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  • In Q1 2024, "full-funnel" ads significantly outperformed performance-only ads on Meta. Trend or outlier?

In Q1 2024, "full-funnel" ads significantly outperformed performance-only ads on Meta. Trend or outlier?

Plus: “Now” is the next CX imperative | Book lovers + TikTok | Explaining AI Recommendations can boost sales by up to 54% | And more!

Welcome to The Fringe. What’s going on in the world of eCommerce and technology this week?

Table of Contents


The Latest

Book lovers + TikTok

You might have heard that TikTok is on the ban clock because of a recent congressional bill. Whether that happens or not is another story. But today, I want to focus on books.

#BookTok is a popular hashtag that drives real impact (read: revenue) in the book industry.

Why books? Why now? Why TikTok? There are a few reasons, and I’ll let Fast Company’s article give you the details, but I found this quote interesting when considering Instagram or TikTok for community building:

TikTok as a whole feels a lot more authentic than Instagram. On Instagram, you have to bring the ring light out, and look prepared and polished. Everything on Instagram is filtered and staged. While I try to have authentic engagement with my audience, you don’t get that through my photos.

Book blogger Cait Jacobs


Speaking of books, how about turning your novel into an animated movie? I know it’s not perfect but think about one or even two years from now. Where will this tech be?

Learn more here: https://www.hypnovels.com/

The Xs

Brand Experience

The Copycat Rule of doing business: Why it breeds mediocrity

The Copycat Rule (when a competitor—or you—sees a successful strategy or tactic and follows it) is a pervasive trend that stifles innovation and saturates our markets with lookalike products and services.

It might work initially—but it comes with a cost.

The illusion of innovation

You might think you’re innovating when you’re simply repackaging old ideas. A fresh logo or a product tweak here and there is often mistaken for genuine innovation.

But real innovation involves foundational changes to how things are done—and the only way to get there is by thinking and doing things in your unique way, not just conforming to the status quo.

Different vs. Difference

Differentiation is critical for business survival and growth. It encompasses two crucial elements:

  • Be Different: Offer unique experiences, create targeted, personalized communications, and have an authenticity nobody can copy.

  • Make a Difference: Don’t just stand out, create meaningful impact—improve shoppers, customers, stakeholders lives, their organizations, or beyond to their communities.

The Role of AI in Proliferating Copycat Strategies

As AI changes how businesses operate, it’s also contributing to the proliferation of copycats. With AI, companies can quickly analyze and replicate successful strategies at scale.

Does it work? Yes. Will it last? Well, what happens when people are bombarded with an influx of similar offerings? When ads look the same? When copy is the same? When everything is the same?

Break the Mold

Today, markets are more crowded than ever. New brands emerge by the second, each adding to this mediocrity pool.

Who’s the original? Who’s the imitator? This scenario dilutes brand value, confuses consumers, and ultimately impedes meaningful innovation.

To counter the noise and ensure genuine innovation, businesses must:

  • Leverage AI Responsibly: Use AI not just to mimic but to innovate. Employ AI as your thought partner to uncover unmet customer needs, predict emerging trends, and craft truly original solutions.

  • Focus on Meaningful Differentiation: Enhance the customer experience in ways competitors cannot easily replicate. How you use AI to amplify your brand is its own innovation.

Our challenge is clear—prioritize creativity and genuine innovation over the safe space of mimicry.

This doesn’t mean that we can’t gain inspiration from others. Even copying others’ exact strategies might work for some time, and I’m not opposed to learning from our competitors.

But really, how does it fit your brand’s story, strategy, and ultimate objectives? How will it differentiate you in a crowded market and not make you more of the same?

Also, the idea that “best practices” are best for you falls under the same trap—your brand ultimately suffers.

Stand out, be different, and make a real difference.

Your future depends on it.

Other reading:

Marketing Experience

Full-funnel campaigns ROAS beat performance-only campaigns in Q1 2024 — and it’s not slowing down

ROAS increased 31% YoY in Q1 when running brand awareness campaigns alongside performance campaigns (And performance-only campaigns? ROAS declined by 32% YoY in Q1 2024)

Some takeaways from Nest’s latest report:

  1. Full-funnel marketing that incorporates both brand building and performance marketing is a strategic priority in 2024. Brands that ran awareness campaigns alongside performance campaigns saw a 31% YoY ROAS boost in Q1 2024, compared to a 32% decline for brands only leveraging performance marketing.

  2. TikTok and Instagram Reels are key for brand building and awareness, with TikTok delivering a 37% higher conversion rate QoQ. By the way, Reels ad spend is up 217% YoY as this channel continues to go mainstream.

  3. Meta platforms currently have lower CPMs compared to 2023. Brands should establish brand awareness before costs increase with the upcoming political climate and general economic recovery.

There are some big opportunities out there for more progressive retailers, who take a community-first, full-funnel approach. Many brands initially reacted to the slowdown by cutting brand investment. These brands will be paying sorely for this mistake now.

Will Ashton, CEO of Nest

Regarding those CPMs, here’s something to keep in mind. This is an election year in the US, so expect those CPMs to go up around August or September as campaign spending rises — which isn’t good for anyone buying ads.

Are you taking a full-funnel approach to your ad spend? Or not? And how’s that working out for you?

Are you using a full-funnel approach or mostly performance-only?

Full-funnel means traditional brand awareness ads in addition to performance or conversion-focused ads

Login or Subscribe to participate in polls.

User Experience

AI product recommendations—when explained—can boost purchase likelihood by up to 54%

Most people are aware when dealing with an AI in your online store.

When it comes to AI recommendations of similar or complementary products, a proper explanation of why it recommended a specific product might be warranted.

Based on the latest research, explaining why AI chose a product recommendation might give you a nice boost in sales.

Why? Because…

  1. Transparency builds trust: When brands share how their AI generates product recommendations, it helps shoppers understand the process better. This increased understanding makes shoppers more receptive to the recommendations.

  2. Explanations boost purchase intent: Across multiple experiments, providing AI recommendation explanations resulted in a 12.5% to 54.6% increase in someone’s likelihood to say they would buy the recommended products or click to see more details. This suggests that explanations can directly impact conversion rates.

  3. Vital for functional products: The effect of explanations is particularly strong for products bought primarily for their functionality (e.g., cleaning supplies, tools) compared to emotion-driven purchases (e.g., perfume, chocolate). Depending on your product mix, this could be a key consideration.

  4. Overcoming skepticism: Since AI assistants are still a relatively new experience for many shoppers, there’s an inherent skepticism about AI's choices. Explanations help alleviate this skepticism, making customers more willing to engage with and act on the recommendations.

I’m sure you want to keep your AI’s interface clutter-free, but the potential benefits of explaining AI-driven product recommendations could outweigh any drawbacks.

Even a brief explanation could go a long way toward building trust, increasing conversions, and driving more customer loyalty.

Learn more:

Customer Experience

“Now” is the next CX imperative

I read this article and was blown away by this stat (especially in today’s world of AI-powered chatbots):

According to SuperOffice CRM, up to 46% of customers wish to receive responses faster than four hours. Yet, most businesses respond to emails in up to 12 hours.

Not good.

Today, everything is about now. Real-time. On-demand. Whatever language you want to use.

It’s not hard to understand, you want the same thing.

You don’t really need to read this article, do you?

How to avoid commodifying CX with AI

Look. Humans aren’t going anywhere, and neither is AI.

There’s also a movement towards what analysts call “hyper-automation,” where everything that can be automated will be automated. Of course, AI is the most immediate path to this reality.

When branded AI and its white-glove service become the norm, humans will still remain the differentiating factor in elevating CX.

I know it’s still early, and the technology isn’t quite there yet, but imagine what AI will be like in 5 years.

In the meantime, here are some ways humans and AI will work together to really generate stand-out experiences:

  1. AI integrated with human support: Customers should feel that they are receiving cohesive, personalized support, regardless of whether they are interacting with a bot or a person. How will you do that?

  2. Emotional intelligence and empathy: As AI becomes more sensitive to language and sentiment, it still can’t technically empathize. Human training or real human agents are key here.

  3. Proactive, personalized experiences: Proactive support and service based on customer needs and preferences is next on AI’s wish list. With human guidance, this can be a real difference-maker for brands.

  4. Branded AI personalities: Everyone will have access to the same tech, but brands can still set themselves apart through a distinct AI personality that assimilates their brand voice, values, and target audience. Expect this difference to really shine in the coming months.

  5. AI training: As AI capabilities evolve, the brands that stay ahead of the curve by continually refining and enhancing their AI-powered CX will maintain an edge. Like any employee, you have to keep them trained. AI is not set-it-and-forget-it yet.

Ultimately, a human touch remains critical, and the companies that can find the right balance between AI efficiency and humanity will be the ones that truly stand out in the hearts and minds of customers.

More reading:

Employee Experience

Empower employees with data

I read this article and was surprised at how thorough it was. Here are some great ideas for creating a better employee and team experience:

Data Experience

From Adobe Research: Generative AI Statistics that impact your business

Almost all Americans surveyed have heard of generative AI, and over half (53 percent) have used it.

Consumers use generative AI most in their personal lives (81 percent), followed by work (30 percent) and school (17 percent).

Of consumers who regularly use generative AI, almost half (41 percent) use it every day.

Popular use cases for generative AI include research and brainstorming (64 percent), creating first drafts of written content (44 percent), creating visuals or presentations (36 percent), trying an alternative to search (32 percent), summarizing written text (31 percent), creating images or art (29 percent), and creating programming code (21 percent).

In the next one to three years, respondents are excited about how it can help them learn a new skill (43 percent of respondents), make price comparison and shopping easier (36 percent), access better customer support from companies (33 percent), create social media content (18 percent), and coding (14 percent).

Chatbots are the top generative AI-powered tool US consumers have used when interacting with a brand. Consumers are also interacting with brands using text prompting for auto-generated replies and image-generation use cases, like trying on makeup or interior design.

Over 70 percent of respondents believe that using generative AI to produce images of them wearing a product can boost their confidence when making a purchase

Two-thirds (66 percent) of respondents want brands to utilize their purchase history or other data to make shopping experiences more relevant to their needs.

Consumers are most excited about the potential of generative AI to help enable websites that automatically filter products based on consumers’ needs (40 percent of respondents), design a custom product (37 percent), summarize product reviews (37 percent), chatbot-based customer service (36 percent), and virtual personal shoppers to customize options (31 percent).

Fifty-eight percent of respondents say that generative AI has improved their online shopping experience. Around half (52 percent) of respondents say they are likely to use generative AI tools to help with their clothing purchases.

Consumers believe that generative AI can help improve their experiences with faster and better customer service (65 percent), generate more personalized interactions based on their preferences (48 percent), make products and services cheaper (44 percent), and create more exciting and creative experiences (36 percent).

In retail, most consumers find these generative AI possibilities appealing: being able to automatically filter products on a website based on consumers’ needs (90 percent), design a custom product (88 percent), summarize product reviews (90 percent), enable chatbot-based customer service (87 percent), and virtual personal shoppers to customize options (82 percent).

Nearly all consumers find the following travel applications appealing: receiving a comparison of pricing options (93 percent), discovering the working hours for hotel services and restaurants (90 percent), and finding nearby parking, restaurants, and pharmacies (90 percent).

When booking a service online, generative AI is considered most helpful for hotels (53 percent), flights (47 percent), a combination of travel options (42 percent), restaurants (42 percent), cars (37 percent), and excursions (35 percent).

Read more here:

Enjoy your weekend


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