Friday, November 30, 2012

Is Google competing with Amazon with its purchase of BufferBox?

It was announced on Friday that Google bought BufferBox, which is similar to Amazon's locker system of delivery, showing Google's strong intent to compete in the retail space.  BufferBox basically provides shoppers with a pin with which they are able to access their package at a local locker center, avoiding missed packages, and minimizing shipping times and costs.

http://mashable.com/2012/11/30/google-buys-bufferbox/

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Columbia's Chief Digital Officer

On Tuesday night Columbia's Chief Digital Officer, Sree Sreenivasan (@Sree) came to talk to MAC. He is Columbia University's first Chief Digital Officer and a member of the faculty of Columbia Journalism School, where he teaches social and digital media. His full bio is below.
He started by sharing with us his dirty secret of social media "Almost everyone will miss almost everything you do on social media." And then he gave us ideas for how to make ourselves an our brands heard. A lot of what he shared can be found on site, http://sreetips.tumblr.com/post/342517218/socmedia and I definitely recommend following him on Twitter @Sree.

One thing that I found to be personally valuable was the idea of picking one place on social media to be public and to start to a build a public persona. I have always locked down my profiles but it makes sense to have one place you can use to develop a public personality and where if/when possible or current employers or clients find it they will see you as a thought leader etc. Should you decide on using Twitter for that purpose he stressed on the importance of filling out your user profile carefully and using a picture that is clearly you.


Sree Sreenivasan (ss221@columbia.edu; @Sree) is Columbia University's first Chief Digital Officer and a member of the faculty of Columbia Journalism School, where he teaches social and digital media. He writes the SreeTips blog for CNET and appears regularly on CBS and elsewhere to talk tech. For more than eight years, he served as technology reporter for WABC-TV and WNBC-TV in NYC. In 2010, a Manhattan-news site he helped create, DNAinfo.com, was named one of the six hottest news startups by BusinessInsider. He was named one of AdAge's 25 media people to follow on Twitter; and one of Poynter's 35 most influential people in social media. You can find him on Twitter athttp://twitter.com/sreeand on Facebook at //facebook.com/sreetips and on the web at http://sree.net* his CNET blog posts are athttp://cnet.co/sreetips

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The $40 tablet to combat illiteracy!

The Aakash2 tablet, sold for just 2,263rupees/40.41USD, is conceived as a tool to combat India's rampant illiteracy. Half subsidized by the government, the tablet brings connectivity and an unprecedented amount of books in the hands of schoolchildren!

The tablet is powered by Android, which in my opinion demonstrates that Google's open platform enables such wonderful innovations to come to life! Products like this demonstrate how technology can be used today to make a real impact in the lives of those less fortunate, and not just "make life even easier" for those that already have a pretty easy life...

My favorite quote from the article says it all: “This tablet seeks to empower the world’s neediest and bridges the digital divide within our society”.


Android: 1       iOS: 0



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Apple rumored to start streaming music service

It is rumored that Apple will be launching a new service this year called "iRadio,"which will introduce Apple's streaming music business.  Apple's iRadio is said to be superior to Pandora because apple is seeking direct deals with labels at premium rates.  Furthermore, they hope to come up with a solution so that wireless dead zones are no longer a problem whether driving or flying.

news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-57556472-93/apples-streaming-music-service-could-debut-in-2013-analyst/

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Digital Customers Rule the World

Interesting article around how important digital customer experience is.  Here are some key takeaways:

1) Customer Experience (CX) leaders increased their market value by 22% over 5 years, while the CX laggards’ value declined by 46.

2) 80% of companies want to get closer to their customers and that they rate customer experience a top strategic objective.  Only 8% of their customers think they do a good job.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/sap/2012/11/30/digital-customers-now-rule-the-world-are-you-ready-part-2/

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Digital Media Giant partnering with Rent the Runway

Rent The Runway, raised $20 million in funding by Conde Nast Publications  in order to further expand its business.  Similar to the targeting we learned in class, Rent the Runway will use much of this funding to better market to customers through using real life photos of customers with similar body types age ranges and etc.  It is interesting to see the media giant move closer to the product.  This is not only funding, but a partnership that shows that the luxury publisher is open to attracting a wider audience and making luxury available to the masses.

http://techcrunch.com/2012/11/30/the-netflix-for-designer-clothes-rent-the-runway-raises-20m-from-vogue-publisher-conde-nast-and-kleiner-perkins/

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Facebook in the "cloud"?

Following the footsteps of Google+, Facebook now gives mobile users the option to auto-sync all the photos they take on their phones, storing them in a private folder; hence making it a cloud storage. You can choose whether to automatically upload photos whether you are on 3G or Wi-Fi only, again exactly like Google+ enabled their users to do a while ago.


What this means for Facebook, is that users will more easily publish photos since they don't need to waste time waiting for photos to upload. You just pick which ones to publish from the auto-synced photos in your private folder. Not to mention Facebook still has access to your geo-location and hence being able to better target local, more relevant ads for you...

I believe moves like these will enable Facebook to "milk" more and more out of their biggest resources - photos!

Source

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Ditching Social-Only Signup

It's interesting to see that although people are so engaged with social media, they are still hesitant to first login as members using their facebook or twitter accounts.  Rockmelt’s recently released iPad app only offered signup through Facebook and Twitter and led to 50 percent of their users not signing in.  As mentioned in the article "People want a little dating before marriage".  Startups want to use logins through social media so they don’t have to build their own identity and social networks let you integrate pre-made ones.

http://techcrunch.com/2012/11/30/email-social-signup-rockmelt/

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12 Most Memorable Marketing Campaigns of the year

Mashable has published it's 12 most memorable marketing campaigns of the year.  Aside from the Red Bull space jump, which I had only first heard of last week in class, I had never seen/heard of any of the other marketing campaigns listed.  Of course, when I went to start watching them on the Mashable site, a google video ad popped up -- never a missed opportunity for advertising -- well done, Mashable.

http://mashable.com/2012/11/30/top-marketing-2012/

I'd be curious to know if anyone else has seen these "memorable" campaigns.  My personal favorite?  Melbourne Metro's "Dumb Ways to Die"

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Reddit: Video of the founders on how it evolved

This is a link to a well done video from the founders of Reddit. They interestingly wanted to start a business to order food from a cell phone. Without the app store being available at the time it seemed too difficult to launch so their idea was rejected by the funding group they applied to. Soon after, the investor they spoke to still wanted to work with them and they decided on the idea for reddit. I'd love to learn more about how they built the community but it's interesting to see the evolution of a product like this from a small idea to a big interconnected community.



http://mashable.com/2012/11/30/reddit-evolution/

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Holidays online sales forecasts infographic

http://visual.ly/online-small-businesses-look-forward-2012-holiday-season

This infographic has a lot of detailed information on forecasted holiday season sales for Amazon, Etsy, eBay. I think the most striking piece of information is the year over year sales increases on Etsy. I hadn't realized how quickly Etsy had grown until I saw this.

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Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Future of Zynga after Renegotiating Terms with Facebook

As stated by TechCrunch, Zynga shares went down 12% after changing its partnership conditions with Facebook, ending a buddy-buddy relationship. Read the complete article
 Facebook Zynga Disband
Was it the right move? At first, it seems that the answer is no: it can be inferred that part of its success was tied to Facebook's boom. Wall Street analysts were clearly aligned with this hypothesis. However, this short term stock price downturn can be reversed if Zynga is able to partner with other social networks and further expand its business. This decision could give the gaming company the ability to gain flexibility in an industry in which keeping pace with changes is key to innovation. Only the near future can shed light on the final result.


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age discrimination in silicon valley

This article is nuts - apparently lots of tech people in Silicon Valley who are older than 35 feel compelled to present themselves as young and hip in order to get good tech jobs.  This article talks about how "older" tech industry professionals are changing their wardrobes to t-shirts and sneakers and are getting plastic surgery and dying their hair to look younger.  Older workers are ditching their blackberries and wristwatches for iOS and Android devices and taking other steps to look like they are more in touch with tech trends.

Their precautions doesn't seem unreasonable.  The article quotes VCs who unapologetically declare that people older than certain age thresholds are less fit for the job.  Many successful career CEOs describe getting passed over by younger people who have much less experience or accomplishments under their belts.    I found this story to be kind of sad and a little unsettling - I didn't think I'd have to worry about age discrimination until I was much, much older.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/27/us-valley-ageism-idUSBRE8AQ0JK20121127





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nyc web analytics startups chartbeat and parse.ly

TechCrunch had a puff-piece today on a NYC-based startup called Parse.ly, which is in the predictive web analytics space.  Along with its NYC peer, Chartbeat, this company's software tells customers how people are interacting with their website.  The analytics include things like how far people scroll down your website, what topics are trending, how long visitors have been actively engaged or idle, and how visitors arrive at your site.  This helps customers optimize the content on their websites.

Apparently both these companies have had some success in raising capital and attracting good customers.  As somebody who has never used tools like these, I am curious about how these startups could be better than Google Analytics, which is mostly given away for free.  Intuitively, this doesn't seem like a space that I would want to invest in or work in -- it seems like Google could crush them on both price and features - but these startups do seem to have some validation.  I would love to understand if these companies actually have an edge and why.

http://techcrunch.com/2012/11/29/content-optimization-platform-parse-ly-scores-biggest-customer-yet-with-reuters-now-on-track-for-profitability-by-q1-2013/





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NFLX Still Trying

I posted last month that YouTube was canceling most of its original content investments.  It seems that none of the content streamers (YouTube, Vimeo, NetFlix, Hulu) have quite figured out what it is that will lock in customers to paid subscriptions with low churn.  I would bet that whomever figures out the winning combination will end up ruling the advertising domain here.  Published today, NetFlix in UK and Ireland struck a deal to carry old Warner TV shows...will this do the trick? Unlikely.

http://www.engadget.com/2012/11/29/netflix-ireland-uk-score-deal-to-carry-seasons-of-warner-shows/

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livingsocial lays off 400 ees

Today, Livingsocial is laying off 400 of its 4,500 employees. Most layoffs are for US-based salespeople.  Earlier in November, Groupon laid off 80 of its 12,000 employees.  It's old news that the daily deals space is in trouble, and these layoffs are just another piece of evidence.  Both companies have also lost key personnel in recent months, including LivingSocial's Eric Eichmann, head of international operations, LivingSocial's co-founder Eddie Frederick, and Groupon's Lee Brown, (former) head of sales.

http://techcrunch.com/2012/11/29/livingsocial-confirms-layoffs-400-all-but-a-couple-dozen-in-the-u-s-10-of-workforce/







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A/B testing for Obama's email marketing/fundraising campaign

During the recent presidential campaigns, Obama raised $690m from online donations.  The majority of that was driven by the campaign's email marketing efforts, which relied on constant A/B testing.  The campaign found that casual email titles were the most effective, with the most successful title being "Hey".  Another big winner was "I will be outspent".  Mild profanity also garnered more donations than other variants -- one of the most successful titles was "Hell yeah, I like Obamacare".  

The campaign team found that they were terrible at predicting which titles would be successful, and this experience reinforced their reliance on A/B testing.  Another thing that they found was that each title had a shelf-life before it had to be replaced with something else.  Also, they got very few unsubscribes, despite their emails being frequently and publicly ridiculed as "strange, incessant, and weirdly over-familiar".  The lesson they took was that people have a very high tolerance for spam, since unsubscribes were not correlated with email frequency.

http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-11-29/the-science-behind-those-obama-campaign-e-mails



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Viewability Is Key to Clicks



This article discusses the importance of rich media ads actually being seen by people.  Overall, rich media ads have an average click through rate of 0.22%.  However, for ads that were actually viewable—defined as 50% viewable for at least one second—click through rates averaged 0.34%, a 54.5% lift.  Not surprisingly, the higher click through rates also lead to higher conversions.  Altogether, this research reinforces the importance of ads being above the fold on webpages.  However, this top placement can be very costly, so marketer should ensure that their ads are as targeted as possible.  Another interesting finding is how the size of the ads has an effect on click through rates.  AdSafe Media found that the most vertical ad units, wide skyscrapers (160 x 600), saw the greatest number of in-view impressions, followed by the common medium rectangle (250 x 300) and finally, leaderboards (728 x 90).
 
http://www.emarketer.com/Article.aspx?R=1009510&ecid=a6506033675d47f881651943c21c5ed4

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Cyber Monday vs Black Friday


A study on social media platforms conducted by SAP revealed the shopping differences between Cyber Monday and Black Friday. Key conclusions were:

  •           Black Friday was mentioned twice as often on social media
  •           Cyber Monday experience was more frequently associated to positive feelings than Black Friday, which was often linked to impatience or fatigue
  •          The key difference in terms of percentage of purchases stemmed from electronics retailers and big box stores, with big box stores selling less as a proportion of total sales on Cyber Monday in favour of online retailers
  •          In terms of what buyers appreciated about each day, the key differentiating factors were time saving and convenience, which were critical characteristics of Cyber Monday but not of Black Friday
     Full story here: http://chainstoreage.com/article/exclusive-black-friday-vs-cyber-monday-who-won-buzz

     Related article: http://www.cnbc.com/id/45278120/Black_Friday_vs_Cyber_Monday_The_Rivalry_Is_Over_Consumers_Won






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Youtube: Meet the Man behind the Monetization

It's a natural human tendency to want to name-drop.  Typically, our own daily lives are incosequential at worst and ho-hum at best, so we often look to our friends (via Facebook, Twitter, and the like) for flashes of inspiration or brushes with greatness through which we can live vicariously.  At times it's enough of a rush for us to hear that Ryan Gosling stood in front of my neighbor's cousin's nanny in the Starbucks line; in other more meaningful instances, I was ACTUALLY there myself, and I have the digital evidence to prove it to my friends.

And then there's the rare case where one of our good friends, who we've known forever since he (or she) was a nothing nobody, actually goes and changes the world... and we were an up-front witness to the whole process.  In the world of digital media, Youtube's Shishir Mehrotra has attained demigod status.  And yes, he happens to be a close friend of yours truly.  Whenever he's in town, we get together to catch up over cocktails and some obscenely bro-mantic view of NYC's lights.  The above pic is a shot of us at Gansevoort Hotel in the Meatpacking District last year, when Mehrotra was in town for Google meetings and a mutual friend's wedding.

It's not a stretch to say that Mehrotra - known to his childhood and college buddies as "Bunty" - solved Youtube's monetization problem all by himself.  You can read about it here and here.  While all that is quite fascinating, wha'ts even more fascinating are the different pieces that make up the colorful mosaic that is Bunty.  For example:
  • During our time together at MIT, where we were housemates at Alpha Tau Omega, he was widely acknowledged as the hardest-working brother in our fraternity.  He was a bit of an insomniac, and he often stayed up late into the morning to crush his assignments and help other more feeble-minded brothers (such as yours truly) with their tasks.
  • When he was a sophomore, he started his own company called Centrata with 3 of my other brothers.  The company, which dealt with P2P technology, was eventually sold to Silicon Valley investors.
  • He loves craft beers, and he adores good scotch.
  • He married his college sweetheart Anjuli - a pediatrician who shares Bunty's sharp, humorous wit - and their daughters are two of the smartest little whippersnappers I know.  The apple definitely doesn't fall far from the tree.
  • He indulges in stupid comedies, and can still recite every word from Billy Madison, and in Adam Sandler's uber-annoying pitch.
I've known Bunty so long that I never see him first and foremost for the amazing way he's revolutionized digital media - he's just another one of my good friends doing great things, albeit on a scale I can only dream of.  Am I proud of him?  You bet I am.  But am I surprised?  Not at all.  Success like this is decades in the making, and I've seen it being built up-close... piece by colorful piece.

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Jukebox In The Cloud!

Jukeboxsms is basically a cloud powered "virtual jukebox" that comes to replace the usual giant hardware jukeboxes. It's targeted at bar, restaurant and club owners, while customers wishing to purchase songs can do so either via SMS or via Paypal.

What's most exciting is that once the hardware side of the system is installed in a venue, it can also be used for in-venue advertising since Jukeboxsms is optimized for HD TVs, potentially providing club/bar/restaurant owners with an additional source of revenue.

Source

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Touch Google Chromebook??

Touch Google Chromebook??

Google is reportedly planning the launch of a touch-enabled chromebook, which could be as soon as December 2012. This step would be following what Microsoft is doing with Windows 8, which adds touchscreen capabilities into a laptop.

This presents an exciting possibility for the consumers! Will this device be the first to run on both Chrome OS and Android? Would it simply run a modified version of Chrome OS? Or can Google come up with a merged Chrome-Android OS? Or would it be an exciting hybrid design that can be used both as a tablet and as a laptop, starting a revolutionary backwards trend: consumers satisfying all needs in 1 device?!

Source

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How Digital Has Changed the New York Times

At Business Insider's Ignition conference this week, New York Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson revealed that she no longer attends the daily "Front Page" meetings, where the Times' staff decides what top stories will be on the front page of the print edition the next day. This fact is another signal of how much the newspaper industry has changed in the digital age--whereas deciding what the front page stories used to be the critical factor in attracting the biggest audience, nowadays the key is getting important stories onto the web as quickly and efficiently as possible.

The web also provides a level and speed of feedback to journalists and editors previously impossible in the print edition. Writers can see immediately how impactful their work is due to page views and comments, information the Times tracks internally but does not reveal to the public. Although writers may be more engaged with their audiences, advertisers certainly haven't felt the same way, as evidenced by declining revenues at the Times and across the news industry. The Times must convey to their advertisers how reader engagement is useful not only to writers but to advertisers as well.

Full article: http://mashable.com/2012/11/27/jill-abramson-nyt/



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5 Tips for Using Google+ to Boost Your Marketing



I have been very interested in learning more about Google+, since it appears to be growing very quickly.  Although Google+ is still not as popular as Facebook, it has the potential to compete effectively against this social media giant.  Below is an article I found that discusses 5 ways for companies to enhance their marketing efforts through the Google+ channel.  The information in this article may also be helpful for some final projects :)

  1. Include keywords and relevant links on your About page
  2. Connect with your whole audience using Google+ events
  3. Post often and optimize for best search results
  4. Set up Google authorship for SEO benefits
  5. Find relevant users and conversations to engage with

http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/google-plus-to-boost-your-marketing/#more-26249


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How LinkedIn Plans to Solve the World's Skills Gap

LinkedIn has grown significantly over the past couple of years, but what will LinkedIn look like in the next 5 to 10 years? According to its CEO, Jeff Weiner, the company wants to digitize every job in the world and the skills needed for that job, as well as every individual and company profile. With that information, LinkedIn would be able to evaluate the gaps between the skill sets of a workforce in a given region and the jobs that are on the rise there. Weiner also gave an example of schools using that information to alter curriculum to teach skills needed for upcoming and future jobs in a given area. In the short-term, LinkedIn is looking to invest more in business intelligence to help companies benchmark themselves against competitors at their industry at large.

Read more on Adage.

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Search Engine Wars

Microsoft (vis Bing) has launched it's "Don't get Scroogled"  Campaign - which is exactly what it sounds like: "don't get screwed  by Google" campaign.  This funny/offensive campaign is Microsoft's accusation that all of Google's search results show only paid ads...

How will Google respond?

http://techcrunch.com/2012/11/28/stuffmicrosoftsays-dont-get-scroogled-launches-holiday-bing-campaign/

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Pinterest Launches 2nd Ever Consumer Marketing Campaign

Although Pinterest doesn't have a marketing department at this time, the social site has launched a holiday calendar of star-studded pinboards in an attempt to help brands engage users. My current boss, Katie Couric, kicked off day 1 with her Thanksgiving recipes board. Other featured pinners include a motley crew (e.g. U.S. Marines, Starbucks and chef Paula Deen). This is the 2nd big consumer marketing activation since the site launched in 2010. Check out the calendar here. So is this a #pass or #fail?



Source

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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

OK Cupid creates algorithin for blind dating

 OK cupid  "claims that the company quantataivly and anecdotal find more compatible dates on OK cupid than on any other dating site"
The future of dating is going to be mobile phones. Amazon can send you something you ordered over the Internet,  now mobile phones can help you find a match in the proximity of your home.
BI Intelligence is a new research and analysis service focused on mobile computing and the Internet. Subscribers can download the entire deck as a PDF or PowerPoint, as well as any of the individual charts from the presentation.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/future-of-digital-slides-2012-11?op=1#ixzz2DT2L1Ulp
BI Intelligence is a new research and analysis service focused on mobile computing and the Internet. Subscribers can download the entire deck as a PDF or PowerPoint, as well as any of the individual charts from the presentation

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/future-of-digital-slides-2012-11?op=1#ixzz2DT2CP3HM
BI Intelligence is a new research and analysis service focused on mobile computing and the Internet. Subscribers can download the entire deck as a PDF or PowerPoint, as well as any of the individual charts from the presentation

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/future-of-digital-slides-2012-11?op=1#ixzz2DT2CP3HM

http://www.businessinsider.com/sam-yagan-okcupid-data-blind-date-2012-11



Yagan touted the accuracy of OkCupid's algorithm, claiming that the company knows "quantitatively and anecdotally" that its users find better, more compatible matches on OkCupid than on other dating sites. (Of course, pretty much every dating site makes that claim.)

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/sam-yagan-okcupid-data-blind-date-2012-11#ixzz2DT3lQEDHhttp://www.businessinsider.com/sam-yagan-okcupid-data-blind-date-2012-11http://www.businessinsider.com/sam-yagan-okcupid-data-blind-date-2012-11http://www.businessinsider.com/sam-yagan-okcupid-data-blind-date-2012-11


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Facebook Gifts Adds iTunes Gift Credits For Digital Content

http://www.forbes.com/sites/tomiogeron/2012/11/26/facebook-gifts-adds-itunes-gift-credits-for-digital-content/


 Facebook enters the  gift-giving service and enters the e-commerce market.
Marketers are still largely unconvinced how much social platforms (aside from Pinterest) can drive e-commerce.
For Facebook it  essentially comes down to the scale of its user base, even if a clear use case for when and why someone would gift-shop on Facebook hasn't materialized yet.But it certainly has made gift giving more frequent and casual.

"By making gift-giving free, we've found many more reasons for you to send gifts," said Wrapp Chief Operating Officer Carl Fritjofsson, who noted that women make up 75% of its current user base.

Wrapp lets users send gift certificates for small amounts like $5 or $10 to their Facebook friends at no cost to them, essentially disguising a coupon as a present.ase.

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Google AdWords Bug Stop Ads From Showing Over Huge Shopping Weekend

 Google ad words had a bug in  their system on black friday preventing some sales to show because of a bug in the payment system. It seems to be resolved and it is unknown how many companies were affected.

"There is a technical issue affecting payment on some accounts causing ads to not show.
Engineers are working on resolving the issue as soon as possible"

What’s Good About Adwords Express
Let’s start with what’s good about Adwords Express.
A.   Google Has Made The Set Up Faster and Easier
This new version is much easier to work with compared to setting up your own regular Adwords campaign.
Google will guide you through the set up process, have you pick out your keywords, write your ads, choose how much you will pay for a click, etc.
They will even set up your campaign for you if you struggle through this process.
B.   Easier To Use
Some call Adwords Express by another name:  Adwords Lite.
You have fewer options to deal with compared to a regular Adwords campaign.  This is good if you have tried to figure out the complexities of Adwords on your own and have gotten frustrated.
C.   Easier To Understand
Rather than being thrown into the deep end of the learning curve, Adwords Express allows you to begin learning the process of pay-per-click advertising with Google.
This sounds perfect for the typical busy contractor.  What’s not to like?
Possibly a lot… depending on your business.
Sounds Good… But It’s Not For Every Business
Adwords Express is like so many things that sound good at first, until you look more closely—
  • Adwords express constructionReversible clothing.  Get two outfits for the price of one!
  • Edible packaging.  Cut down on landfill waste!
  • Pajama jeans.  All the comfort… with (almost) the same great look!
  • Metal lawn darts.  Hours of fun for the kids (until a child gets hit by one)
Adwords Express may seem like a good option for a construction or home services contractor to use… until you look more closely.










http://www.seroundtable.com/google-adwords-ads-stop-15993.html


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Cyber Monday… the new Black Friday?


During yesterday’s class, we were able to see the first metrics from last Black Friday. Today, IBM Smarter Commerce released the same results for yesterday’s Cyber Monday. Online sales are estimated to be up by 43% over last year and mobile sales are up 96%. The iPad seems to be one of the main drivers in the surge.
According to the preliminary results, the most searched products were the Kindle Fire and the Ugg boots and the most successful website were CyberMonday.com, Amazon, Target, Walmart and MSN.Money.
These very encouraging results let retailers hope that the coming holiday season, critical for their results, will be more dynamic than it was last year.
More interestingly, Black Friday and Cyber Monday definitely validated a shift of on-line sales from computers to mobile devices. This trend is going to continue and leaves a huge space for retailer to better advertise their products and connect with their customers. All location-based services for mobile and web-surfing experiments for tablets are great ways to re-energize the market and make the overall shopping experience more appealing.

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Walmart starts catching up in e-commerce

After years of seeing Amazon taking market share on in the media product categories, Walmart has finally decided to react and boost its e-commerce capabilities. However, you do not turnaround a $419bn retailer, actually the biggest retailer worldwide, in a day. This might require up to 25 years, according to Walmart’s executives.
The first move was in April 2011 when Walmart acquired Kosmix, a Silicon Valley’s startup with a deep expertise in search algorithms. Walmart used Kosmix to start WalmartLabs, an entrepreneurial structure in charge of bringing new ideas to the table to enhance the digital experience for customers.
The first step was to rebuild Walmart’s search algorithm for the e-commerce website. Then, some very innovative concepts have been tested like Shopycat, a gift recommendation tool. People can log in on Walmart’s website and the application is able to create gift recommendations in Walmart’s product inventories based on their social activity on-line.
Today, the goal of Walmart is not copy Amazon but to build on its key competitive advantages, especially stores. The idea is to rethink the entire shopping experience by integrating web, mobile and physical stores capabilities. It might take time but the company certainly has tremendous assets, especially in logistics and cash, to build a new and enhanced way of “shopping Walmart”.

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WSJ's new revenue stream

Today, Ad Age reported in "Wall Street Journal Launches Shoppable Gift Guide as a New Start for E-Commerce Push," WSJ's newest effort to improve its revenue generation as traditional advertising revenues have declined.  The newspaper has developed an e-commerce platform it calls Select.  On Select, users can shop a holiday gift guide then purchase those products directly from WSJ rather than directing the customer to the retailer's website. Given our recent discussion on the evolution of newspapers in light of the internet and the WSJ's relative success in surviving the declining readership rates and falling ad revenue, I found this article particularly relevant.

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Monday, November 26, 2012

Disrupting the e-reader

A German start-up called txtr recently announced the arrival of a low-cost e-reader called the Beagle. It will cost less than €10, i.e. $13 - undercutting the cheapest Kindle by more than $55. 

The Beagle is a simple, no frills e-reader without any of the fancy specs that the Kindle or the Nook have. It would hold just 5 books at a time and run off traditional alkaline batteries. The digital books would be available to buy online or through their app and will be uploaded onto the device via bluetooth. Book prices would be similar to Kindle for mainstream books and the selection of books is about 400k books, approximately half of what Amazon has to offer. 

The main reason that Txtr can offer such a low price is that they are targeting mobile operators for key partnerships. Txtr is in discussions to offer the device bundled with subscription contracts in order to lock users down i.e. the kindle strategy taken to the extreme.

http://us.txtr.com/beagle/ 
http://www.digitaltrends.com/mobile/the-txtr-beagle-e-reader-will-cost-just-13-but-theres-a-catch/



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"Google Launching AdWords Business Credit Card To Boost SMB Search Ad Spend, Starting First In UK, Extending To U.S."

LINK: http://techcrunch.com/2012/10/07/google-launching-adwords-business-credit-card-to-boost-smb-search-ad-spend-starting-first-in-uk-extending-to-u-s/

In order to boost paid ad spend among SMBs ("Small and Medium Businesses"), Google is piloting a credit card which can only spend on AdWords (see also: "Extra Credit for Small and Medium-sized Businesses" on Google's blog -- http://adwords.blogspot.com/2012/10/extra-credit-for-small-and-medium-sized.html). 

In a survey conducted after the pilot launched, 74% of respondents said they now use AdWords Business Credit as their primary form of AdWords payment. Google says: "We hope AdWords Business Credit will give Small and Medium Sized Businesses more flexibility—some ‘extra credit’—so they're able to focus on growing their businesses even further."

It will be interesting to see how this program unfolds and whether it will become a primary source of payment in the US -- specifically among SMBs.

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"AXE Anarchy: A Social Graphic Novel Marketing Campaign"

LINK: http://www.creativeguerrillamarketing.com/guerrilla-marketing/axe-anarchy-social-graphic-marketing-campaign/

The above link from demonstrates how a CPG company like Unilever has utilized digital marketing to create new ways to interact with its audience. The "Anarchy" comic campaign essentially crowd-sources the storyline of the comic and uses social media to deliver the content via YouTube. Additionally, consumers can opt-in via social media to be included in the content by illustrators who will draw them directly into the story.

I think this is an interesting instance of utilizing social media to engage an audience to interact with a brand -- even drawing them into the story itself.

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"Windows 8 — Disappointing Usability for Both Novice and Power Users"

LINK: http://www.useit.com/alertbox/windows-8.html

I came across the above link on Reddit, and it was somewhat intriguing. Having interned at Microsoft this summer, I am confident that the company is heading in the right direction -- a touch-based future. While the review for Windows 8 is poor, I would argue that it is too early (from a hardware perspective) to get a "full" Windows 8 experience. The review doesn't take into account the integrated design platform across devices (phone, Xbox, etc.) and the value of moving to a touch interface.

From a digital marketing perspective, it's important to note that a major technology player, such as Microsoft, is betting the farm on this radical reinvented operating platform. It will usher in a new "app ecosystem" and therefore create value for marketers to consider this new ecosystem and touch/voice-enabled content delivery to end consumers.

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"The Social CRM Arms Race"

LINK: http://www.pardot.com/infographic/infographic-timeline-social-crm-arms-race

The above link is an infographic which demonstrates the aggressive expansion of the "Social CRM" market. Over the last 2 years, both Salesforce.com and Oracle have invested over $8 Billion in acquiring various companies with social capabilities -- i.e. social monitoring, analytics, engagement platforms.

It appears that we're witnessing significant convergence in the Social CRM space, and that other companies are beginning to take notice (see: "Who's Left for Microsoft Dynamics CRM? http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikamorphy/2012/06/04/salesforce-com-buys-buddy-media-for-689m-oracle-took-vitrue-whos-left-for-microsoft-crm/) -- subsequently, Microsoft made a major $1+ acquisition with Yammer.

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"The War on Free Clicks"

LINK: http://www.wordstream.com/articles/google-ads

The link posted above is a very informative "infographic" which touts the benefits of the pay-per-click business model by Google. It challenges the assumptions held by many that "nobody clicks on the sponsored ads in the Google search results," and even goes further by asserting that consumers are actually more likely to click on a sponsored ad when the search demonstrates "high commercial (read: purchase) intent," as opposed to an organic search result.

The infographic also illustrates the value of SEO vs SEM as it relates to the purchase funnel -- asserting that SEO is more valuable for consumers seeking to do basic research on a product, while SEM is more valuable as consumers demonstrate greater purchase intent.



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"Bob Dylan Uses iPhone Geolocation App to Market New Album"

http://mashable.com/2012/09/27/bob-dylan-iphone-app/

The link above is a cool post I came across in September related to Bob Dylan's new album, "Tempest." It's an interesting post about using geolocation with smartphones in order to get access to content. Essentially, consumers could "unlock" content by visiting various locations which are historically significant to Bob Dylan.

I think this location-based content delivery strategy could have interesting implications across a variety of products and services -- especially those with significant brand heritage.

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"How to Calculate the Value of a Like"

In this recent blog post on the Harvard Business Review, Dan Zarella (who works for HubSpot) seeks to quantify the value of a Facebook "like" with the following formula:
L/UpM * (LpD x 30) * (C/L) * CR * ACV = Value of a Like
Where...
L (Total Likes): The total number of audience members connected to your social media account. On Facebook, these are Likes of your page, and on Twitter, these are followers.
UpM (Unlikes-per-Month): The average number of fans who "unlike" your social network account each month. On Facebook, this is an "unlike," and on Twitter, this is an "unfollow."
LpD (Links-per-Day): The average number of times you're posting links, and potentially converting links driven from your social media account. On Facebook, this is the number of posts you're making, per day, that lead to a page on your website. On Twitter, this is the number of times, per day, you're Tweeting these kinds of links.
C (Average Clicks): The average number of clicks on the links to your site you're posting on your social media accounts.
CR (Conversion Rate): The average conversion rate of your website, from visit to sale or visit to lead. This can be an overall average, but for increased accuracy, use the conversion rate measured from traffic coming from the social network you're calculating.
ACV (Average Conversion Value): The average value of each "conversion." In this context, a "conversion" is the action you've used to measure CR for. It could be average sale price or average lead value. For increased accuracy, use the average conversion value of traffic coming from the specific social network.

While measuring the ROI of Social Media is still in its infancy, I thought this article was interesting and further information can be found at ValueOfALike.com.

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"Shoefitr helps online shoe shoppers figure out what size to order"

I came across this cool site called "Shoefitr" which kind of bridges the gap between e-commerce and the physical world. It's main value proposition is to mitigate the huge shipping costs which companies like Zappos incur by offering a more precise way for consumers to purchase shoes online. Online retailers save on shipping costs and end customers benefit from a more accurate way of measuring shoes for their feet. In a nutshell, the site asks you to input the brand/SKU of the most comfortable shoe you currently wear, and then it cross-references that shoes with a huge inventory of shoes which they have 3D scanned. It's super cool and I truly believe e-commerce is heading in this direction.





Click on the video on the front page at www.shoefitr.com to see an illustration of how it works.

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Nitrogram for Instagram...

Nitrogram, a startup launched last month, is a marketing and social engagement platform that helps brands to better analyse and use the earned media they are generating on Instagram.

This provides an exciting opportunity for different brands to engage with their customers by accessing photos and comments that users post of their products on Instagram. This can provide businesses with an excellent and cheap channel of receiving consumer feedback. This, if used appropriately, can enable brands improve their products and potentially optimise their product-mix based on consumer preferences. 

Source

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Archive NYT Article on Long Tail Success Story


I read this article back in the spring and thought it was a fascinating summary of a business that without the dawn of e-commerce would likely not survive in today's world. The beauty of e-commerce however, is the ability to have limited overhead while servicing the "Long Tail" as we've discussed in class.

What's also interesting about this article is that in support of relaunching the company's online presence, they spent a considerable amount at the time ($3/day). While the article doesn't go as far to outline where ads were placed - I'd be interested to know how to properly target the "nuts" demo on the web. Either way, it seems this was critical to growing awareness and building a customer base.

The final push into world nut domination was unplanned publicity from a CBS show called Jericho. Great free press for a Long Tail business.






http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/19/business/smallbusiness/forsaking-investment-banking-to-turn-around-a-family-business.html

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Versagram: New platform for Tweens to share thoughts

Versagram is an app that allows users to post text status updates in Instagram. Users can select from different backgrounds/pictures and add their own text or select from a list of celebrity quotes; the text is then overlaid in front of the picture. With this users don't have to choose between a text or picture status but can now do both on Instagram. Current estimates tell us that the app has been downloaded 3 million times since it launched in the App Store in February and that it's currently being downloaded between 6,000 and 10,000 times a day. The majority of users are under 16 and even with a large subset under 13 (which is also the official cut-off for Instagram and other social-media sites).

Versagram follows a freemium model where it is free to download the app and users can purchase additional backgrounds/themes. Additionally, Versagram plans to sell advertising in its app much like many other apps. This may be a new way for companies to target a specific "tweens" consumer base.

http://adage.com/article/startup-watch/versagram-lets-tweens-talk-instagram/238431/

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Holiday shopping through smartphones

More than ever shoppers are showing increasing comfort and interest in purchasing holiday gifts online. In fact, recent research shows that 55.3% of table and smartphone users planned to use their devices for holiday shopping.

This is part of growing trend for smartphone users becoming more open to a larger variety of purchases made using phones. Electronics remains the most common category for purchases, but other categories such as toys, clothing, travel and even food are showing strong growth trends.

Full article here: http://www.emarketer.com/Article.aspx?R=1009494

- Vi Nguyen

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Friday or Monday?


Should I impulse buy on Black Friday?  


I faced this daunting question over Thanksgiving weekend.  I was sitting on my couch surfing Amazon and other retail sites looking at Black Friday online deals.  They looked good. Good enough to keep me on my couch and not looking around for the car keys to head to the store.  But I was conflicted with every item that I added to my cart.  Would the sale be even better on Monday?  I decided to take the leap and buy the things I needed, ahem, wanted on Friday and then check back on Monday hoping to see that I had made the right choice...

Cyber Monday Morning Quarterback

YESSSS!!!  I made the right choice.  The DSLR camera I purchased 3 days ago is over $100 more expensive on Cyber Monday!  The other items I got seem to be around the same price but their diminutive price compared to the camera makes me say "whatever" when I see that I could have save $2 by waiting until Monday to buy the 16 GB SD card to put in my camera.

I hope I make the right choices next year...


-- Interested in talking about videos?
Contact Michael at Melmed Media 



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