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Twitter Q4 Ad Revenue Balloons to $220M, But User Engagement Flags

programmatic-twitterTwitter's first quarter as a public company was hot and cold.

Ad performance was the hot part. Q4 2013 ad revenue on the Twitter platform grew 121% to $220 million, of which mobile advertising accounted for more than 75%. The MoPub mobile ad exchange, acquired during the quarter, delivered $8 million in revenue.

Audience trends are the cold part. Growth in Twitter's monthly active users slowed significantly to 30%, while timeline views actually shrank sequentially.

"We have massive global awareness of Twitter, and we need to bridge the gap between awareness and deep engagement with the platform," CEO Dick Costolo told investors. "That is absolutely a focus area for us."



Facebook's Q4: Mobile Ad Revenues Surpass Desktop

facebook-mobile-firstIn Q4 2013, Facebook for the first time derived more than half of its ad revenue from impressions served to mobile devices.

Mobile ad revenues were $1.2 billion, 53 percent of the overall $2.3 billion in ad revenue it garnered for the period, the company reported Wednesday.

It's a significant milestone for the company, which has long touted its "mobile-first" credentials but has yet to prove out that boast in its financial results. And it puts the company in a much more comfortable position than media sellers such as Yahoo, which despite major mobile investments reported earlier this week that mobile ad revenue is "still not material" to the business.

Overall fourth quarter revenue from Facebook advertising (desktop and PC) was $2.34 billion, a 76% increase from the same quarter last year.


Can Imgur Go Native? Image-Hosting Site Plans Migration Away From Display

imgurIf you’ve ever seen an online meme or a viral image (and these days who hasn’t?), chances are you either viewed it through the photo-sharing service Imgur (pronounced “imager”), or it was uploaded there first.

Founded in 2009 by then-Ohio University computer science student Alan Schaaf, Imgur has seen its financial support structure evolve from donations to advertising – the latter of which the company has gradually enhanced over the past five years. The latest development, announced Tuesday, is an analytics platform designed to track an image’s spread across the Internet after it was uploaded on Imgur.

For brands and agencies, this provides additional insight into how a campaign performs. “Throughout the day, we can tell when an image rises up and becomes popular,” said Schaaf, who now serves as Imgur’s CEO. “From there we added the ability to track where an image is being spread on the Internet. If you’re on Facebook, we track that, and we track what time it hits there. So if you share to Imgur first, what time does it reach Facebook and other sites?”

It’s a tool designed to help brands and agencies track the virality of native ads – essentially a sponsored image hosted on Imgur.

Imgur has grown dramatically since its inception. The company claims to host 650 million images and has more than 1.5 million uploads daily. Alexa ranks Imgur 25th in the US and 60th globally. And Quantcast statistics show Imgur has 2.3 billion page views (combined mobile and web) over the last month. On average, each person views 13.6 pages per visit.

But while Imgur has derived its revenue from display advertising since 2009, it has only recently expanded its ad products. In mid-2013, for instance, it introduced a self-service platform to develop direct relationships with advertisers.


Dynamic Signal’s Shift Into Employee Advocacy

russ-fradinSince Russ Fradin initiated Dynamic Signal following the $300 million acquisition of his previous startup, Adify by Cox Enterprises (which Cox has since shuttered), he has transitioned away from paid media and helps brands tap customers’ social media influence.

The idea behind Dynamic Signal is to simplify the process by which passionate customers can advocate brands on social channels, and to make it easier for brands to track these engagements and turn them into opportunities.

Over the last year Dynamic Signal, of which Fradin serves as CEO, branched out into a new subset of community engagement: employee advocacy, a business that now drives half of Dynamic Signal's revenue. AdExchanger caught up with Fradin to discuss the shift, why it made sense for his firm and how it is transforming the way his customers leverage employee influence.

AdExchanger: Is employee advocacy for companies that want to engage employees internally?

RUSS FRADIN: [Dynamic Signal’s solution] is not an internal thing at all. This is not a competitor with Yammer or Jive. In fact it is the exact opposite of that. This is for companies to help their employees gain stature and share more interesting thought leadership content or product-related content on their Twitter and their LinkedIn in a way that's legal, in a way that's compliant, in a way that doesn't violate any FTC laws, in a way that's rewarding and in a way that's authentic for the employees. This is an enormous opportunity we've really only scratched the surface of.


Callaway Drives Brand Authenticity Through Livefyre-Powered Social Stream

callaway-usethisThe marketing strategists at Callaway Golf hope to tee up more transparency and authenticity for the brand in 2014.

A big first step in that is giving consumers more of a direct voice into brand messaging through a leap of faith. As part of a newly designed site launched last month, Callaway integrated streaming social content about its products and its brand throughout the new site -- even its ecommerce pages.

Powered by social curation technology developed by Livefyre, the launch bucks the trend of extremely controlled social branding strategies and could even be the precursor of Callaway's use of user-generated social content in its paid media placements.

"We wanted to be sure we were bringing in all the great content that was out there in the  social space and making sure that it's real-time, authentic content that's relevant to all of our consumers," explained Randy Varela, director of digital marketing for Callaway. "We wanted those conversations that were happening outside our current social platform, to bring that content back onto our own properties for consumers to see and interact with."

Jordan Kretchmer, CEO of Livefyre, says the move by Varela and his team at Callaway is a gutsy one considering the hesitance by many others in the retail space to stream any social content onto core Web and ecommerce properties that wasn't expressly created by their marketing departments.


Twitter Rolls Out CRM Matching, 'Twitter ID' Targeting

twitter-crm-usethisTwitter has rolled out two new prongs to its "Tailored Audiences" targeting regime, which debuted last month as a vehicle strictly for website retargeting.

Among the new segmenting features are CRM matching and Twitter ID targeting. The latter allows the serving of ads based on a user's public characteristics, such as keywords appearing in a user's Twitter biography.

Twitter's CRM match program will be familiar to any marketers with experience using Facebook's Custom Audiences tools. Using it, ad buyers can match their email database of existing customer against Twitter's audience to deliver paid messages across the social network's desktop and mobile platforms. Database marketing companies, including Merkle, Acxiom, Datalogix, Epsilon, LiveRamp, MailChimp and Salesforce ExactTarget support the program.

CRM matching customers craving more granularity can use exclusion targeting, where a segment (e.g., recent shoppers) is removed from a Twitter audience segment. Those wanting broader targeting can use lookalike modeling, where Twitter will broaden a customer's audience by comparing existing customers to its users.

Paul Steketee, Merkle's head of paid social and emerging media, said based on his company's early experiments, Twitter's lookalike targeting creates audience segments two to five times larger than CRM matching on its own. (More results in Merkle's blog post.)

"The data they're able to use to create lookalikes is rich and unique to the platform," Steketee said. "You can't get it anywhere else. If a group of people are following certain people, or interacting with a tweet or hashtag, Twitter is able to identify those associations in real time."


Twitter Opens Up Conversion Tracking To All Advertisers

TwitterConversionTwitter’s Wednesday release of conversion tracking is the company’s latest direct-response push.

Beta advertisers, including retailer Alex and Ani, food-delivery and takeout service GrubHub Seamless and political agency Targeted Victory, used the tool to measure ROI on Twitter ad campaigns.

Targeted Victory initiated CPA campaigns to meet a target number of “sign-ups” for a National Republican Senatorial Committee drive, while GrubHub Seamless worked to meet revenue goals on a cost-per-order basis.

Conversion tracking is designed to let marketers create tags around specific business actions, such as a purchase or filling out a form. Once a consumer or user reaches, for instance, a purchase confirmation or form-completion page, the tag activates, allowing marketers to assess how engagement on a Twitter post led to a desired action.

A key element of Twitter’s conversion tracking measures post-engagement and post-view actions after a consumer expands, retweets, favorites, follows or clicks on a link in a promoted tweet, even if these actions occur cross-device.


Facebook Jockeys For Position In Social TV Space With SportStream Buy

FBSportStreamFacebook’s acquisition Tuesday of sports-centric social analytics and real-time trending platform SportStream signifies it’s not letting up in its tête-à-tête with Twitter.

“Twitter has natural advantages in the social TV space,” commented Martin Kihn, a research director at Gartner. “It’s the go-to platform for real-time event-driven conversation, facilitated by hashtags. … On the other hand, Facebook says it has five times greater social TV conversation than anyone else. It also has five times greater scale than anyone else, so it’s believable. But it’s not an open platform and still doesn’t have a real-time feel.”

Kihn noted that one month after social activity measurement company Trendrr released its findings around Facebook’s TV momentum, Twitter itself snapped up the company. Then, in September, Twitter launched Amplify, a partnership program for broadcast advertisers who want to take advantage of “second-screen” viewer habits, in which individuals surf the Internet while watching TV.


Facebook Debuts Auto-Play Video Ads: Big Audience, Broad Targeting

facebook-news-feed-videoIt took the better part of a year, but Facebook has overcome its internal angst about "motion" in the News Feed with the debut of cross-channel, auto-play video ads. The offering (officially in beta) instantly creates the largest digital video buy ever, with potential daily reach covering nearly half the U.S. population.

Mindshare purchased the first ads users are likely to see this week on behalf of Summit Entertainment, to promote the film "Divergent." (See a video of the mobile ad experience on the Facebook for Business blog.)

"We haven't seen consolidated video at this scale on the Web before," said Jordan Bitterman, chief strategy officer at Mindshare North America. "There are certainly places to get scale in video but to get that in one day in one place with one ad or a few ads, this is a large entry into the space."


One Powerful Signal: How T-Mobile Combines Engagement With Advertising To Drive Conversions

Peter DeLucaLast January, T-Mobile declared itself the “Uncarrier.” It was part of a massive brand revamp, one that involved a new network, new devices (including iPhones) and new phone plans (and the carrier might be in line for yet another overhaul, if rumors about a possible acquisition by rival carrier Sprint bear fruit).

T-Mobile’s “Uncarrier” messaging was a reaction to the disdain many customers have for their telcos, and was followed by policy changes in some areas of particular customer loathing: the indentured servitude of the annual contracts, roaming fees that seem like a one-way ticket to debtor’s prison and the draconian restrictions around device upgrades.

T-Mobile's brand renovation coincided with paid media efforts, including an expansion of its Facebook advertising and engagement strategies.

“It’s a two-pronged approach,” said Peter DeLuca, the telco’s SVP of brand and advertising. “There’s the Facebook we use to buy and amplify our message in a paid model. But it’s equally important to talk about the 4.7 million fans that we cultivate and engage. It’s a really important channel from that aspect, and it’s putting those two pieces together where we reap far more benefits.”