Here Comes Facebook’s Ad Network: Mobile Ads Launching This Month

Lots of people have wanted Facebook to build an ad network for a long time.

Here it comes. Facebook will take the wraps off its plans for a mobile ad network at its “F8″ developer conference in San Francisco at the end of the month, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter.

Facebook will pitch the ads to publishers and developers as a way to leverage the social network’s vast database of user information for better ad targeting. And Facebook wins by expanding its ad reach — now it can make money from its billion-plus users even when they’re not on Facebook’s own properties. Read More

Advertisers’ Dilemma In Online Video — Reach Or Frequency? (WSJ)

Digital advertising is far too big for marketers to ignore. But whether or not the web can have the widespread reach of TV is still a matter for debate.

That’s a particularly pressing issue now, ahead of this spring’s “upfront” ad sales negotiations. Online giants like YouTube and Yahoo are ramping up digital offerings in hopes of luring a piece of ad budgets that typically flow to television.

In a note to investors last week, RBC Capital Markets analyst David Bank poured cold water on the idea that online video would draw much money from traditional television anytime soon, arguing “its all about reach.” 

“Online video consumers tend to represent a very concentrated and somewhat limited subsection of consumers,” Mr. Bank said. “Advertisers will tend to reach the same small group of consumers time and time again, with the identical message.” Read More

Walmart Innovates To Win With Omni-Channel, Big Data

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Company takes risks, makes improvements to channels and technology to create cohesive customer experience.

Walmart might be the world’s largest retailer, but that position still comes with a lot of pressures. Keeping all channels running smoothly and ensuring that the company remains innovative in terms of technology are some of the main challenges on the retailer’s plate moving forward today. At a recent Q&A session at the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) Annual Leadership Meeting in February, Neil Ashe, Walmart’s CEO of global e-commerce, discussed how Walmart plans to keep tackling and improving omni-channel.

According to Fierce Retail, a large part of this plan involves building a commerce technology company dedicated to inventing new solutions. Ashe told IAB that, because a customer now likes to choose how, where, and when they wish to interact with a retailer, “We have to bring together marketing and merchandising and operations and technology in ways that they never were before.” In order to unite these operations, the company created its “One Customer. One Walmart” strategy. Through this this strategy, the company is working to create an internal organizational structure that will simulate a seamless experience for users on the outside, regardless of channel.

Why More Businesses are Unfriending Facebook

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In space, they say, no one can hear you scream. Some marketers feel the same way about Facebook.

The social network has come to play a vital role for many of the million-plus businesses that promote their brands and connect with customers on its site. But it’s clear that some marketers no longer see Facebook as their friend.

A recent post on the site by Eat24, a food delivery service, was the latest sign of marketers’ discontent. The problem, Eat24 and others say, is that Facebook’s algorithms that determine which posts appear in users’ News Feed are unpredictable, and they’re increasingly weighted towards those who pay to promote their posts. Read More

Twitter Rolls Out New Profile Design

Photo Credit: Twitter via Mashable 

Photo Credit: Twitter via Mashable 

In February Twitter began testing a new profile design and yesterday they began to gradually roll it out. The new design, which looks a lot like Facebook, has features we have never seen on Twitter. Such as the ability to pin tweets to the top of your page; a larger user photo and customizable header image; as well as 'highlighted tweets'. 

As of right now, only select users have the new look but it will only be a matter of time before all profiles are switched over. Read More

GE: Native Advertising Done Right

Native advertising is the new social media - albeit a far more expensive way to advertise. We say this because like social media, native advertising allows brands to showcase their stories and build brand awareness, as opposed to direct advertising that says, "hey, look at what we sell." While native advertising is a (relatively) new trend, there are some companies already nailing it. One of which is GE. 

An early adopter of social media and the idea of 'brands are content creators", GE has been doing native advertising for the past four years. According to GE's executive director of global brand marketing, Linda Boff, the company is leaning in to native advertising more and more. Read More

YouTube Commands 50% of Time Spent On Mobile Entertainment Apps

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How much time are Americans spending on mobile apps, and which are the most popular? A new study from Flurry takes a look at how apps are dominating mobile, and Google and Facebook are commanding lots of our time.

The average US consumer now spends 2 hours and 42 minutes per day on mobile; apps command a whopping 86% of that time, or 2 hours and 19 minutes per day. Time spent on the mobile web has continued to drop, now totaling just 14% of Americans’ time on mobile. Read More

The World's Top 10 Most Innovative Food Companies

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From realistic meat-alternatives to farming practices aimed at reducing greenhouse gasses, these companies are changing the way we think about food. 


For rerouting agriculture’s environmental impact. Meat production, which results in copious greenhouse gases, is expected to double by 2050. But Beyond Meat has created a meat alternative good enough to tempt devout carnivores. It aligns soy and pea proteins so they mimic meaty texture, without antibiotics, hormones, or transfats. Its "chicken" strips and taco "beef " crumble hit the market last year. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) named Beyond Meat its company of the year, and investors such as Bill Gates, Kleiner Perkins, and the Humane Society have signed on.


For pulling gas-belching 18-wheelers off the road. BrightFarms works with the big grocers to harvest lettuce, tomatoes, and herbs on-site (or nearby) in large hydroponic greenhouses. This has resulted in cutting transportation costs and waste, lowering prices, and adding days to the shelf life of perishable foods. Among the greenhouses scheduled to open this year is a 100,000-square-foot rooftop farm--the largest in the world--in Brooklyn's Sunset Park. It should produce 1 million pounds of produce a year. Read More

YouTube Tries to Grab a Chunk of the TV Advertising Industry’s Budget

Photo Credit: Venture Beat

Photo Credit: Venture Beat

Google is doubling down on its efforts to attract big-name advertisers to its YouTube streaming video service  by offering them a guaranteed number of views, according to advertisers that spoke with the Wall Street Journal.

Google’s actions are part of its strategy to grab a larger chuck of the ad budget that typically goes to TV commercials. The TV ad industry collectively generates over $66 billion in ad sales annually. If YouTube can grab even a small piece of that, it’ll be a huge boon for Google.

So how exactly is the company planning to do this? Well, for one, Google is telling advertisers that it’ll reward anyone who makes a long-term commitment to advertise on YouTube by guaranteeing that ads get the impact they expect. Read More

With Digital Ordering, Panera Makes a Big Bet on Tech

Photo Credit: CNN

Photo Credit: CNN

Four years ago, Ron Shaich, the CEO of fast-casual dining chain Panera, would drive his son to school and on the way pick up his breakfast and lunch at -- you guessed it -- Panera. Shaich was usually running late, so he'd call 10 minutes out from his local restaurant in Boston and place an order with the manager. As they'd drive by, Shaich's son would run in with his dad's credit card, skip the line, and they'd be off again in minutes. "That was a lovely system except it only worked for the CEO," Shaich says.

Now Panera is rolling out that experience -- what the company is calling Panera 2.0 -- to its 8 million customers. The move is an acknowledgement that while 40% to 45% of its orders are to-go, the company had been treating everyone like an eat-in customer. "We had a one-size-fits-all system," Shaich says. "Everybody came in and went in same line, whatever their needs were."

Here's how Panera 2.0 works: If you're a to-go customer, you can place an order via computer or Panera's mobile app and select a time to pick up. The order is made simultaneously as you come to the restaurant. Read More

IBM Study Shows Only 20% of CMOs Use Social Media for Customer Engagement

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In its series of reports surveying C-level executives, IBM’s latest study revealed only 20 percent of the chief marketing officers polled leveraged social networks to engage with customers as part of their digital marketing efforts, and a growing number feel overwhelmed with the amount of available data.

Interviewing 524 CMOs from around the world and in various industries, IBM’s study found the number of CMOs who feel ill-equipped to interpret available data has grown in the last three years:

In 2011, 71 percent of the CMOs we interviewed told us they felt under-prepared to deal with data explosion. Today, a full 82 percent feel that way.

While only 20 percent of the CMOs surveyed used social networks to engage and collaborate with customers, even fewer (13 percent) claimed to have implemented advanced analytics to capture customer insight across all touch points. Read More

Social Networks, Media Publishers See Huge Potential in Native Advertising

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Native advertising is flourishing across social media, content portals, news properties, video-sharing sites and streaming services. Increased mobile use of these venues has fueled much of the growth, since native ads work best in the content streams that people tend to access on smartphones and tablets, according to a new eMarketer report, “Native Advertising: Difficult to Define, but Definitely Growing.”

Perceptions about what constitutes native advertising are as varied as the ads themselves and the places where they appear. There’s still disagreement over basic terminology such as “native advertising,” “sponsored content” and “branded content.” Some make distinctions among those terms, while others use them interchangeably. Read More

What Sex, Food and Selfies Have to Do with Effective Social Marketing

Photo Credit: Fast Company

Photo Credit: Fast Company

Joe Smith wakes up one morning, walks out the front door of his apartment building, and takes a selfie with the three feet of snow that have piled up on his Toyota Camry. He tweets out the photo with the header “OMG, that is A LOT of snow.” He gets a few comments and retweets from friends. An hour later, he arrives at work, logs into Facebook and finds a friend’s link to It turns out to be a prank website for a “Push Up Muscle Shirt” that is part of an Old Spice viral ad campaign. Joe likes and shares it.

By 11:30 a.m., Joe can’t look at the Excel spreadsheet in front of him without getting cross-eyed, so he logs into LinkedIn, spots Fast Company’s latest post, "What, When, And How To Share On Social Media," and sends it off to the other guys in his marketing department. They were just talking over social media strategies the other day, so Joe thinks the article could help the entire group. Read More

Global Mobile Ad Spend Jumped 105% In 2013

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As more people turn away from PCs and turn to smartphones and tablets for their online fix, the market for mobile ads continues to shift, too. Figures out today from research firm eMarketer note that mobile ad revenues surged 105% in 2013 to bring in nearly $18 billion in sales.

It predicts that 2014 will see more modest growth, up 75% to $31.5 billion. Crucially, mobile ads are finally breaking through into meaningful shares of overall digital spend, and will account for nearly one-quarter of it this year.

When it comes to who is leading the mobile ad charge, Google very much remains at the top with eMarketer projecting that it will represent 46.8% of all revenues this year, although its position is diminishing, with Facebook picking up steam to account for 22% of mobile ad sales in 2014. No surprise, considering that last quarter was the first that Facebook, with its 945 million monthly active users on mobile, made more from mobile than desktop ads — 53% of total ad revenues to be specific. Read More

Brands Favor Social Media For Local Promotions

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To target consumers in local markets, national brands increasingly look to social media before more conventional channels, such as email, sponsorship, or newspapers.
In fact, nearly 60% of franchise businesses (57.9%) use their Facebook page for local promotions, according to a new report by BIA/Kelsey, which was commissioned on behalf of Web marketing firm Surefire Social.
That is significantly more than the 36.8% of national brands that use email marketing -- and the 43.2% that use newspapers -- to plug local promos.
“Businesses are spending a lot more time and wallet share on owned and earned media, and the popularity of Facebook pages may be the best example of that,” said Jed Williams, vice president of consulting and a senior analyst at BIA/Kelsey.  Read More

Here's Why Your Smartphone Is the Key to a Better Food World

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Mark Sullivan had a plan to help Austinites eat more local food, but he didn’t plant an urban farm or open a locavore food truck to do so. He built a website.

Sullivan cofounded growmingle, a new company that is using technology and digital “mapping” to connect people in Austin’s vibrant local food scene—including farmers, chefs, distributors, advocacy organizations, retailers, and consumers—with one another. Recognizing the fragmentation of the local food world in Austin and the difficulty many producers have connecting with customers, the growmingle team has set out to become the Airbnb of the Texas capital's locavore movement by interactively mapping it. Eventually, growmingle will have a Yelp-like mobile app guiding users to purveyors of locally grown food. Read More

6 Brand Strategies Most CMOs Fail To Execute

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The ground rules for branding are rapidly evolving. Social media, content marketing, the younger generation, second screening, thought-leadership and the demographic shift are just some of the many things that are challenging brands to think differently.   Creating and sustaining customer trust and loyalty is more difficult than ever before.   Building relationships with consumers has never been more challenging, with so much competition for their attention. Look at the constant barrage of pop-up and video ads that flash before our eyes every time we use our phones, turn on our computers or tablets.

Being an on-trend, relevant, inspiring, purposeful, innovative and community-centric brand – these are the things that will make people pause, listen and pay attention.  Customers want to identify with a brand they can grow with, that earns their trust and makes them feel valued.   People want to evolve with a brand whose products and services help give their business or life meaning and significance.  End to end, a brand must become a consumer’s best friend. Read More

Multiscreen Advertising, Audience Targeting Lead the Way for Mobile Ad Targeting


The best way to describe the state of mobile ad targeting is to say it’s a work in progress, according to a new eMarketer report, “Mobile Ad Targeting: After Years of ‘Spray and Pray,’ Signs of Sophistication Appear.”

Targeting ads to specific devices and operating systems is the most established form of mobile ad targeting. Trends that have been evident for several years continue to hold true while a new form of device targeting—multiscreen targeting—is emerging in response to consumers’ increased use of multiple web-enabled devices.

With the smartphone- and tablet-using audiences growing rapidly—and time spent with media on these devices increasing steadily—marketers have started investing in multiscreen advertising campaigns. Read More

Bye Bye Second Screen? The InAIR Lets You Browse The Web And Watch TV All In One Place

Nowadays, many people browse the web at the same time that they’re watching TV — the phenomenon is called the “second screen.” But a new gadget called InAIR from a startup called SeeSpace wants to bring our attention back to just one screen by putting the best of the laptop, the smart phone, and the TV all together in one place.

InAIR, which is set to cost $99, works by plugging directly into any television through its “smart” HDMI cable that then connects to a set top box. The device then pulls data from the currently playing television program or movie, parses it using natural language processing and other patented technologies, and presents related content pulled directly from the web and social media on the television screen. The user interacts with the InAIR by using a simple mobile app, or through gesture control by incorporating the Microsoft Kinect — giving the possibility for the Minority Report experience to come to life. Read More

IBM's Watson is Now Running a Food Truck

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These days, there's a lot of pressure on chefs to think up the most fantastical, cutting-edge dishes. We live in an age of cronuts, PB&J fries and pecan pie potato chips.

Yet even the greatest of culinary masterminds are merely human, at the end of the day. And strokes of genius can be few and far between.

That's where IBM's supercomputer, Watson, comes in. Watson, you might remember, crushed it on Jeopardy! back in February 2011. Since then, researchers at IBM have teamed up with the Institute of Culinary Education in New York. They've re-programmed Watson to serve as a sort of sous-chef that can spit out novel ingredient combinations and recipes on command.

The IBM researchers call it "creative computing." Chefs can specify a key ingredient and a cuisine, and IBM's computer program will come up with millions of ideas. Read More

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