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Decline In Organic Reach Changes Facebook’s Value Proposition For SMBs

sumallFacebook’s declining organic reach has plagued small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) since it tweaked its algorithm about eight months ago. A study by analytics platform SumAll, released in October, highlights exactly what that fallout looks like for smaller advertisers on Facebook.

Because Facebook’s algorithm change reduces the reach of Facebook posts, it has made it easier for click farms, or people paid to like pages, to flourish. Unfortunately, click farms reduce the number of potential customers or fans a business can reach with each message.

“And that, in turn, is driving up the cost relative to the effectiveness of using Facebook as a tool for small businesses to publicize and advertise themselves,” said SumAll head of business development Scott Pollack. “This is basically spoiling the pool.”

SumAll embarked on this research when it noticed that cost per action and cost per acquisition on Facebook had steadily increased, Pollack said.

Using data pooled from The Loop Loft’s pages, SumAll found that cost-per-action (which includes likes, comments and conversations) increased 417%, from $0.05 to $0.24. The cost of acquiring a new site user rose 492%, from $0.20 to $1.16. The Loop Loft saw CPMs rise 70.4%.

While The Loop Loft saw a direct correlation between Facebook activity and new users going back to 2012, the correlation began to drop off in 2013, when The Loop Loft noticed it was acquiring more likes, but not more revenue. “We started digging into the data in around September and released the analysis towards the end of October,” said Pollack, “hence the last three months being excluded. Then we just ran a year-over-year comparison versus the same period last year.”


StatSocial: ‘We’re The Nielsen Of Social’

Michael Hussey StatSocialTwitter analytics and targeting platform StatSocial isn’t CEO Michael Hussey’s first trip to the customer data rodeo.

Back in 2006, Hussey founded PeekYou, a people-based search engine that aggregates publicly available information – Twitter handles, Facebook URLs, blogs, physical address, phone number, interests, schools attended – into customer profiles that are then available for purchase.

In other words, Hussey and his team were sitting on a data gold mine.

“That’s when we started thinking about the next application of the information in this database,” Hussey told AdExchanger. “So, in 2012, we launched PeekAnalytics, which focuses on the demographics available in Twitter Audiences.

"Let’s say a brand has 2 million followers. That’s great – but who are these people? The analytics tool allows us to search in our database for meaningful information like geolocation, age, affinities, education level, etc., and build models around that.”

This past summer, Hussey and his team launched version 2.0 of PeekAnalytics, also taking the opportunity to rebrand the platform as StatSocial. The new version includes “tens of thousands of new affinity segments,” Hussey said, as well as 370 interest categories based on the IAB standards for social audiences and segmented breakdowns of 8,200 consumer brands, 22,000 celebrities and influencers and 1,100 TV shows.

Users can create follower reports or pull tracking information for keywords, hashtags and URL mentions. The tool needs at least 300 followers or tweets before it’s possible to create any kind of robust reporting. All of the data in StatSocial’s database is verified against public information pulled from outside the Twittersphere and compared to baseline stats for context. The company is working on enabling users to segment information by state, Nielsen market and ethnicity, as per public census data.

“We have about 500 million Twitter profiles in our database, of which we’ve identified just over 10%, so about 50 million, as consumers,” Hussey said. “We’re only measuring consumers. We’re setting aside business accounts or what we think are spam or anonymous accounts. We’re focused on real people, and one way to do that is to find them outside of Twitter.”

Basically, StatSocial is like Twitter’s Tailored Audiences solution on speed.

“We can tell a client who they’re reaching within any defined audience,” Hussey said. “When the product started out it was about searching for people, but we quickly realized that we had so much information that we could bring to life in an ad targeting solution.”

Hussey spoke with AdExchanger.


Twitter Q3 Revenue Leaps 114%, But User Growth Still A Concern

twitter earningsTwitter reported $361 million in Q3 revenue, up 114% YoY, toward the higher end of the $332-$378 million range predicted by Wall Street. (Read the release.)

Analysts however are still concerned about the engagement levels and growth rates of Twitter’s monthly active users (MAUs).

As always, the good news centered around Twitter’s revenue. Its advertising revenue (of which 85% was mobile) totaled $320 million, a 109% YoY increase.

“Today, we continue to drive nice growth and spend per advertiser as we improve the ROI we provide for them and offer new advertising products,” said CFO Anthony Noto. He added that product changes such as better dashboards – which improve clickthrough rates – encourage advertisers to spend more on the platform, even though Twitter’s ad load is lower than that of other social networks.

Twitter also saw strong growth in data licensing and other revenue (171% increase YoY to $41 million) and international revenue (176% increase YoY to $121 million).

International revenue was 34% of Twitter’s total revenue.

While Twitter’s short-term prospects seem pretty good, its average MAUs were only 284 million in Q3, a mere 23% YoY increase (80% of which were mobile). Last quarter, that number increased by 24% YoY. The Asia-Pacific region in particular was a problem area this quarter, due to a user authentication bug Noto claimed cost Twitter 1-2 million MAUs.


Socialbakers CEO Discusses Social Analytics And In-Feed Native Measurement

SBPlenty of companies offer social analytics, but the industry seems to lack a unified definition of what constitutes social native marketing and how best to measure sponsored content on social channels.

And according to analytics company Socialbaker's CEO and co-founder, Jan Rezab, all content is going to move to social channels one way or another.

In June, Socialbakers acquired Chicago-based startup EdgeRank Checker to help the company hone its native ad metrics and help define standardization for social measurement.

Most recently, the company unwrapped a platform for tracking and ranking brands that produce the most consistently engaging content for their audiences. Socialbakers debuted the platform, dubbed Smart Storytellers, at Social Media Week in London late last month.

Socialbakers mines data from a number of social networks to offers marketers competitively comparative intel.

“We do math around publically and privately available data and visualize it in the best possible way across multiple networks,” explained Rezab.

With 300-plus employees, Socialbakers has more than doubled in size in the past year. The company is headquartered in Prague and operates 13 offices in 11 countries. Since its launch in 2009, Socialbakers has racked up more than 2,500 clients across verticals, among them Louis Vuitton and Nestle. To date, the company has raised $34 million in total funding.

Rezab spoke to AdExchanger about best practices for monitoring and measuring data from increasing social interactions.

ADEXCHANGER: What differentiates Socialbakers from other analytics companies?

JAN REZAB: Social analytics is a fascinatingly crowded space, but not if you differentiate between two types of companies. We should subtract data agencies that take data analysis from a company like us, interpret it and call it social media analytics. That is technically a social analytics service, but that sector is a service built on top of our data.

Social listening companies also aren’t exactly social analytics companies. Google Analytics is a form of social listening, for example, but it doesn’t offer intel from other channels or competitors. You’d have to look at someone like comScore on top of Google Analytics in order to add on market research, and you’d still need media monitoring. Socialbakers does all the monitoring, listening and analytics in one place.


Beyond The Share: Hootsuite Raises $60M As It Preps For Social Ads

MattSwitzerHootsuite, which raised $60 million in new venture financing from an unnamed Boston asset manager Thursday (it has $250 million now in total financing), is at a major crossroads. As it branches into enterprise markets, the company is also planning a bigger push into advertising.

As a consumer-facing platform, Hootsuite – a $1 billion company with its latest round of funding – has 10 million users across 200 countries. But the company’s a formidable enterprise play too, with 1,600 corporate customers. This latter focus is Hootsuite’s moneymaker, and the company has appointed dozens of execs to lead the charge – one being Rob Begg, an ex VP for’s Marketing Cloud.

Over the next few quarters, Hootsuite will develop advertising products, which has been a consideration since Twitter introduced Promoted Tweets, said Matt Switzer, VP of corporate development at Hootsuite.

Although Hootsuite could foreseeably pack a punch with its own paid product, Switzer stressed the value of partnerships: "we have continued to talk to the rest of the social networks about how they’re monetizing through paid media and how we can support them."


Digital Media Vet Russ Fradin Talks Social, Adify and M&A

RussFradinRuss Fradin’s been around the ad tech block.

He sold his self-serve ad network startup Adify, since shuttered, to Cox Enterprises back in 2008; he’s on the board at both TubeMogul and comScore; and he served as EVP of corporate development at comScore for four years, starting in 2000, when the then newly launched online measurement company didn’t even have customers.

Now he’s in his fourth year as CEO of Dynamic Signal, the “employee advocacy” company he co-founded in 2010 after staying on to run Adify for a couple of years post-acquisition. Dynamic Signal raised $12 million in Series C funding in August, part of which it used to acquire content marketing cloud company PaperShare.

Fradin agrees that the term “employee advocacy,” Dynamic Signal’s bread and butter, is “probably a bad name for what we do,” but “we haven’t come up with a better one yet.”

Simply stated, it’s about providing employees with the tools they need to talk about the brands they work for on social without any friction. It’s actually not so far off, at least philosophically, from the fundamental idea that underpinned Adify: relationship building, whether that be with target consumers online via paid media or social engagement.

“When we sold Adify, we were watching marketing evolve,” Fradin said. “Advertisers don’t just want to buy ads on niche sites, they want to build deep relationships with these segments.”

AdExchanger caught up with Fradin.


Twitter Rolls Out Lookalike Audiences, New Mobile Ad IDs, Targeting By Phone Number

twitter-crm-usethisTwitter’s Tailored Audiences just got a little more more tailored.

Advertisers can now augment their customer data using mobile advertising IDs and mobile phone numbers as a way to reach existing customers and increase audience size. In essence, the move is an extension of Twitter’s Tailored Audiences for CRM retargeting, which allows advertisers to use hashed non-PII email address to retarget existing customers.

Twitter also rolled out the ability to target lookalike audiences, a function that seems pretty similar to Facebook’s tool of the same name. Twitter’s lookalike modeling uses a proprietary algorithm that examines modeled users looking for similarities related to behaviors, interests, location, demographic attributes and engagement patterns.

Twitter described its enhanced offerings in a blog post on Tuesday as “part of improved targeting options to help advertisers reach additional users similar to their existing audiences.”

Tailored Audiences, Twitter’s seeming answer to the Facebook Exchange (FBX), officially launched back in December after running retargeting and database matching tests in July. Twitter has appeared to follow Facebook’s lead with a number of its recent roll-outs, including site retargeting, CRM targeting and now retargeting via lookalike audiences. (Facebook also makes it possible to target users by phone numbers through Custom Audiences.)

At the time of the original launch of Tailored Audiences, Alex Andreyev, director of omnichannel marketing at Neo@Ogilvy, referred to Twitter’s Tailored Audiences as “following in the footsteps of Facebook’s audience-buying strategies. They’re taking user cookie behavior (first- and third-party) to power retargeting and audience profile opportunities within their native ad units, similar to what Facebook did with FBX.”


What Are Pinterest's Marketing Interests?

joel meek pinterestPinterest is one of those up-and-comers in the world of social advertising.

The image-based social network doesn’t divulge audience numbers, but comScore pegs it at around 60 million monthly active users (MAUs).

Of course, that’s not quite the volume of Twitter’s 271 million MAUs or Facebook’s 1.3 billion, but it’s still nothing to sneeze at, especially as activity on branded Pinterest pages affect in-store merchandising and promotional decisions. Just ask Nordstrom or Vineyard Vines.

There’s a marked difference in how Pinterest works with marketers. Both Facebook and Twitter have invested so heavily in advertising and marketing products – CRM matching programs, retargeting, video, trusted partner programs and ecommerce tools – that it’s fair to say they’re each building internal ad and marketing tech stacks, designed to extract value from consumer activities within each social network’s walled garden.

“A lot of sites want to keep you on the service for as long as possible,” said Joel Meek, head of Pinterest’s online sales and operations. “We want to take you off of Pinterest, go on that trip, redo your living room or get the clothes for the party you’re going to. We want to see a lot of action.”

Pinterest views itself as a discovery portal, through which consumers might find inspiration to travel, create or buy products they weren’t actively considering. From there, Pinterest tries to direct those users away from its own platform to the branded sites where they can purchase.

This goal informs Pinterest’s current marketing product build-out, from an analytics and reporting dashboard released in late August to Promoted Pins, a paid media unit still in beta (there’s no timeline for a general release).

Meek spoke with AdExchanger.

Sprinklr Acquires Social Ads Platform TBG Digital

PaidSocialSocial media management company Sprinklr has acquired Facebook and Twitter ads platform TBG Digital in a deal estimated under $50 million, the companies revealed Thursday.

Sprinklr's been busy on the acquisitions front. In February, it snapped up Razorfish cofounder Jeff Dachis's social media marketing and services firm Dachis Group. London-based TBG Digital was founded as TBG London Limited in 2001 and manages more than $100 million in ad spend annually, according to a Sprinklr spokesperson. TBG has close to 100 employees and when the acquisition closes, Sprinklr will have close to 500 employees.

In 2012, TBG had its Facebook Preferred Marketing Developer badge removed for allegedly discussing Facebook product developments with clients. The company, however, still maintained access to the Facebook ads API despite its revoked preferred developer status. A TBG spokesperson claimed it will soon regain this status.

"My personal belief is we're done with interruptive marketing," Ragy Thomas, Sprinklr's founder and CEO told AdExchanger in a recent interview. "There's this whole fuss about content marketing, but content is only one component. There's data, context, social connections and insights and I think we're getting to 'value-driven marketing' where content finds you through your network."


LinkedIn Q2 Revenue Soars, Says Bizo Will 'Anchor' B2B Marketing Toolset

linkedinProfessional social networking platform LinkedIn on Thursday posted Q2 revenue of $534 million, a 47% YoY increase from $364 million.

Marketing Solutions revenue, now 20% of LinkedIn's total business, was $101 million for the second quarter, a 44% uptick from last year. Talent Solutions and Premium Subscriptions account for 60% and 20% of revenue, respectively.

LinkedIn is marching to better monetize its 300 million-member-strong platform. Forty-five percent of its traffic is mobile. Last week, the company acquired B2B data marketing company Bizo for $175 million and rolled out a feature dubbed "Direct Sponsored Content," allowing brands to publish, test and optimize content directly in the LinkedIn news feed as opposed to only company pages.

Specifically referencing the Bizo buy, and whether or not it is comparable to Twitter's MoPub purchase, CEO Jeff Weiner during the Q2 earnings call said the platform will "anchor our B2B marketing solutions platform. We're excited about that when you think about the nexus of B2B (marketing). I would characterize it less as an ad network play, although our customers will be able to nurture, prospect (leads) on LinkedIn and off."

Steve Sordello, LinkedIn's CFO, added that Bizo will help "create a larger B2B focused business. … [We] plan to maintain a specific portion of the business for multichannel advertising."