Five on Friday: Adblocking, Advertising and Influencing
Featuring Blockthrough, YouTube and Flipboard
Happy Valentine’s Day! In this week’s edition of Five on Friday, we share highlights from Blockthrough/PageFair’s 2020 adblocking report to see how adblocking is moving to mobile, YouTube’s advertising revenue hits a staggering $15 billion in 2019, Content Marketing Institute schools us on what we need to know about vanity metrics, Canada warns brands and influencers to follow the rules, and Flipboard launches a subscription video service.
Blockthrough: The Latest Trends in Adblocking
In its 2020 adblocking report, Blockthrough, who acquired PageFair, follows up PageFair’s research with new data. The biggest takeaway is that adblocking has gone mobile, as people use browsers to block ads by default. Here are some of the latest adblocking trends.
- 527 million people are using mobile browsers that block ads by default, a 64% increase.
- 236 million people are blocking ads on their desktops, a 16% decline.
- More than 763 million global devices were blocking ads in December 2019
- 69% of global adblocking is on mobile devices.
- 49% of the top U.S. publishers the researchers studied are participating in Acceptable Ads as a workaround. Most work with third-party vendors, rather than directly with adblockers.
- UC Browser is the most popular adblock browser with more than 400 million users globally.
- The Brave browser is gaining in popularity in the U.S. and Europe. In December 2019, it had 10.4 million users and 89% year-over-year growth.
Learn more about the latest adblocking trends in the Blockthrough/PageFair 2020 Adblock Report, which you can download from Blockthrough.com.
YouTube Ad Revenue Exceeded $15B in 2019
Last year, YouTube brought in $15.1 billion in advertising revenue, representing 36% growth year-over-year. Most of that ad revenue money was paid to video creators, reports AdAge. Google keeps 45% of the revenue, and the balance in ad revenue is paid to the video publishers and creators.
This is the first time parent company Alphabet has broken out YouTube revenue separately from Google revenue. Subscriptions to ad-free YouTube, YouTube Music and YouTube TV generated another $3 billion last year. YouTube’s premium services have 20 million subscribers, and YouTube TV has 2 million subscribers.
“…we’re pleased with YouTube’s growth in advertising and subscriptions, and we are also pleased with the early results from other revenue options we offer creators, including memberships, brand integrations, merchandise, and ticket sales,” said Sundar Pichai, Alphabet CEO, on the February 3 earnings call.
This ad revenue represents only a small fraction of Alphabet’s total revenue of $161.9 billion made last year, an 18% increase over 2018. Other revenue sources included Google Search, Google Advertising, Google Cloud, and other sources. For the year, Alphabet posted net income of $34.3 billion, or $49.16 diluted earnings per share.
For additional information, review Alphabet’s fourth quarter and 2019 year-end results at ABC.xyz or read the earnings transcript on Seeking Alpha.
Vanity Metrics – What You Need to Know
Whether your subscription company uses Facebook, Twitter, TikTok or Snapchat, everyone wants more impressions, likes, followers, views, comments and shares on social media. Collectively, those measures are called vanity metrics. With all of the native and third-party tools available, these metrics are easy to measure, but is the data really useful? Sure, they tell us what types of content appeal to prospects and customers, but do they really measure ROI? Not necessarily.
In a recent article, Daniel Hochuli shared some tips in “The Right and Wrong Ways to Use Vanity Metrics” at ContentMarketingInstitute.com.
“The vanity metric of traffic tells only half the story. There is no point in counting traffic unless it’s paired against a business objective. Yes, you need traffic to convert; but more traffic does not always equal more conversions,” wrote Hochuli.
Vanity metrics are useful as an easy benchmark but gathering more meaningful data like ROI or lifetime value requires more data collection, time, testing and analysis. Often, marketers get pressure from their superiors to show progress, and vanity metrics become an easy target. Afterall, their marketing costs show up right away, but purchases, subscriptions and brand loyalty don’t necessarily follow that same timeline.
“Marketing efforts not only drive sales and profits in the short term, they strengthen brand equity and customer relationships over time. You only see these long-term results through effective and relevant content, and evaluation of vanity metrics over time,” said Hochuli.
Hochuli recommended that marketers not tie vanity metrics to ROI, but rather as a measure to help them understand their various audiences and the types of content most meaningful to them. Learn about Hochuli’s recommendations at the Content Marketing Institute online.
Canada Warns 100 Brands and Ad Agencies to Follow Influencer Marketing Laws
In the U.S., the FTC and FDA are closely watching influencers and their marketing techniques to spot possible abuses. Canada’s Competition Bureau is hopping on the bandwagon too. According to Tubefilter, via The Fashion Law, in December 2019, the Competition Bureau sent warning letters to nearly 100 brands and ad agencies to ensure they are following laws surrounding influencer marketing. In the letter, the Bureau emphasized that influencer reviews and testimonials must be based on their own experience.
Similar to U.S. laws, Canada requires that influencers, defined as individuals or brands that have the potential to influence others, regardless of the number of followers or viewers, must disclose any material relationships. For example, an influencer must disclose if they have…
- Received payment in money or commissions
- Received free products, services or discounts
- Received free trips or tickets to events
- Family members with a social connection
Such disclosures must be prominent and visible on all devices and written in plain and clear language. Certain hashtags (#ad, #sponsored, #brand_ambassador, etc.) are deemed acceptable. Failure to comply can bring civil penalties ranging from $10,000 to $10 million.
Flipboard to Launch Subscription Video Service for $2.99 a Month
Next month, Flipboard will launch Flipboard TV, a subscription video service, for $2.99 a month, following a three-month trial, reports Publishers Daily. Accessible via the Flipboard app, the ad-free service will focus on professionally produced videos from publishers and TV that have been difficult for audiences to find previously. Topics include news, business, politics, entertainment and technology. Like the Flipboard reading format, viewers will be able to customize the content they want to see.
Flipboard TV will also be a way for publishers like The Wall Street Journal, Variety, Us Weekly, Rolling Stone and Bloomberg to monetize video content. Geeky Gadget says that Flipboard TV will offer content from more than 100 publishers when the service launches on March 6, 2020. For the first few months, the service will only be available on Samsung Galaxy S20 smartphones.
“The launch of Flipboard TV builds on years of collaboration with the Samsung team, creating content experiences for each new generation of the Galaxy devices,” said Mike McCue, Flipboard co-founder and CEO.
As the video subscription evolves, it will add more channels and partnerships with different publishers and TV stations. With approximately 145 million active users, Flipboard has a sizable audience to whom it can pitch its latest service.