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Measuring Facebook's marketing potential

27th May 2009
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With Facebook still among the dominators of the social networking scene, marketers are now looking for better insight into how consumers are using the site to make more informed, data-driven social media marketing decisions - which is where Omniture's new app for Facebook's applications comes in...

By Stuart Lauchlan, news and analysis editor

The social media revolution marches on with web analytics and business optimisation firm Omniture unveiling App Measurement for Facebook, a new solution that enables Omniture SiteCatalyst customers to measure the popularity and success of Facebook applications.

The new solution is intended to enable marketeers to better understand Facebook users and how and where they engage with applications, as well as providing insight into the relationship between Facebook, site traffic and other online channels such as web, mobile and video. The end result is said to enable customers to make more informed, data-driven social media marketing decisions and result in more relevant, user-friendly Facebook applications.

"We have a group of people inside Omniture who just sit and monitor and analyse Twitter activity. Facebook is another extension of that. It's about developing hypotheses and actions and coming up with better ways of reaching customers."

Martyn Jobber, director - pre-sales EMEA, Omniture.

“The channels that customers have to find business is expanding,” says Martyn Jobber, director - pre-sales EMEA at Omniture. “This is an extension of our earlier Twitter announcement to explore other forms of social media. Our customers are spending more and more time and money on engaging with their customers in this way. Facebook is a fascinating platform for its sheer breadth of reach. It's an enormous marketplace for our customers to be able to get access to their customers.

“This is much more than theoretical, it's a very practical reality that's driven by customer desire. In the EMEA market we've seen very aggressive activity in the monitoring of all marketing activities. There are enormous opportunities for customers in social media. But social media, like Facebook, has to be part of the full marketing mix and needs to be measured alongside other elements like banner advertising. We have a group of people inside Omniture who just sit and monitor and analyse Twitter activity. Facebook is another extension of that. It's about developing hypotheses and actions and coming up with better ways of reaching customers.”

Becoming more social

Top online brands such as Facebook, Google, eBay and YouTube take up almost half of all the UK's time spent on the web, according to research. A study by Nielsen Online suggests the amount of time spent by users during April at the top 10 online brands - Facebook, MSN/Windows Live, Google, eBay, Yahoo, AOL Media Network, BBC, YouTube, Microsoft and Apple – jumped to 45% from 42% in the same month last year. Of those main brands, Facebook accounts for 13% of all UK internet time.

Jobber says that early customers such as Channel 4 have a clear need for this type of application. “If I were Channel 4, I'd be looking for ways to take advantage of this vast plethora of active online users and want to know how to get them to engage with what content I am producing,” he says. “I'd be thinking that this is a great opportunity but wondering how to monetist it and account for it. I would want to understand what the footprint generated by these activities is going to be. That's nuts and bolts Omniture.”

For its part, Channel 4 seems to concur. “The Omniture App Measurement for Facebook solution will effectively help us determine our Facebook application adoption and usage as well as understand the impact each application has on our web sites and online video properties,” says Georgios Kaperonis, business analytics and optimisation manager at Channel 4. “Using a solution like SiteCatalyst to get a single view into our social media and other online marketing efforts will help us deliver more compelling experiences to our broad audience.”

"After some explosive pre-pubescent growth, the web analytics market is beginning to develop its own footing, yet significant change is imminent and maturity is still distant."

John Lovett, Forrester.

According to analyst firm Forrester Research, the web analytics industry is entering its “awkward adolescence” as it grows to the $1bn mark by 2014. "After some explosive pre-pubescent growth, the web analytics market is beginning to develop its own footing, yet significant change is imminent and maturity is still distant,” says Forrester analyst John Lovett. "Ultimately, web analytics will become part of a broader array of integrated services supporting marketing professionals who focus on customer intelligence."

As online marketing budgets increase, Forrester says that 21% of companies will increase spending on measurement and analytics technologies in 2009. It reckons that 73% of businesses are already using some form of web analytics or at least running pilot deployments. Some 88% of deployments in 2008 were delivered on a software as a service (SaaS) basis, which is good news for the likes of Omniture. But most of those businesses are taking advantage of basic, free of charge analytics offerings, which is perhaps rather less good news for the likes of Omniture.

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