The Big Story
With 76% of B2B CMOs feeling the pressure to deliver results, according to LinkedIn’s 2023 B2B Marketing Benchmark, LinkedIn has introduced new Generative Artificial Intelligence (GAI) tools, ad formats and B2B services. From LinkedIn’s research, they reported that 55% of the B2B marketers utilize GAI to increase efficiency and 56% seek to use this technology to create more content faster.
As a solution, LinkedIn is starting to test AI Copy Suggestions, which uses GAI to create text and headline suggestions for ad creatives by pulling data from your specific LinkedIn page. With this feature, users can select one of five copy suggestions, make edits, and automatically apply these suggestions to campaigns. LinkedIn also found that because of economic pressures and uncertainty, brands are applying more budget to lead generation rather than brand awareness. Although lead generation is a vital marketing tactic, LinkedIn stated that 64% of B2B CMOs report their C-Suites are emphasizing the importance of brand building and 63% of B2B marketers are actually increasing brand awareness spend for their organization or clients. With this, B2B marketers need to focus on breaking through clutter to reach and create brand recognition with future buyers. In turn, it’s also important to make it as easy as possible for future buyers to connect with brands. LinkedIn’s new Pages Messaging feature helps to fuel a two-way conversation between brands and buyers by allowing users to reach out directly to the brand through their page.
Reaching your target audience at the right time is always the critical battle for B2B marketers. LinkedIn has started to roll out new ad formats to support a full-funnel experience, like In-Stream Video ads to scale campaign reach and connect with their professional audiences in more places. These In-Stream ads will be available for both mobile and desktop and will play at the beginning (pre-roll) and middle (mid-roll) of long-form video content on trusted publisher sites across LinkedIn’s Audience Network. In addition, LinkedIn is also rolling out Thought Leader Ads, which allow companies to promote thought leadership content from executives and employees of the company. This will help to add more personability to ads and to reach buyers at different stages of the customer journey. According to LinkedIn, they have reported that beta testers have already seen a 1.7x higher click-through rate and 1.6x higher engagement rates compared to other single-image ads.
While improving marketing strategies to reach active and future buyers is important, so is building long-term relationships with customers. With LinkedIn’s Audience Insights API, marketers can unlock unique insights to better understand their audiences and how to cater to them. To tie all of these efforts together, LinkedIn also released the B2B Index to help demonstrate the effectiveness of paid and organic efforts. This index considers creative quality, effectiveness, investment, and outcomes to compare brand efforts across companies of similar sizes and industries. LinkedIn will populate a leaderboard every six months for brands to analyze performance and refine their marketing strategies.
In April, Reddit announced their updated terms for developer tools and services, which includes paid access to the Reddit Data API. Reddit exclaimed that these changes would help create a healthier ecosystem, as well as prevent up and coming large language models (LLMS) from using Reddit’s data to train without their permission. Because of this change, many third-party apps previously used to help keep subreddits safe from harmful content and spam could be taken away. As a result, subreddit moderators are banding together to (silently) voice their disagreement by boycotting the platform. Many big subreddits on the platform have gone private and some have even refused to accept new members at this time. This boycott, which initially started on June 12th, has continued since, with moderators listing their demands and alternative social networks to join for their communities.
As we have seen with the rise of TikTok, video content has been taking off over the past couple of years. Recently, Meta revealed that their Reels have reached over 2 billion re-shares daily with that doubling in the past 6 months. To build upon this, Meta recently announced the rollout of ads between Reels on Instagram. Like Facebook, these ads are designed to fit right into the Reels stream to not interrupt users’ viewing experience. To further improve the user experience, Meta is also testing AI tools for users to optimize audio in single-image Reel ads. According to Meta, ads with music and a voice-over typically receive a 15% better reaction from viewers than content without sound. Meta plans to provide free access to high-quality music through the Meta Sound Collection for users to utilize to yield stronger engagement. Lastly, Meta also plans to bring app promotion ads to Reels to cut through the clutter and help businesses achieve more downloads.
TikTok has been advancing in the ecommerce world recently, with a lofty goal of earning $20 billion in sales. Recently, TikTok announced testing a visual search feature in Shop, their ecommerce solution to improve sales and brand growth, where users can take a photo or upload an image to find and purchase similar products. As of now, this test is limited to non-US markets, but may expand based on results.
In a 2-year investigation into Google’s ad tech business, the EU government determined that Google abused its power by forcing a monopoly in the advertising business. Executive Vice President of the European Commission for a Europe Fit for the Digital Age, Margrethe Vestager, stated in the ruling, “Google is present at almost all levels of the so-called ad tech supply chain. Our preliminary concern is that Google may have used its market position to favour its own intermediation services. Not only did this possibly harm Google’s competitors but also publishers’ interests, while also increasing advertisers’ costs.” With that, the commission requests that Google sell off a piece of its ad business to allow fair practice in the space. Google does have the opportunity to respond to the EU’s ruling and request an oral hearing to speak to their side, pushing off the immediate effect on advertisers. The US has also been investigating and has recently filed antitrust lawsuits against Google.
Last month, we talked about the dangers of the quickly developing artificial intelligence technology with Dr. Geoffrey Hinton’s departure from Google. This month, the European Union took an important step in a long journey of AI regulation. The European Parliament passed a draft law known as the A.I. Act, which takes a “risk-based” approach to regulating AI with a main focus on applications that have the biggest potential for human harm. “This would include where AI systems were used to operate critical infrastructure like water or energy, in the legal system, and when determining access to public services and government benefits. Makers of the technology would have to conduct risk assessments before putting the tech into everyday use, akin to the drug approval process.” In addition, this law aims to force AI companies to be more transparent on data used to train these large language models by requiring them to publish summaries of all copyrighted material used for training. Under this law, AI companies would also have to put standard safeguards into place to prevent the technology from creating illegal or harmful content. The technology’s use of facial recognition is still a major area of debate, with the European Parliament voting to ban the use of live facial recognition, despite potential exemptions for national security and other law enforcement purposes. Sam Altman, CEO of Open AI and creator of ChatGPT, has met with global policymakers on the topic of regulation, but mentioned that the EU’s proposed law may be difficult to comply with. Although this is a landmark first step into AI regulation, it’s still a long battle. The final version of the law will be negotiated by the European Parliament, the European Commission and the Council of the European Union to hopefully reach a final agreement by the end of the year.
The Trade Desk continues to roll out new features and technology to their programmatic platform. After a multi-year investment in AI and the removal of Google Open Bidding from their demand side platform (DSP) last year, Kokai, the new AI platform, was introduced in early June. Kokai can process over 13 million advertising impressions per second. Furthermore, its technology analyzes first-party client or brand data to make the most informed media buying decision possible. According to Jeff Green, Founder and CEO of the Trade Desk, Kokai will include advanced measurement, collaborative innovation, and a new UI. Marketers can now get added retail measurement data from Albertsons Media Collective, Walgreens Advertising Group and more when audience data is turned on in their campaigns, which will allow for more insight into how to best reach and speak to target audiences. With collaborative innovation, marketers can better measure cross-platform experiences and efficiency. Their new UI will feature The Programmatic Table, a design based on the Periodic Table, which speaks to the technicalities of programmatic programs. In addition, Kokai also has a new partner portal that makes it easier for partners like retailers, publishers, TV networks, and data providers to integrate abilities with advertising clients. With partnerships with about 80% of the largest US retailers and these new AI-powered features, The Trade Desk is gaining a competitive edge against other DSPs and plans to expand further within the next 12 months to break up Big Tech dominance.