“FBX was my baby that I staked everything on. We shipped it fast, scaled it up, and now the baby talks and can walk to school, but I don’t feel I need to babysit it,” says Antonio Garcia-Martinez, product director of Facebook’s ad exchange who announced he’s leaving the company today. After selling his company AdGrok to Twitter, then defecting to Facebook two years ago, Antonio deserves a vacation.
“‘To my friends: my work is done. Why wait?’ - George Eastman, suicide note” is how Garcia started his customary goodbye post on Facebook today. But I wanted the deeper story, and he agreed to grant me an interview.
For starters, Garcia tells me “I’m still totally long on Facebook as a company. Anyone who bets against Facebook probably deserves to lose their money.” So while many high-ranking Facebookers have departed in the year since the IPO, he doesn’t want his exit perceived as a sign that Facebook is losing steam.
It was the company’s potential to change the world and its hacker culture that attracted him the in the first place. After attending UC Berkeley, Garcia did a stint on Wall Street at Goldman Sachs. His Facebook profile describes his position there as “Pricing quant on the corporate credit-default swap desk. Yes, I was part of that whole mess.” The financial sector implosion led him to Adchemy, where he’d develop the chops to start his own ad tech company, AdGrok.
The startup helped businesses automate Google AdWords selection and bidding, and was accepted to Y Combinator. Eventually, the young CEO accepted a $10 million acquisition bid from Twitter, but it didn’t prove a good fit for Garcia. Facebook jumped at the chance to poach him and he became the social network’s first product manager of ad targeting.
Garcia-Martinez tells me it’s these kinds of talent deals that keep Facebook feisty. “They acqhire or acquire lots of startup CEOs. They want that ‘crazy startup, do whatever-the-fuck it takes to get it done, no fear, maybe slightly abrasive and aggressive DNA. If you’re a small startup considering selling your company, there’s definitely far worse places to work than Facebook,” he tells me. While great people that joined Facebook the startup are leaving, they’re being replaced with great people who know they’re going to work for a big company. Antonio says “at the Facebook engineering level are some of the smartest people I’ve ever worked with.”
Eventually he found the project that would define his time at Facebook: FBX. At the time, Facebook’s ads were firmly stuck in the demand generation part of the purchase funnel. The company knew who you were and what you liked, but not what you wanted to buy next. Facebook Exchange would change that. In his goodbye post, he writes of “building an ad exchange with three engineers in one frenetic month” — a serious feat.
In June 2012, FBX began public testing. It let Facebook advertisers target users based on cookies dropped by websites they’d visited. If you almost booked a flight to Hawaii but didn’t pull the trigger, FBX could hit you with ads for discounted Hawaii flights and hotels the next time you visited Facebook. Facebook finally knew your purchase intent, and could sell it for high rates that companies would pay out of budgets reserved for retargeting.
“It is working very well. No question it’s been a success for Facebook,” Garcia tells me. And ad platform data and interviews back him up. The FBX ads Antonio willed into being delivered big returns and had ad platforms betting their businesses on Facebook.
Yet we’re not seeing Facebook doubling down on FBX as I would have expected, and perhaps that’s the real reason Garcia is heading out. Right now, FBX doesn’t work at all on mobile, which seems like a huge miss considering that’s now where the majority of Facebook’s engagement is. FBX retargeting data can’t be combined with standard Facebook biographical targeting, either. There are privacy concerns with that, but if Facebook was really committed to FBX, I think they would have been hammered out by now.
As is, FBX is immature, and if Facebook isn’t going to apply the resources to help it grow up, I can understand Antonio’s desire not to play nanny.
Regardless of the exact reasons for his departure, it was time for Antonio to go galavanting. If you’ve met him or follow him on social media, you know he’s an adventurer who loves fast cars and tall mountains. He writes, “What comes after? Probably a few months in either forest, ocean, or desert. And then another ride on that startup roller coaster that got me here in the first place.”
As for what kind of problem he’ll tackle, he says it’s “not necessarily going to be in ad tech. It’s been four to 5 years [in that space] which is pretty long by my ADD standards.” He cites Cloudera founder Jeff Hammerbacher’s popular quote: “The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads…That sucks.” Instead, he tells me, “My next thing could be something in hardware. It’s never been easier to turn bits into atoms.”
I’ve covered Facebook ads closely for the last three years and it’s remarkable to see how far it’s come in no small part thanks to Antonio. What was once a fledgling channel has turned into a global powerhouse that’s redefining marketing with friends. And while he’s off to go exploring, he’ll probably miss working on something with the impact of what’s built at 1 Hacker Way. He assures me, “It will be the age of Facebook. It will be the next Google. It will define a generation of technology. “Read More →
Stipple, a startup that allows publishers to enrich images with additional content and links, is launching a new feature that it says will allow merchants to include a full-fledged online store in an image.
Co-founder and CEO Rey Flemings told me that this is powerful because product images will usually get better distribution than a traditional ad — “More people will see Nike’s photos and photos that contain Nike than will watch a Nike ad.” With the new feature, merchants can actually monetize those images (if they run on a site that has integrated with Stipple or that added the image using the Stipple embed code).
The company previously supported commerce by adding “shop” links to images. In those cases, however, Flemings said shoppers had to go to another site to make the purchase, which could be particularly problematic if they were looking at an image on their phone and then followed a link to an online store that isn’t mobile-optimized. And even without that issue, there’s some inherent friction.
With Stipple Shopping, on the other hand, people can browse multiple images of a product, view related products, and, yes, make the actual purchase. Flemings said the in-image stores integrate with the merchant’s existing purchase system, so Stipple isn’t the one handling user data.
The feature also builds on existing Stipple technology. For one thing, Flemings said it takes advantage of Stipple’s automatic tagging capabilities, so no one has to manually tag products in an image. And as with existing Stipple photos, these stores will work on Facebook and Twitter.
I didn’t actually get a chance to see one of the stores — a Stipple spokesperson told me that’s because of the “our front end, your backend” approach: “We’re not sharing the UI because brands’ back ends may require tweaks that will alter the front end.” However, you can see the basic idea illustrated in the video above.
Flemings said the functionality is live as of today, allowing existing Stipple merchants to opt-in to the system.Read More →
I get requests on social media and Facebook all the time to take my concept to their locations all over the country! I plan to use crowdsourcing or crowdfunding to help finance expansion and be able to serve more people and other communities.”
Exact details for the upcoming Shwop expansion crowdsourcing plans soon to be released. Shwop owner invites everyone to reach on Facebook and/or Twitter. She accepts connections, and appreciated FB “LIKES” and comments to further the Shwop community.
SOURCE LINK to the full article: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2013/4/prweb10484015.htmRead More →
Twitter’s Music App Launch Reportedly Set For Friday, But Coachella Could Prove Too Chaotic For Marketing
Twitter Music will reportedly launch on Friday, reports AllThingsD citing sources familiar with the matter. Earlier today, music discovery service We Are Hunted confirmed that it had been acquired by Twitter, while Ryan Seacrest tweeted that he’d been playing around with Twitter’s new music app.
AllThingsD says that Twitter’s standalone music app will suggest tracks based on data gleaned from users’ accounts, including the accounts that they follow. The app will allow users to listen to music using third-party services like iTunes and Soundcloud, or watch music videos provided by Vevo.
Its acquisition of We Are Hunted and upcoming music app are the latest signs, along with Vine and its own photo filters, that Twitter is building itself out as an all-inclusive media platform. We’ve contacted Twitter for more information.
A launch this weekend would coincide with the massive Coachella Music Festival outside of Los Angeles, CA. The festival carries heavy sponsorships and in the past Facebook has shown off check-in kiosks and other technology companies have attempted product launches there.
Our writer Josh Constine has attended the last nine Coachellas and will be there this weekend. He’s not sure the launch of a music discovery app would work so well at the intense festival.
Constine explains “Twitter launching a music app at Coachella is risky. The festival is chaotic, there’s poor mobile signal, people try to conserve battery life, and there’s a ton of distraction. Amongst the seven stages and wild crowds of 75,000 attendees, it may be difficult to find time to download and use a music discovery app. There would be no way to hear new music or watch music videos with all the noise there. The festival could be useful for raising awareness of the app, and if it was more of a music moment capturing and sharing app similar to Soundtracking it could see use at Coachellla. But the festival is so overwhelming, inebriating, and exhausting that people might forget about Twitter music app posters seen between sets and might fail to download the app.”
We’ll be on the ground at Coachella tomorrow to let you know if Twitter tries anything.Read More →
The latest technology company to join the IPO bandwagon is e-commerce optimization company ChannelAdvisor. The S-1, filed with the SEC today, indicates that ChannelAdvisor could raise as much as $86.25 million in an offering (but this is a placeholder amount).
ChannelAdvisor provides cloud-based e-commerce software that allows retailers and manufacturers to advertise and list products on Amazon, Google, eBay, Facebook and more. The company’s offerings include automation, analytics and optimization. Users can manage product listings, inventory availability, pricing optimization, search terms, data analytics and other critical functions across sites.
Customers include Eddie Bauer, Ann Taylor, Jockey, Dell and eBags. In 2012, the company said customers processed more than $3.5 billion in gross merchandise value via ChannelAdvisor.
From 2010 to 2012, the company’s revenue increased from $36.7 million to $53.6 million. The company posted losses of $4.6 million, $3.8 million and $5 million in 2010, 2011 and 2012, respectively.
Founded in 2001, the company has raised $75 million from eBay, New Enterprise Associates, Kodiak Venture Partners and a number of others.Read More →
Last year, Tim Sae Koo, Nikhil Aitharaju, Eunice Noh and Ryo Chiba launched HypeMarks to give people a less hectic way to consume social media. The startup aggregated tweets, articles, links and more shared by influencers and celebrities on social media accounts and, by grouping those by topic, aimed to give people a snapshot of an industry through the eyes of the people who know it best.
Although the USC grads were able to generate some interest and raise a small round of seed funding from Bill Gross and Idealab, the service never quite took off. Using the social media aggregation technology they’d developed for HypeMarks, they shifted their focus to take a B2B approach to social media aggregation. In December, they launched Tint — a simple, DIY platform that helps brands aggregate, curate and display social media feeds from multiple networks on their websites, in their mobile apps, Facebook pages and event displays.
In other words, Tint’s platform is designed to help brands create social hubs on top of their digital properties and, in turn, create a deeper level of engagement with their audiences. The idea is that, while there are a number of social media aggregators out there, the average consumer tends to gravitate towards one particular social network and, once there, tends to do their socializing and interacting on that network, rather than switching between them.
Tint allows businesses and brands to connect their social network accounts with their websites, in part to help them promote their products and services through their social feeds, but also to provide their websites with more engaging content. Businesses can link their Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook and RSS feeds to their Tint accounts, whereupon the service auto-populates the page from those feeds, serving the social content in a river that is Pinterest-like in design.
Or, perhaps the better analogy is Flipboard, as each piece of content is given a headline, an excerpt and a photo, served in a create-your-own social magazine sort of layout. Users can then personalize their pages by changing fonts, background colors and so on or change the headline, URL and image of each piece of content. Tint also offers a handful of starter templates (on of which is free) in case you want to get started quickly.
After that’s done, you can embed the product on your site, tweaking the code to customize it for your site or page, whether it be WordPress, Tumblr, Weebly or some other. Tint also allows you to choose the dimensions you want the embedded stream to be and the number of cascading columns you want to appear, automatically serving up the embed code. Take that to your blog, page, drop it in, and bingo, bango, bongo, you have a social feed on your website that is automatically updated every time you tweet or post cat pictures to Facebook.
Admittedly, Tint probably sounds a little bit like Rebelmouse, but Kae Soo tells us that there are a few differences: Namely, Tint enables you to display social media feeds from specific hashtags, YouTube channels and Pinterest boards to help keep your users on your website, app or event (and engaged). Plus, he says, Tint wants to be a platform tool and an aggregator, not a publishing CMS — and one that’s easy to use and takes 10 minutes to set up. The alternatives, he says, are generally expensive, custom solutions that take time to implement and integrate.
While it may not sound earth-shattering, in the four months since launch, Tint has started to build some traction. Over 10,000 brands are actively using Tint on their sites, averaging 2.5 million monthly pageviews and has been doubling revenue and user growth month-over-month. Today, Tint’s clients include Enrique Iglesias, Toni Braxton, a number of NFL and NBA teams, Honda and more, and its 10,000 clients have averaged a 10 to 15 percent increase in traffic, 20 to 30 percent increase in time spent on their site and 12 to 18 percent decrease in bounce rate, the founders tell us.
Next up, Tint will be looking to expand its partnerships with digital agencies, build out its templates and customization options and finish raising its seed round.
Find Tint at home here.Read More →
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Facebook Launches Partner Categories, 500+ Generic Profiles To Target Ads Better, With Data From Datalogix, Epsilon, Axciom
Facebook today is taking another step ahead in its ad targeting strategy, which serves users advertising based on their location and online purchasing and browsing histories. The social network is launching partner categories: some 500 “unique groups”, with more to come, which are descriptors (one example: “buyers of children’s cereals”) that match up with relevant people among Facebook’s 1 billion+ users. Facebook says that advertisers can “futher refine” the categories by using other targeting options it already offers.
As with Facebook’s other targeting ad-tech news, Datalogix, Epsilon and Axciom will be among the companies providing data to power the service. Datalogix alone says it will be providing some 300 of these audience segments.
This is one of the first official products to come out of the partnership with these ad targeting data specialists, which were first tested in September 2012 and then officially announced in February. (Two other stories looking at how these partnerships are progressing are here and here.)
While Facebook has been rolling out some features in ads and in its user services by platform — for example, mobile-only and desktop-only — it’s perhaps a measure of how important this is to the company that it is being rolled out across both desktop and mobile ads today.
Targeting using data from the wider web is a big progression on Facebook’s existing advertising services. These, of course, ads as well but only with data that has been picked up within Facebook itself (although that’s an area that is also expanding). Ad targeting techniques like the ones being introduced today are used on the wider web, so it is important for Facebook to have them as well if it wants to continue to pick up ever-larger parts of businesses’ online marketing budgets.
Facebook’s had one crucial client win this week in that vein: General Motors is back to testing out ads for Facebook after pulling its marketing there a year ago. Its recent acquisition of Atlas from Microsoft also fits into this bigger strategy of having an all-in-one platform for providing online advertising services to businesses.
As you can see from the screenshot of how it looks below, Partner Categories provides a number of relevant details for each category — but not any information about specific users. They include how many people are in a category — 14.8 million for kids’ cereal! — and some of the purchasing history that goes into them getting put into that group. That includes how often a product is bought over the last year, and details of where the information got sourced.
For users, there are the inevitable pros and cons. On the one hand, you will be seeing ads that, in theory, will be based on things you are interested in (if you could call Cap’n Crunch an interest, that is).
“Our ultimate goal is to make the ads people see on Facebook as relevant as the information they see from their friends,” Yvette Lui, director of global marketing solutions, global data & audience partnerships at Facebook, noted in a news release put out by Epsilon. “Targeting features like custom audiences and partner categories help make this possible. Our partnership with Epsilon gives marketers a more accurate and effective way to reach the right groups of real people, which makes for a better ad experience.”
But… on the other, it’s always slightly annoying and menacing when you’ve browsed online for, say, plane tickets to Guatemala — and perhaps even purchased them already — and yet continue to get served ads for related plane tickets everywhere you visit on the web.
Indeed, while this gives advertisers a lot more detail about how, where and to whom to serve ads, what it does not do is ensure that those advertisers will necessarily be the most relevant matches. For example, it’s not a guarantee that the kids’ cereal buyer category will only be used by Kellogg’s or Quaker Oats. It might be a vitamin or toy company, or any kids product company, or any company selling things to parents, or really any company at all that may decide to serve an advert to that particular product category.
As with other targeting services on Facebook, a user can opt out of getting ads from specific advertisers, or from targeting altogether.Read More →