Q&A with Facebook Head of Measurement Research Development and Partnerships Sean Bruich

As Facebook puts more emphasis on monetization and more advertisers are spending on its platform, measurement is increasingly important.

sean_headshot_mainThe social network is still so new and comes with unique ad types and its own vocabulary, so many advertisers still aren’t sure how it fits in with the rest of their marketing efforts. The Facebook measurement team is working to put its ads in a more familiar context for advertisers and apply its research findings to offer better ad types and systems.

We spoke to Head of Measurement Research Development and Partnerships Sean Bruich about the questions Facebook is trying to answer, the value of a Like, how Facebook ads compare to more traditional channels and what needs to happen as marketers begin thinking cross-platform instead of in silos.

The following is an edited transcript from that interview.

Tell me more about your role and what your team does.

My team is the research development team, we also work on partnerships with third-party research companies like Nielsen and Datalogix. Our goal is twofold: to help build the right tools to help advertisers buy media to capture the value they’re trying to get, and the second piece to build out the measurement systems that help quantify that value and optimize campaigns, not just for e-commerce transactions, but a broader set of marketing outcomes like offline sales. It’s pretty simple, we’re trying to solve how you value an ad campaign online if one of your objectives is offline sales impact or one your objectives is staying top of mind. And the second piece is how do you translate all of those things that you know about other forms of marketing and understand whether online is accomplishing those same goals and how you would execute against those goals online.

Facebook roundup: Nielsen report, site governance, Blackberry app and more

Nielsen reports stats on Facebook’s dominance in U.S. – Facebook continues its reign as the most-visited social network in the U.S., according to Nielsen. The service has an estimated 152.2 million visitors via PC, 78.4 million mobile app users and 74.3 million mobile web visitors in the U.S. This is multiple times the size of the next largest social sites across each platform. Facebook is also the top U.S. web brand when it comes to time spent on site. About 17 percent of all time spent online via personal computer in the U.S. is on Facebook.

Facebook puts new policy to a final vote – Facebook this week put its proposed Data Use Policy and Statement of Rights and Responsibilities to a user vote, likely for the final time. Part of the social network’s proposed changes include the elimination of the voting mechanism. Unless 30 percent of users participate in the vote and vote against the changes, Facebook will remove the voting option from its governance policy completely. Voting ends on Monday at noon PST.

New Facebook app available for Blackberry - Facebook for BlackBerry smartphones version 3.3 was released this week with BBM integration, faster photo browsing and an option to unfriend people, as well as an overall refreshed look and feel. BlackBerry users can now initiate BBM chats from the Facebook app, add BBM friends to Facebook, share their BlackBerry pin more easily and see which Facebook friends are also on BBM.

Facebook tries customer service via chat - Facebook is testing a way for businesses to receive customer service over Facebook Chat rather than with a phone call. The program has been in testing for a few months, but was first covered by TechCrunch this week. The system is powered by Salesforce, which Facebook uses internally. Some customers will be pleased by the convenience of chat, while others might find it impersonal and frustrating. Overall, it will reduce call center costs for Facebook.

Judge approves Sponsored Stories settlement – A federal judge has approved a $20-million settlement for a class-action suit over Facebook’s Sponsored Stories advertisements. The company will provide a cash payment of up to $10 to Facebook users who objected to the use of their name and photo in Facebook ads. Facebook will also give users more control over these ads, including a way to opt out of being included in them.

Facebook shares stats about businesses using pages and promoted posts

Facebook today announced that more than 300,000 pages have promoted 2.5 million posts since Promoted Posts launched for businesses in June. More than one-quarter of those businesses have been new advertisers on Facebook.

The stats, shared Facebook’s Director of Global SMB Markets Dan Levy at BIA/Kelsey’s Interactive Local Media West Conference, show the growth of product meant to make Facebook ad buying more simple for small and medium-sized businesses. Essentially, the promote button asks page owners if they want to pay as little as $5 to sponsor a post they’ve already made and reach more fans and their friends. Page owners do not have to go through the self-serve ad dashboard, which can be overwhelming to a new advertiser.

Levy called out other statistics that show Facebook’s growth among small businesses. There has been a 40 percent increase in active local pages since January, and the number of local business pages using Facebook advertising has nearly doubled. There are now more than 13 million local business pages on Facebook, with 8 million that are active monthly.

According to new stats today, a total of 150 million people visit Facebook pages every day, and nearly half of visits in the U.S. are coming from mobile. This is likely to increase as people use mobile devices more frequently and more businesses begin buying Facebook mobile inventory to drive users to their pages.

Facebook also announced that 3 million page owners are using its mobile page manager app, which launched six months ago. In September, page owners gained the ability to buy Promoted Posts through the mobile app.

Analytics company Socialbakers raises $6M

Social media analytics company Socialbakers announced Monday that it raised $6 million in a Series B round led by Index Ventures.

Socialbakers tracks publicly available analytics for Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+ and LinkedIn, which can then be used for competitive analysis or other market research. The company makes some of this information freely available on its site, but advanced monitoring and insights are available with a pro plan priced according to how many pages or markets a business wants to track.

Socialbakers also offers a social media management and publishing platform, which includes some collaboration features like being able to assign tasks to other users. The company is certified with the apps, pages and insights badges in the Facebook Preferred Marketing Developer program.

Early Bird Venture Capital, which led the company’s $2 million Series A round a year ago, also participated in the latest round.

Socialbakers now has more than 160 employees across offices in San Francisco, Prague, Munich, London, Paris, Sao Paolo, Mexico City, Dubai and Istanbul.

‘Facebook for Every Phone’ becomes first page to surpass 100M Likes

Facebook for Every Phone,” the official page for Facebook’s feature phone application has become the first page on the social network to surpass 100 million Likes, according to our PageData tracking service.

What’s more, the page only seems to have been created five months ago, and it already has more than 33 million more Likes than the No. 2 page on the social network. That would be “Facebook,” the official community page for the site. After passing 100 million Likes on Sunday, the Facebook for Every Phone page is already up to more than 101.7 million total Likes.

Facebook for Every Phone is a native mobile app compatible with more than 3,600 different Java-enabled feature phones. The growth of the app’s community page is an indication of how many of the social network’s mobile users are on feature phones. Facebook for Every Phone users are given the option to Like the page when they first log in to the app, a company spokesperson told us in April.

Based on an analysis using the Facebook ad tool, we estimate there are about 95 million active feature phone users on the social network. Facebook does not indicate whether these are monthly active users or people who have downloaded or used the app within a longer timespan.

At the Social-Loco conference in San Francisco on Monday, Facebook Head of Mobile Partnerships Emily White said that 90 percent of users in Africa use a mobile phone. Many of these are are likely to be using the Facebook for Every Phone App. India is another country with a large population of feature phone users. White said that 30 percent of users in India are now registering for the site through mobile phones, suggesting they are mobile-only users.

Mobile-only users are typically feature phone users who do not have computer access. Smartphone users tend to visit Facebook through their phones and computers. In a regulatory filing, Facebook estimated that about 83 million mobile monthly active users accessed the social network solely through its mobile apps or mobile website in March.

Facebook recently updated its feature phone app to allow users to interact with pages and check into locations. The company also added photo filter capabilities so users can make their camera phone photos black and white or sepia.

Readers can see a full list of the most popular Facebook pages on our PageData site here.

Facebook adds viral shares to People Talking About This metric

Facebook now includes viral shares in pages’ People Talking About This counts, the company tells us.

This means that when fans share a page’s post, any subsequent Likes, comments, or re-shares will be counted in a page’s PTAT. Previously, actions that users’ friends took on a shared post were not added to PTAT. The new calculation is likely to be more representative of the actual number of people talking about a page.

Some pages have already seen a large increase in PTAT as a result of the change, which went into effect last week. The most significant increases can be seen on pages that receive a lot of shares. For example, George Takei and Jesus Daily are among the top talked about pages on Facebook. These pages regularly get thousands of shares per post and sometimes more than 30,000 shares on a single photo. PTAT is indicated by the green line below.

The same trends can be seen among pages like “Amor não se escolhe. Acontece” and “Pra toda mulher,” which get fewer shares per post, but make dozens of posts each day that receive hundreds or thousands of shares.

However, brand pages with the most Likes have not necessarily seen PTAT grow the same way, since these pages do not post as frequently and receive far fewer shares.

Facebook provides reach data directly on Timeline posts

Some Facebook page owners can now view certain post metrics directly from their Timeline, including the percentage of fans that saw a given post and the percentage of those who saw the post as a result of paid promotion.

This gives page owners an at-a-glance understanding of how many fans they are reaching. Or, more likely, make them realize how many they aren’t reaching. As users share more and connect with more Open Graph applications, there are more stories competing for placement in News Feed. Increasingly, page owners will have to support their content efforts on Facebook with paid media.

In February, Facebook said that pages reach only 16 percent of their fans each week on average. By showing reach percentages on Timeline rather than requiring page owners to visit the insights dashboard to see them, the social network can subtly encourage page owners to consider spending money on Sponsored Stories or Reach Generator, a premium offering which guarantees that a page reaches at least 75 percent of fans within a month.

Facebook has provided other post metrics in-line with a page’s content in the past. In 2010, it began displaying total impressions and feedback percentage for each post. This wasn’t always helpful because impressions were not unique and feedback was calculated by adding Likes plus comments and dividing by the total number of impressions. Posts that generated fewer impressions often had higher feedback percentages, which made it difficult for page owners to determine their success.

A year later, the social network tried expanding the number of metrics included below each post on a page’s Wall. Page owners could see impressions, unique users, clicks, clickthrough rate and engagement percentage. However, the real-time insights were buggy and ultimately scrapped. Toward the end of 2011, Facebook changed its per post metrics from impressions to total people reached and from feedback to People Talking About This. When Timeline for pages rolled out in March, these counts were only visible from the insights tool.

Our friends at All Facebook first wrote about this change to Timeline.

Facebook to provide developers with new app ratings metric

Along with the new App Center dashboard Facebook announced today, the company says it will soon provide developers with a “app ratings metric” for them to understand how users rate their app over time.

App ratings, which are on a scale of one to five stars, will be broken down by age and gender. This will give developers new insight into the feedback their apps receive. Previously, developers could only see their apps’ average overall rating and they could not see how the rating varied over time.

Facebook is putting a renewed focus on star ratings since eliminating the feature from apps in October 2011. At one point it seemed Facebook would focus on helping users discover games through their friends rather than anonymous ratings, which could be manipulated by developers and biased players. Then in early April, star ratings returned. Now instead of having a reviews tab that anyone can access at any time, Facebook has been randomly prompting users to rate apps while or after they use them. It is unclear whether this will continue to be the way users rate apps or whether they will be able to rate apps from the App Center or directly within an app.

Either way, developers will be looking for ways to maximize their ratings since Facebook says “Success through the App Center is tied to the quality of an app. We use a variety of signals, such as user ratings and engagement, to determine if an app is listed in the App Center.”

Facebook platform sent 160M users to mobile apps in April

Facebook says it sent more than 160 million visitors to Facebook-integrated mobile apps last month, according to a post on the company’s developer blog.

Native mobile games like Zynga’s “With Friends” titles, popular apps from Spotify, Pinterest and now Viddy and Socialcam are among those that benefit from Facebook’s mobile discovery channels. The social network’s mobile platform also helps web apps like the Washington Post Social Reader, Flixter and BranchOut.

Visitors from Facebook accounted for 1.1 billion visits to iOS and HTML5 apps, meaning an average of more than 6 visits per user. These numbers are up from February when Facebook said it drove 60 million users to mobile apps an average of about five times per month. Next month is likely to be much higher since the social network began supporting mobile discovery for native Android apps last week.

Facebook says iOS video sharing app Viddy now has more than 16 million registered users, in part because of Open Graph integration that shares user activity between the mobile and desktop versions. Because of similar functionality, networking web app BranchOut has seen more than 18 million people come in from the social network in the past 28 days. Facebook also highlighted movie review and info mobile web app, Flixster, which has seen a tenfold increase in the number of visitors from Facebook in the past four weeks. These visitors generated a total of 15 million visits in the same period.

Facebook also made a point in its blog post that seven of the top 10 grossing iOS apps and six of the top 10 grossing Android apps integrate with Facebook through single sign-on or Open Graph.

Facebook’s mobile platform allows HTML5 and native iOS and Android apps to get distribution through News Feed, bookmarks and requests. When users navigate to mobile app links from Facebook, the appropriate native app will open on a user’s device or lead to a download page if the user doesn’t have it yet. Developers also have the option to integrate Facebook Open Graph, which lets games automatically publish stories about user activity, including reaching a new high score, leveling up, earning an achievement or surpassing another friend playing the game. These stories are distributed through mobile Timeline and News Feed and can drive traffic back to a mobile game.

Facebook has more than 500 million monthly active users accessing the site through mobile devices, according the company’s updated filing for an initial public offering. The social network does not offer a breakdown of how many of those mobile users are using iOS or Android devices that can access these apps.

Converse, ‘Titanic,’ LMFAO, ‘The Simpsons,’ Target, Samsung, more on this week’s top 20 growing Facebook pages

Converse shoe company topped our list of the fastest-growing Facebook pages this week. There were several movies, musicians, brands such a Target and Walmart, a few games, and a few sports–related pages comprised the rest of the list.

Pages on our list this week grew from between 285,200 to 3.3 million Likes. We compile this list with our PageData tool, which tracks page growth across Facebook.

Name Likes Talking About Daily Growth Weekly Growth
1.   Converse 27,447,210 147,681 +840,161 +3,388,098
2.   Step Up Movie 10,637,515 163,693 +344,929 +942,550
3.   Titanic 20,093,413 1,163,678 +186,181 +776,244
4.   LMFAO 15,116,759 858,346 +44,028 +588,567
5.   Gabriel García M… 1,266,812 39,848 +99,656 +508,186
6.   Resident Evil 5 655,578 15,711 +177,775 +455,448
7.   Adele 25,356,720 370,641 +144,493 +447,608
8.   Jeremy Lin 954,881 552,606 +34,979 +438,508
9.   The Simpsons 48,081,353 472,415 +120,916 +428,449
10.   Target 10,951,726 406,182 +49,372 +391,328
11.   Nemo 8,994,798 384,932 +64,534 +385,154
12.   One Direction 4,553,606 523,134 +64,165 +338,499
13.   Texas HoldEm Poker 60,123,032 549,424 +36,533 +329,525
14.   Walmart 14,707,249 456,059 +48,667 +310,030
15.   FC Barcelona 29,326,949 957,956 +64,276 +309,617
16.   Simpsons 2,814,750 353,210 +15,940 +308,609
17.   I ♥ THE WEEKEND 7,147,466 360,160 +7,301 +294,777
18.   Halil Sezai 977,670 28,812 +51,444 +288,540
19.   Samsung Mobile USA 3,940,603 333,818 +38,392 +288,078
20.   Avatar 29,513,754 345,098 +70,888 +285,194

Converse grew tremendously over the course of a few days, possibly as the result of a page post ad. The page shared a photo of a 1917 model of one of its shoes. The photo received 29,000 Likes and about 1,500 shares. Converse typically gets a few hundred or thousand Likes on its posts.

Nobel Prize winning author Gabriel García Marquez saw a new surge in Likes and engagement with photos that include quotes in English and Spanish.

Movie pages on the list seemed to be the result of page consolidations, although the recent re-release of “Titanic” in 3-D has kept the page on our list for several weeks now. Popular artists LMFAO and Adele, as well as United Kingdom boy band One Direction and Turkish singer Halil Sezai also made the list.

As we mentioned, the rest of the list included a few sports pages — basketball player Jeremy Lin and football club FC Barcelona, which recently started writing its posts in multiple languages. “The Simpsons” continues to grow, especially after revealing the true location of the show’s fictional hometown. SamsungTarget and Walmart have grown as the result of Sponsored Story campaigns.


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