Archive for the ‘computer’ tag
What if your ideas didn’t matter?
For senior marketers, it is a very humbling thought. What if your ideas, your thoughts and even your experience as a trained marketing professional didn’t amount to a hill of beans in terms of the actual brand’s advertising performance? What if everything you have been bringing to the table could be debunked with a simple multivariate testing regiment? There is a very real threat to the marketing profession, and it’s one that has been present for quite some time, but it’s gaining more and more momentum. The net outcome of this movement could prove that machines are better advertisers than humans.
Let’s take a step back.
Mad Men‘s lead character, Don Draper, has an acutely profound skill in being able to turn a brand insight into an emotion that can bring you to tears. If you doubt that, watch him spin and weave a tale about the profound power that Kodak’s slide carousel could have on the world. It’s not just the emotional resonance of his message, his pitch and delivery, but the core insight that he is able to both uncover and demonstrate back to the consumer that touches us. Don Draper is, obviously, a fictitious character but he’s the perfect composite of hundreds (if not thousands) of advertising legends who have roamed our earth. Great advertising is magic. It does more than sell… it tells a story that captivates our imaginations and connects us to a brand – and to others who share in the brand sentiment. It’s a unique art form in that its sole purpose is to generate income and increase the engine of capitalism on behalf of corporations. It is art for money’s sake. It’s hard to argue that any computer or technology can create that kind of emotional connection or weave that kind of story.
Where we’re at today.
Traditional advertisers will tell you that not much has changed. The job – day in and day out – remains the same: create a compelling enough message that your customers can’t ignore you, generate advertising that creates attention and interest and closes the sale. Rinse and repeat. What we can’t deny is that technology is now penetrating the marketing industry like never before. You could practically hear the Chief Marketing Officer’s bodies hitting the floor in March of last year when the research firm Gartner reported that by 2017, a Chief Marketing Office will be spending more on IT than the Chief Information Officer. It seems almost unfathomable that the marketers will need more technology that the actual technology department in corporations, but when you scratch beneath the surface, it all starts to crystallize.
Data + Testing + Web + Mobile + Social + Local + Personalization = gold.
This past week, has seen some fascinating – albeit divergent – moves in advertising that – when combined – paint a powerful and proactive picture as to just how much advertising has changed… and how much more change is about to occur. The first interesting tidbit is that younger, digital natives, are becoming increasingly comfortable sharing their personal data online so long as they are deriving a value from the exchange (Millennials More Comfortable Than Their Elders Sharing Personal Data Online). So, in a world where consumers are screaming about their privacy being breached by every website that tracks their clicks, young people seem more-than-fine in giving up personal information so long as they get something out it. Next up, we’re seeing an exponential growth in the amount of programmatic buying in media that is taking place (Despite Reservations, Programmatic Buying Gains Steam). The numbers don’t lie, according to this eMarketer news item. 70% of media buyers and publishers are doing some kind of programmatic buying and 77% of those doing it plan on increasing their spend in the next year. What makes this even more profound is that the survey cited also states that a good chunk of these media entities are thinking about moving entirely to programmatic trading and stopping their direct relationships with publishers. Lastly, the challenges of retargeting (the ability to serve advertising that is related to a user’s past online experience – like showing them an ad for a specific shoe that they were looking at on Zappos but never bought) is coming to light (Web Ads That Know Too Much). As exciting as that nascent advertising technology is, many agencies and publishers are not able to fully harness the potential of it to make it work effectively… yet. Still, millions of dollars is being poured into this quickly-maturing advertising opportunity, and nobody doubts the future potential that is upon us in terms of delivering measurable advertising without much human (or creative) intervention.
Should advertisers remove the ego?
As the great philosopher, Uncle Ben, from Spider-Man so eloquently stated: "with great power comes great responsibility." While it may be fun for marketing professionals to have a five martini lunch while ensuring that the baseball stadium still sports their logo and that the ads are running on every TV show that will impress their friends and family members, it’s somewhat disheartening to see the lack of enthusiasm that senior marketers have for all of this evolution (or revolution – depending on who you ask). At the Monetate Agility Summit 2013 in Philadelphia at the beginning of April, I shared the stage with famed marketing optimization expert (and friend), Bryan Eisenberg (co-author of bestselling books like Waiting For Your Cat To Bark? and Always Be Testing). He concludes that too many marketers let their ego get in the way. It’s a sobering indictment. In a world where testing creative, landing pages and more can be done in a simple and measurable way, Eisenberg asserts that the number one reason senior marketers don’t buy into the data and technology is because they are worried that the results will prove their intuition wrong. And, that more often than not, those intuitions are wrong. It weaves a complex story. We have consumers increasingly willing to share personal data, the technology to create hundreds of fast and easy to execute tests, and additional technology to manage the complexity of the media buy behind it and yet, we’re all still acting like Don Draper.
From Mad Men to Math Men.
This doesn’t mean that creative, insights and storytelling dies. It does mean that we can leverage that aspect of insights while pushing technology to make us better at how that message connects and converts to more sales at a much higher level of efficiency and efficacy. Marketers let our egos get in the way for too long because we had little else to go by. Now, the excuses are getting thinner and hold less value. It turns out that big data, programmatic buying, retargeting and more could well usher in a world where advertising delivers on it’s original promise: to drive more sales and get less expensive as it learns. Now, if only us marketers can let our egos get out of the way.
The above posting is my twice-monthly column for the Harvard Business Review. I cross-post it here with all the links and tags for your reading pleasure, but you can check out the original version online here:
Mac: When you close the lid to your MacBook, your computer automatically goes to sleep. This means you can’t continue downloads, or do updates of any kind without leaving your laptop sitting open. NoSleep is a small utility that prevents your MacBook from sleeping when you close the lid. More »
The Koss Striva Headphones Stream Wireless Tunes from Your Gadgets or the Internet Right to Your Ears [Stuff We Like]
A few months back, the folks at Koss sent us a pair of their Striva Pro headphones to try out, and after putting them through their paces, I can say they’re some of the best wireless headphones I’ve ever used—they sound great, let me listen to music from my phone, computer, or even streaming from the internet, all without wires, anywhere in range of my Wi-Fi network. Even so, great audio and convenience come with a catch. More »
Picking the best keyboard for your needs is tough—everyone will have different opinions once they get their fingers on the keys, but there are definitely a few models that stand out above the rest, and plenty that are probably better than the ones that came with your computer. This week we’re going to look at five of the best keyboards, based on your nominations. More »
Google released Account chooser today, which lets you easily toggle between Gmail accounts without having to enter and re-enter your email or password.
Account chooser was first noticed by The Next Web, and undoubtedly excites any person that uses Gmail for both work and personal accounts. In order to enable the feature, you must first go to this link, which automatically signs you up if you’re logged into one of your accounts. That account becomes the default account from which you can add others. You must click “stay signed in” in order for the feature to work.
The new Gmail login screen is a small box that displays your name, the email address, and an image if you have one on your account. Multiple sign-on will be enabled across many of Google’s products, but the company notes that some of its products are not friendly with the feature yet. If you attempt to access a Google product that does not support Account chooser, then you will be automatically reverted to your default account.
Google does provide a set of suggestions on how to protect your accounts if you’re using Account chooser on a shared computer, but it’s always best not to have a signed-in account on a computer accessed by others.
hat tip The Next Web
Filed under: cloud
Researchers at security firms Kaspersky Lab and Crysys Lab released tools today to detect if your computer is infected by the Gauss virus, a piece of malware that focuses on stealing bank account login credentials.
Gauss was discovered yesterday by Kaspersky Lab, and its function is to steal access credentials to Lebanese banks. These include the Bank of Beirut, BlomBank, EBLF, ByblosBank, Credit Libanais, and FransaBank. It also steals information for Citibank and PayPal. On top of that, the malware grabs browser history, cookies, passwords, system configurations, and more. Researchers have not been able to get much information about the builders themselves, as the command and control servers were shut down, leaving the malware in limbo.
Gauss is related to a number of high-profile viruses including Stuxnet, which became famous after attacking nuclear plants in Iran in 2010, and its sister malware, Duqu. It is also related to the recently infamous Flame, which has been referred to as a major advancement in cyberespionage.
Gauss and Flame are closer together in relation. Kaspersky says the two share nearly identical features and were built off of the same code base. The firm says Stuxnet’s creators probably worked closely with those of Gauss and may have even shared source code.
Filed under: security
Google has been hit with the biggest fine in the history of the Federal Trade Commission: $22.5 million. It has to do with cookies, bits of computer code placed on your browser when you visit a website. Read more » about Google Gets Slammed with the Biggest FTC Fine Ever
SMASH, a program that gives low-income high schoolers of color a chance to study math and science in some of the best-equipped academic institutions in California, recently rolled out a branch at Stanford. I had the chance to visit the intense summer program a few weeks ago, and was very impressed by what founders Freada and Mitch Kapor have put in motion here.
The Kapors, who founded the Level Playing Field Institute in 2001, got the inspiration for SMASH at a 2003 fundraiser they attended in Andover, MA, for a program called (MS)2. (MS)2 brought 100 disadvantaged African American, Latino, and Native American students from select public schools across the U.S. to highly elite prep school Phillips Academy for the summer. The program, which had changed the lives of hundreds of children, showed the students what they could achieve if they worked hard. Given the program’s results, the Kapors didn’t hesitate to make a generous donation.
But when Freada asked how many of the children were from California, she was disappointed, but not surprised, by the answer.
“After a bit of shuffling and staring at shoes,” she told me during my visit to the Stanford program in July, “I was told ‘none’ with an explanation that they had longstanding relationships with several high schools but none west of Chicago or Texas.”
California isn’t considered a priority given the popular myth that Silicon Valley is a meritocracy – a phenomenon I’ve previously highlighted. Blacks and Hispanics constitute only 1.5 percent and 4.7 percent respectively of the Valley’s computer workers — even lower than the national averages of 7.1 percent and 5.3 percent.
The Silicon Valley elite rarely get to interact with minorities, so stereotypes get propagated, which only serves to make the problem worse. Venture capitalists invest in people who fit the “patterns” of successful entrepreneurs that they know, and hiring managers bring in more of the same types of people they have seen achieve success — in other words: people like them.
Indeed, during the July visit, the Kapors recalled an encounter between Mitch and one of his young Latino colleagues a few years ago. He asked if Mitch invented Lotus 1-2-3 (Mitch founded Lotus Software, and it was acquired by IBM for $3.5 billion in 1995). Mitch said he was puzzled as to how someone in their 20s might know of a software program that was a blockbuster in the 1980s. He explained that his mother cleaned office buildings at night in Sacramento and would sometimes take him to work and let him play on the computer while she cleaned toilets and emptied corporate employees’ trash cans. For him, he said, this was the symbol of another life — of being successful. The interaction left Mitch in tears.
“How many Silicon Valley elites have ever had a conversation with the people who clean their offices,” he asked me, “do they see their kids as having the potential to be top talent in any field?”
This motivated the Kapors to establish SMASH — the Summer Math and Science Honors Academy at UC Berkeley. They established SMASH through the Level Playing Field Institute. While inspired by the (MS) 2 program, SMASH is not a replica of it. Instead, SMASH focuses on providing project-based learning and integrating science and math into contemporary issues rather than an intensive curriculum oriented towards standardized tests.
SMASH provides full funding for high-achieving, low-income high school students of color to spend time on campus for five weeks during the summers after their 9th, 10th, and 11th grade years. They are immersed in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), conduct experiments and participate in group discussions. They are taught by leading scholars and provided access to the most advanced research equipment. Then they are provided with year-round academic support, including SAT prep, college counseling, and other support to ensure their academic success.
The results speak for themselves: 100 percent of SMASH graduates have been accepted to competitive four-year colleges, and the overwhelming majority persist as STEM majors, according to Freada. Kids from under-performing public schools who are eligible for free lunches have often never heard of MIT or Middlebury or Morehouse, but those are campuses now populated with SMASH alumni.
SMASH has grown since 2004 from one site at UC Berkeley to four sites throughout the state, including the one at Stanford. Another site is opening at the University of Chicago in 2013, and the program’s organizers are in discussions with 18 other campuses to expand nationally. The goal? Twenty-five sites by 2020.
The biggest limiting factor is funding. The program is expensive, and the universities — even those with large endowments, such as Stanford — still charge the startup nonprofit full price for room and board. It’s the single, greatest line item in the SMASH budget.
SMASH has a rigorous and evolving curriculum, experiments with blended learning, including MySciHigh, which won first place at a recent Startup Weekend. The program also has a detailed operations manual for launching new sites. A STEM teacher training academy is also in its sights as the program explores how to scale its success.
When I visited SMASH at Stanford in July and talked to many of the participating students. They called the program “life-changing” and talked about how it made them determined to become an engineer or a scientist.
Maria Castillo, a senior from Richmond High in California said the program inspired her to become an engineer so she could help solve the energy crisis. SMASH, she said, “inspired me to speak my opinions no matter what other people think.”
Hi Vo, a senior at Del Mar High School in San Jose, gushed about how excited he was about learning math and science because of the great scientists he met at Stanford. Daryle Alums, a student at KIPP King Collegiate in San Lorenzo, Calif., said SMASH got him interested in computer science and that he had started a company with his friends.
I have little doubt that these students’ excitement and the sense of hope they developed is infectious. We just need thousands more like them returning to schools around the country to inspire the others.
[Editor's note: A version of this story previously appeared on WashingtonPost.com]
Vivek Wadhwa is a fellow at the Rock Center for Corporate Governance at Stanford University and is affiliated with several other universities. Read more about Vivek Wadhwa’s affiliations.
Filed under: VentureBeat
Your keyboard is your most used peripheral, and the part of your computer your probably touch the most. Picking the best keyboard definitely depends on your personal tastes and preferences, but whether you prefer a media keyboard, an ergonomic keyboard, or a gaming keyboard with programmable keys, you probably have thoughts on which one is the best, and this week we want to know what it is. More »
Howdy all. We’re a month away from the fourth annual TechCrunch Disrupt SF Hackathon.
To meet the demand, we’re releasing more tickets to the public. If you haven’t already gotten your ticket, go get one now. This will be sold out.
It will be a great weekend of hacking and learning, culminating in minute-long presentations with hundreds of the Bay Area’s best on Sunday afternoon. To add to the pressure cooker, we’ve handpicked a crew of the industry’s best to lend their wisdom and good looks to the event. You’re bound to recognize some of these heavy hitters.
Kent Brewster won the Ship It Now award at three different Yahoo! employee hack days. (Sadly, none of it ever shipped.) He built the iPhone app for Netflix using nothing but stone knives, bear skins, and open APIs, and is currently the guy whose fault it is if the Pin It button is broken on Pinterest.
You can follow Kent on Twitter at: http://www.twitter.com/kentbrew
Currently a VC at Greylock, Josh has spent 15 years building products in Engineering, Product Management, and Platform roles. He led the team for RealPlayer and RealJukebox at RealNetworks, early growth at LinkedIn and launched LinkedIn Jobs, and led product at Zazzle. More recently, Josh led the launch of Facebook Connect at Facebook and helped user growth at Twitter grow by over 10x. Josh has a BS in Symbolic Systems from Stanford.
You can follow Josh on Twitter at: http://www.twitter.com/joshelman
VP Product, Google+
Bradley Horowitz is vice president of product for Google’s social products, including Google+. He has also led product for Google’s consumer application division which includes Gmail, Gtalk, Google Docs, Google Voice, and Calendar. Before joining Google in February 2008, Horowitz was Yahoo’s vice president of Advanced Development where he drove the acquisitions of Flickr and MyBlogLog, launched the Brickhouse incubator and developed new products like Yahoo! Pipes. Previously, he was co-founder and CTO of Virage, where he oversaw the technical direction of the company from its founding through its IPO and eventual acquisition by Autonomy.
Bradley has a bachelor’s degree in computer science from the University of Michigan, and a master’s degree in media science from the MIT Media Lab.
You can follow Bradley on Google+ at: https://plus.google.com/113116318008017777871
Co-Founder/Partner at Science
Co-Founder and partner at Science in Los Angeles. Built a few startups in the past like Photobucket, BillShrink and Color. Now at Science is behind companies like Dollar Shave Club, Wittlebee, DogVacay, Eventup, and Uncovet.
You can follow Peter on Twitter at: http://www.twitter.com/peterpham
Vivek has a Bachelors degree in CS and graduated in India in 2008. Following that, he worked at Amazon for a year in the Kindle team. He started Interviewstreet in 2009, had three failed ideas, got rejected by YC twice and finally built a tool that helps companies screen programmers and was a part of YC last summer.
Currently, the team is building HackerRank – a fun social network for hackers to solve and learn interesting programming concepts.
You can follow Vivek on Twitter at: http://www.twitter.com/rvivek
David A. Shamma
Research Scientist, Yahoo!
David Ayman Shamma is research scientist at Yahoo! Labs where he runs the Human-Computer Interaction Research group. He investigates how people interact, engage, and share media experiences both online and in-the-world. He is also the co-editor for Arts and Digital Culture for the Association of Computing Machinery’s Special Interest Group on MultiMedia. When he’s not wearing a lab coat, Ayman has been known to choreograph dance & technology performances, design electronic fashion, and make mallets for hitting touchscreen devices.
You can follow David on Twitter at: http://www.twitter.com/ayman