Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Facebook Expands FBX Retargeted Ads, Based On Your Online Browsing, From Sidebar To News Feed

The link to the full story is here

Last year Facebook tested out and then launched Facebook Exchange ads in its right-hand column, a way for advertisers to market themselves to users based on those users’ online browsing habits, using a cookie-based real-time bidding platform. Those ads have proven to be some of Facebook’s strongest performing ad units, so now it’s taking them a step further, with an alpha test to extend FBX ads into the desktop News Feed, the place where users spend most of their time on the social network.
It’s important to note that this move will not increase the number of ads that Facebook shows in the News Feed; but it will make them based on where else you have been online. That could be useful, or it could be creepy. Facebook itself believes that more relevant means more useful. “Allowing advertisers to reach people in News Feed is important because people spend more time in News Feed than any other part of Facebook,” Facebook writes. “We also believe that ads delivered through FBX will create more relevant ads for people. Introducing Facebook Exchange in Desktop News Feed will not change the number of ads people see in their News Feeds.”
For now, the alpha test is desktop-only and does not cover mobile platforms. “Right now we’re focused on desktop,” a spokesperson tells TechCrunch. “Desktop is more in line with what FBX has been doing effectively in the right hand side. And we also find that desktop is the place where more people convert from seeing direct-response ads.”

Facebook Now Hosts 250M Monthly Gamers, Paid Out $2B To Devs In 2012

The link to the full story is here

Facebook stood loud and tall at today’s Gaming Developers Conference, revealing that around 200 games on boast more than 1 million active users. Plus, more than $2 billion was paid out to game developers over the course of 2012. That’s an increase of 30% over 2011 levels.
The number of Facebook gamers has steadily risen over the last two years, from 205 million in August of 2011 to 235 million in August 2012. Now, Facebook has surpassed the 250 million mark.
Facebook is clearly generating growth where it matters: engagement and revenue. The total number of payers on Facebook has increased 24 percent in the past year, and 20 percent of Facebook’s daily users play games on the social network.
The social network also announced that 55 percent of the top 400 iOS apps are integrated with Facebook. In fact, Facebook drove 263 million clicks to Apple’s App Store and Google Play from mobile.
The increase in activity has apparently played out well for developers, too, who received $2 billion in payouts from Facebook in 2012. According to Facebook’s own report, more than 100 developers generated more than $1 million from Facebook in 2012. Of course, this same report fails to mention the number of unsuccessful development ventures, too.
Facebook’s gaming heyday might be behind it, but it’s still growing the business and funding a large number of developers’ yacht funds.

Twitter Ad Revenue to Hit Nearly $1 Billion Next Year

The link to the full story is here

Twitter's global ad revenue is expected to hit nearly $1 billion in 2014, according to a new estimate from eMarketer.
The researcher upped its estimates for Twitter's ad revenue this year and next based on greater-than-expected demand for Twitter's mobile ads. eMarketer now expects that Twitter will generate $583 million in ad revenue in 2013 and $950 million in 2014, up from a previous estimate of $545 million this year and $808 million next year.
"The upward revision comes as advertisers have shown more interest in spending money on mobile advertisements on Twitter, and as recent audience figures from multiple research sources analyzed by eMarketer have suggested Twitter's reach is improving," the report says. eMarketer also attributes some of the increase to the launch of Twitter's API last month.
Mobile ads will account for just more than half (53%) of Twitter's total ad revenue this year and more than 60% by 2015. In fact, Twitter is expected to earn more in mobile ad revenue this year (about $308 million) than it made in total from ad revenue last year.
Even with the revised estimate, eMarketer's estimate still falls short of the projections of some Twitter insiders. Bloomberg reported last year that sources close to Twitter expected the company to do more than $1 billion in ad revenue by 2014.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

LinkedIn Now #1 Tool of Top Sales Reps

The link to the full story is here

Just when you thought was a career site for finding your next job, along comes new, primary research from Jill Konrath and Ardath Albee showing that LinkedIn is now the most important sales tool in a sales rep's arsenal.
3,094 sales professionals, representing a broad base of outside and inside sales reps, sales managers, consultants and entrepreneurs from small, midsize and large companies, participated in this survey.
Of this total, 4.9 percent were categorized as Top Sellers.
Top Sellers are those individuals who attribute the majority of their new business opportunities and revenue to their use of LinkedIn.
"That means there's a whole slew of people out there who don't have a clue about what these people are doing. You can say these Top Sellers are spending time on groups or they have a really good profile, but you don't know how they're working or anything about their thought-process and their mindset," said Jill Konrath, co-author of Cracking The LinkedIn Sales Code, an eBook which summarizes the research findings.
"I'm hoping that after reading our research, people who aren't in this top 4.9 percent will say, 'I never thought it could be done this way... and I can do it, too,'" Konrath added.
What is it these Top Sellers are doing on LinkedIn that others are not? Here's a summary of the research:
  • Top Sellers are strategic. There's a whole strategy behind everything they do.
  • They spend much more time on LinkedIn than their colleagues (six hours or more per week).
  • LinkedIn is viewed as essential to their business. It's literally part of their sales DNA and they can't imagine how they'd live without it.
  • They're not just dabbling and looking people up. Instead, they have a targeted database and they use LinkedIn to create strategic searches to identify the people that they want to go after.
  • They join the groups their target market belongs to and start participating in the groups, thereby allowing them to initiate conversations with group members.
  • Top Sellers are very deliberate about building their profiles so that it reads nothing like a resume or sell-sheet. Rather, their profile is about the challenges a client might face and the kind of results clients can expect.
  • Because LinkedIn lets you upload content into your profile, they'll also include relevant case studies, webinars or SlideShare presentations.
As we learned from The Challenger Sale, the biggest differentiator in making a sale is often how well the sales rep is able to create the perception as a relevant, knowledgeable, problem-solver. It seems this new LinkedIn research supports the idea that LinkedIn may very well be a Challenger Sales Rep's favorite sales tool.

Twitter Holding A Mobile-Focused Platform Event April 2 To Discuss “Exciting New Features,” No Press Allowed

The link to the full story is here

Twitter has released an open invite form to a developer press event it’s holding April 2 on its dedicated developer website today. The event is mobile-focused, Twitter says, and will take place at Twitter HQ between 6:30 PM and 9:30 PM Pacific. Twitter says it will use the occasion to share “some exciting new features for the Twitter Platform” it has been working on.
In a blog post announcing the news, Twitter says that the event will address how developers can “best integrated Twitter into [their] mobile experience,” and notes that space is limited. The entry form asks potential attendees to submit their name, the name of their company, their email and Twitter user name, and the invite is open to developers, product managers, designers and more, but not to press.
Twitter has been making changes to its API and how it works with third-party developers, including the retirement of API v1, which it began blackout testing for earlier this month. Other recent changes include the debut of its advertising API, which allows brands to run ad campaigns through its partners instead of setting them up directly through the company itself.
The version 1.1 API Twitter officially launched back in September 2012 instituted token limits on third-party apps, and seemed in general designed to discourage apps from trying to replicated the “core” Twitter experience, or what it provides through its own web and native clients.
A number of Twitter developers have expressed trepidation at what might be on tap from the company in terms of platform announcements (see Tweetbot developer Paul Haddad’s thoughts below), but Twitter is definitely trying to spin this positive in its own characterization of the event.

NASDAQ’s Glitch Cost Facebook Investors ~$500M. It Will Pay Out Just $62M. IPO Elsewhere.

The link to the full story is here

When Twitter or Dropbox go public, they should remember May 18, 2012. The SEC has approved NASDAQ’s payout of $62 million to investors burned when the stock exchange’s trading systems broke down during Facebook’s IPO. Total losses for investors were pegged at$500 million by the Wall Street Journal, though. The debacle should push companies eying big IPOs to look at other exchanges.
The NASDAQ gambled with other people’s money and Facebook’s reputation when it claimed it was ready to handle one of the most anticipated initial public offerings in history. But the morning of May 18th, the bet went sour.
As I wrote back when the blow-up happened (based on Reuters’ play-by-play of the meltdown) there was “a trading delay of 30 minutes and investors were unsure how much of Facebook they’d bought. There were 12 million postponed share orders suddenly filled between 1:49 p.m. and 1:51 p.m. without being properly marked ‘late sale’, which exaggerated the impression that people were trying to dump Facebook shares.”
There seemed to be insufficient preparation, no back-up plan, and little communication from NASDAQ. This resulted in confused investors who pulled back from Facebook, thus contributing to its falling price. There were certainly other issues with the IPO, including that Facebook may not have properly announced mobile revenue uncertainty or last-minute revenue forecast cuts. But NASDAQ’s glitches certainly didn’t help, and Facebook is still trying to claw its way back to its $38 IPO price.
Now the SEC has given the go-ahead for the NASDAQ to pay out $62 million in cash. As the WSJ details, eligible investors include some whose orders weren’t carried out, or who weren’t correctly notified when buys or sells did go through. Many banks who lost big money due to the breakdown are understandably unsatisfied with the compensation plan that comes up hundreds of millions of dollars short.
Hopefully the whole situation will serve as a lesson to stock exchanges and the companies that IPO on them: Consumer tech is now part of the financial zeitgeist. People want to own a part of the services they use every day. Trading systems must be ready for the onslaught when these companies go on sale. And if something goes wrong, don’t try to play it cool. Have a contingency plan and be prepared to delay an IPO an hour or a day if necessary. It’s better than watching so many dollars disintegrate due to confusion.

LinkedIn follows in Facebook’s footsteps, gets search makeover

The link to the full story is here

LinkedIn just got a little more like Facebook (again). The networking hub announced a revamped, improved search engine today, with several substantial new features – a move that may boost engagement, and help the company keep growing.
As product manager Johnathan Podemsky explained, “We’ve unified the search experience so you no longer need to search for people, companies, or jobs separately. Now, all you need to do is type what you’re looking for into the search box and you’ll see a comprehensive page of results that pulls content from all across LinkedIn including people, jobs, groups, and companies.”
Now LinkedIn search has auto-complete, and gives you advanced searching options, so you can filter down your results based on location or business type. It also lets you set up automatic alerts, so if you’re gunning for a specific position, you know the instant it opens up. On top of that, LinkedIn introduced a “suggested” search, which shows you example queries based on what you type into the engine.

Search is a crucial component for successful social networks, and LinkedIn may have taken a cue from Facebook, which recently launched its own massive search project with Graph Search.
As the most professional of the large social networks, LinkedIn has hooked over 200 million users based on its ability to help you network. It’s definitely more of a niche service than sprawling social sites like Facebook and Twitter, but this new search feature shows how the site is trying to widen its appeal. You can search for a wider variety of content with greater ease now, which fits in with LinkedIn’s push into content production and aggregation. Instead of just focusing on profiles, LinkedIn lets users post relevant stories and media, and the redesigned search will let people stay within the site to find articles they want to read, or company profiles.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Drag and Drop

You can now drag and drop photos into your post from Facebook.

Google+ Introduces New Hangouts App Called Capture, To Snap Pics Of Special Moments As They Happen

The link to the full story is here

Today, Google introduced a new app for one of its most popular products, Hangouts. While Hangouts let you chat with multiple people over video, there are those moments when someone makes a funny face, does something ridiculous or just makes you want to, well, capture something.
This is a feature that is making its way into mobile devices, meaning the ability to shoot video and snap pics along the way. There are so many fantastic still moments that take place during a 10-minute video conversation, and now you can grab them as they come. This is also a nice way for Google to help its users generate content while they’re generating content, without even making a real effort.
Here’s what Google’s Jeremy Ng said about the feature today:
The challenge, oftentimes, is capturing your favorite moments as they happen, so today we’re introducing the new Hangouts Capture app. With it you can take pictures of your Hangouts-in-progress, including a number of features not available in the usual screenshot workarounds:
- Once you’ve opened the Hangouts Capture app, you can snap photos of your Hangout view with a single click
- All photos are saved to a shared album, visible only to other Hangout invitees
- You can view these photos while inside the Hangout, when browsing your photo albums, or by visiting the original Hangout post
- And, importantly, you’ll always know when the app is in use: when you join a Hangout, when someone opens the app, and whenever a picture is taken
The Hangouts Capture app will soon be available worldwide, so look for it the next time you join a Hangout. Together with Effects, YouTube and other apps, we hope you’ll find Hangouts an even better way to make memories together.

Google’s Keep Could Take On Both Pinterest And Evernote, If It Gets The Google+ Social Plumbing

The link to the full story is here

Google finally released its personal note-taking app Keep today, after it “accidentally” saw the light of day last week. The product is as expected, a place to save notes, lists or photos on the fly, for safe…keeping.
One of the things that jumped out at me after giving it a quick try is that you can switch to a layout that’s very similar to Pinterest, another app that wants you to hoard a bunch of things. The only difference between Keep and Pinterest is that Pinterest is social. While Pinterest isn’t the only social bookmarking site in the world, it’s the one that has the most consumer appeal. That can’t be lost on Google.
Social is something Google could turn on with a flick of the wrist, thanks to the plumbing it has built with Google+. Imagine being able to bookmark and share things you find on the web, specifically things you find within Google searches, then throw them on a “board” and share them with all of your friends. Sounds like Pinterest.
Most of the chatter about Keep is that it’s a threat to Evernote, which it is in a way, but I think that Keep could be the groundwork for something much larger.

Google Rumored To Be Making A Smartwatch, Too

The link to the full story is here

Amidst Apple iWatch rumors and Google Glass sightings, it would appear that Google is actually working on its own smartwatch to be paired alongside connected Android devices. According to the Financial Times, Google’s Android arm will be the team working on the device, as opposed to the X Lab division, which handled Google Glass development.
The wearable computer market is heating up quite rapidly. Alongside Google’s Glass project, a number of smaller OEMs have launched Bluetooth-connected smart watches to work as a companion to the smartphone.
Fossil has a well-crafted MetaWatch, InPulse has the hot-selling Pebble smartwatch, and there are even a handful of quantified self devices that measure your daily activity. There’s the Nike FuelBand, the Jawbone UP, and the Basis to name a few. Add to that an Apple competitor in the iWatch, and a Samsung smartwatch to boot, and it only makes sense that Google has a watch in the works.
Google Glass takes wearable computing a step beyond the basic wrist watch. However, the rate of adoption will almost certainly be lower than that of a watch or a smartphone since the experience is such a huge change in the way we interact with digital content and our world. A smart watch, on the other hand, would feel a lot more like using a really small smartphone, and that familiarity makes the watch a great bridge between smartphones and computational headsets.
Google didn’t comment on the speculation.
However, there’s a patent owned by Google and filed in 2011 for a “smart watch” with a “flip-up display.” It would appear that the patent also provides for a touchscreen experience.
The question isn’t really if Google will build a smart watch. As small OEMs and big competitors around it flood the market with wearable smartwatches, Google will likely need to join the fight. However, it’s unclear what exactly that will look like? Does a flip-up display look like a flip phone?
From the patent filing, the “flip-up display” seems to work like a digital pocket watch, showing two displays when open and a single display on top when closed.
However, just because Google filed this patent, it doesn’t mean that Google’s Android smartwatch will look anything like it.
On the software side, Google has already proven that it can develop for new forms of computing, such as Google Glass. Even some of its already-released apps like Google Now and Field Trip seem like they would fit in swimmingly with a smart watch. Plus, we can’t forget that the acquisition of Motorola has left Google with a rather sizable hardware team.

The Next Seven Years For Twitter Hang On Its Ability To Remain A Pure Communication Platform

The link to the full story is here

Twitter turned seven years old today. The company posted a fun video about its history, which we already know plenty about. We’ll get to that later, though. Another thing we know about Twitter is its impact. But the important question is this: What does the future look like for the company?
To remain relevant for the next seven years, Twitter has to stay true to its original mission of being an open communication platform. To do that, the company has to refrain from addingtoo many features and getting in the way of its core strengths, which is real-time notification of our stream of consciousness. Sure, the company can figure out how to monetize this all they like, because after all, employees don’t work for free and servers don’t pay for themselves.
I’ll save you all of the reminiscing about the major stories and moments that have broken on Twitter and instead focus on the fact that the company has cracked into the mainstream in a way that not many other services have. You can’t go a day without reading a story on ESPN where a player is quoted via a tweet they published. That says more about Twitter than any tech pundit, mom or teenager could ever say. Twitter has become a reliable source for information in real-time, and it’s only becoming more prevalent in our daily lives as the moments pass by.
When I hear Twitter’s founders discuss the early days of the service, there are still elements of that magic that can be seen today, only amplified. You can’t tweet about something that affects your company without getting in trouble and you certainly can’t misstep if you’re a public figure. Still though, in the midst of these millions of tweets, there is a sense of intimacy that hasn’t been matched by any other social service. The only thing that is between you and millions of people is the tweet button.

Twitter Archives Now Available In 12 More Languages, Including Japanese, Portuguese, Russian And Simplified Chinese

The link to the full story is here

Twitter has announced that personal archives of tweets are now available for 12 more languages:
n December, when Twitter rolled out the option to download a massive archive of your history, this is what they had to say about the feature: Sadly, tweets in the above languages weren’t available, but they are now. Simply go to your settings page, and then click “request your archive.” You’ll then be emailed once the archival process is complete.

How Facebook Could Fix Its Forgettable New Features

The link to the full story is here

At least Facebook didn’t break anything, but the extra feeds and search box it recently launched have yet to drastically improve my experience. The homepage redesign is pretty, but I keep forgetting the Photos and Music feeds exist since they’re buried in the sidebar. And Graph Search is great when I need it, but I rarely do. With some design tweaks, though, Facebook could unleash the potential of its hard work.
When you’re talking about a service where one-seventh of the world’s population has developed deeply ingrained behaviors, not screwing up iskind of an accomplishment. There are a dozen ways Facebook could have made its new features overbearing or interruptive. They’re not, or at least don’t seem like it to me. Both are rolled out to just a tiny percentage of all users, though, so if there’s panic and outrage to be had, it’s still on the horizon. Here’s what the homepage looks like if you have both of the new features. Note that even among the few people with the rollouts, there are many different design variants in testing.
The feed redesign and Graph Search aren’t steroids for your social network, all juiced up and braggadocious. They’re more like a nice pair of running shoes. They’ll improve your performance, but they need breaking in and they’ll only help if you remember to wear them.
But that means their true value will be overlooked by most, like a pair of sneakers left in the closet. Just some quick-fading feel-good novelty. That’s a shame for two products Facebook spent ahelluva lot of time and money developing and that could make the service much better. With any luck, Mark Zuckerberg and company will be able to strike a design balance that serves their purpose without making them imposing.

After Pushing Silent Update To Some, Facebook Releases Updated Android App For All On Google Play

The link to the full story is here

Facebook, in its quest to dominate mobile, has just released an incremental update to its Android app through the Google Play Store.
The update lets users change their profile pictures direct from the app (which is something iOS has been able to do for quite some time). Also within the update, Facebookers on Android can more easily manage spam and unwanted stories in their News Feed, and enjoy more streamlined access to group messaging.
The update isn’t all that revolutionary, but it came straight through the Google Play store, which is more than I can say for Facebook’s last Android update.
On Friday, Facebook began testing a new way to roll out updates to Android devices called silent updates, which downloads the update in the background over WiFi and then notifies the user to install it.
It’s a new beta program that’s meant to push fast updates to a group of beta testers who can review the app before it goes live to everyone. To be a part of the program, you must have your Android phone settings set to allow downloads from outside of Google Play.
According to InsideFacebook, some users who received the silent update said the app notified them repeatedly until they installed the app.
Facebook says the silent updates help “make sure everyone is using the best version of our app.” They also ensure that an update won’t break anything and that’s its useful to users before sending the new update to all Android users.
Facebook has used HTML5 to let it test features on Facebook’s website on a handful of users, before pushing it out to the full billion. First the feature hits one percent of users, and if it works well, it goes to ten percent before being pushed out entirely. On mobile, that hasn’t been the case, since native apps force Facebook to send out a full update to all users at the same time.

To Improve Conversations, Facebook Will Launch A Reply Feature And Most Active Threads On Pages And Popular Profiles

The link to the full story is here

Facebook is preparing to roll out a new feature on Pages and popular Profiles that will help increase interactions with fans and readers: Replies. Up to now, visitors could comment on a post but others, including the Page owners themselves, would not be able to respond directly to them in cases of multiple people commenting on a post. Facebook has been running tests of the new feature since November last year; now a source tells us it will be rolling out the feature more formally as an opt-in on Monday, March 25, before turning it on for everyone in July.
Update: Facebook has now confirmed this story and rollout plans. “We think this update will allow for easier management of conversations around posts, which is a better experience for people interacting with Pages and public figure profiles,” a spokesperson said. (original story continues below)
Another feature that will be launched at the same time is active-thread sifting, which also had been in beta testing. Here, the most active conversations will be ordered at the top using an algorithm to appear higher in the posts.
Replies and the algorithmic sorting won’t work everywhere. They are being rolled out only to Page posts and Profiles with more than 10,000 followers, not personal accounts. Also, they will not work on mobile, although the intention is to make Replies part of the Graph API and mobile in the future.
Replies are already a part of Facebook’s commenting plug-in, which runs on third-party sites (TechCrunch used to use it; it doesn’t anymore). But this is the first time Replies will be appearing across Facebook itself.
The most important reason for introducing Replies is that it gives Page owners the ability to engage directly with individual commenters, and other Page visitors will then be able to see the most active conversations. This will not only improve the quality of the conversation but will mean more engagement for the Page posts overall. Engagement remains a key metric for Facebook as a way of quantifying how much time users spend on the site, important data for those deciding how to invest marketing budgets.
Facebook will let Page owners opt in to using the new Reply feature from March 25, and it intends to make the change universal by July 10.
In a FAQ that Facebook has been circulating, it gives a little bit of an explanation about how the conversation threads will work, and it’s a little more sophisticated than simply putting the comments with the most replies at the top, and ties in with how Facebook generally prioritizes content for you based on your own social network and likes.
They “may appear differently to each person based on their connections,” Facebook writes. So, for example, if you as a viewer happen to know some of the people in a particular thread, that thread will jump to the top for you, as Facebook assumes you’ll be more likely to want to jump into that conversation.

Facebook Adds Weather Forecasts To Events And Public Places To Show Useful Info Where People Need It

The link to the full story is here

Facebook has come up with another way to prevent you from leaving its site. While you’re setting up an event, especially one that’s going to take place outside, it makes total sense that your potential guests would want to know what the weather conditions are for that day. Today, Facebook rolled out a project that was a part of a hackathon, which drops weather information onto event pages and unowned pages for places like parks and cities.
The positive here is that Facebook is carefully surfacing this information in places on the site that make sense for users, rather than cramming it all over the place so that it just feels like clutter. For example, seeing the weather on an event page is fine, but it’s not something I want to see on my news feed. By providing this information, it’s just one less step you have to make when you’re making decisions on where to go.
The addition of events is great for the guests, but when you’re setting up an event, you’ll also see the weather prediction for that day, which can help you form your description, suggesting that people bring a sweatshirt, perhaps. If the event is within the next 10 days, you’ll see a 10-day forecast:

YouTube Now Has One Billion Monthly Users

The link to the full story is here

We all know YouTube is the biggest video sharing site around, but how big is it, exactly, when compared to sites such as Facebook or Twitter? Here's a hint: YouTube has just hit one billion monthly unique users.
For comparison, Facebook hit that milestone in October 2012. It took the social network eight years to reach one billion active users — almost the exact amount of time as YouTube, which was founded in February 2005. Twitter, which has been around since March 2006, has more than 200 million monthly active users.
The YouTube team gives us a few more comparisons for good measure: "Nearly one out of every two people on the Internet visits YouTube. Our monthly viewership is the equivalent of roughly ten Super Bowl audiences. If YouTube were a country, we’d be the third largest in the world after China and India," says YouTube on its official blog.
YouTube also gives a more detailed insight on what's powering this growth in another blog postabout Generation C and mobile devices. According to YouTube, Generation C (or Gen C) is a generation that has grown up consuming content "where and when they want". They watch YouTube on all screens; they constantly switch between devices, they're deeply engaged with online video and they thrive on community. Finally, they're curators — they care about finding content that's important to them.
Gen C, which YouTube considers to be its core audience, now watch just as much YouTube content on smartphones as they do on PCs, and 67% of Gen C watch YouTube on two devices or more, compared to 53% of the general population.
With the rise of smartphones, which have become the dominant force in the mobile phone industry in the last couple of years and show no signs of slowing down, YouTube needn't worry about maintaining this growth for at least another couple of years.

Twitter Patents Twitter

The link to the full story is here

Twitter has been granted a patent which describes the basic principles of the service itself.
Originally filed in July 2008 and granted to Jack Dorsey and Christopher Isaac Stone, thepatent describes a system for "device-independent point to multipoint communication."
From the patent: "The system is configured to receive a message addressed to one or more destination users (...) The system applies rules to the message based on destination user information to determine the message endpoints, the message endpoints being, for example, Short Message Service (SMS), Instant Messaging (IM), E-mail, web page output, or Application Program Interface (API) function call."
To us, this sounds exactly like Twitter, and could potentially cause a lot of headache to anyone providing similar service. There's good reason to believe that Twitter will only use the patent defensively, though, as Twitter in April 2012 pledged not to pursue offensive litigation over patents without the consent of the employees who created them.
"Like many companies, we apply for patents on a bunch of our inventions. We also think a lot about how those patents may be used in the future, which is why we introduced the Innovator's Patent Agreement to keep control of those patents in the hands of engineers and designers," said Twitter in a statement to the Verge.
Still, we're sure that Facebook, which offers similar functionality (i.e. you can also send a message to multiple recipients who follow you), is at the very least uneasy about this patent.

Facebook's New Pitch to Advertisers: We Can ID Groups That Buy Your Products

The link to the full story is here

Facebook is now able to connect the dots between users on its network and their purchasing habits, and is using that data to pitch advertisers.
To be sure, Facebook is not identifying users by name to advertisers. Instead, it is matching up its own data with that of partner Datalogix in a double-blind fashion. That is, although Facebook can ID a user and then find a match via Datalogix, specific information about the user is not shared with advertisers.
Brad Smallwood, head of measurement and insights at Facebook, presented some preliminary findings at the Advertising Research Foundation's Re:think conference in New York on Wednesday. Measuring 22 recent Facebook campaigns against data from 70 million consumers, Facebook found that just advertising on Facebook provided a 22% lift in ROI.
While such a claim might be dismissed as self-promotion, Smallwood's real message to advertisers was that now that Facebook has access to purchasing data, advertisers can now tailor their campaigns to hardcore buyers, occasional buyers and even to consumers who buy competing products.
"As we dig further and further into the data, we're able to get a segment-level understanding of what's working," Smallwood said. "So understanding for heavy product purchasers that you should have a different frequency [of advertising messages for] the low product purchasers."
When asked whether that means that marketers should target more advertising to low product purchasers, Smallwood said it depends. "There's going to be people that I think there's a high probability I can convert them so maybe I deliver them a lot of frequency," he said. "Then there are people with a low probability and I'll deliver them very few messages or possibly zero messages."
Other candidates for a high frequency of ad messages are heavy buyers of the advertisers' product or heavy purchasers of products within the category, particularly of a rival brand's. In such cases, Smallwood says advertisers may want to run campaigns with the intention of getting such consumers to switch.

Upcoming Facebook Changes

April 3, 2013

The following changes can be enabled/disabled using the "April 2013 Breaking Changes" migration until April 3rd when they will go into effect permanently for everyone:
Removing ability to POST to USER_ID/questions
As it's no longer possible for users to create questions, we will remove this functionality from the Graph API. POSTs toUSER_ID/questions will fail.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Linkedin Changes.

The link to the full story is here

So far, the new LinkedIn look is receiving a myriad of mixed reviews. Anything from "hey this is good!" to the coming of the zombie Apocalypse. But the best review by far is by Viveka von Rosen.
Here is a sample of the changes.

Homepage Tab

The homepage is pretty much the same. Except now instead of the full LinkedIn logo, it’s just the blue LinkedIn logo. But it takes you to the same place.

Profile Tab

Under ‘Profile’ you’ll notice we’ve lost the drop down box. Meaning you have to edit and view your profile from the same place. So just click on ‘Profile’, and it will open up in view profile. Click the ‘edit’ button on the snapshot, and have at it. You might also notice we lost the profile organizer and recommendations links from beneath the Profile menu tab.
The profile organizer can now be found when you click on “‘Contacts’ under ‘Network’.  Recommendations can be found in the drop-down box to the right of the ‘Edit’ button.

Network Tab

LinkedIn collapsed the ‘Contacts’ menu tab and the ‘Groups’ menu tab into a new tab called ‘Network’. This actually makes sense to me.
Once you click on those links it looks the same as before.
It is kind of a bummer that you can no longer see the groups you were following right under one tab. If you want to find your groups - got to the Groups page.  To or search for groups you just have to do it in the search box.

Career Tab

LinkedIn collapsed ‘Jobs’ and ‘Companies’ under the ‘Career’ tab.
Mostly you’re losing those lovely drop-down boxes that allowed you to easily see the jobs you were saving and the companies you were following.
My biggest complaint about this is that my Company Page isn’t listed there to easily click on. I have to do a search. I have to go into Companies and either click on the Companies I’m following, or start typing in my company name.

Search Box

The search box is still the same but upfront and center.
Where the drop-down box used to give you names, now it gives you get logos and names. So just get familiar with them.
The advanced search is still available when you are on your ‘Home’ or your ‘Profile’ tab.

Inbox “Envelope”

Your inbox is now underneath the dark grey envelope on the rightish side of your menu tab. So go ahead and click on that envelope and it will take you both to your ‘Invitations’ and your ‘Messages’. Once you’ve clicked on the envelope, the inbox screen looks the same.

Notifications Flag

Notifications are the same, but the flag is bigger and off to the right of your menu bar.

Add Connections Icon

The green ‘Add Connections’ link is gone. In its place a tiny silhouette of a man with a plus sign next to it. This is extremely confusing because on most social media sites that’s actually your profile button.
Click on the little +guy and “old” connections screen pops up.
Remember, if you want to invite people by individual email, you just have to click on the ‘Other’ envelope.

Account and Settings Avatar

Accounts and Settings is new to LinkedIn. To find this section, scroll over the tiny picture of yourself on the right-hand side of the screen.
When you scroll over that picture you can:
  • Sign out of your account
  • Upgrade your account
  • Change the language of your account
  • Go to your privacy and settings area (old settings)
  • Go to the help center (this is new)
  • Post a job

Personally, I think they should have left it alone. I believe it will be harder for employers to find potential employees.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Flickr Adds Hashtags to iOS App

The link to the full story is here

Flickr released an update to its iOS app on Saturday, adding hashtag support to the photo-sharing service's mobile platform.
While Flickr has long used a tagging system to categorize pictures on the web, the term "tags" has been renamed to follow the ever-popular trend of hashtags. The app also introduced #FlickrFriday, where adding the hashtag let the user instantly participate in Flickr's weekly photo challenge
Much like Instagram, clicking a hashtag will take you to search results of relevant tagged photos. The addition is the latest in a series of changes after the company's integration with Twitter at the end of 2012. Other updates similar to Instagram included usernames using the @ symbol and retro-style filters.
Existing tags from Flickr's website don't translate into clickable hashtags on the free app, and the website itself doesn't implement them.

Google Translate Now Lets You Build A Personalized Phrasebook

The link to the full story is here

Google Translate just added a cool new feature that allows you to easily create a personalized phrasebook with the phrases and sentences you want to memorize and/or find yourself translating repeatedly. As the Google Translate team notes in today’s announcement, the idea here is to allow you to jumpstart the process of committing the translation to memory by “allowing you to save the most useful phrases to you, for easy reference later on, exactly when you need them.”
Revisiting these phrases regularly, Google argues, will help you turn these translations “into lasting knowledge” (just like those rote drills from your Latin classes back in the day).
The new phrasebook is now enabled by default, and you can access it through the little book icon in the top right corner of the Google Translate screen. To save a phrase, simply press the new star icon underneath the translations.
The phrasebook itself is pretty straightforward, with one language on the left and the translation on the right. You can filter phrases by language pairs and – just like across the rest of Google Translate – there is a text-to-speech feature that allows you to listen to each phrase.

Google’s Niantic Labs Will Soon Launch An eBook Spin-Off Of Its Ingress AR Game

The link to the full story is here

This is a bit of an odd story: according topaidContent – and as first reported by toPublishersLunch – Google’s Niantic Labs, the somewhat mysterious division of Google that is home to Field Trip, the Niantic Project andIngress, will soon start co-publishing a series of eBooks based on Ingress, its popular augmented reality game. A Google spokesperson confirmed to us that this report is indeed correct.
The series, which, according to PublishersLunch, will be called ALIGNMENT and written and co-published with the help ofThomas Greanias; the first installment (ALIGNMENT: Ingress) will be published in April. The books are supposedly designed as prequels to Greanias’ Raising Atlantis series.
It looks like Greanias has long been interested in the Ingress story, and the overall theme of the game seems to fit in well with his earlier books. For Google, though, this – just like Ingress and most everything else that has come out of Niantic Labs – is a bit of a departure. The company isn’t exactly known for launching games. And to then turn the game into a series of books is obviously new territory for Google, though Niantic Labs does seem to operate pretty independently from the rest of the company.

Google Acquires Web Application Server Talaria To Enhance Its Cloud Platform

The link to the full story is here

Talaria, a company that was building a “new, dynamic web application server with a JIT-based runtime at its heart,” just announced that it has been acquired by Google. The Talaria team will become part of the Google Cloud Platform team. For the most part, the Palo Alto-based company was flying under the radar until now. The company was co-founded by Austin Robison in 2011 and was apparently still in private beta when Google acquired it.
A Google spokesperson just confirmed the acquisition to us: “The Talaria team has developed cutting-edge technology that helps people build and run websites more efficiently, and we think they’ll be a great addition to our Google Cloud Platforms team.”
While Talaria had a grander visions for its server, it only supported PHP so far and allowed developers to run applications like WordPress and Drupal. The company claimed that its technology allowed developers to “handle more users with fewer boxes, without changing a line of code.” Talaria also claimed its ” server lets you keep your favorite high-productivity languages, but with the scalability and performance you’d expect from a compiled language.”
All of this is obviously a good fit for Google’s Cloud Platform, and Talaria’s announcement notes that the team will work to “help even more developers build and run their sites better.”
Here is the full announcement from Talaria:
At Talaria, we set out to fix the way people build and run modern web sites and applications. Over the past two years, we’ve proven our technology by powering some of the most popular sites on the web. Now, by joining forces with Google’s Cloud Platform team, we’ll be able to help even more developers build and run their sites better.
We’d like to thank those people that helped us get here. Our investors and advisors that stood behind us, both in good times and bad. Our beta customers that pushed us, kicked the tires, and warmly invited us into their organizations. And finally, our friends and family that have gotten less attention and time than they deserve while we’ve been busy.
We’re excited about what we’ll deliver together with the Google Cloud Platform.

Early Vine Use Sees Video App Rising On iOS While Cinemagram, Viddy, Socialcam All Decline

The link to the full story is here

Call it a fad, call it the Twitter effect, or call it another example of when it pays not to be the first mover, but it looks like two months out of the gate, Twitter’s short-form video-sharing app Vine is picking up users like they’re going out of style.
According to figures from Onavo Insights, which tracks usage of apps across iOS devices in the U.S., since going live in January, Vine has grown its monthly active users by 50% in the last month, and it was used on 2.66% of all iOS devices in the U.S. by the end of February.
It doesn’t look like Vine’s rising tide is lifting all boats. Three other video-sharing apps on iOS — Cinemagram, SocialCam and Viddy — have at the same time declined, with their monthly active users in general down since December. February saw U.S. device usage of 1.07% for Cinemagram, 0.50% for SocialCam and 0.31% for Viddy.
These numbers are somewhat comparable with those of another analytics company, RJ Metrics, which measured Vine use compared to Viddy and Socialcam on Twitter itself. It found that in its first month, Vine was used by 2.8% of Twitter’s highly active users with Viddy used by 0.5% and Socialcam by 0.2%.
While Onavo doesn’t have comparative stats for how well those three apps did in their first couple of months of usage (it wasn’t tracking this data back then), it notes that in fact Vine is bigger now than any one of them has been in the last six months. Viddy and SocialCam have both been in a general decline, while Cinemagram saw a decent boost in the autumn of last year, only to also begin declining in December.
Vine’s rise is interesting in the context of another social network’s launch of a picture-based app. Facebook’s debut of Poke, the ephemeral picture messaging app that was seen as Facebook’s answer to Snapchat, got a lot of attention when it first arrived, but that appeared to quickly disappear when it came to picking up active users. As Poke interest has died down, Snapchat has continued to grow. Today, they stand at 12% for Snapchat and 0.25% for Facebook’s Poke.
One possible message here is that you may have a better chance of succeeding if you’re entering a market that is not yet owned by any one company, regardless of whether you are launching off the back of a wildly popular social media platform or not. Vine was entering a space where its closest competitor was being used by only 1.3% of iPhone owners and falling. Snapchat, by comparison, was being used by 10% and rising when Poke decided to Poke it. In general, video on mobile is still a wide-open space, with video apps used only by about 4% of highly active users on Twitter, according to RJMetrics.
It’s telling that when Twitter launched photo filters, it chose to do them in Twitter itself rather than as a separate service. On the competitive landscape, Instagram, Onavo tells me, is used by 32.3% of iPhone owners in the U.S. on a monthly basis.
Coming up, it will be interesting to see how this plays out with usage, and rollout, of a reported launch of a Twitter music app up ahead. The most used music app on iOS in the U.S., Onavo says, is Pandora at 31.8% of U.S. users accessing it monthly, with Spotify at 7.14%.