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Twitter’s Vine Introduces Direct Video Messaging

TechCrunch

Twitter’s Vine has introduced a feature that allows you to message other users directly via video. This adds both a direct messaging channel and video clips to its messages, a big addition to Twitter’s video app.

There is a direct parallel to be drawn here between Instagram’s Direct image messaging feature, obviously — and it goes hand in hand with Twitter’s renewed interest in its direct messaging channel. The allegory is interesting, as there isn’t a lot of public evidence that Direct has had any real traction. Still, it allows Twitter to experiment with video messaging in a separate silo, and it does make some sense to start with Vine before adding video messaging to Twitter.

You create a new Vine message by tapping on the Messages section, recording a video and sending it off. You can send to multiple recipients, but all of the conversations are one-to-one — much like competing messaging app Snapchat. If you send to multiple people, you’ll get separate threads for each one.

Notably, you can send Vine messages directly to anyone in your address book, regardless of whether they have Vine or not. This leverages your “private graph” in a similar way to WhatsApp’s early strategy. Twitter is likely hoping that this will spur growth much in the same way.

Offering a backchannel will also allow users to side-step the increasingly polished and professional community of Vine creators. This doubtlessly creates a barrier that stops some people from sharing because it’s not “good enough” to sit in their feeds. Like Snapchat, this allows people to post silly, stupid or funny videos that may not be as polished — or as pretty — directly to their friends.

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Pinterest Debuts A “Gifts Feed” Featuring Only Things You Can Buy

TechCrunch

Pinterest publicly introduced a new Gifts feed on Wednesday that only displays “Product Pins” – pins that are enhanced with additional details, including pricing, availability and where the item can be purchased online. The announcement was made on Pinterest’s Business blog, aimed at advertisers, instead of on the company’s more widely read, consumer-facing main blog.

The company describes the Gifts feed as a “work-in-progress” section on the Pinterest website where only those items that are available for sale are listed. These products can also be filtered by price by clicking on buttons that range from one to four dollar signs ($ – $$$$), equating to products that range from less than $50, $25-$50, $50-$200, and over $200, respectively.

Product pins were first introduced in spring 2013 as one of many new pin types on the service, which also included other new things, like movie pins and recipe pins, for example. In order for retailers to take advantage of the new functionality, they have to first update their website with the appropriate metatags (described here on the Pinterest Developers website). Afterwards, Pinterest users encountering those products on the social service would be able to see the product’s price and inventory levels, and could even click through on the provided URL to make a purchase.

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IDG CEO Friedenberg Sees a Data-Driven Mobile Future

PBS Mediashift

The words “International Data Group” conjure up an old era of computers that took up entire rooms with data-punching experts wearing white coats. And it’s not a coincidence that the International Data Group, or IDG, was founded in 1964 near Boston. But what started as a research firm turned into a series of tech trade publications (e.g. InfoWorld, Computerworld), consumer tech pubs (e.g. PC World, MacWorld), and events that spanned the globe. Now, the private company is looking toward a data-driven, mobile future.

“I think mobile will be fascinating in two areas: How do you gate that content and use that channel to deepen that relationship with readers? And from the advertiser’s perspective and with responsive design, how are you going to leverage video and native ads on those platforms?” said Michael Friedenberg, who ascended to IDG CEO last summer, and spoke to me recently via Skype.

IDG has been slowly moving its U.S. publications from print to digital, moving InfoWorld in 2009and more recently PC World went online-only, with an emphasis on charging annual subscriptions for tablet editions. While newer tech blogs such as TechCrunch and Engadget have gained prominence — and borrowed from IDG’s playbook of mixing content with events and research — IDG continues to plug away quietly. The company has turned its focus to programmatic ad sales with its Tech Media Exchange, and continues its global ambitions by focusing on the emerging MINT (Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria, Turkey) area.

While many people wrote off tech trade publications as obsolete in the digital era, IDG continues to expand, diversify and find new ways to serve the tech industry.

Below is an edited version of my interview with Friedenberg, with audio clips for some of his answers.

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Where You Can Go Right, And Wrong, With Native Ads

TechCrunch

There has been a lot of talk in the digital media trade press about native advertising and the opportunities for advertisers. Yet, much less has been written about the opportunities and implications for digital publishers. But, first things first…

WHAT IS “NATIVE ADVERTISING”?

Native advertising is a concept that gained traction in the digital ad industry in 2012. It refers to digital ad formats that integrate more seamlessly (yet transparently) into website aesthetics, user experiences and/or editorial in ways that offer more value to both advertisers and readers. Put simply, native ads follow the format, style and voice of whatever platform they appear on.

Over recent months, the conversation about native advertising has focused largely on the pros and cons of just one facet of the larger movement: publisher-produced sponsored posts on editorial sites. However, native advertising is an umbrella concept that encompasses much more, starting with Google Search Ads and now extending to Promoted Videos on YouTube, Sponsored Stories on Facebook, Promoted Tweets on Twitter, promoted videos on sites like Devour and Viddy, promoted content on apps like Pulse and Flipboard, branded playlists on Spotify, promoted posts on Tumblr, sponsored check-ins on Foursquare, and brand-video content integrations produced by sites like Men’s Journal and Vice. 

What ties these seemingly disparate ad products together is one common theme: The ad’s visual design and user experience are native to the site itself, and these native ad placements are filled with quality brand content of the same atomic unit (videos, posts, images) as is natural to that site. 

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IDC: Worldwide Tablet Shipments Hit A Record Total Of 52.5M Units In Q4 , Including 22.9M iPads

TechCrunch

Apple’s iPad led the charge as total worldwide tablet shipments hit a record 52.5 million units in the fourth quarter of 2012, according to IDC’s preliminary data from its Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker, but its market share continued to slide due to competition from Samsung. Meanwhile, PC shipments declined during the quarter for the first time in more than five years. The tablet market grew 75.3 percent year-over-year, and increased 74.3 percent from the previous quarter’s total of 30.1 million units, helped along by holiday purchases, lower average selling prices and a wider range of products.

“We expected a very strong fourth quarter, and the market didn’t disappoint. New product launches from the category’s top vendors, as well as new entrant Microsoft, led to a surge in consumer interest and very robust shipments totals during the holiday season,” said Tom Mainelli, tablet research director at IDC.

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59% Of All Android Tablet Usage Comes From The U.S., And The Forked Amazon Kindle Fire Is The Most Popular Brand

TechCrunch

Android tablets have nearly caught up to iPad devices as the world’s most popular tablet platform, and some project that they may even overtake iPads later this year. According to new research from app analytics company Localytics, the U.S., and specifically Amazon, should take the most credit for that trend: some 59% of all Android tablet usage came from the U.S., with over half of that attributed to Kindle Fire and Fire HD tablets, working out to a 33% share.

 59% Of All Android Tablet Usage Comes From The U.S., And The Forked Amazon Kindle Fire Is The Most Popular Brand

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Forrester: 84% Of U.S. Adults Now Use The Web Daily, 50% Own Smartphones, Tablet Ownership Doubled To 19% In 201

TechCrunch

Forrester Research just published its annual “State of Consumers and Technology” report. As usual, it’s chock-full of interesting statistics about how U.S. consumers use the Internet, but the most interesting statistic is probably that the overall online penetration rate in the U.S. has stabilized at 79 percent (the same number Forrester found in 2011). That’s the percentage of U.S. adults that go online at least monthly. What has changed, however, is how many adults go online at least daily: In 2011, that was 78 percent of U.S. adults, and in 2012, Forrester reports that 84 percent now go online at least once per day.

One of the reasons for this is, of course, the growing smartphone and tablet penetration. Forrester found that about half of U.S. online adults now own a smartphone and two-thirds even own multiple connected devices. Tablet adoption doubled since 2011 and is now at 19 percent.

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Big Data Right Now: Five Trendy Open Source Technologies

TechCrunch

Big Data is on every CIO’s mind this quarter, and for good reason. Companies will have spent $4.3 billion on Big Data technologies by the end of 2012.

But here’s where it gets interesting. Those initial investments will in turn trigger a domino effectof upgrades and new initiatives that are valued at $34 billion for 2013, per Gartner. Over a 5 year period, spend is estimated at $232 billion.

What you’re seeing right now is only the tip of a gigantic iceberg.

Big Data is presently synonymous with technologies like Hadoop, and the “NoSQL” class of databases including Mongo (document stores) and Cassandra (key-values).  Today it’s possible to stream real-time analytics with ease. Spinning clusters up and down is a (relative) cinch, accomplished in 20 minutes or less. We have table stakes. But there are new, untapped advantages and non-trivially large opportunities beyond these usual suspects.

http://tcrn.ch/Pj5TVI

Tablets Join The Long Race To The Bottom

TechCrunch

Remember netbooks? Exactly. Two years ago netbooks could do no wrong. They were the future, a way to get work done on the go on a laptop the size of a paperback book. In the end, manufacturers saw them as a great way to squeeze profit out of a moribund product line. Sadly, I fear that’s where we’re headed in the tablet market.
For a long time it was a few horse race. Motorola, Apple, and Samsung were pumping out top-of-the-line tablets and selling them at a premium, because that’s what the market could support. However, with the launch of the $199 Kindle Fire, and more recently the Nexus 7, the floodgates will soon open, driving down prices, quality, and value.

Here’s the pattern: a product group becomes popular. Major players make comparatively expensive products with good QA and designs. Early adopters gobble them up, then there’s  a brief period of popular adoption. Then everyone who was going to buy a tablet has a tablet. Positions are taken regarding the various advantages of each type. Flame wars are fought….Then people stop caring.

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Survey: Trust In Online Ads Grows, While Trust in Print and TV Ads Drops

TechCrunch 

It’s no secret that most of us put more stock in the recommendations we get from friends than traditional forms of advertising. What’s interesting, though, is that while most consumers also increasingly trust online reviews and ads, trust in paid advertising on television, magazines and newspapers has declined pretty rapidly. Thelatest data from Nielsen’s Global Trust in Advertising Survey shows just how dramatic this decline is: while 92% of consumers say they trust word-of-mouth recommendations, less than half trust paid ads in traditional media outlets. The trust in these ads has declined by more than 20% since 2009.

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