Friday, February 19, 2010

Unique Problems With Uniques

Uniques are what make the world go around, at least the Internet world. Advertisers care about their reach, the numbers of unique users they get in front of on a campaign. 1 million is the magic number and all of a sudden getting advertisers becomes much, much easier.

Uniques are so important that marketers like me spend money generating cheap traffic to inflate uniques even at a loss. It's a sizable percentage of traffic if you do it right, enough to inflate the numbers without killing your click through rates and bounce rate (the rate people leave the website after the first page view).

It's all about uniques. How are you compared to your competition? Check the uniques on How's the board think you are doing? Just show progress on uniques. But as someone who looks at web metrics and models businesses, unique growth and future prospects of most business have much more to do with member retention (churn, repeat usage), viral coefficients and cost of customer acquisition and value. With positive key performance indicators (KPI) along these lines and you know you have a business that has long term value.

Sometimes that means you make prioritization decisions in development to things that drive uniques even at the cost of longer term value. The reality is that for $500, I can drive 50,000 visitors. $5,000 then 500,000. Not much money to get you halfway to that 1 million unique magic number.

But a new report and analysis say that the whole industry could be overestimating our unique count by a factor of 2 or 3. That's just crazy. If that were accurate it could send shockwaves throughout the industry. Or not.

If the number changes, does it change the performance of existing campaigns? We can still measure ROI. It won't change tomorrow. It just means we are twice as effective at marketing to half the number of people we thought. Or will the new numbers scare off holistic marketers who compare the reach of traditional campaigns? If this plays out, it could be a very interesting year.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Facebook Takes Over My iPhone

Not surprisingly, Facebook has taken over my iPhone. Not the apps, but the phone itself, and it's about time. Facebook is where we are social. It's where our friends are. It's a contact list that updates itself. It fills out profile information with substantive info. So as the dynamic system of record of my social contacts, why hasn't it merged with my traditional contact list before?

Well, not all my contacts are on Facebook, so the approach they took is simple, just Facebook enhance the contacts they recognize. Now Facebook is in my iPhone contact list and can add all that data when I pull up their contact info. I now know not to suggest steak for dinner because I see from your status you had a ribeye at lunch. Combine that with FourSquare data and I might know roughly where you are. Give me Google Lattitude Access and I will know exactly where you are.

The point is that there are so many services that provide info about your friends and what they have done. Facebook is the defacto standard. By extending their reach into my contact list, they strengthen that position and make it easier for all of the smaller apps to get to the contact list, just integrate into Facebook you see.

It's a major move that hasn't received enough attention in my humble opinion. Now of course, Facebook is abusing this permission and sending me a constant stream of notifications that I am going to turn off. But they just staked out some significant territory and I am better for it (barring some serious privacy concerns, of course).