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  1. The Benefits of Facebook Ad Precise Interest Targeting

    May 16, 2012 by Greg Schneider

    This article was written for and published on socialfresh.com.  Read the original article here. 

    According to Social Fresh’s recent 2012 Facebook advertising report, Facebook advertisers see an average CPC of $0.80 and average clickthrough rates of 0.041%.

    For a number of factors, we have experienced considerably better results at FanFeedr, results that are worth discussing here.

    The examples and outcomes that follow are for Facebook ads placed for several of FanFeedr’s team specific Facebook pages.

    For some background, FanFeedr is a sports news aggregation site that collects and classifies over 10,000 quality sports related sources, photos, scores, and tweets into team specific pages. Content is published on team specific Facebook and Twitter accounts, in addition to the FanFeedr website.

    We have engaged in trials using Facebook ads for several of our pages with the goal in mind is to increase the following:

    • Awareness of FanFeedr and its many team pages
    • Our overall Facebook presence growth
    • Referral traffic back to our site, FanFeedr.com

     

    Precise Interest Targeting

    For each page, we ran multiple ads and A/B tested everything from advertising copy, the photo in the ad, location, precise interest targeting, and demographics such as age, and gender.

    The factor that consistently saw the largest increases in CTR (click through rate) and largest decreases in CPC (cost per click) was precise interest targeting. At times, we included over 60 precise interests and this resulted in significantly better results than targeting a larger and more broad audience.

    You can see an example of the precise interests we included for our New York Yankees page here:

    Here are a few examples of ads that were placed:

    Surprising CTR Results

    In fact, our Yankees page, which was one of our best performing pages, saw a peak CTR of 0.45%, which is 997% higher than the reported average.

    Here are our top four weeks for our Yankees page campaign that received the highest CTR with at least 30,000 impressions:

    Improved CPC

    We consistently saw much lower than average CPC rates for our pages and targeted audience as well.

    Overall, we saw an average of roughly $0.15, good for 81% lower than the reported average. Here, our campaign for our Cincinnati Reds page had an average CPC of about $0.17:

    International Targeting

    Since American sports have an international fan base and we also cover teams that are located in other countries, we tested targeting international users.

    For example, we cover the English Premier League and wanted to grow the number of fans on the FanFeedr Arsenal Facebook page. Arsenal is one of the most diverse teams in the world with players from 19 different countries.

    We took advantage of this by using precise targeting of Arsenal fans in England who like English star player Theo Walcott, or Arsenal fans in the Netherlands who like their countryman and team captain Robin van Persie, for example.

    The same could be applied for all sports teams and players.

    The experiment was successful as you can see in this chart breaking down CTR by targeted countries:

    As well as the complete results for the campaign including a peak CTR of 0.38% and a low CPC of $0.02.

    Over the duration of our trial, we ran campaigns for over 30 of our pages. On average, we saw page growth of 2,476% with a high of 7,220% (some pages started at a very low number, to be clear).

    We think the reason for our success is simple: people would rather see an advertisement for a page or product they’re interested in (in our case, their favorite team), as opposed to something that may be completely irrelevant to them and that they most likely will never click on.

    We realize that a lot of brands or agencies may not have the luxury of advertising a page or product that people may be as emotionally invested in as sports, and as a result, this causes our findings to be more of an exception than a model that can be repeated.

    However, we have concluded that we would rather target users who are more likely to be interested in our page and product, and that it is cost efficient to disregard users who are less likely to be engaged (at least in terms of advertising).

    This aspect of our strategy could be adopted by anyone placing Facebook ads.


  2. Most Creative Use of Facebook Timeline by Sports Teams

    April 27, 2012 by Greg Schneider

    This article was written for and published on SportsNetworker.com.  Read the original article here. 

    On March 30th, Facebook automatically transitioned all brand pages to Timeline. Though Timeline is a massive upgrade over the previous page design, most pre-Timeline research has shown that over 85% of user interactions with pages occurred in Facebook’s News Feed.

    This raises a question: Does the page design even matter that much? Since the change, some studies are already showing that Timeline has had no affect on engagement, though it may still be too early to tell whether or not that will remain to be the case.

    Facebook Timeline Changes The Game

    Since the changes are very new, it’s going to take some time and experimentation before we can truly judge what, if any, influence Timeline has with user interaction and engagement with pages. However, it’s hard to believe if equipped with a strong strategy and content plan that engagement numbers would not go up. Timeline provides a lot of new tools that enable page owners to better control the experience the user has on their page.

    Some of these tools include controlling what content the user first sees when visiting a page, making photos and videos more aesthetically pleasing, marking historical milestones, and more options overall to better engage users. Therefore, it’s not just Facebook’s transformation to Timeline that may or may not affect engagement rates, it’s how you apply it.

    Sports Teams Get Creative With Facebook Timeline

    To find out how professional sports teams are executing on the changes, I spent time on over 160 Facebook pages across all teams for the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, MLS, and EPL. The results were widely mixed. Some teams have not changed their strategy at all (for better or worse), while others have fully embraced the changes and are experimenting with the new features. Provided below are some examples, categorized by new Timeline feature.

     

    Pin to Top

    Though it is a misconception that you can no longer control the first-time user experience with a customized landing page (you can still do this when using Facebook ads), Facebook has made it apparent that they want users to connect with pages and “like” them because of content, and a relationship the user may have with the brand or team, not because of a contest or initial incentive.

    To this point, the most interesting new feature is the “Pin to Top” feature. With this new tool, pages now have the ability to “pin,” or stick a piece of content to the top of the page. There is a lot noise on Facebook. As a result, often once something is posted, it’s gone within a matter of hours. If a team has a contest, ticket offering, or important announcement, they can now keep the same post at the top of the page for up to a week. Here are a few examples of how teams are utilizing the “Pin to Top” feature:

    Tennessee Titans

    The Tennessee Titans promoted a contest to win a trip to the NFL draft in New York City and announce one of the team’s picks:

    Boston Red Sox & Milwaukee Brewers

    The Red Sox and Brewers got their fans psyched for Opening Day:

    Red Sox Facebook page

    Milwaukee Brewers Facebook page

    (more…)


  3. CBS NY (WFAN) Audio Roadshow iPhone Sports App Review

    March 6, 2012 by Greg Schneider

    This article was written for and published on SportsNetworker.com.  Click here to view the original article.

     

    Late last summer, sports talk radio host Mike Francesa of WFAN in New York announced that the station would soon be releasing a mobile application that would revolutionize sports radio and would soon be duplicated by stations across the country. The NFL season came and went, but last week Francesa finally announced the sports app, Audio Roadshow, is ready and available (but only for the iPhone).

    Sports App  Though there are certainly some unique features within the app, “revolutionary” may be overstating it just a bit. But maybe we should give Francesa a break considering he’s been pretty vocal in the past about his disdain for Facebook, Twitter, and emerging technologies in general and probably shouldn’t be considered an expert.

    Regardless, Audio Roadshow is already ranked in the top 5 in the App Store (which speaks to the size of the show and its influence) and is worth taking a deeper look at.

     What’s Inside The WFAN Sports App

    Show Schedule, Topics, and Listen Live

    From the “Lineup” tab, fans of the show can discover:

    1. What Francesa is going to talk about that day.
    2. What guests are on the show and when they will be interviewed.
    3. Who is currently (live) on the show.

    Sports App

    Today’s Lineup

    All useful information, but these features could just as easily be executed with a Twitter account, and they could even inject their account’s tweets directly into the app. Francesa also has the ability to voice his opinion in this space if a big story breaks during off-show hours. For example, after Jeremy Lin recently led the Knicks to an improbable victory over the Lakers, Francesa provided some insight about the story. Again, THIS is exactly what Twitter is for.

    The Audio Roadshow also allows fans to stream the show live on their iPhone. This is a great feature, and has been available for quite some time on radio apps such as Sirius, Pandora, and iHeartRadio just to name a few.

    Interactive Features

    Sports AppThe CBS digital team has repeatedly said that the main goal for the app is to increase fan involvement with the show. They achieved this two ways:

    1. Spot Polls: The spot polls allow Francesa and his staff to ask listeners multiple choice questions about various topics. For instance, they recently asked listeners how many games they thought the Mets would win this season. They also have the ability to ask real-time questions during interviews.
    2. 10-Seconds of Glory: The most unique feature of the Audio Roadshow, “10 Seconds of Glory,” enables listeners to record a 10-second rant about a chosen topic by Francesa and his staff. The show still fields its normal calls, but this is more of a rapid-fire aspect of the show where Francesa plays 5-10 recordings in-a-row.

    What Is The WFAN Sports App Missing?

    After they announced the app and its features, there was immediate backlash on Twitter and the hashtag #FutureMikeFrancesaInventions was the top trending topic in New York City, mocking Francesa mainly because of his proclamation that the app would be “revolutionary.” Though the reaction may have been a bit over-the-top, there are a few features that could improve Audio Roadshow:

    1. Podcasts: Audio Roadshow delivers the ability to listen to the show live, why not allow people to listen to previous shows or interviews? They already have podcasts available in iTunes, so the integration into the app should be fairly simple.
    2. Video: The show is also broadcasted live on the YES Network so they have plenty of video clips that could become available within the app. The hurdle here would be additional contractual agreements with YES.
    3. Social Features: There are a few simple ways that Audio Roadshow could integrate a layer of social media to it:
    • As previously mentioned, adding WFAN’s Twitter stream into the app.
    • Displaying listener comments on Twitter by utilizing hashtags that Francesa could announce.
    • Sharing features: The spot polls and especially the 10-Second of Glory clips are naturally sharable content that the users could brag about to their friends on Facebook and Twitter, and could create a viral effect for the app.

     

    Overall, CBS and WFAN achieved their goal of increasing fan interaction with the show, but there are several features that could enhance that experience further.


  4. The Avoidable Disaster That is Yahoo!’s Fantasy Football iPhone App.

    February 1, 2012 by Greg Schneider

    Which is worse?  The low-quality product?  Or the complete lack of response to the negative feedback?

    The most popular sports website in the country is ESPN.com, a distinction that was formerly held by Yahoo! Sports.  As ESPN propels into the top spot (likely a result of Bill Simmons’ new project grantland.com), Yahoo! Sports seems to be headed in the other direction for good reason.

    Without access to more detailed data it is impossible to know for sure, but I suspect that the majority of Yahoo! Sports’ traffic is fantasy sports related.  Though the design of the site hasn’t been updated for years and their editorial team enlists only a handful of notable sports journalists, their fantasy sports arm has remained extremely popular.

    Personally, I have been playing fantasy sports for over 12 years, and the mass majority of them have been on Yahoo!.  They were way ahead of the fantasy explosion, something that they are without a doubt still benefiting from (anyone who has been in a league with long-time friends knows that it takes 50+ e-mails to decide over how many points a throwing touchdown will receive much less moving the league onto another service entirely).  In fact, up until a few years ago, Yahoo! would charge for their live stats product, StatTracker.  To their credit, the product was fantastic and well worth the $15 per season they would charge.  However, as ESPN caught up on the fantasy game and offered a similar service for free, Yahoo! changed and did the same.

    Which leads me to their iPhone app.  Once again, technology has changed the way we experience fantasy sports.  In the past, if you spent a Sunday watching football at a bar or a friend’s house, you could either calculate your team’s stats in your head, or be that guy who sat at the bar with his laptop (not a viable option for the rational).  With all of the aspects of life that smartphones have improved or made more convenient, fantasy sports is definitely one of them.  At least that’s the way it should be.

    Yahoo!’s fantasy football app constantly crashed throughout the year (and again after an update during the playoffs), did not allow waiver pickups, did not consistently show real-time updates, and overall was not even worth using.

    Think I’m overreacting or am alone in this belief?  Let’s take a look at some of the recent feedback in the iTunes app store:

    More than half of the feedback on the current version of the app received one star.

    And some recent posts:

    Brutal.  Passionate, frustrated users going out of their way to let Yahoo! know how they feel about the app.  One user even made a direct comparison the ESPN’s app, and specific features that make it better.  Bad news for Yahoo!.  And it gets worse:

    Grammar aside, it’s pretty clear that people are fed up (the Guinness Book of Records for worst app was my favorite comment).  And these are all from the ten MOST RECENT comments.  See for yourself.

    The most disappointing and puzzling aspect of all of this is Yahoo!’s complete lack of response to the issues (from what I can find).  There does not appear to be anyone in charge of, or monitoring and responding to the feedback in iTunes.  You would think their Facebook page which garner’s 26,000+ followers would be a good place to resolve the problems, but it has laid dormant since August of 2011!

    Their Twitter account is slightly more active, though it looks to be utilized as more of a platform to promote their podcast and site content than a place where users can find out why their iPhone app continues to crash.

    As ESPN makes mobile a top priority, you have to wonder how far Yahoo! Sports will fall in 2012 if they don’t get their mobile strategy together fast (preferably in time for fantasy baseball season).