Five ways to combat shopping cart abandonment

It’s February, and that means only one thing – its 11 months until the next set of January sales.

A few years ago, consumers would have to battle huge crowds, trudging from shop to shop in the freezing cold, elbowing people out the way to get the best deals only to find they’ve run out of stock…but, this year it is likely that many of us were getting our hands on cut price products from our warm and cozy living rooms.

In 2018, sales shopping on the high street is but a distant memory for many of us. Sales figures continue to fall as we increasingly choose to browse and buy via our laptops or mobile phones.

It’s true, we love online shopping. But it’s not without its flaws. In fact, online shopping is in the throes of a crisis. 76% of people who visit an online store abandon their carts without finishing their purchase. And a report by Barclays showed that this means UK retailers are missing out on a whopping £3.4bn worth of potential sales.

Why does this happen at such an alarming rate? The truth is, just like heading out to Oxford Street, the path to the final purchase online is often also long and arduous, fraught with unnecessary payment obstacles, unexpected costs or complicated delivery methods. Really, it’s no surprise that so many customers end up giving up on their purchase before payment.

Of course, there’s no denying that since online shopping is minimal effort, it’s a lot easier for a customer to fling something in their cart with no real desire to buy it in the first place. In fact, data from Statista claims that 38-40% of shoppers have no intention of purchasing the items in their shopping cart.

But the study also exposed issues with the shopping experience: 56% of consumers were shown to have abandoned cart due to unexpected costs, 25% because the navigation was too complicated, 21% felt the process took too long and 17% because of concerns about security. These are issues that retailers can easily rectify.

So how, exactly, can you make the road to purchase as smooth as possible so the customer pushes their virtual cart all the way across the finish line? Here are some practical tips:

1. Optimise the omnichannel experience

Everyone shops differently. But nobody wants a clumsy user experience. Whether they’re scrolling on an iPhone or an Android or clicking on a Mac or a PC, the online shopping experience needs to be seamless on every possible device. That’s easier said than done considering there are over 24,000 unique Android devices alone, each with their own nuances.

25% of shopping cart abandonment is because of complicated navigation – make sure there’s a straightforward path from cart to checkout on every single device a customer might be using. You can do this by testing the customer journey on as many different devices and for as many different groups as possible – have all bases covered. Thorough attention to detail during the testing process will pay off.

2. Keep the admin to a minimum

Don’t make it hard for the customer by asking them to fill out every last personal detail or redirecting them to third party sites. 46% of total shopping cart abandonment happens at payment stage, according to Internet Retailer. Entering endless bits of unnecessary information isn’t only time-consuming, it also reminds the user that their details are going to be fed into your omnichannel marketing machine.

The site’s design should reflect this simplicity. It’s worth remembering that the payments page is the very last stage of the customer’s journey – now is not the time to distract them. Don’t redirect them to another site, don’t offer them marketing material – just make sure that all they have to do is pay.

3.  Provide options for check-out

Don’t force new customers to make an account with a password and a profile if they don’t want to. Instead, you should provide a guest checkout option. You won’t lose out on their details – they have to include them for shipping and payment – and this way, they won’t feel like they’re being mined for their data.

On the flip side, however, you should give users who plan to return the option to create profiles where they can store valuable information. This means that next time, they can simply sign in and go, with no need to re-enter details.

And as the number of payment options continues to increase, particularly with the rise of mobile wallets, the main take-away for retailers is that no matter the method they should be able to support how each customer choose to pay.

4. Ensure trust

Purchasing online requires the customer putting their faith in an e-retailer. When consumers are handing over their personal and financial information, they must be reassured that it’s not going to be misused. Security breaches aren’t exactly uncommon – seldom does a week go by without a major one being reported. And it’s increasing – more data was lost and stolen in the first half of 2017 (1.9 billion records) than the whole of 2016 (1.37 billion).

It’s key that your customers have enough trust in the buying process to enter their data. The easiest way to do this is to show them that their information is secure. You should also display trust symbols on your site, particularly well-known security logos: Verisign, or PayPal Verified, for example.

5. No hidden surprises

There’s nothing worse than making it to checkout, preparing to take your card out of your wallet, but then to be presented with a nasty surprise: a delivery cost you weren’t prepared for.

Make sure your shipping costs are totally transparent before the customer has added it to their basket. You can even add a delivery calculator before checkout to estimate the costs. And it goes without saying that a surefire way to your customer’s heart is to offer free shipping where possible, or at least discounted shipping based on the order value.

Another way of avoiding shipping charges is to offer in-store pick-up. This is a growing trends – a survey conducted by Internet Retailer in August 2016 showed that 57% of respondents had chosen to buy online and collect their item in-store, saving money on shipping and eliminating the need to wait at home for a package.

There you have it: whilst shopping cart abandonment may be an irritation, it’s not hard to solve. The key is to make the potential customer’s journey go as smoothly as possible: no potholes, no unexpected tariffs, no endless data entry. By making the process as easy as possible, there shouldn’t be any reason for a potential customer not to become a returning customer.

-by Sam O’Meara

Consent and security: GDPR in the adtech ecosystem

GDPR will come into effect on 25 May 2018, representing the biggest change to data protection across the EU in a decade.

Talking to a lot of advertisers, you could be forgiven for thinking that the sky is falling. But there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, and the change does represent significant opportunities for companies smart enough to take them.

Tiffany Morris is General Counsel & Vice President of Global Privacy at Lotame, and has been having 3 – 5 GDPR-related calls a week with her clients over the last few months. Lotame has two parts to its business, both of which are going to be heavily affected by the incoming regulations.

On one hand the company operates a data management platform with a heavy client base in Europe. On the other is the Lotame Data Exchange, one of the larger third party data exchanges for licensing third party data.

So, Morris is definitely a good person to speak to about GDPR.

“We can’t escape it, it really is at the core of what we are doing in both areas,” she says.

Setting a standard

For Morris, one clear effect of the approaching implementation date is an increased desire for cooperation among the company’s clients, especially with regards to some key areas where there is still a huge amount of uncertainty.

“One of the areas that we are really focused on with clients is how to handle consent,” she says. “How do we handle lawful means of processing in a world where we are placing third party tags? We are investigating universal consent management solutions.” Consent is going to be one of the biggest issues for many companies, but the guidance available so far hasn’t been clear. The IAB released its standards for consent in November 2017 which while useful, left many companies undecided on how they are going to implement them.

“GDPR is also a nice opportunity to explain to clients in a lot of detail about how some of the functionality works and what role we have vis-à-vis the data versus how they are controlling their own data,” says Morris. “So, one positive of GDPR is being able to get down in the weeds with clients and really show the value that we bring to the table.”

The data exchange side of the business adds a further layer of complication to the process. The recently released EU Article 29 Working Party consent guidelines lacked any specificity around the responsibilities of third parties in the ecosystem. “So, we are faced with this challenge moving forward of having a lot of data aggregators that are getting data from a lot of sources,” continues Morris. “We like the scale but we know that we need quality data, we need to know the provenance of that data, we need to be able to establish that there was a lawful means of collecting and processing it.”

Another clear effect of entering the final straight before the implementation date is the division of clients into those that have a good idea of what they need to do and are working hard to get a handle on the many grey areas. Others, however, are still struggling.

“There are ones that know what they need to do, are trying to figure it out and have the capital to hire advisors if they need them,” Morris says. “You also have those clients that are publishers and already have challenging business models and when you layer GDPR on top of that they can struggle to get their heads around the economic challenges that media businesses may be facing. It’s a pretty broad spectrum.”

The issue of consent

There are a whole host of potential obstacles for companies to stumble over in their quest for compliance. The huge diversity of data management and processing systems, as well as the wide range of data sources could all combine with faulty governance to create a serious headache for companies.

For Ari Levenfeld, Chief Privacy Officer at the world’s largest independent buy-side ad platform Sizmek, the numbers of non-complying companies could be high: “GDPR is a potentially major risk for companies that don’t take steps to comply. A recent Forrester study predicted that as many as 80% of all companies will not comply with the GDPR by the May 25 deadline – half of which will choose not to comply. Conversely, companies that have decided to invest significant time and resources into GDPR compliance are positioned not just to protect themselves from regulatory scrutiny and massive fines, but also protect the interests of their customers.”

Morris thinks the biggest challenge, especially in the adtech ecosystem, is going to be establishing what the lawful means for processing data, and passing it on through the ecosystem. Every partner involved in a particular ecosystem will have to prove that they have gained consent and that they have the right means to process the data in question.

“That’s the most challenging because if you look at how a transaction is processed and how many partners data flows through before an ad is actually served, and how many of those transactions are processed through the use of third party tags. It’s very difficult envision how you get that chain if you are relying on consent for example,” she says.

“How do you pass that chain of consent along in real time to what may be 30 different partners before the ad is served? That is specific to our industry, and we have to figure it out as an industry because I don’t think we are going to see that guidance coming from regulators.”

The problem this creates is significant. Consent needs to start with the consumer, but they can’t be involved in providing consent at every step in the ecosystem chain, especially when they don’t have enough fingers to count the number of companies involved in using the data generated by the initial transaction.

“So much of the law is driven around the idea that consumers should understand how their data is being collected and used and that they should really have a lot of authority in deciding how it is used,” Morris explains. “That works well in a 1-2-1 relationship.

“But what is more complicated is that a hypothetical retailer is relying on a multitude of partners to use and process that data in different ways. And, particularly in adtech, so many of those partners would never have a direct relationship with the consumer, and most consumers, not because they are uneducated but because they haven’t been exposed, doesn’t understand how this ecosystem works.”

Providing the kind of robust disclosure that this theoretically require, where a company lists the 10 or so ways they are planning to use and sell on a customer’s data, could mean going into so much detail that the disclosure becomes essentially indigestible for the consumer. “I think that is a really, really big challenge,” agrees Morris.

The issue of security

The focus of GDPR is principally about the privacy of consumers, about giving European citizens more control over the online data that is generated as they interact with companies. This creates responsibilities for companies not just around gaining consent to use data, but also handling it in a way that ensures it remains safe.

Security in this context means more than just making sure that the data isn’t stolen or compromised, it means guaranteeing that it is not subject to unauthorized or unlawful processing. For Levenfeld, this has created concerns among many brands that they might be lacking the technical and organisational measures needed to comply with the new requirements.

“The GDPR has numerous, specific compliance requirements around data governance and policy,” he says.

“For example, privacy by design is no longer an easy checkbox that companies may say they have considered when developing their products. Instead, considering privacy by design under the GDPR requires real effort and proof.”

At the very least companies are going to need to complete Data Protection Impact Assessments for each product or service they sell that utilises personal data. “Companies also need to explicitly define and publish their data retention periods,” Levenfeld says. “Companies should build data governance mechanisms to govern how data is collected and processed, to help ensure that they are only processing when they have a lawful basis to do so.”

With regards to the security in the adtech world in particular, the emphasis for companies will be making sure that they know exactly who has access to the private data transactions with consumers generate, both internally and externally.

“Measuring the effectiveness of your security systems with penetration testing by security specialists, regular updates and patching of software, and the creation of a Technical Organizational Measures (TOM) document are important ways to keep up to date and document your efforts,” continues Levenfeld.

“Security also includes putting a plan in place to respond to breaches and mitigate damage should one occur. At Sizmek, we recommend that companies complete table-top exercises to run through their breach response plan so key team members have experience practicing how to follow a breach response process before it actually happens.”

Focusing on quality

Another important consideration for international companies that do a large proportion of their business in Europe is whether they carry these changes over to the other parts of their operations. “I think, if you look at a few years ago, and I was guilty of it too, you would have different discussions with US clients then you would have with European or global ones around privacy,” says Morris.

In this sense, GDPR could really set a global standard for the way that businesses are expected to deal with security. “It doesn’t make sense from a cost perspective to handle privacy differently in the US and India and so on then you do in Europe. I think what you’ll see companies doing is adopting the European standard for everything, and it will become the bar.”

So, while the regulations are set to leave lasting changes across the adtech landscape, it is not an entirely negative picture. The majority of press coverage, especially in the UK, around GDPR has painted a picture of a doomsday scenario where no one is ready on the implementation date. What has been largely absent so far is any talk of opportunities that the new laws present to companies smart enough to exploit them.

“It is an opportunity for companies to really dig in cross functionality and understand how their various business units are using and processing data,” agrees Morris. “That is helpful and is a valid exercise for any company, and maybe prior to this law people weren’t doing enough in this area.

“We really see this as an opportunity to focus on data quality, because the costs of compliance are higher under GDPR, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to be throwing around large quantities of data without really understanding where it has come from and whether it brings a ROI to data buyers.”

At the heart of GDPR is the necessity to change the focus of data collection and processing from quantity to quality. It is no longer going to be a reasonable strategy for companies to just hoover up as much data as they can and then try to decide what to do with it after the fact. Companies are going to be required to have clear aims and clear strategies for what they are going to do with the data they collect, and be able to articulate them in a way that doesn’t turn off consumers.

Because under GDPR a business does need to tell consumers what they are planning on doing with the data, not just what data they are using. “That is what is hard for the initial party that has the direct relationship with the consumer because they may be using that data in so many different ways and working with so many different partners all doing different things, and under the law, in theory, they need to disclose every use of how they are collecting and processing the data and obtain consent or establish a lawful means of processing for each use,” explains Morris.

A retailer, for example, could find themselves having to tell their consumers that they collect their personal information so that they can make sure that the shipping and delivery get a purchased product to the right place. The consumer is likely to give consent for this. But, the retailer will also have to say that they also sell the data to a third party so that they profit from their consumer data, and then go through the 15 – 20 other ways that they are going to use the data. The retailer is theoretically required to gain consent for each of these individual uses.

“A consumer could theoretically say that they are fine with the use of data to ship them products, but are not ok with it being sent to third parties,” says Morris.

Costs of compliance

Perhaps one of the most frequent questions that Morris is asked is whether the incoming regulations will lead to a heavier cost of compliance for companies. The answer will really depend on what type of data a company is dealing with. Many US companies could see a rise in the cost of compliance due to the wider classification of what constitutes personal data.

US companies have historically viewed personal data as being things like names, street addresses and government IDS. Data that is capable of immediately identifying an individual. European law, and especially GDPR, widens this definition of personal data to include things like cookies IDs and device identifiers.

“For companies like us, who only have cookie and device identifiers, it’s a big change to treat that in the same way we would if we were collecting social security numbers,” says Morris.

This could affect the cost of compliance because if you are trading data, names and government IDs are always going to have more value than mobile advertising IDs. “So, now you take a company that has been trading only in these device identifiers, the perception is that those have lower economic value,” says Morris. “You earn less money from processing those types of data, but they are now held to the same compliance standard as a company like a bank that’s processing financial information like names and account numbers. That seems a little incongruent.”

In the end, perhaps the biggest question is what the result of GDPR will be for consumers. Will implementation actually result in a more personalized ad landscape for consumers? Is there going to be any noticeable benefit for consumers at all?  For Morris, it really comes down to what consumers actually want:

“I think what they want more than anything is access to free content. That’s the world in which we have been operating, where I get access to lots of free content on the internet because I put up with the word of online advertising. I really think that is what consumers want. I think that what regulators don’t realize is, if you take away that online advertising component, which this law along with the proposed ePrivacy regulation makes a potential outcome. This means that consumers lose free content as companies put up paywalls as they need to recoup the revenue they lost from decreased advertising.”

This leads to a worry that what might appear to be a good development for consumers in the short term may end up having detrimental effects in the years to come.

“I worry that it’s going to be ‘hey, we thought we wanted more flexibility around how companies use our data and what types of ads we see, but now I’m paying for Facebook and I didn’t ever really want to do that.’”

– by Colm Hebblethwaite

Consumers less likely to complete purchases on mobile

New research shows that shoppers are less likely to go through with an online purchase if they are using a phone or tablet.

The findings come from a study conducted by the University of East Angelia and published in the Journal of Business Research which looked at why cart abandonment is much higher on mobile apps then desktop-based online shopping.

According to data from research Criteo, 46% of global ecommerce traffic come from mobile devices in Q2 2016. However, only 27% of these initiated purchases were completed.

Researchers from the university looked at online shopping data from Taiwan and the US. They found that consumers are much more likely to use mobile apps as a research and curation tool rather than a purchasing tool.

Our study results revealed a paradox,” said Dr Nikolaos Korfiatis, of Norwich Business School at UEA.

“Mobile shopping is supposed to make the process easier, and yet concerns about making the right choice, or about whether the site is secure enough leads to an ‘emotional ambivalence’ about the transaction – and that mean customers are much more likely to simply abandon their shopping carts without completing a purchase.”

Hesitation

The study found that consumers often hesitate while making a purchase on their phone due to worries that they are not able to see the full picture. They think that the limited screen could mean that they are missing out on special offers or overlooking hidden costs.

There are also higher concerns about privacy and security when it comes to using a mobile.

Flora Huang, the study’s lead author, added:

“This is a phenomenon that has not been well researched, yet it represents a huge opportunity for retailers. Companies spend a lot of money on tactics such as pay-per-click advertising to bring consumers into online stores – but if those consumers come in via mobile apps and then are not finalising their purchases, a lot of that money will be wasted.”

The reports authors claim that the research shows that cart abandonment can be lowered if consumers are satisfied with the choice process. App designers can achieve this by minimising clutter, making sure the product categorisation is as simple as possible and making it easy for consumers to filter out products they do not want from searches.

By Colm Hebblethwaite

Instagram Cements Its Place as an Influencer Marketing Hotspot in 2017

Influencer marketing really came into vogue in 2017. While the principle of utilising famous people to sell your products is nothing new, the concept has undergone a major evolution in the last few years as it merged with social media. 

Instagram has positioned itself right at the heart of this growing section of digital marketing. As a mainly picture-based network with around 800 million users (as of September 2017), it is perhaps no surprise that Instagram is so suited to influencer marketing. The site also boasts a relatively young user base, being popular among teenagers and young adults.

Recently, the data science team of marketing software company Klear analysed over 1.5 million Instagram posts, all of which were tagged with an #Ad hashtag during 2017.

The results show that 2017 was a year that Instagram really began to cement its place as the premier site for influencer marketing.

The data shows that 1,504,383 Instagram posts were tagged with #Ad in 2017. Instagram saw an almost doubling of influencer marketing activity, with a growth rate of 198% for #Ad pots over the previous 12 months. There was a constant average growth of 5% month-on-month.

There was also a clear dominance of females in the sector, with 83.9% of the #ad posts being posted by women.

Top industries

The research also showed that it is young millennials create the most sponsored posts, with 42% of sponsored posts being created by users aged 18-24.

In terms of the effectiveness of influencer marketing, there are some industries that the format really works for. The top two industries in terms of sponsored post activity in 2017 were, perhaps unsurprisingly, fashion and accessories and beauty and cosmetics.

25% of sponsored posts were related to fashion and accessories.

2017 saw fitness and wellness break into the top 10, with a whole host of fitness influencers using their reach to sell products.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) transparency guidelines that were published in September 2017 didn’t hurt the growth of the industry.

By Colm Hebblethwaite

 

 

“Ghosting” Customers After Sale Costs Retailers

The practice of “ghosting” consumers, or breaking all contact following a purchase, is one of the main reasons consumers switch to other retailers.

Narvar and YouGov surveyed around 3,000 UK consumers and found that retailers are losing out on repeat customers by focusing all of their efforts on getting people to buy from them. By failing to communicate with customers once the purchase is complete, retailers are often blowing the chance of creating a loyal customer.

Among the respondents, the number one aggravation reported was companies that do not provide clear and accurate information about the status of an order. 25% listed this as their top annoyance. 65% would be put off ever engaging with a brand again if it poorly communicated bad news like a late delivery.

A third of respondents said that they would definitely not use the retailer again if they did not provide accurate order tracking or follow up a purchase with necessary content like guides.

Post-purchase experience

The kind of important, post-purchase communications that many retail brands are failing to provide their customers are an accurate estimation of delivery date, and prompt notifications of any delays or changes to the order.

61% of those surveyed said that they expected fast and direct communications following purchase as a standard. This attitude was most keenly demonstrated by millennials and the over 55s. 10% would like to receive follow up content such as suggestions for how to use the product or other related purchases.

And, perhaps reflecting the UK preference for good manners, 20% of respondents would like a simple ‘thank you’ from brands they buy products from.

“These findings really highlight that the eCommerce journey does not just stop when a customer clicks the buy button,” Amit Sharma, CEO, Narvar, comments.

“Retailers who fail to appreciate the importance of the post-purchase experience are missing out on really developing a loyal customer base and the financial benefits that go along with that.”

By Colm Hebblethwaite

Marketing an ICO: cryptocurrencies, influencers and indaHash

The term ‘ICO’ or initial coin offering burst into the collective consciousness in a big way in 2017. The funding strategy went from being a novel idea thought up in the cryptocurrency and blockchainspace to a way for companies to raise millions of dollars in a matter of hours.

With the money raised through ICOs in the last year rocketing to over $3,000,000,000, it is not surprising that an increasing number of companies are looking to explore the potential to get involved. And, while the vast majority of ICOs have been tech-related, companies from other sectors are increasingly finding success in the space.

indaHash, a Warsaw-based influencer marketing company, recently launched an ICO where they looked for investors to put money into the indaHash Coin cryptocurrency.  The results were pretty astonishing: 53,000 ETH raised (which equated to around $60 million in value at the time) and the pre-ICO hard cap (when the total number of created coins has sold out) in only 4 days.

We caught up with CEO and co-founder Barbara Soltysinska to talk about how the influencer marketing platform made a bold step into the world of cryptocurrencies.

What was the level of knowledge about ICOs and cryptocurrencies before settling on that strategy?

“In our case, the ICO is less a funding strategy, and more of an innovative approach to grow our company and be ahead of the competition. We want indaHash to eventually become a transparent and decentralized platform for influencer marketing campaigns, fueling the needs of influencers, brands and follower activities.

“In terms of knowledge, we cooperate with the best advisors and crypto-influencers if the industry, working on the best solutions with them for our product.”

Did you encounter scepticism about using an ICO?

“We had both, I think. Many people thought it was a great idea, but of course you will always encounter people who question your decisions. Mostly because they don’t understand it and as you know, many people are skeptical of cryptocurrency. Lucky for us, our ICO went very well so we proved the skeptics wrong.”

What tactics did the company use to market the ICO?

“We used several tactics to promote our ICO such as traditional media outreach (we were featured on Forbes, CNBC, etc.)  and promotions on our social channels. But, as an influencer marketing company, it was an obvious choice to use people influential in the crypto social media space to help us.

“People go to YouTube for crypto-related news, so we partnered with over 100 different YouTubers from around the globe to review our ICO. This lead to almost 5k videos on YouTube for ‘indaHash ICO’.

“We also organized several press trips and invited more than 40 crypto YouTubers to our HQ in Warsaw so they could see our working business up close and personal, meet with our employees and get first access interviews with myself on the project. Additionally, we worked really hard to grow our Telegram group to over 13k members. We made sure we had staff around the clock updating our members and answering questions because keeping open communication when conducting and ICO is crucial. Another cool thing we did was send out a newswire the day our ICO launched and had our image displayed in Times Square.”

What were the biggest challenges/lessons learned during and after the process?

“We have a very intensive and detailed whitepaper. Putting this together in a way that was on brand for us, but also visually stimulating and informative for those reading it was a big challenge. We worked really hard on it for months and thankfully, received so many compliments on it, with many saying it was the best whitepaper they’ve ever come across. That’s a big, important lesson for those reading this – make your whitepaper stand out!

“And, of course, there’s a lot of pressure to succeed when doing an ICO. It’s challenging not to question yourself and your ability to be able to hit your goals, so a big lesson here is to never stop. During our pre-and main ICO, my team and I worked really hard to keep the momentum going with marketing and the tactical issues of the token distribution. I learned to really lean on my ICO team and advisors because everyone played a big role in making it happen.”

What was behind the decision to pay influencers in IDH tokens? What are the benefits of this approach?

“Our goal at indaHash is to create innovative solutions according to market demand. We believe in a decentralized vision of the influencer space where brands and influencers can cooperate in a transparent and secure way.

“As the biggest influencer marketing platform in the world (450,000 influencers registered working with clients such as Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Unilever etc.), we decided to move to a blockchain based approach to achieve this goal. We want to develop our platform and give influencers and brands the possibility to run campaigns via smart contracts and use indaHash tokens as a remuneration and reward solution.

“Imagine an influencer who wants to run a campaign and creates an auction via smart contract and brands can bid for the post, or brands creating campaigns via indaHash smart contracts with a blocked amount of IDH coins as a reward and influencers applying to the campaign creating posts and receiving payments in a fast, secure and trusted way. Imagine performance campaigns for influencers based on referral programs where influencers receive commission in IDH and see rankings of other influencers engaged in a fully transparent way. But to do all that influencers and brands need a user-friendly interface and technology created solely for their needs. This is our vision of indaHash as a solution provider, creating unique and useful technology for both parties.”

What is the company planning to do with the money raised?

“The funds will be used to grow our company even more dynamically, expand to new markets, acquire new influencers faster and become a dominating market leader in terms of influencer marketing activities.

“At this point we’re ahead of competition not only in terms of money – but also in terms of our vision that the world is shifting from old centralized media to decentralized micro-publishers. And we want to be a key player in this new media landscape.”

 

By Colm Hebblethwaite

Unilever threatens to pull ads from Facebook and Google

Unilever, one of the world’s biggest advertisers, has announced that it is considering pulling its ads from Facebook and Google in a bid to avoid platforms that “create division”.

The consumer goods multinational, which owns brands Lynx, Persil, Ben & Jerry’s and PG Tips, does not want its ads appearing on platforms that promote hate or fail to protect consumers.

Unilever is the world’s second largest marketing spender, behind Proctor and Gamble. Last year the company spent £6.8bn advertising its brands.

Chief marketing officer Keith Weed said in a speech at the annual Interactive Advertising Bureau that “as one of the largest advertisers in the world, we cannot have an environment where our consumers don’t trust what they see online.”

Transparency and responsibility

Weed went on to say that the company did not want to continue to support a digital supply chain which, while responsible for delivering a quarter of the company’s advertising, “is little better than a swamp in terms of transparency”.

He went on to say that the effort to clean up the digital supply chain will resemble the process that Unilever went through when it attempted sustainable sources for its ingredients and raw materials. The company has made cuts to its ad production as part of an effort to cut costs. This involves cutting the number of ad agencies it works with to a humble 1,500.

Craig Tuck, Managing Director, UK, at RhythmOne, said:

“Various social giants have been publicly scrutinised for serving ads against inappropriate content recently and Unilever is another example of a brand reviewing their strategy to ensure they remain trusted. When trust is in question, consumers often revert to their own network – meaning there’s more emphasis on dark social.

“74% of sharing activity takes place across email and instant messaging, so having the tools to analyse this trend properly will be increasingly important. Digital brand safety is an incredibly complex area – and one that we have invested heavily in, as we feel it will be a key area that advertisers look at when allocating their media spend going forward.”

Andrew Morsy, UK Managing Director at Sizmek, said:

“Unilever’s warning to the big tech giants regarding ad spend highlights what is probably the single biggest challenge for our industry – the demand for change when it comes to transparency. This is not the first story we’ve seen about huge advertisers threatening to pull ad budget over concerns around secrecy, fake news and brand safety. Due to their dominance over the advertising market, the ‘duopoly’ has an even greater responsibility to ‘serve and protect’ brands advertising with them, as well as the consumers viewing those adverts. But they’re not the only ones – this is a trust issue that all of us in the ad tech arena need to focus on.

“Fundamentally, as Unilever has shown today, advertisers want transparency when it comes how much they’re spending, to whom that spend is going and where ads are being placed. There is a spotlight on spend and ROI now for many brands and this only comes from empowering agencies and advertisers with increased visibility, control and performance over their media planning and buying.”

By Colm Hebblethwaite

 

Google extends AMP with new story format

Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) was initiated as a project to improve the performance of mobile web pages. The project has so far mostly focused on making loading and rendering for existing text-heavy articles such as those found on news sites or cooking blogs.

The company is now looking to extend the project beyond this with the launch of the AMP story format.

On mobile, users tend to browse a lot of articles, but only engage with a few in-depth. This is because the majority of articles on the internet are still heavily text-based. AMP stories look to help publishers use more mobile-friendly elements like images, videos and graphics to better engage readers using their handheld devices.

Google and a group of publishers were involved in the early development of the format. These launch partners are CNN, Conde Nast, Hearst, Mashable, Meredith, Mic, Vox Media and The Washington Post.

If you want to get a taste for some of these initial AMP stories, you can head here on your mobile and search for one of the launch partners. You should be able to find the AMP stories under the ‘visual stories’ header in the search results.

Free and open

For native apps, creating visual stories that make full use of the mobile medium while also insuring the kind of performance that consumers expect can be difficult. The startup costs of trying to get these kinds of stories right can also be punishingly high, especially for smaller publishers.

AMP stories use the technical infrastructure of AMP, by allowing publishers to host an AMP story HYML page on their site which can be linked to from anywhere on their site. This means that sites can make use of features such as pre-renderable pages, optimised video loading and caching, in order to optimise delivery for users.

The format comes with a number of preset but flexible layout templates, as well as standardised UI controls and features that allow for sharing and adding on additional content.

As part of the launch, the AMP story format is free and open to use. Content creators can access a free tutorial and documentation now.

Colm Hebblethwaite

 

The future of e-commerce basket abandonment

It’s a topic that still occasionally rears its head but, in truth basket abandonment has been the bane of many marketers’ lives, for a number of years.

There was once a time when the provision of discounts was considered the solution to entice lost customers back to a site. But when money-saving expert Martin Lewis began encouraging people to purposefully pause their purchase so that they would receive that must-have incentive, the strategy soon fell flat.

This is one reason why some marketers have lost interest in the plight. Others are bored of failed attempts to lure shoppers back, and there are those that relent and accept the fact that it is quite simply, human nature for people to just sometimes change their mind.

So why is 2018 going to be any different?

In truth, nobody has a crystal ball to predict how basket abandonment will evolve next year, or which techniques could begin to address this long-standing e-commerce problem. But with some fresh thinking, it may be possible to boost a brand’s cart completion rate.

Which metrics matter?

Firstly, it’s important to look holistically at the issue. MailChimp stats claim that 67% of online shopping carts are abandoned – a figure that is relatively unsurprising.

But looking at one metric in isolation is dangerous. E-commerce entities therefore need to analyse how their abandonment rates compare to their sector average, whether the stat is improving or getting worse over time, and if there are any seasonal or other time-specific fluctuations.

Marketers should also consider asking the customer why they didn’t complete the purchase. Assuming the decision was made on the basis of price alone is dangerous. What about the proportion that never intended to buy, or simply got distracted? Was the delivery cost or timescale the final nail in the coffin? Or did the checkout process itself become a little convoluted? Only when a clearer picture emerges, will the brand stand the greatest chance of turning the stats around. A straightforward customer survey could therefore prove very useful indeed, as well as A/B testing to measure the effect of improvements.

The death of discounts?

Armed with greater insight, this is the time to consider abandonment remedies. It is no secret that discounts rarely work, so in the face of rising PPC fees and the growth of cashback schemes, why erode margins by offering them?

Let’s face it, consumers’ lives are becoming increasingly hectic so perhaps they simply got side-tracked and just need a gentle reminder.  A straightforward marketing automation journey will address this with ease.

But it would be lazy to rely on this methodology alone, given some of the other reasons that may have contributed to the basket getting left behind.

Remarketing remedies

Display and dynamic product remarketing has a role to play too, especially given its wider reach. The deployment of this technique is also not dependent on user registration, although it will only target customers who browse within the Google display network.

Look a little closer to home

Is something about the sale proposition putting the customer off? If the root cause of the abandonment is the delivery or returns policy, for instance, marketers need to share this insight within the business. If a website infrastructure or UI/UX complication is to blame, internal development work needs to take place before any other customer-centric strategy. And if poor reviews could be acting as a deterrent, this signifies a wider brand marketing problem that needs to be addressed.

Third party products

As with virtually all areas of digital marketing, there has been a rise in the number of third party products that can help to fill the void between costly and/or complex integrations into e-commerce systems like Magento and Woocommerce. As a result, there are now a host of simple plugins and scripts such as springbot, which can be implemented with ease to tackle traditional abandonment techniques but with an added layer of intelligence. Marketers can engage the user based on the number of times they’ve been on a site, the pages and products viewed, how far they’ve scrolled down the page and so on.

Opportunities like this to ‘personalise’ the abandonment journey, should not be overlooked. The days of a blanket approach are gone.

It all boils down to analysis

Whatever technique an e-commerce brand decides to trial and/or adopt, it is important to define a strategy and continuously assess the impact that a new or refined approach is having. Too many marketers still sit back and expect one methodology to work first time, but this is a luxury that very few professionals ever experience. As with any digital marketing discipline, agility, measurement and iteration is important, if any true success is to be reaped.

Facebook users spending less time on the site as revenue grows

Facebook’s newly released figures for Q4 2017 show that revenue came in well above analyst expectations at $12.97 billion. The consensus projection was that sales revenue would come in at $12.6 billion.

Mobile ad revenue accounted for around 89% of the social media giant’s total ad sales for the quarter.

The number of monthly active users rose 14% to 2.13 billion, which was a slightly lower rate of growth than the previous quarter. The company cemented itself as the world’s second largest ad seller after Google.

The figures were, however, not all positive. The time spent by users on the site has fallen by around 5%, or 50 million hours a day. Mark Zuckerberg noted that changes to the news feed, such as reducing the volume of viral videos, were a major factor in the drop.

News feed changes

In a conference call to investors, Zuckerberg was keen to emphasise that time spent on the site was by itself only a limited tool to judge the value of the network. He also said that he expects short term drops due to changes to in the news feed will make the product stronger overall.

Forbes quotes Zuckerberg as saying:

“By focusing on meaningful interactions, I believe that the time spent on Facebook will be more valuable. If people interact more, it should lead to stronger community. When you care about something, you’re willing to see ads to experience it.”

The figures may a concern, however, as they come before the implementation of the year-long major changes that will look to make interactions between users a priority. There have been concerns of the effect these changes will have on the company’s ability to deliver effective ad opportunities for brands.

“Changes to the algorithm shouldn’t make brands and publishers look to spend less on ads, on the contrary Facebook still gives them the biggest potential reach, as well as the best targeting capabilities for the best performance on every dollar spent,” said Socialbakers CEO Yuval Ben-Itzhak.

“To perform on Facebook in 2018, marketers will need to better understand sub-segments of their audience and target them with more personalised content that will drive engagement. Marketers also need to benchmark their ad spend against their own performance and that of their competitors to make sure that they are spending their budget wisely and only on the best performing content.

“While Facebook has made a lot of changes recently that on the surface look like they make it harder for brands and publishers, in fact this is an opportunity. The brands and publishers that produce engaging content, are smart about their use of different post types and benchmarks and measure their ad spend can only come out winning. Facebook’s audience size can’t be discounted and should rightfully remain a priority platform for marketers.”

TLK Fusion

4605 Lankershim Boulevard,
Los Angeles, CA, 91602,
United States

Copyright 2017 ©  TLK Fusion All Rights Reserved