Slack collaborates with Microsoft Team to integrate its calling features to Slack’s chat feature. 

The collaboration tool, Slack, is reportedly working on a technology that would enable its users to talk with Microsoft Teams’ users. This plan was announced by Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield during his call with RBC analyst Alex Zukin last Thursday. The present health crisis pandemic that’s hitting many countries in the world right now has affected the workforce of several industries. The social distancing has forced workers to bring their work at home and set up flexible working locations. 

There’s still no news as to when this integration will roll out for its users or how it will work, however, making it easier for their users to use Microsoft’s Office 365 may have been part of their bigger plans of integration.

At the moment, Slack is already connected with OneDrive, Outlook, and SharePoint making it more efficient for users to do their tasks while using that app in conversing with other members of the team. 

MicrosoftTeams x Slack 

Microsoft and Slack have been neck to neck against each other. Just last month, Microsoft was able to beat Slack’s daily active users in the previous users. But with the coronavirus outbreak, both apps have been seeing a spike in their number of users. Microsoft reported an overwhelming number of 44 million daily active users at the beginning of March, a 40% increase. Slack also hit a new record high with 12.5 million concurrent users. 

What’s coming for Microsoft Teams

Microsoft is planning to launch a real-time noise suppression feature for its Teams by the end of the year. This is especially efficient for remote workers who are working with kids or pets in their vicinity The new feature will mute down the noise around its users so as to make the meetings a much voice focused environment. AI will be used to remove the background noise and to focus the mic to the users’ voice instead of the noise. 

A ‘raise hand’ feature akin to Zoom is also coming to the app later this year. Users can also click on a button if they want to make a quick comment or ask a question in a, particularly large meeting. To make it easier to chat with other team members while the meeting is going on, Team will have pop-out chat boxes in separate windows too. All of these features are set to roll out later this year. 

Yelp will soon have Donate buttons in profiles from selected categories where people can just click and donate for a cause. 

Yelp recently announced a relief of $25 million for small businesses and some changes in its policies to accommodate the changes brought by the coronavirus outbreak. However, Yelp isn’t done in supporting local businesses as it announced a new fundraising partnership with GoFundMe and implore Yelp users to donate to businesses directly. 

COVID-19 – Impact on small businesses

The coronavirus hasn’t paralyzed the industry giants alone, but most especially, the small local businesses. This pandemic has been challenging for local businesses that depend on foot traffic. Based on recorded data, consumer interest for restaurants has decreased to 67% since March 10th. Other non-essential businesses such as yoga studios and breweries also saw the same fall with 78% and 85% decrease of interest. The implementation of social distancing has forced many establishments to close down temporarily making it difficult for them to cover their expenses. 

Donate buttons for Yelp users

While other businesses have sought help and created their GoFundMe pages, the new team-up between the said fundraiser and Yelp will automatically put a ‘donate’ button on the users’ Yelp profile pages of business from various categories including nightlife, restaurants, beauty and fitness, and active life businesses. 

Businesses eligible for the ‘donate’ button are as follows: 

  • For US-based businesses 
  • With five or fewer branches and independently owned
  • Business profiles claimed
  • Belongs in one of the categories mentioned above
  • Fund collected goes to the affected employees or ongoing business expenses
Source: Yelp 

Aside from this aid, both companies also stated that Yelp Foundation and GoFundMe are matching up to $1 million in a donation for every $500 that businesses will raise in their GoFundMe pages. 

What does this mean for you?

Small businesses are the heart of the community. These local physical stores are where buying culture, traditions, and purchasing decisions are made. It is imperative to keep them rolling despite the pandemic. 

These partnerships would allow small businesses to protect their employees and keep paying their bills. In a greater picture, SMBs take up over 90% of all businesses in the U.S. These stores pour billions of dollars into advertising and digital marketing and seeing them fall one after another will cause a ripple if not a wave in the entire digital advertising industry. This is especially a threat to smaller digital advertising agencies. 

LinkedIn continues to pose itself as a worthy competitor in the digital advertising space. 

LinkedIn’s new Conversation Ads are aimed at helping advertisers improve their message personalization. This new feature is expected to roll out for all its advertisers in the coming weeks. This ad format is based upon LinkedIn’s already existing Message Ads, then Sponsored InMail. The new ad format features a full-funnel campaign where users can choose several customized call-to-action. Advertisers can select the category of people they are sending messages to including webinar sign-ups, ebook downloads, product education, and others.

Based on LinkedIn’s report, messages sent using their platform have quadrupled over the last five years. eMarketer reported that by 2023, 40% of the global population will be using mobile messaging apps making it a great area to prospects and build relationships with existing clients. 

What’s it about? 

LinkedIn announced the new ad feature last Tuesday. LinkedIn explained enables users to add clickable call-to-action buttons in their emails to their recipients. It’s essentially a much improved Sponsored InMails where messaging is more interactive, engaging, and expected to increase traffic. This new feature is intended to help advertisers help their prospective clients and customers have access to the content and offers that may be useful for them. 

Benefits of Conversation Ads 

The Conversation Ads has three functions

  • To deepen engagement – users can now create multiple CTA buttons for their prospects. These are clickable buttons that will lead the prospects to event pages, all-in-one ads, and others. 
  • From conversations to conversions – turn conversations into conversions by using qualifying questions such as the Lead Gen Forms. 
  • To understand your audiences’ intentions – this will allow users to see a detailed report on their contents’ performance and level of engagement. 

What does this mean for you? 

Conversation Ads is a great strategy for brands and businesses to drive more traffic to their sites, it will also be a key player to help them get more prospects and put their CTA’s into action. The messages can also only be sent to those active LinkedIn users to ensure that there will be engagement. As B2B advertisers and marketers, they heavily rely on conversations in building relationships. With Conversation Ads, this relationship building and prospecting will become much easier. 

This new format is especially helpful for B2B advertisers that has multiple stakeholders included in the purchasing decisions. This ad feature will enable customers and potential customers to see the contents that are relevant to them and in their present phase of buying decisions. 

Google is now giving away its premium version of Hangouts Meet for remote workers amid Covid-19. 

Google is making it easier for entrepreneurs and employees to work from home by waiving the fees for its Hangouts Meets premium version. The world has been taken by storm due to Covid-19. Industries have been affected and many big tech companies have urged and encouraged their employees to bring their works at home.

Many schools and universities have also closed their doors and decided to halt classes. Those who didn’t stop classes have opted for virtual lessons. 

Free until July 1st 

The web search giant has announced that the free offer will last until July 1, 2020. Students from HongKong and Vietnam have started using Hangouts Meets and Google Classroom to continue their classes even when they’re only staying indoors. This ensures that their education will push through despite the Covid-19 pandemic. 

All GSuite and GSuite for Education users will have access to all the advanced features of Hangouts Meet and all its video-conferencing capabilities such as the following: 

  • Live streaming to 100,000 viewers or more per domain
  • Record meetings and save them in Google Drive
  • Large meetings with 2502 participants 

Many professionals and analysts have said that Google’s cloud services like Drive, Docs, and Hangouts are a great help, especially in today’s situation. It will help keep people stay connected and still increase their work efficiency even when under quarantine. 

What does this mean for you?

Entrepreneurs and other businesses depend on their manual labor to keep their brands running. However, due to Covid-19, respective countries have raised their security health levels and stopped people from going to work. 

Through Google Hangouts or Zoom employees, across industries have been able to preserve. Premium features of both applications will be available for the time being. For Hangouts, you can try it full version without having to pay a dime until July 1. You can talk to your clients, potential clients, have staff meetings, and make sure that things are working well for your company and brand even during these difficult times. 

Yelp wants to help the various industries have been seeing a decline in their revenue. 

Yelp aims to help entrepreneurs thrive amid the difficult circumstances by adding a new feature and a $25 million fund for local businesses. This is especially for establishments that are severely affected by the virus outbreak. 

As announced, Yelp’s $25 million relief will focus on supporting local restaurant and nightlife businesses. This relief will come in waived advertising fees, free advertising, and products and services. Businesses that will remain open will get free access for Yelp page upgrades that includes Connect, Call to Action, and Business Highlights. All these features will enable businesses to communicate with their customers. 

Food chains and restaurants will also have free access to Yelp Reservation and Waitlist for three months. Yelp will now only waive advertising fees. The company also offers to support local advertisers from several other categories.

Are you eligible? 

Yelp’s offer is now available to small, independently owned restaurants. It is also available for nightlife businesses and franchises across the US and Canada. The new features include: 

  • Waived fees for businesses with active Yelp campaigns.
  • (Fees will be automatically waived until the end of March.)
  • Campaigns scheduled in April will be paused until May 1st. 
  • Businesses with delivery and takeout services will get a $100 free ad campaign for April. 
  • Free access to all paid features until April. No credit card required for transactions. 
  • Free access to Yelp Reservations and Waitlist for three months. 

What’s the new feature?

There’s now a contact-free delivery option that is made available via a partnership with Grubhub. This feature will be available beginning this week. There will also be banner alerts so that customers will know of a business’ adjusted operation hours. Yelp’s hope is that the feature will encourage social distancing.

Other new features will also enable businesses to indicate if they’re accepting orders to deliveries and takeout. Consumers will also be able to see if a certain business offers online classes, consultations, performances. Though this feature is not available yet.

What does this mean for you? 

Small and local businesses that are facing a huge challenge due to the economic situation can take refuge with the fact they can still go on with their operation using Yelp’s new feature. 

Zoom’s popularity soars as employees work from home

Zoom is taking the quarantined mass by storm. From premium to FREEmium, Zoom is proving to be in a great position to amass more and more users. Amid the rapid spread of coronavirus, more and more companies are implementing a work from home policy in accordance with the government’s issuance of city quarantines.

Companies that help battle boredom are seeing big increases now. Netflix, Peloton, and Blue Apron have all been avenues quarantiners have utilized to keep the boredom at bay. Zoom has been the key player that’s been getting much of the attention in the past week. 

Zoom has now been downloaded over 10 million times in the Google Play Store. A report from CNBC showed that Zoom has more monthly active users in the first quarter of 2020 than it did in the whole year of 2019. The company is expected to have a 74% year-on-year growth in paid users this year. 

From Premium to Freemium

With the new work from home policies, Zoom made a move that would prove to be beneficial for them. Zoom took down its 40 – minute limit for group meetings for schools and universities in several countries. Additionally, Zoom has launched a paid education plan. This plan allows meetings with over 300 people and added features such as transcription, recording, and other administrative tools. 

Surge of communication apps 

Communication apps such as Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts Meet, and Slack are all important platforms today.

Microsoft Teams reported another 12 million users just last week and increased its share to 4%. Since the surge Slack also reported a rise in paid customers. That has also caused its shares to soar. Zoom took on the competition and showed the most surge of users and usage in the first half of 2020. 

Since employees that work from home have drastically increased many have opted to open their premium features to non-paying subscribers. More collaboration between apps is expected, which will further accommodate the changing shifts of employees. 

Etsy’s attempt to boost sales is apparently a way for the company to take a cut from the sales of its merchants. 

Etsy introduced its risk-free advertising service last week which automatically enrolls its sellers in the system. As per the new ad service, Etsy wrote that merchants will be able to advertise their products on otherPlatforms and websites including Instagram, Facebook, Bing, Pinterest, and Google. If the ads bring in revenue or sales for their merchants within a month, Etsy will charge the merchants for an advertising fee. 

The new ad policy

The new advertising service comes with two features

  • Etsy removed Google Shopping ads which immediately affected sellers who are in the middle of running their ad campaigns
  • The company introduced offsite ads

As stated earlier, the offsite ads allow merchants to advertise their products in other social media and websites for free. However, Etsy will take a cut from your sales when a shopper clicks any of the online ads within 30 days. Etsy made it sound appealing by adding the risk-free factor but merchants found the loophole of that system. 

What’s the catch? 

The advertising service isn’t optional which means it automatically enrolls all of its sellers into the program. Merchants who have made over $10,000 in sales for the 12th month period are required to join. Etsy gets 12% on each sale as opposed to the 15% from the smaller merchants. This means that if a buyer makes another purchase by clicking the ads within a month, Esty will get another cut. All the separate purchases from clicking the ads are subjected to the 15% or 12% fee. 

Including the transaction fees, the company is getting up to 24% of the sellers’ sales. This is before adding other costs such as the listing fee. 

What does this mean for you?

Many merchants may have to increase the cost of their products to accommodate the rise in advertising costs. Other small sellers are finding it more difficult to use the platform. This is especially true for sellers who are still starting out their online shops.

Adidas finds a new lucrative way to reach their audience

Adidas is making the move away from social media ads and towards more one-to-one communication by using WhatsApp for direct marketing. Despite Facebook’s decision to halt plans for advertising on WhatsApp, Adidas is still gaining traction through the messaging platform. 

Halts Facebook Video Ads

In 2018, Adidas stopped purchasing video ads on Facebook due to questioning their visibility. Along with several other brands, Adidas noted a lack of transparency when advertising through Facebook. This caused the company to withdraw ad spend on Facebook and invest in other digital platforms.

Growing Influence Through Direct Messaging

Since their withdrawal from ads on Facebook, the brand has utilized WhatsApp. This has led to relationships with influential people in smaller groups. It has created a sense of growing influence rather than needing to buy it. 

The influence groups have given the brand the ability to build a community with users across the world. It has impacted the way Adidas communicates and the strategies they use. In the recent campaign “100% Unfair Predator,” Adidas sponsored football players to play for teams who needed substitutes for unreliable teammates. Through a Whatsapp hotline, teams can submit details about their games directly to Adidas.

By the time the team was given a player, Adidas had already had a direct conversation and gathered information. These people would later have the possibility of being added to groups for exclusive events or gear. According to Digiday, the use of direct messaging has resulted in relationships with influencers that have even become salespeople for Adidas.

Messaging apps as a Marketing Channel

James Whatley, of Digitas, explained the power of direct messaging. Whatley cited that DM will have higher open rates than email. Stats show that messaging platforms are becoming the dominant way individuals are communicating on mobile devices. 

In fact, the number of messaging app users grew by 12.1% in 2019. Marketers have the opportunity to optimize relationships and grow their influence through new forms of direct marketing. Doing so successfully can create a new wave of brand recognition and increased ROI.

The Federal Trade Commission is asking for public comment on whether to change its Endorsement Guides for influencers. 

The FTC is set out to release a new Endorsement Guide that will explain all the recommendations for influencer marketing. Its intention is to include and consider public opinion. The FTC wants to provide guides for various issues on influencer marketing such as the manner and cost of promotional posts on social media platforms advertisers and endorsers pay.

The issue of advertising platforms 

Several companies make pseudo accounts on various social media platforms including YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and others. According to the released statement, some companies launder advertising by paying influencers and asking them to pretend that the endorsement is not in any way financially beneficial for both sides. FTC wants to address the dishonesty that’s prevalent in influencer marketing. Another thing is about underage influencers and as to whether they truly understand what the disclosure agreements mean. 

The FTC has long required the influencers to disclose sponsored posts. Despite these guides, advertisers are dismissing the regulations that are in place. For example, a Lord & Taylor campaign paid 50 influencers to post a dress on their Instagram accounts. However, there was no disclosure for the sponsored post. Lord & Taylor was later lightly reprimanded, but the FTC isn’t convinced it was enough.

FTC wants to make the punishment official 

The Endorsement guidelines as of now the FTC isn’t putting much pressure on the influencers and brands. To date, there is no exact punishment that can fit each infraction. To combat the dismissal of the guides FTC is considering a change in the guidelines/official rules. This would enforce the punishments in case influencers and brands do not adhere to the stipulates rules. 

As per Chopra’s suggestion, the FTC will focus on platforms and advertisers pool. Smaller and starting influencers aren’t much in FTC’s radar just yet. They will be putting attention on companies that violate the law. 

What does this mean for you?

Advertisers need to be careful including influencer marketing within their strategy. Influencers, brands, media outlets, have to use clear language and to disclose whether the brands they promote have financial benefits. 

Both the advertisers and influencers have a responsibility to convey promotions honestly to their audiences. Their social media posts must not affect the credibility of the brand and impact the purchasing decisions of the customers. Influencer marketing is effective but it must be used in an honest way. 

Spotify Acquires Ringer to Further its Podcast Lineup

Spotify has announced a new acquisition. The Ringer has over 30 podcasts in its network. With the addition of Ringer, Spotify is expecting to increase its number of users and explore investments in other podcast businesses.

Bill Simmons is a writer, entrepreneur, podcaster, and founded The Ringer in 2016. Simmons started the company when he left ESPN. While The Ringer was originally a digital platform, it eventually became a podcast platform that now houses more than 30 podcasts with 100 million downloads per month.

Some of the podcasts in the platform include The Bill Simmons Podcast, The Rewatchables, The Ryen Russillo Podcast, and more. Simmons said now that the site is profitable it will only grow with Spotify’s backing.

Podcasting Industry

The Ringer has capitalized on a preexisting audience. ESPN draws in a partial viewership through commentary shows. It only makes sense that, Simmons who came from a background at ESPN, created a platform with a similar format. Spotify now has over 700,000 podcasts and has grown 200% from the last quarter.

Danielle Lee Spotify’s global VP for Partner Solutions stated that acquiring The Ringer was part of their plan to expand their reach in the podcast space. This started with last year’s acquisition of Gimlet Media and Anchor for $340 million and Parcast for $55 million. They are now in the process of doubling their audio offerings and furthering their business beyond music. Part of their plan is to become the world’s leading audio platform for audio streaming.

The next ESPN

Spotify CEO Daniel Ek explained in a report last Wednesday that The Ringer is the updated ESPN. This new purchase will prove to be a valuable property for Spotify as it tries to venture into the development of sports audio content for the next decade. People who are into sports will be tuning into Spotify for their next dose of sports news and commentaries.

Ek is hoping for a healthy relationship with the new management for all their staff members. This acquisition has been in the rumor mill for weeks and has now been closed.