Digital News – Facebook Messenger Ads, Dark Net & Audi pulls ad

IMG_2618 (1)There’s been no shortage of digital news in July, including Facebook rolling out ads in their Messenger App, the Australian Government trying to get Facebook and Google to help fight terrorism, the dark web has been infiltrated and Audi has run afoul in China.

Over the last couple of months, Facebook has been testing ads within the Messenger Chat App. Australia and Thailand were the test markets and now the service is slowly being rolled out to Facebook’s 1.2 billion Messenger users. In a blog post, Facebook said ‘After promising tests in Australia and Thailand, we’re expanding the beta further. We’ll now offer businesses around the world a way to use Facebook targeting to extend their reach to people in Messenger’.

With ad revenue expected to drop this year from ads placed in Facebook’s news feed, the company has been slowly diversifying its ad options. The good thing for users is that the ads only appear on the Messenger home screen and not within chat threads, see image. There’s always the option in the future for Facebook to read chat threads and present ads based on the conversation. But I would say that is a long way off. The good thing is you can encrypt Messenger chats by clicking on the secret button, click here for more info.

For brands, advertising within Messenger is a great option to reach an engaged and targeted audience. I expect the time spent on newsfeed is dropping with more people having private chats via Messenger, WhatsApp and other chat apps. When you think about it, Gmail and Hotmail have been running ads in their emails for years, so Facebook running ads in Messenger is a natural progression.

Last week the Australian Government called on Facebook and Google to decrypt messages to help support law enforcement in the fight against organised crime, paedophile investigations and terrorism. The challenge with decrypting messages is that it potentially opens it up to criminals to infiltrate. Google and Facebook claim they already provide the police and government with the requested info where possible, but they’re going to continue to protect the privacy of encrypted messages. Government’s around the world have been pressuring Facebook and Google with similar rhetoric to no avail.

Sticking with the darker side of the net, US authorities claimed to have smashed the illegal trade of firearms and drugs with the recent closures of the dark web marketplaces AlphaBay and Hansa. These sites replaced the overpublicized Silk Road website that was shut-down in 2013. Visitors were able to browse these dark websites anonymously and used digital currencies (Bitcoin) to make purchases. These aren’t small sites with 250,000 listings on AlphaBay, and 200,000 members and 40,000 vendors. It’s amazing these sites weren’t closed down earlier.

Finally, from China, Audi has pulled its TVC after complaints that the ad compared women to used cars. I have to agree, the ad is in poor taste.

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The Week’s Digital Highlights – 30 June

Screen Shot 2017-06-29 at 9.59.22 pmWith the South East of Australia in the midst of winter, our attention turns to Europe where things are heating up for Google. The search engine was hit with a record Euro fine for anti-competitive behaviour totally 2.42-billion-euro ($3.57 billion AUD) for abusing its market dominance. Google has been accused of prioritising their Google Shopping ads at the top of Google search results over their competitors.

EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager described the action as “illegal under EU antitrust rules“. EU regulators took action after receiving scores of complaints from rivals including Yelp, TripAdvisor, UK price comparison site Foundem and News Corp. Competitors complained Google was manipulating results to benefit their shopping ads. In response, Google stated that online shoppers want to find products quickly and easily, and their Google shopping ads provided this service.

Google Shopping offers users a quick selection of the best prices for a particular product, advertisers pay to be featured in the results. Competitors, including comparison sites which offer a similar service, were claiming their website listings are being pushed all the way down to page four of the search results. As we know the majority of Google search users don’t click past the first page of results. Google’s ego has taken a battering over the allegations and is fighting the charges.

Screen Shot 2017-06-29 at 10.00.04 pmThe other digital news to grab my attention this week was Facebook’s continued push into live TV streaming. Facebook has signed an agreement with Fox Sports in America to broadcast live Champions League Football (soccer) games next season.

Soccer is the most watched sport on Facebook. Last year 3.7 million users tuned in to watch a Wayne Rooney-sponsored charity match. The recent Champions League final attracted 34 million people who had 98 million Facebook interactions. These numbers are pretty impressive, but it would be good to understand how long users viewed the videos. What is surprising is that I thought NBA or NFL would have larger audiences on Facebook than football. Amazon’s Prime is live streaming Thursday night NFL games next season. They paid $50 million for 10 games, which was five times more than what Twitter paid last season.

Last week I wrote about how Snap and Facebook are becoming more aggressive with their live TV streaming services. The above news by Facebook is more proof that social media websites are becoming media channels. It will be interesting to see if users will embrace watching live TV on Facebook, Snap and YouTube in the same way people use Netflix and Amazon Prime.

The Week’s Digital Highlights – 27 May

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Everything was put in perspective this week with the bombing in Manchester, and there was also one in Jakarta. The senseless loss of innocent lives will scare families, friends and communities for a lifetime.

There were 2 things from the digital world that stood out for me this week. The first being trolls who circulated fake images of people missing from the Manchester bombing and that 43 children were been held at a Holiday Inn. I can’t understand what possesses people to do these wicked acts of cruelty. While social media gives users an opportunity to voice their opinions and have positive conversations, it’s also used by some to spread negativity and pain, I suppose that’s a reflection of our society.

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The other thing to standout this week was the publishing of Facebook’s content moderation guidelines. The Guardian got their hands on 100 internal documents detailing how Facebook moderates content from child abuse to revenge porn, suicide and terrorist related content.

Looking at the documents, it does raise eyebrows on how things are moderated, and the time moderators have to review things (10 seconds to make a decision). With 2 billion users, the amount of content Facebook has to oversee is insane, so it’s not surprising some things slip through the cracks.

Facebook claims not to be a publisher just a conduit platform for users to share content. It would be a minefield if Facebook had to manage all the content from all the different languages and interpret local government laws.

Facebook plays a tightrope of protecting freedom of speech while protecting the innocent and vulnerable, particularly children. Facebook’s global policy management boss, Monika Bickert, says that Facebook is committed to providing a safe environment and encourages users to report inappropriate content. It will be interesting to see if any of the moderation guidelines or processes are change based on the publishing of the leaked documents.

 

The Week’s Digital Highlights – 19 May

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Two things caught my eye this week in the digital and advertising world.

The first being how Coca-Cola used image recognition software to target users based on images users shared on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Digiday reported that Coca-Cola’s ice tea brand Gold Peak targeted users who shared images of drinking glasses and jugs of ice tea, including images of competitor brands. Ads were served across 40 mobile and app sites. Having used social listening tools for about 8 years, I’ve noticed the steady decline in

Having used social listening tools for about 8 years, I’ve noticed the steady decline in the number of conversations people are having on social, with the trend moving to image and video sharing. It looks like the Toronto based software company Cluep, behind Gold Peak’s campaign is on the right path with its facial recognition software. I would seriously consider testing the software for an awareness campaign.

The other thing that caught my eye was from the UK with McDonald’s pulling its bereavement TVC (Dad ad) featuring a child discussing his deceased father with his mum over a Filet-o-Fish burger. Looking at the backlash on social, McDonald’s probably wishes they didn’t take the purpose-driven ad route, which is all about brands expressing their values and beliefs. Heineken took a similar approach with their 4 minute ‘Open Your World’ ad, which challenged people’s way of thinking. As Mark Riston expressed, there’s nothing wrong with the ad, similar to the McDonald’s ad, but does it ultimately sell more products? I probably say no. Advertising helps in building mental availability, but you want ads to showcase your products in a memorable way. Leave the beliefs of the company to the mission statement.

My mother passed away from a long battle with cancer when I was 11, my brother was 7. I remember the following day after my mum’s death dad took us to McDonald’s, my brother was happy to be going to the golden arches. At the time it pissed me off, but looking back I now realise it was a place my brother associated with happiness, which in a time of death was comforting for him.

I can see why some people are angry with McDonald’s for their ad, labelling it exploiting childhood bereavement, but I can see what they were trying to do. For many people, McDonald’s is more than a fast food burger joint, it’s a place where families come together. In saying that, seeing as the topic of ‘death’ is so sensitive I would’ve stuck to selling burgers.

 

Mother’s Day Flowers

IMG_9783 - FB cover imageThe year is flying past with Mother’s Day already upon us this Sunday. This year takes on extra importance as it’s my wife’s first Mother’s Day. Hard to believe our baby girl is turning 5 months old this week.

To celebrate Mother’s Day, our side business Flowers By Night is running a special flower offer for mums. We have partnered with Paper Style and Co to create a ‘Love you Mum! flower bouquet wrapped in their beautiful Magnolia gift paper for $45. The flowers will be delivered Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning, most likely I’ll be the courier (say hello)! Paper Style and Co create prints and invitations, checkout their website for more info.

This collaboration has given us some great insights into the challenging world of e-commerce. Hats off to the online flower companies out there. To promote our offer, we’re running some Facebook and Google ads, and using Instagram. Flowers By Night normally focuses on styling weddings and special events, and FB Carousel B&Wfrom time-to-time we create special bouquets for our clients. Doing this Mother’s Day promotion has been a good opportunity for us to get some insights into the online floristry world.

Here’s my plug, avoid stressing out this week and let us deliver a beautiful bouquet of flowers to your mum, click here to order. Mother’s Day is the one day we can say thanks to mum for everything she does for us.

 

The First Six Weeks at Home

ImageToday, six weeks ago was my last day at work! Where has the time gone! Time use to fly by at work, but it’s the same at home with a little one.  

The last six weeks has been a real eye opener! Hats off to mums and stay at home dads, there’s no rest at home. The constant repetition can be tiring, especially on not much sleep. Luckily for us, we have a baby that likes to sleep at night, which is a godsend for new parents!

When I tell people, I’m taking some time off to spend it at home I get some mixed reactions. This is maybe because my wife is at home too, but I get the feeling there is still this ingrained mentality in society that the dad works, while the mum stays at home.

One of the main reasons for spending some time at home is so I can build a bond with Zoe, our daughter. Zoe is now four months old and is getting very active. She’s now rolling over from side-to-side and before we know it, she’ll be crawling! We’re entering the teething stage, which means lots of dribbling and constant wiping of her chin.

When I finished up work, I created a long list of things I wanted to do at home. I can safely say that I’ve done about half the things on that ever-growing list. I was kidding myself thinking I was going on holidays at home! I’m three-quarters through a Photoshop course which I bought on Fiverr, I’ve been very happy with the instructional videos. Also, I’ve updated our side business’ website, Flowers By  Night which was in desperate need of a refresh. It took about a week to do using one of Wix’s templates.

Next week I’m starting a Marketing Week’s mini-MBA online course by Mark Ritson. Mark has been teaching MBA’s for years and has consolidated the marketing core subjects into the mini-MBA. I’m really excited about getting a refresh of the core marketing theories.

One thing I’ve been struck by is how much stuff you can buy for your baby! It’s a marketer’s dream. We all want the best for our kids, which means brands have a field day marketing their products. Now I need to think of what to sell 😉

 

Week 1 – A New Chapter

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After seven and half years I finished up working at Online Circle Digital last week. It was a tough decision to make, especially since I’ve been there since the beginning. Back in 2009, there was just 4 of us in a serviced office in Mount Waverley, and have been part of the growth into a 25+ strong digital agency servicing some of Australia’s biggest brands. Our first piece of work was with Cadbury and have worked with them ever since. It’s testament to the owners, Lucio and Jeff, for my longevity. They’ve created an agency that’s not shy of innovation. Being entrepreneurs, they’re constantly pushing the boundaries, which has been awesome to be part of.

In saying that, nothing lasts forever and with the birth of our baby girl (Zoe), I knew it was time to take a break to spend some time at home and also explore other work opportunities. Having put so much energy into Online Circle Digital over the years, it’s taken a while to switch off. Getting down to Lorne last week to enjoy some of Melbourne’s late summer weather has helped with that process. Switching off has also been helped by my 3-month-old daughter who is now getting very interactive. It’s an amazing time, she’s gone from feeding and sleeping to making faces and lots of baby talk!

In the coming months, I’m looking forward to updating and learning some new skills and spending some time working on the marketing of our small business, Flowers By Night. We started the wedding flowers styling business last year and have done a great job in growing it by WOM. Of course, spending time with the family is going to be a big part of my time at home, but I’m looking forward to using the digital landscape to try different things.

Expect to see a few more blog posts over the coming months as I document my time at home.