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When Jeff Bezos is quoted as saying future Earthlings will be living in space – as he did in an article in today’s newspapers – was he tripping? I don’t think so.  It’s probably going to happen. Just as there will be self-driving cars and a cure for cancer. But the likelihood that Blue Origin, his space travel company, will be around or even contribute to space life is low. This so-called “space shot” bet by one the world’s most brilliant and effective marketers is, however, instructive.

Space shot proclamations are not just the provenance of billionaires. They are for business owner of every stripe and color.  While with Zude, a web start-up, I once proclaimed “In the future every person will have their own website.” And I wasn’t talking about a Facebook page either.

Every good business owner needs to understand the blocking and tackling of business “today,” but also they must see the “future.”  Only then can they help shape the future.

When a pizza parlor owner says s/he will make the best tasting pizza in town, then buys ingredients from Restaurant Depot with all the other pizza shops, that’s blocking and tackling; it’s not a moon shot. The best brand builders and marketers desire the future. It keeps them up at night and sometimes makes for wonderful dreams.

Peace.   

 

 

 

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Long Live Twitter

Yesterday I posted on the subject “Twitter Blather Be Gone.” I suggested not using Twitter solely as a business tool to promote oneself…ad nauseam. Yet I post Twitter promoting my blog. Am I breaking my own rule? Nah. If all I did on Twitter was promote myself with 20 tweets a day, that would be different.

I look at all social media channels differently. Facebook is for friends. LinkedIn for work. Instagram for the art director/photographer in you. A blog for your keen interest. And Twitter – as the representation of your total personality. A little bit of everything. I say stuff to on Twitter I’d never share on Facebook.

Twitter can be the best representation of the whole person. As an outbound vehicle, Twitter is the most freeing. The most important. It reflects the daily earthly cosmos, if that’s not a contradiction. Blather be gone. Long live Twitter.

Peace.

 

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The Big Data Oy!

mount hood

I worked at a web start-up a few years ago that offered users a free way to build web pages without code. It was called Zude. We had two rounds of funding, about $10M, and were often covered by Tech Crunch, Scobleizer and GigaOm and ReadWrite Web. The business monetization model was tied to advertising. An afterthought really. Let’s face it, in the web world advertising is everyone’s go-to monetization.

There is an important competing force for monetization today in the start-up world and that is marketing data. Marketing data is not served, viewed, or clicked. It is sold. As behavior, demographics and proclivities. For future use.

When What’s App sold to Facebook it probably assumed advertising would be in its future. It marginally may have thought selling data would be in its future. But, now, the time has come.

Advertising is an opt-in thing. Personally data is not. Not really. Data will become more and more of a privacy issue. Millennials say “Go ahead sell my data,” now. But when they season a bit more, they’ll realize privacy is way more important than seeing advertising.

Data vs. advertising is the new battlefield.

If you put all the paper Americans receive in direct mail and catalogs in a pile, for one year, you’d create Mount Hood (I just made that up, please don’t fact check it.) Imagine what spam folders, robo calls, door knockers and TV ads will look like when data really catches on. Oy!

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In 2012 I worked on a brand strategy for a company in what I called the “educational development” space.  The company sold classroom technology and professional development – in effect teaching the teachers how to use the technology. It was one of the coolest companies I’ve ever worked for. For those unfamiliar with my brand strategy framework, it comprises one claim and three proof planks. One of the proof planks in the brand strategy had to do with changing the paradigm in the “student-teacher relationship.”

During the  engagement Mark Zuckerberg announced he was going to donate $100 million to the Newark, NJ school system.  Throwing money at teaching and learning sounded like a good idea at the time; it was not.  As far as I can tell, Newark ain’t no Mooresville, NC.

Today, Mr. and Mrs. Zuckerberg are championing, along with Facebook, a new learning management system with Summit Public Schools, a charter school partner, to reinvent the student-teacher relationship. It’s a software system and that lets students direct their learning roadmap and pace supported by intense one-on-one mentoring.  It is the student teacher relationship plank in action. And it is already paying dividends in Oakland.

It seems to me allowing Newark to design its own learning plan with a pot full of money doesn’t work but allowing students to do so, with some newfound supervision and software does. Ms. Carmen Farina, are you watching?

Peace.

 

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It is news to no one in the advertising biz that Google and Facebook receive 60 cents of every dollar spent in online advertising. But when Facebook travels to Cannes in France for the annual awards show and spreads money like drunken sailors, everybody’s senses pick up. Why are Google and Facebook so successful? Because they own the data? Because they own time-online? Because they throw great parties for media buyers? Yeah, a little of all that. But they win in the marketplace because they’re effective advertising mediums.  When an industrial distribution company goes from an ad budget of $300,000 to $1.3 M, most all of which goes to Google AdWords, there has to be a reason. Google AdWords track to sales.

When the ad-to-sales ratio of a Google or Facebook program is calculated and kicks the ass of all other media, why would a sane advertiser not invest there. It’s about sales…it’s about results.

Until other ad mediums deliver the attributable sales of a Facebook or Google we will continue to see this growth trend. It’s not sexy but money never is.

Peace.

 

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I don’t like being a brand commentator, sitting on the sidelines sharing what’s wrong with brands, without offering something positive. And I feel that way with Yahoo! As a brand consultant, people hire me to help create brand strategy. Were Yahoo! to hire me, here’s what I’d do. (Earlier in the month I wrote about What’s The Idea? process which covers Discovery, Fermentation and Boil Down. Here’s how I’d handle Discovery.

I was watching cyber security conference video last week and a senior level Yahoo! Security officer was leading the talk. He was smart, witty, believable, and committed. He is what I call a Poster – someone willing to share and help the public learn. Sadly, this gentleman who has since moved on to a big job at Facebook, was stowed away at corporate not seeing the public light of day. With Yahoo!, often all we get as the viewing, investing and using public, is Marissa Meyer playing offense and defense. Mostly from a stage.

I suspect there are scores of people like this security office at Yahoo! and these are the people I would speak to in Discovery. These are the body organs that drive a brand. That fuel the brain. That feed the mouth.

At Yahoo! we’ve been getting a modicum of brain and a lot of mouth. A good brand discovery would help go all deep dish on the company.

Peace.

 

 

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Ya-Who?

Digital magazines? Search? Buying traffic? Mobile advertising? Alibaba? These are the things discussed yesterday on Yahoo!’s earnings call. A call that announced revenue up 14% but break even earnings.

A couple of years ago Marissa Mayer developed a strategy I thought was on the right track: Make Yahoo! a daily habit. Well it seems the habit is more like a nun’s head cover than a web business. Mobile apps are a good path but I’m not feeling any results. People with mobile phones have hourly not daily habits — and frankly those habits are wearing thin. How many Facebook and Instagram posts can a body look at during the day. Yahoo needs to find enthralling apps. Mobile apps than haven’t been done before. Content served in ways never seen before.

Yahoo is chasing TV (Fantasy Football Live) and magazines (Yahoo Food or something) which is just repackaging old stuff with some new sheen. Ms. Mayer needs to innovate. Not cross over. Not repackage. She must start with behaviors that are habit forming. She was on the right track but hasn’t landed on a breathtaking innovation. Keep after it Ms. Mayer. You are probably closer than you know. Peace.

 

 

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I posted yesterday about Verizon’s purchase of AOL and how it begged the need for a “single user identifier” to maximize ad revenue across devices. A mobile phone number is an individual identifier, but it doesn’t integrate cleanly with that individual’s IP address or cable TV account number. I wrote a futures piece for Microsoft a few years ago in which I talked about the “Logged and Tagged Society.” Well, consumers are certainly tagged, but their log-ins are all screwed up. An analog for this is electronic medical records in the healthcare world. Also all screwed up. In the future each person will have a single user identifier and when that comes about, the ad platform people will have more context for smart sales than ever before.

An article in the NYT today quoted Facebook’s Andrew Bosworth (note to self, follow him on Twitter) saying “Are ads even relevant now? Do they even make sense on mobile? If all information is indexable and searchable, then what purpose does an ad serve?” He’s partly correct. But with a single user identifier in a logged and tagged society, ad serving will be more contextual and so much more powerful. Sadly, the nerds will take over and the creative people will be pushed aside to a degree. Creative selling is still a fundie of marketing and may take a hit in this mobile ad served/cookied era. But is will be back. We are not droids.

Peace. 

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Facebook’s monetization model is a lot like TV’s, but without the professional content. It is a content sharing platform the lion’s share of which is consumer-generated — friends sharing with friends and acquaintances. It’s not professionally created and that’s the allure. Like TV, Facebook makes money selling ads, interspersed with the content.

When Facebook was young we had no other way to keep in touch with lots of far-flung friends; today we have many ways, lots of apps.  And let’s face it, the content on Facebook is not that great. Add to the equation the fact that marketers are spamming us on Facebook and the pool  becomes even more brackish.

Facebook encourages marketers to be more meaningful and stimulating with their content while it continues to fine-tune the algorithm and targeting hoping to create greater ad investment returns.  It is not going to delay the wear out factor and Facebook knows it. They will have to amp up the quality of content so look for them to start investing in original content creation. It won’t be like Amazon or Netflix originals…it will be more interactive and communal. But it’s coming.

I wouldn’t be surprised if its sole sponsored to begin with. Stay tuned. Peace.

 

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Facebook reported huge earnings yesterday. It has often spoken about killing it in mobile advertising but I couldn’t see it. I understand where the ads are placed on desktop Facebook but have yet to see how they’re used in the mobile interface.  Are they little banners like on Weatherbug? Sidebar text ads? Nah, no room. I have never seen any ads on my Windows Phone so the whole thing doesn’t compute.

Then the earnings article I read today cleared it up.  It said the ads appear in the feed, much like this shrunk down ad from the desktop Facebook application:

facebook ad

Ahhh, now I get it. The mobile version of this ad will measure about an inch in height, contain a logo or brand mark, an eyebrow, headline and a few words of copy, a visual the size of a thumb nail and link. At least this is the way I see it. Anything bigger will be too intrusive for the Facebook masses. This ad unit, to be named later, will be the advertising unit to replace all. It will be as common as the TV ad, the page 4C, the banner. Ad agencies will perfect it. It will launch video. This unit is why Facebook will be printing money for the next 10 years. The unit is here, the time is now.

If Facebook exhibits restraint on how frequently they can serve these ads there should be no consumer backlash. And don’t get greedy Mr. Z and Ms. S. Don’t sell super-premium size mobile ads that gobble the screen.

Does anyone have a good name for this new unit?

Peace.

 

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