Facebook Missteps: Sponsored Stories & The Omission Of Permission

If you read this blog regularly, you know that I can be a Facebook supporter (some may say apologist), but today I have a bone to pick with it.  

Where others frequently attribute shady intent to everything Facebook does, I see a company legitimately trying to balance the needs of users with the demands of advertisers who fund the free service. Consumers love Facebook, so much so that Facebook now accounts for one of every four page views in the United States, yet you and I pay nothing for it. Or it is more accurate to say that while we provide no cash to Facebook, we do, in fact, pay with our time, attention, data, permission, and clicks (which Facebook converts into cash).

But even Facebook supporters can and should question when the social network takes a step that pushes the envelope of best practices in permission marketing, and I believe it has done just that with Facebook's new Sponsored Stories product. What I find frustrating is how tantalizingly close to perfect the model is, yet the omission of a single feature makes all the difference.

Here's how Facebook Sponsored Stories work:

  • You post a status update about a brand, such as a check-in, like, or a piece of praise.
  • Because that signal of affinity is so ephemeral within the news feeds of your friends (or perhaps may never even be displayed there), the brand can now choose to pay Facebook to turn your status update into an ad. 
  • Your friends (and only your friends) will then see your status update in the right gutter of Facebook.com, along with your name and profile picture.
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Nokia Results: An Ovi Store Update

Nokia just published its fourth-quarter and annual results for 2010. I am not going to focus on the overall announcements and what they mean for Nokia’s device business in particular, but Nokia’s update on the Ovi Store is quite interesting.

Here are some of the key takeaways from a data perspective:

  • 4 million-plus daily downloads on the Ovi Store.This is an increase of 200% from the 2 million daily downloads statistic shared at Nokia World in mid-September. If momentum continued and we assumed an average of 5 million-plus daily downloads throughout 2011, this would represent close to 2 billion downloads for 2011 alone. That’s not bad considering that Apple just announced 10 billion cumulative downloads since the launch of the Apple App Store in July 2008.
  • Good performance in BRIC and emerging countries.Seven of the top 10 most active countries are in the BRIC region or are emerging countries. These include: China, where Nokia claims to be the No. 1 store with 65% share (based on independent research); India; Indonesia; Russia, which sees more than 1 million downloads per week; Saudi Arabia, Turkey, with 1.6 million downloads per week; and Vietnam. One should not forget that growth and volumes will increasingly come from these regions. As a result, developers may increasingly be open to Nokia’s pitch that it offers local reach and global scale. One of the main advantages of the Ovi Store is its ability to provide operator billing (currently available in 32 markets), which makes a lot of sense in unbanked or underbanked countries where credit card penetration is low. Interestingly, 27% of the current downloads come from low-end devices (e.g, Nokia’s S40 proprietary platform) — meaning that apps are not just for “smartphones.”
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New Emerging Media Analyst

Do you have budget to test iAds and play Angry Birds between meetings? Have you checked your brand's Klout score in the past week? In Facebook years, is your social strategy ancient? 

Let's face it: Interactive Marketers have a lot on their plates this year. In fact, according to my colleague Augie Ray, social media marketing gets tough in 2011. How in the world are marketers supposed to stay ahead of the curve when the space is changing so rapidly? It's impossible to know everything and be everywhere. Trust me, I know. 

Allow me to introduce myself, I'm Elizabeth Shaw, the new Emerging Media Analyst for Forrester's IM team. I'm thrilled to be a part of Forrester's dynamic team serving Interactive Marketing Professionals, and more importantly, I am here to help. It's my (awesome) job to be on the front lines of emerging and social media and help our clients navigate new waters, together. As an interactive marketer for the past nine years, I know what what it's like to be under the gun, fighting for budget and educating your team on the changing marketing landscape. I look forward to supporting our team and the chance to work with you!

Adobe/Demdex Deal Is Big News For The Interactive Marketing Technology Ecosystem

Earlier this month, Forrester published a report on audience data management platforms (DMPs) for digital publishers. It’s a testament to the rapid pace of change in this space that our outlined vendor landscape is already somewhat outdated. Last week, Adobe announced the acquisition of Demdex, a pure-play data management platform that’s been gaining traction with both publishers and advertisers. This is the first of what I believe will be multiple strategic acquisitions of DMPs in 2011. Forrester will have much more research on data management platforms and the evolution of media buying later this year, but first a few thoughts on what this acquisition means for the interactive marketing ecosystem:

  • Data management platforms are more than just a shiny new object. Data-driven media buying is real and -- barring regulatory Armageddon -- there’s no turning back for digital advertisers and publishers. The addition of data management platform capabilities to the Adobe online marketing suite does much to legitimize the space and bring DMP technology to a wider client pool.
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Can Paid Search Build Brand?

With the increased acknowledgement of online brand presence, marketers are considering multiple interactive channels to build their brands. We’re wondering, have you considered paid search branding? If so, how are you doing it? And have you found that paid search contributes to your brand’s value/consideration?

We're holding ongoing conversations in our community, so please join us and contribute to this topic. Your contributions may make it into a future report! Please fill out your profile with contact information in case we need to reach out to you.

P.S. There is an interesting article in ClickZ (although dated in April 2009) validating that search can build brand lift. In particular, dramatic brand lift occurs after the click. Does this mean that search contributes to building the brand with both impressions and clicks?

2011 Mobile Trends

In a recent post, my colleague Julie Ask and I examined what happened in the mobile space in 2010. In a new report, we are highlighting what we expect the key trends to be in 2011. While we believe that most of the trends identified last year will continue throughout the year ahead, here’s a snapshot of more specific trends that will shape the market in 2011.

•           The mobile/social/local combo will explode in usage but generate little revenue.

•           2011 will be the year of the “dumb” smartphone user. Thanks to handset subsidies, smartphones will be available to the masses. Expect new smartphone users to be less engaged and active than the first cohorts of Android and iPhone early adopters. The good news is that thanks to customer education and the convenience that these devices offer, even “dumb” smartphone users will consume more mobile media than ever before and will have incremental usage of mobile data!

•           The mobile fragmentation problem will continue in 2011. Prioritizing mobile developments will still be a challenge, and cross-platform development has not yet been achieved successfully.

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2011 Agency Predictions

Over the past couple of years, we’ve seen some dramatic shifts in the agency landscape. In what Forrester has dubbed “The Great Race For Relevancy,” virtually every type of agency is now competing with each other like never before. Social media has become the great land grab and just about all agencies are claiming to be “digital” in some ways. We don’t expect the agency landscape to shake out and make sense in 2011. In fact, we expect more dramatic shifts. Here are some agency predictions for this year:

  • Agencies continue to hire and develop talent outside of their heritage. In 2010 some interactive agencies like Razorfish and EVB began hiring “earned media specialists,” while some PR agencies like Waggener Edstrom and The Horn Group built out interactive creative services. Meanwhile, some agencies with traditional creative heritages like Weiden + Kennedy were pioneers in developing content that is truly agnostic to digital and traditional channels while also interactive (see Nike and P&G’s Old Spice). Expect to see these trends become mainstream in 2011.
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2010's 25 Top Posts On The Forrester Blog For Interactive Marketing Professionals

Now that 2010 is in the books, I wanted to share the 25 top blog posts made on this blog this year. In the interest of transparency, these are not the 25 most viewed blog posts, but they're close. I did some editing of the list, since some of the topics we addressed on The Forrester Blog For Interactive Marketing Professionals are not as relevant today at the beginning of 2011 as they were when first posted throughout 2010.  

What follows are the most visited, relevant, and helpful blog posts of this past year, made by me, Nate Elliott, Sean Corcoran, Melissa Parrish and Shar VanBoskirk.  I hope you enjoy the reading, and thanks to everyone who visited, commented, tweeted, printed or emailed our blog posts in 2010. We appreciate that you find this content valuable, and please consider becoming part of the conversation here on the Forrester blogs or in the Forrester Community For Interactive Marketing Professionals.  


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2010: A Review Of Another Year In Mobile

A year ago, I tried to highlight what the key trends for 2010 would be. I wrote: “I’m not going to say that 2010 will be ‘the year of mobile’ or ‘the year of mobile marketing.’ I think 2010 is more likely to be the ‘year that every firm needs a mobile strategy.’ Mobile is simply too disruptive to merely have a year. After all, who remembers the year of the TV or the year of the Internet? Instead, I think 2010 will be a key year in mobile's transition to center stage in the digital marketplace. A new mobile decade is opening up, and now is the time to start your journey. In the past 10 years, mobile phones have changed the way we communicate and live. In the next 10 years, they will change the way we do business.”

Interestingly, that report — “2010 Mobile Trends” — was one of the most-read at Forrester, highlighting that a growing number of companies are starting to take mobile seriously.

So many things happened in 2010 that it is difficult to sum up the year. However, my colleague Julie Ask and I took a step back to offer our high-level take:

•           New entrants are disrupting existing mobile ecosystems. Non-telco companies, such as Apple, Facebook, and Google, increased in importance as key players in the mobile ecosystem. Together, Apple and Google are closing in on controlling about half of the smartphone market and mobile advertising share in the US and have obtained a lot of traction in Europe and other regions of the world.

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Tablets At CES: Honeycomb Promises Sweetness, Threatens Microsoft

Two words were on everyone's lips today when it came to tablet talk: Honeycomb and LTE, the next-generation much faster network billed as "4G." Honeycomb is Google's first tablet-optimized version of its Android operating system, which will run on tablets like the Motorola Xoom, LG G-Slate, and Asus Eee Pad Transformer. Honeycomb isn't fully operational yet so it's hard to say how well these tablets will perform; early demos show a user experience that looks similar to the Palm WebOS "deck of cards" metaphor for switching between applications.

The Honeycomb tablets have features the iPad doesn't (yet) have, like front and back cameras for video chatting and HDMI outputs for connecting your tablet to your TV. Add in the superspeedy LTE capabilities, which we'll see in tablets in the second half of 2011, and here's what you get: better video and better gaming experiences. Think Skyping and G-chatting with less latency, watching videos with less stuttering, seeing more and more video on sites like Facebook. Not to mention more complex, real-time gaming: Nvidia demoed a concept for cross-platform gaming where you could play a game on your Android tablet with a friend on a PC or Sony PS3 game console.
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