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Is There A Profitable Market For Local Tech News?

Simon Owens Blog

If you’re a member of the Washington, DC tech scene and frequent its various happy hours and networking events, you may have recently noticed a new addition to the crowd, a woman named Lalita Clozel. Clozel, a 2013 University of Pennsylvania grad who moved to DC to intern for outlets like the LA Times and OpenSecrets.org, was hired last fall by Technical.ly, a Philadelphia-based company that specializes in producing local tech news coverage. The DC version of the site launched late last year, and right now a major facet of her job is attending these events “just to meet people and have them aware of what Technical.ly DC is trying to do here. It’s the same for any reporter starting out with their beat; you get your stories by hanging out with people and hearing their conversations.”

Though no business venture is guaranteed to work, Technical.ly by now has ample experience in entering new local markets, and its playbook for DC will closely mirror its entries into Philly, Baltimore, Brooklyn, and Delaware. The bootstrapped company has become adept at setting up shop in a city and positioning itself as a central information hub around which local tech companies clamor for coverage, recruit talent, and attend industry events. While national tech publications ranging from Wired to TechCrunch have thrived for years, Technical.ly is attempting to answer whether local tech industries — particularly in cities outside Silicon Valley — can support news outlets launched specifically to cover them. So far the answer seems to be yes.

Technical.ly is a company that was born out of the Great Recession, and by that I mean it was launched, in part, because its three co-founders couldn’t find journalism jobs after graduating college. Sean Blanda, Christopher Wink, and Brian James Kirk were all attending Temple University and worked on the school newspaper together. “I found there were these really interesting tech stories locally in Philly, and there wasn’t anyone writing about some of the topics,” Kirk told me in a phone interview. “Business coverage from newspapers was mostly focused on the big companies and most tech coverage was self-reported from the community, either on Twitter or blogs.”

Continue Reading… 

 

Gamification Can Help People Actually Use Analytics Tools

Harvard Business Review

If you’re trying to use advanced analytics to improve your organization’s decisions, join the club. Most of the companies I talk to are embarked on just such a quest. But it’s a rocky one.

The technological challenge is hard enough. You have to identify the right data and develop useful tools, such as predictive algorithms. But then comes an even tougher task: getting people to actually use the new tools.

Why is the people factor so important? It’s easy enough to automate routine decisions, such as identifying likely buyers for a product upgrade. But many decisions in today’s knowledge economy depend on expertise and experience. Think of bankers deciding on business loans, product developers determining tradeoffs between features and cost, or B2B sales reps figuring out which prospects to target. Analytics can help codify the logic of the best decision makers, but it can’t replace human judgment.

Moreover, the tools developed for contexts like these can be complex, often involving a steep learning curve. If decision makers aren’t willing to experiment with the tool and improve their outcomes over time, then your investment in the technology is wasted.

Right here, some say, is where a company could use gamification to encourage people to invest the time and learn how to use the new tools.

 

Gamification means using motivational techniques like those the videogame industry has put to such effective use. Anyone with teenagers in the house knows that they will spend long hours on their own, trying to get to the next level of their favorite game. Motivation experts like Dan Pink would say that the games are tapping into some basic human drives: for autonomy (you control your own pace), for mastery (you get better over time), and for a sense of purpose (you’re aiming at a well-defined goal). The social factor is important, too. Gamers love to match their skills against others and to compare notes on how they’re doing.

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Bloomberg’s Justin Smith: ‘Platforms have done a better job at media.’

DIGIDAY

It has been a year and a half since Justin Smith became the global CEO of the Bloomberg Media Group with the mandate of making the Bloomberg LP media arm a household name with business executives around the world. Since then, Bloomberg Media has made a slew of new hires across sales, marketing and editorial. The unit has introduced Bloomberg Politics, with other verticals to follow, and relaunched its flagship site, Bloomberg.com.

In an interview, Smith talked about how publishers can compete with Facebook, why print still has a place at Bloomberg, and what he admires about Snapchat.

Bloomberg Media just launched a new ad campaign. What’s the message you’re hoping to get out?
The thing that we’ve been doing, and the reason I came to Bloomberg, is that I believe we’re one of the few companies — large, established, global media companies — that’s truly trying to marry the best of traditional with the most cutting-edge approaches and formats that are emerging from startup media. There’s a global road show, and we’re getting positive feedback. So while the brand has been well-known, I think the exciting part of these conversations is some of the new products. We’re already seeing double-digit traffic growth on the unique front as well as on the page view front.

Which startups do you look to for inspiration?
It’s hard not to admire what all the technology platforms have achieved, from Google to Facebook to LinkedIn and Snapchat now. They are at-scale, large organizations; they have figured out modern media in a better way than traditional media has. To look at how those technology platforms have created mobile content interfaces that have become market-leading, or advertising solutions they have developed that are market-leading or beating because of their measurability — they have to be the first stop in any media watcher’s process.

Publishers are approaching them with some wariness, though. Where do you stand?

I think it’s interesting that traditional publishers always complain about the platforms taking away eyeballs and not sharing. This frenemy type of dynamic: Facebook being the latest focus. The reason for their complaint is quite simple: These platforms have done a better job at media than media themselves. They’ve created better media content mousetraps. They are to a large extent wiping the table on digital advertising solutions that are measurable and data-driven.

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Top Tips To Achieve Best Value From Your Marketing Agency

IDG Connect 0811 Top Tips To Achieve Best Value From Your Marketing Agency

These agencies are, of course, excellent at demonstrating their value to the business, using a raft of measurements to prove the quality of the campaign – from website visits to conversions and brand awareness. These metrics will often look fantastic – and make life far easier for the Marketing Manager to make the case for additional budget. But how much impact does higher numbers of website visits have on a business’ top line revenues?  If the CFO turns the tables and asks the Marketing team that question most, to be frank, will have little or no concrete information.

Below are five top tips to ensure you get the best value from your marketing budget – or marketing agency:

Tip #1 – Track, track, track your leads

Digital marketing offers the compelling promise of accurate measurement and rapid time to market, enabling companies to not only gain new understanding into the value of the marketing investment, but also to ramp up those campaigns that are proving to be incredibly successful. However, take a step back – just where is the value being delivered? Increasing web site visits four fold or delivering 100% more leads looks fantastic – and certainly proves the marketing agency’s skills – but the devil is in the detail, how many of these leads are actually driving sales?

The reality is that most companies simply do not know. They are failing to track these leads through the business and have no idea how many are qualified out by the sales team; at what stage; and why? Without this information not only are the measures of campaign success irrelevant but the marketing agency has no information to use to refine the campaign to truly meet business needs.

Tip # 2 – Scrutinize the detail

Marketers need to scrutinize in detail the ‘leads generated’ and determine whether they are within the company’s key target markets and geographies; whether they convert into the expected sales pipeline at the ratio expected; and ultimately into closed deals. Essentially, companies need to measure, and not just estimate, the true return on marketing investment.

Continue reading for more tips…

 

Mobile networks limber up for the Internet of Things

CITEworld

Changes starting to take place behind the scenes in mobile networks may eventually pay dividends to anyone with a smartphone, a connected refrigerator or an IT department.

Carriers have done things pretty much the same way for years, with cellular base stations at the edge of their networks feeding into a series of specialized appliances at central facilities. Now they’re virtualizing those networks in several ways, seeking the same rewards that enterprises have reaped by virtualizing data centers: efficiency and flexibility. The trend will be in full swing at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona next month.

It’s good news for mobile users that they may not hear much about. A more efficient network leaves more free capacity for the video or application you want to run, and a more flexible carrier could quickly launch services in the future that you don’t even know you’ll need yet. The new architectures may even change how some businesses pay for mobile services.

Just as enterprises used to buy separate servers for each application, carriers often use dedicated hardware for each function involved in delivering a service, such as billing and authentication. Years of mergers have left multiple legacy platforms, adding to the mess. As a result, rolling out a new service for a customer, such as a VPN, can take weeks.

The new approach that’s gaining ground, called NFV (network functions virtualization), turns each piece of the puzzle into software that can run on standard computing hardware.

Continue reading… 

LinkedIn Ad Services & B2B Marketers Turn to Digital

IDG Connect 0811 LinkedIn Ad Services & B2B Marketers Turn to Digital

In this week’s marketing news roundup I will be focusing on LinkedIn’s new B2B ad services and B2B marketers turning to digital.

LinkedIn Launches B2B Ad Services

Last week LinkedIn launched two new ad products, Lead Accelerator and Network Display. These allow B2B brands to search for sales leads and place ads across various websites as well as its own. The professional social network has partnered with AppNexus to deliver ads based on LinkedIn data not only on LinkedIn’s site and apps, but a network of 2,500 of other business-focused websites.

This announcement follows LinkedIn’s recent acquisition of B2B marketing platform Bizo. The acquisition, which cost the social media company $175 million, looks like it has been busy with its new toy as it’s set to take on the advertising world.

linkedin lead accelerator product image 1 1002x625 LinkedIn Ad Services & B2B Marketers Turn to Digital

Source: Marketing Week

The Lead Accelerator product allows brands to place a pixel on their websites, which uses cookies to identify LinkedIn users so advertisers can get a better understanding as to the types of people visiting.  This captures missing details of professionals who have visited brand websites by overlaying anonymised LinkedIn data over the brand’s site traffic.

To reach these users, LinkedIn’s Network Display will use its targeting insights to retarget visitors to third party websites and on its own platform. This will allow marketers to deliver relevant content to the right audience.

It seems this is just the beginning of LinkedIn’s expansion into the B2B marketing space. With these type of offerings and access to 347 million professionals, LinkedIn’s positioning looks promising.

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Is posting a photo the worst way to interact on Facebook

Business Insider

Data provided to Business Insider by the social-media analytics company Socialbakers shows just how badly photos perform compared with videos, links, and even simple text-only posts in terms of reach on Facebook.

What makes this data so remarkable is that it wasn’t so long ago that posting photos used to give brand page owners the best chance of their posts being seen by their fans (indeed, a Socialbakers study dated April 2014 declared “Photos Are Still King On Facebook”). Now the algorithm has changed, punishing photos, perhaps in response to page owners trying to game the system by constantly posting photos, or maybe because Facebook has been shifting its strategy ever more toward video in recent months.

The Socialbakers data, which covered 4,445 brand pages and more than 670,000 posts between October 2014 and February 2015, shows that video is now the most effective way to reach users in Facebook’s News Feed, driving more than twice as much reach as photo posts.

Photos had the lowest organic reach (the percentage of a page’s fans who see a post without the page owner’s needing to pay for advertising) over the period, with an average of just three out of every 100 (3.7%) page fans seeing a photo post.

Read more here… 

Smartphone Sales To Stall In Russia

Bloomberg Business

(Bloomberg) — Smartphone sales in Russia are set to stall this year as Apple Inc.’s iPhone volumes decline while households bear the brunt of the blowback from the Ukraine crisis and falling oil prices, according to researcher IDC.

Sales of devices surged 46 percent last year in the country to 27 million smartphones and will remain at that level this year, Simon Baker, a Moscow-based analyst at IDC said in an e-mailed response to questions. “We expect Apple volumes to drop after the boom.”

Apple doubled iPhone shipments to Russia to 3.25 million last year, garnering $2.14 billion in sales, according to the researcher’s Worldwide Mobile Phone Tracker.

While Samsung Electronics Co. remained the market leader, shipping more than 6 million smartphones last year, its revenue share was overtaken by Cupertino, California-based Apple.

In the fourth quarter, when Russians rushed to spend their tumbling rubles on big-ticket items including premium handsets, iPhone sales reached $827 million, or a record 46 percent share in the Russian smartphone market, versus Samsung’s 18 percent slice, according to IDC.

“Cheaper Android handsets will undoubtedly do well this year as consumers cut outlays,” Baker said, declining to comment specifically on Samsung. Lenovo Group Ltd., LG Electronics Inc. and Sony Corp. increased their share in Russia last year, according to IDC.

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Viewability: The Advertising Trend Of 2015

MediaPost

The IAB is calling 2015 a “year of transition” as it recommends that advertisers seek 70% viewability during the year. But 2015 is more than a year of transition in terms of viewability. Viewability will be the defining advertising trend of 2015.

The move toward 100% viewability is a move toward greater accountability, higher quality inventory, and improved ad experiences. And the responsibility for making these changes falls heavily on publishers.

But 100%  viewability is tough to achieve, given the current state of the industry and the various content models employed by publishers. It also comes at a higher cost, which is somewhat contrary to the initial objectives of programmatic.

Publishers now have to perform a difficult balancing act between the art of publishing and the science of monetization. They must drive more traffic by publishing better and more timely content — the art — while adapting to the changing technology requirements of both programmatic platforms and viewability demands – the science. And, of course, this balancing act amid a rapidly evolving landscape must result in eventual profit.

Those publishers that can master this balancing of art and science, stand to benefit greatly. They will be more and more attractive in the eyes of increasingly sophisticated marketers who are driving these trends by demanding better results and increased transparency.

 

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How to Promote your Business Away from the Internet

IDG Connect 0811 How to Promote your Business Away from the Internet

Marc Michaels is Director of Behaviour and Planning at the GIG at DST. As a marketing professional and procurement expert with extensive experience, Marc has become a champion for marketing communications for 28 years. As Director of Direct and Relationship Marketing and Evaluation at the COI, he managed a team of 50 professionals delivering hundreds of high profile government behaviour change campaigns involving direct mail, door drops, e-mail, contact centre and fulfilment, household distribution, field marketing, customer relationship management and campaign evaluation across all major COI clients. Now at the GIG at DST Marc now provides ‘end to end’ consultancy across strategy development, planning, implementation and evaluation. 

Marc is a life-time Fellow of the Institute of Direct Marketing and industry speaker. His extensive experience in marketing has provided Marc with a unique stance. He believes wholeheartedly that marketing doesn’t just have to be digital.

In a tough economic climate where competition is rife it can be difficult to generate business exposure. From large businesses to SMEs, companies are constantly trying to market themselves better. Often this will be through the multitude of emerging digital channels that have opened up a wealth of opportunity for the savvy marketer. Channels like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, to name only three, have made it easier and less expensive for businesses to promote themselves, if they have the skills and time to exploit them. However, whilst these new and flashy channels may look attractive and appear cheaper, it is important not to be seduced by them exclusively. Too many marketers are too quick to abandon physical marketing, perhaps because these particular methods are seen as outdated or untrendy compared to an eye-grabbing Vine or promoted Facebook post. Relying solely on social channels exclusively is flawed. Even within our continually and rapidly evolving digital world, offline solutions can still be right for your business.

Check out his tips here…