Blaugust Day 17: Learning to advertise with Facebook Messenger

Today, I’ve been reading up on Facebook ads that take you to FB’s messenger service as a destination – which of course is an option to set up on Facebook ads manager as alternative to an external link – so it’s something I’ve seen plenty of times but never had occasion to use.People who click through not only get an automatic chat conversation opened with your page, you can also choose an opening message, plus link and/or image or video. This sets up the opening tone, and makes sure that the user immediately gets something to start a conversation with. 

It’s a great idea, providing you are advertising a product that you won’t be overwhelmed with requests for/about. In messenger moreso than public posts, people tend to expect an immediate and personal response. 

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Blaugust Day 4: Twitter Issues

44% of Twitter users have never sent a tweet. 

That statistic comes from a 2014 study, but given Twitter’s lack of growth in the past few years, 
It is unlikely to have changed all that much. Added to that, a study done only this year suggests that around 48 million (between 9-15%) of the current user base are bots. Of course, a fair percentage of those are not spam bots, but useful, humourous or otherwise ‘beneficial’ automated scripts. But, from an advertising perspective, they are still 48 million fake accounts that should be excluded from the overall figures of followers/potential reach etc.

This is a really useful article which lays out just where Twitter is – in effect, many people disliked the need to start a network from scratch (unlike Facebook) and felt they were shouting into the void. There’s a lot more and I highly suggest that you read it – but the other main point is that Twitter may eventually to relegated to a niche platform, which also limits it’s advertising potential in the long term.

Blaugust Day 1: Maybe Facebook doesn’t need your money…

It’s started….

(I’d insert a maniacal laughter -type .gif here, but the WordPress IPhone app doesn’t deal well with that kind of stuff.

It’s the first day of Blaugust, and usually this is where I would lay out expectations and plans for the month of posts, but I got ahead of myself and did that yesterday in the end. 

So let’s talk about Facebook.

There’s been a lot of in the news recently about Facebook ‘dark ads’ – political messages targeted at specific groups based on psychological and social profiling. This Guardian article gives the best summary and explanation, so I won’t try to do it myself, I recommend you read it and this similar Forbes article.
You should also have a look directly at the Facebook for Politics page if you want to have an idea of the amount of effort Facebook is putting in to this. 

This Fortune article is a little older  but gives you an idea of the sheer amount of money being poured into political ads. There are ethical problems here and I certainly don’t have an answer, but it’s important to at least be aware of them.

But there’s also another possible problem, which affects almost anyone else trying to use Facebook as an advertising platform. 

Recently, I saw a tweet suggesting that Facebook could sustain itself solely on the money spent by political ads. I haven’t been able to work out the financial details to prove this (but I hope someone is doing that) but as a digital marketer it concerns me, because it suggests that really Facebook has no interest in my money. A campaign of a few hundred pounds is less than pocket change, so it isn’t in Facebook’s interests, despite it’s claims of ‘niche targeting’ to make the platform work well for me. Not that good Facebook ads don’t produce great results- but there may be no incentive for Facebook to improve it for small – to – medium campaigns and as a result the entire process (which a lot of marketers see as the answer to their problems – lots of data, in people’s faces, completely quantifiable) should be approached with some level of caution.

An Observation – Facebook Campaigns in the Past Few Days

Last week, while checking on a Facebook campaign that I was running, I noticed something odd. The campaign had done extremely well up until Friday 24th June, then suddenly reach dropped off. The ad still seemed to be doing well in terms with engagement with those that saw it, but the ad simply stopped doing well.

I adjusted a few options in the demographics and set it going again, but initially the ad carried on doing badly. I contacted someone working in marketing for another organisation in the same sector. Had they seen any oddities in their Facebook ad campaigns? The answer came back -it was hard to tell due to the timing of them starting and finishing, but overall there had been a trend of under-performing ads over those past few days.

My ad was already beginning to pick back up by this point and went on to be a pretty successful campaign but I needed a way to explain the dip. Now, what very important event happened on Friday 24th June that might have been discussed enough on social media to start to affect the algorithms, especially in Manchester? Oh, that’s right. The EU Referendum.

It would be interesting to know whether this was the result of other ads suddenly being put up that were outbidding mine, or simply from there suddenly being so much more content on Facebook.

You can’t make it Viral – Some Thoughts on adverts and virality

‘You can’t make a cult movie.’

I found this quote recently whilst reading a film critics blog, and the idea stuck with me. The post went on to explain that some film makers recently, especially in the comedy sphere, have tried to make films that are deliberately ‘so bad it’s good’ goofy, or peppered with pop culture references, in an attempt to make a cult classic (think The Rocky Horror Show.) The problem is, this films often end up feeling flat or forced.

I feel that the same applies to online viral videos, especially in the world of advertising. Any advertiser would love to have their work go viral, but it’s not a predictable or guarantee-able event. You can study ‘Charlie bit my finger‘ or ‘Friday‘ or ‘Numa Numa guy‘, or look at the demographics, the commenters, the imitations (or even make an response of your own – EE has a great ‘sequel to Numa Numa’ that I saw in the cinema last week and it’s pretty awesome, although I feel the older members of the audience didn’t get the joke) but you can’t really purposefully make a video with these features and expect it to ‘go viral’ and possibly more if you are advertising something. Online video gives opportunities for great, original and unusual advertising campaigns but in the end they work like any other traditional campaign, through message and exposure.

If anything, an attempt to create a spreadable video might backfire badly for a company, much like the films described in that blogpost. That’s not to say that advertising campaigns and videos don’t go viral on YouTube or elsewhere, they frequently do. But it’s not something you can plan for or rely on.

 

Useful related reading: Spread That! Further Essays from the Spreadable Media Project by Henry Jenkins

Spread That!: Further Essays from the Spreadable Media Project – See more at: http://henryjenkins.org/2012/12/spread-that-further-essays-from-the-spreadable-media-project.html#sthash.jJfsxIrt.dpuf
Spread That!: Further Essays from the Spreadable Media Project – See more at: http://henryjenkins.org/2012/12/spread-that-further-essays-from-the-spreadable-media-project.html#sthash.jJfsxIrt.dpuf

In this, Henry Jenkins points out that media doesn’t magically spread and share all by itself – there’s an audience involved who need to be appealed to in some way.

Doing Google’s Digital Analytics Fundamentals Course – Part Two

For the last week, I have been working through the Google Digital Analytics Fundamentals Course at the Google Analytics Academy site. The proper certificated course finished in October 2013, but all of the course material is available online and I felt a deeply understanding of web analytics would be very useful to me. I worked through the first three modules earlier in the week.

Modules 4-6

The next three modules focus more on how Google Analytics actually works, and goes into the specifics of how to use it and tailor it to your needs. I decided to go through the videos and information before actually creating a Google Analytics account. Much of the lessons went into the details of building a personalised Google Analytics dashboard etc. It was really interesting, but perhaps too detailed to easily paraphrase here! (This does mean this blog will be much shorter than the last!)

The most interesting part of Module 4 was the idea of campaign data, which tracks how people get to your website. I picked this part of focus on because a lot of the information in the course is tailored towards online retail. While this is understandable (it is a course for businesses) campaign data can apply to any website. Google Analytics automatically categorises users coming to your site into certain in these ways:

The source is the site that brought your user to the site. Google will also list the ‘medium’ through which they came.

‘Organic’ – is Google’s name for when a user comes to your site through an unpaid search result e.g. through a search engine.

A Referral is any link to your site which isn’t from a search engine. For example, this link (which leads you to the Google Analytics Academy Page) would count as a referral because it came from my blog.

The final standard category is ‘None’ which happens when the user directly types your URL or uses a bookmark.

While these are useful to track why users are coming to your site, they can also be customised. To customise data on other ways that people can find your site, such as through emails and adverts, you have to use link tagging – a word which you can assign to a certain link. For example, if you are sending out email newsletters which contain a link to your site, or different links to different site pages, you can give each of these links a tag so that Google tracks as separate data, so you would know if your newsletter was sucessful or not.

A clear plan for tagging is really important, especially when there are multiple people involved in your site. A plan drawn up in advance means that every link can be tagged quickly and easily – if they aren’t, you’ll end up with inaccurate or useless data.

Google Analytics and Google Adwords are connected, so any Adword campaign you have will automatically use the tags you have created.

You can also create ‘channels’ which group tags into different sections. Google Analytics will automatically create channels such as ‘direct’ and ‘social’ but these can be modified and new ones created. So if, for example, you have two different advertising campaigns going on, you could group the tags for them into two channels so that data for each can be very easily compared.

Thoughts

The methods of display for Google Analytics feels a lot like (unsurprisingly!) YouTube’s Analytics pages, which I’m really familiar with, so Google Analytics feels like ti should be quite intuitive to use. However it is far more complicated in the data that you can choose to see, how it is displayed and how you can make it comparable to previous data.

There was a great deal of fascinating material in this course. Some of it, such as the Live Event videos and interviews (one of which I have posted below) and the course forums, I feel I haven’t completely taken in yet. I suspect I will be coming back to the site frequently to ensure that I know Google Analytics as well as I can.

Vine Stars v.s YouTube Personalities

This morning, I started reading an article on Digital Trends – ‘Are Vine-Celebs the Next Generation of YouTube stars?

It details how users have already begun to turn making vine videos into a paid occupation. The gist of the article is that Vine as a platform is creating stars and personalities who can make money or even a living off Vine by being paid to advertise certain products and brands in particular ways.

Reading this article, I started thinking about the way online advertising on video platforms is changing.

Vine has been used as an advertising platform for some time now, particularly by the Fashion industry. It’s a platform that forces people to think innovatively to create the best content, mostly conveying one idea quickly and simply, which makes it perfect for creating advertisements.

Meanwhile, when people think of YouTube advertising, they tend to think of the various Google ads placed before, during or alongside videos (see this page for descriptions of the various different adverts.) These have been the main way YouTube videos are monetised – channels receive money if an ad is clicked on or is allowed to play all the way through.

However the idea of using content creators to promote brands has existed on YouTube for years in a variety of formats – from companies. The most popular (and possibly successful) depends on the YouTube networks, in using a number of their most popular channels to advertise or discuss content in their own particular way – that is, a way that their subscribers and fans will relate to.

This is not without it’s drawbacks – I have seen a social media backlash in the past week against the network Polaris over their multi-channel push of the new film Kick-Ass 2. Individual followers of a certain personality or channel see it as selling out when a product is obviously pushed in their faces, and in the case of a network like Polaris, many people will be subscribing to multiple similar channels and will end up getting similar content from all of them.

But this problem doesn’t seem to affect the ‘stars’ of Vine, possibly because the content advertising has been a part of it from the start, but mainly because the content focuses on the product or message of the video and not the person creating it. Unlike a YT video we the audience don’t get a chance to relate to the person in the video, although we might recognise them, know their name and enjoy their content. Plus, many YouTube personalities have succeeded by promoting themselves across multiple platforms – blog sites, Twitter, Facebook etc. and in effect making themselves into a brand (I’m currently working on a blog article about this) whereas the top Vine users seem to be more focused on content first.

 

Sadly Vines do have a drawback in that you can't easily embed them in WordPress. So here's a screenshot of the Vine I wanted to post - a Link is below.

Sadly Vines do have a drawback in that you can’t easily embed them in WordPress. So here’s a screenshot of the Vine I wanted to post – a Link is below.

 

Megean Cignoli’s Vine created for Warner’s Bras – currently liked on Vine by 1,758 people within a week.