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From Google to Amazon: EU goes to war against power of US digital giants

The Guardian

Within the salons of the Elysée Palace, along the corridors of the European parliament and under the glass dome of the Reichstag, Old Europe is preparing for a new war. This is not a battle over religion or politics, over land or natural resources. The raw material that Paris, Brussels and Berlin are mobilising to defend is the digital environment of Europe’s inhabitants; their enemies are the Silicon Valley corporations that seek to dominate it.

Coal, gas and oil powered the industrial revolution, but in the digital era, data is replacing fossil fuels as the most valuable resource on Earth, and the ability to collect and interrogate it has created organisations with a power that can at times seem beyond the control of nation states. Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google represent, in the words of Germany’s economy minister Sigmar Gabriel, “brutal information capitalism”, and Europe must act now to protect itself.

“Either we defend our freedom and change our policies, or we become digitally hypnotised subjects of a digital rulership,” Gabriel warned in apassionate call to action published by the Frankfurter Allgemeine. “It is the future of democracy in the digital age, and nothing less, that is at stake here, and with it, the freedom, emancipation, participation and self-determination of 500 million people in Europe.”

In France, economy minister Arnaud Montebourg believes Europe risks becoming a “digital colony of the global internet giants”, and ministers have called for Google to contribute to the cost of upgrading the country’s broadband infrastructure. Gabriel says Germany’s cartel office is currently examining whether Google should be regulated as a utility, like a telecoms supplier – the group has 91.2% market share of search in Germany.

He believes that, as a last resort, there may be a case for “unbundling” Google, separating its search arm from mobile, or YouTube, or services such as email.

As a first step, he is in favour of regulation that allows competitors to use the Google platform fairly. The pushback against Amazon has also begun: as of last year, the online retailer can no longer stop independent sellers on its German website from offering their own goods cheaper elsewhere, including on their own websites.

European regulators have also begun to take action. In May, the European court upheld a plea by a Spaniard, Mario Costeja González, who wanted pages hidden from any Google search for his name in the EU. Judges decided the past transgressions of private individuals have a right to be “forgotten”. The threats that ruling poses to freedom of the press are now being debated, but it was a watershed moment, representing Europe’s first major regulatory strike against the search and software colossus.

On 11 June, the European commission‘s competition regulator, Joaquín Almunia, wrote to colleagues to warn that his investigation into Google’s search rankings could be reopened, after new complainants had stepped forward. On the same day, he announced a potentially wide-ranging inquiry into tax avoidance, starting with a focus on three companies: Apple and its international headquarters in Ireland, and Starbucks and its head office in the Netherlands (the third company being carmaker Fiat). On Thursday, a leak from Brussels suggested Amazon, which operates through a European HQ in Luxembourg, was also being dragged into the net.

“In the current context of tight public budgets, it is particularly important that large multinationals pay their fair share of taxes,” Almunia said. His intervention was widely interpreted as a politically motivated act. It almost certainly was.

There are those who believe that Jean-Claude Juncker, the former Luxembourg prime minister who has just been elected as the next president of the European commission – despite vocal opposition from David Cameron – is out to get Google.

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Is Google getting into the native-advertising game?

Digiday

Google may be on the verge of cracking the code to that elusive grail of native advertising: doing it at massive scale. The search giant is said to be running a small test with publishers of a widget that would include links to content and ads.

In so doing, Google could pose a considerable threat to widgets like Outbrain and Taboola that already live on hundreds of publishers’ sites under banners like “Promoted Stories” and “From the Web.”

Such content-recommendation engines have had their issues. They’ve been blasted for surfacing content that’s low quality or incongruent with the host site, and peddling misleading ads that can undermine readers’ trust. That has in turn driven the emergence of an alternate content exchanges that are ad-free and profess to only circulate premium content.

What’s more, publishers expose themselves to risks by putting such third-party plug-ins on their site, as Reuters learned last week when its Taboola widget was hacked.

But publishers continue to use them because they’re also an easy way for them to recycle their content with the goal of keeping people on their site longer. It’s easy money, too: Publishers get paid each time someone clicks on an external content or ad link in the widget.

For Google, the opportunity seems clear. Publishers need to make their websites work harder, especially as online CPMs decline and readers shift to the smaller mobile screen and increasingly come to websites through side doors, behavior that is associated with lower engagement. There’s a big land grab underway by ad tech companies that are trying to marry native advertising and scale.

But Google already has longstanding relationships with publishers through AdSense, and a content recommendation powered by Google’s extensive data and analytics would be a natural way for the search behemoth to expand its grip on publishers’ sites. (Google declined to comment for this story.)

“They have a huge amount of history,” said Rebecca Lieb, analyst at Altimeter. “They can slice and dice it a lot of ways.”

Not only that, Google is good at rooting out bad links and has its own content, on YouTube, that it could push out through a widget, speculated Steve Rubel, chief content strategist at Edelman. “Think about the retargeting options. A content-recommendation-slash-native-advertising offer would be low-hanging fruit for Google.”

A content exchange widget would fit squarely in Google’s efforts to get into other aspects of the digital business and expand its presence on publishers’ sites. It’s reportedly already developing a content management system for media companies. If Google can come up with a better way to surface content that solves the problems of existing link exchange plug-ins, it could have a win.

Still, Google’s success isn’t assured. It would have to offer publishers a better deal than they’re getting from other third parties. And, nobody wants to be too dependent on any one vendor. Many publishers already have multi-year agreements with Outbrain, for one, and might be reluctant to add another widget to their already-crowded sites.

“Publishers,” said Rubel, “don’t want all their eggs in one basket.”

‘LinkedIn falls flat on consumer engagement’

Marketing Week

The report, authored by Forrester senior analyst Kim Celestre, claims that despite its 300 million members LinkedIn has not gained traction as a tool for “social relationship objectives” that drive customer engagement such as loyalty or customer service.

The research found that 21 per cent of US online adults visit LinkedIn monthly, a significantly lower figure than for Facebook. Plus LinkedIn members are much less likely to engage with brands on the social network, with less than half doing so on LinkedIn compared to more than 70 per cent on Facebook.

It also has a lower engagement rate, measuring 0.054 per cent in terms of user interactions as a percentage of a brand’s fans or followers, behind Google+ on 0.069 per cent and Facebook with 0.073 per cent. The low engagement figures mean that just 13 per cent of digital marketers are using LinkedIn to drive engagement.

“When compared with Facebook and Google+, LinkedIn’s engagement rate does not stack up. This is because LinkedIn members don’t go to the social network to follow brands after they’ve purchased a product and don’t participate in the site often enough to deepen relationships with brands,” says Celestre.

Awareness Boost

However, Forrester believes marketers should not give up on LinkedIn, using it for brand awareness. When used in this way, says Celestre, LinkedIn has the potential to help “meet or exceed” social reach objectives, so long as a brand’s offering is relevant to professionals.

Brands can make sure they are relevant by using the site to solve a professional challenge, deliver a professional opportunity or help users develop their personal brands. Celestre cites examples such as Procter & Gamble’s Secret deodorant campaign, Citi’s sponsorship of a LinkedIn group called “Connect: Professional Women’s Network” and Microsoft’s custom API that analyses users profiles to provide job title recommendations as examples of how to market successfully on the social network.

LinkedIn has previously batted away criticism of its engagement rates, citing strong engagement following its move to open its publishing platform to any user in its latest quarterly results. Its marketing solutions revenues are also on the up, increasing by 36 per cent to $101.8m in the three months to the end of May and accounting for 22 per cent of its total revenue.

LinkedIn declined to provide a comment.

Communicating to a B2B audience

Tim Pritchard, head of social media at Manning Gottlieb OMD, questions comparing LinkedIn to Facebook, calling it an “unfair measurement”. This is because Facebook is used for more traditional brand metrics such as consideration and purchase while LinkedIn should be used more for metrics such as brand trust and respect, he adds.

“Communications are going out to a B2B audience which has completely different KPIs like trust, respect and share price rather than traditional brand metrics like consideration,” he adds.

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7 Global Social Media Day Events You Should Attend

Mashable

This year marks the fifth-annual celebration of Social Media Day. In just a short time, it has grown to become a truly global effort, with hundreds of events taking place all over the world.

On June 30, people will come together, either at in-person events, or by using the #SMDayhashtag to connect with others on social media.

If you live in the United States, there are multiple Social Media Day events that you should consider attending. But if you’re located outside of the U.S., there are still plenty of opportunities to celebrate Social Media Day with others.

Here is a list of international events you should attend if you’re in the area:

Melbourne, Australia

When: June 29, 2014 from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. AEST
Where: Inspire9, Level 1, 41 Stewart St, Melbourne, AU 3121

Melbourne’s third-annual Social Media Day Unconference (#smdmelb) encourages digital enthusiasts to come together to network, and share stories about their personal experiences with social media.

Throughout the day, several simultaneous 30-minute sessions will take place. The majority of session topics are proposed on the spot by attendees who will jot down their ideas or questions on a piece of paper. A session can be in any format — whether it be a presentation with Q&A, panel of experts, demo or roundtable. As per unconference guidelines, all attendees are expected to be active participants in the sessions.

Panama City, Panama

When: June 30, 2014 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET
Where: City of Knowledge, Panama City, 7336, Panama

Panama City’s fifth-annual Social Media Day celebration is sure to be another hit, as past celebrations have had up to 1,200 guests.

This year’s celebration will include speakers from Waze and Google, social-media workshops, as well as meet-and-greets to mix online connections with IRL networking. The ambitious 12-hour celebration will include breaks for attendees to view the World Cup quarterfinal matches on that day. Attendees will be encouraged to use the hashtag #SMDayPA, as they make new connections.

Gold Coast, Queensland

When: June 30, 2014 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. AEST
Where: 194 Varsity Drive, Varsity Lakes, Gold Coast

The theme for this year’s Social Media Day Gold Coast (#smdaygc) event is “putting the social back into social media.” The event will include a 45-minute panel discussion with speakers such as Andrew Richardson, the former creative director at News Ltd., Evie Mitchell of Daytona Powersports and Melissa Groom, the founder of Empowered Mums. The event will conclude with an interactive social-media scavenger hunt throughout the building.

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Marketing to the Data Driven Customer

IDC PMS4colorversion 1 300x99 Marketing to the Data Driven Customer

By Gerry Murray

The digital native generation is bringing new expectations to brand relationships. They are mobile first, crowd sourced, and data savvy. Their first and most frequent interaction with your brand will be digital and mobile. They find out what’s cool, what’s trending, and what’s most likely to work best for them from their social networks. They don’t have emotional attachments to brands because the product is compelling or the advertising is cool. Their emotional engagement comes from unexpected insights that make them more successful. This is the new basis of customer loyalty, advocacy, and lifetime value.

Of course you still need a compelling product and cool ads (or messaging.) But once the prospect is a customer, continual engagement depends on over the top data driven insights. It’s no longer enough to just sell the hammers and saws and let the buyer go build their house. You need to monitor how they are using the hammer and saw. You need to deliver success by guiding their use of your product based on the behavior of your most successful customers. You need to leverage your position as the center of your customer universe to share best practices quickly and efficiently. The only way to do that at scale is through data.

Data Ownership vs Data Stewardship

In between the lines, you should be hearing a new philosophy with respect to customer data. Even though legally you “own” it, the data driven customer expects you to act as a data steward. You must treat their data as an asset to be used for their benefit, not just as the basis for driving revenue. Everything you provide to your customers should be designed to bring data back. Your customers should learn that the more data they provide, the more value they get in return – without negative side effects like having their data sold to an irrelevant ad network. Give to get and maintain the trust.

This has tremendous implications. Not only for marketers. Data marketing requires coordination with product development, IT, finance, fulfillment, point of sale, customer support, consulting services, sales. All these groups interact with customers and capture data on different aspects of their behavior – product usage, purchasing, problem resolution, planning, advocacy, etc. They all need to be understood to identify the most successful customers and the traits that drive their success. You can create tiers of services based on the level at which customer provide data. You can create cohorts of customers that exclude direct competitors. You can support exchanges within your customer ecosystem that enable strategic accounts to benefit from preferred peers. You can be extremely creative about how you structure your data marketing services.

The message is that in a world of shrinking product cycles, cheap knockoffs, and copycat services, data marketing is the new source of differentiation. No one else has the data you (should) have on how customers can be most successful with your products. Use it to attract and retain the best and leave the rest to your competitors.

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Is BYOD here to stay? Maybe it’s just a phase you’re going through

TechRepublic

For several years there have been predictions the bulk of employees would choose to use personal phones, tablets and laptops at work.

But the bring your own device (BYOD) ethos appears to be being rejected by a significant proportion of companies, which are instead offering staff a shortlist of mobile devices to choose from – dubbed choose your own device (CYOD) by analyst firm IDC.

Evidence of the BYOD slow down was identified by IDC, which found the proportion of European CIOs planning to implement BYOD policies has remained almost static in the past two years.

“BYOD may be reaching a plateau in Europe,” said John Delaney, IDC associate VP of European mobility, at the Microsoft Business Transformed event in London yesterday.

“What I find really interesting about this study is that when I compare it with the same question about one year ago the percentage of enterprises that do not plan to have BYOD is about the same.”

This finding seemed to be peculiar to Europe said Delaney, with a larger proportion of US firms planning to implement BYOD policies.

“What we’re not seeing is a significant amount of new companies intending to adopt BYOD, we think this is the first data confirmation of what we have heard anecdotally, which is European employees don’t like BYOD as much as American employees.

“There is a cultural expectation here that your employer provides the tools you need to do your job, you don’t expect to have to provide them yourself.”

The shift away from BYOD is being driven by employee resistance to giving up control of their device to employers, alongside companies starting to issue staff with popular consumer phones and tablets, he said.

There is already anecdotal evidence of BYOD working out as a bad deal for employers and individuals, particularly where companies choose to give staff money to buy their own devices to use at home and at work.

Speaking last year, the BBC’s head of IT and strategy Paul Boyns said providing staff with £500 to buy a device to use at work would cost an organisation £700, while the individual would only get £300-worth of benefit.

Costs would be incurred in several areas: fresh tax liabilities, higher tariffs on consumer data and voice plans and subscription payments for third party mobile device management (MDM) software, he said.

One organisation that moved away from BYOD after considering letting officers use personal devices is Cambridgeshire Police. The force, which is looking to replace its BlackBerry handsets, instead found it would be most cost-effective to focus its efforts on developing applications for a single mobile platform, in this case the Microsoft Windows OS it already runs on its computers.

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The Internet of Things Means Business

CIO Dashboard, By Chris Curran

According to a survey by the research arm of The Economist, businesses are slightly more likely to be using the Internet of Things for internal operations and processes than in external products or services. It’s important to draw a distinction between forward-facing IoT and what I call the Internet of Business Things (IoBT). The knowledge, skills and alliances it will take to instrument the business are different than outfitting consumer products with connected technology.

The IoBT is adding sensors to people, places, processes and products across the value chain to capture and analyze information to advance the goals of the organization. By mapping different sensor outputs to enterprise events, companies can take “business activity fingerprints.” These data-driven, digital impressions will enable companies to match actual sensor outputs with pre-tested business scenarios to prioritize and direct resources, improve workplace safety, reduce wasted effort, streamline product and people flows, strengthen relationships with customers and increase revenue.

We’re already seeing companies use sensors to track the movement of customers and the employees who interact with them. Sensors are determining inventory levels so businesses can replenish supplies on the fly. Machines are being developed to detect when an employee isn’t properly trained and shut down in response. Businesses are even embedding sensors into the ID badges of employees to study the dynamics of their interactions to build better teams.

The CIO is the ideal executive in the enterprise to drive conversations with other C-Suite executives as well as business unit leaders about the opportunities and challenges of pursuing the IoBT. Capitalizing on the full promise of the IoBT will require a deep knowledge of the business, data science skills and emerging technology talent. Here are a number of issues that CIOs need to consider as they educate enterprises on how to tap the power of the IoBT:

Mapping Sensors to Actions to Model Behavior

The CIO needs to help enterprises understand which business activities to track and why and how to map sensors to those actions and events to gain insight into operations. For example, if I’m a beverage manufacturer, what can I learn from placing a sensor on a refrigerator door? Knowing that the consumer opened and closed the door is one layer of information. But, if I combine motion sensors, product sensors and temperature sensors, I can gain a much deeper understanding of what’s happening. I can know a customer grabbed a particular item, the temperature of the refrigerator fluctuated and how much time transpired as the activity took place. I can also know the exact moment the refrigerator begins to malfunction. When approached strategically, sensors can empower enterprises to fine-tune their operations like never before.

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Don’t be scared; it’s just the cloud

InfoWorld, By David Linthicum

There is no question that the use of cloud-based resources affects IT organizations. But how much should your IT organization change to best leverage cloud computing?

I hear that question a lot, and it’s often grounded not so much in process concerns but fear of job loss or devaluation of individuals’ current skills or roles. Such fears are most acute among those who have resisted the cloud for years; they see the writing on the wall, and panic sets in.

[ Cloud computing shares resources that were never shared before, creating a new set of risks and demanding a new set of security best practices. Learn about those new security practices from the Digital Spotlight: Cloud Security PDF special report. | Stay up on the cloud with InfoWorld's Cloud Computing Report newsletter. ]

The reality is that IT orgs have always changed around the use of technology. This need to adapt is hardly unique to cloud usage, so I’m always taken aback when such change comes as a surprise.

But there is a big difference in how the cloud affects IT compared to previous technology changes: The use of public cloud resources means a shift to resources that the IT org does not control. That change is more profound than individual jobs changing or disappearing — it’s giving up ownership of the actual technology systems, yet still being responsible for them from a business viewpoint.

Despite the control concerns, the cloud allure is too strong to resist. Don’t forget the positive changes it brings to IT. Provisioning, testing, and deployment are easier, for example. Databases can be stood up in a day, rather than the weeks or months of older methods. Thousands of server instances can be provisioned in seconds, and any amount of storage is just a few clicks away.

How will IT need to change due to the cloud? For the most part, cloud computing won’t chainsaw through existing IT orgs. Smart people will be needed to design and build these cloud-based systems and to figure out the synergy with cloud-based resources and existing legacy systems. Now’s the time to ask yourself what kind of structure and people will you need to support the use of cloud.

The changes are actually easy to predict. Security and governance become more important, as do management and monitoring. Development skills will shift some to cloud-based platforms and devops approaches. IT pros currently managing storage and compute services will have to serve double duty with new cloud-based resources to manage.

You should not be concerned if things change. You should be concerned if they don’t — that means you’re in a cocoon the world will pass by.

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What Is The Value Of Social Media Engagement?

Forbes

“There is no ROI in anything if you don’t learn how to use it.”

-Gary Vaynerchuk, Founder of VaynerMedia

There is a near consensus that social media marketing is valuable because it allows companies to directly engage with their customers, build brand presence, and ultimately sell more products.

However, justifying the value of social has been a conundrum for brand marketers over the last 10 years. Even in the most straightforward cases of ecommerce, there’s still the attribution question.  How much do you attribute to the relationship with the brand versus the last click?

What makes measuring social ROI so difficult is not a lack of data, but identifying which pieces of data matter.

The metrics for social media used to be all about likes and followers. That was the first step. Now social media enables core business objectives and provides so many different metrics and new data streams on customers and their behavior.

I wasn’t surprised to find that there are some really smart people already working to tackle this social ROI problem; in an attempt to get educated on the topic, here’s what I found.

Social media measurement shifting towards measuring conversations

The CMO Survey ran a study that asked CMOs to share the metrics that they were using to evaluate social media. You can see an interesting breakdown of the results below:

The different metrics range across the board from true financially based numbers, such as “profits per customer”, to social media specific actions like followers & friends. In addition, according to the study, ‘voice-based’ metrics such as net promoter scores and text analysis are quickly becoming strong indicators of success.

As Gary mentioned in his Inc 500 speech, word of mouth is a currency that affects your bottom line, and social media allows word of mouth to scale. Thus, it makes sense that companies want to measure conversations about their brand.

Leveraging social to drive core business objectives

Another worthwhile read is the Altimeter Group’sSocial Media ROI Cookbook. The report does a great job of mapping the problem that marketers face. 56% of marketers still list the ‘inability to tie social media to business outcomes’ as the largest pain point of measuring social media ROI.

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Why Business Executives are the New IT Buying Center

IDC PMS4colorversion 1 300x99 Why Business Executives are the New IT Buying Center

By, Kathleen Schaub

Several times a week the IDC CMO Advisory Service gets inquiries from tech company clients about how to shift their company mindset to a new and different buyer.  IDC’s IT Buyer Experience Study shows that business buyers have 53% of buying influence in the earliest part of buyer’s journey and their influence stays high throughout the entire process.  The tech buyer’s influence, while still important, is comparatively waning.

A successful shift to a business-buyer approach will accelerate if you understand what’s behind it.

Front office automation has more business risk than back office automation.  The 2nd Wave (as IDC calls the client-server era) was mainly about automating things inside your company.  The 3rd Wave (as IDC calls the current era of cloud, mobile, social, and big data) is about automating your connections to the outside world (I call it the company “skin”).  When tech problems happened deep in inside your company, it was frustrating but not devastating.  The worst business tech problem of the 2nd Wave was being too slow to adopt new technology leaving competitors or upstarts to sail past you with business process advances.  That problem is still a concern today.  However, add the horror of screwing up in front of customers, investors, influencers, indeed, the whole world!  Just ask the CEO of Target.  Business executives are forced to pay attention to technology today – whether they want to or not. IDC forecasts that business executive budgets for technology will outstrip IT budgets.

Technology is easier and prettier now. Back in the day it took a real expert to understand the ins and outs of information technology products.  The products were intimidatingly gray and beige and filled with exposed wires and chips.  They hummed, got hot, and sparked out with regularity.  No wonder the finance and marketing execs wanted to leave those suckers alone.  Now most of those wires and chips are moving to the “cloud”.  Doesn’t that sound nicer?  Devices you touch are smooth and have pictures. Better design makes technology 99% invisible (to quote the title of one of my favorite podcasts). 

Business executives are smarter and more confident about technology.  Back in the day, technology was a startling thing that business people in the prime of their careers had never seen, much less used.  I remember one intelligent, capable, and admired, C-suite executive who used to have his administrative assistant print out his email because he wasn’t quite sure how to use it.  Now, anyone younger than 60 came of age with PCs and programmable everything.  Information about technology is available at everyone’s fingertips and accessing opinions from your professional network is incredibly easy. While a portion of the population will always be skeptical or frightened about the next new thing – it’s not likely to be IT that they are scared of (drones, anyone?).

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