Tumbling Block

Jan 6

Honest Game of Life [Click to read full article]


Honest Game of Life [Click to read full article]

(Source: rocknrollercoaster)

Facebook Is Testing Threaded and Ranked Comments on Pages (via Social Fresh)

Facebook is testing threaded comments with some pages.

This would allow users to reply to specific comments on a page post and break those comments off as a separate discussion on the page.

These threads would appear on the news feed as well. This is currently being tested on a few pages, not personal profiles.

A screenshot below shows how these appear on a Thai page (HT InsideFacebook.com):

Why threaded comments are important

Obviously, from the community management perspective, this will be extremely helpful for direct engagement with individuals on a page. For conversations that branch off of a page post (but may not have anything to do with the post such as negative feedback on the company itself), this will allow the brand to have its response easily found in the thread.

Conversations will be easier to follow and users will receive notifications on replies. This will be tremendously helpful in responding to customer service inquiries where there are a lot of comments but the page’s response might be buried within the regular comment feed.

Additionally, if this does roll out to all pages, there will be ramifications on the analytics and measurement side. Suddenly, conversation threads will need to be measured for engagement, rather than just the post itself.

Most popular thread” will surely need to be highlighted in any metrics we gather for a brand, as this will help identify not only active community members, but hot topics and subtopics.

Some more comment fun was announced as Facebook is also testing ranked comments as part of the comment upgrade. This would put comments with high engagement at the top of a post thread, rather than displaying the comments in chronological order as it currently does.

Why ranked comments are important

This makes the ability to reply to threads even more useful as when there is a crisis or need for a page response in the comments of a popular post, the page’s response will no longer be lost in the comments simply because of time of post.

If a discussion is getting high traffic and engagement on your page, you should be monitoring it anyway as a basic community management tactic. This makes that discussion more prevalent to your page’s other fans when they see the content.

It also forces pages to be engaged in the discussion on their content. While not every post will require a response, this makes it harder to ignore lively conversation on your page. Remember, Facebook doesn’t measure sentiment so it doesn’t matter if the comments are positive or negative, it just measures their engagement levels.

Again, this also will in some way impact Facebook Insights as conversation engagement levels will have to be factored into post engagement levels. A post that doesn’t necessarily get a ton of “likes” could have a lively discussion stemming from it.

The Future of Digital Marketing?

Digital marketing had been headed toward more and more automation, but as online consumers grow more and more wary of blatant advertising (CTRs on paid search, social media, and display ads is way down) customized content is becoming more and more the norm with companies like BuzzFeed leading the way.  Fascinating read for anyone in digital marketing!

Native Advertising: Media Savior or Just the New Custom Campaign?

Publishers and Marketers Seek Solutions Beyond the Traditional Display Ads (via Ad Age)

If you’re having trouble seeing past the glare emanating from some of your favorite websites these days, it might be the “new” shiny monetization method that carries one of the following labels: native advertising, custom content, sponsored content, branded content, content marketing or perhaps the very latest: collaborative content.

While there are varying definitions of each, the underlying thesis beneath them all is that web readers, viewers and social-network users are more likely to respond positively to marketing tactics that don’t look like advertising and instead take the form of the rest of the content on the website or platform. On Twitter, that means promoted accounts and tweets; on Facebook, sponsored stories. And on media properties, that amounts to written, video or image-rich posts that look a lot like the editorial content on the site and which would make proponents of church-and-state divides between advertising and editorial departments cringe.

Mercedes ad complements its content on TheAtlantic.com
Mercedes ad complements its content on TheAtlantic.com

But whatever form these content-centric marketing products take, the rush of media companies looking to invest in them tells you one thing: They believe a sole reliance on display ads isn’t the best way to turn, maintain or grow profits. The question, though, is whether custom content will grow into a go-to revenue source for media properties across the board or just a few select properties that do it best. “The enthusiasm for content marketing is partially an acknowledgement by the industry that banner ads can’t be our best and only answer,” said Jeff Lanctot, chief media officer at digital ad agency Razorfish. “There’s an appetite for finding something new and different to help brands stand out.”

Some, like BuzzFeed, are betting exclusively on written posts or image galleries, on which advertisers and their agencies collaborate with BuzzFeed’s team to create or distribute. A recent one from Campbell’s Soup contained photos of “15 Animals Who Are Behaving Like People.” (No, the connection to the Campbell’s brand is not clear to us, either.) Others, such as The Atlantic, are using advertiser-sponsored articles to drive better results of display ads on that same page, since they’ve found that click-through rates increase more than one-and-a-half times when an ad is placed next to a piece of content from the same advertiser. For example, TheAtlantic.com is promoting a series of Mercedes-sponsored posts that contain video interviews with innovators across different industries.

And then there are those such as Gawker, who say they aspire to have custom content eliminate the need for display ads, though they seem a ways off from realizing that goal. Gawker property Gizmodo has been the home of Intel-sponsored posts, the most recent of which is titled “Photographing Bikini-Clad Surfers in Paradise Is a Tough Job, But Someone’s Gotta Do It.”

Whether the trend is new depends on whom you ask. Detractors say this is a modestly modern variation on old-school advertorials. They also say it’s more about differentiating than real innovation. Randall Rothenberg, CEO of the Interactive Advertising Bureau, contends that custom content is too labor-intensive and cost-prohibitive to widely displace traditional ad units, since advertisers typically don’t run the same sponsored posts across a wide swath of different websites. “Customization passes costs up and down the supply chain,” he said. (It’s worth noting that part of the IAB’s mission is to help drive the adoption of ad-format standardization in an attempt to grow the overall industry — the opposite of customization.) Believers say the approach is different when developed in a way to maximize sharing on social networks, producing coveted, so-called “earned media.”

One way BuzzFeed is trying to fight the scale argument is by testing out running its “story units” on other sites such as The Awl and Demand Media’s Cracked.com in an effort to create its own kind of native ad network. Because it has to pay a revenue split to those third-party sites, this tactic cuts down on BuzzFeed’s margins — which regularly surpass 50% — but extends its reach and perhaps attracts a new set of advertisers. For example, the Cracked.com home page recently displayed a story unit with a “Sponsored by Geico” tag and the headline “The Most Delightful Moments From Your Childhood in 28 Pictures.” Clicking on the unit sends readers to Buzzfeed.com to read the post.

Reach is still critical. If you talk to agencies and brands, few are close to turning their backs on display advertising altogether. One of the more progressive digital marketers, Intel, said display ads will continue to play a big role in its digital advertising repertoire. “We leverage display for reach and frequency and driving to the right experiential destination, whether that’s Intel.com or a custom [content] program,” said David Veneski, Intel’s U.S. media director.

At the same time, Intel has executed custom-content campaigns with more than a dozen different properties this year in an effort to publicize the ultrabook category to millennials. That’s undoubtedly a positive sign for publishers betting on custom content, but Mr. Veneski throws up a red flag when he explains what next year will look like: probably as much content being created, but with fewer individual partner sites. “It’s a tremendous amount of work,” he said of developing individual content programs for each partner site.

The challenges of the content model extend to publishers as well. At The Atlantic, Publisher Jay Lauf says he hasn’t yet settled on the best way to value and charge for custom content (right now, The Atlantic charges a higher cost per thousand impressions, $40-plus, for an advertiser’s ad that runs next to its sponsored content because of better performance.) At BuzzFeed, the business team has gotten used to missed opportunities to connect a specific brand to a timely meme because of agency turnaround times.

"The challenge, of course, is most brands cannot approve a viral sponsorship in an hour," BuzzFeed President Jon Steinberg said. Could Mr. Steinberg envision a day in which an agency or advertiser embeds an employee in a media company with whom they do a lot of business to help expedite content campaigns? While that hasn’t happened at BuzzFeed, CEO Jonah Peretti said his team does meet with some of its advertisers on a weekly basis for this very reason.

If that doesn’t sound like a sustainable way for a new industry to grow en masse, it’s because it’s not. Instead, Mr. Peretti is betting that we will eventually see a rise of agencies dedicated to content marketing, as we saw search-engine marketing shops pop up in the early days of AdWords.

Razorfish’s global chief media officer, Jeff Lanctot, can see this future as well, especially as more of the buying of pixels is pushed through ad-buying automation technologies. “People should manage content marketing, brand integration, social campaigns and other innovative initiatives,” he wrote. “Machines should manage banners.”

What the speed of that transition will look like seems to depend on an entity’s agenda. One year from now, BuzzFeed’s Mr. Steinberg believes most major digital-media companies will sell a content-marketing product. The IAB’s Mr. Rothenberg, on the other hand, sees a select few properties that continue to garner attention for their customized advertising products unique to their environment. At the same time, he predicts “global adoption” of the IAB’s Rising Stars Display Ad Units — a collection of six new ad formats that the IAB has been promoting to drive adoption by media properties of larger, more interactive ad units that big-name brands may find more attractive.”It’ll kind of look like the way media industry is today, where you have a balance heavily weighted toward standards,” he said.

Inside the BuzzFeed Pricing Model

A $100,000 campaign with BuzzFeed typically nets five to 10 posts for an advertiser, according to Jon Steinberg, its president and chief operating officer. But BuzzFeed doesn’t charge advertisers on a per-post basis; instead it charges advertisers a cost-per-thousand-impressions price for the thumbnail images and “story units” on BuzzFeed that tease the branded content and drive people to the posts.

CPMs are also the standard for how BuzzFeed charges advertisers to seed their content into standard IAB ad units around the web, as well as to push content onto the home pages of other sites, such as The Awl and Cracked. (BuzzFeed says these days it’s doing less of the former and hopes to do more of the latter next year.) Mr. Steinberg said the average CPM across all ad units for a campaign typically comes in around $9.

BuzzFeed charges advertisers cost-per-click prices to advertise their content posts in Facebook ads and Twitter-promoted tweets, and cost-per-view charges for branded video that Buzzfeed seeds onto other websites for advertisers.

Lastly, BuzzFeed charges a daily fee to advertisers who want their post to remain fixed in one of the two top paid spots on the BuzzFeed home page. The unit to the right of the main editorial headline (see “13 Animals Who Know It’s Business Time,” above) costs $8,000 a day, but will increase to $10,000 in 2013 because home-page traffic is growing, Mr. Steinberg said. Likewise, the top “story unit,” which appears as the second headline in the stream of homepage content, will rise from its current price of $12,000 a day to $14,000 in the first quarter of 2013.

Social Media Promos are Great SOMETIMES

Love this article, check it out.  It’s so important to provide value to your fans, but there are ways of providing value that don’t involve discounts and giveaways.  Great tactics sometimes, but not every time:

Why You Should Quit Running Those Successful Facebook Promotions (via Social Media Today)

In a recent infographic from Lab42’s blog it was revealed that 34% of consumers like brands on Facebook for promotions or discounts, and 21% of consumers like brands for free giveaways. Doing some simple math for you, that equates to 55% of all Facebook brand Page likes that are driven by people’s desire to get something for free or to save a few bucks. Pretty compelling information, but there are two sides to this story.


I can speak from personal experience that social media promotions and giveaways, if executed and promoted properly, can be excellent fan acquisition tools. Without a doubt, promotions and giveaways are one of the fastest ways to attract new fans to your brand page, and can be run for just about any budget. Three of the many benefits of running a social media promotion or giveaway include:

Fan Acquisition

Acquiring new fans is not only great because it gives you more people to speak with, but it also provides social validation to prospective fans that your community is desirable to be a part of, which should even further grow the size of your community.

Builds Buzz

A social media promotion, giveaway or discount gives you something to talk about and that your community and prospective community members will get excited for and to share with their social graphs.

Creates Value

Creating value for your social communities should be a top priority of all social media marketers. This can be done in several ways such as educating your fans, entertaining them, or in this case, through offering something tangible.


With such compelling evidence to support the value of social media promotions, giveaways and discounts, it can be easy to become dependent on these tactics for growing your community and overuse them. I’ve heard from a good number of people who experience success with promotional programs that they immediately want to execute their next in hopes of achieving some of the same success. This enthusiasm is understandable, but there are some issues. Drawbacks of running an excessive number of promotional or giveaway programs can include:

Community Churn

When executed with great frequency, it will become an expectation of your community that you will be providing tangible value with promotions or giveaways. If you don’t satisfy this expectation, you should expect ‘unlikes’ as a result.

Reduced Engagement

For consumers who are drawn to your brand page because of a promotion or giveaway, their predisposition to engage with your non-promotional content will be reduced versus consumers who are drawn to your community for other reasons.

Attracting Irrelevant Consumers

Social media promotions, giveaways and discounts attract ‘gamers’ and ‘discount hunters’ who spend an inordinate amount of time entering contests or finding discounts wherever they can online. Undoubtedly you’ll attract some of these, which should be taken into account when measuring basic success metrics.

Additional Costs

By the very nature of promotions, giveaways and discounts, there are hard costs involved beyond existing overhead. Be ready for these, and when you’re building your budgets, be sure to plan for lesser thought of costs such as fulfillment, legal council, and any necessary regulatory filings.

Don’t take this post as my advising against running a social media promotion, giveaway or discount-based program. If executed properly, these can be fantastic for attracting new consumers to your community, rewarding existing fans, and building your brand, to list a few positives. This said, be careful to not over rely on these activities and ignore a better-balanced strategy including the creation of meaningful content and relationship building.

No, Google Shouldn’t Open Retail Stores

"Google is half-pregnant in the gadget business."

Interesting take, and I half-agree with this article.  Yes, Google is unlikely to see success without a place to showcase their products, but Google’s business model is not set up to support physical retail stores.  Maybe through an outside partner, this would work, but launching a Google store is a big step that requires a lot of resources to support.

Check out Business Insider’s article below.  What do you think of this idea?

Nexus 4

T Mobile

The new Nexus. It looks beautiful! You’ll never buy one.

Google rolled out a slate of new “Nexus” tablets and smartphones today.

At least at a glance, the gadgets look highly competitive with—if not better than—Apple’s recent slate of new gadgets. Google’s new gadgets also seem to be considerably cheaper. And have some features Apple’s don’t have.

So the launch of this new slate of Google gadgets will probably trigger an ephemeral orgasm of praise in certain corners of the tech press…

And then they’ll be completely forgotten.


Because, in the case of the tablets, no one knows where or how to try them and buy them.

And because, in the case of the phones, Google is still working with only one small carrier (T-Mobile) and otherwise hallucinating that it will be able to persuade people to pony up for an “unlocked” phone they haven’t tried and buy it without a carrier subsidy—something that only a tiny segment of the phone market would even think of doing.

For most people, trying a tablet is an important part of buying a tablet. You don’t want to drop $200-$800 on something unless you’re confident you like it. And some of the folks in the tablet business—namely Apple and Microsoft, but especially Apple—now have physical stores in which you can try and then buy their tablets. But Google doesn’t.*

Yes, Google sells its tablets through Office Depot and other quasi-irrelevant physical electronics dealers.  But so does everyone else. And the salespeople at Office Depot have a lot of tablets they can comfortably recommend before they ever get to a Google tablet.

The way most people buy phones, meanwhile, is by going to their wireless carrier’s stores (or a wireless carrier’s stores), trying a few phones, and then buying one for $199 or less with a two-year contract. The only carrier that Google is doing that with is T-Mobile. Otherwise, Google wants you to buy the phone from Google.com for ~$300 and then go get a contract with a carrier somewhere. Very, very few potential buyers will do that.

(Yes, ~$300 is a great deal for an unlocked high-end phone—much cheaper than the ~$600 unlocked iPhone. But the point is that most people would rather have a subsidized $200 phone with a contract than a ~$300 phone without a contract. These folks are going to have to pay some carrier a bill every month regardless, so what difference does it make if they’re locked in for a little while?)

In other words, right now, Google is half-pregnant in the gadget business.

Google is building great gadgets, but it has no real distribution system through which to sell them.

So a reasonable question for Google is:

"What are you really doing here?"

Is Google just fooling around?

Or is Google going to suck it up, put its carrier-disruption dreams on hold**, and pay the real price of admission to today’s smartphone and tablet manufacturing business—building out a major distribution system?

* Yes, as many of you will rightly point out, there is another gadget seller in the marketplace that doesn’t have physical stores or carrier distribution—Amazon. But Amazon has a few things that Google doesn’t have: 1) The world’s biggest online store, and 2) 100s of millions of customers who have been buying media and gadgets from Amazon for years. Those are both huge advantages. But Apple’s physical stores have become such a competitive weapon that even Amazon has got to wonder from time to time whether it should be building out some stores.

** Sometime soon, perhaps next year, someone will take the next step in the smartphone-carrier-disruption dream, which will be to buy up a huge block of wholesale data and resell it to consumers who buy unlocked smartphones, thus alleviating the need for any sort of “voice” contract. (Folks can just use Skype or Google Voice or something). Amazon is in a great position to do this, as is Google. But no one’s taken the plunge yet.


My predictions for iPhone/iPad screen sizes after the release of the iPad mini


My predictions for iPhone/iPad screen sizes after the release of the iPad mini


NHL Draws Fan Ire With Instagram Meme Fail (via Mashable)

The NHL wants hockey fans to “keep calm and pin on” while the labor dispute that’s already cost the league more than two hundred games continues to drag on. But a Wednesday morning Instagram post (seen at right, and linked here) encouraging its 81,000 followers to do so by checking out the NHL’s Pinterest page backfired and drew a barrage of cynicism, snark and animosity online.

The post was a play on the popular — some might say played out — “Keep Calm and Fill-in-the-blank On” meme that’s derived from an World War II British propaganda poster reading “Keep Calm and Carry On.”

That format lent itself well to mockery, however, from people ticked off that the NHL would issue a call to Pinterest action while depriving sports fans of actual hockey games.

“Keep calm and eat shit NHL,” read one user comment. “Keep calm and get the lockout over with!” read another. Most of the 150-plus comments the photo had received by mid-morning expressed similar sentiment.

The lockout is currently in its 39th day, as players and owners try to reach a suitable labor agreement. Central points of contention include how to split league revenue and the maximum length of player contracts.

Facebook Messages Update Rolls Out To More Users (via Mashable)

We’re closer to seeing a widespread updated version of Facebook Messages.

In August Facebook announced that it would be giving Facebook Messages a whole new look, but didn’t announce when it would be bringing that look to users. Two months later, most Facebook users appear to have still not received the update.

The announcement in August teased a new side-by-side layout to messages, allowing you to see your most recent conversations on the left side of the screen and see a whole conversation on the right. It also allows you to insert photos and emoticons into messages.

Search and Navigation will also be improved in the updated Messages, allowing you to search by sender’s name or keyword from the main messages view, keyboard shortcuts will also be available to access some of Messages functionality.

On Wednesday, Facebook user Interactive Swim posted a picture of the welcome note for the updated Messages which recently hit its page, indicating that the feature may be starting to roll out to additional users.

A Facebook representative confirmed Wednesday that the updated version of Messages will be rolling out to all users. But the representative declined to indicate a time frame for that rollout.