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Paid Media in January… a Snapshot

Paid media updates for January.

1. Facebook ends Sponsored Stories

Sponsored Stories was a Facebook ad unit which appears in users’ feed whenever a friend happens to “like” or check into a sponsored page or location. As you may have experienced, it actually shows friends names and profile photos appearing unwittingly in ads. Well, they’ve gone… sort of.

Facebook announced that it is shutting down the controversial feature on April the 9th.

Facebook is far from abandoning the concept of ads that pull from friendship networks. Although “Sponsored Stories” will not be available for purchase, ads comprising social endorsement will simply be absorbed into the other kinds of Facebook ads.

2. Google+ to use your photos in ads

Ironically, Facebook is shutting down what Google+ is ramping up as announced in October’s changes to its terms of service. Google+ will start using your profile information in ads that appear to contacts in your Google+ circles. However, your personal information will appear only in ads which you have +1ed publicly, and the only people who will see these are your friends, so it actually works in the form of a social recommendation/ endorsement rather than ad with significant reach.

By default, everyone with a Google profile is opted-in in this feature, but if you want a way to opt-out of it have a look here

3. Twitter opens conversion tracking to all

Since 2013, conversion tracking on Twitter is available to all advertisers. Now, you can better monitor impressions and engagements from Promoted Tweets with this latest offering to the platform.

Briefly, the way it works is by inserting a “purchase” conversion tag into a sales confirmation page. When a user clicks on the Promoted Tweet link and makes a purchase, Twitter registers this on its analytics program and matches it against the set of users who have viewed or engaged with any valid Promoted Tweet campaign.

On its blog, Twitter reports encouraging results from advertisers who tested the feature over the last several months. It mainly highlights the lower CPA (cost-per-acquisition) and increased ROI (return-on-investment) metrics that your campaigns hopefully enjoy!

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DoubleClick has announced their availability on Facebook Exchange

DoubleClick has announced their availability on Facebook Exchange

How exciting! But what on earth does it mean? Let’s start with the basics…

FBX is an ad serving system in which Facebook sells high quality inventory ads through an auction model to a host of marketing bidders. It helps marketers to target their audience on Facebook using data collected outside of Facebook.

When a innocent unknowing Internet user visits a third party website, a cookie is dropped on their computer, usually when they’ve shown purchase intent. If the user fails to make a purchase, the advertiser contacts Facebook and gives them the user’s anonymous ID. When the user visits Facebook it recognises the cookie placed by the advertiser, and determines which are the most relevant ads to display. Simples.

Now, between FBX and an advertiser, there are usually what are referred to as DSPs (demand-side platforms). Demand-side platforms are ad-tech companies that provide centralised and aggregated media buying from multiple sources including ad exchanges, ad networks and sell-side platforms. The selling can be direct-to-publisher, real-time bidding or even static bidding (as we see with Google AdWords).

So, if you think about it, the GDN (Google Display Network) is an ad network and AdWords is a DSP. In other words, through AdWords, you can create campaigns and bid in true auction fashion in order to show your ads on any website included in the GDN.


This brings me to the DoubleClick Bid Manager

DoubleClick for Advertisers (or DFA platform) in general is a big platform with many different tools for digital advertising. DoubleClick Bid Manager is simply one of those tools. It is a DSP which works as a trading desk between ads and publishers.

So, with the recent update, DoubleClick is now including FBX along with its current ad exchange. This is happening in a couple of months time and is really valuable for two reasons:

  • DoubleClick is a very capable platform with some impressive optimisation tools, extensive targeting options and strong algorithms that analyse every impression before being served.
  • Considering Facebook’s huge penetration in the UK (and global markets), but also the time an average user spends on the platform daily, FBX is a powerful tool for driving direct response goals.

So, couple these two powerhouse tools together, and the results? Huge targeting options, awesome optimisation for increased efficiencies, reach, frequency, and user intent. For any one in paid media, wow.

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Paid Media This Month… In a snapshot

This month we had a few changes in the paid space. In this edition (my first) on paid media, I’ll be looking at..

  • Twitter iOs updates
  • How effective is social advertising?
  • The rise of paid reach on Facebook


Twitter iOS updates

After its layout redesign in August, which enhanced the conversations visualisation, Twitter has launched a new version with the iOS7 update.

Perhaps the biggest news for heavy Twitter users on the iPhone is the integration of iTunes search. Now, by using #music, users have the ability to discover the music that is currently trending on Twitter’s iTunes Radio music station.

Another iOS 7-related feature is the ability to use Siri to scour Twitter’s information stream, instantly retrieving answers to questions that are better suited to the service’s real-time results — as opposed to Google’s relatively slower search index. This search functionality includes the ability to surface tweets about topics as well as specific people.

Moreover, searches now include more opportunity to explore past searches, profiles, tweets and images surrounding the search term.

With the new functionality, Twitter gives users context on how they’re connected with suggested profiles in the instant search results as the query is being typed.

This news is not strictly related to paid advertising, but I’m sure you will all agree the potential for future advertising options in these new developments.


How effective is social media advertising?

Nielsen has recently released a report  about paid social advertising, interrogating advertisers on their results. 29% of the advertisers and 27% of the agencies feel it’s effective and demonstrates ROI. It’s worth a look.


* The rise of paid reach on Facebook

Facebook is constantly changing, and content is at the center of the change. If originally every status appeared on the wall of our friends and fans, now it is clear that the Edgerank decides what interests us, and having pages with low interaction will rarely appear in our feed.

When Zuckerberg launched the “Promoted Posts“, in June 2012, the suspicions began that the brands would have to pay to reach their fans. Today we have the certainty. In fact, in 2013, 77% of the overall impressions per post, published by a Page, have been achieved thanks to “Promoted Posts” [+71% in 2012], and only 23% in other way [13% organic and 10% viral].

Between July 2012 and July 2013, the ads reach has increased by 221%, compared to the organic reach that has only increased by 74%.

“Content is king” and that it is still true in some measure, but the information overload, which leads us to have up to 1,500 wall posts per day, is bringing Facebook to intervene on Edgerank, in order to only give space to 50/60 the most relevant and make the promoted post a fundamental part of the development of effective publishing strategies.

Are we entering a new phase in which Facebook encourages brands to communicate the content plan to their fans through selective media planning?

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Have Apple Lost Their Way… The 6 Principles of Persuasion

If you follow me on twitter, you will have seen a link to a report on Apple accepting paid instalments in China for iOS devices. If you don’t follow me, you should ;-) @rjpalmer. It seems too ‘bandwagonish’ to yet again question whether Apple has lost its way since Steve Jobs died. Ok, he was a genius, a beacon of light for Apple, but let’s look at specifics, and from a brand perspective, understand the error in their recent no no.

Traditionally, marketers have used AIDA (awareness, interest, desire, action) as a guide to selling just about anything. While this still holds true, we need to hold a broader understanding of what makes us buy something. Robert Cialdini, a psychologist from the States, wrote a book called ‘The Six principles for Persuasion’. It was used as a sales tool for people, not brands, but much of it’s core holds true. Let’s take a look at them (summarised)…

  1. Reciprocity – give something for free, people feel obliged to give something back.
  2. Consistency – being consistent enables trust to build over time.
  3. Social Proof – people are sheep, we like to follow the crowd.
  4. Authority – people on the whole, tend to believe and follow authoritative figures (Steve Jobs anyone?).
  5. Liking – people are easily persuaded by other people that they like.
  6. Scarcity – scarcity (perceived or otherwise) generates demand.

As I said, this does not all relate to brands, nor should every point necessarily be observed for every company, but if you use some of these principles, you need to stick to them. Apple is notoriously ungenerous. You won’t get anything for free, and if they don’t like something (Flash for example), they won’t bother doing it, even if everyone wants it. But that’s not their strategy. Of the 6, they have always utilised 2 (on the whole), 3, 4 and 6.

  • Their products are consistent, they deliver devices that are great. Have you ever heard a bad word said about a Mac? While you could argue the iPhone has slipped on this, dropping calls etc, they are still fantastic devices.
  • Apple has always been deemed a must have brand, and as sheep, we want what our friends have. In other words, Apple is cool.
  • Steve Jobs was the biggest authority in the world of computers and mobile phones, and even when he was wrong, he did not admit it… ever. People followed him.
  • iPhones are always difficult to get your hands on when they are first launched. Why? Not because there is a shortage of supply, they have the experience to estimate sales for every week a new release has been out. The reality is the perceived scarcity is a draw. We all want to be the first to get our hands on one. Friends of mine refer to it as iPhone envy. More over, they are hugely overpriced compared to the competition, something which again makes it a more exclusive brand (despite the fact it is everywhere!).

Making iPhones available on a finance agreement takes away some of that scarcity. It devalues the product and ultimately the brand. I can of course understand why Apple wants a bigger peace of of the Chinese market, a billion potential customers would appeal to everyone, but are they doing it at the cost of their brand? Perhaps in the far east anyway.

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Do You Have Raving Fans?

How many times do we really consider what our customers think of us, and more importantly, what they say to their friends when the product or service we sell comes into conversation. Now don’t get me wrong, I know we all strive for great customer satisfaction, but that’s just the problem isn’t it. We’re all doing the same thing. In an economy that is challenging, doing the same as everyone else is simply not good enough. We do that, and we quickly become just as forgettable as a bad movie.

We need raving fans…

Let’s say you sell clothes. How do you think your customers respond when someone asks them where they got that certain top or jacket. ‘Just some shop on the high street’? Or perhaps, ‘Ah, the most amazing shop where the customer service is brilliant and nothing is too much trouble. You should definitely check it out’? Quite a difference. Even on a big scale, the same rules apply. It is no coincidence that when the average high street (in London) was down 2.9% this Christmas, Waitrose and John Lewis performed well. They know how to treat customers, and while they still have a long way to go before they have raving fans, they do a lot more than most supermarkets and department stores do to get them.

How to get a raving fans…

Firstly, raving fans is a philosophy, and it goes beyond your customers to your own team as well. It’s not just one thing we do. There is no magic secret. If anything, raving fans is about everything we do, and making sure that we are doing it because the customer wants it. Too often we make assumptions about what we think our customers want, without ever actually asking them.

You need to start by thinking about your perfect service. What would make you a raving fan of your shop or business. Be selfish, think inwardly, but make sure you do it with other people, so you get a pool of ideas. Using the possibilities based approach is not a bad way of generating some ideas for this, but to get you started, let me give you a very simple idea for a tiny business, a cab service.

Can you imagine a minicab that turned up on time, sparklingly clean inside and out with a cab driver that was well presented. So far, you may be thinking, I had someone like that once, maybe a few times. But are you a raving fan? Probably not. While better than most cabs, this is still an expectation, and even if our expectations have been lowered by sloppy cab companies, a good one may stand out, but would you booked your car days in advance to ensure you could get it? Unlikely.

Now take that same cab driver. He opens the door for you, then offers you a drink. Coke, hot coffee (decaf if you want it), tea, still and sparkling water – whatever you want. While enjoying your fresh coffee, he strikes up conversation, but is sensitive to whether you want to chat or sit in quiet contemplation and acts accordingly. He has a range of phone chargers available, and is happy for you to plug yours in to recharge if you need to. When you reach your destination, he gets out and opens the door and thanks you for your business, giving a few cards with his mobile number and a receipt, but rather than an inflated price for “additional extras”, it’s exactly the same as every other cab service in the area.

While on a small scale, the ideology is simple. Give someone a service that is so unexpected and happily received that they will talk about you, to everyone. Don’t be surprised if they go out of their way to use you over the competition. That’s the point.

Raving fans in 3 easy steps…

Dream up the perfect experience for your product or service, even if it is beyond possibilities, then use the possibilities based approach to refine them.

Ask your customers which they would love to see, and implement them, whole heartedly and without scrimping. We tend to worry about the cost of giving things away for free. It scares us. But in reality, it may be guaranteeing you repeat business, so why worry.

Once you have these in place, the raving fans process begins. But don’t stop there. Keep dreaming up new ways of generating raving fans.


One final point to make is this. Social media is perfect for a raving fans philosophy. While people are all to ready to criticise poor experience these days, they are equally happy to post comments about how great things are, especially if they are raving fans. Make sure you give them the platform to do it.

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Possibilities Based Approached… The Key to Management Buy-in

One of the increasing concerns managers I meet face is of getting buy-in from other managers and from their team. There seems to be an overly subjective response to ideas, “that won’t work”. It’s demoralising, especially when you are convinced your idea may solve the most important problem your company faces. Even if you are the boss, you still need buy-in from the team. Forcing an idea through that the team does not believe in will have the same impact, it won’t work.

Here is a solution to the problem…

1. Frame a Choice

Convert “issues” into at least two mutually exclusive options that may resolve it. Rather than focusing on the issue itself (who is to blame for something not going well), it forces management to assess where the solution lies. Get your idea in now, but don’t make it the only one. However clever you may or may not be, it is still just an idea, and one of the biggest issues businesses face is providing solutions that people don’t want. if it really is a good idea, it will withstand the test, and you will have buy-in from everyone else.

2. Generate Possibilities

Get input and generate more ideas from the other managers or team that may also address the issues faced. But, there are rules. Skepticism must be restrained in favour of creative thought. The idea is not to get bogged down in detail; ignore the potential pitfalls of any suggestion, but rather list a number of solutions that could meet the needs of the original issue. The possibilities are not based on current understanding, they are based on potential given the right conditions.

The importance of this distinction can not be overlooked. When ideas discussed focus on what is true, the person most skeptical about an idea will attack it vigourously, hoping to knock it out of contention. The originator defends it, making counter arguments in order to protect it as a viable option. Statements become extreme and subjective, and are usually not based on any known facts. Meanwhile, little of logic is revealed and both parties disappear frustrated. Ideas should be generated without bias, with room for discussion later.

3. Specify Conditions

Critically minded individuals tend to face new ideas with a long list of reasons that prevent them from working, therefore the next step is to focus on the creation of possibilities, and list the conditions that are required for it to work. Rather than saying, “customers will not like…” which is not only subjective (regardless of how educated or experienced the objector) but also a reason for the idea not to work, rather than a condition needed for it to be successful. Instead, you would say a condition for success is that “customers will buy-in to the idea of…”. In this way, you list a series of conditions that are required for the idea to to work. Not only are they positive, but they avoid dismissive and negative responses.

The key is to ensure that whoever originated the idea does not dominate the conversation, but instead everyone with a condition must be asked to add this to the list, without need to justify the condition. It is, in their understanding, a necessity for the idea to work and therefore should be treated as important. Once a list of conditions has been created, and everyone agrees that should all of these conditions be met, the idea holds validity, then you can move on to the next step. If not, then further conditions must be added. If someone refutes the validity, but has no further conditions that must be met, you can move forward anyway, the argument not holding objective motives.

Next, it is important to determine the difference between “must have” conditions and “nice to have”. To establish this, ask the simple question, “if this condition was not possible, but every other on the list was, is it still a viable solution”. Once you have narrowed your list to must have conditions, you need to ask the question originally asked after the first list was generated. If every condition was met, would you support this solution. If not, return to the original list of conditions and add back any that may have been removed prematurely. Again, be conscious of subjective responses. An objector must be able to highlight a condition, not make a sweeping statement about whether an idea is valid or not.

4. Identify Barriers

Determine which conditions are least likely to hold true. Ask each contributor to pick a imaginary “guarantee”, a condition which above all others they would pick to be guaranteed, that no matter what would hold true. By definition, they should pick the condition which in their mind is the most unlikely to hold true, and therefore you soon find an ordered list of those conditions which are most important, or have the greatest barrier to success.

5. Design Tests

For each barrier condition, define a test that would prove the validity of the solution. This can be a small field test, but must be designed to establish whether a barrier is true, or whether it can be overcome.

6. Make a Choice

Once you have field tests back, you need to decide which has the least barriers to success, or more probably, which barriers can be overcome most quickly. This may need to include provisions for cost or time, but these should have been addressed when specifying conditions. Once the conditions have been met, review the performance. Has it actually found a solution for the initial problem? How has it impacted on overall performance?

If carried out in order and correctly, you should end up with a solution that no only has buy-in, but also generates results. This process can even be simplified to one on one meetings. If you have a member of staff responsible for a team, you need their buy-in for ideas you have. Buy making them agree that, given all conditions were true it is a good idea, then the problem becomes not winning their support, but overcoming barriers that were already there. If after all of this your idea fails the field tests, accept the fact it may not after all be the best of ideas.

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Paid Media in January… a Snapshot

Paid media updates for January. 1. Facebook ends Sponsored Stories Sponsored Stories was...
article post

DoubleClick has announced their availability on Facebook Exchange

DoubleClick has announced their availability on Facebook Exchange How exciting! But what...
article post

Paid Media This Month… In a snapshot

This month we had a few changes in the paid space. In this edition (my first) on paid...
article post
thumbnail What’s up with Pinterest? article post

Have Apple Lost Their Way… The 6 Principles of Persuasion

If you follow me on twitter, you will have seen a link to a report on Apple accepting...
article post

Do You Have Raving Fans?

How many times do we really consider what our customers think of us, and more...
article post

Possibilities Based Approached… The Key to Management Buy-in

One of the increasing concerns managers I meet face is of getting buy-in from other...
article post
thumbnail Quick Draw Wins 3 article post