Tag Archives: Facebook

Defunct Cambridge Analytica Under Investigation by Justice and CIA

The New York Times is reporting that the FBI and the US Justice Department are investigating the out-of-business political data company Cambridge Analytica. The company was recently implicated in a scandal over how it used the information it mined from Facebook users, bringing into question any ties it may have had with Russian agents engaged in meddling in the US elections.

Prosecutors from the US government have been questioning former employees and banks associated with Cambridge Analytica, said the Times, citing an American official and others familiar with the investigation.

The company already announced its intention to close by the end of this month since it lost many clients and faced growing legal fees as a result of reports that the company had taken personal data about millions of Facebook users without their knowledge, as far back as 2014.

The company is being accused of using the data of about 87 million Facebook users improperly. Cambridge Analytica was hired by the now President Trump’s 2016 election campaign. As a result several investigation were launched in the US and also in Europe.

Successful Social Media Giants Fail in Profitability

Despite the importance and influence social media sites have had on the way we journey through the world, as businesses, they are almost universally failures.

Yelp was founded in 2004, and went public in 2012, boosted by the millions of people who were using the site to rate local businesses and read those ratings. Prior to the IPO the company raised $56 million in venture capital investments. The IPO brought in an additional $107 million. Still not able to switch to black ink after all this time, a secondary stock offering raised $250 million. Yet, profitability remained an elusive dream.

Before we judge Yelp to harshly, this is a good moment to point out that profitability for social media sites is the exception and not the rule. Today there are only two such online platforms that can be said to make money rather than lose it. Those two are Facebook, which took years to reach profit-making status, and LinkedIn, which has a paid pro subscription, making it less dependent on advertising. You will be looking long and hard to find another social media company that is in this exclusive club. Not YouTube. Not Twitter. And not Yelp.

Now Yelp is looking for a buyer. But its prospects are not good. This is a quote from the company’s annual report:

“We expect that our revenue growth rate will decline as a result of a variety of factors, including the maturation of our business and the gradual decline in the number of major geographic markets, especially within the United States, to which we have not already expanded.”

Over its lifetime Yelp has raised a total of about $400 million from investors. The company has a market value of $3.51 billion, and in 2014 they did manage to eke out a profit for the first time in their history. Over its lifetime, however, Yelp has reported a total of $34 million in losses.

Who will buy this company is yet to be seen. If they do, it will be not as a source of income, at least not soon, but as a way to provide this service to its otherwise loyal customers.

Facebook’s Instagram Beginning Ad Placement Outside US

 

Ads Coming to Instagram
Ads Coming to Instagram

Facebook’s mobile photo service, Instagram will be expanding is new advertising business to countries outside the United States.

The plan is to first show ads to users in Australia, Britain and Canada later this year by working with just a small number of advertisers in each of those countries.

Facebook has already begun placing ads in Instagram inside the US, beginning last November with brands like Levi’s and Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. Instagram announced that the ads within the US have, in some cases yielded results “well above the ad industry’s average for performance.”

Instagram has over 200 million users, and is therefore expected to be an excellent source of advertising revenue for Facebook, which purchased the mobile photo service in 2012 for $1 billion. Seeking to calm investor expectations of a quick revenue uptick, Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg said that the company was going to roll out their ad program on Instagram at a moderate pace.

“We don’t see the need or the urge to ramp this as quickly as we possibly can,” Sandberg said.

When Z Comes Before G: Zuckerberg Trumps Gates

Online Advertising Analysis

When looking at the world of online advertising, it seems it’s out with the old and in with the new. According to an article in Forbes, it’s Facebook that is now in the lead, rendering Microsoft somewhat a thing of the past. Out of the $31.3bn marketing, a staggering two-thirds is now taken up by: Google, Yahoo, AOL, Facebook and Microsoft, but it is Facebook that’s really in the lead, putting Microsoft on a lower rung of the lander.

Look No Further Than Google

When it comes to website searching, it is clear that Google is the name, enjoying three-quarters of the entire market, and, according to eMarketer research, claiming 40.8 percent “all ad dollars spent in the US.

Facebook Fortune

But of course, when looking at the real big money earners, it’s Facebook again, still increasing its profits, “substantially faster than Microsoft.” Over 600 million people are now using Facebook and while in 2009 it had 2.4 percent share in the market, by the end of this year that figure is set to rise to 7 percent, rendering it “the third largest ad-selling company in the US.”

Microsoft Momentum

But it’s not all doom and gloom for Microsoft which has definitely been responding to market changes, having “revamped its online strategy with Bing and a partnership with Yahoo!” The company now enjoys a good search position too. Its revenue growth has been pretty consistent too, “up 18.3% in 2009, 22.9% in 2010, and expected to surge 38.9% this year and 48% next year.” According to a principal analyst at eMarketer, David Hallerman this is due to Bing’s overall capacity to “deliver relevant results to searchers, as well as the company’s marketing of Bing to encourage more usage.” As well, Hallerman noted that Google is kept “on top” due to the “network effect.” In layman’s terms this means that the more people who use the search engine, the more advertisers it gets “which in turn can attract more users and so on.” Still, despite Google’s continuing success, this should not take away from Microsoft which is “gaining both search query and market share.” Ultimately, the four largest search engines have claimed a staggering 93.6 percent of the entire $14.38bn market.

Bye-Bye Social Media; Hello e-Mail

According to Chris R. Keller of Profitworks, all this fuss about the importance of social media and how this is the way forward, just may turn out to be somewhat inaccurate. Everyone whose anyone has been making such a fuss about how social media is the way forward for marketing purposes, but now this theory is being questioned in a recent article by Keller, who claims that “email marketing is currently superior to social media at attracting and getting new customers.”

Boast Marketing Efforts

So in an effort to really boost your marketing efforts, the message seems to be, stop trying so hard. Send an email as that “directly” reaches the consumer. The Inbox is the first place people look at. Social media is great, but more as a browser than an information collector. Keller points out that this is why Facebook developed its message center as Zuckerberg understood that people first go to check out messages. Further, delivery is better with e-mail as it can use an HTML code so provides more flexibility. Keller concludes thus, “given the flexibility and tracking features of email marketing it has a far more superior delivery method than social media.”

More Likely to Read

Keller’s study also found that the “average email marketing open rates are anywhere from 10-20%,” whereas with FB or Twitter this is around 2-4%. Where social media is good however, is that users spend more time on such activities, around 22%, as opposed to 8% for e-mail. Keller also commented, “I do not have any figures but my estimate is that the amount of time spent on marketing related pages when on social media sites is low compared to the amount of time spent reading marketing emails.” Further, “58% of internet users check their email when first going online versus only 14% checking social media sites first says something about which gets the higher amount and level of attention.” Bottom line? Email is still the main source of Internet communication and is thus still “given the most attention.” This may not be the case forever as more and more tools are developed and tactics learned for how increase interaction rate, but right now, Keller believes, “email wins hands down.”