This week’s edition of Digital World leads with stories about advertising across platforms and markets: in China, we hear the case for WeChat and its in-app brand pages; in Russia, consumers want the power to end pop-ups; and in the US, online engagement with Super Bowl ads is massively down on 2015. Meanwhile, Google has taken action against link networks in Japan and eMarketer identifies some promising markets for cross-border purchasing.
Though WeChat lags behind Alibaba alternatives in terms of mobile commerce revenue, there is a case to be made for advertising via the Chinese smartphone messaging app, according to an interview over at eMarketer. Allegedly misunderstood and underutilised, WeChat is explained to be not analogous to WhatsApp, Facebook or Twitter. For instance, it allows users and brands to “rent stores” – and users are used to making purchases without actually leaving the app.
Described as “the starting point for branding building”, interviewee Thomas Meyer of app developer Mobile Now Group observes that WeChat is the app that’s most used by the Chinese market. The degree of WeChat API access available means that brands can have fully-fledged stores, support and content offerings within the app – but many of the brands with the largest followings are currently apparently unaware, sticking to basic accounts.
According to a survey by the Russian Institute of Modern Media (featured in Vedomosti and translated by Russiansearchtips.com), around 60% of Russians do not claim to generally trust advertising and promotional messages. Furthermore, of those who express any negative attitude to advertising, 29% singled out Online advertising for particular disdain – equal to TV advertising, but significantly less than calls and direct mail (43%).
When asked which forms of advertising they’d like to have the option of permanently turning off, 85% suggested “Ads shown before entering a website”, 84% offered “pop-ups and overlays”, 78% direct email/messenger/phone advertising, and 74% said online banners.
Arguably the most expensive 30 second slot on television, an advert during the Super Bowl costs the world’s biggest advertisers a cool $5 million USD (up from $4.5 million last year). But in a social media age, all those eyeballs you’re paying for aren’t passive consumers. Mortgage lender Quicken Loans found this out when their “Rocket Mortgage” advert, for an app that facilitates speedy home loans, received a negative reception from those who saw it as a return to the practices that caused the 2007-8 financial crisis.
This occurred against the backdrop of falling social media engagement with Super Bowl adverts. This year’s most shared advert – Doritos’ Ultrasound commercial – received just 893,465 shares (last year’s top ad received 2.5 million). Overall, the top 10 commercials generated 2.9 million fewer shares this year. Econsultancy suggests some reasons why this year’s ads may have missed the mark.
It has become rarer and rarer for Google to announce action against link networks violating the Google Webmaster Guidelines – the last major action was back in November 2014, when tackling then-infamous networks in Poland. Nevertheless, Google is apparently keen to be seen to remain active on this front – it announced this week that it had targeted a number of Japanese link networks.
The network was allegedly attempting to inflate PageRank and other trust factors via the buying, selling and trading of links – all practices against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. Some repeat offenders apparently received more severe sanctions. Google Japan additionally recommended that webmasters pay attention to the actions of partners, who may be responsible for violating the guidelines without webmaster knowledge.
“Cross Border Ecommerce 2016” a new eMarketer report offering a country-by-country look at digital cross-border buying has been released and some key insights summarised in a blog post. A key finding is that, as ever, stronger economies are content with domestic shopping while countries at the other end of the scale are far more interested in looking abroad for bargains.
Nonetheless, there are interesting exceptions: whereas only 22% of digital buyers in the US claim to have made a cross-border purchase in the last 12 months, 67% in Canada have done so. This is on a par with Mexico and greater than Argentina and Brazil. There are restrictions on the kind of economy that can support cross-border buying, however: with only 8.9% of its population buying digitally, India has yet to establish a cross-border buying habit.
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wechatexchange photo by Flickr user Adon Metcalfe
Film advert photo by Flickr user Simon Whittaker
Last Punt photo by Flickr user Steve Jurvetson
Lanterns photo by Flickr user Wenjie, Zhang
Abandoned border photo by Flickr user mtsrs