Empower Promotes Greg Clausen to EVP, Managing Director, Chicago
The Longtime Media Agency Veteran Returns to the Windy City After 15-Month Stretch in Cincinnati HQ – Perfectly Poised to Steer Empower’s Robust Growth in Chicago Market

CINCINNATI – May 19, 2022 – With Greg Clausen’s 25 years of experience in media + media research, unwavering client advocacy and significant business impact at Empower in just a little over a year, Empower has promoted Clausen to Executive Vice President and Managing Director of its Chicago office. He will officially make the move back to Chicago in July 2022.

“We’re thrilled to elevate Greg’s role at Empower to help navigate our rapid growth in Chicago,” said CEO Jim Price. “With his deep media knowledge, Chicago roots and experience in managing offices, we have a strong trifecta of senior leaders in Chicago to help take Empower to the next level,” Price said.

Empower’s SVP, Head of Intelligence, Brett Mowry is also based in Chicago along with Empower vet, SVP, Emily Locker who helped launch the office in its infancy.

Throughout his career, Clausen has been known for both new business and organic agency growth. He has been recognized with numerous industry awards, including three MediaWeek “Media Plan of the Year” awards, and has contributed to numerous Gold Effie winning campaigns.

When asked what he’s most proud of in his time at Empower thus far, Clausen highlights the value of culture and organic business growth.

“Empower walks the walk,” he said. “Learning and embracing the culture at Empower that brings to life the Un-Holding Companysm vision is a true differentiator that sets us apart from a lot of agencies. Harnessing this mindset (clients first, not shareholders) has resulted in tremendous business growth on several accounts like Wendy’s and Jack Link’s for example. I’m excited to continue providing our client teams with this this level of leadership along with creating an atmosphere of trust and transparency within my team in Chicago – all on a greater scale within my new role as EVP and Managing Director,” Clausen explained.

Empower celebrated a 30% increase in revenue in 2021 – the highest in company history. Equally impressive, the agency experienced 18% organic client growth and 19% staff growth – nearly half of which were hired in Chicago.

Empower launched its Chicago office in 2019 and has quickly outgrown its original space on North Wells Street. Clausen is working with Price to secure a new space to accommodate Empower’s rapid growth.

Clausen has successfully run Chicago media agencies during his previous stints as EVP, Managing Director at Spark Foundry (twice), Zenith and Cramer-Krasselt. In addition, Clausen held the role of EVP, Chief Media Officer at Doner (now Assembly), overseeing the agency’s media operations in Detroit, Toronto, Los Angeles, and Atlanta.

Clausen has spent most of his career in Chicago. He started his career at the former Tatham-Laird & Kudner agency (now Havas) and then ran the Midwest office of Simmons Market Research Bureau, prior to his roles at Cramer-Krasselt, Spark, Zenith and Doner. Some of his biggest fans include former clients like Procter & Gamble, Amazon, Sherwin-Williams, Dairy Queen, Purina, ConAgra, H&R Block, Arby’s, Ace Hardware, Mazda, Corona, Moen, and many more.


About Empower Media 

America’s largest woman-owned media agency

Our advantage is simple: Clients first – not shareholders.

From the day we opened our doors in 1985, Empower has always challenged the media status quo.

Empower is a highly awarded and respected media agency. We are a multi-year recipient of “Agency of the Year” from MediaPost and Campaign US with honors from Ad Age and Adweek.

Our senior and experienced integrated team of Communications Strategy, Media Innovation, Media Planning and Buying, Creative, Marketing Scientists, Influencer Marketing and Data-Analytics work in collaboration on our client’s business daily.

Empower’s client tenure rate is unmatched–3X the industry average. Our clients include Tempur Sealy, Wendy’s, Brooks Running, Fifth Third Bank, Gorilla Glue, O'Keeffe's, E.W. Scripps, Jack Link’s, VTech, Bush Brothers, Zaxby’s, GNC, Famous Footwear, Ashley, LIXIL, O-Cedar, Rust-Oleum and RoC Skincare.

Empower Media is woman-run (67% female) and woman-owned – making it the largest woman-owned media agency in America.

Our offices are in Chicago, Cincinnati, Atlanta, New York, Houston and Palm Beach.

Find us on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and online.

Publicis Acquires Profitero, Adding to In-House Commerce Suite
Publicis acquired Profitero earlier this month for roughly $200 million.

Despite rising inflation, growing turmoil abroad, fears of recession, and bearish momentum across tech in general, there’s still value in tech acquisitions that make sense. Publicis has been on quite a tear in recent years – first acquiring Epsilon to build out its consumer data portfolio and then acquiring CitrusAd to provide an in-house ad-serving platform at the retail level. Most recently, they pursued the Profitero acquisition.

The Profitero purchase was fueled by the ecommerce boom. Sure, COVID restrictions are easing and people are heading back to stores, but rituals have changed. Buying online – the ease, the speed, the thrill – has become more and more ingrained in people’s daily lives. Brick and mortar will survive, but ecommerce will continue to thrive.

Understanding this trajectory, Publicis has attempted to build out its offering through purchase. The company scaled different aspects of retail media technology as quickly as possible while accumulating data to improve their overall offering. The Profitero acquisition provides them a keener eye within the retail landscape. Focused on digital shelf analytics, their newest toy dives headfirst into the retail landscape (across 700+ sites!) via market share assessments, competitive insights, inventory tracking – all in the name of improving overall return.

Again, it’s a wise acquisition of a strong competitor. However, such acquisitions do come with limitations. Much like with their acquisition of CitrusAd, Publicis is picking a lane. Signing on with Publicis means an advertiser is going to be guided towards their in-house platform (CitrusAd) despite the existence of other options.

Similar to their most recent acquisition of Profitero (as it relates to competitive intelligence, content creation, and search insights), any advertiser running with Publicis knows what they’re getting before signing on. They’re becoming almost ERP-like in that sense – sign on the dotted line for the full, in-house product suite. This may or may not be a good thing.

ERPs are losing favor in the commerce world because nimbler, more composable options are available. When thinking how to assemble a world-class ecommerce offering, the agency should help guide the advertiser towards the best possible platform. Getting saddled with an in-house option makes things tricky. Sure, the ability to dive deep into an in-house product – as opposed to relying on third-party insights – provides a slight advantage, but should that be prioritized over having options?

Staying agile should be a top requirement. Agencies that can be partner agnostic and aren’t shackled to a singular solution can often provide the best overall suite of products.

Acquisitions are great, but as with any big purchase, they tend to lock you in.

The Revolution of Virtual Product Placement

“The digital revolution is not linear,” says Ryff, the company striking back at the continued decline of television and the outdated form of advertising that accompanies it.

An upbeat tune on a crackling record-player sets the backdrop of the website’s opening video, signaling the comeback-of-the-year for TV and streaming advertisements.

The video showcases a variety of scenes depicting everyday retail shoppers, airport visitors, bakers, coffeehouse regulars, and others. Before your eyes, the video seamlessly imports brands into different environments in real time to show the power of their digital editing.

The best part? This all happened in 2019… and it was only the beginning.

What is Virtual Product Placement?

While Ryff and their main competitor, Mirriad, were early adopters of this technology, other companies soon bought into the idea of digitally importing advertised products into shows like “How I Met Your Mother” and “Modern Family.”

The TV show or movie could be shot naturally, adding in products later as brands landed new budgets or became interested in partnerships with certain shows.

With this technology, you could even do something as drastic as advertise iPhones in the Sound of Music (1965)! Not great product placement, but the possibilities are limitless.

Even more exciting is the content curation happening today and the era of “binge-watching” that invites a total revival of TV shows both new and old.

Until a recent announcement at IAB’s NewFronts event, the technology was mainly limited to logos and products implemented in post-production for companies that wanted flexibility in content and scheduling.

However, there was a glaring opportunity to upgrade, and this event didn’t disappoint in its ability to slice open the envelope for virtual product placement.

Where Can Virtual Products Appear?

In addition to the vast amount of content within a single service, the other major benefit to advertising on modern streaming services like HBO and Hulu is valuable customer data.

While those streaming services capture insights into watch history, another service is the glaring winner of this technology and can benefit immediately from dynamically importing products into their vast library of shows and movies.

Alongside NBC’s Peacock TV, Amazon Prime Video also announced in 2022 their intent to release in-scene ads for virtual product placement that not only allows users to choose their content and products, but also lets advertisers target them based on Amazon historical metrics.

This means that an advertiser like P&G could advertise any of their dental care brands in a single campaign, targeting different users depending on the brand with which they best identify.

To sweeten the deal, the custom data that Amazon Prime Video could provide would dwarf the targeting capabilities of almost any other company. Far from demographic targeting, Amazon Prime would be able to access affinity, in-market, and even retargeting segments.

How Does VPP Benefit Companies?

For companies driven by data, this new use case for high-funnel advertising changes everything.

Inside of Amazon, advertisers can now attribute ad success all the way back to a virtually placed product inside Prime Video content. They could target a vast number of audiences “natively” and could attribute success all the way up the funnel.

This technology could also lead to a bidding-based system where an ad’s placement and price is also factored into the buy and audience targeting is just as valuable as any other digital channel.

Starbucks’ Amazon Prime Video ad might be targeted based on users that have searched for Starbucks ground coffee on Amazon, but might also only allow product placement in a specific character’s hand (i.e. the “smart” or “charismatic” character).

This level of contextual targeting could spell victory for an otherwise plagued TV industry.

In fact, some late adopters of advertisements in general (looking at you, Netflix!) may be looking at an all-out company rescue based on this type of native advertising.

What is Empower’s Reaction?

Digital agencies are already set up to create profitable investment campaigns. If you can optimize targeting, placement, and bidding effectively in a social media or search landscape, this type of media buy comes naturally.

Empower’s path forward is simple: adopt this type of placement as early as possible and quickly develop best practices for the elements of this buy that we DON’T yet know (i.e. contextual placement).

Are there character archetypes that perform better for certain brands? Are there situational reasons to include or remove brands in a specific scene?

Are there common inventories that translate across content that could help frame our best practices?

With these questions answered, translation of virtual product placement into gaming and virtual reality becomes nearly effortless.

This type of advertising is long overdue and forecasts success as a “gateway ad” into a new world of profitable digital spending.



The Future of Search Part 1: How the Deprecation of Cookies is Pushing Search Forward
This is part one of a five-part series detailing the near-term evolution and potential long-term future state of search. This first section focuses on Google’s response to the deprecation of third-party cookies, and how the lingering effects from that could trigger a reshaping of search overall.

It’s human nature to procrastinate. Put things off. Wait until the last minute. Some thrive on it – the ability to work well under pressure. Others, though, put things off simply to avoid dealing with them.

Google’s procrastination in relation to the deprecation of third-party cookies falls into the latter camp. They – like most other large, advertising platforms – intended to deprecate by 2022. But they – unlike most other larger advertising platforms – have not followed through.

Their original plan was to develop a solution that straddled the line between exposing every inch of user data vs. anonymizing every inch of user data. The goal being build a bridge between that chasm and setting up shop right in the middle.

Their initial attempt at data transparency – Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLOC) – was riddled with red flags. The bridge they’d intended to build collapsed before completion, forcing them to rethink their plan and shift their eventual compliance deadline to 2023 (or later).

So, why procrastinate? Well, finding suitable tech (as mentioned) is the first issue. Beyond that, there are both near-term (loss of visibility) and long-term (loss of revenue) consequences that need solving. How Google will solve for this, and how it will impact search is yet to be determined.

Solving the Cookie Conundrum

FLOC was Google’s first attempt at reconciling its consumer data transparency issues. It was designed to anonymize individual user data by assigning it to specific cohorts. The cohorts were, in turn, designed to hide the user amongst the crowd while still assigning identifiable affinities to the larger group.

But FLOC turned out to be less than foolproof. There were ways to undo Google’s anonymizing efforts, making user-level data discernable again. Thus, breaking the first rule of any opt-out scenario. That is, when a user opts out, exclusion should be assured.

Solving the Cookie Conundrum … Again

Once FLOC fell apart Google made the announcement it would be putting off the depreciation of third-party cookies until 2023 – an announcement that had the industry shaking its head.

Other platforms (Facebook, for example) had prepared in earnest to distance themselves from third-party cookies. They’ve experienced the growing pains – specifically, a dip in outcome-based efficiency – that accompany such a move. But to their credit, they stepped up to the plate and implemented.

Google on the other hand, is still in the experimentation phase.

They’ve moved away from FLOC towards an approach they’re calling Topics. This new approach is based on their current Topic targeting efforts (and will likely expand upon it). It’s designed to assign users to six total Topics based on recent browsing activity. The user would then be shuffled into different topics as their interests evolve, data being deleted in cycles every three weeks.

Part of the problem is Topics is still unproven and has been – similar to FLOC – met with skepticism. The failure of FLOC, plus the nefarious tendencies of Google (i.e., they’d much rather keep tracking as is) has left many questioning both their approach and their motives.

Google knows it must find a way through all this to legitimize search over the long haul. But they also must please Alphabet shareholders by keeping the ad revenue-generating machine humming.

Balancing those two factors will be difficult, likely resulting in near-term challenges that will need addressing.

Interested in learning about Google’s potential efforts to mitigate damage related to compliance, and how lingering effects could reshape how they view and deploy their capabilities? Read Part 2.



Elon Takes Over Twitter

As of April 25th, 2022, Elon Musk is the new owner of Twitter. It may come as a surprise to some, but Musk has been an active user on the platform for years with over 83 million followers and was the largest shareholder earlier in 2022. His actions over the past few months hinted he had his eye on the social media platform known for being the space to discuss trending topics and the latest news.

The start of Musk’s increased interest in Twitter began in January. While the rest of us were focused on our “new year, new you” healthy habits, Musk began buying more and more shares of Twitter. He also began posting content on the platform frequently and even posted several Twitter polls to gauge how users felt about the platform.

For example, his tweet on April 4th was a poll that asked if users wanted an edit button: (currently the platform doesn’t allow users to edit tweets after publishing them)

On April 5th, Twitter announced that it was working on an edit button, but that they didn’t get the idea from Musk’s poll. As Twitter’s largest shareholder, it’s hard not to wonder if Musk’s poll had some influence over Twitter’s decision.

Another announcement came on April 10th, this time from CEO Parag Agrawal. He announced that Musk had been offered a seat on the board but declined it. Being on the board would prevent Musk from owning a majority stake in the company, which could be the reason Musk rejected the offer. Musk probably also had bigger ambitions for his role at Twitter, as he offered to buy the company April 14th. After some back and forth, the deal went through. On April 25th, Musk acquired Twitter for $44 billion – the largest deal ever to take the company private. The deal is subject to regulatory approvals and a vote of Twitter shareholders, but it is expected to pass after unanimous approval by Twitter’s board.

Musk’s Plans for Twitter

There’s been speculation about what Musk’s next moves are for Twitter. He’s been known to describe himself as a “free speech absolutist” and, before acquiring Twitter, had tweeted a poll asking users if they felt the platform adhered to the principle. Some speculate that this means users who had been previously banned (such as Donald Trump) would be welcomed back to the platform.

Musk has also expressed his desires for Twitter to stop running ads and decrease the subscription price for Twitter Blue. According to the Wall Street Journal, 90 percent of Twitter’s revenue comes from advertising, so it will be interesting to see Musk’s ideas for the platform to keep making money. Another suggestion is to allow subscriptions to be paid for in Dogecoin, which is a cryptocurrency that was based on a meme of a Shiba Inu dog.

On May 6th, the New York Times revealed that they had some information on what Musk plans to do. Musk presented a pitch deck to investors that outlined his plans, which addressed some speculations but left others in the dark.

In the next few years, Musk aims to decrease advertising and bring it down to less than 50 percent of Twitter’s revenue. Rather than rely on advertising, Musk wants the platform to drive revenue from improving its payment abilities and growing Twitter Blue subscribers. A new product (known so far as “X”) will also drive subscriptions, although very little is known about the product at this time.

Musk is predicting that his changes will lead to a significant increase in revenue, estimating that Twitter will reach $26.4 billion in revenue by 2028. He will also raise free cash flow to $9.4 billion by 2028. More employees will be needed to help hit these goals, particularly engineers to help bring forth the proposed platform changes.

The change in ownership at Twitter and possible future changes will have impacts on both consumers and advertisers.

If advertising is deprioritized on the platform, the digital marketing industry will be heavily impacted. Whether it’s on another social media platform or different advertising medium, brands will need to decide how to reallocate advertising dollars. Twitter has been known as the platform that advertisers use to announce new messaging, product launches, etc., and it will be interesting to see what platform takes on this role if ads aren’t its main source of revenue.

Free speech and relaxed rules on Twitter will also have an impact on consumers and advertisers. Twitter currently has policies in place that ban content such as harassment and label tweets with misinformation. Depending on how far Musk takes his “free speech absolutist” ideas to the platform, we could see a relaxing of rules around what types of content can be posted to Twitter. Controversial figures like Donald Trump could come back to the platform and be able to post freely. If consumers no longer feel safe on the platform, they’ll go somewhere else. Advertisers could also have additional brand safety concerns and might not want to run ads in a potentially hostile or polarizing environment.

Next Steps

For now, both consumers and advertisers will be closely watching for additional updates on Musk’s plans for Twitter. Advertisers should begin planning on how to reallocate dollars to other social platforms or advertising channels. When product X debuts, consumers will need to evaluate if it’s valuable to them. Musk has high goals for Twitter and, much like his other projects (Tesla, SpaceX, The Boring Company, etc.), he’s out to make an impact.

’22/’23 Upfront Predictions
Who can forget the '21/'22 Upfront? The short answer is no one!

The Upfront returned somewhat to its former glory. In fact, in anticipation that it would be fast and furious like 10-15 years ago, marketers scrambled to get their budgets approved and ready to enter the market. Publishers rushed Advertisers to register their Upfront dollars and be prepared to make conceptual deals, but once Buyers were in the ring, the pace suddenly changed from “hurry up” to “wait.”

A few key things delayed negotiations: high double digit CPM increases, low supply, and digital mandates.

  • It was a Sellers’ year unlike any other – Networks were coming out the gate with higher-than-expected increases, causing Buyers to pause.
  • Linear supply was at an all-time low – Call it ratings erosion, migration to Digital, or a total miscalculation, viable inventory was depleting at a more rapid pace.
  • Networks needed advertisers to be flexible – Linear-only deals were becoming a thing of the past, as most networks required some percentage of dollars to run cross-screen. Networks needed to be able to run ADUs on their digital platforms and/or allow for a full portfolio guarantee deal.

Empower predicted +10-20 percent Rate of Change increases. ln the end, the healthy marketplace saw low single digits to upwards of 35 percent increases, depending on the daypart and network.

As the Upfront market wrapped, there was much speculation that the Scatter marketplace would exceed the Upfront marketplace by leaps and bounds, seeing CPM increases anywhere from 30-50 percent over Upfront, but those increases simply did not materialize. They landed in the more modest range of 10-15 percent, with some networks honoring expansion options. Even with a soft marketplace, networks still required a portion of Scatter dollars be spent in digital video.

The primary reasons for the softening of the market were:

  • Advertisers placed most of their dollars in the Upfront, leaving little to be spent in Scatter.
  • More options were exercised than anticipated, either for business reasons or marketers simply purchased more inventory than needed to keep from getting burned in the Scatter market.
  • Networks adjusted rating estimates to better reflect current viewing. This meant there was less bonus weight owed and more inventory to sell.
  • Sellers held back GRPs in anticipation of the stronger Scatter market, but were left holding the bag when the above-mentioned factors fell into place later in the year.

Trends to Watch for this Upfront


Both Networks and Marketers have expressed a lack of confidence in Nielsen and their ability to measure audiences accurately. The much-publicized reporting woes of Nielsen are resulting in alliances formed between major network groups and alternative measurement partners.

  • Fox Corp + ComScore
  • Paramount and Warner Bros. Discovery + ComScore and VideoAmp
  • Disney + Samba
  • NBCUniversal + iSpot.TV

Nielsen has stepped up their game and will launch One Platform (Q4 ’22), which will measure unduplicated views across linear and digital using Smart TV and Set-Top Box Data.

This move away from Nielsen to other measurement partners was inevitable, as clients are asking their agencies to move beyond the traditional age/sex demo guarantees and use custom audiences and performance-based guarantees against sales or other metrics.

To be clear, Nielsen will remain the primary currency for most Advertisers in this year’s Upfront. However, many are utilizing a secondary guarantee as part of an Upfront deal which could set a baseline for eventually moving away from Nielsen completely.


Over the past 2 years linear first publishers have found it increasingly more important to add streaming extensions to their portfolios. As consumption has increased, so has the number of paid offerings. Since 2019, five major ad-supported streaming services have been launched: HBOMax, Peacock, Paramount+ and Discovery+, with the fifth being Disney+, which anticipates launching an ad-supported version by Q4’22. In 2023, HBOMax and Discovery+ will combine and launch a 3-tier model that includes SVOD/ad-free, AVOD/ad-lite, and a free streaming version that will feature less viewed content.

This increasing number of ad-supported streaming services (AVOD) are a win-win-win scenario for the video landscape.

  • Win for consumers: It lowers their out-of-pocket costs (65 percent are paying for 3+ services a year).
  • Win for publishers: It provides another revenue stream.
  • Win for advertisers: It allows access to previously untapped network audiences.

Data-Driven Linear/Audience-Based Buying

In its simplest terms, Data Driven Linear (DDL) uses big data as fuel to reach specific audiences. DDL utilizes the scale of TV with digital-like data sets to define strategic target audiences based on purchase data, lifestyle interests, and behavior. Partners like VideoAmp and OpenAP ingest First or Third-party data and build audiences based on Nielsen historical data, Set-Top Box data, or ACR data (Automatic Content Recognition is technology built into smart TVs that allow the TV to listen and/or see what is playing on the screen).

So why embrace DDL? It can provide planning inputs like budget allocations (linear vs. OTT), network recommendations that have a high concentration against a strategic target, and offer optimizations and audience guarantees with partners. Back-end reporting provides one holistic view of measurement, including unduplicated reach between linear and OTT, overall video impressions, and average frequencies cross-platform.

There are, of course, trade-offs when executing a DDL buy. Primarily, a higher CPM vs. executing on age/sex demo only. The efficiency lies in the eCPM (effective CPM) which reflects the cost of reaching your strategic target. This means less waste and greater targeting ability. Typically, there is no cancellation flexibility and buys are 100 percent firm.

There are several third-party providers in the DDL space, including VideoAmp, OpenAP, Simulmedia, and TVSquared. Beyond these, many major media companies have come to the table with their own solutions, including NBCU One Platform, Paramount Vantage, Warner Media AudienceNow, and TargetingNow.

Total Audience Guarantees

More TV networks will be pushing Advertisers to buy against their total audience as opposed to cherry-picking demographic groups like adults 25-54. Expect major broadcast groups like Disney, NBCUniversal, and Paramount to follow this path.

Networks are pushing total audience guarantees because they do not want to leave money on the table by not including the 55+ demographic, nor do they want to lose money as younger viewers migrate to streaming, creating an audience shortfall in linear. Shifting to a total audience approach solves for fluidity across liner and OTT, allowing an aggregation of impressions to make up any audience under-delivery.

For any Advertisers unwilling to expand to a total audience guarantee, they could be forced to pay a premium on top of the Upfront Rate of Change.

Focus on DEI

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is a common priority we are hearing across all major publishers. Content is showcasing a greater variety of minority groups in their cast and scripts, and being written, produced, and directed by minority groups to ensure authentic storytelling. Network groups are growing ways to reach different audiences, inclusive of all human experiences, ensuring all feel seen, heard, and represented on screen.

  • AMC Networks – AllBlk: Streaming service for Black tv and film, by Black creators
  • A+E Networks – 4UV (For Unheard Voices): Stand-alone FAST (Free Ad-supported Streaming TV) channel featuring original content developed by diverse team members
  • Disney – Onyx Collective (Curated slate of content that lives on Hulu): Content created by people of color and underrepresented voices

Marketplace Predictions

  • Upfront spend is projected to increase 4 percent in linear and 32 percent in OTT.
  • Networks will seek volume over high CPM increases and hold back less inventory to avoid a repeat of this year’s soft Scatter market. Empower predicts Scatter increases in the range of 10-15 percent over Upfront pricing. If supply chain issues are not solved until sometime in 2023, the Scatter market could be stronger than expected with categories like auto, technology, and CPG.
  • Linear and OTT will move as a singular marketplace with prices increasing between 7-10 percent depending on the network, daypart, or streaming service.
  • Networks will set parameters around dollars to be allocated to their streaming offerings as part of the Upfront commitment. In some instances, this could be as high as 50 percent to streaming.
  • Data-Driven Linear (DDL) will become more commonplace as marketers continue to think beyond age/sex demos and as DDL platforms grow.
  • Buying demos will shift to include the Total Audience Guarantees. Advertisers who do not shift could see a higher Rate of Change.

The Upfront continues to evolve and this year is certainly no exception. Advertisers need to be ready for whatever is thrown their way. Empower recommends clients remain nimble with the mix of linear and OTT to capitalize on the most advantageous deals. Budget fluidity is the key, as it allows us to capitalize on getting the best deal with partners. Around measurement, be open to test-and-learn scenarios, as this could be the baseline for shifting away from Nielsen and securing guarantees based on business outcomes or other key KPIs.

Live Shopping and Retail Trends
In China, Live Shopping is projected to hit a $480 billion industry in 2022.

Impressive, right? While the U.S. is trailing at $11 billion, that number is certain to grow, as tech giants are quickly adapting capabilities to join in on the fun. Live Shopping also saw a boost during the height of the pandemic, as did other retail trends that supported online commerce while brick-and-mortar was temporarily shut down. With tech giants like Facebook and Amazon leading the charge, the small sliver of the overall commerce market is steadily growing.

What is Live Shopping, You Might Ask?

Live Shopping is where video livestreaming meets commerce and social media. For many, when Live Shopping comes to mind, so does fast-talking QVC or HSN hosts and the ticking clock in the corner counting down until the next deal. While there are some key similarities, the breadth of Live Shopping is vast. For example, brands have so many options as to where to host and event, how to partner with influencers or creators, to how to create social content and engagement around Live Shopping.

The increased importance of influencers and social being more and more integrated into online commerce are key drivers. The real appeal of Live Shopping for brands is reaching younger shoppers– Gen Z especially–who put a higher value on user-generated content. Live streaming also provides much-needed social proof.

Retail of 03 Cities

Personally, I learned more about Live Shopping over the holiday season as Empower held our own Live Shopping events which performed very well and sparked great interest throughout the agency and among clients. Click here to read our top three tips for hosting a successful Live Shopping event.

What Does this Mean for Brands and Advertisers who Prioritize Online Retailers?

As many brands embrace Live Shopping on Instagram Live or Facebook Live, those who invest heavily in retail media will start to see additional options coming from the big retailers like Amazon and Walmart. Connecting retail commitments to Live Shopping will play an integral part in how brands and sellers adopt this trend. So far, Amazon is leading the charge from a big box retailer perspective. Walmart is following suit with increased focus on Live Shopping, now positioned to make a big leap in their Live Shopping capabilities, as they recently partnered with TalkShopLive. The deal came following a collaboration last year where Walmart and TalkShopLive hosted a Live Shopping event across the MSN shopping tab and additional Walmart partner websites.

As our own Chris Reebie outlines here in a recent article, TalkShopLive is a Live Shopping platform which will provide a seamless way for sellers to connect with influencers and eventually host live events on Walmart’s own online environments. Walmart is going to make this tactic available to advertisers within their commerce API–just one more area of investment in retail media planned by Walmart. If successful, the Live Shopping option will become an increasingly valuable route for brands who can use this tactic as part of their retail committed dollars, giving brands another way to reach valuable Walmart audiences within their owned channels.

Amazon has invested heavily with Amazon Live, which has been around since 2016, with their Style Code Live stream that focused heavily on fashion and style trends. This early version was hosted by fashion designers and style influencers, not by brands the way Amazon Live is based today. The new and improved Amazon Live advertising format gives Sellers and Brands a few different routes to utilize Live Shopping. The self-service route is the easiest and lowest investment required where brands can use the Amazon Live Creator app to select a time and date to “go live”. This route can be effective for brands that may have in-house personalities or access to influencer networks, but often reaches a smaller audience than the other Live options.

For another way to get involved, Brands can sponsor established influencers who are hosting livestreams on Amazon through the same app. For larger brands who want to reach a larger audience but at a much larger commitment, Amazon offers Live partnerships where products are featured within Amazon’s own produced shows and be partnered with influencers. It should be noted that these start at a $50k minimum investment.

Beyond driving sales and considerations via Amazon Live, viewers can “follow” a brand on Amazon, something that has become an increasingly important metric for brands who prioritize Amazon as a retail channel over the past year. To maximize the use of brand followers, Amazon has added advanced targeting with their own DSP, allowing advertisers to target brand store shoppers. They have also added a new tool called MYCE (Manage Your Customer Engagement) which sellers can email their followers for free.

Looking Forward

As retailers continue to develop Live Shopping tech and integrations into existing offerings, brands will start to test this new tactic across categories–not just within the beauty or fashion categories (two areas where we’ve seen instant success). Retailers offering an easy path for brands to partner with influencers and content creators will be another key factor that will allow brands to invest more heavily in Live Shopping. The next few years will be critical to make or break the Live Shopping trend. Only time will tell if it becomes a normal part of the media mix for big brands. For now, all we can say is that the potential is there…