Do Facebook Ads Work? I Finally Bought Something – After 9 Years!

Do Facebook Ads Work? I Finally Bought Something – After 9 Years!

 

I’ve always wondered who watches, or reads, ads on FB. And now I know. I do. It only took 9 years for the algorithm to get it right.

  • What I bought – and also had another friend buy – were tickets to the Westfield Mall/Oculus show of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel.
  • Their post on FB hooked me by mentioning that this was a full-size reproduction of the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling paintings using state-of-the-art technology. Also, it is an exclusive tour running for one month only. It opened last Friday, June 23rd.
  • But it makes me wonder if this is the success rate of most other brands – and if the conversion rate is similar on other platforms.
  • Which brings me to Snapchat where I find the ads to be much more engaging and interactive e.g. I loved the recent L’Oreal Colorista Filter (below). It made me check out the brand and repost on other platforms. And I still want to know: How do they do this? So brilliant!
  • Snapchat may currently be in its “trough of disappointment” phase but it is still one of the most consistently creative brands out there. Here’s hoping they survive the FB/Instagram onslaught.

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Is It Time To Tighten The Purse Strings?

Is It Time To Tighten The Purse Strings?

 

The stock market is booming, housing sales are at an all time high, you can’t get a reservation at the hottest restaurants in NYC, a Basquiat painting just sold at auction for a mind-blowing $110 million and sales at this year’s Art Basel were record breaking. And yet, I have a nagging suspicion that we are headed for a fall.

  • Yesterday, I read a great piece written by my friend Eric Larson where he talks about the principle of complementarity: seemingly contradictory factors contributing to a unified whole i.e. opposites are complementary.
  • This is exactly what I see happening in our economy right now. While some are raking in billions (for which I do not in any way vilify them), more people I know are being laid off – even in the tech sector.
  • I’m also seeing an increase in empty storefronts and hardly a week goes by that we don’t hear about a business going belly up or into bankruptcy.
  • Store closings have tripled so far this year with 5,300 closings announced through June 20.
  • And a store closing has a ripple effect – it’s not just a sales clerk being laid off, it impacts a wide range of businesses from manufacturers to advertising agencies to truck drivers. And no, I don’t believe that we can expect Amazon alone to pick up the slack.
  • Student loan debt, at $1.3 trillion, is now the second highest consumer debt category – higher than credit cards and auto loans. There are 44 million borrowers and defaults are rising.
  • Another economic tipping point: the second major foreclosure on NYC’s billionaire’s row at One57. This is the biggest residential foreclosure in NYC history. When billionaires can’t pay their mortgages, it’s not good news.
  • On top of these economic woes, we have an increase in homelessness and an opioid epidemic (on my block in NYC, there is, minimally, one person taken away in an ambulance every week).
  • All of these factors in combination leave many not feeling optimistic about the economy and where we are headed.
  • My advice to one and all: do not take on any more debt, pay off as much as you can, live entirely within your means, recognize that if you have been laid off from a mid-to-high-level position that you will most likely make considerably less at your new job, sharpen your skills to compete in a gig economy.

Read on below for a sampling of layoff announcements from May and June (and I’m including big and small for a full picture of what’s going on). I’ve also included a link to dailyjobcuts.com – an excellent resource for keeping tabs on the economy through layoffs, closures and bankruptcies throughout the country.

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My Indispensables: Business Insider and The Business of Fashion

My Indispensables: Business Insider and The Business of Fashion

 

These two digital business news sites have become essential reading, my top go-to’s for all things business. They have replaced The New York Times and the WSJ in terms of relevancy and importance.

I get the BoF Daily Digest newsletter at 6am every morning and there is always at least one story that I want to read immediately.

  • BoF provides an extremely insightful perspective on the global economy and business in general.
  • The info is filtered thru the lens of fashion but always relevant no matter what category you work in e.g. their writing on luxury has implications whether you’re in automobile,  housing, travel, or hospitality.
  • For those of you not familiar with BoF: It was founded in 2007 by Imran Amed, a fashion business advisor, writer and digital entrepreneur. His aim was to fill the void for an informed, analytical and opinionated point of view on the fashion business. He has succeeded and then some!

Business Insider (BI) has been a favorite of mine for several years. I follow them – as well as their editor, Henry Blodget – on twitter and refer to the site daily.

  • They cover everything from how to buy Bitcoins to the hottest bars e.g. the newly reopened Campbell Bar in Grand Central now run by The Gerber Group
  • Their IGNITION conferences are always amazing with phenomenal speakers e.g. Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk. This year’s is scheduled for November 29-30 in NYC. It’s pricey at $3000 a ticket.
  • Henry Blodget is a frequent guest on CNBC.
  • BI launched in 2007 and is now the largest business news site on the web. They were acquired by German media company Axel Springer SE in September, 2015.

What makes both of these sites so outstanding?

  • Their take on business is contemporary – nothing about it feels traditional or old.
  • They both skew to tech and startups. Always seen thru a digital lens.
  • The writing is crisp and to the point
  • Their headlines are killer. What I would do to have that kind of skill. Additionally, the headlines and the stories mesh – it’s not bait and switch.
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Surfing As An Analogy For Start Ups: Who Knew?

Surfing As An Analogy For Start Ups: Who Knew?

 

I was stunned to see the third mention, in as many months, of a tech founder talking about how his inspiration came from surfing (IRL not on the internet).

  • In this latest instance, I was reading about Richard Werbe, the young founder and CEO of Studypool, a redhot microtutoring platform.
  • Werbe, an avid surfer and serial entrepreneur, has said the process of dreaming up a successful idea is similar to following a wave.
  • In an interview in Forbes he explains: “You have to have the mentality of a surfer, and look for those tiny swells that will eventually turn into big waves. If you can position yourself just right, you’ll be able to ride that wave all the way to the crest. If you aren’t in the right spot or if you lose your balance, you could be plunged under, and have to start over again from the beginning — or get injured. It’s dangerous, it’s exhilarating, and it’s always worth it, but know that attention to little details will make or break each attempt.”
  • The other two tech founders who got their inspiration from surfing include Steve Case (founder of AOL) and in The Upstarts, Brad Stone’s excellent new book, surfing is used as an analogy for startups by none other than Greg McAdoo, VC at Sequoia Capital: “Being a great entrepreneur requires the precision of a great surfer. If you want to build a truly great company you have got to ride a really big wave.”

Read on below for more on Studypool. Fascinating how they’re disrupting education.

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Business Networking Today? Alive and Well, Just Not Over Lunch

Business Networking Today? Alive and Well, Just Not Over Lunch

 

I am not a big fan of business lunches – breaks up my flow, takes up a huge chunk of time and makes my entire day less productive.

  • Sometimes, of course, lunch is the only option. My favorite spot for a business lunch in NYC is Carbone. Love the vibe, the service and the food.
  • The same group that owns Carbone also just opened The Grill in the former Four Seasons space in the Seagram Building (an even more difficult reservation to snag than Le Coucou – and that’s saying something!).

Although power lunching is dying (along with golf – another time waster), networking is alive and well albeit in a radically different format.

  • Instead of networking at a power lunch, today’s young executives are walking & talking, sweatworking” e.g. at SoulCycle, and attending festivals e.g. Burning Man, Coachella, or SXSW.

Read on below for more networking alternatives among the startup crowd.  And, btw, it’s not just the power lunch that’s dying, it’s lunch in general. Americans took 433 million fewer lunches out last year, a drop of 2% from the year before.

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The Wellery at Saks Fifth Avenue: How Can This Be So Lame?

The Wellery at Saks Fifth Avenue: How Can This Be So Lame?

 

This new concept shop, focused on wellness, takes up most of the 2nd floor of the 5th Avenue flagship and will run thru October.

  • I checked it out a few days after it opened and based on the vibe at midday, this is going to be a tough slog for Saks. Only one other customer besides me: and she was looking for Laura Mercier cosmetics.
  • And it’s not that the streets outside were desolate at that time of the day. Right across from Saks, Rockefeller Center was jammed with visitors taking in the Jeff Koons’ Seated Ballerina art installation.
  • The Wellery feels sterile, it’s not instagram-worthy, there is nothing remotely engaging about it.
  • The sole exception is the ConBody area where a bootcamp class was underway. However, those were ConBody employees – I can’t see anybody coming into Saks and wanting to get all sweated up taking this class before getting on with their day.
  • I have no idea who did the installation but they might have been better off partnering with the designers at Equinox or SoulCycle or even a food hall like Eataly – all of whom excel at energizing a space.
  • In theory it sounds good: Women are shopping less for clothes, they’re into health and fitness, and they’re into experiences.
  • In practice, this set-up doesn’t project Saks as an authority on wellness. I am doubtful that it would tempt anyone to make a $5-10K Technogym purchase.

See pics below

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Pets REALLY are an extension of the friends and family circle

Pets REALLY are an extension of the friends and family circle

 

40% of pet owners are buying products from online retailers. Fascinating to see how ideas that went bust during the 90’s dotcom crash are back – bigger than ever.  Pets.com is the most recognized flop from that era. People loved the concept (and the sock puppet) but the shipping costs killed the business.

Now, however:

  • The Internet is the new “pet parent,” according to Packaged Facts’ U.S. Pet Market Outlook, 2017-2018.
  • M&A activity since 2016 points to a structural remix of the pet market e.g. Mars bought VCA Inc., PetSmart bought Chewy.com, and Walmart bought Jet.com (which is big in pet supplies)
  • People are buying more pet products online and spending more of their pet product dollars online.

So how are traditional retailers competing?

  • Pet specialty stores are offering grooming, boarding, and training.
  • Supermarkets are increasing the size and scope of their pet care departments, sponsoring pet contests, running promotions with animal rescue groups and filling pet prescriptions.

Read on below for more pet biz trends from Rover.com, the online network for pet sitters and dog walkers.

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Changing Demographics: Major Shifts On the Horizon

Changing Demographics: Major Shifts On the Horizon

 

EXCELLENT study from the Pew Research Center showing how work, family and living arrangements are reshaping the lives of people in the United States and around the world.

Here are the highlights. More detailed info in link above.

Millennials will grow thru 2036

  • 80 million millennials (ages 18 to 35 in 2016) compared to 74 million Baby Boomers (ages 52 to 70).
  • More living with their parents than with a romantic partner (a historic first)
  • Fewer are married, homeowners or parents

Americans’ lives at home are changing

  • Only half are married down from 70% in 1950.
  • Cohabiting relationships rose 29% between 2007 and 2016, from 14 million to 18 million.
  • Cohabitation among those 50 and older increased by 75%
  • The “gray divorce” rate (50 and older) doubled between 1990 and 2015
  • A record number (61 million) are living in multigenerational households led by Asian and Hispanic populations.

Women may never make up half of the U.S. labor force

  • Women accounted for 47% of the U.S. labor force in 2015
  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that will remain the peak participation rate until 2025 when it starts to taper off.
  • Women earned $0.83 for every $1 a man earned in 2015, up from $0.64 in 1980.
  • Among 25 to 34 year olds, women made 90% of what their male counterparts made.
  • Women continue to be underrepresented in leadership positions.
  • Women make up 19% of the U.S. Congress; 8% of U.S. governors and 5% of Fortune 500 CEOs.

Read on below for more on immigration, birth rates and refugees.

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