Instagram’s 15 Minutes: Thursday Signal

Kevin Systrom, co-founder of Instagram.

In today’s Signal: Instagram’s policy furor, its back-pedaling and some possible new opportunities; Twitter holds its lead over Google+; welcome to “growth hacking”; sizing up shoppers online vs. offline; Amazon’s game changer; Facebook aims for TV dollars via video ads; and more. Note: Signal will be off for the holidays, and back in the New Year. Have a great one!

To the links …

Facebook’s Instagram Move May Exploit Teen Users (Bloomberg) Facebook’s Instagram, popular with teens and young adults, has instituted policy changes that may let advertisers use teenagers’ photos for marketing. In its updated policy document, Instagram also said it may not always identify paid services or sponsored content, and that it doesn’t claim ownership of any content on the service, though some businesses may pay to display users’ names, likeness or photos in connection with sponsored content.

Thank You, and We’re Listening (Instagram Blog) Instagram didn’t waste time trying to eliminate the confusion over its recent policy change announcement, which nearly spawned a mass exodus.

Instagram’s Real Ad Opportunity (Digiday) In order for Instagram to succeed as a media business, it needs to accomplish several things, according to Digiday’s Josh Sternberg. First, it needs to concentrate on scale; next, it must convince brands that there’s value in setting up shop on the platform; and finally, the hardest part, it must give those brands a distribution outlet to users that doesn’t upset them.

Why You Should Want to Pay for Software, Instagram Edition (The Atlantic) Alexis Madrigal, a senior editor at The Atlantic, says that the only way to get around the privacy problems inherent in advertising-supported social networks is to pay for services that we value. “It’s amazing what power we gain in becoming paying customers instead of the product being sold,” he writes. Focusing on Instagram, he adds, “If they got $5 a month from 20 million of those users, they’d be looking at $300 million in quarterly revenue. That’s a nice chunk of change when you have a baker’s dozen employees.”

It’s Official: Twitter Is Not a Fad (Slate) Although Twitter has struggled to be taken seriously by adults outside the media and celebrity spheres, the company announced that it has reached 200 million monthly active users worldwide. And, yeah, if you’ve been paying attention, you know it did so very quickly. Translation: Twitter has doubled in size in the past 15 months.

Everything Is Marketing: How Growth Hackers Redefine The Game (Fast Company) Startups are changing the definition of marketing to their advantage. Marketing is not an end unto itself, writes Ryan Holiday, it’s the getting of customers by any means, the “steroids” behind business growth: “Once companies break out of the shackles of antiquated notions of what is or isn’t marketing, the whole field becomes cheaper, easier and much more scalable.”

Personalization: The Store Clerk vs. The Machine (Summation) Online personalization might be on the cutting edge, but it’s really not all that different from old-school shopkeepers’ targeting methods (i.e., ways of reading the shopper). It’s all about probabilities – the better the data, whether based on the five senses or a great algorithm, the better the chance a retailer will hit the mark and show you something you like.

Amazon, Advertising’s Sleeping Giant, to Awaken in 2013 (Adweek) This year, Amazon slowly rolled out a proprietary real-time bidding platform that plugs into exchanges and supply-side platforms. That platform lets the company retarget its users across the Web based on their browsing and purchase habits on Amazon’s owned-and-operated properties. But coming up as early as the first quarter of 2013, Amazon will introduce a self-serve RTB platform for media buyers, including agency trading desks, which will be able to use the platform to manage their own buys.

Facebook to Pursue TV Ad Dollars with Video Ads (Ad Age) By April, Facebook will offer video advertisers the chance to target video ads to large numbers of users in their news feeds on the desktop version of  the service, as well as via mobile and tablet apps. According to Facebook execs, advertisers will be able to show the same video ad to a user up to three times a day across various devices.

Federal Trade Commission to Data Brokers: Show Us Your Data (LA Times) The Federal Trade Commission has ordered nine data brokerage companies —Acxiom, Corelogic, Datalogix, EBureau, ID Analytics, Intelius, Peekyou, Rapleaf, and Recorded Future — to tell the agency how they harvest and use data on consumers, toughening its stance toward the multibillion-dollar industry.

U.S. Mobile-Ad Sales Expected to Nearly Triple This Year (WSJ) A report recently released by eMarketer projects a great year for mobile ad sales: Google is expected to record $2.17B this year in mobile ads largely from its search business; Facebook is expected to come in with $339.3M; Pandora is looking at making $224.8M, nearly double that of last year; and Twitter, which made no money on mobile last year, should generate about $134.9M in mobile ad dollars.

Weathering the Content and Data Storm (Digiday) A couple of key trends are accelerating at an unprecedented rate and causing a high level of self-examination by media publishers, who are wondering whether or not they have assets that allow them to effectively ford the rapidly flooding stream of decaying CPMs.

Internet Advertising Revenues Hit Historic High in Q3 2012 at Nearly $9.3 Billion, Rising 18% Over Same Period Last Year, According to IAB (IAB) Historic investments in interactive point to the strong results that marketers are receiving from digital marketing.

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