Facebook: Sponsored Stories Versus Promoted Posts


According to Facebook, approximately 16% of a page’s fans are shown a particular piece of content in their news feeds. 16%!!  How can this be?

Facebook uses EdgeRank, an algorithm which decides what items occupy your news feed. The algorithm assigns a value based on affinity, weight and time. Affinity is the relationship between the user and the page, weight is the type of story (i.e. rich media content ranks higher) and finally time is how recent the post is.

From this one can deduce that increased engagement (i.e. fans liking, commenting or sharing content) will lead to increased affinity, interesting content (i.e. photos, videos) will increase weight and timing when you post will increase the likelihood of a fan seeing your post.

However, that being said, increasing engagement can be tricky, especially if fans of your page haven’t engaged with your content of late (leading to a low affinity ranking).

Sponsored Stories

Sponsored stories are created within the Facebook Advertising Platform and are set-up much the same as a Facebook Ad whereby you assign your budget, set your bid and they appear based on the targeted criteria you set-up. According to Facebook, the difference is that they encourage WOM (word of mouth) recommendations, in that the user ‘becomes the channel’, promoting your content and thus creating organic content.

Promoted Post

The promoted post is a way of getting your post to feature in the news feed of fans that are no longer seeing your updates (those who have not engaged with your content recently). For those who have engaged with your page in recent times, the post will appear organically. The promoted post provides the opportunity to increase your news feed ranking by getting old users engaged once more. (Note:  you need 400 or more fans in order to avail of promoted posts)

Sponsored Stories Versus Promoted Post

I came across SEOmoz, who ran a test campaign to assess which received better results. Their content piece was an update on their ‘Beginners Guide to SEO’. The promoted post reached all those who were fans of their page (active or inactive). The Sponsored Story targeted people in the US, Canada, UK, or Australia who like SEO related topics and websites. Below are the results;

  Campaign Reach Actions Clicks CTR Spend CPC
Promoted Post 26,275 198 1,311 4.99% $100 $0.76
Sponsored Story 44,247 16 162 0.366% $233.47 $1.44


In the above it can be seen that the promoted post produced way more engagement with a much higher CTR (click through rate).  That being said, when hasoffers performed a similar test on a smaller scale, the opposite occurred in that the sponsored story generated better results.

I conclude…

Thus, when developing a campaign, it is imperative firstly that you identify your objectives and how they link to your KPIs. For example, if you are looking to gain new fans or identify a new TMS, then sponsored stories could help to achieve this. However, if you want to increase engagement with your current fan base in a way that is simple and inexpensive, then promoted posts are more suitable.

Secondly, as we can see from the above, just because one company achieves a particular set of results does not mean that your company will see the same- every brand, fan base and target audience is different. It is therefore crucial to test what works best for your company, providing a benchmark for what works and what doesn’t.

Finally, why not integrate the two? -maximising reach and engagement among your fans and target audience.


Measuring the Twitterverse


With over 30 million followers (six and a half times the population of Ireland), Lady Gaga is the proverbial ‘Queen of Twitter’.  But is this astounding figure as impressive as it once was? According to a report carried out last year by StatusPeople, 71% of Gaga’s then 29 million followers were ‘fake’ (created by spamming computers) or inactive (real people who ‘consume’ rather than share information). The report concluded that the real value in a twitter following is how many retweet.

Keeping this in mind, when it comes to your own social media, do you know what to measure and why you are measuring it? A simple way of figuring this out is to have a clear SM plan in place using the following model;


By firstly identifying what your intentions are, for example you may want to identify a new target market (TMS) of 18-25 year olds who will engage with your brand. Thus articulate your objectives i.e. increase brand awareness by 100%. You can then define which KPIs are most important for you to track during a given campaign.

Once this is done, you can decide which metrics will allow you to do so. First, break down the user journey into Awareness (who knows about it), Appreciation (brand engagement), Action (the required behaviour change) and Advocacy (word of mouth- the user becomes the channel). Second, measure your hard (the financials) and soft (user insights) metrics under these headings.

Finally, benchmark your results against previous SM campaigns, similar SM channels, offline activity, competitor activity and industry averages. This will give you a holistic view of the success rate of your campaign.

SMS Media- Gathering Insights

woman with phones

It’s a dreary Monday morning; you have to drag yourself out of bed at an unholy hour and get to work. Still feeling half asleep, you find yourself on a train, bus or luas on your not-so-merry way. You reach into your pocket- and horror of all horrors- you’ve forgotten your phone!!

What is it about people and their phones? According to international research carried out by OmnicomMediaGroup (OMG), consumers routinely used words like “love” and “passion” when talking about their devices, which are with them 24/7. Given that the mobile phone plays such an intimate part of peoples’ everyday lives- what does this mean for the marketer?

“The mobile is actually a better way to reach people than print or even the Internet. It’s versatile, immediate, travels and is just as compelling”

Art Howe, CEO, Verve Wireless, The New York Times

According to Fintan Lonergan, Managing Director of O2 Media, mobile marketing is the ‘bizz’ in terms of gathering insights. Rather than applying the same metrics as other digital channels, focusing on CTRs (click-through-rates), the heart of mobile marketing is consumer engagement. With a permission-based database of one million, O2 are devising highly targeted campaigns for big brands based on the data they are able to generate (based on location, demographics and behaviour).

Fintan calls it “intelligent targeting”, taking into account three important factors; who, what and where. Given that you have your phone on you at all times, they know your location at any fixed point in time. For example, where you live, work, if you commute, right down to what exact device you are using. They can also tap into the what– your passions, behaviours and interests. For example, O2 ran a Tayto Park App discovery campaign whereby they targeted families who had recently visited Dublin Zoo.  Finally they know where you are, which means that they can deliver messages that are context relevant. This means that they can target your current need or interest, leading to increased engagement and response rates.

The below is a case study of O2’s ‘intelligent targeting’ in action. McDonalds’ aim was to encourage 18 to 24-year-olds to download an app, increasing engagement and driving footfall.  On the day of the campaign, the app was number two in the Apple’s App Store.

McDonalds Case Study

To conclude, I recently watched an early episode of Love/Hate (Ireland’s answer to the Sopranos) in which SIM cards were swallowed like paracetamol tablets. This occurred when the protagonists felt at risk of being ‘busted’ and their information being used against them… any takers?

Getting to Know Your Analytics


Google Analytics is a free online analytics tool that provides statistics and basic tools for SEO and marketing purposes. And it’s pretty darn cool.

It allows you to assess which marketing ventures are most effective by measuring a whole range of activities such as; where visitors to your site are coming from and what they do while they’re on your site to which keywords are most relevant to potential customers.

Is there a reason why conversions or engagement are low?

One of the key uses of Google Analytics is that it allows you to investigate where people are leaving your site or which pages retain visitors the longest. This allows you to evaluate and improve the performance of your landing pages, boosting visitor retention and increasing conversion opportunities.

For example, if you have a high bounce rate, your landing page may not be meeting the expectation set out by your ad text. Thus it is imperative to ensure that the destination URL of your landing page matches your ad text i.e. if your ad mentions bike equipment, then match it to a landing page for biker equipment and not a more general or unrelated page. Alternatively, a high bounce rate could be as a result of your page lacking engaging content with a clear navigation path.

So, to conclude ALWAYS be aware of;

  • Traffic sources
  • Entry / Exit Points
  • Engagement – Time on Site, Pages Visited


The below video, eh hem, highlights the importance of continuously monitoring and evaluating the user journey on your website;

Whisper sweet paid search terms in my ear

You had me at..

When paired with Owned and Earned Media, Paid Media provides visibility and awareness and can act as a ‘catalyst’ to drive engagement at key moments within a campaign. In Ireland, Paid Search currently accounts for 44% of online ad spend. Approximately 5-8% of all search clicks are through paid search ads, a siginificant volume in real terms. Significantly, Google dominates with a 90% plus share of all searches.

Using Google Adwords taps into an active audience who are actively seeking information and are already in the mindset for your offering.

How it Works…

Google search 2

When entering a search, on the left hand side of the page appears the organic results (this is down to search engine optimisation & takes time) whereby sites relevant to your search query appear. On the right hand side and top of the page however, appear the sponsored links, in other words your Google Ads. You choose when & where your ad appears and ensure that your ad appears in a search related to your business or campaign.

You have complete control over every financial aspect of your campaign. How high up you appear on the list depends on how much you pay, but also by how relevant your ad is to the search query. So, the more targeted your ad and list of keywords, the less money you will need to spend to ensure your ad appears.

The advantages of Adwords, is that you only pay for your ad’s placement when people click on it. You can also make changes to your ads whenever you want and can choose to turn campaigns on and off at any time. Since the price you pay per click is based on an auction, you may have visitors to your site for a very little amount per click. Additionally, there is no minimum spend and you have complete control over how your budget is used.

The Metrics of it all…

Paid search is highly measureable and can offer some key insights into how successful your campaign is such as;

  • The cost of traffic to your website (cost per click)
  • What the campaign delivered (total conversions)
  • Efficiency of the campaign/ ROI (cost per conversion)
  • How effective the campaign is (conversion rate)

There are limitations to paid search however;

  • You can only reach a finite audience
  • You can only display your ad to those actively seeking a particular product or search term
  • There are a finite number of searches you can buy
  • Little space- difficult to offer them a compelling message

Importantly, this type of advertising cannot work in isolation so it is imperative that it is an integrated part of your overall campaign.

Going Viral, Gangnam Style


According to Silicon Republic, in 2012 more than 72 hours of video were uploaded to YouTube every minute, with more than 800 million unique user visits and more than 4 billion hours of video watched each month. As a result, we have seen some of the most viral videos ever this year, with Gangnam Style being the most ‘viral’ of them all, not just this year but EVER, with 1 billion views on YouTube expected by year end.

Seeing as how I live on Planet Earth, I kind of noticed… but how did this come to be?

The label behind Gangnam, YG Entertainment, had a sneaky plan long before the video went live; to break into new markets and build a platform from which they could push content out on.

STEP 1: AUDIENCE– Utilise those who already want to engage with your brand through Owned Media

  • YouTube-YG had 2.5 million subscribers pre-Gangnam and had achieved 1.6 billion views of musicians’ videos across those channels already.
  • High volume of views in a short space of time helped them quickly gain shares and get featured in YouTube’s daily chart.

STEP 2: CONTENT- needs to be able to spark enough interest for people to want to share it and watch it, over and over again.

[Side note: this reminds me of my younger sister who circa 1996 watched Gone With The Wind every single day for a solid month one Summer…she’s perfectly normal now, I swear. Anyway, that film is about 4 hours looong compared to Gangnam’s 4 minutes, so in the intervening years it would seem our attention spans have ‘gone with the wind’ so to speak-  pun intended]

  • Video was eye-catching & lyrics did not create a language barrier.
  • High profile South-Korean celebrities featured in the video.
  • Made the video highly shareable.


  • Launched 15 July- tweeted by @allKpop- influential gossip site- goes to no.1 in Korean music charts.
  • 30 July-gawker.com writes story on video & generates 19,000 Facebook Likes/Shares for the article.
  • 7 August- spike in traffic and views-YouTube Trends write post on Gangnam Style, making it their Video of the Month.
  • Celebrities Katy Perry, Josh Grogan and Britney Spears endorse it through Twitter.
  • Guinness World Records announce that Gangnam Style has broken all known records for number of views.

The success of Gangnam Style is illustrative of how Owned and Earned Media can play specific roles in achieving company objectives, especially when they are used as part of an integrated model.

In this case, YG used YouTube (Owned) to engage with their audience who then endorsed Gangnam through their own media channels, such as Twitter (Earned). This was followed by influential celebrities and the media picking it up (Earned), increasing its virality exponentially.

Email is King?


According to Mark Zuckerberg, ‘email is dead’ or so he said in 2010.

So, if email is on the way out, what’s coming to replace it?

To Zuckerberg, SMS is the way forward, young people “want something more immediate”. Others suggest that young, hip and cool social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter will replace our old reliable, 41 year old email. However, David Coplin, director of search at Microsoft UK, would agrue that the rise of the SMS and social media does not have to signal the nail in the coffin for email. He refers to it as being ‘the shiny penny syndrome’, when a new technology enters the market, there is the ideology that the old needs must be ushered off the stage to make room. In reality however, this tends not to be the case.

So, taking a look at the situation in Ireland…

In 2011 an online marketing survey carried out by Amas found that within the Irish industry, 67% preferred to use email marketing over other online formats. Evidence would suggest that the appeal of the email is that it is low in cost and high in conversions. In my own experience within the NGO sector, the appeal is obvious;

1. It’s a hell of a lot cheaper

Within the charity sector, it is often required that you work within a shoestring budget for any given campaign. So, to be able to use MailChimp (a free online email marketing solution to send emails and track results) versus the cost of paid advertising is an advantage. Once you have no more than 2,000 subscribers across all lists in your account at any one time, you can send up to 12,000 emails per month.       

2. A/B testing is totally groovy

MailChimp offers ‘A/B testing’, allowing you to first test the success rate of you email campaign in relation to; what ‘from name’ you should use, what subject line works best, what day of the week gets you better open rates and what time of day generates the most clicks. This allows you to assess which option works best for optimal results before going ahead with your campaign. Compare this to traditional methods such as direct mailing or billboard advertising which, once out there, they are really out there…


3. It’s waaay easier to track results

MailChimp records opens and clicks and they have Google Analytics integration which gives detailed stats on how your campaign is influencing traffic to your website as well as the ability to analyse ROI, conversion rates and revenue created.

mailchimp analytics

So there you have it, email is still alive and kicking, for now.

The Sex Appeal in Paid Media


In 2003, Absolut Vodka, the 3rd largest international spirit in the world, had the writers of Sex and the City create an entire episode around a fictional cocktail, the ‘Absolut Hunk’ in a bid to increase sales in New York. The episode featured a fictional advertising campaign whereby the flesh and blood ‘Absolut Hunk’ appeared naked on billboards and posters across the city except for a strategically place bottle of Absolut- a clever use of paid placement advertising.

However, assuming you are NOT the 3rd largest liquor company in the world, can you imagine trying to justify that kind of media spend to your stakeholders??

Forward to 2012, nearly a decade on and in Ireland you will find that paid media within the digital sphere is stealing all the appeal. Why? According to IAB/PwC, 80% of all Irish people are online. It would seem advertisers are taking note, with a 12.8% increase in online advertising spend in the first half of 2012. This is in contrast to a 6.7% decrease in traditional media spending in the same period. According to IAB Ireland chief executive Suzanne McElligott, these figures reflect the fundamental role that online now plays within Irish marketing campaigns;

“Irish advertisers are increasingly devoting more budget online and using digital to engage more meaningfully with their audience” 

Advertisers are doing so through the use of banner ads, paid search and sponsorships. However it is essential to have a media buying plan in place which allows you to identify your target audience and how to obtain the greatest reach. A useful and free measuring tool for this is Google Adplanner, which allows advertisers to establish traffic (unique visitiors, reach, impressions) and audience information (age,gender) to websites which they may wish to advertise on. Important to note however is that it only includes domains which are part of the Google Display Network (You Tube, Google partnering websites, and other Google properties). The below image illustrates the statistics that Google Adplanner has to offer, allowing advertisers to strategically justify such media spend. Phew!

google adplanner edit

Paid, Owned & Earned Media

In the last blog, digital marketing measurement was ascertained as the collection of data used to prove accountability, measurability, efficiency and ROI.

However, in order to do this effectively, having a digital media plan in place is essential. A simple way of doing this is to use the POEM model (Paid, Owned & Earned Media). According to Séan Corcoran, POEM is a simple way to develop one’s digital strategy by categorising media channels and identifying what to prioritise based on your objectives as well as budget. By integrating these “touchpoints” between buyer and seller, a more holistic experience can be achieved.


owned media

Owned media encompasses all channels which your brand controls, for example a website, blog, mobile apps or social media accounts such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Through such channels, the marketer can establish the brand’s presence and control brand messaging. According to Séan Corcoran, the role of such media is to build long-term relationships with consumers who want to engage with your brand. Brian Solis suggests that social media has become invaluable to this process in that the marketer can go beyond their own website and participate directly in the communities in which potential consumers gather. In doing so successfully, this also has the potential to contribute to Earned Media.


gangnam style

As posited by Séan Corcoran, Earned Media is when “the customer becomes the channel”. It can be defined as ‘viral’(think of ‘Gangnam Style’, pictured above) or ‘word-of-mouth’ media, whereby your brand has done something of interest that causes people to talk about it and share it through their own media i.e. blog posts, tweets, comments, status updates. According to Séan Corcoran, Earned Media is often the result of well executed Owned and Paid Media. Daniel Goodall, who works for Nokia, is of the opinion that ‘Earned Media’ is the best kind of media there is. As the consumers of today find themselves living in a media-saturated world, they have a tendency not to trust advertising, but they do however, trust peer reviews.


paid media

Paid or ‘Bought’ Media is in the name, it is that which the marketer has paid for. Examples would be banner ads (such as the one pictured above), paid search and sponsorships. According to many, such advertising is on the way out, however both Séan Corcoran and Daniel Goodall agree that it has its place. When paired with Owned and Earned Media, it provides visibility and awareness and can act as a ‘catalyst’ to drive engagement at key moments within a campaign.

WHAT is Digital Measurement & WHY should we care?


Gone are the days of Mad Men, when a Don Draper type would walk into the room, dazzle his clients with witty one-liners and a twinkle in his eye, and all would then celebrate with an afternoon scotch… or ten. In today’s world of marketing, success is measured not by how many secretaries in short shirts you have click-clacking around the office BUT rather through a quantifiable Return on Investment on marketing spend.

What do I mean?

The stakeholders of today want verifiable results of the effectiveness of marketing campaigns. They want cold, hard evidence that campaigns are profitable.

I was recently at a seminar about digital marketing & fundraising for NGOs at which it was posited that in the near future, the term ‘digital marketing’ will no longer exist as ‘marketing’ and ‘digital marketing’ will have become one in the same.

What makes digital marketing so attract is that it is so measureable.

We have the ability to analyse online activity across a variety of digital platforms (i.e. email marketing, social media) using a wealth of online measuring tools. However, in order to know what to measure, businesses need to set in place Key Performance Indicators (in other words objectives i.e. increase brand awareness by 100%).

With the right measurement system (based on the right KPIs as well as budget & resources), businesses can see which online & offline marketing ventures work and which don’t, as well as develop a picture of how consumers interact and engage with their brand. This provides businesses with a benchmark, allowing them to devise more targeted campaigns in the future. It also provides stakeholders with verifiable, comparable metrics… kind of like giving a lollipop to a two year old…it keeps them happy.

So, to summarise, the WHAT of digital measurement is that it provides us with the ability to quantify consumer behaviour online. And the WHY is that it provides proof for everyone involved, of what works and what doesn’t, in achieving those essential KPIs and ROI.

And finally, if Mad Men did do digital, according to BrandDigital, this is what it would look like…