Cashing Out: Week of April 15th – 21st 2012 in Online Marketing News

Facebook analytics to measure all actions

Mashable reported April 19 that, in the next few weeks, Facebook will be allowing advertisers to measure consumers’ engagement with their ads on the platform through all sorts of actions, not just ‘likes.’

The new feature of their analytics tool, dubbed ‘Action Measurement,’ “will appear as a column and pie chart in Facebook’s Ads Manager and will help marketers tailor ads for relevant consumers,” says Mashable. The idea is to help marketers reach the people who are most likely to take action after having viewed an ad, not just those most likely to click.

Among the actions that marketers can now focus on and optimize their ad campaigns for are People Talking About this – which covers a slew of actions from ‘likes’ to shares and mentions – App installs, Apps used, in-app credit use, offers shared or claimed, photo tags, and check-ins.

“This isn’t just an analytics feature; it’s an optimization feature,” David Baser, Facebook’s product manager for Page Insights told Mashable, while, in interview with TechCrunch he elaborated:

“[The improvements] allow people to optimize for things closer to what they want than clicks. It’s an easier mechanism for targeting. We’re trying to figure out who is most likely to take that action. It will take some time and data to learn and get really good.”

Tumblr to introduce its first paid ads

Tumblr Founder and CEO David Karp announced at Ad Age’s Digital Conference April 18 that, as of May 2, the micro-blogging service will begin introducing its first paid ads.

The new ad format will appear in the form of “Radar” posts, a feature currently used to display “an officially curated selection of images used to highlight notable or popular posts (usually images) from across the network,” says Ad Age. But, as Tumblr takes its first steps into paid advertising, Radar ad units will  now be used to allow marketers to create “repeatable” campaigns on the platform.

Tumblr’s advantage here is that, though the paid ads are new, the format is not and Tumblr users are already used to Radar placements, which Ad Age says get 120 million impressions a day. “You’ve already seen our ad unit,” Karp told the audience at the event.

Karp did not go into details about the cost of the new ad units, though he stressed that they won’t be run-of-the-mill, but rather, better suited to “anyone interested in doing anything creative with us.”

Facebook sets IPO date for May 17

According to the latest from TechCrunch, “multiple sources close to the company” say that Facebook has settled on a date for its IPO – May 17.

That, says TechCrunch, coincides with earlier reports that predicted the date for the third week of May, as well as “with what a single source told CNBC at length.”

TechCrunch’s sources have set Facebook’s valuation at IPO at around $100 billion, while one of them told TechCrunch “Investors want as high a price as possible so that the secondary market won’t look like a problem [...] With 2.51 billion fully-diluted shares outstanding, the valuation desired would price the company at around $40 a share.”

However, there are factors that could affect the date of the IPO, including a possible delay caused by the SEC, which “might want more time to look at paperwork from Facebook’s $1 billion acquisition of Instagram” last week, says Mashable.

Another possibility is that changes in the market – especially those that could result from issues in Europe – could push the date further back.

“[A] lot of stuff can happen in four weeks, including the collapse of the European economy, another oil crisis or the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria,” joked TechCrunch.

Foursquare to launch ad platform with paid search ads

An April 19 report from Ad Age, which cites “a person familiar with the matter,” says that Foursquare is planning to launch a paid ad platform as early as mid-June.

With the new product, merchants will be able to use Foursquare’s existing merchant platform to promote check-in deals to users using the search feature to find local deals.

“When users search for local specials, they can see offers via paid ads on Foursquare. Those ads will be targeted using the same algorithms that power ‘explore,’ which recommends establishments based on a users’ past check-ins, as well as those of friends and the wider Foursquare user base,” says Ad Age.

The ‘explore’ function was added last January, as part of a Foursquare initiative to branch out into search. According to Ad Age’s source, the company is already “pitching brands to become launch partners” for the new ad platform.

New York Times loses digital ad revenue

After introducing its digital subscription plan a little over a year ago, the New York Times has become something of a test subject for how print publications could maintain their relevance as the world moves toward free, online content.

And while Mashable reported seven months later on how the paywall had helped the newspaper turn a profit, Ad Age reported April 19 that digital ad revenue across the company fell 10.3 percent during its first quarter of 2012.

And though, as Ad Age pointed out “That was primarily because of declines at the About.com division, but the News Media Group, which includes The New York Times and The Boston Globe, saw digital ad revenue dip 2.3 percent as well.”

With The Times Co.’s revenue falling steadily, though not necessarily sharply, since 2006, the company says it expects ad revenue to be much the same in the second quarter as it was in the first.

The fear is that, while paid subscriptions help, they “aren’t quite enough to make a major difference to the declines in print advertising,” Citigroup analyst Leo Kulp told Ad Age.

Still, others, like Douglas Arthur, a media analyst with Evercore Partners Inc., believe that in the long run print publications will be able to survive in a digital world.

Citing the estimated $90 million that The Times Co. is expected to bring in from digital subscriptions this year, Arthur told Ad Age “If they keep that up, online could turn into a real business in the next year or two.”

How the top tech companies fared in Q1 2012:

A number of major tech and internet companies released their first quarter reports this week. The following is a breakdown of the numbers and what they indicate for the future of these companies.

Yahoo paring down properties, exceeds expectations in Q1

Q1 was Yahoo’s first full quarter with Scott Thompson at the helm, and the newly appointed CEO seems to have gotten at least a few things right.

Following decisions to cut jobs and pare down properties, Yahoo exceeded the expectations for its first quarter, rising to $1.08 billion (excluding sales passed to partner sites). According to Ad Age, analysts had only expected an average of $1.06 billion.

The company’s net income is up by 28 percent since the first quarter of 2011, to $286 million, marking “the first time Yahoo’s quarterly revenues have grown on a year-over-year basis since the third quarter of 2008,” reports TechCrunch. The news of Yahoo’s performance was well received by investors, as stock price rose by 2.4 percent in the hour following the posting of the results.

It’s an indication that things are stabilizing at Yahoo and, if not a sure sign that company has completely turned around, it at least offers hope of an end to its losing streak.

IBM’s Q1 shows mixed blessings

If there was one word to sum up IBM’s Q1 report for 2012, it would be “ho-hum.”

Revenue (adjusted for currency) remained flat as compared to Q1 2011, though, as TechCrunch reported, net income is up by 7 percent since the same quarter last year, by $3.1 billion.

Cloud revenue more than doubled since that period, while revenue from software increased by 5 percent, to $5.6 billion.

Sticking to the subject of the company’s strengths this year, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty said of the report:

“In the first quarter, we drove strong profit and earnings per share growth. We delivered another excellent software performance, expanded services margins, and continued the momentum in our growth initiatives.”

With PayPal’s help, eBay’s revenue, income up in Q1

eBay shone in its report for the first quarter of 2012, beating Wall Street’s expectations with an increase in revenue of 29 percent to $3.3 billion since Q1 last year. Meanwhile, net income was also up 20 percent to $570 million for the quarter, TechCrunch reported.

The company’s stock rose by up to 7.5 percent in after hours trading following the news, the New York Times (NYT) reported.

According to more than a few sources, eBay’s solid first quarter owes much to the strength of PayPal, which Colin Gillis, a BGC Partners analyst told the NYT “is the fastest growing part of the business, accounting for 32 percent growth year over year.”

Citing Gillis, the NYT wrote that “PayPal, which posted an estimated $31 billion in total transactions in 2011, accounted for nearly a third of the company’s annual revenue, according to BGC Partners.”

Microsoft beats estimates for Q1, posts record revenue

Microsoft has done well in terms of revenue in the first quarter of 2012. So well, in fact that it not only beat estimates of a drop in revenue but actually hit a record of $17.41 billion for the quarter, a 6 percent year-over-year increase.

However, as Mashable reported, net income was down, to $5.11 billion from $5.23 billion in the first quarter of 2011.

Despite the fact that revenues from their Xbox division also dropped (by 16 percent), Mashable reports that the company remains optimistic about their game console, which they say is currently the market leader.

“We’ve really staked out a unique value proposition,” Mashable cited Microsoft CFO Peter Klein as saying. “We view Xbox Live as a persistent long-term revenue stream. We feel great about out leadership position.”

This week in marketing studies and reports:

Facebook ad engagement down 8 percent, ad prices up

According to an analysis from TBG Digital, though engagement with Facebook ads in the U.S. has dropped by 8 percent between Q4 2011 and Q1 2012, the cost of ads on the platform has actually increased.

“The average cost-per-thousand impressions for Facebook ads has increased by 41% worldwide over the past year. Cost-per-click rates have risen as well, and Facebook has become increasingly competitive with Twitter in directing readers to news sites,” reports Mashable.

Mobile payments to take over cash and cards by 2020

According to a new study reported on by Mashable, experts are predicting that, by 2020, mobile payments will have replaced cash and credit cards.

The study found that most of the 1,021 technology stakeholders that made up the sample group agreed “swiping mobile phones could replace cash and credit cards both online and in stores by smartphone and tablet users within the next decade.”

Internet ad revenue hit $31B in 2011

Released this week and reported on by TechCrunch, the IAB Internet Advertising Revenue Report found that internet advertising revenue reached a record $3.1 billion in 2011, an increase of 22 percent since the beginning of 2011.

Search ads produced $14.8 billion in revenue, while mobile represented the fastest growth, with an increase from $0.6 billion in  2010 to $1.6 billion 2011.

Switch to Facebook Timeline followed by slower fan growth

According to data from Wildfire Interactive, reported on by Mashable, since Facebook switched Brand Pages over to the new Timeline format, growth of fans has “slowed slightly” for all brand on average, though “brands with more than 1 million fans experienced twice the sluggishness of smaller brands.”

Comments are also down, by 6.5 percent, though Likes have increased by an average of  22 percent per post, while People Talking About This has risen by 25 percent.

About Emily Wilkinson

Emily Wilkinson is a Montreal writer and editor who recently joined ReveNews.com. Her experience comes largely from her work at print publications like La Scena Musicale, where she alternated between positions as content manager, copy editor and journalist.
She believes in the importance of strong writing, be it in journalism or in other media, like blogging or even social networking. Her prerogative: though language will and ought to evolve, a good writer need never sacrifice the communicative power of text that is written with thought and care, whatever the venue.
Find Emily on Twitter @EditorWilkinson