What are "Insta Pods"

If you don't know what this term means, you're in the right place. There have been numerous debates in agencies around the world about these ‘Insta pods’, but what are they?

An Insta pod is formed when a group of Instagram influencers (30 people is the maximum allowed in a single group chat) get together and agree to follow, like, and stay active on all new content created by any member of the group. 

Insta pods were first created because influencers were whining that Instagram’s new algorithmic timeless makes it harder to grow user numbers organically. 

Let's see what some influencer marketing experts think.

Stefania Pomponi, co-founder at CLEVER:

"Influencers banding together to promote each others' content has been around since the earliest days of blooging. In fact, some influencer networks were founded on the notion of doing exactly what Instagram pods are trying to accomplish. At CLEVER we have always felt that real people aka our influencers tell the best brand stories and that quality content--whether visual, video or written--stands on it own. 

"Thoughtful, creative, compelling content doesn't need "gamification" in order to help it catch fire. We also believe in authentic engagement. One of the criteria for which we vet influencers is to ensure they have authentic followers. We check for "bots and bought". At the end of the day, while Instagram pods may not be inviolation of FTC guidelines, they are not an authentic way of garnering engagement for content that should be able to stand on its own."

Brian Salzman, Founder of RQ

“Today, the majority of influencer partnerships are rooted in a harmful, transaction-based, pay to play model, As a result, influencers are partnering with brands without having any affinity or understanding of that brand or its product. Once viewed as personable, authentic sources of information, they now move from brand to brand, leaving inconsistent, digital footprints. Consumers have caught on, and we’re at a moment in time where influencers and brands are losing credibility.

“To start, brands need to start approaching influencer marketing in the way that a friendship is made – authentic relationships are built gradually over time, and they start with mutual passion and shared interests. Fixing the broken system is entirely possible, but it will require brands to 1) start owning their relationships, 2) start learning to recognize real influence in both the digital AND human spheres, and 3) start putting a system in place that facilitates organic relationship building between the brand and the influencer over time.”

Read more about this story
here: https://www.marketingtechnews.net/news/2017/aug/04/insta-pods-and-soul-influencer-marketing/

The power of Pokémon GO: Yes, it can do wonders for your business


These days, it’s no longer surprising how a reality mobile game becomes an overnight phenomenon. Angry Birds, the now-defunct Flappy Bird are some of the most popular ones, to name a few.

After its global release this month, Pokémon GO is making tsunami waves as a free-to-play location-based augmented reality mobile game. 

Developed by Niantic for iOS and Android devices, Pokémon GO utilizes GPS and cameras of compatible devices and allows players “to capture, battle and train virtual creatures called Pokémon, who appear on device screens as though in the real world.” 

According to data released by Similarweb, “over 60 percent who have downloaded the app in the US are using it daily, meaning 3 percent of the entire US Android population are users of the app,” meaning that Pokémon GO daily active users could outnumber Twitter users easily in just a matter of days.

“As of July 8th, the app was being used for an average of 43 minutes, 23 seconds a day — higher than WhatsApp, Instagram, Snapchat and Messenger,” Similarweb further states.

For users outside of the U.S., who have been downloading the app using an apk, apkmirror.com notes that there has been a dramatic influx to its traffic — “increasing from just over 600,000 visits on July 5th to over 4 million visits on July 6th,” says SimilarWeb.

The data was obtained from Organic Search Traffic over a 28-day period (from June 10-July 17), where 19.6 percent of desktop search traffic came from searching the term “pokemon go apk,” and 30.5 percent of all desktop search traffic during this period had “pokemon” in them.

David Ingles of Bloomberg tweeted that the surge in Pokémon GO users has upped Nintendo’s stock by 20 percent.

As of Similarweb’s latest blog post, traffic to apkmirror.com showed that on July 6 and July 11 “the app eclipsed 4 million daily visitors.”

As of July 11 the app has been installed by 10.8 percent of Android users in the US, 15.1 percent of Android users in Australia and 16 percent of Android users in New Zealand. And they are not simply being installed, they are being actively used on a daily basis.

According to Mike Templeman of Forbes.com, “there are already anecdotal reports of local businesses seeing booms in their business due to the foot traffic that the game is causing.”

Templeman gives some tips for businesses on how to “cash in on this craze.”

First, he recommends to place “lure modules” on Pokéstops.” A Pokéstop is a fixed location where you can get bonuses from and are often “important or unique features of a town” like statues and landmarks.

According to IGN.com, a lure module is a type of chip in Pokémon GO that you can purchase. They are more powerful than Incense (which are also purchasable) which is used to attract more Pokémon.

“When deployed, any Pokéstop under the influence can be seen on the map with a shower of pink petals around the stop. This can be seen by all players, as Pokemon attracted to the location can be found by any player at that location — making it a great item to use with friends. A new Pokémon will show up approximately every 3 minutes,” says IGN.com.

Templeman explains the advantages of Pokéstops, even further: “they refresh very regularly (about every 5 minutes) so once someone visits one, they don’t have to wait long for it to provide them another benefit. This means that restaurants and stores can keep customers there longer if they’re lucky to have a Pokéstop, nearby.”

The game is free to download. You can find out if you have a Pokéstop nearby by looking at the map. If you find a blue icon spinning near your business, then it means you have a Pokéstop close to you. Use a lure to your advantage to generate more customers to your business.

Templeman also recommends to host a Pokemon hunting party and to promote the event in social media, and to offer prizes for Pokémon players who come to your business “to show off their Pokémon.”

“Set up sidewalk features — Another great story is all of the friendly activities that surround the game. Companies have been providing players with pit stops to get free water, a place to sit, or shade to get out of the sun. Don’t worry about selling the players right away. Instead, support them and build a relationship with them out of kindness,” Templeman further advises.

Another surefire strategy is to engage with people on social posts concerning the game. “Players love sharing inside jokes and non-players love poking fun at those taking part…listen to what’s popular, read up on some of the trends and use that information to craft funny and timely social posts that are sure to get a ton of shares and engagement,” says Templeman.

Since playing Pokémon Go requires a lot of battery power, Templeman recommends to set up free charging power strips and wi-fi in your business and to designate it as “a free wi-fi and power station for Pokémon hunting.”

Lastly, Templeman suggests that local businesses have the game “up and running at all times, where an employee can monitor the game.”

“The digital Pokémon roam the world and pop up in random places. So when one shows up in your business, hop on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, or however you want to get the word out, and tell your followers that you have a Pikachu tearing up the place. If you’re lucky enough to have a rare Pokémon visit your establishment, you’re sure to see an influx of players showing up to capture the critter,” says Templeman.

Native ad campaigns on mobile devices triple in 2015

According to a new study by Adyoulike (a native advertising platform), the number of mobile-based native advertising campaigns “has tripled in size,” reports MarketingTechNews.net.

The findings came from an analysis of 1.3 billion in-feed native ads which ran in the UK last year. The study claims to be “the first year-on-year analysis of native advertising trends” and takes into consideration advertisers, publishers and consumer behavior from 2014-2015.

In 2014, mobile-only spending was only at 10 percent but has since tripled to 30 percent in 2015. Conversely, desktop-only spending drastically dropped from 40 percent in 2014 to only 15 percent in 2015.

2015 saw an increase in mobile-only native ads which was at 81 percent, compared to only 62 percent in 2014.

Key findings of the study also revealed an increase in “dwell time” for native ads on mobiles (2.4 minutes in 2015 as compared to 2.2 minutes in 2014.) Desktop-only ad campaigns has remained constantly at 1.1 minutes.

UK Adyoulike Managing Director Francis Turner quips that “mobile and native are a match made in heaven.”

“Native ads provide quality content, which consumers demand, delivered in-feed in a way that doesn’t spoil the mobile experience,” said Turner.

“With more and more people focusing on mobiles as their primary way of going online, in-feed native ads are going to become increasingly important,” he added, reacting to the fact that nearly 20 percent of publishers “still don’t offer native advertising on mobile.”

Other findings of the study revealed:

- 53 percent of ads with up to 40 characters were clicked through in 2015, as compared to only 32 percent in 2014

- Headlines with characters between 70 to 90 decreased from 36 percent in 2014, to only 17 percent in 2015

- Headlines without brand names were four times more likely to be clicked on in 2015; only twice as likely in 2014

- There was a decrease in the number of rehashed existing TV ads — from 90 percent in 2014 to 78 percent in 2015.

“It may well be the influence of mobile that made ads with shorter headlines even more accessible and successful last year. There’s also a possibility that consumers are getting switched off by listicles or click-bait titles with overlong titles — and they’re clearly not happy with pushy brand mentions clogging up their feed,” said Turner.

Read more about this story here: http://www.marketingtechnews.net/news/2016/apr/29/mobile-only-native-ad-spend-triples-size/ 

Used and certified leasing: Good business opportunity for dealerships

With 3.1 million off-lease vehicles returning to the market this year, captives and other lenders are scrambling for profits by offering used- and certified-vehicle leasing, Automotive News reported recently.

Manheim (a part of Cox Automotive) forecasts that the number of off-lease vehicles will increase by 20 percent from 2015 and will progressively grow through 2017 and 2018.

According to Experian, as a share of new-vehicle transactions, leasing has leaped to 29 percent in Q4 of 2015. (In 2013, it was at 24 percent.) The upsurge was brought about by captive finance companies clamoring for more sales by lowering monthly payments for consumers.

While used-vehicle leasing is quite rare, it is slowly gaining steam — 3.8 percent of leases in Q4 of 2015 were on used vehicles, an uptick from 3.2 percent in 2013.

Toyota, Ally Financial and BMW are among those utilizing this business opportunity, to prepare for the saturation of lease returns, according to Automotive News.

In March, Ally Financial launched Ally Pre-Owned Smart Lease, which is now available to more than 17,500 dealership partners across the U.S. — covering 15 brands and 35 models, and is expected to expand to more vehicles.

BMW of North America has also started a certified lease program earlier this year plus a pull-ahead program by waiving some customers “last two or three” lease payments. BMW is expecting very few lease returns at the end of the year.

Toyota Financial Services Group Vice President of Sales, Marketing and Product Mike Wells believes that leasing more certified pre-owned vehicles is the best solution.

Toyota, Scion and Lexus have been tapping certified leasing for years and have had considerable success — enough for Toyota Financial Services to entice consumers with various incentives.

“Toyota and Lexus are rallying around that volume as an opportunity. This just became one more of those tools that they believe they can use to bring in some of those cars and keep [customers] coming back to us,” Wells said.

For Toyota, Lexus and Scion, certified vehicle lease terms last 36 months on average. Toyota and Scion certified vehicles must be 3 model years or lower with fewer than 65,000 miles. Lexus, on the other hand, must be 4 model years or lower with fewer than 60,000 miles.

According to Wells, although certified leasing has been available for years, Toyota did not have it as top of mind. Lease returns were being sold as used retail by dealers, but because of the initiative, certified leasing became 10 times higher than a year earlier.

“I think it’s in direct relation to how competitive the programs are, the level of awareness in used-car departments and the additional training that’s being offered, not only from the financing side, but from the sales side as well,” Wells explained.

Toyota’s dealerships and financial services’ customer service center inform consumers about their lease-end options — making 1.8 million outbound calls and taking 340,000 inbound calls by the end of the fiscal year this March, as well as generating 120,000 leads to dealers with a 40 percent close rate.

“It’s not a 90-day program. It’s part of a long-term strategy for sure. We’ll watch it closely, and we’ll manage it just like we do our new-vehicle-off-lease strategies,” Wells said.

“You want to make your programs competitive, but you don’t want to step on your new-car sales. You’ve got to make sure you have a little bit of separation between how aggressive you make those certified programs from a leasing standpoint versus your new car programs,” Wells further added.

For more on this story, visit http://www.autonews.com/article/20160416/RETAIL04/304189964/too-many-used-cars-lease-them

WardsAuto survey reveals mixed bag of preferences for car-buying experience

The 2016 WardsAuto e-Dealer 100 is a survey which “represents a variety of dealers, from single points to multi-state groups.”

WardsAuto states that “for purposes of this ranking an internet sale is considered as one in which customer contact is initiated online and a dedicated internet salesperson or department completes the transaction.”

Last year, WardsAuto e-Dealer 100 internet sales totaled 287,170, with 173,563 new and 113,607 used vehicles.

“While tallies are a fraction of the 17.4 million new and nearly 15 million used vehicles dealers sold last year, they are more than three times the sales attributed to the Internet that was reported on the first WardsAuto e-Dealer 100 in 2001,” states WardsAuto.

Chapman Automotive Group (Internet Unit) of Arizona ranked #1, with 10,963 new units sold and 6,700 used units sold — a total of 17,663 units sold through the internet.

Cardinale Automotive Group (Internet Unit) of Seaside, CA ranked #2 with 5,725 new units sold and 8,457 used units sold — a total of 14,182 units sold through the internet; Dave Smith Motors of Kellogg, ID is at #3, with 8,870 new units sold and 3,044 used units sold — a total of 11,914 units sold through the internet.

At the 2016 National Automobile Dealers Association convention, Dealer Synergy President Sean V. Bradley said that “the e-commerce landscape for dealers has definitely evolved,” adding that “the Internet and phones are the new showroom” and that the change is “dramatic and profound.”

Bradley offered two recommendations for dealerships, regardless whether they’re running a small internet operation.

“Treat the Internet department of the (business development center) as your No. 1 profit center, not as a second-rate citizen. The vast majority of dealerships we come in contact with mistakenly do the latter.”

“Second, the Internet director should be a strong sales manager, not the IT nerd, not the parts manager’s daughter. If you want your Internet department to sell 100 or 200 units a month, you need a strong sales-manager-caliber person.”

Bradley further adds that dealers would not be able “to reach their potential without ample technology and human resources.”

In the same manner, online and offline worlds are necessary. “You’ll only get out of it what you put into it,” he further advised.

According to Google, 80 percent of all transactions (inclusive of automotive) begin with a search. This has led dealers to explore “modern ways” of catering to their customer’s needs — for example, utilizing a “responsive” website design “that permits easier navigation on multiple devices,” WardsAuto further states.

“Another proposed strategy is to set up a business-development center that integrates all the information that comes into the store through digital channels,” WardsAuto adds.

However, WardsAuto observed that purchasing a car “remains a very individualized activity that thrives on personal relationships,” adding that “car-buying as an Amazon-like experience has not yet arrived.”

“That’s largely because it appears as if dealership customers don’t necessarily want to go all in digitally,” WardsAuto further elaborates.

Of the millennial market, Foresight Vice President for Business Development Nancy Walker said that “by looking at millennials, we can see the future. They’re starting to make money and cars are more accessible to them. They went from 10 percent to 20 percent of the purchasing group and they’ll continue to grow. They are a force to be reckoned with in the future, but not tomorrow.”

However, because millennials are a sizable group, investing on a virtual showroom and online negotiating would be “resources well-spent,” Walker added.

According to surveys:

- Based on interviews with 7,500 recent new-car buyers conducted by Foresight Research in its recent Dealer Action Report (“Making Digital Work for You”), there is a small demand for “a full online showroom and Internet-enabled negotiations.”

- 14 percent of respondents agreed “somewhat” or “strongly” to “I prefer an online showroom where I can complete the process without visiting a dealer, with option for online chat with a salesperson if I have questions.” (In 2014, only 10 percent of the respondents had the same sentiment.)

- Nearly 60 percent agreed “somewhat” or “strongly” to “I prefer the experience of physically visiting the dealer showroom, getting in and out of vehicles and talking to a salesperson face-to-face.” (In 2014, 68 percent had the same sentiment.)

- About 1 in 4 respondents said that “they would be happy with either shopping method.”

- 50 percent said that they prefer to handle the negotiation process “in person;” only 18 percent were willing to do online negotiations.

- Of the Millennials surveyed (ages 18-34) more than 20 percent “prefer a full online showroom and price negotiations;” respondents ages 55 and older, 11 percent and 15 percent respectively have the same preference

For more information on this survey, go to http://wardsauto.com/dealer/do-vehicle-buyers-want-go-all-digitally. You can also download the survey at: http://wardsauto.com/datasheet/wardsauto-2016-e-dealer-100-pdf

Facebook is a ‘mobile-advertising powerhouse’ - Wall Street Journal

Wall Street Journal (WSJ) recently reported that Facebook has “nearly tripled its quarterly profit” ironically at a time when most of its “Silicon Valley rivals are underperforming.”

The social network revealed that its advertising revenue surged from $3.3 billion to $5.2 billion in Q1 2016 — a 57 percent increase, comprised mostly of higher-priced mobile ads, which is about 80 percent of said revenue.

Facebook users ballooned to 1.65 billion, compared to 1.44 billion in Q1 2015. That’s about an average of $3.32 revenue for each user, compared to $2.50 in 2015.

Facebook shares went up to 8.8 percent in after-hours trading, with a market valuation that is more than $330 billion, WSJ further reported.

Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg told WSJ in an interview that “businesses are no longer asking if they should market on mobile, they’re asking how,” adding that “this is a shift that we think we’re very well-positioned to take advantage of and build on.”

Sandberg also emphasized that Facebook’s revenue growth was “broad-based” but cites video ads as one of its strengths.

According to data firm eMarketer, Facebook is expected to get a 12 percent share of the $186.8 billion global digital-advertising market this year.

As advertisers invested more on mobile ads, Facebook’s ad prices increased by an average of 5 percent in the first quarter.

In a conference call, Chief Financial Officer David Wehner shared that Facebook has been showing more ads to users. Facebook is also working to get a share of television ad budgets through the promotion of high-quality video content in its newsfeed.

For more details, read this story in its entirety at http://www.wsj.com/articles/facebook-revenue-soars-on-ad-growth-1461787856

Ride-sharing could increase auto sales - Deutsche

According to a recent report from Bloomberg, ride-sharing and self-driving vehicles could become “game-changers” for commuters and automakers.

With high upfront costs of car ownership and abrupt vehicle depreciation, “on-demand, shared and potentially autonomous mobility” seem to be the current trend and solution.

Analysts at Deutsche Bank AG debunked previous misconceptions about the impact of on-demand revolution to auto sales.

“The consensus view is that auto sales will decline, and that this will be negative for U.S. original equipment manufacturers. We believe that the consensus view may be wrong,” writes the Deutsche Bank team, under the leadership of Rod Lache.

On the other hand, the onset of the on-demand revolution also means that there will be less cars on the road — reducing the number of vehicles by more than 25 million.

“On demand mobility is likely to be practical and financially attractive in the densest sub-sections which account for [circa] 31 percent (on average) of total households in the metropolitan statistical areas we studied (13.2 million households, owning 15.5 million vehicles out of the total).”

“Within these sub-segments, up to 61 percent of households (owning 8 million out of 15 million vehicles) may find it financially attractive to switch to on-demand autonomous vehicle mobility services,” Deutsche further writes.

However, a decrease in the number of cars on the streets would also mean that they will be utilized more heavily and will have shorter life-cycles. An on-demand vehicle is expected to last only three years — therefore encouraging a rise in sales volumes, according to Deutsche analysts.

“U.S. sales nonetheless increase under every scenario we’ve examined because vehicle scrappage is determined by miles driven. Each on-demand vehicle will travel more miles (10 to 20 percent more) than the cumulative six to nine privately-owned vehicles that it replaces,” analysts concluded.

An increase in aggregate miles is attributed to the distance traveled by on-demand vehicles between one passenger to another. However, “a significant increase in ride-sharing could throw the analysts’ call of increasing aggregate miles traveled in jeopardy,” Bloomberg reports.

Bloomberg further analyzed that “cost deflation in the provision of on-demand vehicle services could also put further upward pressure on aggregate miles traveled due to to the established price-sensitivity of consumers.”

But Deutsche analysts note that cost-wise, on-demand mobility services “continue to decline rapidly.”

“Costs should continue to decline as efficiencies are gained as providers use information technology to create new offerings,” Deutsche analysts further opined.

For more details on the Bloomberg report, visit http://www.autonews.com/article/20160328/RETAIL01/160329878/how-sharing-cars-could-actually-boost-auto-sales

Social spend up 86 percent, search growth up by 13 percent in Q1 2016 - Kenshoo

According to a new report from Kenshoo, there was a significant and consistently rapid growth in social advertising spend for Q1 2016.

“Phones and tablets combined make up a majority of clicks in both channels; Social spend is up 86 percent for the quarter versus 2015, with search growing by 13 percent,” says Kenshoo in its website.

Deriving from Kenshoo’s report, MarketingTechNews.net said that there was “an increase in spend on Instagram ads and Facebook Dynamic Product Ads, which helped to drive the increase — a trend that goes against the normal seasonal ad buying patterns.”

In an interview with MarketingTechNews.net, Kenshoo’s Managing Director for EMEA Rob Koyne said that “there’s a real opportunity for advertisers to drive significant performance gains in both paid search and social advertising through harnessing new ad types such as Instagram. Marketers are showing an increasing appetite for more direct response product-focused advertising, with PLAs and Dynamic Product Ads now a key part of a strong digital marketing strategy, along with app promotion.”

Kenshoo’s infographics detailed that “smartphones and tablets accounted for 71 percent of clicks, 63 percent of spend and 46 percent of impressions for social ads in Q1 2016.”

Additionally, “mobile app install ads have grown from 20 percent of paid social spend in Q1 2015 to 25 percent in Q1 2016.”

On Social Instagram share for Mobile App advertisers, Kenshoo concludes that “for mobile app advertisers, Instagram was 14 percent of impressions and 17 percent of clicks in Q1 2016.”

For searches on a year-over-year (YoY) spend, Kenshoo states that “Smartphones (+77% YoY) and product ads (+98 percent YoY) continue to be the biggest  drivers of YoY search spend growth, which grew by 13 percent overall.”

For searches on desktop keywords, Kenshoo says that “desktop keywords grew 5 percent over Q1 of 2015 in both clicks and spend.”

For searches on product ads vs non-brand keywords, “product ad CPC for eCommerce advertisers was half that of non-brand keywords with similar CTR.”

Other findings of the report revealed:

- A strong YoY growth in Q1 2016 for impressions and clicks, due to advertisers taking advantage of mobile and product ads

- A downward trend YoY for Cost-Per-Click (CPC) “after the mobile SERP change in Q3 2015, but has mostly leveled off since then”

- A repeat of a normal Q1 retreat for overall search volume (impressions, clicks and spend) from Q4 seasonal peaks

- “In Q1, smartphones made up 40 percent of clicks and 29 percent of spend. If tablets were included, those numbers would grow to 52 percent and 42 percent”

- An increase of 97 percent on spending for Product Listing Ads (PLAs) “over Q1 of 2015, and clicks tripled”

- “Paid social ad spend actually increased from Q4 to Q1, running counter to normal seasonal patterns and demonstrating advertiser appeal for new offerings like Instagram and Dynamic Product Ads”

- A significant growth in paid social ad spending “at a faster rate (+86 percent YoY) than both clicks (+54 percent) and impressions (+6 percent)” due to an increase in CPC and CPM

- An increase of mobile clicks on paid social ads (at 92 percent) from Q1 2015 to Q1 2016; mobile spend increased by 122 percent over the same period

For the whole story, visit http://www.marketingtechnews.net/news/2016/apr/25/report-shows-huge-increase-advertising-spend/

For Kenshoo’s detailed report and infographics, visit http://kenshoo.com/digital-marketing-snapshot/

Facebook trends that every e-commerce advertiser should know in 2016

Here’s a very informative piece written by Andrew Waber of MarketingLand.com. Sharing the article in its entirety, for the benefit of our readers.

MarketingLand.com has this description of the author: “Andrew Waber is the Manager of Market Insights and Media Relations for advertising automation software provider Nanigans. In his current role, Andrew manages the data analysis, editorial direction, and strategy for the Nanigans Market Insights research program. Prior to his time at Nanigans, Andrew served as the Market Analyst and lead author of reports for Chitika Insights, the research arm of the Chitika online ad network. Andrew's commentary on online trends has been quoted by the New York Times, Re/Code, and The Guardian, among other outlets.”

Here’s the article in its entirety:

With an increasingly robust international user base, and more direct response-type ad products available than at any point in its history, Facebook has increasingly become a go-to channel for advertisers directly selling physical products. Fashion retailers, flash-sale sites and subscription services all have significant presences on the site.

In this environment, marketers not only have had to keep up with creative best practices to stay ahead of an increasingly wider array of competitors, they also have needed to keep abreast of the platform’s technology changes that are designed to improve performance.

Already, companies like Wayfair (disclosure: client) treat their advertising as a science, looking for any and all technological advantages to make the best use of their customer data for cost-effectively driving purchases.

My work at Nanigans involves studying performance and ad spend data across the hundreds of brands that use our advertising automation software — many of which are among the largest e-commerce advertisers, both domestically and internationally. Recently, both the data and signals from Facebook have pointed to several important trends e-commerce marketers need to take into account as they continue to shape their 2016 advertising strategy.

1. Facebook mobile, not desktop, now a primary channel for e-commerce

Mobile, assuredly, is not new. What is new is the e-commerce sector’s much more vigorous spend levels on the format.

In prior years, desktop was an old gift that kept on giving to e-commerce advertisers — most noticeably in North America, where desktop penetration is relatively high. Sure, click-through rates were lower, but impressions were substantially less expensive (registration required), and purchase rates were slightly higher.

Yet these trends no longer hold true in the first quarter of 2016.

In 2014, North American e-commerce desktop CPMs were more than double comparative mobile CPMs. In this most recent quarter, that difference has shrunk to roughly 40 percent. Meanwhile, North American mobile e-commerce CTRs are now more than 200 percent higher than desktop figures, and large advertisers are seeing mobile purchase rates catch up or surpass those of desktop.

Combined with mobile-heavy international markets and the overall consumer shift to mobile, 60 percent of Facebook e-commerce ad spend was mobile-targeted in Q1 2016 — a 15-percent jump from the prior quarter.

2. Dynamic product ads helping to drive increased returns

Dynamic product ads (DPA) are arguably among the highest-profile new ad units from Facebook — allowing for new use cases like the retargeting of users with related products or taking a second crack at converting a user who had previously abandoned their cart on the website. These units have been a hit, particularly with retailers who deal with a variety of products, as they can automatically populate the “carousel-like” unit with personalized, available products.

While not appropriate for every e-commerce business, advertisers that have adopted DPA have seen noticeable improvements in performance compared with their ads using website custom audience (WCA) — a legacy means of targeting specific users on Facebook.

3. FAN expansion creates opportunity for e-commerce advertisers

Back in January 2016, Facebook announced that its Audience Network product — which allows for Facebook native ads to be placed on a wide variety of mobile apps — was dramatically expanding to access mobile Web inventory.

Unlike gaming advertisers who turned on Audience Network at fairly substantial rates, e-commerce advertisers have been slower to adopt the product. This latest expansion should be an impetus for that latter group of marketers to test out Audience Network.

Outside of the obvious reach benefits, Facebook has thus far done a great job in coaxing similar, if not better, performance with these outside inventory sources, as seen in our 2015 study on a variety of gaming advertisers.

4. Video continuing to make inroads

Much like Audience Network, direct response-focused e-commerce advertisers initially lagged behind their gaming counterparts when it came to deploying video ads on Facebook. However, with video ads helping boost conversion rates and return on ad spend, while also minimizing overall CPAs for e-commerce advertisers, the format is one of the fastest-growing for the vertical.

Moving forward, expect Facebook to continue to maximize its ability to deliver video inventory, both domestically and internationally. In Nanigans’ Q1 2016 benchmark report (registration required), the share of mobile spend going to video inventory increased by double-digit percentages quarter over quarter, and Facebook itself has harped on the promise of video on many occasions.

Not every e-commerce advertiser will necessarily need to take advantage of all of these trends. However, in the interest of always having an eye on improving performance, all e-commerce advertisers should at least look into testing new approaches.

In the case of Audience Network, video and DPA in particular, there is a possibility to extract a lot more value out of your existing Facebook ad budgets.

To view the original article, visit http://marketingland.com/4-key-facebook-trends-e-commerce-advertisers-need-know-2016-173896

Leasing will continue to grow, as millennials enter auto market - ALG GM

In an interview with Automotive News at the National Automobile Dealers Association Conference in Las Vegas, TrueCar Executive Vice President and ALG General Manager Jim Nguyen speaks about how millennials will affect leasing trends in the automotive market.

According to Nguyen, J.D. Power said there are currently 80 million millennials.

“Millennials over-index on leasing, so from a demand standpoint, that will continue the trend of leasing. I don’t think it’s going to flatten or decrease. It will continue to grow as millennials enter the automotive market. It’s one of those products they’re going to use to address the affordability issue. That’s why it’s been so successful,” said Nguyen.

Automotive News asked Nguyen if there will be changes made to ALG, now that he’s General Manager. The auto industry is dependent on ALG for setting residual values.

Nguyen talked about the release of the company’s latest forecasting model, called ALG 5.0.

“We believe it’s the most accurate model we’ve released. We released it in March. The residuals that come out of that forecasting model will be seen by the industry in our May-June edition,” said Nguyen.

Nguyen further explained that ALG 5.0 will be “looking at data in a more granular level.”

“We’re factoring in factors such as gas prices in a more meaningful way. When gas prices spiked, we saw a significant shift from trucks and SUVs into sedans and compacts, and we’re seeing the inverse of that, and that shift has an impact on residual values. We’re applying that coefficient in a better way to deliver a more accurate forecast three years from now. We don’t want to be speculators. We want the data to drive the forecast,” Nguyen said.

For more on this story, visit http://www.autonews.com/article/20160425/OEM02/304259993/alg-chief-millennials-will-drive-strong-leasing

Outlook hazier for car dealership values this year

At the J.D. Power Conference presentation entitled, “2016 Dealership Buy/Sell Trends: Are Dealership Values Peaking?,” Kerrigan Advisors Managing Director Erin Kerrigan points out that “the outlook (for car dealership values) are hazier this year,” WardsAuto reports.

Topping the list of “franchise holders who want the most money for their dealerships” are Lexus, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi, who consistently rake high profits and make the most money when they go up for sale.

Meanwhile, Acura, Hyundai, Cadillac and Volvo get lower price tags because of their “consistently low” average profits, Kerrigan compares.

Last year, billionaire Warren Buffet was among those who invested on “hot property” dealerships, with U.S. auto dealers selling 17.4 million light vehicles in 2015. WardsAuto predicts that sales will increase to 17.8 million this year.

“Despite that, many investors, citing the cyclical nature of the auto industry, figure it’s a matter of when, not if, a downturn will occur, making dealerships less valuable,” WardsAuto reports.

“Investors are worried the 7-year run may be coming to an end,” said Kerrigan, adding that another concern is a spurt in longer-term auto loans. According to Kerrigan, this type of loans also mean car purchases would be fewer and far between.

Currently, 29.5 percent of auto loans have terms of 73 to 84 months; 37.7 percent have terms of 61 to 72 months.

However, Kerrigan says that “the dealership buy-sell arena has been lively.”

“We’re seeing a significant increase of sellers coming to market. The average dealership is earning more than $1 million, four times what it earned in the past.”

Kerrigan also emphasized on the property value of lands occupied by dealerships, saying that “real-estate prices are affecting dealers’ blue-sky values.”

When it comes to the average number of sales per dealership, “Lexus is head and shoulders above everyone else,” Kerrigan points out.

According to Kerrigan Advisors’ tracking, more than 80 percent of investors, who are new to dealership buying, invest on non-luxury brands.

“The multiples are lower, but the return on investment is attractively high [for many brands],” Kerrigan said.

There is a high demand for Toyota, Honda and Subaru; Chevrolet and Ford are picking up steam; Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge, Nissan, Hyundai and Kia are average; while Mazda and Volkswagen are ranking low.

For more on this story, visit http://wardsauto.com/dealer/are-car-dealership-values-peaking

Takata air bag recall unprecedented in U.S. history - NHTSA

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has ordered an additional recall of 35-40 million air bag inflators from Japanese supplier, Takata. This is in addition to the 28.8 million that have already been recalled for defects.

“The decision follows the agency’s confirmation of the root cause behind the inflators’ propensity to rupture. Ruptures of the Takata inflators have been tied to ten deaths and more than 100 injuries in the United States,” stated NHTSA in a press release.

NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosenkind noted that “this is the largest recall in American history.”

“NHTSA’s aggressive actions in 2015 means this recall is already a year ahead of where it would have been if the agency had waited for this research. As a result, all of the most dangerous inflators responsible for the deaths and injuries are already under recall,” said Rosenkind further.

An Amended Consent Order has been sent to Takata this week, requiring the Japanese supplier “to make a series of safety defect decisions that will support vehicle manufacturer recall campaigns of an additional estimated 35-40 million inflators, adding to the already 28.8 million inflators previously recalled.”

“These expansions are planned to take place in phases between May 2016 and December 2019. The expansions mean that all Takata ammonium nitrate-based propellant driver and passenger frontal air bag inflators without a chemical drying agent, also known as a desiccant, will be recalled,” NHTSA’s press release further elaborated.

The five recall phases have been determined based on prioritization of risk — “age of inflators, exposure to high humidity and fluctuating high temperatures that accelerate the degradation of the chemical propellant.”

Findings from three independent investigations into the Takata air bag ruptures revealed and confirmed the root cause of inflator ruptures.

“A combination of time, environmental moisture and fluctuating high temperatures contribute to the degradation of the ammonium nitrate propellant in the inflators. Such degradation can cause the propellant to burn too quickly, rupturing the inflator module and sending shrapnel through the air bag into the vehicle occupants,” said NHTSA.

“This recall schedule ensures the inflators will be recalled and replaced before they become dangerous, giving vehicle owners sufficient time to have them replaced before they pose a danger to vehicle occupants. NHTSA will continue to evaluate all available research and will act quickly to protect safety,” said Rosenkind.

Before revising the Coordinated Remedy Order which “governs the accelerated program to obtain and install replacement inflators,” NHTSA will consult with affected vehicle manufacturers to ensure that higher-risk vehicles will be prioritized first for replacement inflators.

The revised Coordinated Remedy Program, set for announcement this summer, “will detail the updated vehicle prioritization schedule and the schedule by which manufacturers are required to procure [a] sufficient supply of replacement parts to conduct the required recall repairs,” said NHTSA.

Through the Coordinated Remedy Program, NHTSA and auto manufacturers have committed to a hundred-percent recall completion rate.

Rosenkind advises notified vehicle owners to cooperate and “act immediately to have their inflator fixed.” He also advised all vehicle owners to regularly check SaferCar.gov for information on open safety recalls and steps to follow to get their air bag inflators fixed, free of charge.

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said that this “is a significant step in the U.S. Department of Transportation’s aggressive oversight of Takata on behalf of drivers and passengers across America. The acceleration of this recall is based on scientific evidence and will protect all Americans from air bag inflators that may become unsafe.”

As of May 4, 2016, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports in its website that there are 8.1 million total air bags repaired with 4.6 million driver-side airbags repaired and 3.5 million passenger-side air bags repaired.

For more details on this report, visit http://www.nhtsa.gov/About+NHTSA/Press+Releases/nhtsa-expands-accelerates-takata-inflator-recall-05042016

50 minutes a day spent on Facebook, Messenger and Instagram - Zuckerberg

(Photo credit: CNET.com)

“Today people around the world spend on average more than 50 minutes a day using Facebook, Instagram and Messenger…and that doesn’t count WhatsApp,” said Mark Zuckerberg on Q1 2016 earnings held recently.

In 2014, American users spent an average of 40 minutes a day, according to Zuckerberg.

“As an advertising-driven business, that huge volume on time spent on its apps translates into enormous numbers of ad views. But that business model also incentivizes Facebook to push people to spend as much time as possible with it,” wrote Techcrunch.com’s Josh Constine.

“While some amount of feed reading, photo sharing and messaging brings people together, usage can also become an endless quest for little hits of dopamine — excitement from consuming new information even if we’re never satisfied. It’s easy to resort to digital, asynchronous connection rather than having to expend the mental energy to leave the house of put down your phone and interact with people in person,” Constine wrote further.

According to a report from MSNBC.com, Facebook “crushed analyst estimates” after reporting its first-quarter results on April 27 — a whopping “77 cents per share on revenue of about $5.38 billion.”

Previously, analysts from Thomson Reuters made a forecast of about 62 cents per share on $5.26 billion in revenue, based on a consensus estimate.

For more on this story, visit http://www.cnbc.com/2016/04/27/facebook-reports-first-quarter-earnings.html and http://techcrunch.com/2016/04/27/facediction/

AdWords talks about ‘Material Design’

A few words from our friends in Adwords on “redesigning Adwords for marketing in a mobile-first world:”

Since introducing AdWords 15 years ago, we’ve seen a fundamental change in the way people find what they want, when they want it. We now use multiple devices throughout the day, and watch more videos and visit more websites and apps than ever before. Today, more Google searches take place on smartphones than on computers, globally.

The days of predictable web sessions have been replaced by numerous short bursts of digital activity throughout the day, primarily on mobile. In these micro-moments, consumers expect ads to be helpful and relevant - whether that’s showing product details, directions to the nearest store, a phone number to call, or additional information about the business they’re interested in.

The innovations in AdWords that make these experiences possible have helped many businesses reach their customers in better, smarter ways. What was once a tool to help advertisers place text ads on search results has become so much more than that. As a result, we’ve seen an increase in the complexity that marketers face every day. For example, AdWords now encompasses display and video media that can be bought on YouTube and across the web. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

This rise in complexity has created the need to reimagine AdWords, and over the past year, our product teams have been thinking hard about about how we can make AdWords as relevant for the next 15 years as the first 15. From creating a single Shopping campaign to updating thousands of text ads, we needed to do this in a way that works well for all advertisers around the world, regardless of size or objective.

So we met with many of you - large and small advertisers, from power users to beginners - in order to understand what we’re doing well and where we’re falling short. The comments we received and insights we uncovered were illuminating, and they ultimately resulted in user studies, product refinement, and this important milestone.

Today I’m excited to provide an early look into the new AdWords experience and three key areas of the platform we’re deeply focused on. Each is rooted in the feedback we heard from you.

AdWords should be more about your business, and less about our product. We want everything to support the way you think about your business. From the way you express business goals to the way you measure and manage your ads, we want to make it super easy to execute and optimize campaigns based on your unique marketing objectives.

You want the data you care about at your fingertips. From the campaigns that drive the most profit to the percentage of traffic coming from mobile, we want to surface insights and help you visualize them in more actionable ways. By seeing the data most relevant to your business goals, you can spend more time optimizing campaigns and identifying opportunities.

At the end of the day, you need simple yet powerful tools that help you do more in less time. You should be able to complete your most important tasks, like managing ad extensions and building reports, all in one place. With less clutter and more intuitive workflows, you can quickly make the changes that move your business forward.

What should be most noticeable about this new AdWords experience is the look and feel. This is Material Design, the design language that’s at the core of our favorite Google apps like Maps, Search, and Gmail. While this AdWords may look and feel different, your campaigns will run the same as they run today - with no upgrades or migrations.

Through 2016 and into 2017, we’ll continue to build out this new AdWords experience, and invite advertisers along the way to try it out and provide feedback. Invites will be sent based on a number of factors, therefore not all advertisers will be able to test the new experience right away.

We look forward to undertaking this journey with you and to delivering the tools you need to connect with consumers in meaningful and relevant ways. (Posted by Jerry Dischler, Vice President of Product Management, AdWords)

To read the original article in its entirety, go to http://adwords.blogspot.in/2016/03/redesigning-adwords-for-the-mobile-first-marketer.html

AutoNation makes changes to recall policy, allows auction of some recalled vehicles

Automotive News recently reported that AutoNation Inc. has made changes to “one of the key tenets of its policy” which does not allow the selling of any open-recall vehicle.

The change was made to address “the lack of parts for fixing faulty Takata airbags,” according to Automotive News.

AutoNation CEO Mike Jackson told Automotive News that “the Takata airbags is a particularly difficult situation to deal with. We will auction vehicles with open recalls where there are no parts in sight.”

“We put a big sticker on the vehicle that, when it goes through the auction, declares it has an open recall, so whoever is buying that at auction knows they’re assuming the responsibility for that vehicle,” Jackson further added.

A sizable number of recalled vehicles with faulty Takata airbags have been a fixture in AutoNation’s lots since late 2015. Towards the end of March this year, 15 percent of the dealership group’s used-vehicle inventory was on sales hold because of the recalls; 60 percent of which were due to faulty Takata airbags.

Jackson said that the release of some of these recalled vehicles to auction has helped AutoNation “deal with the overhang.”

However, Jackson also reiterated that “retailing an open-recall vehicle is still out of the question.”

“We can stand on our brand principle vis-a-vis the consumer. But when there are no parts in sight, let someone else manage that vehicle to its completion as far as the recall,” he further said.

For more on this story, visit http://www.autonews.com/article/20160422/OEM11/160429937/autonation-changes-recall-policy-to-allow-some-auctions

Study reveals Americans prefer vehicle ownership over ride/car-sharing

Despite the growing number of ride- and car-sharing services being offered to consumers, results from the recent 2016 Kelley Blue Book Ride Sharing/Car Sharing Study revealed that Americans still prefer vehicle ownership.

Commissioned by Kelley Blue Book and conducted by Vital Findings, the survey found that these sharing platforms are only being utilized as “substitutes for taxis and traditional rental car companies, and have very limited impact on current or future vehicle ownership.”

A majority of Americans (74 percent) own or have access to a vehicle and are expected to drive themselves in the next six months.

Of the 1,900 U.S. respondents (ages 18-64), 80 percent “completely or somewhat agree that owning or leasing a vehicle provides a sense of freedom and independence.”

62 percent “completely or somewhat agree that owning or leasing a vehicle gives you a sense of pride or success.”

Senior Analyst for Kelley Blue Book Karl Brauer had this to say: ”Ride- and car-sharing services are getting a lot of attention these days, and we wanted to better understand the current landscape of these app-fueled platforms and how they may impact both consumers and the auto industry moving forward. While there are numerous benefits to ride sharing and car sharing, our data reveals that owning a car still reigns supreme, with reliability, safety and convenience all being major factors."

One-third (37 percent) of respondents gave the most consideration to ride-sharing companies with smartphone apps, followed by rental car companies at 32 percent and taxi/limo companies at 26 percent.

24 percent “would consider vehicle dealerships as a potential ride-sharing provider over vehicle manufacturers (16 percent) and individuals with a vehicle (15 percent). 14 percent would likely consider tech companies as potential ride-sharing providers.

New car-sharing services have a fair-level market opportunity, with traditional vehicle rental companies (36 percent), vehicle sharing companies (33 percent) and vehicle dealerships (31 percent) being highly considered as car-sharing providers by respondents.

Other key findings showed:

- 73 percent of respondents as fully aware of ride sharing, but only 16 percent have actually used these services — with millennials and city dwellers as top users

- 43 percent are aware of car-sharing services, but only 7 percent have actually used them

-  41 percent view vehicle-sharing services as substitutes for taxis, while 39 percent see car-sharing services as substitutes for rental cars

- 76 percent of vehicle-sharing users have expressed their intent to purchase or lease their own vehicle within the next two years

- 81 percent believe that vehicle ownership is more reliable than ride-sharing; 78 percent believe that vehicle ownership is more reliable than car-sharing

- 80 percent believe that vehicle ownership is safer than ride sharing or car sharing

- 74 percent believe that vehicle ownership is more convenient than ride-sharing; 75 percent believe that vehicle ownership is more convenient than car-sharing

- Among those surveyed who do not currently own/lease a vehicle, 57 percent said that affordability is “the main deterrent for not purchasing or leasing their own vehicles;” 5 percent prefer utilizing ride-sharing over buying/leasing their own car; 3 percent prefer car-sharing over owning a vehicle

- 69 percent believe that ride-sharing prevents drunk driving, but only 33 percent deem ride-sharing to be safe; 48 percent are not comfortable “riding alone” with a ride-share driver

For more details on the 2016 Kelley Blue Book Ride Sharing/Car Sharing Study, visit http://mediaroom.kbb.com/study-reveals-ride-sharing-car-sharing-services-do-not-pose-threat-car-buying

Japanese automakers suspend production due to earthquake

(Photo credit: Getty Images)

A recent Reuters report stated that Toyota Motor Corp. “would suspend much of its production at plants across Japan this week,” after a series of earthquakes hit the southern part of Japan “and led to a shortage of parts, while some manufacturers extended stoppage due to damage to factories.”

The quakes hit the country on Thursday, April 14 and again on Saturday, April 15, with Saturday’s tremblor hitting at 7.3 magnitude. At least 41 fatalities have been reported in the aftermath of this natural disaster.

Honda Motor Co. also suspended production until Friday at its motorcycle plant near Kumamoto. Nissan Motor Co., on the other hand, stated that it “would resume operations at its plants  north of the epicenter from Monday,” Reuters further reports.

Semiconductor manufacturer Renesas Electronics Corp. (which produces micro controller chips for automobiles) confirmed that some of its equipment were damaged at the Kumamoto plant and has suspended its operations after the first earthquake hit on April 14. The company has yet to assess the situation before resuming operations.

After 2011’s earthquake and tsunami, companies have made efforts to address problems brought about by this major natural disaster.

Toyota has offered limited details earlier this year about changes made to its production system. Toyota and Nissan have “both developed supply chain databases which offer a detailed view of their supplier base to identify how their supply chain may be disrupted during emergencies,” Reuters reports.

This is the second stoppage for Toyota’s production this year. In February, a fire at an affiliate’s steel plant halted production for a week — resulting “in a gap in supplies.” The automaker’s global production suffered a 4 percent decrease during the first two months of 2016.

For more details on this story, visit http://www.reuters.com/article/us-japan-quake-toyota-idUSKCN0XE08O