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 Growth of Digital TV

Screen Shot 2017-06-12 at 11.50.54 amSnap’s (Snapchat) continued push into the traditional media space has caught my eye. With more and more young people watching TV on their phones, Snap is well positioned to capture this audience due to many of its team having network and broadcast TV backgrounds.

US cable network A+E has just finished airing the first season of ‘Second Chance’ on Snap TV. Second Chance is a dating show with 14 short videos created for Snap. Digiday reported that “Second Chance’ averaged 8 million views and another series ‘Phone Swap’ is getting about 10 million views per episode. Based on these healthy numbers, Snap is looking to work with its other production publishers (NBCUniversal) to create more video series for Snap.

Other media publishers playing in the digital TV space is Buzzfeed, they used Facebook Live to stream a couple of UK election result shows late on Thursday night. The shows had a total of 2 million views, compare this with BBC who had 4.5 million people tune into their TV election coverage, and ITV and Channel 4 had about 1 million viewers each. How they determine views is slightly different between the 2 formats, Facebook Live counts a view by how many people play the video for 3 seconds, while TV counts it after 60 seconds.

Based on the above positive results, it’s safe to say we’ll be seeing more publishers exploring digital TV. The impact on advertisers will be interesting as online ads tend to be shorter than traditional TV commercials. Snap squeezes in ads between content (approx. 2- 3 seconds long), I haven’t seen any ads on Facebook’s Live Stream ads, but you can skip ads on YouTube videos after 3 seconds so we should expect to see a version of these ads on Facebook and YouTube’s live stream.

The advantage of digital TV versus a standard web page with a video pop-up ad is that the volume is on, so ads are more likely to be heard and seen. In saying that, users watch less TV on their mobile devices compared to traditional TVs due to the viewer experience so advertisers have less time to reach their target market.

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.

 

Australian Paper goes Digital to close the Recycling Loop

Australian Paper - Campaign image - May2016Recently I finished working on an exciting digital campaign for Australian Paper promoting their new range of Reflex 100% Recycled paper. The challenge was to educate the general public about the benefits of  closing the paper recycling loop. Australians are great recyclers, with 68% of people recycling office paper, but only 20% buy recycled paper back.

For this awareness campaign we developed an integrated digital approach utilising Facebook, LinkedIn, EDM, Google Display, videos (GIFs) and campaign website. We managed all aspects of the campaign, from developing the creative concept and strategy, video production, technical development and ad management. The 2 new characters Wayne and Lexie helped us communicate the serious message in an entertaining way which the target market could relate to. Lexie and Wayne will be used throughout the year to promote the closing the paper recycling loop message.

For more information on the campaign it was featured in Campaign Brief and Stationery News.

What I’ve learned in 3 months using Snapchat

Back in February I wrote an article about Snapchat, I had been using it for 3 weeks and was pretty excited by the platform. The excitement surrounding Snapchat reminded me of the buzz Twitter was getting 8 years ago when I was living in New York. Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr were all getting started and Twitter was winning the battle. We all know what happened in the following years.

Three months later I’m still using Snapchat, and are excited by the new advertising features which really opens up the platform to advertisers.
A quick recap, Snapchat is a mobile App that allows images and videos to be sent. The messages last between 3 and 10 seconds, and then it disappears. Points are earned for every message sent and received, and there are trophies for rewards. To enhance snaps, you can add funny filters and text to images and videos. These filters are one of the reasons why the platform is so addictive. I got hooked using the filters and was actively sharing photos and videos with my wife’s friends, who in turn shared content with their friends. Before long the whole group was using it.
Snapchat figures are impressive for a platform that has been going for about 4 years. Snapchat has 200+ million users, 100 million are active daily users with Australia having 2 million active users. More than 60% of US 13 to 34 year olds Smartphone owners are Snapchatters. Users spend on average 30 minutes a day on it. Snapchat is dominating video with 10 billion videos watched daily. To put it in perspective, Facebook has the same number of video views, but are 10x times larger!
Why do people love the platform? Snapchat is giving users a platform to creatively express themselves to the world. We can share content (our own) with friends, celebrities and people located anywhere in the world (very similar to how Twitter was used to connect with people from anywhere, Facebook was more of a closed environment). And we control the frequency of interaction. Snapchat is the perfect platform to be continually sharing Snaps from our busy lives. The Snaps are a reflection of how we are feeling in the moment.
Interesting to note, all content on Snapchat is viewed vertically, which means it gets maximum eyeball attention on mobile. Studies have found that mobile users were not turning their phones when viewing content, resulting in landscape content been underutilised. This could be one of the reasons why Facebook has recently launched Canvas ads, to take advantage of the full vertical space.
So how do the brands get involved in the platform? Like with everything, there’s the organic way and the paid option. The organic way is to create stories on a brand’s profile. This does not mean replicating Facebook and Instagram content calendars onto Snapchat. The content should be quite separate and unique. Snapchat content is a lot rawer and does not require the same high creative production. However, it still requires some planning otherwise a brand’s profile will be full of random images and videos. The brands doing it well are telling a story, checkout NitroCircus for inspiration. But building an active community is quite labour intensive due to the content disappearing after 24 hours, so you have to be continually creating new stories.
Snapchat’s paid options allow brands to get involved without having to invest as much manpower, but there are still considerable costs to advertise on the platform. In Australia we’ve had limited access to advertising options, but this has changed recently.
One of the first paid options introduced by Snapchat was the ‘Discovery’ brand channel, which is a place where brands can publish curated content. This option has been only open to a small number of brands with very deep pockets (in the US prices started from $750k per day, apparently it’s now around $50k).  In Australia some brands using Discovery channels have included Fox Sports, News.com.au, BuzzFeed and MTV.
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Another option for brands to participate in is the ‘Live Story’ section, which occupies prime realestate just below the Discovery section. It’s a combination of user generated, branded and Snapchat curated content from live events from around the world, it’s a bit like a modern day documentary. A lot of the content is from behind the scenes at fashion shows, music and film awards and sport (the NBA finals has been featured a lot).
To get a sense of how big Snapchat is, America’s ABC recently broadcasted the American Music Awards, it got 3 million TV viewers aged 13-34, while a Snapchat Live Story about the event drew 11.5 million. Advertisers will be climbing over themselves to be featured next year.
Snapchat also features Live Stories from cities around the world, yesterday Reykjavik was featured. Not sure if there’s an option for cities to nominate themselves. Snapchat’s team based in LA and NYC sift through thousands of Snaps to curate the content and mix in their own content (with people on the ground at events), and add in ads (brand stories). To create ‘brand stories’, prices start from a very reasonable $20 for every 1,000 views. Yesterday I saw a 5 second Hungry Jacks ad video.
Quickly becoming a popular option for brands to participate on Snapchat is sponsored ‘on demand’ Geo-filters. Users can add branded graphics to selfie photos and videos based on Geo-locations. We’ve had community driven filters in Australia (e.g. Melbourne) but recently we got access to ‘on demand’ filters. McDonalds was one of the first to use the filter on a national scale. Recently in the office we created a filter for an event, we geo-fenced it to our building for about an hour, and it costed about $5USD (very reasonable). Thoughts of hijacking events spring to mind, so it will be interesting to see how Snapchat manages this going forward.
The last 3 months have certainly been fun using and discovering more about Snapchat. If you want to learn more, I’ll be co-running a Snapchat workshop this Thursday afternoon. We’ll be Facebook Live streaming the workshop, so like our Facebook page to watch it. www.facebook.com/onlinecircle

Facebook Advertising Overview

People are silhouetted as they pose with laptops in front of a screen projected with a Facebook logo, in this picture illustration taken in Zenica October 29, 2014. Facebook Inc warned on Tuesday of a dramatic increase in spending in 2015 and projected a slowdown in revenue growth this quarter, slicing a tenth off its market value. Facebook shares fell 7.7 percent in premarket trading the day after the social network announced an increase in spending in 2015 and projected a slowdown in revenue growth this quarter.   REUTERS/Dado Ruvic (BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINABUSINESS LOGO - Tags: BUSINESS SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY LOGO TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)

This year I joined Toastmasters and have recently finished my second speech. Toastmasters has helped me improve my listening and speaking skills.  I’m particularly enjoying the challenge of table topics, where you have to speak unprepared for 2 minutes.

I’m sharing my last speech, which was on Facebook advertising. My wife gave me the idea to do the speech on Facebook advertising.  We recently got married and had an amazing honeymoon in Europe. The other day on Facebook she saw an advertisement for a pregnancy tester kit. Naturally she was shocked and surprised, why is Facebook showing me these ads. I will explain how Facebook is getting this data later in the article.

First some background stats on Facebook. As most of us probably already know, Facebook is the largest social media platform in the world with 1.5 billion users and 13 million in Australia. Ten million Australians are active on Facebook every day, spending about 1 hour per day on it. Food is the most talked about and shared topic, followed by family and pets.

Facebook was listed on the US stock exchange back in 2012 and was valued at $100 billion. The shares started at $38 per share. Today the company is valued at $245 billion and its shares sit around $1.10. In the last quarter, Facebook made $4.3 billion from advertising in the US. The online advertising space is valued at $600 billion in the US. To marketers, Facebook now positions itself as a media company, no longer a Social Media platform.

A couple of years ago when a brand made a post on Facebook there was a good chance people would see the content organically. While this strategy was great for brands and for Facebook while they were growing their user base, it wasn’t making Facebook any money. Over the years, Facebook tweaked their algorithm so less and less content was shown organically. As a result brands would have to pay for their content to be seen. Facebook had become like any other media channel, like radio and TV. Due to the massive audience, it’s hard for advertisers to ignore the platform.

For years, advertisers have been able to target ads on Facebook based on a broad range of demographic and interest-based category, including gender, age, family status, location, employment, interests and hobbies. Users have given this information to Facebook in various forms.

The big shift came recently when Facebook partnered with offline data providers, including Quantium (Everyday Rewards cards). Facebook can now get information based on our offline habits and interests, including shopping and financial information. This new option called Partner Categories has meant Facebook can now overlay data from their own targeting combined with shopping and financial information. The list of targeting options has increased dramatically, marketers can now reach people who have got a new home loan, purchased overseas holidays, bought dog food and recently married (my wife fell into this category) the list goes on and on.

Partner Categories is now included standard in Facebook’s Ad Manager and Power Editor. In addition to Partner Categories, advertisers can upload Custom Audiences (email and phone databases, opted in to receive information from your brand) and target lists with advertising. There is also the option to use Look-A-Like audience targeting to reach people similar to your email database lists.

Facebook’s advertising options have evolved and are now very sophisticated. The key to Facebook’s continued success is ensuring people keep using the platform. Facebook will continue to tweak their advertising options but will need to be careful with the number (frequency) of ads shown. So expect to see more targeted ads in your news feed!