Category Archives: Marketing

Facebook AdvertisingOne of the latest trends in online marketing today centers around one of the largest platforms on the Internet: Facebook. Billions of dollars are being spent advertising on Facebook alone with a predicted worldwide revenue exceeding $5 billion in 2012. It might seem like there’s a rosey forecast ahead, but eMarketer is predicting that over the next two years, growth rates will dip significantly, but yet, more money will still be floating into Facebook’s coffers and more than double the 2011 revenues to $8 billion. Just what could this mean for brands and businesses advertising on the social network? Could the increased revenue, but stagnant growth be an indication that businesses are spending more, but aren’t getting enough from their return? This could be a sign that brands could use some help to get more bang for their buck or least get a handle on how to be more effective with their Facebook advertising execution.

GraphScienceGraphScience, a full-service social data and Facebook advertising platform, is just the company that they’re looking for. Launching today, this platform for the top 100 brands and retailers, will enable companies to move beyond engagement and convert them into sales all through Facebook. All of this is done using GraphScience’s SocialEngine platform, which leverages Facebook ads API and will tap into the social graph using its “powerful algorithms” and social data to help brands create highly targeted campaigns for maximum branding and revenue generation. Simply translated: you put your trust into SocialEngine and it will spit out the data you need to make sure that your advertising is effective enough to make everyone happy.

But the problem isn’t necessarily that brands are timid about Facebook advertising or that the strategies are inefficient. No, the problem could potentially reside in the fact that Facebook isn’t keeping up with the demand that brands are asking for. The Examiner reported yesterday that the social network is facing considerable pressure from brands for more advertising on the site. Sure, the site initially sought to do advertising to raise some money while it was still private, but now that it’s going public, brands are demanding that their needs should be taken care of. As the Examiner puts itAs more people continue to surf the Internet from their laptops, desktop computers, tablets and mobile devices such as a smartphone or just a regular cell phone with Internet access, eventually it’s possible for online advertising to surpass television as roughly 425 million Facebook users currently access the site from a smartphone or tablet. So where’s the inventory? Greg Kahn, Executive Vice President and Business Development at Optimedia International, says that there’s no argument that for the past year, Facebook is a place to be (for marketers).

Isn’t it about time that brands who want to get marketing on Facebook had a chance to get more sensible targeting and had the ability to look at more social data to make educated and wise decisions on where they want to spend their money? That’s what GraphScience hopes to achieve using SocialEngine. By analyzing millions of targeting combinations across a wide array of demographics like age, gender, location, interests, and more, brands will be able to identify highly-targeted user segments in real-time and then make optimizations on their bids to increase the return on ad spends. How good is this system? In 2011, GraphScience delivered more than four billion connections to their customers and generated 4-8 times ROI based on click-based conversion for their customers across several industries. Not bad!

GraphScience

The point of using SocialEngine is because it’ll help drive more strategic marketing decisions for the brand’s customers. No more guessing on how your money is going to be spent–find out how exactly and maximize the return. Dave Harber, Senior Director of Marketing and Social Media at Ice (a fashion-focused shopping destination store) reinforces this belief: “GraphScience takes the guess work out of understanding how to find and reach the right consumers on Facebook, and has demonstrated that they not only can help us build a strong fan base on Facebook, but also do it at a cost significantly below industry average.” Isn’t that something that all brands are trying to achieve? Facebook advertising doesn’t have to simply be about placing an ad on the social network and forgetting about it. There’s an art form to getting your ad noticed with both creative and targeting and GraphScience can offer that to brands right now. The company predicts that social media advertising will overtake display and search as the dominant force within the next 3-5 years. If GraphScience can repeat the 4-8 times ROI that they’ve done before, it will be a good sign of things to come. More businesses will finally get to understand Facebook marketing and start to spend more because they’ll be more educated and aware of how to properly execute a strategy.

Raymond Rouf, CEO of GraphScience, told me earlier that their philosophy around customers was centered around what can they do to help a business grow value. They’re the first company to really show that Facebook is a viable marketing tool for businesses and have amassed a great deal of customers, from leading national department stores to home furnishing commerce sites to major high-end fashion brands. All are aimed at trying to get the maximum return on their investment. What they are finding is that paid search is still doing better than Facebook ads. In a USA Today article, Dave Beltramini, director of online strategy for G5, said that “the intent for consumers on Google is about shopping, On Facebook, people are more social, looking at photos of their friends’ kids.” It’s all about different behaviors. In fact, Chris Moore, a partner at Redpoint Ventures, says:

Facebook fares poorly in a key pricing metric used in the industry to measure the value of ad inventory in reaching an audience. Its CPM, or cost per thousand impressions, is 22 cents, less than half the industry average for the Web (50 cents) and minuscule compared with Google’s, which is north of several dollars…

Facebook ads are still the Wild Wild West of online advertising and brands will need a guide to help spend their money wisely without throwing it all away. GraphScience has come along at the right time to help shepherd the businesses away from the recreational advertisers and provide them with the full-detailed data that they need to become serious advertisers on Facebook.

You can check out more information about GraphScience and their capabilities by visiting their website.

Photo Credit: Facebook advertising via Bostinno.com

AnalyticsThe world of social media marketing has just gotten a bit better thanks to a recent announcement by Wildfire about their partnership with social advertising company Adaptly. The global leader in social media marketing is going to get even better thanks to its integration with Adaptly’s social advertising and optimization technology. Now, while Wildfire user, which allows you to design, publish, and manage your own brand content through social media will, for the first time, give marketers full control of both owned and paid social media–combining the best of both worlds in an attempt to “maximize consumer engagement”.

In case you don’t know about Wildfire, this two-time winner of the Facebook Fund and a runner-up at the TechCrunch Crunchies in 2010 is a tech company based here in Silicon Valley dedicated to helping brands discover the marketing power of all social networks, particularly Facebook and Twitter.  What they offer right now is the ability for anyone (and I mean anyone) easily create their own attractive, branded social media marketing campaigns, like sweepstakes, contests, coupons, giveaways, quizzes, virtual gift campaigns, and anything else they desire. Those campaigns are then published on Facebook, websites, and even on Twitter. As you can see, it’s a lot of organic tactics that Wildfire can offer brands. But what they seem to lack is the ability to get the customer’s name and promotion out there into the wild…well until now. Adaptly’s partnership with Wildfire helps give them a well-rounded handle on the marketing industry and substantially increases their offering in an area where companies don’t want to have multiple services to manage their social media marketing. It’s a “one service to rule them all” kind of thinking.

But before we can talk about this marriage of offerings, we must understand a bit more about Adaptly. Since its founding in 2010, this New York City-based company has been working to help change the way brands gain engagement on social networks. How? By helping to “harness the unique value of each social network”. One consolidated platform is all that is needed to complete a social advertising buy across multiple networks including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, StumbleUpon and more!

When asked about this integration, Wildfire’s CEO, Victoria Ransom (a 2012 winner of the General Management TechFellow award), said:

Integrating a brand’s ads with its content is key to maximizing engagement through social media, yet powerful ad management had been a missing piece from social marketing software suites.

We are delighted to partner with Adaptly to bring their innovative advertising optimization technology to our customers. We evaluated many solutions in the market and Adaptly was the clear leader, with a best-in-class technology that is science-based, data-driven, and results-focused. Adaptly is fully aligned with Wildfire’s philosophy of developing highly scalable software solutions that automate social marketing processes to generate maximum impact at the lowest cost and effort for customers.

So what makes this Wildfire-Adaptly partnership so unique compared to simply using something like Facebook advertising? Well for starters, the combination of these two companies will give you greater reach since they’re allowing you to create a bipartisan marketing campaign for multiple networks, not just one. It’s almost like you were doing traditional online advertising: you don’t want to have to manage buys on Google AdWords or Bing or on Yahoo. You just want to have one system to help manage those spends. That’s one of the strengths these two companies will bring. But it’s not just advertising nor is it just marketing–it’s both. According to Wildfire, unlike first-generation ad serving solutions which focus on traditional metrics as CPC, fans, or impressions, Wildfire’s solutions with Adaptly will help optimize social ads not only for costs, but for maximum engagement. With proprietary technology aggregating more than 160 social metrics from a brand’s earned and owned channels, Adaptly will help marketers analyze the impact of their spend in real-time and help you refine your ads to increase engagement at the lowest cost–something marketers really will care about.

This self-optimizing technology that is now integrated into Wildfire offers a few compelling values for brands and their marketers:

  • Enable marketers to specifically target & discover new/valuable audience segments
  • Enhance performance of social media promotions, brand pages, and messages through high value content
  • Gives marketers a real-time view of their advertising, page, and campaign metrics in one interface
  • Marketers can optimize their advertising across multiple social networks–no small feat!

Currently available only to a limited number of beta customers, this new integration should be a big prize to the thousands of customers that Wildfire has and will surely lead to better things for Adaptly. Social media marketers have probably been wondering just how can they manage all their social marketing from one platform…and now they have their answer. It just became that much easier thanks to this partnership.

Photo Credit: Technorati

Now that the Oscars are over it’s time to take a look at something incredible that’s happened over the last ten days. The trailer for low-budget independent comedy, Pulp, has shot to the top of YouTube’s film & animation chart with over 1 million views.

Thanks to the power of viral marketing and the strength of the geek army, the most watched trailer over Oscar weekend was not any of the award contenders, but this tiny British film.

On Saturday, the Pulp trailer was the 2nd most watched and shared video in any category in America. It is currently the number 1 worldwide trailer by a significant margin – the result of a spectacularly successful grass-roots viral marketing campaign.

The filmmakers behind Pulp ascribe the success to the fact that they previewed a scene from the movie at the end of the trailer. The now infamous ‘Star Wars’ scene has got fans and bloggers talking, and it’s authentic tone has struck a chord with geeks all over the world. Pulp is the ultimate underdog story, and it seems that the trailer’s success is mirroring events in the film.

www.pulpthemovie.com
www.facebook.com/pulpthemovie
www.twitter.com/pulpthemovie

QR tag tattooWe’ve all seen the posts about QR tags: they’re either dead or they’re of no use to the rest of the world. But there are some in the marketing world who see validity in actually using QR tags. In fact, they’re practically everywhere. Just look at any piece of paper, packaging, or product box and most likely you’ll see one of those strange hieroglyphic symbols. But just because they’re everywhere, is there actual adoption and usage of these things by consumers?

Some actually believe that there is adoption. According to a December 2011 report by comScore, within the United States, 20.1 million mobile phone owners used their device to scan a QR code between August and October 2011. When you break it down further, 59.4% did so from home, 44% did it from a retail store, and 26.6% did it from a grocery store. 21.4% scanned something from their office while 11.2% were outside or on public transit. 10% did it at a restaurant. People are using these things.

On sites like Mashable, there are a plethora of posts where they say that QR codes for marketing (or in general) are dead.  You can come up with creative means to promote your company using QR tags like Intel’s social media strategist Ekaterina Walter says in a January 2012 post on Mashable, or you might wind up proving people right about QR tags with some of the more memorable fails. It’s definitely a polarizing piece of technology and many people probably have erased it from their memory. Or so you’d like to think that…

Today, Scan.me, a producer of one of the more popular QR tag readers with over 10 million downloads, announced two newsworthy items that have far-reaching implications for the QR industry, and maybe its “second wind”. The first piece of news is that they received $1.7 million in seed funding from several top venture capital firms and even some angel investors here in Silicon Valley. Leading the round is Menlo Ventures with contributions by Google Ventures, Charles River Ventures, Yuri Milner’s Start Fund, Social+Capital Partnership, Transmedia Capital, and Ludlow Ventures. Angel investors include Ariel Pooler, Naval Ravikant, Jim Pallotta, and Troy Carter. It must be saying something about the QR industry when all of these major investors find something interesting about what Scan.me is doing.

Scan PagesBut what is Scan.me doing that is revolutionizing the industry and taking QR tags up a notch? That’s the second part of their announcement. Being unveiled today is the introduction of Scan Pages, which are apparently “user-friendly mobile websites accessible via custom QR code or short URL”. What these pages will do is give businesses and individuals the opportunity to quickly and easily create a mobile site.

Wait, it’s a WYSIWYG for your mobile sites! Of course the downside is that it’s not 100% connected with your brand nor is it directly tied back to your company website, but for simple sites done that allows you way more flexibility than you probably can do with existing resources, Scan Pages are a good resource for any beginner or company eager to want to begin their mobile strategy and are using QR tags. Users have an option to select from one of several types of mobile pages: personal, business, social media, website, and simple text. Each of these types has their own interface and design so make sure you choose carefully. Once you choose, you’ll be able to enter your content and immediately afterwards, be given a customized code to insert anywhere you choose. Users will need to log in to their Scan account in order to use it, but I suspect that by doing so, you’ll be able to have tracking data available to you as well as other useful tools.

Something that most people probably don’t think about when they create a mobile page are tie backs to the company social media channels. With Scan Pages, users can add up to three of their most popular networks, including Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Vimeo, Instagram, Twitter, Flickr, AngelList, Github, Tumblr, Foursquare, LinkedIn, YouTube, and many others. The idea is that you create these pages, but it isolates them on this page without any connection to talk back to you–but by adding social media profiles and links, you give additional value and content to the end user and an incentive to build their community.

Garrett Gee, CEO and co-founder of Scan, believes that his company’s innovations will help generate business for others above all other QR technology:

QR codes and other mobile technologies have always had enormous potential, but until now they have been held back by poor experiences and incomplete products…Scan fulfills the promise of these technologies by creating direct connections and valuable information exchange between businesses and consumers.

It definitely looks like it…I personally have created QR campaigns for clients and the things you need to deal with are tracking, custom URLs, and testing to see if the page loads up when scanned by various readers. With Scan Pages, there lies enormous potential for real value and ROI for businesses. And they’re already realizing this opportunity–brands like Barneys New York, Kroeger’s, Lady Gaga, People Water, and others are all participating and using Scan Pages.

To create your own Scan Page, you’ll need to visit their website. But if you want their QR reader for your phone, you can download it from the iPhone or Android marketplace.

Photo Credit: QR tag tattoo by Synergy Interactive

Evolution of reading on a subwayOne of the most talked about startups over the past year when dealing with content curation has got to be Storify. When something major in your life breaks and you want to find a good way to summarize it through the use of social media, then look no further than with Storify. Founded in 2009, this seven person company has done a remarkable job surviving the market and being one of the major players in the world of content curation. Just like Twitter has their trending topics, Storify’s service allows people to keep track of the relevant social media trending topics. Users are able to tell their own story about these major events (like Whitney Houston or Greece’s economic downfall or even Madonna’s Super Bowl halftime performance), and embed them on their own website. Be your own crowd-sourced storyteller, by dragging in tweets, status updates, photos, and videos from a variety of social networks in order to help you create a better story and telling experience.

But for the several years, the only way that Storify has been able to be used was through a personal computer–you had to be physically sitting in front of a computer in order to put something together. Well, that is…until now.

Today, Storify announced that it was bringing its service straight to the iPad. For a service that has been used by 22 out of top 25 news sites in the United States, this is a pretty big move because it will allow for much more curation on the go. Chances are that most people will be traveling around town or the country with an iPad rather than a laptop or desktop computer. With this new platform available to users, expect to see much more storytelling happening on the web in real-time. Already, tech publications are praising the way that this has been done. Not since the roll-out of social publication Flipboard has publications like ReadWriteWeb and tech pundit Robert Scoble clamored over an application. Jon Mitchell from ReadWriteWeb explains that Storify’s iPad app is a marvelous piece with the workflow and interface truly realized–almost as if it was always intended for the iPad rather than the computer.

Storify for iPad

I tend to agree with Jon Mitchell’s assessment about Storify for the iPad…if you’re in a meeting or event and you want to curate what’s being said and do it in real-time, the fact that you have it on a much better interface, not only for aggregation and curation, but for presentation purposes, will be invaluable. Right now the service has become a major boon for media sites and most certainly will now become at least 10x more valuable (I think it’ll open the door up for talks about acquisition pretty soon). Take, for example, the next upcoming presidential debates for the Republican nomination. With all eyes on Arizona and Michigan coming up, the news media will be wanting to collect a wide variety of opinions from people watching and get their take. By simply taking out their wi-fi or 3G enabled iPad devices, the media will be able to curate the information and post it pretty quickly allowing their web teams back in the broadcast studios to share it with the world. Businesses will also be able to take part in using the service when they have major events as well.

Storify iPad app screenshot

Don’t miss any of your favorite social media trends ever again. This is the new generation of social bookmarking…with Delicious, you just had text links with little fanfare or care for the interface. Now with Pinterest you have some more visual appeal to your bookmarks, but often without threaded conversations and context. But with Storify, you’re able to share the entire conversation with whomever you wish and within one thread have plenty of media to help tell your story.

The Storify app is free to download right from the iTunes store or you can go to Storify’s website to read more.

Here’s a great video by Robert Scoble about Storify’s iPad app and a video tour:

Photo Credit: Evolution of reading by Alfred Lui/Flickr

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