Archives for posts with tag: Facebook


By now, everybody knows that customers to Yahoo!, Facebook, Google, MSN, NY Times, WSJ, etc. are not the visitors. Advertisers are the customers. All these sites make money selling advertising. Over time we learned, placing ads on Facebook is much less effective than placing them on Yahoo!, WSJ or even MySpace.

How come? Wasn’t the narrative that Facebook knows everything about us? That they unlocked the gate to the holy grail of marketing? The frictionless sharing paradigm will lead us to the golden ages of marketing, including fountains of youth and unlimited budgets.



Think about what you do all day and what you share on Facebook. (Forget about the few exceptions that share everything.) I bet it’s less than 0.1% for 99% of all Facebook users. I would even bet it’s less than 0.001% for for 98% of all Facebook users. You do thousands of things today and you may share 1-2 posts daily, if you’re a heavy users.

Compare that to major sites. They’ve been around forever. Some, like Yahoo!, Google and MSN, have their own email product. You read news on Yahoo or MSN, never on Facebook. If you want to find a local movie, you visit Bing. If you want to see TV listings, you go to Yahoo! While so many people proclaim Yahoo! is already in the coffin and rotting away, have a look at the rate of interaction on some of their sections. More people search on Yahoo! than on Facebook.

Since Yahoo (and all these other major sites) are connected to massive ad networks and ad exchanges, they track what you like, what you do, where you live and understand more about your real digital life than Facebook could ever imagine. Google didn’t build Maps and Google Documents to help you through your daily life. They build all these tools to understand each user better.

Facebook doesn’t have acces to that information. Yet. That’s why I get these silly ads.

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I don’t care about any of these products. Ever.

This doesn’t mean the future is a black hole for Facebook. The future might be all rainbows.

The present? A different story. When brands tell me they want to increase their Facebook ad spending dramatically in the next 6 months, I wonder if it’s because the bandwagon is coming through their town or because they see real business results. Sure, there are brands that are successful using the Facebook ad project. The majority should be looking for other (“OLD”) targeting tactics to get good results in the short-term.

A few weeks ago, I started working with a new client, a mid-size business. They started using Social Media a few years back and, over time, developed presences on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ YouTube, LinkedIn, Foursquare, a blog, Facebook Places, Tumblr and just started on Pinterest. Their previous Social Media consultant operated on the premise: Businesses need to be on as many social media channels as they can.

Why? In this rapidly changing world, businesses never know where their customer is going to be, so a business needs to be everywhere.


Mr. Consultant, stand in the corner and write “I will never recommend something that insane again.” 10,000 times.

There are two reasons why consultants, experts or agencies would give obnoxious advice:

– They try to fleece customers.

– They don’t know what they are doing.

I won’t even bother with people that try to fleece brands. Ultimately, brands will see through it and end the scam prematurely.

I’m much more concerned with people that believe in the philosophy that brands should be everywhere. Should Axe advertise on each TV Channel, even the Hallmark Channel? Should PETA run an ad in the Hunter’s Journal? Should Obama advertise on the Rush Limbaugh show?

Social Media shows its immaturity when “being everywhere” is still an advice I hear every day. Just like traditional and digital media, social media needs to rely on research – for example a social media audit. Understanding demographics, psychographics, spend decisions, social network use, day/time parting – all the good stuff and more that helps you understand where you need to be, when you need to be there, and what you should be doing/saying while you’re around. This helps brands and their community not to waste anyone’s time, helps to achieve goals and measure results.

Don’t be everywhere. Just be where your research tells you to be.

Good aggregation of data by Esteban. Below are a few notes:

– Ranked by growth, India (51.7%) and Indonesia (51.6%) are the Top 5 social networking countries, followed by India, Mexico and Brazil.

– Only 16% of Facebook “fans” see posts. Make sure that is communicated to stakeholders when you report your Facebook reach.

– U.S. Social Media ad spending to reach $9.8 billion by 2016, challenging traditional advertising and threatening display ad growth.

– Google+ has 150 MM monthly active users after only 1 year, less of social network more of a SoLoMo layer.
– Since December 2011, YouTube views have dropped by 28% while YouTube tries to be a TV-like appointment viewing platform with their premium channels.
– 75% of U.S. Smartphone owners regularly use location-based services.
– Pinterest visits are slowing down, just like the number of users of FB Connect. A correction or a trend?
– “Social Business” shifting from buzzword to market reality.


10+ years ago everybody tried to build portals. “Stickiness” ruled the digital marketing world.

5+ years ago everybody started to build microsite. The intention was to capture a single-minded idea in one destination. Brand sites had become too complex and hard for people to navigate.

Some of the microsites worked well: If you were in the market for a specific car, the microsite provides you with the most relevant information to get your task done.

While some sites worked, the web quickly became a dump for bad executions, wasting billions of client dollars with nothing to show for. Microsites transformed into ugly hybrids of brand and single-minded idea sites, adding more content and clutter.

3+ years ago everybody started to dislike microsites. Nobody clicked on banners, traffic was too small to justify further investment and suddenly brands wanted to be where everybody else was: MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and all the others platforms with tons of traffic. Microsites became an afterthought. Marketers looked at the dump of failed microsites, shaking their heads and muttering: “Microsites don’t work.” aka “It’s you, not me.”

It was always me and not you.

Well-executed microsites still work and will work for a long time to come. They’re just as hard to find as a fan of Frank McCourt.

2+ years ago marketers fell in love with apps. They revolutionized the way we shared content with an audience, replaced the typical catalog website with a more interactive and innovative medium. Just like the microsite a few years ago. Each app has a single-minded idea and functionality. And, most importantly, functionality.

That was always the biggest problem with microsites: The only purpose was to convey an abstract message or to aspire to be some kind of cultural phenomenon/expression of technology prowess. “We hired the best flash developer.”

The end of microsites seems to be near. I still think they can survive and not be swallowed by the App Monster that’s taking over our media engagement time. They just have to serve a purpose, an extension of the product/brand, they should serve as a value add for the brand offering.

Maybe I should rewrite the headline to: “Long live the microsite.”

What do you think?


Last night I was standing on our patio, admiring the sunset with my daughter. She looked at me and asked:

“Do you like the sunset?”

“Yes, I like the sunset.”

“I like it, too.”

According to some brands, agencies and consultants, that simple interaction turned both of us into ‘fans’ of the May 16, 2012 sunset. The company that created the May 16 sunset just acquired 2 valuable ‘brand ambassadors’ that have an influence on the bottom line of ‘May 16, 2012 Inc.’.

Welcome to the silly world of Facebook likes

The way some ‘experts’ cherish likes, you’d think they were lengthy love letters written in blood. Well, given that toilet paper has 10,496 likes, the premise that people click on things that mean a lot to them becomes absurd quickly.

Still, many brands and agencies use ‘likes’ as a metric to measure brand popularity.

The reason? It’s the easy way out and has no downside – besides that more and more brands go down the evil path of buying fans, putting ‘like’ traps in front of valuable content and eliminate any favorable feelings through forced love tactics.

Facebook is the Unicorn world. What would happen if the platform would introduce a “Don’t like”, “Don’t care”, “Hate it” and “Love it” button? The majority of brands would say goodbye quickly because expressions of apathy and dislike would outnumber any favorable interaction. Well, we know this is not going to happen. Revenue on Facebook would decline dramatically and, let’s face it, that’s what Facebook is all about, isn’t it?

There’s value in Facebook likes

There’s no value in considering like as an expression of brand favorability, love or passion. Most people push that thumbs up button as easy and mindless as they flush their toilet.

There’s a lot of opportunity in the social space. Brands will never unlock it if they continue to look at the Unicorn world through pink colored glasses.


Many agencies have added social to their list of offerings. Some have added new people with specific skills to support/activate and engage social platforms. Other agencies just added social to the responsibilities of the media department.

That’s a big problem. Because social and digital are not the same.

A digital skillset involves software programming, interface design, content management, data management, analytics, media planning/buying, etc. That doesn’t mean you know anything about social.

When you are adept in the ways of Social Media, it’s also likely that you’re familiar with the technologies that support these communications. You understand the rules of engagement on Facebook; you know how to create a refined social advertising campaign; you can hop on CoTweet and know exactly what you’re doing; you’re focusing on the right metrics and deliver. That doesn’t mean you know anything about digital.

In good agencies, digital marketing services are organically integrated with Social Media. It doesn’t make it any less distinct a discipline.

The biggest difference: the mindset.

Digital and interactive are primarily either one-to-one or one-to-many communication forms.

Social is many-to-many communications. And that makes all the difference.

In one-to-one communication, the brand (in this case) knows what it wants to communicate, and perhaps has some idea about who it is talking to.

One-to-many communication is the most prevalent form of broadcast with the hope that the message is something that the target audience will appreciate and take action on.

Social is many-to-many, and here the crux is uncertainty. Brands may assume that they know what they are getting into, who they are talking to but they can’t predict the reaction.

Digital does not require any internal attitude change or rallying of other divisions – it is merely extending the brands’ communication into yet another broadcast media.

Social requires a different mindset and the understanding that brands are just incidental to the conversation online.

Apples and oranges.

Screen shot 2012-03-13 at 10.57.05 AM

You click on a button on your iPhone and it immediately bursts into life, the blinking “slide to unlock” label hinting at the direction of the motion it wants you to make. That rich, lively screen just begs for your attention. Add to that the layer of notifications and you have no willpower left to resist. No matter what’s happening around you: a kid wanting to play with you, a book waiting to be read, a view that wants to be soaked in – once the iPhone wakes up, everything else in the room disappears; your attention’s been stolen by that burst of light. The iPhone (and the iPad, for that matter) is a needy, attention-craving siren that will enslave your attention by it’s amazing beauty at the expense of the world around you. It’s a temptress that constantly reminds you: “You could be on Twitter now” or “You could engage with your friends on Facebook now.”

The Dopamine release

When you check your information, when you get a buzz in your pocket, when you get a ring – you get what they call a dopamine squirt. You get this little rush of adrenaline and, most of the time, you are disappointed. Sure, you get this little information nuggets, the location of your friends, the links they share, the inconsequential email but it’s doesn’t satisfy your craving for more. But when you don’t get this little alarms, you feel bored, you want that little excitement. You’re being conditioned by technology to check, check, check and check.

Information is like food. It nourishes us and we need it to survive in the 21st technology, to be a productive citizen. Yet, food has positives and negatives. As Fast Food Nation clearly showcased, a steady diet of fast food won’t lead to any good. Actually, it might lead to your quick demise. While we know to distinguish between Twinkies and Muesli, we still have trouble distinguishing between information red meat and information red grain.

The diminishing returns of noisy technology

Over time, we have created our information foundation: Email, Facebook, Twitter, Messageboards, Foursquare and other platforms that solve problems for each individual. We don’t have a lot of attention left in our life to add more information and platforms. Apps and destinations became more noisy to get our attention. Just like a gathering that started out as a small dinner party, developed into a party with loud music and now looks like this:


(Talking about Dopamine.) You can enjoy a rave for a few hours, maybe even all night and a nice sunrise. But it’s not a sustainable model. We can’t continue to add new technologies and new platforms, begging us for information constantly without hitting the wall. I would argue, we’ve already reached that wall and we’re about to hit it.

Nobody is saying noisy technologies will disappear. It’s just too intriguing and easy to blink, flash and beep to get the attention of people. But the returns are diminishing and people are starting to look for technologies that solve problems with out being a needy temptress.

In Part 3 we’ll talk about the emergency of calm technologies and their integration into the information ecosystem.


“(In the publishing business) the readers are the product, and the customers are the advertisers.” – Dave Winer

It started with Path last week, and now we learned that Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Instagram, Foodspotting, Yelp, and Gowalla all either upload your contacts’ phone numbers or email addresses to their servers for matching purposes.

As the post on Venturebeat states:

“Some of these applications perform this action without first requesting permission or informing you how long they plan to store this data. Foodspotting is the worst of the bunch, as it appears to transmit your data over an unencrypted HTTP connection (in plain text), making it even easier for mischievous parties to intercept.”

It’s a sign of a major problem.

Tulip Mania. Railway Mania. Poseidon Bubble. Japanese asset price bubble. Dot-com bubble. Rice bubble. Housing bubble. Bubbles after bubbles. After the housing bubble, one would think we’d have enough of bubbles for a long time to come. Think again.

The dot-com crash had nothing to do with technology. It had everything to do with the business model used to pay for the technology, which was primarily either display advertising revenue or VC money advanced with the expectations of returns based on display advertising. Display Advertising was trackable, it would be more effective online than offline. The bubble burst, crazy valuations went away and the digital ad market boomed. Ad Networks, DSP’s and exchanged drove down the value of ad impressions. CPM’s went from $100 for premier placements to $10. And impression junk was and is still anywhere. Suddenly, new businesses that relied on advertising revenue to support their model had to pivot.

Welcome to the age of user data.

Massive assumptions are now being made based on revenue generated (or soon to be generated) by personally targeted advertising drawing on user data. Facebook has a business model but their valuation is based on future realization of user data. Twitter doesn’t have a sustainable business model yet but it’s worth billions of dollars.

Often, companies don’t even know what to do with this data, they just have it because one day it will rain gold. You can’t open your computer without reading of the promises of Big Data. Your user data, goes the theory, allows ads to be specifically targeted to you. Should you buy a big bag of dog food, you will likely receive more ads for dog products, sometimes coupons. You’ll be grouped in a segment with other “dog food buyers”, your age and location will be determined, and a data model of you will be developed. A very simplistic one-dimensional model of you is living in some data warehouse and that’s why you encounter all those online ads.

The problem is not with the use of data to make decisions – the problem is with the simplistic one-dimensional use of data to make decisions. And the other problem with this assumption is that it believes in the rational consumers. Targeted advertising draws on the idea of our observed behavior presenting a coherent and realistic picture of our desires and needs.

It doesn’t.

My spending behavior in 2010 bears no relation to my spending currently or in the future – economies change, circumstances change, tastes change, opportunities change. More importantly, we are social beings, not rational beings. We are more driven by emotions and our clique than anything you can find in our brains.

As we know, targeting works on a limited scale. It does lift metrics, it improves performance. But the user data dream that one day all served ads will be relevant and lead to immediate conversion is just that: a dream. I’m not trying to minimize the opportunities at the intersection of data and human behavior, as explained in “How companies learn your secrets.” from the NY Times. I just don’t believe the way to collect and use data right now will lead to a pot of gold.

Tulips have value. Houses have value. Data has value. But the value is not as high as people tend to estimate while the user data bubble is expanding. It’s highly questionable if even a small part of these valuations can be realized. At least, I haven’t see any evidence of that, yet.

Nobody wants to hear things like that, when everybody is enjoying the user data ride. Just like nobody wanted to listen to Nouriel Roubini when he predicted the financial crisis. Nassim Taleb the “Black Swan”. Or Dave Winer the end of the data bubble. But something is wrong here, very wrong.

VCs spend billions of dollars investing in companies based on the user data model. They even tell kids to leave college early to participate in the gold rush. “You can be the next Mark Zuckerberg.”

They fund companies that need our personal data to succeed, just like the mortgage bundlers needed the junk mortgages to create fictitious AAA ratings. One day, when reality sets in and the fundamentals don’t add up anymore, the bubble will burst. A lot of money will be lost. A lot of people will be hurt.

Out of the ashes, new companies will spring up that have realistic expectations about the value of user data. And, who knows, even give us control over the data. Now, that’s valuable. Correct, Doc Searls?


When the Web was young and digital marketing in its toddler shoes, a common practice was to require customers to fill out a form before they could access a site. Cheered on by “Get all the exciting news from Brand A” or “Don’t miss out on the latest events”, many customers signed on. Once spammers started to get rich and marketers over-communicated with their audience, these forms quickly disappeared. You didn’t have to fill out a form before you watched a commercial, grabbed a brochure or visited a store, why should that be different when it comes to digital?

Some tactics never die

Marketers are rehashing that old formula, forcing people to ‘like’ the brand before they can see any content. Brands and agencies continue to be obsessed with aggregating as many ‘Likes’ as possible. In the beginning it was done through other marketing channels, social games and apps installations. Increasingly, this has been replaced by using the ‘Like’ click as the price of entry to interact with content or get special offers.

Wasn’t social about conversations, engagement and long-term benefits?

Social Media was this big party where we can interact in transparent and authentic ways, right? We didn’t like the screamer that just yelled at us. Or the “Look-at-me-guy”, right? Last time I checked, those are as annoying as the people I need to endorse on LinkedIn or praise them publicly before we can start to talk. Don’t I deserve a chance to explore what they’re all about before I endorse them to all my friends?

Don’t mistake a “like” for an endorsement

Studies show that 58% of US Facebook users expect to gain access to exclusive content, events or sales after “liking” a company, while 58% also expect to receive discounts or promotions. More insightful is what Facebook customers don’t want: Bombardment with messages (54%), access to profile information (45%), pushing things into friends’ newsfeeds (31%) and companies contacting them through Facebook (29%).

We all have busy lives. We can’t “like” every brand, we don’t have enough time and bandwidth. Does it make sense to “like” everything that’s in my closet, office, living room, garage and shopping mall?


The forced “like” tactic might be a good choice for brand advocates. But, they are already on your side.

Wouldn’t you rather start a conversation with people that have no defined feelings toward your brand, winning them over? Your forced “like” tactic might just result in the opposite.


We have this view of the world that the super-mega market leaders in one niche or market have a superpower that will guarantee success in new markets. The current Facebook S1 release is just another sign of this irrational view. “Facebook dominates advertising.” “Facebook more important for advertisers than Google.” “Mark Zuckerberg for President.”

The majority of brands are only good at doing one thing. If you hit the jackpot, they are good at 2 things. Almost nobody is good at three things. Remember when Facebook Places was launched and every dopey pundit proclaimed the end of Foursquare? (Including this dope.) Or when Google Wave launched? Google Buzz? G Phone? When Yahoo tried social. (Let’s not hate on a corpse.) When Microsoft got into mobile hundreds of years ago and never achieved their goals? Or when Apple tried social?

Size does matter. But it’s not everything.

There are rare instances where companies can crush a competitor: IE vs. Netscape comes to mind. But it’s not common. That’s why you shouldn’t be brainwashed by the size of a company, focus on the excellence of a company. Facebook is really good at growing their user base, allowing us to share information with family and friends. They belong in the user baser growing Hall of Fame. Does Facebook do anything else that belongs in the Hall of Fame? Deals? Places? Commerce? Advertising Conversion? Monetization. Nope. They didn’t even make the roster, riding the Minor League bus.

Will Google ever succeed in social? Google+ is doing okay but it’s not in the same league as Facebook and Twitter. They even show cracks in their dominance of the search business. Microsoft’s browser domination is gone. Soon, Facebook will see increasing fatigue and the brainwashing of a new shiny tool. While we live longer, social platforms life expectancy tends to decrease.

Don’t get fooled by size. On Sunday, many advertisers will link their advertising to Facebook pages or Twitter accounts. That’s foolish. Facebook owns all the data. Who guarantees you that they don’t sell it to your closest competitor?

Look at the big picture and have a long-term strategy. If you put more and more eggs in Facebook, you need to move some out and put them in different platforms. It’s not about new platforms, it’s about experimenting with better ways to market, platforms that convert and technologies that are effective in achieving your business goals.