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Weekly Digital Breakdown

Snapchat Develops Its Own Mobile Network

Snapchat made a big announcement on Thursday about plans for a Snap Audience Network, its own mobile ad platform with targeting across various apps.  The initial launch will be strictly for iOS devices and will extend to Android at a later date.

There are still questions surrounding how this will operate as compared to similar networks.  However it’s projected to compete with Facebook, LinkedIn and Google with the added unique ability for app developers to utilize Snapchat’s same full-screen, vertical video ad format.

The announcement didn’t come with much detail, but it appears to be an effort by the company to help boost it’s own advertising agenda to partner with more agencies and businesses. While there are still a number of unknowns with this new platform, it will be interesting to see Snapchat competes with other social networks and what differentiates them in the space.

https://www.adweek.com/digital/snap-announces-plans-to-build-its-own-mobile-ad-network-to-connect-with-its-audience/

Facebook Exposed for Storing User Data on Public Amazon Cloud Servers

Cybersecurity firm, Upguard, uncovered more than 540 million Facebook user files stored on a public Amazon cloud server this week. Information included user actions on the site, comments and Facebook IDs, all of which were accessible on the server for public download despite profile settings.  Once alerted, Facebook immediately worked with Amazon to take down the database, but cannot verify how this may impact users.

While Facebook policies prohibit user data being stored on unsecure servers, this news adds to the growing data privacy concerns with the platform. After last year’s news that millions of user’s data had been misused by Cambridge Analytica, Facebook audited thousands of third-party data apps and suspended those who were mishandling. Despite continued efforts to protect user data, it appears the extent of the problem may not be fully known at this point.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-04-03/millions-of-facebook-records-found-on-amazon-cloud-servers

Amazon Alexa Advances Healthcare Services

Amazon Alexa users can now utilize the smart speaker for healthcare information with its recently released HIPAA compliant skills.  Users can leverage the technology to manage healthcare needs such as booking appointments, checking a prescription status or accessing stored medical information such as ongoing glucose readings.  The skills are currently only accessible through select partnerships but will expand based on user adoption.

With the launch, some entities are unveiling HIPAA-compliant skills specific to their own recently discharged patients.  Boston Children’s released a skill known as “ERAS” which allows patients and caregivers to ask questions specific to recent patient care records and allows doctors the ability to follow up with patients remotely.

While data privacy remains a huge concern for patients, Amazon confirms data is encrypted and securely stored in addition to the strict guidelines HIPAA puts in place for patient protection.  This announcement is a major advancement in the evolution of remote patient care.

https://techcrunch.com/2019/04/04/amazon-alexa-launches-its-first-hipaa-compliant-medical-skills/

Weekly Digital Breakdown

Streaming Video Exceeds Cable Subscriptions

For the first time, video streaming service subscriptions surpassed cable, jumping up 27% to 613 million subscribers last year. The shift is attributed to the consumers being drawn to services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime for the 24/7 accessibility across devices and original programming.   This trend further is likely to continue as more cable subscribers “cut the cord” and rely on digital video for programming.

ttps://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-03-21/netflix-s-growth-helps-streaming-eclipse-cable-subscriptions

McDonalds Uses AI to Drive Personalization

In an aggressive move to integrate a more tailored dining experience, McDonalds acquired the personalization company, Dynamic Yield.  This technology will be used to create a dynamic menu that will adjust to variables such as weather, time of day or trending menu items.  It will also aid in upselling, or suggesting additional items that compliment your selections. They will begin leveraging the technology for drive-thru customers and plan to expand to self-serve kiosks and the mobile app.  McDonalds plans to roll out the new technology in the US throughout 2019 to increase customer service and clearly distinguish the company from competitors.

https://techcrunch.com/2019/03/25/mcdonalds-acquires-dynamic-yield/

Big News From Apple

On March 25th, Apple introduced its streaming service, Apple News+ to the public.  While some industry insiders remain skeptical about the announcement, publishers are hoping to use the service to expand their audience and drive digital subscriptions.  Apple News+ includes over 300 magazines and select newspapers for a monthly fee. Publishers view this as an opportunity to reach and engage a news centric audience, driving their own revenue through advertisements.  While the audience is shared across multiple publishers, this approach offers the chance to reach readers who may never interact with some publications and gain loyalty. Publishers are not expecting this to be a magic solution but an added layer to in their efforts to increase readership and expand audiences.

https://www.adweek.com/tv-video/publishers-view-apple-news-as-an-experiment-not-a-solution-to-the-industrys-woes/


Facebook Amends Targeting to Fight Discrimination

Facebook is refining it’s targeting options as they pertain to employment, housing and credit advertisements as prompted by a recent settlement agreement with leading civil rights organizations.  Brands promoting these items can no longer target users based on demographic information such as ethnicity, age, gender, religious affiliation or family status. Based on the previous set-up, targeting could include or exclude these criteria or create look-a-like audiences to target similar users.  While Facebook continues to be under right scrutiny for it’s policies, this is just another step they are taking to earn user’s trust and continue focus on data privacy concerns.

https://www.adweek.com/digital/facebook-is-revamping-its-targeting-for-housing-employment-and-credit-ads/

2018 Review - The Year in Digital Marketing

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Digital marketing had a tumultuous time in 2018. Technology moved into new areas for growth over the past year that affected the way we shop, communicate, and live. From the growth in artificial intelligence and automated voice systems to live video and changes in Facebook’s algorithms, it was clearly a year to remember in digital circles. Let’s take a closer look.

Facebook's News Feed Algorithm Changes

This year started with a shock when Facebook announced changes in its feed algorithm to promote more content from local news sources, friends, and family for “more meaningful social interactions.” Facebook also wanted to lessen the number of publishers’ news items in feeds, and the company may have wanted to thwart the rise of hackers and bots as well. Regardless, the January move by Facebook threw a wrench into marketers’ plans for the year, creating a period of adjustment. This link shows all of Facebook’s algorithm updates over the years.

AdWords Grew Into Google Ads

In mid-year, Google announced it was switching the nearly 20-year old brand “AdWords” to the simpler “Google Ads.” Google said the change reflected that its ads are all over the digital landscape now in web display and video ads, text and shopping, and even in app installations; ads are not just words on search platforms. Today’s web advertisers with Google can now run ads on Google’s search platform, on apps and websites, in Gmail, and on a variety of YouTube offerings. The name change represents a shift in digital thinking for marketers, and one that will likely pay big dividends to Google in the years ahead.

AI Technology Growth

Another huge trend in 2018 was the advancement of artificial intelligence (AI) technology by marketers across our data streams. Increasingly, companies are using smart systems, chatbots, and devices for more accurate customer segmentation and improved customer interactions.

We all contribute to the increase in AI when we personalize our recommendations on services like Netflix and Hulu. Other brands including Hilton, Levi Strauss and Co., and Nordstrom are using AI in chatbots to customize sales interactions with customers. Look for this digital marketing category to expand in 2019 and 2020.

Smart Speakers and Voice Search

In just two years, smart speakers have invaded our homes. Today, nearly 50 million Americans own a smart speaker, and that number will likely increase as people get more comfortable with sharing their living spaces with these devices.

Voice search is also growing fast. Web research firm Comscore predicts that more than half of all searches by 2020 will not be done by type or text but by voice. You are already seeing more people at work talking into their devices on search requests. It has become as commonplace as our desktop searches were a decade ago. Marketers will have to adapt to reaching consumers on smart speakers in the home.

Growth in Instagram Stories and Live Video Outlets

Another trend we saw in 2018 was the rapid rise in the use of live video and Instagram Stories. The number of users who create live video on their mobile phones and share with the world rose dramatically in 2018.

Google’s YouTube is the frontrunner in live video, dominating the amount of time spent by users watching video online.

The number of daily active users on Instagram Stories rose to some 400 million, Instagram reported in August. That’s from a universe of over a billion active monthly users. By contrast, Snapchat finished the third quarter with just 186 million daily active users.

Marketers are following those numbers, too. eMarketer noted that 86 percent of marketers use Facebook and almost 70 percent of marketers use Instagram. Only 28 percent of marketers use Snapchat. 

Personalizing the Consumer Experience

A growing trend in 2018 was the increase in personalization in many of our customer experiences. With our mobile devices and search immediacy, we are able to move quickly between purchase considerations and actual purchases. Increasingly, our expectations have risen across all our customer experiences. The winners will be those businesses that can deliver on the personalization process.

Marketers recognize this and have advanced to using SMS messaging, mobile apps, social media, and voice automation to personalize their communications with us as consumers. It’s a world in which we’re becoming increasingly comfortable, and we anticipate more of these personal customer journey touchpoints around us in the coming year.

What Facebook's Targeting Option Elimination Means for Ad Campaigns

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 Recently, Facebook announced it was removing more than 5,000 options for ad targeting in an effort to protect users from discriminatory advertising. Paired with Facebook's spring announcement about the changes in custom audiences, this development has some advertisers worried about the implications for campaigns and reaching consumers.

A Change in Strategy

Once a powerful ad targeting feature, its removal deals a mighty blow to business owners and marketers. Third-party data providers are no longer a viable source, and advertisers don't have the luxury of creating ad targeting based on user data (previously captured both on and off Facebook's platform).

Will this affect audience targeting and social media strategies? The exclusions aren't the end of the platform's ad wars. Fortunately, there are strategies you can still use to reach your target market with Facebook advertising.

Geo-Targeted Advertising

Facebook ads give advertisers the flexibility to target people based on specific location, providing a way to create ads relevant to where an audience is located. Geo-targeting lets you customize and refine options to target an audience most likely to take an interest in your business as well.

Custom Audiences

Here's what geo-targeting does:

●      Engagement: It drives users closer to conversion and targets those who have engaged with your brand. A custom audience is easily created from people who have watched a specific video, for instance. 

Interaction through a social media profile, event, or web page is a good opportunity to nudge people further into the sales funnel. There's no better way to assemble highly targeted individuals than to select those who have already shown interest. 

●      Contact lists: Got a customer list or site data collected via subscriptions from your site? Leverage this data and expand the reach by uploading lists directly into Facebook. Then serve ads to people you know on the platform. If you're working with a smaller custom audience, you can always test the creative methods used to determine which one gets the best response from audiences. Increasing CPM (cost per thousand impressions) bids is yet another alternative to better reach your custom audience.

●      Websites: If you're unfamiliar with Facebook Pixel, now's the time to get acquainted. A snippet of code installed on your website helps to optimize ads based on collected data, create targeted ads for future use, track ad conversions, and remarket to people who've taken some form of action on your site.

Take it one step further with the implementation of a lookalike audience from the same data. This way you can prospect for new customers who match the behaviors of your website visitors in specific geographic areas.

Targeted Interests

Facebook still collects data based on what users interact with while on the platform. The information is segmented according to a user's interests. Since the categories are built on real-time user behavior, using this feature is a good place to start. 

Alternative Advertising Methods

Think the use of third-party data is exclusive to Facebook? Internet giants such as Google use data and targeting options on their own terms. Currently there are no defined regulations regarding the transparency of information collected by third-party providers. Until this changes, advertisers have the green light to access information on other platforms, too.

For example, if annual income plays a major role in your targeting strategy, sites such as Bing or LinkedIn could be beneficial because users on these sites tend to be from high income brackets.

Google Adwords is another can't-miss opportunity. It remains a leader in advertising, and its targeting approaches could help fill the gap caused by Facebook's third-party data removal.

DIY First-Party Data Collection

Most small businesses may not have extensive customer data, so the impact of Facebook's change will probably be felt a lot harder. Facebook once offered avenues to target customers using specific data without collecting it independently. Now, spending more time and effort is necessary for business owners who want to enrich their first-party data stockpiles.

It's just a matter of boosting creativity as a workaround to:

●      Set up landing pages to collect contact information.

●      Beef up email marketing campaigns by running surveys.

●      Engage more with social followers.

In other words, consider going back to the basics. 

What was your strategy before Facebook existed? What if you used an advanced form of interest-based targeting? Brainstorm ideas on how to implement "friends of" segmenting for a change of pace in strategy.

What about retargeting? This is one way to achieve higher conversion rates, and is usually far more successful than demographic-based advertising.

Facebook ad targeting options are changing the landscape of all things digital marketing. Despite this most recent setback, Facebook is still in the business of keeping advertisers happy, so don't lose hope. Meanwhile, make the right adjustments to stay on top of your marketing game.

The Effects of Facebook's Removal of Third-Party Data Targeting

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Say goodbye to data brokers and hello to a new way of reaching consumers. On March 28, 2018, Facebook announced it is banning third-party data targeting starting Sept. 30. The announcement sent a wave of apprehension through the marketing world. But there is some good news: Removing third-party data targeting creates more of a market correction, not a complete disruption. It might even give marketers better results in the long run.

What It Means

In 2013, Facebook launched its Partner Categories, which marked a milestone in the social media platform's partnership with large-scale data brokers such as BlueKai, Acxiom, and Datalogix. When it was created, Partner Categories was intended to provide advertisers with a way to connect in a meaningful manner with Facebook users, and get their brands in front of fresh, new eyes. The third-party data that has been collected has been used by numerous marketers and advertisers to target their audiences.

Marketers will now need to gain their data and information a different way, which is not necessarily a bad thing.

Self-Identified Data Performs Better

As helpful as third-party data might be, it's not the be-all and end-all of data targeting strategies. In fact, many companies leveraging self-identified data — or first-party data — experience better performance and unmatched power in connecting with their customers. First-party data is highly focused, and pulls information directly from customers using a company's website or apps. That's why many in the industry think first-party data is the way of the future in digital marketing.

Not sure first-party data can be effective? Consider this: A 2015 study conducted by EConsultancy and Signal revealed that out of 300 senior-level marketers, roughly 66 percent believe first-party data provides a better understanding of customers, which also leads to better overall performance. So even though losing Facebook's third-party data targeting might feel like a sucker punch for many marketers, it's an opportunity to shift strategies and boost results.

The Consumer Connection

What does it mean for users? Facebook's move to end third-party data targeting comes closely on the heels of the Cambridge Analytica scandal and a few weeks ahead of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which becomes effective for countries in the European Union on May 25, 2018. This new regulation requires companies to get consumers' consent to collect data, giving consumers much more control over their personal information. That might be the largest impact on consumers.

So with its removal of third-party data, Facebook could be setting a new standard for the industry. This means marketers need to change with it, and continue using data collection strategies that best connect brands with potential customers.

About Face: Revealing the Mysteries Behind Facebook's Algorithm

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At the start of this year, Facebook announced an update to its News Feed algorithm, proclaiming that it wanted to give more priority to posts from friends and family that “spark conversations and meaningful interactions between people.”

Facebook reasoned its member community values open expression and ideas, and that communications from friends and family should have highest priority. Users should also be able to customize the way they consume content.

Under the new system users began to see more updates from popular friends on their screens, and less content from those entities publishing public content including brands, companies, media outlets and other information sources. The term “screens” here is important because Facebook now counts organic reach when an unpaid post enters a person’s screen. This updates how posts used to be viewed as organic reach, i.e. when it entered a user’s overall News Feed, which may or may not be seen by the Facebook user.

Impact on Advertisers?

The News Feed changes have had some impact on advertisers although rising costs don’t appear to be much of a factor. For many media buyers interviewed by Digiday, advertising on Facebook is “business as usual.” Few advertisers are seeing higher rates, and in some cases rates are lower. The more important factor for advertisers is aligning their brands to meet the new changes to authentic content in the News Feed.

Let’s discuss some of the main objectives that Facebook’s new algorithm seems to favor when it decides which posts to show specific users.

Key post factors the algorithm likes: lots of likes and shares, videos with lots of views, references to trending topics, content with which a user frequently interacts, engagement from friends and family members. All of these can take different formats. Here are some we’ve seen over the past month:

The personal posts: Organic posts have diminished in favor on the network in recent years due to the proliferation of professional posts and videos from brands and news organizations. But the algorithm change means news feeds will now see more personal story posts from friends and followers. These posts either spark a lot of conversation or a lot of thank you-type responses. In this case, these posts will dominate the person’s feed as well as friends’ feeds. It’s these organic posts that will likely gain in popularity.

Trending posts: Want to know why everyone’s posting about gun control issues in recent weeks? Because it’s a trending topic. Facebook is more likely to deliver those posts to user screens to drive engagement and, in its words, “spark conversations.”

The heavily commented post: If posts can spark frequent comments on a daily basis, then these posts will be seen in more friends’ feeds. Comments mean engagement, and Facebook rewards engagement. Smart Facebook users find that by asking questions on their feeds relating to content they’ve produced, this will most likely result in more click throughs to their content, and more comments on their pages.

Facebook advertisers, page owners and group leaders need to keep up with the ever-changing nature of the News Feed. Here are some good ways to do this:

Analyze competitors: Find their pages, look at their posts, check the engagement levels, see when and how often they are posting.

Check your own Facebook data: Stay on top of your Facebook analytical data on “who” the fans are so you can tie together brand content with relevant content. You’ll be able to find insights about fans’ and followers’ levels of engagement with your brand, time of day for this engagement and levels of clicks on your posts and ads, among other data. To see your data, click on “Insights” and “Posts” in the left page column.

Watch trending topics: There may be more opportunities for brands and advertisers to link their brand to a trending topic. Twitter has a major events calendar it makes public every month and Facebook rolled out a “Trending News” section on its mobile app following the redesign of its Trending results page.

Ad Evolution: The History of Facebook

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Anyone who's seen "The Social Network" has a good idea of Facebook's inception and meteoric rise in popularity. Today, the social network connects men and women of all ages, with nearly 70 percent of all U.S. adults using Facebook on a regular basis.

But this social media platform didn't just change the way we connect. It's also made plenty of waves in the world of online advertising. Let's trace the history of Facebook ads from the basic Flyers in 2004 to the current year, capturing the incredible growth and expansion of ad platforms available to advertisers (carousel, slideshow, dynamic, etc.) from the social media behemoth.

2004: Facebook launches as TheFacebook.com in February 2004. Student Mark Zuckerberg remarks to the Harvard Crimson school newspaper that it might be nice to get some advertising to offset the costs of the servers

2004: Facebook launches its first ad revenue project, called Flyers, which were ads placed on Facebook's homepage. This offered local businesses the opportunity to send ads to a particular college campus. This evolves into an auction model called Flyers Pro.

2005: Facebook starts to offer sponsorship deals to big brands for its Groups section. Apple gets involved, sponsoring a group on Facebook, and agrees to pay Facebook $1 per member per month. The group's membership explodes in popularity, earning Facebook over $100,000 in its first few months.

2006: Microsoft signs a three-year agreement with Facebook to be the exclusive provider and seller of sponsored links and banner ads. In August, Facebook launches its video advertising platform.

2007: Facebook launches its Facebook Ads platform, part of which includes Beacon and Facebook Marketplace. Beacon was found to track online actions by Facebook users on more than 40 sites, even after they left the network. Facebook Marketplace is still with us today.

2008: Facebook launches "Pages," hoping to actively court page owners to do paid advertising down the line. In addition, the network optimizes its service for mobile phones.

2009: Facebook introduces various language ad options and geographical targeted ads options.

2010: Facebook offers its site as a mobile app. By 2017, Facebook has over 1.8 billion active mobile users.

2011: Facebook offers advertisers a desktop ad program called Sponsored Stories. Advertisers' content appears in users' feeds and looks like posts from friends. Unfortunately, users felt misled by the program. Just three years later, the company drops it from its advertising options, after users cite privacy concerns.

2012: Facebook offers advertisers the Social Graph, which brings together data from connections, likes, and follows by users. The data are used by Facebook with advertisers. Also introduced is Facebook Exchange, a real-time bidding vehicle for advertising.

2013: Facebook buys Atlas Solutions from Microsoft for $100 million to escalate its ad-serving capabilities. Retargeted ads start showing up in users' feeds, displaying products and services users searched for outside of the Facebook universe.

2014: Facebook's ad revenue expected to reach $7.7 billion for the year.

2015: Mid-year results show Facebook's mobile ad revenue in 2015's second quarter reach nearly $3 billion, 75 percent of its total ad revenue.

2016: Facebook's international ad revenue in 2016 grows at massively high rates as the rest of the world catches up with Facebook's growth in America.

2017: Facebook unknowingly runs fake ads during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. To help stop any future false ads, Facebook says it will show users which posts on pages are ads.

2018: Facebook continues to expand ad formats, offering 11 different types of advertising options.

Digging Deeper: How to Leverage Facebook's Custom Audience Options

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Is yours one of the three million businesses that advertise on Facebook? The social media giant has a lot of ad power, not just because of its expansive reach, but because Facebook gives marketers the power to customize ads.

One of the most effective advertising tools Facebook has is its custom audiences. Marketers can create tailored audiences based on data, website activity, or app activity.

Types of Custom Audiences

There are three types of custom audiences that you can create:

  • Customer File

The most common way to create a custom audience is to utilize your customer files. You'll upload customer data, including names, phone numbers, email addresses, and Facebook user IDs to build a tailored Facebook audience.

  • Website Custom Audiences

By installing a Facebook Pixel on your website, you can track website visitors and advertise to this custom audience.

  • App Activity Custom Audience

This audience is based on actions taken by your app users, such as in-app purchases or pages visited.

How to Use Custom Audiences Effectively

To get the most out of your custom audience, use these tips:

  • Segment your lists

Once you've created a custom audience, you should segment them into different groups to maximize relevancy and minimize costs. For instance, you could create a segment of VIP customers that buy from you frequently, or a group of lost customers whose purchasing behavior has slowed down.

Once you've segmented audiences, you can create specific ads that speak to each group.

  • Create lookalike audiences.

Facebook can help you find customers that look similar to those you already have. It's a great way to expand your reach. Just upload your customer list and use the Lookalike Audiences to find new customers that resemble existing ones.

  • Upsell to existing customers.

Selling to existing customers is always easier than trying to sell to new ones, so make sure you devote some of your ad dollars to customer retention. Create ads that woo your current customers with discounts or priority access to new products.

  • Learn from each campaign.

As you use custom audiences, you'll watch analytics to see how your ads perform. Start with a small budget and work your way up as you learn the platform and understand how your audience responds. Let each campaign be a learning experience.

Using Facebook to advertise can be a profitable endeavor, but by utilizing custom audiences you're more likely to reach interested customers and get the most out of your budget.

Adtaxi has been named a Facebook Marketing Partner

Facebook Small Business Marketing Partner
Facebook Small Business Marketing Partner

We are delighted to announce that Adtaxi has been named a Facebook Marketing Partner, an honor earned by a select group of companies recognized for their solid track record of success driving exceptional results from Facebook campaigns.

Our mission at Adtaxi is to help advertisers solve complex marketing challenges with custom, performance-driven solutions. Being selected as a Facebook partner further represents what we strive for each day at Adtaxi, which is to arise as a cutting-edge industry leader that breeds success and impact on small and medium size businesses.

The Small Business Solutions Partner Badge was fortified with Adtaxi for our proprietary optimization platform, Magellan, which was created to help advertisers drive conversions and lower the cost of those conversions over time. Initially built to power RTB campaigns, it has now been extended to apply this same methodology to Facebook, allowing us to drive direct response solutions and help advertisers navigate the complexities of digital marketing and the Facebook ecosystem.

“Earning the Facebook Partner Badge is a significant accomplishment for our organization and greatly enhances the opportunity for our Magellan solution,” said Chris Loretto, Executive Vice President of Adtaxi. “We are excited to partner with Facebook and receive recognition for the work we do as an innovator, continuously seeking creative and effective solutions for our customers."

As aSmall Business Solutions Partner, our clients will benefit from our continued commitment to superior campaign management, direct support from Facebook, transparency, training, adherence to best practices and the ability to be at the forefront of the fast-paced evolution that FB is known for.

To learn more about Facebook for Magellan, please visit the Social Media page of our website and check out how we drove a 634% increase in return on advertising spend for a client.