Facebook agrees to do more to tackle scam ads after celebrity defamation lawsuit

Facebook has agreed to plough more resource into combating the use of its advertising platform by scammers, saying it will do more to tackle scam ads that use well-known public figures to try to trick consumers.

It plans to launch a dedicated scam ad report button in the UK, slated to go live in around three months’ time, as well as set up a specialist, locally-based team to monitor ad reports, keep an eye on scammer trends and generally work on getting celebrity-exploiting scam ads taken down more quickly than its current AI-aided ad review systems have been doing.

The new measures were announced in a joint press conference with UK consumer advice personality, Martin Lewis, who launched a defamation lawsuit against Facebook in April, saying the social network giant had failed to stop scammers using his image on scores of ads that aimed to swindle consumers, thereby damaging his reputation.

Some of the ads had tried to use Lewis’ image to promote crypto scams.

Lewis filed suit after becoming frustrated by the scale of scam ads bearing his image and Facebook’s tepid response to the problem its platform has created — telling the Guardian last year: “What is particularly pernicious about Facebook is that it says the onus is on me, so I have spent time and effort and stress repeatedly to have them taken down.”

He confirmed today that he’s dropped the lawsuit after Facebook agreed to make changes.

“There were over 1,000 on Facebook in a year. And the way that the company acted then wasn’t good enough, so I had to resort to [taking legal action],” he said during the press conference, adding that he had wanted to see “tangible real change to the number of scam ads on the platform”, so was happy to drop the lawsuit because he believes the new report button will do that.

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Facebook has also agreed to provide funding to help get a citizens scam advice service up and running in partnership with UK consumer advice charity, Citizens Advice. Lewis said he was delighted with that outcome.

The social network giant, which took in $13.73BN in revenue last quarter, said it will donate cash and Facebook ad credits to the value of £3 million over the next three years to help set up the new scam advice bureau within the charity.

This will be called ‘Citizens Advice scams action project’ (aka Casa), and the pair said it will aim to provide information and support to consumers who are concerned they are being targeted by or have fallen victim to a scam.

Facebook’s support for Casa breaks down into £2.5M in cash over the next two years, and £500,000’s worth of ad credit coupons for ads on its own platform, which it said will be distributed in tranches over the next three years.

There was little detail on exactly how Casa will operate at this nascent stage but given the ad credit donation its work will presumably include running scam awareness ads on Facebook — funded (initially) by Facebook itself. Ergo, part of the company’s donation will be ploughed straight back into its own ad business.

Pressed on whether its approach with an ad report button still puts too much onus on consumers to have to protect themselves from scams being spread on Facebook’s platform, its regional director for Northern Europe, Steve Hatch, claimed it does already take down “huge amounts of these ads” but admitted its ad review systems are “not perfect” — hence the company seeing value in introducing a button for direct user reports of dodgy ads.

For his part Lewis said he had never wanted to have to go to court but said his intention had rather been to draw attention to the problem and pressure Facebook to do more. He said he was therefore pleased it had agreed to do more to tackle scam ads.

“This button is only in the UK. This is not Facebook worldwide. This is unique to the United Kingdom that has not been done anywhere else and it is a direct result of this scam ads campaign. And I’m actually very grateful to Steve and his team here in the UK for pushing this on what is normally a global organization that works in a global way,” he said.

Albeit, to be clear, Facebook is not accepting legal liability for scam ads. And there’s no suggestion that any existing victims of the scam ads which bore Lewis’ image are going to be in line for any direct compensation from Facebook for their losses.

Asked directly about the compensation point, Hatch sidestepped the question, saying Facebook is focusing on what more it can do to stop scammers from defrauding people in the first place.

Also pressed on why it had taken a lawsuit by a celebrity consumer champion to get it to do more, he said: “This is an area we’ve focused on for a very, very long time. But what [Lewis] has really pushed us towards is this specific focus about the use of public images and celebrity.”

While the new measures are UK only for now, Hatch suggested Facebook might look to expand the approach elsewhere if it proves successful.

“We’ve started in the UK,” he said in response to another question. “Like any system if we find it works — and we sincerely hope that it does, we think we’ve got the right amount of focus, we think we’ve got the right amount of investment behind it — it’s very imaginable that we would take this out to other markets. But what we want to make sure is we’re getting this right.”

He also said it would be important for Facebook to find the right partner to work with in other markets, as it’s doing with Citizens Advice in the UK.

While Lewis sounded happy to end his publicity focused legal battle against Facebook, having won some tangible concessions from the company, he warned that unchecked scam ads persist on other platforms, and said he is “not ruling out another lawsuit if things don’t improve”– namechecking Google and Yahoo as two of the other platforms now in his sights.

“Over the last few weeks I have again been plagued by scam adverts. A few of them have been on Facebook and when we’ve told Facebook they’ve taken them down very quickly. I can’t expect more. I accept that the technology isn’t perfect. What I want is proactive response, good team set up and them being taken down quickly. But that’s not the case with Google,” he said, adding that the problem is even more difficult to combat where Google is concerned given it’s more difficult to know where the ads are being served, as they can be served across even more touchpoints.

“I believe they’re not even giving us a direct contact at the moment,” he added, discussing Google’s response to complaints his team has filed about scam ads bearing his image. “We’re just having to go through the normal reporting channels, that everything goes through, even though I’m a major target of scam ads. By the nature of what I do, by both being on television and the subjects that I talk about — and being relatively trusted on that subject — means that my click through rate, apparently, for scam ads is really good!”

We reached out to Google and Yahoo for a response to Lewis’ comments. (Disclosure: TechCrunch’s parent, Verizon Media Group/Oath, is also the parent company of Yahoo.)

A Google spokesperson told us:

Because we want the ads people see on Google to be useful and relevant, we take immediate action to prevent fake and inappropriate ads. We have a tool where anyone can report these ads and these complaints are reviewed manually by our team. In 2017, we removed 3.2 billion bad ads and we’re constantly updating our policies as we see new threats emerge.”

“The big problem that we face is that [online advertising] is a Wild West,” Lewis continued, saying the problems he’s faced extend to “many other online advertising tools”.

“This is an absolute Wild West with people sitting all over the world, and with very little regulation, no criminal enforcement — because frankly the Met Police are not going to go to whatever these country these people are in and arrest them, and that’s the problem with online advertising. Hence why I’ve targeted the platform to say the only thing we can do… is deny them the oxygen of publicity and deny them access to the individuals.”

“I want online advertisers to see this as a warning shot across their bows,” he also said, calling on Google and the online advertising industry as a whole “to start to take responsibility”, adding: “Real people are seeing their livelihood taken away, their life savings taken away. People are losing money that they need to live on by irresponsible advertising protocols. It’s about time other firms stood up, took responsibility, improved their reporting protocols and started to give money to Citizens Advice scam action.

“Scam adverts make people distrust advertising. So this isn’t just an issue for the people who put the adverts out there but any company who does advertising in the UK legitimately, trying to get their message across, this is diluting what you are doing. So the advertising industry as a whole — not just the platforms — need to try and make sure this stops. Otherwise you’ll get close to the point where someone like me says never trust an advert online.”

The issue of direct compensation for consumers scammed via online platforms is a matter for policy makers and regulators to work on, he added.


Source: https://techcrunch.com/2019/01/23/facebook-agrees-to-do-more-to-tackle-scam-ads-after-celebrity-defamation-lawsuit/

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How to Optimize Your Conversion Funnel, from ToFu to BoFu

Posted by OliviaRoss

No matter who your customer is or what you’re selling, it’s more likely than not that your customer will have to go through several steps before choosing to buy your product or service. Think about your own shopping habits: you don’t just buy the first thing you see. The first thing you do is note that you have a problem or a need, and then you research a solution online. Once you find that solution, which could be a product or service, you then decide which manufacturer or company is the best fit for your needs based on price, features, quantity — whatever it is that you are looking for.

The sales funnel is a drawn-out process, so it’s important for you to understand your customer’s pain points, needs, and intents as they go from learning about your company to deciding whether or not they want to pay you for your services or products. The goal is for a customer to not only choose you but to keep choosing you over and over again with repeat purchases. By understanding where your customer is in the funnel, you can better move them through that funnel into a reoccurring sale.

What is the conversion funnel?

The “conversion funnel” (also known as the “sales funnel”) is a term that helps you to visualize and understand the flow through which a potential customer lands on your site and then takes a desired action (i.e. converts). This process is often described as a funnel because you’re guiding the customer toward your conversion point. And these prospects come from a gamut of methods such as SEO, content marketing, social media marketing, paid ads, and cold outreach.

Conversion rate optimization can occur at every stage in the funnel to improve the number of people you drive towards the most important action. To do this effectively, you need to think about the user experience at each stage — what they want, and how you can give it to them.

A typical conversion funnel has several stages: awareness, interest, consideration, intent, and finally purchase (buy).

Here’s a quick rundown of what to offer for each step of the funnel:

Creating your funnel

Before you even bother creating different offers for different steps in the funnel, you’ll need to make sure you’re tracking these goals properly. The first step is to set up a funnel visualization in Google Analytics. In building your funnel, focus on these three things:

  • The name of your goal: This goal should have a recognizable name so you know what you’re looking at in your reports. For example, “Document capture e-book A” or “free trial subscription B.”
  • The actual funnel layout: You may add up to 10 pages in Google Analytics for a conversion funnel. This will allow you to find out where prospects are leaving before completing the goal. Without this, you won’t know which areas need the most attention and improvement.
  • The value of the goal: In order to determine your ROI, you’ll need to decide what a complete goal is worth. If 20% of prospects who download a whitepaper end up becoming customers who spend $1000 with you, the download value might be $200 (20% of $1000).

A very important to thing to take note of is that your potential customers will be coming from several different avenues to your site. Assuming you don’t have a very small site with very few visitors, there are several likely paths prospects will take towards conversion.

If you try to push all of your prospects through the same funnel, it may look like your site’s conversion rate is extremely low. However, these customers may be getting to you through a different way such as landing pages.

You must account for all avenues of traffic. Image Source

Awareness stage

It’s no secret that customers need to know you exist before they can even think about considering you. So in this phase, you need to focus on attracting people to your site.

For this first step of the funnel, the goal is to create a strong first impression and to build a relationship with your prospective customers. This content should impress them enough that they fill out a form showing interest by giving you their email. Creating multiple TOFU offers gives you the information (company, name, email address) you need to segment and nurture leads further down the funnel.

Blogging

Let’s say Directive wants to create lead generation content. We’ll have some blog posts around PPC, SEO, and content marketing, and we will make sure to categorize these, either in the URL itself or on specific pages, in order to more easily segment our audiences.

So not only should you be targeting people based on the categories they’re visiting, but if you send people to very specific content upgrades or exit popups based on the content they’re reading, you’re going to increase your conversion rates even more.

Let’s pretend your conversion rate is normally just 3–4%, but a blog post talking about technical SEO saw an 18% conversion rate. This is because you’re sending a very specific audience to that page.

Look at how HubSpot lays out their resources navigation. There’s tons of valuable content to learn from.

HelpScout separates their content into categories, and each post is easily scannable in the 3-column card structure.

Social networking

People use social networks for everything nowadays, from getting advice to looking up reviews and referrals. They like seeing the behind-the-scenes on a business’ Instagram, they field their complaints through a business’ Facebook and Twitter, and they look for tutorials and how-tos on Pinterest and YouTube. Social proof builds trust and helps increase conversions. Therefore, create an active presence on the networks that make sense for your market in order to meet your customers. Social media can also indirectly impact your search engine rankings.

OptinMonster – Image Source

Interest / consideration

This stage of the conversion funnel is where you must start standing out from your competitors. If you offer service A at price B but so does Competitor #3, then how is that going to set you apart? What’s going to make the customer more interested in you over a competitor? The thing that makes you different is what will generate the most interest. This is why your unique value proposition (UVP) is so important.

According to Unbounce, your UVP, also known as a unique selling proposition (USP), is a clear statement that describes the benefit of your offer, how you solve your customer’s needs, and what sets you apart from the competition.

During the interest stage, your website and content are extremely important in creating that closer relationship with your customers. However, people merely visiting your awesome site is not enough. You will want to keep them engaged after they leave. Just like in the awareness phase, we do this by capturing their email. However, we want to push a little further now.

PPC and landing pages

You can easily increase conversions with email opt-ins that only appear to your PPC visitors. Using this page-level targeting can really boost the effectiveness of your PPC campaigns.

Focus on creating attention-grabbing content like headlines, carousel images, and banners all focused around your UVP.

Here at Directive, we’re constantly coming up with strategies to help our clients get the most leverage out of their content. We created a landing page focused around demo requests. This page was not performing nearly as well as we would have hoped, so we decided to change the offer to a demo video.

By switching an offering from a full demo to just a short 5-minute demo video, we saw a tremendous lift in conversion rates. It makes sense when you realize that the people in our target audience were in the awareness stage and were not interested in spending 30 minutes to an hour with a stranger explaining a product that they’re not ready to buy. As you can see, the demo video outperformed the full demo by an increase of 800%.

Now these leads aren’t anywhere close to buying yet, but it’s better to build that interest in a larger pool of people who can potentially turn into sales than to only have two sales qualified leads to start with.

Site optimization

If you notice that you’re getting decent traffic to your website but the prospects are bouncing after a short amount of time, the problem could be that your website doesn’t have the content they’re looking for, or that the site is difficult to navigate. Make sure to focus on making your web pages clean and legible. You only get one shot at a first impression, so your site must be easy to navigate and the content must explain the unique value of your product or service.

Think about creating supporting content, including a mission statement, blog posts, great promotional offerings, a competitive shipping and returns policy — whatever drives the point home that your customers need the services that only you can offer. Your content needs to encourage visitors to want to learn more about you and what you do. If you’re creating blog posts (which you should be), include a call to action for more in-depth content that requires prospects to join your email list to receive it.

The Calls to Action on your pages are extremely important to focus on as well. If the prospects aren’t sure what you’re offering, they’ll be less likely to convert. For this client, we changed the CTA text to “Get an Instant Quote” from “Shop Now” and right off the bat, it made a huge difference. We ended the experiment in about 11 days because it worked so well and the client was so happy.

When comparing the rest of the quarter after the test was complete to the same period before the test began, we saw a 39% increase in request a quote submissions, and a 132% increase in completed checkouts.

Along with concise and clear UVP-related copy throughout your website and blog, continue using white papers, guides, checklists, and templates. These are your lead magnets to gather more customer emails in exchange for your offer.

Gather qualitative data

Use qualitative data tools such as Hotjar to find out where people are clicking, scrolling, or getting stuck on your website. You can build your conversion funnel in Hotjar to see where customers are dropping off. This will tell you which pages you need to optimize.

In this Hotjar funnel, you can see that there’s a major drop off on the demo page. What information isn’t clear on the demo page? Is there friction on this page to keep customers from wanting a demo?

If you’re still not sure what to fix, sometimes it’s best to hear it straight from the horse’s mouth. Set up user polls on your site asking customers what’s keeping them from getting their demo/trial/product/etc.

Live chat and chatbots are another way to get user feedback. Gartner forecasts that by 2020, over 85% of customer interactions will be handled without a human. People want answers to their problems as quickly as possible, so providing that live chat solution is a great way to keep people from bouncing because they can’t find the information they need.

Intent (also known as the evaluation or desire phase)

By now, you and some of your competitors are in the running, but only one of you can win first prize. Your potential customers have now started to narrow down their options and eliminate bad fits. According to HubSpot, companies with refined middle-of-the-funnel engagement and lead management strategy see a 4–10 times higher response rate compared to generic email blasts and outreach. Nurtured leads produce, on average, a 20% lift in sales opportunities. Clearly, this is an extremely important part in the funnel.

Customers in the middle of the sales funnel are looking for content that shows them that you’re the expert in what you do. Live demos, expert guides, webinars, and white papers that explain how you’re better over competitors are very valuable at this stage. Use social proof to your advantage by using testimonials, reviews, and case studies to show how other customers have enjoyed your services or products. Many qualified leads are still not ready to buy. So in order to nurture these leads and turn them into real paying customers, provide interesting emails or an online community such as a Facebook group.

Email

Start educating your potential customers about what it is you do. Build trust through automated emails sent to subscribers with answers to FAQs about your services and links to new content you have created.

In this email, we offer a piece of content relevant to our subscribers’ interests

Create location- and product-specific pages

Often times, your prospective clients are searching for a very specific product, or they need a service that’s local to their area. By creating pages focused around what these users need, you’re likely to get more conversions and qualified leads than a general overview page.

At Directive, we created location pages for a client that targeted the areas they serve. We optimized the pages to reflect bubble keywords that increased their rankings and we now rank for a few different keywords on both the first and second page on Google. Since then, the amount of conversions from these pages have been tremendous.

Click to see a larger image.

Continue using PPC campaigns

Click to see a larger image.

In this example, we brought a top-of-funnel CTA into bottom-of-funnel targeting.

We created ads that linked to a gated whitepaper on the client’s website. As you can see, there are a large number of impressions with 531 clicks.

The theory was that our targeting was enough of a pre-qualification. Instead of getting a custom practice evaluation, the user was offered a map to show them how much money they could be making per patient in their state.

Continue using landing pages

A specific landing page and call to action is more relevant to the visitor’s needs than your homepage and so is more likely to convert.

Following the multi-step model designed to ease visitors into a commitment, here’s a demo example from one of our clients:

Notice the questions being asked in the step-one form:

  1. Average Monthly Revenue
  2. Current E-Commerce Pain Points

These questions allow the user to stay anonymous. They also lead the user to believe that they will get a more custom response to their needs based on the specific information they input.

Next, they’re directed to the second-step form fields:

This step is asking for the personal information. However, notice the change in headline on the form itself. “Last step: We have your demo ready to go. Who can we give this to?” This second-step language is very important as it reminds the visitor as to why we need their information: it’s for their benefit — we want to give the visitor something, not take something from them. Time and again, I see a multi-step page outperform a one-step by 300%.

Take advantage of thank you pages

Even though you’ve already captured a lead/sale/sign-up/conversion, thank you and confirmation pages are a necessary step in the funnel process. Right after people opt in for the offer on your landing page, you’ll want to ask them to immediately take another specific action on the thank you page. For example, if you have a page offering a free e-book, offer a free demo on the thank you page to attempt to push those prospects farther down the funnel. They’ll be much more likely to take an action once you’ve already convinced them to take a smaller action.

When visitors land on the report thank you page, we provide them the download link, but we also provide next steps with an option to get a demo.

It’s important to tag people based on what they’ve downloaded or what posts they’ve read. That way you can create tailored messaging for these prospects when reaching out to them through email.

Action

Assuming you’ve optimized each step of the conversion funnel, you should have some qualified leads becoming paying customers. However, your work here is not done. You will need to continue nurturing those qualified leads. After someone has taken a desired action and converted on your website, you’ll want to get these people back into the funnel in order to coax them into repeat business. Retention is such an important part of growing your customer base, since this will be revenue that you don’t have to pay for — this audience already showed a definite interest in what you’re offering.

If the lead converts into a customer, show them your other products or services and begin the cycle again. For example, let’s say you provide tree-trimming services and your customer just had you come by to trim the oak trees in their large backyard. After the job is done, continue reaching out to this customer with other services such as grass treatment, stump removals, or whatever else could be useful to them. You can do this by inviting them to an email newsletter or your social media channels. Send coupons and promotions via email. If you have an online store, include loyalty materials in their shipped order so they understand how much you value them as a customer.

Along with nurturing this repeat business, focus on optimizing your product pages by removing friction and doing all you can to encourage shoppers to checkout. Examine and improve your checkout flow by answering common questions along the way.

Key takeaways

Optimizing your funnel is a process that takes time, so don’t be afraid to experiment. It may take a few different offers before you find one that sticks and garners the most conversions. So create as many TOFU offers as you can think of to cater to the many different personas that make up your customer base. From white books and e-books to free trials, your TOFU content is the first step to building that relationship with your customers.

From there, continue creating great content and nurturing those mid-funnel leads. If your content is relevant and your website is optimized, you’ll notice that you’ll be getting many more leads than you did before optimization. The more leads you gather and keep interested, the more likely you are to
Source: https://moz.com/blog/optimize-conversion-funnel-tofu-bofu

Netflix now lets you share a favorite title directly to Instagram Stories

Having reached critical mass, Netflix shows are now influencing culture — whether that’s prompting everyone to “tidy up” or causing chaos with “Bird Box”-inspired challenges. For good or bad, what happens on Netflix is talked about, memed and shared across the social media landscape. Today, Netflix is launching a new feature aimed at better inserting its brand into those online conversations: Instagram Story integration.

Launching first on iOS, Netflix users will be able to share their favorite movies and shows to their Instagram Story right from the Netflix mobile app.

The feature will add the title’s custom art to a users’ Instagram Story, where it remains visible for 24 hours. The Story can also be customized with other options, like a user poll, for example.

If the viewer has the Netflix app installed on their iPhone, they’ll see a “watch on Netflix” link in the Story that takes them to the show’s or movie’s page in the Netflix app when tapped.

This isn’t the first time you could share a show from Netflix’s app to a social platform — that’s been supported for some time. However, the existing experience will pull up iOS’s “share sheet” (the built-in sharing function in the iOS operating system).

According to a screenshot provided by Netflix, however, the new sharing feature is now a part of the Netflix app itself.

After tapping “share,” a screen appears with various options, including WhatsApp, Messages, Messenger, Twitter, Line and more, in addition to the newly added “Instagram Stories.”

The launch follows Facebook’s introduction of an option last year that allows third-party apps to share their in-app content to Instagram Stories. The idea was to provide users with an alternative to screenshotting what they wanted to share from other apps — like a song, a video, a playlist, etc. — to Instagram Stories. It’s also meant to provide a more seamless experience for the Story’s viewers, as they’re able to tap the Story to engage with the shared content — while also giving the brand more control over the look-and-feel of what’s being shared.

In Netflix’s case, it’s branding shared title art with the name of the show or film, as well as a teaser or slogan, and the words “Netflix Original,” where relevant. (The feature works with all titles, not just originals.)

The feature could prompt more word-of-mouth recommendations between friends and followers on Instagram, whose Stories platform alone is bigger than Snapchat, reaching more than 400 million users. And it could help content go viral within a certain fan base or demographic — like teen girl viewers or sci-fi fans, for instance — as prominent Instagram accounts shared the Netflix show.

“We’re always on the lookout for ways to make it easier for members to share the Netflix titles they’re obsessing about and help them discover something new to watch,” said Netflix in a statement about the launch.

Instagram Stories integration is launching today on iOS to Netflix users worldwide. An Android version is in the works.


Source: https://techcrunch.com/2019/01/22/netflix-now-lets-you-share-a-favorite-title-directly-to-instagram-stories/

How This One Little Word Will Change Your Life

no

When I started my journey as an entrepreneur, I made a huge mistake. And sadly, it took me years to figure out what I was doing wrong.

The issue with this mistake is that it isn’t obvious. Not just entrepreneurs, but people, in general, make it for the majority of their lives.

Can you guess what that mistake is?

I was a people pleaser. I kept saying “yes.” Especially when it came to business.

The moment I stopped saying yes, things started to change. I started to make more money, my customers were happier, people stopped trying to walk all over me, and my team members were happier with me.

I know what you are thinking… this sounds crazy, right? By telling people what they don’t want to hear everything miraculously gets better?

Sounds too good to be true…

Well, here’s how it works.

Why do you say “yes?”

Well, the reason you say yes is probably the same reason I also said yes.

You want to please people.

And if you keep saying yes, believe it or not, it won’t make them happy. In fact, it will make them more upset.

Of course, there is a time and place to say yes to people, but not always. Sometimes people ask for things that are unrealistic.

A lot of the time it is asking for a drastic discount on your product or service… a discount that will make you lose money.

Or sometimes a boss may ask you to complete a task within a very tight deadline that you know isn’t possible.

Now think about it this way: when you say yes just to please people it will make things worse.

For example, when it comes to reducing the price or your service so much that you’ll lose money, it won’t motivate you to help out your client. And even more important, you won’t be able to spend the time and energy your client will need because you’re losing money.

This means that not only will you regret your decision, but they will be upset with you because of the poor performance.

Same goes with your boss. If he or she asks you to meet a tight deadline that isn’t possible, and you agree to it and miss the deadline, they are going to be upset with you.

In other words, saying yes when you shouldn’t might make people happy with you temporarily, but in the long run, they are going to be disappointed and, in many cases, angry with you.

So, what should you say instead of yes?

No!

It really is that simple. All you have to do is say no.

Of course, you’ll have to explain why, but it’s a very powerful word that won’t make people upset with you as long as you use it right.

For example, with my ad agency, Neil Patel Digital, people ask for discounts all of the time.

Can you guess what my sales team says?

No!

But they say it nicely and usually tell potential customers….

We can’t go down in price. We charge this much because we know what it takes to provide results, and if we went down in price, we won’t be able to provide you with the service you are expecting.

I know it may make you feel a bit uncomfortable to be this direct but you need to. It will do wonders for you and your business.

Even when your boss asks you to complete a task that isn’t realistic, you should say something like…

I want to help you get the task done, and I don’t mind working extra hours, but it won’t be feasible for me to meet your deadline. The reason being is because of X, Y, and Z. If it is more important to complete this task than the current tasks I am working on, I can always push them back if you are open to it. Or if we can reduce the scope of the project, I may be able to get it done within Y timeframe.

When it comes to your boss, you’ll want to be creative.

Instead of just saying “no” you’ll want to come up with possible solutions. Your boss may not like any of the solutions but being proactive and thinking outside of the box at least shows your boss that you are trying to do what’s best for the company.

Now let me forewarn you when it comes to saying no to your boss…

If you are truly right, there is no issue with saying no. But if you are lazy and a slow worker and other people can get the task done within the time they are proposing, then things aren’t going to work out for you.

In other words, don’t just use the word no because you are lazy and don’t want to do extra work. Use it when it really makes sense.

How does this help with sales?

Have you ever heard the saying… “play hard to get.”

From a psychological standpoint, we have a higher perceived value for things that may be out of reach. In other words, saying no makes you seem more desirable because you are making yourself a bit more out of reach.

To give you an example of this, I was once in a meeting in New York where someone offered me a job.

It didn’t make sense for me to take the job as I have a business that I love. So I said no.

Their response was…

Well, you don’t even know what I am going to offer you… so just hear me out.

They then made me an offer of a million-dollar salary.

I kindly responded with, I appreciate the offer, but I am still going to decline.

And you know what they said next?

They offered me $2,000,000.

I said no, but I offered to help find them someone for free who might be a good fit.

Long story short, they weren’t happy with my response and they offered me all the way up to a $4,500,000 annual base salary plus bonuses.

And of course, I still said no.

You’re probably not going to have the same experience as me (at least not yet if you are starting out), but when you start saying no you’ll have similar experiences.

People will more likely work with you and pay your price if you hold your ground.

See, here’s the big issue with saying yes in sales when people are asking for more or want to pay less:

The moment you say yes, the first thing that goes through their mind is “what else can I get?” And they’ll keep asking more and it won’t stop.

Then you’ll find yourself with a deal that doesn’t make sense for you.

So, do yourself a favor and start saying no, especially when it comes to sales.

Why should you tell your customers no?

Similar to sales, once people join as a customer it’s a slippery slope to keep telling them yes.

The moment your clients sees you move an inch, they’ll take a mile.

So, when they start asking for you to do things out the scope, you should say no. Even when they are small things as it will lead to bigger asks in the future.

Now, I am not saying that you shouldn’t keep your clients happy. You should provide the product or service they paid for. And every once in a while, if you want to go above and beyond for them… you should. But it should be you making that decision and not them asking for you to make it.

Just for a moment, think about what I just said…

If you want to go above and beyond for your customer or client when they aren’t expecting, that’s fine and it will make you look good. But if your customer is asking for you to go above and beyond, it will set a bad precedent.

Why it’s ok to tell your co-workers no

Out of all of them, this is the trickiest one because you don’t want to create a bad work environment and have people hate you.

But if people are having you do stuff that isn’t the best for the business and it doesn’t logically make sense, there is nothing wrong with saying no.

I will warn you though, just saying “no” and providing no explanation or alternative solutions will cause problems for you.

As long as your explanations are reasonable and logical you’ll be fine. Also, the reasons need to be best for the business as well. In addition, you’ll need to provide alternative solutions… this is the key as it shows you are a team player and proactive.

You’ll want to make sure that you are thinking things through before you give your response.

People will respect your decision if it makes sense… maybe not right then and there, but in the long run, they will.

On the flip side, if you keep telling your co-workers no when they are right, or your boss no because you are lazy, you’ll probably get fired. Especially if you don’t give them alternative solutions.

So, you’ll need to be careful with this.

Conclusion

Stop saying yes to everything. All it will do is make your life miserable.

I know that sounds counter-intuitive, but it’s true.

Over the next week, I want you to try something…

When someone asks you for something that is unreasonable, just say no. You should provide an explanation and potentially even provide an alternative solution.

Yes, this sounds crazy, but it works. Just like anything else, it takes practice and you’ll get better at it over time.

So, are you going to start saying “no” now?

The post How This One Little Word Will Change Your Life appeared first on Neil Patel.


Source: https://neilpatel.com/blog/power-of-no/

The Power of No: How This One Little Word Will Change Your Life

When I started my journey as an entrepreneur, I made a huge mistake. And sadly, it took me years to figure out what I was doing wrong.

The issue with this mistake is that it isn’t obvious. Not just entrepreneurs, but people, in general, make it for the majority of their lives.

Can you guess what that mistake is?

I was a people pleaser. I kept saying “yes.” Especially when it came to business.

The moment I stopped saying yes, things started to change. I started to make more money, my customers were happier, people stopped trying to walk all over me, and my team members were happier with me.

I know what you are thinking… this sounds crazy, right? By telling people what they don’t want to hear everything miraculously gets better?

Sounds too good to be true…

Well, here’s how it works.

Why do you say “yes?”

Well, the reason you say yes is probably the same reason I also said yes.

You want to please people.

And if you keep saying yes, believe it or not, it won’t make them happy. In fact, it will make them more upset.

Of course, there is a time and place to say yes to people, but not always. Sometimes people ask for things that are unrealistic.

A lot of the time it is asking for a drastic discount on your product or service… a discount that will make you lose money.

Or sometimes a boss may ask you to complete a task within a very tight deadline that you know isn’t possible.

Now think about it this way: when you say yes just to please people it will make things worse.

For example, when it comes to reducing the price or your service so much that you’ll lose money, it won’t motivate you to help out your client. And even more important, you won’t be able to spend the time and energy your client will need because you’re losing money.

This means that not only will you regret your decision, but they will be upset with you because of the poor performance.

Same goes with your boss. If he or she asks you to meet a tight deadline that isn’t possible, and you agree to it and miss the deadline, they are going to be upset with you.

In other words, saying yes when you shouldn’t might make people happy with you temporarily, but in the long run, they are going to be disappointed and, in many cases, angry with you.

So, what should you say instead of yes?

No!

It really is that simple. All you have to do is say no.

Of course, you’ll have to explain why, but it’s a very powerful word that won’t make people upset with you as long as you use it right.

For example, with my ad agency, Neil Patel Digital, people ask for discounts all of the time.

Can you guess what my sales team says?

No!

But they say it nicely and usually tell potential customers….

We can’t go down in price. We charge this much because we know what it takes to provide results, and if we went down in price, we won’t be able to provide you with the service you are expecting.

I know it may make you feel a bit uncomfortable to be this direct but you need to. It will do wonders for you and your business.

Even when your boss asks you to complete a task that isn’t realistic, you should say something like…

I want to help you get the task done, and I don’t mind working extra hours, but it won’t be feasible for me to meet your deadline. The reason being is because of X, Y, and Z. If it is more important to complete this task than the current tasks I am working on, I can always push them back if you are open to it. Or if we can reduce the scope of the project, I may be able to get it done within Y timeframe.

When it comes to your boss, you’ll want to be creative.

Instead of just saying “no” you’ll want to come up with possible solutions. Your boss may not like any of the solutions but being proactive and thinking outside of the box at least shows your boss that you are trying to do what’s best for the company.

Now let me forewarn you when it comes to saying no to your boss…

If you are truly right, there is no issue with saying no. But if you are lazy and a slow worker and other people can get the task done within the time they are proposing, then things aren’t going to work out for you.

In other words, don’t just use the word no because you are lazy and don’t want to do extra work. Use it when it really makes sense.

How does this help with sales?

Have you ever heard the saying… “play hard to get.”

From a psychological standpoint, we have a higher perceived value for things that may be out of reach. In other words, saying no makes you seem more desirable because you are making yourself a bit more out of reach.

To give you an example of this, I was once in a meeting in New York where someone offered me a job.

It didn’t make sense for me to take the job as I have a business that I love. So I said no.

Their response was…

Well, you don’t even know what I am going to offer you… so just hear me out.

They then made me an offer of a million-dollar salary.

I kindly responded with, I appreciate the offer, but I am still going to decline.

And you know what they said next?

They offered me $2,000,000.

I said no, but I offered to help find them someone for free who might be a good fit.

Long story short, they weren’t happy with my response and they offered me all the way up to a $4,500,000 annual base salary plus bonuses.

And of course, I still said no.

You’re probably not going to have the same experience as me (at least not yet if you are starting out), but when you start saying no you’ll have similar experiences.

People will more likely work with you and pay your price if you hold your ground.

See, here’s the big issue with saying yes in sales when people are asking for more or want to pay less:

The moment you say yes, the first thing that goes through their mind is “what else can I get?” And they’ll keep asking more and it won’t stop.

Then you’ll find yourself with a deal that doesn’t make sense for you.

So, do yourself a favor and start saying no, especially when it comes to sales.

Why should you tell your customers no?

Similar to sales, once people join as a customer it’s a slippery slope to keep telling them yes.

The moment your clients sees you move an inch, they’ll take a mile.

So, when they start asking for you to do things out the scope, you should say no. Even when they are small things as it will lead to bigger asks in the future.

Now, I am not saying that you shouldn’t keep your clients happy. You should provide the product or service they paid for. And every once in a while, if you want to go above and beyond for them… you should. But it should be you making that decision and not them asking for you to make it.

Just for a moment, think about what I just said…

If you want to go above and beyond for your customer or client when they aren’t expecting, that’s fine and it will make you look good. But if your customer is asking for you to go above and beyond, it will set a bad precedent.

Why it’s ok to tell your co-workers no

Out of all of them, this is the trickiest one because you don’t want to create a bad work environment and have people hate you.

But if people are having you do stuff that isn’t the best for the business and it doesn’t logically make sense, there is nothing wrong with saying no.

I will warn you though, just saying “no” and providing no explanation or alternative solutions will cause problems for you.

As long as your explanations are reasonable and logical you’ll be fine. Also, the reasons need to be best for the business as well. In addition, you’ll need to provide alternative solutions… this is the key as it shows you are a team player and proactive.

You’ll want to make sure that you are thinking things through before you give your response.

People will respect your decision if it makes sense… maybe not right then and there, but in the long run, they will.

On the flip side, if you keep telling your co-workers no when they are right, or your boss no because you are lazy, you’ll probably get fired. Especially if you don’t give them alternative solutions.

So, you’ll need to be careful with this.

Conclusion

Stop saying yes to everything. All it will do is make your life miserable.

I know that sounds counter-intuitive, but it’s true.

Over the next week, I want you to try something…

When someone asks you for something that is unreasonable, just say no. You should provide an explanation and potentially even provide an alternative solution.

Yes, this sounds crazy, but it works. Just like anything else, it takes practice and you’ll get better at it over time.

So, are you going to start saying “no” now?

The post The Power of No: How This One Little Word Will Change Your Life appeared first on Neil Patel.


Source: https://neilpatel.com/blog/power-of-no/

The case against behavioral advertising is stacking up

No one likes being stalked around the Internet by adverts. It’s the uneasy joke you can’t enjoy laughing at. Yet vast people-profiling ad businesses have made pots of money off of an unregulated Internet by putting surveillance at their core.

But what if creepy ads don’t work as claimed? What if all the filthy lucre that’s currently being sunk into the coffers of ad tech giants — and far less visible but no less privacy-trampling data brokers — is literally being sunk, and could both be more honestly and far better spent?

Case in point: This week Digiday reported that the New York Times managed to grow its ad revenue after it cut off ad exchanges in Europe. The newspaper did this in order to comply with the region’s updated privacy framework, GDPR, which includes a regime of supersized maximum fines.

The newspaper business decided it simply didn’t want to take the risk, so first blocked all open-exchange ad buying on its European pages and then nixed behavioral targeting. The result? A significant uptick in ad revenue, according to Digiday’s report.

“NYT International focused on contextual and geographical targeting for programmatic guaranteed and private marketplace deals and has not seen ad revenues drop as a result, according to Jean-Christophe Demarta, SVP for global advertising at New York Times International,” it writes.

“Currently, all the ads running on European pages are direct-sold. Although the publisher doesn’t break out exact revenues for Europe, Demarta said that digital advertising revenue has increased significantly since last May and that has continued into early 2019.”

It also quotes Demarta summing up the learnings: “The desirability of a brand may be stronger than the targeting capabilities. We have not been impacted from a revenue standpoint, and, on the contrary, our digital advertising business continues to grow nicely.”

So while (of course) not every publisher is the NYT, publishers that have or can build brand cachet, and pull in a community of engaged readers, must and should pause for thought — and ask who is the real winner from the notion that digitally served ads must creep on consumers to work?

The NYT’s experience puts fresh taint on long-running efforts by tech giants like Facebook to press publishers to give up more control and ownership of their audiences by serving and even producing content directly for the third party platforms. (Pivot to video anyone?)

Such efforts benefit platforms because they get to make media businesses dance to their tune. But the self-serving nature of pulling publishers away from their own distribution channels (and content convictions) looks to have an even more bass string to its bow — as a cynical means of weakening the link between publishers and their audiences, thereby risking making them falsely reliant on adtech intermediaries squatting in the middle of the value chain.

There are other signs behavioural advertising might be a gigantically self-serving con too.

Look at non-tracking search engine DuckDuckGo, for instance, which has been making a profit by serving keyword-based ads and not profiling users since 2014, all the while continuing to grow usage — and doing so in a market that’s dominated by search giant Google.

DDG recently took in $10M in VC funding from a pension fund that believes there’s an inflection point in the online privacy story. These investors are also displaying strong conviction in the soundness of the underlying (non-creepy) ad business, again despite the overbearing presence of Google.

Meanwhile, Internet users continue to express widespread fear and loathing of the ad tech industry’s bandwidth- and data-sucking practices by running into the arms of ad blockers. Figures for usage of ad blocking tools step up each year, with between a quarter and a third of U.S. connected device users’ estimated to be blocking ads as of 2018 (rates are higher among younger users).

Ad blocking firm Eyeo, maker of the popular AdBlock Plus product, has achieved such a position of leverage that it gets Google et al to pay it to have their ads whitelisted by default — under its self-styled ‘acceptable ads’ program. (Though no one will say how much they’re paying to circumvent default ad blocks.)

So the creepy ad tech industry is not above paying other third parties for continued — and, at this point, doubly grubby (given the ad blocking context) — access to eyeballs. Does that sound even slightly like a functional market?

In recent years expressions of disgust and displeasure have also been coming from the ad spending side too — triggered by brand-denting scandals attached to the hateful stuff algorithms have been serving shiny marketing messages alongside. You don’t even have to be worried about what this stuff might be doing to democracy to be a concerned advertiser.

Fast moving consumer goods giants Unilever and Procter & Gamble are two big spenders which have expressed concerns. The former threatened to pull ad spend if social network giants didn’t clean up their act and prevent their platforms algorithmically accelerating hateful and divisive content.

While the latter has been actively reevaluating its marketing spending — taking a closer look at what digital actually does for it. And last March Adweek reported it had slashed $200M from its digital ad budget yet had seen a boost in its reach of 10 per cent, reinvesting the money into areas with “‘media reach’ including television, audio and ecommerce”.

The company’s CMO, Marc Pritchard, declined to name which companies it had pulled ads from but in a speech at an industry conference he said it had reduced spending “with several big players” by 20 per cent to 50 per cent, and still its ad business grew.

So chalk up another tale of reduced reliance on targeted ads yielding unexpected business uplift.

At the same time, academics are digging into the opaquely shrouded question of who really benefits from behavioral advertising. And perhaps getting closer to an answer.

Last fall, at an FTC hearing on the economics of big data and personal information, Carnegie Mellon University professor of IT and public policy, Alessandro Acquisti, teased a piece of yet to be published research — working with a large U.S. publisher that provided the researchers with millions of transactions to study.

Acquisti said the research showed that behaviourally targeted advertising had increased the publisher’s revenue but only marginally. At the same time they found that marketers were having to pay orders of magnitude more to buy these targeted ads, despite the minuscule additional revenue they generated for the publisher.

“What we found was that, yes, advertising with cookies — so targeted advertising — did increase revenues — but by a tiny amount. Four per cent. In absolute terms the increase in revenues was $0.000008 per advertisment,” Acquisti told the hearing. “Simultaneously we were running a study, as merchants, buying ads with a different degree of targeting. And we found that for the merchants sometimes buying targeted ads over untargeted ads can be 500% times as expensive.”

“How is it possible that for merchants the cost of targeting ads is so much higher whereas for publishers the return on increased revenues for targeted ads is just 4%,” he wondered, posing a question that publishers should really be asking themselves — given, in this example, they’re the ones doing the dirty work of snooping on (and selling out) their readers.

Acquisti also made the point that a lack of data protection creates economic winners and losers, arguing this is unavoidable — and thus qualifying the oft-parroted tech industry lobby line that privacy regulation is a bad idea because it would benefit an already dominant group of players. The rebuttal is that a lack of privacy rules also does that. And that’s exactly where we are now.

“There is a sort of magical thinking happening when it comes to targeted advertising [that claims] everyone benefits from this,” Acquisti continued. “Now at first glance this seems plausible. The problem is that upon further inspection you find there is very little empirical validation of these claims… What I’m saying is that we actually don’t know very well to which these claims are true and false. And this is a pretty big problem because so many of these claims are accepted uncritically.”

There’s clearly far more research that needs to be done to robustly interrogate the effectiveness of targeted ads against platform claims and vs more vanilla types of advertising (i.e. which don’t demand reams of personal data to function). But the fact that robust research hasn’t been done is itself interesting.

Acquisti noted the difficulty of researching “opaque blackbox” ad exchanges that aren’t at all incentivized to be transparent about what’s going on. Also pointing out that Facebook has sometimes admitted to having made mistakes that significantly inflated its ad engagement metrics.

His wider point is that much current research into the effectiveness of digital ads is problematically narrow and so is exactly missing a broader picture of how consumers might engage with alternative types of less privacy-hostile marketing.

In a nutshell, then, the problem is the lack of transparency from ad platforms; and that lack serving the self same opaque giants.

But there’s more. Critics of the current system point out it relies on mass scale exploitation of personal data to function, and many believe this simply won’t fly under Europe’s tough new GDPR framework.

They are applying legal pressure via a set of GDPR complaints, filed last fall, that challenge the legality of a fundamental piece of the (current) adtech industry’s architecture: Real-time bidding (RTB); arguing the system is fundamentally incompatible with Europe’s privacy rules.

We covered these complaints last November but the basic argument is that bid requests essentially constitute systematic data breaches because personal data is broadcast widely to solicit potential ad buys and thereby poses an unacceptable security risk — rather than, as GDPR demands, people’s data being handled in a way that “ensures appropriate security”.

To spell it out, the contention is the entire behavioral advertising business is illegal because it’s leaking personal data at such vast and systematic scale it cannot possibly comply with EU data protection law.

Regulators are considering the argument, and courts may follow. But it’s clear adtech systems that have operated in opaque darkness for years, without no worry of major compliance fines, no longer have the luxury of being able to take their architecture as a given.

Greater legal risk might be catalyst enough to encourage a market shift towards less intrusive targeting; ads that aren’t targeted based on profiles of people synthesized from heaps of personal data but, much like DuckDuckGo’s contextual ads, are only linked to a real-time interest and a generic location. No creepy personal dossiers necessary.

If Acquisti’s research is to be believed — and here’s the kicker for Facebook et al — there’s little reason to think such ads would be substantially less effective than the vampiric microtargeted variant that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg likes to describe as “relevant”.

The ‘relevant ads’ badge is of course a self-serving concept which Facebook uses to justify creeping on users while also pushing the notion that its people-tracking business inherently generates major extra value for advertisers. But does it really do that? Or are advertisers buying into another puffed up fake?

Facebook isn’t providing access to internal data that could be used to quantify whether its targeted ads are really worth all the extra conjoined cost and risk. While the company’s habit of buying masses of additional data on users, via brokers and other third party sources, makes for a rather strange qualification. Suggesting things aren’t quite what you might imagine behind Zuckerberg’s drawn curtain.

Behavioral ad giants are facing growing legal risk on another front. The adtech market has long been referred to as a duopoly, on account of the proportion of digital ad spending that gets sucked up by just two people-profiling giants: Google and Facebook (the pair accounted for 58% of the market in 2018, according to eMarketer data) — and in Europe a number of competition regulators have been probing the duopoly.

Earlier this month the German Federal Cartel Office was reported to be on the brink of partially banning Facebook from harvesting personal data from third party providers (including but not limited to some other social services it owns). Though an official decision has yet to be handed down.

While, in March 2018, the French Competition Authority published a meaty opinion raising multiple concerns about the online advertising sector — and calling for an overhaul and a rebalancing of transparency obligations to address publisher concerns that dominant platforms aren’t providing access to data about their own content.

The EC’s competition commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, is also taking a closer look at whether data hoarding constitutes a monopoly. And has expressed a view that, rather than breaking companies up in order to control platform monopolies, the better way to go about it in the modern ICT era might be by limiting access to data — suggesting another potentially looming legal headwind for personal data-sucking platforms.

At the same time, the political risks of social surveillance architectures have become all too clear.

Whether microtargeted political propaganda works as intended or not is still a question mark. But few would support letting attempts to fiddle elections just go ahead and happen anyway.

Yet Facebook has rushed to normalize what are abnormally hostile uses of its tools; aka the weaponizing of disinformation to further divisive political ends — presenting ‘election security’ as just another day-to-day cost of being in the people farming business. When the ‘cost’ for democracies and societies is anything but normal. 

Whether or not voters can be manipulated en masse via the medium of targeted ads, the act of targeting itself certainly has an impact — by fragmenting the shared public sphere which civilized societies rely on to drive consensus and compromise. Ergo, unregulated social media is inevitably an agent of antisocial change.

The solution to technology threatening democracy is far more transparency; so regulating platforms to understand how, why and where data is flowing, and thus get a proper handle on impacts in order to shape desired outcomes.

Greater transparency also offers a route to begin to address commercial concerns about how the modern adtech market functions.

And if and when ad giants are forced to come clean — about how they profile people; where data and value flows; and what their ads actually deliver — you have to wonder what if anything will be left unblemished.

People who know they’re being watched alter their behavior. Similarly, platforms may find behavioral change enforced upon them, from above and below, when it becomes impossible for everyone else to ignore what they’re doing.


Source: https://techcrunch.com/2019/01/20/dont-be-creepy/

Facebook launches petition feature, its next battlefield

Gather a mob and Facebook will now let you make political demands. Tomorrow Facebook will encounter a slew of fresh complexities with the launch of Community Actions, its News Feed petition feature. Community Actions could unite neighbors to request change from their local and national elected officials and government agencies. But it could also provide vocal interest groups a bully pulpit from which to pressure politicians and bureaucrats with their fringe agendas.

Community Actions embodies the central challenge facing Facebook. Every tool it designs for positive expression and connectivity can be subverted for polarization and misinformation. Facebook’s membership has swelled into such a ripe target for exploitation that it draws out the worst of humanity. You can imagine misuses like “Crack down on [minority group]” that are offensive or even dangerous but some see as legitimate. The question is whether Facebook puts in the forethought and aftercare to safeguard its new tools with proper policy and moderation. Otherwise each new feature is another liability.

Community Actions roll out to the entire US tomorrow after several weeks of testing in a couple of markets. Users can add a title, description, and image to their Community Action, and tag relevant government agencies and officials who’ll be notified. The goal is to make the Community Action go viral and get people to hit the “Support” button. Community Actions have their own discussion feed where people can leave comments, create fundraisers, and organize Facebook Events or Call Your Rep campaigns. Facebook displays the numbers of supporters behind a Community Action, but you’ll only be able to see the names of those you’re friends with or that are Pages or public figures.

Facebook is purposefully trying to focus Community Actions to be more narrowly concentrated on spurring government action than just any random cause. That means it won’t immediately replace Change.org petitions that can range from the civilian to the absurd. But one-click Support straight from the News Feed could massively reduce the friction to signing up, and thereby attract organizations and individuals seeking to maximize the size of their mob.

You can check out some examples here of Community Actions here like a non-profit Colorado Rising calling for the governor to put a moratorium on oil and gas drilling, citizens asking the a Florida’s mayor and state officials to build a performing arts center, and a Philadelphia neighborhood association requesting that the city put in crosswalks by the library.

The launch follows other civic-minded Facebook features like its Town Hall and Candidate Info for assessing politicians, Community Help for finding assistance after a disaster, and local news digest Today In. A Facebook spokesperson who gave us the first look at Community Actions provided this statement:

“Building informed and civically engaged communities is at the core of Facebook’s mission. Every day, people come together on Facebook to advocate for causes they care about, including by contacting their elected officials, launching a fundraiser, or starting a group. Through these and other tools, we have seen people marshal support for and get results on issues that matter to them. Community Action is another way for people to advocate for changes in their communities and partner with elected officials and government agencies on solutions.”

The question will be where Facebook’s moderators draw the line on what’s appropriate as a Community Action, and the ensuing calls of bias that line will trigger. Facebook is employing a combination of user flagging, proactive algorithmic detection, and human enforcers to manage the feature. But what the left might call harassment, the right might call free expression. If Facebook allows controversial Community Actions to persist, it could be viewed as complicit with their campaigns, but could be criticized for censorship if it takes one down. Like fake news and trending topics, the feature could become the social network’s latest can of worms.

Facebook is trying to prioritize local Actions where community members have a real stake. It lets user display “constituent” badges so their elected officials know they aren’t just a distant rabble-rouser. It’s why Facebook will not allow President Donald Trump or Vice President Mike Pence to be tagged in Community Actions. But you’re free to tag all your state representatives demanding nude parks, apparently.

Another issue is how people can stand up against a Community Action. Only those who Support one may join in its discussion feed. That might lead trolls to falsely pledge their backing just to stir up trouble in the comments. Otherwise, Facebook tells me users will have to share a Community Action to their own feed with a message of disapproval, or launch their own in protest. My concern is that an agitated but niche group could drive a sense of false equivocacy by using Facebook Groups or message threads to make it look like there’s as much or more support for a vulgar cause or against of a just one. A politician could be backed into a corner and forced to acknowledge radicals or bad-faith actors lest they look negligent

While Facebook’s spokesperson says initial tests didn’t surface many troubles, the company is trying to balance safety with efficiency and it will consider how to evolve the feature in response to emergent behaviors. The trouble is that open access draws out the trolls and grifters seeking to fragment society. Facebook will have to assume the thorny responsibility of shepherding the product towards righteousness and defining what that even means. If it succeeds, there’s an amazing opportunity here for citizens to band together to exert consensus upon government. A chorus of voices carries much further than a single cry.


Source: https://techcrunch.com/2019/01/20/facebook-community-actions/

Facebook fears no FTC fine

Reports emerged today that the FTC is considering a fine against Facebook that would be the largest ever from the agency. Even if it were ten times the size of the largest, a $22.5 million bill sent to Google in 2012, the company would basically laugh it off. Facebook is made of money. But the FTC may make it provide something it has precious little of these days: accountability.

A Washington Post report cites sources inside the agency (currently on hiatus due to the shutdown) saying that regulators have “met to discuss imposing a record-setting fine.” We may as well say here that this must be taken with a grain of salt at the outset; that Facebook is non-compliant with terms set previously by the FTC is an established fact, so how much they should be made to pay is the natural next topic of discussion.

But how much would it be? The scale of the violation is hugely negotiable. Our summary of the FTC’s settlement requirements for Facebook indicate that it was:

  • barred from making misrepresentations about the privacy or security of consumers’ personal information;
  • required to obtain consumers’ affirmative express consent before enacting changes that override their privacy preferences;
  • required to prevent anyone from accessing a user’s material more than 30 days after the user has deleted his or her account;
  • required to establish and maintain a comprehensive privacy program designed to address privacy risks associated with the development and management of new and existing products and services, and to protect the privacy and confidentiality of consumers’ information; and
  • required, within 180 days, and every two years after that for the next 20 years, to obtain independent, third-party audits certifying that it has a privacy program in place that meets or exceeds the requirements of the FTC order, and to ensure that the privacy of consumers’ information is protected.

How many of those did it break, and how many times? Is it per user? Per account? Per post? Per offense? What is “accessing” under such and such a circumstance? The FTC is no doubt deliberating these things.

Yet it is hard to imagine them coming up with a number that really scares Facebook. A hundred million dollars is a lot of money, for instance. But Facebook took in more than $13 billion in revenue last quarter. Double that fine, triple it, and Facebook bounces back.

If even a fine ten times the size of the largest it ever threw can’t faze the target, what can the FTC do to scare Facebook into playing by the book? Make it do what it’s already supposed to be doing, but publicly.

How many ad campaigns is a user’s data being used for? How many internal and external research projects? How many copies are there? What data specifically and exactly is it collecting on any given user, how is that data stored, who has access to it, to whom is it sold or for whom is it aggregated or summarized? What is the exact nature of the privacy program it has in place, who works for it, who do they report to, and what are their monthly findings?

These and dozens of other questions come immediately to mind as things Facebook should be disclosing publicly in some way or another, either directly to users in the case of how one’s data is being used, or in a more general report, such as what concrete measures are being taken to prevent exfiltration of profile data by bad actors, or how user behavior and psychology is being estimated and tracked.

Not easy or convenient questions to answer at all, let alone publicly and regularly. But if the FTC wants the company to behave, it has to impose this level of responsibility and disclosure. Because, as Facebook has already shown, it cannot be trusted to disclose it otherwise. Light touch regulation is all well and good… until it isn’t.

This may in fact be such a major threat to Facebook’s business — imagine having to publicly state metrics that are clearly at odds with what you tell advertisers and users — that it might attempt to negotiate a larger initial fine in order to avoid punitive measures such as those outlined here. Volkswagen spent billions not on fines, but in sort of punitive community service to mitigate the effects of its emissions cheating. Facebook too could be made to shell out in this indirect way.

What the FTC is capable of requiring from Facebook is an open question, since the scale and nature of these violations are unprecedented. But whatever they come up with, the part with a dollar sign in front of it — however many places it goes to — will be the least of Facebook’s worries.


Source: https://techcrunch.com/2019/01/18/facebook-fears-no-ftc-fine/

Facebook is secretly building LOL, a cringey teen meme hub

How do you do, fellow kids? After Facebook Watch, Lasso, and IGTV failed to become hits with teens, the company has been quietly developing another youthful video product. Multiple sources confirm that Facebook has spent months building LOL, a special feed of funny videos and GIF-like clips. It’s divided into categories like “For You”, “Animals”, “Fails”, “Pranks” and more with content pulled from News Feed posts by top meme Pages on Facebook. LOL is currently in private beta with around 100 high school students who signed non-disclosure agreements with parental consent.

In response to TechCrunch’s questioning, Facebook confirmed it is privately testing LOL as a home for funny meme content with a very small number of US users. While those testers experience LOL as a replacement for their Watch tab, Facebook says there’s no plans to roll out LOL in Watch and the team is still finalizing whether it will become a separate feature in one of Facebook’s main app or a standalone app. Facebook declined to give a formal statement but told us the details we had were accurate.

With teens increasingly turning to ephemeral Stories for sharing and content consumption, Facebook is desperate to lure them back to its easily-monetizable feeds. Collecting the funniest News Feed posts and concentrating them in a dedicated place could appeal to kids seeking rapid-fire lightweight entertainment. LOL could also soak up some of the “low-quality” videos Facebook scrubbed out of the News Feed a year ago in hopes of decreasing zombie-like passive viewing that can hurt people’s well-being.

But our sources familiar with LOL’s design said it still feels “cringey”, like Facebook is futilely pretending to be young and hip. The content found in LOL is sometimes weeks old, so meme-obsessed teens may have seen it before. After years of parents overrunning Facebook, teens have grown skeptical of the app and many have fled for Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube. Parachuting into the memespehere may come off as inauthentic posing and Facebook could find it difficult to build a young fanbase for LOL.

In one of the recent designs for LOL, screenshots attained by TechCrunch show users are greeted with a carousel of themed collections called “Dailies” like “Look Mom No Hands” in a design reminiscent of Snapchat’s Discover section. Below that there’s a feed of algorithmically curated “For You” clips. Users can filter the LOL feed to show categories like “Wait For It”, “Savage”, “Classics”, “Gaming”, “Celebs”, “School”, and “Stand-Up”, or tap buttons atop the screen to see dedicated sub-feeds for these topics.

Once users open a Dailies collection or start scrolling the feed, it turns into a black-bordered theater mode that auto-advances after you finish a video clip for lean-back consumption. Facebook cuts each video clip up into sections several seconds long that users can fast-forward through with a tap like they’re watching a long Instagram Story. Below each piece of content is a set of special LOL reaction buttons for “Funny”, “Alright”, and “Not Funny”. There’s also a share button on each piece of content, plus users can upload videos or paste in a URL to submit videos to LOL.

Facebook has repeatedly failed to capture the hearts of teens with Snapchat clones like Poke and Slingshot, standalone apps like Lifestage, and acquisitions like TBH. Fears that it’s losing the demographic or that the shift driven by the youth from feeds to Stories that Facebook has less experience monetizing have caused massive drops in the company’s share price over the years. If Facebook can’t fill in this age gap, the next generation of younger users might sidestep the social network too, which could lead to huge downstream problems for growth and revenue.

That’s why Facebook won’t give up on teens, even despite embarrassing stumbles. Its new Tik Tok clone Lasso saw only 10,000 downloads in the first 12 days. Despite seeming like a ghost town, Facebook still updated it with a retweet-like Relasso and camera uploads today. Unlike the Tik Tok-dominated musical video space, though, the meme sharing universe is much more fragmented and there’s a better chance for Facebook to barge in.

Teens discover memes on Reddit, Twitter, Instagram, and exchange them in DMs. Beyond Imgur that encompasses lots of visual storytelling styles, there’s no super-popular dedicated meme discovery app. Facebook might seem out of touch, but the fact that it’s even trying to build a meme browser shows it recognizes the opportunity here. Sometimes our brains need a break and we want quick hits of entertainment that don’t require too much thought, commitment, or attention span. As Facebook tries to become more meaningful, LOL could save room for meaningless fun.


Source: https://techcrunch.com/2019/01/18/facebook-lol/

Full Funnel Testing: SEO & CRO Together – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by willcritchlow

Testing for only SEO or only CRO isn’t always ideal. Some changes result in higher conversions and reduced site traffic, for instance, while others may rank more highly but convert less well. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, we welcome Will Critchlow as he demonstrates a method of testing for both your top-of-funnel SEO changes and your conversion-focused CRO changes at once.

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Video Transcription

Hi, everyone. Welcome to another Whiteboard Friday. My name is Will Critchlow, one of the founders at Distilled. If you’ve been following what I’ve been writing and talking about around the web recently, today’s topic may not surprise you that much. I’m going to be talking about another kind of SEO testing.

Over at Distilled, we’ve been investing pretty heavily in building out our capability to do SEO tests and in particular built our optimization delivery network, which has let us do a new kind of SEO testing that hasn’t been previously available to most of our clients. Recently we’ve been working on a new enhancement to this, which is full funnel testing, and that’s what I want to talk about today.

So funnel testing is testing all the way through the funnel, from acquisition at the SEO end to conversion. So it’s SEO testing plus CRO testing together. I’m going to write a little bit more about some of the motivation for this. But, in a nutshell, it essentially boils down to the fact that it is perfectly possible, in fact we’ve seen in the wild cases of tests that win in SEO terms and lose in CRO terms or vice versa.

In other words, tests that maybe you make a change and it converts better, but you lose organic search traffic. Or the other way around, it ranks better, but it converts less well. If you’re only testing one, which is common — I mean most organizations are only testing the conversion rate side of things — it’s perfectly possible to have a winning test, roll it out, and do worse.

CRO testing

So let’s step back a little bit. A little bit of a primer. Conversion rate optimization testing works in an A/B split kind of way. You can test on a single page, if you want to, or a site section. The way it works is you split your audience. So your audience is split. Some of your audience gets one version of the page, and the rest of the audience gets a different version.

Then you can compare the conversion rate among the group who got the control and the group who got the variant. That’s very straightforward. Like I say, it can happen on a single page or across an entire site. SEO testing, a little bit newer. The way this works is you can’t split the audience, because we care very much about the search engine spiders in this case. For the purposes of this consideration, there’s essentially only one Googlebot. So you couldn’t put Google in Class A or Class B here and expect to get anything meaningful.

SEO testing

So the way that we do an SEO test is we actually split the pages. To do this, you need a substantial site section. So imagine, for example, an e-commerce website with thousands of products. You might have a hypothesis of something that will help those product pages perform better. You take your hypothesis and you only apply it to some of the pages, and you leave some of the pages unchanged as a control.

Then, crucially, search engines and users see the same experience. There’s no cloaking going on. There’s no duplication of content. You simply change some pages and not change others. Then you apply kind of advanced mathematical, statistical analysis trying to figure out do these pages get statistically more organic search traffic than we think they would have done if we hadn’t made this change. So that’s how an SEO test works.

Now, as I said, the problem that we are trying to tackle here is it’s really plausible, despite Google’s best intentions to do what’s right for users, it’s perfectly plausible that you can have a test that ranks better but converts less well or vice versa. We’ve seen this with, for example, removing content from a page. Sometimes having a cleaner, simpler page can convert better. But maybe that was where the keywords were and maybe that was helping the page rank. So we’re trying to avoid those kinds of situations.

Full funnel testing

That’s where full funnel testing comes in. So I want to just run through how you run a full funnel test. What you do is you first of all set it up in the same way as an SEO test, because we’re essentially starting with SEO at the top of the funnel. So it’s set up exactly the same way.

Some pages are unchanged. Some pages get the hypothesis applied to them. As far as Google is concerned, that’s the end of the story, because on any individual request to these pages that’s what we serve back. But the critically important thing here is I’ve got my little character. This is a human browser performs a search, “What do badgers eat?”

This was one of our silly examples that we came up with on one of our demo sites. The user lands on this page here. What we do is we then set a cookie. This is a cookie. This user then, as they navigate around the site, no matter where they go within this site section, they get the same treatment, either the control or the variant. They get the same treatment across the entire site section. This is more like the conversion rate test here.

Googlebot = stateless requests

So what I didn’t show in this diagram is if you were running this test across a site section, you would cookie this user and make sure that they always saw the same treatment no matter where they navigated around the site. So because Googlebot is making stateless requests, in other words just independent, one-off requests for each of these of these pages with no cookie set, Google sees the split.

Evaluate SEO test on entrances

Users get whatever their first page impression looks like. They then get that treatment applied across the entire site section. So what we can do then is we can evaluate independently the performance in search, evaluate that on entrances. So do we get significantly more entrances to the variant pages than we would have expected if we hadn’t applied a hypothesis to them?

That tells us the uplift from an SEO perspective. So maybe we say, “Okay, this is plus 11% in organic traffic.” Well, great. So in a vacuum, all else being equal, we’d love to roll out this test.

Evaluate conversion rate on users

But before we do that, what we can do now is we can evaluate the conversion rate, and we do that based on user metrics. So these users are cookied.

We can also set an analytics tag on them and say, “Okay, wherever they navigate around, how many of them end up converting?” Then we can evaluate the conversion rate based on whether they saw treatment A or treatment B. Because we’re looking at conversion rate, the audience size doesn’t exactly have to be the same. So the statistical analysis can take care of that fact, and we can evaluate the conversion rate on a user-centric basis.

So then we maybe see that it’s -5% in conversion rate. We then need to evaluate, “Is this something we should roll out?” So step 1 is: Do we just roll it out? If it’s a win in both, then the answer is yes probably. If they’re in different directions, then there are couple things we can do. Firstly, we can evaluate the relative performance in different directions, taking care that conversion rate applies generally across all channels, and so a relatively small drop in conversion rate can be a really big deal compared to even an uplift in organic traffic, because the conversion rate is applying to all channels, not just your organic traffic channel.

But suppose that it’s a small net positive or a small net negative. What we can then do is we might get to the point that it’s a net positive and roll it out. Either way, we might then say, “What can we take from this?What can we actually learn?” So back to our example of the content. We might say, “You know what? Users like this cleaner version of the page with apparently less content on it.The search engines are clearly relying on that content to understand what this page is about. How do we get the best of both worlds?”

Well, that might be a question of a redesign, moving the layout of the page around a little bit, keeping the content on there, but maybe not putting it front and center to the user as they land right at the beginning. We can test those different things, run sequential tests, try and take the best of the SEO tests and the best of the CRO tests and get it working together and crucially avoid those situations where you think you’ve got a win, because your conversion rate is up, but you actually are about to crater your organic search performance.

We think this is going to just be the more data-driven we get, the more accountable SEO testing makes us, the more important it’s going to be to join these dots and make sure that we’re getting true uplifts on a net basis when we combine them. So I hope that’s been useful to some of you. Thank you for joining me on this week’s Whiteboard Friday. I’m Will Critchlow from Distilled.

Take care.

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Source: https://moz.com/blog/full-funnel-testing-seo-cro