Amazon and Apple are massively successful retailers, the envy of digital and brick-and-mortar businesses alike. Currently, the two tech retailers enjoy a place among the biggest, most successful companies in the world. But they have a blind spot. The premises on which they’ve built their market advantage are now no longer the most important things in digital. They’re missing a data asset that would allow them to understand their customers better: the interest graph.
What is the interest graph?
Not to be confused with the social graph, which describes who you know, the interest graph describes what you like. On Facebook, the difference between the social graph and the interest graph is easily understood as the difference between a friend request and a Like. On Twitter, the social graph and the interest graph is mapped via only one vector — the follow — but in this case, following influencers is what signifies interest. If you follow an influential account like @David_Lynch on Twitter, it’s safe to assume you probably like indie films.
The interest graph attracted significant interest from technologists in 2011. Read Write Web said the interest graph is part of “the future of the social web,” while PayPal founder Max Levchin boldly predicted success for companies that capture the interest graph. So far, all Amazon sees is your shopping cart; companies leveraging the interest graph see your hopes and dreams.
What must Amazon learn from the interest graph?
Amazon could detect purchase intent earlier and identify under-served customers
What Amazon already knows about its customers:
- products purchase data (backward looking)
- wishlist data (sparse)
What Amazon could discover from the interest graph:
- our favorite brands (aspirational)
- new purchases shared by our friends (social proof)
(Amazon attempted in 2010 to expand its recommendations engine with a still-in-beta program that taps into the social graph, but the app’s intelligence is currently limited to Facebook friends’ Likes.)
What must Apple learn from the interest graph?
Apple could recommend songs and apps with greater accuracy
What Apple already knows about its customers:
- songs and apps purchased (backward-looking)
- location (and possibly what sites you visit, though it would cause a privacy uproar)
What Apple could discover from the interest graph:
- musicians who we follow but haven’t purchased yet (forward-looking)
- our friends’ apps
Ramifications of the interest graph for e-commerce
In a surprise upset, Apple and Amazon, with their massive product catalogs, cash hoards, and fulfillment channels, could potentially lap Twitter and Facebook in the race to monetize social. The e-commerce giants could create a much richer portrait of their customers – and better predict their behavior — by leveraging the interest graph. However, if they snooze on the opportunity (or waste valuable time building “abandoned garden” social networks like Ping), someone else could develop interest graph technology for e-tailers first and gain the advantage.
Interest graph technology has powerful ramifications for e-commerce as a whole. Information in the interest graph (which is public, by the way), can clue retailers into the aspirations of their customers — at the brand awareness stage.
January 24, 2012 - 1 year ago
Facebook is diving into the interest graph with Interest Lists, a Twitter-like tool that Facebook says can help users “turn Facebook into your own personalized newspaper.”
Says the Huffington Post:
“Interest Lists” …allow users to make mini-newsfeeds that include the status updates, posts, pictures and stories only from the people and pages a user has added to a certain topical or “interest” list.
The trend among social platforms to adopt interest graph features is most valuable to marketers, even more so than the social graph. Here, Facebook is taking after Twitter and 140 Proof as it starts to emphasize interests over connections.
March 14, 2012 - 1 year ago
SAN FRANCISCO — 140 Proof co-founder John Manoogian III (@jm3) took to the stage yesterday with Intel, Starcom, Ogilvy, Brightroll, and others to bring the gospel of social ad innovation to the people.
Panel: Social Ads: Did Anyone See the Revolution Coming?
A lot has changed in social advertising, to the point where many best practices from less than five years ago are at best irrelevant and at worst detrimental to smart businesses. Social’s sphere of influence is no longer confined to social networks, and the big data generated by sites like Twitter and Facebook influences countless business and branding decisions. Application-based ads are still in play, but they’ve been surpassed by data-driven units influenced by the interest graph (140 Proof) and the social graph (Facebook). Social advertising vendors, analytics companies, and data experts will be asked to share their thoughts on social advertising, discuss how it has evolved, what it means, and how we can look at this evolution to predict where it’s going.
Tweet highlights from panel attendees:
Thanks very much to all who attended, commented, asked questions, and helped spread the world!
March 21, 2012 - 1 year ago
Cross-platform ad networks today are struggling to find a single, unified way to understand their audiences. For example, mobile networks’ panic over what to do about UDIDs has been going on for months. But on a broader level, how does a post-PC world deal with an audience that is everywhere, on every device, all at once?
The answer is social.
Social identity is fast becoming the great unifier of online activity. While UDID and other device identifiers can help direct marketers confirm that an app store purchase has completed, little else is available. Public social profiles include basic demographic and location information along with valuable context: who a person follows and what a person likes. This aspect of social is known as the interest graph.
The Quick Guide to 140 Proof Targeting
140 Proof has many ways of reaching a brand’s desired audience, but the most important and effective method we use is via the interest graph. We target people based on their interests, keywords they say and see, and who they follow. When a person logs into one of our apps, we take a look at the public data about who they follow. Almost everyone follows someone influential — and influential people tend to be influential on particular topics. For example, @Forbes is influential among financial products consumers, @nytimesbooks is influential among book lovers, and @ESPN is influential among sports fans.
Targeting Consumers in Social: 3 Examples
We effectively build audiences on the 140 Proof network by aggregating the followers of influencers on particular topics. Let’s take three big events coming up in May: Mothers Day, the Indianapolis 500, and the Grammys.
Lots of retailers want to use Mothers Day as an occasion to drive sales. Imagine that a consumer electronics retailer wanted to reach people shopping for gifts for Mothers Day. We could use a conquest strategy to reach people who favor consumer electronics brands and news. Brands such as @BestBuy, @Amazon, @Pinterest, @wired, @engadget, @gizmodo, @gadgetlab, @ForbesTech, and @mashable combines a large group of followers into a single group. And people who follow more than one targeted brand will be prioritized to receive the retailer’s message.
Now let’s make it a little more complex. What if you need to target two audiences at once? Let’s say a retail brand is sponsoring the Grammys and wants to make a continuity play in social to reinforce the other media in the plan. In this case, we would target both fans of retail influencers as well as music lovers. So the brand would create a custom audience of the followers of brands like: @hm, @TeenVogue, @TOMS, @Burberry, @americanapparel, @zappos, @Etsy, @JCPenney, @Target, @TheGRAMMYs, @Rihanna, @Eminem, @katyperry, @Shakira, @kanyewest. By an extremely broad definition, up to 50 million people can be targeted with this combination of personas.
Interest graph targeting works for every vertical or type of event. Let’s say a CPG brand wants to make a big push around the Indy 500 for a promotional tie-in with a specific driver it sponsors. The principle is the same as for the Grammys: target the followers of sports and racing influencers (including the sponsored driver!) as well as CPG shoppers. The CPG brand promoting around the Indy 500 would aggregate the followers of accounts like the CPG brands @kraftmacncheese, @Skittles, @Oreo, and @miraclewhip; the sports brands @NASCAR, @ESPN, @SportsCenter; and popular drivers @dariofranchitti, @danicapatrick, and @h3lio.
Now you should have a better understanding of how interest graph targeting can be used to aggregate followers into audiences. Do you know of a brand facing a unique targeting challenge, or do you have any questions about interest graph targeting? Let us know in the comments.
Related: The 7 Essential Elements of an Award Winning Campaign
April 26, 2012 - 1 year ago
by Jon Elvekrog, 140 Proof CEO
Twitter now has 140 million active users sending over 230 million tweets per day, and the site attracts more than 400 million unique visitors each month. Millions of passionate consumers use the site to discover and share information around common interests, with the average American spending more than 10 hours per month on Twitter and other social feeds. It’s no wonder brands want to insert themselves into the Twitter conversation to reach and engage consumers based on shared interests.
And yet, while nearly every brand has its own Twitter account and regularly tweets, many brand messages get drowned out in the constant fire hose of tweets. To make themselves heard above the noise, brands are now racing to reach consumers in social feeds via paid media — using several marketing tactics to make sure their messages are heard. At my company, we’ve seen brands double their paid social stream advertising in 2011, and large brands have actually increased spend by more than four times.
But getting paid media on Twitter and other real-time social feeds right is no easy task. Which paid media strategies can brands adopt today to reach targeted audiences on Twitter? How can they reach these audiences in a measurable, scalable way — but also ensure consumers experience their messages as rich, engaging content instead of intrusive ads?
Since paid social stream advertising is so new, many brands are learning as they go. To get started, here are four concrete strategies to use social advertising to deepen your brand impact on Twitter.
Align with existing audiences
A great way to reach targeted audiences at scale on Twitter is to target paid social ad campaigns to followers of relevant publications, companies (even competitors), topics, or interests that match your key demographics. People who follow these categories or companies already have some easily identifiable characteristics that map to your brand messages, so they will likely be interested in your campaigns and offers. In effect, you piggyback your campaign on existing Twitter interest groups — reaching the right targets without having to get people to necessarily follow your brand.
For example, Mercedes might want to reach affluent, urban, active men and could target a paid social stream campaign to followers of @Forbes, @CNBC, @GQMagazine, and @CarAndDriver. It might also target followers of @BMW, @Lexus, @TheNorthFace, @CondeNaste, @Aspen, @skiing, and @RitzCarlton to broaden the reach of the campaign.
Political candidates and causes can also use this tactic to great effect. For example, Mitt Romney might be looking to target fiscally conservative voters living in California. His advertising managers might decide to run a paid social stream campaign targeting followers of topics such as @CAPensionReform, @CABudget, and @CAPolitics.
Another example might be that Pampers wants to reach hip, socially conscious, urban moms with news of the launch of a new line of chemical-free baby products. The brand could target followers of @BurtsBees, @ParkSlopeParent, @MomFilter, @CaliforniaBaby, and @MotheringMag.
The key to aligning your paid social stream campaigns to existing Twitter audiences is to identify brands, topics, or themes that your key audience likely already follows, and then target your campaigns to the followers of people who are influential on those topics. This way, instead of reaching only your own followers with a regular tweet, you reach a much wider base of people who might not yet follow your brand, but are squarely in your key demographic.
Activate connected fans
To extend the reach of a paid social stream campaign, make sure it gets in front of connected fans. These Twitter users are active sharers — spreading ideas, offers, and messages among their own followers and people aligned with their interest graph. If you get your paid campaign in front of influencers, they’ll spread your messages for you — and bring them to many more people than you originally targeted. What’s more, connected fans amplify your message — because when they retweet or share it, your message seems more relevant and personal. Connected fans are seen by their followers as trusted experts and advisors, so when they recommend your brand message, it feels more authentic than when it comes directly from the advertiser.
For example, Microsoft might target a campaign for a new version of its Office suite to all the Twitter users who engaged with a previous Office ad campaign. It might extend the campaign to the fans who most often tweet about Microsoft, and/or target people who follow @Windows, @TechNet, as well as well-known Windows and Microsoft bloggers.
Just as experts tend to speak a little “inside baseball” with their pet topics, so do connected fans respond more than the average person to nuanced content. For a campaign targeting connected fans of Microsoft Office, ad creative can tell more of the Microsoft story, even including quotes from or images of Microsoft notables like Steve Ballmer. Provide content of value — the kind of content that connected fans would themselves share with their audiences.
To get connected fans to share your campaigns, some incentives that work include offering people who retweet your messages a certain number of times a free product or service, inviting those who spread your campaign the most to a special VIP event, or launching a contest for your brand’s “biggest fan” that rewards the most active sharers with prizes.
For Burger King’s “King of the Road” campaign, CP+B teamed up with Mindshare to bring the King’s epic journey to BK’s biggest fans, informally known as “fast food superfans,” in the Twitter ecosystem. The King crossed the country, adventuring with fans and awarding Xbox Kinect bundles to the most worthy. BK’s ad creative changed daily as the King’s location changed, broadcasting clues to his next stop on the tour. Paid social drove an increase of 4,000 followers for The King’s Twitter account.
Own an event
Twitter activity explodes around large events — the Super Bowl, the Oscars, the Olympics, big concerts, holidays, and more. During the 2012 Super Bowl, consumers sent over 13 million Super Bowl-related tweets — compared to fewer than 2 million last year. Millions more tweets about the Super Bowl happened before and after the event. Brands pay millions of dollars for 30-second commercials during the Super Bowl for one main reason — because millions of people are watching the game. But smart brands now realize that “watching the game” no longer means just staring at a TV screen. Millions of people used Twitter and other social streams on their mobile devices and tablets to engage with fans near and far during the Super Bowl. In fact, most large-scale events today have a real-time social stream component. People don’t just watch an event on TV, they read and post tweets during the televised event.
To get maximum impact for your paid social campaign, consider targeting the mega-audiences following a key event before, during, and after the big day. For example, Chevrolet spent big to buy paid social stream ads targeting all Twitter users following @superbowl and @nfl for 48 hours. And by utilizing video placements in social apps, users had more opportunities to see Chevy’s Super Bowl commercials than any other advertiser who paid the $3.5 million price tag for a spot. With this “play big” strategy, Chevrolet emerged as the “Social Media Brand Champion” of the 2012 Super Bowl, attaining the highest mindshare on social media of all the brands that advertised during the game.
These all-out campaigns aim to boost your brand’s share of voice during major events, dominating the conversations taking place. If you buy up a large share of ad inventory related to the event, you’ll edge out your competitors.
If you want to own an event on Twitter, here are some key tips to make it work. Research the event — be sure your team knows roughly what’s going to happen, in what order, and with whom. Well beforehand, use ads to invite the audience to share plans and thoughts around the event. Your pre-event campaign can include links to “how to get ready” blog posts or color commentary on pre-event tweets by stars. To increase interest in your ads, use graphics that extend the brand’s identity to match the event. Flight the campaign with up to a two-week lead, maximizing share of voice during the event broadcast. And for weekend events, time a second burst of impressions for Monday morning to shape “water cooler conversations” in social.
Link to the “second screen” in real-time
TV viewing is rapidly changing. People don’t just plunk down on the sofa and watch an entire broadcast from start to finish with rapt attention. The majority of TV watchers today also have a tablet, smartphone, or internet-connected laptop nearby while they’re watching TV. These smaller devices are the “second screen” connected to the TV viewing experience — allowing TV viewers to interact with other viewers in real-time, get up-to-the-minute plot analyses or game scores, and share their opinions of characters, actions, or plays with other fans as the show is happening. People interact on the second screen with apps of all kinds — downloadable apps, websites, niche fan social sites, and Facebook. But the most widely used tool for second-screen interaction is Twitter.
Twitter transforms “watching TV” into a social experience, allowing viewers to chat with friends and fellow fans during a program. Twitter also adds an exciting dimension to TV, providing viewers with real-time commentary on every dramatic twist or stellar play as it happens.
A great way to stretch your paid social campaign dollars is to target TV fans in real-time, since many viewers keep one eye on their Twitter feed and one eye on the TV screen. For example, Victoria’s Secret might launch a paid social campaign targeting @GleeOnFox, @Gleeks, and @GossipGirl to supplement its commercial buy during those programs.
With this type of campaign, real-time optimization is critical. Considering that during the Super Bowl, 12,000 tweets were sent per second, it’s critical that any paid advertising effort on Twitter be real-time to take advantage of constantly shifting conversations as events unfold. Did a favorite character just die? A star-crossed couple finally got together? Adapt your paid social campaigns in real-time, changing creative on the fly to match what’s happening on the screen.
The messages you use in your paid social campaigns should tie directly into “fan language” and the real-time events happening on screen. “Did Serena really just kiss him? At least you can get her look with Maybelline.” “It’s a touchdown for New York! Now go grab a Bud!”
Of course, you’ve got to set up a real-time “war room” to adapt your campaigns on the fly. You’ll need up to two writers committed to writing about what’s happening now and anticipating what’s coming up. Their main goal? Enlighten and entertain the Twitter audience by giving a fresh perspective in the brand’s voice. A third person can monitor paid placements, reviewing share and click performance so that the writers can optimize for messages that work.
In the week beforehand, tell your audience that you’ll be live-tweeting, and build interest by asking your followers to share their plans around the event. Research the event — be sure you know roughly what’s going to happen, in what order, and with whom. To increase excitement, use a special Twitter icon for the duration of the event, perhaps your brand’s logo combined with the event name or using the signature colors of the event. Tweet fairly often as the event begins, increasing in frequency when the event’s excitement peaks. Be interesting — commit to enlightening or entertaining your audience. When the event is over, send a note of thanks.
The paid social campaign supporting Infiniti’s sponsorship of the Emmys won Infiniti 1,000 retweets for a simple congratulatory tweet for the Best Actor Emmy, largely because Infiniti’s message was seen first by the most people.
Twitter users are some of the most engaged, passionate consumers out there today — sharing content they love and discovering new information based on their self-defined interest graphs. Brands want to insert themselves authentically into this organic, fast-moving conversation, and with a little ingenuity, and the right social ad platform partner, brands can start reaching the right audiences on Twitter to build high-impact recall and affinity.
Jon Elvekrog is CEO of 140 Proof. You can follow him on Twitter at @jonelvekrog.
For more tips on how to use Twitter and social to power up paid campaigns, check out Followers Are Audiences: Targeting the Biggest Audiences on Twitter
May 7, 2012 - 1 year ago
140 Proof CEO Jon Elvekrog spoke with Financial Times about what Facebook has to do to support its $100 billion valuation.
While FT takes the position that advertisers are unhappy with Facebook’s ad offering, Elvekrog posits that the platform has a solid start and that it’s simply time to super-charge Facebook ads for the interests of brand advertisers.
Some advertisers want more traditional online ad formats and placement, such as flashy banner ads across the top of the screen, or at the top of the Facebook news feed, where users spend most of their time reading updates from their friends. They are willing to pay a premium for this coveted positioning, says Jon Elvekrog, chief executive of 140 Proof, a social advertising company.
“Facebook is doing a lot of things right, but to grow that revenue line, it has to push toward higher-value ad placement and technology,” he says.
Read more about how Facebook’s ads affect its value:
Facebook Must Grow Social Ad Business to Sustain IPO Momentum
May 8, 2012 - 1 year ago
What inspires you? We’re calling on our network to connect with us on Pinterest, the interest graph for images. At 140 Proof, we count our culture of design and aesthetics among our competitive strengths.
Customers and competitors alike have complimented us on our focus on design, but we haven’t shared our inspiration until now.
Follow 140 Proof on Pinterest
May 9, 2012 - 1 year ago
The Olympic games start on July 27, 2012, but the race to game the social ad strategy has already begun.
For the Beijing Summer Olympics, NBC alone sold over $1 billion worth of advertising, and online publishers took an estimated $100 million in revenue. Social advertisers take note: the 2008 games happened before social advertising really got going. Even in early 2010, social advertising was just gaining a foothold, and the 2010 Winter Olympics saw advertisers foray into social efforts.
This year, they’re going all-in. The role of social in promotion of the 2012 Games will be huge.
Earned Social Campaigns for the Games in Full Swing
Earned media campaigns on the Olympics began earlier this spring, at the 100-day mark, with names like Proctor & Gamble and Coca-Cola taking up the social torch for their promotions.
On Facebook, Samsung is encouraging people to follow more Olympic athletes with an earned play: a 140 Proof-like app called ”How Olympic Are You?” As part of the self-titled “US Olympic Genome Project,” the app analyzes how well connected people are to athletes for this year’s Games. (Why is it 140 Proof-like? It analyzes people’s connections to Olympics influencers, similar to how 140 Proof analyzes people’s interests based on who they follow.)
Of most interest to advertisers using the interest graph, the Games have set up an Olympic Athletes’ Hub to help people follow all their favorite competitors on social platforms like Twitter and Facebook, extending the earned reach of Olympic messaging to as many people as possible and strengthening interest graph links between influencers and fans.
Brands Seek to Maximize Social Sharing
The main focus in the paid media approach as reported by several outlets is on generating a maximum number of shares.
Alex Craddock, head of North America marketing for Visa (always a major Olympics sponsor), says (emphasis ours):
The biggest challenge, I’ll call it an exciting opportunity, is with social and the importance of social in orchestrating your content across those multiple platforms. We have a lot of experience on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube and are harnessing those experiences to make sure “Go World” delivers a great user experience.
The goals are around engagement and sharing. We have a multitude of different metrics we track. It’s hard to find one metric that we’ll be able to track on a day-to-day basis. It’s the level of sharing and engagement that will drive the level of success across “Go World.” We focus on three key metrics, views of the multitude of videos, the “likes” that we garnish for our Facebook page and the variety of consumer content and the cheers themselves.
But how best to encourage engagement and sharing? Since London 2012 organizers seem to be discouraging homegrown shareable media, brands and organizers must reinforce opportunities for fans to share officially sanctioned media. The best way to do that is with paid social media: make it easy for fans to share your content in social by presenting it in a social context.
Paid Social Campaigns for the Olympics Ramp Up
And paid campaigns for #London2012 all things Olympic have already begun, with brands like Visa and Sega stepping up first.
Visa launched its huge “Go World” campaign, which includes a Facebook wall dedicated to fans’ cheers for athletes (similar to Gillette’s Facebook greeting card for Derek Jeter on 140 Proof in 2011) and paid promotion of the Twitter hashtag #VisaGoWorld.
Earlier this year, Twitter promised Olympics organizers that they wouldn’t allow non-sponsors to squat the #london2012 hashtag for Twitter’s promoted products. That promise appears fulfilled so far: Only Sega, a London 2012 sponsor, is currently tagging along to Olympics momentum on Twitter to promote their latest game releases. Search Twitter for “#London2012” today, and you’ll see Sega is promoted at the top of the results.
As Olympics news in social advertising develops, 140 Proof will report more. Have you considered drafting on Olympics buzz to support a brand campaign? Let us know in the comments or send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more on how social will affect the big stories of 2012, check out How Social Will Win the Election Ad Wars
May 11, 2012 - 1 year ago