FACEBOOK IMPROVES AD TARGETING: The world’s largest social network announced a number of changes to its Ads API program, which includes all of its non-FBX ads. Among them, Facebook has improved the logic of its ad targeting method. Previously, when an advertiser selected “parents” and “photography” as parameters for targeting users, the audience contracted to those people “who are parents OR interested in photography.” Now, those parameters will be defined as “parents who are interested in photography,” which will provide advertisers with a more specific target audience.
What’s more, Facebook claims it has improved demographic targeting for a user’s workplace, education, job title types, and relationship status. Advertisers can also now see when a user has added a life event to their timeline, such as telling their network that they bought a house or a car. Facebook began prompting users in December to add these life events to their timelines, and the motive now seems to be advertising.
The changes means that advertisers can now target Facebook users based on behaviors. “These categories are specific to a user’s particular actions, past purchase behavior, or purchase propensity,” according to the company’s ad roadmap. Testing of this new targeting type will begin in February.
Facebook also announced that it is sunsetting sponsored stories. When the social network simplified its ad units last year, one of the major changes was it added social context to page post and page like ads (e.g., a user sees an ad for a company because his friend liked the brand’s Facebook page). Previously, advertisers had to purchase an ad such as a page post ad, in addition to a sponsored story. The sponsored story then added the social context to the ad. Now that page post and page like ads come with social context by default, Facebook will be discontinuing sponsored stories after April. (Facebook Blog)
REDDIT IS GROWING UP: Michigan State University PhD student Randy Olson analyzed Reddit posts (which are user submitted) over time to see how the site’s content has evolved over the years.
Between 2006 and 2008, the majority of content on Reddit was related to programming, science, and politics, which reflected the site’s roots as a community for technology professionals. In 2011, photo-related content began to take over the conversation on Reddit. Fast forward to today, and photos are still a large share of content being submitted to Reddit, but the topics range from the mainstream to the obscure, representative of Reddit evolving into a mainstream web property, a place for photo-sharing and content distribution. (Randy Olson)
YOU’VE GOT GOOGLE+ MAIL: Google is integrating its social network Google+ with its webmail product on a more intimate level. Users can now email their Google+ contact via Gmail, even if they don’t have that person’s direct email address. Users can opt-out of the feature by adjusting their Gmail settings under a section called “Gmail via Google+.”
When you begin typing a recipient’s name in an email (via Gmail), the service will recommend people who are your Google+ connections.
Google+ is becoming tightly integrated with all of Google’s major products. The social service is helping Google identify the billions of people who use its products every day. (Google Blog)
SNAPCHAT APOLOGIZES: Snapchat posted an apology yesterday, eight days after 4.6 million users had their phone numbers and usernames exposed. The company said it updated the app to allow users to disable the “Find Friends” feature, which was vulnerable enough for hackers to exploit. (Snapchat Blog)
SNAPCHAT CHOOSES GOOGLE OVER AMAZON: Amazon’s collection of cloud computing services (AWS) are a favorite among top web properties, such as Netflix, Pinterest, Reddit, Airbnb, and Spotify, to name a few. Why? Because Amazon can provide its clients with a lot of computing capacity (read: fast website response times) at a low cost. However, Snapchat built its app on top of Google App Engine, which offers infrastructure services that compete with Amazon Web Services. In an interview last year, Snapchat CTO Bobby Murphy said that he believed, “Google is scaling out and willing to invest in this platform,” and that “when it comes to scale, Google could offer more than AWS.”
Amazon is obviously going to continue investing in its cloud computing services as well though, and it would be very cumbersome for a web property the size of Netflix to migrate to a different set of cloud computing services. So, Amazon will continue to support major web properties, but Snapchat is a valuable case study for Google, giving it an opportunity to demonstrate the strong performance of its cloud computing services as well. (Business Insider)
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