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   June, 2012

Facebook Wets Its Mobile Toes

Facebook has been all over the news recently, but this time the world’s largest social media network’s revenue model will directly impact the mobile marketing world. Using location technology, Facebook has joined the mobile advertising world that allows us to target users with real-time data based on their geographic location. And because more than 200 million people access Facebook via their mobile phone, this advance in technology will directly affect you.

Research to date has already indicated that Facebook mobile ad targeting will change the marketing game. Click-throughs seem to be more effective than on desktop computers, and the geo-targeting will customize ads to each individual. Facebook is certainly at the forefront of the ad technology, and we feel it has the potential to revolutionize the marketing world. You can now target an ad only to Spanish speakers in Washington, D.C who are reading through their Facebook news feed while walking down the street (we all know we do it). The possibilities are seemingly endless with this Facebook development. At Revolution Messaging, we have been conducting extremely successful mobile advertising campaigns since the fight for health care reform in 2009, and we have been eagerly waiting a Facebook mobile advertising option.

Initial research shows that Facebook mobile marketing is also financially beneficial. Ad Age research delivered the news that mobile ads had an average 0.79% click-through-rate versus an overly optimistic 0.32% for PC-only ads with various types of placement. Much like other mobile ads, the higher click-through means your ad budget can be stretched further.

In addition to this ad targeting program, Facebook’s recent acquisition of Face.com (for a mere $50 million or so) will make the social media network even more tech savvy and appealing to users and advertisers. This acquisition may finally help Facebook figure out how to help people tag mobile uploaded photos, something that people currently can’t easily do. Without this option made easy, Facebook misses out on alerting people they were tagged in a photo, which is then missing out on people immediately visiting their Facebook page wherever they are to find out more. And when they visit their Facebook app on their mobile phone, it is one more chance that they will be served your mobile ad. Facebook is working towards the right combination of technology to make sure their presence on mobile is as integrated and advanced as possible.


Jail Guitar Doors and Wayne Kramer Fighting the Good Fight in DC

Revolution Messaging is honored to have helped Wayne Kramer and Jail Guitar Doors in their fight for much needed prison reform. You can help the cause too! Read Wayne Kramer’s latest blog post below.

Citizen Wayne Returns to Washington

By Wayne Kramer,

It took me a second to realize that the hallway I was passing through was the one that leads down to the real-life Situation Room. The Situation Room — where the President and his closest advisors meet when an actual state of emergency happens. I’d seen it on the news and in the movies, as we all have, but reality sometimes takes a second look to sink in.

I was in the good company of Revolution Messaging’s Scott Goodstein and Arun Chaudhary as well as our White House acquaintance Mike O’Neil. Arun had worked in the White House as Obama’s official videographer and knew many of the people we passed in those halls.

Needless to say, there’s something special about the place. It isn’t every day I pass Presidential Advisor Valerie Jarrett in the hall and she stops to say “Hi” to my friends and me.

My first meeting of the day was with Tonya Robinson, Special Assistant to the President for Justice and Regulatory Policy. Tonya was kind and professional. She was also sympathetic to my argument that we are suffering through the greatest failure of domestic policy in America’s history: Mass Incarceration.

I get it. Our President has a full plate. Tonya mentioned their work on some re-entry initiatives, but IMHO, this is nowhere near enough involvement from their team. We agreed to keep the channel open. This is where We The People comes into the equation. It’s up to us, regular folk, citizens, to make this an issue that the White House cannot ignore. Pressure needs to be applied on President Obama for Justice Reform.

Someone who is in the fight for real is Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA). Getting an opportunity to sit down with the Senator, as well as his Chief of Staff Trevor Moe and Webb’s National Criminal Justice Commission Act point man Doug Ierley was a terrific experience. I have met with Moe and Ierley on a couple of other occasions, but this was my first meeting with Jim Webb.

The Senator is a no-bullshit guy and we went straight into the nuts and bolts of getting his National Criminal Justice Commission Act passed into law. A run at getting it passed last year was close. It made it through the House and we only missed the Senate by three votes.

We talked at length about making another run at it this year and I will have more to say on how you can help in the weeks and months ahead.

Webb is a unique individual in Washington. He is actually a public servant, doing the best he can to uphold the principles that make America the great experiment in democracy, small “d”, it is. I believe the reason he is not running is that he will not suck-up to big moneyed interests to finance his re-election.

The man is a combat decorated Marine and he doesn’t play games. You may remember him as the Senator that refused to shake then-President Bush’s hand because of his disingenuousness in steering the country into the Iraq War.

How many US Congressional representatives do you think have ex-offenders on their staff? One does: Sen. Jim Webb. Barrett Kinsella is an immigration caseworker in Webb’s office and a musician, so we connected immediately. If we had more people in government like him and his boss, America might actually approach its noble ideals. Senator Webb was generous with his time and answered every question I presented. I thanked him — from my personal perspective as an ex-offender — for championing prison and justice reform. It was also important to me to be able to tell him that I consider his efforts inspirational.

Then, at a lunch date soon after, the unexpected occurred. My friend Mike Lux and I were talking about JGD’s mission and the fact that the political Right are in support of the very same reform vis-à-vis Newt Gingrich and Grover Norquist’s Right On Crime, when Mike noticed Grover actually sitting at the table behind us. Seize the time! We stopped Grover on his way out and Lux introduced us, mentioning the fact that I was in D.C. lobbying for prison reform. Grover warmed up immediately and gave me his contact info, remarking that he has done some work on the issue and was willing to talk further about it, and we are.

This is the reality of political life. It’s easy to sit back and call people names from the comfort and safety of your living room couch. It’s easy to have strong opinions about who’s right and who’s not. But getting something done in Washington means coalition building. It means organizing everyone you can who agrees with your cause to help you in whatever way possible. We are in a time of unprecedented political polarization and unless we can find a meeting point on the issues that matter, communication will only degenerate further.

I may disagree with much of what the Right thinks and does, but I will partner up with anyone to help prisoners if the result is changing an immoral criminal justice system into one that is truly fair for all people, whatever the motivation.

Then we headed over to Capitol Hill for a meeting with Congressman Bobby Scott. He’s got it right. His Youth PROMISE Act would enable local communities to put evidence-based prevention and intervention strategies into practice to reduce the number of youth incarcerated. My meeting with Bobby was actually outside the Congressional Chamber.

It was hard to stay focused with Nancy Pelosi and Barney Frank bumping into me while John Kerry and staff members elbowed their way down the hall. But talk we did and Rep. Scott is a force to be reckoned with in Congress and he’s in it for the long haul. I’m happy to report that he not only understands what’s at stake, but plans to battle against the unbelievable injustices that occur on a daily basis as a result of our country’s one-sided sentencing policies.

I believe the Youth Promise act is a vital component of justice reform and I will be talking more about it as we move forward. I just want to mention how much I enjoyed talking with his fantastic staff members Ilana Brunner and, in particular, Ron LeGrand. Ron has a background in federal law enforcement and was a federal prosecutor who knows what’s right and what’s wrong with the system from the inside out.

I truly appreciate it when folks from such diametrically opposing perspectives and backgrounds can connect meaningfully to work together for positive change. Some of my experiences in JGD have put me into contact with people that, in another life, I would have never known but that today I can count as friends and comrades. This might have seemed impossible in the past. There is something to the principle of keeping an open mind, and to working for goal bigger and beyond yourself.

The next day’s meeting with Dr. Niaz Kasravi, Director of the Criminal Justice Department of the NAACP, was excellent with a vigorous discussion about the ways we can partner on furthering our respective missions. The NAACP has taken a real and meaningful stand on mass incarceration and the racial indifference that has created a justice system that incarcerates people of color and limited economic means at a rate ten times that of other racial/ethnic groups. See Drug War Facts: Race and Prison. They agree with us that mass incarceration is both a civil and human rights issue. I’m looking forward to a long and productive relationship with Niaz and the NAACP.

The next day I flew to my hometown Detroit to deliver a “keynote speech” to the Association of Alternative Newsmedia (AAN) on the subject of Art and Activism. I always make an effort to open the rooms for questions and the Q&A portion of the event was lively. Detroit is making a strong effort to find its footing after the economic disaster it’s suffered through, reminding me that Detroiters are nothing if not resilient. I even had time to take a walk down to the Detroit River and stop for a real Coney Island hot dog with the works.

Back in Los Angeles now and returned to the daily work of surviving in America, fighting the power, and rocking out.


More Insight into the FEC’s Ruling on Political Donations via SMS

You may have heard the exciting news regarding the Federal Election Commission’s (FEC) approval of a new form of mobile giving for federal campaigns. After much debate, the FEC’s final ruling now allows for campaigns and political action committees to receive up to $50 per billing cycle in contributions through a simple text message. There is no need for a credit card or writing a check – the contribution will be charged straight to the users’ wireless bill.

This is similar to what nonprofits did to raise money in response to natural disasters through a simple text message. The Red Cross is the most well known example and the group that first took advantage of this giving system with the help of Revolution Messaging’s own partner, Doug Busk. Busk pioneered this mobile payment gateway in 2004. Since its inception, the Red Cross raised millions of dollars of aid and instant relief with mobile contributions

While the above example is inspiring, and has political campaigns on the edge of their seat around the 2012 cycle, there are still a lot of questions up in the air that we must be cognizant of. First and foremost, while the FEC may have approved this donation structure, that does not mean we can start mobile giving programs right away. The mobile giving solution was created in 2004, but it took carriers until 2008 to figure out all the details of how payments will work, when the donations would be delivered, etc. Even with an accelerated timeline, this is not an overnight process.

Why would the carriers take that long to figure everything out? Because there is a lot more that goes into this form of mobile payment than meets the eye. A major question that needs to be answered is what will the percentage be that the carriers will take as a result of doing their part in this system? Currently, there is an industry fair market value rate of between a 30% and 50% take for premium text message services, such as horoscopes and ringtones.

The carriers need to be careful when they are setting a fair market value rate for political giving campaigns because they can’t play favorites by giving a lower rate to one political campaign’s mobile program over another. A major factor that will need to be weighed by anyone working in politics is will this new fee structure be worth it? Especially when there are other forms of mobile payment available that have a lower fee charged on the donation.

As you can see, the FEC’s approval is just the first step in figuring out how we can successfully and efficiently implement a mobile giving system for political campaigns. What would help move this process along? Having one or more of the carriers weigh in publicly on their plans, or even the FCC outline their preference on guidelines for the industry.

So for now, we should all be cautiously excited at the thoughts of where mobile fundraising will be at the end of 2012. It’s an exciting new frontier to see mobile political contributions quickly evolving and the FEC should be thanked for pushing this issue forward.