Monthly Archives: December 2013

Google Blurring the Line of Native, Traditional & Social

Written by: Tom Edwards
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There is a reason Google is trading over $1,000 a share and closed platforms such as Facebook & Twitter are at $55. Google owns 66% of search marketshare in the US, the #1 online video site with YouTube and Google claims 540 million monthly active Google+ users and 300 million monthly active “in-stream” users. Now Google is looking to change the game when it comes to paid amplification and content discovery by extending social content through their entire network with +Posts.

Here is a graph outlining Google Plus user growth


Content discovery, distribution and streamlining the user experience across the the Google ecosystem appear to be the future and the future is now. Recently Google deployed single sign on across the ecosytem, rolled out new content discovery options within Google+, refined the TruView suite of paid tools via YouTube and further integrated main properties such as Google+ comments embedded within Youtube.

Here is an example of the latest SSO option for Google properties

Screenshot 2013-11-04 11.11.00

Here is an example of Google+ comments embedded within YouTube

Screenshot 2013-12-18 14.25.20

I recently published what I call Google+ Circle Impact Theory outlining the intersection of social & search. Google+ represents the intersection of search & social via contextual search driven by engagement. The launch of +posts is a significant addition that truly leverages the breadth of the Google ecosystem vs. simply driving discovery of content within Google+.

The +Post is built to support content discovery. Taking organic content from a brands Google+ page and allowing distribution through Google’s Display network. The key difference is the “open” approach to boosting the content through Google’s Display network and replacing a traditional banner with a piece of relevant social content that can create conversation within the unit itself.

Here is a video overview of +Posts


Here is an example taking from Toyota USA’s Google+ brand post. The brand post is published via Google+ and aligned contextually with individuals through Google’s display network.

+Post Toyota

The +Post is extensible through Google’s display network combining Native & Traditional elements. The boosted posts can create more points of engagement and expand the reach to look-a-like individuals further boosting post level engagement.

+Post Native

Once expanded the +Post opens via a lightbox and allows the user to +1, share and comment to that single piece of content directly from the unit.

Screenshot 2013-12-18 12.50.12

Then the CTA will direct the user to whatever the specific action is to engage with the content.

Screenshot 2013-12-18 12.50.44

From a Circle Impact Perspective, the higher the post level engagement, the higher the probability that content will rank in SERP even for those not following the brand via Google+.

Screenshot 2013-12-18 14.04.20

From a pricing perspective, charges for brands boosting +posts is only incurred when a user hovers over the ad for two seconds.

This approach is a major shift from Facebook & Twitter’s closed native platform approach of boosting posts within the confines of their networks. Google’s approach increases the likelihood of content discovery and potentially extends the shelf life of content. Further driving value as the organic reach of some of the closed platforms continues to decrease for brands.

This is an important launch for brands and marketers focused on shopper marketing as delivering the right message at the right time is key to driving a shopper to action. The ability to create a content centric shopper strategy that can be targeted and deployed next to key publishing properties where users can create conversations directly is very appealing.

A final thought is that Google’s display network offers multiple tools for contextual & affinity segmentation across multiple screens. This means that not only are they enabling the syndication of social content but also offering the robust targeting capabilities of Google’s ad tools. +Post ads are currently in beta but you can sign up here.

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360

Facebook to Launch Video Ads in News Feed

Written by: Tom Edwards
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I wrote this post back in May of this year when I was first briefed by the Facebook team about this potential product roll-out. It has been a long go for this feature to roll out.

I hear it now… “Wait, we can already promote a video via paid… how is this different?”

Facebook’s goal is to now incorporate sight, sound and motion in a users newsfeed on both mobile & desktop without a click. They had recently rolled out the feature to general users to test the response with consumers. They have seen a 10% higher engagement than non autoplaying videos since launching in September.

Photo Dec 17, 10 49 51 AM

We know that the power of Facebook is tied to Storytelling & amplification. The goal with this new offering is to further extend social context via storytelling + great content = great conversation and to capture a users attention without a click to initiate.


Seeing it in action is impressive and definitely gets your attention as it is ALREADY active when you scroll down your feed. The video starts as soon as it enters your frame of view within the newsfeed.

Initially the sound is off with subtitles and an option to turn the sound on is then prompted to the user.

Here are the details…

  1. The view is defined by 3 carousels, similar to how multiple images show in a post
  2. The first video is a 15 second brand reveal spot that is also subtitled and initiates upon visibility in your stream
  3. There are two other spots that can play the extended cuts of video content 30, 60, 90 to a 10 minute trailer within the carousel
  4. The user is then prompted to share & comment directly within the video post view
  5. The video will pause and start back up again when the user scrolls back up
  6. Each video has to be a minimum of 15 seconds (no vines here)
  7. There will only be 1 video campaign per day. You read that correctly. 1 video per day. Your brand owns that day
  8. Pure impression based pricing at the moment, no CTR or True View type option yet.
  9. Segmentation will be limited to (male/female 18-54) demos. The only segmentation available out of the gate is tied to gender and 18-54. As with all products, after launch the ability to further segment will come into play
  10. This is only available directly through Fb I/O no self serve option. Pricing is comparable to a day’s takeover on other channels

From a strategic standpoint this is a pure awareness driver as of time of launch the product is purely impression based at the moment with Facebook providing guaranteed reach.

From a measurement standpoint, Facebook is claiming guaranteed audience through Nielsen OCR (Online Campaign Ratings) as well as Video insights powered by Facebook insights reporting that will capture everything from sound, engagement (likes, comments, shares) organic reach and fans.

There are a number of brands that are lining up to take advantage of this type of placement. For large programs that center around digitally centric content, this is a great addition to the platform.

Initial reaction even among my team was mixed. Terms like “fascinating”, “interesting” & “awesome” were also met with some concern. A very savvy team member made the point that he was concerned with the recent levels of driving monetization could be impacting the overall user experience… potentially leading to a loss of interest on the platform”.

My takeaway was from a brand perspective I like the opportunity to feature my digitally centric content and drive guaranteed reach. The motion seemed like a natural extension of the News Feed and the “sound off” option did not lead me to remember the days of geocities sites that blared music upon load.

It will be very interesting to see the impact that this new type of offering will have and which brands will be first out of the gate.

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360

Headlines & Stuff

Written by: Christy Wise
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Here are some cool things we read about this past week:

Instagram Launches Direct Messages
This week, Instagram launched Instagram Direct.  The feature allows users to capture moments using the app and send directly to friends as opposed to broadcasting them on their feed to their entire network. Though many are claiming this is Facebook’s version of SnapChat (which it recently tried to purchase for $3 billion), there are differences. You cannot mark up photos with avatars or text and the images do not disappear.

Twitter “See It” Button Adds More TV Networks and Cable Companies
Comcast is expanding its See It Platform, which essentially turns Twitter into a remote control, by adding several broadcast and cable networks as well as rival pay-TV providers. ABC, A&E, AMC, Crown Media Family Networks, Discovery and Fox Networks will soon promote certain programming via See It, while Cablevision and Time Warner Cable will make the functionality available to their subscribers.

Facebook Videos Now Auto-Play on Mobile
Facebook is bringing auto play for native videos to all users after testing the feature in September. Previously, any video uploaded and posted to the News Feed would appear the same as YouTube videos — locked behind a play button. The auto-play feature is available to most iOS and Android users and will reach all of them soon. Facebook is also currently testing the feature for desktop users.

YouTube Expands Live Streaming to All Channels
YouTube announced its expanding its live streaming service to all YouTube channels provided your account is verified and in good standing. The update also adds the option to launch a Google+ Hangout On Air directly from the YouTube Live Events Manager.

Google+ Extends Reach Across the Web With New Social Ads
Google has been testing new social ads composed of posts published by brands to Google+, which they can now promote and target across the Google Display Network.  Dubbed +Post ads, these new units have already launched with Toyota, Ritz Crackers and Cadbury UK.

Twitter Releases Tailored Audiences Ad-Targeting Tool
Twitter recently released an ad targeting tool that allows advertisers to reach users who have shown interest in specific brands or categories, even off the site, by bringing their own audience data from a long list of third-party providers. Tailored Audiences requires brands to share with Twitter browser-related information through an advertising network partner. Twitter then matches that information with the user’s account to serve a Promoted Tweet.

Global Social Media

Saudi Arabia’s War on Twitter
Saudi Arabia loves Twitter. 41% of online users  in the country are active on the platform. This has renewed interest in the potential for social media to facilitate mobilization in the kingdom. Indeed, The Saudi Twittersphere reveals significant public discontent with the government.  This has caused the religious establishment and the Saudi government to take a closer look at the platform in an effort to ban its use in the country and punish those that use it to express their dissent. The Saudi Ministry has ramped up their  monitoring efforts on Twitter, paying close attention to users with influence. The government has also been recruiting experts to work on intercepting encrypted data from mobile apps including Twitter and WhatsApp. The government also has plans to link Twitter accounts to national ID numbers to keep track of citizens using the platform.

Noteworthy Campaigns

Sprint Hijacks Fans Twitter Feed in Latest Ad Stunt
For Sprint’s latest ad featuring actors James Earl Jones and Malcolm McDowell reading everyday texts out loud, the network is exclusively debuting it on one fan’s Twitter feed. The video launched via a tweet from Sprint to Danielle Gray’s Twitter account.  After tweeting her support for TV ads, Gray was contacted by Sprint and was asked if she wanted to get involved in the “Thinking About You” spot.  Watch the ad here.

Expert Series: Influencer Marketing – Blogger Tips Pt. 2

Written by: Allie Wester
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The following is part of our ongoing Expert Series and features Allie Wester, Fanscape’s head of Influencer and Blogger Outreach marketing.

I recently spoke at Freutcamp, a 2-day creative boot camp for bloggers run by Leah Bergman of Freutcake. From Photoshop skills to tips for better social media usage, Freutcamp covered everything it takes to be a successful and savvy blogger.

Leah invited me to speak about making brand collaborations organic to your blog and content. What follows is part two of the top tips I shared with the bloggers at Freutcamp. You can find part one here.


I’m thrilled when a blogger I’m working with goes above and beyond what we’ve outlined in our contract, and it pretty much guarantees that I’ll continue to work with them in the future. Going “above and beyond” can be something as seemingly small as an extra Instagram or tweet, but it goes a long way!

How else can you get on a marketer’s good side? Send all coverage links. Gather every tweet, Instagram, Facebook update and send it my way.

I like to think I know the blogs I work with well, but at the end of the day, no one knows your blog better than you. Send a recap at the end of your brand collaboration that includes benchmarks and insight like, “This blog post performed on par with other sponsored recipe posts. It received X comments, most of which focused on Y. Pinterest Influencer Z pinned it on Pinterest, which led to over X repins, thanks to her X followers.” Any insight you can give me is GOLD when I’m putting together the final recap. It saves me time and puts you top-of-mind for the next opportunity!

Lastly, consider doing a reader survey. Find out who your readers are – ask when the last time they purchased something from you was. Ask what their favorite types of blog posts are, etc. This info is a great tool to show to brands to help prove your worth. Furthermore, it can also help you shape the strategy of your blog and inform the types of brand collaborations to pursue in the future.


I often find new bloggers to work with via features in traditional media. To help expand your audience and create legitimacy for you and your blog, pitch yourself as an expert or source to outlets and other blogs via services like Help a Reporter Out.

When a blogger has been featured in traditional media outlets, it helps my clients understand just how big and influential s/he is. Blogs are still new to many clients, so if I can say, “Blogger X has been featured in Good Housekeeping, was named a top blogger by Glamour and has done cooking segments on the TODAY show,” it gives the blogger instant clout and credibility.


Think about other ways you can add value to brands beyond blogging. Many of the skills you have are in high-demand now that brands are content creators themselves. From recipe development to copywriting to photography – these are separate revenue streams that you can create alongside blog integrations. Case in point: I met a blogger at a blog conference last year, and took notice of her photography skills. Six months later, I hired her to help with the social photography for a CPG brand I was working on!

To get these gigs – network, network, network. You can do this via local blog events, on Twitter and Instagram, or at conferences. To catch the eye of recruiters, make sure your LinkedIn profile is entirely filled out with applicable keywords. You can also submit yourself to creative/advertising recruiting agencies. And finally, adding your services to your blog and media kit is a good idea, too! Put yourself out there.

Custom Audiences for Facebook and Twitter

Written by: Tom Edwards
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I was recently briefed by the Twitter team about today’s formally announced tailored audience product release. The need to create custom audience segments based off of existing datasets is becoming increasingly important for organizations to further differentiate and target relevant messaging.

Twitters offering on the surface is very similar to how Facebook approaches custom audience targeting but with a few subtle nuances. Facebook’s approach allows organizations to use existing e-mail addresses, phone numbers or Facebook User IDs to create a match with users on Facebook to create custom segments.

This is represented simply by Identify, Find & Reach visual below.

Screenshot 2013-12-05 12.42.33

The way that Facebook’s matching works is your organization would map the selected customer base into groups of people you want to target with specific messages and then upload the list via the Facebook power editor. That data is then hashed via a one way hash. This information is not “kept” by Facebook and a rep recently stated an example. You cannot run sausage back through a grinder to make a pig. This hashed data is then mapped against existing Facebook UID’s and a custom list is created with a match rate of over 80%.

Here is an example of how it works.

Screenshot 2013-12-05 12.44.19

One of the questions I receive a lot on this topic is if the brand has to do this or can it be administered by a third party? The answer is both. Those comfortable with the process can create custom audiences or pass to a 3rd party to facilitate the mapping.

This type of targeting is ideal to pair with paid to deliver a highly impactful message. An example would be taking an offline loyalty database, taking the top 5% of purchasers and create a custom mapped list based on past purchases to deliver a high impact message.

Twitter’s announcement today regarding what they call “Tailored Audiences” is a similar concept. Twitter already has a number of ways to target individuals on their platform.

Screenshot 2013-12-05 13.15.11

What is interesting about their approach to targeting is that they can target off of both CRM and Web. From a CRM standpoint the process is similar to Facebooks’ where offline data such as e-mail is matched against Twitter users to reach them with Twitter Promoted Products.

Screenshot 2013-12-05 12.50.49

Where it gets very interesting is Twitter’s ability to tailor web audiences as well. This is done by a data partner sending anonymized cookie ID lists composed of chosen audiences that is then mapped against Twitter lists.

Screenshot 2013-12-05 12.51.08

With further dependency on paid due to lower organic reach, the ability to target and activate existing assets socially is going to be of paramount importance to the success of going beyond engagement to create intent with targeted consumers. The ability to further align offline & online behavior to those who have shown interest through purchase or other means is a key point of consideration moving forward.

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360