It’s not news that people love to be on social media during big awards presentations like the Emmys/Grammys/Oscars/VMAs/etc, etc, etc. Witness the number of people who changed the Facebook and Twitter cover images to Beyoncé standing in front of the word “feminist” last night, or the Tweet heard ’round the world in llen Degeneres’ Oscar selfie. But merely being the platform that people use to discuss these events as they happen in real-time isn’t enough for Facebook and Twitter: The twin powerhouses of social media are both pushing for new ways to reach people who might not already be talking about the Emmys tonight.
Want to design your own car? Now you can, without leaving the comfort of Twitter.
Acura has taken Twitter cards to a new level of interactivity. Before you could watch media–YouTube, news stories, and Vines– inside of a tweet. Now you can actually make media yourself. As part of a big new multi-platform push from agency Mullen L.A., the brand’s largest marketing campaign to date, the company now lets you configure a TLX inside of a series of Twitter cards. You can pick the engine, steering model, and color. Then, of course, you can tweet your finished “creation” for the world to see. It’s pretty paint-by-numbers and the options are limited. (Sorry kids, no custom rims, seat covers, or spoilers as of yet.) But it’s a small step forward for this highly efficient creative medium. “We see a lot of alignment between Twitter’s active users and people
interested in the TLX. Twitter has interesting targeting options and some ad units that we’ve used successfully but we wanted something completely new to introduce Twitter users to the TLX and jumped at the opportunity to create this card,” says an Acura spokesperson.
Update at 3:00 p.m. PT: Updated with a mention of Facebook’s ad targeting that pulls in people’s browsing history outside of Facebook.
Uh-oh, it’s a bad Monday for Upworthy and other so-called viral sites. Facebook today announced that it’s doubling down on articles with headlines that scream for your clicks.
As of today, the world’s biggest online social network is introducing two updates aimed at helping clean up News Feeds: cracking down on click-bait headlines and encouraging the sharing of articles as links instead of as photo captions.
Let’s break this down.
On the “click bait” front, Facebook defines those as “when a publisher posts a link with a headline that encourages people to click to see more without telling them much information about what they will see.” Facebook says that based on its survey, while links with these headlines get a lot of clicks, 80 percent of its users say they prefer more informative headlines. These posts also tend to crowd people’s News Feeds and drown out other content.
Where it gets really interesting, and possibly a little creepy, is how Facebook determines what links fall into this category. It will look at the “ratio of people clicking on the content compared to people discussing and sharing it with their friends,” operating under the idea that low engagement (“likes,” comments, shares) relative to the click signals click bait.
But Facebook will also look at the amount of time spent away from Facebook while you’re presumably “reading” an article. The idea here is that if you click on an article and are taken to that webpage (i.e. navigating out of Facebook), and spend very little time there before coming back, you didn’t find anything of substance there — this is likely click bait. Essentially, Facebook will now look at your bounce rate from these stories.
When the US Open tennis tournament begins today in New York, most eyes will be glued to marquee players like Roger Federer, Serena Williams, and Novak Djokovic. But as aces and forehands rocket across the net at Arthur Ashe Stadium, executives at Ralph Lauren will be focused on the court’s periphery, where some ball boys will be wearing new, technology-enhanced shirts to monitor their biometric data.
As the New York Times reports, this year’s US Open marks the debut of Ralph Lauren’s new Polo Tech shirt — a black, nylon tee equipped with sensors to track the vital signs of every ball boy. Created as part of a venture with OMsignal, the shirt looks unassuming at first glance: black, tight, and splashed with the company’s classic polo insignia. But woven into the fabric is a conductive silver-coated thread and an array of sensors that monitor the ball boy’s breathing, heart rate, and stress levels, among other indicators. These data are collected in a “black box” attached to the shirt and can be monitored on a smartphone app. This black box appears to be the same bluetooth-based module that OMsignal announced earlier this year. The big difference is that this one has a yellow pony next to it.
What if, instead of relying on platforms like Facebook to invisibly turn the digital knobs that make each person’s News Feed look different, Facebook users could subscribe to different algorithms—formulas designed by humans who could explain their approach?
Publishing has long been about filtering information and bundling content, but it was human editors choosing story packages and placing them on websites or paper. But the specific stories were the body to the publication’s spirit. Subscribing to an algorithm would be subscribing to the sensibility of a publication, or as much of it as could be transmitted by algorithmic filtering.
“What they really want to control is the ability to show you ads.”
“You just have a couple players that are generating massive amounts of content at scale—or in the case of Facebook, controlling massive amounts of content,” said Nicholas Diakopoulos, an assistant professor at the University of Maryland who studies algorithmic accountability. “But if we have a more plug-and-play approach, maybe we can allow smaller algorithm-purveyors to flourish.”
If you were looking for someone to blame every time a pop-up ad mars your Web-browsing experience, here’s a guy who’d like to nominate himself—and offer his apologies.
Ethan Zuckerman, Internet pioneer and director of MIT’s Center for Civic Media, takes to the pages of The Atlantic in a lengthy essay titled The Internet’s Original Sin. In it, he delves into the myriad issues around something we all might generally take for granted: a free, ad-supported Web. He also owns up to having invented that odious pop-up format, which assaults your eyeballs when you least want it (i.e., anytime), while he was working at the early Web-hosting service Tripod.com in the 1990s. (Though, in a moment agency people might find empathetic, he also sort of pawns off the blame on an auto client, who didn’t want its ad appearing on the same page as explicit content.)
It’s worth reading the whole article if you’re up for reflecting on the current, sorry state of Web affairs. Zuckerman includes a lot of smart perspective on topics like meager digital revenues, the stupefying allure of click bait and blasé consumer attitudes about behavioral tracking, along with how all that ties in with broader financial systems—and why it came to be so in the first place. He also notes that the ad-supported Web was borne of good intentions, though as Fast Company points out, that’s a tricky line to walk, given that it was, on some level, always at least in part about making money.
Toward the end of his treatise, Zuckerman even begins delving into other possible revenue models, like subscriptions, micro-payments and crowdfunding—acknowledging the difficulty of finding solutions and allowing that regardless “there are bound to be unintended consequences.”
Writers for satire sites such as The Onion have become so adept at their craft that Facebook users routinely and erroneously share their posts as “real news,” and the social network is apparently testing a way to save those users from embarrassment.
Ars Technica reported that Facebook is testing a satire tag on posts from The Onion and similar sites, but thus far, satire tags are only appearing in the social network’s related articles module.
A Facebook spokesperson confirmed the test to Ars Technica, saying:
We are running a small test that shows the text “[Satire]” in front of links to satirical articles in the related articles unit in News Feed. This is because we received feedback that people wanted a clearer way to distinguish satirical articles from others in these units.
According to Ars Technica, the test has been ongoing for more than one month, and other satirical sites are involved, as well, which Facebook declined to name. The social network also would not say if the satire tag would appear in other locations.
Last weekend, Bloomberg News got ahold of what it claimed was an internal LinkedIn memo where the company envisioned a $1 billion business by 2017 as an “integrated marketing and sales platform” for business-to-business (B2B) marketers, fueled with its $175 million acquisition of Bizo. Business Insider posted the purported document a few days later. Is this vision realistic? And what does it mean for digital marketing and advertising?
What Bizo does is what marketing automation phrase-makers call “multichannel nurturing.” Most of that nurturing drives either email marketing or advertising re-targeting. In B2B marketing, it’s usually about lead generation and email lists — the path from white paper or webinar through Marketo to sale and back again.
There is no shortage of marketers rushing to meet consumers where they live online, to elbow their way in and find even a moment of relevance amidst the cacophony of tweets, Instagram posts, Facebook updates, and every other platform that defines the current age of casual communication.
It’s taken years for many brands to get a handle on just how to organize and create for Twitter and Facebook, then something like Snapchat comes along and marketers are faced with the challenge of engaging via an app in which the content disappears in seconds. And, as with every emerging platform that promises a pathway to a young audience, there’s the eternal challenge: the struggle between figuring out an application that makes strategic sense for a brand, and stands on its own creatively, and just getting the hell on there and getting that sweet, sweet millennial attention. And, when it comes to the promise of the latter, the pull of Snapchat is too strong to resist. A recent Comscore report found that with 32.9% penetration, Snapchat was the third most popular social app among 18-34-year-olds (behind Facebook and Instagram, but ahead of Twitter, Pinterest, and Vine). And if you look at just the 18-24-year-old base, the app has 50% penetration. The company is said to have about 30 million active users and claims that people send and view more than 700 million pictures and 500 million “stories”–which allow brands to create longer narratives that last 24 hours–a day.
Despite being one of the most recognizable brands in America, between 2006 and 2008 Domino’s Pizza was in crisis. When current Chief Marketing Officer Russell Weiner arrived in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in October 2008, he inherited a brand with plummeting sales and a less than stellar image thanks in large part to a lackluster product. A month after he joined the company from Pepsi, Domino’s stock price hit a record low–$2.83 a share in November 2008. Today, it’s up around $72 a share.
What Weiner and agency CP+B did in the intervening years was no less than a complete reinvention. Starting with a very public admission that its pizza sucked, the company undertook a much-discussed revamping of the menu and its ingredients. Just as important, was how the brand got the new product to its customers. Through its pizza tracker and builder tools, the company made online ordering a cornerstone of its business.
And it’s an ongoing process. The brand recently launched its newest iPad app, featuring a 3-D pizza builder, joining successful tools and initiatives like Pizza Tracker, Pizza Hero and customer pizza profiles, as the latest example of how the company is using digital utility and user experience as the basis of its marketing efforts.