Facebook releases tools to help marketers understand how ads boost their business

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Facebook today unveiled a new suite of tools designed to help marketers better understand how ads on the social network boost their business.

In a blog post, Facebook said its new tools expand “conversion lift measuring capabilities [which allows] advertisers to accurately determine the additional business driven by Facebook ads and make future marketing decisions based on this information.”

Facebook believes its advertising partners need to understand conversion lift because it’s the best way they can understand how ads placed on the social network drive sales.

When an ad campaign begins, the system works by first establishing a randomized test group of people that see the ads, and a control group of people that don’t. When the campaign is over, advertisers share their conversion data with Facebook, which then analyzes the conversion lift generated by the ads.

“Advertisers who work directly with Facebook teams will be able to set up conversion lift studies with their account representative and then see results, in near real-time, right in Ads Manager reporting,” Facebook wrote. “In time, we will look to expand our conversion lift offerings to cover more use-cases and more complex studies.

“We already offer lift measurement solutions through both our own tools and third-party partnerships. Today’s announcement is a step toward making lift measurement available to a wider portion of our clients around the world so they can accurately measure the impact of their ads.”


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Facebook opens F8 registration

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Facebook has opened registration for its F8 developer conference, which it will hold in San Francisco on March 25 and 26.

Those who want to attend — and whose application to do so is accepted — will get a chance to play with all of Facebook’s developer products, including Parse, Login, App Ads, App Links, Audience Network, Live Rail, Video, and more.

There will also be more than 40 sessions covering just about everything developers might be interested in.

Oculus fans won’t be left in the lurch, as the virtual reality company will be offering demos of its Oculus Rift Crescent Bay prototype, as well as the Gear VR Innovator Edition.

And, Facebook will let people try out the Internet.org Innovation Lab, where they can test apps on the kinds of networks that many developing nations have.

If you’re a developer wanting to attend, click here. Facebook is charging a $495 fee for those whose registration is accepted.

F8 has been a rich source of news about Facebook’s efforts in the past. At the 2014 edition, for example, the company announced that Facebook logins were going anonymous; that its Parse mobile app development tool would work offline; and unveiled AppLinks, which lets multiple developers of mobile apps link their projects together.

At last year’s event, Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg also said that the social media giant was “all-in” on mobile.


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Facebook and Twitter could be hate-speech ‘accomplices’ if new French law passes

France Flag

France president Francois Hollande has revealed plans to introduce a law that will make Internet companies hate-speech “accomplices” if they fail to block messages posted by extremist groups.

Speaking in Paris at a World War II memorial, Hollande made reference to a new draft law that’s due to be presented next month, reports Bloomberg, with Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve shortly traveling to the U.S. to meet key people at Microsoft, Twitter, Google and Facebook.

Today’s news follows the terrorist attacks on Charlie Hebdo on January 7, with the French satirical magazine reportedly targeted for posting cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. This led to further attacks in Paris in the days that followed.

It’s not entirely surprising that France is now looking to tighten its laws against inflammatory messages on the Internet, as at Davos in Switzerland last week, Hollande addressed Internet companies directly, requesting that “illegal content” be taken offline.

Hate-speech

France already has so-called hate-speech laws in place, allowing individuals to be charged if they’re deemed to have insulted a religion, ethnicity, or race. If this latest draft law is passed — and there is every chance it will be given current tensions in the country — any company that provides a platform for would-be terrorists could face sanctions.

“The big operators, and we know who they are, can no longer close their eyes if they are considered accomplices of what they host,” said Hollande. “We must act at the European and international level to define a legal framework so that Internet platforms which manage social media be considered responsible, and that sanctions can be taken.”

So how likely is France to succeed in getting the Facebooks of the world to remove perceived hate-speech content? Well, quite likely, if precedent is anything to go by.

In the days that followed the horrific attacks in Paris, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg vowed not to bow to extremists’ demands to censor Facebook, which was in reference to pictures of the Prophet Muhammad that had been shared on the social network previously.

However, Facebook generally does bow to the laws of the land and pressure from governments — it has removed “offensive” content in Pakistan and India to avoid being blocked. And following a Turkish court threat to ban Facebook over offensive Prophet Muhammad Pages just yesterday, Facebook finally complied with the request to block the Pages.

If Facebook, Twitter, and the rest are to be regarded as accomplices in hate-speech offences, you can bet they’ll do all in their power to remove messages posted by extremist groups post-haste.


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Massive minutes-long Facebook outage that brought the world to its knees appears to be over

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The alert from the Associated Press buzzed across mobile around the world, delivering the shattering news: “Facebook suffers outage affecting users worldwide.”

The social media apocalypse was here. Instagram was out, too, leaving teenagers confused and scared. Babies wept. Parents sought refuge in shelters they had built for a zombie outbreak or the eventual robot war.

And then, in the ultimate act of desperation, people turned to Twitter. In this moment of panic and despair, #facebookdown began to trend:

We learned some ugly truths.

Some sought to take advantage of the moment…

But then, a light in the darkness…

And humanity sighed in relief, dusted itself off, and carried on…


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Wooga chief says mobile gaming is separating into winners and losers (interview)

Jens Begemann, CEO of Wooga, shows off Agent Alice.

Wooga’s latest title, Agent Alice, sure reminds me of console-game production. This kind of title signals a big change for the mobile space, which will separate into a small group of winners and a much larger pack of losers.

The hidden-object adventure game for mobile devices just debuted after two years of development. It was built by a core team of 15 people, but more than 80 worked on it over the course of the project. And at the end of February, Berlin-based Wooga will launch the Agent Alice with the largest marketing budget it has ever had — somewhere in the millions of dollars.

Jens Begemann, chief executive of Wooga, told me in a conversation that this is what it takes to succeed in the modern mobile-game business. Agent Alice will launch as a free-to-play release with eight episodes, but Wooga’s team will produce a new episode every Friday.

Here’s an edited transcript of our conversation.

Agent Alice

Above: A screenshot from Agent Alice.

Image Credit: Wooga

GamesBeat: Tell us about the making of Agent Alice.

Jens Begemann: Agent Alice is basically the successor, but also the reinvention, of our most successful game of the moment, Pearl’s Peril. It’s a hidden-object game. Everything we learned there we’re taking to Agent Alice. At the same time, we’re trying to reinvent the genre for mobile.

Hidden-object games have been huge on the PC. Big Fish and other companies have seen a lot of success there. The demographic is mostly women, typically 40-plus years old. Pearl’s Peril has been very big on Facebook, always among the top Facebook games, but it’s never been big mobile. That’s what we’re trying to change.

We have very high production values and attention to detail. The game is designed particularly for mobile. The hidden-object scenes and the puzzle scenes are designed for a small screen. The play sessions are short, so you can come back a few times a day. It’s extremely story-driven. We tried to take inspiration from TV, where there’s a new episode every week. … We’ll do a big launch at the end of February with the highest launch budget we’ve ever had in terms of marketing. We’re spending millions of dollars on launch weekend. We’ve produced a trailer.

GamesBeat: Is this one of those 40 prototype ideas you were talking about a while ago?

Begemann: Exactly. The way we work now, we create lots of concepts. Last year we created more than 100 concepts. That’s more than 100 concepts on paper. Out of those, we created 35 prototypes. One of those 35 prototypes is Agent Alice, which is now launching Feb. 26. Some of the other prototypes also made it to the next stage and are coming later this year, in spring and summer.

GamesBeat: What did you find from doing all that iteration and study of the genre?

Begemann: A few very interesting things. One is that this demographic — women 40 and older — is underserved on the app stores. You see lots of action and strategy games geared toward men. But for women 40 and older we have puzzle games — Candy Crush or Jelly Splash — and not much besides that. If you look at what this audience watches on TV, it’s drama, things like Downton Abbey. Not much on mobile is story driven or character driven. That’s what we want to create.

The Agent Alice team is a very international team. At Wooga, we now employ more than 40 nationalities. That’s one key thing we’ve found. The second is that this is all about content. If you think about it, every episode is like a TV episode. Most of these hidden-object games that have existed so far, you start playing them, and after a week you’re through. That’s it.

We want to avoid that. This will be endless like a TV series. Every week, predictably, there will be a new episode. That’s a crazy amount of effort. We have a small team internally, but we have people doing the artwork externally, and then we have localization. In total, 80 people work every week on Agent Alice to create the new episodes. That took us years to build up with Pearl’s Peril. Now we’ve done it, it works, and we’ll apply it to Agent Alice.

GamesBeat: Is each episode produced by the same team or do you have different teams working in tandem?

Begemann: The core is the same. Pearl’s Peril came out early in 2013. Many of the key people — I’d say about two-thirds of the team — moved on to start Agent Alice. Pearl’s Peril still has a live team. We have many new people there who continue to improve the game. But we took all of those learnings and the key people from the team and moved them to Agent Alice. Then we added new ones.

GamesBeat: How long does it take you get to something like 80 people?

Begemann: Out of those 80, about 30 are internal. The others are external. We have partners in Canada, Ukraine, and India who help us with artwork. The ramp up to 80 was around the late summer or early autumn — September or October — when we started making this weekly content. Until roughly October, it was about the core of the game, and the team was small, about 10 or 12 people. Now we’ve scaled up. Going forward, we’re launching with eight episodes, and every week, there will be a new one.

Potentially you could play for years. That’s what we see in Pearl’s Peril. Every week, people wait for the new episode to arrive.

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Facebook’s European Privacy Class Action Hearing Set For April 9

europe vs facebook class action Some developments on the class action suit filed against Facebook over alleged privacy violations in Europe. Europe vs. Facebook, the group that has filed the suit and now has 25,000 claimants in tow, has had its first hearing set for April 9, in a court in Vienna, marking the first time Facebook will appear in court over the violations. The class action covers a number of areas ranging… Read More

If it wasn’t clear, brands on Facebook win by answering customers’ questions

Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif.

Brands that respond to at least 65 percent of customer inquiries on Facebook get more than three times the interactions of those that don’t.

That’s the key takeaway from a new study by Socialbakers, a firm that measures activity on leading social networks.

In the study, Socialbakers found that during the fourth quarter of 2014, posts by brands that responded to at least 65 percent of customers’ questions on Facebook — companies termed to be “Socially Devoted” — got 3.4 times the interactions of those from brands that were under the threshold.

According to Socialbakers, Socially Devoted brands got an average of 133,126 interactions total that quarter, while non-Socially Devoted brand — those that responded less than 65 percent of the time — got an average of just 39,102 interactions total.

The firm also found that almost 20 percent of all brands on Facebook had closed walls, meaning no one could interact with them at all.


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13 TechCrunch Stories You Don’t Want To Miss This Week

TC-weekly-roundup1 Some of this week’s tech news consisted of Microsoft’s Windows 10 event and a $1B funding announcement from SpaceX. We got the chance to interview a few prominent figures in tech. TechCrunch sat down with Chris Poole, aka Moot from 4chan, the folks at TaskRabbit, and Paulina Raguimov, the teen designing games for JumpStart. These are our best stories from this week (1/17-1/23). Read More

Man ‘sold’ Facebook IPO shares, gets 46 months in the federal slammer

Facebook IPO

A New Jersey man was sentenced to 46 months in federal prison today for bilking would-be Facebook IPO investors out of millions of dollars.

Fred Todd, a 61-year-old attorney, was sentenced in federal court in Trenton, N.J. for having teamed up with two co-conspirators in a 2012 plot to bilk two victims who thought they were getting in early on Facebook’s upcoming IPO. In addition to his prison sentence, Todd was also ordered to pay $6.53 million in restitution.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey, Todd, Eliyahu Weinstein, and Aaron Glucksman, “offered a pair of investors…the opportunity to purchase large blocks of Facebook shares prior to the company’s [IPO] in May, 2012. The offer was particularly attractive because large blocks of the shares were extremely difficult to get and were expected to increase in value at the time of the IPO.”

The co-conspirators did not have access to the Facebook shares, the government said, but took millions of dollars from the victims and subsequently misappropriated it “for their own use.” In other words, they stole the money.

Weinstein and Glucksman have pleaded guilty to their roles in the conspiracy, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said, with Weinstein being sentenced to two years in prison (on top of 22 years he was sentenced to in a separate scheme), and Glucksman getting 52 months in the federal slammer, as well as forfeiting $1.2 million in his ill-gotten gains.

Even as Todd, Weinstein, and Glucksman were tricking their victims into investing into Facebook IPO shares that didn’t exist, they also convinced those victims to invest in a real estate deal in Florida. Again, the conspirators stole the money they received.

Facebook went public on May 18, 2012, opening at $42 a share before disappointing investors and closing down $4 at $38.37. Ironically, if Todd’s investment scheme had been real, his so-called clients might have lost money anyway, given what has become known as one of the greatest tech IPO debacles in history. Then again, if it had been real, and they’d held on, they would have made out like bandits, given that Facebook’s stock currently sits at $76.74.

 

 


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