Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Google Announces App Activities Coming To Search, Showing You Information Based On Usage By Other Google+ Users

The link to the full story is here

Google’s No. 1 strength is its search product, so it makes sense that all of their products feed back into it somehow. Today, the company announced the introduction of “App Activities” into Search. What this means is that when you search for something like “Fandango,” which uses Google+ sign-in, you’ll see top movies based on what users are rating.
Today at Disrupt NY, Seth Sternberg, Director of Product Management for Google+, is demoing the new feature.
The plan is to surface interesting in-app content, using search to dig deeper into what people are doing on those apps. The launch apps are music and movie ones, which lend themselves to lists of top content based on listens and ratings. Google is rolling this out in the next few weeks for Fandango, SoundCloud, Deezer, Flixster, Slacker Radio, Songza and TuneIn. Up until now, app activity was only showing on profile pages:
Of course, this all relies on users authenticating with Google+, something the company has beentrying to get developers interested in leveraging since it was announced in February. This will work for iOS, Android and web apps.
This particular feature is an incentive for app developers to make sure they’re building for Android and to include the Google+ sign-in component, since all of the data that’s being pulled out makes an app more attractive to users who are looking for new ones to download. When you visit Apple’s App Store, you’re greeted with simple ratings, reviews and screenshots, but no interesting data that shows how active they are.

Twitter Ads Are Finally Available To All US Businesses, No Longer Invite Only

The link to the full story is here

After three years of slow roll outs and testing with specific partners, Twitter’s Senior Director of Product for Revenue Kevin Weil justannounced the general availability of itsadvertising options for all US business. Businesses don’t need an invite any more. Weil revealed the move on stage at TechCrunch Disrupt, which could ramp up revenues and prep Twitter for a widely anticipated IPO.
Twitter first announced in April 2010 that it would begin showing ads. Since then it’s revealed Promoted Tweets and Promoted accounts, which let businesses pay to get their updates seen and their profiles followed. More recently, Twitter announced limited availability of a self-serve tool for buying ads in March 2012, and an Ads API for programmatic buying of huge campaigns in February 2013. Then just last week, Twitter announced that its ads could be targeted based on keywords tweeted or within tweets engaged with by users, which lets Twitter move toward demand fulfillment like Google Search ads.
Weil explained on stage, “As most of you guys know, the Twitter advertising platform has until today has been invite only. We’ve had brands and agencies, thousands of small businesses using the platform but all on an invite-only basis. Today we’re taking the next step and opening up Twitter ads to everyone in the US. Every brand, every business, every account, every individual. Businesses have been on Twitter since day one and we’re really excited that today every business in the US is going to be able to leverage the power of Twitter advertising, either through Promoted Accounts to build a loyal follower-base, or through Promoted Tweets to reach a broader audience.” In a bit of a cheeky move, he said on stage that he would tweetthis link, giving the first 100 people to click $50 in free Twitter ad credits. You can watch the announcement below.
Anyone can now go to Twitter’s newly opened self-serve interface to start buying Twitter ads. Advertisers can choose a location to target, and the interests of the people they want to reach, decide what type of ads to run, and set a daily budget. Along with Promoted Tweets and Promoted Accounts, businesses can use Twitter’s business analytics system to track the impact of their spend.
The ads rollout means the microblogging platform can start more seriously competing with other social outlets like Facebook and LinkedIn for ad dollars. Some expect Twitter to hit $950 million in revenue in 2014, largely from ads. That could be enough to lure advertisers to invest in the company if it in fact IPOs. Getting its ad business humming on mobile before announcing any move to go public could let Twitter avoid the bashing Facebook’s share price received when it IPO’d. Facebook had mobile ads running for just three months at that time despite users shifting to the small screen in droves, and the lack of proof that its mobile ad business would work was widely cited by investors as why $FB lost 30% of its value soon after hitting the market.
With so many businesses now competing for followers, the ability to pay for extra visibility can make the difference between obscurity and prominence. Meanwhile, direct advertisers with things to sell online can capitalize on Promoted Tweets to get extra clicks to their shopping pages. While once seen as a niche service for techies, Twitter has grown into a core way the world communicates about their opinions, media, and current events. The ability to insert themselves into these conversations and take advantage of digital word of mouth is drawing dollars away from one-way traditional media towards Twitter where businesses can have a real dialog with their customers.

Vine Update Adds User Mentions In Posts, Front-Facing Camera Support

The link to the full story is here

Everyone’s favorite tiny video maker Vine just updated their app with a few important features. First, the service has added front-facing camera support, allowing you to swap camera angles mid-Vine. You can also now @ identify folks by pressing the “mention” button when publishing the post.
We attempted to try the new features here, resulting in some serious cinematographic art.
There is also improved people search so you can find friends in the service based on their Twitter handles. The more things change, the more they add front-facing camera support. The updated app is available for download now.

Facebook Sees Increase In Parse Signups, Tells Developers “No Plans To Change How App Data Is Used”

The link to the full story is here

Despite developers grumbling that they would ditch Parse’s mobile app backend service now that it’s been bought by Facebook, Parse CEO Ilya Suhkar tells me signups spiked 9.4x and fewer clients are leaving than before. Meanwhile, to calm fears about Facebook spying on Parse developer data, the company issued the statement “We currently have no plans to make any changes to how Parse app data is used.”
The acquisition marks Facebook’s entry into the paid B2B app development services business. However, the acquisition came as a bit of a shock to loyal developers who built over 60,000 apps on Parse’s mobile backend as a service (MBaaS). Complaints I’ve seen centered around Facebook degrading the Parse service, pushing its own social integrations and ad platform too hard, questions about who owns app data hosted on Parse due to language in Facebook’s terms of service, privacy of that app data, and worries about how Facebook might use access to that data for its own benefit.
Many developers claimed they would be moving to other MBaaS platforms. And one competitor,StackMob, built a special importer tool that Parse developers can use to export their app records and import them into these other services. These developers seem to be barking louder than they’re biting, though. Sukhar tells me, “The difference isn’t even statistically significant but, in absolute terms, the number of records exported per day since acquisition announcement is lower than before. Nobody’s using this tool and there is no overall exodus.”
I asked Facebook about the concerns above, and after talking for a while I came away more confident that much of the paranoia about the acquisition is unfounded.
Facebook understands that developers are finicky. The social network already has a spotty record in terms of platform stability. In the past, changes have come hard and fast without enough warning, sometimes causing apps to break. Other times, Facebook’s design or feed changes can crater the traction of apps built on it. Over the last year or so, Facebook has made a serious effort to become more developer-friendly, and are determined not to screw up Parse.
As far as ownership and privacy of data on the Parse platform, some developers may be confusing language in Facebook’s user-facing terms of service, aka the Statement Of Rights And Responsibilities, with its developer-facing Platform Policy. Facebook maintains that it can employ user data to improve its product or target ads, but doesn’t use third-party app data the same way. It seems Facebook’s intention is to run Parse similarly to how it works with apps on its canvas app platform. Essentially, it won’t be prying into private data or using it to inspire its own product development.
Of course Facebook’s “currently have no plans” statement could change in the future. And despite all its mission statements and talk, it’s still a business. But I think Parse can be a powerful tool for Facebook, and even its answer to iOS and Android in some ways, without doing anything too shady. Parse will create a distribution vector for Facebook’s identity and sharing integrations as well as a way to sell ads, but that can be accomplished without being too interruptive to the Parse experience. Scrutiny will be high, though, so Facebook needs to hold true to its word if it wants Parse’s valuable client base to stick around.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Group Led By Google Wants More Speed On The Web, Releases Nginx PageSpeed Module In Beta

The link to the full story is here

Google really cares about the web being faster. In 2010 it led a group of contributors in releasing a module for Apache web servers called PageSpeed. Today, the same group has released a version for Nginx, an alternative to Apache, which is also open source and used by massively trafficked sites like Netflix, Hulu, Pinterest, Airbnb, WordPress.com, Zynga, Zappos and GitHub.
In alpha testing, content-delivery network provider, MaxCDN, reported a 1.57 second decrease in average page load times, with bounce rates dropping by 1 percent. While those seconds might not seem like a big deal, they are, especially when you have multiple visitors on your site performing multiple tasks. Think about how it feels when you use Hulu at a Starbucks; that almost 2 seconds could ease some of your frustrations in waiting for a page and video to load.
The module is available for webmasters on GitHub, with open source participation coming from Google, Taobao, We-Amp and individual developers.
In a post by Jeff Kaufman, who is an engineer on Google’s Make the Web Faster Team, (have to love Google’s team names), he explains how PageSpeed works:
Running as a module inside Nginx, ngx_pagespeed rewrites your webpages to make them faster for your users. This includes compressing images, minifying CSS and JavaScript, extending cache lifetimes, and many other web performance best practices. All of mod_pagespeed’s optimization filters are now available to Nginx users.
With Google pushing to bring faster Internet to everyone in the world, starting with a few cities in the United States, it makes sense that the company would participate in projects like this to help the rest of the web keep up. Naturally, Google is able to leverage the work of projects like this for its own sites, since speed is a huge concern of CEO Larry Page for its existing and future products.

Google Will Sunset The Meebo Bar On June 6 To Focus On Google+ Sign-In and Plug-Ins

The link to the full story is here

Google has announced that it is bidding adieu to the Meebo Bar publishing tool in order to focus on projects like Google+ Sign-In and plug-ins. The Meebo Bar will be retired effective June 6.
Founded in 2005, Meebo was acquired by Google last June for around $100 million. At that time, TechCrunch learned that its product team would use its expertise to help build publisher tools for Google+, with the expectation that existing Meebo properties would be integrated into G+ or closed down.
In fact, many of Meebo’s features, including Meebo Messenger, Sharing on Meebo, MeeboMe, and all of its mobile apps, were largely dismantled after the acquisition, but the Meebo Bar made a reappearance in December, with Google+ sharing options. With the Meebo Bar’s retirement, however, it looks like our original prediction has come true.
The Meebo Bar not only gave website developers a way to integrate chat, sharing features and ads, but also a means by which to monetize their sites. According to a comScore report from December 2011, before its acquisition by Google, Meebo was getting around 100 million total users per month.
But now it’s the latest target of Google’s spring cleaning–other recently announced shutdownshave included Google Cloud Connect, Google Voice App for BlackBerry and, of course, the much mourned Google Reader. The product retirements are part of the Internet giant’s ongoing efforts to focus on products that not only have a larger amount of users, but also fulfill its core mission of search, social, and ads.
After June 6, the Meebo Bar will stop loading on sites and Google recommends that developers remove the inactive code as part of a “general code housekeeping task.

Twitter Settles With PeopleBrowsr, Gives The Company Firehose Access Until The End Of The Year

The link to the full story is here

The saga of PeopleBrowsr vs. Twitter appears to have come to a close, AllThingsD reports. Last November, PeopleBrowsr took Twitter to court after the company had informed them that they’d be losing access to its full firehose of data. This was a move happening with nearly all third-party developers, but PeopleBrowsr contested that its four-year long relationship with Twitter could not be cut off that easily.
After a somewhat astonishing public back and forth between the two companies, it sounds like the terms of the out of court settlement will be that PeopleBrowsr keeps firehose data until the end of the year, at which time it will shift over to one of Twitter’s approved data partners, Gnip, Topsy or DataSift.
A Twitter spokesperson issued the following statement to us:
We’re pleased to have this matter dismissed with prejudice, and look forward to PeopleBrowsr’s transition by the end of the year off of the Firehose to join the ecosystem of developers utilizing Twitter data via our reseller partnerships.
While it’s not a win, it is the close of a case that kicked up dust from developers, some seeing PeopleBrowsr as fighting for the “little guys” who were slowly losing the access to Twitter’s data that they once enjoyed. This was not the case though, as PeopleBrowsr’s products, namely Kred, rely on this data to function. Basically, it had been paying Twitter $1 million a year to keep their business going. That’s not little. There’s no word on what it will have to eventually pay someone like Gnip for the same access.
A spokesperson from PeopleBrowsr says that it’s “business as usual” now. Good, because it gotreally ugly there for a while.

Twitter Actually Updates Twitter For Mac, Adds Retina Support And 14 New Languages

The link to the full story is here

Twitter for Mac has long languished, not seeing an update since 2011, but Twitter just pushed out a new one that brings Retina display support to the official client, as well as a revised interface for sharing photos, and 14 additional languages. The update is available now through the Mac App Store, and Twitter promises further improvements to come in the future.
The official Twitter for Mac app was originally Tweetie, a third-party client by developer Loren Brichter, which was acquired by Twitter. Brichter left Twitter late last year, re-founding his own development studio atebits and releasing Letterpress, a social word game that has been tremendously successful so far. Twitter for Mac fans had likely mostly given up hope that the software wasn’t abandoned, after it failed to see any kind of substantial update since June of 2011.
Twitter has been making other moves that indicate it wasn’t crazy about standalone clients, as it is sun-setting TweetDeck for iPhone on May 7. But TweetDeck for Mac continues to be supported for now, and it looks like they’re even willing to make fresh investment in the Twitter client itself. Twitter’s Ben Sandofsky said inn a tweet that he’ll be working full-time on the Mac version, in fact.
For my money, you’re still better off with Tweetbot for Mac, even if the official version is free, but the slightly tweaked compose window looks at first glance like an improvement, and Retina support goes a long way towards making it more usable. Also, the icon tweak, which brings it up-to-date with Twitter’s current branding, is pretty nice too, even if it only contributes to the existing sea of blue most OS X users find in their dock.

Skip Google+ Sharing And Tweet Photos Directly From Google Glass With GlassTweet

The link to the full story is here

We’re on the ground in New York City at the Disrupt Hackathon and there are a lot of interesting things being created. Since I’m walking around wearing Google Glass, I’ve obviously been looking for teams building apps for it.
I met up with Jonathan Gottfried, Twilio’s Developer Evangelist, and he built a quick and dirty app called GlassTweet, which lets you share photos to Twitter, rather than the out-of-the-box experience of sending shots to Google+.
Once you’ve installed the app and connected it to Glass and your Twitter account, a new contact comes up that you can share to, called “Tweet”:
The excitement about developing for Glass reminds me of the early days on Apple’s App Store. Gottfried explained: “It’s a great platform and being able to create all of the fundamental apps for people is a tremendous opportunity.”
There are only a few people testing GlassTweet out right now, but I imagine that small apps like this will be installed by most of the community who are looking for inspiration. It would be interesting to see a photo gallery of those who are using the app as well, perhaps with some geographic location attached to the photo. You can’t tweet videos yet, but Gottfried tells me that the feature is coming soon.
During the Glass Collective announcement this month, Kleiner Perkins partner John Doerr mentioned that Twitter was thinking about working on its own app, and it’ll be interesting to see how they adapt their service for the small screen. Surely you don’t want every mention or reply lighting up in front of your face. At least I don’t.
Gottfried has built a few Glass apps so far, including ones that lets you purchase a dedicated number through Twilio for texting.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Developer Brings Google+ Commenting System To WordPress A Week After Google Launches It For Blogger

The link to the full story is here

Earlier this week, Google launched its new Google+-powered commenting system for Blogger, but it’s not clear when the company plans to release it for the rest of the web. Now, however, intrepid developer Brandon Holtsclaw has managed to bring the Google+ commenting system to any WordPress blog. While Google’s code for the new commenting system isn’t optimized for WordPress or other sites yet, it’s actually quite portable and seems to work without problems.
Looking at Holtsclaw’s code, it looks like packaging Google+ comments into a WordPress plugin is actually pretty straightforward. Google isn’t doing anything to prevent users from recycling its code on other sites, so chances are it won’t take any active steps to stop site owners from using them on non-Blogger sites.
If you want to try Google+ comments on your blog, you can download the plugin here (and it should also be available in the WordPress Plugins Directory soon). It’s worth noting, though, that these comments, unlike similar systems from Disqus or Livefyre, aren’t integrated with WordPress, so you won’t be able to manage them from your regular WordPress dashboard.
When it launched the new commenting system last week, the company said that it would allow Blogger users to make it easier to engage with their commenters and “see activity from direct visitors, and from people talking about [their] content on Google+.”
Because the WordPress Google+ commenting widget uses the exact same code as Google’s blogger implementation, all of the features remain the same. By default, comments are sorted by “top comments,” but users can also switch to “newest first.” There is also an option to just see comments from people in your Google+ circles.

Google Tests Search Without Instant Previews, Moves Sharing Tool, Cached And Similar Pages To New Drop-Down Menu (Updated)

The link to the full story is here

Back in 2010, Google launched Instant Preview to provide users with a quick way to get a graphic preview of a webpage before you click on the actual link. Now, as first spotted by Alex Chitu from the Google Operating System blog, it looks like Google is thinking about removing this feature and replacing it with a new drop-down menu.
Update: a Google spokesperson just responded to our inquiry: ”We’re constantly making changes to the layout and features of the search results page.” The wording of this response sure makes it sound as if this will be a permanent change and isn’t just an experiment. Google’s typical answer to these questions starts with “we’re always experimenting with [xyz],” after all.
Instant Preview is probably not a huge hit, given that Google wouldn’t consider removing it if it were a popular feature. It did hide a bit of useful functionality besides the previews, however. Opening these Instant Previews allowed you to also find similar pages and access the Google+ Share feature. In addition, it was also the only way to find Google’s cached version of a given page, too.
All of these features are still there in this new version, but they are now accessible through a drop-down menu right next to the main link.
It’s not clear if this is just a test, or if Google is indeed fully removing this feature and replacing it with the new drop-down menu. We have contacted Google about this change and will update this post once we learn more.

WPP CEO Sorrell: Google Will Overtake News Corp As Our Largest Media Investment This Year Or Next

The link to the full story is here

Martin Sorrell, the CEO of WPP, today laid out a stark picture of how significant a role digital is playing for the advertising giant. Speaking at the FT Digital Media Conference in London today, he said that digital now accounts for 34% of WPP’s media investment, amounting to some $72 billion, rising “from zero to over one-third in about ten years, the age of Google,” he said.
Google, he said, is the second-largest recipient of that digital spend at the moment, at around $2 billion for the quarter, but that it will soon overtake the single biggest beneficiary at the moment, News Corp. Sorrell described Google as “a media owner masquerading as a tech company.”
Sorrell referred to these numbers as a preview of WPP’s quarterly results, which are out tomorrow.
He added that at the moment AOL and Yahoo are each getting around $400 million to $500 million in ad spend via WPP. Facebook, despite its size and current popularity, is only around $270 million. Twitter, he added, is “much smaller.”
With a lot of the interest in media spend focused on video content — TV viewing is still the most popular format for media consumption — you can see how significant YouTube is for Google’s wider strategy. You can also see some of the logic behind why there have been reports that Yahoo is eyeing up an acquisition or a stake in Dailymotion, a smaller but persistent rival to YouTube. Those talks have never been confirmed by either party, but we understand they have been ongoing for some time, and could value the company at around $300 million.
But video is just a part of the strategy. The reason for Google’s strength, Sorrell said, was because there are “five legs to its stool”: search, display, video (“we’re seeing increasing google penetration especially in high TV markets,” he noted), social google+ and mobile by way of Android and Admob. Android is the world’s most popular smartphone platform at the moment and by some estimates in some markets like like China is accounting for over two-thirds of all mobile sales.
Speaking on a panel with Jeff Bewkes, the CEO of Time Warner, and Thomas Rabe, the CEO of Bertlesmann, Sorrell described the other two media companies, more known for traditional media assets in publishing, television and film, as having “come to terms” with the new digital reality, making efforts to bring their products to new screens and following new consumption patterns. But he also questioned whether they are doing enough: “Their stocks are both at all-time highs,” he noted, “but is there a degree of complacency?”
Sorrell also noted that while digital spend continues to grow there remains a “disconnect” between consumer use and ad investments. In TV, about 43% of time is spent, which mirrors investment, and outdoor and radio “are about right.” But the two big discrepancies are in newspapers and magazines, where we’re still investing 20% but consumers spending 7-9%; and internet and mobile where “we’re spending 30% of our time but media only investing about 20%.”
As we have noted before, WPP’s aim is to have 40% of its business coming from digital in the next five years (that was an aim set last year), meaning that it is well on its way. Investments that WPP itself has made to boost its own ability to meet digital demand include buying digital agency AKQA and startup investments, such as leading a $10 million round in MySupermarket.com last year.

Twitter Is Testing Two-Factor Authentication Internally, And It Can’t Come Soon Enough

The link to the full story is here

In what was a mind-boggling series of events in real time, one Associated Press hack and a false tweet about the White House sent the stock market into a momentary free fall. Twitter hopes to stop intrusions like that in the future by introducing a two-factor authentication process, Wired has learned. When this offering will be available to users is unknown.
The company has been working on this at least since we talked to them in November, and became more apparent when it was seeking to hire engineers with specific experience with login security. Why has it taken so long? That’s a question that only Twitter can answer.
Google rolled out its two-factor authentication offering in 2011, but Microsoft only just introduced their own last week. Making additional authentication steps mandatory for all users is a non-starter, since any friction standing between a social service and engagement would be a nightmare.
Having said that, this type of authentication is something that every verified account on Twitter should have had long ago. When Twitter verifies an account, it’s saying that it’s gone through some type of procedure to approve that the person or entity is who they say they are. Keeping that integrity safe is essential to the entire concept.
In Twitter’s defense, a two-factor authentication for accounts that might be used by multiple parties in multiple locations, such as in the AP’s case, could be a hard problem to solve. In Google’s two-step process, as well as Facebook’s, you’re sent a text message with a code to enter when logging into your account from an un-authenticated device:

Reliance Communications Partners With Twitter To Offer Free, Unlimited Access To The Service In India

The link to the full story is here

For those in the United States and other locations that are lucky enough to be able to purchase huge data packages for their smartphones, thinking about deciding to “tweet or not to tweet” based on the cost that it could incur is a foreign concept, pun intended. For cell customers in India, it’s a very real situation, and Reliance Communications has partnered with Twitter to bring free, unlimited access to the social network to its prepaid GSM subscribers.
This is yet another example of how important Twitter has become in our daily lives and how integral the communication platform is to locations all over the world. The service will be bundled with live cricket match updates, the most popular sport in the country.
A customized version of the Twitter app has been created, reminding customers that they’re getting free access thanks to Reliance Mobile. If someone taps a link to an outside site, they will be reminded that doing so might incur extra charges.
Reliance is the first operator to partner with Twitter in India, and its Chief Revenue Officer of Wireless, Nilanjan Mukherjee, had this to share:
We are delighted to be the first operator to partner with Twitter in India on Twitter Access and offer the first of its kind unlimited Twitter access on our superior network. Our partnership with Twitter in India further strengthens our offering on the social media platform and is in line with our continuous efforts to offer innovative products with incredible affordability for our customers.
Since prepaid cell phones are prominent in countries like India, signing deals like this makes the services more attractive. Back to how important cricket is to India’s culture, though. Mukherjee feels like this announcement could cause a “significant shift” of cricket fans to move over to Reliance.

Facebook Stops Forcing You To Tell Friends When You Claim An Offer

The link to the full story is here

Facebook’s gotten into trouble over the years for auto-sharing e-commerce activity. Determined to avoid another Beacon fiasco or scare people away from Offers they don’t want to tell friends about, Facebook now lets you choose to privately claim an offer rather than automatically share the news to friends. Facebook tells me Offers, which let brands post coupons, is getting other new features, too.
Facebook first debuted its Offers product in late 2011 as a replacement for Check-In Deals. Originally, businesses could buy ads or publish Page posts of coupons that you could ask to be emailed. Those emails could be printed out and brought to retail stores for discounts and gifts. Eventually Facebook introduced e-commerce offers that could be redeemed online with a code. Facebook said on its Q4 2012 earnings call that 42 million users have claimed Offers and 100,000 businesses have used the product.
More recently as spotted by Inside Facebook, the social network has been testing Offers with larger photos, a “remind me” option, and the ability for businesses to send you a reminder to redeem your claimed offer. Now those features are getting an official launch, and more iOS and mobile users will start seeing coupon posts in their news feeds.
Along with bigger images that should entice clicks, you will now see “Shop Now” and “Remind Me” buttons on Offers. Respectively, these direct you to a third-party website where you can redeem your Offer, or let you get details in an email for redemption in the future. All your claimed, redeemed, and expired Offers are now recorded in your private Offers section of Facebook. To make sure you don’t forget about Offers you claimed, businesses now have the option to send you a single Facebook notification linking you back to that Offer.
Most importantly, though, claiming an Offer doesn’t automatically trigger a news feed story shown to friends any more. Previously as soon as you clicked to claim an Offer, your friends would know about it. Now after you click Shop Now or Remind Me, you’ll have a button that lets you share the news of your claim. If you don’t opt in, friends won’t hear about it
That’s useful because maybe you don’t want people to know you’re keen on some discount fast food, or that you’re finally getting around to taking that Rosetta Stone course on Spanish. While viral activity stemming from Offer-claiming is one of the free product’s big selling points to businesses, it clearly pushed users’ privacy limits just a bit too far. If Facebook wants to become a serious player in e-commerce, it has to take advantage of its word-of-mouth factory without making people fear their private shopping habits will end up embarrassing them.

Powerhouse Facebook Ad Platform Nanigans Raises $5.8M Series A.1 For Predictive Modeling R&D

The link to the full story is here

Do you target kids with cheap ads or more expensive adults? Nanigans has just raised a $5.85 million “Series A.1″ from Avalon Ventures to build SaaS technology that predicts which audiences earn advertisers more money. With revenue up 6x in 18 months, Nanigans hopes to keep up with Facebook’s progress by pouring its funding into R&D. It’s already discovered a surprising trick to supercharging ROI.
In advertising, there are three numbers that really matter. Cost per acquisition (CPA) – how much you pay for a customer; lifetime value (LTV) – how much you earn off that customer; and return on investment (ROI) – how much higher your LTV is than your CPA. Most advertisers don’t have the technology or data to accurately predict LTV, so they aim to get the lowest CPA so a smaller LTV will still produce ROI.
But Nanigans has found that doesn’t actually work so well, and it’s building the technology to prove it. Founded in 2010, the company had previously raised just $3 million in a mid-2011 Series A to build its licensable self-serve tool for buying better Facebook ads in exchange for monthly or yearly fees, or a percentage of spend. The tool lets businesses buy, intelligently target, and A/B test huge Facebook ad campaigns much more efficiently than Facebook’s basic tools. Nanigans’ focus on technology and delivering lifetime value over smaller immediate returns has been a hit with social game and e-commerce game companies.
Now it believes it’s No. 1 or at least in the top 3 Facebook adtech companies in terms of revenue, which grew 6X since its last funding round. It now boasts customers, including eBay, Fab.com, Rue La La, Zynga, GSN, Wooga, Kixeye and Kabam. It’s now running hundreds of millions of dollars of Facebook ad spend per year, and has grown from 15 employees to more than 100 in just a year with offices in San Francisco, New York, Boston and London.
The Nanigans secret sauce is its predictive modeling engine, which can both deduce and track how much a customer spends. This lets it determine that while it might cost an e-commerce company 3x as much to acquire a 25-year old Australian female, she’ll earn them 5x as much as a 15-year old Australian male. An advertiser may have to invest more up front, but in the long-term they’ll be richer for it. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Twitter Malware spotted in the wild. Stealing Banking Credentials.

The link to the full story is here

Trusteer researcher Tanya Shafir has recently identified an active configuration of TorRat targeting Twitter users.
This worm launches an attack of the type Man-in-the-Browser (MitB) through an infected computer browser to gain access to the Twitter account of the victim, and then post tweets. The malware was used to grab user credentials and access your financial transactions, but now uses the data network to send links to malware sites.

Segúnla security firm, the attack injects malicious JavaScript code, which collects user authentication tokens, allowing cybercriminals to send tweets on behalf of the victim.
So far we know that the attack is contained within the Netherlands market. Tweets were detected only in Dutch, but due to the popularity of Twitter, any time it can be used with other languages ​​in different countries.

Twitter Malware spotted in the wild stealing banking credentials
For now there is no official Twitter news on this subject.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Another Win For Flat Design As Facebook Gives Its F Logo & Other Icons A Flatter, Cleaner Look

The link to the full story is here

Facebook has given its main “f” logo icon a makeover, flattening the design by removing the pale blue bar along the bottom, which gave the icon a reflective sheen/slight 3D effect, as well as moving the position of the f so it now bleeds right off the bottom. The overall effect is a simplified, unfussy and clean looking design with the f more clearly leaping out. Facebook posted the new logo as a downloadable resource for journalists today.
The refresh was flagged to TechCrunch by designer Tom Waddington who notes in a blog about the change that it appears to be part of a wider icon spring clean at Facebook, with a whole host of other icons used on various official Facebook pages also getting made over in the same flattened and more visually striking style. These icons including a developers icon, privacy- and security-related icons and a mobile icon, among others. Updates seem to have occurred last week.

Facebook Home Hits 500K Downloads In Five Days, Pales In Comparison To Instagram’s Android Shift

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It would appear that Facebook Home has just surpassed 500k downloads on Google Play since launching on the platform five days ago on April 16. The app’s Google Play listing notes the milestone, and Ben Evans confirmed on Twitter.
Facebook Home isn’t so much of an app as a user interface for the phone, putting Facebook smack dab in the center of Android users’ smartphone experience. Users with Facebook Home can post status updates and view the newsfeed straight from the lock screen, and conduct messaging without ever being interrupted, thanks to Chat Heads.
In essence, it’s Facebook’s push past being an app like every other app and being a central force of the smartphone, a launch pad. Hopes are seriously high, as foreshadowed by Zuckerberg’s sweaty brow at the announcement, but word had originally circulated that users weren’t all that into Facebook Home around launch day.
Clearly, that’s not true as the app has garnered over 100,000 downloads a day since launch. Still, these aren’t blow-out numbers. Remember when Instagram launched on Android and hit over 1 million downloads in a day? And then hit over 5 million downloads in six days? Yeah. Those were blow-out numbers.
You also have to consider that Facebook has over a billion users, so 500K doesn’t really move the needle.
But in Facebook’s defense, the Home application is only available on select devices, including the Samsung Galaxy S III, Galaxy Note II, HTC One X, and the HTC One X+, along with the Facebook Phone, the HTC First.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Facebook Voice Calling Now Available To All US Users Thanks To Today’s Android Rollout

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Now the Facebook can really start to replace your phone. Today Facebook rolled out its free VoIP voice calling feature to US users of Home and its Android Messenger app. That means even less reason to open your standard “phone” app, and more data for Facebook about who you care about the most. Now all iOS and Android users in the US can Facedial their friends.

Previously voip was available in 23 other countries, but its roll out to the United States makes it 24. Facebook tells me the rollout will happen over the course of today, and doesn’t require any formal app updates.
To start a VoIP call in Messenger you click the I icon on someone’s profile and then tap “free call”. In Home, you can start a call from a Chat Head by clicking the three dots beside a person’s name, opening the conversation in Messenger, and then following the steps above.
Facebook first began testing its open sourced version of VoIP with iOS users in Canada and the US in January, and has been slowly rolling it out to more countries and Android since. But today is the culmination of that rollout (excluding less critical developing markets).
With VoIP finally available to all Android and iOS users in its home country, users don’t have to worry about what device their friends are using. Now we can see if the product really works at scale, and whether Facebook will dig it out of its buried spot in Messenger.
Getting VoIP in place will be important if Facebook wants to win the brewing war to control messaging it will fight against Google and Apple. Google is soon expected to launch a unified messaging system that combines GChat, Google+ Messenger, Google Voice, and potentially Gmail to let you carry on synchronous and asynchronous text and voice conversations across different devices. Apple meanwhile already has its own Phone app on the iPhone, and its iMessage apps on several platforms.
The big companies are all realizing that as much computing power as is getting stuffed into smartphones today, they’re still fundamentally communication devices and that activity takes up a ton of our time. Whoever controls messaging will own that time, which comes with advertising and monetization opportunities through sales of sticker packs and more. They’ll also better understand who their users are closest to, which can be used to improve targeted social advertising.

Why LinkedIn Is Buying Newsreader App Pulse

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Come to LinkedIn (LNKD), and stay awhile. That’s the pitch behind the career website’s April 11 acquisition of Pulse, the three-year-old newsreading app, for $90 million. By incorporating Pulse’s stream of content from more than 750 media partners, LinkedIn plans to become more than just an occasional visit for job seekers. “The key for LinkedIn is to become a day-to-day site,” says Blake Harper, an analyst at Wunderlich Securities. “They want to become a publishing platform for professionals.”
Pulse is just the latest newsreading app to attract the interest of a big Web portal. CNN (TWX) bought Zite in 2011, while Yahoo! (YHOO) paid $30 million for Summly in March. Like those apps, Pulse suggests articles from hundreds of news and media outlets. It displays them in a photo-based grid that’s particularly well suited to smartphones and tablets, and it allows users to tailor their news feed by picking the sources and subjects that interest them. “We believe Pulse could bring fresh content to LinkedIn and help the platform transform to a professional knowledge hub,” Bank of America Merrill Lynch analyst Justin Post wrote in a report issued the day after the purchase was announced.
Providing more content could get people coming back to the site more often and spending more time on it when they do. That would improve LinkedIn’s revenue in at least two ways. It can help the company charge higher rates for advertising, and it can help generate data that can be sold. Right now, LinkedIn makes its money from premium subscriptions that have advanced search features for job seekers, from special search tools sold to corporate recruiters, and from help-wanted classifieds and other ads.
The latter two businesses made up nearly 80 percent of LinkedIn’s $304 million in revenue last quarter, and it’s those areas that stand to benefit from the Pulse acquisition. “Increasing the level of people, traffic, and engagement drives page views, which drive ad dollars,” says Harper. All that reading activity will generate new sets of data that can be analyzed and made useful to would-be employers. “That data may be able to provide more insight to recruiters,” he says. “It may help them identify people well suited for a position that would otherwise go unnoticed.”
The Pulse acquisition is the latest in a series of moves LinkedIn has made to transform itself from a résumé database to a more useful resource for people working in any field. It’s absorbed startups such as Rapportive, which helps manage personal contact information, and SlideShare, which allows people and companies to share PowerPoint presentations with the Web-connected public.
Adding Pulse’s tailored news feed will augment LinkedIn’s existing efforts to get people to return to the site more frequently. It maintains a roughly 250-strong network of business “Influencers” who post their thoughts there. Arianna Huffington is one of the contributors, and the Influencers network is reminiscent of a Huffington Post blog roll for professionals. Also greeting users at login is LinkedIn Today, a sort of pre-Pulse news feed of selected stories that LinkedIn’s algorithms customize for viewers based on their networks and profiles.
Investors and analysts generally like what they’ve seen coming out of LinkedIn’s Mountain View (Calif.) headquarters, a five-minute bike ride from Google’s (GOOG) campus. When the company went public in 2011, shares debuted at $45 and more than doubled on the first day of trading, and have since risen above $175. LinkedIn’s revenue figures have outperformed analysts’ estimates in every quarter since the IPO.
Trying to become yet another social network that demands people’s time and attention may seem like an uphill journey. Just ask the team over at Google Plus. But LinkedIn, which declined to comment on the Pulse purchase, is pushing ahead to try to build a group of users interested in both finding the right job and performing well in their current positions. That may distinguish the company from Facebook (FB) and Twitter enough for it to stand on its own. “Social is splintering into more narrow-based services,” says Michael Wolf, the founder of technology and strategy consulting firm Activate. “Facebook may not necessarily be the place where you want both your personal and professional friends.” For LinkedIn, content is king, but so is context.

LinkedIn rolls out new, personalized mobile app

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LinkedIn wants to give its mobile app a spark, and the social network is doing so by simplifying and customizing it to individually fit each of its users.
The business-focused social network rolled out the major app update late Wednesday night. The updated app features an overhauled design and minimized build that's intended to let users access as many features as possible with as few finger taps as necessary.
"We designed with one key core principle in mind: having all the stuff you care about one tap away from you," said Tomer Cohen, a LinkedIn senior product manager and mobile phone lead.
This is LinkedIn's first major mobile app redesign in more than a year and a half, so the company said it wanted to give users the best experience. That meant creating an algorithm that figures out what parts of the app each individual user uses most. Based on that, the app will arrange its sections to best fit each user's way of handling the app. Users can also customize the app's sections themselves to fit however they want it to.
"We did the work understanding what you like most about LinkedIn," Cohen said Wednesday in a phone interview. 
Additionally, the app's main stream has been redesigned to show users more content and information than before. Now, users can invite and follow others or like, share and comment on posts from the center stage, unlike the previous version of the app.
The updated app can be downloaded now for both iPhoneand Android users

Google Launches Google+ Commenting System For Blogger, Coming To The Rest Of The Web Soon?

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Google today announced that bloggers on its Blogger publishing platform can now enable a new Google+-powered commenting system for their sites. This means Blogger users can now use Google+ as a commenting platform for their blogs and comments from Google+ will automatically appear on their blogs, too.
Google has already enabled this new system on all of its official blogs.
This new commenting widget, Google says, will enable bloggers to “see activity from direct visitors, and from people talking about your content on Google+.” This, the company argues, will make it easier to engage with commenters, as all of the comments will be available in one place.
The comment widget actually looks quite nice. By default, it sorts comments by popularity (the other choice is ‘newest first’) and also gives users the option to see everybody’s comments or just remarks from users in their own circles. Just like Google+, however, the system doesn’t allow for nested comments beyond the first level.
Google also argues that this will make life easier for readers who want to comment. They will get the option to comment publicly – or privately to their circles on Google+. Of course, both the blog owners and the readers will only see the comments they have permission to see.
To enable this, Blogger users simply have to flip a switch in their Blogger Dashboard. Older comments will also be imported into the new Google+ comment widget.

What About The Rest Of The Web?

For now, this new commenting system is obviously restricted to Blogger, but it’s likely that Google is just using its own platform as a staging ground for a wider release in the future. In the long run, Google will likely want to use this to compete with Facebook comments. Facebook launched its commenting system back in 2009, though it’s not clear how many sites still use it.

New Keyword Targeting Lets Twitter Ads Chase Purchase Intent, Similar To Search Ads

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Twitter today took the latest step in its bid to build up its advertising business, which some estimate could reach $1 billion in revenues this year: it has introduced keyword targeting to the platform. This means that brands and others can now plan and serve ads to users based on specific words in users’ tweets. Twitter says the service is rolling out across all of its ad network, mobile and desktop, covering 15 languages and all markets where it currently serves Twitter Ads. However, it is careful to point out that this will not mean more ads, but simply ads that are more specific to what you happen to be mentioning on the site.
As Twitter notes in a blog post today, perhaps one of the most important aspects of this new feature is that it will be useful for brands and advertisers to use it to target intent.
“It lets marketers reach users at the right moment, in the right context,” the company notes. In Twitter’s description:
Let’s say a user tweets about enjoying the latest album from their favorite band, and it so happens that band is due to play a concert at a local venue. That venue could now run a geotargeted campaign using keywords for that band with a Tweet containing a link to buy the tickets. That way, the user who tweeted about the new album may soon see that Promoted Tweet in their timeline letting them know tickets are for sale in their area.
Twitter says that early trialists, Everything Everywhere, Microsoft Japan, and Walgreens saw that “users were significantly more likely to engage with Promoted Tweets using keyword targeting in timeline than other forms of targeting in the timeline.”
eMarketer is more modest about what Twitter might achieve in ad revenue this year. It believes that it will globally make $582.8 million in 2013 and approach $1 billion in 2014. Twitter made $288.3 million in global ad revenue in 2012, it estimates. Some 83 percent of that will come from the U.S. this year — perhaps a proportion that will drop with universal launches of new features like this one. It believes that by 2015, non-U.S. ad revenues will be $319 million.
What the new keyword targeting feature does not address, however, are the many people who use Twitter but do not themselves tweet. Nor is it clear how instantaneous “the right moment” will be, and for how long those targeting moves will remain after you post a tweet. Given the fleeting nature of Twitter in general, how will we know if what you think about in one burst of 140 characters will stay on your mind long enough for a follow-up, targeted keyword tweet to stick, rather than feel stale or creepy?
The new keyword targeting tool will be available both through the Twitter Ads dashboard and through Twitter’s ads API.