Highlights from Facebook’s F8 2016 Conference: What Marketers Need to Know

hands-woman-laptop-notebookThis year’s annual Facebook developer conference was full of exciting announcements pertaining to marketers. Here’s a rundown of the most important takeaways:

 

  • Messenger Platform: Facebook introduced new APIs that allow brands to create custom experiences on Messenger. These APIs allow brands to build their own Messenger bots, such as automated on-demand content like weather or traffic updates, or customized messages such as receipts and shipping notifications.This API is currently open to a select few partners, and will broaden to everyone at a later unspecified date. For more information, visit: https://www.facebook.com/business/learn/facebook-tips-messaging-for-page-admins and check out this video from F8.
  • Branded Content: Facebook updated their branded content policy to enable verified Pages to share branded content on Facebook.  They also launched a new tool for brands/pages to “tag” a marketer when they publish branded content, allowing the marketer to see data from the tagged post and have the option to share and boost the post.  For more information, visit: https://www.facebook.com/business/news/branded-content-update.
  • Rights Manager: Facebook launched a new tool to help media companies monitor and protect intellectual property on Facebook. Publishers can upload their full library of videos to Rights Manager, monitor them, and use rules to tell us about how each video can be used. Learn more: https://media.fb.com/2016/04/12/introducing-rights-manager/.
  • Facebook Analytics for Apps Improvements:  Improvements to Facebook Analytics for Apps include deeper audience insights, push and in-app notifications (beta), powerful breakdowns, and an App Events Export API to analyze data offline.Most interesting for app marketers is the push and in-app notifications beta. You can now set up, create, send and measure push and in-app notification campaigns directly through Facebook. Request access to the beta by going to the Push Campaigns screen in Analytics for Apps.

Further reading:

-Posted by Elizabeth Pace

How to Find Your Best Facebook Audiences

5368326607_5a7015fa02_oWhether a seasoned marketing pro or new to the game, one of the most important things you can do to improve paid marketing performance on Facebook is test audiences. Testing allows you to to find the best targeting to produce scalable, efficient results. But knowing what to test—and how to get started—is the tricky part.

First, a note on Facebook’s ad structure. A campaign establishes the high-level goal that you’re trying to achieve.  You can target different audiences, also called “ad sets,” within a campaign. For example, if my goal is to get iPhone app installs in the US, I might name my campaign “iPhone – US – App Installs”. Within that campaign, I can define different audiences, or ad sets.

Now, the important question: how do you find the Facebook audience(s) that will produce the best results? The simple answer: test anything and everything, within reason. You may be surprised by which audiences perform well. Here are a few ideas for developing your test audiences:

Leverage your existing your users/customers

In my experience, the most efficient Facebook audiences are based on my current customers. These audiences, called “Lookalikes” can be created in a few ways:

  1. If you have your users’ email addresses, you can upload those directly to Facebook as a Custom Audience.
  2. If you have a Facebook pixel on your website, can create a list of web visitors.
  3. If you have the Facebook SDK in your mobile app, you can create a list of app users.

Lookalike audiences are created in the Facebook Ads Manager. Select “Lookalike Audience” and choose your source and audience size. Audience size ranges from 1% to 10% of the total population of potential matches, with 1% being those who most closely match your source.

Target demos, interests and behaviors that your target audience shares 

This seems like a no-brainer, but you should define your target audience and brainstorm the qualities they might share. How old are they? Where do they live? What do they like to do? What other brands/products are they interested in? Once you’ve done this, you have many options to find those individuals:

  1. Demographics
    This section provides a treasure trove of detailed targeting options: everything from education, racial affinity, generation, relationship status and much more. While it’s easy to create a hyper-targeted audience, be sure your audience size is not too small. 
  2. Interests
    Interest targeting lets you define your ideal audience by their interests, hobbies and Pages they like on Facebook. Facebook identifies these interests from information users added to their Timeline, keywords associated with the Pages they like or apps they use, and ads they’ve clicked on.
  3. Behaviors
    Behaviors are activities that people do on or off Facebook, constructed from both someone’s activity on Facebook and offline activity provided by Facebook’s data partners.
  4. Partner and Facebook categories:
    Facebook has created categories of 1st party data, grouping together people who have a similar affinity. Partner Categories include data from data partners. More here.
  5. Connections
    This allows you to target (or exclude) your Facebook fans. You can also target friends of Facebook fans. Additionally, you can target people that have attended your Facebook events.

Read more about Facebook audiences here.

Lastly, a few tips to boost performance:

  • Delivery will be limited unless your audience is large enough. Each ad set should have an audience size of 1MM-5MM people.  This doesn’t apply to Custom Audiences, because they are highly qualified, but does apply to Lookalikes.
  • Allocate a larger budget to a smaller number of ad sets to optimize more effectively, rather than splitting your budget into many ad sets.
  • Avoid setting up multiple audiences that overlap more than 20%. You can see which audiences are overlapping within a single campaign by using our Audience Overlap Tool.
  • Avoid editing your ad multiple times in a short period. Every time you make a change, the algorithm will need to relearn how to deliver effectively to your audience.

As you get more sophisticated and find what works, you should iterate and layer new targeting to find even more efficient pockets.

Have any additional tips or tricks to share? Respond below in the comments!

Further Reading:

-Posted by Elizabeth Pace

What does “social-first” content really mean?

downloadContent distribution across platforms like Facebook and Twitter has become an absolute necessity for publishers. Instead of focusing on driving clicks to their own websites, publishers are now vying for their audience’s attention on native platforms where the competition is stiff.

Jason Abbruzzese, Business & Media Reporter at Mashable, says it best: “Social is now flooded with content, and the platforms are no longer content to just be traffic hoses. Social will still be a huge part of distribution, but it’s far more competitive and cut-throat than it has been.” (Pulled from this great selection of social wisdom from NewsWhip)

There are hundreds of articles and blog posts published each week about how to create social content that engages and stands out from the crowd. But what are the key factors that make content truly “social-first?”

Here’s a list of what you should keep in mind when creating content for social platforms:

  • Video, video, and more video:
    Audiences are hungry for video and becoming accustomed to seeing it in their feeds, particularly with the introduction of auto-play. Video posts average 62% more engagement than photos (source). 75% of Facebook video views occur on mobile devices (source), so video content needs to work on small screens. Test length, subject matter, captions, branding and other variables to find the sweet spot for your audience.
  • Leverage Facebook Instant Articles:
    While Facebook made a big to-do about Instant Articles being about a better experience for users, and not about taking power from publishers, the fact is it does indeed provide a better experience. No one likes scrolling down his or her feed, clicking on a post only to wait while it loads—if at all. Publishers say it’s getting easier to make money from Instant Articles, so why not give it a try? It’s now open to all publishers.
  • Social-first is mobile-first:
    Chances are your Facebook and Twitter audience is viewing your content on mobile, so focus on content that can be digested easily and on-the-go. Incorporate snack-able, eye-catching content such as video clips, GIFs, and infographics. Naturally, users will gravitate towards native content published in their feeds, so ask yourself which is more important–clicks or eyeballs? The right balance might be a combination of both.
  • Keep experimenting:
    It’s a phrase said and heard too frequently, but the only way to know what will work for you is to give it a try, while remaining true to your brand. There’s simply no one-sized-fits-all guidebook to producing engaging content. Some brands have shared their best practices, so articles like this one from Buffer Social are a good place to start.
  • Capitalize on trending topics:
    Explore social listening tools to learn what people are talking about and when relevant topics, or your brand, are mentioned. Publishing platforms like Social Flow will even optimize your posts and Tweets to ensure they go out at the best time for your audience: when they are active and when the topic is trending.

Further reading:

-Posted by Elizabeth Pace

Instagram’s Success & Why Marketers Love It

unnamedSince Instagram rolled out self-serve ads last year, marketers have been flocking to engage potential customers on the photo-sharing app. It’s no surprise, given the success of its parent company, Facebook.

Instagram ads became successful so quickly because it’s easy for advertisers to get up and running. Advertisers can set up Instagram campaigns from Facebook’s ad interface, and the same targeting options and ad formats are available. Most advertisers are already familiar with and comfortable with Facebook Ads, and since Instagram is an extension rather than an entirely new ad product, advertisers are more eager to give it a try.

Another important success factor is the ad format. Instagram is a full-screen mobile experience, and the ads follow suit. Rather than getting stuck in a sidebar or in a tiny mobile banner, brands get enough real estate to capture attention and tell a story. Instagram is a mobile product, and its ad experience lends itself well to mobile devices, unlike some other sites and apps that try to squeeze entire desktop web experiences (and ads) into a tiny screen.

Instagram has been quick to give advertisers what they want, particularly with mobile video ad opportunities. Most recently, Instagram rolled out 60-second video ads. The previous max was 15 seconds, which is pretty limiting, and advertisers were keen for more time in front of viewers.

However, there are still some issues preventing Instagram from becoming pure gold for advertisers. Because Instagram is traditionally a non-click environment, the platform has been cautious about rolling out links beyond the call-to-action buttons in its ads. That’s why you see so many brands and promoters referring to the links in their profile – users still can’t post clickable links along with their images. The only way to drive Instagram users to a website is through click-to-web ads, which are far more expensive than Facebook or Twitter. But even though Instagram is only pay-to-play, advertisers seem to be willing to pay up.

Instagram is in growth mode and has captured advertisers’ attention. It will be interesting to see what they roll out to keep advertisers happy in 2016.

Further Reading:

-Posted by Elizabeth Pace

Ad Blocking and the Way Forward for Publishers

adsThere’s been a lot of chatter recently in the media world about ad blocking. While consumers may be rejoicing over the increasing opportunity to ad block, publishers are panicking about the imminent devastation to traditional online ad revenue models. In many cases, both sides agree that a solution is needed to eliminate obnoxious banner ads. But the question remains how publishers will make up for lost revenue in the face of an already-declining banner ad business.

Ad blocking has been alive and well on desktop for some time. However, the introduction of Apple’s iOS 9 reignited the debate, as one of the new features will allow users to block ads on Safari. Besides offering a better user experience on the mobile web, the feature will also allow users save on data costs since it will block things like auto-play video.

The least effective solutions, in my opinion, would be if publishers either A) ignore the obvious consequences of ad blocking or B) try to fight it. Especially on mobile, traditional display banner ads are not effective. Muriel McDonald said it best in her TINT article: “Humans – internet users – your customers – are smart. They learn quickly what is an ad and what isn’t, and they don’t want to click on your banner ad. The market is unbelievably saturated – the average person is served over 1,700 banner ads per month… Do you remember any of the 1,700 banners you’ve seen in the past four weeks? Neither do we.”

Promoted and sponsored posts across social networks provide a much better alternative to banner ads for both marketers and consumers. The skyrocket of Facebook’s mobile ad revenue demonstrates that its ad units simply provide better ROI. People are more likely to click on content that’s integrated into their News Feed and seamlessly part of their experience.

Publishers may be able to get a piece of the social ad revenue pie through Facebook’s Instant Articles. Snapchat, Twitter, Google and Apple are all jumping onboard the train with a model that shares—or hands over, completely—revenue with publishers in exchange for content. This model is not without its negatives and concerns, as it gives more power to the giant tech companies and is considered by some to be “selling out.” And yet, I would argue this type of “selling out” is better than “going out”– of business, that is.

Ultimately good content will drive revenue for publishers, whether through syndication, partnerships, subscriptions, or entirely custom experiences. Ad blocking will force content creators to be more thoughtful and more creative. There’s no doubt it’s a challenging and disrupted space, but publishers need to adjust to how the Internet is changing. Banner ads haven’t worked for a longtime, and the latest in ad blocking is confirmation that it’s time to move on.

Further reading:

-Posted by Elizabeth Pace

Big Changes Coming with iOS 9, and What it Means for Marketers

apple_wwdc_news_thumbnailEarlier this month at its annual developer conference, Apple announced some big changes coming with the next operating system. Now that we’ve had some time to digest, here are the some of the new features that will impact marketers:

  1. Apple’s “News” app
    Apple introduced a new magazine-like news experience with its news app, simply called “News.” News content from third party publishes will be curated based on a user’s preferences, allowing readers to choose topics, similarly to the popular news curation app, Flipboard. This is a big opportunity for publishers to get content in front of more readers and monetize via ads: publishers will get 100% of revenue from ads they sell and 70% from ads sold by Apple’s iAd. For marketers, it’s another channel to reach engaged audience on their iOS devices.
  2. New & improved search features
    Apple announced a number of updates related to search, including upgrades to Siri and in-app deep-linking. Siri will be enhanced with better voice-recognition technology, which Apple claims will improve by 40%. Users will swipe right to access to new Search tool offering personalized suggestions from Siri, who will learn a user’s preferences over time. Suggestions will be based on the time, location and user’s previous behavior. With deep-linking to third party apps, users will be able to search for content inside their apps – which is a great feature for app publishers and marketers looking to improve discoverability and engagement for their in-app content.
  3. Ability to block adds on Safari
    iOS 9 will give developers an easy way to develop mobile ad blockers, which could spell trouble for ad networks like Google. According to 9to5mac.com, “When users download an app with an ad blocker extension, it shows up in Settings. Users can keep the app installed and disable the content blocker independently by using the toggle switches.” Only time well tell when and how developers will utilize this feature in their apps, and what impact it will have on ad networks.
  4. iOS Apps Won’t See User’s other Installed Apps
    In an effort to beef up its privacy promise, Apple will prevent apps from getting data on what other apps users have installed in iOS 9. Twitter and Facebook have typically accessed this data to help with ad targeting. We’ll be seeing more like this from Apple, who is not going to monetize its users’ personal data, per Tim Cook’s recent comments: “Some of the most prominent and successful companies have built their businesses by lulling their customers into complacency about their personal information. They’re gobbling up everything they can learn about you and trying to monetize it. We think that’s wrong. And it’s not the kind of company that Apple wants to be.”

The battle between the largest tech players, Facebook, Google and Apple, is as interesting as ever. Some of Apple’s updates and new features are obvious digs at their competitors. But ultimately, Apple’s direction simply makes sense. Consumers today expect a personalized, simple experience where their privacy is not compromised. Apple is smart to develop features and products that enhance the experience without compromising personal data. As users become more savvy, sketchy data practices will become more scrutinized and even made illegal, so business models that support customer privacy will come out on top (not that Apple isn’t on top, already!).

Further reading:

 

-Posted by Elizabeth Pace-

Spotify Set to Compete with YouTube and Facebook in Video

spotify-logo-primary-horizontal-light-background-rgbSpotify recently announced that it’s entering the video space as it launches partnerships with dozens of media companies to include video clips on the music-streaming app. Partners including ABC, BBC, Comedy Central, Condé Nast Entertainment, ESPN, Fusion, Maker Studios, NBC, TED , Vice News and others will provide video clips for Spotify users to watch on-the-go in between music listening.

What’s more, Spotify will also introduce original content including “A Full English,” a show featuring artists and other personalities who search for common ground over breakfast. Watch out, Netflix!

“When you look across media, you see new content everywhere. But our content will compliment and extend the core of our users experience.” Said Daniel EK, Spotify’s CEO. Unlike video giant YouTube which has a massive amount of content, Spotify is focused on curation and personalization. The service also just launched a recommendation interface that will play music based on a user’s mood and current activity and Spotify Running which matches music tempo to a runner’s pace.

Video ad opportunities for marketers are sure to follow the recent announcement, as the CEO hinted. “We are seeing that as a very important revenue source for us,” he said. Spotify already has a number of ad options but has yet to turn a profit, according to the WSJ.

The video content partnerships are expected to be just the first in a lineup of forthcoming deals and product enhancements. Spotify also just announced a partnership with Nike to make Spotify Running available in the very popular Nike+ running app.

Further reading:

-Posted by Elizabeth Pace