Saturday, May 11, 2019

Facebook unveils an automated ad builder and an appointment manager for small businesses - TechCrunch

Facebook unveils an automated ad builder and an appointment manager for small businesses - TechCrunch

Facebook unveils an automated ad builder and an appointment manager for small businesses - TechCrunch

Posted: 07 May 2019 05:30 AM PDT

Facebook today said it's launching a number of new products aimed at small businesses — which is appropriate, as we're currently in the middle of National Small Business Week.

These new features include Automated Ads, which Director of Product Management Nikila Srinivasan said are "really built for small businesses that are one- to two-person businesses with very little marketing expertise."

The idea is that business owners can answer a few questions about what kind of company they are and about their goals for the campaign. Then based on their answers — as well as the information on their Facebook Page — Facebook will create recommendations for the audience they should target, the budget they should set and even how the different versions of the ad should look and what they should say.

Small businesses can still buy ads the way they did before, but even if they go the Automated Ads route, they don't have to accept Facebook's recommendations. They can set their own budget, for example, and Facebook will predict the results. These ads can run on Facebook itself, as well as Instagram, Messenger and the Facebook Audience Network.

Facebook Automated Ads

Srinivasan said there's a "set it and forget it" element to the program, but at the same time Facebook will make sure to keep advertisers alerted to how the campaign is going and "it's up to the business if they want to come in and be more active."

"The main thing is, we don't want there to be guesswork, we don't want there to be expertise needed to use this product," she said.

And while Facebook said it's provided lightweight support for booking appointments in Messenger in the past, it's now expanding that functionality, so businesses can accept appointments and manage all appointments through Facebook and Instagram. These appointments also can be synced with the business owner's personal calendar, or with third-party appointment tools like MyTime and HomeAdvisor.

Lastly, Facebook said it's rolling out new video editing capabilities, making it easier to add text and image overlays to a video, and to automatically crop a video to accommodate the different aspect ratios of different ad environments.

Facebook Cheers on Charming Local Business Al-Qaeda's "Great Year" - Futurism

Posted: 10 May 2019 12:29 PM PDT

Poor Taste

If you still use Facebook, you're probably familiar with those algorithmically-produced "year in review" videos that the website churns out, setting a slideshow of your posts to cheerful music. At best, the videos are obnoxious.

At worst? They spew violent, hateful content. Researchers represented by the National Whistleblower Center found that Facebook automatically created a peppy, upbeat video on a "business" page for Al-Qaeda, according to The Associated Press.

Algorithmic Whiff

Facebook talks a big game about its algorithmic hate speech filters.

"After making heavy investments, we are detecting and removing terrorism content at a far higher success rate than even two years ago," Facebook told the AP. "We don't claim to find everything and we remain vigilant in our efforts against terrorist groups around the world."

Meanwhile, those allegedly-sophisticated efforts missed a business profile named "Al-Qaeda" as well as hundreds of other personal profiles named after terrorist leaders that were identified in the whistleblowers' study.

Fundamentally Flawed

According to the study, Facebook's automatic features contributed to pages that had thousands of likes, and only removed about 38 percent of posts that prominently featured hate symbols. Sometimes the extremists used Facebook tools to create their own media, meaning their images completely flew under the radar.

"The whole infrastructure is fundamentally flawed," UC Berkeley digital forensics expert Hany Farid told the AP. "And there's very little appetite to fix it because what Facebook and the other social media companies know is that once they start being responsible for material on their platforms it opens up a whole can of worms."

READ MORE: Facebook auto-generates videos celebrating extremist images [The Associated Press]

More on Facebook: Facebook Needs Humans *And* Algorithms To Filter Hate Speech

Facebook Launches New Tools for Small Businesses - Search Engine Journal

Posted: 09 May 2019 03:14 PM PDT


Facebook is rolling out new tools to help businesses run automated ad campaigns, book appointments, and edit videos.

Automated Ads

With Automated Ads, Facebook can develop a customized marketing plan after asking a few simple questions about your business and your goals.

"Automated Ads to take the guesswork out of creating effective ads that can run on Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and Audience Network."

Some of the top features of Automated Ads include:

  • Create up to six different versions of your ad automatically.
  • Audience options or recommendations based on information from your Page.
  • A recommended budget most likely to generate results based on your goal.
  • Notifications to keep you informed about how your ads are performing.

Manage Appointments

A new appointment booking feature will let businesses take and manage appointments through Facebook and Instagram.

Whether or not your business is running Facebooks ads you can still access this new feature.

With the new 'manage appointments' feature, businesses can:

  • Accept appointments online
  • Send reminders to customers through Messenger or text message
  • Customize a list of services
  • Add hours of availability
  • Sync appointments with a personal calendar or another appointment management tool

Video Editing

A new video editing feature in Ads Manager offers new ways to edit existing video.

This feature contains three new tools in total:

  • Automatic cropping
  • Video trimming
  • Image and text overlays

These tools are designed to make it simple and fast for businesses to edit video so they can get back to, well, running a business.

According to Facebook's internal data, the platform is home to over 90 million small businesses as of January 2019. Facebook remains committed to improving the experience for this valuable user base.

Uber's market debut sours most anticipated IPO since Facebook -

Posted: 10 May 2019 02:37 PM PDT

Uber Technologies Inc.'s conservative initial public offering could not keep its shares from sinking in their trading debut on Friday, fueling debate on Wall Street over whether the outcome of the most anticipated listing since Facebook Inc. would weigh on other Silicon Valley unicorns.

Uber considered going public for at least four years. Yet the ride-hailing company picked a week for its IPO plagued by market turbulence fueled by U.S.-China trade worries. Moreover, smaller rival Lyft Inc.'s shares plunged this week after its first earnings as a public company.

Uber was the biggest of a group of Silicon Valley startups that have spent years raising money in private rounds at record prices. Many of these companies are now looking to follow with their own IPO. Some, like Uber and Lyft, are unprofitable.

Workplace messaging company Slack Technologies Inc. plans to hold an investor presentation on Monday in advance of its direct listing next month. Grocery and food delivery platform Postmates, WeWork owner The We Company and online mattress retailer Casper Sleep are among startups seeking to launch IPOs this year.

"If a venture capital investor wants to burn cash they can do that as long as they want, but once you get to the public markets you have to show profitability or a path to it," said Jordan Stuart, a portfolio manager at Federated Kaufmann who often purchases companies' shares during an IPO.

Uber's shares ended the day down 7.6 percent at $41.57, even as the S&P 500 reversed losses to end in positive territory. Only about a fifth of IPOs have ended their first day of trading in the red in the last two years, according to Dealogic data.

Uber priced its IPO on Thursday at the low end of its targeted range, hoping that approach would spare it the trading plunge suffered by Lyft.

Lyft ended down 6.9 percent on Friday, and is 28 percent below its IPO price.

Still, the world's largest ride-hailing company appeared to generate more interest from mom-and-pop investors than Lyft. Retail investors at TD Ameritrade executed more trades in the first ten minutes of Uber's debut than in Lyft's first 2-½ hours.

Uber had already lowered its valuation expectations twice in the last two months to address investor concerns over its mounting losses.

While early-stage Uber investors such as Benchmark, Menlo Ventures, First Round Capital and Lowercase Capital made a killing in the IPO, some late-stage backers did not fare as well.

Japan's SoftBank Group Corp., for example, invested in Uber in early 2018 at $48.77 per share. It also bought shares at a much lower price in a large secondary transaction.

To be sure, other IPOs have traded well so far in 2019, including online scrapbook company Pinterest Inc., vegan burger maker Beyond Meat Inc and video-conferencing startup Zoom Video Communications Inc. But these were much smaller startups than Uber that did not execute as many frothy fundraising rounds.

Uber Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi, who was on the NYSE trading floor to mark the debut, tried to calm investors by pointing to the company's growth prospects and expansion plans.

"My reaction (to the share price) is if we build and build well, shareholders will be rewarded. We're certainly not measuring our success over a day, it really is over the years," Khosrowshahi told Reuters.

The IPO was a watershed moment for the decade-old company, which was started after its founders struggled to find a cab on a snowy night.

Khosrowshahi was accompanied by a team of Uber officials at the NYSE to celebrate. Co-founder and former CEO Travis Kalanick, who resigned in 2017 under pressure from investors, was also seen on the trading floor.

Marred by scandal

The company's road to IPO was marred by several hurdles including increased regulation in several countries and fights with its drivers over wages.

Uber has also weathered controversies including revelations of a culture of sexism and bullying at Uber and U.S. Department of Justice investigations. After a series of embarrassments, Kalanick was forced to resign in 2017 by a group of investors. Uber then hired Khosrowshahi to lead the company.

Uber has said it has the potential to grow not just in the cab hailing business, but also as a "superapp" to provide logistic services, such as grocery and food delivery, organizing freight transportation, and even financial services, much like Grab, its Southeast Asian counterpart.

But market experts have struggled to find value in a company that has consistently posted losses, and warned that it may never be profitable. "The business is unprofitable, new entrants can enter the market, there is potential regulatory risk, and it is very price sensitive. What is there to like about this opportunity?" Robert Johnson, professor of finance at Heider College of Business, Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska said.

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