Updated Controls for Facebook News Feed – Boon or Bane?

If you are chasing your “million likes on Facebook page” dream, drop it! as soon it may become a futile exercise.

According to the latest update from Facebook, they are making some deep changes to its news feed which would make it difficult for brands to reach out to their page followers.

Over the years, Facebook has modified and transformed the way we consume content on our wall through its News Feed. News Feed is where you go to catch up on what’s happening with your friends and find the content that matters to you.

What you do in News Feed helps determine what you see in News Feed. You decide who you want to connect to, and what Pages and public figures you want to follow.

Needless to say that Facebook has become a universal choice of brands & businesses around the globe for reaching out and engaging with their target audience.

Facebook revenue has continuously beaten all expectation in the past and still going strong. In this process, what has really happened is that the average number of pages liked by any individual on Facebook has gone up significantly.  Here’s a graph from Social Bakers that demonstrate the fact quite clearly:

Average number of Facebook user likes per country

Average number of Facebook user likes per country

 

In India, on an average 22 pages are liked by each Facebook user (which is much smaller compared to 70 in the US). Now add to that, the unstoppable Facebook feeds of your friends and the newly added content feeds of publishers. How much of a chance does any brand has to make an impact and grab your attention?

Updated newsfeed control can potentially kill your Facebook campaign

In their latest update to newsfeed, Facebook has provided the users the option to prioritise the kind of feeds they want to see first. They can chose their best friends, their favourite branded content which would appear first in their timeline.

In their statement, Facebook clearly mentioned that they are allowing people to select the kind of content they want to see and engage with.

News Feed is a personalised stream of stories that you build from the people and Pages you’ve connected to on Facebook. The goal of News Feed is to show you the stories that matter most to you. To do this, we use ranking to order stories based on how interesting we believe they are to you: specifically, whom you tend to interact with, and what kinds of content you tend to like and comment on.

But this could be a bad news for the businesses who’ve spent precious marketing dollars for getting those page likes. It would seriously impact the content engagement rates in days to come across all brand pages.

Facebook-Newsfeed-prefrences

Here’s what Greg Marra, Facebook’s product manager has to say in an interview given to Mashable on the Facebook News Feed:

Feature was modelled after News Feed’s “unfollow” feature, which allows people to choose not to see posts from specific pages and people in their feed. “The thing we were constantly hearing was: ‘there’s a few people that I really care about and i want to make sure I don’t miss stuff from those people.

This could be a positive move from user experience standpoint, but brand pages would soon feel the after effects of this change.

Also Read: Here’s why Facebook likes should stop bothering you

Conclusion

While the average total likes for Facebook Pages went up in many cases in February 2015, very recently Facebook Inc. made a new announcement for business pages due to which a lot of pages saw a dip in their average page fans by 3 to 4%.

Facebook is not been able to balance its priorities in the recent times, and with this recent change, it may face significant backlash from advertisers around the globe.

‘Social Media phase of the internet’ has ended long ago | Opinion

In his closing comments of 2014, leading New York City-based venture capitalist and blogger Fred Wilson says “the social media phase of the Internet ended” in 2014.

A lot of us would dismiss this statement immediately. And why not? After all there are 1.8 billion internet users who are accessing various social networks. But despite such a mammoth ecosystem, social is losing its sheen continuously.

In his blog article, Wilson thinks messaging and mobile have moved into the enterprise in a big way in 2014. What is also interesting to note, Social is continuously losing VC’s attention in their investment radar.

According to Carmel DeAmicis, Facebook’s IPO was a bust, the market has gotten saturated, and there’s perpetual questions over mobile monetization of social platforms.

The market has gotten saturated, some people are tired of social, and there’s a cultural pushback ranging from mocking social media job titles to compiling lists of how social is ruining your life. How many networks can a person possibly join?

Here is Wilson’s complete list of what happened in 2014:

1/ the social media phase of the Internet ended. this may have happened a few years ago actually but i felt it strongly this year. entrepreneurs and developers still build social applications. we still use them. but there isn’t much innovation here anymore. the big platforms are mature. their place is secure.

2/ messaging is the new social media. this may be part of what is going on in 1/. families use whatsapp groups instead of facebook. kids use snapchat instead of instagram. facebook’s acquisition of whatsapp in february of this year was the transaction that defined this trend.

3/ the “sharing economy” was outed as the “rental economy.” nobody is sharing anything. people are making money, plain and simple. technology has made renting things (even in real time) as simple as it made buying things a decade ago. Uber and Airbnb are the big winners in this category but there are and will be others.

4/ the capital markets have moved to the internet. we call it crowdfunding but what is really going on is raising money is a great application of a global platform that connects billions of people in real time. i don’t know the total amount of capital that was raised on the internet across all sectors (equity, debt, creative projects, charity, helping a person in need, real estate, energy, etc, etc) in 2014 but i am sure it is in the tens of billions.

5/ mobile OS has become a stable duopoly around the world. but android is splintering into google android and non google android and that may lead to new large players. 2014 was a big coming out party for xiaomi. if and when they come to the US, things will get interesting. they are the new (and better) samsung.

6/ mobile and messaging has started to impact the enterprise. slack is the poster boy for this trend in 2014.

7/ youtube became a monster. it always has been. but in 2014 youtube emerged as the place for entertainment consumption for anyone under 16. and these youngsters are going to grow up quickly. watching The Interview on YouTube was a fitting end to an amazing year for the king (and queen and joker too) of Internet video.

8/ we finally got rid of files. dropbox, google drive, soundcloud, spotify, netflix, hbogo, youtube, wattpad, kindle, and a host of other cloud based services finally killed off three letter filenames like mp3, mov, doc and xls. spending a week in the caribbean with young adults and bad internet was the tell on this one for me. they don’t even have mp3s on their iphones anymore!

9/ the net neutrality debate emerged as a national political issue with Obama’s endorsement of Title II regulation of the last mile of the internet. it is unclear how this issue will resolve itself but the public has spoken loudly and clearly and politicians understand that the internet needs to remain open for innovation and we can’t let the monopoly carriers and cable companies mess that up.

10/ cyber warfare, cybercrime, cyber hacking, and cybersecurity was by far the dominant theme of 2014. if anyone had their head in the sand on this one before this year, they don’t anymore. this is our new normal. the US takedown of North Korea’s internet last week, and the state department official’s comment that “i guess accidents can happen” is a moment to remember as we head out of 2014 and into our future.

How to handle angry clients in a digital agency?

One of the key reasons why clients hate modern day digital agency is due to poor quality customer servicing.

Very seldom you would find a digital agency who has a strong account management team at their disposal. Not that they are ignorant about the importance of an account manager, but sometimes they just choose to ignore it.

In my personal experience, most of the business I’ve won or retained is due to the quality of servicing I provided to my client at each and every stage of their business.

A powerful account manager can literally become the match winner for any business. He can navigate the client’s business out of rough waters and most importantly become a powerful bridge between the agency and the client.

One thing which most of the agencies forget is that Advertising is part of service industry and your service quality is the only differentiator between you and your next door competitor who is anxiously waiting for you to fuck up. Even the best of the agencies can’t take their business for granted.

There is no doubt that to handle angry clients is an art. I myself have gone through hundreds of tough client calls & meetings where things could have gone out of control within a matter of minutes but I kept my patience and came out victorious.

Vendors (ad agencies) cannot afford to allow client servicing team sit on the back seat forever. Client servicing needs to take the driver’s seat right away without much delay. A client servicing strategy for any agency or publisher means nothing but a customer focused strategy. The time has come when each business owners must re-look at their business priorities.

It is important to first acknowledge the fact that you are not just in the technology business or agency business or content business but you are in servicing business.

After all these years, I firmly belief that not just the digital agency but any business lose their clients due to poor account management.

 

 

How to write client proposals in a digital agency?

If you are new to digital sales, its an uphill task for you to come into the groove straight away and start getting revenue for the company from day 1.

However, you can certainly build an intent to make a difference to your pipeline by calibrating your digital agency proposals or RFPs by keeping into consideration the below points:

Product Relevance

First, and the foremost question you must try and answer for the client is why your product relevant for the brand in achieving their most critical brand marketing objectives (both strategic & tactical). So whether it is expanding the brand reach in an exclusive territory like a particular ethnic group/ community or it is driving a strong engagement amongst a niche audience across different geographies. Remember, in any case, how you will target the brand’s core audience will remains a key focus.

Innovation

Second, explain how your product/offering brings any strategic leverage for the brand. In simple terms, does it allow the brand to venture out and experiment or play with their current brand messaging in a more innovative way? If your proposal is also offering run of the mill solution to the brand, chances are that your sales person would end up standing in the long queue outside with other vendors.

Domain Experience

Third, what’s your relevant experience in the domain? Not all clients but certainly the high spenders like to work with selected vendors whom they believe have the technical prowess & proven expertise to deal with any future troubleshooting situation, especially when there is serious money at stake. If you position yourself as somebody who can just do the job well by offering competitive pricing, the person on the other side of the table ain’t gonna take you seriously. Agency planners need to see the WOW factor in your proposals every time and nothing better than offering them relevant case studies examples of their client’s competition. So next time, make sure you beef up your proposals with certain strong case study examples.

Understanding of Brand Objectives

Fourth,  have you understood the long term objectives of the brand? For instance, if the brand is launching itself in different geographies, it would expect its partners to bring key market insights on the table to allow him to take future decisions about the brand positioning vis-a-vis the competition.

Vision for Scalability

Fifth, is your approach scalable in future? Interestingly, very rarely I’ve seen this approach in vendor proposals where they talk about how they will span out a strategy which will evolve in the long run and would benefit the brand by offering scalable solution. More often than not most of the people offer a short sighted approach which may or may not give long term returns to the brand. For instance, a lead generation strategy should also come with future customer engagement plan for better customer acquisition.

Ad Viewability – a boon or bane for advertisers?

According to a recent comScore study, 54% of online display ads weren’t seen by anyone, owing to various factors including technical glitches, user habits, and even fraud. For advertisers, that’s a lot of money down the drain. And rightly so, I mean after all we are talking about hard marketing dollars. Some conventional media people might argue that 100% ad viewability is a myth, and honestly, they are not wrong but the advertiser also has a strong point when they ask for maximising the viewable impressions in any campaign.
Let’s open this discussion a bit further. 
Terms like ad viewability brings a set of common problems along with it, most common is what we call in digital as Measurability (or “obsessive measurability”). It is true that digital has given the power & tools to measure each & every nano second of any marketing campaign but at the expense of confusing & cluttering the environment around us. More detailed & in-depth the metric goes, more the number of definitions for the same metric that you would see. Each publisher would come up with their own “convenient” definition of same metric in their reporting.
For any advertiser, finding the correct industry benchmark is always a challenge. For instance, something which is as debatable as Video Completion rate would become a hurdle for agencies & publishers in driving stronger revenue volume / advertiser in the coming years.
Even if the overall mobile & display revenues are seeing a major upswing worldwide, It would be hard to imagine that advertiser would surrender their stand on the key reporting metrics when it comes to Mobile Display or Mobile Video. 
Most importantly, in order to make the client ecosystem more responsive towards new age advertising, agencies & vendors have to sit together along with the bodies like IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau) & arrive at common marketing friendly reporting metrics without which it would extremely difficult to win the trust of the advertiser.

To understand this further, watch the below video by Integral Ad Science:

A few months back, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and the Media Rating Council issued the first viewability standards for online ads. A video ad is viewable if half its pixels appear on the viewer’s screen for two continuous seconds, the standard says.

While that standard seems awfully low, the IAB says that 100 percent viewability isn’t possible at this time. The best that ad buyers should hope for is 70 percent. Good news: Only 30 percent of your paid ads won’t be seen—for the time-being, anyway

The IAB has just released a position paper on viewability calling 2015 a year of transition. Full viewability isn’t currently feasible, the paper says, but we’re getting there. Problems such as different ad units, browsers, ad placements, vendors, and measurement systems prevent 100 percent viewability, but the industry can solve those issues by working together, it says.

You can read the complete article on IAB guidelines for ad viewability here

4 simple hacks to close more digital ad sales

In my career, I must have interacted with hundreds of digital ad sales professionals from around the globe, while some of them were my colleagues, others I’ve worked closely with as a client. Often the difference between a good, bad & ugly ad sales person is visible immediately after the first meeting.

With social media becoming one of the most sought after marketing platform, role of an ad sales person has become even more tougher as most of the marketing focus & priority has shifted to capturing social landscape through powerful audience engagements on Facebook, Twitter & YouTube.

Interestingly, even after a significant change of media landscape, there is tremendous opportunity for ad-sales teams to offer value to the advertiser. Lets not forget, most of the brand advertisers hate blindness when it comes to spending their marketing dollars and they keep on looking for newer avenues & opportunities to reach out to their target audience.

Besides having great client relationship skills here are few pointers that can really help the ad sales to make a strong business case:

Talk Marketing not Sales

Whenever you are meeting any brand or marketing person, do not start the conversation with your website / ad network / solution, instead set the context from how marketing teams are leveraging digital platform for achieving different metrics. Always keep a case study handy from a latest successful marketing campaign. Even better if your website/ product was part of that campaign. That gives you a connect or hook to bring your service / solution into the discussion without making it look like a cheap sales pitch.

Listen, not Speak

It is difficult for an ad sales guy but I’ve seen this on numerous occasions in my career, meetings where the client is talking 60% of the time are more successful compared to when the sales person is too busy delivering a never ending sales pitch. You have to find a way to bring your client into the discussion. Listening to your client will give you clues as to how to make your offering relevant to the client’s most critical requirement. Even more important, client would give you complete hint as to how they want the proposal to look like. Do not let your “typical” sales mentality rule over you. It is time to listen and not speak.

Know about your Technology

One of the reasons why digital selling has become increasingly difficult is because nothing remains constant in the digital world. Technology has made every strategy a perishable. So in order to be in the driving seat, you must know what is going on in the technology world. Keep an eye on the competition, has anyone launched an app in your domain, how popular is that app? How can a client use re-targeting in their campaign? Which ad platform offers best technology? Which campaign used technology in the best possible manner & how?

Often during the client meetings, you would see the conversations digressing into different directions, often technology becomes the topic of interest across brand & marketing teams. For someone who is not aware of these changes may just lose interest of the client very easily. Especially, when you meet your client in a third party event or seminar, your knowledge can really get you great clients for long term.

Learn to move on

Know when to stop chasing any client. Imagine, you’re after a huge account with big potential, and it seems like your solution is just what they are looking for. Yet, many times, a sure thing turns out to be a no-go. Digital salespeople waste too much time chasing what they think should be the ideal fit. Instead, focus on the clients who love what you’re offering, and build those partnerships. You never know; you might just find a winning approach for your client after focusing your attention elsewhere for a short time. Then you can go back to them later with a killer proposal.

Is ad free internet a good thing?

So who doesn’t like an Ad free internet world? I am sure you would simply love that banner free environment in your mobile, or that billboard free road, or the commercial free programming feed on your 40 inch Plasma? It is truly fascinating to think about a world which is devoid of Advertising. The issue however is surely debatable in a larger context. I really loved some of the points mentioned by the author of this article, the most critical was mentioned towards the end i.e. Lack of Advertising can trigger a social disturbance because these ads are kind of navigation points that help us make rational ( sometime irrational ) decisions about the world around us.

Someone may argue that we were doing well even before advertising came into existence, people (and I mean humans) were transacting for a long time in the history, and it was entirely on the word of mouth, to which an adman would counter argue that the world was doing well before chronic consumerism hit our shores, and now since we have this consumerism at its peak (and climbing new heights), we would need a tool like advertising to help us navigate our way out of this madness. It (advertising) is our only chance to make a choice, and in this case the choice is not between a red or blue pill only, there is a purple, orange, green and many more pills to choose from.
The choices have become increasingly complex, not just because there is too much advertising but also because there are too many products. It is almost like the age old debate of chicken vs egg, whether advertising opened the floodgates for consumerism or vice-versa. In either of the cases, advertising has opened the doors into a parallel world within human consciousness. The ad-world is planting or rather incepting ideas & thoughts into our heads which is defining who we are. You may even look at it as a detour in the human evolution but now it is very much an integral part of our collective social experience.
Coming back to the point of whether ads are intrusive in our day to day living experience & I would actually like to be neutral in my reply here, there is no doubt that we all get bugged by these adverts every now & then, especially now when the world has gone digital & nobody wishes to spoil their experience on their personal devices like smartphones or tablets but there are few equally critical sides which cannot be ignored:
  • Commercial viability of the content / product consumed. Consumer cannot expect the content to reach them free of cost all the time. Even if it is user generated content, the very platform on which it is getting served has cost overheads & needs to
  • The benefits of having an informed consumer.
  • Making shopping an engaging social experience which opens up various new dimensions in human behavior.
  • Fear of void due to socio-political-cultural instability which needs a balm like advertising to bring some positive energy around us.

I am sure there are many more points that can be added to the above debate but for now I am signing out in order to let you contemplate about it a bit deeper.