Good morning, and welcome to Friday!

In the face of several privacy-focused initiatives, Facebook on Wednesday reported another big quarter with $21.1 billion in revenues for the fourth quarter if 2019, marking a 25% increase year-over-year. The company’s advertising business, which continues to account for nearly all of its revenue, reached $20.7 billion, also a 25% increase from the fourth quarter of 2018.

Facebook reported daily active users (DAUs) on the platform reached 1.66 billion – a 9% increase from the fourth quarter of 2018. Likewise, MAUs saw a small increase of 8% year-over-year, topping off at 2.5 billion. Facebook doesn’t report separate figures for its other properties, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger, but estimates that approximately 2.3 billion people used at least one of its services on a daily basis in December, and that approximately 2.9 billion people were active on a monthly basis.

Transactional and triggered emails (e.g., ‘welcome emails’) are on the rise, but senders are not investing enough in the technology behind them to maintain consistent deliverability, engagement and quality, according to findings from SparkPost’s 2020 Benchmark Report. Neglecting these types of emails could lead to long-term deliverability issues, including poor sender reputation and tarnished relationships with customers. For brands and email marketing teams that want to improve transactional emails, a deliverability audit might be the proactive next step towards identifying underlying issues and outlining the process to resolution.

GoDaddy has acquired Over, a mobile app designed for SMBs and entrepreneurs that allows them to quickly create content for social media platforms, email and websites. The app’s capabilities will be integrated into GoDaddy’s Website + Marketing platform in the near future, according to a company spokesperson. The app will also continue to be offered as a standalone app, available via Apple’s App Store and Google Play, and the team will continue to develop new features for it.

Keep scrolling for more, including a soapbox feature on how marketers should approach advertising on the big platforms this year.

Taylor Peterson,
Deputy Editor


How should we approach advertising on the big platforms in 2020?

Advertisers should take a cue from Google and Amazon, ditching old notions about what each platform is and expanding beyond their comfort zones. 

As with any new advertising program, concrete testing parameters, including separate budgets and potentially different performance goals, are an important foundation for gauging success. 

For some of Google’s upper-funnel formats, advertisers should consider shifting away from return-focused goals typical of Google search programs to instead look at customer engagement. 

Amazon holdouts should dive deeply into Stores, Enhanced Brand Content, and Posts to fully understand what level of brand-building is possible before continuing to rule Amazon out. Those already on Amazon should take a fresh look at their advertising campaigns to see if there’s an opportunity with new-to-brand metrics to invest more heavily in areas that may be less efficient but capture a high percentage of new customers. 

It’s 2020, and, while we can’t all agree whether it’s a new decade, there’s one thing we can all get behind: As advertisers, it’s worth the time investment to consider how we can continue to evolve our digital programs along with our biggest platforms.

Melissa Reilly is the senior manager of SEM and Feeds at Merkle 


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Creative Shorts

Super Bowl ad previews, Unsplash archives photos from public institutions, and a photo of Louis Vuitton sneakers divides Twitter

A glimpse of Super Bowl ad creative. The ad frenzy will commence this Sunday – and advertisers are standing by to see what the national TV event will bring. The best Super Bowl ads will combine stellar creative with a strategic approach to the brand’s story – sort of like Mountain Dew’s TikTok partnership. Check out the ads that have already been teased here

Unsplash makes photos available from public institutions. Crowdsourced stock image platform Unsplash has integrated an archive of free stock content with a number of institutions and organizations, including the New York Public Library, CDC, NOAA, and the Library of Congress. The news comes on the heels of the company’s December launch of ‘Unsplash for Brands,’ its advertising product, which has since been adopted by brands like Harley Davidson, Boxed Water, Curology, Square, Google, and others.

Optical illusions make for viral prowess. Every once in awhile a photo goes viral that divides the internet with opinions and brings into question the reality of optics. Most recently, a photo of Louis Vuitton sneakers surfaced on the internet – and people can’t decide if they’re black or white. It’s the gold-black-white dress debacle all over again. Intentional or not, the internet phenomenon of optical illusions is proof that retail brands have an opportunity to lean into the hype and start a unique conversation – just as long as they don’t overdo it. 


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What we're reading

We've curated our picks from across the web so you can retire your feed reader

Advertisers are using lifelike avatars to drum up brand awareness – Digiday

8 Critical Steps To A Successful Brand/Talent Partnership – Forbes

11 Key Metrics to Evaluate Potential Marketplaces – Practical Ecommerce

Inspiring Women: Video Series Celebrating Marketing Leaders – CleverTap

Amazon leads in social media reaction to Super Bowl teasers – Mobile Marketer

Facebook to Pay $550 Million to Settle Facial Recognition Suit – New York Times

In secret deal with drugmaker, health-records tool pushed opioids to doctors – LA Times