Cashing Out: February 26th to March 3rd 2012 in Online Marketing News

This week’s top story: Facebook’s new focus is squarely on brands

Facebook Timeline for brands, and real-time analytics

ReveNews reported in February that Facebook would soon be opening up its Timeline format to brands and that time has come.

With their first ever Facebook Marketing Conference (FMC) held in New York February 29, and leading up to their IPO, it’s just one of the major developments for businesses that Facebook announced this week.

So, while brands can now upgrade to the more visually-dependent Timeline format and while all brands on Facebook will inevitably do so by March 30, when the format becomes mandatory “ the social network is also rolling out new real-time analytics, as well as new premium ad products. With changes to their Insights for Pages, Facebook has sped up analytics, so brands can instantly view their performance and make any changes needed to improve ROI:

“The upshot for marketers, media outlets, public figures and organizations is that they can now see what’s going on on their Pages and tweak their content and advertising. They can also see if a post is performing poorly and then replace it if that’s the case,” writes Mashable.

Facebook has also expanded Insights to present data going as far back as 500 posts, and now takes into account the Page’s number of engaged users, as well as how many people are talking about a specific post. Meanwhile, with a measurement of the percentage of people commenting on any particular post, brands will be able to judge its virality more accurately.

Facebook’s new premium ad products

But analytics aren’t the only thing Facebook has made over in an effort to woo brands. GigaOm first reported February 21 that the social giant was set to upgrade its premium ads this week. That too has materialized, with the new Reach Generator product, which allows brands to ensure their posts get a News Feed distribution to up to 75 percent of their fans, for a price. According to Ad Age, the product could help brands double average reach:

“Engagement will more than double as more fans will engage, exposing the posts to their friends, many of whom will also engage.”

Meanwhile, marketers will have to start thinking of their Facebook content and their ads as one and the same, says Ad Age, as Facebook now allows you to make a premium ad out of any post. And, while those premium ads used to appear only on the homepage, they’ll now show up in the standard news feed, mobile news feed, on the right-hand side of the page and on the log-out page.

All these changes are likely designed to inspire confidence in Facebook advertising and win over the corporate world, as the company prepares for its IPO. eMarketer analyst Debra Aho Williamson said as much in interview with Bloomberg, arguing:

“It really comes down to brand advertisers. They just need to do a better job of convincing the big advertisers that ads are effective and that they perform.”

Yelp scores high with IPO

Investors may still be skeptical when it comes to tech IPOs, but newly public reviews site Yelp is doing all it can to change those attitudes.

With its March 2 debut on the stock market, the company’s stock price shares erupted by more than 60 percent in its first day of trading, The Wall Street Journal‘s Digits reported.

The company’s shares were originally priced at $15, higher than expected, according to the New York Times, setting its valuation to $898.1 million. But as its stock closed at $24.52 March 2, that valuation had soared to $1.3 billion, writes TechCrunch.

It’s an IPO which TechCrunch’s Colleen Taylor is giving a “5-star” review, especially as compared to other recent tech IPOs:

“Shares of Zynga, for example, dipped below the IPO price within the first minutes of its stock market debut back in December. The fact that Zynga was solidly profitable at the time of its IPO while Yelp is still operating in the red just goes to show how unpredictable the stock market can really be, and how many things are at play when the market is determining a company’s value.”

Still, this early success must be taken with a grain of salt, as we wait to see what kind of performance Yelp will have over the next few weeks. For the time being, however, Yelp has scored high.

LinkedIn introduces new embeddable Follow Company button

With so much happening for brands on social media this week, LinkedIn launched a new program of its own February 27.

In a company blog post, the social network for professionals announced the new, embeddable LinkedIn Follow Company Button, that will allow followers to get automatic updates companies by clicking a button on those companies’ websites. Not limited to the LinkedIn profile, the Follow Company Button gives followers updates and alerts in real-time in their news and activity streams.

LinkedIn already has an embeddable Share button, but this new offering has marketing potential beyond simply disseminating news. According to TechCrunch,

“[…] for LinkedIn, the follow button is more than just a way for users to track company updates. taking a page out of Facebook’s advertising strategy, LinkedIn is using follow data to help serve members more targeted display ads (users can choose to opt out of this).”

Twitter’s ads go mobile

Promoted Products, Twitter’s latest suite of ad products, is going mobile, the company announced in a February 28 blog post.

While Promoted Tweets, Promoted Trends, and Promoted Trends are already available on Twitter, and while some of those ad formats have been available on Twitter’s mobile web interface as well, Promoted Accounts are now coming to Twitter for iPhone and to Twitter for Android. Meanwhile Promoted Tweets will begin appearing in both timelines and in search in these mobile apps. Writes Ad Age:

“Unlike the rollout, which began with a test group of 20 marketers, any Twitter advertiser that’s targeting promoted tweets directly to followers will start having those tweets surface in the timelines of iPhone and Android app users who follow them.”

What’s more, the cost for mobile ads will be the same as that of standard ads, for the time being at least.

With stock up, Zynga launches new gaming site

Zynga’s stock market debut back in December may not have wowed investors as much as Yelp’s did this week, but its stock is on the rise, reports TechCrunch.

Thanks largely to the company’s March 1 announcement that it would be launching its a new online gaming platform, Zynga’s stock prices are up 50 percent from when it first went public, from $10 to $15.

Many have cited Zynga’s dependence on Facebook as the main reason the company didn’t do better when it first went public. And now, with a platform of its own set to launch in beta this month, investors seem to have gained confidence in the company.

Citing Zynga’s lead product manager, Reed Shaffner, Econsultancy writes that “gamers want to find other people to play with beyond Facebook and to have a community for gaming and play that isn’t integrated with the platforms they use for other tasks,” adding that “imaginably, this would also allow the company greater access to player data which will make Zynga a stronger platform in its own right.”

Another noteworthy point is that Zynga will be welcoming third party game developers to “extend the reach of their games […] gain more users and have more products to put advertisements against.”

Zynga users will still be able to game on their existing platforms, though they’ll also be able to interact with users in other spaces within the “Zynga ecosystem.”

RadiumOne raising $50M for social retargeting

Best known for its social retargeting technology, online ad network RadiumOne is in the midst of a $50 million round of funding, reports TechCrunch. And though the round isn’t over yet, it’s reported that the company’s valuation is already nearing $500 million “pre-money.”

RadiumOne “ which helps brands identify relevant consumers by analyzing data from social networks to determine behaviors“ has just launched Via.Me, a consumer focused content sharing app. Users of the iOS app will be able to capture and share content, like pictures, videos and music from social networks with one another.

But the app has as much use for marketers as it does for consumers. Citing Founder and CEO Gurbaksh Chahal, TechCrunch explains:

“Via.Me’s user data will be used to serve more targeted advertisements […] of course, this is an opt-in experience for consumers [but] data from the consumer app is given to brands to serve more targeted display advertising.”

With 40,000 Card Case merchants, Square hits NYC cabs

Mobile payments platform Square seems to be getting ever more mainstream. Econsultancy reported March 1 that there are now 40,000 merchants registered to use the app’s Card Case software, which enables payments without a card or NFC chip.

And AllThingsD reported the same day that “The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission has approved a proposal to deploy Square payments technology in 30 taxicabs,” the test phase for which will be under way in the next couple of weeks.

Cab drivers will have access to a version of Square’s software modified specifically for their use, which brings up an interesting question, as noted by TechCrunch:

“If the company is launching a specific product for this group, perhaps Square will be customizing its mobile payments platform for other merchant categories in the future.”

This week in marketing studies and reports:

More smartphone owners than basic mobile users

Smartphones are no longer the new kid on the block in terms of mobile devices, a new study found, rather, they’re becoming the standard.

According to data from the Pew Internet & American Life Project, reported on by Mashable, there are now more owners of smartphones than there are owners of basic mobile phones.

Following 2,253 people over 18, the study found that 46 percent of U.S. adults use a smartphone, as compared to 41 percent, who use a basic mobile device.

Moreover, says Mashable, “the growth of smartphones is not just occurring among young adults and the financially well-off. Fast adoption is happening across a wide range of demographic groups, from rural residents to those in their 50s.”

Consumers still into daily deals

After Groupon’s lackluster IPO, it begs the question: are consumers really still interested in daily deals? As reported by Ad Age, a new study from Rice University says yes, “U.S. consumers are still excited about [them],” while a separate study BIA/Kelsey seems to support that.

According to the latter, spending on deals offers in the U.S. is expected to reach $2 billion this year, and $4.1 billion by 2015. As cited by Ad Age, the BIA/Kelsey report indicates that “the trend is toward vertical-deal categories rather than scattershot offerings of everything from bikini waxes to skydiving lessons.”

Ad Age: tablets to outdo TV for video viewership soon

Ad Age reported March 1 on a new study from Chadwick Martin Bailey (CMB) that found 63 percent of people who recently viewed TV on a tablet did so even though they had a television available.

Meanwhile, 54 percent of the 1,400 consumers surveyed say they’ve tried alternatives to pay-TV, such as streaming sites. And 16 say they “plan to reduce their level of pay-TV next year.”

These findings, among others, have led Ad Age to a bold prediction: “Tablets will soon top TVs for most video viewing.”

“So let me make a bold prediction. Big screen TVs will more and more be used for tentpole, live viewing “ for the types of programming that must be consumed live,” writes Ad Age’s Jim Louderback, “During these (relatively) few and far-between video events, our tablets will become co-viewing screens, allowing us to comment, rate, and share the experience with others “or to look away when the action wanes.”

Mobile ads get more response in Europe than in U.S.

New data from Nielsen shows that European consumers are more likely to respond to mobile ads than are consumers in the U.S. That goes for tablet and smartphone owners in Germany, Italy and the UK.

“Americans are the least likely to make a purchase on their smartphone after viewing an ad,” the study says, though, among U.S. consumers, tablet owners are more likely than smartphone owners to “click on a mobile ad or search for more information after viewing a mobile ad.”

About Emily Wilkinson

Emily Wilkinson is a Montreal writer and editor who recently joined Her experience comes largely from her work at print publications like La Scena Musicale, where she alternated between positions as content manager, copy editor and journalist.
She believes in the importance of strong writing, be it in journalism or in other media, like blogging or even social networking. Her prerogative: though language will and ought to evolve, a good writer need never sacrifice the communicative power of text that is written with thought and care, whatever the venue.
Find Emily on Twitter @EditorWilkinson

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