Posts Tagged ‘Facebook’

When Fast Company, a publication that I have read and respected for years, published a story based on faulty data, I had to call them out. The story is titled Twitter Crushing Facebook’s Click Through Rate, and is based on research from Social Twist. I think I threw up in my mouth a little when seeing these numbers.

First of all – enough with the click through rate already. It has always been a bad KPI that is not indicative of performance. But more importantly here, CTR is not even the actual metric they are reporting on, and the real value or insight in the data is sort of lost, albeit the lesson of consumers sharing in social platforms like Facebook and Twitter is not much of an insight. File under “DUH!”

Really a CTR rate of 1904% and 287%? This is what happens when you can’t track the denominator (reach/exposure) of your calculation. What they are actually calculating is the volume of responses to shared content and not a CTR, it is actually a more valuable metric and they should try to better define it.

I think that Social Twist’s Tell-a-Friend sharing widget is a great addition for many marketers, but guys, releasing misleading and incorrect stats like this removes some of the credibility and thought leadership from your quest. Research and stats are a great way to get press coverage. Kudos for pulling the wool over the eyes of Fast Company (and surely a number of others), but the industry doesn’t need more fuzzy math market research confusing marketers.

This is just one example, there are so many questionable stats floating around – even from credible companies who are in the business of producing research.

We all love stats and research. Good research does help refine our decision making. But it is no secret that market research is often self serving and misleading. Next time you get blown away by some market research or stats, take a moment to question the research methodologies, determine if there are actually insights provided, and even analyze the motive of the research.You might be surprised how often you  find the data useless, misleading or self serving.

 

If you enjoyed this post, please consider adding a comment, subscribing to post updates via email or subscribing to the RSS feed. Thanks.

Advertisements

With the announcement of the Open Graph, Facebook has once again provided an evolutionary leap for the entire industry. Publishers, brands and consumers alike will benefit from “a smarter, personalized web that gets better with every action taken”, as concisely described by Mark Zuckerberg at yesterday’s F8 conference.  With Facebook’s critical mass (nearly 500 million members as of today), the Open Graph is poised to become the most powerful move the company has made so far – if successful it will revolutionize the web as we know it and propel Facebook into a position to compete with Google for the throne of dominance.

The Open Graph – We Like

Facebook is already fairly ubiquitous among consumers. Facebook Connect has extended that ubiquity to sites outside of Facebook, but the process for consumers, publishers and marketers was not seamless. While successful, Connect was not the technology that extended the social experience of Facebook to the entire web. But that is exactly what the Open Graph will do. Facebook has simplified the process of implementing the code for developers and for sharing and connecting with content and brands for consumers. It is truly a win-win-win. One line of code (an iFrame for those who care), will enable publishers to include a “Like” button, which will facilitate social actions anywhere on the web. As long as you are logged into Facebook, your cookie will allow your social graph to augment the experience on any site with the code. Bret Taylor said it best during F8  yesterday that “Lowering the friction of sharing will increase the volume of sharing”.

Vaults of Data

Facebook already sits on a data goldmine, but these vaults will become far deeper with wider ranging application as the Open Graph further connects social graphs of individuals, brands and publishers around the web. For now the targeting opportunities resulting from the additional data will be limited, most likely providing marketers the opportunity to target interests “liked” for the time being. But the potential of the data applications are profound – think Minority Report-like, as mobile and geo-location converge on the Open Graph.

Privacy

Inevitably there will be some privacy backlash, as all forms of behavioral data applications are under severe scrutiny by the FTC and advocacy groups. Of course Facebook thought about this too – and they will be rolling out a new simplistic privacy panel where you can opt out of the Open Graph. Ultimately there will be collection of an amount of non-personally identifiable data at a scale that we have never witnessed before, and the proximity and ability to connect it to personally identifiable information will most likely become the issue at hand. But the benefit of the Open Graph adding significant value to the overall consumer experience, and the affinity with Facebook as a trusted brand powering the collection, storage and usage of the data will trump any privacy backlash. Make no doubt about it – there will be some backlash – there always is – but we will get past it rather quickly. The social web is here in a big way, and our lives have been changed forever – and soon everyone will realize it.

A Monumental Day

For marketers, in the short term this turning point will make it exponentially easier to turn fans into advocates, identify new prospective customers, and drive peer influence through the coveted Facebook newsfeed. In the long term, the potential is far wider reaching and as mobile and geo-location (Facebook is launching their own geo-location service as well) converge with the Open Graph, this may be the catalyst that soon connects the online and offline world. It is truly a monumental day.

You can see the F8 conference videos here.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider adding a comment or subscribing to the RSS feed. Thanks.

As social network’s Facebook and MySpace continue to drive mind boggling consumer usage, certain activities bubble to the top as immensely popular. Among those activities is photo sharing. Doug Beaver, part of Facebook’s engineering team posted a note today with some interesting facts about the amount of photos posted, shared and served on Facebook. These stats put Facebook over the previously recognized largest photo sharing site, Photobucket, which has been rolled into MySpace after last year’s $250 million acquisition.

  • 2-3 Terabytes of photos are being uploaded to the site every day
  • We have just over one petabyte of photo storage
  • We serve over 15 billion photo images per day
  • Photo traffic now peaks at over 300,000 images served per second

The question on everyone’s mind…

If a photo’s worth a thousand words, how much market cap are 10 billion photos worth?

I could have easily titled this post “A tale of two platforms – the old and the new”…

Have you been following the online Olympics buzz? NBC has been incredibly restrictive about where & when their 2,200 hours of video content will live online. To make matters more interesting, the video player on NBCOlympics.com requires Microsoft’s SilverLight video plugin, which besides being a plugin that none of us have installed yet, totally alienates Mac users who are not even able to utilize the plugin at all, leaving Mac users out in the cold.

According to Nielsen, the first workday after the opening ceremony of Olympics, over 2 million unique video viewers and 4.6 million total visitors visited NBCOlympics.com (that is compared to 114 million TV viewers, an Olympics record). By the way, Yahoo’s Olympics site had 5.2 million viewers during the same day. So it begs the question that must have reverberated the board rooms at NBC for months, even years, prior to the games – is the lack of online video content and the delaying of online content until after the televised broadcast driving viewers to tune in on TV? Or would the ratio of online to TV viewing generally remain  the same even if NBC had let loose of the reigns a little bit? Are they making the best decisions to balance maximizing the return on the $894 million investment in the US broadcasting rights, with the long term needs of maintaining valuable relationships with viewers?

In the first two days of the games, 90% of viewers watched the Olympics on TV alone, nearly 10% watched on both TV and online, and only 0.2% watched online-only, according to Alan Wurtzel, NBC’s president of research.

To complicate matters, there’s a 15 hour time difference between the US and China, and a good portion of the Olympics programming is being broadcast 12 hours after the actual events, giving reporters and bloggers enough opportunity to spread the results of the games (sans video of course) prior to the broadcast. So consumers may know the results prior to actually watching the games on TV (or online for that matter). What about simulcasting the TV and web programming? This would create no possibility for ratings erosion or cannibalization of one medium’s ratings for the other’s, it would only increase consumer choices, which is always a good thing. In fact, via deals with AT&T and Verizon, the TV coverage is indeed being simulcast on mobile TV. NBCU is after all using a new measurement tool they refer to as “Total Audience Measurement Index” (TAMI) to try and determine the aggregate reach of its multi-platform coverage.

Last notable point regarding the Olympics is what is happening elsewhere around the world. In an effort to preempt pirated footage hitting the web, the broadcasting group of the International Olympics Committee established a channel on YouTube, which is accessible to 77 countries – and of course the IP addresses of countries with exclusive broadcasting deals, like the US, are banned from viewing this content. Within China itself, P2P site PPLive.com is actually officially licensed to stream the live games. A quick search will bring up plenty of website and blogs that offer advice on how to “hack” around the restrictions and gain online access to the content if you really want it. Personally, I don’t want it that badly, but apparently many people do, possibly just for the principle of it.

Meanwhile On The Other Side of Town

Facebook Video Ad From Insidefacebook.com

Facebook Video Ad From Insidefacebook.com

Unless you’re living under a rock, you would have noticed by now that Facebook has relaunched a new layout and design, but what you may not yet have noticed are the new ad placements and formats. Video ads with commenting capabilities have rolled out on a test-basis on the Facebook homepage. Most of us will notice the “Sponsor” block on the right hand column filled with generic Facebook ads, but this is where the video unit is being tested. What an engaging concept, yet a double edged sword. However, the ability to tap into consumer demand and brand advocacy by displaying comments can be huge. The flip side of course, is if a marketer knows that their brand has as many detractors as it does advocates, this is not going to be the unit of choice.

So the moral of today’s story? The dichotomy between the application of online video of one of the most powerful media brands of our lifetime and the new kid on the block is equally experimental on both sides. Online video is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. The only commonality is the potential.

I decided to add a new posting format to TheDigitalBlur.  The “Digital Marketing Round-Up” will be posted around the end of each month and will be a  combination of short thoughts on issues that I feel will have a big impact on us marketers in the not so distant future. This ranges from acquisitions to  companies restructuring, new applications of technology, and new ad programs. I hope you enjoy it!

So without further delay, The inaugural Digital Round-up for June 2008…

Google Applying Cookie Data: Despite the cries of privacy advocates, this can be a major breakthrough in online advertising. A few years ago Google changed its privacy policy to state that they might eventually use cookie data to “display customized content and advertising.” Apparently a securities analyst has discovered that they are indeed doing so, and this was confirmed by Google. Well, I certainly hope so!

I am waiting for the true integration of Google and Doubleclick units, and although this will present a fine privacy line as it relates to the personally identifiable data that Google does indeed have via Gmail etc, there should be an easy way of firewalling that data if need be. We live in a data driven world folks. This is the future of content and marketing distribution. Creating increased relevancy for the consumer is a good thing. I have posted many thoughts on this matter, and I expect that we will get past the perceived privacy issues as we have with every other aspect of digital marketing to date. Doubleclick has been the martyr of at least one round of this issue in the past. Relevancy is a benefit, I wish we could all just get over it and move on.

Microsoft Acquires Semantic Search Technology: After the failed attempt at acquiring Yahoo, Microsoft last week announced the acquisition of semantic search company Powerset. Of course this was in the works for a long time , but the timing of the announcement was classic. Does Microsoft + Powerset = a threat to Google? Not in a million years. The momentum of Google’s stronghold on search is going to be tough to beat, or even compete with, as Yahoo and Microsoft have both learned the hard way to date. But the advances in semantic technology will in theory make for better search experiences over time, and this is Microsoft’s first step in the direction of developing a new search mouse mouse trap, or least improving the existing one. I’ve reported previously about Yahoo adopting semantic web standards, and have predicted that the application of semantic technology will fuel the next evolution of the web itself. In the increasingly data driven world we live in, I fiercely stand by that prediction.

Nokia Acquires Remaining Part of Symbian: It’s no secret that consumers’ and marketers’ dependence on the carriers for on-deck mobile opportunities will change over the next few years. Nokia has been making headway in the mobile advertising space, and the acquisition of Symbian should prove to be part of paving the road to the golden goose. Symbian currently runs on over half of the smart phones in the global market. However, with Apple’s iPhone and the soon-to-be-rolled-out open platform “Android” from Google, Symbian’s market share can be eroded quite easily. By standardizing an open platform, Nokia should be able to entice additional development and remain a major player in the mobile OS world.

More Print Shift To The Web: The LA Times slashed 250 jobs last week, the findings – consumers don’t have the time to read the paper anymore. Editor Russ Stanton stated that “The Web and print departments will be merged into one operation with a single budget, and the company will also refocus on being more versatile. We’ve heard these sentiments before, and we’ll here them again from others.

Average TV Network Viewer Age = 50 Years Old: Of course this varies from network to network (CW median age is only 34), but the trend shows that TV viewing audiences are getting older as media continues to fragment. It’s a brave new world out there, and as digital media consumption increases, we need to solve some of the basic issues that have plagued our industry since the dawn of online marketing history, including establishing more industry level research and data on the correlation of various aspects of advertising as it relates to effectiveness, as well as educating marketers about digital measurement in general. It still boggles my mind how many marketers (and agencies for that matter) mis-align their KPI’s (key performance indicators) with their objectives, or chose to use irrelevant metrics like CTR. There’s a lot of experimentation happening with emerging media, and most have not mastered the basics yet. A year has past since I published an article in MediaPost on this very subject, and on an industry level I haven;’tseen  or heard of much change.

MySpace & Facebook – Battle of The Redesigns: Facebook is quickly catching up to MySpace’s market dominance, in part due to the open platform for developers and the streamlined nature of the profile design and application of the social graph. With Facebook’s upcoming redesign,  applications will be moving to a separate tab, and the news feed will become even more prominent than it is currently. This is a big change amid marketers’  experimentation revolving primarily around launching applications and subsequntly trying to foster participation.  Meanwhile MySpace rolled out a redesign a few weeks ago, which was primarily focused on streamlining the chaotic mess of  a structure that was once consumer profiles. Cleaner navigation and increased applications of the social graph has been Facebook’s strong point. and MySpace’s achilles heel. MySpace had no choice but to update., and ‘they done good’. Even though they are a leader today, there always exists the chance of  MySpace getting displaced as we have seen with other social networks like Friendster.

Publicis Consolidates and Creates Vivaki: Next in the big agencies to announce the consolidation of digital assets is Publicis. WPP and Carat have already sone so in varying capacities, and inevitably all the others will follow suit soon enough.  Note to David Kenny & Jack Klues: the first step to proving that Vivaki is the right digital solution is following best practices. That 10 second flash intro on the new Vivaki website needs to go! Rishad, same to you buddy on the Denuo site.

This is a topic near and dear to my heart, and I often write about the morphing agency structure. The fragmentation of media and the shift to a data driven marketplace has created a shift of general marketing strategy from the creative agencies to that of the media agencies. Many of the holding companies have even developed units that specifically specialize in the development and stewardship of strategy. We will continue to see re-bundling of agency services, although to a degree the specialist is needed more than ever . Agencies must attract and recruit specialized individuals to ensure the proficient execution across an ever growing palette of channels. We have seen many senior digital agency execs moving to the client and publisher side as an additional trend lately. Integration of services to offer a big picture approach while maintaining proficiency in the specialties will be the new agency positioning.

Social Media As A Formal Discipline?: As the opportunity cost of not monitoring the conversations and interactions surrounding your brands and products increases, the role of full time Social Media Strategists and Community Managers  have crept into recent rounds of recruitment for marketers and agencies alike. The required commitment to the social media ecosystem has made it apparent that the attention of at least one full time staffer on the agency or client side is going to be a requirement at some point for all brands.  Although brands can have their agencies assign a full time person assigned to their brand (today there are many specialized and integrated agencies who offer social marketing services), there is an economic reality that brands may be best served in this manner internally, with support from agencies for specific tasks and projects. It’s far too early to tell, but if I were a major brand I’d be looking for  an internal manager at this point. The costs of the monitoring tools are coming down and the players are becoming more diverse. The social media ecosystem is evolving before our eyes, it’s a lot to keep up with. Brands must commit to be committed – hire a social media manager or at least an agency that can help you wrap your arms around what’s happening in social media and what it means to your brand.

Micro-bloggingJust when you thought it was safe to go back into the “real world”…micro blogging is here to take up even more of your “free time”, and it has become all the rage. Well, for some it has. Anyone spending time trying to hone a social media marketing strategy these days, is tackling an ever growing palette of pre-requisite involvement including micro-blogging, [regular ol’] blogging, developing and nurturing a presence within social networks, video posting, and social bookmarking. This evolving mix of fragmented opportunity is quite challenging for marketers, content creators and even consumers to wrap their hands and minds around.

While Twitter is by far the most popular service (follow me on Twitter: JasonDPG), in reality it is rather plain vanilla compared to the aggregation services provided by some of the others. Plain and simple was nice and it actually took a while before most folks adopted Twitter – in fact a good portion of you reading this right now are saying to yourself “yeah, so what the hell does Twitter really offer me and where does it fit into my life or more importantly my marketing or PR plans?” – only you can answer that. It certainly depends on many factors. I use Twitter to share punditry and random musings with a select group of thought leaders and colleagues, and I am expanding my Twitter objective to disseminating further [quick] real-time thoughts about marketing (and random other things) to those in the industry who wish to follow my thoughts during the day. These are one liners, technically 140 character or less thoughts (Twitter’s limit) that are not as fleshed out as a full post for this blog. The wonder of micro-blogging is that I can update from anywhere – my mobile device or online, or via the plethora of third party plug-ins for Outlook, IM and other methods. But hey, NASA is using Twitter to disseminate info from the Mars Phoenix expedition to interested parties, and as of this post 19,368 people are following the Mars orbiter’s progress via Twitter. So beyond Twitter officially being applied to rocket science by this example (well at least the marketing of it), there are many objectives to how you would use it, and like all social media, there are “power users” and casual users of the service. As consumers and business continue to embrace micro blogging, opportunities will emerge.

We are however, starting to see an influx of other services – some with engaging features that may offer users a seemingly better experience than Twitter, albeit without the momentum and adoption yet. Most focus on aggregating YOUR content from your other blogs and sites that offer your content via RSS (including photos from Flickr and videos from YouTube). Can they “out Twitter” Twitter? Only time will tell.

Plurk offers an interesting timeline interface, but essentially provides a similar feature set to Twitter. Not compelling enough to switch, but engaging enough to asway new users to using the service.

Jaiku provides a micro-blogging service plus the aggregation service, however I’m not a fan of how they lay these out. Then again, I just signed up and haven’t had enough time to test it out. Jaiku is now owned by Google, which means that they may stand a chance of rolling with the punches over time. Then again, look at their success levels with Orkut – nuff said, could go either way.

SecondBrain, FriendFeed, Pownce, Tumblr, HelloTxt are all vying for this market in some shape or form, again a lot of Twitter’s competition focuses on the aggregation of your content from other services.

The easy integration with other blogging and micro-blogging feeds seems to be something that Twitter has not embraced…yet. As the micro-blogging leader of the pack, they will most likely have to do so soon because it is actually a very useful feature. Most Twitter users pull in our blog feeds for example through an OpenID third party like TwitterFeed. Because of the open API platform, third parties have developed many Twitter related services such as Summize, which searches Twitter, and TweetBeep that provides keyword triggered alerts (Twitter itself offers some level of these services, but not as reliably at the moment). Twitter is no doubt the player to beat. To that end, their competitors all essentially provide an ability to port over your current and/or old Twitter content (affectionately referred to as Tweets) directly into the competitive services.

Let’s not forget that Facebook offers a micro blogging service too with their “status updates”, which can also be edited both online and via mobile, but while it’s nice to have this service integrated into a bigger picture, Facebook’s status update is a very different non-comprehensive beast. But maybe that’s what the average consumer wants in a micro blogging service – simplicity – just a way to answer that burning question all your friends and colleagues want to know (half sarcastic here) “what are you doing right now?”.

As marketers and agencies embarking into this brave new world, we need to understand these new media environments. Even if these environments become platforms for marketing or PR versus advertising, the lines between media, marketing and technology are blurry ones, and it is our responsibility to understand how consumers are using these channels and what it may mean for us and our clients.

Note: I will be reporting back continued findings, thoughts and applications of micro-blogging right here on The Digital Blur. I just added a micro-blogging category , so stay tuned!

I’m back – and figured I’d kick off the blog again with something really funny. This is actually amazingly funny, maybe because it is such an accurate depiction of the brand personas of the different social media brands. Some of the subtle humor is great, particularly if you are actively working in the space. I almost hit the floor laughing during parts of this. Enjoy!