Twitter introduces sponsored Moments to help connect publishers with brands

Twitter introduced an In-Stream Sponsorship featured sponsored by Moments for advertisers and publishers to engage their audience with relevant content.

Advertisers can sponsor Moments from premium content partners. Sponsored Moments include interstitial Tweets from the brand as well as a branded cover.

According to Twitter: “The goal with sponsored Moments, as with all In-Stream Sponsorships, is tight alignment between advertiser messaging and partner content.

“By working with premium publishers as part of an In-Stream Sponsorship, brands know exactly which partner they are working with, and can develop deep brand integrations within that partner’s content.”

Twitter tested its new feature with Bank of America’s sponsored Moment from Bloomberg at Davos.

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Meredith Verdone, chief marketing officer, Bank of America said: “We know that decision-makers and influencers are turning to Twitter to keep up with what’s happening at Davos. Sponsored Moments gives us a great new way to seamlessly join that conversation as it is happening. Working with Bloomberg and Twitter helps us bring high-quality, relevant content to an engaged global audience. We’re excited to debut Moments as a key part of our #WEF programming.”

Meena Thiruvengadam, global head of audience development, Bloomberg Media said: “Twitter Moments offers a unique way to curate our content around key storylines and events in a way readers can best understand the most important stories unfolding around them.”

Source: thedrum.com; 27 Jan 2018

Buzzfeed makes headway in China after deal with media powerhouse Bytedance

American media giant Buzzfeed has made a great leap forward into the Chinese internet market after signing a licensing deal with Bytedance Technology Co.

The media company, renowned for its viral listicles, will allow the Beijing-based media powerhouse to distribute Buzzfeed’s content on its platforms, including Toutiao, an AI-operated news aggregator with a reputed 120 million daily active users.

The deal gives Buzzfeed, a site which primarily uses the firewall-blocked Facebook to distribute its content, a significant foothold in the Chinese market.

In addition to Toutiao, Buzzfeed will also gain access to TopBuzz, the English-language version of Toutiao, and short-form video app Xigua Video.

As well as the news and listicle articles, Bytedance will also gain access to Buzzfeed’s franchise of content sites, including Tasty, Nifty, Goodful, Top Knot and Bring Me.

Although Toutiao is one of China’s most popular mobile apps, its parent company has largely flown under the radar until recent times. Last year, Tech Crunch described the company as only recently becoming no longer a secret outside of its home market.

However, its app Musical.ly, a mishmash of homemade music and comic videos, has a user base of 200 million, of which includes significant numbers of youths from North America and Europe.

It has also made other inroads into the West by investing $50 million into Live.me, a mobile streaming app operated by Chinese ad player Cheetah, that’s focused on the American market.

It also paid US$86.6 million to buy France-based News Republic, a media aggregation service also owned by Cheetah. The company also allegedly tried and failed to buy Reddit last year.

Meanwhile, in contrast, Buzzfeed has had a rocky year, having missed its revenue target for 2017, forcing it to axe 100 jobs – or eight per cent of its US workforce.

Having built its brand on the back of getting stories to go viral on Facebook, the platform is likely to see its traffic take a hit when the social network rejigs its News Feed to de-prioritise publishers’ posts.

On the new deal, Scott Lamb, VP BuzzFeed International, said: “We’re so pleased to partner with Bytedance to take our entertainment content to millions of people across China.

“We look forward to meaningfully engaging Chinese audiences in our feedback loop, to learn more about what they love, how they use and interact with our content and what they’d like to see, and we’re thrilled about this first foray into testing our content there.”

Lin Chen, Head of product of Bytedance, added: “BuzzFeed is recognised around the world as one of the original incubators of viral content and a leader in the digital media revolution, and we are proud to welcome them to our growing global network of content partners. We aim to connect our users with the very best content creators from around the world, from individual creators to major media publishers.”

Source: mumbrella.asia; 26 Jan 2018

Facebook Tweaks Newsfeed to Favour Content From Friends, Family

IN NOVEMBER, FACEBOOK CEO Mark Zuckerberg started sprinkling a new phrase, or perhaps a new idea, into his quarterly call with investors. “It’s important to remember that Facebook is about bringing people closer together and enabling meaningful social interactions,” he said. Research, he continued, demonstrates that interactions with friends and family on social media is particularly “meaningful.” The goal of his service is to “encourage meaningful social interactions” and to connect in ways that lead to “meaningful interactions” and let us “build meaningful relationships.”

Clearly something was up. In December, Facebook researchers worked the word “meaningful” seven times into a blog post about the value of social media. “We want Facebook to be a place for meaningful interactions,” they wrote, explaining findings that the passive use of social media can be alienating but active use can be beneficial.

Thursday, Zuckerberg more fully explained how this quest for meaning will be worked into the core of its platform: Facebook is changing the algorithm that powers its newsfeed, the service at its core and the mechanism that increasingly determines how news and information spread throughout the world.

“We built Facebook to help people stay connected and bring us closer together with the people that matter to us. Research shows that strengthening our relationships improves our well-being and happiness,” Zuckerberg wrote in a blog post. “But recently we’ve gotten feedback from our community that public content – posts from businesses, brands and media – is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other. Based on this, we’re making a major change to how we build Facebook. I’m changing the goal I give our product teams from focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions.”

The upshot: The newsfeed algorithm will now give less weight to the popularity of posts and more weight to posts that encourage users to interact and comment. One of the big criticisms of Facebook in the past 18 months is that the content we see in the newsfeed is driven too much by Facebook’s obsession with persuading people to spend as much time as possible on Facebook. The more time people spend in the newsfeed, the more ad revenue Facebook makes. That may be good for Facebook, but, according to an increasingly loud chorus of critics, it’s not so good for humanity.

That’s changing. Popularity may have been the most important indicator when Facebook was small. But as Facebook has become the world’s news and information network, it’s helped make the newsfeed feel like a third-rate tabloid that not only drives the most extreme and polarizing information to the top our feeds, but encourages creators of that content to be more extreme and polarizing to get noticed.

Now, instead of optimizing for how much time users spend on Facebook, Zuckerberg says he wants the time users do spend be “time well spent.” What that means, according to Adam Mosseri, Facebook’s newsfeed boss, is that video, news, and other content from formal Facebook pages will get less prominence than posts from friends and family. It means that the number of comments on a post will count more than the number of Likes, and it means that posts where people have taken the time to write long comments will get more weight than those with only short comments. News and video will continue to appear in newsfeed, but the number of friends sharing it will matter more than its overall popularity.

Newsfeed’s algorithm works by looking at every post you could see—whether posted by a friend, a publisher, a celebrity or a political candidate you follow—and then crunching the zillions of signals you’ve already given Facebook through your past use. The story is then given a score based on how relevant Facebook thinks that information is to you. The algorithm tries to assess things like whether the content is a photo, or a video. Is it about a family member or is it a news article you found on your own? The more Facebook thinks you will interact with that content, the higher its score.

Source: wired.com; 11 Jan 2018

WeChat opens its closed ecosystem for brands

A new feature called “brand zone” allows brands to sell directly to users even if they aren’t followers. Luxury brands are approaching the new function in different ways. Photo courtesy: CuriosityChina

A new feature called “brand zone” allows brands to sell directly to users even if they aren’t followers. Luxury brands are approaching the new function in different ways.

The new feature signals Tencent’s ambition to make WeChat an all-encompassing digital platform, connecting social media marketing, e-commerce, and payments.

WeChat has made a fundamental change to the way it works.

China’s most popular social media app has always limited its posts’ visibility to the sharer’s friends, or an official account’s followers. While this closed ecosystem limits the potential for content to go viral, it has been an asset for the app’s parent company, Tencent, and for users, who have been able to share more sensitive content among smaller groups without incurring the wrath of the government.

During the rollout of version 6.6.1 last December, however, WeChat quietly launched a new feature named brand zone, which allows brands to display their official WeChat accounts, boutique stores, and other customized content to users who don’t subscribe to their content. Instead, users can search directly for the brands they want to visit.

The new feature signals Tencent’s ambition to make WeChat an all-encompassing digital platform, connecting social media marketing, e-commerce, and payments.

According to the China-based digital marketing agency CuriosityChina, the new brand zone gathers all of a brand’s activity on WeChat in one place.

So far, a dozen major international brands have already utilized this new feature, with more than half of them being luxury and premium brands. Early adopters include Cartier, Gucci, Tiffany, Louis Vuitton, Longchamp, Michael Kors, Swarovski, Montblanc, and Lancôme.

On December 21, the official WeChat account of the American affordable luxury label Michael Kors, for example, released a post introducing the brand zone feature to followers. At the time this article was written, the post was viewed more than 14,000 times.

“This new function will allow brands to conduct flexible traffic control within the brand zone as it could be redirected from one section to another. [It is] also a good first step to a traffic monetization,” said Alexis Bonhomme, the co-founder and general manager of CuriosityChina.

A deep analysis of how each brand is utilizing this new feature shows different approaches to leverage and monetizes the boutique store function.

The Italian luxury powerhouse Gucci, for example, redirects consumers who land on the boutique store to its official Chinese e-commerce website, which was launched last July. So does Louis Vuitton, who also opened the first Chinese direct-to-sales website last year.

The prestige jewellery brand Cartier, on the other hand, has decided to redirect the traffic to its HTML5 (built-in web browser) WeChat stores to generate direct sales. And French fashion label Longchamp has linked the boutique store back to its mini program, which allows consumers to customize and purchase their signature handbags.

Similarly, the use of the customized section under the brand zone differs from brand to brand. Cartier once again directs traffic to its WeChat web browser stores, while Gucci sends consumers to its website to view new products, and Michael Kors gives visitors the option of customizing a handbag.

The launch of the brand zone on WeChat is a breakthrough move that greatly strengthens the ability of the app to assist brands’ sales. The arrival of high-end luxury players including Gucci and Louis Vuitton, who have long refrained from working directly with the domestic e-commerce sites like Alibaba and JD.com, further showcases the competitiveness of the retail ecosystem that Tencent has been building.

That media and individuals don’t have the same ability to broadcast to non-followers gives some indication of the direction China is heading in 2018.

Source: campaignasia.com; 15 Jan 2018

1 in 4 phones will have Instagram in 2018

Facebook-owned Instagram will be used by nearly one in four smartphone users worldwide this year, according to eMarketer’s global forecast of the photo- and video-sharing social platform.

In Malaysia, Instagram is ranked number 17 globally by the share of social network users, representing 41.9% of social network users. eMarketer predicts that by the end of 2017, Instagram’s global audience will total 593.7 million users.

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In the coming years, eMarketer expects Instagram’s growth to cool down from the explosive rates seen between 2015 and 2017.

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The primarily mobile-based platform does have some boundaries, especially when compared with Facebook—which attracts considerably more desktop-oriented users and older individuals.

By 2021, Instagram will reach 927.9 million users worldwide, representing 30% of social network users, eMarketer projects. Instagram’s audience in 2017 will be a little more than 38% the size of Facebook’s and more than double that of Twitter, which it overtook in early 2015.

“Instagram’s exponential growth in popularity over the past two years is a direct result of new product updates and features, including Instagram Stories, live video, geostickers and face filters, which have kept its user base active and engaged,” said eMarketer forecasting analyst Cindy Liu. “We see no signs it will slow down in the near future, and Instagram’s push toward international markets will continue to fuel growth.”

Source: marketing-interactive.com; 15 Dec 2017

Consumers willing to share location data with apps despite privacy concerns

Consumer willingness to share their mobile device’s location data with apps has grown in the last two years, although many still harbour significant concerns

The figures come from new research by mobile marketing platform Verve that asked 2,000 UK adults how comfortable they were letting independent apps know their whereabouts.

55% of respondents said that they were more comfortable sharing the information now than they were two years ago, with 73% allowing select apps to access the information. However, only 11% claimed to always every app they use to access their location info.

“Consumers are becoming more accustomed to the idea of sharing their device’s location with apps, in exchange for useful or personalised services,” Ian James, General Manager of International at Verve, said.

“This information is extremely valuable and creates huge opportunities for publishers, but also advertisers who want to engage customers with memorable and personalised experiences.

Trust and permission

Consumers are more willing to let certain kinds of apps gain access to their location data, 40% say they share their phone’s location with weather apps; and a third (33%) with transport apps. Many other verticals are fast leveraging the powers of location.

77% consider how well the brand is known to be a good indicator of how trustworthy they are likely to be with data, although the surveyed consumers had a range of other important considerations. 60% look for guarantees that the information is securely stored, while 59% like to have the ability to dictate how the data is used or have the ability to turn it off.

Another key concern is whether the information is anonymised, which 55% listed as being very important to them.

“To retain consumer trust and permission, publishers must be transparent about how that data is used, and brands must ensure resulting ads are both well-targeted and relevant,” continued James.

“Too often today, location data used by advertisers is not of a high enough quality to support this – the industry has to step up its game to truly unlock the power and value of location marketing.”

Consumers certainly expect benefits for sharing their information with apps, with 38% wanting special offers or coupons and 20% wanting on the spot offers.

64% say that concerns about their privacy make them less likely to share their information location with apps.

Source: marketingtechnews.net; 14 Nov 2017

Google and Facebook commit to ‘gold standard’ to clean up digital advertising

The digital giants have committed themselves to the IAB’s new ‘Gold Standard’ initiative, which looks to “raise the standards” and address ad fraud and brand safety in online advertising.

Google and Facebook have committed themselves to a new initiative by the IAB to address common digital advertising woes such as ad fraud and brand safety.

The ‘Gold Standard’ programme, which launches today (18 October), sees 23 IAB UK board members, including Facebook, Google and Twitter, promise to take three key actions to improve digital advertising:

  1. Reduce ad fraud by implementing the ‘ads.txt’ initiative on all sites carrying ads. This means publishers and distributors are forced to declare who is authorised to sell their inventory, thereby improving transparency for programmatic buyers.
  2. Improve the digital advertising experience for consumers by adhering to the LEAN principles, the Coalition for Better Advertising standards and never using the 12 “bad” ads. In short, ads have to be light, encrypted and non-invasive.
  3. Increase brand safety by working with UK body JICWEBS, which benchmarks best practice for online trading, with a view to become certified or maintain certification.

Initially, the Gold Standard has these three fundamental aims, but could be expanded in future and the IAB will look to encourage its members to tackle other issues such as audience measurement and viewability.

The deadline for implementing the three initiatives will be confirmed in the coming weeks.

Brand safety has been high on advertisers’ list of priorities this year since P&G’s chief brand officer Marc Pritchard issued a rallying cry to the industry to clean up the “murky” media supply system. Meanwhile, YouTube’s brand safety scandal, which saw advertising placed next to extremist or pornographic content, also led advertisers to pull back – with some brands still refusing to advertise on the platform.

“Everyone agrees that digital advertising standards need to improve to keep this industry sustainable and thriving. The IAB Gold Standard is a practical measure that demonstrates media owner commitment to making this happen,” said the IAB’s chief digital officer Tim Elkington.

“Media owners need to send a clear signal to advertisers and agencies that they take their responsibilities seriously to offer the best environment possible so that brands can confidently use digital advertising.”

Source: marketingweek.com; 18 Oct 2017

Sceptical Malaysians don’t believe what they see on social media

Despite high levels of connectivity, brands face a struggle to connect with Malaysians via online channels, according to Kantar TNS’s latest “Connected Life” research.

The findings show that while Malaysians spend 7.2 hours online every day, the opportunity for brands to engage with them there is under threat, as consumers are mistrusting of online content and are sceptical of brand motivations.

The research revealed that sceptical Malaysians do not trust the content they are consuming online, as just 17% of connected consumers consider social media content to be reliable. This contrasts markedly with other Southeast Asian countries such as the Philippines and Indonesia, where 59% and 61% respectively trust social media content. Almost one in three (31%) also have concerns about how much control the social media networks have over the content that they see on their feeds.

“Malaysians spend a large proportion of their day online. We’re constantly connected to the internet thanks to our mobile devices and ever-improving data costs and speeds,” MC Lai, managing director of Malaysia at Kantar TNS, said.

More importantly, marketers need to realise that Malaysians are not easy targets in this digital world. In comparison to other less developed countries in the region, Lai said:

Malaysian consumers are more mistrusting of what they see online, and are more uncomfortable with brands collecting their personal data.
Therefore, he added, brands need to step up the game and demonstrate the value they can bring to Malaysian consumers’ lives if they want to earn their trust and ensure that they are able to use these channels for meaningful brand conversations.

Trust in brands

The study also showed that trust in brands varies significantly between markets. In Malaysia, consumers are moderately cynical, with only 41% of the connected consumer population trusting global brands. This trust level falls significantly in other markets such as Australia (19%), however in emerging markets such as Vietnam, 54% of consumers remain trusting of these brands.

Circling back to personal data issues, the findings show that despite the benefits that can be delivered through sharing data, Malaysians are cautious of how much of their personal data they share online. About 38% of consumers in Malaysia object to connected devices monitoring their activities even if it makes their lives easier, compared to 15% in Indonesia. Over half (51%) of Malaysians have concerns about the amount of personal data that brands have on them, compared to 33% across the region. Malaysians are also found to become increasingly aware of the price they are paying for their connected lifestyles, and many feel on the losing end of an unfair exchange.

Trust is fragile, Michael Nicholas, global lead of connected solutions at Kantar TNS, said. Nicholas added, while brands in for emerging countries see higher levels of consumer trust today than those in developed ones, they should not take it for granted.

“To build and protect trust, brands need to put the customer first. That means understanding their motivations, understanding the right moments to engage with them, respecting their time as valuable, and being more transparent about how and when they collect and use their personal data. Above all, that means putting the customer first – something that many marketers have forgotten to do,” he added.

Source: adweek.com; 17 Oct 2017

Instagram doubles its advertiser base

Instagram says it has doubled its advertiser base over the last six months as it hits 2 million monthly active advertisers.

And the photo-based social network says its users are also becoming more engaged. It claims users under the age of 25 now spend an average of 32 minutes a day on Instagram.

Meanwhile, last month, an impressive 180 million Instagram users visited a website, got directions, called, emailed or direct messaged to learn about a business.

“Now 80% of people choose to follow a business they care about on Instagram, further proving that people are looking actively engage with brands in a meaningful way,” says Jim Squires, head of Instagram business.

“Users are spending more time on the platform than ever before, and we know video is a huge part of that. For businesses, motion is becoming the new filter for advertisers as they embrace Stories to connect with and inspire their customers through an immersive video experience, with 60% of Instagram videos watched with sound-on. We’re excited to see how advertisers continue to use video in creative ways to reach their community.

Source: marketingweek.com; 26 Sep 2017

On Twitter, optimise for engagement, not output

In the Engagement Meter column, Unmetric, a social-media intelligence firm focused on brands, presents trends in social media and recent top-performing brand posts from around APAC. This edition looks specifically at trends, content and hashtags on Twitter.

This edition’s insight

1,507% more interactions on Twitter in 2016 when compared to 2013.

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In a recent study on the American Auto industry, even though the amount of content published by auto companies on Twitter fell to levels seen in 2013, the number of interactions on each tweet has grown significantly. This growth has been primarily driven by more ‘Likes’ (formerly known as favourites) on the content and, to a lesser degree, more retweets. This means even with lesser content, brands are able to get more interaction. This might be a good opportunity for companies to recalibrate efforts and optimize for better engagement.

Top Tweets (Sept 1 through 24)

1. Acer Japan
Engagement – 1,000*

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2. Vivo Malaysia
Engagement – 1,000

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3. Garnier Philippines
Engagement – 1,000

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4. KFC Malaysia
Engagement – 1,000

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5. AIS Thailand
Engagement – 1,000

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Top hashtags (Sept 1 through 24)

1. Oppo India
Hashtag: #oppof3
Number of User Tweets – 15,495

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2. Audi India
Hashtag: #AudiQuattroCup
Number of User Tweets – 10,645

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3. Bajaj Allianz India
Hashtag: #knowyourinsurance
Number of User Tweets – 5,800

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4. Godrej India
Hashtag: #WorldOzoneDay
Number of User Tweets – 5,048

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5. ShaadiDotCom
Hashtag: #realpeoplerealstories
Number of User Tweets – 5,033

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* Unmetric’s Engagement score rates each piece of content from 0 to 1000 depending on the amount of user interactions, which allows easy comparison of content regardless of the number of fans or followers a brand has.

Source: campaignasia.com; 3 Oct 2017