Sunday, August 10, 2014

China's biggest threat to Facebook is facing cencorship issues

WeChat was supposed to be the first Chinese internet service to become a global phenomenon—the Facebook of China, and just as internationally successful. But now it appears that WeChat is censoring words deemed taboo by the Chinese government—and not just in China, but for users everywhere.
To say that this is a problem for Tencent, WeChat’s owner and China’s biggest internet company, would be an understatement. Tencent recently announced that WeChat had surpassed 300 million users, many of them outside of China. (Facebook passed the 1 billion mark in October.) As well as Chinese, the service is available in English, Indonesian, Portuguese, Thai, Vietnamese and Russian. WeChat’s app runs on all the major smartphone operating systems, including Nokia’s Symbian, which is popular in emerging markets.
Words censored globally for WeChat users include the Chinese name of a newspaper currently battling the Chinese government over censorship. The paper’s English name, Southern Weekend, is not blocked on the app.
Here’s where things get difficult for WeChat: Its international users cannot now escape the fact that, as a service with its headquarters and servers in China, it is subject to the censorious whims of the Chinese government. But not only that: Because WeChat reveals the location of messages sent via the service, dissidents in China are now afraid that China’s security services are using WeChat to locate them in real time.
In October, members of Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party greeted the launch of WeChat in Taiwan with accusations that the service is a national security risk, saying that “hackers” (among whom they evidently meant to include the Chinese government) could break into users’ communications, including those of members of the Taiwanese military. The potential for states to spy on people through social media is obvious—wouldn’t the CIA like to have access to Facebook’s complete database, for example—but WeChat’s international self-censorship makes those fears seem all the more real.
For now, users of WeChat inside and outside of China could get around censorship by referring to sensitive subjects in languages other than Chinese. But how long will that last? Whatever happens next, Tencent now has a problem that makes Facebook’s occasional privacy snarl-ups look tepid by comparison. It remains to be seen whether this will affect the service’s growth outside of China, but clearly, it’s going to be a stumbling-block for all Chinese web companies with ambitions that go beyond the mainland.



Google is developing a software that enables tracking user activity across mobile web and apps

With the like of Facebook and Twitter encroaching into Google’s mobile ad network territory, the company is reportedly testing a way to track users as they migrate between the mobile web and mobile apps, giving advertisers a way to serve ads to users as they navigate the web and apps on their devices.
AdAge reports that Google has reached out to several ad tech firms to start testing its new ad-targeting technology which marries the tracking capabilities that trace user actions on the mobile web (via Google’s network of third-party publishers) and within mobile apps (on Google’s mobile app advertising network, AdMob).
A Google spokesperson confirmed the test with AdAge, “As an alternative to less transparent methods, we’re doing some tests to help businesses run consistent ad campaigns across a device’s mobile browser and mobile apps, using existing anonymous identifiers, while enabling people to use the established privacy controls on Android and iOS.”
This technology is not the cookie-replacement Google is said to be working on, according to AdAge. “Instead Google is taking the cookie dropped in a mobile web browser and connecting it with the mobile app equivalent of a cookie.”
Advertisers will be able to target users as they migrate between mobile web sites and mobile apps on their devices. What the solution does not offer is a way to track users as the move between devices.
Last year, Google launched estimated-cross device conversions that treats users signed-in to the companies Chrome browser as a proxy for understanding cross-device habits.
AdAge reports that Google executives have expressed confidence that the new solution is more reliable and offers wider targeting coverage than the existing use of cookies.


Snapchat is more popular among college students than Facebook

The study found that while 70% of college students report posting on Snapchat at least once a day, only 11% report posting on Facebook with the same frequency.
Sumpto, a New York-based marketing company that helps brands connect with college students, conducted the study. It polled nearly 2,000 undergraduate students from hundreds of campuses in the U.S.
Result: as in another study reported earlier this year, Snapchat rules on college campuses.
The students reported Snapchat as their frequently used app, with 70% of students reporting they use the app one or more times a day. Twitter also had high engagement with the students — 46% reported posting on Twitter at least once a day. But when it came to Facebook and Facebook-owned Instagram, just over 10% reported posting on those networks with the same frequency.
Meanwhile Slingshot, Facebook's pretty but somewhat baffling version of Snapchat, is not doing well with college students. Despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of the students polled use Facebook, only 2% said they had downloaded Slingshot.
As far as what's in store for these apps, 76% of those polled said they would they would use a group messaging feature (despite 46% saying they had never used the app's text messaging feature) and 45% said they would use discovery features that would help connect them with new people and content.
Snapchat has been experimenting with new features targeted towards brands and events. The company introduced branded filters earlier this year before rolling out stories, a group sharing feature for live events.


Monday, August 04, 2014

Google Spotted Explicit Images Of A Child In A Man's Email And Tipped Off The Authorities

In a recent Business Insider report, a Houston man has been arrested after Google sent a tip to the National Center for missing and exploited children saying the man had explicit images of a child in his email, according to Houston police.

After Google reportedly tipped off the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the center alerted police, who used the information to get a warrant. A search of the man's other devices revealed more suspicious images and text messages. Police arrested him and he's being held on a $200,000 bond.

On one hand, most people would certainly applaud the use of technology to scan email in a case like this. On the other, debate rages about how much privacy users can expect when using Google's services like email. In a word: none.

Google responded by telling us that it does indeed search for such images in Gmail. Here's the statement:

Sadly all Internet companies have to deal with child sexual abuse. It’s why Google actively removes illegal imagery from our services -- including search and Gmail -- and immediately reports abuse to NCMEC. This evidence is regularly used to convict criminals. Each child sexual abuse image is given a unique digital fingerprint which enables our systems to identify those pictures, including in Gmail. It is important to remember that we only use this technology to identify child sexual abuse imagery, not other email content that could be associated with criminal activity.


Xiaomi Overtakes Samsung in China Smartphone Market

According to Wall Street Journal's recent article, market research firm Canalys released the latest survey report showing that Chinese smartphone maker, Xiaomi, just beat the South Korea rival Samsung in the second quarter. Officially became the market leader of Chinese smartphone market.

Xiaomi led China’s second-quarter smartphone shipment rankings with 14% market share, following by Samsung, Lenovo and Yulong each with 12%. It’s quite a jump from the first quarter, when Xiaomi’s 10.7% market share trailed Samsung’s 18.3% and Lenovo’s 11%. And an even bigger leap from a year ago, when Xiaomi only held 5%.

Canalys analyst, Jingwen Wang said in an interview that that the popularity of devices in Xiaomi’s budget Redmi series – including the Redmi, Redmi 1S and Redmi Note – helped account for the second-quarter boost.

Jingwen Wang mentioned “The aggressive pricing points for top-notch products is an important reason that led to its success.”  She also said. “Both its Mi (flagship) series products and Redmi series products are price-competitive devices and feature top-notch chipsets, displays and cameras.”

Analysts also pointed out that the key to success is that Xiaomi has its own e-commerce site. Successful marketing efforts and software development have also helped it stand out among a wide field of low-cost phone makers in China.

“The installed base of its own interface MIUI, which has a lot of localized improvements, is more than 50 million in the world,” Wang said.The company also sells its phones close to the manufacturing cost, making profit through services such as mobile applications.

Xiaomi has been criticized at times for its stylistic borrowings from Apple, Samsung and other rivals. During an interview with Wall Street Journal las fall, Lei told that he did not want to be Jobs, only to be innovative like him.


Geolocation targeting on the mobile channel

Geolocation targeting is a targeting approach that uses the location of the customer as axes of customers segmentation. Even though geolocation targeting is considered one of the most disruptive trends that are changing mobile marketing, it actually has been around for a long time. Since the invention of the Internet, marketers have been able to target people using the IP address of their PCs. Using their IP addresses, marketers can understand where the users are located, from country to state to ZIP code.
But when it comes to mobile, the rules of the game are different on two very important issues. First, the technology utilized is different: mobile phones support GPS location, much more accurate than the IP address location (the IP address could provide the location of the datacenter for your wireless carrier).Second, and probably more important, PCs and laptops are used indoor only, while mobile phones are always with the users, both indoor and outdoor. The ubiqity of the mobile phones allows marketers to reach customers in each moment of their day, and in particular when they are about to shop for products. Geolocation targeting on mobile allows shops to send customers ads when they walk near the shop; check-ins often are rewarded with prizes such as free-samples; on-the-spot coupon like groupon now! give customers offers on perishable items in their action span.
The mobile channel can dramatically boost the already cospicuous results of geolocation targeting: marketers can potentially get much more physically close to their customers, with consequent positive impacts on brand marketing, conversion rate, and ultimately ROI.

Read more:


Biggest threat to Facebook ad revenue is...a blogger?

OK, the biggest threat to Facebook ad revenue is not a blogger, per se, but what she represents.

Stephanie Stiavetti is a famous food writer with an online following that is nothing to laugh at. With social media presence that spans multiple channels, she recently decided to leave Facebook.

In her blog titled The Woes of Facebook she wrote --

"I have 8,000 followers. Over the past few months my engagement has slowed to less than a trickle – a tiny fraction of what it was at the beginning of the year. Now, when I post to my Facebook page for The Culinary Life, only 100 people see those posts (on average). Facebook then tries to charge me $20 so that you can see my content. Given that I don’t make any money from the stories and photos I post ... paying hundreds of dollars a month to access you, the fans who willingly liked my page, is just not possible. To make matter worse, Facebook has been charging page owners to run ads, which is in essence buying followers. That’s not a problem in and of itself, but when they charge to grow a page’s following and then remove access to those very same followers after they’ve accepted money for them, well, I find that incredibly unethical…I’m very sad that Facebook has decided to exclude the blogging community from accessing our loyal friends and fans ... It’s terrible that Facebook has decided to hide our work from your eyes after you’ve already expressed interest in seeing it. We are not large brands selling products..."

Spokespeople for several companies have shared that the "reach" of their Facebook posts declined by upto 80% after Facebook updated its News Feed algorithm. Facebook claims that it changed its algorithm to enhance the user experience, but retail companies think it may have been a ploy to increase ad revenue.

What do you think? Is Facebook's pure in its intentions? And, if not, does it really matter? So what if it wanted to increase ad spend?

Full story here:


Manhattan Boutique Hotel Stows Social Data Through WiFi System

Morgans Hotel Group is experimenting with the social media usage of its customers.  I feel like this poses an interesting fine line between invasion of privacy and getting to know your clientele better.  While it is up to you whether you log into Facebook, once you make that decision, you are connected with the hotel's WiFi network containing your demographic data and social media usage.

"The eventual idea is for Morgans Hotel Group guests -- whether residing in one of its properties or merely stopping by the bar – to log into its WiFi system through a social account of their choice such as Facebook, Google Plus or Twitter. The hotel group currently is testing the WiFi logins at the Hudson Hotel only.

The system could help Morgans counteract the loss of customer data otherwise intercepted by room-booking middlemen such as and Priceline. Travel sites help hotels sell rooms they wouldn't otherwise, but without the traditional direct transaction with guests, hotels lose out on customer information. That makes keeping in contact, making targeted offers and building loyalty a challenge."

I am not sure I am in favor of this even though the hotel's clientele has discretion as to whether to participate or not.  This is just another example of constant interconnectivity and online community building through consumer affiliations.  Interesting marketing campaign for Morgans; I am curious to see the reception.



Sephera’s Digital Marketing Strategy

Sephera’s Digital Marketing Strategy

Sephora, the international cosmetics and beauty retailer, with around 1,750 retail stores in 30 countries. Building on its tremendous success with mobile in 2012 (mobile orders up 167 percent), the company is the epitome of a customer-centric smart company that doesn't just welcome smart customers; it embraces them.
First, Technology avails and facilitates customers ‘choice. Sephora has made “useful technology” and “unbiased service from experts, an interactive shopping environment and innovation.”
Second, mobile access promotes brand awareness, influence and lead to direct sales. Today, Sephora has almost 5 million Facebook fans, 900,000 Twitter followers, and 600,000 Apple Passbook registrations; mobile devices make up one-third of all traffic.
          Over on Pinterest, Sephora has found “followers [there] spend 15 times more on than Facebook fans.”
          And while most retailers are worried about showrooming, Sephora’s mobile apps have more than 2 million downloads and heavily feature in-store experiences, such as bar code scanning, reviews, personal purchase histories, etc.

Third, customer-faced digital technology experience is not easily copied. It is well built upon the brand and user-experience uniquely applicable to the brand.
In a word, The new digital experience of customer engagement is not data-driven, but customer-needs driven initiative. 


Facebook's unbundling

Can a company built on the ideas of scale and network effects unbundle its offering into multiple brands and still thrive? Facebook is about to find out.
Observers have quickly labeled the strategy outlined by Zuckerberg, “The Great Unbundling.”  And that captures part of the strategy: standalone, dedicated single-purpose apps will populate Facebook’s stable. They may or may not carry the Facebook brand. But unbundling is only part of the story. More interesting is what the strategy says about Facebook’s understanding of its future competitive advantage.
Today Facebook enjoys three advantages over rivals: technological capabilities, economies of scale in its infrastructure, and most importantly, network effects. Network effects favor Facebook because for those who want to socially network, it makes sense to congregate on Facebook where everybody else is hanging out.
Zuckerberg appears to recognize that the Facebook brand as a single monolithic entry point cannot be everything social to all people. Users have different needs, and those needs will be served with separately branded products to deliver different experiences and attract and retain varied customer segments. Each brand, whether it is Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp, or Instagram marks distinct territory in the social space
The strategic bet here is that a single customer interface is not necessary to maintain or even strengthen Facebook’s technological lead and infrastructure scale. You can have several customer brands and interfaces and still enjoy these back-end advantages. But what of network effects?
Could unbundling dismantle the network effects at the heart of Facebook? Not necessarily. First, brands that Facebook currently operates, Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram, have hundreds of millions of users, and each of them enjoys greater network effects than all but the largest potential rivals. 
Secondly, Facebook may believe it is worth sacrificing some network effects in order to build distinct brands and pre-emptively occupy social space. For example, more cohesive groups may have stronger inter-relationships, and so members may be less likely to leave to try other social networks. 
Finally, Facebook’s strategy suggests that it is well on its way to becoming a conglomerate that is in the business of managing businesses that have network effects at their core. Lessons learned from one network effects business translate to other network effects businesses — a benefit few of its rivals possess.


Pinterest's monetization plan

Pinterest's first advertising product isn't available just yet, but Advertising Age reports the social network is asking for commitments of between $1 million and $2 million from marketers interested in buying ads on the platform.

Not only that, Pinterest is planning to charge between $30 and $40 for 1,000 views, or CPM, of its promoted pins, which would push a given product into users' Pinterest feeds.

That's even higher than the approximately $20 CPM top publishers such as CNN and CBS reportedly charge for an online video commercial, a relatively lucrative digital ad format.
Pinterest announced it was planning to introduce promoted pins six months ago, and has since been testing the product for a select group of marketers free of charge. 

Since so many people use Pinterest to bookmark--or "pin"--products they would like to purchase in the future, marketers see it as having natural e-commerce potential. Already, the company allows brands to include shopping information in their pins to let people know how much the products in the pin cost, and where they can go to buy them.

According to a study conducted in November, every pin posted to someone's digital bulletin board is worth an average of $0.78 to the brand whose merchandise is featured in it. Pinterest has more than 70 million users, according to a study that came out last June.

Like Google's search ads, a promoted Pinterest search ad would allow a retail brand to show its product to someone very likely to be in the market to make a purchase. For instance, if I search for "sneakers" on Pinterest, there's a pretty good chance I'd be interested in looking at a promoted pin displaying a new pair of Nikes. I might even click a link to the website of a retailer selling them.

That's why Pinterest is planning to charge so much money for its ads, and why the platform is poised to become an advertising juggernaut in short order. It's no wonder the company was valued at $3.8 billion as recently as October.



Youtube: more awareness but not enough to boost revenues

Four months ago YouTube launched a marketing blitz to make audiences and advertisers more aware of its homegrown talent. So how has the campaign worked so far?

It depends on how you're measuring. The campaign's first phase --which debuted in April and promoted YouTube creators Michelle Phan, Bethany Mota and Rosanna Pansino -- increased people's awareness of the trio fourfold, a YouTube spokeswoman said.
The brand awareness lift was measured based on an online panel of 18-to-34-year-olds surveyed by researcher Ipsos.

Awareness is fine, but audience is a more important measure from a business perspective. Advertisers and their wallets tend to follow people's eyeballs. And considering that YouTube timed the campaign's first two phases to major advertising events (the Digital NewFronts and Cannes Lions festival), advertisers appear to be as much the target audience as viewers.

"If these channels don't get mainstream viewership, then they'll never be as attractive to us as Google would like them to be. It's always smart when people try to build up their audience," said Catherine Davis, president of Vizeum Americas.
The three channels saw somewhat gradual accelerations in views after the campaign's initial roll-out.
The campaign's second phase may offer a clearer look at any correlation between the campaign and channels' popularity. That phase promoted Maker Studios' "Epic Rap Battles of History" and Vice News and rolled out in a staggered fashion. TV spots for "Epic Rap Battles" premiered on June 12 during the World Cup's first match, and Vice News ads followed, starting on June 30.
These numbers -- again provided by Tubular Labs -- show how the campaign has coincided with more people checking out the channels' videos and whether they have opted to do so on an ongoing basis as subscribers.

YouTube's broadly targeted campaign didn't hit the mark with every advertiser.
OMD Chief Digital Officer Ben Winkler said that YouTube's NewFronts sales strategy had more of an impact among savvy clients than the campaign.

This year YouTube pitched buyers on a program called Google Preferred that bundled the top 5% of YouTube channels in certain categories like news and gaming.
"Our clients always knew there was tons of great content on YouTube…. There were probably advertisers and consumers who weren't familiar with the quality content on Google and for them the campaign was useful," Mr. Winkler said.
More details:


Twitter Makes it Easier to #startandfindtrends

Twitter is currently experimenting with new ways to make hot trends and newsworthy events easier to find. Twitter is characterized by its use of hashtags, in a sometimes chaotic and often humorous fashion. The new feature that Twitter is exploring, explains the use of some common hashtags (as seen above). Twitters ultimate goal with this new format is to provide users with a sense of legitimacy and credibility with using a certain hashtag, which will also presumably help to make it more viral. This goal extends into a strategy of making the platform more user friendly and to help it acquire more user who may be leery of its complex-looking format. Advertisers are also likely to latch onto this feature as it will make it easier for them to identify trends and use the momentum of those trends for their own marketing goals. It has not been reported whether or not this feature will move forward and if so, when it will be released. However, it could give Twitter some of the ammunition that it needs to reengage users and bring new ones into the fold.


LinkedIn leveraging sponsored content

The professional social network LinkedIn has seen strong financial results and their share price has risen dramatically over the past month. The shares have rallied from about $175 a month ago to just over $200 as of morning trading on 8/4/14. In the second quarter earnings release that came out on 7/31/14 CEO Jeff Weiner attributed part of the increase in earnings to the further development of sponsored posts on LinkedIn. These posts known as Sponsored Updates are becoming an important revenue source for LinkedIn. They are part of the Marketing Solutions segment which accounts for 20% of LinkedIn's revenues and has experienced 44% year-over-year growth from 2Q13 to 2Q14.

LinkedIn describes these Sponsored Updates on their website as being able to shape perception, drive leads, and build relationships. It is interesting to see how LinkedIn is developing their content marketing platform and beginning to leverage and monetize their user base. Within sponsored content their are three products offered which are Sponsored Updates, Directed Sponsored Updates, and Certified Sponsored Updates Partners. The Directed Sponsored Updates have the added functionality of being able to target different customers and to run tests with different content. The Certified Sponsored Updates Partners product allows companies to team up with experts to develop and manage their campaigns.

As the sponsored content trend is still in the early growth stages it will be interesting to see how the product offerings change as the market becomes more developed. It will also be interesting to see how price structures are adjusted and whether LinkedIn will move beyond the current structure of CPC and CPM.


How mobile social can help brands

Emergence of mobile technologies and prevalence of smartphones have created a whole new opportunity of marketers. Because mobile allows customers to connect more frequently and provides more variety of features, marketers are able to gather more information to measure and analyze the behavior of the customers. This opportunity is giving a lot of companies to start-up.

How mobile social can help brands

Here in the U.S. alone, 85 percent of consumers are leveraging mobile devices to access social sites. One expert offers insight into how brands can better connect.

Kristina: How do mobile-focused social insights impact brands?
Richard Pasewark, CEO, Visible Technologies: Whether it's locally or abroad, brands can better understand how consumers respond to a product, launch, or campaign based on specific regions or markets from mobile-focused social insights. They can also better understand the consumer experience for discrete target segments. For example, if a brand wanted to decipher if consumers in Kansas City are happy about the grand opening of 3 new stores. Mobile-focused social insights and data can give them a better idea of what local sentiments around the openings were, allowing them to gain an understanding of what worked well and what they can improve for future store launches.

Kristina: How can retailers better use mobile-focused social data insights to engage shoppers?
Richard: With the ability to target social posts originating in specific locations, retailers can use mobile-focused social insights to engage with shoppers in two key ways. One being to leverage data insights to determine customers to engage with directly, responding to specific questions or issues they may be experiencing. The second way is to leverage the data over the longer-term, using it to entice shoppers with timely, exclusive offers specific to their location and preferences - helping to encourage them to return as frequently as possible.

Kristina: What trends are you seeing in digital marketing now? And what do you expect as we move into the busy holiday season?

Richard: One of the top trends in digital marketing we are seeing is marketers increasingly wanting and needing to know if their programs or messages are effective to (1) change course in midstream if something is not working and (2) influence additional further spend, channeling funds to what will capture the best results.
As we move towards the hectic holiday season, we expect retail brands to focus more on the customer experience, which means added targeted messages & engagement to encourage consumers to spend additional dollars with these brands during the busiest shopping period of the year.


Pinterest Can Bolster E-commerce For Certain Industries

A marketing and anayltics provider, Piqora, recently studied the impact of Pitnerest pins on its clients' revenue and found that the referral traffic from Pinterst pins resulted in an increase in e-commerce revenue by 67%. 

The article on Searchengineland stated that Piqora studied the impact of referral traffic from Pinterest on 400 of its clients.  Not surprisingly, the client industries are predominantly image focused in terms of their business model, with 45% being apparel and 25% being home decor brands.  Those are highly visual e-commerce experiences on their own, and Pinterest is the perfect site for creating collections of various styles and themes. There was no mention of any businesses that sold electronics, home improvement tools, gardening tools, etc in the survey, which similarly reflects the lack of those genres' presence on Pinterest as a whole.

Pinterest can be a great revenue booster for businesses, but it only makes sense for certain ones.  Match your medium with your demographic and this study shows you can reap huge rewards.


Foursquare Experts compete with Yelp Elite

Foursquare recently  reintroduced some gamification features on its app.  Now you can post tips and earn points.  Points accrue towards earning "Expert" status.  This all seems pretty similar to Yelp's Elite status that people can earn after they've posted a large number of reviews on the site.  Of course, the points also give you a sense of how much effort you've made and how far you still have to go, whereas earning Elite status on Yelp still seems somewhat of a mystery. 

Foursquare recently separated out its features into one for reviews and discovery and one for check-ins.  Swarm was created to only host the check-in feature, whereas the rest of Foursquare was help users find personalized recommendations and discover new places to eat, shop, etc. 

Why the separation of the two features?  According to Forsquare CEO Dennis Crowley, the app had become too many things to different people.  In an interview on Mashable, he said, "We have gotten really good at making proactive recommendations, search and knowing where friends are (check-in), but we've turned into a swiss army knife type of product. We believe that the best apps out there are the ones with a single-case use that can be described in a sentence or tweet."

So simplicity is the name of the game, although they are going back to keeping some gaming features in the new version of Foursqaure as well.  You don't need to check-in to become an expert, but you do need to contribute to the community by providing a lot of content.


Facebook Advertising - worth it?

In "How Facebook Sold You Krill Oil," The New York Times got behind the scenes and observed how MegaRed worked with Facebook to establish an ad campaign.  The experience shed light on Facebook's shifting model.  The once desired metrics to obtain "fans" was replaced by getting people further down the funnel to actually buy this premium fish oil product.  Facebook's focus is not in its ability to laser target consumers who are further down in the purchase funnel.

The Facebook garage was an upfront investment made in MegaRed, but not without hefty rewards of multi-million dollar commitments once success was apparent.  The intensive two day workshop guided the clients through the messaging with the goal of making the deepest most emotional connection with the target audience as possible.

Facebook helped MegaRed shift messaging throughout the campaign.  Real time adjustments were key to the success:

During the eight-week campaign, 18.1 million women aged 45 and up saw at least one ad, according to Nielsen’s research. That was 56 percent of the target audience. The number who said they were now more likely to buy MegaRed rose by two percentage points.
About one out of every 84 Facebook users who saw the ads liked, commented on or shared them — triple the rate of engagement with MegaRed’s previous ads. That greatly increased the chances that their friends on Facebook would also see the messages.
While Facebook will make you pay for this level of targeting, it can be very successful given that there is more granular targeting and higher engagement then MegaRed's former television strategy. But regardless of the platform, the creative still has to be spot-on.


Leveraging the Virality of the World Wide Web...

There is so much talk about leveraging the web and the social networks to make content go viral...while we see several instances of things going viral - ranging from Ellen DeGeneres' Oscars selfie to The Discovery Channel's - The World Is Just Awesome inspirational video the mechanics to make it all come together still seem to be unclear...

So What Makes Online Content Go Viral?
A recent research study co-authored by Jonah Berger (Assistant Professor of Marketing at Wharton Business School) highlights three factors that make content go viral...

1. Positive content has a higher potential for going viral than negative content
2. Content that evokes high arousal emotions e.g. anger, inspiration, awe —positive or negative—is more viral than content without emotion.
3. Practically useful content get’s shared - content which people feel could help their friends and has imbedded actions/next steps for the reader!

Given the three steps above - given our ability to influence what goes viral...are marketers being strategic enough about spoon feeding our readers to make the content viral?


Bringing liquidity into RTB

Publishers of the Digital Advertising inventory have been complaining about the opacity of prices within the RTB for quite a while. On the surface, second price auction rule within the Ad exchanges does favor the buyers because in most cases buyers end up paying much less than their willingness to pay (WTP).

For the second price auction to work effectively, there needs to be competition in the market from both supply and demand side. There is definitely a surplus ad inventory available, but the demand is actually low. The demand side platforms (DSPs) aggravate this problem for publishers by aggregating the demand; reducing the demand competition even further.

A recent article in ad exchanger talks about this tilted market, and suggests some ways which can bring transparency into the market place. The jist of the article is to have a transparent market where every participant can see the buy / sell price of the inventory and can then bid accordingly. There are private ad exchanges which work on this same principle but this market information doesn't pass over from private to open exchanges.

To fix this information parity issue in open exchanges, the incentives needs to be re-deigned for the buyers and the sellers.


Privacy on the Internet - A thing of the Past?

The Do Not Track Movement seems to have come and gone with the entire media ecosystem condemning Microsoft, back in October 2012 for setting the default option for the Internet Explorer 10 browser to "Do Not Track" i.e. stop collecting information about online activities of consumers for purposes of targeted advertising.

As NATASHA SINGER of the New York times states "The advent of Do Not Track threatens the barter system wherein consumers allow sites and third-party ad networks to collect information about their online activities in exchange for open access to maps, e-mail, games, music, social networks and whatnot"

Looking back and beyond 2014, given the multi-billion dollar digital ecosystem we have created and the avenue for advertisers to target consumers do we really have the option to exercise our right to privacy-protection?


Connecting the dots between Wearable tech and the future of digital marketing

Could Small, wearable gadgets like glasses, watches, pedometers, fitness trackers, and sleeping monitors that are becoming increasingly popular the next big thing for digital marketers?

Wearable gadget sales are projected to reach 100 million devices by 2016. Wearable's carry a host of information on our motivations and state of mind. Combined with GPS tracking functionality of our smartphones marketers could integrate information across gadgets to identify real time targeting opportunities e.g. did I just finish a workout before heading to the Starbucks on 112th and Amsterdam for a drink - if so, am more likely to get a water or cold beverage. Then Starbuck's promotion should be for a water or cold beverage vs. a cappuccino!

As  suggests "While wearable technology manufacturers still need to find their place in the mobile ecosystem and address the privacy concerns associated with sharing personal data - the potential to opening the doors to more personal marketing experiences" seems promising