Facebook announced this week that it had had reached the one million advertiser milestone. That’s a 43% year-on-year growth, with mobile advertising taking 30% of that revenue. “Businesses big and small are growing on Facebook and this is a very exciting milestone for us,” said Facebook’s vice-president of global marketing solutions Carolyn Everson, in a statement.
Back home in South Africa, the news is the icing on the cake for the global tech company’s sub-Saharan Africa premium partner, Habari Media. The Cape Town-based company is due to start rolling out its own solution to what it calls Facebook’s “analysis paralyis”. Hummingbird, it says, is a “unique online campaign management and sales performance tool that helps advertisers on Facebook get the very best bang for their online buck by ensuring that brands hone in on the right audience, at the right time, for the right price”.
It’s unusual name works on many levels, says Habari Media’s chief technology officer Andrew La Grange, as there are parallels between a hummingbird and this software. “Firstly, the speed at which the software is able to process calculations, place bids and make decisions correlate directly to the frequency at which hummingbirds can flap their wings, up to 80 times per second.
“Secondly, the nature in which it is able to constantly monitor multiple space and pick sources at any given time relate to how a hummingbird is in perpetual motion when feeding and finding flowers. Coincidentally there is also a hummingbird in the existing Habari logo that further strengthens this connection between the two,” La Grange points out.
The problem with Facebook advertising is the sheer volume of data that it generates. South Africa has are nine million plus active users on Facebook, with more than 30% of these users accessing the platform via web and mobile, less than 10% access via web only and over 50% of users access via mobile. In the last 30 days, there have been more than 46 million photo uploads, 42 million status’s updated, 240 million likes and just under three million check-ins.
La Grange says Hummingbird is able to cut through the clutter and ensure the best possible click-through rates. “Facebook is all about relevancy,” says La Grange. “The click through rate is very much a leading indicator of future success; a positive feedback loop if you will, so by rapidly evaluating success we ensure that those aspects of an overall strategy that are not performing well compared to other ad groups are shut down, and time and budget are focused on those ad groups within a strategy are gaining traction.”
He says Hummingbird constantly monitos the Facebook platform, looking for pricing data as well as checking the click through rates of the managed campaigns. “The software also creates many dimensions of variation in copy and content of ads and sponsored stories, and then compares the hundreds of variations and allocates budget to those ad groups which perform well,” he says.
The software has been in development since last year, and had its challenges in the creation process. “The sheer volume of data we are both analysing and generating in our algorithmic decision-making process. We knew we were on to some Big Data insights when we filled up the first terabyte hard disk drive in a matter of hours,” La Grange explains.
Such cutting edge development does come at a “considerable” cost,” says La Grange, not just in development and hardware costs but also in years of research and insight that Habari developed through its status as exclusive Facebook premium partner for sub-Saharan Africa for the last few years. “We’ve made sure our blood is Facebook blue, from the sales team, to the ops team all the way through to the developers ensuring that we are capable of leveraging all aspects of our offering,” he says.
“At its heart, Hummingbird is a tool that makes sense of Facebook for advertisers. It gives buyers (and through them advertisers and brands) better information about their campaigns, which results in better control. And this in turn results in better performance.”
La Grange says the solution is completely portable but that Habari’s initial focus is with its pan-African clients. “We will make it available to a broader global audience in the third this year with the launch of the self-service offering.”
Habari will launch the Hummingbird software in July.