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Coca-Cola CEO: Lockdowns, stay-at-home orders responsible for earnings weakness CNBC's Sara Eisen reports Coca-Cola's second-quarter earnings results as well as comments from the company's CEO James Quincey. as per our monitoring this Story originally appeared on *CNBC Television*Coca-Cola CEO: Lockdowns,...

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Lloyd Cadena fans share emotional tributes after YouTube star’s death

When a social-media star dies, their mourning fans do what comes naturally — they unleash their emotions on digital platforms.

Social-media personality Lloyd Cadena’s death at 26 was confirmed Friday via a heartbreaking Facebook post. The popular Filipino comedian and content creator had 3.1 million YouTube subscribers , 6.5 million Facebook friends and 1.4 million Twitter followers at the time of his passing.

No cause of death has been announced at this time — but with a following of that size it’s no surprise that online tribute posts are flooding the internet in the hours after his family’s announcement.

“Oh my god,” tweeted pop singer-actress Maris Racal to her 2.9 million followers. “Lloyd Cadena was such a joy to watch. Rest in peace. ”

“Lloyd was one of the funniest, non-toxic, and humble YouTuber I’ve ever met,” Hong Kong YouTube star Richard Juan, who collaborated with Cadena on a video early in his career, posted on Twitter.

“I only met him and would see him at events but he was always so gracious and his joy would radiate,” fellow TV host and online entertainer Bianca Gonzalez tweeted. “My sincerest condolences to his family and loved ones. Rest in peace, Lloyd Cadena. ”

Lloyd Cadena was a popular social media star across all major platforms.Lloyd Cadena.Instagram

Filipino comedian Mark Geronimo praised Cadena for being outspoken about causes he believed in on his many platforms.

“Before all the influencers, Lloyd Cadena was already existing,” Geronimo said. “LC really used his platform discussing and advocating social and political issues. It’s really sad. You will truly be missed — 2020 you are a bitch.”

“This is darn you 2020!!!!” gaming video creator Eric Eruption Tai added via Facebook.

Filipino actress and parenting blogger Saab Magalona tweeted, “It really makes you think. We can be gone tomorrow. Are we living our best life? Are we loving our neighbors? Are we choosing kindness? I never met him but I’ve heard nothing but kind words about @LloydCadena. Gone too soon. May he rest in peace.”

One shared video featured comedian Mark Averilla (a k a Macoy Dubs) overcome with emotion as he encouraged fellow fans to “pray for his soul and his family.” That short clip has gone viral with more than 1 million views as of Friday afternoon.

YouTuber Madam Ely paid his respects via tweet, posting “I lost my best friend today” along with broken heart and crying face emojis.

Meanwhile, his family’s initial death announcement on Facebook has more than 1.4 million reactions, 199,000 comments and 649,000 shares.

“It is with a heavy heart and great sadness that we announce the untimely demise of our beloved brother Lloyd Cafe Cadena,” the family wrote. “May he be remembered for all the joy and laughter he shared with everyone. My family and I ask for your prayers, respect, and privacy during this time.”

The openly gay entertainer fondly nicknamed “Kween LC” was a trending topic on US and international Twitter upon news of his death. Cadena launched his YouTube channel in 2011, eventually becoming one of his homeland’s most popular vloggers, CNN Philippines reported.

Cadena’s passing is the latest in a string of young social-media star deaths, following 19-year-old Landon Clifford, star of YouTube’s “Cam & Fam,” who hanged himself in August after struggling with depression and drug addiction for years. Parenting vlogger Nicole Thea, 24, who was pregnant, died of a “massive heart attack” in July. Siya Kakkar, 16, a viral sensation with more than 2 million followers on TikTok, died by suicide in June. And Twitch star Byron Bernstein, 31, known as Reckful died in July after a struggle with mental health.


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7

Duffy criticizes ‘irresponsible’ ‘365 Days’ from Netflix, says it glamourizes rape

WarningThis article may be triggering for some readers. Please read at your own discretion.

Three months after going public with the harrowing and in-depth details of the life-changing kidnapping which she said led to her disappearance from the public eye a decade ago, Duffy — the iconic Welsh pop singer — is criticizing Netflix for releasing its 365 Days movie, as she believes it “glamourizes the brutal reality of sex trafficking, kidnapping and rape.”

Following widespread criticism against the controversial 2020 “erotic drama” online, the 36-year-old musician penned an open-letter to the streaming giant and its CEO Reed Hastings on Thursday (July 2) calling for him to “right this wrong.”

After recounting her own experience with being “drugged, kidnapped, trafficked and raped,” Duffy said it was “irresponsible” of Hastings, 59, to allow Netflix to broadcast 365 Days on its platform, in the lengthy address which was obtained by CNN.

“I don’t want to be in this position to have to write to you, but the virtue of my suffering obliges me to do so, because of a violent experience that I endured of the kind that you have chosen to present as ‘adult erotica’,” the singer, born Aimee Duffy, wrote in the letter’s introduction.

Duffy live at the ‘Where the Action is’ festival in Stockholm, Sweden, on June 13, 2009. Duffy live at the ‘Where the Action is’ festival in Stockholm, Sweden, on June 13, 2009. Claudio Bresciani / EPA

As noted by Duffy, 365 Days is listed as an “erotic drama” movie. It’s about a Polish woman who falls under the spell of Stockholm syndrome after being kidnapped, raped and abused by a Sicillian gangster, who attempts to make her fall in love with him within a year — or 365 days — while in his clutches.

The Barbara Białowąs and Tomasz Mandes-directed film is based off of Polish author Blanka Lipińska’s 2018 novel of the same name. 365 Dni is the Polish translation.

Read more: ‘Harry Potter’ fan sites distance themselves from J.K. Rowling over transphobic comments

Of the film’s taboo plot, Duffy said that it “should not be anyone’s idea of entertainment,” adding that it should not be “described as such, or be commercialized in this manner” either.

“It grieves me that Netflix provides a platform for such ‘cinema,’ that eroticizes kidnapping and distorts sexual violence and trafficking as a ‘sexy’ movie,” the Mercy hit-maker said. “I just can’t imagine how Netflix could overlook how careless, insensitive, and dangerous this is.”

Debuting last February in Poland, 365 Days was a hit at the box office. It grossed US$9 million, before running in select cinemas across the U.K., according to Deadline.

The move made its Netflix debut last month and has since made its top 10 trending charts across various countries and territories, including the U.K.

“Because 365 Days has proved enormously popular, I also address this letter to viewers directly,” Duffy said. “I encourage the millions who have enjoyed the movie to reflect on the reality of kidnapping and trafficking, of force and sexual exploitation, and of an experience that is the polar opposite of the glossy fantasy depicted in 365 Days,” she added.

The Bangor-born singer later shared statistics with Hastings, saying that “an estimated 25 million people” are trafficked around the world annually, before noting that 80 per cent of them were women and the number is “equivalent to almost half the population of England.”

Read more: Terry Crews under fire for tweeting Black Lives Matter shouldn’t morph into ‘Black Lives Better’

Suggesting that Netflix removes the film and instead release more appropriate content, Duffy said, “I ask you to right this wrong; to commit the resources of Netflix, and the skills of its talented film-makers, to producing and broadcasting content that portrays the truth of the harsh and desperate reality of what 365 Days has sought to turn into a work of casual entertainment.

“I calm myself to explain to you here — when I was trafficked and raped, I was lucky to come away with my life, but far too many have not been so lucky,” she added. “And now I have to witness these tragedies, and my tragedy, eroticised and demeaned,” the Stepping Stone singer added.

Duffy continued: “If all of you at Netflix take nothing from this open letter but these final words, I will be content. What I and others who know these injustices need is a narrative of truth, hope, and to be given a voice.”

“When we know better, let us do better,” she concluded.

Read more: Kanye West, Travis Scott drop song ‘Wash Us in Blood’ with powerful video

Before going public with her own horrific story, the last fans heard from Duffy was in 2010, when she released her critically acclaimed sophomore album Endlessly.

“It was my birthday,” Duffy wrote in a post on a website called duffywords.com back in April — which details her kidnapping. “I was drugged at a restaurant, I was drugged [in my own home] for four weeks and travelled to a foreign country,” she added.

“I can’t remember getting on the plane and came round in the back of a travelling vehicle. I was put into a hotel room and the perpetrator returned and raped me,” she continued in the statement.

Though she did not disclose who “the perpetrator” was, or specifically when and where the assault occurred, Duffy said that hiding her story for so long was “destroying [her] life,” adding that she wanted to share it to “be freed” of her inner demons.’

Recounting being held hostage in her own home, Duffy said: “I knew my life was in immediate danger,” alleging her attacker had “made veiled confessions of wanting to kill” her.

In this Nov. 17, 2010 file photo, British singer Duffy poses for photographs in West London, England. In this Nov. 17, 2010 file photo, British singer Duffy poses for photographs in West London, England. AP Photo/Joel Ryan, File

“With what little strength I had, my instinct was to then run, to run and find somewhere to live that he could not find,” she added.

Read more: ‘RIP Byron’: Pro ‘Warcraft’ gamer Reckful dies at age 31

For the majority of the 2010s — after years of success in the late 2000s — fans across the world were left wondering where, exactly, the Mercy singer “disappeared off to.”

Afterward, Duffy said she had relocated five times in only a span of three years as a result of “never feeling safe from the rapist.”

“I was on the run for so long,” she wrote. “The fifth house was not as confined as the other houses — where I grieved silently. This place I would spend solitary years to find the stability to recover,” she added.

Addressing her music career, Duffy said she constantly worried about making a comeback and being met with questions about her disappearance.

While admitting she didn’t want to lie or “fabricate” any false stories, she admitted: “I thought the public disclosure of my story would utterly destroy my life, emotionally.”

Global News has reached out to a representative of Netflix seeking comment.

Read more: Justin Bieber files $20M defamation lawsuit against sexual assault accusers

If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, resources are available. In case of an emergency, please call 911 for immediate help.

Are you or someone you know experiencing abuse? Visit the Department of Justice’s Victim Services Directory for a list of support services in your area.

Women, trans and non-binary people can find an additional list of resources here.

adam.wallis@globalnews.ca

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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5

Netflix India’s Bad Boy Billionaires series triggers controversy

Home / India News / Netflix India’s Bad Boy Billionaires series triggers controversy

       

Even as Sahara India Parivar chief Subrata Roy and Satyam Computers founder Byrraju Ramalinga Raju have managed to get an injunction on the release of Netflix’s latest documentary series, Bad Boy Billionaires, former liquor baron Vijay Mallya and diamond merchant Nirav Modi , two others who feature in the four-part series, will not be able to challenge the broadcast of series, according to the Fugitive Economic Offenders (FEO) Act, 2018.

Section 14 of the FEO Act says that any person or company, who has been declared fugitive economic offender, may be disallowed from putting forward or defending any civil claim by any court or tribunal in India.

Both Mallya and Modi were declared Fugitive Economic Offenders (FEOs) in January and December 2019 respectively for fraud and money laundering.

While a local court in Bihar’s Araria last week gave relief to Subrata Roy by ordering Netflix not to use his name in the series, a Hyderabad civil court on Tuesday restrained Netflix from releasing it on a plea filed by Raju. The Supreme Court has refused to give any relief to the company when it was approached concerning the Araria court’s order.

Even though Netflix series doesn’t have a special episode on fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi, accused in the Punjab National Bank fraud case, he approached the Delhi High Court last week seeking a preview of the series for himself before it is released arguing that it could prejudice the trial against him. The ministry of electronics and information technology (MeiTY) opposed Choksi’s plea saying it does not regulate the content on over-the-top platforms unless that interferes with national security.

Choksi’s lawyer Vijay Aggarwal said: “Article 21 is available even to non citizens and if legal proceedings are pending then media cannot give their own versions and can only report facts. Netflix is calling its documentary to be investigative so this parallel investigation and conclusion is bound to breach right to fair trial under Article 21 of Constitution of India.”

“My client (Mehul Choksi) has a presumption of innocence in his favour,” Aggarwal added.

The high court junked Choksi’s plea but allowed him to go to a civil court.

Sherbir Panag, a legal expert on white collar crimes said: “The Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, provides that on declaration as a fugitive economic offender, any civil claim put forward or defended by such person may be disallowed by the concerned court. While this doesn’t take away the right to file a civil claim, it does leave ample discretion with the court on whether or not to allow such claim being put forward. This position is contentious from a procedural fairness perspective, but shall hopefully be balanced by conscientious judicial interpretation.”

Zulfiquar Memon, international extradition expert, said: “On account of Modi and Mallya being declared as FEO, they may have limited rights to approach the Courts, but their purpose seems to have been solved by the fact that the airing of the docu-series on Netflix has currently been stayed by different Courts. According to me, this matter is likely to go to the Supreme Court and until such time, the stay may remain in force”.

This is the second time within a month when Netflix is embroiled in a legal tussle after a movie on the life of Indian Air Force (IAF) female pilot Gunjan Saxena, which the Centre has challenged saying it shows Indian armed forces in bad light.

Netflix is tightlipped about the developments even as it plans to move the Bihar high court against the Araria court order and the appropriate court against the Hyderabad court order. The docu-series was supposed to be released on Wednesday. Company representatives declined comment on the matter.

Senior Advocate Neeraj Kishan Kaul, who represents Netflix, said: “We have not tried to defame anyone. It’s an investigative docu-series based on interviews as well as the facts which are available in public domain.”

Experts say government has powers to regulate OTT content:

Irrespective of particular show or OTT platform, experts feel that the government should take a proactive approach in regulating the content over the digital platforms.

Pavan Duggal, top cyber expert said : “OTT is a unique platform which has not been effectively regulated globally as well as India. However, as OTTs are available on communication devices and mobiles, they are already covered under the Indian cyberlaw. OTTs are intermediaries under section 2 (1) (w) of the Information Technology Act, 2000. Under section 79 (2) (c) of the act, these OTT players are mandated to exercise due diligence while they discharge their obligations as intermediaries. Some generic provisions of due diligence have been given under the IT Rules 2011 but these are not specifically designed for OTT platforms.”

“The government of India has not yet come up with specific rules, guidelines, and parameters concerning OTTs but it doesn’t mean it cannot regulate such platforms. Under Section 87 of the IT Act, government has the powers to come up with rules and regulations for OTT players.”

Duggal added that “India needs to revise its legal position and come up with a framework to govern OTTs because these platforms cannot exist in a legal and policy vacuum. If they are allowed to so exist, it will start prejudicially impacting the cyber sovereignty of India as well Indian security and integrity”.


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4

New (Old) Realities Shaping Ecommerce: Online Shopping Trends

The future of ecommerce has arrived. And yet, many of the “new” realities are anything but. Old problems stalk the halls — where to sell, balancing acquisition with profitability, how to build an audience, and Amazon. Staying ahead of the curve is critical, but separating fact from fad isn’t easy.

As a guide, we spent the last few months sifting through new and old entrants alike to isolate the online shopping trends shaping today’s landscape.

Don’t Be Everywhere: Data Over “Ego”

The proliferation of channels — social, marketplaces, brick-and-mortar, etc. — is daunting, demanding, and deceptive. Instead of everywhere, ruthlessly select where (1) your customers already are, (2) you can add real value, and (3) return on ad spend (ROAS) is strongest. With each, data holds the key.

“Retail is filled with a very natural ego,” says Nate Checketts, co-founder of Rhone. “People love to tell you, ‘Oh, we’ve got a store in Tokyo, and Paris, and New York, and London, and LA.’ When you think about how DTC [direct-to-consumer] brands are now approaching retail, it’s much more data-driven. Every store that we open is not only building that customer in an offline channel, but it’s also building that customer in an online channel.”

Rhone’s New York retail location drive offline and online sales

Online, this means understanding where your visitors come from and what they do once they arrive: i.e., attribution. Prioritize profitability using a tool like Google Analytics — coupled with Google Data Studio — for ecommerce conversions, assisted conversions, and “Multi-Channel Funnels” or leverage “Sales by traffic referrer” reports.

Offline, it’s about tracking fulfillment patterns to identify regions, cities, and even neighborhoods where orders are being sent. Those represent the most fertile ground. Monitoring online sales during and after physical events (as well as for owned storefronts) is equally important to gauge their impact on local revenue.

In other words, rather than thinking of multi-channel, omni-channel, and online-to-offline as separate strategies — each demanding to be mastered at once — set your sights on the channels that provide the best customer experience as evidenced by the numbers.

Multi-channel ecommerce (left) and omni-channel retailing (right)

Multi-channel ecommerce (left) brings native buying options to where your customers spend their time; omni-channel retailing (right) harmonizes those touchpoints

As a pure-play ecommerce example, Pura Vida Bracelets chose to focus on micro-influencers and referrals, using email and Instagram as its primary channels. After revamping its referral program, the brand amassed an army of over 110,000 “reps.” This increased sales from referrals by ~300% year-over-year and lifted average order value by 11%. “It’s not about ‘all,’” wrote Steve Dennis in Forbes. “It’s about relevant and remarkable where it truly matters.”

Start at the End: Retention Comes First

The fight for customers isn’t new, but it is intensifying. David Perell and Nik Sharma summarize the impasse: “DNVBs [digitally native vertical brands] go to war for the same customers on the same platforms (such as Facebook and Google). Customer acquisition costs soar as they fight for limited advertising space. As companies grow, so do costs of acquiring each additional customer.”

While other causes may be at play, this war touches all paths to purchase. Chamath Palihapitiya — an early senior executive at Facebook and now CEO of Social Capital — estimates “40 cents of every VC [venture capital] dollar” is spent on acquisition. Over the last five years, Facebook’s average CPC has increased 612.5%. And, Facebook CPM for “product catalog sales” ads are now 645% more expensive than “store visits.” Simply put, buying a visitor who wants to buy from you is exponentially more expensive than buying a visitor.

2018 ad spend increases by online acquisition channels

Data via Statista and Merkle

As backward as it sounds, retention must precede acquisition. The only way to survive higher new-customer spend is through higher customer lifetime value.

Tactically, this means front-loading loyalty programs that are easy to use and offer meaningful rewards from the jump. Such programs cannot be merely transactional but also community-building by incentivizing engagement. Cater to ardent fans and equip them with opportunities to sell you — rather than sell yourself — through user-generated content (UGC), reviews, and referrals.

Subscriptions are another avenue of attack. Last year, Hubble grew its contact-lens service to over $30 million in sales and, in 2017, Native — a DTC natural deodorant built largely on subscriptions — was acquired by P&G for $100 million. As Wilson Hung explains, “Brands with products suitable for a recurring subscription, with high average order values and margins are the ones that are best suited to scale a paid media first strategy.” Subscriptions give companies the “luxury” of high acquisition costs.

Amidst the tactics, never ignore the centrality of every brand’s most valuable asset. Increasing lifetime value and lowering acquisition costs come from placing people (not products) at the heart of growth.

Then, Acquisition: Seek & They Shall Find Ye

Fully 85% of product searches begin either on Amazon or Google. No surprise there. What is surprising is how few online retailers — even large or enterprise organizations — have mastered acquisition via search. Setting aside Bezos’ beast, the cardinal sin of search engine marketing is casting the net too wide. ROAS comes alive in granularity; wastefulness, in breadth.

First, match search queries, ads, and landing pages as closely as possible to eliminate friction: shoppers should be given ad copy and landing pages with the exact keywords — or glaringly obvious synonyms — they first entered into the engine. Whether you use single keyword ad groups (one keyword that triggers one campaign or ad), or tightly knit groups of 5-15 keywords isn’t as important as the principle: customers should experience a throughline from start to finish.

Rothy’s delivers separate ads and landing pages to match shoppers’ searches

Rothy’s delivers separate ads and landing pages to match shoppers’ searches

Second, separate campaigns for more effective budgets and bidding: (1) high-purchase intent — “buy women’s purple flats” — from (2) informational intent — “most comfortable women’s flats for standing” — from (3) unknown intent — “women’s flats.” Separation is also important for branded (your company’s name and exact product titles) versus non-branded keywords.

Third, keep a close watch on negative keywords — words that prevent an ad from being triggered by terms associated with your keywords but not your product. For casual or dress flats, this would include athletic terms or dance terms so that someone looking for “ballet shoes” doesn’t get served an ad for “everyday flats.”

Failure to monitor negative keywords drags down ROAS, especially on Google Channel where triggering is dependant on product feeds (the product title and descriptions from which Google draws normally linked directly to an ecommerce site’s backend). Lastly, experiment with competitive campaigns by targeting other company’s names or products, and — in everything — test, iterate, and follow the data.

Organic search remains the holy grail. Master SEO, giving particular care to how you format product descriptions. ThirdLove’s paid and organic efforts tie together these methods beautifully. For the phrase “try bras at home,” ThirdLove occupies the first ad result along with positions two and three organically:

Try Before Buying” reached conversion rates three times higher than ThirdLove’s normal offers and the campaign’s retention rate is ~70%

“Try Before Buying” reached conversion rates three times higher than ThirdLove’s normal offers and the campaign’s retention rate is ~70%

Content Then Commerce: “It’s the [Audience], Stupid”

Nobody likes to be sold to. Everybody likes to be entertained. More than that, we all love to belong. Humans are irreducibly relational and self-centered. That’s the genius of storytelling. Great content connects us simultaneously to something bigger than ourselves and a vision of who we can be. Great sales copy — particular copywriting formulas built on human emotions — does the same thing. Brands that deliver this sew themselves into the lives of their customers in a way that commerce can’t.

“We’ve noticed that if we have content that has real meaning,” says Chris Pfaff, founder of Young & Reckless, “People are more likely to click and go look at the actual product, as opposed to saying, ‘Hey, look how cool this photo is.’ If you get across your brand message and make people feel inspired or motivated, then they’ll go and buy your product.”

Originally a wholesale brand, four years ago Y&R turned its sights online. Today, digital isn’t just a marketing channel, it’s a factory for audience creation. Social accounts for half of all Y&R’s traffic and the company is “tripling down” on YouTube because “people go there to be engaged, whereas it’s more passive on Instagram and Facebook.”

Young & Reckless’ YouTube content connect with audiences and ecommerce sales

Or, consider The Hundreds: media first, products second. “We’re not a T-shirt brand,” Bobby Hundreds has said. “This is content and culture and community. The T-shirt is just merch.” Alina Nguyen, Editor-in-Chief of The Hundreds, puts it like this: “At the core of The Hundreds’ ethos is storytelling on a personal level. The story that exists on the undertow lays the foundation for everything our brand stands for, and every collaboration and project we do in the clothing sector.”

The Hundreds puts media first, products second

Other models exist. Morphe Brushes (though influencers) and Glossier (through micro-influencers) curate UGC onsite and off, layering videos, images, and reviews by customers into their site and social media. Temporary tattoo makers Inkbox invest in trend reports — promoted via Facebook Messenger — and regularly answer FAQs on YouTube. Chubbies and Purple have forgone influencers and centered themselves on videos, events, and written content that’s permeated by a unique voice.

Whatever form content takes, certainly optimize to drive product interest and sales, but never at the expense of serving, entertaining, and embodying your audience.

Beware of “Rented” Land (For the Right Reasons)

First, the facts: revenue from Amazon Marketplace is now double the company’s retail sales; half of all product searches start on Amazon; advertising is its fastest-growing arm; and Amazon is aggressively courting DTC brands. Conclusion: no business can ignore it. Except, maybe you should.

When it comes to Amazon, more valuable than following the money is intentionality — weighing carefully the choice to list or not to list; to partner with Amazon or not — mixed with a healthy dose of fear. Just not the fear most sellers have:

Sellers’ fears associated with Amazon

The real danger is a disconnect between business goals and how to get there — namely, selling products versus building a brand. Think carefully about any intermediary between you and your customers. Covet that connection and that data: email addresses, social profiles, buying preferences, and demographics (like age and location), all of which Amazon withholds from Marketplace sellers.

For some, the answer lies in symbiosis. “There’s a symbiotic relationship where Amazon advertising works great — more the manual stuff than the automatic,” says Nolan Walsh, co-founder of Thursday Boots Company. “We don’t put all of our products up on Amazon. It’s really more the best sellers where we’re not strapped for scarcity.” UNTUCKit uses Amazon to “offload older styles” and Buzzfeed mixes standalone sites featuring core products with an Amazon storefront for “merch.”

For intrepid sellers, Amazon can be a mix of distribution and acquisition. Fulfillment by merchant offers the most flexibility in creating a branded unboxing experience, but inserts driving customers onsite are against Amazon’s terms of service. “Our biggest driver,” says a Fulfillment by Amazon seller who asked to remain anonymous, “is chatbots.”

Because Amazon allows contacting for “order fulfillment and related customer service,” the seller — a high seven-figure brand that has operated on Amazon for three years — creates custom Facebook audiences using shipping information. “We are interpreting the rule liberally,” says the seller, “but many times people who have ignored our ‘how was your order’ email through Amazon end up having an issue that we can solve once we connect on Messenger, and they’re super happy about it.” It’s a murky line, but from those positive interactions, the move to direct customer is natural.

For others, like Paul Munford — CEO of Lean Luxe — the line is far more clear. “If you give up control of customer experience and that direct relationship with the customer, then what do you really have?” says Munford. “That’s the lifeblood of today’s best brands and it’s the future: healthy little fiefdoms with their own moats. Frankly, if I’m a brand on this path, I’m not even remotely worried about being on Amazon. It commodifies the brand. Nor am I really even looking to stock my stuff in non-Amazon third-party marketplaces either, because again that creates just another barrier between me and my customer. It depends on what your outcomes are as a company.”

And, as for many of the DTC brands Amazon is courting, it’s not a line, but a barricade. “Selling on Amazon doesn’t work for a customer-centric brand,” Melanie Travis, founder of Andie Swim, told Digiday. “They basically want to reduce us from a brand to a product. They’re all nice people, but they’re a monster platform.”

Online Shopping Trends That Matter

Naturally, much could be added. Personalized product recommendations and onsite search are increasingly powerful. For marketing, email reigns supreme, but chatbots are on the rise. Ecommerce automation is giving companies their time back while improving the bottom line. And the specter of global ecommerce looms large.

Amidst the noise and excitement, what matters is investing in the online shopping trends shaping ecommerce — new or old — and ignoring the rest.

Editorial note: this article was last updated Feb. 7, 2019

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Netflix has revealed its most-watched content. You might be surprised

One of the many disruptive qualities of the so-called industry disrupter has been a lack of transparency about its viewing figures. Unlike its competitors the main networks and cable channels, it has never been held to the same standard, never judged by ratings, choosing to keep itself separate, much to the rest of the industry’s frustration. But over time, a shift has taken place.

Slowly but surely, the streaming Goliath has started to share viewing data, usually as a brag and only when it shows Netflix in a positive light, but with each shred of information we have started to see the bigger picture. Just last week we were handed its most revealing dump to date, the 10 most popular original films and shows over the past 12 months, complete with figures for each. Although we’re still starved of the bottom end of the list and, disappointingly yet tellingly, any box-office data for its theatrical releases, we can start to see what is and isn’t working for the platform.

By viewership, October 2018-September 2019
Bird Box 80 million
Murder Mystery 73 million
Triple Frontier 52 million
The Perfect Date 48 million
Tall Girl41 million
The Highwaymen 40 million
Secret Obsession 40 million
Always Be My Maybe 32 million
Otherhood 29 million
Fyre 20 million

By viewership, October 2018-September 2019
Stranger Things 64 million
The Umbrella Academy 45 million
La Casa de Papel 44 million
You 40 million
Sex Education 40 million
Our Planet 33 million
Unbelievable 32 million
Dead to Me 30 million
When They See Us25 million
Elite 20 million

Viewers who watched at least 70 per cent of a movie or episode were counted

Ben Affleck in Triple Frontier. Photograph: Melinda Sue Gordon/Netflix Ben Affleck in Triple Frontier. Photograph: Melinda Sue Gordon/Netflix

If one were to examine the top 10 theatrically released films over the past year, the upper end, if not the entire list, would be dominated by franchises, sequels and ones that don’t necessarily rely on the names involved. But on Netflix, an underdeveloped alternative to the multiplex, the biggest films more closely resemble the box-office hits of the late 1980s and early 1990s, when star appeal was prioritised over spectacle, a period that saw Rain Man, Fatal Attraction, Ghost and Three Men and a Baby win big.

The top three most-watched Netflix originals of the past 12 months – Bird Box, Murder Mystery and Triple Frontier – are all broad, crowd-pleasing films sold almost exclusively on their stars , , and , all of whom are actors who broke out in the 1990s and have fan bases that have mostly stayed loyal ever since.

The mixture of recognisable casts, substantial budgets and experienced directors means they all look like cinema releases, too, making their drops feel like mini-events to viewers who might not have been expecting their release.

Inevitably, and ironically, the films that seemed to stand against the ongoing production line of predictable sequels being churned out by the wider industry are all now being envisioned as franchise starters by those behind them. Murder Mystery 2 has been given the official green light, a follow-up to the Bird Box novel was announced earlier this year, leading many to speculate about an adaptation, while the Triple Frontier director, JC Chandor, has expressed muted interest in a quadruple. Next year also sees sequels to the previous year’s hits The Kissing Booth and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.

The cast of The Umbrella Academy. Photograph: Christos Kalohoridis/Netflix The cast of The Umbrella Academy. Photograph: Christos Kalohoridis/Netflix

By far Netflix’s biggest TV drop of the year is Stranger Things 3, with 64 million viewers – an inevitable result given the frenzy surrounding the series since it began, in 2016. But while it’s easy to equate its success to that of a big-screen sequel, especially given both its genre and how it has been marketed, what’s most interesting is that it’s one of only two shows on the list that aren’t first seasons. There’s no sign of Netflix staples such as Orange Is the New Black, Glow, Bojack Horseman, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, House of Cards, Black Mirror, The Crown, 13 Reasons Why and Mindhunter. Instead viewers have flocked to new shows such as The Umbrella Academy, You and Sex Education, all also notably aimed at a younger audience.

It’s a sign that either original shows tend to lose viewers with each season or that Netflix has been algorithmically tweaking its output to fall more closely in line with its most impassioned younger viewers. With all new shows on the list coming back for a second season, it will be interesting to see next year’s results.

Niecy Nash and Jharrel Jerome in When They See Us. Photograph: Atsushi Nishijima/Netflix Niecy Nash and Jharrel Jerome in When They See Us. Photograph: Atsushi Nishijima/Netflix

Importantly, the lists provided don’t include content acquired by Netflix from elsewhere, which would inevitably mean that much-loved sitcoms such as Friends and The Office would make an appearance. The success of both (Netflix extended the Friends deal for one final year for $100 million before it was snapped up by HBO Max, to start in 2020) led many to believe that the practice of bingeing was mostly employed by those seeking lighter, snappier fare. But the appearance of two tough, issues-led dramas on Netflix’s TV list suggest that this might not always be the case.

Unbelievable (32 million viewers) and When They See Us (25 million viewers) have quickly shown there’s a big audience for fact-based shows dealing with difficult, timely topics. Unbelievable, a combination of a dogged crime procedural and a docudrama, focuses on rape and how it can be mishandled by authorities; When They See Us, Ava DuVernay’s Emmy-winning Central Park Five miniseries, deals with race and how it too often leads to false imprisonment. Both were eagerly consumed by viewers and critics. Expect a major awards push in time for the Golden Globes, as well as further green lights for equally tough-minded dramas.

Ali Wong in Always Be My Maybe. Photograph: Ed Araquel/Netflix Ali Wong in Always Be My Maybe. Photograph: Ed Araquel/Netflix

Genres that have long been cast aside by Hollywood have been carefully and cleverly resuscitated by Netflix for a while now, with notable successes, such as 2018’s Summer of Love, that saw a string of smash-hit romcoms, including Set It Up, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and The Kissing Booth (all of which Netflix has been happy to brag about). In comparison, before Crazy Rich Asians last year, the industry hadn’t seen a $100 million romcom hit since 2011’s Just Go with It.

The latest top 10 is filled with similar examples: the teen movie/romcom crossovers The Perfect Date (48 million viewers) and Tall Girl (41 million viewers), the psycho-thriller Secret Obsession (40 million viewers), the romcom Always Be My Maybe (32 million viewers) and the chick flick Otherhood (29 million viewers) all score well.

Apart from Otherhood, these films aren’t really star-led; their appeal is more about a tried-and-tested-and-forgotten-about formula being brought back to life. The success of the “cheerfully trashy” thriller Secret Obsession, from the long-time Hallmark and Lifetime channel director Peter Sullivan, is perhaps the most concerning, given its rote plot and flat TV-movie direction.

It’s a cheap quickie that would usually be chucked on to cable, but its large viewership on Netflix will lead to more of the same; looking ahead at their schedule, there are similarly low-rent options in the coming months.

Yalitza Aparicio and Marco Graf in Roma. Photograph: Carlos Somonte/Netflix Yalitza Aparicio and Marco Graf in Roma. Photograph: Carlos Somonte/Netflix

The list of most-watched films, from Bird Box down to Fyre (20 million viewers) sees a gap of 60 million viewers, meaning that while some films hit big, a great many lag far, far behind. This doesn’t make them flops per se, but it does mean that genuine phenomenons are hard to find. The list also shows that although Netflix has put a great deal of funding into both its awards push and its splashy partnerships with respected auteurs, audiences are less invested in the outcome than the company is.

The most conspicuous absence is Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma, the platform’s most critically acclaimed and awarded film to date. Netflix might have been proud to flaunt its reviews, nominations and eventual wins, but it has yet to release any solid data about its streaming viewership or its limited run at the box office.

There’s also no love for the Coen brothers and their anthology western The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, Dan Gilroy’s Sundance-premiering art-world horror Velvet Buzzsaw, the long-awaited Orson Welles drama The Other Side of the Wind, Paul Greengrass’s grim docudrama 22 July or Steven Soderbergh’s High Flying Bird. These films would have been unlikely to make the top 10 most-watched films at the cinema, either, but the film list offers a picture of a far less demanding viewer than the TV list and shows a great discrepancy in the films that Netflix chooses to promote over what viewers choose to watch.

Given the uptick in major directors who have been lured to the platform, this might not be the case in the next 12 months. Martin Scorsese’s extravagant crime saga The Irishman will surely be a rare critical and commercial crossover title, although its mammoth, 210-minute running time might prove a problem. (Netflix counts more than 70 per cent of a movie or episode as a watch.) But for those who can’t make it through, there’s a film with Kristin Davis and Rob Lowe falling in love at Christmas while caring for elephants in Zambia. So, as appears to be the Netflix mantra, there really is something for everyone. – Guardian


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Lloyd Cadena fans share emotional tributes after YouTube star’s death

Lloyd Cadena fans share emotional tributes after YouTube star’s death

When a social-media star dies, their mourning fans do what comes naturally — they unleash their emotions on digital platforms.

Social-media personality Lloyd Cadena’s death at 26 was confirmed Friday via a heartbreaking Facebook post. The popular Filipino comedian and content creator had 3.1 million YouTube subscribers , 6.5 million Facebook friends and 1.4 million Twitter followers at the time of his passing.

No cause of death has been announced at this time — but with a following of that size it’s no surprise that online tribute posts are flooding the internet in the hours after his family’s announcement.

“Oh my god,” tweeted pop singer-actress Maris Racal to her 2.9 million followers. “Lloyd Cadena was such a joy to watch. Rest in peace. ”

“Lloyd was one of the funniest, non-toxic, and humble YouTuber I’ve ever met,” Hong Kong YouTube star Richard Juan, who collaborated with Cadena on a video early in his career, posted on Twitter.

“I only met him and would see him at events but he was always so gracious and his joy would radiate,” fellow TV host and online entertainer Bianca Gonzalez tweeted. “My sincerest condolences to his family and loved ones. Rest in peace, Lloyd Cadena. ”

Lloyd Cadena was a popular social media star across all major platforms.Lloyd Cadena.Instagram

Filipino comedian Mark Geronimo praised Cadena for being outspoken about causes he believed in on his many platforms.

“Before all the influencers, Lloyd Cadena was already existing,” Geronimo said. “LC really used his platform discussing and advocating social and political issues. It’s really sad. You will truly be missed — 2020 you are a bitch.”

“This is darn you 2020!!!!” gaming video creator Eric Eruption Tai added via Facebook.

Filipino actress and parenting blogger Saab Magalona tweeted, “It really makes you think. We can be gone tomorrow. Are we living our best life? Are we loving our neighbors? Are we choosing kindness? I never met him but I’ve heard nothing but kind words about @LloydCadena. Gone too soon. May he rest in peace.”

One shared video featured comedian Mark Averilla (a k a Macoy Dubs) overcome with emotion as he encouraged fellow fans to “pray for his soul and his family.” That short clip has gone viral with more than 1 million views as of Friday afternoon.

YouTuber Madam Ely paid his respects via tweet, posting “I lost my best friend today” along with broken heart and crying face emojis.

Meanwhile, his family’s initial death announcement on Facebook has more than 1.4 million reactions, 199,000 comments and 649,000 shares.

“It is with a heavy heart and great sadness that we announce the untimely demise of our beloved brother Lloyd Cafe Cadena,” the family wrote. “May he be remembered for all the joy and laughter he shared with everyone. My family and I ask for your prayers, respect, and privacy during this time.”

The openly gay entertainer fondly nicknamed “Kween LC” was a trending topic on US and international Twitter upon news of his death. Cadena launched his YouTube channel in 2011, eventually becoming one of his homeland’s most popular vloggers, CNN Philippines reported.

Cadena’s passing is the latest in a string of young social-media star deaths, following 19-year-old Landon Clifford, star of YouTube’s “Cam & Fam,” who hanged himself in August after struggling with depression and drug addiction for years. Parenting vlogger Nicole Thea, 24, who was pregnant, died of a “massive heart attack” in July. Siya Kakkar, 16, a viral sensation with more than 2 million followers on TikTok, died by suicide in June. And Twitch star Byron Bernstein, 31, known as Reckful died in July after a struggle with mental health.


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Duffy criticizes ‘irresponsible’ ‘365 Days’ from Netflix, says it glamourizes rape

Duffy criticizes ‘irresponsible’ ‘365 Days’ from Netflix, says it glamourizes rape

WarningThis article may be triggering for some readers. Please read at your own discretion.

Three months after going public with the harrowing and in-depth details of the life-changing kidnapping which she said led to her disappearance from the public eye a decade ago, Duffy — the iconic Welsh pop singer — is criticizing Netflix for releasing its 365 Days movie, as she believes it “glamourizes the brutal reality of sex trafficking, kidnapping and rape.”

Following widespread criticism against the controversial 2020 “erotic drama” online, the 36-year-old musician penned an open-letter to the streaming giant and its CEO Reed Hastings on Thursday (July 2) calling for him to “right this wrong.”

After recounting her own experience with being “drugged, kidnapped, trafficked and raped,” Duffy said it was “irresponsible” of Hastings, 59, to allow Netflix to broadcast 365 Days on its platform, in the lengthy address which was obtained by CNN.

“I don’t want to be in this position to have to write to you, but the virtue of my suffering obliges me to do so, because of a violent experience that I endured of the kind that you have chosen to present as ‘adult erotica’,” the singer, born Aimee Duffy, wrote in the letter’s introduction.

Duffy live at the ‘Where the Action is’ festival in Stockholm, Sweden, on June 13, 2009. Duffy live at the ‘Where the Action is’ festival in Stockholm, Sweden, on June 13, 2009. Claudio Bresciani / EPA

As noted by Duffy, 365 Days is listed as an “erotic drama” movie. It’s about a Polish woman who falls under the spell of Stockholm syndrome after being kidnapped, raped and abused by a Sicillian gangster, who attempts to make her fall in love with him within a year — or 365 days — while in his clutches.

The Barbara Białowąs and Tomasz Mandes-directed film is based off of Polish author Blanka Lipińska’s 2018 novel of the same name. 365 Dni is the Polish translation.

Read more: ‘Harry Potter’ fan sites distance themselves from J.K. Rowling over transphobic comments

Of the film’s taboo plot, Duffy said that it “should not be anyone’s idea of entertainment,” adding that it should not be “described as such, or be commercialized in this manner” either.

“It grieves me that Netflix provides a platform for such ‘cinema,’ that eroticizes kidnapping and distorts sexual violence and trafficking as a ‘sexy’ movie,” the Mercy hit-maker said. “I just can’t imagine how Netflix could overlook how careless, insensitive, and dangerous this is.”

Debuting last February in Poland, 365 Days was a hit at the box office. It grossed US$9 million, before running in select cinemas across the U.K., according to Deadline.

The move made its Netflix debut last month and has since made its top 10 trending charts across various countries and territories, including the U.K.

“Because 365 Days has proved enormously popular, I also address this letter to viewers directly,” Duffy said. “I encourage the millions who have enjoyed the movie to reflect on the reality of kidnapping and trafficking, of force and sexual exploitation, and of an experience that is the polar opposite of the glossy fantasy depicted in 365 Days,” she added.

The Bangor-born singer later shared statistics with Hastings, saying that “an estimated 25 million people” are trafficked around the world annually, before noting that 80 per cent of them were women and the number is “equivalent to almost half the population of England.”

Read more: Terry Crews under fire for tweeting Black Lives Matter shouldn’t morph into ‘Black Lives Better’

Suggesting that Netflix removes the film and instead release more appropriate content, Duffy said, “I ask you to right this wrong; to commit the resources of Netflix, and the skills of its talented film-makers, to producing and broadcasting content that portrays the truth of the harsh and desperate reality of what 365 Days has sought to turn into a work of casual entertainment.

“I calm myself to explain to you here — when I was trafficked and raped, I was lucky to come away with my life, but far too many have not been so lucky,” she added. “And now I have to witness these tragedies, and my tragedy, eroticised and demeaned,” the Stepping Stone singer added.

Duffy continued: “If all of you at Netflix take nothing from this open letter but these final words, I will be content. What I and others who know these injustices need is a narrative of truth, hope, and to be given a voice.”

“When we know better, let us do better,” she concluded.

Read more: Kanye West, Travis Scott drop song ‘Wash Us in Blood’ with powerful video

Before going public with her own horrific story, the last fans heard from Duffy was in 2010, when she released her critically acclaimed sophomore album Endlessly.

“It was my birthday,” Duffy wrote in a post on a website called duffywords.com back in April — which details her kidnapping. “I was drugged at a restaurant, I was drugged [in my own home] for four weeks and travelled to a foreign country,” she added.

“I can’t remember getting on the plane and came round in the back of a travelling vehicle. I was put into a hotel room and the perpetrator returned and raped me,” she continued in the statement.

Though she did not disclose who “the perpetrator” was, or specifically when and where the assault occurred, Duffy said that hiding her story for so long was “destroying [her] life,” adding that she wanted to share it to “be freed” of her inner demons.’

Recounting being held hostage in her own home, Duffy said: “I knew my life was in immediate danger,” alleging her attacker had “made veiled confessions of wanting to kill” her.

In this Nov. 17, 2010 file photo, British singer Duffy poses for photographs in West London, England. In this Nov. 17, 2010 file photo, British singer Duffy poses for photographs in West London, England. AP Photo/Joel Ryan, File

“With what little strength I had, my instinct was to then run, to run and find somewhere to live that he could not find,” she added.

Read more: ‘RIP Byron’: Pro ‘Warcraft’ gamer Reckful dies at age 31

For the majority of the 2010s — after years of success in the late 2000s — fans across the world were left wondering where, exactly, the Mercy singer “disappeared off to.”

Afterward, Duffy said she had relocated five times in only a span of three years as a result of “never feeling safe from the rapist.”

“I was on the run for so long,” she wrote. “The fifth house was not as confined as the other houses — where I grieved silently. This place I would spend solitary years to find the stability to recover,” she added.

Addressing her music career, Duffy said she constantly worried about making a comeback and being met with questions about her disappearance.

While admitting she didn’t want to lie or “fabricate” any false stories, she admitted: “I thought the public disclosure of my story would utterly destroy my life, emotionally.”

Global News has reached out to a representative of Netflix seeking comment.

Read more: Justin Bieber files $20M defamation lawsuit against sexual assault accusers

If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, resources are available. In case of an emergency, please call 911 for immediate help.

Are you or someone you know experiencing abuse? Visit the Department of Justice’s Victim Services Directory for a list of support services in your area.

Women, trans and non-binary people can find an additional list of resources here.

adam.wallis@globalnews.ca

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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Netflix India’s Bad Boy Billionaires series triggers controversy

Netflix India’s Bad Boy Billionaires series triggers controversy

Home / India News / Netflix India’s Bad Boy Billionaires series triggers controversy

       

Even as Sahara India Parivar chief Subrata Roy and Satyam Computers founder Byrraju Ramalinga Raju have managed to get an injunction on the release of Netflix’s latest documentary series, Bad Boy Billionaires, former liquor baron Vijay Mallya and diamond merchant Nirav Modi , two others who feature in the four-part series, will not be able to challenge the broadcast of series, according to the Fugitive Economic Offenders (FEO) Act, 2018.

Section 14 of the FEO Act says that any person or company, who has been declared fugitive economic offender, may be disallowed from putting forward or defending any civil claim by any court or tribunal in India.

Both Mallya and Modi were declared Fugitive Economic Offenders (FEOs) in January and December 2019 respectively for fraud and money laundering.

While a local court in Bihar’s Araria last week gave relief to Subrata Roy by ordering Netflix not to use his name in the series, a Hyderabad civil court on Tuesday restrained Netflix from releasing it on a plea filed by Raju. The Supreme Court has refused to give any relief to the company when it was approached concerning the Araria court’s order.

Even though Netflix series doesn’t have a special episode on fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi, accused in the Punjab National Bank fraud case, he approached the Delhi High Court last week seeking a preview of the series for himself before it is released arguing that it could prejudice the trial against him. The ministry of electronics and information technology (MeiTY) opposed Choksi’s plea saying it does not regulate the content on over-the-top platforms unless that interferes with national security.

Choksi’s lawyer Vijay Aggarwal said: “Article 21 is available even to non citizens and if legal proceedings are pending then media cannot give their own versions and can only report facts. Netflix is calling its documentary to be investigative so this parallel investigation and conclusion is bound to breach right to fair trial under Article 21 of Constitution of India.”

“My client (Mehul Choksi) has a presumption of innocence in his favour,” Aggarwal added.

The high court junked Choksi’s plea but allowed him to go to a civil court.

Sherbir Panag, a legal expert on white collar crimes said: “The Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, provides that on declaration as a fugitive economic offender, any civil claim put forward or defended by such person may be disallowed by the concerned court. While this doesn’t take away the right to file a civil claim, it does leave ample discretion with the court on whether or not to allow such claim being put forward. This position is contentious from a procedural fairness perspective, but shall hopefully be balanced by conscientious judicial interpretation.”

Zulfiquar Memon, international extradition expert, said: “On account of Modi and Mallya being declared as FEO, they may have limited rights to approach the Courts, but their purpose seems to have been solved by the fact that the airing of the docu-series on Netflix has currently been stayed by different Courts. According to me, this matter is likely to go to the Supreme Court and until such time, the stay may remain in force”.

This is the second time within a month when Netflix is embroiled in a legal tussle after a movie on the life of Indian Air Force (IAF) female pilot Gunjan Saxena, which the Centre has challenged saying it shows Indian armed forces in bad light.

Netflix is tightlipped about the developments even as it plans to move the Bihar high court against the Araria court order and the appropriate court against the Hyderabad court order. The docu-series was supposed to be released on Wednesday. Company representatives declined comment on the matter.

Senior Advocate Neeraj Kishan Kaul, who represents Netflix, said: “We have not tried to defame anyone. It’s an investigative docu-series based on interviews as well as the facts which are available in public domain.”

Experts say government has powers to regulate OTT content:

Irrespective of particular show or OTT platform, experts feel that the government should take a proactive approach in regulating the content over the digital platforms.

Pavan Duggal, top cyber expert said : “OTT is a unique platform which has not been effectively regulated globally as well as India. However, as OTTs are available on communication devices and mobiles, they are already covered under the Indian cyberlaw. OTTs are intermediaries under section 2 (1) (w) of the Information Technology Act, 2000. Under section 79 (2) (c) of the act, these OTT players are mandated to exercise due diligence while they discharge their obligations as intermediaries. Some generic provisions of due diligence have been given under the IT Rules 2011 but these are not specifically designed for OTT platforms.”

“The government of India has not yet come up with specific rules, guidelines, and parameters concerning OTTs but it doesn’t mean it cannot regulate such platforms. Under Section 87 of the IT Act, government has the powers to come up with rules and regulations for OTT players.”

Duggal added that “India needs to revise its legal position and come up with a framework to govern OTTs because these platforms cannot exist in a legal and policy vacuum. If they are allowed to so exist, it will start prejudicially impacting the cyber sovereignty of India as well Indian security and integrity”.


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New (Old) Realities Shaping Ecommerce: Online Shopping Trends

New (Old) Realities Shaping Ecommerce: Online Shopping Trends

The future of ecommerce has arrived. And yet, many of the “new” realities are anything but. Old problems stalk the halls — where to sell, balancing acquisition with profitability, how to build an audience, and Amazon. Staying ahead of the curve is critical, but separating fact from fad isn’t easy.

As a guide, we spent the last few months sifting through new and old entrants alike to isolate the online shopping trends shaping today’s landscape.

Don’t Be Everywhere: Data Over “Ego”

The proliferation of channels — social, marketplaces, brick-and-mortar, etc. — is daunting, demanding, and deceptive. Instead of everywhere, ruthlessly select where (1) your customers already are, (2) you can add real value, and (3) return on ad spend (ROAS) is strongest. With each, data holds the key.

“Retail is filled with a very natural ego,” says Nate Checketts, co-founder of Rhone. “People love to tell you, ‘Oh, we’ve got a store in Tokyo, and Paris, and New York, and London, and LA.’ When you think about how DTC [direct-to-consumer] brands are now approaching retail, it’s much more data-driven. Every store that we open is not only building that customer in an offline channel, but it’s also building that customer in an online channel.”

Rhone’s New York retail location drive offline and online sales

Online, this means understanding where your visitors come from and what they do once they arrive: i.e., attribution. Prioritize profitability using a tool like Google Analytics — coupled with Google Data Studio — for ecommerce conversions, assisted conversions, and “Multi-Channel Funnels” or leverage “Sales by traffic referrer” reports.

Offline, it’s about tracking fulfillment patterns to identify regions, cities, and even neighborhoods where orders are being sent. Those represent the most fertile ground. Monitoring online sales during and after physical events (as well as for owned storefronts) is equally important to gauge their impact on local revenue.

In other words, rather than thinking of multi-channel, omni-channel, and online-to-offline as separate strategies — each demanding to be mastered at once — set your sights on the channels that provide the best customer experience as evidenced by the numbers.

Multi-channel ecommerce (left) and omni-channel retailing (right)

Multi-channel ecommerce (left) brings native buying options to where your customers spend their time; omni-channel retailing (right) harmonizes those touchpoints

As a pure-play ecommerce example, Pura Vida Bracelets chose to focus on micro-influencers and referrals, using email and Instagram as its primary channels. After revamping its referral program, the brand amassed an army of over 110,000 “reps.” This increased sales from referrals by ~300% year-over-year and lifted average order value by 11%. “It’s not about ‘all,’” wrote Steve Dennis in Forbes. “It’s about relevant and remarkable where it truly matters.”

Start at the End: Retention Comes First

The fight for customers isn’t new, but it is intensifying. David Perell and Nik Sharma summarize the impasse: “DNVBs [digitally native vertical brands] go to war for the same customers on the same platforms (such as Facebook and Google). Customer acquisition costs soar as they fight for limited advertising space. As companies grow, so do costs of acquiring each additional customer.”

While other causes may be at play, this war touches all paths to purchase. Chamath Palihapitiya — an early senior executive at Facebook and now CEO of Social Capital — estimates “40 cents of every VC [venture capital] dollar” is spent on acquisition. Over the last five years, Facebook’s average CPC has increased 612.5%. And, Facebook CPM for “product catalog sales” ads are now 645% more expensive than “store visits.” Simply put, buying a visitor who wants to buy from you is exponentially more expensive than buying a visitor.

2018 ad spend increases by online acquisition channels

Data via Statista and Merkle

As backward as it sounds, retention must precede acquisition. The only way to survive higher new-customer spend is through higher customer lifetime value.

Tactically, this means front-loading loyalty programs that are easy to use and offer meaningful rewards from the jump. Such programs cannot be merely transactional but also community-building by incentivizing engagement. Cater to ardent fans and equip them with opportunities to sell you — rather than sell yourself — through user-generated content (UGC), reviews, and referrals.

Subscriptions are another avenue of attack. Last year, Hubble grew its contact-lens service to over $30 million in sales and, in 2017, Native — a DTC natural deodorant built largely on subscriptions — was acquired by P&G for $100 million. As Wilson Hung explains, “Brands with products suitable for a recurring subscription, with high average order values and margins are the ones that are best suited to scale a paid media first strategy.” Subscriptions give companies the “luxury” of high acquisition costs.

Amidst the tactics, never ignore the centrality of every brand’s most valuable asset. Increasing lifetime value and lowering acquisition costs come from placing people (not products) at the heart of growth.

Then, Acquisition: Seek & They Shall Find Ye

Fully 85% of product searches begin either on Amazon or Google. No surprise there. What is surprising is how few online retailers — even large or enterprise organizations — have mastered acquisition via search. Setting aside Bezos’ beast, the cardinal sin of search engine marketing is casting the net too wide. ROAS comes alive in granularity; wastefulness, in breadth.

First, match search queries, ads, and landing pages as closely as possible to eliminate friction: shoppers should be given ad copy and landing pages with the exact keywords — or glaringly obvious synonyms — they first entered into the engine. Whether you use single keyword ad groups (one keyword that triggers one campaign or ad), or tightly knit groups of 5-15 keywords isn’t as important as the principle: customers should experience a throughline from start to finish.

Rothy’s delivers separate ads and landing pages to match shoppers’ searches

Rothy’s delivers separate ads and landing pages to match shoppers’ searches

Second, separate campaigns for more effective budgets and bidding: (1) high-purchase intent — “buy women’s purple flats” — from (2) informational intent — “most comfortable women’s flats for standing” — from (3) unknown intent — “women’s flats.” Separation is also important for branded (your company’s name and exact product titles) versus non-branded keywords.

Third, keep a close watch on negative keywords — words that prevent an ad from being triggered by terms associated with your keywords but not your product. For casual or dress flats, this would include athletic terms or dance terms so that someone looking for “ballet shoes” doesn’t get served an ad for “everyday flats.”

Failure to monitor negative keywords drags down ROAS, especially on Google Channel where triggering is dependant on product feeds (the product title and descriptions from which Google draws normally linked directly to an ecommerce site’s backend). Lastly, experiment with competitive campaigns by targeting other company’s names or products, and — in everything — test, iterate, and follow the data.

Organic search remains the holy grail. Master SEO, giving particular care to how you format product descriptions. ThirdLove’s paid and organic efforts tie together these methods beautifully. For the phrase “try bras at home,” ThirdLove occupies the first ad result along with positions two and three organically:

Try Before Buying” reached conversion rates three times higher than ThirdLove’s normal offers and the campaign’s retention rate is ~70%

“Try Before Buying” reached conversion rates three times higher than ThirdLove’s normal offers and the campaign’s retention rate is ~70%

Content Then Commerce: “It’s the [Audience], Stupid”

Nobody likes to be sold to. Everybody likes to be entertained. More than that, we all love to belong. Humans are irreducibly relational and self-centered. That’s the genius of storytelling. Great content connects us simultaneously to something bigger than ourselves and a vision of who we can be. Great sales copy — particular copywriting formulas built on human emotions — does the same thing. Brands that deliver this sew themselves into the lives of their customers in a way that commerce can’t.

“We’ve noticed that if we have content that has real meaning,” says Chris Pfaff, founder of Young & Reckless, “People are more likely to click and go look at the actual product, as opposed to saying, ‘Hey, look how cool this photo is.’ If you get across your brand message and make people feel inspired or motivated, then they’ll go and buy your product.”

Originally a wholesale brand, four years ago Y&R turned its sights online. Today, digital isn’t just a marketing channel, it’s a factory for audience creation. Social accounts for half of all Y&R’s traffic and the company is “tripling down” on YouTube because “people go there to be engaged, whereas it’s more passive on Instagram and Facebook.”

Young & Reckless’ YouTube content connect with audiences and ecommerce sales

Or, consider The Hundreds: media first, products second. “We’re not a T-shirt brand,” Bobby Hundreds has said. “This is content and culture and community. The T-shirt is just merch.” Alina Nguyen, Editor-in-Chief of The Hundreds, puts it like this: “At the core of The Hundreds’ ethos is storytelling on a personal level. The story that exists on the undertow lays the foundation for everything our brand stands for, and every collaboration and project we do in the clothing sector.”

The Hundreds puts media first, products second

Other models exist. Morphe Brushes (though influencers) and Glossier (through micro-influencers) curate UGC onsite and off, layering videos, images, and reviews by customers into their site and social media. Temporary tattoo makers Inkbox invest in trend reports — promoted via Facebook Messenger — and regularly answer FAQs on YouTube. Chubbies and Purple have forgone influencers and centered themselves on videos, events, and written content that’s permeated by a unique voice.

Whatever form content takes, certainly optimize to drive product interest and sales, but never at the expense of serving, entertaining, and embodying your audience.

Beware of “Rented” Land (For the Right Reasons)

First, the facts: revenue from Amazon Marketplace is now double the company’s retail sales; half of all product searches start on Amazon; advertising is its fastest-growing arm; and Amazon is aggressively courting DTC brands. Conclusion: no business can ignore it. Except, maybe you should.

When it comes to Amazon, more valuable than following the money is intentionality — weighing carefully the choice to list or not to list; to partner with Amazon or not — mixed with a healthy dose of fear. Just not the fear most sellers have:

Sellers’ fears associated with Amazon

The real danger is a disconnect between business goals and how to get there — namely, selling products versus building a brand. Think carefully about any intermediary between you and your customers. Covet that connection and that data: email addresses, social profiles, buying preferences, and demographics (like age and location), all of which Amazon withholds from Marketplace sellers.

For some, the answer lies in symbiosis. “There’s a symbiotic relationship where Amazon advertising works great — more the manual stuff than the automatic,” says Nolan Walsh, co-founder of Thursday Boots Company. “We don’t put all of our products up on Amazon. It’s really more the best sellers where we’re not strapped for scarcity.” UNTUCKit uses Amazon to “offload older styles” and Buzzfeed mixes standalone sites featuring core products with an Amazon storefront for “merch.”

For intrepid sellers, Amazon can be a mix of distribution and acquisition. Fulfillment by merchant offers the most flexibility in creating a branded unboxing experience, but inserts driving customers onsite are against Amazon’s terms of service. “Our biggest driver,” says a Fulfillment by Amazon seller who asked to remain anonymous, “is chatbots.”

Because Amazon allows contacting for “order fulfillment and related customer service,” the seller — a high seven-figure brand that has operated on Amazon for three years — creates custom Facebook audiences using shipping information. “We are interpreting the rule liberally,” says the seller, “but many times people who have ignored our ‘how was your order’ email through Amazon end up having an issue that we can solve once we connect on Messenger, and they’re super happy about it.” It’s a murky line, but from those positive interactions, the move to direct customer is natural.

For others, like Paul Munford — CEO of Lean Luxe — the line is far more clear. “If you give up control of customer experience and that direct relationship with the customer, then what do you really have?” says Munford. “That’s the lifeblood of today’s best brands and it’s the future: healthy little fiefdoms with their own moats. Frankly, if I’m a brand on this path, I’m not even remotely worried about being on Amazon. It commodifies the brand. Nor am I really even looking to stock my stuff in non-Amazon third-party marketplaces either, because again that creates just another barrier between me and my customer. It depends on what your outcomes are as a company.”

And, as for many of the DTC brands Amazon is courting, it’s not a line, but a barricade. “Selling on Amazon doesn’t work for a customer-centric brand,” Melanie Travis, founder of Andie Swim, told Digiday. “They basically want to reduce us from a brand to a product. They’re all nice people, but they’re a monster platform.”

Online Shopping Trends That Matter

Naturally, much could be added. Personalized product recommendations and onsite search are increasingly powerful. For marketing, email reigns supreme, but chatbots are on the rise. Ecommerce automation is giving companies their time back while improving the bottom line. And the specter of global ecommerce looms large.

Amidst the noise and excitement, what matters is investing in the online shopping trends shaping ecommerce — new or old — and ignoring the rest.

Editorial note: this article was last updated Feb. 7, 2019

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Netflix has revealed its most-watched content. You might be surprised

Netflix has revealed its most-watched content. You might be surprised

One of the many disruptive qualities of the so-called industry disrupter has been a lack of transparency about its viewing figures. Unlike its competitors the main networks and cable channels, it has never been held to the same standard, never judged by ratings, choosing to keep itself separate, much to the rest of the industry’s frustration. But over time, a shift has taken place.

Slowly but surely, the streaming Goliath has started to share viewing data, usually as a brag and only when it shows Netflix in a positive light, but with each shred of information we have started to see the bigger picture. Just last week we were handed its most revealing dump to date, the 10 most popular original films and shows over the past 12 months, complete with figures for each. Although we’re still starved of the bottom end of the list and, disappointingly yet tellingly, any box-office data for its theatrical releases, we can start to see what is and isn’t working for the platform.

By viewership, October 2018-September 2019
Bird Box 80 million
Murder Mystery 73 million
Triple Frontier 52 million
The Perfect Date 48 million
Tall Girl41 million
The Highwaymen 40 million
Secret Obsession 40 million
Always Be My Maybe 32 million
Otherhood 29 million
Fyre 20 million

By viewership, October 2018-September 2019
Stranger Things 64 million
The Umbrella Academy 45 million
La Casa de Papel 44 million
You 40 million
Sex Education 40 million
Our Planet 33 million
Unbelievable 32 million
Dead to Me 30 million
When They See Us25 million
Elite 20 million

Viewers who watched at least 70 per cent of a movie or episode were counted

Ben Affleck in Triple Frontier. Photograph: Melinda Sue Gordon/Netflix Ben Affleck in Triple Frontier. Photograph: Melinda Sue Gordon/Netflix

If one were to examine the top 10 theatrically released films over the past year, the upper end, if not the entire list, would be dominated by franchises, sequels and ones that don’t necessarily rely on the names involved. But on Netflix, an underdeveloped alternative to the multiplex, the biggest films more closely resemble the box-office hits of the late 1980s and early 1990s, when star appeal was prioritised over spectacle, a period that saw Rain Man, Fatal Attraction, Ghost and Three Men and a Baby win big.

The top three most-watched Netflix originals of the past 12 months – Bird Box, Murder Mystery and Triple Frontier – are all broad, crowd-pleasing films sold almost exclusively on their stars , , and , all of whom are actors who broke out in the 1990s and have fan bases that have mostly stayed loyal ever since.

The mixture of recognisable casts, substantial budgets and experienced directors means they all look like cinema releases, too, making their drops feel like mini-events to viewers who might not have been expecting their release.

Inevitably, and ironically, the films that seemed to stand against the ongoing production line of predictable sequels being churned out by the wider industry are all now being envisioned as franchise starters by those behind them. Murder Mystery 2 has been given the official green light, a follow-up to the Bird Box novel was announced earlier this year, leading many to speculate about an adaptation, while the Triple Frontier director, JC Chandor, has expressed muted interest in a quadruple. Next year also sees sequels to the previous year’s hits The Kissing Booth and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.

The cast of The Umbrella Academy. Photograph: Christos Kalohoridis/Netflix The cast of The Umbrella Academy. Photograph: Christos Kalohoridis/Netflix

By far Netflix’s biggest TV drop of the year is Stranger Things 3, with 64 million viewers – an inevitable result given the frenzy surrounding the series since it began, in 2016. But while it’s easy to equate its success to that of a big-screen sequel, especially given both its genre and how it has been marketed, what’s most interesting is that it’s one of only two shows on the list that aren’t first seasons. There’s no sign of Netflix staples such as Orange Is the New Black, Glow, Bojack Horseman, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, House of Cards, Black Mirror, The Crown, 13 Reasons Why and Mindhunter. Instead viewers have flocked to new shows such as The Umbrella Academy, You and Sex Education, all also notably aimed at a younger audience.

It’s a sign that either original shows tend to lose viewers with each season or that Netflix has been algorithmically tweaking its output to fall more closely in line with its most impassioned younger viewers. With all new shows on the list coming back for a second season, it will be interesting to see next year’s results.

Niecy Nash and Jharrel Jerome in When They See Us. Photograph: Atsushi Nishijima/Netflix Niecy Nash and Jharrel Jerome in When They See Us. Photograph: Atsushi Nishijima/Netflix

Importantly, the lists provided don’t include content acquired by Netflix from elsewhere, which would inevitably mean that much-loved sitcoms such as Friends and The Office would make an appearance. The success of both (Netflix extended the Friends deal for one final year for $100 million before it was snapped up by HBO Max, to start in 2020) led many to believe that the practice of bingeing was mostly employed by those seeking lighter, snappier fare. But the appearance of two tough, issues-led dramas on Netflix’s TV list suggest that this might not always be the case.

Unbelievable (32 million viewers) and When They See Us (25 million viewers) have quickly shown there’s a big audience for fact-based shows dealing with difficult, timely topics. Unbelievable, a combination of a dogged crime procedural and a docudrama, focuses on rape and how it can be mishandled by authorities; When They See Us, Ava DuVernay’s Emmy-winning Central Park Five miniseries, deals with race and how it too often leads to false imprisonment. Both were eagerly consumed by viewers and critics. Expect a major awards push in time for the Golden Globes, as well as further green lights for equally tough-minded dramas.

Ali Wong in Always Be My Maybe. Photograph: Ed Araquel/Netflix Ali Wong in Always Be My Maybe. Photograph: Ed Araquel/Netflix

Genres that have long been cast aside by Hollywood have been carefully and cleverly resuscitated by Netflix for a while now, with notable successes, such as 2018’s Summer of Love, that saw a string of smash-hit romcoms, including Set It Up, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and The Kissing Booth (all of which Netflix has been happy to brag about). In comparison, before Crazy Rich Asians last year, the industry hadn’t seen a $100 million romcom hit since 2011’s Just Go with It.

The latest top 10 is filled with similar examples: the teen movie/romcom crossovers The Perfect Date (48 million viewers) and Tall Girl (41 million viewers), the psycho-thriller Secret Obsession (40 million viewers), the romcom Always Be My Maybe (32 million viewers) and the chick flick Otherhood (29 million viewers) all score well.

Apart from Otherhood, these films aren’t really star-led; their appeal is more about a tried-and-tested-and-forgotten-about formula being brought back to life. The success of the “cheerfully trashy” thriller Secret Obsession, from the long-time Hallmark and Lifetime channel director Peter Sullivan, is perhaps the most concerning, given its rote plot and flat TV-movie direction.

It’s a cheap quickie that would usually be chucked on to cable, but its large viewership on Netflix will lead to more of the same; looking ahead at their schedule, there are similarly low-rent options in the coming months.

Yalitza Aparicio and Marco Graf in Roma. Photograph: Carlos Somonte/Netflix Yalitza Aparicio and Marco Graf in Roma. Photograph: Carlos Somonte/Netflix

The list of most-watched films, from Bird Box down to Fyre (20 million viewers) sees a gap of 60 million viewers, meaning that while some films hit big, a great many lag far, far behind. This doesn’t make them flops per se, but it does mean that genuine phenomenons are hard to find. The list also shows that although Netflix has put a great deal of funding into both its awards push and its splashy partnerships with respected auteurs, audiences are less invested in the outcome than the company is.

The most conspicuous absence is Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma, the platform’s most critically acclaimed and awarded film to date. Netflix might have been proud to flaunt its reviews, nominations and eventual wins, but it has yet to release any solid data about its streaming viewership or its limited run at the box office.

There’s also no love for the Coen brothers and their anthology western The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, Dan Gilroy’s Sundance-premiering art-world horror Velvet Buzzsaw, the long-awaited Orson Welles drama The Other Side of the Wind, Paul Greengrass’s grim docudrama 22 July or Steven Soderbergh’s High Flying Bird. These films would have been unlikely to make the top 10 most-watched films at the cinema, either, but the film list offers a picture of a far less demanding viewer than the TV list and shows a great discrepancy in the films that Netflix chooses to promote over what viewers choose to watch.

Given the uptick in major directors who have been lured to the platform, this might not be the case in the next 12 months. Martin Scorsese’s extravagant crime saga The Irishman will surely be a rare critical and commercial crossover title, although its mammoth, 210-minute running time might prove a problem. (Netflix counts more than 70 per cent of a movie or episode as a watch.) But for those who can’t make it through, there’s a film with Kristin Davis and Rob Lowe falling in love at Christmas while caring for elephants in Zambia. So, as appears to be the Netflix mantra, there really is something for everyone. – Guardian


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