We Are Social Asia Tuesday TuneUp #25

by Cai Yu Lam in News

Chinese marketers to increase digital spend, but request accountability
A joint study by R3 and independent ad tracking company Admaster reveal that Chinese marketers intend to increase their digital spend in 2012 by 26.9%, compared to 18% in 2011. 25% of those surveyed have budgets between RMB 5 to 10 million or S$990,150 to S$1.98 million, while 6% have budgets above RMB 50 million or S$9.9 million  The focus will be on online video with a share of digital spend of more than 23%, followed by microblogs with 20% and social networks with 16%. Only 16% of the 150 companies surveyed believe that they are actually getting competitive digital media buying rates, with fewer than 40% satisfied with the reliability and quality of measurement of their campaigns. This certainly bodes well for digital agencies.

Sina Weibo launches Weibo Places
Sina Weibo has launched a new location service that will collect and arrange posts that a user has made on Sina Weibo that contains a geo-tag into a timeline that includes maps of each location. It also allows users to check-in at specific locations, or search for new places to visit which they can then mark as ‘want to visit’. The latter functionality sounds similar to what Chinese location-based app Jiepang already offers, even though Weibo Places appears to be more an aggregator tracking the history of a user’s location-based posts. In addition to the web application, Sina Weibo has also partnered with several third-party mobile applications such as photo-sharing app Tuding001.

China’s e-commerce site Tmall launches an iPhone app
China’s leading e-commerce website Tmall has launched an iPhone app, which allows users to browse and purchase items from all of its B2C brand partners and independent stores, with the addition of social functionalities such as ‘likes’ and comments. The mobile app also supports full order management, such that purchases can be tracked whilst they’re on the road. This signals the growing trend of m-commerce whereby consumers are making purchases from their phones while on-the-go, and Tmall seems to be capitalising on this with their dedicated mobile app. It’s interesting also that Tmall has decided to launch an iPhone app first while the iPad and Android versions are currently in the works, which signals the increasing popularity of the iPhone in China.

Boris Johnson joins Sina Weibo
Boris Johnson’s campaign for re-election as Mayor of London has even seen him join Chinese microblogging platform Sina Weibo in a bid to win over London’s Chinese community. However, Mayor Johnson certainly hasn’t quite gotten the hang of it yet.

Mobile an increasingly important media channel in Thailand
Statistics from mobile ad network InMobi reveal that mobile is an increasingly important media channel in Thailand, with 44% of mobile web users claiming that their preferred method of going online is through a mobile device. Most importantly, 75% of mobile web users are as comfortable with mobile advertising as they are with TV or online advertising. Mobile is fast becoming an important driver of consumer purchasing decisions with 38% of Thai respondents saying they have been introduced to something new via mobile advertising, while 13% have reconsidered a product because of mobile advertising. M-commerce will also be a driver of this mobile movement, with 68% of mobile web users planning to purchase a product through their mobile device over the next 12 months. Marketers clearly have an area of opportunity to better target Thai consumers through mobile advertising given their receptiveness to it.

Trust in social grows
According to Nielsen’s latest Global Trust in Advertising report, social networks and consumer-generated media continue to have a significant impact on advertising as consumers’ reliance on word-of-mouth in the decision-making process has increased significantly. The report showed that 92% of consumers trust recommendations from friends above all other forms of advertising – up 18% since 2007, with trust in consumer opinions posted online up to 70%, a 15% increase in four years.

Sponsored ads on social networks, a new format included in the 2011 Nielsen survey, were found to be trusted by just 36% of consumers, underlining that a paid strategy for social networks alone is not enough.

Consumers respond to social media symbols on TV
A new survey has reinforced the idea that social media and television are a perfect match. The survey, carried out by Accenture, found that one-third of US television viewers interacted with a social network ‘after seeing a social media symbol on the TV screen’, with the Facebook ‘Like’ being the most recognised symbol. Interestingly, US television viewers are more likely to recognise QR codes than Twitter hashtags.

Facebook tests and launches a range of new features
It’s not exactly news that Facebook is focusing on mobile – witness the purchase of Instagram – but it is interesting that they’re focusing on all mobile users. Recently, they’ve launched a new ‘Facebook for every phone’ app which creates a much better mobile experience for non-smartphone users, and in good news for brands, includes the ability to vist Facebook Pages within the app. It’s a move which shows Facebook is keen on mobile domination across the market.

Facebook has implemented a ‘listen’ button on artists’ fan Pages that lets users instantly stream songs from an artist’s catalogue. The feature could help make Facebook a go-to option for people looking for new music, similar to the Myspace in its glory days, but more likely will just integrate music more strongly into the existing Facebook product.

Facebook is also testing a new “trending articles” feature to highlight social reader articles within users’ News Feeds in an attempt to drive more users to Open Graph news apps. Particularly for smaller news sites, this could have a big impact on the number of people reading their site.

In addition, Facebook has delivered “real-time” analytics to Page admins for the first time. This overdue improvement provides new abilities to help marketers measure how well a post is performing on their Pages now, rather than 48 hours later, and modify their content (and advertising spend) accordingly.

It’s an interesting move now, as over the next few weeks, Facebook will introduce more granular metrics, measuring actions other than ‘Likes’, within its ads management platform. Facebook’s product manager for Pages Insights David Baser said the measurable actions “could be anything [such as] commenting or sharing a page post, claiming an offer, or, instead of just installing an app, actually using an app or doing things within an app.” The new feature titled “Action Measurement” will appear as a column and pie chart in Facebook’s Ads Manager and will help marketers tailor ads for relevant consumers.

It seems clear that Facebook are trying as hard as they can to get existing advertisers to spend more money with them – both through letting marketers optimise the performance of their posts, and by making advertising more measurable.

Google products get the social treatment
YouTube aims to become more social and increase revenue by possibly introducing Google+ comments to the site. It could be a mutually beneficial move for Google – encouraging better quality comments on YouTube and also increased use of Google+.

In a smaller piece of news, Gmail users can expect to see recent photo and video thumbnails from Google+ when they hover over the “people” widget within their inbox.

Foursquare announces advertising platform launch
Plans for a mid-June launch for a paid-media platform have surfaced which will give Foursquare merchants the ability to promote a deal to check-in at a given place. According to the reports, Foursquare is pitching brands to become launch partners, and it’s a move which we can definitely see being of particular interest to restaurant chains.

Tumblr to overtake blogs, will introduce advertising
Tumblr looks set to overtake ‘blog’ by the end of the year in Google searches. Between the two terms, ‘blog’ is currently ahead but XKCD blogger Randall Munroe believes that ‘Tumblr’ will see more Google searches by October 12 this year.

Pinterest losing its interest
After its explosive growth in recent months, it seems Pinterest’s bubble may have burst and might now actually be losing users. Monthly active users of their Facebook app are down from 11.3 million on March 1 to just 8.3 million currently. It’s likely that the hype around the photo-sharing and curating site motivated many people to join, but have now decided that Pinterest is not their thing.

Quora and Path both raise funds and plan expansion
According to TechCrunch, Quora is set to raise between $30 – $50 million in its Series B fundraising, giving it a $400 million valuation. Co-founder Adam D’Angelo will also be investing up to $20 million of his own money along with other investors according to one source.

Location-based app Path closed its Series B funding of ”more than $30 million” with investors including Sir Richard Branson, which values it at $250 million. In his email statement, Path CEO Dave Mortin noted the investors’ commitment to building Path “for the long term” with the funding being used for “international growth and expansion as well as user adoption”. It’s unclear whether he meant they would be spending money on advertising, or just on improving the product to boost user adoption.

Klout launches Brand Pages – ‘a new twist on influence’
Klout, the influence measurement company, is now topping 12 billion API calls a month– and has launched Brand Pages to try and work more with brands. According to Klout, the newly launched Brand Pages give ‘influencers a place to be recognised and have a direct impact on the brands they care about most’.

Red Bull have teamed up with Klout for the Beta launch and are offering their top advocates the chance to win a trip to the X Games or, more likely, some merchandise. It’s good to see Klout trying something new, but what they really need to work on is their influence measurement which could do with some work.

Brands tweeting and the Olympics
If you’re working for a brand which isn’t an official Olympic sponsor, even mentioning the Olympics on social media channels could get you in hot water. While Rax Lakhani makes a fair point that it will be impossible for the IOC to keep an eye on every tweet and the rules are clearly overbearing, it’s still an unnecessary risk to break them.

It was notable in the pre-Christmas period how little variety there was on brand social media accounts, with everyone talking about Christmas and little else, so it will be interesting to see how skilled community managers perform in posting content which deflects attention away from their competitors’ Olympic sponsorship, without breaking the rules.

In other Olympic news, the IOC has launched the nicely designed ‘Athlete’s Hub’ which will bring together social media updates from different athletes. While you could just follow them all on Twitter, this is an easier way to follow the Olympic stars, with less effort for the ordinary fan. Nice.

Honda ask people to give up Pinterest – sort of
The new Honda campaign for the CR-V strikes of one where somebody has come up with a decent pun – Pintermission – and built a campaign around it. The campaign revolves around offering active pinners $500 to give up Pinterest for a day, and instead go outside and do the things they’ve been pinning about. It even features personalised invitations and persuaded a few super-users to give Pinterest up for a day.

But as Adweek neatly put it:

The campaign is nicely designed and executed, but somewhat frustrating. If the only way your brand can relate to Pinterest is by dissing it, isn’t it disingenuous to build a whole campaign around it?

Quite.

Dr Pepper’s new Facebook Connect campaign
Dr Pepper have launched a new campaign called ‘The Best Day Of High School’ which creates a bespoke video for each user by connecting it up with their Facebook profile. Considering how long Facebook Connect has been around, it’s a little underwhelming.

Air New Zealand give consumers cashback for recommendations
UK-based Air New Zealand customers can earn £50 for every Twitter, Facebook, email or blog recommendation that turns into a premium economy booking. Consumers that register for the trial can earn cashback on bookings for the premium economy seats. Although the campaign will probably show impressive numbers, it will be hard to prove it has convinced people to book who wouldn’t have otherwise.

Fulham FC attempt Foursquare Super Swarm
Before their home game against Wigan on Saturday, Fulham attempted to unlock the Super Swarm badge for all those checking-in on Foursquare. While this isn’t particularly innovative or interesting on its own when you consider there was a crowd of 20,000+ at the Cottage, Fulham also plan to introduce special offers on tickets and retail items throughout the season that you can only redeem with Foursquare.

Italian ‘blog killer’ law returns
In a quite incredible story, the Italian government is trying to pass a law so brilliantly ridiculous one could be mistaken for thinking Silvio Berlusconi was still Prime Minister.

The proposed law – which is designed to protect those libelled online – works like this:

In order to protect people from online defamation, this law states that each webmaster of whatever website must rectify within 48 hours (even if you’re a private blogger who just left for the weekend!) any page on the website itself, if somebody just tells him or her (how?) that they consider themselves wronged by that page. No discussion or reply allowed, no judge needed, and the fine for not “rectifying” within 2 days is 12,000 Euros [about S$19,693].

Nuts. In other words, if one writes a fact and anyone disputes it, the person will have to change what they’ve written. Looks like the trolls have finally won.

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