It’s Time to BeReal
Social Media's Newest App

BeReal is a new social media app that prompts users once a day to post an unfiltered ‘dual camera’ picture within 2 minutes. Once the user has posted, they can view their friends’ BeReal posts for the day, which vanish 24 hours after the prompt, mirroring Snapchat or Instagram Stories. Within the past year, BeReal has surged from 10,000 daily active users to over 10 million.


BeReal is a French social media app created by former GoPro employee, Alexis Berreyat. When he created it in his bedroom in mid-2020, he had no idea millions of people around the world would actively use BeReal on a daily basis. The app saw its usage soar when a brand ambassador program launched on college campuses in April 2022. Since the ambassador program, BeReal has risen to twenty-three million global downloads with over 1/3 of these within the U.S.

BeReal has captured the attention of Gen Z, who make up more than 55% of users. With Gen Z being the generation most likely to report mental health concerns BeReal stands out among its competitors with intentional features designed for a more positive and authentic experience. Minimal scrolling time, no planning required and no usage of filters all contribute to a social media environment more conducive to positive mental health.

Influencers should also be warned that their presence isn’t as welcome on BeReal as other platforms. As stated on the BeReal website, “BeReal won’t make you famous, if you want to become an influencer you can stay on TikTok and Instagram.” Users of BeReal are ecstatic to turn to a social media app that forces you to be genuine and show an intimate shot of a user’s day-to-day. The presence of influencers, whose posts and lifestyles can feel all but authentic, are counterintuitive to the very mission of what BeReal is trying to achieve.

Another unique aspect of this app is the ‘dual camera’ feature where the front and back camera on your phone are captured simultaneously and both used within your post. Given its popularity with the user base, competitors have taken quick notice, with Snapchat implementing a similar feature as of August 29th. Snapchat’s feature will include filters, stickers and lenses, however, straying away from the original intent and usage of the functionality within BeReal.

Empower’s POV

BeReal’s imminent growth in the U.S. is something that cannot be ignored, especially for brands focused on Gen Z. While it currently does not have any pay-to-play advertising options, brands and agencies should continue to monitor the platform usage and evaluate traditional, organic opportunities.

So how are brands using it? In April 2022, Chipotle leaned into BeReal’s ethos of transparency and found a unique way to promote the brand and gain users’ attention. Chipotle created an account like the millions of other users within the app and waited for the iconic ⚠️ Time to BeReal. ⚠️ notification. Within the 2-minute period, the Chipotle account snapped their first BeReal promoting the code ‘ForReal’ to score a free entrée for the first one hundred users. Not only did the promo code succeed in the first 30 minutes of being live for 4 consecutive days, but the Chipotle BeReal also gained 2,000+ friends.

The key to advertising on BeReal is to stay authentic and have a strategic plan before diving in. Due to the unpredictable nature of the daily notification, brands must be ready to activate without looking like the stereotypical ad and explore exceptions to their brand guidelines to offer more flexibility to true lifestyle imagery. Storytelling and giving people a look behind the curtain for the brand can help gain awareness with new users and reward loyal brand followers. If brands can determine what story they would like to authentically share, BeReal is a great new app to engage users for free.

Empower will be closely following paid opportunities as usage grows and the platform expands. We remain excited about the platform’s potential and mission to make our social feeds a more real place.

10 Hot Takeaways from MediaPost’s Retail Brand Insider Summit
MediaPost’s annual Retail Brand Insider Summit was one for the books. Held in Lake Tahoe, this three-day conference featured a combination of educational content (case studies, panels, Q&A’s, etc.) and networking events. With a good mix of representatives from brands, vendors and agencies, it was not to be missed.

Empower sent two of our best and brightest client strategists (Kelly Roderick and Dana Staton) to represent, and they returned energized with plenty of key learnings and themes to share. Below, please find their 10 hot takeaways from the event.

1) The Pending Recession: Will it happen?

There were differing opinions on this hot topic:

  • Some said that the economy is looking up and therefore, we are well suited to avoid a recession.
  • Others argued that Europe is currently in a recession, and the U.S. will likely follow that path.

2) How can advertisers best prepare during uncertain times?

  • Consumer retention should be at the forefront: This means prioritizing your loyal customer base via first party data is key during a time where acquisition costs are high, and consumers are more apt to switch brands.
  • Remember that 2021 was an anomaly: During our roundtable discussions, brands agreed that it is unfair to compare Q4 2021 performance to the upcoming Q4 2022 retail holiday season, based on numerous factors that affected performance YA.

3) Now and moving forward, creative needs to be more personalized across all platforms.

  • Every piece of content doesn’t need to go to all partners. Marketers need to be deliberate with where and how they’re using video assets. We know not to use standard video assets on TikTok, but the same should be seen as true for other partners in the space.
  • Gen Z, specifically, expects new bite-size brand messaging on the daily. With the never-ending personalized content being served to these consumers via TikTok and Reels videos, they are looking for the same experience with advertising.

4) Speaking of TikTok, don’t force it.

TikTok was a hot topic throughout the conference, but a key point was if your audience is not there, your brand doesn’t need to be. Another key takeaway is that majority of retailer brands are still using TikTok for awareness versus lower funnel sales, as they have not seen the conversion return from the platform. From a lower funnel conversion perspective, brands are still prioritizing Meta across the social mix. Implementing Facebook’s Conversion API (CAPI) will be key for brands as well!

5) Outside of Social, how are brands diversifying the media mix?

  • OTT/CTV: Brands are seeing across their measurement that when OTT/CTV is in play, lower funnel performance is stronger.
  • Programmatic: Some brands are shifting spend from social towards programmatic.
  • Native: The jury is still out on the best way to utilize native for lower-funnel campaigns. Many brands shared that they are seeing native drive efficient site traffic, however, are not seeing the conversions.

6) If you create authentic connections, the transactions will follow.

Cheryl Mills Knight, the SVP of Culture from Kendra Scott, shared the background story of Kendra Scott’s rise to the top of the jewelry industry by choosing family, fashion and philanthropy as their core values.

Family: They adopted the “brother/sister” rule where they wanted to treat everyone that came through their door, online or offline, as their family member. With this, they gave every loyalty member 50% off any piece of jewelry for their birthday month and created a communal in-store experience.

Fashion: They drew consumers into their Brick-and-Mortar locations through their Color Bar jewelry try-on experience, allowing consumers to have an event-type experience in the store with their friends and family. Shoppers were offered champagne and snacks, and were able to try on multiple pieces of jewelry at once. They also launched a virtual Color Bar online during the pandemic and recently expanded their jewelry offerings to men, with more casual day-to-day options.

Philanthropy: They created “Kendra Cares” which brought the Color Bar to pediatric hospitals and non-profit organizations.

7) Influencers can create authentic connections, specifically with Millennials and Gen Z.

  • Utilizing UGC and micro-influencer content resonates with younger audiences and drives a more authentic, engaged following versus macro-influencers. These are a good first step to testing new content and seeing what is gaining popularity.
  • Cheryl Mills Knight of Kendra Scott spoke about how they had leaned into the “Bama Rush” phenomenon by interacting with the women going through rush and creating accessory inspiration-related content ahead of the 2022 rush season.

8) Live Shopping events offer serious brand potential.

Women’s lingerie brand, Adore Me, has grown brand through live shopping events. Channel Marketing Manager, Marina Addams, looked to QVC for inspiration in building the brand’s first live shopping event.

  • Ultimately, they found that the high production quality and cost did not lead to higher sales and have since moved to a more authentic “low-fi” experience.
  • SMS messages have worked best to drive people to the live shopping events, and they are incentivized to buy through a special discount code.

9) Brands are dipping their toes in Text/SMS messaging.

With a high average open rate, brands like Kendra Scott, Adore Me and Sleep Number are seeing success with Text/SMS messaging to their customer base, however, the main discussion was how to engage and be relevant, without being intrusive. The core consensus was that in order to win on this platform, the offer, timing and cadence is key. Engagement should focus on specific offers and frequency should not be over-done, or consumers will begin to opt-out.

10) Cookieless Future – when will it happen?

While the deadline keeps getting pushed, growing 1P data will help all brands long term. Brands should be building up their loyalty programs and expanding current customer lists through modeling.

Navigating the Virtual Endcaps: A Tactical Guide to RMNs
Having recently been asked to speak at MediaPost’s Data and Programmatic Summit in Lake Tahoe, CA, I took a lot away from both the sessions attended and the connections made. There were many great conversations around first-party data, universal IDs, clean rooms and other rabbit hole-worthy topics.

My presentation was a little different. I was brought in to shed a little light on the world of retail media. I approached this by providing a tactical understanding of the retail media ecosystem, along with its various approaches, platforms and objectives.

The room was full of programmatic and data-focused media professionals. Most of the crowd was aware of retail media, but the majority had not delved too deep into the topic to date. Making the content digestible, yet informative was the main goal.

Below are a few highlights from the presentation:

Retail Media and Consumer Journeys

Success in retail media depends on our understanding of the consumer. The best way to accomplish this is via consumer journey analysis. Conducting such an assessment will provide a view into who the consumer is, and their path from pre-market to post-purchase. It also provides insight into when and where to reach consumers, while discovering details around how best to message them as well.

A better understanding of the consumer journey can help uncover insights related to any stage–awareness, consideration, conversion, etc. There are often multiple inputs discovered during this type of assessment that can be incorporated into the retail media planning.

How Retail Media Fits into the Larger Funnel

As noted, the learnings from a consumer journey assessment can help fuel the planning process across retail media. Knowing which audiences fit into the ideal consumer profile, which tactics a brand’s consumers might interact with by funnel stage, etc. can all influence how retail media is bought.

Retail Media Networks (RMNs) have an array of offerings, tactics, audiences, etc. Each will have access to its own unique audience data, channels, platforms and performance benchmarks. Aligning these with tactics across the larger funnel, while also grading them on a similar scale, is a very important part of ensuring retail media can be seamlessly integrated into the larger marketing funnel (instead of being locked up/siloed within a shopper or sales budget).

Ideally, retail media budgets can become part of a larger, discretionary bucket for use across the entire marketing/sales realm.

The Intrinsic Value of 1st Party Data

The goal is really aligning with retailers that fit your audience needs. Every retailer is going to lead with their data–it’s far and away their most unique asset. But harkening back to the consumer journey, which retailer’s data aligns best with the audiences? Which gives the brand the best mix of tactics, performance and audience alignment? Layering on top of this, knowing the brand’s sales and distribution channels, which retailer(s) are they in good standing with, which are they launching exclusives or new products with, etc.?

All these factors come into play when determining who has the best first-party data for each brand.

Going Self-Service Where Applicable

Sensing a shift in the industry, RMNs have been striving to provide more self-service options. Walmart Connect (WMC), Kroger Precision Marketing (KPM), Roundel, etc. have all dipped their toes into the self-service waters in various ways.

Managed service efforts via RMNs have notoriously high minimum spend, long creative lead times and less than agile reporting. Providing self-service options is their path to giving clients the freedom they need without sacrificing functionality or performance.

Leading with Organic, Defending with Paid

There has been a noticeable increase in competition specific to on-site sponsored search efforts within retail media. More ad types are appearing and ad placement options are becoming more aggressive. This is most visible within the CPCs and budgets required to keep such efforts afloat.

One of our recent focal points has been taking a step back. Instead of simply funneling additional dollars into sponsored search, brands should spend time focusing on how they’re performing organically within each retailer landscape. Then use that understanding of organic performance to invest more wisely in paid, where necessary. Third-party and proprietary tools are often required for an approach like this, but they are usually well worth the investment knowing the outcomes that can be achieved.

Using the Data at Hand to Make Highly Informed Decisions

More and more reporting interfaces are being developed within retail media. Amazon is the best example. They have a clean room (Amazon Marketing Cloud), multiple sales-related interfaces (Vendor and Seller Central), along with their DSP and sponsored search interfaces (Amazon Advertising). All this data can–and should–be wielded to better understand a brand’s overall performance by channel.

The difficult part is deciding where to start. With so much data at a brand’s fingertips, how does one decide where to spend their valuable time and resources? Diminishing returns, marketing mix modeling, multi-touch attribution and more can be applied to the available data. But before heading down this path, brands need to ask – what are we trying to solve? Focus on the most pressing need and go from there.

Testing, Testing, Testing

As with any solid media effort, being iterative is paramount to success within retail media. There are a variety of ways dollars can be spent and success can be gauged. A path that continuously improves upon both inputs and processes will always drive the best results.

The shift towards self-service is making this process much easier for brands. Possessing the ability to be nimble and agile with a buy is key. Testing often involves small increments, so to be able to access media without being bogged down by a six-figure minimum commitment is important.

Apple… But What About Consumer Privacy?
What happens when the leading manufacturer of smartphones and consumer electronics begins fortifying the walls around their gardens?

Naturally, they start building out their owned and operated Demand Side Platform (DSP).1

All Eyes on Apple

Based on a Senior Product Manager, Demand Side Platform job posting, Apple is looking to develop, “the most privacy-forward, sophisticated demand side platform possible.”2 Building out a DSP is a sure-sign that Apple is intending to grow its advertising revenue, however it remains to be seen whether their planned DSP will be focused on Apple’s O&O properties or the broader Open Exchange. As of now, Apple has not confirmed that it is building out a DSP, but as Ronan Shields, writer for Digiday puts it, “no company builds ad tech like this unless they’re serious about making a bigger move on media dollars. It costs too much time and money to do it on a whim.”1

Since Apple’s announcement of Safari’s Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP)3 in 2017, the Cupertino based company has championed consumer privacy and further limited digital marketers from targeting potential consumers. Safari’s ITP effectively disabled third-party cookie tracking in the browser, limiting advertisers’ ability to target and serve media to users. Along with rolling back its MAID’s and IDFA’s, this trend continued with the release of iOS 14.54 in April 2021 which required all apps to request the consumer’s permission to track them. The result of these change is that advertisers who wish to reach users within Apple’s ecosystem have had to pivot, relying on predictive consumer targeting versus 1:1 third-party cookie targeting.

Unfortunately, the programmatic landscape is barreling towards one massive 2-player game where Google and Apple will continue to exert as much influence in the marketplace to ultimately drive shareholder revenue. Vendors, agencies and brands have come to rely on ever increasing obfuscated solutions to deliver targeted media and attribution. As the market continues to consolidate around Google and Apple, marketers at all levels and at all steps in the chain will have to make a choice that balances transparency and business results. Solutions like The Trade Desk’s Uid5 promise a third-party option to maintain identity and a reliable level of attribution, but they are ultimately up against adoption rates. As of today, solutions like these do not scale well due to Uid 2.0 specs not working to include non-logged-in users.

Data clean rooms6 have cropped up as another solution where walled garden first party data can be comingled across partners. This silver bullet promises to address privacy concerns for consumers, allow walled gardens to maintain strict ownership of their data, and enable advertisers to deliver and attribute at scale. However, there are many hurdles to overcome, chiefly that clean rooms are expensive to develop and utilize,7 leaving challenger and mid-level brands out in the cold. The depth of data needed to be shared within the clean room poses another challenge. Ultimately, both solutions present significant challenges and represent no sure-bet option to protect from further Apple and Google consolidation.

Overall, the programmatic industry has been affected across all channels in a major way, significantly limiting reach and ability for measurement. There certainly is an eagerness to reach Apple’s audiences, and to do so in a cost-effective, meaningful, and measurable way, which is what a theoretical Apple DSP could offer. As of now, it is unsure how this will affect the programmatic industry, but one thing is certain, advertisers and brands will be waiting with bated breath to have the opportunity to reach the now seemingly unreachable Apple users.

Empower’s Programmatic Solution

ClearTrade® is Empower’s proprietary programmatic buying solution that brings performance improvements to advertisers’ programmatic media campaigns through customization in media buying algorithms, data, inventory and attribution. Since the launch of ClearTrade in 2013, Empower has trailblazed a series of strategic partnerships to strengthen its programmatic capabilities and inventory access. From building custom algorithms, incorporating clients’ CRM databases, to providing attribution that reflect onto relevant client KPIs, we pride ourselves on working to address ever-evolving unique business needs in the programmatic landscape.

So how does Apple’s potential DSP affect Empower’s programmatic clients?

Should Apple develop their own DSP in the coming years, ClearTrade will continue to vet fits for our clients, adding it to our tech-stack if the demand is there. Just as we’ve done with other DSPs (such as Amazon’s), we would leverage the exclusive access to their first party data and inventory, enabling ClearTrade to provide an additional wealth of opportunity.

More than 40% of all US web traffic8 comes from users utilizing browsers with ad blocking technology (e.g., Safari, and Firefox); this figure only increases if mobile devices are factored in as well. What this means for programmatic buying is that many consumers are no longer accessible by leveraging third-party cookies. As it stands, Apple DSP is poised to enable programmatic buyers to reach consumers unreachable over the past 5+ years with effective and targeted media, and ClearTrade will be ready to take advantage of this added reach whenever and however Apple rolls out its DSP.