Facebook and Google Almost Level on Time Spent in Apps

forrester app reportFacebook and Google are almost neck-and-neck when it comes to consumer time spent within apps owned by their respective companies, with 13.4 and 12.5 per cent respectively, according to a new study.

The research, carried out by Forrester, surveyed nearly 2,000 US smartphone owners towards the end of 2014, and found that the two companies were the clear leaders when it came to smartphone minutes spent in apps.

Broken down by category, Facebook’s minutes were of course dominated by social networking, which took up 11.5 per cent of all minutes, with the rest of its time made up by communication and news.

Google’s spread was a lot more diverse. Video comprised the largest chunk, thanks to YouTube, at 4.8 per cent, but the remainder was spread between web browser, social networking, maps, email, communication and business productivity, a clear indicator of just how many pies Google has its fingers in.

The six largest tech firms only made up around 35 per cent of all app time overall, with Apple ranking surprisingly low, with only 2.5 per cent of all app time, most of it in device utilities, and only 0.2 per cent in web browser, reflecting the low adoption of its Safari browser.

The survey only included apps downloaded by users, not any native apps that are shipped with the phone based on the operating system, which goes some way to explain Apple’s poor showing. However, it does show how little its apps are actually chosen by consumers when they have the option of alternatives.

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Murphy’s Law: Bazaar But True

M's Law ReviewsI spent an entertaining afternoon at a customer event organised by Bazaarvoice last week. We’ve written about the company in the past. Essentially, it makes reviews happen, or to be more precise, it syndicates reviews left by users on a brand’s site so that they also appear on retailers’ websites who sell the product. When a brand implements the Bazaarvoice Conversations solution and agrees to be part of the Bazaarvoice network, reviews posted on the brand’s site are syndicated to the websites of any retailers that have also implemented the Bazaarvoice Conversations solution. It works the other way too, with reviews that have been posted on retailers’ websites syndicated to the brand’s website.

At the event, Bazaarvoice customers including Thomas Cook, Phillips, John Lewis and GHD (haircare) explained how they are using the platform and what sorts of results it is delivering for them.

Listening to them, I was struck by two things. Firstly, the stuff that normal human beings will spend time reviewing almost defies belief – the John Lewis spokesperson had a great story about a pillow getting bad reviews because the ducks whose feathers were used to fill it were smellier at some times of the year than others. The customer feedback, of course, helped to fix the problem.

In a break, I mentioned to the company’s CMO how amazed I was that people would take the time to review something as mundane as a pillow, or a vegetable. Commendably, she didn’t disagree.

Scientific approach
The second thing that struck me was how scientific the approach to harnessing the power of customer reviews now is among those companies that have bought into it, with email promotions encouraging users to leave a review, and reviews being incorporated into ad units for goods.

The GHD speaker explained how the clickthrough rate on one ad unit had increased significantly when it was tweaked to include a review from a customer in the shape of five stars and a one-line quote from the review. The CTR increased still further when the review was given greater prominence, bumped up immediately below the picture, above the tech spec and the price.

BazaarbannerIn a section of the event called ‘Shopper Marketing’ Bazaarvoice was showing those customers with bricks and mortar stores how they could bring the power of customer reviews in store, incorporating them on shelf-edge electronic POS units about the size of a satnav screen; traditional ‘wobblers’; and even the pop-up banners we all know and love from the events we all go to every week.

It all reminded me of a time in my youth when I was quite seriously into hi-fi. I used to read Hi-Fi Choice every month, whether I was in the market for any gear or not. If a piece of kit earned a prestigious ‘Editor’s Choice’ commendation, the brand behind it could order hundreds of triangular ‘Editor’s Choice’ cards that would then be draped over the item if you saw it for sale in a store.

What I saw in the Shopper Marketing section was exactly the same 30 years on, the key difference being that the recommendation doesn’t come from anyone with any authority to say whether the thing is good or bad, but from a regular member of the public.

Given the store that consumers seem to set by what their peers think about stuff, as opposed to what the people that make the stuff think about the stuff, I think the business Bazaarvoice is in looks like a good place to be.

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Toyota Drives Sales with Snapchat Ads

Toyota Camry and Corolla adsToyota has become the first automobile manufacturer to purchase ads on Snapchat, using geo-location to target users in Los Angeles as part of its ‘Let’s Go Places’ campaign that promotes its Camry and Corolla models.

The Snapchat ads are the latest evolution of the campaign, which has been running for almost three years, and will run alongside customised banners which incorporate city-specific information for 15,000 US cities, which will be running through Google’s DoubleClick ad network.

Both elements incorporate geo-location technology, enabling Toyota to personalise its messaging based on consumer’s positioning, and ensure the calls-to-action within the ads are relevant and engaging to their target audience.

“We want to encourage our guests to find new places and experience life all around them” said Jack Hollis, group vice president of marketing for Toyota Motor Sales. “It is a new approach for Toyota, and we are very excited about it.”

“We are really stoked about what we’ve been able to accomplish in this campaign,” said Jason Schragger, chief creative officer at Saatchi & Saatchi LA, who worked with Toyota on the campaign. “Clearly, there is always a bit of a challenge when you feature two vehicles in the same campaign, but I think we’ve discovered that we can highlight each of them while exploring the amazing experience that each make available to the driver.”

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Microsoft Sells Display Ad Tech to AOL and Maps to Uber

Microsoft Level39Microsoft is planning to dramatically streamline its online operations, selling its display advertising business to AOL and elements of its map-generating technology to Uber as it strips out parts of its business that have been losing money in recent years.

The sales indicate that Microsoft plans to focus on its growing search advertising business, powered by its Bing search engine, and will display maps on its Windows devices, rather than generating them itself.

Employees in the display advertising business will be offered the chance to transfer to AOL, although Microsoft has said that it is not planning on making any layoffs, suggesting that any who remain may be absorbed into the search ad unit or other areas of the business.

As part of the 10 year deal, AOL, which was recently bought by Verizon, will sell display ads on MSN, Outlook.com, Xbox, Skype and a number of apps in certain countries. In return, Bing will become the search engine of choice on AOL from the start of next year.

Microsoft also extended its multi-year agreement with AppNexus, which provides the tech platform used to purchase ads within its ecosystem.

“Microsoft and AOL share a commitment to customer service and collaboration, and together we will create a powerhouse media offering with a remarkable set of differentiated assets,” said Rik van der Kooi, vice president of advertising and consumer monetisation at Microsoft. “Our advertising customers will have one consistent experience as we transition our sales and trade marketing employees in these nine markets to AOL.”

The details of the deal with Uber were not disclosed, but Uber will take over the part of Microsoft’s mapping unit that works on map data processing and imagery acquisition, with the 100 or so employees working in that area to be offered roles at Uber.

Uber was one of the names rumoured to be interested in acquiring Nokia’s Here mapping unit earlier this year, suggesting that the firm is looking to strengthen its logistics business with more accurate mapping in its core cities.

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The Play’s The Thing With Samsung’s Shakespeare App

REshakespeare app logoSamsung has partnered with the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) and ad agency Cheil to launch a new app aimed at bringing the Bard to life for 11 to 18 year olds, with the help of famous actors and musicians.

The app, called RE:Shakespeare, includes interactive games and videos and hopes to help students appreciate Shakespeare’s plays by breaking up long scenes into bite-sized chunks that can be reinterpreted, remixed and performed in unique ways.

The app is ‘hosted’ by RSC ambassador David Tennant, and also features actress Tamsin Greig, director Iqbal Khan, beatboxing artist Shlomo, and rapper and poet Akala. Users can create their own Dubsmash-style music videos, mixing in Shlomo’s beats with Shakespearean verse to create tracks.

The app also enables users to perform on a virtual stage with 360-degree immersive video, shot on the Royal Shakespeare Theatre’s stage at Stratford-upon-Avon, and provides pupils with tools to get to grips with Shakespearean language.

“Even 400 years on Shakespeare remains Britain’s preeminent playwright,” said Catherine Mallyon, executive director of the RSC. “As the only named writer that all children must study between the ages of 11 and 18, our mission to inspire students and teachers is more important than ever.

“The RE:Shakespeare app helps people to relate to Shakespeare and his themes in a whole new way. Once people start drawing comparisons between the plays and their own experiences, they will find Shakespeare even more accessible.”

“This campaign merges education and entertainment to create an immersive, engaging and fun way for young people to learn,” said Russell Taylor, chief marketing officer at Samsung UK and Ireland. “It showcases how Samsung’s technology is brought to life in a relevant and accessible way.”

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Ooyala Acquires Media Logistics Firm Nativ

ooyalaVideo ad tech company Ooyala has bought London-based startup Nativ, which provides cloud-based media logistics and workflow software and services for media production, delivery and workflow.

The acquisition is Ooyala’s second within nine months, following its purchase of video ad tech provider Videoplaza in October, which occurred shortly after Ooyala itself was bought by Australian telecoms company Telstra.

The acquisition of Nativ expands Ooyala’s technology stack into video production, post-production and broadcast planning for hybrid over-the-top and on-air video services, enabling it to manage video content end-to-end and across multiple devices.

“The new TV marketplace can’t be serviced by legacy broadcast business systems,” said Jay Fulcher, president and CEO at Ooyala. “New data-driven technologies and services will transform the way broadcasters, media companies and brands operate in the era of multi-screen consumption.

“A transformation of this scale represents massive opportunity for the innovators that can drive new, future-proofed standards. Nativ’s Mio platform puts Ooyala even further at the forefront of providing a true end-to-end platform that can serve all video business needs end to end, from production through monetisation.”

The Mio platform includes capabilities for managing multiscreen ad campaign workflows and sophisticated data management, enabling companies to model, gather and manage data across their entire value chain.

“For Nativ, becoming part of Ooyala enables us to catapult our business into a new phase of rapid growth, at global scale,” said Jon Folland, CEO of Nativ, who will remain part of the Ooyala executive team. “We have a very strong shared vision for enabling the world’s broadcasters and media companies to more easily, and more profitably, adapt to the major shifts in TV industry technologies and business models.”

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MasterCard Unlocks Parking Meters for Hyperlocal Offers

city connectorMasterCard has unveiled a new software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution in partnership with Parkeon called City Connector that enables people to access coupons for local businesses via on-street parking meters.

The solution allows local businesses to reach potential customers in a hyper-local way, able to publish offers, manage entire campaigns and specify targeting criteria to ensure a relevant and customised experience for consumers.

The first implementation of the platform will be in Las Vegas’ Downtown Container Park, a new retail destination similar to London’s Boxpark Shoreditch. 16 interactive kiosks will go live today, with offers from nearby participating stores and restaurants.

The system requires no registration or sign-up, enabling people parking their car or just walking by to scroll through offers on interactive displays on the parking meters, which can also print out any deals that consumers select

“MasterCard is at the heart of smart city development, said Will Judge, head of urban mobility at MasterCard. “We partner with innovative municipalities and companies around the world to realise unfulfilled potential across cities, ultimately transforming the urban experience for citizens and visitors.”

“City Connector will provide a new and innovative way for Las Vega to deliver value to our citizens and to support the local business community,” said Brandy Stanley, parking services manager for the City of Las Vegas. “By guiding people from their cars directly to local businesses, it totally rethinks the concept of a parking meter.

“We are excited to see the impact it will have on the Downtown Container Park and the businesses that have enrolled in the service.”

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EU to End Data Roaming Charges by 2017

Airport businessman using phoneData roaming charges are set to be abolished within the European Union by June 2017, the European Parliament has announced, with companies given 14 months to reduce charges down to zero.

The agreement, reached in the early hours of today, will also require telecom operators to treat most kinds of internet traffic equally, cementing some of the principles of net neutrality within European law.

From April 2016, network operators will still be able to add surcharges, but will be limited to €0.05 (£0.04) extra per minute for calls, €0.02 extra per SMS sent and €0.05 extra per megabyte of data used. According to the European Commission, this cap will ensure roaming is 75 per cent cheaper during the interim period.

The agreement comes after years of campaigning to cut roaming charges within the EU and define EU nations’ approach to net neutrality and the regulation of internet traffic. Initial proposals were put forward in March, but the agreement passed is considered stronger than the March plans.

“This is a great success for the European Union and the Latvian presidency,” said Anrijs Matīss, the Latvian Minister for Transport. “The Latvian presidency has put a lot of effort into finalising the Telecom Single Market proposal – we revived the proposal from scratch and reached agreement. This would not have been possible without the commitment and constructive approach of the member states, the European Parliament and the European Commission.”

“Plans to abolish roaming charges by mid-2017 are good news for mobile users across the continent, and signifies a natural end-point to gradual price reductions enforced by the EU since 2007,” said Adrian Baschnonga, lead telecoms analyst at EY. “However, new net neutrality guidelines may still present challenges in terms of implementation.

“While operators have the scope to prioritise certain types of traffic, such as IPTV, as a route to greater service innovation, there may be penalties for breaching this nuanced set of open internet rules. What these guidelines and penalties will actually look like, and how they will be policed and enforced, is yet to be seen so there could be a sting in the tail for operators.”

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Facebook Rolls Out New Video Options for Marketers

facebook video news feedFacebook will soon be offering marketers the option to pay for video ads only when users view them for at least 10 seconds, the social network has announced. The feature will be rolled out next week, along with updates to the News Feed algorithm that could see more video content in user’s feeds.

Currently, Facebook charges marketers on a cost-per-impression basis, but many advertisers have been demanding more ways to ensure that customers have actually seen their video messages.

The new 10-second option will not be the standard for video advertising, but an option that marketers can select when buying ad space. As Facebook ads are sold on auction basis, it’s likely these 10-second spots will end up more expensive, as marketers pay out to ensure viewability.

According to the Wall Street Journal, while Facebook is offering the option, it also doesn’t believe it is the best way to buy video advertising on the platform, because value is created even when users view ads for three seconds.

“We strongly believe in giving marketers flexibility over how they buy video ads, and we listened to feedback which is why we’re offering the new cost-per-view option,” said a Facebook spokesperson. “We don’t believe it’s the best option in terms of capturing the best value and brand objectives marketers care about, but we want to give them control and choice over how they buy.”

Facebook has also announced that it is altering its News Feed algorithm to take into account users who prefer viewing video content. Previously, the company measured viewing time, likes and shares to track user preferences. Now, the algorithm will also take into account turning the sound on for auto-play videos, and enlarging videos to full-screen mode.

The move is similar to one made by the company earlier this month, when it began to take the amount of time spent reading any given story into account for shared text and photo content on the News Feed.

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The Weather Channel Introduces Self Service Ad Portal

twc_selfservice_header2The Weather Channel UK has launched a new Self Service Advertising Portal for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), aimed at giving these businesses the opportunity to set up weather-triggered local ad campaigns, targeting consumers across its portfolio include its Android and iOS apps.

The self-service portal offers SMEs a platform to run their own ad campaigns and promote their business in distinct locations, with targeting capabilities including weather triggers, postal code and TV region, as well as contextual targeting.

The platform also enables businesses to create bespoke creative using the custom ad engine, which has the capability to design over 100 variations of style, colour and context in as little as 30 seconds.

“The Weather Channel UK has been successfully providing geo-location targeted advertising for a number of years so this is the next step for us to be able to help the UK’s small and medium-sized enterprises on a local level,” said Ross Webster, managing director of international sales at The Weather Channel.

“Our new portal is an exciting way for SMEs to communicate with their customers around key weather moments for the first time. SMEs contribute billions of pounds of revenue to the UK economy every year and our new portal will help boost the efficiency of their marketing spend at all levels, from creative through to targeting.”

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