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2019 is coming to a close amidst some major changes for our industry. Influencer-led work is thriving and expanding with more tools and strategies that support hyper-successful conversion campaigns on Instagram and Facebook, and a new crop of short-form video enthusiasts is winning advertiser attention as the platforms compete to be the long-lasting favorite in the category.

The instant popularity of "short-form fun" on platforms like TikTok speaks to the broader consumer desire for more real, raw, and relatable material. Expect more off-the-wall, can't-stop-watching 15-second videos across platforms.

These are the big stories we have our eyes on as we head toward 2020.

01: #SeasonsEatings Realness

As the holiday eating and cooking season approach, food content is front-and-center and reflecting some pretty interesting shifts in the culture of dining and entertaining.

ManRepeller’s recent love letter to Bon Appetit’s YouTube channel captures the unique, unvarnished alchemy behind Conde Nast’s wild success with video. Chrissy Teigen’s partnership with Impossible Foods and Alison Roman’s new cookbook “Nothing Fancy” both reflect how unfussy food and unfiltered commentary resonates. And, while “‘Hot Ones” from Complex and BarStool’s Pizza Reviews are of a different flavor—they too reflect viewers’ desire for personality-driven realness.

Takeaway: We’re witnessing a broader shift from ultra-produced and perfect to charmingly messy and real, and influencers and publishers in the food space get it right by balancing entertainment, utility, and inclusivity.

Read On: ManRepeller / Digiday / The Cut / New Yorker

02: TikTok Takes Off

Twelve months in and TikTok is taking center stage. High schools are starting TikTok clubs (“drama clubs for the digital age”) and theatrical teens are finding fame dancing off bad vibes from their exes.

Another relationship experiencing significant strain? Relations between the US and China—home to TikTok owner Bytedance. The platform made headlines for its controversial moderation policies and announced it will bar political ads (smart, considering a forthcoming wave of congressional inquiry). When will the hammer drop? US-based competitors Triller and Firework are taking bets.

Takeaway: For brands who want in on the fun with Gen Z— this is the perfect time to test the platform. We’re helping three brands chart new waters on TikTok and we’re always happy to discuss strategy.

Read on: NYT / Rolling Stone / NYT / AdAge / The Verge / TikTok Press Room / The Guardian / Washington Post

03: #SwipeUp and Boost

Developments over the past few weeks indicate that the “unicorn era” of highly-capitalized, business-model-challenged start-ups is drawing to a close (see WeWork’s overnight drop in valuation). While these companies are being forced to pivot from unchecked pursuit of growth to a more conventional focus on profit, there’s no doubt that their powerful brand building and marketing tactics still have merit. In fact, many traditional brands are now running the DTC marketer’s playbook and reaping the rewards.

This convergence is playing out front and center in the influencer marketplace where savvy brands are jumping on new features and amplification strategies that deliver a new scale of impact and measurability on social. Whether breaking barriers as the first liquor company shoppable via Instagram Stories or mobilizing a hyper-local influencer network throughout Europe like Lime Scooters—influencer-led commerce is coming in hot.

Takeaway: Spread the word—a new layer of value in influencer programs is available for brands of all stripes, so #swipeup and boost.

Read On: Ad Age / @profgalloway / Quartz / AdWeek