Friday, January 31, 2014

Google To Split Stock

ABC News reports that Google is finally ready to split its stock for the first time, more than three years after co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin began discussing a move engineered to ensure they remain in control of the Internet's most powerful company.

The split is scheduled to occur April 2. It had been delayed because of staunch resistance from other Google Inc. shareholders, who feared the maneuver would unfairly benefit Page and Brin at the expense of just about everyone else.

Google proposed the unorthodox split so that Page and Brin could preserve power in the company they started in a rented garage more than 15 years ago. It addresses concerns that the founders would lose control of Google as the company creates more shares to compensate its employees and buy startups.

To gain clearance for the split, Google settled a shareholders lawsuit and agreed to pay up to $7.5 billion if the split doesn't pan out the way the Mountain View, Calif., company envisions.

Google's split will create a new class of "C'' stock that carries no voting power. One share of C stock will be distributed for each share of voting Class A stock owned as of March 27. Initially, the value of the current stock will be divided equally between the two types of shares. But they will then trade separately with different ticker symbols. Class C shares will get the company's existing "GOOG" ticker symbol, while Class A will change to "GOOGL."

If the split hadn't been delayed by a legal skirmish, Google's stock probably wouldn't have exceeded $1,000 for the first time last fall.

Page and Brin primarily own Google's Class B stock, which already gives them 10 times the voting power of each Class A share. Combined, the Google founders control 56 percent of the shareholder votes, even though they own less than 15 percent of the stock issued.

Nonetheless, the voting clout of Page and Brin has been gradually shrinking, as Google has used Class A stock to reward employees and finance some of its acquisitions during the past decade.

Distributing a new class of non-voting stock will enable Google to continue doling out shares to its nearly 44,000 workers without further undermining the co-founders' power.

As with any stock split, the division will lower Google's trading price on the Nasdaq Stock Market as investors account for a big increase in shares. The company will be distributing about 277 million shares of Class C stock, based on how many Class A shares had been issued as of late last year.

If Google's shares behave similarly to other 2-for-1 splits, the stock's price would be cut roughly in half from its current level of more than $1,100. Google's market value would remain roughly the same at about $380 billion because it will have nearly double the number of shares issued.

But some shareholders suspect the non-voting status of the Class C stock will cause those shares to trade at a significant discount to the Class A stock once the new stock is issued. The concerns led to a class-action lawsuit in Delaware chancery court filed shortly after Google announced its plans for the split in April 2012.

Google delayed the stock split until the lawsuit was resolved. A trial was averted after Google hammered out a settlement. Court approval came three months ago.

Google will have to pay the Class C shareholders if the average price of their stock is at least 1 percent below the Class A shares during the first year after the split. The size of the payments will escalate as the gap widens, with the maximum payout required if the gap between the average prices of the Class C and Class A shares is 5 percent or more.

In the most expensive scenario for Google, Class C stockholders will get 5 percent of the average trading price of the Class A shares. So if the Class A stock has an average trading price of $600 during the first year after the split while the Class C stock averages $565, Google would have to pay $30 per share in cash or additional stock.

In court documents, Google argued that it's unlikely there will be a big difference between the prices of the Class A and Class C shares, despite their contrasting voting powers.

Twitter Buys Patents From IBM

Susan Decker from Bloomberg writes that Twitter Inc. (TWTR), the microblogging service that went public last year, agreed to buy 900 patents from International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) to gain access to new technology and build a defense against infringement suits.

The agreement, signed last month and announced today, also resolves a dispute that prompted IBM to write to Twitter last year about possible infringement of at least three patents. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

The purchase “provides us with greater intellectual property protection and gives us freedom of action to innovate on behalf of all those who use our service,” Ben Lee, legal director for Twitter, said in a statement.

Twitter had nine patents and 95 pending applications before its initial public offering in November, far fewer than other leading technology companies. It said in a regulatory filing that the lack of intellectual property could make the company a target for litigation and limit its ability to fight back by asserting its own patents.

Patent battles are an “increasing distraction” for technology companies, even if Twitter itself wasn’t facing much of an immediate threat, said Richard Doherty, research director of Envisioneering Group, a technology assessment consulting firm in Seaford, New York. “At some point it becomes just a balancing function to take advantage of warehouses of intellectual property, like at IBM.”
Video Delivery

In its letter to Twitter, IBM cited patents relating to a networking technique based on common contacts, a way to show advertisements without interfering with an interactive site, and using interconnected computers to reduce Web traffic. San Francisco-based Twitter also will probably gain IBM inventions related to things like video compression, Doherty said.

“As Twitter expands and starts delivering video, they need to increase their intellectual property portfolio,” he said. “We believe some know-how is going along with the patent transfer, not just patent numbers.”

The patents include some that directly relate to Twitter’s business plan. One covers a way to enable compliance with international shipping requirements. Twitter is seeking to get more revenue from retailers and is trying to make it easier for users to shop via its 140-character messages.
Messaging Technology

Another of the patents is for improved messaging, according to information posted on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website. Others are less clearly connected, such as a way to prevent damage to semiconductor chips.

For Twitter, the deal marks its first patent acquisition, not counting intellectual property it gained by purchasing other companies. The companies also entered a cross-licensing agreement. Of the three patents cited by IBM in its initial letter to Twitter, only one -- for interconnected computers -- has been assigned to Twitter, according to the patent office.

Shares of Twitter gained 1.4 percent to $64.35 at 11:52 a.m. in New York. IBM’s stock was little changed at $176.37.

IBM, which has received the most U.S. patents of any company for 21 straight years, has made deals with patent-light technology firms before. The Armonk, New York-based company has sold patents toGoogle Inc. (GOOG) to aid the Android software maker’s battle with rivals over smartphone technology. A sale of 750 patents to Facebook Inc. helped the social-networking site settle a lawsuit with Yahoo! Inc.

“It illustrates the value of patented IBM inventions and demonstrates our commitment to licensing access to our broad patent portfolio,” Ken King, general manager of intellectual property for IBM, said in a statement. “We look forward to a productive relationship with Twitter in the future.”

The licensing and sales deals mean IBM has agreements with almost every technology company in business. Its patents generate approximately $1 billion a year in licensing income, about 1 percent of its sales last year.

Facebook Launches New App. Paper

Today, we're introducing Paper, a new app that helps you explore and share stories from friends and the world around you.

Paper makes storytelling more beautiful with an immersive design and fullscreen, distraction-free layouts. We’ve also made it easier to craft and share beautiful stories of your own.

Your Paper is made of stories and themed sections, so you can follow your favorite interests. The first section in Paper is your Facebook News Feed, where you’ll enjoy inspiring new designs for photos, videos, and longer written posts. You can customize Paper with a choice of more than a dozen other sections about various themes and topics—from photography and sports to food, science and design. Each section includes a rich mix of content from emerging voices and well-known publications.

Storytelling and sharing have been reimagined in Paper to show stories at their best.

Everything responds to your touch so you can pick up or thumb through stories with simple, natural movements
You can tilt your phone to explore high-resolution panoramic photos from corner to corner, and see faces and other important details up close
Fullscreen autoplay videos come to life and bring you deep into the action
Beautifully detailed covers make it easy to spot articles from trusted publishers and decide what to read or watch.· Articles unfold in the app and appear fullscreen for a focused reading experience
When you're ready to tell your own story, you know exactly what your post or photo will look like because you see a live preview before you share it

Paper is the first product from Facebook Creative Labs, where we’re crafting new apps to support the diverse ways people want to connect and share. The app will be available for the iPhone in the US on February 3rd. For an early look, you can take a tour of Paper.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Google Se;;s Motorola Mobility To Lenovo

James O'Toole reports that Google announced Wednesday that it will sell its Motorola Mobility smartphone unit to Chinese PC maker Lenovo for $2.9 billion, giving up on a business it purchased for $12.5 billion in May 2012.

The deal was Google's largest-ever acquisition, giving it the ability to produce hardware to go along with its Android mobile operating system. But Motorola has been a perpetual money-loser, raising the ire of shareholders and Wall Street analysts.

Google (GOOG, Fortune 500) said it will maintain ownership of the "vast majority" of the Motorola Mobility patent portfolio after the sale.

When Google bought Motorola, the company said it planned to use those patents to ward off lawsuits from Apple (AAPL, Fortune 500) and Microsoft (MSFT, Fortune 500) that threaten Android. Lenovo will be able to license those patents from Google.

In a blog post announcing the deal, Google CEO Larry Page acknowledged that it doesn't make sense for his company to continue manufacturing phones itself.

"[T]he smartphone market is super competitive, and to thrive it helps to be all-in when it comes to making mobile devices," Page wrote. "This move will enable Google to devote our energy to driving innovation across the Android ecosystem."

Google also sold Motorola's cable box business for $2.3 billion to Arris in late 2012.

Google shares rose 2% in after-hours trading.

Lenovo chief Yang Yuanqing said the deal "will immediately make Lenovo a strong global competitor in smartphones."

In addition to being the world's largest PC maker, the company is already the No. 4 global smartphone maker after Samsung, Apple (AAPL, Fortune 500) and Huawei. In a conference call with reporters Wednesday afternoon, Lenovo executives said the company will soon be able to sell more than 100 million smartphones annually, challenging Apple and Samsung.

While its phones are already well-known in China and other international markets, Lenovo will continue to use the Motorola brand in the U.S. and Latin America.

"We are confident that we can bring together the best of both companies to deliver products customers will love and a strong, growing business," Yang said.

Lenovo announced another big transaction with an American company last week,agreeing to pay $2.3 billion for IBM's (IBM, Fortune 500) low-end x86 server business.

Page, for his part, said Google's sale "does not signal a larger shift for our other hardware efforts."

Earlier this month, Google announced that it was buying connnected home-appliance maker Nest for $3.2 billion.

"The dynamics and maturity of the wearable and home markets, for example, are very different from that of the mobile industry," Page said. "We're excited by the opportunities to build amazing new products for users within these emerging ecosystems."

Monster Day For Facebook Stock

Been a monster 20 hours for Facebook. After hours trading was unreal and today is shaping up to be a record day. Stocks have surged to over $62.00 a share up over 16% today.

Didn't someone say Facebook was dying?

Profits reached $523 million, up from $64 million a year ago, the company said. Mobile usage of the site continued to grow, with monthly mobile active users growing to 945 million, a 39 percent increase from a year prior. Mobile ad revenue reached 53 percent in the fourth quarter and for the first time comprised more than half of Facebook’s total advertising business. Overall, the site now has 1.23 billion monthly active users and 757 million daily active users.

The strong earnings report capped an impressive 2013 in which Facebook fully recovered from a botched IPO in 2012 that tanked its stock for months. For all of 2013, Facebook generated $7.9 billion in total revenue, a 55 percent increase from 2012. Profit for the year totaled $1.5 billion, compared to just $53 million in 2012. The company added 172 million monthly users and 139 million daily users. By comparison, Twitter enjoys 232 million total monthly users, and LinkedIn has 259 million.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

New Tool From LinkedIn

Most of us are familiar with “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” – the idea that every person in Hollywood is separated by six acquaintances or less from the famous actor. Most people think of this in terms of celebrity, but imagine how powerful this idea could be in the professional context of your own life.

Professional goals become more attainable when you’re able to connect and collaborate with others who can help you achieve them. Finding the best path to meeting these key contacts can be daunting though.

Today, we’re introducing a new “How You’re Connected” tool on LinkedIn profiles that aims to make that process much easier by helping you find the best path or strongest commonalities shared between you and the individual that could be the key to obtaining your next success.

When looking for an introduction to someone you may not know yet, you will now not only see “who” in your network knows them on their Profile, but also “how” they know each other to help you decide the best contact to request an introduction from.

So let’s say you’re an advertising professional looking for an introduction to the CMO of a company you’d love to do business with. You might find one mutual connection attended school with her before she kick started her career but another worked with her recently on a very high-profile campaign. Chances are, the connection that worked with her recently is more likely to have a stronger, more relevant connection and therefore be the best source for an introduction.

This feature will begin rolling out to English members around the world beginning today. In the months to come, we’ll look to continue to expand on the types of insights we provide so that you can make informed decisions around building and expanding your professional network on LinkedIn.

British Intelligence Helps NSA With Real Time Monitoring Of Social Networks

British intelligence officials can infiltrate the very cables that transfer information across the internet, as well as monitor users in real time on sites like Facebook without the company's consent, according to documents leaked by Edward Snowden.

The internal documents reveal that British analysts gave instruction to members of the National Security Agency in 2012, showing them how to spy on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube in real time and collect the computer addresses of billions of the sites’ uploaders.

The leaked documents are from a GCHQ publication titled ‘Psychology: A New Kind of SIGDEV’ (Signals Development). Published by NBC News on Monday, the papers detail a program dubbed ‘Squeaky Dolphin,’ which was developed for analysts working in “broad real-time monitoring of online activity.”

Sources told NBC that the British have proven their ability to both directly monitor the world’s web traffic cable and use a third party to view the data stream and extract information from it.

Representatives from the companies in question said they have not provided any data to the government of the United Kingdom under this program, either voluntarily or involuntarily. One person who wished to remain anonymous said that Google, the company that owns YouTube, was “shocked” to discover the UK may have been “grabbing” data for years.

Previously published disclosures have made it clear that the US and UK are sharing intelligence tactics. The Washington Post reported in October 2013 that the NSA and GCHQ collaborated on a program known as MUSCULAR, which the agencies used to record “entire data flows” from Yahoo and Google.

Security officials have consistently maintained that the programs are authorized under the laws of their respective nation and that the surveillance is designed only as a tool for preventing terrorism. Still, the lack of transparency has left civil liberties advocates searching for more answers.

“Governments have no business knowing which YouTube videos everyone in the world is watching,” Chris Soghoian, chief technologist for the American Civil Liberties Union, told NBC. “It’s one thing to spy on a particular person who has done something to warrant a government investigation but governments have no business monitoring the Facebook likes or YouTube views of hundreds of millions of people.”

When members of GCHQ delivered the presentation to NSA officials, they showed the Americans how to carry out the surveillance by extracting information from YouTube, Facebook, and Google’s Blogger service on February 13, 2012 - one day before anti-government protests were to begin in Bahrain.

According to the documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden, the presenters were careful to mention that the intelligence gathering was not designed to monitor specific targets. “Not interested in individuals just broad trends!” one note reads.

Jason Healey, a former White House official under President George W. Bush, told NBC such activity not only sends a shiver through the public but has also become an impediment for Silicon Valley executives and the thriving social media industry.

“We want our security services to be out there and keeping us safe,” he said, “but we can also look for balance, we can look for limits, especially if we’re putting at risk this most transformative technology since Gutenberg.”

Facebook Earnings

Jeff Macke writes hatFacebook (FB) reports tonight and Wall Street is all atwitter over what the original publicly traded social media company might say.

Analysts are officially looking for EPS of 27-cents on $2.3b in revenue, but what Wall Street really wants is another reason to get excited about the company beyond the P&L. It’s been six months since Facebook’s transcendent second quarter of ’13 when the company proved mobile advertising was a real business. Those not only legitimized Facebook’s business model but also triggered a double in Facebook and paved the way for Twitter’s (TWTR) IPO.

Scott Kessler of S&P Capital IQ thinks the company is going to say more great stuff about mobile ads including specifics on customer bang for the buck, but he still has the stock at “hold.” It’s a matter of good news already priced into a company valued at more than $100 billion.

“Increasingly they’re going to be focused on talking more about Instagram,” says Kessler in the attached clip. For those unfamiliar with the Facebook story, assuming such people exist, the purchase of Instagram has kept the company socially relevant among the teen set. Buying the photo-sharing service looked like a $1 billion bungle by CEO Mark Zuckerberg at the time but it turned out to be a steal by most measures.

To dazzle Wall Street, Facebook is either going to need to pull another acquisition out of the air or come up with a whole new vertical business. Zuckerberg and Co. have beaten estimates by more than 30% each of the last two quarters, making it doubtful just another earnings surprise will be enough to push shares to new highs.

Recent Changes In Social Networks In Case You Missed It

Belle Beth Cooper says Social media changes so fast that we often miss the small differences on each platform we use. Every now and then I find it really useful to do a roundup of what’s been changing on the big networks lately. Here are 10 changes I found that took place in the last couple of months, which could be useful for your social media strategy.


A very recent update for Twitter’s web view is a new design that adds an inline Tweet composer:

While the compose button and composer pop-up remain, you can now add a new Tweet much faster from the left-hand-side menu. The update also includes a fresh design for the navigation bar and a profile setting to choose accent colors.


It wasn’t long ago that Twitter added inline image previews to its official apps, including the web view.

Now, Twitter is including more image focus in the latest redesign, as you can see above. On the left-hand side of Twitter’s new web view, your profile and header images are now visible.

When we did a test before, about how Twitter’s new image highlighting affected metrics, we found that retweets shot up by 150% and looking at our metrics today, they are still high:

Facebook has changed its ranking algorithm for the News Feed many times before. Yet another update came in December, as Facebook pushed for more “high quality content,” including a focus on news from media outlets.

From the Facebook announcement:

Why are we doing this? Our surveys show that on average people prefer links to high quality articles about current events, their favorite sports team or shared interests, to the latest meme.

The announcement goes on to talk about news articles versus memes even more specifically, saying that fewer “meme photos” hosted outside of Facebook will be shown in the News Feed. It also mentions a feature in the works to help you discover more interesting news:

Soon, after you click on a link to an article, you may see up to three related articles directly below the News Feed post to help you discover more content you may find interesting.

To keep posts from friends populating the News Feed, Facebook says it will bump up stories that have new comments more often than before.

Jay Baer has pointed out a few ways you can customize your own News Feed settings to have more control over what you see. For companies, however, it seems like this is a further push from Facebook to encourage more spending on ads.


If you’re a fan of using Twitter’s direct messages, you’ll love this update. Twitter recently added the ability to send and receive images in DMs.

This update also added a tab for DMs into the navigation bar of Twitter’s official mobile apps, making DMs easier to use.


You’ve probably noticed promoted accounts in Twitter’s “Who to follow” sidebar section before. Now, advertisers can promote their accounts with a Tweet in Twitter’s mobile timelines.

The promotions work in the same way: advertisers only get charged for each person who follows their account. The accounts are displayed differently, though, with a full Tweet and a follow button inside the timeline in Twitter’s mobile apps:


Facebook made a recent change to help retailers get more out of their Facebook ads by measuring offline conversions. Especially if we’re looking at how colors affect conversions, Facebook’s tips seem to be guided by a very deep underlying understanding of human behavior.

This is actually a feature that’s been around for a while, but it was previously available only to customers who worked with a Facebook “measurement partner.” The network is now opening it up to all advertisers.

The way it works is retailers collect personal data about offline consumers, upload it in a hashed form, and Facebook matches it with internal hashed data about those same consumers. This lets Facebook work out whether any of those purchases were made by consumers who saw one of the retailer’s ads.

In December, Twitter opened up online conversion tracking to all advertisers. This lets Twitter ads customers track conversions and engagement on promoted Tweets:


To make Twitter ads more effective and appealing, a recent change from Twitterrolled out “tailored audiences” to all advertisers. This lets advertisers take advantage of browser cookies to serve up ads to users who have recently visited their website.


Among the slew of ad-related updates is an update from LinkedIn to Company Pages. LinkedIn has long been making waves by making it easier for companies to get exposure and opening up it’s APIs for more great use cases. Companies can now create Showcase Pages on LinkedIn, to focus on a particular brand, business area or initiative.

LinkedIn users can follow Showcase Pages, which are focused on content updates, to keep on top of any new posts.


A slightly older change, made in November 2013, is this one to Facebook’s Page Composer. The update includes making it easier to schedule posts for your Facebook Page, reducing the number of steps required from 12 to 4.

What’s particularly interesting is new push and addition for scheduling Facebook posts. This is in fact something, Twitter had introduced earlier in the year too. It seems that scheduling your posts is becoming more and more of an encouraged behavior from both Twitter and Facebook.

It’s also easier to upload multiple photos at once now, with drag-and-drop, and a photo icon in the composer makes it easy to upload a photo or video when posting an update.


Finally, another update from November is the addition of search filters to Twitter’s mobile apps. The new options let you add a filter to any Twitter search, limiting results to photos only, videos, or just Tweets from people you follow.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

New App Called FakeOff For Facebook Detects False Accounts

The Economic Times reports instances of cyber impersonation on social networking sites rise, an Israel-based start-up has developed an application, FakeOff, that helps to identify fake accounts on Facebook.

The app on the world's largest social networking platform claims to protects users from scams devised by fake Facebook users, who are mistaken for genuine 'new friends'.

"Recent statistics show that at least 10 per cent of about 1.35 billion Facebook users are not authentic. Besides, the ..
here are millions of users who create fake identities and appear as regular users," FakeOff creator Eliran Shachar told PTI.

Fake profiles are divided into several groups including criminals, commercial and psychological, that can risk reputations (identity theft), children (pedophiles and sexual abuse), property (home break-ins) and personal safety, he added.

"FakeOff app uses sophisticated algorithm to investigate the behavior of suspect 'friends' and rank them according to a 1-10 credibility score. It scans up to 365 days of timeline activity for every suspect Facebook friend and checks for abnormal activity," Shachar said.

The app checks timeline activity of the suspect and tries to locate abnormal activity that indicates a non-normal way of usage. It allows the user to scan the photos of the suspect to find out if it was stolen from someplace online, he added.

Also, FakeOff crosses information from all investigations and calculates results of a user based on other investigations on the same suspect, he said.

FakeOff has been live for two months now and has over 15,000 users so far.

"Twenty-four per cent of investigations conducted in the app return as fake. A fake profile can be very complex and some of the fakes that we help the users find is only for their eyes so we can't know the final result from the photo scan results, but the user easily can," he said.

According to Facebook, about 14.3 crore accounts on the social networking site may be false or duplicate, with a major chunk of them coming from developing markets like India and Turkey.

The firm said it estimates up to 7.9 per cent accounts being duplicate and up to 2.1 per cent and up to 1.2 per cent accounts being user-misclassified and un-desirable, respectively.

Google Prescription

Heather Kelly of CNN reports that On Tuesday, Google announced it will add Google Glass options for prescription glasses, its most requested feature since it launched the face-mounted computers last year.

The move is the latest attempt by Google to make the beta version of its connected eyewear more fashionable and consumer friendly before it releases the product to the broader public toward the end of 2014.

The prescription lenses will be available in a set of newly designed, fashion-conscious frames that will cost $225 each. This new Titanium line will include four frame shapes called curve, thin, split and bold. The outside of the Titanium frames is gray, but there are four options for subtle accent colors inside the frames. Google is also adding three options for sunglasses designed by Maui Jim, which will cost $150 each.

The actual Glass hardware, which can shoot video and projects Internet content such as e-mails, walking directions and sports scores onto a tiny screen above the wearer's right eye, is staying the same for now. It was last updated in October, when the team made sure the design was modular and could attach to the right side of the Titanium glass frames.

You still can't quickly pop Google Glass off one frame and onto another, because the process requires undoing a small screw. While the task is easy enough, the system is not meant for frequent frame changes. Google is betting that people will be so comfortable wearing Google Glass that they won't have to choose between prescription glasses and Google Glass.

"We're going to reach some day, hopefully it will be soon, where people will wonder 'why would I want traditional glasses? They don't do X, Y or Z,' " said Google Glass Product Director Steve Lee.

Fusing Google Glass with prescription lenses could lead to its own set of problems, however, because wearers can't take them off without limiting their vision, and the Internet-enabled glasses aren't welcome everywhere.

Earlier this month, an Ohio man was questioned by local and federal law enforcement for wearing his Google Glass during a movie. The authorities suspected he was secretly recording the film until he explained the eyewear was turned off and connected to a pair of prescription frames. (He had purchased the custom frames for $600 through a third party.)

Driving while wearing Glass is also a thorny issue in many states, including California, where a woman was ticketed last year for wearing the device while behind the wheel. The citation was dismissed in court, but since many people need their prescription glasses to drive, there could be an uptick in the number of motorists sporting Google Glass.

Google is confident these types of issues will be resolved as Glass becomes more common place and people learn to recognize when the device is turned on or off. Currently there is no indicator light but when the device is on, other people can see a faint light on the Glass screen.

The company hopes venues and states hostile to Glass might even embrace it down the road. For example, there's a Glass app called Drive Safe Google Glass that can wake drivers up if it detects they are falling asleep. That might appeal to law enforcement. Theaters could embrace the technology as a way to deliver close captioning for movies to certain audience members.

"I think you need to give the technology a chance to breathe and evolve," said Google Glass spokesperson Chris Dale.

Prescription glasses can be pricey without insurance, so Google has struck a deal with vision benefits company Vision Service Provider to add coverage for wearers of the new specs. Insurance reimbursements will extend only to the frames and prescription lenses and can't be used toward the Glass device itself, which still costs $1,500.

The new frames were designed in-house by Google employees on the Glass team, despite earlier rumors of a possible partnership with hip eyewear retailer Warby Parker. Going forward, the company does hope to work with third-party eyewear companies so partners can create their own Google Glass compatible products.

Even with the regular-looking new frames, someone wearing Google Glass still stands out. In the future, it might be possible to shrink the hardware down so that it's more subtle, but Google doesn't necessarily think that's what all users will want. More modular designs and partnerships with third parties could expand the options so that a Glass wearer could decide between wearing an obvious look or going undetected.

"Sometimes I want to go out and I want to be seen, I want people to talk to me about Glass. I've actually found glass to be the most social experience ever," said Lee. "But other times I just want to go about my business, stay low key."

Upcoming Facebook API Changes

Here are some upcoming changes in the Roadmap from Facebook.

Ads API Breaking Changes

Due April 9th, 2014 at 10am PST
Please note that the new campaign structure changes are still due March 4, 2014.

Table of Contents

  • Targeting
    • Unified interests
    • Geotargeting
    • Advanced Demographic and Behaviors
  • Creative Data Model
    • Removal of type field
    • Renaming of various fields
    • Sunset sponsored stories
    • Sunset type 4 creation
    • Removal of object_id field for app ads, must specify tracking and conversion specs explicitly
  • Objectives
  • Ad Image cropping
  • Enum int->string changes
  • Sunset disapprove_reason_descriptions
Please note that in the below, deprecation means the field will no longer be supported by may still exist. Sunset means the field will officially be removed and no longer supported.


The overall concept of targeting has been redefined as having four key areas (locations, demographics, interests, behaviors). This organization creates more flexibility and precision in audience creation in terms of the and/or logic between groups.
Example: historically, if you selected "Parents" "Photography" "Photo uploader" within interests, the audience constructed was People who are Parents OR interested in Photography OR people who upload [many] Photos. However, the intended audience was: "Parents, who are interested in photography and upload pictures". Now, the specific audience will be targeted as intended.
During the period allotted for the breaking change, all advertiser accounts managed by PMDs will NOT be added to the new targeting types, unified interests (unless previously added by request), or demographic and behavioral changes. This is to prevent disparity between Facebook UI and PMD tools. Access to the new features will be turned on once the respective PMD has confirmed they have altered their API to support the changes bysubmitting a request.
If you have new ad accounts creating/editing ads in both Facebook interfaces and your tool between now and when the API integration is completed at your end, please submit a request to have the user IDs of the ad accounts restricted.
As you are done integrating the new API specs, let us know so we can add your clients to the updated Facebook targeting offering.

Unified Interests

Interest targeting has been redefined to create a unified definition for what indicates interest in a particular topic. Legacy targeting concepts such as Precise Interests (Keywords, #Topics) and Broad Categories have been unified and as a result have only one targeting segement for each term (no duplicate "Baseball" and "#Baseball"). The result is one, clear definition for each targeting segment.
  • Specifying keywords in targeting will be sunset in favor of interests
  • Use the new interest targeting library to query available values instead
  • Querying will be sunset in favor of
  • Specifying values for interests as a string will be sunset in favor of a JSON object ofid and name
  • Max number of interests you can specify in an adgroup will be lowered to 1,000
If you are a member of the PMD News group, please refer to this existing post for more details

Geographic targeting

  • The new Geo-Targeting API adds targeting flexibility and incorporates inclusion/exclusion logic.
  • Select any combination of Country, Region, City or Zip without restrictions.
  • Exclude locations from your targeting parameters.
  • All previous capabilities, such as radius targeting on cities, continue to exist.
  • Geo-targeting logic is now "OR" and not "AND". For example, to target California, the previous logic would have required you to specify "US" as the country and "California" as the state. With the current logic, if you specify "US" as the country and "California" as the state, the targeting will result in the entire "US". To target "California", you now only need to specify "California".
  • With the new API, the keys have changed for regions and zip code targeting.
  • IMPORTANT NOTE: The Targeting Spec for any ad created with the new geo-targeting logic (e.g. via Create Flow or Power Editor) will not be editable via the current targeting API. All other parameters will remain editable.
If you are a member of the PMD News group, please refer to this existing posts: original andupdate

Advanced Demographic and Behaviors

Advanced Demographic targeting options will now be available. Key features include better coverage of workplace, education and job title types as well as expanded Relationship status types. There is also the added functionality of selecting the recency of change of a life event (3 months, 6 months, 1 year).
A new targeting type, Behaviors, has been added. These categories are specific to a user's particular actions or past purchase behavior, past purchase behavior, purchase propensity. This category is made up of some targeting segments previously categorized as Interests.
Facebook will begin alpha testing, in the US, of advanced Demographic and some Behavioral targets in early February. The new UI with these features will not be widely available until we have finished General Availability release in mid/late Q1.
See Advanced Demographics and Behaviors for documentation.
During the month of January, PMDs will only have access to the Advanced Demographics & Behaviors APIs via whitelisted test accounts for the purpose of building and testing. Submit a request to whitelist any test accounts. To ensure parity for advertisers across interfaces, the migration will be only become available in early February when Facebook begins testing, in the US, our new UIs.

Creative Data Model

In an effort to better align our Ads API with our Ads Simplification effort, we're making changes to simplify the creative data model to be more intuitive. The focus of creatives will be on the promoted object and the creative assets instead of the creative type, making them more consistent across promoted object types.
As part of a simplification of the ad creative object, we will be removing the field type and standardizing on field names. We will infer what type of ad you wish to create based on the other fields within the creative spec.
Some notable changes:
  • type will be sunset
  • The auto_update field will be sunset. Existing ads will continue to delivery, but will no longer update after 4/9.
  • See the ad creative documentation for exact mapping field name changes.
  • For type 12 premium ads, we will infer using the locations field. Premium standard ads will not look different than standard ads anymore (previously they were 110x80px vs. 100x72px for standard ads).
  • App ads will no longer require an object_id field, so you must explicitly specify a tracking and conversion spec.
  • Facebook will sunset the creation of sponsored stories
    • Page post and page like ads already automatically have the best social context (likes and comments) added. You may choose to add share social context by specifying social_prefs=['allow_shares'] on the adgroup. Existing page post and page like sponsored stories will continue to deliver so you must support fetching them.
    • Domain and open graph sponsored stories will no longer be allowed to be created. Existing domain and open graph sponsored stories will cease to have delivery after April 9th.
  • Facebook will sunset the creation of type 4 ads. Instead, create a canvas app install ad (type 32).
    • Please note that the image dimensions of a type 4 ad may differ from a type 32 – type 32 ads must be 1200x627. It’s recommended to resize the image if you need to reuse it.
    • image_hash is a required field of type 32 ads, whereas they were optional for type 4
    • Existing type 4 ads will continue running until they are naturally phased out, so you must still support fetching them.
    • You will not be allowed to update fields of an existing type 4 creative
    • Please see below for the mapping of type 4 fields to type 32 fields.
type 4 fieldtype 32 field
image_file or image_hashimage_hash


Adgroups will have an optional objectives field. While this field is optional to specify, editing an ad that already contains this field will fail if the adgroup no longer passes thevalidation requirements.

Ad Image Cropping

Facebook has added the option to specify image crops through the Ads API. Image crops are used to describe the way that an image should be displayed in each aspect ratio of the different ad placements. During rendering, the image will be cropped according to the specifications given and if no specification is provided for a certain aspect ratio, the image will be displayed in the default way.
This is optional but if you choose to specify an image crop, you should provide information for all possible aspect ratios in our platform. For more information, please check the docs.
You should also support passing through image crops for ads created outside of your tool. After the migration, if you do not pass through the image crop value, any image crops will be removed.

Enum int->string changes

This migration changes the response of certain fields from an int value to a string value. This applies to the following fields:
  • campaign_status field of ad campaigns
  • capabilities field of ad accounts
  • subtype field of custom audiences and lookalike audiences
As part of this change, we will also be removing the subtype_name field of custom audiences

Sunset disapprove_reason_descriptions

The field disapproval_reason_descriptions is being renamedadgroup_review_feedback. The format will be changed from an array of string to an object key-value-pair of reason enumeration and descriptive text. The previous response would be :
"disapprove_reason_descriptions": [
            "Descriptive text"
The new response will be :
"adgroup_review_feedback": {
            "REASON_ENUM": "Descriptive text"

Friday, January 24, 2014

Facebook Trending Feature.

Facebook's new trending tab is meeting a little criticizing but pretty much everything they do meets some sort of angst. They released a new trending feature last week.

This article by Caitlin McGarry talks about the new feature. Hashtags. Embeddable posts. A focus on immediacy and popularity. Now, trending topics. No, this isn’t Twitter. This is Facebook in its push to become a less-messy version of your community newspaper.

You’ll notice the new Trending column on the right side of your News Feed, whichreports indicate will soon look more like a newspaper than a social network. Facebook has been testing trending topics, a Twitter staple, since August.

Trending is “designed to surface interesting and relevant conversations in order to help you discover the best content from all across Facebook,” engineering manager Chris Struhar said in a Thursday blog post.

Struhar said the list includes topics that are popular across the network as well as ones that are more relevant to you.

This may seem like more evidence of Facebook following Twitter’s lead, but in Facebook’s case, Trending will be a lot more personal. Each topic will be followed by a description so you know why it’s trending (an upcoming event, a celebrity in the news), and clicking through will take you to posts by your friends about the topic or popular pages that are discussing the topic.

Twitter’s trending topics take you to a complete, unfiltered timeline of random people who have hashtagged their tweets or used a specific phrase. Topics that trend on Twitter tend to be really terrible—currently “What the heck is curling?” is trending on Twitter. That one’s pretty benign. Often more offensive topics find their way to the top.

It seems like Facebook will focus on newsworthy topics over memes—at least, that’s the direction it’s heading in lately. A Facebook spokesperson said Trending’s algorithms will use a mix of hashtags and topics to bring the most interesting subjects to the top.

Trending is Facebook’s way of leveraging the billions—trillions?—of pieces of information users offer up every day and making conversations more easily searchable. Trending topics sure are easier to navigate than Graph Search ever was.

Though Facebook initially tested Trending on mobile (and continues to do so), the feature is desktop-only for now.

The Greatest Comeback In History From Facebook

In what I believe is the greatest comeback to a bad article, Facebook has released a humorous article that Princeton will be gone by 2021.

This article is outstanding and kudos to Facebook for putting this out in response to that preposterous article by Princeton.   Read below:

Debunking Princeton

January 23, 2014 at 4:57pm
Like many of you, we were intrigued by a recent article by Princeton researchers predicting the imminent demise of Facebook. Of particular interest was the innovative use of Google search data to predict engagement trends, instead of studying the actual engagement trends. Using the same robust methodology featured in the paper, we attempted to find out more about this "Princeton University" - and you won't believe what we found!

In keeping with the scientific principle "correlation equals causation," our research unequivocally demonstrated that Princeton may be in danger of disappearing entirely. Looking at page likes on Facebook, we find the following alarming trend:

Now, Facebook isn't the only repository of human knowledge out there. A search of Google Scholar revealing a plethora of scholarly articles of great scholarliness turned up the following results, showing the percentage of articles matching the query "Princeton" by year:

The trend is similarly alarming: since 2009, the percentage of "Princeton" papers in journals has dropped dramatically.

Of course, Princeton University is primarily an institution of higher learning - so as long as it has students, it'll be fine. Unfortunately, in investigating this, we found a strong correlation between the undergraduate enrollment of an institution and its Google Trends index:

Sadly, this spells bad news for this Princeton entity, whose Google Trends search scores have been declining for the last several years:

This trend suggests that Princeton will have only half its current enrollment by 2018, and by 2021 it will have no students at all, agreeing with the previous graph of scholarly scholarliness. Based on our robust scientific analysis, future generations will only be able to imagine this now-rubble institution that once walked this earth.
While we are concerned for Princeton University, we are even more concerned about the fate of the planet — Google Trends for "air" have also been declining steadily, and our projections show that by the year 2060 there will be no air left:

As previous researchers [J. Sparks, 2008] have expressed in the past, this will have grievous consequences for the fate of all humanity, not just our academic colleagues in New Jersey.

Although this research has not yet been peer-reviewed, every Like for this post counts as a peer review. Start reviewing!

P.S. We don’t really think Princeton or the world’s air supply is going anywhere soon. We love Princeton (and air). As data scientists, we wanted to give a fun reminder that not all research is created equal – and some methods of analysis lead to pretty crazy conclusions.

Research by Mike Develin, Lada Adamic, and Sean Taylor.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Mass Decline In Facebook Report Says

I will post parts of the article about this massive decline in Facebook that is predicted. But I will first give my opinion as to why this is NOT going to happen.

1. Reach of Facebook.

The reach of Facebook is massive as everyone understands. They have 1 billion users so honestly they have nowhere to go but down.

2. User-base.

There are so many older folks that use Facebook as a means of communication to family members that are far away, or right down the street. Facebook in my opinion is the greatest and easiest way to show family pictures and to keep apprised of how they are doing. The demographics show such a large increase in users over 35 for Facebook.

3. Myspace argument.

Yes Myspace was large in its time. But the ease of use for a user over 30 with little to zero skills was terrible. Facebook is just easy. If you can read. You can use it.

So, yes Facebook will probably drop in user-base over time. But 80% as this article suggests???

No way Batman.

Here is the article.

Interest in Facebook has peaked and the social network could lose up to 80 percent of its users by 2017, researchers say.

Academics at Princeton University used theories on the spread of disease combined with Google Trends data on searches for Facebook to predict the demise of the world's largest social network.

"Facebook has already reached the peak of its popularity and has entered a decline phase," they concluded. "The future suggests that Facebook will undergo a rapid decline in the coming years, losing 80 percent of its peak user base between 2015 and 2017."

'Facebook will undergo a rapid decline in the coming years, losing 80 percent of its peak user base.'

- Princeton researchers

Facebook is worth $139 billion and has more than one billion users worldwide.

Researchers looked at the number of Google searches for Facebook, and found that they peaked in December 2012. A similar spike in searches was observed for Myspace months before it hit its peak in 2008, before heading into terminal decline.

The report said that every user who joins a social network expects to stay indefinitely, "but ultimately loses interest as their peers begin to lose interest."

They compared the decline of social networks to the spread of disease, adding: "Eventually, users begin to leave and recovery spreads infectiously as users begin to lose interest in the social network."

Professor Daniel Miller, of University College London, said simpler social networks such as Twitter and Snapchat would replace Facebook.

Analytics for Twitter Cards

Today we’re beginning to roll out analytics for Twitter Cards to help you understand how your Cards are performing.
Publishers, developers and brands around the world use Twitter Cards to make Tweets more engaging with pictures, videos, content previews, deep links into their apps, and other rich media experiences. Now for the first time you can gain insight into how your content is performing on Twitter, and find personalized tips to help make more strategic decisions about your use of Cards.
The Twitter Card analytics dashboard is designed to help you find what matters and take action.
Along the way, you’ll get insights on how to do even better. Small changes –– using a different Twitter Card, conversing more with the followers who love your content, or installing or changing the location of a Tweet button –– can make a big difference.
Special thanks goes out to our charter partners who played an integral role in shaping this product: BuzzFeed, NBC News, Time Inc., ESPN, MLB, Flipboard, Etsy, Foursquare, and Path.
Additionally, you’ll be able to access two other types of information about your account in the new Twitter Card analytics dashboard:
Tweets: See how Twitter users are engaging with all of your Tweets.
Tweet analytics
Followers: Get insight into who your followers are and the rate at which they’re growing. Identify spikes in follower activity and find a correlation in your Tweet activity.
Follower analytics
To get started with Twitter Card analytics, or if you’re already a card user or advertiser, sign in at or All Card users and advertisers will get access to the new dashboard over the next few days. Check out the Twitter Card analytics developer page for more information on how to become a cards user.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Google Adsense Direct

Frederic Lardinois writes that Google launched AdSense Direct, a new tool for publishers who – as the name implies – want to sell ads directly and aren't large enough to make dealing with the complexities of DoubleClick for Publishersworth their while.

This puts it into direct competition with iSocket, BuySellAds and other services that make it easier for smaller publishers to sell ads directly. This also marks Google’s first foray into this area of the advertising business for small publishers. AdSense, after all, has always been about programmatically choosing ads to display on a given site based on the content on the site and Google’s knowledge of what a specific reader is likely interested in.

With AdSense Direct, which is currently only available in the U.S., publishers can make deals with individual advertisers – no matter whether the publisher is on AdWords or not. Publishers can simply give potential advertisers a link to their AdSense Direct page and all the publishers have to do is upload their creative and pay for the ad.

Google takes a 15 percent cut from all AdSense Direct transactions. All invoicing and billing is handled through Google Wallet.

There are no upper or lower limits for the number of impressions served through one of these campaigns, by the way. Advertisers simply buy the space for a given day or longer time period, though campaigns can’t last longer than 90 days.

As a site becomes more popular, direct ad deals tend to be far more lucrative than just running basic AdSense ads. Google recommends a price when publishers set up a new campaign and the company says its research has shown that publishers can generally charge about 2.5x the price of a standard contextually targeted ad.

Facebook Tweaks News Feed Again

Chris Turitzin product manager at Facebook talks about the tweaks in the news feed.

The goal of every update to News Feed is to show people the most interesting stories at the top of their feed and display them in the best way possible. We regularly run tests to work out how to make the experience better. Through testing, we have found that when people see more text status updates on Facebook they write more status updates themselves. In fact, in our initial test when we showed more status updates from friends it led to on average 9 million more status updates written each day. Because of this, we showed people more text status updates in their News Feed.
Over time, we noticed that this effect wasn't true for text status updates from Pages. As a result, the latest update to News Feed ranking treats text status updates from Pages as a different category to text status updates from friends. We are learning that posts from Pages behave differently to posts from friends and we are working to improve our ranking algorithms so that we do a better job of differentiating between the two types. This will help us show people more content they want to see. Page admins can expect a decrease in the distribution of their text status updates, but they may see some increases in engagement and distribution for other story types.
Many Page owners often ask what kind of content they should post. This is difficult to answer, as it depends on who your audience is and what they want to see.
Still, one thing we've observed is that when some Pages share links on Facebook, they do so by embedding the link in the status update, like the one below:

The best way to share a link after this update will be to use a link-share, so it looks like the one below. We've found that, as compared to sharing links by embedding in status updates, these posts get more engagement (more likes, comments, shares and clicks) and they provide a more visual and compelling experience for people seeing them in their feeds.

In general, we recommend that you use the story type that best fits the message that you want to tell - whether that's a status, photo, link or video.
We'll continue to work to improve News Feed, and keep you posted here.