Join us for VISIONS Summit NYC  - June 11
Episode 263
July 25, 2022

"Zuckerberg's Figma Mockups"

Phillip and Brian sit down to chat about GROW NY, YouTube Shopping, Instagram Local, and all the things in between. Listen now!

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Brian: [00:01:16] Hello and welcome to Future Commerce, the podcast about the next generation of commerce. I am Brian.

Phillip: [00:01:21] And I am Phillip, and we're going to talk about a lot of things today that might signal where the future of commerce is heading. We're going to definitely cover YouTube shopping. We're definitely going to cover Instagram local, and we're going to talk about all the things in between. In the meantime, can we give a quick plug up top? If you're not listening to Visions, which is our newest podcast, our most recent episode just launched covering Romanticism. We have amazing guests, including Miya Knights, who's a noted retail analyst and author, and Grace Clarke, who is an early-stage marketing and consumer go-to-market product specialist and helps brands at the early stage. And Michael Miraflor, who is very prolific in recognizing trends and is a VC these days but has a wealth of experience in creating ad campaigns and as an ad executive on the agency side. Brilliant panel to talk about brands as artists. And so Romanticism Episode 3 of the Visions podcast. We'll link it up below. If you are looking for a deep, deep, and insightful conversation, that will kind of change your perspective of the way that you see brand and art in the world, that's the one to listen to. And I don't often do this, but Brian, I've been listening to our own content. I've listened to this one episode five times in the last 48 hours.

Brian: [00:02:42] It's good.

Phillip: [00:02:43] I'm very inspired.

Brian: [00:02:45] So yeah, Visions has been so cool to go back and listen to because sometimes it's really hard to absorb everything that's being said when you're a part of the conversation.

Phillip: [00:02:58] Especially when you're part of the conversation because you have like a job to do, right?

Brian: [00:03:02] Yes, exactly. Exactly.

Phillip: [00:03:04] Yeah.

Brian: [00:03:05] It's part of the job.

Phillip: [00:03:05] Part of the job. Go check it out. I just got back from GROW NY, and I have a whole lot of thoughts.

Brian: [00:03:13] Tell me about it, because I want to hear about it because I had serious FOMO while you were there. I wanted to be there.

Phillip: [00:03:22] Let's kind of flip the script a little bit. What was your perception of GROW from the outside and having not been there, what do you perceive the event to be and what did you perceive that this particular instance of the GROW event to be like? What just purely from a social media perspective, what did you pick up on?

Brian: [00:03:42] Well, I think one of the things I picked up on was, well, mostly from your threads, I should say because you did a really great job of doing kind of a Day 1, Day 2 threads. And if you really want to know more about what happened to GROW, go check out Phillip's threads. They were his very unfiltered comments about what was going on.

Phillip: [00:04:03] Very unfiltered comments. {laughter} My incensed outrage at a few things.

Brian: [00:04:10] And that and a few other LinkedIn posts and Twitter threads that I saw... It made me first of all think that people are having a lot of fun and getting to see partners that maybe they've only seen a couple of times recently. And it just felt like, also New York is just a really fun place to have an event in general. It looked like fun. That part alone made me have FOMO. I think the second part was it definitely felt exactly like what the event advertised, which is DTC-focused. So a lot of founders and marketers from brands and at a time when... And I think this is such a perfect time to be having this discussion after the article you just wrote about the role of DTC and how it isn't exactly what we thought it was.

Phillip: [00:05:07] Right.

Brian: [00:05:07] And so I think that there were a lot of like maybe lessons learned, but also lessons learned trying to be spun in a bit of a positive way, which is not a bad thing always. But it felt like maybe there was a lot of like, "We're fine," in a good way, I guess. And a lot of these brands are fine. They just aren't necessarily going to have the kind of explosive growth that they thought they might have. It's a tool. DTC is a tool.

Phillip: [00:05:39] It's interesting because you're 100% right about all of what you said. Remember, we had a B Mart? We had Brandon Martinez on the show.

Brian: [00:05:51] I mean, it wasn't that long ago.

Phillip: [00:05:52] Like, I don't know, two weeks ago. And he was talking about the general vibe of NFT NYC, and how it was generally upbeat and despite everything going on around it, there was a lot of community excitement to see each other, but also to maybe commiserate over the fact that maybe things aren't going to be the way that they used to be. And that's okay. Now we're in a long, slow build and ramp to something else, and whatever that next thing is, we'll figure it out. That is exactly the vibe that I got at GROW NY. It's my first GROW event, so having sort of been on the outside of the direct to consumer space and sort of observing it not necessarily being party or first party experience in DTC over the last five years.

Brian: [00:06:43] Yeah, I mean, certain DTC circles at least.

Phillip: [00:06:48] Well, I don't think DTC Twitter is DTC.

Brian: [00:06:51] Right.

Phillip: [00:06:52] Just like I don't think Twitter is the Internet. I think it is its own thing. And we can certainly touch on some tribalism and clicky behavior and certainly factions that have formed in that little sect. But if you think about DTC in general, it itself has sort of become a bunch of stratified groups of people. You have there's a lot of ad tech conversation and performance marketing. There's a lot of conversation around brand. There are a lot of people that are retention analysts and there's all of that. So it's like if you talk about ROAS as you're in your own little circle and they all kind of belong together and they're all necessarily mutually beneficial to each other, but they have very different groups that they belong to.

Brian: [00:07:46] There's one group, speaking of romanticism, that's in there that you identified, which is like brands that have been created just to impress other brands.

Phillip: [00:07:58] Oh, that's such a good point. Yeah. Oh, that's let's touch on that for a second. I think that ties into GROW actually.

Brian: [00:08:04] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:08:04] Because there's... You and I, our very first fight ever as friends and founders...

Brian: [00:08:15] Maybe our only real fight.

Phillip: [00:08:17] I don't know about that. I think we've definitely had our disagreements on a bunch of things.

Brian: [00:08:21] Yes. First real fight.

Phillip: [00:08:24] Our most authentic, I was like incensed at you.

Brian: [00:08:28] I had no idea. I thought we were in just a jokey fight.

Phillip: [00:08:32] You're like, "We're just cutting it up here, Phillip." "No, I'm mad." You insulted Dave Matthews Band or me and then Dave Matthews Band in that order.

Brian: [00:08:43] "Anyone that thinks Dave Matthews is good is an idiot." {laughter}

Phillip: [00:08:48] {laughter} Which, I would never say, first of all, I would never say I'm a fan of Dave Matthews Band. But I respect the work. I respect the skill and the artistry.

Brian: [00:09:00] Yeah, I respect the... In fact, I think we came around on this. I respect the artistry as well. Dave Matthews Band and Dave Matthews himself are incredible, incredible musicians.

Phillip: [00:09:09] Yeah, but I think that there's something about that kind of music where there's a brilliant marketing engine that makes certain parts of that catalog broadly accessible to allow the rest of the catalog to exist. There is the commercialization of the art, and then there is art art, and the art art isn't necessarily digestible by the masses. To some degree, it is art made for other artists. It is a pure expression of like mathematical musicianship and excellence in being incredible musicians in every single player's own right that exists really to impress other people. And those other people are musical artists themselves. And that to me speaks a lot to what the direct to consumer movement is about. And a lot of the things I witnessed at GROW, which is there's a certain type of a brand that kind of exists just to impress other brand founders. And there's a I say this a lot, there's a lingua franca of the direct to consumer sect that they use. It's like this is insider language and this is how we speak to each other, so we specifically come together to appeal to each other and to impress each other. And that's what I think a lot of GROW really is as an event.

Brian: [00:10:34] So...

Phillip: [00:10:36] And that's not like me being critical.

Brian: [00:10:38] No.

Phillip: [00:10:39] I think that that is a really fascinating thing to exist in our world.

Brian: [00:10:47] This is the interesting part about it. I don't think that for the most part, it's even conscious. Like Dave Matthews Band wouldn't...

Phillip: [00:10:56] No. No, no.

Brian: [00:10:56] Yeah, yeah. The Dave Matthews Band is like, "No, we're for the fans, man." It's tough to recognize when you're so deep in that you're not even you're not doing it for yourself necessarily. You kind of are. You're not doing it for the market. You're doing it in such a way that you're catering to all the other people in the industry and you don't even know it.

Phillip: [00:11:28] There's a really interesting manifestation of this in film. Film certainly has this very same sort of insider, navel-gazing film critics circles of people who critique work. And we now have had podcasts and independent film critic media that's been around long enough that the newest filmmakers grew up listening to and subscribing to that culture of critique. And so what do they do? They grow up 20 years later to have maybe an implicit bias to want to appeal to that type of critic. So that is a really interesting happenstance that now we live in that era. I was listening to a podcast called Culturally Relevant by David Chen. He interviewed the Daniels who made Everything Everywhere All at Once. And the Daniels grew up listening to David Chen's podcast 15, 16 years ago, when they were just getting their start in film school. And they listened to David Chen and the Slashfilm cast and they read Slashfilm as an early blog in the early aughts. So now they're filmmakers themselves and probably will be award-winning filmmakers themselves, and they're creating art that is informed by the content that they consumed when they were younger. It's cyclical, and we're kind of doing that to some degree too. We are all patrons of the brand art that we all help to exist in this world by our patronage. To some degree, we're less customers. We're basically just going to have the romanticism conversation, you and me now. But we're patrons of an art. It doesn't mean that that art becomes so commercially successful that it's at the level of like Warhol, right? Where the artist becomes so ubiquitous and so known, that doesn't mean that that exists. Smaller artists have patrons, too. And that's what we all have become sort of in the DTC realm.

Brian: [00:14:35] It's interesting in music because it's become so easy to consume. It's free, basically to consume music.

Phillip: [00:14:43] Ugh, yeah.

Brian: [00:14:44] And so in some ways, it's actually sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy because while you may not buy something from Dave Matthews Band, if there was something to buy, you as a consumer might be like, "I wouldn't buy a CD of Dave Matthews, but I would definitely listen to him on Spotify." I do wonder, like, I feel like that's kind of the same thing that happens with brands where you're consuming like maybe some art that they make and they put it on the internet, like digital art. This is actually the exact conversation. You'll consume the free stuff, but you're not going to actually pay for anything.

Phillip: [00:15:26] It's true.

Brian: [00:15:27] Whatever they put out in the street you're all in on.

Phillip: [00:15:30] This actually gets back to the content that I least enjoyed at GROW, and I enjoyed my time and GROW. There are definite reasons that there were parts that I did not enjoy. We'll talk about that because I want to backload that. I don't want to like lead with, "Oh, it was hot in the venue. Let's save that for another time.

Brian: [00:15:47] But it was in New York in a heat wave.

Phillip: [00:15:52] In a historic venue that everyone's like, "Well, they forgot to turn the A/C on." Actually, I took a lot of pictures of that venue and I couldn't find A/C ducts much anywhere, but that's a whole other story. So going a little deeper on this, there's a certain type of free content that you'll passively consume where it's not actively requiring your attention. So like lo-fi beats or stream beats or beats to work to are meant to be a passive background thing that is not ever meant to capture your attention and hold it. Unfortunately, in thought leadership, especially in our space. That's the bulk of the content that comes out is not and...

Brian: [00:16:36] I agree. I agree.

Phillip: [00:16:38] I mean this. It's not interesting enough to demand your active attention and participation. It's not trying to say much of anything, and most people would never pay for that. But what happens is when you go to a physical in real life event, there's an inversion that takes place where you pay for it before you experience it and you pay money to go to a show like this. And then you sit in an audience and you hear a bunch of commodified content that you would never pay for or actively pay attention to if it was a podcast. And it's such a shame because I don't think that the people who are on stages at these types of events, and this is not a GROW thing, this is an industry, conference and event thing, I don't know that at the scale...

Brian: [00:17:33] Oh, hold on. Finish your thought.

Phillip: [00:17:34] I want you to say your thing because I know exactly what I want to say. But you say your thing because I've said mine twice this week already in other venues.

Brian: [00:17:41] Okay. You're absolutely right. But you know who pays to go to shows? Not merchants. Certainly not merchants. It's actually... You nailed it. It is passive content. It's free for merchants or cheap as free for merchants to go to conferences. They don't pay for that content.

Phillip: [00:18:04] Right.

Brian: [00:18:05] The only people that pay for that content are the sponsors.

Phillip: [00:18:08] Sponsors. Right.

Brian: [00:18:09] And they want that content to go to... They're paying to have that content go to the merchants that do attend.

Phillip: [00:18:20] In some ways that's where GROW, I think, has sort of maybe at least the intention, and I know nothing... I don't know the company. I don't know the events company. I don't know anything about them. Maybe we should have them on the show so that we're not just having a whole conversation about their intentions without them present. But what I perceive is putting a show in the middle of Brooklyn or in Queens, where it's not really near anything, including a subway, you can't really get out. You're there.

Brian: [00:18:54] Queens is the Vegas of New York?

Phillip: [00:18:56] Well, at least in Vegas, if you're not enjoying the show, you can go distract yourself with something else. This was literally you're there and there's nothing else to do around it but be at the show. So to that end, you kind of avoid just in the logistics of this particular venue in event and the time of year, you're avoiding the distraction that would happen elsewhere. Generally, in an event like this, what it takes to put butts in the seat is two things. One, we need a commercial success of an event so that it can exist. So we need enough sponsors. What brings a sponsor to an event? Butts in seats. So these are forces of nature. So to get people to pay to come to a conference to be a butt in a seat, you need what? You need big names, big brands, recognizable logos, and people that are in executive leadership. But these are generally at other shows, people who would never come and sit around or hang out in the hallway or sit in a talk, to be an active participant or an active listener or walk around an expo hall. So the artifice of why we're all there, it is inherently a construct. It's artificial. The brands that are "present" at this event are technically the ones speaking, the ones that the logos that you see at an event.

Brian: [00:20:19] This is the criticism that's been leveled against Shoptalk in the past.

Phillip: [00:20:23] But that is 100%. We all know that to be true, but we still all participate in it.

Brian: [00:20:29] Here's why... Actually you finish. You do your witnessed first.

Phillip: [00:20:35] So what I witnessed at GROW was two things happen sort of simultaneously. One, and this was an excellent sort of I perceive this events team to be extraordinary and very good and very perceptive and respondent and quick to pivot. So day two was different than day one. They did a lot of things, I think, to mitigate a lot of the problems that were had on day one. But on day one, the main session when we were about three or four talks in, and now it's getting 85, 86, 87 degrees inside the room, the audience checked out. The audience decided "We're done." Why? Because you had two or three sessions where the speakers were kind of just doing like general platitudes and founder stories stuff that we have all heard before and probably from some of the people that had already been there before and people were passively participating anyway. What I saw was a lot of people on their phones, and a lot of people in Slack sitting in the audience. And you know what? What's the next best thing to being there? I haven't seen half of these people in years. And there's really not a whole lot of space in this particular venue to have the hallway track. So, you know what they did? People were actively talking over top of the stage speakers.

Brian: [00:21:58] That was the hallway track. The hallway track was literally in the session.

Phillip: [00:22:00] The hallway track took place in the main session. And so they kept amping up the volume to try to overcome the drone of hundreds of people talking during a main session. It was at once like if they had had floor managers on the floor telling people to break it up or to move it out, then they could have mitigated it. But once they had lost control of the audience, the control was lost forever. And there's no amount of screaming from a stage that can regain that kind of control. It was rude on two parts. Rude on behalf of the audience that they have such little respect for the people who either... For the sponsors who paid to host these talks or the panel prep or the people that have prepped to be there flew in from out of town, like they left their families behind for a day or two to come to sit in this room for 20 minutes. And you can't give them 5 minutes or 20 minutes of your time. You're going to actively talk over top of them. That's so unbelievably inconsiderate. So the audience, to some degree, is to blame for bad etiquette. But at the same time, if there had been a proactive management on behalf of the events team to break it up when it was starting or the speaker in the session, if I had been moderating the session when it started, I would have stopped the panel and said, "Hey guys, can you move this out?" You know I would have done that. You know I would have done that.

Brian: [00:23:25] You would have done that.

Phillip: [00:23:26] I have no problem doing that. It's not my event, but this is my talk, my time, not your time. Anyway.

Brian: [00:23:33] Well, there's a third, there's the third piece is there, which is, I mean, there's an element of like being so compelling that people want to listen to you.

Phillip: [00:23:41] I think, well, it's hard to fault... So that's the other thing. These are people who operate brands for a living. They don't command people's attention as a speaker for a living. And that's kind of what I do. My job is to create content that's compelling enough to command your attention. And that's a learned skill just as an entertainer. It's a learned skill that when you learn and perceive that you've lost to the people. We lost them. How do we get them back? You do that by failing a lot, too, by the way. And I think that people will have learned something.

Brian: [00:24:18] I think this illustrates the why that I was going to mention earlier. [00:24:21] The why we all keep going to these events is because they're there and we need them. We need them. [00:24:31]

Phillip: [00:24:32]  [00:24:32]It's a marketplace that needs to exist for us to perpetuate. [00:24:35]

Brian: [00:24:35] Right. And a lot of us live our lives remotely and don't get a lot of interaction with the industry in real life, in settings. And we all work a lot. So a lot of our friends are in the industry. So we need this time to sort of it's part of the process of being in the industry. You have to have these times of like spitting out everything and receiving things and so that if there was no space for a hallway track, I am not surprised that there was a lot of chatter in the actual session because the main reason why people go to these things is to talk with people. And this is my criticism of a lot of events.

Phillip: [00:25:25] One of the main reasons.

Brian: [00:25:27]  [00:25:27]This is my criticism of a lot of events is that they don't give space for this. This is one of the big reasons why people are there. It's that they do want to walk around and talk to vendors to some degree. They do want to listen to sessions to some degree, but they really also want to have the space which they will not get if they are not there to go talk with people. [00:25:48]

Phillip: [00:25:49] Especially now and especially with... So let's shift gears a little bit because there are a couple of things that we could tie into this to some of the other... I know we mentioned two news stories at the top that I think are sort of intrinsic to the content we create and certain point of views that we have. There were people that I met who I'd never met before at this event. God, I wish you were there, man.

Brian: [00:26:10] I wish I was there.

Phillip: [00:26:11] There was general feedback that I haven't heard from people that I'd never met before who have their own perspective on what Future Commerce is and the role that we play in our industry. And the thing that I kept hearing from at least four or five people, if not more, is we're doing something that nobody else is doing. We actually have a point of view and a perspective and we're not shy about it and people are picking up on that. They'll say it in different ways, "Oh, you guys have a voice." or "Oh, you have sharp critique or criticism about things and you're not afraid to like engage in long-form conversation about that." And I'm like, "Oh yeah, it's like we're modeling discourse." So there's a really interesting like people are getting what we're trying to do in all the mediums we're trying to do it, and everyone engages in a different way. Some people listen to podcasts, some people read the Visions report, and some people read the newsletter, but they all have the same experience in different mediums. We're doing something right. And one of those people was Sara Livingston, who is Head of Customer Solutions and very, very tied to product over at Rockerbox. And her perspective on us is, I've been watching you for a long time. I pay attention to what everybody's doing in our space. Why aren't you guys holding more of these types of events? Because there aren't enough of them for this audience. This audience will show up, 1,000 - 1,500 people, they may not dedicate multiple days to it. And you guys sense that there are different audiences to appeal to and different conversations to be had in different types of conversations to be had. Since you have such broad and bold ideas, why aren't you guys doing this? And maybe that's forecasting where I think we go next year. But it made me think why don't more of these exist? Why don't more regional, smaller events exist? In an era before, I used to have a 600 person Magento meetup in South Florida of all places. People will travel in for a single day, single night, half day event. People want that community, that hallway track to exist without the commercial aspect around it that perpetuates it.

Brian: [00:28:48] I mean, it's hard for that to exist without the commercial aspect to some degree because you also want to have a good time.

Phillip: [00:28:55] Yeah, well, you can manage. You can manage. There are different incantations of this.

Brian: [00:29:03] Totally agree. I think that there's like different levels and different sizes and there are different formats. And I agree with you. Gets back to what I said before. We need this.

Phillip: [00:29:15] Oh, yeah.

Brian: [00:29:15] Well, our industry needs this at every level. There is a certain level of validation and it is a way to understand how things are working. So, yeah, I'm with you. I'm with Sara. We need more.

Phillip: [00:29:36] I'm with Sara. So let's shift gears, because I do think that one of those things that we're very pointed about are two of the news stories that we mentioned. Let's take them one by one. Which one do you want to do first?

Brian: [00:31:20] Youtube, for sure.

Phillip: [00:31:21] Yeah. Give me the story on this one.

Brian: [00:31:23] Well, YouTube now has the ability to do shopping on YouTube, which is amazing. Through Shopify. So Shopify and YouTube partnered up. You can now connect your Shopify checkout in-store to your YouTube channel, which is amazing. And something that you predicted many, many months ago when you were criticizing live streaming. You're like, this is not the future. Something like shoppable video is actually closer to what we're going to go to or basically like shoppable content.

Phillip: [00:32:04] Contextual commerce.

Brian: [00:32:05] Contextual commerce. Exactly. And others in our space have said the same without criticizing live streaming along the way. I think that this is a long time coming. And thank you, YouTube, for finally making this move. And we've got some friends over there that were certainly a part of this.

Phillip: [00:32:26] Oh, sure. Well, one thing we mentioned, if you were to rewind... So this week when you're listening to this, it should happen right about the same time. Every issue of our newsletter, The Senses in every article, and every editorial that we've ever written over the last two years of having published that newsletter will now be available on our Future Commerce website. Requires a membership, but membership is free, and if you want to go back and read, we will link it up here. It is free to join, but we would love for you to participate. We wrote a piece on January, I think the 24th of 2022, and that piece was basically Live stream commerce is not going to happen in the same way, and I didn't draw the equivalence at the time but, is VR the manifestation of a visual alternate reality? Is VR the thing that's going to take off or will AR be the perpetuation? And I think VR is intrinsically kind of like a manifestation, like live stream commerce is a manifestation of shopping shoppable content. I think that AR is the thing that will actually be the proliferation of long term of like having an overlay onto our reality. People make purchasing decisions all of the time based on video content that they're watching. They don't necessarily want the content to sell to them. And that is the modality in which the reason why they're watching the content. And so this there's been a couple of news stories recently that have like completely made me bristle about TikTok replacing Google. I think that  [00:34:14]there are all of these things that exist in the world and it's very complicated, but these things that exist in the world that absolutely inspire us and cause purchasing decisions to happen, giving people the power to purchase when they have the moment of inspiration doesn't require a talking head to sell to them long form in video and so shoppable content and the tools to do it is something we said very definitively back in January is what YouTube will do this year, and here it is. What blows my mind is it took less than a week between the announcement, between Shopify's announcement of their integration and starting to see it on YouTube in the wild. [00:34:55]

Brian: [00:34:55] Yeah, I think what's also interesting about this is the format.

Phillip: [00:35:01] The merch shelf?

Brian: [00:35:01] We saw a retreat from Live stream shopping by TikTok at almost the exact same moment as YouTube announces this, I mean it was within a very short amount of time. It was like maybe a month.

Phillip: [00:35:24] You're referencing another news story, that TikTok, by the way, it was only like ten days ago. TikTok had pulled down or had announced that they were pulling back from their Live shopping investments, like their eCommerce investments in Europe and the US.

Brian: [00:35:40] Now that said, that's happening at the same time when we see a lot of jobs being posted.

Phillip: [00:35:46] Oh, that was the other thing. There's eCommerce specialization at TikTok US, like multiple job recs, that exist on multiple sites right now.

Brian: [00:35:57] I can't help but think they're rethinking how they want to do commerce instead of going all in on sort of maybe what was successful in China, thinking about how to do commerce in the US from like a US culture perspective is probably where TikTok is headed. And I think YouTube's been actually grappling with this for a long time, trying to get closer to the actual checkout and purchasing experience and wanting to do it right. And because it is such a powerful channel. Youtube is actually one of the most powerful sources of content on the entire web. We talk about TikTok a lot. I can't believe that people are making TikTok replacing Google comparisons when they could be making TikTok replacing YouTube comparisons, which I still think is not true because the format is significantly different. And this is why, and I think getting back to what you said. The format of YouTube is actually last thing content. It's content that's almost TV-wise for us growing up in the nineties, even though we saw the rise of YouTube. TV is still a very powerful format for us.

Phillip: [00:37:25] It's interesting because you're making a really interesting point. The fact is, though, that YouTube now is multiple things to multiple people at the same time.

Brian: [00:37:37] Right. Exactly.

Phillip: [00:37:37] Youtube Shorts apparently is a wildly successful medium. So Shorts being their TikTok competitor. We see a lot of syndication of TikTok content on YouTube Shorts, but there are also YouTube Shorts creators who are YouTube premium and like former YouTube Red stars who are creating short-form content there, not necessarily on TikTok and there are billions of views on YouTube Shorts. So I don't want to sell that short, pun intended.

Brian: [00:38:08] I think you're headed in the right direction, which is YouTube actually is used by every generation right now.

Phillip: [00:38:14] That's true. And where TikTok is, I think, very much skewed towards one type of like the modality of a younger consumer. I think one of the ways of being persuasive is understanding the counterargument to the argument you're making. So while I have said... Someone clip this and put it on social media for later. I have said Live stream shopping will never happen.

Brian: [00:38:44] Never happen. You said never, "Never," multiple times.

Phillip: [00:38:46] It will never happen in the US.

Brian: [00:38:48] Never, never, never.

Phillip: [00:38:49] You can tell me that they do it in Asia and then I'm going to ask you if you eat Marmite because a lot of countries in the world eat Marmite and they love Marmite. And that's like saying that Marmite, you know, the US tastes will eventually evolve to have a sophisticated palate, to love yeast spreads. I doubt that. The US consumer will probably never like a yeast spread and maybe Live stream shopping is the Marmite of entertainment. That's what I'm going to say.

Brian: [00:39:20] Okay. I love that. I do think Marmite might make a US appearance at some point. It will probably.

Phillip: [00:39:27] It's already been DTC'd. People have tried it. They try to make a luxury product out of it. It's not going to happen.

Brian: [00:39:33] Okay. All right.

Phillip: [00:39:35] The counterargument to this is that there are more than one multibillion-dollar valuations and publicly traded companies that are having reportedly extreme amounts of success in demonstrable success, in enabling Live stream for brands. Some of their customers are subscribers of ours, Hennessy, LVMH, you know, there's Farfetch. So they definitely skew upstream, upmarket into the luxury space. They definitely skew into a certain kind of vertical. One that was brought to my attention recently... Paul de Forno, who's a friend of the show, you know, definitely pinged me to say, "Hey, did you know that Whatnot just raised $260 Million in funding for a $3.7 billion valuation?" Yeah, never going to happen in the US. I'm just going to double down on it.

Brian: [00:40:34] So there are ways that I could see sort of like like an off-string where someone would be like, "See, Phillip. It did happen," where it's like it's not scalable. It's for high-dollar purchases.

Phillip: [00:40:45] That's to me one to few or one to one.

Brian: [00:40:47] One to few. Yeah, it's going to happen.

Phillip: [00:40:49] It's not a QVC thing that everyone has been predicting.

Brian: [00:40:51] In a clienteling sort of way, I think it could happen but you're absolutely right. If you're talking at scale, I am with you. It is not an at scale kind of thing. You're going to have to create a whole army of Live streamers if you want Live stream to be successful.

Phillip: [00:41:10] I believe there are armies of Live streamers. I'm talking very specifically about the US consumer. That's the one that I'm thinking of when I say it's not going to happen. I could be wrong. What one of my arguments has been and this is coming back to why I say that why I feel so strongly about it, and why I am just putting myself out there and probably setting myself up for the future, for me to just be endlessly berated ten years from now.

Brian: [00:41:39] Eat your words. {laughter}

Phillip: [00:41:39] One of the reasons is that social media companies, especially video streaming in the world, are subsidizing Live streams to begin with. They pay people flat fees, flat rates to Live stream for a specific period of time, a certain number of times a week. Creators are only using Live streams because it's producing revenue from them, regardless of how much engagement they're getting or how much they're selling while they're on there. What is one thing that you can get on and do aside from playing video games? What is one thing you can get on and do long form for an hour or 30 minutes at a time? You can talk about a product, right? Especially if someone is paying you to do that. And so I do think that the commercial aspect of this exists and perpetuates to belief because people keep saying, "Well, I'm seeing it." Well, yeah, well, because people are being paid to do it. Anyway.

Brian: [00:42:42] This is, again, different from shoppable TV. This is not the same thing.

Phillip: [00:42:48] Precisely. I mean, Roku just partnered with Walmart. Roku will provide one click purchase contextually while programming is going on that doesn't make you leave the experience. You can buy something while you're watching. It is a contextual purchase. That is not Live stream shopping. That is something else. And I do believe contextual commerce is a future that we will all need. And the technologies that power that aren't too far off from the set of technologies that we already have today, and they don't require additional skills or talent to be cultivated to be able to do it. Being a QVC presenter, demonstrating product, being knowledgeable about the product, and entertaining people, so again, coming back to the thing that I just talked about... An entertainer's job is to know when they're like captivating their audience, when they're losing their audience, and how to keep their attention. That is a learned and acquired skill that very few people have in comparison to, Hey, we already have this thing. There's already entertaining content in the world. You're already being inspired to buy stuff because of it. Why not just sell through it?

Brian: [00:43:53] Yeah, I'm watching Only Murders in the Building Season 2 right now. And it's of course...

Phillip: [00:43:59] Talk about podcasting.

Brian: [00:44:00] Talk about podcasting. But the in-context ads have been incredible. The ad strategy has been specific to this show. It's incredible.

Phillip: [00:44:13] Do you not have Hulu premium?

Brian: [00:44:15] I don't.

Phillip: [00:44:17] So I have a very different experience from you. I have no ads.

Brian: [00:44:20] I know it's the one streaming service where I still have ads. I'm very strongly considering eliminating them. But yeah, it's because I bought the Disney bundle and I bought the cheaper bundle because it was like half the price or something because I'm an idiot.

Phillip: [00:44:37] Let's shift gears. We did say that we talk about Instagram Local. One of the other things that I've sort of like made the Future Commerce point and I'd love to hear your perspective on it because I've certainly just run with it as if we have a perspective as a brand. But I'm sure you have a nuanced take on it. Is this idea that TikTok is replacing Google. And this relates to the story that Instagram Local story tangentially [00:45:09]. There was a story that an SVP of product at Google was on stage at a conference and mentioned, a very soft statistic at this conference that "Something like," and that's a direct quote, "Something like 40% of young people prefers to use TikTok or Instagram over Google search, and that is," paraphrasing here now, "an existential threat to the company. Like that's something they're not going to Google Maps. They're not going to Google search. They're using the tools that they have in their hands every day. And I said, "Preposterous." The takeaway that everybody had, and I say everybody, I should quantify. What Twitter had was TikTok is going to replace Google for a young consumer. I'd love to talk about that for a moment and how that relates to Instagram search. [00:46:04]

Brian: [00:46:06] Google Maps. {laughter} I would love it if every single route that you could ever take was actually a TikTok. And you followed someone's live directions. Yep. And it was all like based on like an algorithm and live traffic patterns and they had a narrative that would like change based off your route. And you could have a whole thing about like what was along the way. Oh man, actually that would be awesome for a road trip. I'm like kind of in on this. But no, I don't think that TikTok is replacing Google. {laughter}

Phillip: [00:46:49] But I think that [00:46:50] Google has been replaced. So let's say this a different way. Google has already been replaced for a bunch of different purposes. [00:46:56]

Brian: [00:46:56] Well, yeah. So if you could say that if you add Amazon, plus TikTok, plus Instagram, plus Facebook, plus well, maybe not Facebook... Plus...

Phillip: [00:47:09] Yelp, right. Resy, Open Table... Like there are specific solutions, right?

Brian: [00:47:16] So yes, could TikTok become a super app?

Phillip: [00:47:20] Yes.

Brian: [00:47:21] That is possible.

Phillip: [00:47:22] I believe it. I believe that that's true. But this happened to happen the same week that TikTok announced that they were pulling back from eCommerce. And it happened to happen the same week that TikTok started testing the removal of its search button for a lot of people. In their experiences, they hid the search functionality and buried it below the friends functionality. So A/B testing notwithstanding, there is a hypothesis happening at TikTok of how often search is being used. And so I tried it. I tried it twice this week for myself because why not? I looked and said, "Okay, I want to have brunch in West Palm Beach on Saturday morning." So I took a search TikTok to find brunch spots in West Palm Beach because my immediate reaction was, if you're in LA or New York, you have a coastal elite mindset, as if West Palm Beach is not a coastal elite city, but anyway, you have a coastal elite mindset and a critical mass of people who would be content creators on TikTok, who would skew your perception as to how useful that tool would be. You would have an oversupply of places to go to brunch. Oversupply of people that are creators. So you have an endless amount of inspiration. If you search brunch in New York City, you're going to find plenty of inspiration. West Palm Beach, probably not as much. Here's what I found. All of the best places for brunch in West Palm Beach are completely absent. Is there a ton of content? Yes, there's a lot of content. So could I be inspired to find a bunch of places I didn't know existed? Yes. But here's the thing. I'm a native. I'm a local. The obvious spots are completely missing from here. And so for me, it's either it's not hidden gems. This is like a commercialized thing that the people who are probably already creating content as it is, are using other sources to find restaurants locally because they're traveling, they're out of town, they're vlogging, they're coming in on a vacation... They're not natives creating the content. Here in my city, it's people that don't know anything about the city that are creating content. They're being inspired from elsewhere of where to go. And that's a problem because the content that exists on TikTok is bad. It's bad advice, it's not good. There are better places to go. I end my rant right there.

Brian: [00:49:52] And that may get back to like the idea that you kind of need experts to tell you things sometimes. A completely democratized take on things often ends up with people who don't know what they're talking about, telling you what you should do. And that is a problem.

Phillip: [00:50:13] Can be a problem. I think if you're in Boise or Columbus or Kansas City, you know, your results may vary as to how prolific TikTok could be no matter what your demographic for how useful it is to replace Google search. Now, this is what leads to the Instagram Local story is that Instagram or Mark Zuckerberg in particular as part of Meta just announced... I love, freaking love this by the way. It's like it's a Figma mockup. This is not a functional feature yet. Someone made a Photoshop and Mark Zuckerberg made a post about it and now like we're all "Oh, Instagram search is replacing Google." There was a news story we'll link it up in the show notes that Mark Zuckerberg announced that there's a feature coming called Instagram local, which will be a map, it's effectively competing head to head with Google Maps, that will show you places that are popular on Instagram for check ins and tags and stories on a map nearby to your current location. This is actually a really interesting and impressive maturation of something that already existed, which is Facebook has had local business investments for a decade. Having a Facebook page for your local business has been a thing for almost a generation now.

Brian: [00:51:50] Do you feel like this is like a step towards having Instagram sort of replace Facebook as the de facto Meta product? I feel like it is because I feel like Facebook has picked up such a bad rap over the past two years, three years, five years, ten years.{laughter}

Phillip: [00:52:11] Let's keep going... 16 years, 15 years.

Brian: [00:52:14] But Instagram doesn't have quite as much of that same stigma that Facebook has.

Phillip: [00:52:22] It has a different kind of stigma. You're right.

Brian: [00:52:23] It does have a different kind of stigma. The problems that Instagram is facing are different than the problems that Facebook has been facing. So I just can't help but wonder if Meta is trying to migrate as many people as possible over to Instagram.

Phillip: [00:52:39] I think maybe. I do think that if there is a perception that Instagram is a super app in a bunch of ways. First of all, Facebook has had a mapping product forever. They do marketplace. Facebook marketplace.

Brian: [00:52:52] How hard was it for them to do this? Probably not that hard.

Phillip: [00:52:55] As hard as it would be for us to hire someone on Upwork to make a mock-up on Figma. This is an announcement of an announcement like we are going to make an announcement of a forthcoming product feature that is 100% driven by the news cycle and nothing else.

Brian: [00:53:12] Mark Zuckerberg had his PA, he's like, "I've got an idea."

Phillip: [00:53:19] Mark's actively writing a brief on Upwork right now. Can someone make... But that's, I think, like knowing how the world works, this is a press release governed by the news cycle to see what kind of reaction it gets before they prioritize it in in their product roadmap. Like the perspective is honestly aside from the screenshot, this already exists on Instagram. It does. If I go to tag a photo, it's going to show me 20 local businesses that are right by where I took that picture to try to discern where I took that picture. This already exists. It's just the map visualization product doesn't.

Brian: [00:54:05] Right. And also that map visualization product will probably lead to all kinds of other opportunities where...

Phillip: [00:54:11] 100%. It will be 100% ad-driven. The point here would be to...

Brian: [00:54:15] Pay to play.

Phillip: [00:54:16] To discover things.

Brian: [00:54:19] Monetize.

Phillip: [00:54:20] And in that way, I do see right the near me function is probably my most used raw google search. That is not me spearfishing for a thing that I know already exists. And I'm trying to find it. The Apple charger near me is a Google search that I would make a lot. Luggage near me. Brunch near me. This is how I find things on Google Maps without going to Google Maps and typing. So the near me aspect is a thing that I do think could easily be subverted by Instagram, probably not by TikTok, and not any time soon. This is a generationally developed and cultivated behavior over a long period of time, not a short period of time. Now you can argue that there's a compression in adoption at this moment, that we're more used to adopting new things than ever. Look at what's just happened in the last year. Like BeReal, NGL... There are social apps that blow up, right? Like do you remember the GM app, the Good Morning app that blew up for all of two and a half minutes and then shut down?

Brian: [00:55:36] Something called Clubhouse?

Phillip: [00:55:38] You remember that thing? Had a $4 Billion valuation. We are much more highly attuned to opting into new experiences and installing new softwares and adopting brand new things than ever before. In fact, there's a new... We'll leave it here. On the next episode of Future Commerce, I do want to talk about the future of browsers and how I believe that browser apps are going to replace the third-party cookie. We can talk about that in another episode. There's a new browser that...

Brian: [00:56:10] Browser apps are going to replace apps altogether?

Phillip: [00:56:13] No browser apps will replace the third-party cookie very specifically.

Brian: [00:56:18] Yes, I hear you.

Phillip: [00:56:18] But there is a new company called the browser company which is trying to exploit network effects right now for a new type of a browser. I think we're not done seeing that. I think the browser wars are going to be here, but it's only possible if people are being groomed every day to try to find something new, install something new, be part of an early adopter crowd, and try to gamify other people being recommended and getting on waitlists. There is a hype factor to the newness of something and in that way, I think actually new entrance and nascency will be favored over top of an Instagram or TikTok being matured into a super app. But that's for another time.

Brian: [00:57:07] Interesting. Lots more to talk about. More to come on Future Commerce.

Phillip: [00:57:10] Thank you so much for listening. You can find more episodes of this podcast and all Future Commerce properties at You can check out our newest properties, Decoded and Visions. They're both available at the same place and we have two events coming up that we want you to participate in. We have our next Future Commerce Salon dinner which is always an incredible event, but seating is limited. It will be announced within the next two weeks, probably happening in the month of September. If you want an invite, you have to be quick on the draw. We only get those submissions via email. So you have to be subscribed to our newsletter. You can subscribe right now at and you'll also get all the other great stuff that we produce, including The Senses, which is a twice-weekly newsletter, and Insiders, which is a three times a month deep, insightful essay about the happenings of commerce in our world and how it affects the world around us, and how we can all think differently about it. Thank you so much for listening to Future Commerce. We believe that commerce is a catalyst for change in the world around you, your world. And maybe one day the world. Thanks for listening.

Brian: [00:58:23] Thank you.

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