next level.

It all comes back to segmentation

People are busy. Especially healthcare professionals (HCPs), especially now. Being able to reach this audience in that exact window when they have a moment to relax isn’t new – but reaching them with precise messaging that resonates with them, based on their specific attributes (specialty, interests outside of work, location, etc.) is where we should be moving toward. This, of course, goes for patients and caregivers, too. Casting a wide net is not the way to go. Data can give us the insight to deliver messages to reach each specific HCP, patient or caregiver audience segment in their journey.

Social platforms embrace personalization in new ways

We already know social is leading the way in personalized content – both in feeds and through advertisements. Recent updates show how these platforms are taking personalization to the next level:

  • TikTok will no longer let users opt out of personalized ads starting April 15, so users will see ads based on the content they engage with (whether they like it or not!).
  • Facebook is taking a different approach. They are going right to small businesses with their tips and tricks for developing their own personalized ads – with the end goal of getting more people to discover small business based on their likes.

Thinking beyond social

This isn’t just happening on social media. Digital has been personalizing content for years – as seen with SMS, email marketing and the continued push toward omnichannel personalization.

  • Email marketing was a “success story” of 2020 according to eMarketer. Newsletter subscriptions are exploding as writers build deeper relationships with their readers through personalized content.
  • Then comes texting: SMS open rates are over 90%, and SMS marketing will continue to grow in 2021, as 56% of U.S. retailers plan to increase their investment in messaging.
    • Faced with the challenge of reaching customers at home during the pandemic, TGIFridays invested in its SMS platform and grew its database to over 300,000 subscribers after only four months, with a 4.5% conversion rate.
    • Online retailer Mack Weldon used sales data to focus its marketing on comfort and kept customers apprised of new product drops and restocks via SMS.
  • And when looking at retail, 62% of consumers surveyed say it’s important for online retail experiences to be personalized. Who can blame them. We all know how annoying it is to receive generic messaging that isn’t relevant to our shopping patterns.

Let technology help you

Shifting to a personalization-first strategy may seem intimidating, but technologies such as Flashtalking, Spirable and Salesforce can help create efficiencies for your content teams.

  • Flashtalking – a software that helps maximize content distribution for personalization for digital and soon on social – recently announced a new integration with Comcast.
    • This partnership demonstrates how even the most traditional media avenues, such as linear television, are being disrupted to more efficiently “deliver on the promise of personalization” through technology and tools.
  • And don’t forget about data! Leverage unique insights about your audiences to help guide the development of personalized content across platforms.

…And in Other News

Nerf targets TikTok success by seeking a Chief TikTok Officer responsible for creating 10 to 12 approved TikToks a month.

Pinterest is now in talks to acquire the photo app VSCO after adding 100 million monthly active users last year.


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Who isn’t looking forward to the return to a roaring 20s?! ⬇️ The future is looking bright and it’s not just because spring has sprung. 🌸 Twitter is mapping out “safe spaces,” like Facebook. TikTok decided to be the first to do ads “right” and Snap seems to be back and doubling down. And you can’t help but 😊 for Amazon who is gamifying their warehouse experience with virtual pets 🐶 👏.

Combatting Vaccine Hesitancy Through Marketing

New research has found that 40% of Americans have yet to make up their minds about taking the COVID-19 vaccine, and vaccine hesitancy in Black and Hispanic communities continues to be influenced by false information online. To address this, several groups have launched campaigns that provide straightforward guidance that getting informed and vaccinated is up to all of us. For example, the Ad Council’s “It’s Up to You” campaign encourages audiences to get the latest vaccine information, with messaging targeted specifically to Black Americans. To help shift the mindset of communities of color, who are most affected by COVID-19, and increase the number of people vaccinated, we must develop messages about vaccine benefits and clearly and concisely communicate them across channels.

Sources: MM+M, THE NEW YORK TIMES

An Intimate Portrait of Post-Pandemic Life

As the U.S. set its sights on making COVID-19 vaccines available to all adults beginning May 1, questions about how consumers will return to a post-pandemic world have sparked conversation – and controversy – among marketers. AdAge has gone so far as to declare spring “the new Christmas,” suggesting consumers will return to a “roaring 20’s of consumerism.” Suitsupply gave its take on “The New Normal” with a suggestive, spit swapping digital campaign, which CEO Fokke de Jong says is “simply a positive outlook on our future.” Data from EY’s latest iteration of its Future Consumer Index indicates affordability and health will remain top priorities for post-pandemic consumers – an impetus for brands to tailor communications accordingly to maximize the resonance of messaging with audiences.

Sources: VOX, THE NEW YORK TIMES, ADAGE, EY FUTURE CONSUMER INDEX

Getting Paid for Personalization

Online user experiences have become more personalized over the years, as demonstrated through platforms like Patreon where users can pay to create a feed of exclusive content from their favorite creators. Meanwhile, influencers are diversifying their income streams beyond traditional #SponCon with subscription monetization. Twitter also announced “Super Follows,” a new pay-for-posts feature for creators to charge for exclusive content. The feature offers more control over the content users see on the platform while building communities around specific topics. With the continued push toward personalization, establishing and growing relationships with influencers will become even more important, as they will become the gatekeepers of the communities they’re growing and will determine the balance of free and paid content that followers will accept.

Sources: SOCIAL MEDIA TODAY, WSJ, THE NEXT WEB, TECH CRUNCH, VOX, VOX, FORBES

Learning to Roll with the Changes

Platforms have begun offering resources for smaller businesses to help them adapt to Apple’s IDFA changes. Snapchat announced a partnership with Gannett to promote Snapchat ads to Gannett’s 100,000+ small business clients in the U.S. and Canada. On March 24, TikTok will host “Ready Set Grow,” a virtual summit to help small and medium businesses (SMBs) become familiar with advertising possibilities. Facebook launched a campaign aimed at showing why users should enable data tracking and connecting the dots on how businesses can reach their audiences. Despite rumors, Google also clarified that alternative tracking options will not be provided when third-party cookies become unavailable. With that in mind, advertisers of all sizes should take a closer look at their digital and social media strategies and look to those who are able to effectively reach their target audiences.

Sources: TikTok, Facebook, Social Media Today, Google

In Other News… 

Philips and Disney are joining forces to improve the healthcare experience of children.

The CDC’s program to track vaccine effectiveness over time leaves out 60 million Americans.


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It’s only March and we’re running out of adjectives to describe the way time blurs from week to week, and the rapid pace of changes in the digital space. If you end up reading the below 😉 you’ll probably wonder why we’re starting off this intro highlighting the trend of nostalgia showing up all over digital – but we HAD to address these strange updates. MyHeritage created Deep Nostalgia, which animates old still photos. The photo app Dispo, launched by a YouTuber, mimics the unpolished look of photos from a disposable camera. But hey, all we know is that we’re all human and looking for connections, even if it’s through email. 😊

A Local Approach to Vaccine Marketing

As COVID-19 vaccine distribution ramps up nationally, varied accessibility guidelines and availability by state are making it difficult for administrators to communicate the most up-to-date information to the public. To overcome this hurdle, governments and health systems are turning to local targeting, sometimes even down to the zip code level, to share the most relevant information to the masses and reduce confusion. This local strategy will likely be implemented to drive awareness about the extended enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) approved by the Biden administration. While supply-chain limitations are dominating current news coverage, a clear public communications strategy is essential in controlling the pandemic.

Sources: MM+ M, THE DRUM

The Race to Reach People of Color Online

Facebook is ramping up its efforts to boost vaccine confidence amid increasing evidence of low COVID-19 vaccination rates among minorities. The platform updated its COVID-19 Information Center by creating alerts for vaccination dates/times for users. It is also allocating $120 million in ad credits for health ministries, non-governmental organizations, and United Nations agencies, potentially making it easier for these groups to reach communities of color via zip code targeting in areas where vaccination rates remain low. However, as this push increases, reaching these communities online might be a hurdle. Recent research has found that many Black and Hispanic patients lack access to the internet or a computer, making it difficult for them to access the very information Facebook is trying to provide. As health services continue to move online, it’s clear that a bigger effort is needed to provide these communities with access to the internet.

Sources: SOCIAL MEDIA TODAY, FAST COMPANY

Old-Fashioned Chatting is Here to Stay

The exploding popularity of Clubhouse is pushing other platforms to adopt audio-first tools. There are rumors that Facebook has its own Clubhouse clone in the works, and Twitter is beta testing Spaces, a similar audio-only chat feature. However, despite the popularity of Clubhouse, there is concern over how it is being used and moderated. It has already been banned in China, and many are voicing concerns that COVID-19 conspiracy theories (among others) are spreading unchecked. Some are taking moderation into their own hands: Black doctors are working overtime to combat COVID-19 conspiracies and dispel misinformation on the platform. While community standards are in place, the surge of new users on the app could result in changed policies, and larger platforms may be carefully watching to determine whether to implement their own versions.

Sources: BLOOMBERG, NEW YORK TIMES, SOCIAL MEDIA TODAY, TECHCRUNCH, VICE

Platforms Provide Creator Assistance

Popular content creators drive a huge percentage of traffic to platforms, providing views and pathways for ad revenue. Now, platforms are releasing tools and support for those creators. Instagram recently released its “Professional Dashboard” to all Business accounts, bringing detailed data and insights, page management tools, and educational resources to one spot. LinkedIn also announced efforts to develop content creator support, which could include incentives to create posts, assistance in using LinkedIn’s video and other media posts, and opportunities to connect with advertisers. Insights and information on influencer post performance is an important aspect of identifying the right influencers and ensuring campaign success, so additional resources for creators are beneficial for both users and brands. In addition, executives developing thought leadership initiatives may find LinkedIn’s new support for creators useful.

Sources: SOCIAL MEDIA TODAY, SOCIAL MEDIA TODAY

Twitter’s Flightpath for Its Future

At 14-years-old, Twitter is finally looking to evolve its place in the social media world. CEO Jack Dorsey spoke about his vision for Twitter’s future and touched on a variety of topics ranging from content moderation to subscription models to moving beyond 280-character tweets. Twitter is looking to give users more control over their experience on the platform by creating new types of content they can follow to help make their feed more customized to their interests, including considering offering an ad-free subscription plan. This subscription model has the potential to greatly impact social advertisers, especially if the feature takes off and is adopted by other platforms. Building relationships with influencers and content creators will become even more important for brands to successfully reach their audience on platforms with traditional ad-free subscriptions.

Sources: DIGITAL TRENDS, CNET, BLOOMBERG

In Other News… 

Older generations are taking social media by storm, and “granfluencers” may be the next big thing.

Bonus tweets, newsletters and badges showing support: Twitter’s new Super Follows feature gives users the option to charge their followers for access to additional content.

And not to be outdone, Facebook is reportedly making a smartwatch, and it will have health features.


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The Economist recently wrote about a “strange pattern to come” regarding oil & energy. To build on that theme, we can most certainly say there are strange patterns arising in digital and social around the world. From ecommerce livestreaming taking China by storm, to the popular new platform Clubhouse now in hot water, to Jack D and Jay Z donating 500 BTC to fund the development of Bitcoin in Africa and India…does this mean we’ll be using BTC to buy from our livestreams soon? 😉 But then again, who even has BTC?! Strange patterns, indeed…

Super Bowl Marketing Looked Super Different

Watching Tom Brady win a Super Bowl for the seventh time may have been the most familiar sight from this year’s big game. Social media was abuzz about The Weeknd’s halftime show, this polarizing Oatly commercial and a moment of silence for frontline workers lost to COVID-19. However, noticeably absent were ads from mainstay brands Budweiser, Coca-Cola and Hyundai. In contrast, companies that recorded notable growth during the pandemic, such as Fiverr and DoorDash, made their Super Bowl advertising debuts. Brands concerned about receiving backlash from “COVID-weary consumers” on social media pursued alternatives to in-game commercials. Others, such as Budweiser, completely redirected their advertising dollars to campaigns to promote vaccine awareness and distribution efforts.

Sources: CNBC, BLOOMBERG, MM+M, BUZZFEED NEWS, POP CULTURE

Long-form Content in a Short-form World

Longform content is making a comeback, with both Facebook and Twitter announcing plans to roll out newsletter tools. For Facebook, this is part of a larger plan to provide more legitimate news sources on its platform, giving users the option to subscribe and receive more content from journalists and writers they trust. Facebook hasn’t shared a formal update or acquisition, but Twitter has acquired the newsletter service Revue. While Twitter historically has been known as a place for brief updates, this acquisition proves that sometimes 280 characters just isn’t enough.

Sources: NEW YORK TIMES, TWITTER, EMARKETER, AXIOS

Users Are Swarming the Hive

After going viral on TikTok and Twitter, Hive, a social media app with MySpace, Twitter and Instagram-like features, briefly dominated the Apple App Store charts. It became the number one social media app and number two most-downloaded app, gaining over 130K users in just a few hours. Hive touts itself as a nostalgic mashup of all three platforms, likely why users swarmed to download it. While we don’t know if Hive will become a true competitor to existing apps, its popularity to date might point to a larger trend of online users looking to try new social experiences (as seen with Clubhouse). Given this, (healthcare) brands must stay on top of where their audiences are engaging to ensure they are reaching them where they are most active.

Sources: FAST COMPANY, YAHOO

The Ground Shaking Under Social Giants

Many social media advertisers still have brand safety concerns that could impact paid dollar spends in 2021. Platforms have made efforts to address these issues, but the steps they’ve taken have not been as straightforward as some advertisers hoped. For example, Facebook reversed its algorithm changes that boosted news from authoritative sources shortly after the election and scaled back on other measures related to misinformation. As a result of the brand concerns, shareholders of Home Depot and Omnicom filed resolutions to determine if their ads funded hate speech. This indicates some brands are reevaluating their advertising, which could have worrying implications for platforms. Combined with the swell of grievances aimed at Robinhood, revocation of Section 230 could be closer than we think.

Sources: NEW YORK TIMES, REUTERS, SOCIAL MEDIA TODAY, SOCIAL MEDIA TODAY

Personalizing the Telehealth Experience

The increased demand for and use of telehealth across all demographics since the pandemic began last spring has given developers insight into patient preferences. Overall, consumers of all ages prefer phone or video calls over texts and want telemedicine platforms and apps to function seamlessly with the real world, similar to their experience with Uber and Amazon. Meanwhile, providers are interested in using telehealth technology to establish more personal connections to patients with chronic conditions rather than those suffering from colds, flu and dermatology issues, which are the current focus.

Sources: EMARKETER 1, EMARKETER 2, CEDAR HEALTHCARE CONSUMER EXPERIENCE STUDY

Taking the “Para” Out of Parasocial Relationships

The continued COVID-19 lockdowns combined with increasing use of social media are taking the “para” out of parasocial relationships. Many platforms, including Twitter, Instagram, Cameo, OnlyFans and Twitch, allow celebrities and influencers to interact with their audiences directly or form communities through ongoing conversations with fans. As the pandemic continues, partnerships with influencers and celebrities may resonate with audiences even more strongly, as everyone is craving face-to-face interaction and deeper connections.

Sources: QUARTZ, METRO

In Other News… 

Social platforms launched new initiatives to celebrate Black History Month.

Dual-medium collaboration: Fast Company thinks this simple feature makes video meetings way more productive.


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It’s been two weeks of obsessions with surprising headlines and trends. How could we have predicted STAT News would focus on Clubhouse, 🤯, or that the New York Times would make us consider the responsibility of top influencers in educating communities on race, inclusion and bullying? Or that Grindr, the location-based social networking and online dating app for gay, bi, trans and queer people, appeared to violate GDPR rules by sharing third-party data in Norway. We thrive on weeks like these: from pivoting strategies, to examining the social community’s roles and responsibilities related to ethics, to applauding governments that enforce the protection of user data.

What the Future May Bring: Health Innovations at CES 2021

The first virtual Consumer Electronic Showcase Convention occurred in early January, with health innovations and gadgets taking center stage (or “center screen” in this instance). There was no shortage of products directly related to, or accelerated by, the COVID-19 pandemic. Futuristic face masks were showcased that made wearers feel like they were living in a sci-fi series. Panels about sustaining the innovation around telemedicine to fully realize the benefits of virtual healthcare emphasized the connection between patients’ data and their doctors, as well as its role in addressing healthcare disparities.

Sources: EVERYDAY HEALTH, WIRED, CNET, MEDGADGET

Recap: How Top Platforms Prepared for Inauguration Day

Following the events at the United States Capitol, social platforms quickly took action to introduce new safety measures leading up to inauguration day. Facebook prohibited events from being created near the U.S. Capitol, or any state capitol, blocked ex-U.S. pages and accounts from creating events in the U.S., restricted access to certain tools (such as live videos) for U.S. users with a history of platform policy violations, and banned ads for weapon accessories through January 22. Airbnb blocked and canceled all D.C. metro area reservations during inauguration week, and Apple, Google and Amazon all took steps to limit the social app Parler from their respective platforms, citing content moderation concerns.

Sources: THE VERGE, SOCIAL MEDIA TODAY

How Social Platforms are Combating Vaccine Hesitancy

In response to an influx of COVID-19 misinformation on social media, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube have taken proactive steps to ensure their users are being served with evidence-based information by attaching fact-checking labels to posts. And it seems those labels are working. A recent study measured the impact of the labels on vaccine hesitancy and found that users who were shown the labels on tweets were more likely to have a positive outlook on vaccines than those who saw misinformation alone. As vaccine hesitancy is an ongoing public health challenge, sharing accurate, fact-based information is crucial to improving understanding of vaccines, especially their importance in helping stop the spread of COVID-19. Hopefully, these labels will be a permanent feature across platforms to combat misinformation and improve confidence in vaccines.

Sources: HEALTHLINE, SOCIAL MEDIA TODAY, MED CITY

NYC Taps Influencers to Promote COVID-19 Testing

With COVID-19 tests becoming easier to access in many states, public health officials are now turning to efforts to encourage the population to get tested and continue to follow safety guidelines. NYC Health + Hospitals has taken a unique approach, working with popular local influencers to create content about testing options and processes. Ballerina Misty Copeland, fitness influencer Trevor Bell and even some “petfluencers” are among the partnerships. While there hasn’t been a national announcement of plans to work with influencers around vaccination efforts, the approach may prove useful as the vaccine becomes more widely available. For example, Indonesia is prioritizing influencer campaigns in its vaccine rollout as part of a strategy to demonstrate vaccine safety. As with other campaigns, influencers can play a key role in reaching various audiences and speaking about serious topics from a relatable level.

Sources: ADAGE, VICE

The Shifting Social Media Landscape

With people spending more time at home due to COVID-19, gaming and streaming have risen sharply. The surge in user bases on platforms such as Twitch and YouTube mean that opportunities for advertisers have broadened, and streaming has opened more opportunities to reach audiences. Notably, these users are younger than those on other platforms, and brands that have seen success on Snapchat and TikTok are likely to be able to expand their reach and see successful campaigns. Gaming and streaming activity isn’t limited to platforms with younger audiences, however. In fact, Facebook Gaming saw a 238% YOY increase in hours watched in April 2020. As exciting as this appears, it’s important for advertisers to understand the way these platforms work so they can avoid backlash like that experienced by Burger King after advertising through Twitch’s donation feature.

Sources: SOCIAL MEDIA TODAY, SPROUT SOCIAL, BBC, THE SENTINEL

In Other News… 

Swipe right and swipe-up: LinkedIn adds Swipe-Up links to LinkedIn Stories.

To meme or not to meme: A guide to memetic media in 2021 and beyond.


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Are glimpses of “normalcy” slowly starting to find their way into digital and social media? While brands are finding innovative ways to reach audiences via only virtual means, as demonstrated by a successful CES 2021, others are bringing IRL exhibits to life among social-distance protocols. In these changing times, we’ll always strive to find innovative new ways to stay connected, but we also know our hearts still need comfort food sometimes: YouTube and Instagram were the top two apps (again) this week.

ByteDance is Latest Tech Company to Enter the Pharma Industry

The next big thing in drug development is…TikTok? ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, has joined other leading Chinese tech companies as the latest to bet on the healthcare industry in a move to diversify ad-reliant revenue streams. Job descriptions for the business suggest candidates will work on drug design, identification and simulation using the company’s AI-powered technology. The investments underscore the massive scale at which AI-supported algorithms can be applied and investors seem to believe the healthcare industry is the right place to start.

Sources: TECHCRUNCH, DIGITAL INFORMATION WORLD, FUTURISM

To Opt-In or Opt-Out, that is the Question…

Facebook and other social platforms are bracing for the impact Apple’s latest software update and its changes the Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) feature will have on advertisers. The update will inform users on what types of data an app tracks before they download it from the App Store, with an opportunity to opt-in/opt-out of data tracking. Facebook has been vocal in its opposition to Apple’s IDFA updates, highlighting the detrimental impact it will have on small and mid-sized businesses that rely on using that data to reach new and existing customers. While Facebook has been sharing guidance on how to prepare for iOS 14, the update’s full impact on campaign performance and reporting will be unclear until users begin to either opt-in or opt-out of data tracking. With recent privacy legislation such as CPRA and an upcoming antitrust lawsuit against Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, it’s clear that the conversation around data privacy isn’t going away any time soon.

Sources: SOCIAL MEDIA TODAY, CNBC, THE DRUM, AP, FACEBOOK

As CTV Popularity Soars, So Do Ambitious Scammers

Last month, Oracle discovered a Connected TV (CTV) ad fraud scheme now dubbed “StreamScam” that exploited digital ad technology by “spoofing” millions of IP addresses to steal the ad revenue from the advertising platform. Given the skyrocketing interest in CTV from viewers and marketers alike, experts expect to see an increase in fraud attempts as scammers try to take advantage of the higher CPMs from CTV inventory. Still, some say the concern is overblown because CTV is significantly safer for brands compared to digital display since inventory is typically sourced directly from premium publishers rather than on the open exchange. As healthcare marketers, we will continue to find new ways embrace CTV while trying to reduce waste by leveraging unique audience sets.

Sources: PR NEWSWIRE, FORBES, AD EXCHANGER

2021: The Year of the HCP Influencer

In late December, we reported that patient-physician engagement had doubled on Twitter since the start of the pandemic 🤯. We’ve quickly come to learn that this emerging influential group is not immune to various forms of online harassment. In fact, one in four physicians reported being harassed online, with women and physicians of color facing additional risk of attacks grounded in sexism and racism. But that doesn’t mean they should step away from the platform. As the world slowly works toward returning to life as it was pre-COVID-19, reliable HCP voices remain important in encouraging smart health decisions among consumers. As with all influencers, supporting HCPs in all aspects of campaigns and programming is critical to break through the noise and help them get out important messages.

Sources: FAST COMPANY, STAT, W2O

Twitter is Tuning Up So Audiences Don’t Tune Out

Podcast listening has increased tremendously since the onset of the pandemic. Google was quick to recognize this change in audience behavior with the expansion of its audio advertising options last August. In keeping up with audio-focused content consumption, Twitter announced the acquisition of Breaker as an expansion of its voice-based “Spaces” feature. Breaker is a podcast listening app that features user engagement tools. These developments show that Twitter is expanding its features, so users can both read AND listen to their news – all while making a compelling fight to keep audiences engaged within its platform. The rise in audio-first features also marks another step forward for accessibility and inclusion on social media.

Sources: SOCIAL MEDIA TODAY, TECH CRUNCH, EDISON RESEARCH

In Other News…

Social platforms are starting to resemble each other, but what does that mean for content consumption?

Because we live by our calendars, here’s a 2021 events calendar to help you stay on top of all the key happenings.

For those who love an annual trend forecast: eMarketer shares 10 digital trends that marketers need to track in 2021.


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This year, digital became the catalyst for shaping how we experienced the pandemic. For our 2020 recap edition, we wanted to focus on the positives that digital brought to communities around the world. While we couldn’t include every milestone and “talked about” trend, below we highlighted a few areas that made an impact. Thank you to all our readers for following along with us. See you in 2021!

Combatting Misinformation on Social

This year, social platforms were faced with addressing and managing, in real time, the spread of COVID-19 and U.S. election misinformation and conspiracy theories. Their responses ranged from light-touch (driving users to reliable information) to more pointed (tagging posts and freezing ads).

And the Winner Is…How Social Media Took on Voting in 2020

What was social media’s role in the 2020 U.S. presidential election? Though many would point to it being a vehicle for the spread of misinformation, there is also something to be said for the way social platforms, brands and individuals tried to make voting more accessible.

How Social Media Supported Social Good

As racial injustice protests and hard conversations about race swept the United States and reverberated around the world, social media was at the center – aiding organizers, driving conversation, educating and broadcasting real-time events. These difficult discussions also drove meaningful change. Brands and platforms responded and adapted in record speed.

The World Evolved, and So Did Those Influencing It  

Many questioned how the influencer industry would fare amid economic insecurity and stay-at-home orders. But influencers across industries adapted, connecting with audiences in creative ways, like sharing ideas for keeping kids occupied at home, hosting Live workouts or concerts and encouraging healthy habits.

Massive Growth in Familiar Digital Tactics

For many, 2020 brought radical change to daily routines and greater insight into the world we live in, but within the digital media industry, the year only accelerated predicted trends. The popularity of streaming video and connected TVs exploded while we were at home, forcing advertisers to double down on the flexibility of programmatic advertising and targeted B2B marketing.

10 Months Later: Staying Together While We’re Still Apart

None of us anticipated that we’d still be practicing social distancing and varying levels of shelter-in-place after all this time. Despite this lack of physical closeness, consumers and brands have found a new way to stay connected through the adoption of live online activations, the joys of shared interests and meaningful brand partnerships.

W2O’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 recently learned that according to psychology, making lists makes us happy. We took that advice and made a list of five things that made us happy since the last Scoop [📝❤️]:

  1. Spotify showcases the top podcasts in 2020 for the first time in their Wrapped feature (US & Globally)
  2. TikTok adds an accessibility update to include photo sensitivity warnings
  3. The best Tweet of 2020 (so far) is Guy Fieri raising $21.5M in seven weeks for unemployed restaurant workers
  4. Twitter updates its hateful conduct policy to include abuse and harassment posts based on race, ethnicity and culture
  5. Drone technology is being used to rebuild forests destroyed by devastating fires

The Most Important Healthcare Campaign of the 21st Century?

With the possibility of FDA approval and initial distribution of COVID-19 vaccines mere weeks away, the healthcare industry is gearing up for the communications campaign of the century. Messaging will attempt to educate the public about vaccine science and the approval process – no small feat given society’s growing anti-vaccine sentiment and a recent Gallup poll indicating that only 58% of American adults are willing to take a coronavirus vaccine. Former FDA Associate Commissioner Peter Pitts believes “PSA campaigns really don’t get the job done” and that communications “absolutely should play into the controversy.” Glen Nowak, director of the Center for Health and Risk Communication, acknowledges the campaign needs to be “large and multilayered” given the variety of vaccines, dosing requirements and audiences. It’s a historic moment that will require overcoming seeds of distrust to help push the nation closer to a recovery from the pandemic.

Sources: THE WASHINGTON POST, MM&M, THE NEW YORK TIMES, PR WEEK, CBS NEWS, THE NEW YORK TIMES, THE NEW YORK TIMES

Fighting COVID-19, and Misinformation, is a Team Effort

The influx of promising announcements about COVID-19 vaccines has resulted in increased efforts to preemptively combat misinformation about them by a consortium of social media platforms. Recently, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube announced a joint effort to partner with fact-checkers, researchers and governments to combat misinformation surrounding the vaccines. The group plans to roll out an initial framework for addressing these issues in January, which will include standards for qualifying “misinformation” in these circumstances as well as plans for marking, responding to or removing such content. As much about the vaccines remains unknown, this effort is sure to be useful to all those in the healthcare space seeking to ensure that accurate health information is shared on social media.

Sources: SOCIAL MEDIA TODAY, BBC

The Power of Connection for Mental Health Communication

Given the combination of the holidays, seasonal depression and isolation due to the pandemic, many marketers are paying special attention to the topic of mental health and finding ways to connect with consumers or bring awareness to the topic. Successful campaigns, such as the UK’s CALM ad, Instagram’s #HereForYou campaign, and Sheba’s Healing Powers mini documentaries, all tap into ways to reduce the stigma of mental health and build connections. Given the rising interest in the subject, the Ad Council commissioned a report on loneliness to help readers understand that it’s a syndrome that plagues younger people as much as older adults. The report highlights ways people across the world are coping using a mix of technology (video chats, social media) and social engagement (religious services, time with pets, visiting family) to connect with their community.

Sources: AD WEEK (Sheba); AD WEEK (CALM); AD COUNCIL via AD AGE; GLOBAL WEB INDEX

More Apps in a Snap

A few weeks ago, we featured Snapchat’s expansion of partnerships with apps such as Vivino and Yuka. Snapchat has now announced the rollout of several new options that will allow app developers to continue cross-linking their functions within the app. Additions include Augmented Reality Lenses, app conversions as an ad objective, and a minimum return on spend. With the creative Lenses, app marketers can promote their brand in a way that entices users to then potentially install the app (just ask Yahoo Fantasy Sports). The app conversions ad objective allows marketers to optimize for app installs as well, enabling installation tracking from the Snapchat Lens. These new features will help increase brand awareness and overall engagement. And with Snapchat’s rapid growth this year driven by “older” audiences, it’s never been a better time to reconsider including Snapchat in your marketing plans for the year ahead.

Sources:  SNAPCHAT FOR BUSINESS, SOCIAL MEDIA TODAY, EMARKETER

Instagram Proves that Platforms Must Evolve to Stay Relevant

As social media continues to grow, platforms face the decision to adapt or fade. Instagram is facing this head on, opting to evolve to maintain its steady flow of engaged users. The platform recently announced new branded content opportunities, allowing for greater partnership, monetization and collaboration opportunities for brands and creators, particularly through Reels and Live. This announcement comes at the same time as an additional update that allows users to search by keywords, making content more discoverable. As new platforms make their mark in the social landscape, the more experienced need to remain agile and receptive to new practices. Otherwise, they risk losing the attention of their audience to the shinier new offering. Each platform serves a purpose, but if it can’t identify its role within the media landscape and capitalize on its strongest offerings, as Instagram has done here, it may soon join the likes of MySpace and Vine.

Sources: INSTAGRAM, SOCIAL MEDIA TODAY, THE VERGE, SEARCH ENGINE JOURNAL

…AND IN OTHER NEWS:

Another day, another streaming service: Discovery unveils Discovery+, its DTC streaming service.

Different downtime choices lead to different kinds of relief: How teens use downtime to connect, distract or reflect.

W2O’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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The Oxford Dictionary declared the 2020 word of the year “unprecedented,” and we couldn’t agree more. This week alone fits the bill of a “typical” 2020 news cycle, jammed packed with updates reflective of a truly unpredictable time: Microsoft and Zoom are removing time caps for Thanksgiving, Pinterest is suddenly the platform to watch in 2021, Snap is giving away $1M to creators for their new inspiring in-app update called Spotlight and TikTok teens are following senior citizens. We’re grateful to be able to share the latest and greatest with you all, so ping us if you want to hear more on these topics or the ones below. Happy Thanksgiving to our American family and friends. 🦃

Is Local News Making a Comeback?

The COVID-19 pandemic has not only accelerated innovation within healthcare, it has also sped up trends and revealed new opportunities within the local media landscape. Media companies including Axios and NPR – and entrepreneurs like David Klotz – are looking to fill the void of regional newspapers by introducing localized e-newsletters and podcasts. The pandemic also has resulted in media talent spreading beyond the hubs of New York and D.C. as people move to remote work models. Additionally, the evolution of the media landscape in response to the pandemic has shown the value of local news coverage. The specificity of different local regulations leading to higher audience numbers and increased subscriptions shows how some of these organizations will become digitally based in the future to reach local audiences.

Sources: DIGIDAY, VULTURE, POYNTER

The New Streaming Service Every Healthcare Marketer Should Know About

The Able Channel is set to fill what it believes is an “information void” with a streaming channel dedicated to healthcare content. CEO and former Novartis and Disney exec Brian McCourt says he can’t believe this void exists in a world where healthcare represents approximately 18% of U.S. GDP. The debut of this new channel may be perfectly timed as new reports suggest connected TV will be the only device to grow its share of video ad impressions, up to 41% from 33% just a year ago. Viewers can preview the channel’s fresh storytelling approach now by watching “Surviving Suicide,” its first series. Produced in partnership with the Cleveland Clinic, the series profiles survivors who have gone on to help others struggling with suicide. With the right conditions and advertisers such as Ochsner Lafayette already on board as its first hospital system partner, advertising opportunities are primed to grow.

Sources: MM+M, MODERN HEALTHCARE (PAYWALL), RADIO.COM, FACEBOOK – THE ABLE CHANNEL, ADVANCED TELEVISION

“Point of Care” Advertising Is in It for the Long Haul

Despite dips in in-office doctors’ appointments due to the pandemic, industry experts still tout the enduring value of point of care (POC) media as new deals are being struck with content developers such as Meredith, which has just joined forces with Health Media Network. Doctors’ offices around the country will now be displaying video content from several Meredith brands through Health Media Network’s existing relationships with healthcare professionals (HCPs). The POC advertising will focus on TV (as magazines have been removed from waiting rooms) and is designed to educate patients about treatment options, facilitate patient and doctor engagement, and improve health outcomes through engaging and informative content. While targeting in an in-office setting seems limited, much of the audience for healthcare marketers has proven to be those sitting in a waiting room. POC is rapidly growing as experts have found that targeting a patient while they are currently seeking medical care is critical and effective.

Sources: MM+M, DIGIDAY, MEDIA VILLAGE, PR NEWSWIRE

Fostering Community and Influence with Social “Hubs”

The purpose of social media has evolved since its initial development, and platforms that served to connect us with others now also serve largely as educational resources. YouTube, one of the most searched platforms, has long been a hub for educators and influencers alike to share longform, informative videos on a variety of topics and now offers learning-focused playlists and URLs. TikTok is working to strengthen this area within the platform as well, testing a “Learn” tab in the UK market. And LinkedIn recently followed in similar fashion with the launch of its resource hub dedicated to supporting underrepresented groups. Specific “Learning” focused sections of platforms could be key areas for HCP influencers to congregate and help consumers find the resources they are seeking. These hubs also go a step further to reinforce the benefits of social media.

Sources: TIKTOK, LINKEDIN, SOCIAL MEDIA TODAY

…AND IN OTHER NEWS

Tis the season: TikTok adds new option to display non-profit fundraisers on your profile.

Slowing the spread: Twitter may slow down users’ ability to “like” tweets containing misinformation.

Need a screen break? Check out the New York Times’ annual list of 100 notable books.

W2O’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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Is anything predictable anymore? 🤷 With Spotify considering making users pay for podcasts, to Netflix France launching linear TV 🤯 it seems we are in a state of constant pivots and agility in digital. As another industry leader points out, we “used to shy away from the word “scrappy” to describe our work,” and now it’s what brands want for success. Today’s unpredictability is what makes us love being digital futurists, strategists and subject matter experts. If you ask us what we’re tracking these days, it will likely be around privacy, audio and the reinvention of learning in the virtual world.

Marketers Shift Spending Mentality Following Facebook Boycott – Will Google Be Next?

”Thankful”: a surprising characterization shared by Facebook executive Carolyn Everson during ANA’s recent Masters of Marketing conference when asked about the more than 1,000 companies that boycotted Facebook as part of the #StopHateForProfit movement. Everson cited increased organization and accountability as key takeaways from the boycott, though the question remains – what meaningful changes have been made? Outside of Facebook, marketers have shifted their spend approach. Among the most notable is that of P&G’s top marketer, who pledged increased spend with minority-owned media. Other leading brands, such as Coca-Cola, have developed public policies aimed at increasing accountability and transparency among advertisers. If other brands continue to follow suit, their actions could signal a broader willingness to reallocate media dollars that advertisers – not just Facebook – will soon have to account for. This comes as the U.S. Department of Justice and 11 state attorneys general sue Google for alleged anticompetitive behavior, which has us (and others) wondering if the search giant could be next on the boycott list.

Sources: SEARCH & PERFORMANCE MARKETING DAILYMARKETING DAILYDIGIDAY, THE NEW YORK TIMES, CNN

Nutrition in a Snap

Visual search has become a common in-app tool to help provide users with information before making a purchase. Snapchat is trying out visual search through its partnership with nutrition app, Yuka, and wine app, Vivino, as an extension of its visual search features. The in-app camera is used to scan a bar code on a food label or wine label, which then displays product information. Specifically, Yuka’s features provide users with nutrition information, ingredients and health benefits, as well as suggestions for healthier choices. Along with Snapchat’s recent partnership with Headspace, the app seems to be moving farther into the wellness space, while leveraging new technologies to engage an active audience.

Sources: MOBILE MARKETER, SOCIAL MEDIA TODAY, ENGADGET

TikTok’s Latest Partnership Proves Its Intention to Stick Around

As TikTok continues to grow a steady creator base, it’s looking for new ways to continue monetizing. These efforts have led to a global partnership with Shopify, allowing Shopify merchants to run promotions on TikTok and access the core functions of TikTok for Business Ads Manager without leaving the Shopify dashboard. TikTok reports that about half of its users indicated that they discover new products through ads posted by a brand in the app, while 88% reported discovering new content while on the app. This partnership could provide more value for marketers on the app, making a stronger case to integrate the platform into a content plan. Additionally, more ways to monetize could help keep creators on the platform instead of losing them to more robust platforms such as Instagram or YouTube. TikTok seems to be learning from Vine’s failed past while charting a new path for its future.

Sources: SOCIAL MEDIA TODAY, TIKTOK

Data if You Do, Data if You Don’t: New Rules for Digital Data Regulation

California passed new data legislation (that will go into effect January 1, 2023) that will replace and adjust the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 and lay the groundwork for other states or the U.S. as a whole as privacy rules are developed. The California Privacy Rights Act is expected to add more nuance to existing laws and develop a separate oversight agency to monitor companies’ use of behavioral data, but industry insiders have mixed opinions on how this would play out among large tech companies.

Sources: THE DRUM, FAST COMPANY

Video Streaming into the Future

COVID-19 accelerated the emergence of connected TV devices and streaming as viewers gravitated to on-demand content, with media companies and agencies following suit. Major organizations including NBCUniversal and Disney are prioritizing streaming as the backbone of their content offering as CTV received nearly 25% of advertisers’ up-front budgets. While CTV is stealing more eyeballs away from traditional broadcast and cable, it provides a greater footprint for healthcare advertisers to leverage custom data targeting and limit waste.

Sources: EMARKETER, DIGIDAY, AD WEEK

…AND IN OTHER NEWS:

On Election night, while their parents were watching cable news in the other room, younger people were gathering online on TikTok for a more communal experience.

The pandemic isn’t a problem when you’re computer-generated. Virtual influencers make real money while COVID-19 locks down human stars.

The “COVID-proof” drug launch? Why telemedicine could become a staple for more pharma brands.

W2O’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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Big week coming up…get ready to vote! (And if you need more info, check out this handy guide on how to vote in your state). If you’ve already voted, need a break from the news or if you just happen to need something to read while waiting in line to vote…read our latest issue of The Scoop!

Snapchat and TikTok Are Coming for Instagram’s Crown

Actions speak louder than words – a long-held belief supported by a recent study from Piper Sandler. The study asked Gen-Zers to choose their top social platform; 34% chose Snapchat, 29% chose TikTok, and 25% chose Instagram. But when it came to usage data instead of popularity, 84% chose Instagram, 80% chose Snapchat, and 69% chose TikTok. This is good news for Facebook, which uses Instagram as a lifeline to the youngest generation, but as preferences begin to change, will behavior follow? A usage shift toward other platforms could force marketers to rethink their content strategies to ensure their messages are reaching intended audiences where they are most.

Sources: PIPER SANDLER, SOCIAL MEDIA TODAY, CNBC

The Great Holiday Shopping Paradox of 2020

Despite widespread unemployment and an economy in recession, 2020 holiday retail sales are predicted to grow 1%-1.5% bolstered by a massive 25%-35% increase in ecommerce spending, according to Deloitte analysts. Online consumer behavior indicators already appear to support these forecasts. While 70% of retailers say they’re not hiring or rehiring staff for the holidays, Amazon quietly had its biggest Prime Day ever and a new Roku holiday shopping survey revealed the pervasiveness of streaming TV online, reporting 85% of households now stream. If ever there was a time to make sure your online presence is in line with your brand and customer values, and to consider how users find you (hint: more than half start with search), it’s now.

Sources: FORTUNE, ROKU, MARTECH TODAY, CNN 

Listen Up: The Rise of Podcasting Advertising

Podcasts have been growing in popularity over the last few years with ad spend expected to surpass more than $1 billion in 2021. Spotify has emerged as a leader in the streaming audio world by leveraging influencers to grow engagement. Targeting capabilities continue to develop as the podcast industry matures, allowing marketers to reach niche audiences and explore longer-form story telling. With new targeting opportunities, data partnerships and growing reach, platforms such as Pandora and iHeart are making the case for pharma and healthcare advertisers to build brand awareness and relevance for aging Millennials.

Sources:  EMARKETER, FAST COMPANY, FIERCE PHARMA

Stay Home & Stay Active, Don’t Weight!

Closed schools, cancelled extra-curriculars/sports, and restricted public space access has experts worried about increased rates of childhood obesity. Not surprisingly, all of this at-home time and the rollout of new streaming services has led to people watching more digital video this year across devices and formats – and gains are being seen in kids age 11 and younger. Enter new digital programs designed to help keep kids active. Blue Cross Blue Shield and Louisiana State University partnered to develop The Painted Playgrounds Toolkit, which includes games centered around physical activity to help children with motor skills such as throwing, running and hopping. SpiderFit Kids is an online youth fitness site where parents can download activities and training programs for their children. The CDC has also created a webpage dedicated to tips for staying physical while social distancing. So get out there and move!

Sources: WASHINGTON POST, USA TODAY, EMARKETER

Closed Captions Open Up Possibilities

While social media platforms serve as a tool for creators to reach anyone with their content, accessibility features have long been overlooked in design and user experience. Recent conversations across several sites have focused on reaching hard-of-hearing users by adding closed captions to video posts. In some instances, these additions are part of app updates, such as IGTV’s addition of automatic captions on videos and Twitter’s promise to transcribe voice tweets. Others are simple trends, such as TikTok creators using text functions to include “cc” on screen, and Facebook featuring its AI captioning tools in its weekly video creator education series. Accessibility is a vital part of any communication, but particularly in regard to healthcare marketing content and partnerships – brands must ensure they consider not only what their audiences want to see, but how they will consume that content.

Sources: SOCIAL MEDIA TODAY, CNET, CNET

…AND IN OTHER NEWS

Next time your parents tell you to take a screen break, remind them that moms are contributing to the largest increase in social media use during COVID-19.

Telehealth in the COVID-19 era: Illuminating the digital divide in patient access.

Tech giants are ramping up their investments in digital health initiatives. Here’s how Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple are targeting the health insurance market.

W2O’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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The phrase “these unprecedented times” has become the 2020 tagline. With everything in our daily lives so uncertain, we’re increasingly looking for meaning. This is especially true when it comes to our media consumption habits. COVID-19 quarantine, remote work, and the additional alone time at home have led us to seek even greater digital connection.

I recently had the opportunity to engage in a virtual webinar on brand growth during times of crisis for the Advertising Research Foundation, an organization for which our own Seth Duncan, Chief Analytics Officer, serves on the board.

I was joined by Emmanuel Probst, author and SVP Brand Health Tracking at Ipsos, who unpacked the many challenges and opportunities brands have during a time of crisis – like the current COVID-19 pandemic. He also discussed how consumers have changed their behavior and are increasingly seeking out meaning through media.

2020 has completely transformed media consumption – we are glued to our phones, constantly seeking information to keep up with the continuously changing world around us. Brands have an opportunity to provide meaning to consumers, but they are also being presented with a challenge in communicating authenticity and purpose in a virtual world.

“What consumers are really looking for, even more so during this unprecedented time, is meaning,” Emmanuel said. “Now is the time to not only talk about your brand purpose, but to demonstrate your brand purpose.”

In other words, 2020 has proved that, if brands talk the talk, they must also walk the walk.

For those brands that take action to be involved in our extremely connected digital world, they must do so in an authentic manner, staying true to their brand and demonstrating their purpose. However, this is easier said than done. One mistake in this digital world can lead to consumers “cancelling” the brand, a challenge brands are facing while they navigate communication during the pandemic. As both practitioners and consumers, we have a responsibility to hold brands accountable and reach consumer culture in this unique virtual moment.

“Social media advertising is going to be very tempting for brands now, even more so than before,” Emmanuel said. “We can drive clicks and we can drive purchase right away.”

A challenge now is combining channels, online and offline, and sequencing them for brand campaigns. While technology has proven to be one of the most effective way for brands to reach consumers, the pandemic will eventually end, and “the world will come back to in-person interactions,” Emmanuel said.

When those in-person interactions resume, what should we take away from this remote experience? Well for one, practitioners and brands need to remember to hone in on social skills and the ability to communicate and interact with consumers in person. Technology is allowing brands to maintain interaction with consumers during this “unprecedented [virtual] time,” but eventually we will move back offline and return to a time where nothing can replicate in-person interaction and the meaning consumers find in that.


Learn more about W2O via our About or Healthcare pages.

As we see and track such an influx of happenings on digital and social media each week, it can almost feel overwhelming to identify clear “trends.” But this week, we can establish a firm trend: more brands are taking an indirect political stand in 2020. Digital and social media platforms and advertisers are working to help control the spread of #FakeNews and conspiracy theories. That’s why we simply want to use this opening statement to recognize the outstanding work that Facebook, Twitter, Etsy and Peloton have taken to ban or crack down on extreme conspiracy theories impacting our future. 👌

In It to Win It: TikTok Joins Twitter and Facebook in Providing Election Guide for Users

Following the launch of its COVID-19 resource hub, TikTok has created an in-app election guide to provide information in response to election-related searches. The guide is also linked to the bottom of videos with content relating to the election and on videos from verified political accounts. While more than one-third of TikTok’s daily user base is under age 14, a large portion of its users are first time voters who spend their time scrolling on the platform. This is an opportunity to engage younger users, so they are more informed when they do come of voting age. Platforms tailored to younger users such as Snapchat have already seen success in these efforts, prompting 400K people to register to vote in 2020 via its in-app pushes. As younger audiences turn to social platforms for their news, it’s important to provide them with key information where they’re already looking.

Sources: TIKTOK, SOCIAL MEDIA TODAY, THE VERGE

Changing Landscape of Brand Marketing and Influencers

The current COVID-19 digital landscape has brands and influencers alike taking a step back to re-evaluate their content approach to that of a more “unfiltered” aesthetic, creating greater relatability to their followers and their respective new routines. With obvious “work from home” limitations, companies are minimizing production efforts when partnering with influencers to create content that is quick and easy to produce – think Zoom/mobile phone videos and interviews. The result is a sharp contrast to previously over-produced and manicured content. Instead, we’re seeing raw cuts of real people. And consumers are loving it. Earlier this year, Eva Longoria worked on a L’Oréal campaign, promoting a $9 hair cream that she shot on her iPhone, from the comfort of her home. Fast forward to today and this same tutorial is a national TV commercial.

Sources: EMARKETER, REFINERY29

Trust in Facebook is Wavering among Users and Legislators

Despite Facebook’s recent efforts to combat extremism on their platform, Facebook recently ranked last in producing a safe online environment among social media platforms, according to an eMarketer survey, as 32% of U.S. Facebook users did not have confidence in the platform to protect their data and privacy. The mistrust expands beyond everyday users to regulators, with Facebook’s own content monitoring program CrowdTangle not covering posts from individuals or private groups and evading any tracking. Additionally, Facebook is further integrating the systems of its platforms (Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger) rather than remaining a set of complementary apps, which may make it more difficult to break up into separate entities in the future. What does this mean for health marketers? It’s unclear, but we do know that any changes in Facebook will greatly affect the digital advertising landscape.

Sources: EMARKETER, NEW YORK TIMES, BLOOMBERG

TikTok Combats Body Shaming Culture

TikTok recently shared new policies around weight loss products advertised on the platform, including banning some ads and adding stronger restrictions on others, particularly around targeting users under age 18. The announcement came ahead of the National Eating Disorder Association’s Weight Stigma Awareness Week, which featured many influencers, models and others across social media posting about their journeys with body positivity. Conversations over body image online have been part of platforms for as long as social media has existed, but TikTok represents a specific concern due to its popularity with teenage users. This showcases the continued need for healthcare marketing to maintain authenticity in marketing and ensure messaging is appropriately and properly targeted.

Sources: SOCIAL MEDIA TODAY, INSIDER, HEALTH

It’s Programmatic Time

The healthcare industry has been increasing ad spend on programmatic buys more than ever before, and we’re seeing a significant shift from direct display buys to programmatic display buys. eMarketer forecasts programmatic buys in 2021 will be 86.5% of all digital display ad spending, coming out to between $79.61B and $94.97B in 2022. Not only is programmatic display spend skyrocketing, but programmatic podcast ad spending is expected to see ad spend triple, from $31.3M in 2020 to $106.5M in 2022, according to eMarketer. Throughout the pandemic, we have seen medical and pharma advertisers, specifically, increase their ad spend. Brands are now turning this spend toward programmatic for better return on investment, in addition to control and transparency over the ads they are serving. It will be important to keep an eye on the growing programmatic trend and shift spend in our own display campaigns when necessary.

Sources: EMARKETER, MEDIARADAR, EMARKETER

RUMBLINGS

As high schools pivot to hybrid models and students spend less in-person time with friends, teens are missing a way to build stronger bonds with their classmates. HAGS is building a social network designed around high school networks, based largely on Gen Z high school socialization. The network began earlier this year as a digital yearbook built onto Snapchat’s Snap Kit SDK, allowing high schoolers torn from the last weeks of their school year by the COVID-19 pandemic to leave messages for friends in a virtual yearbook. While the HAGS team kicked things off with the yearbook format, it’s staying open-minded about what comes next as it plans for the next feature launches inside its app in the coming months.

…AND IN OTHER NEWS

Colleges are hiring their own students as COVID-19 safety influencers. Like, subscribe and wear a mask.

Are you moving more or less these days? Learn how the pandemic is changing our exercise habits.

Unedited beauty: CVS now labels all photoshopped images in its beauty aisle while other stores are still covering up.

W2O’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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