Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

New Business Bulletin: Future Lions, Reddit, Snapchat and more

Entries are now open for Future Lions, the annual global competition in partnership with AKQA and Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, celebrating young people’s bold and progressive ideas. Future Lions 2024 is a call to action for young innovators to spread positivity by using technology to bring listeners closer to the creators and communities they love. Now in its 19th year, AKQA proudly unveils Spotify Advertising and The Wall Street Journal as this year’s supporting partners. The four winning team’s ideas will be revealed at Spotify Beach at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in June 2024, with each team receiving the prestigious Future Lions trophy. One team will be honoured with the Future Lions Grand Prix, and the opportunity to collaborate with AKQA and Spotify to make their creative vision a reality. This year’s competition sees the advent of the Tom Bedecarré School of the Year Award in honour of Tom Bedecarré, AKQA’s Chairman Emeritus, as part of AKQA’s 30th anniversary year celebration. From 2024, the award will recognise schools, academies and educational centres that demonstrate a proven and pioneering approach to broaden access and leverage technology to amplify impact, no matter the enrollment size or number of shortlisted entries in the competition.

Reddit has launched a new ad format: free-from ads. Free-form ads are Reddit’s latest ad format that empowers advertisers to easily engage on the platform in the same way as its users. Its “free form” layout allows advertisers to share in-depth information with Reddit by combining multiple media types, including image, video and text using ready-made templates. As Reddit’s most native ad format yet, free-form ads are designed to look and feel similar to the type of content redditors share with each other, inviting maximum engagement from the community. The open-ended nature of free-form ads means advertisers have the freedom to explore different types of creative to build a bespoke brand experience, facilitate in-depth conversation with Reddit audiences and share a comprehensive voice on platform. The new building capabilities within the Ads Manager (which include topic templates like “brand introduction” and “product deep dive”, with more to come), make it easy to create, edit, and launch free-form ads at scale with minimal lift. Free-form ads are clearly labeled as “Promoted” just like all ad formats on Reddit.

Snapchat is making augmented reality ads more accessible and cost-effective: Advertisers can create Sponsored AR Filters in minutes using Lens Web Builder, a free DIY tool to create Filters and Lenses, with no outside production costs needed. This means budget-conscious brands can build AR ads without the expense of traditional production and storyboarding. There will be fun, easy-to-use templates, from AR face Filters (like makeup and eyewear try-on), location-based overlays, countdown timers, to quiz generators, advertisers can upload their existing assets and utilize a variety of templates to easily build a Sponsored AR Filter. There will be expanded ad placement options: brands can also run the same Sponsored AR Filter in Snapchat’s pre-capture Lens Carousel to maximize visibility and impact for their ad. Additionally, with the integration of CTAs, advertisers can guide Snapchatters towards specific conversion actions, capture valuable mid-funnel signals, and drive measurable results for campaigns.

1000 Black Voices®, an organisation dedicated to advancing equitable inclusion, announces it has joined forces with Royal Pearl Society, an official interest group of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated® to launch a new eight-week programme aimed at empowering Black female tech founders. The Women’s Entrepreneurial Development Lab set to launch on April 24th, will allow founders who have ambitions to grow their business to benefit from mentoring sessions and advice from partner organisation The Royal Pearl Society. Black female founders still receive too little support and investment with only 3% of investment flowing to female entrepreneurs. This significant lack of funding has resulted in an extremely difficult environment for Black female founders to start and grow their businesses. The Lab which seeks to break down barriers faced by Black female founders when starting and growing their businesses will help female founders mentally prepare to navigate the investment landscape where biases are still prevalent. As such, the programme covers everything from investor expectations to maintaining mental health and perfecting pitches.

MikMak, the global software company that helps the world’s leading brands grow commerce-first, has announced a series of product enhancements to its leading eCommerce acceleration platform MikMak 3.0, including the new MikMak Commerce API and MikMak Insights’ Custom Report Builder. With these upgrades, MikMak enters the world of ‘headless commerce’, an approach that separates the back-end functionalities of an eCommerce application from the front end. MikMak will work closely with brands’ IT leaders to enable custom, privacy-safe, compliant, and scalable ‘where to buy’ technology integration to their brand websites worldwide. 

New research commissioned by UCaaS provider, Gamma, has demonstrated that despite challenging market conditions, there is still room for businesses to thrive. Human factors are revealed to be central to commercial success; with almost three quarters (72%) of business leaders believing that good rapport is more important than price and capabilities when choosing a partner or supplier.  Most businesses recognise the importance of relationships, but not all are delivering on this. For those who practise what they preach, strong relationships are a key predictor of business success. When comparing businesses whose revenue had grown in the last twelve months versus those whose revenue had declined, there was a clear gap in performance on the reported strength of relationships between customers and colleagues. Nearly three-quarters (73%) of leaders in growing companies felt they had strong relationships with clients, with 64% saying the same for colleagues, compared to 61% and 52% respectively in businesses experiencing declining revenues. 

Socially Recruited, the AI-powered recruitment platform, has launched a simplified application process to enable candidates to apply instantly for jobs they see advertised on social media. The technology, which allows candidates to apply for a job in under a minute, is a direct challenge to the typically clunky online job application experience. Rather than being redirected to a lengthy, impersonal form which many will never complete, candidates will now be able to apply for a job as quickly and simply as they might buy something on Amazon. CandidatePages, which works with job adverts placed on all social media including Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and Youtube, draws its inspiration from eCommerce rather than traditional recruitment tech. When a candidate clicks on a job advert, a streamlined application form automatically populates itself using data saved on their device and allows them to upload a CV or link to their LinkedIn profile, making everything effortlessly quick. An AI assistant guides them through the process and asks questions based on the candidate’s experience. This includes identifying any anomalies in a CV, such as career gaps or changes, to give a fuller picture to recruiters and help them identify candidates whose skills best match the role’s requirements. CandidatePages autosaves throughout the process, and in the event the candidate doesn’t finish the form, the AI assistant will later encourage them to do so by engaging directly with them via SMS and email. The goal of making the application process so seamless is to encourage more qualified candidates to apply, while also avoiding the curse of abandoned applications suffered by conventional online job application forms. The result is to deliver maximum value for every job advert the employer places, and drastically reduce wasted job ad spend.

Freepika technology company specializing in the production of creative tools and audiovisual content, has announced the launch of Freepik Reimagine, its new AI image-to-image solution, poised to revolutionize the landscape of content creation with its speed and endless possibilities. Designed to empower creatives with unparalleled convenience and efficiency, this innovative tool represents a significant leap forward in AI-powered visual generation. Freepik’s cutting-edge technology harnesses AI to allow users to upload a picture and instantly receive a unique and exclusive prompt. With this prompt, users  can easily interact with the image and make changes. Freepik Reimagine has real-time functionality, infinite prompt scroll-down capabilities and predefined styles to accelerate the creative process. This enables users to explore a world of possibilities that range from modifying a single detail to designing a completely reimagined image.

ScreenThink, MTM’s market intelligence insights tool for the TV and video industry, has announced the findings of its latest research report which paints a picture of a changing landscape for SVOD (Subscription Video on Demand) services in the UK in the wake of multiple updates from the leading brands. In a climate where some SVOD services are experiencing user decline, Netflix stands out as a success story within MTM’s research. By implementing stricter enforcement of password sharing rules in May 2023, the research has revealed that Netflix has managed to achieve a 10% increase in paying subscribers (from 60% to 70% of total users). It’s important to note, however, that despite this success, and boasting nearly 8000 pieces of content, 60% of Netflix users also reported experiencing content fatigue, suggesting even a vast library can’t entirely prevent churn.

Amid a proliferation of purchasing options and budget concerns surrounding sustained inflationary pressures, online retailers are struggling to meet rising consumer expectations around the globe, according to an independent survey announced by Celigo, the integration platform as a service (iPaaS) for business and IT users. The 2024 Online Retail Trends Report,” commissioned by Celigo, surveyed over 1,500 U.S. and U.K. consumers about their recent online shopping experiences, as well as preferences, habits and purchasing plans for 2024. 85% of U.K. shoppers surveyed said that online retailers failed to meet their expectations at least once in the past year, citing increased pricing, late deliveries and excessive shipping costs as their primary frustrations. Just as concerning for retailers, inflation and higher prices remain the No. 1 concern for consumers, with almost half (44%) of U.K. respondents planning to shop less online because they need to tighten their budgets. 

A joint venture between AccuraCast in the UK and Motivity in the US – both industry leaders in the digital marketing space – has been launched to help ambitious brands successfully reach international audiences by navigating its markets, cultures and regulations. Entering new markets can be challenging and getting it wrong can be costly, but this new collaboration, which combines AccuraCast’s proficiency in digital marketing with Motivity’s strategic expertise, will help UK businesses get it right. Distinct from the vast networks of global agencies, AccuraCast and Motivity stand out as independent entities, each with a global outlook yet deeply rooted in local intelligence. Their partnership marks a unique convergence, where exacting digital strategy and bespoke local insights come together, leveraging the strength of their independence to forge innovative solutions. Both provide transparent fee structures and a promise that the tacticians and strategists met at the pitch process are those who execute the day-to-day work.