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.


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!

Facebook F8 Conference

F8I can’t believe it’s been 4 months since my last blog post! Where has the time gone!? Last time I was writing about Christmas Ads and now it’s Easter! This year, I’ve been involved in Creme Egg’s Facebook campaign, so have been in the Easter spirit for a while now!

What caught my eye last week was Facebook’s annual F8 developer conference. The big news from the event was the focus on opening up Facebook Messenger to businesses. With 600 million active users of Messenger, Facebook is keen to give businesses the opportunity to interact directly with customers.

Users will have the opportunity to receive rich information from businesses, including tracking shipping, and purchase information and live chat (one-to-one communication).

In the future, Facebook users will have the option of getting receipts for goods purchased online sent directly to Messenger, bypassing email. In the same thread shipping orders will also be tracked.

Live chat will make it easier for brands to resolve issues. Chatting with consumers via the newsfeed is not always possible, especially for sensitive / private conversations.

Building Apps for Messenger is another way businesses can increase their reach. Currently there are over 20 Apps you can download, from sending GIFS to  Memes. JibJabI downloaded JibJab, the App Zuckerberg featured at the Conference and had a lot of fun sending GIFS to my partner. I can see many opportunities for brands to develop Apps to engage with fans, for example a Mercedes-Benz ‘Road Trip’ planner, which lets users send driving itineraries to friends, or a McDonalds ‘Meal Selector’, where users can send what they want for dinner.

You can also send money to friends using Messenger, so there’s no end to the capabilities of the App!

From a marketing perspective the advancements to Messenger are very exciting!

Wishing you a safe and relaxing Easter!

World Cup Facebook Stats update

SocceroosWow, what an awesome start to the World Cup! The Brazilian way of playing football must be rubbing off on teams as we’ve seen some high score lines.  I think we’ve already had more goals than the last World Cup. Australia’s Socceroos have performed gallantly and hopefully will finish off with a strong showing against Spain later tonight.

I’ve been curious to see what’s been happening off the pitch on Facebook. Looking at a bunch of countries Facebook pages I’ve done a quick breakdown.

Top Fan growth

Mexico’s Facebook page has had the biggest fan growth in the last 3 weeks adding 600,000 new fans, followed by Italy with 370,000, England with 350,000 and US 141,000 fans.  The Socceroos have added 42,000 new fans.
fan growth

fan growth chart

Engagement rate

All the action on Facebook has occurred in the last week. Mexico’s page from a pure numbers perspective is most active with 1.3 million people engaged (19.3%) on the account. Italy is a close second with 1.2 million (50.6% engagement) of its fans active on their page.



In my next blog post I will analyse which Facebook posts have resonated most with fans.

Data provided by Social Pulse



Sochi’s Winter Olympics – Is it Social?

Like many lovers of snow, I’ve been watching the winter Olympics with much enthusiasm. Coming from Australia we don’t get a lot of snow so maybe that’s where the fascination with snow comes from. Actually we’re currently in the middle of a summer heatwave so shots of snow-covered mountains are very soothing!

London was named the first Social Media games with 150 million tweets and 1 billion Facebook impressions. While the Winter Olympics are niche, I was curious to see how Sochi’s Winter Olympics compared.

Over the last 7 days the keyword Sochi has had 2,680,262 Social Media mentions followed by Olympics 909,311 and #sochi 497,603. Traffic peaked during the opening ceremony with 283,763 mentions.

US Olympic TeamAmerica is winning the Social Media gold media race. USA has produced 2 million Social Media mentions followed by Canada with 200,000 mentions. In Australia we’ve only had 27,000 mentions, which probably sums up in interest in the games here. Team USA’s Facebook page is the most active with 200,000 engaged users. Their opening ceremony post had 27,800 likes and 8,800 shares.

Granted the figures are not as impressive as London, but we’re only 4 days in and we still have the popular sports still to come, including Snowboard Half-pipe, Downhill Skiing, Ski Jumping and Ice-Hockey.

Go Aussie! Bring home a medal or two!

The above data only includes public Facebook posts.

Facebook Performance Report June 2013

Facebook Performance reportIt’s been a big couple of weeks at work with the release of our latest Australian Facebook Performance Report – June. Produced quarterly, it’s become the benchmark report for Australian brands on Facebook. Using Social Pulse, data was analysed from 20 industries for the date range 13th May – 10th June. The report looks at fan growth, engagement rates and share of conversation. The learnings from the report can be applied to any brand worldwide.

Travel, TV shows, FMCG and fast food restaurants dominated the Top 30 largest Australian Facebook pages by fans numbers. The ‘Australia’ tourism page topped the list with 4 million fans followed by the television show Bananas in Pyjamas with 2 million fans. Snack foods brand Pringles Australia tops the FMCG list with 1.3 million fans and fast food restaurant Domino’s Pizza – Australia came in 7th place with 850,000 fans.

For the first time, the Facebook report includes a breakdown of the top performing posts (by likes, comments and shares) by industry.

Tourism tops the list for Facebook posts that generate the most Likes. A post by the Australia page generated 66,000 likes followed by Sydney Australia’s page which had 53,000 likes on one of its post. Both posts included images of iconic Australian landmarks and the post copy was 185 characters in length.

Fast food restaurant KFC with its Hot & Spicy post attracted the most comments with 10,600 followed by the Sydney radio station 2DayFM’s post which had 4,600 comments. KFC’s post asked fans which state was the biggest fan of its new product release.

The Australia page had the most shares with two of its posts, both showed cute images of a Wombat (11,600 shares) and Koala (8,300 shares). Outside the tourism industry, television show The Biggest Loser – Australia post had 6,700 shares for a video post. A popular post used by brands, ‘memes’ were also popular for shares with a meme posted by 2DayFM had 5,500 shares.

Click the link to view the Facebook Performance report. If you know of similar reports from America and Europe please post the links in the comments section, it would be interesting to compare the data.


What’s in a name? Are you tempted by V Energy’s latest flavour?

V Not OrangeNew Zealand beverage company Frucor, manufacturer of V-Energy drinks has added a limited edition ‘V Not Orange’ flavour to its range. Just as consumer tastebuds started to move away from cold caffeinated drinks to hot beverages, V Energy needed a product to keep interest in their range during the cooler autumn and winter months.

Limited edition product releases are intended to create awareness and boost sales during quiet periods. The marketing guys at V Energy have come up with some great campaigns over the years, but had their latest campaign achieved their objective?

The smarts behind this product release is in its name, ‘V Not Orange’. Having not tried the new flavour I was curious to find out what people online were saying about the taste. Blogger Chris Jager, a self-confessed lover of V Energy drinks taste tested the product on the blog, Lifehacker. He scored the product 8 out of 10. The flavour of the drink was a combination of eating handful of jellybeans with a slight orange after taste, Jager commented.

A post on V Energy’s Facebook page on the 8th April asked fans what they thought of the new flavour generated 955 comments and over 7,000 likes. While the new flavour generated a mixed response, what was more interesting was the discussion around the name of the new product; it was a real conversation starter which most likely extended offline. To promote the new flavour V Energy is running a competition on its Facebook page, fans can win a trip to LA and weekly product prizes. Entrants must upload an image of fans photo bombing shots with the new flavour. Due to the design of the App it is hard to gauge how many people have entered the competition.

Working at an online marketing agency it’s not unusual to see developers sipping on energy drinks, however I hadn’t seen anyone try the new V Energy flavour. While waiting for our food at the pub on Friday the conversation turned to if anyone had tried the new V Not Orange drink and the merits of the marketing campaign behind it (I decided to write this article based on that discussion).

No one had tried it, but the very fact that everyone was talking about it was evidence that the marketing guys at V had achieved their goal of achieving awareness. Will this translate into trialling the product is yet to been seen, but I would say 35% of V drinkers that know about the product would most likely trial the new flavour out of pure curiosity. And that would be enough to keep sales going until the appetite for cold drinks returns in spring.