Slack plans for growth despite competition from Microsoft Teams

Slack plans to draw in more users to better compete with Microsoft teams. While in the past the marketing budget accounted for 46% of the company’s revenue, Slack plans to outdo themselves by spending over 50% of the collaborative app’s revenue.  

“we’re seeing a generational shift in how we collaborate at work. People are moving away from email and into channels, away from legacy suites of badly connected products and onto a new customizable platform that can more easily connect the tools they use to work,” said Brian Elliott, VP & General Manager of Platform

While Slack contends that Microsoft’s Teams is a different service and not a competitor, Microsoft has made it clear they don’t have warm feelings towards slack. We reported recently that, Microsoft halted their employee’s use of the free version of Slack citing security concerns as the cause. 

Since Slack has gone public, the company has continued to grow and acquire more users and has big plans for the future of the platform.  

Teams boasts a massive 20 million active users a day, though Slack is shy of that number by 8 million. CEO Steward Butterfield notes that while the majority of Slack’s best customers utilize programs from Microsoft’s Office 365 suite they are still opting to use slack instead of Teams.

Butterfield has gone on to add that so many Office 365 users have come to Slack because of Slack’s integration of Microsoft tools and messaging features.

Microsoft is a much larger company than Slack, and it’s very important for them to stake their claim in the tech industry. Directing more funds towards advertising efforts makes sense. Due to the release of Teams the company’s stock has suffered an additional 8.4% drop.

Despite the competition, Slack has reported growth in the most recent quarter.  During the last quarter, the company brought in 168.7 million.  

Another e-commerce record has been broken by Cyber Monday which actually became a Cyber Weekend. 

Adobe Analytics projected a $9.5 billion in online sales and true to form, Cyber Monday outperformed previous sales records. The U.S. shoppers spent a total of $9.4 billion in digital sales, says Adobe

Consumers we’re spending $12 million per minute at its peak and this figure was heavily due to sales in smartphones amounting to $3 billion. This is more than half of what was spent on the same smartphone category from Cyber Monday last year which totaled to $1.5 billion. 

Slowly but surely

Although the record is good, still stats show the rather sluggish behavior of buyers these days following Thanksgiving and Black Friday. Both sales days fell short of their predicted sales. Despite that, many SMBs and brands were able to fight the current and the differing predictions over the Cyber Monday sale. While Adobe Analytics had expected sales that would surpass the $9 billion mark, other stats weren’t as positive.

Salesforce only predicted a total of $8 billion in sales for consumers in the U.S and $30 billion in sales worldwide for Cyber Monday. That represents just 15% and 12% growth. 

The underlying reason for SMb’s and brands’ success was their decision to put up their sales banner earlier than last year. They also made quite a number of promotions leading up to their store and online sales. This strategy piqued the interest of many consumers as most buyers fall hard for the deals. Somehow, the weather has affected the rise of sales as well since activity increased more during snow and rainy days. Instead of just staying in their houses drinking their hot chocolate, buyers were swiping their smartphones looking for deals.

Hot selling items 

Cyber Monday brought many sales in toys and games such as L.O.L, Nintendo Switch, Frozen 2 Toys, Suprise Dolls, Madden 20, Jedi Fallen Order, and Suprise Dolls. As for appliances, Samsung TVs, AirPods, Air Fryers, and Fire TV. TVs on Cyber Monday were on sale for up to 19% off. 

Smartphones accounted for one-third of all sales and, the increase in smartphone sales outpaced other items. 

Smartphone brought most of the online traffic 

Consumers used their smartphones for browsing and checking items which accounted for 54% of all site visits as opposed to 19% from last year. However, when people do decide to make their purchase, they opt for a more comfortable buying method, using laptops to make a majority of the final purchases.

Tesco and McDonalds signed-up to IAB Gold Standard to commit to a sustainable future of digital advertising.

IAB UK launched the Gold Standard initiative in 2018 which aimed to increase brand safety, fight advertising fraud, and improve the digital advertising experience for users. Tesco and McDonalds are now the first companies to adopt the standards. These advertisers are both committed to adhering to the new higher bar set by IAB UK.

How does The Gold Standard work

Advertisers who wish to become Gold Standard certified have to undergo the process below: 

  • Registration – advertisers can register their company through completing the short online questionnaire prepared by IAB UK. The company also provided a category on which the advertising company falls under. The confirmation of registration is done every Friday and advertisers will be issued a “Registered Badge” to be posted on their website and marketing materials.
  • Certification – the advertising company will have six months to submit evidence for their category outlined in the compliance grid for review. Once verified, Gold Standard will issue “Certificate Badge” for the certified company.

Tesco and McDonalds are now a few of the brands that have earned the Gold Standard ‘Certificate Badge.

The positive impact of Gold Standard

“Since its inception, Gold Standard adoption has been really strong. The fact that advertisers are now getting behind the initiative is crucial in cementing its effectiveness,” says Tim Elkington, the chief digital officer of IAB UK. Elkington added that both Tesco and McDonalds showed a leading example to other companies in becoming responsible for improving digital advertising. Changes in the digital advertising platform will become apparent if more brands invest more time and effort to become certified as well. 

Nick Ashley, head of media and campaign planning said that “the IAB Gold Standard is a clear start to building better standards across the industry; moving forward we also encourage all stakeholders to agree on a single industry-wide set of standards that we can all get behind.”  He also added that their company strives to communicate to their customers in the most helpful and effective way through raising their online ad standards.

Currently, there are already 95 media owners, media agencies, and ad tech companies that are Gold Standard certified. 

What does it mean for you?

Advertisers who are certified will have to work with certified digital advertising suppliers when they make an advertising campaign. This is to ensure the quality and the truthfulness of every campaign produced by brands. 

As Tesco and McDonald take the first step forward, many advertisers are encouraged to do the same thing. This is not to alienate other advertisers or brands, rather, it is a way to keep the faith of the customers and keep the standard in advertising high. 

Facebook tightened the implementation of Special Ad Categories in housing, employment, or credit.

Facebook’s advertising policies have prohibited unlawful discrimination. To address this issue, Facebook released Special Ad Catagories set in place to fulfill its commitment to protecting users and advertisers from discrimination and to improve their ability to detect and deter potential abuse. 

The social network giant mandated that every user must indicate when their ads are promoting housing, employment or credit by selecting the special ad category in the Ads Manager. This is a must specifically for advertisers, developers, and other partners. Companies that fail to implement the special ad categories, starting this Wednesday, will be paused for non-compliance.

Ads about housing in the Ad Library

A new feature called the housing ad section will be incorporated in Facebook’s Ad Library starting Wednesday. It will provide details on all active housing opportunity ads targeted to U.S users. 

The housing information can be searched by page name, or the city or the state in which the ads are targeted. Facebook said that separate ads for employment or credit opportunities will be added to the Ad Library next year. The company is currently working with civil rights groups concerning the matter. 

Special Ad categories implemented on all Ad buying platforms

Facebook announced that advertisers must use new processes with restricted targeting options to buy ads that offer housing, employment, and credit. The enforcement is required for all the tools businesses use to buy ads including Ads Manager, Instagram Promote, the Marketing API (application-programing interface), and ads created from pages.

Facebook’s changes to its target policies

Facebook implemented several changes to its targeting policies for ads dealing with housing, employment, and credit. This is part of the company’s settlements of several class-action lawsuits and complaints in March. 

Facebook no longer allowed age, gender, and ZIP code as targeting policies. The interest segments for ads are down into a hundred from thousands due to the deletion of those targeting details. 

What does it mean for you? 

Advertisers and marketers need to comply with Facebook’s usage of special ad categories as it is essential in providing a safe and law-abiding promotion and advertisements. It’s required for marketers to submit to the social media giant’s new measures to continue using their ad services. 

Optus is partnering with its customers to donate data to young Australians who need it most.

Optus, an Australian telecommunication company has launched a campaign called “donate your data.” The initiative was created to help bridge the digital divide for the 1.1 million young Australians that are struggling in poverty. The campaign invites eligible Optus postpaid and prepaid mobile plan holders to donate their mobile data to young Australians. This helps them to create, learn, and connect with the world and reach their true potential.

Optus teams up with The Smith and Kari Foundation 

The campaign was made possible with a partnership between The Smith Family and the KARI Foundation. The two partners will help Optus by giving out free sim cards with unlimited nationwide talk and text and 10 GB of mobile data plus the donated mobile data by Optus users. The movement will be helpful for young Australians who don’t have the means to connect to the social world on the Internet. 

The need to launch the campaign

Many young Australians find it challenging to stay connected to the internet. This has become a hindrance for them to study, browse the internet, and search for jobs. “For many of us, data is something we take for granted. Optus is proud to be working with our customers to enable young people across Australia to reach their full potential by providing them with access to the internet,” says Kelly Bayer Rosmarin, the deputy chief executive officer of Optus. 

Rosmarin further added that Australians should be able to stay connected and not feel disadvantaged. By donating unused mobile data to the participants of the program, it provides much-needed internet access to the young people who need it most. Free sims and mobile data is also being given to victims of domestic violence and homelessness. 

The positive impact of “Donate Your Data” campaign

“Thirty percent of young people on The Smith Family’s Learning for Life program does not have access to reliable internet at home,” says Dr. Lisa O’Brien, the CEO of The Smith Family. This education challenge for young Australians’ hinders their learning journeys. The campaign addressed this challenge and O’Brien has appreciated the efforts and generosity done by Optus to extend its reach. 

Casey Ralph, the chief executive of KARI also commented on the importance of being connected. Ralph said that “staying connected is important for mental well-being, education outcomes and an ability to inspire our future leaders. The Optus Donate your Data initiative will build on our current partnership with Optus to ensure that KARI can support our young Indigenous people’s ability to achieve, thrive and belong in an ever-changing world.”

Amazon Web Service brings machine learning to the developers. 

Machine learning prediction models can now be accessed through Amazon Aurora, Amazon Athena, and Amazon QuickSight. This was announced by the company on Tuesday. The prediction models can be easily integrated into various applications and business intelligence dashboards. 

“This makes it more straightforward to add ML (machine learning) predictions to your applications without the need to build custom integrations, move data around, learn separate tools, write complex lines of code, or even have ML experience,” says Matt Asay, enterprise strategy and evangelism executive for Amazon Web Services.

Benefits of AWS’s machine learning prediction model

Developers can now build their prediction model by simply adding a few Structured Query Language (SQL) queries to a marketing-related prediction model via the new AWS’s machine learning prediction offering. This enables developers to use sophisticated machine learning prediction models without writing complicated code to apply it. 

Likewise, Martech developers have benefited from AWS’s new offering. Many marketers with a data science team don’t need to build complicated codes to apply to their lead scoring model. It can simply be done using the following three simple steps:

  1. Purchase machine learning prediction model from AWS’s market place or build own prediction with the data science team
  2. Deploy it to Amazon SageMaker
  3. Order all sales queues by priority based on the prediction from the model

AWS reported that “tens of thousands” customers are using its machine learning capabilities today. Marketers and brands have used it via Amazon SageMaker, a managed service platform that allows developers to build and deploy ML models at scale.

What’s more in store

AWS not only offers new machine learning tools but also includes data analytics and data product software which piqued the interest of brands and developers who are using the new ML offerings. They are then directed to visit Amazon’s product pages such as Amazon Aurora, Athena, and QuickSight. More clients are drawn to use AWS’s offering through their other enterprise solutions as well.

AWS firmly believes that ML with artificial intelligence (AI) is the future of every virtual application. It is the main reason why the service provided sophisticated ML services to every developer. This innovation will lead them to be more productive in using machine learning.

It seems to have improved the productivity of data scientists. These computer wizards became adept at programming with SQL. This result has encouraged Amazon to give a further population of developers to access fully cloud-native and less complicated ML services. 

Two stores are coming before the years ends, one is opening this Saturday and another one in December. 

Toys R Us will open its first U.S store this week since it filed for bankruptcy in 2017. The store is located at Garden State Plaza in Paramus, New Jersey. Its size is about a quarter of the size of their old stores for gen xers and millennials who remember the toy superstore. The second store will be opened at the Galeria Houston on December 7. 

“The amazing opportunity that we were given here was to build the store from the ground up,” says Richard Barry, CEO of Toys R Us parent company Tru Kids Brands. Barry and many others built the new store on an experiential model that features interactive toy displays. It also showcased play spaces and room for brand demonstrations and events. These renovations from Toys R Us aims to give fun and excitement to the customers who will visit.

What’s new in Toy R Us stores

“One of the things that have been exciting and new today is having customers in the store, it’s so much more fun,” says Barry. He further added that it’s their goal to make the shopping experience as interactive as possible. 

This can be achieved using the stores’ interactive setup like putting up a treehouse in the middle of the shop where kids can climb and play. There are also benches and classic storybooks for the children. The store will also have a theater space that’s great for hosting brand events such as launching new products, book signing, and birthday parties. 

Another new feature in Toys R Us is the kids simply sit down and play set up. Kids along with their parents can likewise test out new products from brands such as Hasbro’s Nerf, Lego, Melissa & Doug, Nintendo, VTech, and Spin Master’s Paw Patrol. 

Toys R Us partners with b8ta

Tru Kids Brands has partnered with b8ta, a tech-forward retail company founded in 2015. This is to address the gap between the new innovative tech products online and what customers are able to try out before buying.

Brands sign up online for a slot in order to have a spot at the b8ta store. Customers then test their products before buying. Interactive stations such as virtual reality rooms and all-electric Mini Coopers are just some of the new features provided by the store. The innovation indeed is a promising step to increase revenue, retain customers, and reach potential clients.

What does this mean for you

The brick and mortar market hasn’t been kind to many businesses. More and more brands are closing down and filing bankruptcy, Forever21 being the recent victim to the retail downfall. Despite this, the industry is thriving. Toys R Us is a living proof that bankruptcy isn’t the end of a brand’s journey.  Diversify your brick and mortar store to create an atmosphere that is unique to your industry is very important for the survival and growth of brick and mortar shops.

Thanksgiving weekend sales could have reached record highs

Thanksgiving is always that time of the year where splurging on shopping isn’t a crime but a necessity and brands capitalize on that culture. Adobe Analytics expected that this Thanksgiving day’s sales could have reached $4.4 billion online, the first record ever. It represents the 18.9% year-over-year increase from last year’s sales that totaled to $3.7 billion. 

Early data released by Adobe showed that $2.2 billion of products were sold online and nearly half of those sales came from mobile devices. It made up to 46.4% of all online sales as of 5 p.m ET on Thursday, when compared to 33.5% last year. Sales increase and people are more glued to their phones doing online shopping more than ever despite Facebook and Instagram outages. 

Holidays start much earlier than last year

“The strong online sales performance to-date suggests that holiday shopping starts much earlier than ever before,” says Jason Woosley, Adobe’s Vice President of Commerce and Platform. He added that online sales between Nov.1 and Nov. 27 this year increased up to 16.1% compared to the last year. 

Adobe Analytics’ survey also reported that 1 in 4 consumers plan to visit a physical store on Thanksgiving Day. Brands and retailers then started to put their items on sale in their physical and online stores before Friday arrived. 

Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales are also expected to increase this year. It is predicted that Black Friday online sales will increase by 20.5% year-over-year to reach $7.5 billion while Cyber Monday sales are set to grow by 19.1% year-over-year up to $9.4 billion. This caused an increase in expectations for more sales online. Mobile shopping during this Thanksgiving was a huge factor.

Online sales impact on retailers

The shift of shopping from physical stores to online buying has been increasing over the years. Buying products via mobile phones or computers has been a wide consumer trend that retailers take advantage of. Many of them started to divert their marketing strategy in online sales. This has been a big win for companies such as Amazon, Walmart, and Target.

Although it sounds positive, Woosley warned retailers to track whether the early discounts will drive to their overall retail growth or will just invite consumers to spend their holiday budgets earlier.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday

We all know how crazy Thanksgiving and Black Friday shopping can be, but did you know that from 2017 to 2018 in-store shopping dropped by almost 10%? With the competition of Cyber Monday and the prevalence of digital-savvy shoppers, it seems as though people are sleeping in instead of going out for deals. But what are you doing to capitalize on this discount holiday? 

Oddly enough Black Friday and Cyber Monday might not be as old as you think. History.com  Black Friday dates back to the late 1800s but it didn’t spread as a discount holiday term till the 1980s. While Cyber Monday actually started in 2005

The National Retail Federation reports that this year 165 million people are expected to brave the crowds this weekend or shop online. ,

 NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said, “The tradition of Thanksgiving weekend holiday shopping has become a five-day event with consumers spending money in stores, supporting local small businesses, and online with their mobile devices and computers.” 

NRF continued with broken down statistics explaining who’s planning to shop where. 39.6 million shoppers are planning to brave the crowds on Thanksgiving day. Though when it comes to Black Friday the number of shoppers almost triples with over 114 million shoppers working to fulfill wish lists. 

While as far as consumers are concerned Black Friday only takes place at the end of November, retailers have sent much time in preparation for the holiday sales.  Past Cyber Monday sales have made companies a collective $7.9 billion in online sales.   

MarketingLand notes that this season is one of the biggest lead-ins for email marketing strategies. Email marketing is highly popular during this time of year and could be a potential reason for Black Friday’s decreasing popularity. 

If your reading and you’re realizing that you haven’t capitalized on this weekend of sales, you might be out of luck. While coming up with a discount strategy might be a little out of the realm of possibility now, coming up with a plan of action for the coming years could prove highly profitable. 

For start-ups that are still finding their footing, try running a free giveaway or adding a discount code to your products for the weekend! You might find an inbox full of orders on Monday!

U.S. advertisers invested more than $57 billion into the programmatic digital display advertising.

A significant portion (56.3%) of the $57.30 billion is being funneled into digital display ads will go to social networks. It will be utilized for banners, videos, and other display ad units across social platforms. As advertisers continue to prioritize the video and network ad formats, it is predicted that social shares of the programmatic ads will rise in 2021.

Programmatic advertising is defined as the use of automation for the buying, selling or fulfilling of digital ads. The report from eMarketer predicted that 83.5% of the total digital display ad will be spent this year. Continued investment in areas such as digital audio, social video, connected TV, and over-the-top (OTT) advertising will drive U.S. programmatic ad spending to approximately $80 billion for the next two years.

Why invest more in Social Networks

“Advertising in a cookie-free mobile app environment where users spend much of their digital time is complicated and difficult,” says Eric Haggstrom, the forecasting analyst at eMarketer. Social networks prove to be the major exception. He further added that “they have made it relatively easy to target audiences at scale in an in-app environment.” Social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat proved to have a strong performance as forecasted. It has been expected that advertisers will continue to search for social networks for the upcoming months.

“These sites have the scale and identity capabilities that advertisers want,” says Lauren Fisher, principal analyst at eMarketer. She added that this matters because if advertisers are having a hard time tracking, targeting, and measuring due to privacy restrictions. Brands investing more in programmatic digital ads may want to increase the revenue of marketers across their social networks.

Impact of programmatic display ads in the future

The primary method of buying digital media in the U.S is made over automated media. Social networks have been categorized as programmatic and being known as dominating the display landscape. The report of eMarketer estimated that Facebook, in particular, will consume 83% of social ad spending. This enables marketers to make a decision about focusing more on social media platforms for their ads rather than another marketing strategy.

eMarketer also forecasted an increase of 57.6% social share by 2021. This kind of marketing has seen to be the future of advertising across websites. It is essential for marketers to have the knowledge and learn the processes involved with programmatic display advertising.