Marketers have a new way to use Facebook. Called the Business Manager, Facebook’s new tool allows marketers an agencies to manage multiple campaigns across one interface. Facebook has been rolling the tool out over the past month, and it allows users to assign roles to people working across different campaigns. it will also allow agencies and clients share campaign materials within the platform. The ultimate goal is to make marketing and advertising workflow easier on the platform, and to allow more people to use Facebook to monetize campaigns. Furthermore, as these privileges had been previously limited to Preferred Marketing Developers, this seems like a move to get a much broader swath of people onto Facebook for use as a marketing and monetization tool.
Facebook made a subtle, but important change to its product Pages on Tuesday. Pages can now tag other pages in their Facebook posts, which means that brands can extend their reach on Facebook by tagging other brands or pages. For instance, if you don’t “like” a brand like Pepsi, but Pepsi has tagged someone that you do “like,” the Pepsi post will show up in your feed. The sample post was a Bleacher Report piece that tagged Houston Rockets players; though users don’t necessarily like Bleacher Report, if they do like James Harden, the post showed up. The goal here is to reach, and thereafter capture, users they might not have previously had access to.
But Facebook is doing its job of making sure that the cross-pollination is natural. It won’t be allowing Twitter-like tactics of brand interaction and simply hopping onto zeitgeist-y trends for the sake of growth hacking. Facebook is actively discouraging such behavior by punishing brands: the post won’t be seen by those who follow the tagged page if the post isn’t related to the page the brand has tagged. For now, Facebook isn’t showing whether the algorithm is catching the post as unrelated, so brands are going to have to go out of their way to make sure they do the right thing. The moral of the story is: if you want to expand your reach on Facebook through this method, do it right, or Facebook’s algorithms will show you the consequences.
According to TrendForce, Q1 of 2014 could spell the first time that smartphone sales trend downwards worldwide. It’s not necessarily cause to abandon ship – it simply means that the smartphone has matured as a market enough to follow traditional seasonal trends. Shipments are expected to drop by 5.1% in Q1 of this year for the first time after a steady climb over two years. Nonetheless, as smartphones continue to penetrate globally, consumers will buy less and less at the beginning of the year, with the high profile releases coming in the spring; at the same time, people naturally spend less over the holidays. As spring starts up, though, expect sales to climb, much like the rest of the market, and indeed eclipse the same time periods from 2013.
Spotify secured $250 million in new funding, which makes the company now worth more than $4 Billion, according to the Wall Street Journal. Exactly one year ago, the music streaming service raised $100 million to raise its valuation to $3 Billion. All this while Spotify continues to lose money: it’s net loss increased to $77 million this year. The extra money might continue to give the streaming service leeway to build out revenue-generating products to fend off the losses.
Mobile payments technology has been slow to reach mainstream acceptance, partially because of the ubiquity of credit card readers and the sluggishness of the industry to respond to change. A new startup, Loop, believes it has solved a major part of the problem by developing a dongle for smartphones that will facilitate payments via mobile and which is compatible with about 90% of existing credit card swiping systems. The dongle works by creating a changing magnetic field to mock the magnetic information received by the read head of a card swiper. The user experience is smoother than the one offered by other mobile payments solutions as well, allowing users to simply swipe their cards to add them to their virtual wallet, as long as the names on the cards match the name on the user’s verified Loop account. Improving ease of use for both users and vendors is critical to bringing mobile payments to the mainstream, and Loop’s first steps towards this end could be the initial push needed to get there.
Foursquare’s self-service ad platform is now available for all small business, in addition to the limited number of firms to which it has been available since April. Now, any physical commercial venue can pay to have a personalized promotion appear within users’ feeds. Labeled ‘promoted,’ the ads are targeted based on the location of Foursquare users, and whether or not they’re likely to become a customer. To determine the likelihood of becoming a customer, Foursquare assesses whether or not a customer has checked into a venue before, or whether the user has searched for related listenings. On the business side, ad creators will be notified, via a dashboard, about whenever someone views their ad, clicks on it, and walks into the store; Foursquare can offer very real conversion metrics in this way.
Pinterest has begun piloting promoted pins, which act as billed. The paid ads appear as pins with a “promoted pin” callout and an info icon that identifies the brand and reasoning for the placement. None of this is terribly surprising for the social network valued at 2.5 billion. More interesting is the question of monetization and whether their pricing model will capitalize on the great deal of referral traffic. Letting users transact on the platform could also be lucrative, but then again, how would that make them any different from the Fancy?
Anfacto, a startup in the mobile device management sphere seeks to create single-purpose Android systems for a number of purposes. By removing functionality from the Android platform at the OS level, Anfacto’s systems can head off security holes and unnecessary distractions. Their solution is called FleetOS, and allows customers to select what applications and features can be run on each device, creating custom solutions easily, down to minute details like wallpapers and other graphical resources.
Swirl, a new mobile app in testing by Timberland, can target customers with a declared interest in certain footwear or other products. For example, in the Kenneth Cole shop in Grand Central, shoppers with Swirl activated and tracking were notified of a 20% discount on full-priced merchandise. Upon clicking to view more information, a 1-hour countdown clock was initiated before the deal expired. Because it’s opt-in, customers aren’t as nervous about using it, as evidenced by the test results: 72% of offer recipients checked out the offers and 35% redeemed them. The technology works through in-store devices that track phone signals over wifi, which will be used in the future to track position in the store, and offer geographical deals.