A weekly round-up of the news you need to know in digital media & technology
Some new Twitter stats appeared on the official blog this week;
- Over 200 million Tweets per day (up from 65 million a year ago.)
- More than 1 million Twitter apps - up from 150,000 a year ago.
- More than 600 employees- up from 250 12 months ago.
No doubt, the numbers were posted to add some context to the latest change in Twitters' advertising, as they continue to seek a business model to match the valuation I mentioned last week, with a change in the way their Promoted Tweets will be displayed. The new Twitter ads will increase a brands' visibility among their followers, as Promoted Tweets will now rise to the top of their followers' timelines.
This means that only users who have already chosen to follow the brands who are advertising will be affected; users can dismiss the Promoted Tweets with a single click (although why they would do so isn't clear, given that they will sink from view as quickly as any other tweet.) Twitter will be testing the new initiative with a number of US/Global brands.
Which means that UK brands won't be able to experiment just yet… although not for long, as Twitter's London office (which we have mentioned before) is expected to open soon, with agency talks apparently now underway.
Making the most of Twitter's new advertising is considering the way that your followers' interactions with brands affects the way that brand messages reach their friends and followers. Along these lines, some interesting social media marketing insights were published by Comscore, in a new paper on social media; "The Power of Like." One nice stat to come out of it is that for brands, "friends of fans" constitute an audience 34 times larger than "fans" alone.
In a Starbucks case study, its noted that not all of their 24 million fans will see Starbucks' updates on the site. But when those who do decide to interact with it, then it reaches their friends (at no cost to Starbucks.) Have a look at the paper for more information.
(At SMG, we have been looking at ways to understand the value of "likes", "comments" and other interactions. Be sure to have a look at that as well.)
Meanwhile, Facebook's London office is growing, as they move to a new 36,000 square foot office in Covent Garden. This week, Facebook launched "Facebook for Business", a new resource for Facebook advertisers aimed at small businesses, with tips on creating and managing pages and ads.
(If you're looking for help and advice in this area, then once you have checked out Facebook's new pages, you should also speak to our team.)
Nintendo slashed the price of the handheld 3DS console by around a third (in Europe), giving 20 'classic' games to the console's early adopters (or "ambassadors", as Nintendo are calling them.)
A clue as to why might be revealed in an interview with the EA CEO. Consoles are now just 40% of the games industry. Ten years ago, they were 80%. Surely the rise of smartphones and mobile apps (a market dominated by games) is playing a big part. Today, devices like the iPhone and iPad are growing in number - and importance. Not only do they offer an alternative gaming platform, but they are also opening up new gaming opportunities for audiences who wouldn't typically be interested in buying a dedicated gaming device.
With low cost mobile games offering competition to high cost games for dedicated mobile platforms, the opportunities appearing for either branded games or in-game advertising are worth watching out for.
With news that the iPhone 5 is now expected in October, developments in the mobile world is proving to be just as disruptive to related markets as they are to direct competitors.
But it isn't all smiles in the App world. Apple recently changed the way they are dealing with in-app purchases, tightening the rules around how publishers can offer their own payment mechanisms, sidestepping Apple's iTunes system (and the 30% cut that Apple take.) Some recent changes made to the Kindle application have removed the ability to purchase content from within the application completely. As Amazon explain;
In order to comply with recent policy changes by Apple, we've also removed the "Kindle Store" link from within the app that opened Safari and took you to the Kindle Store. You can still shop as you always have - just open Safari and go to www.amazon.com/kindlestore. If you want, you can bookmark that URL. Your Kindle books will be delivered automatically to your iPad, iPhone or iPod touch, just as before.
Over at Forrester, analysts at "Apps aren't the killer app" – in a blog post, they point out that just 7% of US and EU phone owners regularly download mobile applications, and only 11% of US phone owners have ever downloaded an application from a store or marketplace. (Forrester also cite a study from Pinch media — albeit from over 2 years ago — that found that 80% of free apps are never used again after the day they are first downloaded.) Forresters advice (which I would echo) is that for the publishers of many mobile applications, the need for an app is driven more by the technology than consumer insight; for many cases, a mobile-optimised website is a better solution to the problem than building a dedicated application.
However, its worth pointing out that those figures are looking at a total population –the smartphone-owing population is still a minority, but one that is growing at an incredible pace.
News from BBC Worldwide about the launch of their iPlayer app for iPad is probably one good example of an opportunity that would be hard to seize using a simple web-optimised site; a free application available in 11 markets (Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, The Republic of Ireland, The Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Switzerland) will offer BBC TV content for sale at €6.99 a month, €49.99 for annual subscription, with advertising running around free, sample content.
The app is positioned differently to the UK's iPad application, with eight genres of content available (News Specials & Documentaries; Entertainment; Drama; Comedy; Science & Nature; Family & Kids; Music & Culture and Lifestyle), as opposed to the catch-up model of the UK's app. In addition, the inter nation application will allow users to download content to watch offline- a feature not available in the UK app.
BSkyB has broken the £1bn profit barrier. Apparently undistracted by the recent News Corp. manoeuvring, the latest financial report from Sky shows an excellent year, with a 23% growth in operating profit breaking the £1 billion mark.
Sky is also seeing growing numbers of customers taking "triple play" bundles (broadband, telephony and Sky TV), and there are now 3.8 million Sky+HD customers (up 30% year on year) — an interesting number to keep an eye on as Sky continue to work on their AdSmart technology.
The way online video and TV will develop is certainly of interest to anyone with an eye on the future of media. Digital TV Research are forecasting a growth of on-demand TV revenues to grow to $5.7 billion by 2016 — excluding revenues from sports, adult and subscription services. This is a rise of 58% compared with 2010, with growth expected to largely grow from cable TV.
ITV are also making moves towards the paid-for model, as revealed in their latest financial reports; CEO Adam Crozier noted that;
We plan to have a pay mechanism in place around the turn of the year so that we can test what viewers are willing to pay for, and we continue to work with our partners on YouView, which is on track for launch early next year.
A US survey of online video attitudes and consumption (sponsored by video publisher MetaCafe) has some interesting findings; 63% "can't live without" their PC/Laptop, and 32% say its their primary medium for entertainment. (This compares to 60% who say they "can't live without" television, and 44% who say it is their primary medium for entertainment.)
But among 18-34 male consumers, the picture is slightly different- although the PC is slightly more important, the perceived role of TV is clearly shifting, with only 28% saying it is their primary medium for entertainment.
Its worth noting that with 14% saying the same about games consoles games consoles - which is presumably used through the television - this may be as much a distortion of having to make a single choice in the survey as reflecting different values of respondents.
As well as these attitude findings, it has some interesting stats about platforms; 25% of respondents say that they are accessing the internet through a TV set (mainly through games consoles), with a further 23% saying that they don't presently, but are interested in doing so. Plenty more stats are available in the presentation, available as a PDF to download.