Archive for the ‘information’ tag
A guest post by Jared Fabac of Idea Bright Marketing.
Our culture no longer has patience for commercials. We fast-forward through them. We do anything we can to avoid them. We endure them only when we have to.
That same mentality is taking place whenever a sales message is presented. We are slightly distrustful of what a company has to say about itself, whether the message reaches us through a traditional salesperson, traditional media, or even online media.
The Web has created in us an expectation to be able to evaluate a sales message. Somebody says to us, “We have great stuff.” You say nothing to them in return but make a mental note of “We’ll see…” And we then storm the search engines to avail ourselves to the vast amount of information available to us to review those claims. When you are pouring your heart into how much your product will do for your clients, they are reacting with the same apprehension. You are subtly saying, “Our stuff is cool,” and prospects are subtly saying, “I don’t trust you yet.”
Count Your Blessings… and Your Curses
Marketing on the Web is blessing and curse. It is a blessing because of the tremendous reach we have in communicating our message; it is a curse in that the mentality of a prospect is to hold up the process buying process until they have had time to review your claims. If there was ever any emotive function in the buying process, it is dissipating as the Internet evolves. Prospects and clients want the entire truth—and they want it to be verified. They neither need nor want hype.
All in How You Look at It
Savvy companies and marketers can use the both the Web and customers’ desire for verification to their advantage by engaging in content marketing. Content marketing can be a subjective term, but in its simplest definition, content marketing is making facts about your products available and discoverable to lead prospects into your marketing funnel. Content marketing takes advantage of an aspect of human nature that makes us more trusting to solutions that we discover ourselves over those that are presented to us.
What Makes Content Marketing So Effective
What makes content marketing so effective is that it uses Internet channels, such as the search engines, video marketing, and social media, to provide solutions to problems that exist in the everyday lives of prospects. Content marketers make solutions available for clients and prospects to find. Of course, marketers who do content marketing well conduct research on where those problems are being discussed and pondered.
Are these problems being discussed in an industry-related forum? Are they being discussed in a social media group on Facebook or LinkedIn? Are they being queried on search engines (such as Google and Bing) or video-sharing sites like YouTube? A needed skill in content marketing is finding out what the key questions are and where they are being asked.
The Home Improvement Companies Get It
Home improvement companies, such as Lowes and Home Depot, are light years ahead of other industries in doing this. A simple Internet search for problems, such as “how to fix a leaky faucet,” will present to searchers myriad instructional videos on how a customer can undertake that venture.
A careful screening of the videos provides a couple of clues on the nature of content marketing.
- The basis for the video is solving a problem—not to selling their products.
- The companies (Lowes and Home Depot) are transparent in their presentation. They are not holding themselves out as the only place to solve the problem.
The home improvement companies have successfully mapped the pain points of their target customers. They have provided information to help them solve perplexing issues—instead of selling them on how wonderful their store is. Helpful information is strategically placed; people who have problems can find solutions. The information is formatted, so it can be shared easily online.
When considering content marketing, ask yourself the following questions.
- Is there a better way to build a brand than to truly help a prospect—instead to selling them on how helpful you are?
- Can you associate your brand or your company as a solution-oriented partner at the point at which a prospect’s problems are most mystifying to them?
- Can you use the power of the Internet to be present when the most common problems are being discussed? (If you can, you can overcome the human element of a prospect to distrust you when you need state your call to action for them to buy. You can also build stronger relationships for the longer term.)
Companies can focus on marketing buzzwords, such as SEO, social media, and inbound marketing, and all those are necessary to undertake. It is pretty easy to get a YouTube channel, a Facebook Fan page or even to pay someone to make you visible in the search engines. But are you willing to use these channels to be customer-oriented before a sale is made? Are you willing to use those channels to position yourself as a problem solver? If you are, you will successfully embrace all the power that the Internet has to help you to market your business.
Jared Fabac is the director of Strategy at Idea Bright Marketing, an industrial marketing agency focusing primarily on Web-based strategy.
(Photo courtesy of Bigstock: Business Colleagues)
Connecting with customers in meaningful and relevant ways is the backbone of successful marketing. It has never been more important to use data to cleverly to support cross-channel marketing activities that can better drive sales.
The data people share on social media can be quite valuable to businesses, since it helps them personalize their email and mobile optimized offers.
Some companies even specialize in collecting and selling consumer information on social network sites, but this information should be treated with care: Not everyone is comfortable with the storage of their personal information, and some consumers may seek legal retribution if a marketer uses this without their consent.
Conditions for accessing social profile data
At present, the onus is on the web user (whether on desktop, mobile, or tablets) to setup their profile permissions to ensure that their information is either private or public, depending on their own preferences.
At the same time, no advertiser or business is allowed to collect social data of its user without asking them to volunteer this information up front.
Methods of accessing social profile data
Social media sites usually know more about your clients than you do — and some digital services offer tools to access that knowledge legitimately.
Social subscription, for example, is one way to allow visitors to subscribe to email newsletters via a social network login as an alternative to filling in the traditional email address, name and other require fields manually.
Why enable email subscription via social login?
- Every social account can have lots of additional data about a user to help you refine your segmentation; from gender to location to interests
- Social data helps you send more targeted promotions and adjust your campaigns to users’ change of preferences or location
- Accoding to a Blue Inc. study this year, if you personalize the experience between you and your subscribers, they are 50 percent more likely to return to your site, and 40 percent more likely to recommend you to others
- Also as per Blue Inc. 2012, consumers often provide faulty information when subscribing via a form, with the majority admitting that they have given incomplete or incorrect information
- The average social media user has 195 connections: Imagine the exposure and other marketing possibilities if you could tap into those connections
In summary, social subscription integrated into newsletter subscription forms helps marketers grow their contact lists and learn more about their audience. It simplifies and increases the accuracy of the subscription process, helping drive increased conversions.
There are, of course, other methods of gathering social profile data (such as the Rapleaf service I noted in an earlier article) however, with new and more advanced tools like social subscribe being developed, marketers today have an unprecedented ability to get and leverage social profile data.
Introducing our August Book Club selection, Social Marketology: Improve Your Social Media Processes and Get Customers to Stay Forever by Ric Dragon, CEO of Dragon Search. “CEO and co-founder of DragonSearch, Ric Dragon has more than 20 years of extensive experience in graphic design, information architecture, web development and digital marketing. He is a sought-after speaker, having spoken at numerous marketing and technology conferences.
On August 22nd, Vertical Measures will give away a Back Link Analysis on Facebook. Being one of our most popular services and valued at $900.00, this thorough evaluation of the links pointing to your website is especially beneficial to those who have seen decreases in their rankings. Recently, many websites have fallen from their positions in the Google search results because of the Panda and Penguin updates. It’s also especially beneficial for those of you who can’t seem to obtain and maintain an authoritative position in the search results.
What is a back link analysis?
Our team of experts will provide you with a report complete with the following information:
- Total links in your portfolio and their overall quality
- Types of links: content, internal or homepage
- Anchor text and whether there are any over-optimization issues
- Ratio of home page links to internal page links
- The domain authority (DA) of sites pointing to you
Why do I need one?
With the latest Google algorithm updates, it is imperative to understand who is linking to your website in order to have the highest Google rankings possible.
How do I enter to win the Back Link Analysis?
- Become a fan of us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/verticalmeasures
- Keep an eye out on Facebook next Wednesday, August 22nd for the contest flyer and follow the simple instructions
Thanks for being a fan on Facebook, and good luck!
Everywhere I look, I see B2B marketing that spouts "join the conversation," "get in the conversation," and other references to the word that skew it's meaning into the equivalent of "talk to the hand."
In my last post, I wrote about debunking the B2B buzzword, engagement. In the same vein, I'm wondering what the heck happened to the art of conversation? Have we become so numb by the ability to publish whatever we want that we've forgotten how to be human?
The words dialogue and conversation are also interchanged without thought but, in online marketing, they have different criterion:
Conversation: an interchange of thought, information actively shared between/among people. (Requires 2 or more people)
Dialogue: an exchange of information (Only requires one person)
The difference here is that a conversation is an active exchange of information between people where a dialogue (as an exchange of information) could be between a person and a website, blog, video, etc. without the need for two active (human) participants.
I think this is an important distinction. I do not think the two are interchangeable.
Let's look at some examples of what a conversation is NOT:
- A push email – even if the recipient clicks
- A Tweet with no commentary (title and link and handle)
- A blog post with comments from readers, but no response from the author (This does, however, change if readers are commenting in response to each other.)
- A white paper download
- Viewing a video
Examples of what transforms dialogue into conversation is response.
- I receive an email, click the link, and forward the email on to a colleague who responds back to me with comment about the content I shared. We may exchange several more emails in discussion about the content.
- I receive a comment on my blog, respond back and ask a follow-on question and the person comes back to answer the question. Or another reader jumps in and answers the question I asked and I respond to them.
- Someone posts a question to a LinkedIn group and provides a link to a blog post or article on the topic. Group members respond by leaving comments and referencing perspectives of others – discussion ensues.
If I had just clicked the link and read the information in the first example, there is no conversation. It's the act of involving others and adding my commentary that turns the dialogue into a conversation. There must be back and forth between people for a conversation to form.
The evolution is that we don't need oral communication to have a conversation. As long as two people are involved, a conversation can be facilitated by a variety of technology platforms, from email to communities to social media and beyond.
But, it's only dialogue if technology is carrying on half of the conversation.
Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge proponent of marketing automation. Use your technology to establish a dialogue that engages people through contextual information they want and need, GO YOU! But it's not a conversation until another person gets involved. This is because the "dialogue" is dependent on the behavior of the single participant, not both.
[If I visit this webpage, the system sends me a link to content A. If I visit a landing page and download a white paper, the system sends me content B. Etc. In a dialoge scenario, there's not a possiblity that it could veer off to content X.]
This is even more important when you consider social media. I see so many exchanges where someone is looking for help, only to be told to call an 800 number. Really? That's the best you can do? Although that fits the criterion for a conversation (2 or more people), there's also a difference between a valuable conversation and a crappy excuse for one.
So, when you think about "conversation" in marketing terms – what are you doing to make it more human?
And for those of you thinking "Wait. I get thousands of responses to my nurturing program! I can't possibly deal with this…" I would point you to buying stages and personas and battening down your lead scoring schema to get to intelligence that's useful. It's all in your approach to prioritization.
Don't let conversation become a meaningless buzzword. With a little art and science we can make marketing human, approachable, and definitely more social.
This article is by Dan Norris of Web Control Room.
As an active blogger, I’m always looking at various stats to help me understand how well I’m doing. I’m not particularly fond of the idea of blogging for years without knowing whether things are going in the right direction. I’d rather know as I go whether my posts are having an impact and whether things are travelling in the right direction.
Luckily, one of the best things about being a blogger is that pretty much every stat you want to look at is available online and not stuck in outdated offline software programs. And better still, most of the tools are free!
The challenge is that, with all of the information out there, it’s difficult to know what stats to keep your eye on. In this article we’ll look at the top ten ways bloggers can measure their efforts.
1. Revenue and profit
While writing is fun, I’ll assume you are trying to earn some money at the same time. One of the best ways to have easy access to your financial data is to use an online accounting program like Xero, Saasu, or Wave Accounting—I use Xero, and it rocks.
These programs make it very easy to capture all of your financial data in the one place.
In addition to that you can look at the various ways you monetize your blog by reviewing the information available from these sources (PayPal, Adsense, Clickbank, etc.). The best part of having a central system for the accounts is that you can aggregate all of the revenue streams in the once place, to give you a whole picture.
2. RSS subscribers
Hopefully you’re using Feedburner to manage your RSS feeds—if so, you’ll have a clear idea of how many people are subscribing to your blog via RSS.
I like to keep an eye on these stats particularly after I release a post, publish a guest post on another blog, or have a guest poster on my blog. Often, their sharing of the post and the content reaching a new audience will cause a bump in subscribers. Showing the number of RSS subscribers on your blog can also be great social proof of your blogging chops.
3. What are others talking about?
One of the most important strategies for bloggers is engaging with other people (bloggers and others) online. This is a measure of performance, because if you are doing the right things then people will be talking about you. There are four ways I do this.
- Comments: An excellent way to see if you are having an impact is to look at the comments on your site. Are they genuine? How many comments are posts getting? This gives you a good idea of what is hitting the mark and what isn’t.
- Trackbacks: If these are turned on in WordPress, any time someone links to one of your blog posts (i.e. not to your homepage) you will see the link in your comments list—and then go back to their sites and engage with them.
- Google Alerts: With Alerts, Google will email you every time someone mentions your brand, product, website, and so on. I like to get them via RSS instead of email, so I check them in Google reader each morning.
- Twilert: This service does the same thing as Google Alerts but for Twitter. You get a daily email that lists every time someone mentions your site or brand or your Twitter handle you’ll get an email.
All of these are great ways to engage with your audience, but also to measure the impact you’re having, and which posts are having more impact than others.
It’s a good idea to monitor both your monthly rolling traffic (last 30 days) against the previous month, as well as traffic peaks around the release dates of your posts. The former figure will give you a good idea of overall recent trends, and the latter will give you immediate feedback on specific posts.
For this I, like most others, use Google Analytics. If you do notice changes that you didn’t expect, it’s time to delve further into the tool to see what has caused those changes—it may be something related to search rankings or referring sites (which we’ll look at separately in a moment).
5. Google ranking for keywords
Most of the time, bloggers get a significant amount of traffic from Google. You can either sit back and hope for the best or you can actively try to rank for different keywords.
Unfortunately, visiting Google and searching for your keywords doesn’t work! Google knows which websites you have visited and puts them higher up the list just for you, so this won’t give you an accurate rank for your keywords. This is a mistake made by almost everyone with a website at one time or another (including me).
Particularly if you are trying to rank for certain keywords, it’s a great idea to use a tool to monitor where you are ranking on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. Using the new incognito window in Chrome will also provide a more accurate ranking, but rank-tracking tools will show you rack-tracking from different countries, for instance, and many keywords at once.
6. Other referring sites
In Google Analytics, you can also check out your top referring sites. This can give you great information about a number of things. For example, if you are active in social media or a particular forum you can see if these efforts are resulting in extra traffic to the site.
Similarly, guest posts on other sites would be expected to bring some traffic, so you can monitor whether these sites make it into your top referring sites list.
Pretty much every marketing push you make online should show up in your top sites list, so it’s a good place to look particularly for things you aren’t specifically tracking as campaigns in Analytics.
There are two types of keywords to look at in Analytics. You can look at your top keywords—these would generally be big-ticket keywords that you are trying actively to rank for. If they are ranking in Google and your keyword research was sound, then it will be validated with traffic.
It’s also a good idea to keep an eye on how many keywords are bringing you traffic. This is a simple measure of how effectively you are targeting the long tail. The more you write, particularly if you deliberately target long tail keywords in your posts, the more keywords will bring you traffic. Looking at the number of keywords is a quick way to get some sort of idea of how well it’s working.
8. Email newsletter info
Getting an email opt-in is still one of the main ways bloggers engage with their audience. Tools like Mail Chimp and AWeber will give you some great information on things like how effective your site is being in converting visitors to opt-ins, how big your audience is and how engaged they are with your newsletters (unsubscribe rates, opens, clicks etc).
It’s also a good idea to measure opt-ins as goals in Analytics so you can look at more information about the origins of those opting into your list.
9. Server uptime
Having your server go down is kind of like having a power outage at a traditional business. You can’t do business without your website, and all of the effort you have put in to generating traffic is wasted every time there is an outage. For this reason, make sure you are notified whenever there is an outage and you monitor it each month to ensure uptime is reasonable.
Unfortunately hosting companies often don’t provide this service, however Pingdom.com does, and it’s free. Once you sign up, the site will notify you of any outages, and provide reports on monthly uptime percentages and so on.
10. Social media measures
For bloggers more so than any business, social media is critical. A lot of relationships with readers and other bloggers, guest blogging opportunities, JVs etc come through relationships facilitated by social media. A few things I like to keep an eye on are:
- Klout.com, which gives you an overall idea of how you are influencing others via Twitter, Facebook, and so on. You can also use Klout to give you an overall summary of figures from the major social networks (Likes, shares, +1′s etc).
- If you are active on Twitter, you can keep an eye on your number of followers, your ratio of followers to people that you follow and the number of interactions.
- For Facebook pages, Facebook insights are there to provide useful information on likes, reach, who’s talking about the page and more.
So how are you progressing—and how do you know? I’d be interested in knowing what you like to keep an eye on to track how you’re going. Let me know in the comments.
Dan Norris is the founder of Web Control Room a free tool that enables bloggers to understand their data and make better decisions. By talking to the sources you love (MailChimp, Xero, Analytics, PayPal etc) it provides a scannable 1 page chart showing what is going well and what isn’t so you can understand your performance in seconds.
Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
Editor’s note: Jay Jamison is a Partner at BlueRun Ventures where he focuses on early stage mobile and consumer opportunities. You can read more of his analysis on startups and Silicon Valley at his blog jayjamison.com and you can follow him on Twitter at @jay_jamison.
The highest flying of internet high-flyers, Facebook and Zynga, were laid low last week in public markets on weaker than expected guidance on their paths forward. What a difference public market scrutiny and forward-looking forecasts can make. Given the size, scope and importance of these two companies to the broader technology ecosystem, it’s worth analyzing what these reports might mean for industry trends.
According to Wall Street analysts, Zynga had a “dreadful” Q2 report. Several negatives converged to deliver an egg, reported the New York Times:
“A critical new game, the Ville, was delayed. Another new game, Mafia Wars II, just was not very good, executives conceded. The heavily hyped Draw Something, acquired in March, proved more fad than enduring classic. Some old standbys also lost some appeal.”
Zynga’s problems, however, could be characterized as broader than just a weak quarter. Financial analyst, Richard Greenfield of BTIG painted Zynga’s issues as more far-reaching, saying, “Right now, everything is going wrong for Zynga. In a rapidly changing Internet landscape that is moving to mobile, it’s very hard to have confidence these issues are temporary.”
Things weren’t much better for Facebook, which was reporting its earnings to the public for the first time. Given the symbiotic partnership between Zynga and Facebook, anyone paying attention knew Zynga’s weak results spelled trouble for Facebook. And as expected, Wall Street found Facebook’s earnings disappointing.
In coverage, three key themes of concern arose out of Facebook’s report. First, user growth is slowing. This is undeniably true: the growth of two key user metrics, Daily Active Users (DAU) and Monthly Active Users (MAU), is slowing. It’s unclear whether this is a useful concern. If the entire Western world is using Facebook, then Facebook probably is not going to showcase much growth in DAU or MAU until it cracks China. The land has been grabbed.
A second growth concern is revenue. Can Facebook convert all its social engagement into monetization? Facebook clearly has more to prove, but it’s a strong start. With a topline of $1.2B for Q2, Facebook beat analyst estimates on revenue. Its 32% Q2 revenue growth was equal to its year-over-year growth in DAUs. This revenue growth map to its DAU growth is where concern centers. On the one hand, having revenue growth equal to DAU growth shows that on a per-user basis, Facebook is monetizing effectively. At the same time, if DAU growth continues to slow, as it inevitably will, the question will be how Facebook can continue to grow it’s topline faster than DAU growth. The answer is not yet clear. Expect much hand-wringing here around the answer to this question.
These concerns around growth and revenue point to the third and most significant concern around Facebook (and Zynga): MOBILE. While we’ve known that mobile is the fastest growing technology wave the world has ever seen, it’s been a challenge to frame truly how important, impactful, and disruptive the mobile wave is. Last week’s reports from Zynga and Facebook make crystal clear the implications of mobile—two leading innovators and upstarts that basically created and drove the social computing wave are facing questions about their future earning streams on the basis of their execution on mobile.
So the broader story of what’s happening in technology is this: Mobile is what’s happening. Here’s one shorthand framework for the technology waves over the last roughly 20 years. Web 1.0 was about web connectivity, the giants of that epoch catalyzed by Netscape were companies like AOL, Yahoo, and Google. Web 2.0 was social, with Facebook, LinkedIn, Zynga, Twitter, and newcomer Quora as the foundational creators of the web’s ‘social layer.’ The power and impact of the social layer is difficult to overstate—existing industries and corporate giants (to say nothing of several repressive governmental regimes) have faced huge disruption on the basis of these companies.
Now we’re entering Web 3.0, which is mobile, and we are in the thick of it. The Mobile Web 3.0 has elements that build upon prior eras, but it also has several distinct and different elements from what’s come before. Some of these distinct elements of the Mobile Web 3.0 era include:
- ubiquitous (always connected, always with you)
- location aware
- tailored, smaller screen
- high quality camera and audio
These elements have two key implications for today’s leaders and tomorrow’s disrupters.
Let’s Get Small: Designing for Mobile First.The tailored, smaller screens of the Mobile Web offer new entrants the opportunity to deliver value and experience that differentiates from the existing leaders. Most leading tech companies today, with the exception of Instagram, were created with a PC web-first approach. Designing and building for the PC-centric web services packed increasing amounts of information onto ever growing screen sizes. Take a look at Facebook on your computer’s browser—it’s like a Bloomberg terminal full of fun—birthdates, events, status updates, advertisements, chatting. It’s a cornucopia of information laid out all around the screen.
For any company whose heritage is designing for the PC web, mobile is a big challenge in getting small. Compress a PC-web experience down onto a smartphone screen doesn’t work all that well. You may get the users—Facebook certainly has—but it is easy to overwhelm a user with an experience that packs in too much information into too small a screen size.
The challenge of mobile offers new entrants focused on a mobile-first strategy an opportunity to craft and tailor a user experience that is easier to use and enjoy on mobile. Instagram is the poster child example with its mobile-only, photo-centric social service. Rather than pack more information onto a mobile screen, for Instagram a picture was worth a thousand words (and a billion dollars). Instagram’s mobile-first, photo-sharing service created an alternative social network, and has since grown to over 80M users and its billion dollar acquisition by Facebook. Other mobile-first social services are following—Foursquare, Path, Foodspotting, Banjo, Pulse, and others—and each has an opportunity, through an approach that focuses on getting small to build a new audience and brand that stand out from the PC-web-based incumbents.
Getting Real: Mobile Will Drive MoreReal-World Commerce
Whether they’re a newer mobile-centric startup like a Path or an existing giant like Facebook, the key will be monetizing n a mobile world. Monetizing in mobile will likely evolve in new directions relative to what we’ve seen in the PC-web. Specifically: monetizing in Mobile is about getting even more real and concrete in the value delivered to customers.
Here’s why. In Web 1.0, Google achieved supernova momentum when it introduced its Cost-Per-Click ad model. With a dominatingly high quality search engine for users, Google gained share on search, and in effect knew what people were interested in. This was a break-through for advertisers in terms of measurability. Advertisers could escape the Mad Men world of spending on TV, print, OOH, and banner ads with their fuzzy efficacy and measurability. With Google, advertisers now could place ads in front of people searching on relevant terms. A huge step in terms of measurability, Google’s model had the added benefit of only charging when a user clicked on a specific ad. All combined to deliver a vastly more measurable and as such valuable approach to spending ad dollars.
Web 2.0 ushered in the social wave. Facebook now is showing ads of stuff we might like based on the interests we’ve indicated or based on referrals from friends. This embraces and extends much of the Google model, but provides potentially even more. Facebook knows what we like day to day (Graf Ice Skates, Breaking Bad, Crossfit for me), and what our friends like. Add to this the tremendously detailed demographic data that its users have willingly provided, and the opportunities for advertisers are pretty profound. While Facebook will continue to optimize its appraoch to ads, there should be little question that its current core business of ads is going to continue to grow.
With Mobile Web 3.0, the user experience opens the door for another level of innovation in advertising and promotion. Now technology services have the ability to leverage not just the social graph data from Facebook, but even more real-time / real-world information. Your current location, weather, traffic, local merchants other friends nearby, how often you’ve been to this specific store or location are available (or will be soon). And this in turn provides a whole new level of commerce opportunities for potential advertisers. Mobile brings advertisers and users closer to being able to close a transaction. It’s real-world commerce. Which leads to the question: Why pay for a click when you can get an actual customer? That’s the promise of mobile for advertisers, brands and merchants. The opportunity is huge: both in pure dollar size opportunity and for disruption. The internet advertising models of selling clicks to advertisers will need to evolve.
A few companies to watch in this new world are Waze, ShopKick and Foodspotting, to name just a few. Waze, the social mapping and GPS service, provides free turn-by-turn directions with real-time traffic information and routing to over 20m users. With users depending on Waze to help them find the fastest and least congested routes, Waze now shows offers for the cheapest gas prices along the way. Real value for users translates to real commerce for merchants.
ShopKick is a mobile app that gamifies retail shopping. Users who open ShopKick gain rewards for different tasks or quests they complete on ShopKick. What ShopKick is starting to show retailers is that ShopKick tend to spend more money when they’re in store, because of the interaction and engagement the ShopKick app can drive while the user is at the point of purchase. Again, real value for users leads to real commerce for merchants.
Open Foodspotting, a visual guide to what’s interesting to eat near you, and the app will locate where you are and show you pictures of the best food at restaurants nearby. Over 2m dishes have been submitted to Foodspotting at over half a million restaurants in the US alone. Users can express that they love certain restaurants and dishes. As it has grown its community, Foodspotting can now approach restaurants with promotional offerings for people who are nearby right now, who are fans of their type of food. Real value for users, real commerce for merchants.
So Mobile Web 3.0 is super exciting. But a word of caution: delivering value and driving monetization in the Mobile Web 3.0 era is hard. The answer will not be for web-first properties to scrunch their ad platforms onto mobile. Monetization via mobile advertising will require offerings that do more to close the loop of commerce. Advertisers increasingly will ask of mobile: why buy a click when what I want is a paying customer or user? The services with the best offers here will be big winners in this Mobile Web 3.0.
The latest WikiLeaks release has shone a spotlight on an alleged domestic and foreign surveillance program run with cloud-based software provided by Texas company TrapWire, many of whose top leaders and employees are former members of three-letter American intelligence agencies.
WikiLeaks tweeted about it today, and the story quickly became a trending topic on Twitter:
WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) August 10, 2012
TrapWire produces software that is currently in use by Homeland Security, the military, U.S. intelligence agencies, and local police forces including the LAPD and the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, DC (whose chief recently praised the software). Private sector clients include major corporations in the energy, chemical, and financial industries.
TrapWire does three things: protect critical infrastructure by analyzing CCTV footage with face and pattern recognition algorithms to detect pre-attack patterns, provide online reporting systems for citizens to report suspicious behavior, and gather and analyze many sources of information to allow law enforcement to make sense of the masses of collected data.
If TrapWire does what it is intended to, it’s potentially a critical innovation that can help protect the U.S. from terrorism. Tying together disparate facts from multiple sources across geographies might have prevented 9-11. On the other hand, the secrecy, the integration with government, and the thought that a private corporation could have access to huge amounts of private citizens’ data is concerning to say the least.
The data WikiLeaks released was taken from more than five million emails allegedly stolen from a company with close ties and inside information about TrapWire, security information company Stratfor. Stratfor had a contract with TrapWire in which each company agreed to promote the other company’s products, and Stratfor agreed to feed its intelligence reports into the TrapWire system.
Then Stratfor was hacked by Anonymous in 2011, and Anonymous provided the emails to WikiLeaks.
In those emails, Stratfor says that TrapWire is in use in “Scotland Yard, #10 Downing, the White House, and many [multinational corporations].” Another talks about the Nigerian government being interested in TrapWire, and others imply that organizations as diverse and powerful as the Secret Service, MI5, and the Canadian RCMP are all clients.
And yet another leaked email from Fred Burton, Stratfor’s CEO, says “God Bless America. Now they have EVERY major [high-value target] in [the continental U.S.], the UK, Canada, Vegas, Los Angeles, NYC as clients.”
TrapWire was not always so secretive about its software. Company founder Richard Hollis spoke about the software in 2005, say that it:
… can collect information about people and vehicles that is more accurate than facial recognition, draw patterns, and do threat assessments of areas that may be under observation from terrorists. The application can do things like “type” individuals so if people say “medium build,” you know exactly what that means from that observer.
And in 2007, the company elaborated on how TrapWire works:
… the TrapWire rules engine analyzes each aspect of [reported security incidents] and compares it to all previously-collected reporting across the entire TrapWire network. Any patters detected — links among individuals, vehicles, or activities — will be reported back to each affected facility. This information can also be shared with law enforcement organizations …
The question becomes: Where does national security start and the public’s right (or need) to know end? And, to what extent should private companies be embedded in public surveillance?
Even tougher: does our security depend, at least in part, on our ignorance? Because if we learn about anti-terrorism methodologies, you can bet the bad guys do too.
There is as yet no statement from Stratfor, TrapWire Inc., or any of the named public security agencies.
Image credit: ShutterStock/Steven Finn
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
If rumors hold true, Apple should be gearing up to unveil its latest iGadgets in just a few weeks, and it’s no surprise that all sorts of questionable leaks are now worming their way into daylight.
The latest of those purported leaks comes in the form of images obtained by the French site Nowherelse.fr that reportedly depict Apple’s tiny new dock connector next to a USB plug. Got your grains of salt ready?
Good, let’s go.
Right now there are so many numbers floating around that it’s hard to make sense of what’s actually happening. TechCrunch and Reuters independently confirmed that Apple’s new dock connector would have 19 pins, but persistent rumors (along with some snippets of code within iOS 6) point to the existence of a 9-pin connector. Still others have been reporting an 8-pin connection, much like the one seen in these pictures.
So what gives? Who’s right?
At this point, who knows. It’s possible that we’re only seeing one side of the connector, and that a handful of pins live on the other side — whomever took the pictures doesn’t seem to have photographed the opposite end of the connector. Well, that or both sides of the plug are identical. It’s also possible that, as MacRumors’ Arnold Kim puts it on Twitter, the metal edge of the connector could effectively serve as a grounding pin, which pushes the number to nine.
Or, if we start paring down possibilities with Occam’s razor, we could also draw the conclusion that the images are fake and that there are better ways to spend a Friday than wracking our brains over Apple minutiae. Either way, there’s no way to get a full sense of what’s going on here.
For what it’s worth, the design doesn’t actually look too bad — I could conceivably see Apple running with something like this, though I have to wonder how sturdy the inevitably big-to-small dock connector adapter is going to be. In any case, there’s no way in hell that these images aren’t going to be followed up by even more leaks and speculation, so hold on for the ride.
UPDATE: Nowherelse.fr has updated their original post with a bit more information about the mysterious connector. iDownloadBlog‘s Sebastien Page (who in addition to being a nice guy speaks fluent French) offers up the following translation:
“We have obtained new information about this connector. We have indeed learned that it is not equipped with 8 but 16 pins with distinct functions (8 pins on each side), noting that one side would currently have no specific function and might be saved for future use.”