Robin Langford Robin Langford Premium Content Editor, Performance Marketing World

This week on PMW: Spotify’s CTA cards and a peek inside Clubhouse

How is Spotify making its new ads unskippable? Who is Meta’s first European ad measurement partner? And why is Twitter selling its mobile ad unit? We look at all the news and moves in performance marketing this week…

Power up: new tools for performance marketers

Spotify is making podcast advertising more interactive and accessible with call-to-action (CTA) cards, initially going live on the music app’s original podcasts. The new ad format features customisable text, bold visuals and clickable call-to-action prompts such as “Shop Now.” The cards appear in the Spotify app as soon as an ad starts playing and will resurface later on while the user is exploring the Spotify app. The clickable ads will be visible for seven days after the audio has played, unless a campaign ends sooner. The new ad experience is already attracting brands like Ulta Beauty, Athletic Greens and Squarespace.

Digital entertainment and media platform Azerion has struck an exclusive global partnership with ZEASN, a technology provider of over-the-top (OTT) and smart TV solutions. Soon to be publicly traded, Netherlands-based Azerion works with digital publishers and counts Pepsi, Bank Norwegian, L'Oréal, McDonald's, Volkswagen Group and Ikea among its clients. The partnership will see the company's programmatic platform, Improve Digital, integrate with Beijing-based ZEASN, which reaches over 150million users in 50million global households via smart TV technology.  It has a content portfolio including most of the major global TV Apps, VODs and linear TV channels from a variety of content partners around the world. 

As digital out of home campaigns are showing, smart cities and smart cars will help power performance marketers into the future. Wejo and Microsoft have announced a collaboration revealed at CES along with Palantir, to showcase our breakthrough Wejo Neural Edge processing technology. The technology is geared to help the future development of AVs, expansion of EVs to mass markets and the development of Smart Cities infrastructure. The platform will enable intelligent handling of data from vehicles at scale, while providing insights to protect privacy and help boost new automotive innovations. 

As the events industry grapples with more uncertainty amid the cancellation or postponement of in-person programmes, managing a mix of virtual and hybrid components will be critical this year. In response, Splash, an event marketing technology company, has launched a new solution that enables event professionals to design and execute events no matter what type of format. Splash Studio features include native live streaming functionality, a full sull suite of engagement tools, including Q&A, chat, polling, networking hubs, and fully automated data integration that syncs back to existing CRM and marketing automation systems.

Judopay, a mobile-centric and cloud-based payments provider, has partnered with Mastercard on its global first SCA compliant, Click to Pay solution, enabling a frictionless checkout experience for businesses that allows for enhanced security. Merchants across the Food & Beverage, Mobility and other sectors will benefit from no additional transaction fees, as well as no additional onboarding or integration whilst the solution will allow end users another way to pay in person or via apps using information already stored on their eWallet, therefore allowing for a seamless payment process.

Clubhouse has rolled out new sharing features that could be useful to performance marketers looking to capitalise on the popularity of the audio-based social network. ‘Web Listening’ allows users to listen to Replays and Live Rooms on their browser straight from their phone, desktop or laptop. Users do not need to be logged into the Clubhouse app to listen, meaning users can share with friends that may not have Clubhouse. The new feature marks the platform’s first steps towards a desktop experience and is an evolution from the app’s primary focus on mobile, aimed at helping creators further grow their audience. The update is currently being trialled in the US, with plans for a wider roll-out over time. 

Secondly, Clubhouse has also rolled out improvements to its share button. When clicking the “Share” button, users will now see three options: share on Clubhouse, share via a social network, or copy the link to share via a message app. When selecting share on Clubhouse, users will have the option to add a comment and share it with their Hallway, notifying followers that the user has shared a Room. In addition, users will now be able to see how many times a Room has been shared or clipped, and users will be able to see share comments. This update will provide creators with valuable insights into how their Rooms are performing and what people are saying about them.

At a time when digital businesses are launching products and features at breakneck speeds, and looking to outsmart competitors, testing the code before releasing it to the audience is of utmost importance. In response, LambdaTest, a test execution platform, has launched HyperTest, a next-gen smart testing platform to help businesses run end-to-end Selenium tests at the fastest speed possible. Selenium is an open-source project that supports web browser automation, using which developers and QA analysts in organisations can automate their testing to save time instead of manually testing each functionality. Existing automation testing platforms are inherently slow because of lots of network hops that happen during each test. 

Get inspired: latest campaigns and brand wins

Smart AdServer has been selected by Vocento, Spain’s leading media group, as an independent alternative to its current adtech partner. The move is evidence that leading media companies across Europe are beginning to choose independent players in a bid to improve the transparency of advertising and increase fair competition between the different players on the demand side of the market. The partnership will see Smart provide premium publishers with the most efficient and innovative monetisation solutions and allow them to take back control over their inventory and data assets.

Match has launched a new pan-European campaign. The online dating platform is developing its brand platform in partnership with its new agency WNP, around the signature: START SOMETHING REAL. In the spirit of authenticity, Match is featuring real life couples in this campaign – for the very first time, running across media including digital, radio and OOH.

Bose Professional has launched “Better Connected”, a video podcast series in collaboration with household-name guests, advising listeners on how to communicate effectively in an increasingly virtual world. The episodes will feature: Dianna Cowern, prolific YouTuber known as ‘Physics Girl’; Scott Kelly, former NASA astronaut and the UN Champion of Space; and Michael Johnson, legendary athlete and Olympic gold medallist. The guests will share their expertise on cultivating trust and engagement virtually, communicating in extreme environments, and staying motivated in challenging situations.

bsurance, a B2B2C embedded insurance platform, and furniture retailer Kika/Leiner Group, have created the retail industry’s first joined up in store and online embedded insurance experience. The partnership extends the offering Kika/Leiners and bsurance developed to enable customers at its 42 stores in Austria to get personalised insurance for the products they buy at the point of sale. Buyers of items such as electrical appliances are able to instantly get warranty insurance or protection coverage when they purchase their goods in store. Now, Kika/Leiners customers will be able to have the same in store experience online. The partnership is the latest application of new embedded insurance technology which bundles coverage or protections within the purchase of a product, service, or platform. That means the insurance product is not sold to the customer ad hoc, but is instead provided as a native feature. 

The changing marketing landscape: partnerships, mergers and rebrands

Meta (formerly known as Facebook) has certified AudienceProject as an official measurement partner, making AudienceProject the first European partner to provide true third-party audience measurement of Meta campaigns in real-time. The agreement is unique, and it has taken Meta and AudienceProject several years of extensive work to ensure privacy as well as build and audit the integration making it possible to measure Meta campaigns along with other media campaigns. The deal allows brands and agencies to get independent audience measurement of their Meta campaigns.

Twitter has officially completed the sale of its mobile ad platform MoPub to mobile game maker and marketing software provider AppLovin, for a hefty $1.05billion price tag. MoPub helped Twitter generate around $190million in revenue during 2020. However, the company felt that having the platform was affecting its ability to perform well in other areas, such as catering to small businesses and e-commerce, both of which are strong areas for larger rival Meta (the owner of Facebook).  Having acquired MoPub in 2013 to improve its advertising platform, Twitter has now decided to sell it as it aims to focus on other products. In 2020, Twitter revealed how it was expecting a “modest impact” on its revenue due to the privacy changes introduced with iOS 14. While Twitter enjoys high cultural and political influence as a social network, this power is disproportionate to its finances, which are generally much weaker than rivals such as Instagram and TikTok.  This has resulted in an ambitious plan to double revenues to $7.5billion per year by 2023.

Apple has briefly become the first company to hit a stock market valuation of $3trillion after the US tech giant’s pivot to a privacy-centric ad strategy last year. In comparison, Microsoft is now worth about $2.5trillion (£1.8trillion), while Alphabet, Amazon and Tesla have market values above $1trillion, while Meta (Facebook) falls just below the trillion dollar mark for valuation. Digital services could now make up almost a half of all the tech giant’s current value. Last week, Daniel Ives, MD of investment firm Wedbush, said in an investor note that Apple’s services business could be worth $1.5trillion alone.

Following a record year of growth that saw its revenues triple, iProov has secured $70m investment from Silicon Valley funder, Sumeru. iProov provides online biometric face authentication. It is used by brands including the UK Home Office, NHS, US Homeland Security and the Australian Taxation Office. This latest round of funding will help strengthen its leadership in the US and North America; expand its international customer base; grow its global partner network, and continue investment in new talent and R&D.

HUMAN has secured a successful $100million funding round. The company protects the world’s largest enterprises and internet platforms from sophisticated bot attacks and fraud across the domains of application security, digital advertising, and performance marketing. In 2021, the company experienced accelerated adoption of its specialised bot mitigation platform on a global basis and saw its revenue growth rate double year over year.

Blockchain-based ad-tech firm Verasity has announced the completion of a major corporate rebranding exercise and refreshed its website. The new website comes with exciting new feature pages and a brand new offering in the NFT space, making it the most significant brand transformation that the leader has made to date. With a new look and unified approach for all of Verasity’s product verticals, Verasity is aiming to broaden its appeal to a wider audience.

Technology investor Symphony Technology Group “STG” has completed its acquisition of Kantar’s Reputation Intelligence business, and also completed the additional purchases of PRgloo and Onclusive. Together the three businesses merge to create a new global media monitoring, measurement, and workflow management partner for PR and communications. The new standalone company will operate under the name ‘Onclusive’ reflecting the inclusive and scalable nature of its newly combined offer and its commitment to accelerating investment in tech-powered platforms and solutions.  The company builds on the consultative strengths and scale of Europe’s largest media monitoring and analysis provider, Kantar Reputation Intelligence; UK-based PRgloo’s industry-leading media relations and workflow management platform and US-based Onclusive’s AI technology and data science. 

Ones to watch: movers and shakers in performance marketing

John Edwards started his new role as UK Information Commissioner earlier this week – his tenure will have a significant influence on the digital economy and data and marketing industry’s growth over the coming years. Edwards previously served as New Zealand’s Privacy Commissioner, and before that worked as a barrister. The appointment comes at a time when many changes are expected to the UK data protection legislative framework. The government is currently analysing the responses to its proposed reforms to the Data Protection Act, some of which would also introduce changes to the ICO’s governance model. He succeeds Elizabeth Denham CBE, whose term as UK Information Commissioner ended last year.

Verasity, the blockchain and ad-tech firm has announced a key hire of blockchain heavyweight Elliot Hill as Communications Director. Elliot's track record as an inspiring team leader with deep knowledge of PR and Comms and ad-tech ecosystems will help elevate Verasity’s coverage in major publications through carefully placed PR, whilst building out a content strategy to deliver regular news, tech deep-dives, thought leaderships and awareness in the industry.

The Ozone Project, a UK-based high attention digital advertising platform, has announced a number of role changes and new hires within its commercial team to maintain 2021’s impressive growth trajectory throughout the course of 2022. Natalie Dawson has been appointed to lead these discussions in the new role of Strategic Agency Sales Director.  Emma Cranston will move into the expanded role of Client Services Director demonstrating the platform’s commitment to world class customer service and innovation in key areas such as campaign measurement - Emma spearheaded last year’s launch of the Ozone Attention Index. Angela Decube will also join the team in January as Senior Agency Sales Partner, in the Agency Sales team led by Jacque Chadwick. Prior to joining Ozone, Angela held a variety of different commercial roles at Hearst, most recently as Agency Director.

Did you know? The latest consumer and market data 

GDPR fines hit record numbers

According to the data presented by the Atlas VPN team, GDPR fines hit over €1 billion, with 412 total penalties issued in 2021. In addition, companies like Amazon and WhatsApp had to pay off the most significant penalties for violating GDPR laws. In 2018, when the EU implemented the GDPR law, a total of €436k in fines were issued to businesses. Next year, in 2019, the sum of total fines increased significantly to €72million. In 2020, the total worth of fines administered reached over €171 million by the end of the year. However, 2021 blew out past years by a significant margin, accumulating more than €1billion in GDPR fines, a 521% increase compared to last year. In July 2021, Amazon Europe Core S.à.r.l incurred the highest fine of €746 million. Later on, in September, the EU fined WhatsApp Ireland Ltd. €225 million, the second biggest penalty in GDPR history.

Digital gyms are in

The pandemic has changed consumer attitudes to health and fitness, and brands need to take note of a trend for more digitally-based fitness routines. According to outcomes-based platform LoopMe, 39 percent of consumers now do the majority of their workouts at home.

More key findings include: 

  • 23 percent of consumers use the gym for the majority of their workouts

  • Females are planning on joining a gym in the new year more than males. Nearly twice as many females are planning on joining a gym than males. 

  • 18-24 and 55-64 year olds are most likely to be considering changing their diet in January

The pandemic has propelled significant advancements in personalisation

Dynamic Yield, an experience optimisation platform, has announced the results of its fourth annual report on the State of Personalisation Maturity, exposing greater levels of adoption than in recent years, synchronous with the pandemic’s acceleration of digital.

The vast majority of organisations believe in the value of personalisation (93 percent), as experiences have moved online, and the need to cater to an individual’s in-the-moment needs, intrinsically clear. The study also shows that 50 percent of companies have made personalisation a top priority within the company (up 10 percent last year) and plan to invest more in the practice as a way to better position and future-proof the business throughout the growing digitalisation of commerce in 2021 and beyond.

Other key findings: 

●     Companies have finally started to invest in the proper people, time, and resources for orchestration, with 39 percent sharing that support is available on-demand when a business case is made for it (up 15 percent from 2020).

●      Up 20 percent from 2020, 42 percent of companies now have at least a small team and some level of defined personalisation processes in place to launch campaigns for certain channels, highlighting an important step after resource allocation to align and establish cooperation between key stakeholders.

●      Historically difficult to make sense of or put into practice, as a result of the improved collaboration and efficiencies, more companies (45 percent) reported their data is available in real-time to inform marketing activities, a 17 percent uptick from last year.

●      Overall, this has led to heightened instances of personalisation on the site, with 31 percent of companies now able to tailor most digital interactions (up from only 10 percent in 2020), and 35 percent reporting quantitative success stories to back up their impact.