posted 3 months ago on gigaom
Earlier this month, Amazon opened a bookstore in a mall that used to house a Barnes & Noble. Much has been written about this foray into the physical realm: It’s been called a potential library of the future; Amazon itself has been called the Darth Vader of the books business; and some have wondered about the possibilities afforded by a location that bridges online and offline commerce. Those are all interesting considerations, but as with Amazon’s other programs, the secretive company hasn’t said whether this is a small test or the beginning of a larger initiative that will lead to Amazon Books locations across the country. So I don’t want to consider the effect this physical store could have on Amazon — I’d rather question why other brick-and-mortar stores are resting on their laurels. Seriously, why aren’t there more retails stores like Amazon’s book store experiment? A store with a variety of goods on physical shelves with prices that fluctuate to stay in sync with the online version of the store. Of course, there would need to be some changes to accommodate those who don’t like change, but there’s potential here to merge the online and offline shopping experience. People use their smartphones while they shop. Often this is because they want to learn more about an item before purchasing it. One study from 2013 states that only six percent of people who use their smartphones in a physical store plan to purchase an item online. The rest were seeking more information about the item’s quality, the reputation of its manufacturer, and other data that might inform a purchase. (I’m sure that has changed significantly over the last two years, with Amazon’s image-based physical product search tool helping lead the charge.) Still, that could change as more people use their smartphones to find the best prices. Why buy something from a brick-and-mortar store when you can order it online for a lower price, even after figuring in the costs of having it shipped? Unless someone needs the item immediately — in which case someone probably isn’t comparison shopping — the lower price will win most of the time. Retailers could change this by emulating Amazon Books’ model of automatically price-matching items sold in their stores to items sold on their websites. Right now there’s no guarantee that a Walmart store will match the price of an item sold on Walmart.com, for example, and other stores have similar policies. It’s almost like retailers actually want shoppers to treat their stores like showrooms. The truth is that I don’t want to check the prices of items on my smartphone. I’m indecisive enough when it comes to shopping — I’ll often grab an item, think of buying it, then put it back right before I get to the checkout aisle. Multiple times. Having to worry about a price discrepancy between a retailer’s physical location and their online store just gives me even more reason to reconsider a purchase. Knowing that the price I see on a shelf is the price I’d have to pay online would make the whole process easier. (While I could still compare the price to Amazon and other sellers, it would be foolish to expect retailers to automatically match a competitor’s price instead of requiring shoppers to notice the discrepancy.) That offers all the benefits of shopping at a physical store with fewer of the drawbacks. Of course, Amazon can get away with this because it’s running a test in one location and is comfortable with wafer-thin margins on the items it sells. Other retailers have their own challenges, like the sheer number of employees required to staff physical locations around the United States, that make it harder for them to pull an Amazon Books and bridge the gap between on-and offline shopping. But that might be what it takes for these stores to thrive. What happens when Amazon slowly but surely competes more and more with physical locations? The company’s already expanding its grocery business, for instance, and is reducing the amount of time it takes to ship items to customers with multiple services. Amazon Books — if it’s successful — could easily become an Amazon Market. There are other advantages, too. If an item on the shelf is sold out, retail stores could provide incentives for people to pull out their phones and have the item shipped to their home later on. Surely that’s better than just losing the customer. Stores could also apply dynamic pricing to certain goods. I’m not saying they should be dicks and implement “surge pricing” the same way Uber has — that wouldn’t sit well with shoppers, managers, or regulators — but it would give the stores more control over the price of items that sit on or fly off the shelves. Why have near-static prices that only change once a week, or when a sale goes on, when you could experiment with different prices to see what works the best? Perhaps we’ll see more online sellers follow Amazon’s lead here. It seems easier for online stores to introduce physical locations than for brick-and-mortar stores to get people to use their websites. The future is digital; better to build for that future and experiment with the past than the other way around. Still, it wouldn’t be surprising if traditional retailers like Walmart and Target attempt this fusion. If that happens, it will be caused by Amazon’s willingness to make shopping easy. It doesn’t ask people to leave their homes to buy something; nor will it require them to buy something online if they prefer to handle the item in person. The company morphs to suit its customers instead of requiring its customers to change their lives (even if it’s just by asking them to drive somewhere) to shop. Doesn’t that sound better than driving to a brick-and-mortar store and having to check prices on your smartphone to get the best deal? Who wants to waste that trip? Hell, who wants to walk around stores filled with people struggling to push a cart and check prices on their phones at the same time? Grabbing an item, taking it to a register, and getting a fair price on it shouldn’t be so damn hard. Amazon Books should be the future of brick-and-mortar retail chains originally published by Gigaom, © copyright 2015. Continue reading… Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.How work media tools are shaping business in 2015How to choose between DIY and hyper-convergence in the data centerAPIs will drive the next wave of growth for the internet of things

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Amazon is steadily expanding its delivery infrastructure, whether it’s by driving items to consumers in select cities or testing a secretive drone delivery program. Could the company also reduce its reliance on shipping companies like UPS and FedEx by running its own air cargo operations instead of using others’ planes? A report from Motherboard indicates that Amazon is most likely behind a secretive operation from an Ohio airport dedicated to shipping consumer goods. If the report is accurate, it would appear that Amazon is at least testing a system that could give it more control over the paths its wares take to reach consumers. This control would help Amazon sidestep any issues other carriers face. Instead of being at the mercy of UPS and FedEx, the company would be responsible for making sure items reach their new owners on time, and it would have the power to fix anything that goes wrong instead of just mopping up after others’ messes. It could also help reduce shipping costs. As Motherboard notes in its report: With shipping, as with all of Amazon’s $250 billion empire, efficiency is key. Amazon’s net shipping cost in 2014 was $4.2 billion, up from $3.5 billion in 2013, according to a 10-K filing from 2014 with the Securities and Exchange Commission. With delivery costs weighing heavily on Amazon and ongoing headaches with UPS and other third party shippers, the company has a lot to gain from its own logistics network, whether just supplementing shipments in peak seasons or cutting out other carriers entirely. This is what Amazon is all about — owning everything its customers might ever have to interact with. Take digital media, for example. Amazon sells the devices used to access online content; runs services used to stream that content; and operates the network that delivers all those bits and bytes to people’s devices. Those efforts pay off by making Amazon an integral part of digital media, convincing people to continue purchasing things from its website, and even create an incredibly valuable business devoted to the cloud computing market. Why wouldn’t the company want to replicate that success in the physical realm? Given all that, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Amazon might be testing its own air cargo operations. If anything, it’s more surprising that it’s taken this long for a company whose greatest strength is owning every aspect of whatever business it’s in took this long to run an experiment like the one taking place now. (I reached out to Amazon for comment and will update this post if I hear back.) Amazon is reportedly running a secret shipping operation in Ohio originally published by Gigaom, © copyright 2015. Continue reading… Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.Delivery wars: how three factions are facing off to bring ecommerce goods homeHow retailers can deliver effective personalizationHow retailers can deliver effective personalization

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A new Snapchat feature called Story Explorer will allow people in New York and Los Angeles to view specific moments from perspectives shared by other users. Snapchat says in a blog post today that Story Explorer works by taking Snaps curated into its Live Stories and making other Snaps of the same event available with a swipe. (That sentence would have been gobbledygook just a few years ago.) Put another way: It’s like viewing a movie through multiple views instead of just one. “It’s the first time you’ll be able to experience that incredible game-winning dunk from thousands of perspectives throughout the stadium — or feel like you’re right there on the scene when breaking news unfolds,” Snapchat says. It adds that this is possible because its users contribute “so many diverse perspectives” all at once. A report from the Los Angeles Times says that Snapchat’s curators will still be tasked with choosing the content that appears in the company’s Live Stories. This feature simply makes it easier for people interested in a particular moment to view relevant content without requiring the curator to find similar Snaps. Story Explorer feels a bit like Snapchat’s attempt to replicate the hashtag. That omnipresent symbol often serves as a gateway to similar content, but it’s limited because it requires people to categorize whatever they’re sharing. Snapchat’s doing something similar with an automated system that requires no user effort. “Story Explorer relies on technology developed by our research team to provide more depth to every Snap in a Story,” the company says in its blog post. “When you see a moment that inspires or excites you, simply swipe up to see more Snaps of that same moment – from every perspective.” Who needs hashtags? It will be interesting to see how Snapchat’s users respond to having their Snaps made available to anyone who swipes up on something shared to a Live Story. Despite the app’s utility as something more than a sexting service, its beginning as a private and ephemeral social network doesn’t lend itself to features like this. Not from the person sharing the Snap’s perspective, anyway. For everyone else this little bit of communal voyeurism makes perfect sense. Why view something from one angle when you can view it from a thousand? And who cares about how Snapchat began if this is what it is now? The first answer’s clear; the second isn’t. Snapchat rethinks content discovery with Story Explorer originally published by Gigaom, © copyright 2015. Continue reading… Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.Video ups the ante for marketing with user contentHandicapping On-Demand Market SectorsA planning framwork for disruption

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Facebook is tooting the horns of its various developer tools by sharing how DoubleU Games, a South Korean developer, used them to learn more about Facebook users who play in the virtual casino of its flagship DoubleU Casino. A case study provided exclusively to Gigaom shows that DoubleU Games used Facebook’s log-in feature to make it easy for people to sign up for DoubleU Casino; used App Install Ads to promote the game; and used the Analytics for Apps tools introduced in March to learn more about how the game is played. Facebook claims the audience gained from App Ads now represents 80 percent of DoubleU Casino’s desktop revenue. The company behind the virtual casino found that most of its users (80 percent) sign in to the app with Facebook’s login feature. It also used the social network to drive increasing traffic to the game. Other case studies have been used to drive home the same point: Facebook’s attempts to woo the developer community with new tools are working. Given the rocky past the company had with developers, especially those working on games that went viral before fading into obscurity, that might be a tough line to sell. Just look to the cautionary tale of Zynga. That company used Facebook’s network to make games like “FarmVille” the darling of the social games market. Then, Facebook made it harder for the company to spam users with messages about their virtual farms, and “FarmVille” became a pale vision of its past glory. Zynga’s fall makes it hard to believe that other companies can find lasting success on Facebook. That’s a hell of a counterpoint to case studies like this: Facebook could’ve written something similar about Zynga’s past successes, but that would only describe the highs it reached before it came crashing down. Still, it’s clear that Facebook wants to earn back the trust of developers who can build things for its apps. (This is especially tru for App Instal ads, which Zuckerberg has long touted as a big deal for the company.) Sometimes that manifests as the addition of an app platform to Facebook’s increasingly popular Messenger service; otherwise it crops up as tools like Analytics for Apps, which debuted around the same time. Then it writes up case studies like this to show that, at least for a while, these tools can make a real difference for developers. That certainly appears to be the case for DoubleU Games: Facebook’s tools helped the company find more users, keep them engaged, and figure out how it could squeeze more money out of ’em. The trick is for these companies to use all these tools to support a lasting business. Until then we can’t be sure these case studies are capturing more than a snapshot of companies that are cresting the peak of their success. So, sure, look to DoubleU Games to see what Facebook can do. Just remember Zynga, too. Facebook touts the strength of its developer tools originally published by Gigaom, © copyright 2015. Continue reading… Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.How to choose between DIY and hyper-convergence in the data centerHow personal analytics can streamline business decisionsHow and why to implement a successful data lake

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Holiday dinners hosted by my wife’s family are bound to have three things: sugary desserts; copious amounts of wine; and heated discussions about politics. The exact mix changes depending on the holiday, but each of those things is bound to be there, just as sure as there will be a smorgasbord of different foods. A new messaging app called Breaker wants to encourage people to have those conversations without requiring them to gorge themselves on turkey or guzzle untold glasses of wine every time they want to discuss something in the news. Instead, it blends content discovery features with a dedicated message platform. The app works by asking people to identify their interests. Once they do, it will recommend content it culls from hundreds of different sources to them. If they like what they read and want to discuss it with someone else, they can do so right from the app, instead of switching between services like Nuzzel and WhatsApp. Breaker chief executive Shailo Rao says the app is supposed to facilitate private, meaningful conversations. “Instead of broadcasting to all your friends or all the people who follow you,” like you would via social networks like Facebook and Twitter, “it’s all about having a focused conversation with just a few friends.” Those conversations are facilitated by a feature that allows people to send the same link to multiple people either as a group or as individual conversations. This makes it easier to talk about things with more than one person without forcing people to participate in hellish group messages they can never escape. Rao says this feature rose from research he did as an intern at Google, when he found that Google Chat users would often send links to multiple people at the same time, but didn’t want to lump everyone into the same conversation. This seems small, but in day-to-day usage it could make life a lot easier for people. Breaker in action via its iOS app. That’s the thinking behind another feature that allows Breaker users to hold conversations through the platform even if their friends don’t use the app. If that’s the case, Breaker will send an SMS message to the non-user with a link to a Web view where they can see the article being discussed and talk about it. That isn’t the most elegant process — who wants to tap a link to have a conversation through a mobile Web browser? — it could help Breaker sidestep the problem of consumers being overwhelmed by the sheer number of services they have to use if they want to be able to communicate with all their friends. “People have enough messaging apps on their phones,” Rao says. “It’s okay because there’s a centralized inbox with the lockscreen, so people can manage multiple messaging apps because that’s the pathway into them, but it is tough to get all your friends to download another messaging app.” That’s understating it. There’s also the problem of convincing people to use another content discovery platform. Many could already use something like Flipboard or Nuzzel, which have the benefits of being around longer and name recognition, and they might not be keen to switch to a different app just to make it easier to chat with friends. Breaker has raised $375,000 from Tandem Capital and undisclosed angel investors. The app is currently available on iOS, and will debut on Android later. Right now it’s available for free, but Rao says eventually the app could utilize in-app purchases or advertising, once it has a large enough user base to do so. Will that happen? It depends on how well the politically-charged conversations held around dinner tables across the country translate to a messaging app, how many people want to download another messaging app when they can send links via existing apps without too much hassle, or how often people really talk about their interests with friends and family with any sort of depth or meaningfulness. ‘Breaker’ mixes content discovery with a messaging platform originally published by Gigaom, © copyright 2015. Continue reading… Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.Handicapping On-Demand Market SectorsA planning framwork for disruptionComparing Amazon EC2’s C3 and C4 Families

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Darren is the chief executive at Apixio. Despite spending more than $3 trillion a year on health care in the U.S., we do not yet have a way to easily access your complete medical history. The average hospital reinvests in MRI machines every five years or so at a cost of millions of dollars. Yet, comparatively little has been directed toward unlocking some of the most valuable information health insurers, physicians, and hospitals already have about you. The U.S. produces 1.2 billion clinical care documents annually, but nearly 80 percent of the data they contain is unstructured. This information is difficult for entities to understand and use. The medical chart contains a record of your health care — visits with doctors and hospitals, treatments, procedures, medications, diagnoses, and the results of workups. It is the key to understanding your health and improving the care provided to you. Yet, the challenge of accessing and making that information useable is immense. The typical medical chart is stored in various fragments across different locations and systems. Your primary care physician has their record of you but not the record from your cardiologist or gynecologist or from the emergency department doctor you saw six months ago for bronchitis, for example. Imagine your entire medical record as a jigsaw puzzle in which the pieces are scattered and stored in different locations and different types of boxes, each of which is hard to open. No wonder people feel as if they are repeating themselves every time they visit a medical facility. Luckily, technologies that make sense of the immense amount of data and preserve the patient narrative are rapidly emerging. With the rise of  cognitive computing, natural language processing (NLP), and data science in health care, we now have the power to unlock untold value in health care data and drive proactive, targeted health care. Enabling insights The first step is being able to make sense of the rich narrative in the medical chart whether from a primary care physician or specialist practicing in different organizations, different regions or both. While your doctor is familiar with your record, the medical system as a whole is not. So medical care continues to be reactive rather than proactive. This is where cognitive computing and NLP enter the picture. NLP tools can help extract data from free text found in the patient record creating valuable material for big data technologies to analyze. Cognitive computing platforms use NLP along with pattern recognition models and data mining techniques to simulate human thought processes in a self-learning computerized system. A cognitive computing platform refines the way it looks for patterns as well as the way it processes data so it becomes capable of anticipating new problems and modeling possible solutions. Once doctors have access to patient data, the question is how can they use it to accurately predict what treatments are most effective. Data science gives rise to a better understanding of the relationship between treatments, outcomes and patients. Now health care organizations have the tools to combine data from different sources and paint a more complete picture of the patient to personalize their treatment. A data-rich health care future These technologies give health care organizations the ability to access the previously untapped 80 percent of health care data so providers have real-time access to information and a deeper understanding of patients. If doctors know more about patients, then they can make more intelligent decisions that will result in quicker recoveries, fewer readmissions, lower infection rates and fewer medical errors. Ultimately, it will supercharge the value of care. Beyond benefiting individual patients, access to this data will also create a living laboratory of clinical data to better inform health care decisions. Now that information about clinical care can be machine read, physicians can access it and base research on the everyday clinical care of millions of patients. Rather than depending on narrowly designed studies that do not directly relate to individual patients, health care organizations and researchers can learn about health care delivery from everyday real-world data. Big data technologies can make use of information that is locked up in our medical charts in different systems and locations so we can transform how we look at and interpret patient health. With access to the untapped 80 percent of patient data and tools that put the data to use, we can change the delivery and consumption of health care as we know it, and usher in a new data revolution in health care that will improve patient care and result in high-quality outcomes. Health care’s future is data driven originally published by Gigaom, © copyright 2015. Continue reading… Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.What mattered in mobile during the second quarter of 2014The importance of benchmarking cloudsWho matters in the Quantified Self movement, and why

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Sinclair is CEO and cofounder of Apprenda.  The idea that hybrid cloud is the end state of enterprise computing is no longer controversial. Nearly all technologists, IT executives, and analysts subscribe to the idea that public cloud and on-premises computing both have a place in modern enterprise IT strategy. A hybrid end state isn’t a bridging tactic or a strategic consolation prize, but a desirable outcome. In fact, a strong case could be made that a hybrid model allows for specialized optimization based on use cases – there are many scenarios both now and in the future that may map best to on-premises or public cloud. There are two primary ways to implement a hybrid end state: asymmetric and symmetric. 1. Asymmetric – In asymmetric orientations, an enterprise consumes public cloud as one endpoint, and builds an on-premises cloud that is a distinctly separate, second endpoint. For example, we could look at the Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) layer and say that an enterprise could use OpenStack on-premises and AWS in public cloud, and use processes, operations, and a brokering abstraction across the two endpoints to help normalize the consumption of IaaS regardless of what side of the firewall it came from. In asymmetric hybridity, the technology used on-premises is different than that used in the public cloud, resulting in the need for reconciliation and the need to accept a lossy factor (i.e. the two technologies may have different features and evolutionary paths) since points of differentiation between the two need to be ignored or marginalized to ensure consistency. 2. Symmetric – Symmetric hybridity means that an enterprises on-premises assets and public assets are using the same technology, and that technology reconciles the assets on both sides of the firewall as a single endpoint. An example of this would be a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) layer that can be installed on-premises that could use local OSes and OSes from one or more public clouds all under one logical instance of the PaaS. The PaaS hides the fact that resources are coming from disparate providers and only exposes that fact where appropriate (e.g. at the policy definition level to shape deployments). In this case, the PaaS is the single endpoint where interaction happens, and resources on both sides are used as resource units by the PaaS. Any organizational processes and consumption processes would be ignorant to the idea that a border exists in the resource model. Pros and cons of symmetric and asymmetric models Symmetric models guarantee that anyone within the enterprise consuming cloud infrastructure is shielded from the distinction between on- and off-premises resources and capabilities. If the end user  of cloud infrastructure (e.g. a developer or data scientist) is required to acknowledge any asymmetry, they will have to deal with it in their project. This explicit need to deal with a fractured cloud creates an immediate “tax” related to consuming infrastructure and it will generate consumption biases. For example, if one side of the asymmetric deployment is easier to consume than the other, then an end user will prefer that even if the not-so-easy side is more aligned with the project, and will cause IT itself a number of headaches when it comes to operations related to that project. It’s important to understand symmetry doesn’t mean the on-premises and public cloud side of a hybrid deployment must be equal. Certainly, workloads may need on-premises or public assets to satisfy certain requirements the other side couldn’t possibly satisfy. What symmetry guarantees is that a workload that is indifferent to on-premises or public never be exposed to those concepts. Symmetry also ensures a workload with requirements that can only be satisfied by one part of a hybrid cloud or another is never exposed to the technical divide between the clouds. Instead, a workload communicates its preference in the language of requirements. Eventual symmetry Asymmetric models might be good starting points or appropriate for certain layers of the infrastructure stack, but they’re not ideal as a final end state. Symmetric models are clearly superior in almost all other aspects. In response to this, CIOs should pursue a strategy of ‘Eventual Symmetry.’ Eventual symmetry means that any cloud strategy must: Choose symmetric models over asymmetric models where possible If asymmetric is the only possible approach, ensure that the implementation lends itself to eventually being replaced by a symmetric model or that processes and technology be used to abstract the asymmetry into a perceived symmetric model By establishing eventual symmetry as a core cloud strategy pillar, a CIO can guarantee that any disjointedness in their strategy will be resolved. He or she can also ensure consumers of IT resources are abstracted away from details related to on-premises and off-premises. Why CIOs must pursue ‘eventual symmetry’ for their cloud strategies originally published by Gigaom, © copyright 2015. Continue reading… Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.Gigaom Research survey: attitudes and adoption of cloud technology by strategic buyersWhy public cloud providers need PaaS and how they can get itA field guide to web APIs

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It’s not an application that plays Nickelback songs whenever you contact your ex, but new Facebook features could still make it easier to avoid the breakup blues. The features allow Facebook users to hide a former partner’s posts and profile; edit past updates in which both people are tagged; and control the status updates, photos, and other content their ex-lover will be able to view after the breakup. Facebook has basically created the inverse of a couple being “Facebook official.” “Facebook is a place for sharing life’s important moments, which for many people include their romantic relationships,” product manager Kelly Winters said in a blog post. “When a relationship ends, we’ve heard from people that they sometimes have questions about the options available to them on Facebook.” People in the United States will be prompted to test these features if they change their relationship status. Other users won’t be told if someone uses the utilities; the point of hiding someone’s profile or posts is to make it easier to do so without un-friending or blocking that person, and the other features are equally discreet. Introducing these features is a tacit admission of two things: There are real risks connected to using a service where people are encouraged to share everything about their daily lives. (Or at least to post images, talk to people, or check-in to events and venues.) And not everything posted to Facebook has to be positive. Reports have shown that Facebook is a powerful tool for domestic abusers. NPR reported in 2014 that nearly half the domestic violence shelters it surveyed had a policy against using Facebook on premises because it could reveal their location. More recently, the Daily Beast reported on how Facebook’s real name policy puts women who escape domestic abuse at risk, because they can be found on its site. These new features won’t do much to prevent those problems, but they can make it easier for people leaving toxic relationships to protect themselves. Not having to see an abuser without having to block them, which could make them angry, is a valuable ability. Being able to hide new posts could help address the same issue. Beyond that, these new features also allow people to use Facebook without having to confront bittersweet memories about the time they spent with an ex. Sometimes it’s nice to think that an entire life can be catalogued on Facebook — other times it’s nice to be able to forget someone is no longer part of your life. “This work is part of our ongoing effort to develop resources for people who may be going through difficult moments in their lives,” Winters said in the blog post. “We hope these tools will help people end relationships on Facebook with greater ease, comfort and sense of control.” Most users will probably think that they do. New features make it easier to use Facebook after a breakup originally published by Gigaom, © copyright 2015. Continue reading… Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.Handicapping On-Demand Market SectorsA planning framwork for disruptionComparing Amazon EC2’s C3 and C4 Families

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Whether you’re doing it via Facebook or Craigslist or your shady friend Greg who has a penchant for “small-scale capitalism,” buying tickets to a sold out event is usually not a pleasant experience. With that in mind, ticket search engine SeatGeek is rolling out an update today that should make those ticket transactions less of a headache. Until now SeatGeek has only dealt one-sided ticket sales, but starting today it’s dipping into the two-sided selling (aka direct ticket sales from SeatGeek users) with SeatGeek Marketplace, which is geared towards making it easier for individuals to find and sell tickets. It’s not necessarily meant for someone looking to buy up a bunch of tickets and jack up prices for a profit. Intended to be a peer-to-peer network, the Marketplace is positioned to be a quick, simple alternative to the time-consuming and often messy processing of listing tickets on Facebook or Craigslist. It works like this: after fans purchase tickets through SeatGeek, they’ll have the option to transfer tickets to friends via downloadable PDFs or sell tickets if they find themselves no longer able to attend. Say you, for example, were smart enough to wake up early and hop on the Beyoncé pre-sale and managed to snag tickets for yourself and two of your friends. With SeatGeek’s new features, you’ll be able to sell and transfer those tickets to your friends so they have their own tickets on their phones come day-of-show. Direct ticket transfers are free, meaning that there are no fees tacked on if you sell and transfer tickets to friends directly. Fans will also have the option to sell tickets publicly in the Marketplace in the event that they need to offload tickets. Using the tech behind SeatGeek’s DealScore algorithm (which essentially ranks available tickets based on the quality of the seat and price), sellers will get recommendations on listing prices to help them sell the ticket quickly and get the best price for it. Tickets sold in the SeatGeek Marketplace will come at a 15 percent fee to the seller, but buyers won’t incur any additional fees beyond list price. “The aim is creating a dead-simple, intuitive mobile ecosystem where people can buy and sell and transfer tickets,” says SeatGeek co-founder Jack Groetzinger. The mobile part of that statement is key. The SeatGeek Marketplace is designed to be clean and easy to use, meaning that you don’t have to spend hours searching for the right ticket, deciphering fees and decoding transaction methods. You simply find the ticket you want, purchase either via the usual methods or through Venmo, and the seller transfers the PDF ticket to you, which you can pull up on your phone when entering the event. Right now, StubHub offers a similar service, letting fans buy and sell tickets through its marketplace. Groetzinger tells me that SeatGeek’s real advantage is the simplicity and ease-of-use of the platform. With the DealScore algorithm and SeatGeek’s comprehensive interactive mapping feature (which helps buyers get a better idea of where their seats are located and what the venue looks like through photos), SeatGeek’s buying and selling experience is focused on fans who are looking for the best way to get the best seats for their budgets. SeatGeek launches a marketplace for ticket sales, mobile transfers, & more originally published by Gigaom, © copyright 2015. Continue reading… Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.Handicapping On-Demand Market SectorsA planning framwork for disruptionComparing Amazon EC2’s C3 and C4 Families

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Nuzzel, the content discovery service that collects and organizes links shared to Twitter and Facebook, is branching out with an update that will allow people to find stories related to their interests without having to connect to social networks. Now all they have to do is sign up for Nuzzel, follow a couple of feeds related to things they find interesting, and wait for the app to do the rest. Nuzzel has risen in popularity over the past year because of its ability to sift through your social networks to find the most commonly shared links among those you follow or are friends with. You can also track the most shared news articles via Twitter lists or other publicly available Twitter users’ accounts. Many have said Nuzzel makes Twitter better, and should be bought by that company. The update is being revealed alongside a new funding round with participation from executives at Mozilla, Google, and other companies. (The funding Nuzzel shared in September, which included contributions from executives at the Wall Street Journal, the Guardian, and others, is part of the round announced today.) Nuzzel raised $1.7 million in the round and a total of roughly $5.1 million to date. As for the update itself, Nuzzel users are likely to notice it right away. The app has been redesigned with a swipe-based navigation system that allows users to view their settings, their main feed, and other feeds they’ve decided to follow. Its search function has also been updated to look through stories and feeds, making it easier to find a specific article or blog post than it was in previous versions of the app. But the biggest change is Nuzzel removing the requirement that people connect to at least one social account before they could use its service, as previously mentioned. That’s still an option — social network accounts that have already been linked to Nuzzel users will remain the same — but Nuzzel’s ability to attract new users is no longer dependent on those potential users having signed up for any other service. “The service will probably be still used the way it was before by people who login with Twitter.  That core experience is not changing much,” Nuzzel founder and chief executive Jonathan Abrams told Gigaom. “But there will be a whole set of new users who couldn’t use Nuzzel before, and they will use it a bit [differently] than the Twitter users, since their experience will involving finding relevant feeds instead of just seeing a ‘home’ feed based on their own Twitter graph of who they follow.” Abrams said that he expects the feeds Nuzzel users will follow will be “created by influencers, experts, organizations, media companies, etc” in the future. But to kickstart the number of feeds available to users as part of this update, Nuzzel also “created a few hundred feeds” of its own. This ensures that people who don’t connect social accounts won’t struggle to find interesting things on the service. This update follows the release of a newsletter feature that allows Nuzzel users to write short introductions to emails containing links surfaced by the service. At the time, Abrams explained that there are “probably hundreds of millions of people who would subscribe to an email newsletter but not install an app or have a Twitter account.” Nuzzel wants to appeal to that market instead of letting it lie. So how do newsletters fit with Nuzzel’s update? “Nuzzel 2.0 and our newsletter product fit together to be part of our overall strategy to let everyone use Nuzzel, not just Twitter power users, and also become a platform for creating feeds and newsletters around any topic or community,” Abrams said. “Nuzzel 2.0 allows both web and app users to discover feeds or find them via search, and then subscribe” to the newsletters connected to those feeds via Nuzzel’s site and apps. All together, these recent changes make Nuzzel much more palatable to a mainstream audience. The previous version of the app didn’t just require people to have a Twitter or Facebook account — it was also predicated on the idea that people were so overwhelmed by links shared to those networks that they needed another service to sort through them all. Those are a lot of barriers to entry. “Connecting with Twitter remains the best way to use Nuzzel, and still provides a great personalized news experience,” Abrams said. “But a lot of people don’t use Twitter, and Nuzzel 2.0 provides a new experience for those people, that also allows non-Twitter users to enjoy the power of social curation.” So it can still help quiet the cacophony of links shared to social networks, but now it could also appeal to people who have somehow managed to avoid the din of social media. Nuzzel update improves news discovery for those who don’t use Twitter originally published by Gigaom, © copyright 2015. Continue reading… Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.Handicapping On-Demand Market SectorsA planning framwork for disruptionComparing Amazon EC2’s C3 and C4 Families

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One big reason you don’t find many audio editing options on Android is due to the operating system not being great when it comes to latency (aka when audio is slightly delayed during recording). But with the launch of Open Labs‘ new Stagelight app on Android, that should get a bit better. Stagelight initially launched as a Windows audio editing app that could be used by everyone from casual music makers to professionals, an alternative to GarageBand for those without a Mac. It provides an easy interface to create or mix tracks, and even offers original sound libraries (for a fee) from popular artists such as Linkin Park and Timbaland, both of whom are part owners. You can import audio you’ve recorded and pretty quickly test different beats and sounds from those libraries within the Stagelight platform. Therefore, the move to Android was a natural next step that was previously held back by the last few versions of the OS not being ideal for recording, according to Open Labs founder Cliff Mountain. “When we first started testing Stagelight on Android we realized there was 0.5 to 2 seconds of latency on some devices,” Mountain told me. “If you can imagine trying to tap out a beat, you couldn’t tap and keep up in time because the output latency would throw you off.” In simpler terms, it would be like trying to learn an entirely new song with a band whose individual members were between one and two seconds behind what you were playing. But with release of Android Marshmallow, that isn’t the case. Open Labs worked with both Google and Intel to fine tune Stagelight’s ability to perform on par with other pro audio editing apps. A list of all the lessons Stagelight offers for people that aren’t familiar with making their own tracks. The Stagelight Android app, which launches today, is initially available as a free download, much like its Windows application. The free version will let users create new tracks, and offers tutorials for those who aren’t very familiar with how to make a song on the platform. Premium versions of Stagelight range from $10 to $100 and allow users to save tracks, share or upload music to sites like SoundCloud, use better looping tools, gain access to larger sound libraries, and more. Even more than fixing the latency issues, Mountain said bringing Stagelight to Android will help further the company’s goal of getting people more comfortable with making music. “We want to free the music. We know people have music inside them,” Mountain said. “When you walk into a room full of people and ask who enjoys music, everyone raises their hand. But if you ask how many enjoy making music, it’s usually only a subset… because there is a [preconceived] idea that producing music is difficult. It doesn’t have to be.” Building a track on the Stagelight platform. For Americans, this might not be as much of an issue — or maybe my worldview is biased having grown up in Nashville “Music (Business) City,” Tennessee (and having many friends graduate college with a degree in recording industry management). Internationally, there is a much bigger opportunity for a good music creation/editing on Android, especially for Stagelight, which is available in 127 countries. That’s also something Open Labs part owner Joe Hahn of Linkin Park agrees with, telling Gigaom via email that the band: “…has 63 million fans on Facebook and most of those fans are international. We know from research that most people outside of the U.S. use Android phones, so we encouraged Open Labs to develop Stagelight for Android so that everyone has a chance to use this amazing music tool.” Open Labs said eventually it would like to add more features that allow users to share their work, as well as the ability to save audio editing projects to the cloud to make better use of Android’s mobility. With StageLight, Android finally gets a serious music editing app originally published by Gigaom, © copyright 2015. Continue reading… Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.Handicapping On-Demand Market SectorsA planning framwork for disruptionComparing Amazon EC2’s C3 and C4 Families

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Facebook has introduced new features today that will make it easier for nonprofit organizations to raise funds for specific causes and receive general donations. The feature, devoted to specific causes, works by allowing nonprofit organizations to raise funds through dedicated Pages on Facebook’s service. Users will be able to support the cause and “encourage friends on Facebook to join a fundraiser, share when they’ve donated and choose to get updates” from the organization. Nonprofits will presumably be able to raise funds for multiple causes at once. The addition of this feature could make Facebook a central hub for nonprofits. The service can now be used to communicate with supporters, raise money, and take advantage of Facebook users’ social networks to get important causes in front of more people. (If I didn’t hate the “X for Y” construction so much I’d compare this new feature to a “Kickstarter for charities,” but I do so I won’t.) The second feature isn’t as novel. Facebook tested a “donate” button with more than 20 nonprofit organizations in December 2013. That button could be added to the bottom of posts and stories, and now it’s back in the same form. “Including a Donate button on a post will give people an easy way to donate directly from News Feed,” Facebook product management VP Naomi Klein said. Facebook will now let nonprofit organizations display a donate button on their pages, right underneath their profile picture. This will give them a “consistent place to collect donations, even as they update their Page’s content,” Klein said. It will also make it hard for anyone to claim that they looked at a group’s Facebook page but couldn’t figure out how they could make a donation to the organization. The company said it’s working with groups like the World Wildlife Fund and National Multiple Sclerosis Society to test the new features, and plans to expand it to other United States-based 501c3 nonprofits in the future. It thanked 37 organizations, from Alzheimer’s Association to Wounded Warrior Project, for helping it “shape new ways to help people come together and make a difference.” Nonprofits can now fundraise and accept donations on Facebook originally published by Gigaom, © copyright 2015. Continue reading… Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.How to choose between DIY and hyper-convergence in the data centerHow personal analytics can streamline business decisionsHow and why to implement a successful data lake

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Facebook has activated its Safety Check feature in response to a market bombing in Nigeria that killed at least 32 people and wounded dozens of other bystanders. Safety Check was originally meant to be used in the wake of natural disasters like earthquakes and hurricanes. Facebook rolled out the feature in response to a terror attack for the first time last Friday, when several gunmen killed 129 people and wounded more than 400 others in coordinated attacks throughout Paris. The company was criticized for making Safety Check available during the Paris attacks because a double suicide bombing in Beirut, Lebanon didn’t get the same treatment. Critics said Facebook was giving preferential treatment to a Western city targeted by terror attacks while ignoring similar tragedies in the Middle East. I wrote at the time that the criticism shows Facebook’s indispensability problem: The company simply isn’t used to the expectations attached to introducing a tool that can affect people’s lives beyond letting them share photos or status updates. Safety Check has turned Facebook from a social network to a vital public utility. Now the company has responded to that criticism by making Safety Check available for the second time in a single week. Yet as a report from Al Jazeera shows, that isn’t quite enough for many people on social media: They’re still complaining that Facebook hasn’t introduced a tool that allows people to overlay their profile pictures with the colors of Nigeria’s flag like it did after Paris’ attack. Facebook activates Safety Check after Nigeria bombing originally published by Gigaom, © copyright 2015. Continue reading… Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.How to choose between DIY and hyper-convergence in the data centerHow personal analytics can streamline business decisionsHow and why to implement a successful data lake

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There was a time when ad-blockers did what they said on the metaphorical tin: Stop advertisements from appearing while their users browse the Web. But in an increasingly crowded market with multiple tools promising to declutter websites, new ad-blockers need a schtick to differentiate themselves from the competition. Goodblock, an extension available as a public beta, is one of those newcomers. It performs the standard function of blocking ads — that’s in the job description — but it also gives users the option of periodically viewing advertisements that give at least 30 percent of their revenues back to the charitable cause of their choice. The actual mechanisms, which involve what the company behind Goodblock calls an “ambassador butterfly” named Tad as well as using virtual hearts as currency, is a little more complicated but that’s the gist of the extension. It’s available now for Google Chrome, and it will expand to Mozilla’s Firefox and Apple’s Safari soon. The ads themselves are static images that will take up an entire browser screen. Users can decide not to view the ads — just leave the ambassador butterfly alone! — and Goodblock will continue to block all the ads that would otherwise appear. Gladly, the company behind the app, has basically built a guilt-free ad-blocker. “The growing usage of ad blockers is a signal that people want more control over their online ad experience. Advertisers need a better solution; simply finding workarounds to ad blockers or forcing users to pay for content isn’t a long term fix,” said Gladly chief executive Alex Groth. “Goodblock represents a radically new model for ad blocking that gives users control over the ads they engage with, and a choice in how the revenue they help earn is allocated. We want people to not only enjoy the ads they choose to see, but to feel good that their time is also helping out a good cause.” Goodblock is an extension of what Gladly has done with “Tab for a Cause,” a tool which replaces the browser’s “New Tab” page with advertisements that support a charitable organization. Groth said that tool has given $150,000 to charities; information about where the revenues drawn by the tool go is publicly available. The extension capitalizes on renewed interest in protecting against the intrusive gaze that supports the online advertising apparatus. Privacy is one of the main reasons ad-blockers have seen a resurgence of late — people have decided they shouldn’t have to be tracked by countless businesses as they browse the Web. “Our number one priority is that users are in control of their ads. Some users want ads targeted to them; others don’t. We don’t currently do any ad targeting,” Groth said in response to a question about targeting ads. “If we introduce ad targeting in the future, it will be based on data users share with us for the explicit purpose of discovering products and events and brands they’ll enjoy. Unlike most ad companies, we refuse to collect or aggregate user data behind users’ backs.” Goodblock, like AdReplacer before it, is likely to invite criticism from those who view ad-blocking as a threat to small, advertising-dependent online publishers. Yet these tools debuting within a few days of each other shows that this is likely the way forward. Businesses aren’t content with blocking ads; they want to replace them with something they, and hopefully their users, think is better. Goodblock, the ad-blocker for good samaritans, enters beta originally published by Gigaom, © copyright 2015. Continue reading… Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.Online video courts TV dollarsGigaom Research survey: digital marketing tactics for customer acquistitionRetail 2.0: the convergence of wearables, iBeacons and big data

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Google+ ain’t dead, yet. The moribund social network has received a new shot at life with a redesign focused on allowing users to gather in communities devoted to certain topics. The change involves a full redesign of the service across the Web, Android, and iOS devices that users can choose to test when they sign in on the website. Google+ was previously focused on allowing users to divide their contacts into “circles” that never had to interact with each other. This didn’t prove enough to help the social network take on Facebook and Twitter, however, so the company spun out the best aspect of Google+ and has now apparently rethought the site. Google “director of streams” (whatever that means) Eddie Kessler said in a blog post Google+ is focusing on communities and collections based on user feedback.  These are “the places on Google+ where people around the world are spending their time discovering and sharing things they love,” Kessler said in his blog post. The new Google+ is supposed to be available now, but I was unable to opt-in to the updated service using the methods described in this post. From what Google has said, however, it seems like the company is changing Google+ into a Reddit competitor instead of an attempt to take on other social networking services. Google+ could have the benefit of being connected to people’s Gmail accounts. My real name and face appear whenever I post something on the service; when I post to Reddit, though, I can use any pseudonym I like without restriction. This could make Google+ seem like a friendlier, decentralized version of its controversial competitor. But, then, pseudonymity is one of the nice things about Reddit. (You can pry my throwaway account from my cold, dead fingers.) Perhaps the two sites won’t compete so much as they’ll coexist by focusing on different audiences. Until the new Google+ is widely available it all comes down to little more than guesswork. People should be able to test the updated Google+ website now. The company says updated applications for Android smartphones and the iPhone will be released in “the coming days.” Google+ gets an overhaul, refocuses on communities and collections originally published by Gigaom, © copyright 2015. Continue reading… Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.Comparing Amazon EC2’s C3 and C4 FamiliesHow work media tools are shaping business in 2015How to choose between DIY and hyper-convergence in the data center

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Last summer, Mark One made a big splash in the beverage sector when it launched the Kickstarter for Vessyl, a smart beverage receptacle that brings the world one step closer to the “quantified you” by tracking what and how much you drink. Though Vessyl has run into delays in product launch, Mark One is moving forward with Pryme Vessyl: a hydration-focused addition to the Vessyl line. Pryme is something of a slimmed-down, lithe and market-ready version of Vessyl. Though it doesn’t specialize in molecular analysis like Vessyl, Pryme is an intelligent cup that uses some seriously sophisticated sensor tech and what it calls the Pryme algorithm to track your water intake to help you reach your prime (get it?). Pryme’s reason for existing is pretty straightforward: You don’t drink enough water. At the end of the day, when you finally slow down and sit down and step away from your screens and devices, you probably realize that you forgot to drink much at all. You’ve got a headache, but all you want to do is head to bed and you certainly don’t want to catch up on a day’s worth of water now and pay for it all night long. It’s difficult to overstate the importance of hydration. Naturally, we all understand how vitally important water is in the context of extreme situations, but it can be a bit more difficult to remember to stay hydrated when you’re in the office that your boss keep just a tad too cold than it is when you’re outside in the brutal midst of summer when even the air seems to be at least thirty percent sweat. Water is key to keeping our brains and bodies working optimally. Without it, things start to go downhill pretty quickly. “We’re showing links to decrease in focus, decrease in attention, even short-term memory deficits around even minimal levels of dehydration,” says Dr. Hanson Lenyoun as we discuss the studies and vast amounts of research that surround hydration. “We tend to forget that water is so vital for life and for every function of our body that it impacts everything.” To be clear, though, not everyone’s “day’s worth of water” is the oft-fabled eight glasses. As Mark One’s Head of Brand Nic Barnes tells me, it’d be pretty crazy to assume that LeBron James and Miley Cyrus require the same amount of water daily. Taking into account physical factors like your age, weight and biological sex, along with your level of activity, the Pryme algorithm determines how much water you need to suit your hydration needs. “Hydration is something that’s unique to each person,” says Barnes, “but we also know that hydration is dynamic, meaning if you wake up at 6 a.m. on a Monday and you work out and you wake up at 6 a.m. on a Tuesday and you don’t work out, what you need to drink at 7 a.m. is very different. The body fluctuates and the body’s needs fluctuate throughout the day.” At first glance, Vessyl and Pryme are pretty similar. Aesthetically, it’s dead-simple. It’s all clean lines and uninterrupted flow. All of Pryme’s tech is cleverly concealed between the Tritan exterior and the glass walls of the cup’s interior. The lid is magnetic and moves organically, sans unwieldy straws or squeaky caps. And the Pryme’s distinguishing feature, the an illuminated that rises and falls with your hydration levels, acting as a guide as you move toward peak hydration. With sensors inside of the cup, Pryme tracks the amount of water that passes through its 16 oz. frame. The info gathered through the Pryme app and its integration with Apple Health, Apple Watch and Jawbone’s UP wearable fitness trackers impacts a real-time assessment of your dynamic hydration needs. With push notifications and the aforementioned light, Pryme lets you know how close you are to your “Pryme”. When you get there, a barely-there blue light appears, letting you know you’ve reached the bare minimum human being requirement for the day. “From a design perspective, it’s critical that we make sure that people, when they experience the product, feel like it’s an extension of them and not just a gadget or some kind of utility,” says Barnes. Though Vessyl, Pryme Vessyl’s predecessor, ran into delays that have held up production and shipping, Pryme is an extension of the Vessyl line of thinking and is available for the first time today online and in Apple Retail Stores. While not intended to be a replacement for Vessyl — which is designed to analyze and track beverages inside of it (from beer to coffee and water to cider) — Pryme is a piece of the Vessyl puzzle, and it’ll be making its way to early Kickstarter backers who placed preorders as a “thank you” for being patient whilst Vessyl continues to move towards release. Pryme isn’t Vessyl-lite, though — it’s meant to stand on its own, taking the Mark One core value of empowering people to make healthier choices and pointing it in a new direction. Some will be quick to write it off, calling it a very expensive water bottle. At $99, they’d technically be right, but Pryme’s role in your life goes pretty far beyond cup holders and the bottom of your gym bag. Its gentle nudges and small reminders come together to mean fewer headaches, better focus and less grumpiness at the hands of dehydration. It’s the kind of tech that’s deeply personal and that has the ability to impact daily behaviors, but begs you not to over think it. Underneath the Apple-esque curves and decidedly 21st century wireless charging tech (which nets Pryme Vessyl about two days of battery life on a two-hour charge), it’s still something we’ve been using for centuries: a cup. It’s just smarter now, like everything else we use. New Vessyl ‘smart cup’ shifts focus to hydration, lands in Apple retail stores originally published by Gigaom, © copyright 2015. Continue reading… Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.Handicapping On-Demand Market SectorsA planning framwork for disruptionComparing Amazon EC2’s C3 and C4 Families

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posted 3 months ago on gigaom
Employee training is usually a profoundly unhelpful whirlwind. It’s a day or two stuffed full of information, most of which gets partially (if not completely) forgotten by the second or third week of the #grind. It’s not that employers don’t try. I’m sure they do their level-best to make training helpful. After all, training and on-boarding employees is expensive, and high turnover rates and under-utilized employees are bad for business. But employee training is still begging for disruption. That’s exactly what Axonify aims to do. More than just an employee training platform, clould-based software Axonify aims to be an employee knowledge system that’s available for teaching, reference tracking and improvement every day that an employee’s on the job. Using adaptive and micro learning principles, paired with ramification and on-demand knowledge centers, Axonify’s employee knowledge platform is a serious departure from the training systems that are in place at most companies today. “Axonify’s approach was born of the simple realization that human beings aren’t capable of effectively acquiring large volumes of knowledge in one long event,” says Carol Leaman, CEO of Axonify. “Attention spans are short and getting shorter.  We’re stressed and distracted.  We also have very individual and specific  information needs.” It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that we’re not great a focusing. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and a hundred other sources of #content demand our attention hourly. And it doesn’t help that we check our email on average 77 times per day. We’re bombarded by information constantly, and when it’s more than a few sentences, we’re not great at filing it away for future use. “Our brains are really good at digesting 4 to 5 new pieces of information at a time and moving them from short to long-term memory,” says Leaman. “It turns out we’re easily overwhelmed, and too much content literally goes ‘in one ear and out the other’. It also turns out that in order to hone that knowledge, we need to actively recall the information periodically over 30 – 45 days.” That’s where the micro learning aspect of Axonify comes in. Information specific to an employees position within a company is doled out in small, digestible segments. Sessions don’t last hours, but minutes, and gamifies the learning process with points and leader boards. “Employees spend about 3 to 5 minutes per day on the platform receiving content in a micro learning format,” says Leaman. “Through understanding leading edge brain-based research in the areas of memory and retention, we designed the experience to create the most optimal scenario for knowledge acquisition that delivers targeted information, person by person, based on what they know, or don’t know, every single day. The proprietary algorithm we’ve developed allows us to personalize learning according to individual needs, strengths and weaknesses.” Employees voluntarily engaging with content that makes them better at their jobs is a powerful thing. But what kind of knowledge and content are we talking about? Right now, Axonify’s being used by companies like Walmart, Toyota, Bloomingdale’s and John Hancock. All wildly different companies in vastly different industries. Customer service, sales and product knowledge are obvious bets for the Axonify platform, but a vital piece of the employee knowledge is one that companies can’t afford to overlook: safety. “Walmart is using Axonify across its more than 75,000 distribution centre associates to keep them safe on the job,” says Leaman. “OSHA reportable incidents dropped by 54% in the first six months. The amount of money saved was incredible.” Axonify goes a bit further than just training, though. Understanding that question don’t always crop up at convenient times and aren’t always answered by bite-sized morsels of information, Axonify is rolling out Discovery Zone, which provides easily-accessible reference material. “It’s a place where employees can easily find whatever they need to do their jobs in 2 clicks and 10 seconds,” says Leaman. “With so much information in most corporate archives, employees can’t find anything quickly. They need to have information at their fingertips, on-demand, instantly.” Shaking up the way that employers and employees interact as they circle around important on-the-job information is a tall order, to be sure. Companies, particularly large ones, are notoriously slow to adopt new technology. That said, with large companies already on board, there’s an obvious benefit to shirking the old training system and plugging into the next generation of delivering employee knowledge. “Employees feel the intrinsic benefit of being smarter, and they appreciate being given the opportunity to learn constantly, quickly, specifically and when they have a few spare minutes,” says Leaman. “All this translates into higher employee engagement that benefits the business as a whole.” Axonify aims to shake up employee training with micro learning & gamification originally published by Gigaom, © copyright 2015. Continue reading… Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. 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Facebook has an indispensability problem: Whenever people discover a feature they feel as if they can’t live without, the company is immediately scrutinized more than it is when it’s seen as little more than a social network. For instance, in the wake of an attack that killed more than 120 people and injured at least 400 more, Facebook repurposed a tool built to be used during natural disasters so people near the affected areas in Paris could tell their friends and family that they were alive. It was the first time Facebook made the feature, Safety Check, available in response to a terror attack instead of an earthquake or similar event. Facebook said in an email that more than 4 million people used Safety Check after the Paris attack, and that 360 million people received notifications about the status of a friend or family member. That’s more than other disasters, like recent earthquakes in Afghanistan and Chile, but less than the earthquakes that struck Nepal in April and May. Safety Check, it turns out, is popular in a crisis. The episode highlighted Facebook’s utility in a disaster. “Facebook is clearly a place people expect to see frequent updates from their friends, and given Facebook’s penetration in some of its biggest markets, it’s also going to be a place where the vast majority of your friends have accounts,” said Jackdaw Research chief analyst Jan Dawson. “So it’s a logical place for people to go to see if their friends are OK after a disaster (whether man-made or otherwise), and it’s also logical for Facebook to make that checkin process as easy as possible.” But the reaction to Safety Check wasn’t all positive. Critics were quick to point out that Facebook made the feature available in response to the Paris attack, but it didn’t do so for a double suicide attack in Beirut, Lebanon the day before. Some blamed this on the inherent biases of Facebook’s engineers; Facebook vice president of growth Alex Schultz said it was because Safety Check is still young. “This activation will change our policy around Safety Check and when we activate it for other serious and tragic incidents in the future. We want this tool to be available whenever and wherever it can help,” Schultz said in a blog post. “We will learn a lot from feedback on this launch, and we’ll also continue to explore how we can help people show support for the things they care about through their Facebook profiles, which we did in the case for Paris, too.” Safety Check could become the go-to utility whenever disaster strikes around the world. That would inevitably bring even more criticism. Facebook thrives because its users think it’s indispensable. They use the service to message friends, share pictures, and share their opinions on whatever happens to be in the news cycle. For some people it’s hard to imagine life without Facebook — but the truth is that most of the service’s users would be able to replace the network if needed. People know this. It’s why they pretend to freak out whenever Facebook goes down. If they were actually concerned it wouldn’t seem like a joke; it would be a crippling failure of a critical system. Facebook reaps the benefits of people thinking they need to use its service without often being held to the same standards applied to systems that people actually consider a basic need. The response to Safety Check brought this truth into stark relief. The moment people thought they might have needed Facebook — in this case to share that they were safe following the attack in Beirut — they demanded to know why it seemed to care more about an attack in France than an attack in Lebanon. No good deed (or in this case disaster-focused feature) seems to go unpunished. Facebook “appears to be trying to help out and are responding to user feedback but their good will in this situation may not be received in the way they intended,” said Gartner analyst Brian Blau. “I don’t see their safety check as trying to replace official government efforts to help those impacted by the tragedy, but in [an] awkward way people are assuming their efforts to [be] nefarious in nature, and I just don’t think that is the case. I’m sure they feel some responsibility to help their users communicate given they are so popular globally.” The company is caught between triviality and indispensability. People need to think it’s integral to their lives for Facebook to continue to thrive, but in cases when the service is actually viewed as more than just a social networking tool, the company often invites criticism. (Just look to the campaign for the company to change its real-name policy for evidence this isn’t confined to Safety Check.) Given how many people used Safety Check the night of the Paris attack, it’s clear that they view the feature as an important way to communicate with the people they care about in a tragedy. Facebook seems to understand this, and is taking the criticism about not using Safety Check during other terror attacks seriously. But there’s sure to be more complaints — that’s what happens when more than a billion people use a service, and several million actually need it in their lives. Safety Check made sure Facebook is finally indispensable. Now the company will have to learn how to manage all the expectations that come from that new status. Safety Check shows Facebook’s indispensability problem originally published by Gigaom, © copyright 2015. Continue reading… Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. 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Pandora has agreed to acquire key assets from Rdio, a streaming music service that competes with Spotify and similar products, for roughly $75 million in cash. That’s more than $50 million less than Rdio raised across six rounds of venture financing, according to Crunchbase. Pandora said in a press release that the final figure might change because it’s subject to “certain purchase price adjustments.” Pandora will acquire Rdio’s technology and talent but not the operating business — which means the Internet radio company won’t be delving into the on-demand streaming business the moment it acquires the portions of Rdio that interest it. Instead, the company said it plans to “offer an expanded listening experience by late 2016” depending on its ability to “obtain proper licenses.” Pandora, in other words, will give itself some time to assimilate Rdio before it takes on Spotify. (Rdio said it’s service won’t be affected today, but will offer updates on the status in the future.) The deal is a further sign of consolidation in the music streaming market. Apple spent $3 billion on Beats last year, and is shutting down the Beats Music service at the end of the month. Grooveshark, another streaming service, closed in April. Yet the streaming music market will remain crowded despite that consolidation. Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Prime Music, Google Play Music, Deezer, Tidal, and other services will continue to vie for attention in this oversaturated space. This is the second major acquisition for Pandora in the last few months, with the first being a $450 million purchase of ticketing business Ticketfly. Between Ticketfly and the presumably soon-to-launch on-demand component of Pandora, hopefully it’ll be enough to keep it competitive with the slew of rivals. Investors, however, don’t seem to be very impressed by the development, as Pandora’s stock is essentially flat slightly in after hours trading. Pandora acquires Rdio for $75M in cash originally published by Gigaom, © copyright 2015. Continue reading… Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.What new identity management solutions can offer today’s enterpriseHandicapping On-Demand Market SectorsA planning framwork for disruption

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posted 3 months ago on gigaom
If you’ve ever handed a tablet to a kid and watched them start swiping and tapping like they were born to do it, you know how powerful tech is in the hands of children. Tablets can open an entirely new world to kids, but the rise of tablet play has inevitably led a decline in the amount of time kids spend making their own fun, which is a crucial part of childhood development. There’s a litany of apps that limit screen time in an effort to get kids to unplug and interact with the “real world”, but one startup is taking a different approach and attempting to bridge the gap between digital and imaginative play. The basic idea behind PopUp Play is that one of the greatest “toys” a kid can have is a giant cardboard box and an imagination, thus transforming a refrigerator box into a castle or spaceship. But recognizing that in today’s world, more playtime on the tablet is translating to less time spent interacting with the world in the jovial, imaginative way that kids are wont to do, Amelia Cosgrove and Bryan Thomas dreamt up PopUp Play, an Austin-based startup that brings tablet play into the real world with cardboard “playscapes” — sturdy cardboard castles that are designed by children via a tablet app. As a kid, Cosgrove spent a lot of time in cardboard boxes. Co-founder Thomas tells me how their startup started with a conversation over lunch with colleagues during which Cosgrove recounted her experience as a kid, playing in a boxes that became rocket ships and pieces of imagined worlds. “PopUp Play is this blend between offline, imaginative play and online play,” says Thomas. “Kids start in the PopUp Play Build Lab, which is a 3D design tool for kids, and they design their own custom Playscape –like a castle, a gingerbread house or a rocket ship — and then push a button, and a few days later, we deliver the design to their door, exactly as they designed it in the app. So, they’re literally designing a physical structure in the app that we make and deliver to their house, and they get to play inside.” PopUp Play starts with letting kids create and design custom Playscapes on its Build Lab app and then gives them the experience of seeing something they designed appear at their doors. Made from rugged, play-tested cardboard, they assemble in a few minutes and can be quickly dismantled and stored flat until playtime comes round again. Starting from basic frameworks, kids can customize their Playscapes with structural components like drawbridges, towers, and windows, along with design elements like a custom coat of arms or decals of dragons, torches and unicorns. The Build Lab itself is a kid-friendly 3D design program that gives kids a little bit of guidance and a lot of freedom as they create. “The only thing that’s fixed on the castle is that it has to have four walls. Beyond that, kids can add windows, towers, doors anywhere they want them. And then we provide a little bit of gentle guidance in the app to help them make decisions with respect to the design itself,” says Thomas. “For some of these younger kids, the app has what we call gentle nudges to help them make good decisions about where to put structural components so that the structure actually stands up. Along the way, they’re learning good engineering and design practices.” Though I’m a bit older than the target demographic, I took the app for a spin and created pretty incredible castle. Really. It has my name, a coat of arms, a dragon and lots of flames. Feel free to tell me how great it is:   Playscapes are intended for kids age 3-9 and, as such, they’re designed to stand up to a lot of use and abuse. What’s more, playscapes are a flat price of $99 plus $10 for shipping, meaning that whether a kid opts for a simple-but-elegant castle or one that’s got three towers, five windows and a drawbridge, the price is the same. Much unlike the many children’s apps that allow kids to rack up hefty bills with in-app purchases (like the ones that Kanye publicly denounced just a few weeks ago), PopUp Play isn’t looking to limit kids by putting a premium on creatively-designed structures. “We really wanted kids to feel like they had full breadth of creativity without any incremental costs or repercussions,” says Thomas, “because that’s just lame.” While the $99 price point might seem a bit high when the alternative is a refrigerator box and a set of markers, the startup believes the educational aspects of the playscapes will provide justification. Though kids have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to cool toys, there isn’t much opportunity for them to translate a learning experience into a large physical structure that’s meant for play. PopUp Play’s playscapes present something of a new creative opportunity for kids that comes to life in a big way. “This is something that a kid designs and actually gets inside,” says Thomas. “When I was a kid, I was really frustrated that everything was always kid-sized and scaled down, and it was never as cool as what you saw in the commercials. So PopUp Play completed focused on this idea that it’s as good as you saw in the commercials. The promise of designing your own thing and then actually going through it is just as awesome as you thought it would be.” While the castle is the only available framework for now, the end of the month will bring two new frameworks: a gingerbread house and a rocket ship. PopUp Play’s Build Lab is available in the App Store now, and parents and kids will be able to order playscapes right away. And, for those aunts, uncles and grandparents who may want to get in on the action, PopUp Play offers gift codes that kids and parents can redeem in-app for a playscape whenever they’re ready to get to work designing. This startup lets your kid design a cardboard castle via tablet originally published by Gigaom, © copyright 2015. Continue reading… Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.How to bring the promise of big data to the executive suiteHow to design for the realities of mobile computingApplying lean startup theory in large enterprises

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posted 3 months ago on gigaom
It’s hard enough to produce the news, but making money from it is an entirely different challenge — one that many of the largest publishers were happy to let the likes of Facebook and Apple help out with. For Apple, it seems that publishers have yet to see any increased benefits traffic to their own sites, or any additional money generated via ads running alongside articles hosted through Apple’s News app. Ads are something of a necessary evil when it comes online publishing. While Facebook’s new publishing platform, Instant Articles, has had some success with reaching and engaging users, the ad restrictions placed on its 20 initial publishers have proven problematic. Facebook is supposedly thinking hard about the ad regulations on the Instant Articles platform, according to a Wall Street Journal report last week. Currently, Instant Articles only allows a single large banner ad per 500 words–a far cry from the high-dollar ads that appear on publisher websites. Unsurprisingly, in a world where ad-blockers kill websites, publishers are pushing back. Early number indicate that engagement is high and that user experience is better on mobile using Instant Articles than it is on your average mobile-friendly publisher website. Instant Articles (IA) lets publishers tap Facebook’s massive audiences faster and with better engagement and retention, but the problem is that the ad revenue on Instant Articles pales in comparison to what publishers can achieve on their own website. Without the interference of ad-blockers, anyway. The tensions here are obvious: Facebook wants IA to do well — it wants the user experience to be stellar and for people to come to the app often and it knows that most people hate ads. Publishers want eyes on their content, but they also need ad money to sustain operations. Advertisers want to keep ad budgets low. Clearly something’s gotta give, right? “Instant Articles is fairly new,” says Forrester analyst Erna Alfred Liousas. “Given the benefits Facebook sees from rich media, it appeared odd they wouldn’t allow rich media ads in Instant Articles. I believe they are revisiting that point. Providing publishers with an environment that mirrors the formats generating success on their websites is a much needed change.” Facebook’s Instant Articles product manager Michael Reckhow told WSJ that Facebook will be working with publishers to balance their advertising needs with user experience. He didn’t give much in the way of details, but Michael Jude, Frost & Sullivan’s Stratecast Consumer Communication Services Research Manager, postulates that Facebook is likely already overhauling their ad strategy. “The balancing act it is trying to walk is one that allows enough copy to be effective, without creating, in essence, an infomercial size piece,” says Jude. “In addition, it wants to encourage volume of transmissions, since the revenue model is built on a price per push.” Liousas echoes the need for balance: “To keep these publishers interested for the near future, Facebook has to find a balance between its needs of driving a profit and the publishers’ needs of driving near equal placement value to what is generated on their websites.” The key will be keeping publishers interested and bringing more outlets onto the platform when IA struggles to provide the kind of revenue that mobile websites bring. Traffic is important, but it’s still ad dollars that make the online publishing world go ’round. “Although there was a fairly robust response to IA, with 20 or so interested publishers,” says Jude, “that number has been dwindling as the experience with IA has failed to live up to more common types of advertising. Any channel form advertising content that runs through Facebook is good for Facebook, since it enables Facebook to capture part of the advertising spend.  The more advertising the better: Google built its business on this notion and Facebook is trying to find ways to emulate Google.” Even with the ad shakeups, though, it seems unlikely that publishers will turn their backs the valuable Facebook audience that comes with Instant Articles. “I don’t see any reason why this ad-format tinkering should cause any publishers to withdraw from the Instant Articles program,” says Forrester publishing analyst Susan Bidel. “Both Facebook and publishers at large are keenly aware that they must offer users a premium experience. Now advertisers need to step up and pay for the sort of showcase environment that premium publishers both in the Instant Article program and outside it offer them.” While changing advertiser behavior may prove difficult, it would certainly relieve some of the tension in the online publishing industry outside of Instant Articles. Though we’re likely to see Instant Articles changing in an attempt to strike some kind of middle-ground between user experience and the ads that publishers need to survive, the evolution of IA may involve much more than bigger banners and rich media. “This could evolve into an interactive advertising medium that combines social media, with targeted advertising and crowd evaluation, says Jude. “They are looking for the magic combination and it will be interesting to watch it evolve. Facebook and Apple hit snags with news publishing strategies originally published by Gigaom, © copyright 2015. Continue reading… Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.Online video courts TV dollarsGigaom Research survey: digital marketing tactics for customer acquistitionRetail 2.0: the convergence of wearables, iBeacons and big data

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posted 3 months ago on gigaom
Tony is CEO of PostUp. From Lena Dunham to TechCrunch, it seems like everyone is getting into email newsletters these days. It should come as no surprise that email is becoming the new darling among publishers, since mobile users love to kick back and read a curated digest of great content every day. As newsletters take off, it is important that publishers not just focus on click-through rates, but keep deliverability, inbox placement and readability top of mind. These factors could be the most important details in email marketing, yet are often overlooked by publishers who are blinded by clicks. However, an email that is not delivered to a subscriber’s inbox is effectively worthless; if a subscriber doesn’t get it, they can’t click through. Engagement is one of the key factors that impacts deliverability. The ISPs look at what you are sending and who you are sending it to in order to determine whether or not it should be placed in the inbox or some other folder. The fact is that you don’t get placed in the inbox if people don’t open and click your messages. If your recipients are engaging with the communications that you are sending because they are well-formatted and providing valuable information, then the ISPs have no other option than to deliver your messages to the inbox. Engaged recipients are reinforcing the idea that the message is relevant and deserves good placement. Creating a strategy around engagement will improve deliverability, which will lead to a more successful email program. To boost engagement, you should consider the following points: Have a clear email-specific strategy. Don’t just dump web content in an email and call it a day. While publishers are very good at creating content, they are often challenged in determining which content makes the most sense in an email. Publishers need to make decisions about content based on who is signing up and customer behavior. Unfortunately, by not considering deliverability, publishers often end up formatting emails that are optimized to their website rather than considering how it would best generate traffic to the website. Instead, publishers should adopt a well-thought-out communication strategy for the email itself to improve deliverability and inbox placement. Design for mobile & execute campaign previews. As mobile engagement continues to grow, previewing becomes a necessary task before you hit send. Viewing how an email will look across webmail clients and mobile devices using rendering reports can help publishers optimize the creative, which in turn makes the message more clickable. This helps to optimize the creative before you send which in turn increases the chances of driving engagement. Better engagement equals better delivery rates. Use targeting techniques to increase engagement. Unfortunately, a lot of publishers have a “batch and blast” mentality and send emails to anyone who has ever signed up for their list, and the emails become irrelevant for many. This can negatively impact deliverability rates. For example, if you have a million recipients on your list and you always send to the entire list, you could hurt your delivery if an overwhelming majority of those recipients never engage. It tells the ISPs that you aren’t sending relevant communications and could eventually lead to spam folder delivery. Because engagement affects inbox placement, targeting plays a role in deliverability, and publishers that want to land in the inbox should consider targeting their messaging. Publishers have to send relevant, engaging content that people will open and click. If you send something that people don’t open and click, you will have challenges. If you don’t consider these elements, then you are not likely to find the inbox because poor engagement will lead to poor delivery rates. Don’t forget: if the email doesn’t make it to the inbox, no one will open it, no one will click on it, and you won’t make money. Why publishers can’t afford to ignore deliverability originally published by Gigaom, © copyright 2015. Continue reading… Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.Digital content discovery: a market analysisGigaom Research survey: digital marketing tactics for customer acquistitionHandicapping On-Demand Market Sectors

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posted 3 months ago on gigaom
Galia is COO and head of sales for Taptica. The mobile video advertising ecosystem is headed toward a major eruption. By the end of next year, the industry will take colossal strides to combat fraud and eliminate bogus inventory, while simultaneously working to meet advertisers’ growing demand for mobile video ads. Savvy businesses will continue to buy or build platforms that allow them to offer a complete mobile video ad solution — the content, the audience, and the ad tech — and increase their revenue streams. As with any massive overhaul (and it will be massive), there will be casualties. But, the end result will be more effective and more secure mobile video advertising opportunities to help feed the already burgeoning demand. Here’s what we know. Advertisers and agencies are scrambling to create or fine-tune their mobile strategies and to contend with the now irrefutable fact that consumers are spending more time on their mobile devices. We’ve been talking about a “mobile-first” media landscape for a while; now it’s time for marketing strategies to catch up with user behavior. Simultaneously, consumer and brand interest in video is mounting, and for basically the same reason: high-quality video is engaging. Neither mobile nor video is without its challenges, but marrying the two helps alleviate some of the issues. Video mobile ads are more engaging than mobile banner ads. Couple that with the rich data we can harness through mobile devices, and you open up video to a host of new marketing use cases. Now we can monitor viewers’ subsequent behaviors and better measure the ROI of our investments. Video isn’t just for brand awareness anymore. Within the next few years, it’s basically inevitable that the bulk of ad buying, mobile included, will be done programmatically. Spending levels are already soaring. Programmatic buying is lauded for its benefits, which include increased efficiency, more accurate targeting capabilities, and easy scalability. But it’s also rife with fraud. According to research from the Association of National Advertisers and WhiteOps, 23 percent of video ad views are actually from bots. This is simply not acceptable. As an increasing number of brands and agencies look to embrace video advertising, they’ll clamor for more stringent regulations and better protection against fraudulent traffic. They’ll also take a hard look at programmatic trading, the practice of buying media and then reselling it for profit. In the not-too-distant future, 2016 will be the year brands demand more transparency across the board. The writing is already on the wall. BrightRoll has begun cleaning up its traffic and taking steps to educate the market about the ubiquity of fraud. AppNexus, which has been a big player in programmatic trading, made huge strides this year by working to improve the quality of its inventory, limiting media arbitrage and increasing viewability. Perhaps predictably, it’s also shifting its focus toward video.    Mobile media consolidation Even with the growing amount of fraudulent mobile video traffic, there is still a pressing supply and demand issue. There’s simply not enough inventory to meet advertisers’ needs. We’re going to have to rethink our definition of “premium” and become more open to running video ads in-stream and alongside user-generated content, a change that’s already underway—just look at the buzz Snapchat’s video ad product is generating. The increased demand for mobile video will continue to drive up prices for publishers, which is part of the reason why a growing number of companies are working to buy or create quality video content. Mobile media has already begun consolidating, as content distributors and content creators realize they’re more powerful together. Look at AOL’s acquisition of Adapt.TV, a programmatic video ad platform, and Vidible, a content syndication solution for publishers. (Expect to see an increase in the syndication of quality content as one solution to the challenge of meeting expanding demand quickly.) With these moves, AOL now has the audience, content, and technology needed to offer advertisers a full-service ad solution. And don’t forget, it’s owned by Verizon, which recently announced a plan to launch its own Hulu/Netflix-like app (Go90) for streaming mobile video, and also revealed that its focus is on mobile video. RTL Group’s purchase of SpotXchange last year and Facebook’s acquisition of LiveRail, the third-largest online video advertising management platform, are also harbingers of industry-wide change. Facebook can now extend its video ad reach beyond its platform, and LiveRail is already working to improve the quality of its exchange by cutting out providers who don’t work directly with advertisers. If they manage to improve their supply and leverage Facebook’s in-depth data, the results will be what marketers’ dreams are made of: the ability to reach their target audience via quality mobile video traffic while gaining precise insight into what type of creative is resonating. These types of intelligent mergers will continue as the industry works to reduce fraud, improve viewability, and better harness data. These changes will punish suppliers with less-than-stellar practices, but the net result will be an industry that’s more mature, regulated, and effective. Mobile video advertising will be a no-brainer investment. The not-so-distant future of mobile and video originally published by Gigaom, © copyright 2015. Continue reading… Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.Online video courts TV dollarsGigaom Research survey: digital marketing tactics for customer acquistitionRetail 2.0: the convergence of wearables, iBeacons and big data

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posted 3 months ago on gigaom
Although most ad blocking tools primarily focus on hiding advertisements from websites you navigate to, that’s not all they’re capable of. Earlier this week serial entrepreneur Jason Calacanis released a Google Chrome extension that targets the sponsored content recommendations from Taboola and Outbrain, which are often displayed at the bottom of many websites. But instead of blocking those “content ads,” the extension replaces them with links to presumably superior content curated by Calacanis’ Inside.com editorial team. The extension, called AdReplacer, is currently available as a free download. AdReplacer debuts shortly after fears about an online-mediapocalypse were stoked when Apple built support for content blockers into iOS 9 earlier this year. Pundits wondered how mobile ad-blocking might affect small publishers while developers exploited, and sometimes questioned the ethics of, the opportunity. The difference here is that AdReplacer doesn’t affect most advertisements, only those provided by Taboola, Outbrain, and Zergnet. The extension also isn’t monetized, or in other words, making money by eliminating ads that would otherwise generate revenue for web publishers. You could theoretically argue that replacing ads with something more appealing could strengthen readership on those sites. But publishers are still technically losing potential revenue, so many may not see this as much of a distinction between other ad blockers. Sponsored recommendation companies are predictably not happy, with Outbrain’s chief exec calling Calacanis an “anti-founder” because of AdReplacer, according to a blog post from Calacanis. “Our little ‘ad replacer’ is just a reaction to the level of aggression that publishers and ad platforms have shown to consumers,” Calacanis wrote in response to the criticism. “If you guys tone down the ads, no one will install AdReplacer.” He added: Finally, on the moral issue, let’s be candid for a moment. Startups are a competition of ideas, with consumers as the judges. Helping consumers avoid pain (what we do) is as (or more?) valid as inflicting pain on consumers because they have no choice (what you do). Here’s the statement offered by Outbrain in response to my request for comment: Behind his pretty language about the best content on the web, Jason is offering up exactly what we do – personalized content recommendations based on what people are consuming. The big difference is that Outbrain’s approach has become a revenue lifeline for struggling publishers, while his approach steals the audience from some of the most loved publishers in the world, and deprives them of their revenue. We’d be highly suspicious of a service that takes users from publishers. A spokeswoman for Taboola said in an email that the company would “like to politely decline on commenting here.” Calacanis said he would respond to emailed questions, but as of this morning none have been answered. I did, however, speak with Contextly co-founder Ryan Singel on the matter: “To me, until [AdReplacer] becomes something that’s really widely used, it’s another symptom of a larger problem, which is that we’ve gotten to an age where publishers need to monetize and they’ve over-crowded their pages and have terrible experiences,” he says. Contextly helps publishers by recommending stories on their own sites at the bottom of news articles. This means that, instead of sending readers to other sites — the quality of which is far from guaranteed — people are encouraged to explore content in which they might be interested from a site they’re already on. Taboola, Outbrain, and even AdReplacer all work on a fundamentally different principle: That once people are done with an article from one publisher, they’re probably ready to abandon that website and head on to the next. The tools only differ in where those erstwhile readers are sent once they decide to click a link. An example of the content people see when AdReplacer is enabled. Some people might find those tools useful. In my limited experience with AdReplacer, though, it didn’t seem like most of the linked stories were all that interesting. One was about a french bulldog playing with a vacuum cleaner; another discussed what I assume was a disastrous round of “Wheel of Fortune.” Those links didn’t seem much better than the ones displayed by Taboola on the same article. There I was told to order wine online; shown a story about a father and son who took the same picture for 28 years; another was about how young millionaires invest; and the last one was about new stuff appearing on Netflix. Yet, AdReplacer has a slight edge — besides the stories I mentioned above, it also showed something about Hillary Clinton and another story about Howard University — but not enough for me to use the extension on a daily basis. I’d rather keep my ad-blockers enabled and find some #content in other ways. AdReplacer switches ‘obnoxious ads’ with human-curated links originally published by Gigaom, © copyright 2015. Continue reading… Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.Digital content discovery: a market analysisSector RoadMap: Content personalization in 2013Online video courts TV dollars

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