📰 A TikTok Ban Is Coming

OpenAI hates agencies, Performance Max & More

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In today’s edition:

  • A TikTok Ban Is Coming

  • Social Commerce Is The New Black

  • Microsoft’s Performance Max

& More. But first, a word from today’s sponsor 👇

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Hello, and welcome back everyone!

I have no important updates from myself this week, so I’ll leave you with a quote I found recently that I loved:

The gates of hell are locked from the inside.

CS Lewis

This quote is meant to, I believe, speak to the fact that much of our suffering, shortcomings, or failures are by our own design. While the escape from this path is clear, humans are flawed, and we often consciously choose our path of suffering. Wake up, do the right thing for yourself, and let yourself thrive.

Have a great week, everyone!

Happy learning,
Cory Dobbin


The U.S. House of Representatives is set to vote on a bill that mandates ByteDance to divest from TikTok within six months to avoid a U.S. ban, following a unanimous 50-0 vote to put the bill forward. This move reflects significant momentum towards a U.S. crackdown on TikTok amid concerns over its Chinese ownership and potential national security threats. TikTok argues the bill essentially amounts to a ban, impacting millions of American users and creators.

While this may seem dramatic, the U.S. has been fighting ByteDance on data protection for years. Let’s not forget that even after creating a U.S. entity to separate TikTok from its Chinese parent company ByteDance and launching Project Texas to protect all U.S. user data from ByteDance, the CEO still lied under oath by saying the data was stored outside of China when, in fact, this was not entirely true.

In response to the legislation, TikTok has been urging users to call Congress to appeal the ban. Whether or not any of this materializes is yet to be seen, but after some years of back and forth, it seems like it is only a matter of time before we can see the results. Check out the Reuters article covering the vote below for more info.

The ban aside, it appears TikTok has been struggling with engagement rates. Especially recently, you can feel the difference in the platform as it focuses heavily on commerce. The platform just isn’t the same. Check out the link below for a breakdown of TikTok’s massive 35% decrease in YoY engagement rates.


Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI, predicts AI will handle "95%" of tasks currently done by marketing agencies and creatives, significantly impacting the marketing industry. He believes artificial general intelligence (AGI) could become a reality within "5 years, give or take," with the capability to generate creative marketing content, conduct testing, and optimize campaigns almost instantly and at minimal cost. This transformation, as illustrated by examples like Klarna's AI assistant taking over the roles of 700 employees, indicates a significant shift in how marketing tasks will be approached and executed in the near future.

Frankly, I disagree with this sentiment. Let’s look at Jevon’s Paradox, an economic theory around demand. This paradox explains that demand increases exponentially in a scenario where efficiency increases, thereby diminishing the efficiencies gained. An example would be decreased fuel costs (efficiency gained), which equals significantly more travelling and more fuel consumed than before.

This uniquely describes AI as it relates to business and is where OpenAI should position itself. For those who care to stay ahead of the curve, these innovations open the door for greater efficiencies, which lead to increased output, not decreased. As it relates to agencies, those who can harness AI properly will find ways to use it to improve their services, not replace them entirely.


As I’m sure many of you know, a widespread outage on Super Tuesday affected major social platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, X, and Threads, raising concerns given the timing during an important election day in the U.S. The outage was later resolved and was attributed to a technical issue. This event disrupted users' access to these platforms and sparked speculation about its impact on election-related communications and Meta's role in the electoral process.

Sure, the timing is interesting, but the claims that this was a ‘social media technical issue’ seem to be partly false. Despite many reports that this was an outage across social media platforms, the outage was far more widespread than this, affecting Google, Discord, T-Mobile, and many more.

Not only that but there have also been several reports that this was the result of intentional sabotage. 25% of the data traffic between Asia and Europe passes through Yemen through a series of cables through the Red Sea. The day after the outage, these cables were reported damaged through suspected sabotage. While some believe the Houthis were responsible, they have denied this claim. Regardless, this entire thing was highly suspicious, given the timing.

If you’d like to learn more about the outage and how it affected social media platforms (and the expected panic from social media users), check out TechChrunch’s fantastic round-up below.


TikTok Shop listings have started appearing on Google Shopping, signalling TikTok's strategy to leverage Google's vast search audience to boost its social commerce capabilities - a sign of their dedication to making this their #1 priority. While it's too early to measure the success of this strategy fully, the presence of TikTok Shop on Google highlights the platform's ambitions beyond its app-based impulse buying strengths, exploring search-based shopping as an additional channel for customer acquisition. It also raises serious questions about how this affects Google's shopping ecosystem, considering that a media giant is now competing for these results. Case-in-point is the screenshot below, where a search for Dior yields a $3.59 alternative on TikTok Shops (yes, I realize it’s a search for ‘dupes’, but keywords should matter, no?). How can brands compete? Time will tell. To learn more, check out this breakdown from Modern Retail.


Are you using Microsoft Ads? No? Why not? If you’re using Google Ads, then it’s a no-brainer. Microsoft Ads has direct migration tools that copy over your existing campaign structure from Google Ads, but their auction is much cheaper. They have a considerable market share, but because advertisers don’t use it nearly as much as Google Ads, their CPMs are much lower.

This was supposed to be about Microsoft Ads releasing their version of Performance Max, but I got caught up. Anyways, Microsoft's Performance Max campaigns, a new automated advertising option designed to leverage AI, are now globally available. It offers a streamlined setup for multi-format, cross-channel optimization aimed at increasing conversions with AI-powered recommendations. Early users have reported positive outcomes, noting significant performance improvements and efficient cost management.

Microsoft says they will introduce additional features like brand exclusions and video assets soon, indicating ongoing development and enhancement efforts. To learn more, check out all the details about the release in their blog post here.

Before we hop in, I just wanted to share something about my company:

If you want to scale your ecommerce business sustainably and profitably this year, I recommend you check out my agency, Shoelace. As the go-to ad agency for ambitious DTC brands, Shoelace consistently outperforms the competition. In a massive study of the performance of over 5,800 ecommerce brands by Varos, Shoelace clients emerged on top with an impressive 5.65x average ROAS over the past year. There’s a reason why Shopify recommends us.

Want more numbers? We increased a skincare brand’s revenue by 316% in just 3 weeks and doubled a fashion brand’s orders in 2 weeks. We’re so confident that we can do the same for that we’re offering an insane deal - 50% off your first month for new clients. Ready to grow your brand? Book a call with Shoelace today.

  • GOOGLE’S MMM: Google introduced Meridian, an open-source Marketing Mix Model (MMM) that will be launching soon.

  • REDDIT PRO IS HERE: Reddit has introduced Reddit Pro, a new suite of free tools aimed at helping businesses grow.

  • INSTAGRAM UPDATES DMS: IG rolled out a series of new features to their DMs, including editing messages, pinning chats, a read receipt toggle, and more.

  • THREADS NEW FEATURES: Continuing with the trends of new features, Threads adds drafts and in-app camera functionality.

  • X GETS AI-GENERATED LABELS: While I haven’t seen these in the wild yet, it appears X is joining the AI transparency movement, which is great.

  • X LAUNCHES ARTICLES: X has officially launched Articles, which are long-form content posts that exist in their own separate place in the feed. This is currently only available to Premium subscribers.


This one is pretty cool - a full-length manga adaptation was filmed using only an iPhone to continue carrying out their classic ‘shot on iPhone’ campaign in Japan. This is a 20-minute adaptation of Midnight, a beloved manga from the ‘godfather of manga,’ Osamu Tezuka.


Here’s a high-octane ad campaign for Guinness, directed and acted by Jason Mamoa. The ‘story’ bounces around a bit, but they get there in the end. While not my favourite ad, it's still an enjoyable watch.


The non-profit The Gas Leaks Project created a fake reality show trailer to convey its message about the dangers of hazardous air toxins caused by the fossil fuel industry. It’s an over-the-top parody, but the message is undeniably clear.

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