Perhaps a Facebook page qualifies as marketing versus advertising, but brand ads clearly belong front and center, and on the brand's Facebook page. Social media analytics provider Simply Measured reports considerable boosts in engagement for brands using the Facebook Timeline format, and for brands using photo and video.
Simply Measured surveyed the Facebook Fan Pages of 15 early adopters to compare engagement rates before and after implementing Timeline. It observed that brands get 46% more engagement per post when they upgrade to Facebook Timeline. Facebook promised on February 29th that Timeline would help “showcase brand’s unique stories and identities” and improve how consumers interact and engage with their favorite brands.”
Of those 15 brands, Livestrong showed the highest boost, with 161% engagement per post, followed by Toyota with 156%, Humane Society at 83% and Red Bull at 70% lift in per-post averages.
The posts tend toward fan uploads for Livestrong, but Toyota leans toward photos, videos and house ads. The Timeline redesign, says Simply Measured, “is much more visual, focused on interactive content, and provides new features that give brands more control over how their Fan Page looks and feels.” Photo and video in particular attract engagement, once again making a Timeline ripe for brand advertisements.
Comparing averages before and after, Simply Measured observed:
- 14% Increase in Fan Engagement
- 46% Increase in Content Engagement
- 65% Increase in Interactive Content Engagement (Video and Photo)
- Advertisers may want to target female sports fans more often, and through social media ads, reports ClickZ. In a joint study from Visible Technologies and Applebee’s (the casual dining chain), Visible studied 125 million social media posts over a recent three-month period, to find that 31% of sports chatter on social comes from women, a result which Visible calls "surprisingly strong" compared to past findings. Carly Wilcox, director of professional services at Visible, suggested that advertisers should take note that consumers (women in particular) are incrementally shifting in terms of where they spend their time and show their interests. Whatever they are consuming, be it sports paraphernalia or beauty products, “Women are powerhouse purchasers and the sluggish movement...to capitalize on such an active group is a huge oversight in the industry," said Wilcox.
- Comedy Central has announced the launch of “Comedy Central’s Indecision’ Election Companion,” an iOS-optimized election news and political humor app. The “Election Companion” app, sponsored by AT&T, is available now as a free iTunes download for iPhones and iPads and provides users with exclusive jokes, interactive content, photo galleries and second-screen experiences. The app delivers iPad and iPhone users exclusive politics-centric content through an iOS-optimized version of the “Indecision” blog; a photo gallery called “Snap Shots,” which captures the 24-hour news cycle in images and jokes; a 2012 Election Calendar; and an app-only exclusive “Peanut Gallery” commentary feature, which provides a second-screen experience for nationally-televised political talk shows, debates and speeches. The “Peanut Gallery” also includes exclusive live commentary from Indecision bloggers and special guests, and offers real-time interactive “Reacticons” for users to register their opinions. For example, users can post “Reacticons” such as “Cry-Baby,” “Dunce,” “Yawn,” “Knock-Out” or “Bulls#*!” to express their reactions as they watch candidates and talking heads on their TV screens. The “Reacticons” will then grow and shrink to reflect the Indecision community’s collective opinion in real time.
- Google, “undaunted by a short-lived  attempt to market and sell smartphones on its own,” plans to sell its own tablets in direct competition to the Apple iPad, reports the Wall Street Journal. Google will sell the co-branded tablets directly to consumers through an Apple- and Amazon-like online store. The move, speculates the Journal, is to turn around “sluggish sales” of tablets running Google’s Android platform.
Facebook Inc. is preparing its initial public offering for May, reports the New York Post, citing “people familiar with the matter.” Facebook halted trading of its shares on the secondary market this week, as it sets about nailing down its shareholder count, say the anonymous sources. Facebook filed for an IPO in early February, and the IPO is expected to raise as much as $10 billion and value the eight-year-old company at $100 billion. Facebook netted $1 billion in 2011 on $3.71 billion in revenue, and currently has 845 million users globally.
More evidence for consistent cross-media campaigning. Between its traditional ads, social media ads and pages, Starbucks rated Number 1 in a study of the most socially engaged companies, reports the advertising research firm PhaseOne in a press release. Alongside Starbucks, the study's most socially engaged brands across three distinct engagement metrics are Audi, McDonald's, Red Bull and American Express. PhaseOne presented its findings at the Advertising Research Foundation's (ARF) Re:Think event in New York City on March 27, 2012.
PhaseOne conducted its study of 75 top brands across six vertical markets, between July 2011 and January 2012; and analyzed the social media engagement of 22 top brands. The goal of PhaseOne's study was to determine what drives social media engagement (measured by earned media) across the primary consumer touch points of paid media (the brands' TV ads) and owned media (the brands' own Web pages and Facebook page).
"Idealized Self" vs. "Private Self" in Driving Social Engagement
In looking for the commonalities between the most socially engaged brands, PhaseOne researchers found that social media users are drawn to brands that convey a social benefit. When the user affiliates with the brand, the user is sending a message to those in his or her social network about how he or she wants to be perceived. In this way, the brand reflects the user's idealized self -- the "Me Statement."
This very public aspect of social media can be quite different from the private self: those aspects of one's self that, while true, are not for public broadcast. Marketing messages that tap into the private self may drive sales, but they won't drive social media engagement.
"In PhaseOne's study, none of the brands that tapped into users' private selves scored in the top category of social media engagement," said Dr. Lisa Allard, vice president of Special Projects for PhaseOne. "Rather, we found that users engage with a brand in social media based on how they want to be perceived."
"For example, users may 'like' the Starbucks Facebook page because of what they believe it says about them and how they want to be perceived, while in reality, they also have instant coffee in their kitchen cupboards," added Terry Villines, vice president of Analytics for PhaseOne.
Starbucks Takes on the "Me Statement" and "Idealized Self"
The study found that a focus on a "me statement" (the idealized self embodied by a brand) was the key factor in driving social media engagement among the most engaged brands. For example, Starbucks, which the study ranked as the most successful in social media engagement, has a brand that uniquely delivers its story with consistent messaging and strategy across all of its touch points, appealing to the "idealized self."
To achieve this successful social media engagement, Starbucks focused its Web page, Facebook page and television advertisements on the individual and his or her individualized experience with the brand. For example, Starbuck's Facebook page engages the visitor by speaking to his or her coffee preferences and personal stories. It continues this trend today with a Web page featuring interactive content that taps into visitors' unique tastes, including "What's YOUR Everylove story?" and "Do YOU prefer Starbucks Blonde Roast, Medium or Dark?" In this way, Starbucks taps into visitors' desires for individualized experiences that appeal to their unique preferences.
According to the study, being consistent across all platforms—the brand's advertising, Web pages and Facebook page—are keys to being successful at social media engagement. For example, Starbucks has integrated its appeal to a personalized experience across all consumer touch points, including its television advertising.
A recent Starbucks ad starts with a coffee plant in a garden being grown for an individual person, "Sue." The ad then shows the life cycle of coffee beans from seedling to production, at every junction labeled for "Sue." In the end, Sue receives a cup of coffee with her name written on the cup. From beginning to end of this commercial, Starbuck's reinforces the highly individualized experience their brand offers. In this way, Starbucks becomes the embodiment of their consumers' idealized selves, seeking experiences uniquely their own.
PhaseOne's social media engagement study looked at 75 top brands and analyzed the social media engagement of more than 20 top brands. The study analyzed social media engagement (measured by earned media) as driven by paid media (the brands' TV ads) and owned media (the brands' own Web pages and Facebook page).
The study utilized metrics, including Facebook Likes, Klout and Netbase. Klout measures online "stickiness," which translates to online influence. Netbase measures online sentiment. PhaseOne coded each television, Web page and Facebook page for more than 250 variables to capture elements related to style and content, synergies across media, and brand or product ideas and messaging related to brand benefits.
The study analyzed brands across six vertical markets: Automotive, Dining, Food/Beverage, Retail, Services and Technology.
Brands studied are not clients of PhaseOne, and analysis was based on publicly available data.
Advertising research firm BIA/Kelsey projects that U.S. companies will spend $136.2 billion on local advertising, between traditional, online and mobile ads, in 2012, reports eMarketer. That number will climb toward $151.3 billion by the end of 2016.
As we reported yesterday, BIA/Kelsey chief economist Mark Fratrik told Media Life that digital with its lower cost-per-thousand impressions (CPMs) makes sense for smaller businesses, as well as with its more targeted reach: a print ad in a local paper, or broadcast ad on a local news station, cannot target the 12-mile radius that a plumber may wish to reach, but targeted digital ads can.
Traditional spends will grow but in the low single digits, versus in the teens for digital. Still, with its lower percentage of overall spend, the overall spends will grow annually between 1 and 4%.
Though total U.S. local ad spending should grow slowly over the next four years, digital ad spending will grow by double digits, driven largely by social, mobile and video advertising. By 2016, the firm projects that local digital ad spending will tip the scales at $38.5 billion, more than 25% of total local ad spending, up from 16% in 2012.
“From 2010 to 2011, we saw a 2.4% decline in local ad spending,” said BIA/Kelsey CEO Tom Buono at the ILM-East conference in Boston on March 26. “We were projecting a decline originally, but it’s a lot more severe than we expected because of the economy. Therefore, in our projections moving forward, we’re less bullish than we were.”
Local TV stations are integrating with advertisers, and extending their coverage and conversations with viewers, through social media, reports Ad Age. The magazine was reporting from the American Association of Advertising Agencies (AAAA) Transformation Conference in LA, and on a panel called “Socializing Local TV.”
As an example, President Valari Staab of NBC Owned Television Stations described how Facebook helped a local NBC affiliate dominate coverage of Hurricane Irene in its market. Viewers engaged about the hurricane on the affiliate’s Facebook page, which provided enough content and interest that the station’s news broadcast went on-air live at 3 P.M. versus 6 P.M. “We slaughtered our competition on the coverage,” as Staab described.
Local advertisers can benefit from a station’s social extensions, remarked panelist Dunia Shive (president-CEO of Belo Corp., a Dallas-based owner of 20 broadcast stations and two cable stations). Still, Shive believes the connection between advertising and breaking news is tenuous. Belo plans to introduce a mobile streaming product later this year in 32 U.S. markets. " We'll have to see how consumers react to that launch and how content is used, and then build digital-ad opportunities,” said Shive.
Local advertisers will likely latch on, for the lower cost-per-thousand (CPM) impressions alone. Local ad spending fell 2.4% in 2012, according to analyst group BIA/Kelsey. The group expects local advertising to bounce back this year, and continue through 2016 with a compound annual growth of 2.6%. BIA/Kelsey chief economist Mark Fratrik told Media Life that “Online/interactive/digital probably wasn't hit as much [in 2011] because it's new and exciting and it tends to be lower-priced CPMs…There's sort of a movement from higher-priced media to lower-priced media.”
The good news, according to Fratrik, is that smaller and medium-sized local businesses can now afford digital and interactive ad vehicles. He raised the example of a plumber in the suburbs who can taret paid search in a 12-mile radius, which newspapers find difficult to do and local TV finds impossible.
Twitter with its new ad platform is attracting higher cost-per-thousand views (CPMs) than other social networks, according to third-party ad buyer TBG Digital. TBG surveyed data for 10 brands across different sectors, and observed some early trends for paid ads on Twitter.
TBG found that CPM for Twitter was higher in part because its ads are in-stream versus on the side (e.g., in Facebook), which is more attractive to advertisers. Also true, click-through rates in the news category were far higher on Twitter than on Facebook; though the categories of travel and consumer electronics saw higher CTRs on Facebook.
News is behind the higher day-time conversions for Twitter, which dominates in conversions from 6 A.M. to 12 P.M., and 8 P.M. to According to the research, conversions differed dependent on the time of day, with 6am-12pm and 8pm-12pm being the most successful on Twitter, the times of day when users are more hungry for information and news (see chart below).
Simon Mansell, CEO of TBG Digital, said “Facebook…tends to peak at lunchtime, when people are using it for their downtime.”
The U.S. has a relatively high cost-per-follower, but the click-through rate is below average.
Business, Consumer Press Success
min Online reported today that Twitter is no longer the domain of teen and celebrity chatter alone.” Twitter has just celebrated its sixth anniversary with 140 million users, an increasing number of which are B2B publishers. Four business titles, being Women’s Wear Daily, PRNews and Computerworld and PC World (two IDG titles) have reported substantial recent gains through Twitter. All of the titles make it a point to tweet continuously, with WWD posting about every half hour during the week and more frequently on the weekend; and PRNews topping 30 tweets per day.
Min also reported that among consumer magazine brands, RollingStone.com gained 126,886 new followers between February 22 and March 22, an 11.27% gain. Meredith's Parents magazine promotes its content with poll questions, e.g., "Did you give into co-sleeping against your will after Baby was born?" which has given the title a boost of 9.11% in new Twitter followers.
Self Service for Small Business
Twitter yesterday (March 27, 2912) announced that a select group of small businesses can begin using its self-serve advertising platform for promoted tweets and accounts, reported Mashable. Amex partnered with Twitter to launch the platform, offering both early access to Amex merchant customers and a $100 credit toward free advertising for the first 10,000 businesses to sign. A Promoted Account recommends a brand’s Twitter account to users with similar interests who do not yet follow the brand; and a Promoted Tweet places an existing tweet in search results. A small business pays when its account is followed, or when a Twitter user engages with the promoted tweet.
- ABC.com is launching a five-part web series connecting the two “Body of Proof” episodes, “Going Viral, Parts 1 & 2,” the first of which aired last night (Tuesday, March 27, 2012). On the show the team faces a city-wide outbreak of an unknown virus and no one is safe, including the lead characters. The web series debuted last night on www.ABC.com/BodyofProof at 11:00 P.M. ET immediately following “Going Viral, Part 1,” and focuses on a press conference given by Dr. Kate Murphey (Jeri Ryan). The remaining web series follows a lead character’s personal experience with the virus and gain key insights into “Going Viral, Part 2,” airing next week, Tuesday, April 3 at 10:00-11 P.M. ET. Karin Gilford, SVP of Digital Media, ABC Entertainment said “We worked closely with show producers to create an entire story arc that connects these two highly eventful episodes. It’s a great way to maintain the suspense and enable fans to dig even deeper into the plot.”
- Following its recent launches over Roku and Boxee, iFood.tv will launch apps for Google- and Yahoo!-connected TV platforms, reports eContent. The site features online instructional cooking videos, and will translate its video portfolio into channels of streaming content. iFood.tv boasts a library of 25,000 cooking and recipe videos, and 150,000 text recipes. iFood.tv recently introduced an Android app, in addition to an updated iPhone app, which enable users to store favorite recipes and keep a picture diary of dishes they've cooked. iFood.tv also plans to recreate the channels it has built for connected TV as apps for tablets and smartphones.
- The six-month-old subscription-driven Newsstand section of the iPad App Store is “ringing up content sales for premium publishers,” reports min online. Min was reporting data from app analytics firm Distimo. The top 100 grossing apps the Newsstand section are seeing about $70,000 a month among them, with New York Times, TheDaily and New Yorker Magazine among the top grossers for iPad apps. (At $700 per month average, that is hardly cause for champagne.) Still, it’s a start. For February the five top-grossing Newsstand apps were The Daily, NYTimes for iPad, New Yorker Magazine, National Geographic and Cosmopolitan.
- AT&T AdWorks is integrating with Foursquare, for check-ins via mobile ads, reports Adweek. AT&T reached Foursquare second-hand, through the mobile ad firm Celtra’s partnership with Foursquare. AT&T AdWorks will begin testing the unit with an “unspecified retailer” in the next few weeks. Mobile ads featuring Foursquare typically appear as banners, but require consumers to check in to be shown a map of nearby locations of advertisers’ outlet. The Foursquare integration extends AT&T AdWorks’ store locator mobile unit, which Levi’s tested last year on its Curve ID jeans line, for which it claims a 10.3% boost in ad impressions.
- Seven out of eight ad agencies claimed their clients' social media spends doubled or were "up significantly" year-over-year for January, reports ClickZ News, which surveyed eight agencies. As Adam Donnelley, an EVP at MRM (one of the agencies surveyed) told ClickZ. "Facebook has managed to get more targeted and build broader reach, and that's clearly something coming up in conversations rather frequently." ClickZ was particularly interested in what ad units were seeing getting support from brands (e.g., Facebook Premium Ads; Facebook Marketplace Ads; Twitter Promoted Trends; Twitter Promoted Tweets; Twitter Promoted Accounts). Half the agencies claimed a majority of clients had purchased Facebook Premium Ads and Facebook Marketplace Ads, respectively, in the last 12 months; only one reported that more than a quarter of its clients had bought a Promoted Trend on Twitter in the last 12 months; all eight agencies reported that less than 25% of clients had tested Promoted Accounts, and only one stated that more than 25% of its clients had bought Promoted Tweets.
Advertising platform providers like Facebook and Google are “usually on the front line of the digital privacy debate,” observes paidContent. But the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in its long-awaited privacy report and recommendations called instead for tougher supervision on the data brokers who compile consumer data around shopping purchases, property records, court documents and so forth, then sell that data to third parties.
The FTC did not recommend legislation that forbids advertisers from gathering personal information, but praised the ad industry for its self policing (chiefly through new guidelines released by the Digital Advertising Alliance or DAA). FTC called as well for a “Privacy by Design” system making it easier for consumers to control their data; and praised Apple, Google and Microsoft for their various do-not-track and private browsing options..
As paidContent observes, the brokers like Lexis Nexis and Choicepoint fly under the consumer radar, but in many cases control far more data than do the Apples, Googles, Facebooks and Microsofts. But in many cases, the data companies control a far deeper pool of information.
FTC advocates a sort of online “do-not call list” among data brokers. To quote FTC’s recommendations: “To address the invisibility of, and consumers’ lack of control over, data brokers’ collection and use of consumer information, the Commission supports targeted legislation…that would provide consumers with access to information about them held by a data broker. To further increase transparency, the Commission calls on data brokers that compile data for marketing purposes to explore creating a centralized website where data brokers could (1) identify themselves to consumers and describe how they collect and use consumer data and (2) detail the access rights and other choices they provide with respect to the consumer data they maintain.”
So Google, Microsoft and Facebook (which the FTC refers to as “advertisers,” as opposed to platform providers), are now out of the limelight. But behavioral targeting is hardly safe. The Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA) Self Regulatory Program, which the Alliance and member organizations announced in February, gives consumers the option to identify which companies track them, and opt out of that tracking; but critics charge that it is complicated, realistic for only the most tech-savvy consumers; and that behavioral tracking should be opt-in.
Short term, though, “the report does not appear to poise any immediate threat to the way that companies like Facebook, which rely on providing rich online platforms in exchange for personal information, do business,” paidContent observes.
- Rovio claims that as of Monday, its Angry Birds Space game has been downloaded more than 10 million times since it was made available on Thursday, reports AllThingsD. The game is available on iOS, Mac and PC, with a Windows mobile release in development; but in-game advertisers must opt for the Android version. Angry Birds Space is available for Android devices for free with advertising. Ad-free versions of Angry Birds Space will also be available on Android for $0.99, and an HD version for Android tablets for $2.99, according to the company’s website.
- Microsoft and Nokia are “trying to claw back market share from Apple Inc's iPhone and Google's Android” in the apps market, according to a Reuters story. On Monday, Microsoft and Nokia announced that they would invest $23.9 million into AppCampus, a new mobile application development program at Helsinki's Aalto University, over the next three years. Microsoft is late to the game: while there are 65,000 apps on the new-ish Windows Phone Marketplace, that falls far short of the 0.5 million available from the Apple App Store and Google Play. And at present, only 37% of developers have any interest in creating apps for the Windows Phone, according to IDC/Appcelerator survey, versus 89% interested in iPhone and 79% in Android phones.
- While the GOP slugfest rages on, President Barack Obama's reelection campaign continues to spend big on digital ads, according to ClickZ. Obama for America spent an additional $3 million on digital ads, including text messages, in February. Since Obama for America launched the 2012 campaign nearly a year ago, it has spent more than $11 million on web ads, according to ClickZ analysis of Federal Election Commission filings. If the campaign continues to spend $3 million on digital advertising monthly, it will have spent $35 million by November. OFA claims to have spent about $16 million in online ads during the 2008 campaign.
- The Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) has released a Consolidated Media Report (CMR) for Fine Cooking, only the second print-and-digital journal to undergo the audit, reports minOnline. The second-half-2011 audit went beyond newsstand and subscription sales to include the measured components from FineCooking.com. (Google Analytics was the foundation). Popular Science was the first magazine to have a CMR audit, and released which released its first-half 2011 data last October. According to ABC, the Fine Cooking e-newsletter reached 453,898 average monthly unique e-mail addresses; attracted an average 904,016 total average monthly website browsers; and combined with print, reaches a total “brand universe” of 1,702,518.
- Alongside those Twitter ads, marketers should encourage their CEOs and CMOs to tweet. As eMarketer reports (citing data from social-media branding firm BRANDfog), consumers and employees regard company leaders who engage on social media platforms positively. The majority of respondents in a survey at 78% believe that CEO participation in social media leads to better communication, while 71% said it leads to improved brand image and 64% said it provides more transparency.
The findings are confusing—is social media worth the ad spend, or not?
Yes, according to Adobe Systems—but advertisers and ad platforms need to become better at measuring the impressions. Adobe concludes that current methods undervalue social-media impressions by as much as 94%.
Adobe released those findings in its second Adobe® Digital Index report, which provides marketing, e-commerce and retail executives with critical digital marketing insights. The study evaluated how marketers measure the impact of website traffic from major social media sites, including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, Blogger, YouTube and Yelp. Adobe analyzed more than 1.7 billion visits to more than 225 U.S. companies’ websites in the retail, travel and media industries, concluding that marketers significantly underestimate the value of social traffic.
Aseem Chandra, Adobe’s vice president of product and industry marketing, said “As an industry, digital marketers have been quick to add social media to the marketing mix, but have perhaps not considered new and better ways to measure this complex channel. This study shows that marketers tend to default to traditional direct measurement models. Better measurement of social marketing will lead to better ROI.”
Key Report Findings
The use of last-click attribution, the most common attribution model used by marketers, may cause marketers to undervalue social media’s website impact by up to 94 percent
First-click attribution models more accurately capture the benefits of social media in engaging customers earlier in the buying process
Significant differences in the results of first-click vs. last-click attribution data for various social media sites may cause marketers to change how they allocate the budgets across social and other digital channels
Why First-Click Attribution is Better for Social
Last-click attribution assumes that the marketing channel most responsible for a consumer’s behavior is the channel the consumer last touched before a visit or purchase. First-click places responsibility on the channel the consumer first touched. Social media creates an environment in which brands can build awareness and engage with prospective and existing customers early in the purchase process. By ignoring the value of these earlier interactions, last-click attribution gives disproportionate credit to the marketing channels customers use late in the purchase process, potentially undervaluing the role of other channels in building awareness, engagement, and ongoing relationships between customers and brands. In contrast, first-click attribution gives social media more credit for these earlier interactions. The difference between last-click and first-click is significant and has the potential to change the way companies allocate social media budgets.