Every year, Unbound does a bloggers tour, where participants get to meet families, hang out with them at their homes, talk about their lives, and ultimately share, with you, their powerful stories, photos and videos from the field.
If you’re not familiar with Unbound, they are an international nonprofit founded by lay Catholics, and grounded in the Gospel call to put the needs of the marginalized and vulnerable first. They focus on building relationships of mutual respect and support that bridge cultural, religious and economic divides.
And I’m honored to be going. I’ll be surrounded by an amazing team of other bloggers on the ground, people like Danielle Smith, Nadia Jones, and Gerard and Jessie Pepper, and a cadre of team leaders and other folks from the Unbound organization.
I really consider this opportunity a gift. And yes, you’ll be inundated the entire time with pictures, posts, and Facebook updates. If you’ve ever thought about bringing a child or a family from another country into the lives of you and your family, please check out Unbound—the work they do is really incredible. Our family sponsors a 9-year-old girl from Guatemala and all of us have learned a lot about how she and her family live, how much they appreciate the support we provide, and we treasure having them in our lives. And I’ll get to meet them this next week, which is tremendously exciting as well.
On that note, kick back and enjoy the latest edition of “Things You Need To Know This Week.”
It’s kind of funny and a lot bizarre to think back on Mark Zuckerberg’s original iteration of Facebook—small-time campus information sharing—and see what it’s become today. And boy, does it continue to grow. According to a new forecast from eMarketer, Facebook stands to capture in excess of $16 billion in ad revenues worldwide—or almost 65 percent of total social network ad spending—a jump of almost 42 percent over a year ago. Social network ad spending overall worldwide will top $25 billion (billion!!) in 2015.
Of course, a portion of Facebook’s growth will be driven by Instagram, expected to grow almost 150 percent from 2015 to 2016, and generate $1.5 billion in ad revenues worldwide.
Twitter’s growth rate, however, has dropped, down to 62 percent from 67 percent in April. This represents just over 8 percent of total social network ad spending worldwide.
“Twitter’s slowing user growth is impacting its ad business,” said eMarketer principal analyst Debra Aho Williamson. “Twitter has improved its ad targeting capabilities, and it still has a lock on real-time conversation. However, advertisers want to reach a mass audience and that’s harder to do on Twitter than on Facebook.”
Perhaps Twitter is finding out—the hard way—that “niche” is not always “best.”
If you follow my Facebook stream, you know I’m a foodie. I love to cook and I love to eat. And I love to talk about talking and eating. Pretty much incessantly. According to a July 2015 survey by marketing agency Sopexa, foodies in the U.S. purchase groceries digitally at a much higher rate—21 percent—than the average online shopper. I totally get that. I’m a frequent shopper using Amazon’s Prime Pantry, where I can fill up a box and have it shipped at a flat rate of $5.99. For key ingredients for things I want to prepare that might either be hard to find and/or require a trip across town, this is a super easy way of making my life—and my food prep—more convenient.
The U.S. rate was similar to that in the U.K., and was toward the middle of the countries included in the survey. China came out on the high end at 46 percent of respondents buying groceries online, while only five percent of Germans doing so. China has long been ahead of the U.S. when it comes to the integration of online shopping (not to mention mobile proliferation), so this doesn’t surprise me at all.
And not surprising to anyone ever, the Internet is the go-to place for food-related information. Ninety percent of those surveyed in the U.S. and U.K. researched food using websites and social media, compared to less than half who learned about food from family, friends or colleagues. I am constantly online exploring recipes, cooking techniques, equipment, etc., and obviously I’m not alone on that front. What about you? Do you find yourself buying more food online and using the web as a source for cooking or food-related information?
Mobile video is a fast-growing ad format, and marketers are scrambling to get native video into your Facebook and Instagram feeds. And it seems there’s a method to this madness. Research suggests that viewing such ads positively affects recall and purchase intent, among a variety of other metrics.
When compared to the control group that hadn’t seen the ad, the native ad viewers were five percent more likely to want to buy the product, saw a four percent boost in favorability, a seven percent increase in likelihood to recommend, and a six percent increase in recall. Now, the key for marketers and creatives is to get working on native video ad content people actually want to stop scrolling and watch. Once they nail that part of the equation, as the numbers show, the results are going to be worth the effort.
Kids prefer mobile devices? For gaming (and everything else?) This does not surprise me in the least. With toddlers toddling around carrying iPads, and kids today having high end smartphones at a younger and younger age, it’s a natural next step that they would use these devices for gaming, rather than plunking themselves down in front of a desk top. And the numbers bear this out. According to a new report by The NPD Group, 63 percent of children two to 17 use mobile devices to play video games, displacing the desktop computer as the gaming platform of choice among teens.
“This shift has occurred as now only 45 percent of kids ages 2-17 are gaming on a home computer, down 22 percentage points since 2013,” NPD Group notes. “This decline is seen among all of the kids’ age groups, but is most pronounced among those ages 2 through 5.” Developers are releasing more titles aimed at younger and younger demographics on mobile than other platforms. And, wait for it, this is part of what’s driving the mobile market to an estimated worth of $30 billion this year.
The same research also indicated that boys are spending more money on gaming than girls. Also not surprising. “Across all areas of spending, boys are most likely to be spending the most, $54 on average [in a three-month period] compared to $36 for girl gamers,” the NPD Group noted. “Interestingly, while girls are more likely to game on their mobile device, average spending on gaming apps is the same for boys and girls.”
Well, it seems the old “Mom’s the meanie and Dad’s the good guy.” trope is alive and well, even in today’s modern world of dual income households and families heads down in their tech devices? Why? Because moms are more likely to want to reduce the amount of time their children spend on mobile devices. And dads? Well, dads are a-ok with their kids staying on mobile a lot longer.
As reported in emarketer.com, “Fathers appeared generally less concerned, with 48% responding that they allowed their child to use a mobile device for 2 to 3 hours daily, whereas only 32% of mothers allowed the same amount of usage.”
Parents are totally cool with kids using mobile for homework and research (95 percent), and kinda cool with them playing ‘educational’ games, visiting ‘educational’ websites, or reading books (90 percent).
Where parents aren’t cool at all?? Social media, which clocked in as the least useful way for their offspring use their time online.
Now, back up to the “kids prefer mobile devices for gaming” piece above, and here’s where these two surveys really begin to blend together. Nearly two in five respondents said that they allow three to seven year-olds two to three hours of mobile usage per day, while 19 percent of 13 to 17 year-olds are clocking four or more hours.
We are truly raising a mobile generation, one that will, in the future, resist being tethered to anything.
All hail the smartwatch! I love my Apple watch, and I’m thrilled to watch its success these past few months. It seems there’s a healthy market for these devices, and Apple’s foray into the market has helped squelch some analysts’ doubts about wearables. Since Apple introduced the Apple Watch back in April, and shipped 3.6 million units in the second quarter, the company has catapulted into second place, behind only Fitbit.
Fitbit isn’t selling smartwatches, of course, and its devices instead fall into what IDC terms “basic” wearables because the fitness bands don’t run third-party apps. When Apple Watch is compared only to other wearables, it controlled about two thirds of the total market in the second quarter, according to IDC analyst Jitesh Ubrani. Ubrani also predicted that basic wearables like Fitbit will see a decline in market share in the next few years.
While smartwatches have been more about providing notifications to users up to this point, they will evolve, and I imagine quickly so, to become a more advanced wearable computer, according to IDC.
It seems we’ve finally come full circle. While the rise of the smartphone led many people to stop wearing watches altogether, the advances in technology and this marriage of phone/watch and computer, looks to be bringing them back.
Publications can now push Instant Articles directly to Facebook from their favorite content management system and without ever leaving a CMS like WordPress.
The objective behind Instant Articles for Facebook is certainly more content on their platform, but the documentation provides for much more control. Things like auto-play can be controlled, and publishers can add interactive maps to a post.
During TechCrunch Disrupt, Facebook’s VP of Ads & Pages Andrew Bosworth alluded to better performance for Instant Articles, saying, “We saw a behavior on Facebook where they’re clicking on the news and it takes 8 seconds to load. You have to wait for content. We’re trying to work with publishers to give them a way to deliver their content, a great user experience, and ads so they can get paid for what they do.”
As thenextweb.com reported, “Instant Articles is basically an RSS grabber, but the tools allow for finite control via Facebook. With a few code tweaks, a static bit of media may take on a new life via Facebook, and all links relate back to the publisher’s website so no traffic is jeopardized.” Good for publishers. Good for people. Good for Facebook. That’s an equation I like.
If Instagram’s going to throw itself a party, it better be ordering one heck of a cake. This week, the Facebook-owned photo social sharing platform announced it had reached the lofty milestone of 400 million monthly active users. Good for you, Instagram.
In its announcement post, the company highlighted its global penetration, with over 75 percent of its users living outside of the U.S. It also indicated that most of its new users are coming from Europe and Asia.
I won’t make a joke at Twitter’s expense. I won’t make a joke at Twitter’s expense. I won’t make a joke at Twitter’s expense.
Let me get this out of the way quickly: Twitter’s changing. Again. Redesigned buttons. Why? I have no clue. I actually prefer the originals.
Here’s some information via venturebeat.com: “The new buttons also bring some technical changes for developers. Twitter Platform partner engineer Niall Kennedy explained the updates in a blog post, “Tweet buttons make authoring a Tweet from the context of a current webpage quick and easy. We are simplifying the Tweet button by removing the share counter displayed alongside the button. This new display removes the count and counturl display parameters, and will render in the same pixel dimensions as a Tweet button configured without a share count today.”
There you have it. Be sure and watch this space next week when Twitter’s logo becomes a pterodactyl, it’s brand colors change to chartreuse and periwinkle, and tweets are only allowed between sundown and sunup.
Periscope released an update this week for iOS users that lets you see if people are taking screenshots of your videos. If someone does take a screenshot while you’re broadcasting, a special icon will appear on the screen alongside the hearts. I suppose this would be a great option to have if your kids are involved in Periscope streaming. Because, there are creeps out there. But what this article doesn’t tell me is if we are able to track who took that screenshot. That would be a great update.
Periscope has also updated its Private Broadcast feature; now when you select people to invite, you will also see a list of people you follow and also follow you. Users can invite these people to the stream in one tap for the whole list or select people individually.