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Facebook Extends Mobile Ad Units from Likes to Installs to Downloads to Purchases

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about Facebook's mobile "Install" ad units now driving movie downloads. Over the Christmas holiday, another format arrived: "Shop Now". The unit itself is the same: a glossy, mid-stream ad that asks users to "Shop Now" (rather than "Install" or "Download"). Clicking the units keeps you inside the Facebook Application - which is a little confusing since it is an App Store icon and says "open in app". The landing page is a gift store for iTunes gift cards - like other Facebook digital gifts.

The interesting point is less around the unit / action itself... rather, it is that Facebook has successfully created single in-stream, mobile-only unit that is flexible enough to drive "Likes" (purchased by brands), drive Installs (purchased by developers), drive Downloads (purchased by media) and now drive sales (purchased by e-commerce companies).

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Facebook's Mobile App Install Ads Now Driving iTunes Movies, Downloads

Facebook's mobile app install units are a hit. In spring 2013, Facebook had announced that 25 million app downloads had been driven through the iTunes App Store and Google Play. At the time, over 40 of the top 100 top grossing apps for both iOS and Android were leveraging Facebook's mobile install units.

The unit's success makes sense because:

1) those applications are natively integrated with Facebook (so it's efficient, familiar and easy) 2) they are social and data rich (ie "150 friends are using the application") 3) ... which in turn means that the game / application itself is inherently social and welcoming

Yesterday, I saw the following unit for the first time, which is a natural extension of the install unit... but driving traffic around media. The unit promotes the movie Elysium and links directly to iTunes. As Facebook experiments more and more with ratings, reviews and public content (ie hashtags, celebrities, etc) - this becomes more and more engaging.

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Apple's Mantra: A Few Great Things

This is the marketing text from Apple's "Designed by Apple" campaign (which launched a few months ago on television). I have been seeing the print ads more and more - and the text is really powerful. It of course holds true to Apple's hardware and software worlds - but it should resonate to any creator: focus, quality, satisfaction. This is it. This is what matters. The experience of a product. How it makes someone feel. Will it make life better? Does it deserve to exist?

If you are busy making everything, How can you perfect anything? We speed a lot of time On a few great things. Until every idea we touch Enhances each life it touches.

You may rarely look at it. But you'll always feel it. This is our signature. And it means everything.

designed by apple

Facebook Premium: It's in the Product Experience

Biz Stone, co-founder of Twitter, took to Medium this week to share some thoughts on Facebook: "Now that I use Facebook more regularly, I started having some ideas for the service—here’s one... They could offer Facebook Premium. For $10 a month, people who really love Facebook (and can afford it), could see no ads. Maybe some special features too." First off, I like that he's doing this on Medium - a service / platform that I am really growing fond of... and a service / platform that encourages this kind of discussion from thinkers like Biz. (The other service I am enjoying: Branch, which enables discussion in a different, interesting way).

On Facebook Premium - it's the right idea, particularly for a service that so many users are so passionate about and dedicated to. At ESPN, we have a premium service called ESPN Insider that is sneaky-big itself and a combination of premium tools and content (ie Fantasy Football product enhancements and unique articles on recruiting, etc).

For me to pay a monthly subscription to Facebook - which I gladly would - I think it has to follow suit: it would have to be some specialized feature(s), enhancement(s), etc. My guess is that mobile and the mobile application are the biggest opportunities for those sorts of features.

And then there are single-use purchases as well: while Path is a much smaller community, my network has been gobbling up premium stickers ($1.99 each) to make conversation richer. And there are filters, etc. This is different than Facebook Gifts - which is really a one-to-one transaction rather than an enhancement that adds value to core product. Path's stickers, for example, have become mechanisms for comments / conversation... which of course has a viral loop.

The trouble with marking premium as ad-free is that it changes much of the Facebook experience. Sure there are ads that are not much different than traditional CPM advertising... but most are hybrids of advertising and social interactions. A couple questions arise including the central point that many of Facebook's units, while paid advertisements, are actually value-add to the consumer - for instance, the mobile application installer ('your friends are using xyz') is quite useful. What happens to the social and advertiser economy if certain friends pay to opt out? What happens to fans who want to follow brands onsite? Many brands are hybrids of paid and organic content, activity, etc. How does this effect Facebook's relationship with advertisers - whose network of users (and likely the most active, influential users) shrinks?

In short: if Facebook's ad strategy were solely traditional banners and units, it would be a far easier proposition to all (users, advertisers, etc). But the deep blending of advertising with social layers & interactions makes it far tougher. And that's a credit to Facebook because they are innovating on the ad experience. The premium opportunity better exists within premium features and products.

Path Stickers Facebook

Great Rose Bowl Social Ad From Vizio

You can watch the Rose Bowl (Stanford vs. Wisconsin) on ESPN right now and on WatchESPN. You can follow on the new SportsCenter Feed and ScoreCenter. And you can cheer socially on ESPN's homepage with the current Vizio Fandemonium ad on ESPN's homepage that allows fans to support either Wisconsin or Stanford via Twitter. Very cool, fun experience and very timely given today's game and the engaged audience.


vizio fandimonium

Amazon Most Gifted Tagline, Promotion

The "most gifted" tagline and promotion is effective... particularly in the web's largest marketplace with the web's largest collection of products. And that's why it looks so similar to how they market year after year. And that's why I like it year after year!

Note: here is the original announcement in November 2009:

", Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN – News) today announced that November is already the best sales month ever for Kindle, even before Cyber Monday. Kindle continues to be the most wished for, the most gifted, and the #1 bestselling product across all product categories on Amazon."

Reaching Targeted Users with Log Out Pages: Facebook + Fab

I have written before about the value of Facebook's homepage for logged out users: both from a promotional (huge lift for Facebook; both Facebook + Twitter do it) and advertising perspective (eBay example). Last week Fab ran a great ad placement for logged out Facebook users. No doubt he got significant reach and is effective because Fab does such a great job with social shopping / Facebook integration. However, it is still a strange concept to see - and market against - "everyone who logs out of Facebook today sees our branding."

Install Now: Driving Installs in Addition to Likes

I have written about Facebook's AppCenter before and how it represents the focus on mobile and on Facebook's platform... and opens up a monetizable, interaction beyond "Like": "Install". (And by the way: you could easily argue that "install" is a more valuable action thank "like" or "follow"). Here's a screenshot within the mobile web promoting Fab with a sponsored unit that is visual, includes ratings, reveals friends who use the app and, most importantly, a big "install Now" button.

Google+ Interactive Ad Layer

I have written before about Google / Google Plus and their interactive, actionable ad units (here is a great example from Google Offers and one for Google's emailable ads here). Below is an example of Google Plus being integrated into an otherwise standard ad unit. Natural evolution and integration here - it sits atop the add and creates a social layer that:

1. The brands welcome. There is action and benefit beyond the click-through.

2. Google loves. They drive usage of Google Plus and give advertiser another medium to extract & measure value.

Should Facebook Ads move - these interactions will be really key (point 2 here).