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Reflections on Facebook as revenue jumps 72%


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59% of Facebook's advertising revenue or $1.34 billion was from mobile as their overall revenue surged to $2.5 billion which was a 72% increase over the prior year. Facebook has had an awesome mobile quarter and have demonstrated another successful pivot. Here's what I believe Facebook is doing really well and what they should change.

What Facebook has done well:

  1. The shift to mobile has been nothing short of extraordinary. While they may have been a little late in pivoting, once they did, Facebook did so with gusto. Other companies can learn from this. Facebook also recognized that a second pivot was required - a pivot to mobility and niche applications. The development of Paper, Messenger and Camera and forcing users to move to them was the first manifestation of this. The second was of course the acquisition of What's App and like Instagram the proclamation that there's no rush to monetize the platform.

  2. Establishing credibility among advertisers around the world. No platform has established as much marketing credibility in as short a period as Facebook has. Barring minor public relations challenges as the one with GM when it chose not to advertise on the platform, by and large Facebook has very quickly (and deservedly according to most) won the hearts and minds of advertisers everywhere. Probably Google is the only other online platform that carries more credibility than them today. Facebook has done this successfully in a shorter time period and on a platform that has been changing more dramatically too.
Now what Facebook must change quickly:

  1. Allowing for fake brand metrics to persist longer than they should. The same discipline that is used to kill product features, should be applied to its brand metrics as well. Facebook should remove page like counts from brand pages immediately. They're useless and are tied to a Facebook philosophy from another era. They continue to cause confusion and angst among marketers. Similarly, Facebook should make a definitive decision on organic reach and consistently apply it everywhere - not allowing any confusion or ambiguity to take place. These aren't small questions as millions and millions of dollars are at stake. Instead, Facebook should double down on helping brands truly measure the advertising impact on offline sales not just in North America but especially in other countries around the world.

  2. Sharing of Facebook User Data. As I've advocated in the past, Facebook is sitting on a gold mine of data that can and should be shared (anonymously) with other organisations, the way Twitter does. Facebook understands humanity in ways that no one else does. Sharing of the data more quickly and more expansively will help individuals, institutions, academia, governments, human rights groups and corporations learn, understand, innovate, create and more. It'll move humanity forward. Not to mention that it'll help marketers create advertising that consumers care deeply about. Please rethink the approach to Facebook Data It's time to open up the date in new, imaginative and trusted ways. It shouldn't just be a hobby. Innovation doesn't have to be just in products, it can be in what you do next for the world.
The next decade will be a fascinating one for Facebook and for all of us who continue to care deeply about the company. Whether Facebook looks very similar or very different in the next decade, we don't know. In the meantime, I hope Facebook continues to build on its strengths while changing what needs to be changed right away to benefit not just its users but other stakeholders too.

Google's Phone plans worry customers


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We all expect Google to deliver on anything it touches, the way it has delivered for us on search which is why Google's Android announcement got a lot of attention. But not everyone is thrilled by it. Joe Wilcox at CIO Insight is one of those people. To quote,

What Google wants is a more open mobile platform for selling contextual search and advertising. What the company expects: developer drones to embrace an SDK (software developer kit) slated for release next week and to begin creating products and services, now. But the phones are at least a year away. Meanwhile, developers could (and should) create real applications for real operating systems, like Symbian OS and Windows Mobile, today.
He does have a point that Google has announced this platform maybe a bit too early. It seems to be defensive strategy not to lose developers. Google is fast learning that any traction with a new platform is dependent on having a large developer ecosystem. Microsoft learn this lesson a long time ago. And later on in the article Wilcox says,

Google controls more information and has a more crucial and growing economic role than Microsoft ever did. And based on the extent of information disclosure and other behavior, Google has about half Microsoft's humility, which can't be good.

Google is certainly huge. And it controls immense amount of information. How it manages that information, is left to be seen. It handled the fuss about Gmail privacy well. Lets see whether it manages customer concerns as well in the future.

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