Reading List: The Puzzling Value of a Like

Each day we provide a roundup of five stories from around the Web that our editors read and found noteworthy. Follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day @digiday.

What’s a Like Worth?: Assessing the value of a Facebook like is the “Who lost China?” debate of the social media marketing era. What’s clear is, despite public protestations to the contrary, brands just love to pile up likes. It’s a scoreboard (and ego) thing, often driven from the top of organizations. The CEO isn’t happy his company’s Facebook likes aren’t as numerous as his buddy CEO’s. Really. But when it comes down to quantifying the lifetime value of a liker, brands are totally in the dark. That makes them reluctant to pay to get them. Facebook has done a good job getting brands hooked on likes. The challenge it has is moving beyond this crude measure of low engagement to being a viable customer-relationship management system. It’s not there yet. WSJ — Brian Morrissey @bmorrissey
Fixing the App Discovery Issue: As the number of apps continues to grow exponentially, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for developers to stand out from the crowd. With the introduction of Newsstand, Apple has begun to experiment with new distribution methods based on content types, from which publishers are already seeing returns. But why stop at publishing? A dedicated store for games might make sense, as would a separate channel for TV content, for example. GigaOm — Jack Marshall @JackMarshall

Maybe Just a Touch of Cord Cutting?: Comcast shed 165,000 video customers last quarter. Is that good or bad? Per Bloomberg, that number is actually less than projected. Comcast was supposed to lose 191,000. And it’s the fourth consecutive quarter that Comcast improved its numbers from the previous year. Thus, while nobody wants to lose any cable customers, 165,000 doesn’t seem like the start of a mass exodus of TV fans to Hulu, Netflix or whatever over-the-top service the TV industry has fear-mongered about. More likely, as reported in a New York Times piece earlier this week, Comcast’s losses are probably more economy driven than anything else. And when a company is weathering the current downturn by increasing revenue by 51 percent to $14.3 billion, cord-cutting panic hardly seems appropriate. Bloomberg — Mike Shields @digitalshields

NYT is Just Fine, Thank You: The New York Times’ paywall didn’t actually kill its digital future. The company is reporting that its circulation has tripled since it introduced in the spring. Although the slow death of print isn’t news, the fact that big-name content brands like the NYT and the WSJ are able to get consumers to pay for content that they are used to accessing for free may be a comfort for publishers debating the paywall leap. NYT –Carla Rover @carlarover

Taking Aim at P&A Budgets: Studio-marketing departments all over Hollywood are diving head first into the largely free social space and, increasingly, are sidestepping paid media to get there. Just last January Paramount spent more than $3 million for a “Transformers 3” Superbowl ad. The ad generated more than 37,000 tweets. But last month Disney chose to take its “Avengers” trailer directly to its Facebook fans, which resulted in more than 60,000 tweets. The move could be the beginning of a sea change for movie marketing. Business Insider— Anne Sherber @annesherber
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