Facebook’s Sponsored Stories appear in real-time Ticker
November 21, Facebook’s Sponsored Stories went where they’ve never gone before â€“ to the social network’s real-time Ticker.
The paid ad format has been around since last year, using content from your Facebook contacts to add a little relevance and interest to messages from brands. For example, if a friend of yours has liked a brand’s page or dropped a line about them in a wall post, that content will appear as a brand story along with the other ads on the right-hand sidebar.
But, as they begin appearing elsewhere on Facebook, Sponsored Stories are going a step further in merging promotion with users’ content.
According to TechCrunch, Facebook has already been testing the response to Sponsored Stories outside of the traditional spot for ads on Facebook. As of August, Sponsored Stories about games played by friends have made their way to the Games Ticker, the article says. TechCrunch goes on to write:
â€œThis experiment seems to have gone without a backlash, leading Facebook to allow Sponsored Stories to appear in the standard Ticker that shows standard activity stories.â€
Sponsored Stories have already been found to be more effective than other forms of advertising on the site:
â€œSponsored Stories are twice as engaging as normal adverts, and statistics from Nielsen show that people are 68 percent more likely to remember seeing them â€“ and twice as likely to remember the advert’s message,â€ says Econsultancy.
And they’re already a big part of the future envisioned by Gokul Rajaram the Product Director of Ads at Facebook, wherein â€œall of Facebook’s ads include social content or context.â€
There’s always the possibility that users revolt, demanding their content stay separate from brand messages. But this is not unlike Twitter’s decision to insert Promoted Tweets directly in the Tweet stream, a move that has not altogether bothered users.
And, as TechCrunch notes, there’s a big difference between placing Sponsored Stories in the Ticker and placing them in the news feed. TechCrunch says this will ensure â€œthe proper balance between monetization and maintaining the sanctity of content,â€ as â€œthe quality of the news feed experience is a core reason the site is addictive.â€
Visa And Shopkick partner for retail rewards at stores
Visa has just partnered with Shopkick, the geo-rewards program, to begin offering mobile, location-based rewards on shoppers’ phones when they enter a store’s retail location, Mashable reported November 21.
The â€œBuy & Collectâ€ deals, as they’ve been called, will appear to users who have downloaded Shopkick’s free App to their Android device or iPhone, linking it to their Visa account. The app becomes active as the user enters a participating store, so there’s no need to check in. â€œKickbuckâ€ points are then awarded for actions like scanning a barcode, trying something on, or simply being in the shop. Kickbucks can then be redeemed as gift card rewards or Facebook Credits.
Through the new partnership, users who have linked their Shopkick app to their Visa account will also receive points for paying with their Visa.
Already participating in the program are Toys â€œRâ€ Us, American Eagle Outfitters, Old Navy, Wet Seal, Simon Malls, and others.
The partnership should help Visa in their current strategy, which is to â€œpersonalize the shopping experience for consumers and increase conversion rates and drive larger basket sizes for merchants,â€ says Leigh Amaro, Visa’s head of Advertising Solutions Group.
Meanwhile, it’s good news for Shopkick as well. â€œWalk-in rewards are important,â€ TechCrunch quoted Shopkicks’s founder Cyriac Roeding as saying, â€œbut the combination of walk-in rewards and purchases is a killer combo.â€
eBay acquires Hunch for recommendations
eBay announced its latest acquisition, Hunch, November 20. It’s one that the ecommerce giant hopes will aid in â€œpersonalizing the shopping experience on eBay to the individual relevant tastes and interests of our customers.â€
Hunch, the New York-based recommendation start-up, uses â€œTaste Graphsâ€ to suggest relevant purchases to consumers. This prediction technology works by mining â€œsignals from around the Web to map members with their predicted affinity for products, services, other people, websites, or just about anything,â€ according to the press release. That includes things your Facebook friends have “liked”.
As quoted by the New York Times‘ Bits Blog, eBay’s Chief Technology Officer Mark Carges says this such technology is crucial to a site like eBay, which deals in such a wide variety of products:
â€œAll retailers want to suggest items to the people visiting their site [...] That works with a finite category of goods. We have a lot of unique inventory at eBay, from coins to auto parts.â€
The Wall Street Journal‘s All Things D reported November 22 on rumors that Facebook does, in fact, have a phone in the works. Citing â€œsources familiar with the project,â€ the article says the smartphone, code-named â€œBuffy,â€ will be built by HTC and powered by a modified version of Android, â€œtweaked heavily to deeply integrate its services, as well as to support HTML5 as a platform for applications.â€
Though Facebook decided not to make any direct comment on the device, a spokesman told All Things D:
â€œOur mobile strategy is simple: we think every mobile device is better is it is deeply social. We’re working across the entire mobile industry; with operators, hardware manufacturers, OS providers, and application developers to bring powerful social experiences to more people around the world.â€
The Facebook phone, if it is indeed in the works, will go beyond Facebook’s current involvement in mobile, which has depended on collaborations with others.
No one has put an exact date on when to expect the Buffy’s appearance, but All Things D says it probably won’t arrive for at least 12 to 18 months.
The three-day decline began November 21, with shares falling 10 percent to $20.03 by 3 pm, just a hair above the company’s $20 IPO price, according to Mashable.
By market’s close November 23, Groupon shares has plunged by over 15 percent, to less than $17 a share.
That’s a paltry follow-up to a debut that saw Groupon shares soaring by 50 percent on the company’s first day of trading. They closed the market November 4 with 35 million shares sold, shares valued at $26, and the company estimated at a worth of $12.65 billion.
Groupon’s stock price plunge can be likened to the drop LinkedIn experienced this week, with shares â€œnow trading at about half their peak summer value, , after the company’s 180-day lockup period ended Monday,â€ says Mashable.
The decline of Groupon’s stock, and that of other tech companies with recent IPOs reflects investors’ lack of faith in the industry, says the New York Times‘ DealBook:
â€œThe widespread pullback seems to suggest that investors, while eager to capitalize on first-day gains, do not have confidence, or stomach, to hold on to the web’s latest offerings.â€
This is far from comforting to tech investors and technology companies planning an IPO in the coming months. Among the latter are Facebook and Zynga.
YouTube gets full-length Disney movies
Google’s one year-old YouTube Movies service is about to add some high-profile content to its library.
ReveNews reported this month on YouTube’s deal with Disney that will result in the creation of a short series of original Disney videos exclusive to YouTube.
According to Mashable, the two companies have now inked yet another deal, licensing hundreds of films from Walt Disney Studio, Disney-Pixar, and DreamWorks Studios.
Among the first new titles, says a YouTube blog post, are classics like Alice in Wonderland and Winnie the Pooh, Pixar hits like Cars, and live-action films like Pirates of the Caribbean.
Much like the deal signed earlier this month between YouTube and Disney, this agreement will be mutually beneficial in that it will allow Disney an entry into a platform they haven’t been as successful on, while Disney’s content lends YouTube more credibility.
It remains to be seen what impact the deal will have on Google TV, though it seems safe to say it won’t hurt.
Last time ReveNews took on the possibilities in Yahoo’s future, it still seemed like anyone’s guess.
Among the theories was that Microsoft could be poised for a takeover of the company as part of a joint bid with private equity firm Silver Lake Partners and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB).
That eventuality seems all the more likely now, in light of a nondisclosure agreement that Microsoft signed with Yahoo this week. Citing â€œa source familiar with the matter,” Reuters reported November 23 that â€œMicrosoft Corp has signed a confidentiality agreement with Yahoo Inc, allowing the software giant to take a closer look at Yahoo’s business.â€
And though Microsoft isn’t the only company to have signed such a document, this particular nondisclosure agreement has led some, like TechFlash, to ask if it means Microsoft will be buying Yahoo.
But, because part of the agreement keeps bidder from communicating with one another, others, like the New York Times‘ DealBook have suggested that Microsoft â€œis unlikely to pursue its own takeover attempt. Instead, it may aid others.â€
â€œIn that situation,â€ says DealBook, â€œMicrosoft would shoulder little operational responsibility for Yahoo,â€ a far cry from the company’s 2008 attempt at an acquisition, aimed largely at challenging competitor Google.
Now, says TechFlash, â€œMicrosoft’s primary motivation to acquire Yahoo is likely to maintain its online search and advertising deal with the company, which allows Microsoft’s underlying Bing search technology to be used on both sites.â€
AT&T and T-Mobile withdraw FCC merger application
When AT&T and T-Mobile announced theirproposed merger back in March, many already expected some antitrust rumblings. In August, those misgiving proved true as the Department of Justice launched an antitrust suit against the companies.
Now, in order to focus on the DOJ’s federal suit, AT&T issued an official statement November 25, saying it is withdrawing its merger application with the FCC. And though TechFlash reported November 22 that â€œFCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has â€œsignaled disapproval of AT&T’s $39 billion bid to take over [...] T-Mobile,â€ AT&T is saying it had withdrawn its application before any verdict from the FCC:
â€œWe believe the record will show that we withdrew our merger application before the FCC voted on the chairman’s proposed hearing designation order.â€
Furthermore, AT&T’s statement claims that the withdrawal in no way requires FCC approval. â€œIt has since been reported that the FCC must approve this withdrawal. This is not accurate. The FCC’s own rules give us this right and provide that the FCC ‘will’ grant any such withdrawal.â€
The statement, which TechCrunch says seems to be aimed specifically at the media, goes on to say that â€œwe have every right to withdraw our merger from the FCC, and the FCC has no right to stop us. Any suggestion the agency might so otherwise would be an abuse of procedure which we would immediately challenge in court.â€
But why all the fuss? According to TechCrunch:
â€œIt seems that AT&T doesn’t want to see its request reviewed by the administrative law judge, so it was better for them to pull the request, regroup and resubmit the request instead of getting this one denied.â€
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