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Snapchat stories: Here’s how 6 news orgs are thinking about the chat app

Nieman Lab

When Sam Sheffer, The Verge’s social media editor, launched the site’sSnapchat account at the end of July last year, he meant it to be a small-scale experiment.

“I only promoted it on my personal Twitter account,” Sheffer told me. “I didn’t make it an official thing that it was our account, I just told my followers, ‘Hey guys, I’m going to be doing this thing. Follow if you want to.’”

But soon the audience started growing; today, The Verge’s snaps each get about 10,000 views. The Verge, like many news organizations that are active on Snapchat, still views it as an experiment, trying out new ways to use the format — from covering live events like the NBA All-Star Game or the Oscars to a regular series where Sheffer has Verge staffers explain what’s on their desks.

Snapchat’s popularity is booming. Last year, it said that its users sent more than 700 million snaps daily; the company is reportedly in a new funding round that would value the company at $19 billion.

Snapchat’s potential for news outlets became more clear last month with the launch of Snapchat Discover, which lets a small number of publishers reach new younger audiences with well-produced stories that are made specifically for the platform and utilize slick graphics and video. No one is releasing hard numbers yet, but the buzz is they’re amazing. (“But from speaking to people at several other news organizations, I can tell you secondhand that the numbers, at least for the initial launch period, were enormous. We’re talking millions of views per day, per publisher.”)

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IDC: Android and iOS accounted for 96.3% of global smartphone shipments in 2014

VentureBeat

Android and iOS accounted for 96.3 percent of all smartphone shipments in Q4 2014, and coincidentally, 96.3 percent for all of last year as well. That means the duopoly grew 0.6 percentage points compared to the same period last year (95.7 percent in Q4 2013) and 2.5 percentage points on an annual basis (93.8 percent in 2013).

The latest figures come from IDC, which puts together these estimates every quarter. Here is the breakdown for the full year:

idc smartphones os 2014 IDC: Android and iOS accounted for 96.3% of global smartphone shipments in 2014

Above: Volume units are in millions.

Google’s mobile operating system remained the clear leader in 2014, pushing past the 1 billion unit mark for the first time. This was a significant milestone in itself, but also because it meant that total Android volumes in 2014 beat total smartphone shipments in 2013. Samsung retained the leadership position “by a wide margin,” shipping more than the next five vendors combined, but its total volumes for the year remained essentially flat as Asian vendors (including Huawei, Lenovo and its subsidiary Motorola, LG Electronics, Xiaomi, and ZTE) took up the task of fueling growth for Android.

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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.”

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Three Myths About Programmatic Native Advertising

MediaPost

There has been a lot of discussion about the merging of native advertising and programmatic buying since the launch of the Facebook Exchange (FBX) two years ago. With the creation of FBX, demand-side platforms (DSP)  built support for creative metadata, such as headlines, thumbnails and the other categories that make up native ads.  This was version 1 of programmatic native.

Seeing the success of FBX, Web publishers began hypothesizing about how they could bring the same native RTB capabilities to their sites and applications outside of Facebook. With the IAB closing in on the ratification of OpenRTB 2.3, which will add native capabilities to the standard programmatic process, we are closer to version 2 then ever before.

But before we get there, let’s examine three current myths regarding the merger of native and real-time bidding.

Myth #1) Native RTB has arrived. While multiple platforms have experimented with custom solutions to merge RTB capabilities with automated native ad delivery, there is currently no standard that all publishers and platforms can utilize. FBX offers the ability to programmatically buy native ads at scale on Facebook, but this solution does not offer a standard that open Web publishers can adopt.

Standardization for Native RTB is coming very soon. The IAB is now in the final stages of completing the OpenRTB 2.3 spec, which for the first time will include support for native ads.  This draft is currently going through final IAB comment and approval process. Over the next three months, you can expect to see a feverish level of activity between native technology players to push through integrations with DSPs to truly bring Native RTB to the industry at scale.

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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.

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The State of Social Media in 2015

Econtent

When you were a youngster and wanted to meet new people and make friends, you had to travel to an event such as an ice cream social. Today, connecting with friends can be accomplished instantly via a few clicks a la social media.

If you need further evidence of social media’s omnipresent influence nowadays, take a gander at We Are Social’s “Digital Statshot 002″ report, which reveals that there are currently about 2 billion active social media accounts worldwide-equating to a whopping penetration of 28% of the planet’s population, with about roughly 1.6 billion of these accounts active via mobile. What’s more, 72% of all internet users are currently active on social media, and 93% of marketers use social media for business.

Social platforms also continue to increase and, for the most part, thrive. In order, the top 10 most popular social networking sites (according to eBizMBA, Inc.) are Facebook (900 million estimated unique monthly visitors), Twitter (310 million), LinkedIn (255 million), Pinterest (250 million), Google+ (120 million), Tumblr (110 million), Instagram (100 million), VK (80 million), Flickr (65 million), and Vine (42 million).

Ask industry experts and they’ll tell you that social media has rapidly evolved from a niche digital channel into an indispensible and expected feature that’s fully integrated into the online experience for users everywhere. “Social media is no longer just for fun, but now provides an essential communication and research function to individuals,” says Annette A. Penney, online marketing strategist for Inspire and Acquire. “We now often prefer to communicate with our friends, family members, and work colleagues through our social media accounts rather than call them on the phone.”

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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.

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Shoptalk: Don’t Call It Advertising Anymore

Editor and Publisher

Exactly 20 years ago, I was part of the team that sold the very first banner ads on the World Wide Web. On Oct. 27, 1994, Wired magazine flipped the switch that lit up HotWired, the “cyberstation” that ushered brands like IBM, Volvo, MCI, Club Med and—famously—AT&T into the digital age. From the humble origin of a dozen brands paying $15,000 per month for static banner placement with zero analytics, Web advertising is now closing in on $50 billion in annual spending. At precisely the same moment, the banner ad (and related forms like the 15-second video pre-roll and the mobile display ad) has become a social touchstone that evokes a firestorm of condescension and condemnation at every turn. But can the digital ad business really have been built and sustained through such a flawed delivery vehicle? Digital advertising was born to an Internet that people read and watched.  And advertising—well, that was a practice to be grafted onto the Web from other forms of publishing and broadcasting as technology and bandwidth allowed. Those first crude banners eventually gave way to larger, more picturesque ‘magazine’ ads and then to TV-style video spots.  The business grew even as it continued to miss the larger point. Over these two decades, the Web has become something everyone does—not something they watch or read. We look for answers, we pass jokes back and forth to one another, we buy stuff, and we settle arguments. Always on, always in our hands, the Internet has become an extension of us as people. But advertising, mostly, has not kept up. And does content no longer matter? Or does it matter more than ever? The maddeningly simple answer is that it matters when it matters; when it’s closely aligned with the experience the consumer is living at that moment in time. And not for its own sake.

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Photoshop at 25: A Thriving Chameleon Adapts to an Instagram World

New York Times

The history of digital technology is full of innovations that are praised for having changed the world: the Mac, Microsoft Windows, the Netscape Navigator browser, the iPod and countless others. Then there are the many products that changed the world and were suddenly overtaken by some newer, supposedly better thing: the Mac, Microsoft Windows, Netscape Navigator, the iPod and countless others.

What’s rarer in tech is the product that causes major changes, hits turbulence and then, after some nimble adjustment, finds a surprising new audience.

This week is the 25th birthday of one such aging chameleon, Adobe Photoshop, an image-editing program that was created when we snapped pictures on film and displayed them on paper. It has not just survived but thrived through every major technological transition in its lifetime: the rise of the web, the decline of print publishing, the rise and fall of home printing and the supernova of digital photography.

Photoshop attained the rare status of a product that became a verb — like Google and Xerox. Along the way, it became a lightning rod for controversy because of, among other things, the way it can be used to turn women’s bodies into unnatural magazine-cover icons, or its use by propagandists and your casually mendacious social-networking buddies who doctor their vacation snaps.

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