Category Archives: Consumer Package Goods

The Next Frontier for Food Influencers: YouTube

Written by: Allie Wester
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It is undeniable that YouTube is a big platform for influencers. But when it comes to the food space, compared to the massive power and reach of food blogs, it is still finding its footing.

Why? I think it is because Gen Z – the core YouTube consumer – hasn’t quite entered the stage of life where they want to learn to cook. The oldest Gen Z members are in college, which means a lot of eating out and easy convenience foods. 

However, once Gen Z graduates, they will want to learn how to cook. Will they look to blogs or Pinterest (which ultimately leads to blogs)? As a majority, probably not. They’ll look to where they always look for “how to” information: YouTube.

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Source: Google

There are a TON of high-quality food blogs out there right now. There are a handful of food YouTube channels, but comparatively it’s slim pickings.

For food marketers: Start experimenting now! You may not get huge view counts right away, but think of the long-term effect. Your video could get hundreds of thousands of views down the line. And you can perfect your craft now before it is mainstream.

“Food hack” videos, demonstrating tricks and tips for making cooking exciting and fun, draw interest from one in four millennials. Use this as an opportunity to not only promote your product, but also explain how to cook with it and why it’s a useful tool or ingredient.

For food bloggers/influencers: Start experimenting now! Many food bloggers I’ve talked to are hesitant to start on YouTube because video is complicated. I get that. But I also know that the food blogging industry figured out food photography and styling from scratch. I have faith that they can also figure out food video. 

In the meantime, the millennial generation is watching food YouTube videos. According to a survey by Google, Millward Brown Digital, and Firefly:

  • Sixty-eight percent of millennial moms purchase food products featured in the videos they watch. Sixty-nine percent of these highly-engaged moms watch food videos every week, and 68 percent of them will also watch videos while cooking.
  • While three out of four millennial women are open to watching branded food content, close to half (43 percent) have not done so, representing a significant opportunity for brands to gain new audiences.
  • Sixty-eight percent of millennial men described themselves as a “confident cook” – two times more than their millennial female counterparts.
  • Millennial dads are the most engaged with food content on YouTube, watching videos to spark inspiration and create meals. And 42 percent of them will make special trips to the store to buy products they learn about in food videos.
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Source: Google

For the foreseeable future, food blogs are not going anywhere. They’ll always have the millennial, Gen X, and boomer generations. But if they want to remain relevant with the younger generation — and let’s be honest, make more money — they should start experimenting on YouTube now!

Influencer R&D: The New Landscape of Brand Partnerships

Written by: Jordan Lee
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As the landscape of bloggers and social influencers changes, so do the partnerships that drive their content. As bloggers, YouTube stars, and Instagrammers become more popular, the campaigns become more robust. Product seeding is almost an expectation and not innovation in this landscape.

Bloggers partnering with retailers is nothing new. However, over the past few years, brands have been looking for ways influencers can shape their consumers’ experiences offline and bring innovation to influencer marketing. Target was one of the first brands to collaborate with these influential social stars and create product consumers can actually buy. Baublebar is another brand consistently partnering with bloggers to create products. Some mainstay products, like the Courtney Bib Necklace named for Courtney Kerr, owe their moniker to bloggers – a place in fashion typically reserved for models and actresses.

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Image via Target

The recent announcement of blogger Emily Schuman of Cupcakes and Cashmere partnering with Nordstrom to create a product line should come as no surprise. Undoubtedly, it’s a smart move for retailers. They are leveraging online popularity in a way that directly impacts sales in addition to any brand affinity generated by social media.

According to a study by Imperial, expert content by influencers lifted purchase intent over brand content by 38 percent, and 83 percent over user reviews. Influencers are critical to the purchase journey for consumers, so the extension of this is naturally influencer-created products.

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Image via Nordstrom

This collaboration correlates to the new normal for bloggers and social influencers. Those with larger star power are looking for more meaningful partnerships – for them this is a career path.

This new normal isn’t just product creation, either. YouTube stars are getting their own shows and some, like Flula Borg who recently appeared in Pitch Perfect 2, are landing movie roles. Others like Zoe Sugg are writing popular books.

Influencers are already becoming more selective about brand partnerships. Just having enough budget for fees is no longer going to land you a deal. Brands with thoughtful, meaningful integrations are going to win in the future of this landscape.

Google’s “Micro-Moments” Highlight Fundamental Shift in Consumer Behavior

Written by: Hannah Redmond
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You know that feeling when you forget your phone? It’s a feeling of vulnerability and helplessness, as we have become increasingly dependent on that powerful little device. We expect to be connected to who and what we want to, and we expect to find answers and solutions to our problems on demand.

This has changed the way consumers make purchase decisions. The traditional consumer journey is now divided up into various real-time, intent-driven “micro-moments,” providing marketers the opportunity to identify and prepare for the exact moments right when a consumer reaches for their device.

Google Micro-Moments

Google has identified various insights driving overall micro-moments to showcase the variety of opportunities for marketers, many of which are applicable to the CPG category.

  • People evaluate purchase decisions in-the-moment. When walking through a store, 82% of smartphone users turn to their phone to influence a purchase decision. More people are reaching for their phone to investigate products and prices than are actually asking for help from an associate in store.
  • People solve unexpected problems in-the-moment. 62% of smartphone users are more likely to take action right away toward solving an unexpected problem or new task because they have a smartphone.  If their dishwasher breaks, they will immediately go to their device to investigate the problem and the products and services that may provide a solution.
  • Micro-moments fill voids or lulls in time or complement multitasking. For example, people turn to their phones when waiting in line, commuting, walking, shopping, relaxing, and more.

As marketers, it is our job to identify how to add value to each of these micro-moments. We should consider what micro-moments are most important to our brand, and which provide an opportunity to highlight our product while making our consumers’ lives easier. How we create content and add value to consumers in each of these micro-moments can set us apart from our competitors.

To learn more about Google’s Micro-Moments, visit their research on Think With Google.

With New Offerings, Instagram Comes of Age

Written by: Jake Schneider
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This week, the Golden State Warriors will take the floor against the Cleveland Cavaliers in their first NBA Finals appearance since 1975. As incredibly as the Warriors have played over the past month, the buzz over the past few days may belong to another Bay Area team: Instagram.

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For marketers, Instagram has largely been about building a brand through creative and visual storytelling. Like Tumblr before it, success for brands on Instagram has relied on compelling visual narratives, where both brand and user sit equally at the table as premium content creators.

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Because of this, they’ve given way to a massive influencer support channel for brand engagement and a supplementary channel for authentic content. They rolled out their first trial ads service a year ago – injecting sponsored content into newsfeeds and crafting what would be their offerings, waiting like any good Nor-Cal vintner for the perfect batch.

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What has been missing for brands is direct attribution for business outcomes for advertisers…until now.

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I checked the “this day in history” calendar for important events, and other than Marconi filing his patent for the radio and Dana Carvey and wrestler Lex Luger’s birthdays, “Instagram releases action oriented formats and targeting for ads” is about the biggest thing going for June 2 – especially for brands.

Instagram has taken the time to meld the visual narrative we love with the business outcomes (“shop”, “install”, “sign-up” and “learn more”) direct response marketers need without sacrificing the authentic feel we have come to know from Instagram.

Blending aspirational creative and narratives with specific calls to action can hit multiple goals specific for retailers looking to drive discovery, purchase, and mobile app downloads all with attribution back to campaigns.

Combining these new assets with the recently launched Carousel, Instagram gives brands the potential to extend their story and expand their ecosystem. Providing the user an interactive and near immersive experience evolves Instagram into a destination rather than a vessel for serendipitous content that relies on “link in profile” clicks to further the conversation.

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The ability to provide a deeper, richer front-facing experience through Carousel, along with the ability to extend to actionable outcomes through “learn more” CTAs, could prove to be a game-changer for Tech and CPG brands looking to drive registrations for loyalty programs, innovation sessions, or specific communities that are brand-centric.

It’s been called “a year of progress” by Instagram, but the additions of these actions and interest targeting evolves the platform, pulling it from the periphery as a support/influencer channel and adding it to core digital and digital media strategies as a viable and true power channel.

Headlines & Stuff

Written by: Christy Wise
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Here are some cool things we read about this past week:

Facebook to Make Sure the Right People See Publishers’ Posts
Facebook unveiled new tools this week to give publishers a better shot at making sure people on Facebook see their stories. One tool lets publishers target their Facebook posts at a subset of their fans interested in certain topics. Another lets publishers put an expiration date on their posts so that timely stories don’t pop up in people’s feeds after the timely event has passed. A third tool called Smart Publishing identifies a story that a lot of people are linking to on Facebook and, for publishers who opt-in, posts it in the news feeds of people who like that publisher’s Facebook page.

Facebook Adds Call to Action Buttons to Its Pages
This week, Facebook announced seven “call to action” buttons for Pages. Page admins can now select one of seven buttons that use verbs to attempt to get user conversion and appear on the top of the cover photo. The options are Book Now, Contact Us, Use App, Play Game, Shop Now, Sign Up, Watch Video.  Dollar Shave Club has been trying the buttons and said that adding “Sign Up” converted 2.5x more users than previously.

YouTube Offering Its Stars Bonuses
Google’s YouTube is racing to lock up its top stars as rival online video services court them aggressively. Facebook and video startup Vessel, among others, have tried to lure YouTube creators to their services in recent months.  In response, Google is offering some of its top video makers bonuses to sign multiyear deals in which they agree to post content exclusively on YouTube for a time before putting it on a rival service. Bonuses are tied to how well videos perform.

Instagram has 300 Million Monthly Users
Instagram announced this week that 300 million people check out the photo-sharing service each month. That’s up from 200 million nine months ago and 100 million in February 2013. There are however, a lot of fake and spam accounts and Instagram has begun deleting them. This means that some Instagram users may see the number of people following them shrink. Instagram will also start authenticating real accounts, starting with brands and public figures.

Global Social Media

Google News to Shut Down in Spain Over  ‘Google Tax’
Google said this week that it will shut down its Google News service in Spain to prevent publishers’ content from appearing on it – ahead of a new law requiring the company to pay Spanish news organizations for linked content or snippets of news. The law goes into effect January 1 and is nicknamed “Google Tax.” The move marks the first time globally that Google will shutter Google News.

Noteworthy Campaigns

General Mills Revives French Toast Crunch in Latest Nostalgia Play
General Mills is now reviving a cereal brand that had its heyday in the late 1990s. The company has announced that French Toast Crunch, launched in 1995 and discontinued in the U.S. in 2006, is now back in some U.S. stores and will be available nationwide again as of January. It seems U.S. fans of the cereal have continued to ask General Mills to bring it back – creating a petition and a Facebook Page dedicated to the cause. Some consumers have even paid big bucks to have boxes of the cereal shipped to them from Canada, where it continues to be sold. The company has responded to requests and launched a marketing campaign in support of the revival. The new campaign includes a 30-second spot, digital video, a new website, and Tumblr, Facebook, and Twitter accounts featuring Miss Cleo, known for her telephone psychic services on TV during the ’90s. News about the brand’s comeback is also generating buzz through the hashtag #frenchtoastcrunchisback.

Headlines & Stuff

Written by: Christy Wise
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Here are some cool things we read about this past week:

Instagram Rolls Out Video Ads
Instagram is now selling video ad inventory launching the product with autoplay spots for Disney, Activision, Lancome, Banana Republic, and The CW. The ads started appearing this week and will continue to roll out over the coming weeks.

Tumblr Rolls Out Video Ads
Instagram isn’t the only platform rolling out video ads this week. Tumblr began featuring autoplay video ads from advertisers including The CW, Lexus, Axe, Universal Pictures, JCPenney, and Hulu.  Ads will be featured in Tumblr’s new video player (unveiled last week), which supports Vine and Instagram video.

LinkedIn Ad Sales Soar
LinkedIn continued its tear in the third quarter, with revenue climbing to $568 million. That’s 45 percent higher compared to last year. The increase was led by sponsored updates – a product that allows advertisers to reach members who don’t follow their company. Sponsored updates generated 31 percent of ad revenue in the third quarter.

YouTube Considers a New Subscription Service
YouTube is in the early stages of exploring new subscription services. Though specifics aren’t available, one option would be an ad-free service that users could pay for.

Global Social Media

Thousands Protest in Hungary over Proposed Internet Tax
Trouble is brewing in Hungary, as thousands of concerned citizens took to the streets in Budapest to protest a new proposed tax on Internet use. Over 10,000 protesters marched through the capital to demand the proposal be scrapped, as they believe it would increase their tax burden and curtail their freedom of expression and access to information.  The proposal was part of a bill drawn up by the current Prime Minister.  Protest organizers, backed by a Facebook group with over 210,000 supporters, issued an ultimatum demanding the tax be scrapped or they would return to the streets for more protests.

Noteworthy Campaigns

Taco Bell Blacks Out Its Social Sites to Launch Mobile App
As part of the launch of its mobile-ordering and payment app this week, Taco Bell blacked out its social media channels including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and even its website. The idea was to play up the announcement and attract attention with a Twitter feed, Facebook page, and website all showing nothing but a black screen. Each of those pages only offered a link to the app download. The chain was hoping to prompt conversation using the #onlyintheapp hashtag. The stunt appears to have had some initial success – 75 percent of all Taco Bell stores had processed a mobile order one day after the app launch. Taco Bell plans to continue with their social media activity, but it will be limited until they feel they’ve properly promoted the app.  They have since started promoted tweets and other social ads.

Headlines & Stuff

Written by: Christy Wise
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Here are some cool things we read about this past week:

Twitter Introduces Audio Cards
This week, Twitter announced that it is introducing a new type of Card to your timeline: the Audio Card. The new tool lets you listen to music and podcasts directly from your timeline. The first Audio Cards will be shared by a small group of partners including NASA, David Guetta, and the White House.

Social, Digital Brands Lead 2014 Loyalty Index
Apple, Amazon, Whats App, Google, YouTube, and Kindle are the top dogs in consumer loyalty this year. In Brand Keys’ 2014 Loyalty Leaders List, an annual survey that gauges how connected consumers feel to 721 brands in 65 categories, 36 of the top 100 are new brands. Most new arrivals are around social and digital, including tablets, smartphones, and social networks. The only non-digital or non-social brand that rated in the top 20 was Dunkin’ Donuts.

Facebook Stickers are Now Available in Comments
Facebook expanded its stickers feature to comments on Timeline, Groups, and Event posts. Stickers, which are Facebook’s emoji-like icons, have been available within Messages and in the Messenger app for some time, but were not available elsewhere. Stickers in comments will work the same way – users begin with only a few stickers but can get more from Facebook’s in-app Sticker Store.

Google is Testing Video Chat with Real Doctors
Google has confirmed that it is testing a system that would offer video chats with doctors to people whose search terms involve medical symptoms. Google is paying for the feature while it’s in the testing phase. It is likely that it would be a paid feature if it is rolled out to the public at large.

Global Social Media

Global Millennials Share Ideas and Desires
According to the first-ever global “Cassandra Report,” millennials share attitudes about commerce, brand preferences, and life goals regardless of where they are in the world. The study argues that millennials are a world demographic (Global Y’s), representing half the population on earth. Seventy percent of global millennials surveyed said that they use social media as a source of news on current affairs. Seventy-five percent said that traveling the world is an important life goal. Thirty-eight percent said that they prefer to communicate with pictures instead of words (cue Instagram, Tumblr, Snapchat).  This global group is three times as likely to wear socially conscious brands over luxury brands, and 40 percent are willing to pay more for products/brands that are eco-friendly (especially in China and India).

Noteworthy Campaigns

McDonald’s Launches Transparency Campaign
In an effort to gain more trust from consumers, McDonald’s is launching a transparency program called “Our food. Your questions.” The move comes as the chain battles sliding sales and works to improve perception about McDonald’s food quality, particularly among millennials.  As part of the effort, McDonald’s has dedicated a section of its website to the campaign, as well as a video series featuring former MythBusters co-host Grant Imahara as he visits multiple suppliers for the chain. In addition to the company’s website, the videos will appear on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.  McDonald’s will respond to questions with behind-the-scenes webisodes and other social content that will provide facts on ingredients, how food is made, and how it’s prepared.

Headlines & Stuff

Written by: Christy Wise
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Here are some cool things we read about this past week:

Snapchat Ads are Coming
Snapchat ads are coming soon, according to Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel. The ads will be around the company’s “stories” product and will be optional to view.

LinkedIn Now Tells You Which Actions Led to Higher Profile Views
LinkedIn is giving users better information about which actions encourage people to look at their profile page. Under the “Who’s Viewed Your Profile” section, LinkedIn has added a new area listing the notable actions the user has taken. This could include posting a status update, joining a group, giving endorsements, or making new connections.  The hope is that when someone the user is keen to work with looks at their profile page, the user can deduce what they’ve done to trigger it.

Pinterest Pushing New Editorial Product with First Co-Marketing Campaign
Pinterest rolled out its first co-marketing campaign this week to promote a new editorial product called Pin Picks. The site has partnered with 10 companies including eHow, Cracked, and Funny or Die, as well as YouTube star Michelle Phan. Pin Picks are topic-specific collections of Pins and Pinterest profiles that the company has been testing since August. Pinterest is raising the profile of Pin Picks with a four-week Halloween campaign, each with their own themes: horror, villains and superheroes, humor, and last-minute ideas. Funny or Die and Michelle Phan are taking part in the horror phase; comedy site Cracked will be involved in humor; and eHow’s participation will span all four themes.

Facebook Messenger has Friend-to-Friend Payment Feature
Facebook could soon allow Messenger users to send mobile payments to their friends. A Stanford University student uncovered the feature via Cycript, a tool for developers.  The payment mechanism is said to be similar to that used in Square Cash, where Messenger uses it to debit one account, and then uses some means to look up the bank account number of the recipien, and deposit it.

Global Social Media

China’s Instagram Block is Here to Stay
For years, Instagram was one of the exceptions to China’s great firewall. It remained accessible even though Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter were blocked. It finally went dark in September when users began sharing photos of the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. It hasn’t come back since.  Of major US-based social media, LinkedIn is all that remains, and only because the social network agreed to play China’s game. Some people who post about sensitive topics get messages that their content is banned in China and cannot be seen by members there.

Noteworthy Campaigns

Dove is Trying Snapchat for Self-Esteem Effort
Unilever brand Dove is launching an initiative with Snapchat as part of its annual “Self-Esteem Weekend.” The brand has invited women to share their insecurities via Snaps, and as the Snaps disappear they can make room for more positive thoughts. Dove will have “Self-Esteem Ambassadors” on hand to respond to girls’ Snaps and provide real-time advice and feedback. The reason for using Snapchat, according to Unilever’s marketing director, is because “having a public conversation about your self-esteem can be intimidating.”

Headlines & Stuff

Written by: Christy Wise
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Here are some cool things we read about this past week:

YouTube has added new real-time reporting to its analytics dashboard that provides view counts down to the minute for your videos.  The new report is available for channels, groups with less than five videos, and content owners.

 

More changes are coming to Facebook’s News Feed Algorithm. When deciding which posts to show to which users, the social network will now give greater consideration to timeliness and activity-based relevancy. Facebook explains: “There are some instances where a post from a friend or a Page you are connected to is only interesting at a specific moment, for example when you are both watching the same sports game.” Users will now be more likely to see “trending” stories in their News Feed – but only after a “friend” expresses interest in such a story. Early testing showed that this change led to a 6% increase in post engagement.

 

YouTube this week announced that it will begin footing the bill for new videos from some of its top creators. The move is intended to help its homegrown stars produce high-quality content for their millions of fans.  More than 1 billion viewers visit YouTube every month, and daily watch time is growing at 50% annually.

 

Twitter released an internal study this week that found networks and studios that live-tweet during their popular programming can dramatically boost followers and Twitter mentions. Posting from a show’s Twitter handle, like @GameofThrones, increases total Twitter conversations by 7% during television premieres. Having a show’s cast members live-tweet is even better – increasing total tweets by 64%.

Global Social Media

Mobile commerce continues to grow exponentially in Asia. For retail marketers, that means they must develop an effective and transactional mobile presence. China is leading the way when it comes to mobile retail. A whopping 94% of those surveyed own a smartphone and regularly use it to make purchases, redeem coupons, and send gifts.

Noteworthy Campaigns

In the ’90s, Coca-Cola had a “fully-loaded citrus soda with carbos” called Surge. Internally it was developed under the moniker “MDK” or “Mountain Dew Killer.” Unfortunately that wasn’t the case, and the product didn’t last more than a couple of years. But, the soda is making a comeback (a reSURGEnce? Get it? Get it?) thanks to a Facebook campaign called “The Surge Movement,” which has 150,000 followers. Based on the demand, Coca-Cola decided to reinstate the product, selling it exclusively through Amazon at $14 for a twelve-pack (yet another sign that CPG brands are seeking more online sales). Within hours the first batch of Surge sold out.

Headlines & Stuff

Written by: Christy Wise
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Here are some cool things we read about this past week:

Facebook wants to better understand consumer thinking in an effort to serve more relevant ads in the news feed. To that end, the social network will start asking users why they choose to hide an ad as soon as that user does so. Users can select from a variety of reasons including: irrelevant, offensive, spam, too frequent, or “something else.” Taking into account the reasons why an ad was hidden, Facebook said it will show the ad to fewer people.

 

Spotify’s video ads are coming. The music-streaming service will soon roll out its video ad products for marketers, including a mobile product that lets listeners watch a video ad in exchange for a half hour without any further commercial interruption. Spotify will start testing video ads in the fourth quarter with a limited number of brands, and plans to extend them to advertisers in the first quarter of 2015. Coca-Cola, Ford, McDonald’s, and Universal Pictures have signed on as the first global buyers. Kraft Foods, Target, and Wells Fargo will be the U.S. only launches.

 

In a question and answer section on Facebook, the company now describes how to set a post you’ve published to expire, a process that allows the message to disappear. The capability is only available on certain posts, currently.  This is Facebook’s attempt yet again to take on Snapchat.

 

This week, Twitter introduced its Buy Now button, a feature that allows users to make purchases directly on Twitter.com and throughout its mobile app.  The company is moving cautiously with the product, which it says will only operate in the U.S. and be seen by a “small percentage” of users. Only 26 nonprofits and musical artists were handpicked to deploy the feature, including country singer Brad Paisley, rap artists Eminem and Wiz Khalifa, and metal band Megadeth (yes, Megadeth).

 

Facebook has reached out to some of Google’s biggest content producers and encouraged them to test distributing their videos on the social network. Facebook’s push reflects a desire to become a bigger competitor in web video and get more content on its site. Right now, content creators use Facebook to promote their programming but prefer people to watch the videos on YouTube and other platforms, where they can make money through ad sales more easily.  Facebook and content creators are discovering how advertising might be incorporated into these videos. It’s likely that some sort of ad product will be rolled out by the end of the year.

 

Global Social Media

China has ordered video-streaming sites to get state approval to run foreign TV shows and films as authorities in the world’s largest Internet market tighten online control. Video sites need to register foreign TV shows and films by the end of March. Starting April 1, unregistered content can’t be shown online. This year, China barred video websites from airing four U.S. TV shows, including “The Good Wife” and “The Big Bang Theory.” The country plans to cap the amount of foreign TV programs allowed on the sites at 30%.

Noteworthy Campaigns

During New York Fashion Week, Adidas showcased their new Fall/Winter 2014 collection dubbed #NeoRunway. The event, which was the world’s first tweet-powered fashion show, was created entirely by teens.  Teens had the power to decide everything from music, lighting, and the set design to styling the fresh new looks of the models walking down the catwalk. Teens participated in the show using the in-card voting mechanic from Twitter to choose between options. NEOLovers voted for two weeks prior to the show to decide what clothing, hairstyles, and makeup the models should wear. Participants could vote right up to the last seconds of the show. In addition, a team of young bloggers were on-site, bringing the show to life across social media channels.