June 22, 2011

How Facebook has quietly created a gold mine for marketers

Facebook ad

Inside the huge banner opportunity created by Facebook

Christopher RollysonFacebook’s development schedule epitomizes the “white water, fast iteration” approach to serving company and customer. Although its mishaps are legendary, it succeeds in consistently fielding a mind-numbing array of features, so it is difficult to keep up and very easy to miss the significance of things.

To wit, very few people people have noticed that Facebook has quietly revolutionized banner ads through a feature that is maligned by users but gold for marketers. This feature has created two opportunities for e-commerce marketers: a new means of inexpensive market research and an easy way to improve relationships with their viewers.

Read on to do this to your competitors before they do it to you.

‘You have removed this ad’: A spark in a dry forest

I hope you have used the “remove this ad” feature that Facebook introduced, I believe, in Q4 2009 or Q1 2010. When you mouse over most Facebook ads, you will see an “x” in the far right (1 — see above). When you click the “x” to remove the ad, you get the dialog box beneath, which gives you the radio buttons (2) and the all-important “other.” When you hit “Okay,” you get the gold box. Seems innocuous, right? Wrong. It has begun to change the expectations of your prospects, who will increasingly expect to give feedback on all ads.

Removing ads: Customer viewpoint

I have been using “remove this ad” since it was released, and I have noticed several things about it:

  • There’s very little talk about it online. Any dialog is dominated by users who hate “remove this ad” because they hate ads in general and they would like “removing” the ad to be permanent (i.e. bar chart brains would never reappear). Note that the gold box doesn’t promise banishing the ad. Users don’t care, though.
  • I’ll hypothesize that only a small portion of Facebook users bother to give feedback, but I’ll wager that most of those who do want to do it everywhere.
  • Yes, when you remove the ad, it isn’t banished from your land forever, but clicking the “x” and adding a peppery comment can be satisfying anyway.

Removing ads: A marketer’s viewpoint

Now, think about yourself as a buyer of millions of dollars of banner ads per year, which all CMOs do. What if, for appropriate (geeky) segments you would introduce this functionality in some of your banner ads (not necessarily on Facebook)? This would help you:

  • Conduct low-cost market research by collecting responses; on Facebook itself this is particularly interesting because Facebook knows user demographics. However, off-Facebook, wouldn’t you like to know if readers of certain sites find your ads offensive or …? (you design the responses)
The majority of ‘display’ ads will be selected by customers within 10 years at the outside; certain demographics much earlier.
  • Improve your relationship with prospects when you give them the option to respond; you suggest that you are interested in their viewpoints.
  • You can take this into account when selecting your ad mix. You read it here, in 2011: The majority of “display” ads will be selected by customers within 10 years at the outside; certain demographics much earlier.
  • I recommend pilots this year to get ahead of the market. Of course, many of your ads are syndicated, etc., but you can select specific situations to experiment and learn.

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February 23, 2010

17 visionaries predict impact of social on the enterprise

Nicholas de Wolff, National Film Fes­ti­val for Tal­ented Youth: "Too many peo­ple are div­ing into the Web 2.0 and 3.0 pools before they even know with whom they are swim­ming."
Nicholas de Wolff, National Film Fes­ti­val for Tal­ented Youth:
“Too many peo­ple are div­ing into the Web 2.0 and 3.0 pools
before they even know with whom they are swim­ming.”

Social business seen as making seismic waves in marketing, sales, operations

Christopher RollysonThe adoption of Web 2.0 and social networking accelerated significantly over the past year, and it shows no sign of stopping. Global digital word of mouth is disrupting growing swaths of business models, and CEOs want to understand its opportunities and threats. Although the Web is resplendent with prognostications from social media gurus, the voices of enterprise practitioners are too rarely heard.

To remedy that, I’ve gathered the perspectives of highly experienced executives who share their thoughts on how Web 2.0 is changing their businesses and mindsets. They also share its limitations and problems. Keep in mind that each contributor wrote independently, and I have made no attempt to unify their views, although I will offer my analysis and conclusions as well as the intriguing backstory below. Here is a sampling of the group’s eclectic insights:

  • A seismic shift in marketing is emergent, and chief marketing officers will require robust strategies to succeed consistently with Web 2.0 and use it to their advantage.
  • Gamification will redefine “work” and “play” and gradually make them indistinguishable.
  • Performance demands on government will force it to shed its laggard stereotype and pioneer social business at local and federal levels.
  • Arguably the biggest disruption of all is that green energy is enabling billions of previously unconnected people to join the world as participants; China and India are two of the fastest growing economies of the world, and millions of people are jumping online every year. Infrastructure limitations are forcing extreme innovation.

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November 5, 2009

Highlights from ad:tech New York 2009


David SparkI just finished up my second day of reporting at ad:tech in New York for ad:tech, a conference about the digital side of the advertising industry. The event happens ten times a year all over the world and I last reported on the event for ad:tech in San Francisco.

At this year’s New York conference I saw many of the same things I’ve seen at ad:tech over the years, and that’s ad networks. I believe they’ve been there since day one of this conference and they’re never going away. They’re the bread and butter of the business.

I was more interested in what’s trending and at this show I saw a really big push towards businesses generating revenue from content. Advertisers are slowly realizing they need to be media companies as well, but not wholly. In fact, there’s a symbiotic relationship between paid advertising and earned media.

Watch the day 2 show report and the day 1 show report for an overview of some of the stuff I saw. Almost everything I mention in the show report videos you’ll find in a subsequent video below. There’s a total of 30 videos.

While I do a lot of live event reporting, understand that ad:tech is a very big conference and there’s no way to feasibly see it all, so these show reports should be titled, “What David got a chance to get around to see in his two days at ad:tech.”

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August 20, 2009

Social media, brands and the way forward

JD LasicaThis week I attended one of the more interesting discussions around brands’ use of social media that I’ve taken in during the past year.

Your Brand, Their World at Razorfish’s corporate headquarters in San Francisco brought together a highly engaged audience of 100 social media and marketing specialists during an opening presentation by Garrick Schmitt, GVP Experience Planning for Razorfish (@gschmitt on Twitter) followed by an interesting panel with Megan O’Connor, Levi’s; Michael Brito, Intel; Marisa Gallagher, Razorfish; Sam Faillace, Shutterfly, and Jon Swartz, USA Today (moderator).

“We’re all intuitively going through these changes and we’re all intuitively interacting with [brands and media companies] in different ways without fully understanding what it all means,” Schmitt said.

Slide highlights: social media spending

• Schmitt offered metrics to back up the excitement around the explosion of interest in social media. For instance, in slide 3 of the deck above, you’ll see that in Interactive marketing spending (US), search marketing and display advertising far surpass email marketing, social media and mobile marketing social media in terms of dollars spent today. Social media spending will grow from $716 million this year to $3.113 billion by 2014, according to Forrester’s projection.

• Advertising dollars haven’t followed the audience’s migration online yet — but it will. Americans spend about an equal amount of time watching TV and going online today, but ad spending remains at 31 percent for television vs. only 12 percent for the online medium. (slide 5)

• Bad news for newspapers: Individuals spend 7 percent of their media consumption with print newspapers but the ad spend for newspapers is 14 percent today.

• You’ll find richly textured analysis of the trends in social influence marketing in Razorfish’s recent fluent publication (free download).

Panel highlights: rock stars and the 80-20 Rule

actor playing ajay bhatt• I love those new Intel commercials (“Our rock stars aren’t like your rock stars”) on PBS’s NewsHour and elsewhere, especially the ones featuring Ajay Bhatt, one of the inventors of the USB. I guessed that it wasn’t really him (Wikipedia is silent on his age), but thought those were real Intel employees. However, it’s an actor playing Bhatt, Michael Brito said, and indeed, all the employees portrayed in the ads are actors.

• Brito (@Britopian on Twitter) uses the 80-20 Rule in his tweeting: 80 percent is personal, 20 percent is business — an excellent frame of reference for companies just jumping into the game. He talked about the importance of reaching out to the community “in an authentic manner” through their social media efforts, such as the Intel Insiders (disclosure: I’m part of that team). “I’d rather have 100 people I have an authentic relationship than 5,000 followers” and an artificial relationship or no real nexus to you or your brand.

• “Social media is not the be all and end all,” Brito added. “Not every company needs a Twitter account or a Facebook app.” Continue reading

July 23, 2009

The ad agency’s dilemma – convincing clients to engage in social media

David SparkOn day three of my Toronto social media road show for Intertainment Media (owners of the branded softphone, itiBiti), I visited two different ad agencies, PHD and OMD.

Business Conversation
During my discussions, both agencies had made some simple efforts with their clients to engage in social media, but their clients still remained stagnant when it came to long term committed engagements. Here are a few examples of the roadblocks that came up in our conversation:

  • Had a hard time explaining that a social media effort, unlike an advertising campaign, doesn’t begin and end in six weeks.
  • Every effort requires levels of reviews before anything can be publicly published.
  • Can’t even consider a social media campaign unless they can first show ROI.
  • Afraid of how they’re supposed to respond once they’re engaged.
  • Testing in social media isn’t the same thing as an advertising test.

If your agency is facing many of the same issues with your clients, here are some suggested ways to respond to these common roadblocks:

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