Monthly Archives: October 2013

The 6 Latest Trends in Marketing Technology

Written by: Digitally Approved
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Our own Tom Edwards contributed the lead story in today’s iMedia Connection highlighting current trends in marketing technology.  Here is his article and you can read it at iMedia HERE as well.

The 6 latest trends in marketing technology

The last 13 years of my digital marketing career have consisted of a few startups, hundreds of campaigns, countless technology partners, and the ability to serve as an advisor for a handful of tech startups. This experience has provided me with a unique perspective when it comes to building, evaluating, and partnering with various technology-led products and services.

When it comes to cutting through the hype of the latest innovation trend or the next great marketing technology, I look for products that have the potential to create experiences that move people. The key is to align with partners that understand it is not just about features and functions, it’s about relevant use cases that can be combined with the right brand to create a compelling user experience and ultimately provide value to the consumer.

I recently attended the iMedia Breakthrough Summit and had the pleasure of hearing Adam Broitman, VP global digital marketing for MasterCard, speak about innovation. Broitman asked the crowd to define innovation, and you could hear a pin drop. We throw the word around on a daily basis and are constantly looking for the next big thing. Broitman defined it as creativity with a job to do — not just innovation equals technology.

When we apply this to marketing technology, we can begin to build stories into the products from the beginning. Think about why Apple has been so successful since 2007. Its product stories are carefully crafted with emphasis on simplicity and utility.

With this in mind, I have outlined key industry trends and technology partners that I have partnered with this year. My goal is to share some of the best of breed partners and technologies that can further enable campaigns that are designed around the following trends.

Collaborative commerce

One of the new technologies I am very excited about is collaborative purchasing through branded crowdfunding. I was recently briefed by the Crowdtilt team and was incredibly impressed. Crowdtilt is a San Francisco-based startup with its roots coming out of Y Combinator. It has taken the model made famous by Kickstarter and focused on further enabling brands with its technology.

Collaborative purchasing is the next wave of digital opportunities for brands. Audiences put their money where their mouths are, as a form of communication beyond a “like.” Demand for new products is quantified by real dollars. Branded crowdfunding can also create stronger signals from intent to actual purchase.

For brands, a white label solution with a fully customizable experience is available. Brands maintain ownership of customer data, and there is also an API that allows an organization to build on top of the Crowdtilt technology.

Here is an example: a Microsoft programthat was built on top of Crowdtilt’s API allowing friends and families to fund a Surface tablet.

In terms of use cases, a brand can leverage the technology to launch limited editions of products or validate the revenue potential of “vintage items.” It is also possible to test customer demand through both pre-tail and crowdfunded prototypes. Brands or non-profits can also support cause-based fundraisers.


Curation has become a key element for strategies that I have defined in 2013. Digital curation is the preservation and maintenance of digital assets and is an incredibly important function when executing user-generated content and co-creation programs.

One of my go-to curation technology partners has been Mass Relevance. One of our large and currently in-market programs AT&T’s #BeTheFan program leverages the Mass Relevance API to pull in hashtagged #BeTheFan cross channel entries for the program.

What I like about its technology is I have the option to only leverage the API and get exactly what I need or have the option to work with its team to creatively visualize the data.

Another curation technology that I use is Flipboard. Flipboard is a content curation and discovery social magazine app that over 85 million people are using. The application visualizes your social feeds such as Facebook and Twitter as well as providing access to curated topical magazines all while allowing users flexibility in how they consume their content of choice.

Over the past few months, more than 60 recognizable brands have launched curated magazines. This includes Callaway Golf, Levi’s, and more. With such a large user base combined with users’ appetite for both curated and original content, Flipboard is becoming an ideal destination to aggregate and present information in a unique and compelling way.

Here is an example from the Callaway Golf Team. The team created a brand magazine to support the launch of its new Apex Irons.

Flipboard launched an online editor earlier this year. The editor allows anyone the ability to create customized titles, and more than 3.5 million customized titles have been created. There is also a paid aspect of Flipboard. For more details please see my previous iMedia post on Flipboard.

Second screen and social TV

The rise of second screen technology, whether it is an app or a device, has been a key development. As a social marketer, I am very interested in the subset of second screen solutions that comprise Social TV. Whether watching television or TV-related content, our ability to share our social reactions and extend the experience of our favorite shows is at the heart of the social TV movement.

Here is an example of the user interface for Intonow.

The Social TV ecosystem consists of a number of different subsets, from automatic content recognition providers such as Shazam and Intonow to social electronic programming guides and rewards platforms such as GetGlue, Miso, and Tunerfish, to social TV analytics firms like TrendrrTV and Netbase.

I am very interested in the ad serving platforms that connect all aspects of video and audio fingerprints of connected TVs, second screen apps, and devices that allow for association of various types of ads be it mobile, digital, or social. I recently met with the Samba TV team (Formerly Flingo) and was impressed by its offering.

I have also been working closely with Twitter as this platform continues to develop analytics and partnerships such as its recent initiatives with Nielsen and Comcast, as well as its ability to associate conversations and targeted media with recently aired content. One of the areas of opportunity to be mindful of is the increase in connected televisions and the ability to associated device IDs for connected devices (29 percent of U.S. households will own a connected TV in 2013 according to eMarketer), as well as mobile IDs, to increase the impact of targeting programming and activating socially.

Rich social media

Facebook has stated that 88 percent of engagement happens in the news feed. Having the ability to create compelling in-stream experiences beyond driving to an app-based destination in Facebook has been a key strategic point of emphasis in 2013. A number of campaigns that I have worked on recently have shifted the model from app-based solutions to rich and responsive in-stream solutions that are also trackable and oCPM-optimized for Facebook media and Twitter card rich media solutions.

My key partner for rich social media has been Shop Igniter. Its solution allows our campaigns to reach social and mobile fans in-stream. I initially met the team via an intro from Facebook and it has been a great partner. The technology is highly mobile-friendly and designed to drive mobile engagement at a significantly higher rate than standard units. Also note that you can leverage Shop Igniter’s technology to create a rich responsive domain experience.

Here is a detailed white paper outlining the new promotional engagement models of Facebook, including a section on in-stream.


Jeff Howe of Wired Magazine coined the phrase crowdsourcing, and he defined it as the process by which the power of the many can be leveraged to accomplish feats that were once the province of a specialized few. My agency has an adage that ideas can come from anywhere, and we back it up by leveraging a highly effective crowdsourcing platform that I architected called Flockstar.

Flockstar takes on traditional concepting or asset creation and offers the ability for agencies and brands alike to activate beyond their team or engage their existing brand fans.

The technology allows for public or private video briefs to be posted, and it facilitates the process of submission, edits, and moderation all through a highly engaging user interface that can support disparate teams. Brands have the option to create a brief to access the existing Flockstar creative community or have the option to white-label the technology to support crowdsourcing campaigns.

Social and CRM

A key area of discussion over the past year has been big data. I almost cringe when I hear the term, but big may not even describe the amount of data that we are creating. I recently heard a stat that we produce as much data every 48 hours as we did from the beginning of time to 2003. The scary part is that two-thirds of the world is not yet online.

With massive amounts of data comes the need for insights, analysis, re-targeting, and the need for greater promotional effectiveness. Combine all of this with social conversations and the task of mapping data, and it can be a significant challenge.

I work closely with brands to optimize promotional effectiveness and how to drive consistency of data collected and how that can add value to their existing CRM strategy. Another technology that I developed is called Crowdsworth. For any socially executed Facebook promotion, it is possible to embed the Crowdsworth SDK into any execution that leverages Facebook authentication.

The platform then pulls in the user’s social graph data as well as offers the ability to drive real-time insights directly from the experience. The data collected can then be fed into the organization’s existing CRM program, driving greater efficiency.

Hopefully the trends and solutions outlined above can spark a test or proof of concept to support your agency or brand. There are other technologies that we are actively reviewing such as wearables, social loyalty, social and search, and retail activation products.

The key is to find partners that are willing to ideate and innovate with the goal of creating experiences that move people rather than simply push the technology.

Tom Edwards is the VP, digital strategy and innovation for the The Marketing Arm and Fanscape.

On Twitter? Follow Edwards @BlackFin360 or for more information on Flockstar or Crowdsworth please DM via Twitter. Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.

“Technology” image via Shutterstock.

5 Reasons to Consider Flipboard to Support Your Content Strategy

Written by: Tom Edwards
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I was recently briefed by the Flipboard team and was pleasantly surprised by how their platform is scaling to support brands. Here are 5 reasons to consider Flipboard to support your branded content strategy.

Flipboard is a content curation and discovery social magazine app that over 85 million people are using. The application visualizes your social feeds such as Facebook & Twitter as well as providing access to curated topical magazines all while allowing the user flexibility in how they consume their content of choice.

What is Flipboard

From a brand perspective there are 5 key areas of interest to leveraging Flipboard to it’s full potential.

Reason #1 – Brand Magazines – Over the past few months more than 60 recognizable brands have launched curated magazines. This includes Callaway Golf, Levi’s and more. With such a large user base combined with users appetite for both curated and original content, Flipboard is becoming an ideal destination to aggregate and present information in a unique and compelling way.

Here is an example from the Callaway Golf Team. They created a brand magazine to support the launch of their new Apex Irons.

Callaway Apex Irons MagazinePhoto Oct 08, 2 01 25 PM

Flipboard launched an online editor earlier this year. The editor allows anyone the ability create customized titles and over 3.5 million customized titles have been created.

Here is an example of a BlackFin360 magazine that was created via the editor

BlackFin360 Flipboard Editor

Screen Shot 2013-10-11 at 1.44.02 PM

Reason #2 – Flip It Web Bookmarklet – Flip It creates a connection point to update brand magazines quickly based on newly discovered external content. Simply add the bookmarklet to your browser of choice and quickly add curated content directly into a brand magazine.

Screen Shot 2013-10-11 at 1.33.57 PM

Simply identify the content and hit “Flip It” to add directly from anywhere on the web

FlipIt - BF360

Another use for links are to extend brand magazines into the web as well. With a link, you can connect to a web enabled version of a brand magazine that exists in the Flipboard ecosystem.

Here is an example of the BlackFin360 Brand Magazine viewable on the web via a link.

BlackFin360 Flipboard

Reason #3 – Sponsored Search – As part of an advertising package with Flipboard, there is an opportunity to highlight a brand magazine via a promoted element appended to keyword search results.

Here is an example from Levi’s promoting their Modern Frontier magazine tied to the Levi’s keyword.

Flipboard Promoted

Reason #4 – Full Page Paid Advertisements – Brands have an opportunity to align with prominent publishers and associate their content in the form of full page ads that can also link directly within Flipboard. In this scenario, Flipboard can act as the agent with the publishing partners.

Here is an example of a Levi’s Full Page add that also connects directly to their Brand Magazine

Levis Flipboard Example

Paid advertising only appears within the pages of formal publishing partners such as Conde Nast publications. According to a recent interview with Flipboards CEO Mike McCue, he referenced click through rates averaging around 3% across both mobile & tablet.

Another Example of a Full Page Ad

Photo Oct 08, 1 48 00 PM

Reason #5 – Editorial Opportunities – With Flipboard curating & creating content, there are editorial opportunities for brands that can also drive additional value for a brand. This would require working directly with the Flipboard team but relevant content sessions can be created and distributed through

Inside Flipboard

WIth a total of $111 million dollars raised to date and a growing user base, Flipboard is riding a key consumer trend and providing a service that will be incredibly relevant over the next few years as more brands create content and look for platforms that can organize and distribute content in a relevant and cost effective manner.

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360

Headlines & Stuff

Written by: Digitally Approved
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Here are some cool things we read about this past week:

Pinterest First Ads Go Live
Last month, Pinterest announced its plans to begin experimenting with its first paid advertising product, Promoted Pins. The first of those advertisements went live for some users this week. Promoted Pins operate much like Twitter’s Promoted Tweets and Facebook’s Promoted ad products. Businesses will pay to show certain pins at the top of search results and category feeds. Ads will be contextual – a search for Halloween might produce an ad from an online costume shop.

Facebook Launches New Version of Insights
This week, Facebook released a new version of Page Insights. The tool’s newest version breaks down engagement and metrics into individual tabs, such as check-ins, likes and the number of people engaged. Managers can also compare these metrics to previous weeks or months to better understand how engagement on their brand page is changing. The update also lets managers view positive and negative interactions side-by-side to determine what content is working well with visitors.

Comcast Subscribers Can Soon Watch TV via Twitter

NBCUniversal and Comcast announced that they have entered into a partnership with Twitter that will let “millions” of Xfiniity TV customers view TV shows and movies via tweets through a new feature called See It. See It will be integrated into a show’s tweet, so that with the click of a button, a user can change the channel on their TVs right away, record a show or even watch the show on their mobile device. The See It button will start showing up in tweets later this year, and will let customers tune into shows online or from set top boxes, set their DVRs and even buy tickets through Fandango.

Snapchat Launches Stories
Stories, Snapchat’s latest invention, is a rolling compilation of snaps from the last 24-hours that your friends can see. You create your Story as you go about your day by tapping “My Story” above the friends you want to send a snap to. But unlike conventional snaps, Stories don’t disappear after you’ve watched them. You can watch a friend’s (or your own) Story over and over. Each Story is the sum of all the snaps that you’ve added over the last 24 hours.

Facebook Simplifies Ad Buying
This week, Facebook unveiled a major overhaul to its basic ad-buying platform, Ads Manager, and its more sophisticated offering, Power Editor, both of which now have a more streamlined interface. The platform now starts by asking advertisers to identify their objectives (sales conversion on a website, increase in mobile app downloads, increase page likes, increase engagement with a FB app, boosting in-store offer, RSVP’s to a Facebook Event, etc.). Once the objective has been identified, Facebook guides advertisers to the most appropriate ad. Users can also now upload multiple images for a single campaign, allowing five different ads to run at once. As part of the new analytics dashboard, they will be able to quickly assess which images are performing best.

Global Social Media

India May Have 91 Million Social Media Users By Year-End
The number of social media users are expected to grow 17% to reach 91 million in urban India by December 2013, on the back of rising Internet penetration due to increasingly affordable smartphones and availability of cost effective data plans. The number of social media users in urban India reached 78 million in June. Facebook is the leading website there, accessed by 96% of all users in the country.

Noteworthy Campaigns

Fruit of the Loom and LinkedIn Team Up For Ad Campaign
Global underwear company Fruit of The Loom will be sending free pairs of cotton underwear to LinkedIn users who have gotten jobs or changed jobs within the last 30 days. This is for the company’s “Fresh Gigs” promotion, which is part of their “Start Happy”campaign.  Eligible LInkedIn users will receive a message that says the company is sending them a complimentary pair of underwear to help kickstart their workday at their “new gig.” The recipients will also be able to select the style and size of their free underwear. They will also be asked if they would like to share the promotion on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. The free pair of undies arrive in a gift box after two weeks.

Win Eminem Tickets Using Waze
Waze and Eminem are giving away an all-expenses paid trip for two to a secret location concert as long as you use the app and follow the clues. Although no deadline was announced, beginning immediately Waze users can look for “Shady” and “Gold Shady” pins marked with Shady’s backwards “E.” When tapped, these pins bring users to a sweepstakes URL where they can enter to win Beats by Dre Pill portable speakers and all-expenses paid trip to an Eminem secret-location show.

Stats of the Week

Written by: Digitally Approved
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Every week we compile lots of interesting stats here at Fanscape and we try to share a lot of what we learn with you in these posts.

Twitter provided us with some updated US usage numbers this past week so we wanted to share those with you here…

Twitter By the Numbers: 

  • 215M+ monthly active users globally
  • 100M+ daily active users globally
  • 400M+ visitors to Twitter globally (includes not-logged-in-traffic)
  • 500M+ Tweets per day globally
  • 75% of monthly active users accessed Twitter from a mobile device
  • 51.6% male (U.S.), 48.4% female (U.S.)

Please note that these numbers are from Comscore and are U.S. only.

  • 13-17: 11.5%
  • 18-24: 18.1%
  • 25-34: 21.1%
  • 35-44: 16.2%
  • 45-54: 15.4%
  • 55-64: 9.6%
  • 65+: 7.3%

Just for fun:

In honor of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ victory last night sending them to the National League Championship Series, here are some pieces of Dodger trivia:

  • The last time the Dodgers went to the World Series was 1988
  • The Dodgers have won the world series 5 times since they moved to LA
  • The Dodgers had gone 16 years without winning a playoff game until 2004
  • Steve Garvey hit the most post season home runs since the Dodgers moved to LA


Instagram Ads Are Here

Written by: Tom Edwards
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Instagram just announced upcoming support for video and image based ad support. This move was inevitable based on Facebook’s ownership of the platform. This announcement is also very timely considering Twitter’s upcoming IPO.

Screen Shot 2013-10-03 at 4.35.56 PM

Here are a few of the details from their announcement:

In the next couple months, you may begin seeing an occasional ad in your Instagram feed if you’re in the United States. Seeing photos and videos from brands you don’t follow will be new, so we’ll start slow. We’ll focus on delivering a small number of beautiful, high-quality photos and videos from a handful of brands that are already great members of the Instagram community.

Our aim is to make any advertisements you see feel as natural to Instagram as the photos and videos many of you already enjoy from your favorite brands. After all, our team doesn’t just build Instagram, we use it each and every day. We want these ads to be enjoyable and creative in much the same way you see engaging, high-quality ads when you flip through your favorite magazine.

We’ll also make sure you have control. If you see an ad you don’t like, you’ll be able to hide it and provide feedback about what didn’t feel right. We’re relying on your input to help us continually improve the Instagram experience. As always, you own your own photos and videos. The introduction of advertising won’t change this.

With so much of Facebook’s focus on in-stream engagement and discussions tied to interactive units in stream on Facebook, it will be very interesting to see how users will respond to the new ad types. The Instagram experience is primarily delivered via Mobile, with a single image feed. By injecting units in this environment, it increases the disruption to the end user so it will be very important to see how the ads are delivered and what considerations or potential changes to the feed will be made to support the new ad types while maintaining a clean user experience.

From a brand perspective this is a welcome addition as the ability to extend a cross-platform campaign that incorporates Instagram ad support can be a key reach driver for certain types of campaigns. It is also a natural assumption that best practices from Facebook’s advertising platform will make its way into Instagram ad support as the ability to drive relevant targeting will be a key point of consideration for adoption.

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360