The Inaugural Foxwell Digital Download

Happy 2016! It’s been a few weeks since we circulated The Inaugural Foxwell Digital Download. Here it is again in case you missed it. Have you signed up yet? To sign up for a monthly installment of The Foxwell Digital Download, please visit: http://foxwelldigital.com/foxwell-digital-download/.

December unfailingly means year-end project deadlines, last minute holiday shopping, consuming a year’s worth of recommended sugar intake in just 48 hours, and finally giving in and buying that overpriced wreath made of reclaimed birch bark. It’s all too overwhelming. So why not procrastinate even more and read the inaugural issue of The Foxwell Digital Download?

Our first issue is heavy on Facebook news and for good reason: the platform is evolving rapidly and the company continues to turn out solid profits thanks to ad revenue. Their “move fast and break things” motto is officially no longer in use, but they’re definitely not slowing down in the months to come.

It’s no secret that Facebook has conducted several recent business acquisitions and launched various product rollouts. But what’s it all about and to what end? This article lays out Zuck’s multi-year plan for defending Castle Black. This piece from earlier in the summer has easily become the most quoted reference for the majority of online discussions and follow-up banter regarding Facebook’s “quest to absorb the Internet.” We highly recommend that you read it and then buy some Facebook stock.* At every turn and with each passing quarter, Facebook is buying up companies, collecting new startups, and rolling out new digital experiences. As 1.5 billion users continue to connect with Facebook through the platform’s ever-growing suite of apps, the affinity data only continues to improve, as does Facebook’s reputation as the most effective online channel to spend advertising dollars.

For the past several years, click-based interactions have reigned as the overarching metric for understanding how a Facebook user spends his/her time online. However, this summer Facebook publicly announced that the company also tracks how long users spend “looking at” (but not clicking on) News Feed content. For example, if you hover over New York Times stories longer than you pause on images of high school classmates, Facebook will increasingly serve you more NYT stories, and less family photos, even if you never click on either one. There are huge advertising implications to this announcement: imagine if Facebook could someday, perhaps in the very near future, share not only impression data with advertisers, but also quality-of-impression data, including how long users viewed their content and if/how users find it valuable or interesting. Essentially the News Feed is becoming the Internet’s home page and as a result, it’s quickly becoming more complex and data-driven.

Last month, Facebook rolled out fundraiser pages in response to ongoing complaints from nonprofits and small businesses that the platform unfairly penalizes non-promoted (organic) content. To put it nicely, without sizable online advertising budgets, these organizations rarely received the same level of user engagement as sponsored content from for-profit pages. Fundraiser pages have already gone live for a few dozen nonprofits this holiday season, with more planned in 2016. This new feature will be especially helpful for online giving campaigns due to its easy, one-click donate options as well as an immediate “thank you” response and a progress bar tracking the campaign’s success.

AdEspresso did the heavy lifting and analyzed 37,259 Facebook ads with the following questions in mind: What color should Facebook ad images be? What’s the ideal text length for link post headlines? What’s the most popular word in Facebook ads? Do negative ad campaigns work as well as feel-good campaigns? Check out their findings in this informative, easy-to-read article. But remember Facebook advertising is never one size fits all, so take these recommendations like Gracie takes her morning coffee: gratefully but with a side of persistent questions for Andrew.

As we explained in a blog post this spring, dark social media—aka the inability to effectively track users’ paths to purchase across all devices—is one of the trickiest challenges facing online advertisers. Marketers are continually trying to prove that their social media efforts have led to sales, fundraised dollars, or sign-ups, but sometimes the data isn’t conclusive. Facebook has addressed this issue head on and their revenue proves it. Facebook’s generous attribution model shows how consumers are spending more time on mobile devices, and spending more dollars as well—either directly or indirectly via online ads. On the other hand, Facebook users don’t “explore” or “wander” as much on desktop as they do on mobile, which is another reason why Facebook tracks how long a user spends reading mobile articles. If FB can devise even more ways to prove value to advertisers, revenue will continue to roll in. Another important reason to read this New York Times article: Mark Zuckerberg was actually photographed wearing a suit instead of a zip-up hoodie.

If you operate a brick and mortar business, you’ll soon be able to use Facebook’s new page features via local awareness ad updates. You can learn when potential customers are near your store, how likely they are to click on a local ad, and how many of these local users saw and/or engaged with your ad. These new updates are also helpful for retailers with multiple locations since ad copy can automatically populate with a location.

Similar to the first article, this longer Fast Company piece outlines Mark Zuckerberg’s ambitious vision. Facebook owns four of the six most successful social platforms in the world and is already profitable. Not to mention this little factoid: “Three years ago, Facebook announced that 1 billion people logged in to the service in one month, and it was astounding. Last August, 1 billion people used Facebook on a single Monday.” FB continues to drive the digital conversation—and not just on creative social content, but also in regards to online advertising, business development, and user acquisition.

*Foxwell Digital is not a financial advisory firm. Please do not take our stock advice too seriously. That is, unless you want to give us a few shares for Christmas.

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