Havas' Liting Spalding on Chinese Tech Models, Reddit's KarmaLab, and Loyalty Programs

On this week’s episode of The MadTech Podcast, Liting Spalding, head of audience planning & programmatic at Havas Media Group, joins ExchangeWire’s Rachel Smith and Anne-Marie Sheedy to discuss the latest news in ad tech and martech.

Together, they discuss:


- The West should look to China for inspiration on how to manage social media giants, says Wired’s Sridhar Ramaswamy, who argues that the nation’s big tech firms prove that there are alternatives to the dichotomy of paid-for subscriptions versus ad-supported services. 

Ramaswamy praises one of China’s most popular instant-messaging services, WeChat, as a paradigm of a user-centric business model that Facebook, Google, et al. should be encouraged to emulate. Whilst regulatory differences may make it easier for WeChat’s model to flourish domestically, Ramaswamy points out that much of the company’s success comes from its capacity to use its social channel to drive commercial sales.

China’s multi-billion audiobook and podcast scene, which is built on a system of users paying small amounts to listen to their preferred content rather than a flat fee for a broader service, further proves the viability of an alternative model, asserts Ramaswamy. 


- Reddit have launched an in-house agency to help brands take advantage of the platform’s burgeoning advertising opportunities. Dubbed KarmaLab and officially announced earlier this month, the creative and strategy agency aims to offer brands insights, workshops, community management, and campaign development.

Already working with a number of brands, including Taco Bell, Volvo, Samsung, and Snickers, KarmaLab will support brands in both on-platform and off-platform activities, such as by helping them launch a successful Reddit thread and to define their brand purpose.

KarmaLab chief Will Cady, who was formerly head of creative strategy at Reddit, says that the “unique interest groups” housed on the platform are a key benefit to brands, and cannot be found elsewhere. Cady also asserts that, unlike other agencies, KarmaLabs will be involved for the entirety of their clients’ campaigns, and will be able to provide brands with insights into Reddit’s 52 million daily active users. The social platform, which hosts millions of conversations on a range of topics via its “threads”, clearly expect the digital communities that blossomed under COVID lockdown measures to stay.


- Companies should consider turning to loyalty programs in response to the deprecation of third-party cookies, say YouGov. The consumer research group found that most shoppers consider it a fair trade to share their information in return for a reward, making loyalty programs a natural solution to the need to establish meaningful relationships with consumers whilst collecting first-party data in an ethical, compliant way.

In research carried out last month, YouGov found that 88% of 1,200 adults in the US are willing to share their information in exchange for something of value, such as free products, discounts, or other rewards. The rate was slightly higher (90%) among respondents aged 18-29. 68% of all respondents said they liked receiving discounts on products that they’d previously purchased as part of a retailer’s loyalty program. Of those who said they were willing to share their information for rewards, that figure rises to 74%, indicating that tailored, personalised rewards are what consumers consider a valuable trade-off for their personal information.

For brands and publishers, loyalty programs offer a way to scale up first-party data collection by driving customer interactions and incentivising engagement. Furthermore, as these schemes promote and reward regular, frequent purchases, they can go on to become sources of more detailed first-party data, which can be shared with partners and used to improve customers’ experiences. Additionally, the study found that loyalty schemes generate higher spending and help brands build deeper relationships with consumers, potentially spurring conversions by making existing customers more likely to recommend them.