Lab Weekly - 02/18/2022
Key takeaways from the 2022 Super Bowl ads; Plus, news analysis and cool stats roundup
Welcome to a new edition of Lab Weekly! This week, we’re digging into the Super Bowl ads, specifically those that dealt with cryptocurrency, sports betting, and the metaverse, to see where we are as a society in regards to these buzzy new categories garnering consumer attention. In addition, we also look into the Apple’s new “tap-to-pay” feature, ViacomCBS rebranding, and more news and stats!
“Vibe shift” or not, the Super Bowl ads on Sunday once again served as both cultural weathervanes and expensive accelerants of developing trends in the market today. Here’s our take on what brand marketers can learn from the top trends reflected in the big game spots, especially in regards to buzzy categories like cryptocurrency, online sports betting, and the metaverse.
In case you missed it…
“Over the next three to five years, the most reliable prediction will be disorder, with multiple possibilities happening at once,” writes Adam Simon, UM Worldwide's US Head of Innovation, in our 2022 Outlook trend report. Read now to learn the four key trends in consumer tech and culture that all brands and marketers will need to reckon over the next 3 to 5 years.
Facing an existential crisis on top of a near-term financial crisis, Facebook’s bet on Meta is more important than ever — but can they pull it off before it loses too much attention to TikTok and gaming platforms.
From in-game experiences to connected communities, brands should carefully weigh the pros and cons of each emerging option as they prepare to enter the metaverse.
Apple Announces New Tap-To-Pay Feature [9to5Mac]
Apple is introducing a new feature that will turn iPhones into contactless payment terminals. Apple said the feature will launch in the U.S. later this year and will allow merchants to accept contactless payments through supported iOS apps using an iPhone XS or newer. Currently, merchants that accept contactless payments on an iPhone must rely on additional hardware like the Square Reader, which either works wirelessly or through the phone’s Lightning port. This new feature eliminates the need for additional hardware. Stripe is among the first fintech companies utilizing this new NFC-powered feature to process payments through the Shopify Point of Sale app. Additional payment platforms and apps are expected to follow.
This move should help small businesses and individual entrepreneurs to easily accept contactless payments and offer a seamless in-person shopping experience, while also helping Apple drive Apple Wallet usage among users. Throughout the pandemic, the usage of contactless payment grew significantly. In the fall of 2018, merely 1% of face-to-face Visa card transactions were conducted with a tap; Today, nearly 10% of all Visa card transactions in the U.S. at the point-of-sale are conducted with a tap.
Related: Stripe taking sign-ups for ‘Tap to Pay on iPhone’ beta program ahead of spring release [9to5Mac]
Paramount+ Adding Showtime Programming In Enlarged Service [Deadline]
Paramount+ tends to fly under the radar compared with competitors like Netflix or Disney+, but it has been grown steadily as they invest in original content. Paramount+ had 32.8 million subscribers at the end of 2021, AdAge reports. ViacomCBS reportedly now has 56 million subscribers across all of its streaming services, including its AVOD service Pluto TV and premium cable brand Showtime.
Furthermore, the company is aiming to incorporate Showtime content into Paramount+ via an extended bundle plan starting this summer. The company is also changing its name to Paramount Global, as it plans to make a more concerted effort to enter global markets, where the Paramount name would carry more brand recognition.
Interestingly, investors were unnerved about the lower profitability that may result from the heavier investment Paramount plans to make in its bid to aggressively expand, sending shares of Paramount took a dive on Wednesday following the announcements. Nevertheless, it’s encouraging to see the company finally forming a new strategy that utilizes all of its fragmented content portfolio to tackle the streaming market in earnest.
Snapchat Partners With Ticketmaster To Match Users With Live Events Nearby [TechCrunch]
Snapchat is adding a new Map Layer that will help users discover local events near them. In collaboration with Ticketmaster, users can now browse Ticketmaster’s catalog of comedy shows, sporting events, and concerts in a map view via Ticketmaster’s Snap Mini app. (If you need a refresher on what a Snap Mini is, read this.) Once users find where they want to go, they can simply tap to invite others to join through stickers embedded in the Snapchat Camera. The feature also includes a way to buy tickets through the app with an easy-to-use checkout process.
As we gingerly navigate a world that is slowly reopening from the depths of a pandemic, local events and OOH entertainment businesses are gearing to restart once again. But things have clearly changed, and the way people discover events and make plans have been more social media-driven than ever. This new feature will offer Ticketmaster a new channel to reach younger consumers who may be eager to get back out there and have fun, while also adding the expanding utility that Snapchat boasts in the social commerce arena.
Alaska Airlines Debuts Subscription Model for Flights [Skift]
In an interesting experiment with new business models and loyalty programs, Alaska Airlines, which acquired Virgin America in 2016 to become the 5th largest U.S. airline, announced a multi-tiered new subscription service this week, prioritizing lifetime loyalty over price-driven one-off purchases. At launch, subscribers can fly on routes within California or between California and Reno or Phoenix, covering about 100 daily flights. Interested travelers can pay as little as $49 monthly for the cheapest option, Flight Pass, which includes six flights a year that must be booked at least 14 days in advance. A more flexible option, Flight Pass Pro, starts at $199 a month and allows for same-day booking.
Overall, this flight subscription program presents a great deal for frequent travelers in California. If this program were to take off, expect other airlines to follow suit with their own version of regional flight subscription plans. Flight ticket prices notoriously fluctuate on a daily basis due to airlines’ aggressive demand-driven pricing schemes. For frequent travelers, subscription plans like this one may just be worth it for the peace-of-mind guarantee. The travel sector already had plenty of membership services that aimed to smooth out the pain points of business travel; now this is finally being extended to leisure travelers as well.
Related: Delta launches buy-now, pay-later option to capture Gen Z flyers [Skift]; Peloton is bringing 'stretching and meditation classes' to Delta flights [Business Insider]; The 5G-airlines crisis was mostly averted [CNN]
The Super Bowl ratings are in and things look great for the NFL. Despite shrinking audiences for linear TV, 112.3 million people watched the Super Bowl on various outlets, a nearly 16% jump from last year’s diminished viewership, NBC reports. Some 99.2 million people viewed the game on NBC, another 1.9 million on its Spanish-language sibling Telemundo, and 11.2 million on streaming services such as Peacock.
Roku announced in its latest earnings report that it ended 2021 with 60.1 million active accounts, up 17% year over year and an increase of 3.7 million for Q4, Variety reports. Yet, the company fell short of Wall Street revenue targets for the fourth quarter of 2021.
Meta finally revealed just how many users are using its social VR platform, Horizon Worlds. A Meta spokesperson has confirmed to The Verge that, since Horizon Worlds was rolled out to all Quest users in the US and Canada in early December, its monthly user base has grown to 300,000 people, a ten-fold jump from December. It remains to be seen whether Meta can sustain this high growth rate, but as it is now, that’s not a big enough user base for most brands to activate on.
If you find our insights valuable and would like to have a deeper conversation on technology and media innovations, or need to sound smarter in a client meeting or a pitch, please feel free to reach out to our Group Director Josh Mallalieu!
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