By Adam Fraser
An announcement from Periscope this week caught my eye. The increasingly important live streaming channel owned by Twitter has added an editors picks channel to its network.
The trend of human driven curation – as opposed to the randomness and serendipity of the live stream or algorithm which drove social media for so long – is noteworthy.
Over the past couple of years we have seen Twitter introduce Moments, editorially determined streams of tweets around current events and Snapchat introduce its Discover Channel – content partners producing content which Snapchat editorially determines are appropriate for its audience – as well as human curated live stories.
Whilst Moore’s law is alive and well and technology is undeniably changing at a rapid pace, human beings seemingly don’t change as much as we may think.
We knocked the telephone conversation as being out dated and out of fashion yet messaging platforms which facilitate 1:1 or 1:few communications are growing at a faster pace than the traditional social networks.
We poked fun at broadcast TV schedules as being something of the past yet live video and live streaming are key drivers on the attention graph at present (look no further than Facebook’s investment in Facebook live).
And now we seem to be moving from the world of the reverse chronology (luck of the draw) timeline or big data algorithm determining what we see to media gatekeepers doing what media companies have always done – curate the news using human intuition and experience.
The more things change the more they stay the same.
By Adam Fraser
I read an excellent article on WhatsApp in the Guardian this week. A comprehensive and deep dive in to what has driven the growth of this leading mobile messaging app.
I have talked previously about the growth in messaging platforms at the expense of “traditional” social media networks. The world seems to be moving to a world of 1:1 or 1:a few rather than 1:many or 1:public.
This article reaffirmed this trend and if anything showed the trend is gathering pace. The headline (“From Political Coups to family feuds: how WhatsApp became our favourite way to chat”) is a good summary of the breadth of use cases we have found for instant messaging.
The headline user numbers tell a story in themselves – WhatsApp has now passed a billion users and more messages are sent on whatsapp than traditional sms messaging. Its own press release at the time of the 1bn user announcement simply summarised the use case for Whatsapp:
“ensuring that anyone could stay in touch with family and friends anywhere on the planet, without costs or gimmicks standing in the way.”
The same principle applies to social media. The primary reason we use these platforms is to connect with friends, family and people we care about. As a secondary benefit, if it suits us we may also connect with brands while there, but we want this to be on our terms.
Natively mobile, Whatsapp is finding increasing uses in the business world, including push notifications, commerce and most notably customer service, a topic I discussed on a recent podcast.
As Whatsapp founder Jan Koum noted in the article
“In Asia, in particular, apps such as WeChat, Line and KakaoTalk, are not just communications platforms any more, they are platforms for the delivery of content and services. Facebook Messenger is trying to go this way as well.”
While Facebook and Twitter remain broadly public forums which still have their place, the growth of private messaging amongst smaller groups is undeniable. The personalisation and intimacy offered to a consumer allied to the privacy preferred by brands when communicating with customers make this an increasingly important customer service and commerce channel. This will impact usage trends across each of sms, email and social media.
It has emerged that Facebook is writing some significant cheques to content creators. No not for advertising royalty share – for content creation.
Yes that Facebook. The one with 1.65bn monthly users. The one with all the distribution power. Paying for people to produce content. Fair? Yes. Surprising? Yes again.
The leaked information provided to the Wall Street Journal shows Facebook is paying US$50m to 140 media companies and celebrities to produce exclusive video content for its Facebook Live platform.
17 of the contracts are worth more thn $US1m with the top payers being Buzzfeed (US$3.1m), New York Times (US$3.0m), CNN (US$2.5m) and Huffington Post (US1.6m). Mark Zuckerberg has talked often about Facebook’s shift to video content – at a Town Hall Q&A in late 2014 he said:
“Five years ago most of Facebook was text, and if you fast-forward five years, probably most of it is going to be video, just because it’s getting easier to capture video and the moments of your life and share it”.
Clearly the company believes Live is a key element in this; Facebook’s own research shows that, on average, users spend 3 times as long watching live videos as other forms of video.
Facebook’s algorithm is always a clue as to the type of content the company wants users to focus on; currently when users currently go Live a notification is being sent to their Facebook fans and live video is given preferential ranking in the news feed. I would imagine the content producers being paid as part of this deal will be given preferential treatment in terms of distribution.
Facebook has long had an eye on the video advertising market historically dominated by YouTube (in late 2015 it announced it had more than 8 billion video views per day). This deal is the clearest sign yet about how serious it is about building a footprint in live streaming. After years of (at best) sharing advertising revenue with partners, a direct content production payment is an interesting precedent to set. Facebook may yet change the rules – it often does – so there is no certainly such payments will continue once it establishes an advertising model for Facebook Live. But the fact the even the 800lb gorilla of social media is paying for content shows the ongoing tension between audience amalgamation/distribution and content creation quality.
Facebook got to where it is today on the back of our content. It has never paid before to any serious extent (unless my cheque from Mark Z got lost in the post). A very interesting move. And not one which Periscope or YouTube wanted to see.
‘My Feed’ is ABC RN’s weekly look at the curious and juicy things happening online and on 1st July Patricia Karvelas spoke to Adam Fraser.
Adam spoke to RN Drive about Facebook reportedly finally paying (some) people to post content, the top 100 brands and the mushrooming world of ‘martech’.
I enjoyed reading a recent report into social media strategy authored by Social Fresh and Firebrand Group in the USA.
The insights and data in the report are based on a survey of 551 digital marketers, targeting social media brand marketers and decision makers. Whilst 65% of respondents were in the USA, the sample did also cover global participants including UK, Canada, Australia and NZ. The goal of the report is to understand how social media marketing budgets and resources are being used today and into the future.
Interestingly brand awareness was cited as the most common goal from social media (76% of respondents), followed by lead gen (47%), customer loyalty (34%), sales (28%) and customer service (17%). Coming off the back of the mass media advertising era this is perhaps not surprising, but as the industry matures I would expect and hope to to see a greater focus on retention via the customer loyalty and customer service goals. As a medium of connection I continue to see customer service and retention as a key aspect of social business strategy.
As Jay Baer says in the report “The people most likely to pay attention to your brand in social are your current customers. Customer loyalty and customer service objectives are vastly embraced”.
In terms of ROI, Facebook was quoted as the most effective performing network by 96% of respondents, followed by Twitter at 64% and Instagram at 40%. Consistent with this, the top 3 networks marketers plan to invest in over the next 12 months are Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Interestingly, despite the hype, Snapchat ranked the lowest for future investment with only 11% of marketers planning to invest there. Karianne Stinson from Microsoft said in the report “It’s the bright and shiny social network, but I still think it’s lacking from a brand marketing point of view. The analytics aren’t there yet and it’s a difficult channel to show an ROI”.
Allocated time by task showed the top 3 activities performed by social marketers are content development (18.5%), social engagement (14.7%) and publishing to social (12.8%) (I was a little disappointed to see social listening coming in at 5th at 12.3% given its fundamental importance).
Content types not surprisingly had images first (79% create at least once a month), followed by blog (58% – the written word hasn’t died just yet) and videos (46%).
Influencer marketing is certainly the “hot topic” in 2016 but the survey indicates this is an activity for the future rather than one being heavily invested in today, with only 6.8% of a marketers’ time being devoted to Influencer Marketing. As one participant commented “logistics and laws around Influencer Marketing are complex and capricious”.
Overall an interesting and insightful piece of analysis which paints a picture of where the industry sits today but also highlights opportunities for evolution as the sector matures.
By Adam Fraser
A big week for transactions in the MarTech world with SalesForce acquiring Demandware for US$2.8bn, Twitter investing in audio streaming service SoundCloud for US$70m and the big one – Microsoft swooping in on LinkedIn in a deal worth a cool US$26bn, a $US9bn premium on the value based on the stock price prior to the announcement.
LinkedIn has been under pressure from the stock market since its disappointing Q4 2015 results when its share price declined an incredible 44% in a single day. The deal came somewhat out of the blue and has puzzled a number of analysts.
At a price of 7.2 times revenue it is not cheap on any measure. LinkedIn remained loss making notwithstanding its preferred measure of profitability being to add back stock based employee compensation (at which point it became profitable).
Clearly therefore this deal is all about strategic synergy. As well as hoping LinkedIn (with its 400m plus members and exceptionally strong position in B2B) will mature into a profitable stand alone business, the key factor is the way it can help the remainder of the Microsoft product stable.
The most obvious product would seem to be Microsoft’s CRM product (Dynamics). A massive challenge for any CRM system is maintaining accurate contact information – most professionals keep LinkedIn up to date, so by integrating CRM with LinkedIn this becomes an important differentiator against CRM competitors (primarily Salesforce and SAP). Deep and accurate data on this scale is valuable. Other workflow related synergies should also emerge in managing appointments and sales opportunity status – with integration to Microsoft Office also in play here.
There are many other potential synergies, including LinkedIn’s online training business (it recently acquired Lynda.com) integrating with a number of Microsoft’s productivity apps. Jeff Weiner, LinkedIn CEO outlined many ways the companies could work together in his letter to all LinkedIn staff. In particular he noted:
“Think about things like LinkedIn’s graph interwoven throughout Outlook, Calendar, Active Directory, Office, Windows, Skype, Dynamics, Cortana, Bing and more”
For now LinkedIn remains a stand alone service, so don’t expect to see too many changes to user experience in the short term.
In the medium and longer term the potential synergies are certainly there; but the price tag is not cheap and as Microsoft discovered when it bought Nokia – $7.2bn price followed by a massive write down within 18 months – potential synergies don’t always come to financial fruition.
Based on this transaction I would expect to see increased takeover talk around Twitter and Pinterest from here. Interesting and dynamic times as always in the martech world.
By Adam Fraser
Millward Brown and WPP have published their 2016 BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands ranking and report. The annual report is now in its 11th year and provides great insight on the value of global brands across 14 categories.
In an era of rapid change and massive disruption across almost the entire economy, my initial expectation may have been to see a steady decline in brand values as new upstarts nip at the heels of their established contemporaries.
The top 100 brands are now worth US$3.4 trillion and have risen 133% over the past 11 years despite a global financial crisis, resource price volatility, economic headwinds and massive change. The rise in the current year was a more subdued 3% but the absolute trend remains one of growing values.
The report asserts that brand value growth is not just a point of academic interest, but that it is important for the global economy as it correlates with business success and higher shareholder returns. Importantly for marketers the report outlines 2 key factors in building a strong brand – Brand Purpose (standing for something more than making money) and Brand Experience.
Brands that grew in the face of disruption exhibited 3 key trends:
• Disrupt before being disrupted: the 3 fastest growing brands (Amazon, Starbucks and Facebook) each began as a category disruptor but then continued to disrupt once established
• They excelled in social media and digital
• They expressed a clear and consistent brand purpose.
The top 10 most valuable brands are as follows ($US):
1. Google $229bn
2. Apple $228bn
3. Microsoft $122bn
4. AT&T $107bn
5. Facebook $102bn
6. VISA $101bn
7. Amazon $99bn
8. Verizon $93bn
9. McDonalds $89bn
10. IBM $86bn
Interesting to note 5 of the top 10 are in the technology sector (Amazon is listed in retail, but arguably is also a tech business).
Notable other items were Marlboro still featuring in 12th at $84bn (given health trends, somewhat of a surprise to still see a smoking brand so high), Coke at $80bn in 13th (many would have expected to see in Top 10) and Nike down in 24th valued at $37bn. LinkedIn ranks 85th with a value of $12bn.
Australian brands in the top 100 were CBA (64th, $16bn), ANZ (77th, $13bn) and Telstra (78th, 13bn).
The most valuable car brand is Toyota at $29bn, luxury brand is Louis Vuitton at $28bn, global bank brand is HSBC at $20bn beer brand is Budweiser at $15bn.
I particularly liked a take out from one piece of analysis “In the new normal of persistent disruption only brand differentiates”. For brand you could substitute “customer experience” but the sentiment rings true.
An incredibly comprehensive piece of research at 141 pages, jammed with context, thought leadership, demographic insights and sector analysis. Highly recommend and a fantastic reference resource.
— Joshua Tanchel (@tanchel) June 9, 2016
— Scott Monty (@ScottMonty) June 6, 2016