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Snap stock is back at IPO price, is this a warning sign?

(SOCIAL MEDIA) As Snap Inc.’s stock falls to IPO prices, should other tech companies be using this as a litmus test?

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Going public

Companies go public all of the time and as a result their stocks do funny things.

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As of Thursday, June 15, the stock price of Snap Inc, the instant messaging and video company behind Snapchat, Bitmoji and various other social media crazes, had dropped to its IPO price of $17.

Rundown in a snap

Snap went public on March 2 and saw a fast surge of interest, rising from that initial $17 to a peak of $29.44 within 24 hours. Since then, Snap has struggled, reporting slowed growth in revenue and user adoption, and its stock price has predictably fallen.

The struggles of Snap and other new tech IPOs have raised concerns that this may be a repeatable model: initial spike, slow downward spiral.

Those concerns get extra concerning given major tech IPOs in the offing: Altice USA, the American arm of the multibillion-dollar Luxembourg based telecom, is expected to make a 46.5 million share, $27-31 initial offer this week, and the Blue Apron meal service will be making a public offering soon as well.

Investor trepidation based on the struggles of Snap and other unique technology IPOs one investor called “tech unicorns” may well represent an obstacle for those companies and others.

nothing new

It may also be overstated. Facebook dropped below its IPO price before stabilizing. So did Amazon. More importantly, no company comes to the marketplace with a sure bet that it’s the next Amazon or Facebook, and if there’s a yardstick that works regarding long-term success in the tech sector, it’s not “has it ever dropped below its IPO price?”

A better bet, as usual, is the classic “what’s the offer?”

Troubled tech IPOs like Snap, FitBit and Box have suffered less because of vagaries of the market than because they haven’t managed to make a complete, convincing offer to investors.

It is the nature of tech companies that can change at any time, because tech invests in the future.

In the grim darkness of 1998, Apple traded at $7 a share.

Then the iPod happened. You may have heard of it.

beating the odds

The trouble isn’t “tech unicorns,” because it’s not tech. The trouble is one-trick ponies – companies that can’t diversify or find a user base beyond what existed before their initial offering.

The question for Snap, and for other troubled stocks, tech or otherwise, is whether they can beat those odds. Plenty do. Ask Josh Buckingham.

#Snap

Matt Salter is a writer and former fundraising and communications officer for nonprofit organizations, including Volunteers of America and PICO National Network. He’s excited to put his knowledge of fundraising, marketing, and all things digital to work for your reading enjoyment. When not writing about himself in the third person, Matt enjoys horror movies and tabletop gaming, and can usually be found somewhere in the DFW Metroplex with WiFi and a good all-day breakfast.

Social Media

Tag photos, connect with friends, order food?

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Facebook seems to be sprawling into every nook and cranny of life and now, they’re infiltrating food delivery.

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Facebook is now bringing you food! Although, no one was really asking them to.

In the age of Instagram and Snapchat, Facebook is attempting to transform into more than just a social media platform. They have partnered up with food delivery services to help users order food directly from their site.

They hope to streamline the process by giving users a chance to research, get recommendations and order food without ever leaving the site.

Facebook has partnered with their existing delivery services including EatStreet, Delivery.com, DoorDash, ChowNow and Olo in addition to restaurants to fast track the process.

The scenario they imagine is that while scrolling through the newsfeed, users would feel an urge to eat and look to Facebook for their options.

After chatting up friends via Facebook Messenger to ask for the best place to go, users would visit the restaurant’s page directly, explore their menu and decide to order. When ordering, you will have the option to use one of the partnered delivery services either with an existing account or by creating a new one.

The benefit is you stay on one site the entire time. With the time you save, the food can get to you faster, which is a plus for everyone.

Assuming that people already live on Facebook 24/7, this seems like a great update. If you like getting recommendations from your favorite social media resources, it’s even better.

The problem is that in recent years their younger audiences have dropped off in favor of other sites. Regardless of what they think, not everyone is flocking to Facebook for their every need.

My guess is that this service will benefit those already using Facebook, but is less likely to draw new audiences in.

Adding more services may not be the key to success if Facebook can’t refine their other features. They have already been criticized for their ad reporting practices, though they seem to fix everything with a new algorithm.

Facebook has continued to stray away from their original intent, and food delivery won’t be their last update.

Facebook wants to be everything, but not everyone may want the same.

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Social Media

Hate Facebook’s mid-roll ads? So does everyone else

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Those pesky ads that pop up in the middle of that Facebook video, aka mid-roll, seem to be grinding everyone’s gears.

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In an ongoing effort to monetize content, Facebook recently introduced “mid-roll” ads into videos by certain publishers, and it has now been testing that format for six months. If you aren’t a big fan of those ads interrupting your content consumption experience, you aren’t alone; publishers aren’t crazy about them either.

In a report on the program, five publishers working with Facebook’s new mid-roll ad program were sourced and all five publishers found that the program wasn’t generating the expected revenue.

One program partner made as little as $500 dollars with mid-roll ads while generating tens of millions of views on their content.

Two other partners wouldn’t specify exact revenue number, but they did acknowledge that the ad performance is below expectations. As far as cost goes, certain publishers mentioned CPMs between 15 cents and 75 cents.

That range is large because a lot of the data isn’t clear enough to evaluate their return on investment. According to the Digiday report, publishers receive data on total revenue, along with raw data on things like the number of videos that served an ad to viewers.

The lack of certain data points, along with the confusing structure of the data, makes it difficult to assess the number of monetized views and the revenue by video. For context, YouTube, as arguably the biggest player in video monetization, provides all these metrics.

Another issue is that licensing deals are cutting into margins. Facebook pays publishers, via a licensing fee, to produce and publish a certain number of videos each month. In exchange, Facebook keeps all money until it recoups the fee, after which revenue is split 55/45 between the publisher and Facebook.

While these challenges doesn’t change the fact that revenue is low, it does make it difficult to dissect costs in a meaningful way.

Why is revenue so low to begin with?

For starters, a newsfeed with enough content to feed an infinite scroll probably isn’t the best format for these kinds of ads. As a user, when I’m watching the videos and the ad interrupts the experience, I’ve always scrolled right on through to the next item on my feed. It’s a sentiment echoed by one of the publishers in the Digiday story.

Because of that, Facebook’s new Watch program, which creates a content exclusivity not found on the news feed, might produce better results in the future. Either way, Facebook will need to solve this revenue challenge for publishers, or they might pull out of the programs altogether.

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Social Media

Will Facebook’s Bonfire be a hit or go up in flames?

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Facebook secretly launched a group chat app that they secretly copied from a super small company. Lots of secrets.

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As we well know, big social media and social messaging companies have a tendency to rip each other off. We’ve seen Instagram rip off Snapchat, another big player in the space.

However, what happens when a big player copies a young upstart?

Facebook appears to be doing just that. The social media giant announced a standalone group video chat app called Bonfire in July of this year. After testing, that app is now available in the Denmark App Store.

“Bonfire bears a striking resemblance to Houseparty.”

Both apps enable multi-party video chatting, complete with video effect filters (much like Snapchat). Facebook has their app synced with the Messenger feature to let potential participants know when they’ve been added to a chat. Bonfire also lets you capture snapshots of the video chat.

So, why does Facebook want to copy this startup so badly? Because the concept is a hit.

Back in 2016, Houseparty was the 7th highest ranking free app in Apple’s App store. Additionally, the app has been shown averaging a million downloads in the last 6 months. Facebook is in the business of building community, per their mission statement, and this concept is a growing epicenter of social community and interaction.

That also makes Houseparty and Bonfire a great tool for reaching a younger consumer audience more directly.

While a live event on Facebook or Instagram makes for a great general broadcast, these apps could be a great way to offer exclusive experiences to certain customers.

Imagine, if you will, the thrill of 6 fans winning a content to have a private show streamed to them by their favorite artist, followed by a Q+A session? Or, imagine a pop culture brand like The AV Club hosting an interactive discussion with fans dissecting the latest episode of Game of Thrones?

If those examples feel a little too big for you, then imagine a group of restaurant employees hosting a live discussion in several different chat rooms soliciting feedback on all parts of the experience?

The bigger point is, that level of intimacy and exclusivity works well on this platform.

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