This week, our top stories examined the proliferation of Instagram comment pods, Amazon’s continued expansion and more. As always, a full list of these articles appears at the bottom.
Influencers team up to game Instagram’s algorithm
Instagram comment pods, groups of Instagrammers who work together to comment on each other’s posts, are growing in popularity among influencers on the platform. Because of how Instagram’s algorithm works (timeliness as well as the relationship between posters and users determines what users see in their feeds), Instagram “favors” pods, which means influencers in pods often appear in the Explore tab, leading to more visibility. The idea behind pods is to hack Instagram by increasing engagement.
Agencies evaluate influencers on size of audience, and influencers who have high engagement numbers command high prices. But brands and agencies no longer know if the engagement is genuine.
“For brands, working with an Instagrammer that is part of a pod may mean their own numbers are wrong,” said YouTuber and editor Zach Bussey. “If you had hoped to get your message in front of X number of people, if you subtract other pod members, that number is dramatically reduced.”
Amazon’s march into new spaces continues
Amazon has the attention of marketers and content creators as it expands. Here are some of the latest developments concerning the e-commerce giant:
- Brands are integrating visual assets to their Amazon skills for the new Echo Show device, which is part touch screen and part voice assistant. For example, videos and images now accompany recipes that are part of Campbell’s enhanced Campbell’s Kitchen skill.
- Video companies, including Funny Or Die, HowStuffWorks and Jash, are using Amazon Prime Video to premiere their shows.
- With the launch of Amazon Pay Places, customers can pay using the Amazon mobile app at participating brick-and-mortar stores.
- Amazon is reportedly thinking about venturing into editorial through a partnership with Violet Grey, an e-commerce site that sells beauty products and publishes beauty-related features and product reviews.
Stat of the week
The New York Times’ pop-up newsletter about “Game of Thrones” has amassed 61,000 subscribers in just three weeks.
Quote of the week
In the latest installment of our Confessions series, a magazine editor reveals one publication’s struggles in its transition to digital:
“We have a huge separation between magazine and web. There are people who don’t write for the web. They’re not made to, and they don’t understand the value of it. It’s two different audiences. The magazine people tend to get more of the resources. The transition hasn’t happened, and [the competition] is killing us.”
Interesting takes elsewhere:
- The New York Times’ Sapna Maheshwari breaks down the Lyft-Taco Bell partnership that will let passengers stop at a Taco Bell drive-thru during rides.
- Reuters’ Nandita Bose reports that Walmart is moving away from its Made in America campaign, searching for vendors from other countries to boost its online offerings.
This week’s top Digiday stories:
- Podghazi: Instagram influencers use comment collusion to game the algorithm
- Marketers find a new video platform: Amazon Echo Show
- The newest place to premiere shows: Amazon Prime Video
- Amazon looks ready to tiptoe into fashion editorial
- Cheatsheet: What to know about Amazon Pay
- The New York Times’ ‘Game of Thrones’ newsletter already has 60,000 subscribers
- ‘It’s a mix of fear, frustration’: Confessions of a magazine editor
- How Julia Beizer is bringing a product sensibility to HuffPost
- Twitter plans to shut down SnappyTV in favor of new TV-clipping tool
More in Marketing
In this week’s Digiday+ Research Briefing, we examine how Snapchat is pitching itself as an alternative to current social platforms, how Priceline and other e-commerce companies are approaching generative AI, and how legacy programmatic media buying practices often disadvantage Black-owned media companies, as seen in recent data from Digiday+ Research.
What Walmart’s Vizio acquisition could mean for retail media — and the ripple effects that may hit industry data
The move will bolster Walmart’s retail media offering, Walmart Connect, adding streaming capabilities that will help it attract more brand marketing ad dollars.
Pfizer has developed its own generative AI platform called “Charlie,” named after Pfizer co-founder Charles Pfizer.