The new year unfolds with unprecedented challenges, so here's the Township's take.

The new year has already created ripples and waves, in the marketing world and beyond. This month saw confusion around a recent TGA ruling on the role of Influencers which many small businesses rely on for the human element. Facebook added reels, Tiktok is taking videos up to ten minutes and IGTV is disappearing. And most importantly, from a pandemic, to flooding, to war, we continue to face horrific global challenges, together.

As Mark Ritson says, “The sudden recontextualisation of war renders everything marketers do superficial and ridiculous.” We feel that way now, as we’re sure many do. But there are ways to help, even from afar. The Township stands with the brave people of Ukraine for freedom and peace now and into the future. Я вітаю хоробру україну!

1. Marketing in a time of war

On Marketing Week marketing professor Mark Ritson wrote that marketing feels superfluous and ridiculous when contrasted with the brutal reality of war that we are currently seeing across all media. It is okay to feel like this. As brands and companies we should acknowledge this feeling and then find a way to beat it, through tangible actions. Ritson stresses the importance of avoiding empty gestures which some have managed well.

Vodafone, BT and Three all played their part by making calls between the UK and Ukraine free, and AB InBev turned its production lines to the manufacture of canned drinking water for the days ahead. By highlighting these and other brands’ efforts, Ritson shows there’s a right way to do things. And remember even a small company can have a big impact. The moments where your brand has stood up for real change will always be remembered. Most importantly, do not ignore the urge to help and if you are looking for tangible ways to join the aid effort, see the link below:

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 2. Confusion around Influencers & new TGA rules

A new ruling from the TGA on Influencers recently came into effect leading to speculation and confusion. The Australian Influencer Marketing Council (AIMCO) was quick to clarify, saying the updated TGA code aligns the rules for influencers with other long standing rules for the marketing of therapeutic goods. The main change will be that influencers can no longer provide paid testimonials on therapeutic goods, as this is banned in all advertising formats under the TGA Code.

Influencers will still be able to endorse and promote therapeutic goods in exchange for payment or gifts, so long as the endorsement abides by the TGA Advertising Code and, according to AIMCO, does not speak about their own experience with the product.

The greatest challenge for influencers and marketers would be understanding the difference between an endorsement and a testimonial. While the industry awaits clarification from the TGA as to how these will be distinguished, the question remains, how will the prohibition of testimonials affect a marketing channel that depends on authentic exchange between creators and their audiences? Time will tell.

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3. Lead generation - building audiences via all the social channels, now including TikTok

TikTok has extended its marketing tools this month, adding Lead Generation. TikTok states that built for mobile, their Lead Generation tools allow your customers to share their information with you, directly, on TikTok. When you select Lead Generation as your advertising objective, you’ll be able to publish an in-feed video ad that is connected with an Instant Form. This allows your audience to sign up for your loyalty program or newsletter. You can also offer free samples to grow your customer base and host contests to engage with customers. With lead gen across all social media now it is easy for businesses and brands to cover all their bases.

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4. Facebook Reels launched worldwide

After publicly launching in the US last year, Facebook Reels is now available globally in more than 150 countries. This allows creators to share short-form video content on Facebook or cross-post their Reels from Instagram, to reach a broader audience. Meta also plans to introduce more creative tools and new ways for creators to make money from their Reels through advertising. In 2021 the company stated that Reels is now its “fastest-growing content format by far.” However, it’s important to note that Reels currently monetizes at a lower rate than other content formats, like Instagram’s Feed and Stories; but Meta believes this will change over time. Meta has also started running  Facebook Reels Overlay Ad test which will soon expand to over 50 countries.

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5. No more IGTV

We all know video is king, so with reels continuing to drive strong engagement, Instagram is aiming to lean further into short-form video, while also simplifying its video offering to help users and creators make the most of their content. Therefore Instagram has announced the closure of their IGTV app, to make way for more opportunities with Reels. They also plan to remove the in-stream video ads option which seems like a step backwards for creators, but Instagram assures users that they aim to replace this with sticker ads for Reels and other options. So keep an eye on the streamlined video services Instagram is offering!

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6. TikTok expands to 10min videos

What started out as short-form video is slowly growing as TikTok recently announced their 2021 trial of 10-minute uploads with some users will now be rolled out as a regular feature to all users. Only time will tell what this means, for both viewers and creators, as most TikTok viewers are used to scrolling through short content quickly and may not adapt so easily. TikTok hopes longer videos will “unleash even more creative possibilities for our creators around the world.” Yet many speculate that by heading into “YouTube territory” without offering the kind of revenue that YouTube offers could be problematic. We’ll be pressing play on this one to see how it unfolds.

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7. Australian wellness market

The Global Wellness Institute (GWI) recently released a landmark report – The Global Wellness Economy: Country Rankings – The first-ever research to measure the wellness economies of 150 nations. Its findings are clear: the Covid-19 pandemic super-charged the global wellness market as consumers worldwide scrambled to boost immunity and live healthier lives. Australia’s wellness economy ranks tenth with a total spend of US$84 billion, and the top three largest wellness markets are the US (US$1.2 trillion), China (US$683 million) and Japan (US$304 million). Roughly one in every $20 spent by consumers worldwide goes to wellness products and services and the global wellness economy is currently worth US$4.4 trillion, and is predicted to reach US$7 trillion by 2025. So for the wellness industry worldwide, things are looking up.

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