Case study: Domain Sponsored Stories and Custom Audiences drive daily deal sales for LivingSocial

featured imageDaily deals site LivingSocial worked with Facebook ads company Ampush to run Domain Sponsored Stories with Custom Audience targeting to achieve 58 percent return on investment.

Ampush says its campaign resulted in 60 percent lower costs per action than other LivingSocial campaigns that were run by other Facebook Preferred Marketing Developers at the same time. Ampush says the combination of Domain Sponsored Stories with Custom Audience targeting and News Feed placement were key in efficiently driving daily deals sales and new user acquisition for LivingSocial.

With Domain Sponsored Stories, companies can pay to promote a user’s post to their friends if it includes a link to their domain. These posts end up being seen by a greater number of a users friends and can be shown in News Feed multiple times. Because the ads are no different from a friend’s post — except for the “sponsored” label — they often perform very well. Ampush says these ads had 20 times better clickthrough rates than Marketplace ads in the right-hand rail.

domain sponsored story
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Nanigans Ad Engine optimizes for mobile app users with highest lifetime value

AdEngine_Portfolio-280x140Facebook ad company Nanigans today announced a new solution for developers to optimize their mobile app install ads to acquire the most profitable customers and generate higher ROI than on other ad networks.

Nanigans says it considers in-app purchase revenue to maximize the lifetime return on a developer’s ad spend, instead of simply maximizing installs or clicks. Then it uses predictive algorithms and automated bidding and ad management to focus on customers who will generate the most revenue for the best price.

Nanigans pointed to a case study from a mobile gaming company that used Nanigans platform to run Facebook mobile app install ads to generate a 49 percent return on ad spend after three days — compared to seven days on other mobile ad networks. After seven days with Nanigans, the advertiser had generated 78 percent return on ad  spend, and after two weeks the advertiser had already nearly broken even with 91.9 percent ROI.
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Facebook conversion tracking goes live for all ad accounts

conversion-pixel-createFacebook today announced the global launch of its conversion tracking tool to help advertisers measure and optimize their ads leading off-Facebook.

Marketers will be able to use the new tool to generate a unique bit of code to add to any page on their website where they want to measure conversions, for example, checkout pages or registration forms. When marketers choose Optimized CPM bidding, Facebook’s system will show ads to users who are most likely to convert. This is key for e-commerce and other direct response advertisers who use Facebook ads to lead users to third-party sites.

Some of the social network’s top advertisers have been able to work with the company to do this type of conversion tracking for more than a year, and other large advertisers work with third-party ad companies to track and optimize their campaigns for conversions. However, this new tool will allow conversion tracking for smaller advertisers who are using Facebook ads to drive online actions.
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Facebook platform industry hires: Hearsay picks up industry vets; Offerpop grows; Spruce cuts account managers, designers

Social sales and marketing platform company Hearsay Social today announced two high-profile hires: former Google executive Michael Lock as COO and Microsoft veteran Mark Gilbert as VP of Product.

Lock spent eight years at Google building the company’s enterprise business. Before then, he worked for IBM and Oracle. Gilbert led various products at Microsoft over the 13 years he spent there, including System Center, Visual Studio and Bing. He was also responsible for technical and product strategy for Microsoft’s $17 billion server and tools business and expanding Microsoft’s business in Europe and Asia.

Hearsay CEO Clara Shih has experience at both Google and Microsoft, and co-founder and CTO Steve Garrity also previously worked at Microsoft.

Spruce Media

Facebook Strategic Preferred Marketing Developer Spruce Media has laid off at least 30 people from its account management and design staff. The company says it is focusing on its software offering as it finds less demand for managed services, however it says it has not completely eliminated its services business. Read more from Spruce Media COO Lucy Jacobs on AdExchanger.

Offerpop 

Social media promotions platform Offerpop announced three new hires this week.

  • Xiaotian Huo, Developer - former developer at Merchant Plus.
  • Mark Davis, Business Development Representative - former associate recruiter at Dave Partners.
  • Aaron Ketry, Account Executive  – former account executive at Panjiva.

Facebook allows advertisers to customize headlines for page, app and event ads

Facebook will now let advertisers customize the headlines of their ads within the sidebar. This will be available via the API, Power Editor and self-serve ad tool.

Previously ads for pages, apps and events had to use the name of the page, app or event that they were promoting. However, ads linking off Facebook.com were allowed to have custom headlines. Now all of these ads can have unique titles up to 25 characters. This gives advertisers more opportunity to create attention-grabbing ads and test creative variations with different audiences to optimize their campaigns.

We’ve seen the feature live in the self-serve ad tool and Power Editor, though some users report that it has not rolled out to their accounts yet. These changes are also reflected in the Ads API documentation.

Facebook launches PMD Center to help marketers find vendors and software

Facebook today launched the Preferred Marketing Developer Center to serve as a more robust directory of companies, tools and apps for social marketing and advertising.

PMD Center attempts to solve pain points for both developers and marketers. With so many companies offering tools and services for Facebook advertising, analytics, competitive analysis, monitoring, promotions, publishing and more, it is difficult for brands and agencies to sift through and find what’s right for them. A lot of time is spent seeking information and listening to pitches. For PMDs, it can be tough to get the right contacts and leads.

PMD Center introduces expanded company profile pages including case studies, white papers and other links. There’s also an integrated contact form for marketers to reach out to individual PMDs or submit an RFP to multiple vendors. The previous directory did not have these capabilities and was less intuitive to navigate.

The PMD program, launched in April, certifies developers with badges in up to four areas: ads, apps, pages and insights. There’s also a Strategic Preferred Marketing Developer classification, which gives 12 companies access to alpha and beta products, as well as more support from Facebook’s business, product and engineering teams. PMD Center allows marketers to search or browse companies by these categories, as well as more specific services or specialties.

Companies that are not officially qualified as PMDs but build on the Facebook Ads API or sell inventory through the Facebook Exchange are now included in the new directory, giving these companies more opportunities to reach potential clients.

Another significant change is that developers can update their own pages through a self-serve dashboard. This means PMDs can keep their profiles up to date and upload new white papers and case studies as they want, rather than having to request that Facebook make changes to its directory.

As we wrote about last month, PMD Center is one of a number of efforts Facebook is looking to make to help developers and marketers in the coming year. Facebook recently hired a sales liaison to help the internal sales team understand the capabilities of each PMD so representatives can connect brands and agencies with the right vendors. The company also hired a PMD marketing communications manager and has other open positions for a PMD business development manager and a few partner managers.

PMD Center follows in the footsteps of App Center, the improved apps and games directory launched in June. These centers feature more visuals and rotating content to draw users in and help them discover things of interest, even if they’re just browsing. For users who do know what they want, Facebook offers more options for searching and filtering results.

A difference with PMD Center and App Center, however, is that Facebook contracted out the development of PMD Center. UK social media agency Gamaroff Digital built the new directory, so it got a call out in Facebook’s latest developer blog post and appears as a “PMD highlight” on the homepage. This might not sit well with other PMDs.

Shoutlet brings Facebook ad creation to marketing platform, partners with Kenshoo

Social marketing platform Shoutlet today announced new capabilities including Facebook ad creation and social listening, as well as a partnership with Kenshoo Social to provide advanced ad functionality.

These additions, along with updates to its contest-building tools and analytics, make Shoutlet a more full-featured solution for businesses looking for all-in-one social marketing software. Paid and owned media on Facebook increasingly have to work together, and this year we’ve seen a number of companies addressing this through new software and strategic partnerships.

With Shoutlet, basic Sponsored Story and page post ads are available natively. Shoutlet CEO Jason Weaver says the company is still considering what percentage fee it will take from these transactions. For more complex campaigns requiring multivariate testing, advanced targeting or additional tracking, Shoutlet customers can use Kenshoo’s platform, for which they’ll pay an additional licensing fee. Shoutlet hasn’t picked up the Facebook ads badge yet, but the company is looking to become certified in that area, adding to its existing pages and insights badges.

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LinkedIn takes Facebook approach and opens ad platform to developers

LinkedIn is creating an advertising platform that developers can build upon using an API similar to what Facebook has done to scale its business, according to Adweek.

Similar to Facebook’s Ads API, the LinkedIn Ads API allows developers to create ways for advertisers to start and optimize campaigns more efficiently, for example, automatically generating hundreds or thousands of ad variations or setting rules that reallocate ad spend in real time.

This could make LinkedIn more appealing to advertisers and grow the ads side of its business more quickly. By enabling third-parties to sell through its platform, LinkedIn benefits from all the sales efforts of other companies. Facebook has been able to maintain a relatively small sales team because external Ads API companies do some of the pitching and account services work for them. It also creates opportunities for other companies to build ad products to serve niches that LinkedIn might not have put its own resources toward. For example with Facebook, there are now third-party ad tools built specifically for musicians and for real estate agents. With LinkedIn’s B2B strength, there could be other industry-focused tools that arise.

LinkedIn launched its ad platform with Adobe, Bizo and Unified as partners, Adweek says. Adobe and Unified are both Facebook Preferred Marketing Developers building on the Ads API. In fact, the existing market of Facebook ads vendors could help LinkedIn’s platform grow quite quickly. A whole crop of companies have grown because of the Facebook API, and now they have teams and software that are likely to be able to accommodate LinkedIn ads relatively easily. LinkedIn’s platform could help these companies expand their business, especially as brands and agencies are looking for all-in-one solutions. Twitter, on the other hand, does not yet offer an ads API.

Facebook first began working with ad partners in 2009. It officially released the Ads API in 2011. Now there are 51 Preferred Marketing Developers certified with the ads badge, and several other companies outside the PMD program that have access to the API. Facebook earned $3.154 billion in ad revenue last year and has brought in $2.95 billion from ads between Q1 and Q3 2012.

Advertising makes up only about 30 percent of LinkedIn’s revenue. Its recruiter program makes up half and paid subscriptions bring in the other 20 percent. The company has earned $175.1 million from its marketing solutions business between Q1 and Q3 2012.

Unified looks to provide transparency for social advertising with new ad monitor tool

Enterprise marketing technology company Unified today released the latest version of its Social Operating Platform, which includes a new ad monitoring application, improved insights and a self-serve version of its app suite that helps companies amplify their messages by integrating social features.

Unified says it wants to bring transparency to social advertising through its new adMonitor where users can see a record of campaigns by any Facebook Preferred Marketing Developer or Ads API provider. Agencies Horizon Media and Deutsche have been using the tool to bring together data from a number of vendors so they can monitor and compare results.

Unified Chief Product Officer and co-founder Jason Beckerman compares adMonitor to advertising software like Doubleclick, MediaMind or Atlas. He says that although some of the dynamics have changed with the rise of social advertising, the fundamental needs are similar to traditional digital advertising. Brands and agencies are looking for infrastructure to simplify the complex ecosystem of platforms and vendors that have arisen.

Rather than being another ad provider in that mix, Unified wants to serve as a technology platform. Again, Beckerman draws the comparison with DoubleClick, which started as an ad network competing with others but then began selling software that has become the system of record for much of the industry. Unified hopes its system can do the same for social.

In addition to adMonitor, Unified today released upgraded insights and a new “Brand ROI Timeline.” Users can import any third-party data set and assign dollar values to different actions in order to understand the earned media impact of their social efforts over time.

Also released today is the “Amplet Builder,” a self-serve version of Unified’s app suite through which marketers can integrate social sharing features and proper tracking framework so that they can see how their messages are being amplified across different channels.

Unified launched in January and has been releasing updates quarterly. The company, which raised $14 million in June, now has more than 40 employees with offices in San Francisco, New York and Chicago.

N-Play creates Facebook ad tool for real estate agents but needs more transparency

N-Play, a company that builds agent-centric real estate applications, this week launched a new tool for agents to easily create Facebook ads for their listings.

Agents can create free profiles in the Real Estate Agent Directory and then use N-Play’s platform to automatically generate ads for listings they’ve added to their profiles. The platform simplifies the ad creation process but lacks transparency in pricing and targeting.

Agents can create up to six ads per campaign for a flat fee as low as $2 per day. Images and body copy are selected from their profile and from listings that agents have already created, though they can edit them if they wish.

N-Play gives agents an estimated number of impressions that their budget will reach, however, it does not seem to give agents any guarantees on the minimum number of impressions they’ll receive for their daily budget, nor does it make any effort to be transparent about how much of a cut of a user’s ad spend it takes. Agents can get a report of the views, clicks, clickthrough rate and estimated reach of a campaign, but they cannot see how the actual CPM or CPC compares with what N-Play charges.

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