Instagram gets Facebook feel with online profiles

Picture sharing website Instagram on Monday began rolling out online profiles that let people showcase themselves and photos they’ve taken with the Facebook-owned smartphone application.

The creation of an online home for Instagram images put a Facebook spin on the startup that the world’s leading social network bought this year.

“Instagram web profiles are a beautiful new way to view and share Instagram on the web,” said a message at the company’s website.

“Your web profile features your photos along with your profile photo and bio, giving others a look at the content you share on Instagram.”

People can share their profiles with whomever they wish as well as “follow” other Instagram users, commenting on or expressing “likes” for pictures.

Instagram was in the limelight last week as a key source for pictures showing the devastation of Hurricane Sandy.

Photos of the storm were popping up on many social networks including Twitter and Google , but Instagram data showed at least 521,000 photos with the hashtag #Sandy. Another 306,000 were tagged #hurricaneSandy.

Facebook completed its acquisition of Instagram in September. The original price was pegged at $1 billion but the final value was less because of the decline in Facebook’s share price.

The main point of Instagram is to share smartphone snaps, which can be enhanced with image filters to mimic historic types of film.

Copyright (2012) AFP. All rights reserved.

This article was distributed through the NewsCred Smartwire. Original article © Agence France Presse 2012

Facebook CEO Concedes Missteps, But Says World ‘Underestimating’ Mobile Opportunity

Facebook has had a tough run as a public company, but CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the company remains focused on its biggest opportunity, and that is mobile.

In his first public comments since the IPO in June, Mr. Zuckerberg said while the share price has been “disappointing,” he’s more focused on how the company will be judged in the next five years and that is how well it can fulfill its potential on mobile devices.

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“Six months ago, we were in a bad place in mobile,” he said, mostly because the company focused too long on building out its apps for the mobile web, rather than building native versions of the Facebook app for Apple and Android devices.

“There is no doubt we had a bunch of missteps on this,” he said. “But we’ve transitioned now and we are a mobile company.”

“I basically live on my mobile device,” Mr. Zuckerberg said, as if to drive that point home, and added that he composed his oft-quoted founders’ letter in Facebook’s IPO filing, the one that said “we don’t build services to make money; we make money to build better services,” on his mobile phone.

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The Facebook founder handled his 30 minutes on stage at TechCrunch Disrupt with the famously prickly founder Michael Arrington with considerable poise compared with his sweaty, stuttering stage appearances of the past. He clearly had an agenda to convey Facebook’s opportunity in mobile devices, and he largely achieved it.

Mr. Zuckerberg conceded some strategic mistakes, though not in how the IPO was handled or whether the stock, down more than 50% from the IPO, impacts the company’s ability to pursue its mission. Facebook shares inched up more than 3% in after-hours trading.

He sees the stock price as an opportunity to bring in new talent, rather than a trigger for talent to leave. “I think it’s actually a good time for people to join and a good time for people to stay and double-down,” he said.

He also parried several questions from Mr. Arrington about the existence of a project to build a phone. “It’s so clearly the wrong strategy for us,” he said. “Let’s say we built a phone. Maybe we could get 10 or 20 million people to use it. It wouldn’t move the needle for us. We want to build a system that is deeply integrated into every device people want to use.”

But he did say that Facebook has a team working on search, which puts it on collision course with arch rival Google, which has spent the past few years attempting to add social signals to search with its G+ social network.

Facebook already gets billion search queries a day “without really trying,” he said, mostly users looking for people or content on Facebook. But Mr. Zuckerberg said the ambition for search is bigger. “Facebook is pretty uniquely positioned to deliver answers; what sushi restaurants have your friends visited in New York, and liked? These are queries you could do on Facebook that you couldn’t do anywhere else.”

He conceded that the company has been slow on product over the last six months as it reorganizes developer teams to focus on mobile, but he said that the pace would begin to accelerate, including a new Android app.

“People underestimate how well we are doing in mobile,” he said. “We already see that mobile users are more likely to be daily active users than desktop user.”

He also said that that ultimately Facebook will make more money from mobile than from desktop PCs. The company is expected to earn $4.2 billion from advertising this year, mostly targeted at PC users, according to eMarketer, but mobile revenue is expected to grow explosively over the next few years.

“Mobile is a lot closer to TV than desktop,” he said, meaning they have to be full-screen and part of the experience, rather than boxes in the right column as they are on the desktop. “What we’re seeing now with the early mobile ads is they perform better than right-hand column ads on Facebook.”

He said he actually prefers when Facebook is being underestimated, and clearly believes now is one of those times. “It gives us latitude to go out and make big bets and do things that excite and amaze people,” he said.

“Facebook has not been an uncontroversial company in the past,” he said. “People here are fairly used to the press saying good things about us and saying bad things about us.”

Facebook shares plunge to record low | Good Morning Silicon Valley

Facebook shares are trading at a record low today as several analysts cut their price targets for the company’s stock. Shares were down nearly 5 percent to $18.15 as of this post, lower than the $19 mark — or half the stock’s initial trading price of $38. The company now has a market capitalization of $40.89 billion; it went public in May with a valuation of more than $100 billion.

Thursday, a market research firm that the New York Times says has been “superbullish” about Facebook lowered its estimates for the Silicon Valley social-networking company’s sales this year, from $6 billion to $5 billion.

“EMarketer estimates that, while robust growth rates will continue for the foreseeable future, advertising revenues at Facebook will not fly as high this year as earlier predicted,” the firm said in a press release.

Besides the ad-revenue questions, there are also those pesky lockup expirations. Facebook’s first lockup expiration a couple of weeks ago, which allowed early investors to sell their shares, further weakened its stock. (See Facebook shares continue ‘painful’ decline.) A couple of notable names who have sold their shares: the company’s earliest backer, Peter Thiel, and Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz.

“Facebook has multiple lockup expirations over the next year, and recent selling activity on the August lockup suggests to us the risk of future selling pressure,” wrote Bank of America’s Justin Post in a research note, according to MarketWatch.

The Mercury News’ Brandon Bailey recently wrote about the possible effect of those expirations, and subsequently Facebook’s stock plunge, on the company. At least one expert told Bailey that executives may have to leave Facebook if the Wall Street woes persist. But the article also points out that CEO Mark Zuckerberg controls a majority of the company’s voting shares. Chris O’Brien blogs that other top executives are more likely to feel the heat, namely COO Sheryl Sandberg or CFO David Ebersman. But it has been less than four months since the company went public, and Business Insider’s Henry Blodget points out that Zuckerberg’s IPO letter had stressed the long term.

 

 

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MediaPost Publications Judge: ‘Sponsored Stories’ Settlement Raises Concerns 08/03/2012

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A federal judge reportedly said on Thursday that he had concerns about the proposed settlement of a class-action lawsuit about Facebook’s sponsored stories program.

Despite voicing concerns, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Seeborg in the Northern District of California didn’t say whether he intends to scuttle the deal or grant it preliminary approval.

The agreement calls for Facebook to pay $10 million to various law schools and advocacy organizations, and $10 million to lawyers who sued the company on behalf of users. The deal also requires Facebook to give users more control over whether they appear in sponsored stories, which publicizes users’ “likes” to their friends.

But the settlement agreement doesn’t allow adult users to opt out of the program. Instead, Facebook has promised to create “a mechanism that will allow users to see and control which actions they have taken that have led to their being featured in sponsored stories ads.” (The settlement will require Facebook to allow minors to opt out of sponsored stories.)

The settlement also doesn’t require Facebook to pay any monetary damages to users whose images appeared in the sponsored stories program. Seeborg said at the hearing that he wanted more information about why Facebook users won’t receive any money, according to Reuters.

If the deal ultimately wins approval, it would resolve a class-action lawsuit filed by five Facebook users. They alleged that Facebook’s sponsored stories program violates a California law giving consumers the right to control the use of their names and images in endorsements. That law also specifies that minors’ images can’t be used in endorsements without their parents’ permission. California’s law provides for damages of $750 per incident.

Several organizations are opposing the settlement, including Consumer Watchdog and the University of San Diego School of Law’s Center for Public Interest Law.

“The proposed settlement is not fair, adequate or reasonable and provides no direct or indirect benefit to class members,” Consumer Watchdog said in a letter to Seeborg dated Aug. 1. Consumer Watchdog also criticized the deal on the grounds that users still can’t opt out of sponsored stories.

Seeborg took over the case three weeks ago, after U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh removed herself from the matter without explanation. Seeborg previously approved a separate controversial class-action settlement stemming from Facebook’s Beacon program, which told users about their friends’ e-commerce activity.

In that case, Seeborg allowed Facebook to settle the lawsuit by agreeing to pay more than $6 million to create a new privacy organization — which it would partially control — and more than $2 million to the class-action lawyers who brought the lawsuit.

A Facebook user and privacy advocate who objected to that settlement appealed to the 9th Circuit, which is still considering the case.

MediaPost Publications New Facebook Tool Promotes Brands Without Users Signaling Likes 08/06/2012

Since many users don’t trust Facebook’s privacy controls, companies find consumers are reluctant to share brand preferences on the social network.

Content management firm Thismoment taped Facebook’s Open Graph to build out a distributed network that automatically sends notifications to friends with each interaction in real-time. The notices, inserted into Facebook’s timeline, ticker, and news feeds, mention a brand, such as seeing the “Batman” movie trailer, without relying on users signaling a “Like.” 

A recent study from MyBuys and the consultancy The E-tailing Group looked at brand campaign responses on Facebook. Fifty-seven percent of respondents to the survey are much more concerned about sharing personal information and shopping preferences with retailers on Facebook, compared with retailers in stores.

More than half of the 1,000 consumers participating in the survey found a higher propensity to provide shopping preferences to retailers in stores in exchange for a better shopping experience. When asked about geographic targeting content on mobile devices to gain a better shopping experience, 42% of surveyed consumers have mixed feelings — 34% don’t want it, and 24% said they do.

Consumers seem more willing to share personal information and preferences with retailers in stores than on Facebook. That may explain why companies like Thismoment have developed tools that share brand information with users, other than liking, sharing or connecting online.

But “like” doesn’t mean anything without identifying the action the person took, such as watching the “Batman” trailer. Friends learn about the action, without a concurrent approval. Brands now can build the suite of Thismoment services into Facebook apps, brand pages, YouTube brand pages, mobile sites and more. Advertisers select from a set list of actions and objects. The tool generates stories about the Facebook member’s interaction with the brand.

Intended to improve ad targeting and ROI, the out-of-the-box tools come with reporting capabilities allowing brands to analyze news feed impressions, click-through rates and actions from a variety of platforms, according to Jon Eccles, product manager and tech lead at Thismoment.

The process is similar to the way Spotify sends a notification to a Facebook member’s list of friends when one listens to a music track. The notification gets distributed at the moment the person listens to the music.

 

Facebook: About 83 million accounts are fake – USATODAY.com

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ORG XMIT: NY115 FILE – In this May 16, 2012 file photo, the Facebook logo is displayed on an iPad in Philadelphia. Facebook’s stock hit a new low Friday, July 27, 2012, after it reported second-quarter results that disappointed investors. The stock fell $3.90, or nearly 15 percent, to $22.94 in morning trading Friday. Facebook Inc.’s initial public offering of stock priced at $38, and its low had been $25.52, hit on June 6. The stock is now about 39 percent below its IPO price. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

MediaPost Publications Clueless: Advertisers Looking For Answers In Yahoo’s Q2 Earnings 07/16/2012

Question-mark-A2Can a partnership with Facebook turn around an ailing Internet giant? The ad industry may not see it in Yahoo’s Q2 2012 earnings, but it will likely become a positive step in an uphill direction. Yahoo signed an advertising partnership with Facebook after settling pending patent lawsuits. Insiders will look for Yahoo interim CEO Ross Levinsohn to provide clues about Yahoo’s future on Tuesday when the company reports earnings.

J.P. Morgan Analyst Doug Anmuth sees a “potential upside” to Yahoo’s search business based on its alliance with Microsoft Bing. He points to better broad match and tools for paid-search ads, although comScore data suggest that the company continues to lose share of searches. Since revenue per search (RPS) gains are not likely to drive monetization beyond existing numbers, the analyst firm estimates search net revenue for the quarter of $374 million, up 1% from the year-ago quarter.

Google continued to dominate search market share in Q2 2012. Among Marin’s clients, the Mountain View, Calif. search company in the United States garnered 81% of spend, 80% of click share, and 66.7% of overall U.S. search volume. Despite slipping in overall click share, Yahoo and Bing continue to show growth in click volume and costs per click, according to a trend report from Marin Software.

Marin Software’s Online Advertising Report – Key Trends & Insights report agrees with Anmuth’s conclusion. Analysis attributes efficiency gains during the past year partly to refining match types from broad to phrase or exact, increasing relevance and the CTR for keywords, improving quality scores and lowering costs.

In the past year, search marketers increased their use of exact match, growing click share by 3% while increasing the amount spent on exact match types by 1%. Overall, the Bing and Yahoo alliance drove 14% higher click volume for advertisers in Q2 2012, along with a 22% jump in costs per click (CPCs) and a 5% rise in the click-through rates (CTRs), according to Marin’s report.

Google queries rose in June, compared with the year-ago quarter, taking 66.8% share of searches. Yahoo’s queries fell 16% year-on-year to take 13% share of searches. And Bing increased its share of queries by 11% year-on-year, taking 15.6%.

Aside from answering questions about search engine marketing and the Alibaba transaction, Yahoo could get questions from analysts about the stolen 450,000 email addresses and passwords and user names from the company’s Contributor Newtork. The breach includes some email addresses through Gmail, Bell South, MSN, SBC Global Hotmail, and AOL. A group identifying itself as D33D point to the hack as a wakeup call for Yahoo rather than a threat.

The Privacy Council links to a site listing the names of stolen passwords or user names.

Analyst consensus expect Yahoo to report Q2 2012 revenue of $1.08 billion, down 11.2%, sequentially. Total acquisition cost (TAC) is expected to come in at between $140 and $150 million, along with other costs between $915 and $945 million, generating an operating income of between $115 and $195 million. “Out of the 23 analysts providing estimates, none revised the estimate for the second quarter in the last 30 days,” according to a report. “Over the same period, one analyst made an upward revision for fiscal 2012.”