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CMO Today

CMO Today: Instagram Usage Dips; Facebook Watch Changes; Vayner and Animal Crackers

By Lara O’Reilly

Emily Prapuolenis/The Wall Street Journal

Good morning. In this age of social media addiction and despair, many internet users seek out the dopamine hit that comes with going viral. But what if you could take away all the numbers: the retweets, the likes, the follower counts and notification alerts? Twitter Demetricator, a browser extension from artist Benjamin Grosser does just that. Once the metrics disappear, you might question whether they fueled biases: Does seeing how many responses a tweet received, or knowing how many followers someone has, influence whether you interact with the content yourself? Slate has more.

We’re Grammin’

Facebook said in January that time spent on the platform was down by an estimated 50 million hours a day in the last quarter as the company made changes to ensure the time people did spend on the platform was more valuable. So not too much of a surprise, then, that Pivotal Research analyst Brian Wieser’s latest analysis of Nielsen’s U.S. digital content consumption data showed that the core Facebook platform lost 18% in aggregated time spent in December, a 24% decline per person. Overall, Facebook’s share of U.S. consumers’ digital consumption (including Instagram and WhatsApp) dropped to 16.2%, from 17.6% in December 2016. But this did pique my interest: Instagram added users, growing aggregated consumption by 7%, but consumption per person dropped 9%. So while the company has warned about a decline in usage on core Facebook, the Instagram picture is more puzzling. Could the shift away from a reverse-chronological timeline and a ramp up in ad load be putting users off? I’ve asked Facebook for comment but haven’t heard back yet. (Mr. Wieser does also point out that Nielsen data can sometimes be flawed, given methodological tweaks that may occur in any given period, but that it’s solid enough to infer trends.)

Watching, Waiting, Commiserating

One way Facebook is looking to drive up the minutes users spend on its core platform is through its dedicated video section, Watch. But, according to Watch content partners, Facebook has been indecisive to say the least about how it wants the program to play out, Digiday’s Sahil Patel reports. At first, Facebook wanted publishers to go gangbusters about getting as many shows as they could ready as quickly as possible. Now Facebook, disappointed in programming quality and ad demand, is getting more selective about vetting shows and deciding which ones are eligible for mid-roll ads. Facebook Live déjà vu, anyone? Facebook declined to comment to Digiday. The money-quote is in the article’s kicker, from a publishing source: “The ecosystem they were going to create to make this viable for its media partners and ad clients—it’s all predicated on a successful release of an ad product, which clearly has not happened.”

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Animal Crackers

VaynerMedia scored a win Thursday when snacks and candy giant Mondelez confirmed it had retained the agency for part of its North American media business, Adweek reported. I caught up with VaynerMedia CEO Gary Vaynerchuk on Thursday, who was in London, promoting his K-Swiss sneaker with a pop-up shop on Brick Lane. Here’s something you might not know about Mr. Vaynerchuk and snacks: He tried to buy the Animal Crackers brand a couple of years ago. Not because he was thinking about #CrushingIt, but to revive it using the Vayner digitally-focused comms machine. The process was “very far along,” but the talks broke off at the last minute, Mr. Vaynerchuk told me. The theory behind such a purchase is the same thinking behind his decision to collaborate with K-Swiss. “I’m aligned with my clients because I want to become my clients, which means I’m not trying to maximize my profit, which is why I’m not peddling television and programmatic,” he said. “For me, K-Swiss is a great opportunity for me to start testing my thesis in a controlled and safe environment; I have way more bravado and belief in what I’m up to since the launch of this collaboration.”

Riders On the Storm

The “inclusion rider” is building momentum after Best Actress Oscar winner Frances McDormand promoted the concept in her acceptance speech last weekend. An inclusion rider is a contract clause actors can use to demand filmmakers meet diversity requirements across both their cast and crew. “Blank Panther” actor Michael B. Jordan is on board, announcing his company, Outlier Society Productions, would apply an inclusion rider to its projects. Now what about the talent on both sides of the camera in commercials? @DietMadisonAve, the anonymous advertising industry whistleblower Instagram account (more on that here), posed that question to its followers earlier this week. The advertising industry already has big brands including HP, Verizon and General Mills demanding their agencies improve the gender and minority representation in their ranks. Many other brands have also committed to the “Free the Bid” nonprofit, requiring their ad agencies and content producers include one bid from a female director on every commercial.


Unilever said in its annual report it reduced its marketing expenses by taking more work in-house. The company said its 17 “U-Studios” are creating content for brand teams faster and are around 30% cheaper than using external agencies. [Adweek]

A lawsuit brought by Victoria Guenier, the former director of content at Hyundai’s Innocean Worldwide, accuses the agency and its chief creative officer, Eric Springer, of sexual harassment, discrimination, retaliation and wrongful termination. Innocean’s law firm responded in a court filing that Ms. Guenier didn’t prove she suffered “any injury, damage or loss” because of negligence by the agency or its employees. Neither the agency nor Mr. Springer responded to Adweek’s requests for comment. [Adweek]

Netflix is reportedly in talks with the Obamas about producing a series of shows for the streaming platform that will highlight “inspirational stories.” [New York Times]

Tourism Australia is aiming for its Crocodile Dundee campaign to get U.S. visitors to spend more in the country, boosting spending by an extra $860 million to $6 billion by 2020. [The Drum]

A roundup of how brands celebrated International Women’s Day. [Ad Age]

Heading off to SXSW this weekend? Digiday has produced the goods again with its guide on what’s in and what’s out at SXSW this year. [Digiday]


Follow us on Twitter: @wsjCMO, @larakiara, @VranicaWSJ, @alexbruell,@BenMullin, @srabil, @asharma

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