Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Twittering Up

By Alice Lam

Despite the fact that many soccer fans were unhappy with Argentina's loss, Twitter came out to be the true winner.  Critics have questioned how Twitter would innovate in a media where everyone is limited to 140 characters.  However, Twitter tapped into the hearts of the soccer fans by doing just that:  creating interesting experiences and games on the platform and grabbing more users from other countries, thereby increasing the share of the pie.  By focusing on the two pillars of business,  growth and engagement, sales shot up.  Second quarter earnings reported a $312 million revenue, a 124% increase from last quarter.  89% attributed to mobile.

Twitter is in fact its own case of how a brand does social media well.  Twitter is by now, a pretty established brand and instead of resting on its laurels, it tapped into a very unique, global event that lends itself to virality.  Inversely ironic, soccer fans are growing within the US and really strong in other parts of the world, that are not using Twitter.  Using Twitter as a channel to make commentary on sports games really highlight its immediacy, community and shareability in ways that other brands simply can't.  Unlike Facebook, Twitter is used mainly through mobile, which is a growing area right now in advertising.  If Twitter continues to innovate and create new, fun ways to reach customers, their revenue will continue to skyrocket.


Amazon enters the 3D printing business

Almost anything can be bought on Amazon and be shipped in a few days to your doorstep. Now, they opened a 3D printing store. The store does not sell the products to print at home but rather sells products from 3D printing companies that will ship the product to you. The difference to an ordinary product is that it can be customized on Amazon's website.

The offering covers various product categories, such as jewelry, home & kitchen, electronics, and toys & games. Most of the sold objects cost less than $40, the jewelry often retails for $100 or more.



Curalate is attempting to bridge the gap between the deluge of user generated content and its relevance to retailers and firms.  By and large, user generated content has been either unfiltered and unsorted, except through the channel of personal selection, meaning a particular person's Instagram feed or Facebook album.  The closes in terms of establishing relevance between this content and the desires of a marketer has been Pinterest, where users can 'Pin' products or ideas that they desire. 

The service offered by Curalate allows companies to quantify user engagement in a visual sense, which is an enormous capability to be able to leverage.  The further step taken by Fanreel, allowing click through for purchase, is an obvious, if technically difficult one.  Importantly, this is not far off from a capability that Facebook wishes to develop internal to its own structure, allowing customers to purchase directly through company pages and the Newsfeed.


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Chinese Government is Looking into Microsft and Qualcomm

This week, the SAIC (State Administration for Industry and Commerce) of China has conducted a surprise investigation to Microsoft and Qualcomm in their Chinese offices. Government of China claimed that Microsoft and Qualcomm are "anti-competitive".

This incident is easily to remind the forced step-out of Google in China. The political risk for the foreign company in China is certainly a big issue.


Facebook moves all mobile chat to Messenger app

Not sure exactly what's the impact of this -- maybe Facebook forcing to diversify even further their revenue potential on mobile?

Full article:





Blackberry and Secusmart: ill-timed and ill-conceived?

The sun has well and truly set on RIM. The once dominant OEM has floundered since the introduction of the i-Phone in 2007 and is now desperately looking for ways to stay relevant.

With failed ventures into tablets and other mobile variations, the latest foray comes in the form of an acquisition in the voice encryption space with German-based Secusmart. The idea here is that governments and industry will have renewed fears about data and voice call security in the aftermath of the Snowden debacle and that Secusmart, known recently for its anti-eavesdropping software, will become a core component of BlackBerry's highly lauded security portfolio.

There's no doubt that there's strategic value in the sector . Where the emphasis in the past was firmly on data, going forward, the market looks to be shifting decisively towards voice protection, particularly in the enterprise space. The question however on everybody's mind is whether the move has simply come too late in the day.

RIM's market erosion began in the US, but over time, it has spread throughout the world and even in once BlackBerry strongholds like Germany, they've lost out to other smartphones mostly from Samsung and Apple.

It remains to be seen what the future holds for BB, but whatever the world looks like in 10 years from now, the consensus seems to suggest that it wont include the once poster boy of mobile communications.



After a long struggle, mobile payments are about to take off

The so-called mobile wallet has been seen as a great opportunity for years now. What is more futuristic and at the same time more easy to think of that using smartphones for payments also, by simply hitting a button? 

Visa and Samsung Electronics have been working together last year to make mobile payments easier. Nowadays, Samsung phones incorporate Visa’s payments software, payWave. This near-field communications (NFC) technology allows users to complete a payment by simpliy tapping their phones against a payment terminal.

Nonetheless, this service has been struggling to take off. Many people are not aware of the new payment systems, others are confused by the many choices, and some see no benefit in the mobile option over using cash or credit cards. In addition to these, and probably of greater importance, merchants are not interested in installing new payment software and hardware unless a large percentage of shoppers are using the service. 

MasterCard and Visa are now hoping to twist the industry by using technology known as “host card emulation”, which allows card data to be stored in the cloud rather than on a chip in the phone.
Thus, there won't be a need for a pre-installed hardware (as for payWave) anymore: the system will just be an app, serving as a NFC-enabled mobile wallet regardless of which telecom provider the phone is used on.

Will this "cloud" revolution eventually boost mobile wallets?
Read more:


The importance and effectiveness of mobile advertising

The role that smartphones play in the daily lives of consumers is no more under discussion: mobile devices are not only communication devices any more, but they have become "always on" companions for people in everyday life. Few statistics on this phenomenon:

  • There are more than 1 billion monthly active users of Facebook mobile, corresponding to about 79% of its total users worldwide
  • Mobile services such as messaging apps, the most popular in terms of growth, registered a 203% usage increase in 2013
  • Health and fitness apps usage has grown exponentially since 2013, reporting a 62% increase over the past 6 months, and 3 million patients worldwide are expected to be using remote healthcare monitoring devices based on smartphones to transfer information by 2016


The objective of marketers is to drive sales, and mobile devices are increasingly becoming an integral part of this process. So, how can advertisers take advantage of this, developing mobile campaigns that appeal their customers and move them directly to a purchase decision?
The key is to convey the right message, to the right audience at the right time. Invasive and irrelevant advertisements only annoy users, so marketers should try to create content-rich ads and to show them to a specific target audience, before people are actively engaged in an activity (e.g., while an app is uploading). Moreover, showing pictures and text is not enough any more to really engage customers: click-to-call or click-to-download, geolocation, and the use of smartphones features such as the calendar, are some examples of how to enrich the content of an ad and make it more engaging for customers.



Monday, July 28, 2014

Facebook Pulls Ahead Of Google In US Digital Display Ad Revenues

Although Google is the $4 billion darling of the US display ad space, players like AOL, Amazon and Facebook are closing in on that share.
Most noticeably, Facebook, which for the first time last quarter served more ad impressions on mobile devices than on the desktop, experienced a 50.5% increase in US digital display ad revenue last year to Google’s 33.3% growth rate, according to eMarketer.
If eMarketer’s estimations are accurate, Facebook has already pulled ahead of Google in US display ad spend. Although Facebook was nipping at Google’s heels in 2012, totaling $2.18 billion in display ad revenues to Google’s $2.26 billion, the social platform pulled ahead of the search giant last year totaling $3.28 billion in display ad revenue to Google’s $3 billion.
EMarketer includes mobile along with desktop in net digital display ad estimations, which makes the growth explainable.
Fast forward to the end of this year and Facebook is expected to reach some $4.8 billion in digital display revenues to Google’s $4 billion. This is a markedly higher estimation than one year ago, when eMarketer forecasted Facebook would generate $3.35 billion in digital display ad revenues by the end of 2014.
“Facebook and Google are still much larger than everyone else, and while Google is still much larger than Facebook in terms of total market share, Facebook’s growth is particularly impressive,” said Dan Marcec, a spokesman for eMarketer.
Facebook’s growth figures are not surprising, particularly because of its mobile traction. AdExchanger reported last summer that Facebook was encroaching on Google’s mobile ad share. In August, according to an eMarketer source, “Facebook has charged ahead of most of its competitors in the mobile display space. … The reach that they offer advertisers combined with their targeting makes them a relatively singular option for advertisers looking to reach people with display ads on mobile.”
However, it’s worth noting that in recent quarters, Google has promised less of a focus on ads and more of an emphasis on its hardware business. Wall Street analysts have also identified Google's display business as robust, but have expressed concerns over margins.
Although Facebook and Google dominated in digital display ad revenue, Amazon and AOL are also worth watching. Amazon will generate $172 million in display ad revenue this year (not including search), according to eMarketer. The ecommerce giant has in recent months been experimenting with new ad formats, including incorporating video into e-commerce ad placements.

“We haven’t seen results yet, so it’s kind of hard to say, exactly, but the new ad formats are certainly something we’re keeping an eye on and watching closely,” Marcec said. “In terms of where Amazon is right now and will be in the next two to three years, it’s similar in size in the US as AOL in overall digital ad spending,” including search.
Specific to display, AOL’s growth had dropped off pretty significantly for a long time, Marcec said, but because of the company’s seeming commitment to “programmatic, video and [renewed] ad pricing, they’ve been seeing some success now, which is pushing their growth back in the double digits.”
While eMarketer pinned AOL’s display ad revenue growth rate at 9.6% last year, the research firm expects this rate to increase to 15.5% this year. Yahoo, on the other hand, underperformed with a -6.4% growth rate in digital display ad revenue last year. EMarketer had considered such factors as lower inventory levels and short-term revenue losses as a result of internal restructures. This is reflected in Yahoo’s net display ad revenues for the United States, which dropped from $1.35 billon in 2012 to $1.26 billion last year.

Yahoo is on course for a modest improvement this year, and will experience 2.2% estimated growth in digital display ad revenue. Slight growth would put the company at an estimated $1.29 billion this year. However, the volatility due to organizational changes and continued acquisitions is still apparent – eMarketer estimates that the 2.2% growth rate in digital display ad spend this year could dip again to 2% in 2015.

Although Marcec noted Yahoo is making an effort to gather new ad revenue streams around video and Tumblr, "we haven't seen enough results yet to predict any significant changes long-term."


Facebook Answers Critics With Mobile-Ad Surge

Facebook Inc. on Wednesday put to rest any lingering doubts about its ability to transform its business into a mobile-advertising juggernaut.
The social network reported that profit more than doubled and revenue topped estimates for the ninth straight quarter. About 62% of Facebook's ad revenue now comes from advertising on mobile devices, which this year is expected to eclipse newspapers, magazines and radio in the U.S. for the first time, according to eMarketer.
Facebook also continued to show it can weather concerns that it is losing its "cool" factor among teens or irking users worried about privacy. Facebook added another 40 million users in the second quarter, with one-fifth of the world's population now logging into the social network at least once a month.
"This is a good quarter for us," said Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg on a conference call with analysts Wednesday, but "there's still so much room to grow," he said.
The results sent Facebook's stock to an all-time high in after-hours trading, rising 3.7% to $75. That is nearly double Facebook's initial public offering price of $38.Facebook's revenue rose 61% to $2.91 billion in the second quarter, generating a profit of $791 million, up from $333 million a year ago.
Facebook started placing ads on its mobile site and app only two years ago around the time of its initial public offering. It has now found itself in an entrenched battle with Google Inc., fighting to inhale mobile advertising dollars that would otherwise have gone to the Web, print or television. Anyone else would be a distant third.
Facebook is projected to command about 18% of the roughly $17.7 billion U.S. mobile ad market this year, up from 9% two years ago, according to eMarketer. Google will remain No. 1, but its share is expected to fall to 39.8% from 49.8% during that time.

"What Facebook has done with mobile is one of the most impressive things I've seen an Internet company do in recent years," said Mark Mahaney, an analyst for RBC Capital Markets, after the earnings release Wednesday. Mr. Mahaney warned, though, that Google is still the behemoth in the industry and might be only beginning to assert itself on the platform.
In an effort to entice big brands to spend more on its site and app, Facebook is making a bigger push into premium video advertising. It also launched a mobile advertising network in April through which Facebook sells ads that actually appear on mobile apps that the company doesn't own. Depending on how many apps choose to participate, Facebook could expand its business through the ad network.
Facebook has also invested in market research data to try to prove to brands that ads on the platform are effective. It has convinced some large advertisers to put more resources into Facebook, helping boost revenue. But there are still skeptical advertisers, and if Facebook can convince them, too, it will see even more growth.

On Wednesday's conference call with analysts, Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg called attention to the social network's ability to sell ads to small businesses. She told the story of Chumbak, a maker of Indian-inspired products. After the company's owners used their life savings to start Chumbak, they began purchasing Facebook ads, which are now responsible for generating 35% of that company's online revenue.

Ms. Sandberg pointed to an advertising campaign in India designed specifically for low-end feature phones. She saidProcter & Gamble Co.'s Gillette brand launched its Vector 3 razor there, where 80% of the 100 million users of Facebook in India are on mobile.
She also pointed to a McDonald's video ad campaign on Facebook that used anthropomorphic french fries as soccer players and re-enacted World Cup scenes.
Beyond advertising, investors continue to pay attention to Facebook's user growth, which has been steady as it blankets more of the world's Internet population. The company said 1.32 billion users logged into the service at least once a month during the quarter, up about 3.5% from 1.28 billion three months earlier. The number of users who logged in daily grew to 829 million on average in June, up from 802 million in March, indicating people are spending more time on the platform.
It isn't clear whether the latest privacy flap—a furor over a psychological experiment Facebook conducted on its users—will cause people to leave the social network. Ms. Sandberg apologized earlier this month for not properly communicating to its users about the experiment, which was exposed last month and conducted in 2012 to determine whether Facebook could alter the emotional state of its users and prompt them to post more positive or negative content.
On the conference call, Facebook executives didn't address the uproar over the experiment. But most numbers have indicated that people continue to use the service more, despite ongoing privacy concerns raised by incidents like the experiment.
In the U.S., where the market has been saturated with Facebook users for years, mobile users spent 157 million minutes on the platform in June, according to comScore, a 50% increase year-over year, including Facebook's photo-sharing app Instagram. Facebook and Instagram shared 200 million unique visitors in June, up from 185 million a year ago. That is second only to properties controlled by Google and Yahoo Inc.
If there is any other worry about Facebook, it is the company's inability to innovate. It has launched several stand-alone apps, including Poke, Paper and Slingshot, all of which have received a lukewarm response from users. In May, Facebook shut down Poke, which was a competitor to messaging service Snapchat.
Facebook has pointed to its Messenger app as a success, but it forces users of its mobile app to download it to send and receive Facebook messages. It has found innovation elsewhere, paying $19 billion for competing messaging program WhatsApp and buying virtual-reality headset maker Oculus VR for about $2 billion.
Mr. Zuckerberg signaled to investors that he would continue to make similar investments. "It's not that we're necessarily going to go out and have a lot more new strategic priorities, but we expect to go very deep on the priorities that we have to make sure that we completely nail them all," he said.
Meanwhile, Google, has stretched its tentacles into numerous areas outside of advertising, from self-driving cars, to television streaming devices, to wearables and home electronics.
Among the biggest themes on Facebook's earnings call was a simple message: The company plans to move slowly on various projects, like expanding the places Facebook ads can go, creating auto-play video advertisements, and turning its Instagram acquisition into a moneymaker.
"We want to make sure we don't get ahead of ourselves," Mr. Zuckerberg said.


Which digital company just went public with news of 61% increase in revenue this quarter?

Facebook recently released its 2014 second quarter earnings report.

Some highlights include:
  • 19% increase (year-over-year) in daily active users, average of 829 million per day
  • 39% increase ("....") in mobile daily active users, average of 654 million per day 
  • 61% increase in revenue for 2Q2014 (compared to 2Q2013) to $2.91B
  • 22% increase in expenses for 2Q214 ("...") to $1.52B
  • 62% of ad revenue coming from mobile advertising (compared to 41% in 2Q2013)

     Personally, I was surprised by these numbers. It's common knowledge that Facebook is doing well and is not going anywhere anytime soon, but a 61% increase in revenue is incredible.

    For those of you who are not surprised by these numbers - "So, what? I knew those numbers were coming..." - then you might be surprised by the news that Facebook is now thinking about ways to go retail. Check out this short, informative Bloomberg video here.


    The future: virtual advertising

    Virtual reality is not available yet but big companies are taking into this nascent world. Their efforts are currently confined to experiential marketing at large events, like the South by Southwest interactive festival and the Detroit Auto Show.

    Virtual reality can be transformed in a "real" reality soon infact MarketsandMarkets (a research firm expert in the field) forecasts that manufacturers of VR and augmented-reality hardware—including smart glasses and head-mounted displays—will generate $1.06 billion in revenue globally by 2018. In the future marketers expects that goggles can be bought at Walmart for $300 and brands can deliver visceral consumer experiences.

    Virtual reality could be transformative for the digital ad industry. Instead of interrupting people with ads, marketers could sponsor virtual experiences people actually seek out.

    Imagine Budweiser taking you behind the plate at the World Series or Pepsi giving you a virtual front-row seat at a Beyoncé concert.

    Cool, don't?

    More details at:


    Verizon's New Customer Rewards Program

    Last Thursday, Verizon Wireless launched "Smart Rewards." It is a new loyalty program that offers its 100 million-plus subscribers discounts on retail, dining, hotels and entertainment with its data-tracking built in system. In order to sign up, customers must also enroll in Verizon Selects, which tracks subscriber's location and Internet usage, on desktop and mobile apps. Enrollees can later choose to opt-out of Selects.

    It just ran its first television advertising last weekend. Points collected through the program can be used to net discounts offered from more than 200 brands, travel rewards from over 26,000 hotels and NFL game tickets. For Verizon, the program is penetrate smartphone market and lock in customers from discounted offerings from smaller rivals T-Mobile and Sprint. It will be interesting to see how successful this program becomes. 

    To read more:


    Foursquare transparency is key to marketers?

    I found on AdAge a very interesting article (written by a marketer) about Foursquare's lack of transparency on its metrics. And in fact, when we received that email from Foursquare (the ones of us who are members) announcing the evolution of the Company and its innovations, I believe we were all struck by the 50 million number, which is apparently the size of their community.
    My first reaction was the kind of "wow, they are really good!" but when I read this article, I thought about it again and...I don't believe their numbers. Then I found out that they do not share their metrics officially with anyone, and that also marketers have to decide whether to trust them or not based only on what they say.

    I believe that is great! The Company is so good in converting the ads that they are showing to users that marketers pay without even knowing what the potential audience is. After all, on Foursquare you pay for the action only, why should they bother?


    Is Pigeon the next Google Algorithm update?

    Over the last few days Google rolled out a new algorithm update. The algorithm has not yet been named by Google but the industry is dubbing it "Pigeon".

    The focus of this update is on local search. Local search is obviously not new. Google first rolled out local search in October of 2005. This update is an attempt at refining the experience that users get when performing local queries. The result is that local directories have received a big boost.

    As part of the update Google has also solved what the industry called the "Yelp problem". Earlier this month Yelp accused Google of favoring Google Places listings above Yelp even when users were specifically searching for Yelp. You can read more about it that here or here.

    It looks like the "Yelp problem" has been resolved, while also giving a boost to other local directories.  Fewer of the Google reviews are ranking vs those directories.  What does this mean for Google reviews and Google Plus?  Would this mean they are admitting defeat vs the other review sites that have a more loyal following?  While I am not an active Google + user, I hope this is not the case.  I do love having my maps being linked to places I've been and reviewed.  The ability to make maps and dynamically add to them on my own has been a great feature on my Android phone.  While I think it's clearly fair that if you are searching for Yelp with a business that you should see that first, I do not want this to mean that all of Google reviews will fall to the background.


    Yahoo looking to boost mobile ad revenue

    The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Yahoo is  acquiring Flurry Inc. for more than $200 million. This acquisition is an attempt by Yahoo to boost mobile advertising revenue. Flurry is focused on the mobile segment and provides services to both developers and marketers. According to their website they work with over a 170,000 developers and collect data from over 150 billion app sessions per month.

    This acquisition seeks to improve Yahoo's presence in mobile at a time when mobile advertising appears to one of the big opportunities in the digital marketing space. This segment of the market is lead by Google and Facebook, but the Flurry acquisition will be a first step for Yahoo to become a larger player. The Wall Street Journal also reported that Google is expected to have over 50% share of mobile ad spending, Facebook is expected to have 22%, and Yahoo is expected to have less than 1%.

    It will be interesting to see if Yahoo is able to grow their share of the rapidly expanding mobile advertising pie, or if the market will just continue to be dominated by Google and Facebook. With such rapid growth in the market (estimated to be 85% this year by eMarketer) will the new business just go to the old players or does it present an opportunity for new entrants to capture more of the market?


    Samsung's Secret to Viral Videos: Load Up on Celebrity Endorsements - Musicians drive clicks

    Samsung grabbed three of this week’s top YouTube videos on the Adweek/VidIQ top 10 video chart, two of which center around celebrities and athletes to prove that the company does more than sell phones and tablets.
    Samsung’s YouTube video for its music-streaming Milk service is this week’s No. 1 clip and includes cameos by Iggy Azalea, Little Dragon, Childish Gambino, John Legend, Lady Antebellum, Cold War Kids and Chromeo. The video has 22.8 million views, 458 tweets and more than 9,500 Facebook Likes.
    Samsung’s spot has been climbing up the chart for the past few weeks since it launched on July 2, thanks in part to a paid media push and underscores how the marketer is trying hard to compete against heavyweights Spotify and Pandora.
    Meanwhile, the second part of Samsung’s video series dubbed "The Match" makes its first appearance on the chart this week, claiming the No. 2 spot. The spot builds some post-World Cup buzz by enlisting soccer players Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Mario Götze in an epic six-minute battle. Since debuting on July 15, the video has been viewed 12 million times, shared 20,700 times on Facebook and 11,400 tweets.
    Samsung’s third top-charting video in the No. 5 spot positions the Galaxy Tab S tablet as the go-to device for a busy multitasking dad by pitting it against Apple’s iPad. The video shot up 78.6 percent week over week.
    Check out the top video clips below in the VidIQ-powered infographic. 

    NOTE: Adweek's VideoWatch Chart, powered by VidIQ, reveals the Top 10 Branded Web Videos on YouTube every week. The chart tracks more than just pure views, as VidIQ incorporates sharing data from Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, among other data sources, in an effort to measure true engagement. Every video is also ranked with VidIQ’s proprietary Score, which helps judge the likelihood of a video being promoted in YouTube Related Videos, Search and Recommended Videos.


    The dark side of Digital Marketing: Bots used in Ad Fraud

    We touched base in class about the fraud in digital marketing. I went on to research on how big is this problem and what is the modus operandi of these bad guys.

    I came across a presentation by Dr. Augistine Fou which discusses this issue in detail. Here is the summary of Dr. Fou's presentation on the execution strategy of using bots for ad fraud

    1. Make Fake Websites: Bots create fake website and plagiarize content and fill the site with ads

    2. Generate Fake Traffic: Bots auto load and re-load these fake website pages with display ads, generating impressions. These impressiona are sold to ad exchanges (on a CPM basis).

    3. Generate Ad Views and Clicks: Bots keep on auto reloading the pages to generate ad impressions and generate fake clicks to earn PPC revenue

    The most striking data in the presentation was related to the market size of this fraudulent market. According to Dr. Fou, 39% of total US digital ad spend gets scooped up by these bad guys, with Video and Display advertising performing the worst with an average of 60% and 50% of total spent on advertising going toward fraud respectively. Now that's insane!


    Ad Fraud Operation Continues To Be In Action Even After Being Exposed

    Ad Age recently exposed a digital advertising fraud scheme that skimmed tens of millions of dollars from large advertisers. The operation was sticking websites running lucrative video ads inside nearly invisible windows and placing those windows on legitimate sites via dirt cheap banner-ad buys.  This allowed the fraudsters to piggyback off of the traffic of real sites when the ads they were supposedly displaying were hidden in unseen windows. 

    In fact, the fraudsters got away with it for months, in part, by fooling a number of anti-fraud products into believing they were seeing something legitimate.  The online security firm Telemetry initially discovered the fraud,

    "The operation is the most significant instance of ad fraud seen to date by Telemetry, Mr. Rushton said, who co-founded the firm in 2009. It hit the most advertisers, the most exchanges, and importantly, earned the most revenue of any operation Telemetry has witnessed. In all, at least 75 advertisers -- including Ford, Coke and McDonald's -- spent money on these ads. In the past month alone, at least $10 million was wasted, according to Telemetry."

    It is miraculous to think that advertisers would continue to write checks for these video and banner ads when those companies can easily visit the sites to confirm if their ads are even being displayed.  In reality, there were ways of tricking the advertisers to believe that their ads were being shown.  A tiny window of 1x1 pixel can be expanded to run a video ad on loop for about 5 minutes before the screen reverts to a "normal" looking website.

    "This scenario occurs each time a tiny window goes live, said Telemetry Exec VP Geo Carncross, who explained it as a way to trick those checking where their ads ran.
    These sites -- including,, and -- all have prominent video players at the top, so if someone checked the anti-fraud products' reports, they would find the prominently placed video ads described in the reports."

    This is just another example of how difficult it is to police ad fraud in the digital space, and how difficult it is to maintain a secure digital environment in this growing age.



    Google search changes will push SEO firms and social media marketers closer

    Google is changing its search algorithms that will change the dynamics of the SEO eco-system. Instead of maintaining the existing search logic, Google constantly develops new algorithms to the search engine. This, I believe, allows the company to be the leader in the online landscape for it sets the rules of the game. It will be a crucial factor for other companies to adapt to the settings imposed by Google.

    Google search changes will push SEO firms and social media marketers closer

    Updated search algorithms for Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird have put the onus on content and social sharing
    A collection of well-known social network brand's placed on modern computer keyboard
    "You need good, creative content, from all sides …it’s a collaborative game.” Photograph: Anatolii Babii / Alamy/Alamy
    Google's Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird search algorithms affect around 90% of online searches, according to Search Engine Watch. These algorithms strip out "bad searches" – sites stuffed with keywords, duplicated content and manipulated hyperlinks – and rightly so; the onus for higher search rankings has consequently been placed on the quality, originality and relevance of online content.
    So must our understanding of search engine optimisation (SEO) fundamentally change in light of this? "Yes, SEO is dead (technically) in the way we used to be able to build links," says Matt Wilkinson, account director at Pinnacle Marketing Communications. "Now we are focused more heavily on content marketing."
    Wilkinson, whose business employs former journalists, is adamant that "businesses still need SEO professionals". But he also admits that "SEO managers must change to be more creative and know how and where to share this content." He adds: "The basics of optimisation may seem simple, but implementing it isn't."
    Google now ranks websites based on the context of its content; if it's written by a reputable journalist or blogger then it ranks higher. Google's new algorithms also consider users' engagement with the content, the time people spend on a website and its organic links, rather than paid-for content.
    While a recent Econsultancy study found that 88% of the 2,500 firms surveyed now integrate SEO with content marketing, and 74% integrate SEO efforts with social media marketing, some marketers are sceptical about the evolved role of SEO firms.
    Dane Cobain, social media specialist at Buckinghamshire-based FST the Group, says: "Social media requires a human touch, something that a lot of SEO professionals aren't equipped to deal with. SEO has always been tied to the performance of metrics, but you can't carry out a social media campaign if you look at people as numbers instead of individuals."
    As expected, SEO agencies that focused on link manipulation through "black hat" techniques and keyword-focused methods of SEO are going out of business. However, those with a focus on content marketing are thriving. But what does this mean for brands' existing relationships with their PR, social media and digital marketing teams, whose remit digital content has historically been?
    Tim Grice, head of search at Branded3, agrees that the "boundaries are blurring" between the roles of PR, social media, SEO and digital marketing. "There are some people in PR that feel like SEO managers are stepping on their toes," he says. "To create brand value, you need good, creative content, from all sides, and you need to be technically sound in implementing it. It's a collaborative game."
    An SEO team alone cannot offer everything needed for great content marketing and this is one significant driver for increased collaboration across business roles that previously operated in distinctive silos. Consequentially, some brands are taking this to the next level, creating their own digital newsrooms for real-time marketing strategies.
    Adidas, for example, has created its own "brand newsroom", operating from a global digital centre in Massachusetts and liaising with other newsrooms around the world. Herbert Hainer, chief executive of the Adidas Group, told Marketing Week he hoped the brand newsroom would "bring greater consistency, increase speed and drive higher levels of brand activation online". Adidas follows consumer brands Puma and Nike in developing concentrated, centralised digital content marketing hubs.
    Priyanka Dayal, content manager at Cision UK, a communications and marketing software company, says that brand newsrooms will remain the preserve of large multi-nationals that are able to maximise on the benefits. "The future for PR, SEO and marketers still involves traditional distribution platforms. Home-grown newsroom successes will be the exception."
    Andrew Smith, a member of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) strongly disagrees that the expansion of SEO is a threat to PR professional, though he says there may have been some fear of this five years ago: "With these changes, PRs are the ones who have the skills to get mentions in established media companies, which Google is now emphasising. It's not putting PR people out of a job, more changing where you might find them; there's a chance they may now be found as part of a team in an SEO agency. Their skills are more vital than ever before."
    With its algorithm changes, Google's search is more human-friendly. People are now searching online using questions and complex phrases rather than just entering stand-alone keywords. To solve their query, it makes sense that content marketers meet this content demand, with SEO in mind.
    Natasha Clark is a freelance media and technology journalist for Business Technology, The Independent and The Guardian – follow her on Twitter @NatashaClark92