Tag Archives: facebook

The Referee and The Player: Digital Media´s Dilemma

“We have also been calling for a long time for media owners like Facebook and Google not to mark their own homework and release data to ComScore to enable independent evaluation. The referee and player cannot be the same person.”

– Sir Martin Sorrell (WPP CEO)

The most successful companies of digital age are data companies. The data is their core business, so it is quite understandable they are not particularly keen to share their most valuable asset to third party companies. There is a worry that competitors could get to learn their secrets. The dilemma is that some of the secrets are crucial for business success, but other secrets are quite dirty.

“I don’t lie. I just massage the truth.”

– Jack Donaghy (30 Rock)

Facebook inflated numbers for their videos for over two years. I was not particularly shocked. 56% of display ads are never seen. Majority of the ads that are seen, are not really seen by humans but bots. 100 of millions of people are blocking mobile ads every single day, so you are most likely serving your ads to less digital savvy audience.

Digital advertising has always been prone to fidgeting with numbers. Anyone who has worked in digital media, knows that there are tricks to inflate certain KPIs when your monthly report is due. Companies are not exactly telling lies about their numbers, but they are not telling the whole truth either. Everyone reports their main metrics a little bit differently, so that the numbers match with their sales pitch (not the other way around).

It is not necessarily with everyone interest to have 3rd party assessment for the biggest platforms, but it would definitely help. Other important thing would be to have more unified metrics across the main platforms:

  1. For big reach channels with minimal ad interruption (e.g. Facebook) it should be the average audience in any given minute.
  2. For more interruption and visible formats (e.g. YouTube pre-roll) it should be the time seen and actions taken.
  3. At the end of the day it should always be about the eCommerce sales. Actual transactions are harder to fake with bots and different reporting standards.

It might also be that recent “videogate” does not change anything. The literacy for marketers regarding numbers and data is unfortunately still quite low.

“The issue is being hugely overblown. Marketers do not care about it, and it has zero impact on spend.”

Jason Stein (Laundry Service CEO)

Advertisements
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Is Digital Targeting Just a Hoax?

Before I went to holiday, there was lots of chatter about the ”failed” Facebook targeting experiment of P&G. This naturally gave fuel to the fire to those denouncing digital advertising (namely Ad Contrarian). Essentially P&G run targeted Facebook for Febreze (pet owners and large families for example), but they got better results when they were just targeting broader audience of just over 18 year olds.

If you have been doing marketing at professional level for a while the results were not surprising at all. However, you should not use this as a proof point that targeting does not work, because of the following reasons:

1. FMCG is a different kind of beast, you can just blast your audience with bazooka

“The bigger your brand, the more you need broad reach and less targeted media,”

– Brian Weiser, Pivotal Research Analyst

Majority of P&G brands (including Febreze) are unique brands because they are truly for everyone. Majority of FMCG is mass reach, so it is not surprising that when you have broad targeting you have better results than when just focusing on few sub-segments. Actually in most of the markets you should not even bother with Facebook. If you have money running TV ads, they would still probably be more effective than doing anything on Facebook. And that is essentially what P&G has done. They have increased their TV spending. FMCG is first-and-foremost about top-of-mind and visibility on shelf. To achieve that you opt for the channel getting you maximum awareness.

Pretty much all the rest of the brands cannot work with such a broad sweep. Not all of the products live and die through the mass awareness. If you need to get 1000 quality leads, targeting the whole population is not most likely be more cost-effective than smart targeting. The main benefits of digital advertising come when you are selling in eCommerce, because you can then truly track your results and optimize. Then shooting with bazooka is not the right tactic.

2. Targeting without personalization is not targeting

Apparently they run the same creative to all the different segments. This is akin to running nighttime ad at 11AM. It is like narrowing the list of girls you want to go out to date with, but addressing them all with the same name. If content is king, context is truly the king kong. As you have narrowed your audience, you should also narrow your message to be as relevant as possible to your target audience.

3. Targeting based on intuition is not targeting

In the articles it was not said how the different target groups (pet owners and large families) were selected, but I would assume that they were based on human intuition. The beauty of digital advertising is that you let machines to try out different target groups, different messages and let them automatically favor what truly works. Humans are incapable of handling that many tasks and they are more biased than smart algorithm.

So the failure of Febreze seems obvious in hindsight. You started narrowing although your audience is as broad as it gets. You did not narrow your message to your narrow audience. Lastly you based your targeting on human intuition instead of testing potential audiences with machine learning.

The more we let algorithms handle our marketing, the more effective it will become. P&G experiment shows more human fault than failure of highly-targeted, highly automated algorithm-driven approach.

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Bots and The Rise of Conversational Commerce

Messaging is the new browser and bots are the websites.
Mike Roberts, Kik Head of Messaging and Bot Experience

Bots have been all the rage last weeks. Whether it has been the NSFW Microsoft bot (not only racist, but also encouraging pot smoking in front of cops) or the ability to build chatbots on top of FB messengers.

Why sudden interest in bots?

They are not really a new phenomenon. Eliza was already created in 60s (test it here) and Siri has also been around for a while (test it in your phone). The main reason for the chatbots to gain importance especially now is because of the changed digital landscape. For majority of users, messenger is their digital starting point. Users don´t want to use messaging over Internet, they want to access their Internet to from their messenger. Therefore ability to help, serve and sell to users within messenger is paramount. Short text message (or emoji) is the default way of communicating, should it be also the way to communicate with the brands?

“Conversational commerce is about delivering convenience, personalization, and decision support while people are on the go, with only partial attention to spare.” 
Chris Messina

We are still having long way for the bot economy and below are the core things to fix before chatbots will evolve from novelty to actual user behavior:

1. The bots need to understand normal talk
“They aren’t taking natural language; they are taking menu names,”
Bruce Wilcox,the author of Rose, the winner of the most recent Loebner annual chatbot competition.

Many of the recent Facebook bots are still quite clunky in terms of discussion. People are more casual when they are thinking that they are conversing with real person. The challenge is for the robot to be casual but at the same time providing the transactional value. Current examples have not been particularly promising as they are either pushing you products in unnatural way or trying to be funny but not providing any value:
poncho

2. The bots need to become more predictive and fast
Going back and forth with your bot to order a pizza is tedious process. Getting weather details in an hour is just ridiculous. They need to become way more intuitive to use to really rival Google for getting your fast answers. The novelty factor will wear off quickly. If bots are not able to give you solutions fast, they will not be used.

3. Bots are not a destination but a way to enhance the existing discussion
E.g. instead of going to separate weather bot, you should get the weather details when you are chatting with your friend and need that info. Mark Zuckerberg raved about bots as replacements for apps, but with the current experience, it is actually just easier to go to that weather app and get your answer. Ideal situation would be that your messenger would recognize opportunities for commercial interaction from your discussions, but how to build that experience so that it is not creepy?

We are living in the early days of conversational commerce. Using messenger for repeated purchases (like pizza delivery) seems like a no-brainer, but will people actually start browsing products within messenger and asking help from the chatbot?

That depends on the user experience. If AI behind the chatbot actually would know your taste and it would be effective and enjoyable to chat with, messenger economy could become true game changer. Opportunity and potential demand is there, but building a good recommendation engine alone is difficult not to mention that you have to add enjoyable interaction with a robot on top of that. And the core question is, will people want to interact with bots?

Time will tell.

One thing is for certain. Bots will not kill the web, but they will permanently alter it.

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Facebook Canvas 101

There has been lots of talk about the new ad format for Facebook, so to save your time, here is all you need to know about it:

What is Facebook Canvas?
Canvas is an immersive and expressive experience on Facebook for businesses to tell their stories and showcase their products (according to Facebook)

So what does that really mean?
Essentially it is expandable Facebook ad with interactive features. It uses the same technology as Instant Articles, so you could almost call them Instant ads. The main benefit is that they load faster than mobile web in general, up to 10x faster.
fb-canvas

What are the features?
Currently you can add following features to your Canvas:

  • Button
  • Carousel
  • Photo
  • Text Block
  • Video
  • Product Set

What brands will benefit from it?
Not surprisingly many of the first examples have been popular culture properties (movies, TV shows) with a lot of interactive elements.
minions

The real opportunity is in my opinion with product catalogues. Swiping set of different product is intuitive and also gets you closer to actually buying of the product. Good example is Verizon´s Holidone-campaign, which was one of the first uses of Facebook canvas (done by R/GA New York):
holidone

I have seen these already before?
This ad format was previously available to only selected premium advertisers, but it is now opened for every one.

How I can do one?
You can do one by utilizing the Facebook self-service tool. There are easy step-by-step tutorials on how to do them. Technically it is easy, but of course making something cut-through requires lot of craft and innovation.

Is it a game-changer?
On a surface it is just a new ad format. However with more room to play in Facebook (and keeping in mind its massive reach in majority of countries), you should seriously consider do you need to create separate mobile campaign pages. Or maybe it is just better to create interactive experiences where people already are? Clicking to go to a site is just an artifact of the previous generation of Internet. Also whereas social posts are more about branding, with Canvas you can actually create a more utility to your ad unit (like finding your nearest Wendy´s):
wendys

Will we see a sudden surge of crappy canvas ads?
There are definitely early mover advantages reaped out of Canvas. When format gets more common, it will require more finesse and craft to catch the attention. As with other Facebook advertising, the news feed should not favor ads which are not liked:
 “If an ad doesn’t perform well, News Feed doesn’t show it to many people. And the advertiser gets a lot of feedback very early on.”
-Chris Cox, Facebook Chief Product Officer

What have been the best executions in Facebook Canvas thus far?

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10 Things You Need To Know About Cinemagraphs

If short-form video was the previous content buzzword, in last months people have been raving about cinemagraphs.

Essentially they are individual instants of motion are isolated against a static image, “living photographs” so to speak. They have been around for a while though, invented originally by Kevin Burg & Jamie Beck. Because they work perfectly in visual mobile platforms (Facebook, Instagram), they have been generating more buzz in recent months.

As everyone is raving about cinemagraphs, here is a short cheat sheet to showcase that you know what you are talking about in meetings:

  1. Good cinemagraph should be hypnotizing.

The goal of a cinemagraph is to keep audience longer watching your ad. Same way as fire is hypnotizing, great cinemagraph creates a loop you end up watching longer than you intended.

  1. Good cinemagraph starts with great photo.

You cannot create an effective cinemagraph out of crappy picture. The movement will not capture your attention, photo will. The movement makes you watch it longer.

  1. Ideal for Facebook and Instagram.

The recent looping video in Instagram and FB autoplay are perfect vehicles for cinemagraphs. Cinemagraph is elegant format, which works perfectly to feed-based environments that do not use sound that much.

  1. You buy it like a video.

When considering the ad cost, you have to factor in that cinemagraphs are considered as a video instead of a photo.

  1. It is not necessarily always faster to produce than ordinary video.

It can take weeks to produce high-quality cinemagraph.

  1. Cinemagraph is great vehicle for product advertising.

Because you end up watching the video longer, ensure that your product is there to be seen. Besides ability to increase your brand recall, you can actually show the actual product inside the bottle as well (see below)

dolcegabbana

  1. Currently they are more viral than ordinary photographs

They have 71% more organic reach than regular photos.

  1. Ensure that you make the loop seamless.

Nothing looks more clunky than cinemagraph that does not loop properly. You want to create the hypnotizing effect (point 1)

  1. They will become more commonplace

As your profile image in Facebook can nowadays be 7 second video instead of just a static photo, people are becoming more adapt at creating their own

  1. Be creative

With relatively new format, we have only scratched the surface of the creative possibilities it can provide (like vertical videos). Experiment and test different cinemagraph ideas, the rules have not yet been set in stone.

Our digital world is getting more mobile and visual and the rise of cinemagraphs is just a one manifestation of that.

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#sometrendit2016: The Only 2016 Social Media Trends You Should Read

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As the year approaches the end, it has become an annual tradition for me take a look at crystal ball and share my views with Kurio Social Media Agency on the next year´s social media trends.

For those adapt at Finnish, I recommend reading the whole report. If you are not interested in the predictions of 28 other Finnish digital marketers, you can also jump straight to the most important ones (mine) below.

Before I go into my answers, I have to quote myself from the last year:

I have to say that I have not been interested in social media as such for a long time. Do not get me wrong. Social plays crucial role in digital business. But I seldom think digital as a separate entity either: digital is air. Digital, mobile and social should be a part of every business. Sometimes at the core, sometimes playing supporting role and sometimes playing no role at all. Strategy is about deciding what to do, but even more importantly what not to do. If you are thinking social media as a separate unit you are missing the bigger picture. 

The dominance of digital universe goes well beyond our traditional silos.

And here are the bold/boring predictions of 2016:

  1. 1. Biggest Social Media Trend in 2016?

Internet will be build more and more upon instant messaging. We have moved to the latest phase of Internet: the Age of Messaging. What is most interesting, who will be the master of that era? If previous phase was the Age of Social and Facebook was the undisputed king, is it able to keep its lead? Currently it seems with the dual-strategy of WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger that Facebook will continue to dominate.

2. Social media platforms to look out for 2015?
Last year I was speculating about anonymous messaging and those services were not able to live up the hype. On the same speculative tip, I would keep an eye on live-streaming platforms like Periscope. It is easy to recognize the opportunities Periscope can bring to the brands. Bigger question is will they be truly interesting to actual users?

It is worthwhile to keep an eye on WeChat, because what it does today in China, Facebook will do in western world tomorrow with its Facebook messenger.

3. Biggest challenges in doing social media marketing in 2015?

The huge portion (probably somewhere around 3/4) of sharing in social media is so-called “dark social”. This means that social media listening gives one-sided and even totally faulty picture about what people are really talking about. People share where the brands play no role.

This is great for consumers, because brands are not ruining your conversation or begging you to like them. It makes our work way more difficult. Established channels like FB and YouTube are 100% paid media. To some IM services you cannot get even when you are paying. There is no such thing as earned media anymore.

4. Social Media Buzzword, which hopefully disappears in 2015?

Content marketing.

Despite all the hoopla about native advertising and new content agencies, the division of labor is simple. In Internet there is only good (or bad) content or good (mostly bad) ads. Ad agencies have shown that they cannot truly create content and content marketers have not been good at creating ads (which essentially move products of the shelves). There is role for both counterparts, but it is utter stupidity to think that you could replace one with another. Or that one agency could be great at creating both of them.

To see what I have been predicting in previous years, see the following links:

Social Media trends 2013

Social Media trends 2014

Social Media trends 2015

 

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Will Ad Blocking Be The New Napster?

Apple has basically failed at the ad business and they are trying to ruin it for everybody else.

– Jeff Jarvis

Google owns the web. Facebook owns the social. Apple owns the phone. That has been the technology world order for a while.

Now that order is about to shake.

The discussion about ad-blocking has been a hot topic, because the new iOS 9 has ad-blocking features for Safari mobile browser. The strategy for Apple is simple. This is full-frontal attack towards Google. Google hosts majority of the ads in “the normal web” with other Apple rivals like Facebook and Microsoft. Apple does not play the browser ads game. However they are serving ads in iOS applications that they not “surprisingly” block. Also conspicuously Apple launched their news service at the same day as it allowed ad-blocking.

It remains to be seen how things escalate, but the following three things are certain:

  1. Widespread ad-blocking will kill publishers

The casualties of war between Apple and Google will be the content publishers. They are already losing $22 billion of revenue this year because of blocking of the ads. If content publishers are not serving the ads for the content you are consuming, they are not getting paid. If you are not getting paid eventually you go bankrupt. As the piracy shows people do not really want to pay for content, so advertising has been the only way to bankroll the content production. Only 11% in US and 6% in UK have paid for online content. So subscription model online does not really work, although people are advocating for it. Even creator of popular ad-blocker Peace, pulled the ad-blocker from App store because he had regrets:

Achieving this much success with Peace just doesn’t feel good, which I didn’t anticipate, but probably should have. Ad blockers come with an important asterisk: while they do benefit a ton of people in major ways, they also hurt some, including many who don’t deserve the hit.

Marco Arment

Not all of the creators of ad-blockers have surely similar regrets. Even without Peace, ad-blockers have been the most popular paid apps in the new iOS 9.

  1. Generally online ads have been of bad quality

Ad-blocking is already more prevalent than ad-skipping on television. Ad industry should take some responsibility of the horrible, low quality and invasive display advertising as well. Advertising in web is democratic, which is great to certain extent but also has been the core problem. When amateurs do, it is quite often amateur quality. In TV there has at least been some quality (of varying degree and based on channel).

As people have not noticed online ads, they have become more and more invasive and making the user experience worse. Even people from the industry are skipping the ads. Therefore I actually believe more in longevity of pre-roll advertising format than the banner on the long run (although I still think there is much room for creativity when doing banners). Nevertheless, both of these can be blocked so you don´t need to necessarily endure either.

  1. Traditional online ad industry will face the same future as music industry

If ad-blocking will become the norm that will essentially kill the display advertising, as we know it. We can debate whether it was good or bad, but essentially Napster and then after the legal counterpart iTunes and Apple Music killed the music industry, as we knew it. Today´s music business is much more nimble and record labels are playing lesser role than before. Music has not disappeared anywhere though.

Killing the category is only lucrative for the killer. Apple has been the giant killer many times (helps when you are giant yourself), so I doubt that they are hesitating in trying to bring competitors (namely Google) down by any means necessary. For the consumer the fall of online ad industry does not really sound too bad. Generally all of the people (hell, even publishers) find ads annoying. Expect that those annoying ads pay for the content production online like mentioned above (and print media is almost dead already). In every change there is opportunity for innovation. Pagefair is actually serving “non-intrusive ads just for your ad-blockers”. Talk about contradiction in terms.

Modern digital marketer has to follow closely how the situation with the ad-blockers will evolve and act accordingly with your media mix. Native advertising will seem likely winner in this new era. Will that result in better content or just more bad editorials? My fear is the latter.

By the way, I don´t block ads. Maybe just to show solidarity to publishers and to be true to my profession. On the other hand I don´t tolerate sloppy and invasive ads either. We need to improve so that people would not want to block those ads on so alarming pace.

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Digital Pre-Testing: Harmful Waste of Money

Lately many research agencies have been introducing digital pre-testing opportunities. You can test your campaign creative, whether it is a display ad or Facebook post. While it is lucrative for those research agencies, it is actually utter lunacy for the brands.

The main problem is that this testing does not happen in the real environment. People are too involved in the process and read too much into it. Focus groups are already killing any creativity and cut-through in TV ads. Soon the same will happen to digital assets.

It also doesn’t make any sense as you can test digital in real marketplace. With TV it is harder to test different creative, whereas the main advantage in digital channels is the real-time optimization. You don´t need to guess or academically discuss what creative works the best. Just put the different creative solutions in Google display network with smaller budget and it automatically starts favor what works the best. I remember when we had to do A/B testing manually; nowadays networks do it automatically for you. When you launch the campaign, that is when the real work starts.

Testing & optimizing is really important for brands. Testing digital assets in isolation is expensive way of getting results that you would get with the fraction of the price in the actual environment. So instead of wasting your money on digital pre-testing, give more money to your agency to produce more assets and to test out different alternatives in the real world not in the focus group –altered reality.

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Digital Bottlenecks are Analog Problems

Digital bottlenecks are not often solved with only digital means.

Like Scott Galloway points out in this brilliant presentation about the masters of digital universe, the Amazon´s Achilles heel is the shipping:

Their shipping costs are exploding at 40% and shipping fees and transportation costs are over 9 billion. Free shipping has been one of the main reasons why people choose Amazon and what makes them unique. There is no immediate digital solution for shipping (as long as there are physical products). Drones are quite long shot to solve that challenge*.

Same way the biggest Achilles heel of Apple Watch will be the battery, which lasts only a day. The battery duration is not a digital problem. It is a chemical problem.

New digital opportunities might reveal old challenges.

*Interestingly, the unsexy solutions might be the most sustainable. Click & collect is hugely popular, albeit archaic way for eCommerce and traditional retailers might find innovative ways to use their store network for flexible warehousing.

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The Only 2015 Social Media Trends You Need to Read This Year

As the year approaches the end, it has become an annual tradition for me take a look at crystal ball and share my views to Kurio Digital Marketing Think Thank on the next year´s social media trends. For those adapt at Finnish, I recommend reading the whole report in here. If you are not interested in the predictions of 26 other Finnish digital marketers, you can also jump straight to the most important ones (mine) below.

Before going through the actual answers, I have to say that I have not been interested in social media as such for a long time. Do not get me wrong. Social plays crucial role in digital business. But I seldom think digital as a separate entity either: digital is air. Digital, mobile and social should be a part of every business. Sometimes at the core, sometimes playing supporting role and sometimes playing no role at all. Strategy is about deciding what to do, but even more importantly what not to do. If you are thinking social media as a separate unit you are missing the bigger picture. The dominance of digital universe goes well beyond our traditional silos.

Having got that off my chest, here are my most important social media trends for 2015:

1. Biggest Social Media Trend in 2015?

One-Size does not fit all
No more social media army knives. Consumers demand services excelling in one feature instead of having multiple mediocre features crammed into one. It is no longer about maximizing users in one single service (Facebook), but maximizing the time spent on the whole ecosystem (WhatsApp, Instagram, FB Messenger). How different services will or not be integrated together is big strategic question and will have implications on what channels companies should be using to reach their target audience.

2. Social media platforms to look out for 2015?

Anonymous and Interest-based networks
Anononymous chat apps (i.e. Whisper & Secret) are definitely interesting. It remains to be seen, can they do the jump to the next level like Snapchat has done.
Even in 2014 discussion forums are still alive and kicking. This is one proof that, there is demand for interest-based social network with underlying idea ”It is not who you are, but what you are interested in”. Ello cannot make it and current anynomous chat apps focus more on filth, rumors and spying. All of those activities are naturally great, but is it enough for these apps to make it to the major league is a billion dollar valuation question.

3. Biggest challenges in doing social media marketing in 2015?

Wrong teams doing wrong things with wrong budgets to wrong clients
From business logic perspective, Facebook and YouTube are more traditional advertising than social media. When you sponsor a post in Facebook, you should invest as much or even more to it than to a print ad. Emphasizing the verb “should”. Many marketers have not understood the shift in dynamics in digital marketing. Facebook is new print. YouTube is the new TV. Some marketers still have the illusion that digital is either free or cheap and you do not have to worry about production values. They could not be more wrong.
On the other hand, some marketers misinterpret the rising digital ad prices and increased resemblance to traditional ad buying logic to just pushing your TV ads to YouTube or print ads to Facebook. They could not be more wrong. Although the prices are getting closer, the creative should be drastically different.
Eyeballs cost money and you do not have loopholes for free publicity any more. If you are not ready to take risks, be honest and bold, catching the attention of consumers is even harder, almost impossible regardless of the media budget.

4. Social Media Buzzword, which hopefully disappears in 2015?

Ello
There has been a simple reason why I have not written anything about Ello in this blog. It is not interesting at all. Diaspora and Ello are manifestations that consumers are not really that interested in privacy, your personal data usage in advertising or in pretty much anything else that you should be interested as a conscious consumer. The problem is that majority of consumers are not that conscious.

5. Biggest social media wish for the next year?

Wishes are for people, who do not make demands.
I actually read through my last year´s predictions and I still think they are valid stuff as well. So if you did not find trends suitable to your liking in this list, I recommend reading that one.

Happy holidays to every one! I still might have couple of posts left in tank for this year, but soon going for a deserved holiday.

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