Monthly Archives: June 2015

Brands and mobile ads: The $25B opportunity waiting to be tapped (report)


As a research analyst, you spend a lot of time with data. One of the first things you do upon encountering new research data is pick apart the methodology and look for any kind of bias.

I recently looked at new data illustrating the time, activity, and consumer behaviors on mobile devices, and I’ve found it to be both staggering and irrefutable.

Boy, do we love our “second” screens. So much so that they can no longer be called our second screens. They’re our “first” screens now. We spend more time with our mobile devices than we do watching our TVs. They’re even our number one Google searching tool.

It begs the question: Why haven’t brands caught on?

Last year, 2.1 billion mobile users downloaded over 350 billion apps, and spent around 76 percent more time on their device than the year previous. And yet, in Mary Meeker’s yearly trend report, the industry is still under-spending on mobile ads by around $25 billion.


Still, within that opportunity gap there are brands taking advantage, and they’re finding ways to win. So we created an extensive research report outlining exactly how.

It’s abundantly clear that we’re on the edge of a major shift in marketing and advertising. But the challenges are massive for brands trying to effectively engage consumers.

“The mobile ad ecosystem is like a giant Plinko game,” said John Koetsier, the author of the report and VB Insight head of research. “Advertisers toss in $100 at the top, and after going through data management platforms, ad agencies, networks, and supply-side platforms, they’re lucky if $60 actually gets spent on true placement of their ads.”

But new VB Insight research shows that if you can deliver an ad to a consumer that is targeted to his or her needs and desires at just the right time and in just the right way, 49 percent of Americans will give you their attention. Seventeen percent will engage with a well-placed ad to determine whether it’s worthy of further action, and 24 percent will actively check out the product or service you’re offering.

That sure beats the heck out of the 0.06% engagement most brands can expect with traditional display advertising.

The supply side of the industry (technology vendors) is only just starting to mature, and it may soon get easier for brands to trust that their ad investments will pay off.

“There are something like 1,000 ad networks, adding to the immense complexity of this space, so the biggest opportunity for vendors is to consolidate the stack — ad network, data, supply aggregation, demand aggregation, attribution, and fraud detection — so that advertisers just have to deal with fewer vendors,” Koetsier said.

Messaging platforms are likely to evolve into multipurpose content hubs. This means even more opportunity for brands, with the number of individual mobile “sessions” continuing to skyrocket. It turns out, one of the absolute crucial keys to mobile ad success is helping the ad networks with as much personalized data as possible — finding not just ‘one-time’ clickers, but long-term, repeat customers through mobile ads.

The new VB Insight report goes into depth on each of the 12 ways brands are succeeding with mobile advertising. It also explores five ways they’re failing. The report is based on an analysis of over 500 million mobile ad impressions in multiple studies, and a survey of 1,501 Americans.


Facebook made a huge move this week that could lead to its next billion-dollar business


Earlier this week, Facebook made a big change to its chat app, Messenger: It’s no longer requiring people to have a Facebook account to join.

On the surface, that’s exciting for people who don’t want to join Facebook, but still want a non-SMS-based way to communicate with their friends.

Mostly though, it’s a huge business opportunity for Facebook itself.

Most simply because Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said that the company believes in waiting until its products hit 1 billion users before focusing on turning them into meaningful businesses.

Before this update, the app had roughly 700 million users (after adding 100 million new ones in only three months). The change could create another spike in user sign-ups, bringing Messenger closer to that magic “1 billion” landmark.


And we’re already starting to see hints of those monetization efforts. Facebook introduced peer-to-peer payments on Messenger in May. Because the company isn’t charging anything per transaction, it doesn’t make the company any money just yet. However, it is potentially getting a bunch of credit cards on file.

That means that sometime in the not-too-distant future, it would be very easy for Facebook to start letting users buy other things through Messenger, like stickers or gifts for their friends (both of which are big businesses for other, international chat apps).

The company has also started letting third-party software developers create apps to run inside Messenger.

Right now, all of the apps are free and we haven’t seen any with in-app purchases from which Facebook could take a cut. But that probably won’t always be the case.

The company also announced during its developers’ conference in March that it was going to start letting brands and businesses use Messenger to send customers receipts or shipping updates for products they bought or handle any other customer-service issues.

If Facebook can find a way to make messaging between consumers and businesses effective and valuable for both, it will likely find a way to squeeze some money from brands in the process. Especially if almost every one of those brands’ customers has Messenger — which is more likely now that they don’t also have to have a Facebook account.


China criticises US human rights record


China says racial discrimination and police abuses are rife in the United States, in a report which counters US criticisms of China’s own human rights record.

In a report sourced mainly from US media, China said the US was “haunted by spreading guns, frequent occurrence of violent crimes, the excessive use of force by police”.

It said that US intelligence had used “indiscriminate” torture against terrorist suspects, while “violating human rights in other countries” with drone strikes and mass surveillance programmes.

The report also cited the killing of black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and other cases in which African Americans were shot and killed by white police officers.

The document is released each year by China the day after the US state department issues its annual global human rights report. Beijing does not release rights reports on other countries.

Human rights have long been a source of tension between the world’s two largest economies, especially since 1989, when the US imposed sanctions on China after a bloody crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators around Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.

China has long rejected criticism of its rights’ record, saying providing food, clothing, housing and economic growth are far more relevant for developing countries, pointing to its success at lifting millions out of poverty.

Friday’s document, released by China’s State Council, or cabinet, largely cited US domestic media websites, including the New York Times, which is blocked by Beijing as part of its internet censorship programme.

Washington’s own report on Thursday said that in China “repression and coercion were routine, particularly against organisations and individuals involved in civil and political rights advocacy”.

It also noted Beijing’s continued repression of ethnic Uighurs and Tibetans.

Source: Agencies

SanDisk’s Insane 200GB MicroSD Is Now Available for Purchase


Unveiled back in March at MWC in Barcelona, SanDisk’s monstrous 200GB microSD card is finally available for purchase, although it’ll cost you about as much as a decent mid-range Android handset when purchased off-contract.

Priced by SanDisk at $249.99, the Ultra 200GB microSD card is already listed as in stock on Amazon, where it can be purchased for a slightly better price, $239.44

In case that’s too-steep a price for you, SanDisk’s new Ultra microSD cards also come in smaller capacities, which are significantly cheaper. Prices start at $6.95for the 8GB model and go all the way up to $78.99 for the 128GB version – the latter actually sounds like a steal compared to the 200GB option.

Head over at Amazon  to check out SanDisk’s new Ultra 200GB microSD listings, and all the other options available from the memory maker.


Facebook Has A Tool That Lets You Rainbow-ify Your Profile Pic


While same-sex marriage has been legalized over the years in different states across the country, not all states are on board. However it seems that it will no longer matter as the US Supreme Court has handed down a historical ruling in which they are striking down the ban on same-sex marriage, calling the bans unconstitutional.

What does this mean? Basically it means that even if a state had previously banned it, the Supreme Court’s ruling means that ban has since been overturned and it is now legal to get married to someone of the same gender in the entire country. This is good news and it is also why a lot of companies have changed their logo to the rainbow.which is the symbol of the LGBT community.

That being said if you want to show your support for this historical ruling, Facebook has created a tool to allow you to do so. All you’d have to do is surf on over to its Celebrate Pride page in which an opaque rainbow design will be overlaid on your existing profile photo, thus making it easy for users to show their support without having to do the editing themselves.

Facebook isn’t the only company that is showing their support. Google has started displaying the rainbow colors on its search pages related to the topic at hand, and Apple has started to promote LGBT content on its App Store as well.


The 25 happiest countries in the world


Panama, Costa Rica, and Puerto Rico are full of people who feel pretty good about life.

The 2014 Gallup-Healthways Well-Being ranking is based on a global survey of about 146,000 people. Respondents are asked about different aspects of how they feel about their lives. Gallup and Healthways combine those into five major dimensions:

Purpose: Feeling good about what you do and that you can achieve your goals

Social: Having strong relationships with others

Financial: Having low economic stress and high economic security

Community: Liking where you live

Physical: Having good health

The main ranking is based on the percentage of people in a country who are “thriving” in at least three of those five categories. The Americas were the most overall thriving region in the world in 2014, while China and sub-Saharan Africa did worse in the ranking:
Here are the 25 countries that scored the highest in the overall ranking:



Google’s self-driving buggies hit the roads of California


Google’s adapted self-driving cars have already been cruising the streets of California for several years, but now the tech giant’s dedicated autonomous buggies are mingling with traffic for the first time in the Golden State. These cars have been built by Google from scratch to test the future of transport out in the real world.

“The arrival of our new self-driving vehicle prototypes marks the start of a new phase of our project,” says Google. “We want to understand what it really means to have self-driving vehicles in the world – both how people in the community perceive and interact with them, and what the practical realities are for us in operating and maintaining them.”

The new cars are limited to a top speed of 25mph and all have a human driver on board. They’re fitted with a removable steering wheel and accelerator and brake pedals, though ultimately Google says it wants to do away with all these traditional driving controls to make the vehicles fully autonomous.

That won’t be for some time yet, and in the meantime the company is inviting feedback on the next phase of its self-driving car adventure. If you spot a Google vehicle causing or avoiding chaos on the roads there’s a feedback form you can fill in. Google has also started delivering monthly reports detailing the performance of its cars as well as any accidents they’re involved in.


You’ll Never Guess the New Camera Tech Rumored to Hit Apple’s iPhone 7


Apple has been working on dual-lens cameras for its iPhone for at least three years, a report from China claims, although performance issues and supply chain problems may have prevented it from using such a camera array in wildly popular iPhone line. That might change in the future, as a new report claims the iPhone maker has fixed both problems.

Taiwanese publication Business Weekly says a dual-camera rear camera isn’t expected in the iPhone 6s family this year, but future generations might get it. Apple has reportedly corrected technical problems resulting in blurred images taken with the new camera assembly with help of LinX Imaging, an Israeli company Apple purchased for $20 million in April.

In other words, Apple might follow HTC’s lead; the company’s 2014 flagship One M8 featured a dual-lens camera.

A deal with Largan may provide Apple enough dual-camera assemblies for a future iPhone model, something that wasn’t possible in the past. Largan recently confirmed it’s doubling production capacity, and the company is rumored to have secured 80% of iPhone 6s camera lens orders.

The iPhone 7, if it’s indeed going to be the first iPhone to have two cameras on the back, won’t be the first smartphone to sport this type of setup. In fact, other device makers are also rumored to be planning dual-camera setups for future devices, including Samsung and HTC (again), though nothing is confirmed just yet.

From a different point of view, the iPhone 7 is more likely to feature significant design changes rather than iPhone 6s, which should offer a similar design to its predecessor. In terms of the camera, this year’s iPhones are rumored to have 12-megapixel sensors, which would make them the first iPhones in a few years to get a bump up from 8 megapixels.

Apple already has a number of photo-related patents including documentation that describes dual-sensor cameras – this patent was awarded to Apple in July 2013.


Elton John, Pharrell, Drake to join Apple’s Beats 1 as DJs


With all the hubbub over Apple Music and Taylor Swift and how artists will be paid finally settled, Apple is likely eager to focus on next week’s launch of Beats 1, the live radio station. While it’s already known that former BBC Radio 1 DJ Zane Lowe will be the primary host of the service, it seems Apple has also lined up several celebrity musicians to host their own shows. The New York Times has reported that Elton John, Drake, and Pharrell are among those signed up.

Beats 1 has been described as alternating between 1 and 2-hour blocks for programming. Zane Lowe, along with Ebro Darden and Julie Adenuga, are said to handle the main weekday shows. In addition to Elton John, Drake, and Pharrell, other musicians who will host shows include Josh Homme, Disclosure, St. Vincent, and Dr. Dre, one of the original Beats co-founders. Also involved is actor Jaden Smith.

The New York Times only revealed details about Elton John’s programming, which is said to be called “Elton John’s Rocket Hour.” His show was described as being a mix of old and new music. Drake and Pharrell are already involved in the launch of Apple Music, with the former was an on-stage presenter at Apple’s WWDC event earlier this month, and the latter is releasing the song to be exclusive to Apple Music.

As for other programming, it was revealed that Zane Lowe will be conducting a number of on-air, high-profile interviews, similar to what he did at BBC Radio 1. Lowe has confirmed that his first interview will be with Eminem, however it has already been recorded. Beats 1 is set to debut with the launch of Apple Music on June 30th.


You can now use Facebook Messenger without a Facebook account


Facebook Messenger is putting more distance between itself and the social network that created it: you can now run the Messenger app on its own without a Facebook account. Or at least, you can if you live in the US, Canada, Peru or Venezuela.

We’d expect more countries to join that rather limited list in the near future but it shows that Facebook is ready to swiftly adapt to the changing habits of users. Everyone’s parents are on Facebook now, which is why the kids are swarming to the likes of Snapchat and WhatsApp instead.

That’s the same WhatsApp that’s owned by Facebook of course.

Instant messaging looked to have died off not so long ago, but private one-to-one apps such as WhatsApp and Line are now phenomenally popular, and Facebook wants a big slice of that market – whether or not you’re signed up for the main site.

This is going to be helpful to new users in developing nations who might not want to join up for the full-fat Facebook experience – as well as the rest of us who don’t necessarily want our whole Facebook contacts list available in the Messenger app.

It also extends an olive branch to those who’ve had enough and quit Mark Zuckerberg’s social network. Now all you need to get started with Messenger is a phone number, and you can still send photos and make calls as well as sending text messages.


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