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Surface survives Microsoft cuts, but tablet strategy remains muddled

IDG News Service

As Microsoft announced its largest layoffs in its 39-year history — while saying it would press forward with its in-house Surface — analysts contended that the firm still hasn’t clearly stated its tablet strategy.

Earlier today, Microsoft said it would cut up to 18,000 jobs, or 14% of its work force, with the bulk of those layoffs coming from streamlining efforts after acquiring much of phone-maker Nokia.

The layoffs begin immediately, but as many as 5,000 will be left on tenterhooks for up to a year before knowing whether their jobs are safe.

Along with the layoffs, Microsoft also signaled an end to its experiment with Android, which powered the Nokia X series of smartphones. Nokia had kicked off the line prior to the deal’s completion.

“We plan to shift select Nokia X product designs to become Lumia products running Windows,” CEO Satya Nadella said in a message to employees.

Surface, the tablet-one-moment-notebook-the-next hardware that Microsoft debuted two years ago, will survive, the company made clear.

“With a set of changes already implemented earlier this year in these teams, this means there will be limited change for the Surface, Xbox hardware, PPI/meetings or next generation teams,” wrote Stephen Elop, the head of Microsoft’s device division, in a separate, much longer email to workers.

Nor, apparently, has Microsoft’s Surface strategy changed.

“More broadly across the Devices team, we will continue our efforts to bring iconic tablets to market in ways that complement our OEM partners, power the next generation of meetings [and] devices, and thoughtfully expand Windows with new interaction models,” Elop said.

While some on Wall Street have urged Microsoft to dump the Surface — and the Xbox for that matter — to focus on more profitable services and software, industry analysts contacted by Computerworld today weren’t surprised that the tablet/notebook survived the cuts.

“I’m not surprised that Microsoft is keeping Surface,” said Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, in an email today. “While it doesn’t fit 100% with ‘mobility and cloud,’ it’s close enough to keep it as it supports them driving their expanded definition of productivity by tying hardware, software and services.”

Others agreed.

“No, I didn’t think that they’d dump it,” echoed Wes Miller of Directions on Microsoft, a Kirkland, Wash. research firm that focuses on the moves of nearby Microsoft. “Some people thought Microsoft would use this opportunity to ax the Surface, but it’s a big long-term bet for them. And the Surface Pro 3 sure seems to be a lot more popular than the earlier models.”

Microsoft started selling the third-generation Surface Pro 3 – an Intel processor-powered device that runs Windows 8.1 — last month, and will finish rolling out the line in two weeks. The Surface Pro 3 starts at $799, but costs $929 with a keyboard, a necessary add-on to fit the notebook replacement role that Microsoft markets.

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Here’s How To Launch A Startup That Could Be Acquired By A Top Tech Company

Business Insider

I’ll start with one of my favorite thoughts, by Alex Haley in his essay “The Shadowland of Dreams”:

Many a young person tells me he wants to be a writer. I always encourage such people, but I also explain that there’s a big difference between “being a writer” and writing. In most cases these individuals are dreaming of wealth and fame, not the long hours alone at the typewriter. “You’ve got to want to write,” I say to them, “not want to be a writer.”

The reality is that writing is a lonely, private and poor-paying affair. For every writer kissed by fortune, there are thousands more whose longing is never requited. Even those who succeed often know long periods of neglect and poverty. I did.

When the startup economy booms, like it did in 1999 and like it is again in 2014, many people suddenly discover they want to “be an entrepreneur.” Newly-minted MBAs who otherwise would have joined Goldman Sachs or McKinsey instead head west to San Francisco. Big company lifers from Oracle or HP abruptly jump ship, not wanting to “miss out” on the next gold rush.

Too often, these folks quickly find a like-minded co-founder who also wants to join the “startup scene”, brainstorm a few ideas, pick one that seems plausible, hack up a product, then buy a wheelbarrow they can use to take their money to the bank when the acquisition offers start to roll in.

They almost never need that wheelbarrow. Starting a company is as Alex Haley described writing: the best companies are usually not started by people who want to “be an entrepreneur.” They are started by people who are knowledgeable and passionate about a specific problem, are driven to solve it, and then get busy building a company to bring it to life. They rarely go to tech conferences, can’t be found at launch parties, and they certainly don’t have a quick acquisition as their primary goal.

In contract, those who want to get rich by “being an entrepreneur” often come up with ideas that don’t really reflect any proprietary insight or interest. They’ll launch an undifferentiated e-commerce site with few barriers to entry, or they’ll read a Gartner report about a new enterprise market predicted to be worth billions, and they’ll jump into it with a me-too product. When they hit the inevitable bumps in the road, they may not have the drive to power over them, or they may not have the proprietary insight to outsmart competitors.

The best entrepreneurs work on ideas that grow out of their personal experiences and aptitudes. Their ideas often are counter-intuitive and don’t seem likely to work at first. I highly recommend this essay by Paul Graham: How to Get Startup Ideas. One of Paul’s best thoughts is:

The verb you want to be using with respect to startup ideas is not “think up” but “notice.” At YC we call ideas that grow naturally out of the founders’ own experiences “organic” startup ideas. The most successful startups almost all begin this way.”

Now, many of these “organic” founders also want to get rich, as do their investors and the employees who join them, but they also expect to spend years toiling away with lots of setbacks and trial and error. They know that if they get rich it will be because they are working on an idea where they have an edge in terms of knowledge and enthusiasm, not because they have joined a lucrative profession called “being an entrepreneur.”

All that being said, I would never discourage someone who truly is interested in startups from pursuing one — I’d certainly rather have them here in Silicon Valley rather than send them back to Wall Street. Startup life can provide a career full of accelerated learning, great camaraderie and teamwork, and it will at least leave you with some great stories. If you really want to enter the startup world, and not only for a quick acquisition, you could try:

  • Get awesome at something. Become a great engineer. Designer. Product manager. Marketer. Sales rep. Growth hacker. It is hard to start or join a great company if you aren’t great at a job that most startups need done.
  • Go deep in an industry. Many of the best companies are started by founds with proprietary knowledge in a specific field, like ad technology, insurance, supply chain management, information security, or many others.
  • Join a great startup. If you don’t have an idea where you have proprietary knowledge or passion, follow founders who do. Join the team early, contribute however you can, learn as much as you can, and it may lead to your founding your own company in the future as you get exposed to more people and ideas.

Pinterest’s interest-following feature could be advertising gold mine

Digiday

Pinterest today made it that much easier for consumers to explore specific interests, and agency execs are already looking toward its potential advertising uses.

Previously, Pinterest curated pins around broad categories such as “outdoors.” Now, when users click on “Outdoors,” they’ll be able to find pins curated to interests as narrow as “ultralight backpacking” and “saltwater fishing.”

Pinterest is in the midst of introducing ads to its platform, but a Pinterest spokesperson said there are no immediate plans to allow advertisers to target users based upon the interest pages they chose to follow. But this being a platform whose only revenue source is advertising, it’s fair to assume that, if interest pages catch on with users, ads will be sold against them.

At least agency execs, always looking to target consumers based upon their interests, hope so.

“All we’re trying to do is go deeper based upon targeting people on interest. The ability to hit them in that context makes a lot of sense,” Jordan Bitterman, chief strategy officer at media agency Mindshare, said.

Pinterest’s 32 categories — such “travel,” “animals” and “kids” — were too broad to serve finely tuned ads, according to Jill Sherman, group director of social and content strategy at Digitas. Agency execs routinely describe Pinterest image as a visual search engine. Adding interest collections — essentially more-nuanced tags – can only enrich that database.

“It was basically a collection of boards. Now it’s much more: a very deep directory of interest,” Chris Bowler, Razorfish’s global vice president of social media, said.

Interest pages are also a way for Pinterest to broaden its appeal, or at the very least, prevent it from losing users. Pinterest’s user-base still skews female despite its incredible popularity, Providing more pinpointed collections could attract even more users.

“This is where the entire social world is going; niche communities that have much higher receptivity than your broad-based Facebook and Twitter platforms,” Chris Bowler, Razorfish’s global vice president of social media, said. “This is Pinterest’s way of serving a community of rock climbers versus someone creating another online community around rock climbing.”

Bitterman added that the tool would also likely increase the amount of time Pinterest users stay on the platform in a given session, another selling point for Pinterest as it ramps up ad selling efforts. The prediction speaks to the power of catering to people’s interests: it makes Pinterest more appealing to consumers, and more alluring to ad buyers.

PC Shipments in EMEA Return to Growth in 2Q14, Says IDC

IDC PMS4colorversion  300x99 PC Shipments in EMEA Return to Growth in 2Q14, Says IDC

According to International Data Corporation (IDC), PC shipments in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) reached 21.9 million units in the second quarter of 2014 — a 10.5% increase year on year and a clear return to growth after seven quarters of consecutive decline. As in the previous quarter, Western Europe drove most of the regional growth, with shipments supported by strong enterprise renewals, which led to an overall 25% increase in the PC market. Consumer shipments also returned to growth after a severe contraction in 2013. At the same time, Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) remained impacted by the unstable political and economic situation in Russia and by currency fluctuations; as forecast, CEE declined by 13.2%. The Middle East and Africa (MEA) posted a modest 1.9% increase in shipments. In line with those trends, portable PC shipments in EMEA returned to growth (up 8.3%), while desktop PC shipments increased 14.1%. The increase in total EMEA shipments indicates a rebound in the market but not a recovery as volumes remain below the 25 million unit mark of the peak periods in 2010 and 2012.
“The clear improvements in EMEA are positive signs for PC manufacturers,” said Chrystelle Labesque, research manager, IDC EMEA Personal Computing. “However, there was still a big difference between the subregions, and especially in the consumer segment the divide between mature and emerging markets is similar to the worldwide trend. While some parts of the CEMA [Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East, and Africa] PC market continued to suffer from unfavorable exchange rates and a difficult political situation, Western European shipments were fueled by low-end consumer notebooks. Even if the comparison is eased by a very poor second quarter of 2013, more attractive products at the right price points encouraged more consumers to renew their devices. Retailers and etailers also seem more confident as new product designs and features better positioned price-wise are now generating higher sales and not only just interest. Promotional activities and vendors’ preparation for the back-to-school period further supported the market. The level of inventory will have to be monitored closely as back-to-school sales progress during August and September.” In this context, Chromebooks continued to grow, but their impact is limited to several countries in Western Europe.
PC shipments in Western Europe have continued to benefit this quarter from ongoing renewals in the SMB space following the end of Windows XP support. Commercial demand remained strong as business confidence stemming from an improving macroeconomic outlook contributed to corporate renewals. Commercial PC shipment growth in Western Europe reached 26.9% — clear confirmation that PCs remain key productivity tools in the enterprise environment. At the same time, the rebound in consumer shipments accelerated and some markets, including southern Europe, returned to levels of business close to their capacity. Shipments in Spain, Germany, and the Netherlands took off, with sell-in up by more than 40%.
“The lack of investments in PC renewals during the past two years contributed to an aging installed base across the commercial market and, together with the end of Windows XP support, this generated large renewal needs,” said Maciej Gornicki, senior research analyst, IDC EMEA Personal Computing. “As the macroeconomic outlook improved in most Western European countries, large enterprises regained confidence and started to replace their PCs, while many companies in the SMB segment reacted late to the change in the operating system. This has mainly boosted demand for desktops in the past two quarters, while the wave of portable renewals remains ahead of us.”

2014 B2B Tech Content Marketing Trends: Tailoring Content, Tactic Effectiveness, Social Media

Looking for insight into how technology marketers are using content marketing? Check out Content Marketing Institute’s newest research report, 2014 B2B TECHNOLOGY CONTENT MARKETING TRENDS — BUDGETS, BENCHMARKS, AND TRENDS, NORTH AMERICA, sponsored by International Data Group (IDG).

This infographic video focuses on how tech marketers tailor content, tactic effectiveness, and social media usage.

Click here to view an INFOGRAPHIC on this research

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Apple’s IBM Deal Marks the Real Beginning of the Post-PC Era

Mashable

When you look at the landscape of powerful players in the enterprise, a few names tend to stand out: IBM, Oracle, SAP, Microsoft, Apple.

Wait, Apple? A decade ago, it was rare to see Apple products in the enterprise. Sure, an executive here and there might have had a MacBook — maybe the graphics or marketing division used OS X — but everyone else worked on Windows and carried a BlackBerry.

Fast forward to today. Consumers have shifted away from the desktop-and-laptop world and more to the cloud, streaming media and mobile devices, and business and enterprise have, too. Today, iOS is in 98% of the Fortune 500. Almost in spite of itself, Apple has become a force of nature in the enterprise.

Seemingly overnight, Apple — the consummate consumer company — is a big player in the enterprise.

That reality became crystalized on Tuesday when Apple announced that it would be partnering with IBM to focus on “transforming enterprise.” The deal will pair Apple’s mobile and tablet hardware with IBM’s services, which include its Big Data, cloud and security infrastructure.

How exactly did this happen?

Falling into enterprise

The original iPhone wasn’t designed for business users. You could use a custom email setup, but there was no Exchange support, no VPN and no built-in productivity apps. With the iPhone 3G and iOS 2.0, Apple started adding more enterprise-friendly features, largely at the behest of businesses. Executives bought iPhones and wanted to use them in the office.

But it was the iPad, first released in 2010, that really changed the game. The portable nature of the tablet, coupled with a growing library of custom or publicly available third-party apps made the devices an instant hit in the office and in schools.

The iPad came along at the perfect time. Big enterprise customers were already starting to shift to cloud-based solutions for CRM and document management, which made it easy for an iPad to step in for a laptop on sales calls or in meetings.

Phil Buckellew, IBM’s vice president of enterprise mobile, says enterprise customers are constantly asking — demanding, really — more mobile solutions that are easy to use.

Why? It’s simple. People use an iPad at home and want to have that same experience at work. Users are accustomed to solutions “just working.”

Historical enterprise companies such as Microsoft and BlackBerry have struggled to adapt their technologies for the modern consumer, but by virtue of its consumer-friendly user experience, Apple seems to have almost accidentally fallen into enterprise.

Post-PC for the office is coming

Back in 2010, Steve Jobs famously discussed the emergence of a Post-PC world. Much hand-wringing and rationalizations about how the PC is still relevant has followed, but the reality is, Jobs was right. For most users, the PC is no longer the center of their digital lives, that center is now a smartphone (or even a tablet).

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Brazil Wins at Something: Digital Ad Spending in Latin America

eMarketer

Digital ad spending in Latin America will increase 28.5% this year—the second-fastest growth rate out of all regions worldwide, trailing only the Middle East and Africa—to hit $5.29 billion, according to eMarketer’s latest estimates of global digital ad spending.

175102 Brazil Wins at Something: Digital Ad Spending in Latin America

Double-digit gains will continue throughout our forecast period, pushing total investments in Latin America to $9.36 billion by 2018. Thanks to this growth, the region will rise from second-to-last place in digital ad spending worldwide in 2016, when it is set to surpass Central and Eastern Europe. However, it will still see far lower spending compared with North America, Asia-Pacific and Western Europe, and will claim just 4.4% of the digital ad spend market in 2018.

Brazil will maintain the highest levels of digital ad spending out of the Latin American countries for which eMarketer produces estimates, at $2.88 billion—or 54.4% of all digital ad spend in the region. Meanwhile, second- and third-place Mexico and Argentina will see far lower digital ad investments of $900 million and $310 million, respectively.

Despite higher gains in Mexico than in Brazil, the former will still rank second for digital ad spending in Latin America throughout our forecast period. Argentina will continue to pull up the rear, with increases at 7.0% or lower expected through 2018, compared with double-digit gains in the other two nations.

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Coming soon to Facebook: Video ads that follow you from device to device

VentureBeat

Advertisers on Facebook see the emerging method of sequential mobile advertising as a way to better control their branding message with consumers on social media.

Sequential video advertising allows marketers to place targeted video ads in front of a user when they click an ad on their mobile device. Based on what the person clicks, and what the product or message is, marketers are then able to follow up with similar video ads as they hop from one device to another.

By creating a sequence of targeted ads, marketers can build up a pitch from one video to the next — starting with a “pitch” video and ending with a “sell” video intended to close the sale.

VentureBeat spoke to two sources who requested their names not be used because the information they were describing was based in conversations with Facebook executives.

“Video is where its going,” an advertising executive who works with Facebook told VentureBeat. “With unique profile IDs, you have the ability to better sequentially target content for users as they embark on their journey through the social media funnel.”

The same executive added: “Sequential video advertisers gives marketers the ability to place different messages that can build upon each other. This gives you greater control over the delivery of your message.”

Another mobile executive who works with Facebook told VentureBeat that advertisers want to better control, and deploy, product messages. But they are content, for now, in permitting Facebook and others obtain user data to target their ads.

For its part, Facebook uses a combination of its own in-house analytics and partners for the task of ad targeting.

Facebook is able to amass tremendous amounts of user data based on information contained in in its users’ profiles as well as their activity. That includes information on who you interact with and where you like to shop, for example. That data is gold to advertisers, keen to take advantage of Facebook’s 1.2 billion users.

“The writing is on the wall. Sequentially targeted ads are hugely efficient and ultimately cost effective. They have greater relevance for advertisers and better targeting,” said the second source, who has knowledge of Facebook’s mobile ad strategy.

“Anecdotally, it’s very promising. Facebook is putting a lot of effort into it,” the same source added.

Indeed, Facebook bought the video advertising outfit Liverail for an undisclosed sum earlier this month. Liverail’s technology optimizes video ad deliveries for mobile devices utilizing bidding and proprietary data. Liverail was considering an IPO this year but threw in its lot with Facebook instead, media reports said.

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Extra! Extra! Read All About It (via Mobile)!

eMarketer

When it comes to magazine ads, reader recall is the same for print and tablet versions (52%), according to data released earlier this month by GfK MRI Starch Advertising Research. And based on May 2014 polling by IDG Global Solutions, magazines better hope this is true across all mobile devices—and newspapers should cross their fingers even more.

176330 Extra! Extra! Read All About It (via Mobile)!

The research found that among smartphone and tablet users worldwide whose devices had replaced other media, print newspapers saw the most abandonment, with 50% of tablet owners switching over to mobile news, and 41% of smartphone users doing the same. Print magazines followed: 47% of tablet-toting respondents had replaced them with a digital screen, and 33% of smartphone owners had moved their magazine reading to their phones.

These patterns were the same no matter a user’s age, though replacing traditional media with mobile was slightly more common among younger respondents. Users were less likely to have replaced other digital devices and TVs with a tablet or smartphone, and as a result, the majority multi-screened. Around three in five respondents from both groups used their mobile devices as they used other screens, and again, age didn’t play a huge role.

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The Rise of Cloud in the Channel

IDC PMS4colorversion 1 300x99 The Rise of Cloud in the Channel

Cloud services represent a growing opportunity for partners of all types in a wide array of activities across resale, services, and development. However, it’s of key importance that partners have an understanding of the what, where, how, and why of cloud services prior to embarking on wholesale business strategy change.

This IDC study, commissioned by Microsoft, examines the implications of becoming a successful cloud partner in 2013. Developed with insight garnered through in-depth conversations with leading Microsoft cloud partners and backed by supportive survey data (see methodology for further details), it provides a profile of the potential upside of integrating cloud to a partner’s mix of solution offerings.Finally, it concludes with guidance as a partner begins, or continues, their journey into the cloud.

the rise of the cloud in the channel The Rise of Cloud in the Channel