Face Per Click

I finally got round to visiting Internet World yesterday which I make a habit of slotting into my calendar every year. It may be quite a salesy event, but I always come away with some great contacts and a better good insight into what’s going on in the digital world.

These types of tradeshow can be a mixed bag and Internet World is just that. At one end you have established, industry names who promote themselves and their products with professionalism. At the other end you have those who promote themselves with glamour girls a Del Boy mentality. You also have great people like Tony Wood from Vision With Technology whose stand was so busy this year. In the matter of disclosure he is a personal friend, but I’ve worked with him on a number of fantastic projects which his company launched with fantastic results.

So, plug over, on the established side I went to see the social giant Facebook to chat about their PPC and how I could better promote my business. The purpose was to hear it from the horses mouth and not base my theories on what I’d read in the trade press. And I’m glad I did.

A quick chat about the basics had me nodding – yes, I have a page; yes, I am promoting it on other on and offline channels. But an invite to look under the hood of their advertising platform had my inner geek salivating.

One thing that was confirmed was that it’s pretty much the Google approach to paid advertising. Rightly, if it ain’t broke why fix it. But where my interest peaked was with how you can target your advertising. Where Google targets advertising by search term, Facebook targets by a persons interests. And it doesn’t just stop at that – you can drill down even further. Take the example I was given – target by age, location, etc. and then by the interest golf. You can leave it there or you can drill down to PGA, courses, and more.

“So what” you may ask, and “that’s not that different from Google“. Well, in part you’re right. Google does allow you to target a number of search terms and their variants, but Facebook’s way allows direct targeting to a person who is already interested in that term. By this I mean when displaying a result on a Google search that person may have got the term wrong, or they may be looking for something for someone else, etc. Anyway, with Facebook you are getting your ad directly in front of someone who is guaranteed to like it as it’s in their hobbies and interests, and because they’ve given over so much of their personal data to Facebook you can directly target the demographic for your product or service. That, in my view, trumps Google. This is data that marketing departments would kill to get their hands on. Well, maybe not kill, but pay data firms lots of money for.

And no, I don’t work for the PR firm Facebook have allegedly paid to slander Google. I just think this is a refined way of targeting ads. Especially if you take into account the possibilities – target by ‘Likes’, Fan Pages, friends likes, networks…..

Facebook is still fairly new to the advertising game, and anyone who’s seen The Social Network will know how anti this Zuckerberg was. But even with a ‘small’ 250 member team in europe, they are a major contender in this field and one to be thrown into any digital marketing mix.

Here’s a good article from Mashable which takes a look at the difference in revenue for Google and Facebook: http://mashable.com/2011/05/12/facebook-google-revenue/

It’s all go in digital land

It’s been quite a busy day in the digital world. Microsoft acquire Skype for silly money, and Google announce a music service. The question that springs to mind for both – why?

Yesterday it was rumoured that Facebook were courting the debt ridden VoIP provider, but today Microsoft have emerged the victor having bought Skype for $8.5 billion – the largest sum it’s paid to buy any company. I could slightly get my head round Facebook as it would add VoIP and face-to-face into the social mix, but Microsoft I can’t quite figure. It’s as if it saw Apple’s Facetime and wanted in on the action. But Microsoft’s plan is to add it into the Xbox, Windows Phone, Lync and Outlook. I would argue that similar functionality exists within the systems, and haven’t they already got Window’s messenger?! And if the move is to buy the 170 million Skype users into the Windows family, I can’t see that being worth $8.5 billion. That’s a grossly inflated price, a figure that one of Sir Alan’s ‘Apprentice’s’ would pluck out of the air.

And so to Google and their music service – one that has no buy in from the music industry and also no music. Wow. Where do I sign up?! The marketplace has its leaders – Apple and Spotify – who do it well. Spotify may have changed its model, much to some users annoyance, but I’m still happy to part with ¬£10 a month for all that music when and where I want it. There are also rumours that Apple is planning to release its own cloud version of iTunes, so as the leading online music store it would have the market covered. I just can’t see the USP of Google Music unless it’s for Android. The major players (and don’t forget Amazon) do it well at the moment. As I say, at the moment….

That darn green robot

I’ve seen a lot of articles today saying that the Android Marketplace is killing the platform. Although extreme, I think this has some validity.

About 10 months ago I decided to upgrade my iPhone 3G to an HTC Sense. I was intrigued by the Android platform that a few of my more techy colleagues had been glorifying. To a devotee to the Church of Jobs (Steve) this was a brave move, one that proved to be a stupid one. Having cooed over the initial interest in the new OS, the better graphics, and similarity to iOS I began to feel out of place. The fact was, it was not the iPhone and its iOS. The problem – the apps.

At first the Marketplace seemed clunky and then just downright bizarre. A quick search for a yoga app returned some, um, let’s say “interesting” results, and a further search for most of my favourite iPhone apps returned nothing. I started to convulse like Lindsey Lohan on a driving charge. I wanted my iPhone back. This was after four days.

Apple have got it right – moderation and quality rules work. Marketplace may be loved by programmers for its open source approach but this leads to a cluttered and frankly mind boggling store with some very dodgy side streets left to places like Soho. If the rumours are correct and Amazon are to launch an online Android Marketplace, I hope they bring in similar controls to those of Apple. A small change could make it a serious contender once more.

Am I falling out of love with 140 characters of less?

Twitter has always been my social platform of choice. For a time I was a heavy advocate of it’s wonders and how brilliant the interactions and insight it gave me were. But over the past months I feel I’ve entered the online equivalent of the Seven Year Itch (everything happens quicker in digital….).

For me Twitter has stopped being THE platform I want to interact on. This doesn’t mean I’ve turned my back on it or feel the relationships I’ve forged on there are redundant, but it’s the intensity and frequency of what I label ‘redundant’ Tweets that have put me off.

Let me clarify – and there is an element of ‘pot and kettle’ to my statements as I’ve been guilty of posting more than enough ‘redundant’ Tweets. I classify a redundant Tweet as something that doesn’t need to be shared with the world, e.g. ‘I just went to the shop and bought some milk'; ‘I just stubbed my toe and it hurt!'; ‘I just went to the loo’. These are factoids that I don’t really need, or want, to know. I also don’t really want to see entire conversations between people I follow/follow me, especially as most of these seem to gravitate towards fashion, celeb, or what’s on TV at that time (although that has saved me once when I wanted to watch a BBC2 comedy and forgot it was on until I looked at my feed). This has made Twitter feel like a very crowded room in which Tweets get lost and self importance is king. I wouldn’t stay in that sort of room in real life, and sadly now feel the same in the virtual world.

Now before you dismiss me for being a grumpy git, I am not knocking Twitter. I am still an advocate of it, but only if used in the right way. For example, my points above will suit a number of people who want to use Twitter for that means; this blog post is coming from the point of view of a man whose needs and wants have changed.

One area that suits me, and is where Twitter comes into its prime, is as an aggregated, live, citizen journalism news feed. Just looking at how Twitter’s been used in the recent Egyptian unrest is a testament to how it enables people to communicate live, on the ground, where other news sources can’t. Another example is the London student riots that broke stories before 24 hour scrolling news did – in fact, the major news channels (thinking of BBC here) now report Tweets as news (although not always correctly). A blog post just doesn’t have the speed an impact of 140 characters or less.

You could argue that I’m ‘in with the wrong crowd’ on Twitter, and to some extent I’d agree with you, but I’ve met some amazing people on Twitter and have loved interacting with them and even met up with a few in something called “Real Life”. And long may this continue (just look at my Follow Fridays list for some amazing people to follow).

I’ve also moved some of these relationships over to Facebook where I feel I get more out of my personal relationships and interactions. But I should mention that I also fell out of love with Facebook over a year ago and like the turncoat/prodigal son I am I’ve gone back to it with a bunch of flowers and an apologetic smile. Yes, fickle does spring to mind.

I love social media, but platforms are there for different uses. I mean, the virtual world would be boring if everything was the same and new platforms are always popping up to upgrade or replace the redundant (Myspace anyone?). And Twitter is not going anywhere. Research in 2009 said it was reaching it’s plateau of the hyper cycle. Yet reports in 2010/2011 show that although users are leaving in larger numbers, Tweets and interactions are increasing.

But the key to good communication is defining your message before communicating it. As a good friend of mine said to me today when I told him I was writing this post, once you’ve done it, it’s out there. Very true. As Billy Crystals character Harry Burns says in ‘When Harry Met Sally’, “Woop, it’s out there. It’s not like I can take it back”. He also said, “It is so nice when you can sit with someone and not have to talk”.

So please – think before you send that Tweet about that puddle you just stepped in.