What’s up with WhatsApp Business?

5 reasons brands shouldn’t overlook the text-messaging app.

In many parts of the world WhatsApp has become like breathing; we don’t give it much thought.

It’s such a big part of our lives, we just about overlook it entirely. This was not the case for Mark Zuckerberg in 2014. Facebook bought the up-and-coming platform for close to US$20 billion and just, well, carried on living life. Or so we thought. Many industry onlookers were wondering how in the world Facebook was going to make all that money back.

In January this year, the company finally launched WhatsApp Business. Offering small business owners an opportunity to establish themselves on the platform. Businesses were able to set up profiles, save & reuse responses, and optimise answers to messages through message statistics.

A fast and convenient way to communicate with a small pool of existing customers, yes. But it wasn’t anything new. Small business owners were already, albeit unofficially, communicating with their customers via the platform. The release of the separate app for businesses just made an existing trend more official, rather than adding more value.

It’s the series of announcements that followed in August, that have really got the industry talking. We round up five of the latest developments from WhatsApp that have the potential to change the mobile game for customers and brands.

1. Release of the WhatsApp API: Throwing the media into its first frenzy was the release of the API in early August, targeted at larger enterprises. The API (Application Programming Interface) is the glue, or rather connection, between apps, data and devices. The release of this API is just the starting point to realise dreams of automation and integration with other platforms and systems. For example, at the most basic level, businesses would be able to connect their WhatsApp Business account with social media management platforms, like Hootsuite & Sprinkler, optimizing workflow and communication.

2. Verification Pilot Program: Just like Twitter’s blue tick, WhatsApp Business announced that they would be assigning green badges to businesses they can confirm are legit. The instructions are already up on the WhatsApp Business FAQ page, however the program is limited to a small number of businesses, with no further updates on when another intake is possible.

3. WhatsApp partners with Google: WhatsApp and Google have struck up a deal; WhatsApp users can now back up their conversations, photographs and videos on Google Drive without it eating into their 15GB of free storage. After the announcement both companies came under fire; this free storage comes at the cost of losing end-to-end encryption of your messages. However, the bigger question we should be asking is, what other developments can we expect, or hope for, from a partnership between two of the biggest tech companies of our time?

4. WhatsApp Payment: Although currently limited to India, WhatsApp released its first pilot payment solution to a small number of users this May. Through Unified Payment Interface (UPI), a system that facilitates inter-bank transactions, users can conveniently make and receive payments from people on their contact list. Unlike a regular transfer, UPI’s transfers are immediate, no 3 hour window period needed.

5. Advertising in WhatsApp Status: According to a statement from WhatsApp, in 2019 brands will be able to advertise to their 1.5 billion users through WhatsApp Status ads. The WhatsApp team told TechCrunch, “WhatsApp does not currently run ads in Status though this represents a future goal for us, starting in 2019. We will move slowly and carefully and provide more details before we place any Ads in Status.” Why Should Brands Care?

All of this tinkering offers new avenues for brands and customers, both now and in the future, that goes beyond automatic greetings, responses and notifications.

Source: campaignasia.com; 5 Oct 2018

Facebook has revamped Messenger

Facebook launched a new, simplified version of Messenger, dubbed Messenger 4, which started rolling out this week. Messenger 4 provides a simplified user experience by making it easier to navigate the chat app’s various features. This is a big step in appealing to Messenger users’ preferences, as more than 7 in 10 (71%) say simplicity is the top priority to them in a messaging app, according to Facebook.

The streamlined interface in Messenger 4 will better facilitate communication and discovery. The updated app reduces the number of tabs within Messenger from nine to three — Chats, People, and Discover — which lets users more quickly access Messenger’s features.

For instance, the new Chats tab houses one-to-one and group conversations, enabling users to quickly switch between their group and individual conversations within one location; previously, users had to switch between separate group and individual chat tabs to do so.

Additionally, the new Discover tab enables users to access Instant Games, business conversations, and travel booking features in one location. Previously, users had to switch between a separate Games tab and Discover tab to do those activities. The People tab houses a list of active Messenger users, Stories, and the ability to search for friends — whereas before, those features were scattered between the Home tab and People tab.

Streamlining Messenger’s interface is a smart move for Facebook, as it will likely spur deeper engagement in the app. Since a majority of Messenger users value simplicity above all else, the updated app will likely enable a more enjoyable experience for a large portion of users, potentially resulting in longer average sessions. The streamlined interface could benefit brands as well, since users who open the Discover tab to see the news or play Instant Games could also be exposed to business-facing chats in the same location.

Source: businessinsider.com; 26 Oct 2018

YouTube launches new ad formats to enable better video storytelling

YouTube is introducing more ad extensions to enhance video ads with additional information that will hopefully encourage consumers to take action. Currently, brands are able to add location and form extensions to TrueView in-stream ads.

The new ad extensions will encourage viewers to complete lower-funnel actions such as finding the next movie showtime, downloading an app or booking a trip.

According to Vishal Sharma, vice president, product management YouTube Ads in a blog post, this is in a bid to help marketers become more effective full-funnel storytellers using YouTube’s creative canvas and Google’s machine learning and measurement solutions.

Among the list of brands that have started using extensions for videos ads to bring more relevance to their mobile ads and drive impact on important metrics include Vodafone, 20th Century Fox and Maybelline.

Meanwhile, it also introduced two new metrics – lifted users and cost-per-lifted user to help marketers easily optimise their campaign’s effectiveness and cost-efficiency. Lifted users are the number of people influenced by the brand’s ad while cost-per-lifted user makes it easier for brands to optimise their campaign’s effectiveness and cost efficiency.

Additionally, YouTube is also evolving its Brand Lift solution, a free tool for measuring the effectiveness of video ads, and partnering with big data provider IRi Worldwide to make it simpler for advertisers to measure and act upon upper and lower-funnel metrics.

Based on brands’ feedback, they will be able to set up Brand Lift studies directly in Google Ads or Display and Video 360, and view reporting alongside other ad metrics.

YouTube has also started sending Brand Lift surveys continuously throughout the duration of the campaign to better understand how the brand’s video ads are influencing viewer perceptions in real time.

Sharma added that the company is “ramping up” on its investments in Google Measurement Partners to ensure its advertisers can measure YouTube media with measurement solutions that meet rigorous, verified standards.

Source: marketing-interactive.com; 2 Oct 2018

Facebook Introduces Two New Ways to Buy And Deliver Video Ad Campaigns

Facebook announced that it’s launching two new ways to buy and deliver video ads: In-Stream Reserve and ThruPlay.

With In-Stream ads gaining importance and proving very effective (especially for brand advertisers) Facebook wants to give advertisers more control over the placement of their video ads and how they pay for their ads. Apart from options as to select where their ads appear, advertisers have also shown interest in features like mixed impression cost (CPM), or the ability to buy ads on a Nielsen verified Target Rating Point (TRP) basis.

Facebook is now giving advertisers what they want, with two new features: In-Stream Reserve and ThruPlay.

In-Stream Reserve lets advertisers reach people watching certain publishers and creators. Facebook explains that the placements “are bought in advance and delivered to in-target audiences verified by Nielsen.” On top of that, In-Stream Reserve Categories gives advertisers the opportunity to “choose content packages in specific categories, including sports, fashion/beauty and entertainment, bought in the same way as In-stream Reserve.”

As an option, In-Stream Reserve is great for premium online video and TV buyers and is especially good for campaigns aimed at younger, harder-to-reach demographics, and light TV viewers. However, the option is only currently available for a selected few advertisers who target US audiences.

On the other hand, ThruPlay helps advertisers optimize for completed video views, allowing them to pay only for ads that are watched to completion, or for at least 15 seconds. ThruPlay will now be available in Ads Manager for all video placements on Facebook, Instagram and Audience Network – as well as both auction and reach and frequency buying. It will be available to all advertisers globally in the next few weeks.

Source: wersm.com; 1 Oct 2018

Twitter announces host of new APAC content deals

New partnerships across live, sports, entertainment and news take the platform to more than 50 in the region.

Twitter has unveiled a raft of new content partnerships throughout Asia-Pacific, further bolstering the social-media platform’s stable of premium video content.

The deals, announced at this year’s All That Matters conference in Singapore, range from short- to longer-form video content across Twitter’s focus areas of sports, news and entertainment. They include the likes of Sony Music, Vice Media and UEFA Champions League on FMA Indonesia.

“We are proud to expand our livestream and video highlights programming that is brand safe and will appeal to the audience and advertisers in APAC,” said Maya Hari, Twitter APAC vice president.

In entertainment, new deals have been signed with Sony Music, providing custom content and behind-the-scenes clips from major music acts; Red Chillies Entertainment in India, producing content with Bollywood megastar Shah Rukh Khan; and NBCUniversal, bringing its E! programming onto Twitter.

In sports, Twitter has partnered with FMA Indonesia to provide UEFA Champions League highlights; Fox Sports Asia for Formula One content; and Stadium Astro Malaysia for English Premier League.

Finally in news, new partnerships were announced with Vice Media over content throughout APAC; Network18 in India for video content around major events including India’s budget announcement and elections; and NET TV in Indonesia, which renewed and extended its Twitter partnership around bringing TV programming and bespoke content to the platform.

Kay Madati, Twitter global vice president of content partnerships, said APAC is driving growth for the company. “Our unique and strategic value proposition that positions Twitter as a complement, not competitor to traditional media companies, has delivered great success.”

The new content partnerships take Twitter’s total to more than 50 in APAC.

Source: campaignasia.com; 12 Sep 2018

Social Network Users in Asia-Pacific 2018

Gauging Facebook’s Growth Across the Region

Facebook user growth in Western markets may be tailing off, but that is not the case for Asia-Pacific. In 2018, Facebook’s audience in the region will increase 13.4%—nearly double the rate of worldwide gains—reaching 663.0 million users. India will spearhead this jump, climbing 17.3% and accounting for nearly one-third of users in the region.

Facebook’s growth in India is a result of an expansion of more affordable mobile services. In 2016, 4G LTE mobile internet use exploded in the country after the arrival of mobile operator Reliance Jio and its low-priced data plans. Competitors like Bharti Airtel and Vodafone lowered data costs to stay competitive, which motivated consumers to sign up. Between 2016 and 2018, the percentage of mobile phone internet users grew from 24.0% to 32.3% of the population.

With growing mobile uptake, many of these new internet users also signed up for Facebook to connect with friends and family. New phones coming with Facebook Lite preinstalled was a boon as well. During the same two-year period, Facebook’s share of the population rose from 11.4% to 16.7%. By 2022, continued adoption of mobile internet will further Facebook’s reach to 25.0% of India’s population.

Whereas India represents high-end growth for Facebook, other Asia-Pacific markets are slowing. In Japan, Facebook’s share of social network users will decline between 2018 and 2022, falling from 39.3% to 38.5%. Facebook has struggled to catch up to Twitter and messaging app Line, which built large audiences after the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami damaged traditional telecom infrastructure. Twitter’s 280-character limit has not deterred usage in Japan since Japanese requires few characters to communicate complex messages.

For the most part, Facebook’s expansion in Asia-Pacific will be based on the maturation of mobile broadband coverage. For example, user growth in developing Asia-Pacific markets like Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam will outpace Facebook’s worldwide growth of 7.7% in 2018. Together, these countries will add 16.6 million users this year.

Although Facebook’s penetration of Asia-Pacific appears low at 44.5% of social network users, this is due to China’s ban on the platform. Excluding China, Facebook will actually reach 81.2% of social network users in the region.

It’s worth noting that some of Facebook’s growth can be attributed to Facebook Lite. The data-efficient Facebook app reportedly has over 200 million users and remains critical for usage in 2G and 3G areas cross Asia-Pacific. Facebook is looking to replicate its success with the release of Instagram Lite, which arrived in June 2018.

It’s too early to tell what impact Instagram Lite will have, but growth for Instagram in Asia-Pacific will be strong this year, rising 24.6% to 216.9 million users. Increases will be fastest in India (48.3%) and Vietnam (21.3%)—again, driven by improving mobile internet coverage. By the end of 2018, 26.6% of social network users in the region (excluding China) will use Instagram.

Source: emarketer.com; 12 Sep 2018

Messaging Is Back

Mobile messaging is the number one trend that marketers cannot afford to ignore.

Over the past several years, the proliferation of chat apps, SMS, and social messaging platforms like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp have largely displaced this more traditional form of online messaging like instant messages and email. In 2016, instant messaging and texting (e.g., SMS and chat apps) were the first things 35% of Americans checked in the morning, according to Deloitte, up from 29% in 2014.

We’ve come a long way since brands dabbled in short message service (SMS) or began exploring communications tied to branded apps. We are in the midst of an undeniable resurgence for one of mobile’s original and most defining functions. It’s a renaissance of messaging.

What’s Old is New Again

We first saw the height of text messaging come into play at the turn of the century. Text messaging grew massively in the 2000s, with TV programs like “American Idol” inviting the public to vote for their favourite contestants via text and then-U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama announcing Joe Biden as his running mate through the use of bulk text messaging.

But even at its peak, text messaging had its challenges, such as SMS charges or the risk of users going over their data limits. Now that unlimited texting and data plans reign supreme, and landline bills are non-existent, “going over” is less of a concern. Additionally, a wave of new channels has emerged to complement SMS, including chatbots and mobile wallets.

And while text messaging continues to power the lion’s share of today’s interactions on mobile, new channels and apps centered on messaging have significantly expanded marketers’ arsenals.

Beginning in 2010, messaging and chat apps began sprouting up and attracting users all over the world. We needn’t look further than the impressive sprawl of WeChat in China, or Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp’s billion-plus users to know that messaging — in all its forms — is here to stay.

All of these channels serve as oxygen that fuels the mobile messaging fire, highlighting that all-important, in-the-moment relationship with the consumer. The brands that are ahead are the ones who have discovered that true personalization is about authentic conversations in the right channels.

Embracing the Renaissance

This renaissance of messaging shows no signs of slowing down. More innovation is on the way as new initiatives like Google’s RCS usher in the next generation of messaging standards, and voice assistants like Amazon’s Alexa become more sophisticated to make voice commands a mainstream form of messaging. Additionally, conversational commerce, meaning the use of messaging to market and sell, is a largely untapped opportunity in the U.S. — and a sizable one at that, especially if brands’ reported successes on WeChat in China is any indication.

Here are three ways marketers can embrace this renaissance:

1. Leverage existing infrastructure: Building a chatbot in Messenger or creating a digital loyalty program in Apple Wallet and Google Pay doesn’t require you to build from scratch, and you can ramp up quickly by integrating these services into your cloud platform.

2. Make messaging a part of your mobile engagement strategy — quickly: The proliferation of messaging channels and apps is a blessing and a curse. Each brand needs to be strategic about where to play, which is why building a multi-channel view of the customer, complete with their preferred messaging apps and channels, is critical.

3. Build a 1:1 relationship with consumers: To activate a multi-channel understanding of consumers, marketers need robust CRM capabilities to deliver the right message, at the right time, on the right channel.

Thriving in this golden era of messaging is not as simple as firing off messages. It requires a multi-channel understanding of your customers. This view should include: real-time insights, analytics to measure impact and a comprehensive multi-channel strategy to reach the right customers at the right time.

Source: vibes.com; 4 May 2018

Facebook rolls out Watch video platform to Asia-Pacific

Ad Breaks program expands to ANZ now and Thailand in September, sharing revenue with publishers and creators.

Facebook Watch, the rival to YouTube that the social network launched in the US a year ago, is now available in the rest of the world. Watch exists as a personalised video feed on Facebook and is designed to be a social experience, with users able to see comments other people are making on a show.

“We’re excited to announce that we’re making Facebook Watch available everywhere, giving people in Asia Pacific a new way to discover great videos and interact with friends, creators, and other fans,” said Saurabh Doshi, director of entertainment partnerships for Asia-Pacific in an emailed statement.

Doshi noted expanding Watch’s availability would create new opportunities for creators and publishers in the region, but noted Facebook “still had work to do.” No Asia-Pacific-specific funded content was announced for the launch. Instead, the global announcement highlighted the popularity in the US of shows such as Red Table Talk with Jada Pinkett Smith and Huda Boss by beauty mogul Huda Kattan.

But all Page videos are available to be published on Watch and Facebook says its focus will remain on video experiences that connect people. As examples, Facebook pointed out creators from Asia like Ms Yeah with over 3.5 million likes and 4.2 million followers, or How to Dad from New Zealand who has built a community of 1.8 million followers.

While Watch has struggled to gain traction with viewers since its US launch, Facebook head of video Fidji Simon said in a blog announcing the move that the total time spent watching videos in Watch has increased fourteen-fold since the start of 2018.

Source: campaignasia.com; 30 Aug 2018

WhatsApp to start making money from businesses

There has been much speculation about how Facebook might monetise the messaging service since its acquisition in 2014 – with the move coming as Facebook’s own revenue begins to slow.

Facebook-owned WhatsApp is finally going to start making some money with new pay-to-use tools that will let businesses talk to customers.

Via the messaging app, companies will be able to send information about products and services, such as boarding passes and delivery dates, as well as providing real-time support to help resolve issues.

WhatsApp – which Facebook bought for £11bn in 2014 – says users will continue to have full control over the messages they receive, and that businesses will pay to send certain messages so they are selective and chats “don’t get cluttered”.

Messages will cost between 0.3p and 7p depending on the country the user is in, with businesses allowed up to 24 hours to respond for free before a charge is imposed.

WhatsApp says messages will remain end-to-end encrypted and that users will be able to block businesses whenever they wish.

The move comes following Facebook’s bombshell second quarter results, which wiped £92bn from its stock market value in one go.

Shares plunged by more than 20% after the social media giant announced its slowest growth in users for over two years, with Facebook expecting its revenue growth to lose speed as users make the most of new options designed to limit advertising, while less profitable overseas markets drive growth.

Facebook claims 2.5 billion people use its apps every month, including Instagram and WhatsApp.

Instagram Stories, which already show ads, is used by around 400 million people, while 450 million use WhatsApp Status.

Around 100 companies have been testing the Status ads feature so far, including Uber and Singapore Airlines, with a full roll-out due next year.

Source: marketingweek.com; 2 Aug 2018

Instagram ad spend growth trounces Facebook in wake of privacy concerns

Instagram’s year-on-year ad spend grew 177 percent – four times that of Facebook – as its owner failed to live up to Wall Street expectations following its Q2 2018 earnings report.

Excluding revenue from its hugely popular photo-sharing app, Facebook reported ad spend growth of 42 percent amounting to $13.23bn (£10.13bn) yesterday which, while on paper sounds reasonable, represented its slowest-growing quarter since it went public.

The report saw Facebook’s stock take a 10% plunge, while the company’s own CFO, David Wehner, admitted that data privacy scandals were a significant contributor, that coupled with other “headwinds”, were likely to impact growth in “high-single-digit percentages” for the remainder of the year.

But while the social network failed to meet the steadfast performance that we’ve come to take for granted, Instagram’s boomed in comparison; impressions on the app rose 209 percent and CPMs (average cost per 1000 impressions) decreased by 10 percent, while in comparison, Facebook’s saw a 70 percent increase in CPMs as ad impressions dropped 17 percent.

But while Instagram is siphoning an increasing amount of ad spend from Facebook, on the scale of things, it still amounts to a relatively small portion. Advertising agency Merkle reports that the photo-sharing app accounted for less than a quarter (23 percent) of spend for the average advertiser bidding on both platforms, while generating 20 percent of ad impressions as that of Facebook, and just nine percent as many clicks as the social network within the quarter.

That didn’t stop BTIG analyst, Rich Greenfield, comment that Instagram had become “an absolute monster” in terms of growth and user engagement, with the photo-sharing app now boasting more than a billion users, having been bought by Facebook for just $715m (£544m) in 2012.

With Instagram roundly dodging any of the collateral impact felt by its parent’s platform in the wake of privacy scandals, the proliferation of fake news, and GDPR potentially being the root cause of its loss of some three million users daily in Europe (despite a global increase of 11 percent), it’s likely Facebook will be leaning on Instagram’s growing contributions for the remainder of the year.

Source: marketingtechnews.net; 26 July 2018