Big companies including retailers, delivery companies and new platforms are on a hiring spree for advertising execs as they build out their own ad-sales businesses. Walmart, Macy’s, Walgreens, and Home Depot are setting up retail media platforms to offset thin retail margins. Amazon is gobbling up adtech expertise to sell a variety of ad formats to brands. And even digital platforms like TikTok and Spotify are vying for social and audio ad dollars.
Insider identified 43 recent advertising hires from companies including Home Depot, Instacart, TikTok, Amazon, Drizly, and Spotify that show how these businesses are making big hiring pushes for advertising execs.
Insider has been tracking these trends at some of the biggest advertising buyers and sellers, including WPP, Omnicom, Google, and Amazon, and rounded up our coverage.
The crackdown on ad tracking is changing advertising
Targeting changes are forcing advertisers to come up with new ways to reach consumers. Google and Apple have sent shockwaves through the ad industry when they announced changes that would put an end to longstanding ad targeting practices in the face of pro-privacy regulation.
Those moves have led marketers, their agencies, and adtech companies like LiveRamp and The Trade Desk scrambling to find workarounds.
Even as advertisers slashed their spending in the economic downturn, the rise of streaming TV and online shopping has benefitted adtech companies that help connect ad buyers and sellers and solve advertising and marketing problems.
Investors are pouring money into firms like like TVision DoubleVerify that are solving problems in digital advertising. Other firms are going public as Wall Street fell back in love with adtech due to broad macroeconomic changes.
Hello, welcome back to Insider Advertising, your weekly look at the biggest stories and trends affecting Madison Avenue and beyond. I’m Lara O’Reilly, Insider’s media and advertising editor. If this was forwarded to you, sign up here.
As always, my inbox is open for your thoughts, tips, and perfectly shot pet portraits (more on those later). You can find me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
YouTube’s ad business jumped 84% to $7 billion. And it looks as if next quarter will be strong for the video property, too. Ad-industry sources told Insider that YouTube’s sales representatives had a barnstorming US upfront this year. (The NewFronts presentations ran in May.) Of course, it’s a fairly easy narrative to sell: Traditional TV viewership continues to fall, while YouTube use continues to climb.
Still, some of the volume commitments that YouTube secured were fairly eye-popping. Sources said in some of the sales talks, particularly for tentpole sports, YouTube was pushing for – and in some cases able to secure – 30% price hikes. When contacted for comment, a Google representative didn’t respond specifically to the company’s NewFronts performance but pointed toward company blogposts from earlier in the year highlighting how many people watched YouTube on their main TV screens.
Google’s duopoly buddy, Facebook, also had a solid quarter, reporting $29.1 billion in revenue versus the $27.9 billion analysts had expected. Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, said on the earnings call that its strongest verticals were those that performed well during the coronavirus pandemic: e-commerce, retail, and CPG.
Elsewhere: Twitter and Snap also reported earnings beats in Q2. And, for all you “triopoly” fans: Amazon is due to report earnings after today’s market close.
Track to the Future: Part II
Hold on a minute, wasn’t the sky meant to be falling for digital ads hawkers this quarter after Apple rolled out its App Tracking Transparency privacy update in April?
The simple, boring, and noncommittal answer is that it’s too early to tell how it’ll shake out. Yes, the ATT change immediately made it more tricky for many advertisers to precision-target and measure the effectiveness of their mobile ads. And there’s some data showing that some advertisers have even upped their spend on Android, which hasn’t yet rolled out a similar anti-tracking measure for apps.
But in spite of all of this, the big trends favoring digital ad platforms – the rise in digital content consumption and spending on e-commerce – were so buoyant that they cushioned any early underlying turbulence.
“While some were expecting major fireworks when App Tracking Transparency went into effect, ATT was never going to dramatically hurt the walled gardens in the short term,” said Alex Bauer, the head of product marketing at the mobile measurement platform Branch.
“Longer term, the full impact is still to be seen: Walled gardens have a huge trove of incredibly valuable first-party data, but ATT means Apple is planning to enforce an equal playing field for everyone,” he added.
So, there may be trouble ahead. Facebook’s CFO, Dave Wehner, warned investors of a significant slowdown in growth and said the company expected “increasing ad-targeting headwinds in 2021” from regulatory and platform changes, which it expects to have “a more significant impact in the third quarter.” Alphabet, too, faces several antitrust inquiries, both in Europe and stateside, and it isn’t immune to Apple’s tracking changes, either. Plus, Alphabet in particular will have tougher comparable year-ago quarter.
“Don’t worry, it’s all under control,” is essentially the narrative coming out of NBCU, where execs are trying to convince impatient ad buyers that events like the Olympics often deliver results over a longer period of time.
Ultimately the real test for NBCU won’t be its ability to peddle multi-mix modeling reports and charts demonstrating “top of the funnel” awareness but its ability to spin up compelling storylines for viewers – against the odds.
There’s precedent for it. As told by Disney’s executive chairman, Bob Iger, in his book, “The Ride of a Lifetime,” the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Alberta, were a mess on the face of it too. High winds, fog, and warm weather meant many of the alpine events had to be called off.
ABC, the broadcaster for those games, pivoted to human-interest stories: the Jamaican bobsled team and the unlikely British ski-jump hopeful, Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards.
“Somehow it all worked,” wrote Iger, who was ABC’s senior vice president of programming at the time. “The ratings were historically high.”
WPP’s GroupM pulled out of Facebook’s media agency review. People familiar with the matter pointed toward Facebook’s request for strict contractual terms as one of the reasons – WSJ
The TV seller Vizio is cutting off some adtech companies from ad targeting data as it tries to build a TV ad business to compete with the likes of Roku and Samsung – Insider
Brands including Nike, AB InBev, and Red Bull have set up or are building in-house teams for esports and gaming – Digiday
Kuaishou, a Tencent-backed Chinese TikTok competitor, is on a US hiring spree as it prepares a big marketing push to launch “a new global brand” – Insider
The basketball star Kyrie Irving alleged on social media that Nike was set to release a “trash” sneaker collaboration carrying his name without his permission. Nike hasn’t responded – Bloomberg
Weddings are back! But this time it’s different. Brands like Zola and David’s Bridal are trying to cash in with new ad campaigns, digital services, and perks – Insider
And finally: Apple’s long-running “Shot on iPhone” ad series is back, and this time it’s teaching us how to take the sorts of portraits of our pets that Annie Leibovitz would be proud of. It is your duty as Insider Advertising subscribers to send me your results: email@example.com – Adweek
That’s all for this week. See you next Thursday. – Lara
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Amid all the patriotic cheers for Team USA Olympians in Rio, some have questioned the patriotic accuracy of the logo for the U.S. Olympic Team. Specifically, many people are wondering why the logo only has 13 stars.
The comments in social media circles have ranged from simple curious ity to snark (e.g. “Hey Team USA, it has been a while since we had just 13 states!”)
Well, it turns out there is a simple logistical, and legal, reason for the logo.
When designing the logo back in 2010, it was determined that in many uses of the logo (clothes, caps, merchandise, etc.), the flag would be so small that it would be impossible to make it look good with 50 stars, that aesthetically, it would look like a mess.
“We use the 13-star, which is an official American flag, on our logo because of sizing,” Lisa Baird, the USOC’s chief marketing officer recently told the Chicago Tribune.
Many people have also been wondering, if Team USA is going to use a 13-star flag, why not use the Betsy Ross flag with the stars in a circle?
There is a simple reason for that also – the flag shown in the Team USA logo is still a legal flag of the United States of America.
While not as famous as the Betsy Ross flag, the flag with the stars in the 3-2-3-2-3 pattern was actually the first official flag of the U.S. beginning in 1777, according to USHistory.org. It was used until 1795 when two stars were added for Vermont and Kentucky.
But what is important to note is that even as stars are added to the flag, older versions remain official U.S. flags and can still be used in accordance with the U.S. flag code. Kevin Keim, co-author of “A Grand Old Flag: A History of the United States Through its Flags,” explained to the Chicago Tribune.
“One can fly a 13-star flag and it still deserves the same respect that people would give to the American flag with 50 stars,” Keim said.
So there it is. Team USA is using a legal U.S. flag, one that is simply easier to use in small form than one with 50 stars.
With their perks and high pay, tech companies have become top destinations for marketers. Google paid a product marketing manager as much as $315,000 in 2021, for example, with Facebook paying about $222,000 for a similar role.
When hiring from abroad, companies have to file paperwork with the US Department of Labor’s Office of Foreign Labor Certification, which releases that salary information every quarter.
Using that information, Insider created a snapshot of how the companies compensate their employees.
This information is derived from 2020-2021 base salary information only. Many firms offer bonuses and equity options to compensate employees.
Our full analysis details the base salaries for roles ranging from associates to SVPs and managing directors.
“TikTok has really become a critical part of artist storytelling,” Kristen Bender, SVP of digital strategy and business development at Universal Music Group, told Insider during a webinar on TikTok’s impact on the music industry. “Since we signed our deal with TikTok earlier this year, our labels have been extremely leaned into the platform.”
The industry’s attention on TikTok isn’t unfounded. Songs that trend on TikTok often end up charting on the Billboard 100 or Spotify Viral 50. And 67% of the app’s users are more likely to seek out songs on music-streaming services after hearing them on TikTok, according to a November study conducted for TikTok by the music-analytics company MRC Data.
Song promo deals between music marketers and influencers have also become an important source of income for TikTok creators. Some users can earn hundreds or even thousands of dollars for a single video where they promote an artist’s track.
“Music marketing on TikTok is huge,” Jesse Callahan, founder of the upstart marketing firm Montford Agency, told Insider. “It’s a big way that labels have brought artists into the spotlight the last couple of years. It’s also a big way that creators have made a lot of money.”
Many record labels have teams dedicated to monitoring the app so they can help fan the flames on a trending song when it starts to take off.
“Our entire music catalog is effectively tracked on a daily basis,” said Andy McGrath, the senior vice president of marketing at Legacy Recordings, a division within Sony Music focused on the label’s catalog of songs dating back decades. “We’re constantly monitoring actions, reactions, and trends that happen on TikTok.”
While some songs take off on TikTok accidentally, as was the case with Matthew Wilder’s 1983 song “Break My Stride” or Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams,” other times, record labels and marketers pay TikTok influencers to promote a particular song in a video.
It’s impossible to predict what video or music trends will take off on TikTok.
RCA Records’ SVP of digital marketing Tarek Al-Hamdouni said the label’s promotional strategy involves a fair amount of experimentation with each campaign. The company will often work with an influencer agency to find somewhere between 10 and 30 lower-follower-count influencers to promote a new track in videos and then go after trends that stick.
“We actually give them the freedom to post what they’d like with that content,” he said. “If you see one or two posts start to overperform based on a consistent creative, what we can do is go find those bigger influencers and get them on board with the trend. In the best-case scenario, your micro-influencer campaign is so successful that it creates the trend on its own and then the bigger influencers are going to jump on board organically.”
While TikTok is often a go-to platform for promoting a newly released track, some artists incorporate the app even earlier in their creative process.
The Canadian rapper Tiagz (Tiago Garcia-Arenas) built a following of 4.2 million fans on the app by writing songs that directly referenced the app’s popular memes and trends, effectively gaming its search and content recommendation algorithms.
“I tried to understand the platform,” Tiagz told Insider. “I kept doing these memes because I saw that it worked.”
Not all song trends on TikTok happen serendipitously or via external music marketing campaigns.
TikTok also has an internal music division dedicated to monitoring music trends on the app. The team has a series of “promo levers” it uses to boost the popularity of songs. The company can add new tracks to playlists in the “Sounds” section of its app and apply keywords on the back end to optimize song discoverability in the app’s search interface.
How TikTok creators can make money from working with music industry professionals
Music marketers regularly pay TikTok influencers to promote songs. The practice has become so common that there are entire agencies dedicated to song promotions on the app.
For the app’s creators, it can be an easy way to monetize their following without having to create a sponsored post for a brand.
“We’ve still found that TikTok remains the most engaged, the most used, and the most rewarding per dollar spent,” Griffin Haddrill, an artist manager and cofounder of the marketing agency VRTCL, told Insider.
As TikTok’s user base has grown and content has become more saturated, marketers are turning more to micro influencers over superstars for song campaigns.
“The price point for mega stars is extremely high,” Zach Friedman, a cofounder at the upstart record label Homemade Projects, told Insider. “The way the TikTok algorithm works, it’s hard to know what’s going to be successful. Instead of paying a premium for a D’Amelio, you could pay a micro influencer $200 and their TikTok could get 10 million views. Because of this, it’s better to cast a wider net.”
Those “swipe-ups” on Instagram Stories or the links below a YouTube video aren’t just for the convenience of sharing a link – they’re how many influencers make money.
When someone makes a purchase on a website after clicking through a trackable link or using a specific code, the influencer who posted it can earn a commission from that sale. That’s called affiliate marketing.
How lucrative affiliate marketing is for an influencer depends on several factors such as their following size, engagement, and which industry they are in. It also depends on the commission rates brands and platforms put in place.
For instance, some finance influencers can make a decent portion of their income from affiliate links alone. They might work with investing apps like Robinhood or Acorns.
Some influencers have even started texting their followers with links to their favorite products as a way to drive sales. And platforms like Instagram are also tapping into this space with their own native affiliate marketing programs.
Insider has talked with many influencers and industry experts about affiliate marketing. Here’s a rundown of what they told us they have earned.
How much money do influencers make using affiliate marketing?
We spoke with a handful of influencers about how they incorporate affiliate links into their content. Several detailed their monthly earnings. They ranged from about $50 per month to more than $25,000 per month.
Here’s how much money 8 creators make from affiliates:
TikTok has been staffing up as it looks to compete with YouTube and Instagram.
The company tripled its US employee headcount last year. It currently has around 1,140 US job openings listed on its hiring page. And it’s standing on firmer footing in the US after President Biden signed an executive order reversing an effort by the Trump administration to crack down on Chinese tech companies. Its app has been downloaded over three billion times globally – a feat only Facebook had previously achieved.
But the company is still a relative newcomer to the US tech scene, and its hiring process is less well known than the app itself.
Insider spoke with Lauren Flaus, TikTok’s university recruiting lead for the Americas, and Kate Barney, head of HR for TikTok’s global business solutions team in the US and EMEA, to understand what it takes to land a job at the company.
Job applicants should prepare for interviews by showing that they’ve actually spent time on TikTok, the pair said.
“I think it’s really important for us to at least see that a candidate understands we’re an entertainment platform,” Flaus said. “We do want to understand that they have a passion and interest for those cultural trends and have that knowledge.”
“If you’re not going to make a video, at least have proven that you’ve watched a few and you know what it is,” Barney told Insider last year. “Figure out what’s trending that week. You might not need to know the Toosie Slide, but at least figure out what makes a TikTok video and why they are so fun and joyful.”
One area of focus for TikTok’s recruiting team has been the company’s new video resume program where applicants can upload a video to TikTok to publicly pitch themselves for a job.
“The influence that the video could have may vary depending on the role and what types of skills are necessary to be successful,” Flaus said. “I think being a creative problem solver and having some sort of creative aptitude is important for all our candidates.”
Hello and welcome to Insider Advertising, a weekly newsletter where I break down the most important news and trends on Madison Avenue and beyond. I’m Lara O’Reilly, Insider’s media and advertising editor. If this was forwarded to you, sign up here.
Thanks so much to everyone who offered their feedback on last week’s edition. Please do continue to send your comments, tips, and pun suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
While lots of companies raise their prices at a regular frequency, businesses this year are also contending with supply chain issues and rising commodity costs that are eating into their margins.
Many marketers and academics consider “Pricing” as the most important of the “4Ps of marketing” (product, price, place, promotion) – or more specifically, the ability to build a brand strong enough to maintain sustainable pricing power.
Marketing consultant and former AB InBev CMO Chris Burggraeve tells me the topic of pricing is coming up at every board he speaks with right now: “In unusual times like this, more than ever.”
Burggraeve, who recently published a book entitled “Marketing IS NOT a Black Hole,” said it’s important for marketers to make sure they’re in the mix as these conversations happen. It’s not just about raising prices either – there can be opportunities to hold or even lower prices strategically and capture market share or volume from competitors.
Marketers without the luxury of having already built a strong brand may get away with raising their prices in the short-term, Burggraeve said. But he added that it’s likely they may have to immediately pull back and discount again to counter negative dips in volume and share.
I’m reminded of that often-quoted Warren Buffett adage: It’s only when the tide goes out that you see who’s been swimming naked.
I get knocked down, but I get up again
Global ad spend is expected to grow by 10% to $634 billion in 2021, according to an upgraded forecast from Dentsu. That would mark a swift recovery from last year, which was the weakest-performing since the global financial crisis.
Why the discrepancy between these two datapoints? The suggestion is that much of the surge in ad spending anticipated by Dentsu and other forecasters this year will be driven by smaller, often online-only businesses and not necessarily the larger companies that Gartner surveys.
For those marketers, it’s as good a time as ever to get closer to the finance decision makers in their business. As Burggraeve put it to me, marketers need to “out the comfort zone of storytelling and advertising, and go back to Kotler and the 4Ps,” referring to Philip Kotler, the renowned marketing author and professor who has been dubbed “the father of modern marketing.”
You can find me in the club
At the end of the working day, the very last thing on my mind is the idea of logging back in to Slack to continue the industry chatter where it left off. (Not offence to my lovely, witty, and talented colleagues, readers, and sources.)
This fun piece from my colleague Lindsay Rittenhouse details how some of these industry Slack groups have thousands of people years-long waiting lists to get accepted in. Many have a list of rules to follow once you finally do get behind the coveted velvet rope.
While some of these Slacks – described by some as digital versions of the Soho House private members’ club – were established years ago, the pandemic has added extra urgency to the clamor to join these groups to network and hunt for work opportunities.
I’d like to know whether any private industry groups are also popping up on newer platforms. A Discord for digital buyers? A Mumble for marketers? Let me know if you can sneak me in on the guest list.
The 90-second slot
In this semiregular corner of the newsletter, I’ll bring you a rapid-fire, 90-second interview with the industry’s most influential executives who are dominating the week’s advertising news.
They have been a longstanding partner for us so it kind of came together naturally. We were trying to solve similar things philosophically and it just made sense.
Are you still on the hunt to make more acquisitions of similar sized companies?
We are always on the hunt. This is our 11th acquisition in about five years. We are already in another discussion. There is a massive opportunity to be the leading, independent, and neutral operating system because Big Tech just has so much of the ad dollars that the world needs us to do this.
Adtech dealmaking is off the charts at the moment. How do you think the pace of M&A is going to ebb and flow over the next year?
I think whereas maybe five or six years ago it was advantageous to be a startup, scale matters now. And global presence matters. Marketers want proven companies at scale who can expand globally. So I think the best companies are going to continue to consolidate.
What does that consolidation mean for marketers?
It means marketers have more choices. They don’t just have to rely on Google, Facebook, and Amazon for their digital marketing. They are going to be able to have neutral alternatives.
There are plenty of extracts doing the rounds this week from “An Ugly Truth,” a new book from New York Times reporters Sheera Frenkel and Cecilia Kang, which takes readers behind the scenes at drama inside Facebook. While the book doesn’t delve too deeply into the nuances of its ads business, it does portray an apparently withering relationship between Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg, and also how Facebook often prioritized its image first, and fixing things later – The New York Times
Speaking of Facebook: Kate Kaye reports that its brand safety audit with the Media Rating Council – an olive branch promised in July 2020 in the wake of an advertiser boycott – is on ice for now – Digiday
The new “Space Jam” is set to be a product placement and brand-collab bonanza – Ad Age
Travel influencers are finding their work is picking up again as the tourism industry returns to spending on marketing – Insider
Goldman Sachs’ consumer bank Marcus takes digs at other banks’ perks in its biggest ad campaign since launching in 2016 – Insider