MediaPost Publications Report: Tuesday Super For Facebook Brand Pages 09/09/2009

I was pretty impressed with this social CTR chart until I read how it was calculated. ” The company comes up with its estimate by assuming that about one-twelfth of the total Facebook audience is online at any given time, available to see a message.”

To me, that simple assumption invalidates the entire study here, even though the company that released the data tried to make it even more sophisticated. “The number of fans a brand has is also factored into the calculation, with the total number of clicks on a specific post divided by the number of fans who saw it, adjusted to reflect that not every fan is on Facebook all the time. So if a brand has 100 fans and a wall post gets five clicks, that’s a 5% click-through rate. But if only 20% actually saw the post, it would be a 20% rate. It comes down to a mixture of math and educated guesswork.”

In the past I’ve seen very good day-of-week CTR reports on email marketing, which are based on actual data about delivery, open rate, and click through rate. But this Social CTR report, which is based on assumptions and guesswork, appears to be meaningless.

Has Facebook or any Facebook app developers released CTR data from notifications that they send out on different days of the week? I would be very interested in seeing that.

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65 million people used Facebook from mobile devices in August

About half of its 250 million monthly users worldwide log-in everyday. About a quarter, or 65 million, used the site from mobile devices in August, according to Henri Moissinac, director of Facebook Mobile. That more than three times what it was in December, when 20 million users were using Facebook through apps and the company’s mobile web page. The U.S., U.K., Canada and Indonesia have the most active users.

Does anyone know what percentage of the 65 million daily Facebook mobile users are coming from the iPhone vs. other phones?

Posted via web from Paul’s posterous

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MediaPost Publications–Congress Asked To Limit Online Data Collection 09/02/2009

A coalition of privacy groups and consumer advocates are calling on Congress to limit companies’ ability to track Web users and serve them targeted ads.

“Today, information from consumers is collected, compiled, and sold secretly, all done without reasonable safeguards,” the groups said in letters sent Tuesday to lawmakers on the House Commerce Committee. The letters were signed by 10 advocacy organizations including the Center for Digital Democracy, Electronic Frontier Foundation, U.S. Public Interest Research Group and World Privacy Forum. Recipients included Reps. Rick Boucher (D-Va.), Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.), Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.), George Radanovich (R-Calif.), Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.), and Joe Barton (R-Texas).

“Tracking people’s every move online is an invasion of privacy,” the groups said in an accompanying document. “Often consumers are not asked for their consent and have no meaningful control over the collection and use of their information, often by third parties with which they have no relationships.”

The advocacy groups put forward several specific proposals to limit data collection, including an outright prohibition on collecting or using sensitive information. The groups say Congress should ask the Federal Trade Commission to define “sensitive,” and that the term should include data about “health, finances, ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, personal relationships and political activity.”

The privacy organizations also proposed a new type of opt-in/opt-out regime for behavioral targeting.

I imagine a long, drawn out fight between the internet industry and consumer privacy advocates, and have no idea how it will turn out. This is a very complex topic, and I’m not sure that the “consumer advocates,” if they get their way, will actually improve the web experience for most people. It might actually backfire.

Personally, I want to see ads that are relevant to me based on my interests, search history, sites I have visited, etc. I don’t like irrelevant ads. I hate dating ads, but see them all the time, even though any consumer database should easily be able to determine that I married and have kids. Somehow, that data doesn’t affect most of the ads I see. As social networks have more and more data about identity and use it to affect advertising everywhere else (think of Facebook Connect-enabled sites), then I will see fewer and fewer irrelevant or spammy ads.

However, as a consumer I would like to be able to get visibility into who is collecting what data about me. As with credit reports, I would like to be able to at least see and possibly dispute things that are not accurate.

At the recent CrunchUp, one speaker said he ordered a book on for his 18-month old daughter and now he is bombarded with all kinds of things he isn’t interested in, because their recommendation thinks he made that earlier purchase for himself.

If I’m not mistaken, Amazon gives consumers the ability to affect which purchases are used by the recommendation engine. Wouldn’t it be interesting if consumers could influence which data is used by the advertising industry to target them. So while I might be shopping for a car for months, after I’ve made a car purchase, I could somehow indicate that I won’t be buying a car for a few more years, so all the car ads could be turned off.

No simple answers here, but we will certainly see a lot more heated debate about what direction we should go. It will be interesting to see what legislation actually gets written and debated, and if anything will pass during a year that is consumed by bigger debates over health care and the economy.

Posted via web from Paul’s posterous

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Marriner Eccles and Franklin D. Roosevelt

This is getting fun! I now have pictures on my blog!

My blog traffic has declined a lot in the past couple of years.

I used to have thousands of readers back when I posted articles every week on internet marketing and entrepreneurship. But my consistency wore off and my readership waned.

I heard recently (I think it was at the CrunchUp in Redwood City) that blog posts with images get like 3 times as many readers as posts without. I can’t find my source on that, so I don’t know if it is true, but I do know that I have almost never included images in blog posts because it took me too long to do it.

Not anymore. Now I can find an image anywhere on the web, click on the Share on Posterous link on my Google Chrome browser bar, add a few comments, and voila!–a new blog post with an image.

It looks like I can’t type comments above the image, but I imagine Posterous will address that flaw at some point.

But what I can do is start every blog post on any topic by finding a nice image from somewhere, in this case from Life Magazine’s excellent photo archive, and then I can write my post.

I decided to include this photo of Marriner Eccles with President Roosevelt because it illustrates in my mind how any blog post–even on some obscure topic like what the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department tried to do in the 1930s to bring the country out of the Great Depression–can become far more real and interesting by including a photo.

Marriner Eccles was a successful Utah banker who founded First Security bank in 1928. None of his banks ever lost a dime for their customers and none failed during the nationwide run on the banks.

Marriner started speaking out on what the government could uniquely do to lead the country out of the depression, and his controversial views got the attention of some powerful people in Washington, D.C. By 1934 he was appointed Chairman of the Federal Reserve and served in that role for 14 years.

He wrote his memoirs in 1951. I found a used copy on Amazon and bought it and devoured it. It is amazing to read his very honest and open account of government efforts to end the depression–and to learn which programs worked and which failed miserably.

As I read Eccles’ memoirs, I wished I could get a copy of the book to every decision-maker in Washington, DC, but the book is out of print and the Eccles family has so far declined from allowing me to create an electronic version that could be distributed to legislators and government employees.

You would kind of sort of think that if we are spending trillions of dollars to try to stimulate the US economy, that we might kind of want to go back to the 1930s and learn first hand from the people who were on the front lines back then, when the government was spending billions of dollars on all kinds of new programs, and get a close up look of what worked and what didn’t and at least one very smart man’s opinion of why various programs succeeded or failed. (Even if he and others like him in the 20s and 30s seemed to have somewhat socialist leanings partly because the Russian experiment seemed so promising back then–it hadn’t played out fully yet.)

There is currently only 1 copy of this book for sale on Amazon and it is more than $200 (and it is NOT my copy which I am NOT giving up!):

I wish we could tap into the experience of people like Marriner Eccles somehow and harness it in our current debates over the government’s role in the economy.

Which historical figure would you like to consult with most about our economic problems and what government should or should not do to intervene?

Posted via web from Paul’s posterous

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Top 10 Family Websites – July 2009

I like rankings and lists.

This particular chart from Hitwise tracks only one metric — share of visits. In some ways that is more interesting than the more common “unique visitors” reports, which can easily be inflated by successful marketing campaigns. Share of visits can’t be inflated much by spending a lot of money on email or PPC to get tons of clicks in one month. But Unique Visitors reports can be.

Share of visits reports show ongoing engagement.

Now look at the top 10 chart. Legacy, the most robust obituary and memorial web site ranks #1. Ancestry, the world’s leading genealogy web site is #2. And below that is, which used to be the top private social network, but over the past 7 years has lost most of its users.

This means that even though not that many people use anymore, it still ranks #3 on this list because those who do use it still visit it frequently, thus giving a large share of total visits.

According to Quantcast data (which is free and easy to obtain on any site) has 5.5MM unique US monthly visitors while has only 173,000. So if my math is correct, MyFamily has only 3% of the VISITORS of, but almost half (according to the Hitwise chart) as many total monthly visits.

I’m sure that my wife’s family accounts for about half of all the visits to 🙂 She and her 7 sisters have probably posted 10,000 times to’s message boards in the past 10 years. Some of them are using Facebook now, more and more, so it will be interesting for me to see whether their usage of — a paid, private family web site experience will continue.

Even Tim Sullivan, CEO of (which recently filed to go public) apparently wonders about this. The company generates almost all of its revenue from its genealogy property, not from its family web site business. It always has. Tim was quoted in Fortune magazine in May 2009 as saying, “we’re still trying to figure out if it’s relevant in the age of Facebook.”

If I look at Quantcast data, I don’t understand why isn’t on this list. It looks like Geni and Footnote missed this list but are probably in the top 20 for family web sites.

Do you have a favorite family-related web site that your family uses, that you think is probably also close to making it onto this list?

Posted via web from Paul’s posterous

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Gmail Nudges Past AOL Email In The U.S. To Take No. 3 Spot.

Good thing Gmail is out of beta. It is now the third largest Web mail service in the U.S. In July, Gmail nudged past AOL Email with 37 million unique visitors compared to 36.4 million for AOL, according to comScore estimates. (Gmail is the orange line in the chart below). That puts Gmail within sight of the No. 2 player, Windows Live Hotmail, which has 47 million unique visitors. After that there is a wide gulf separating Yahoo Mail and its 106 million monthly unique visitors.

Gmail was down for several hours yesterday and since our company uses it as our primary email service (using Google Apps so we can have our own domain name), we were all affected by the outage. But we’ll stick with it because it offers by far the best and most efficient email experience. I haven’t used Outlook for years and don’t miss it at all. I get gmail on my iPhone, Blackberry, and G1 phone.

Actually, this isn’t the most important thing I can be blogging about right now, but I am testing Posterous right now, with it’s ability to post anything to my WordPress blog at, and I just had to find something to highlight somewhere, comment on, and then click Post. So I’m doing that now and will see what happens next.

Posted via web from Paul’s posterous

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Today Only: $2,000 in Free Real Time Market Research

How much would you pay to be able to run an instant poll where you get responses to any question from 1,000 diverse people within about an hour?

If you are an entrepreneur or marketer or business owner, you know that knowing what prospective customers think and need and want is essential. You need good, relevant, timely customer feedback in order to develop products and craft marketing campaigns that match what the customer is looking for.

It is very expensive to build a product or launch a marketing campaign without first doing some market research to validate the product or the marketing approach. And yet most small businesses probably never conduct market research studies because they are typically very costly and time consuming. In the past I’ve paid for market research studies that cost tens of thousands of dollars and took months to complete.

But today, my team and I at run dozens of surveys every day and we get between 100,000 and 200,000 answers daily from our huge audience. We have nearly 30 million monthly visitors to our network of sites. (See our Quantcast chart here.)

Our focus at is building apps and sites for families that help families get connected and stay in touch with their relatives. We generate revenue primarily from advertising and from subscriptions to our massive genealogy databases. But we also believe we can potentially provide real value to businesses and market researchers if they have access to our real-time survey tool and huge panel of customers, primarily from the US, UK, Canada, and Australia.

I have wondered how many more businesses would use market research if instead of a month or two and $10-20,000, they could conduct a simple survey to a random panel of 1,000 people and get the results in less than an hour.

How much would you pay for that?

I’m guessing that many businesses would pay $199 for such a survey. We have asked hundreds of questions that we have found useful. We use the tool in product marketing to learn:

  • what product features customers want most from a given product category
  • what marketing benefits customers are most likely to respond to
  • what domain name to use when building a promotional or product site
  • which web page design or marketing concept design customers like most

The surveys can be used to determine brand awareness (how many people prefer my brand over my competitors), intent to purchase, pricing sensitivity, and more. They can be used to find out people’s favorite books, songs, hobbies, or to track interest in new trends or fads. They could be used by journalists or political leaders to measure public opinion on anything.

Our survey tool can support up to 10 multiple choice responses. It can also provide a text entry box, so that you can actually get 500 free format answers to any question you ask. These open ended questions are my favorite. I have a list of about 20,000 responses about what famous person people admire most and who they would like to meet in person, if they had a chance. We are using the data we are culling from this crowdsourcing effort to make sure that (and games that use its database) contain biographies of all the historical figures that people admire most.

And, it can link to graphics so that you could, for example, show 3 different logos you are considering and ask 500 random people which one they like best.

We are using the survey tool daily for all kinds of questions. Our knowlege of what our customers think and want from us, and from other products and services they use, is really valuable. In nearly every internal discussion about what features we should build next, we are referring to past surveys or designing new ones that can run during our meeting and give us valid data from our customers before the end of the meeting.

We have decided that today only, we will provide a free 1,000 response survey to the first 10 people who contact us. If you are in business, education, journalism, government, non-profit work, or any other field, and you would love to know what people think about anything, please email me at paul AT with subject line: SIGN ME UP

My team and I will contact you quickly and get your survey question online so that you can have answers in no time.

Our “consumer panel” consists of more than 50MM Facebook users worldwide who use the “We’re Related” application from FamilyLink to find and connect with relatives.

So, what are you waiting for? Think up that question, and send me that email today.

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