Blog : Technology

Examine your User Experience (UX)

Examine your User Experience (UX)

A user experience is “the totality of the experience of a user when visiting a website”.

In recent years, improving the user experience (UX) has been prioritized by many companies. Shop Direct CEO Alex Baldock has said that when it comes to retail, “relevance wins”. A personalized online experience holds an appeal that is impossible to replicate in a physical store.

Recommendations or specific content based on details like previous purchases pique audience interest. This increases the likelihood of future visits and higher revenue. It adds a human element to the online experience.

Improvements in UX are intuitive. For example, an online retailer will learn to stop recommending winter coats to a customer if they begin to browse swimsuits. This kind of reactive change based on consumer behavior has been implemented by Amazon, Netflix, Facebook, LinkedIn, and nearly every other major online presence.

According to Invesp, retailers that utilize customer information to cultivate an individualized experience see a 56% boost in repeat sales. When done discretely, customers appreciate the increased ease of use that this provides.

Yet, 71% of companies do not use this technology. This is a missed opportunity for wider consumer appeal. In this crowded market, appealing to one’s audience over the competition is extremely important. Failing to adapt to new technology can lead to obsolescence.

The data harvested by mobile apps only heighten a company’s ability to tailor a personalized UX. Location-based advertising and push notifications allow for more opportunities to attract customers. Discovering when and how a customer interacts with your content help you to learn how to market to them. Targeted content helps your brand in becoming relevant to any user.

What consumers want most from a company’s online faction is ease of use. Flashy graphics and interactive content can be nice, but do nothing to simplify the experience. Your site or app only needs to succeed in selling itself. Working to create a user-oriented experience should be your main focus.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the cost of information

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the cost of information

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been a growing field for decades, but the uprise in virtual assistants in the home has opened a new channel of advertising. With it comes new challenges. Virtual assistants, like Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa, give consumers a hands-free, hassle-free way of looking up information, keeping track of their plans for the day, or even trying new recipes. But the marketing industry has been hit hard by consumers’ new ability to make purchases or browse the internet without being exposed to a traditional advertisement.

AI brings both benefits and pitfalls to the marketplace. Marketers have new tools at their disposal, but they’ve also been given quite a few hurdles to jump through.

Pros of AI:

  • Virtual assistant devices offer better, more precise data that’s willingly volunteered by consumers. For example, Amazon gets detailed, individualized data with every task Alexa takes on.
  • AI creates a discrete form of advertising that doesn’t feel like a marching band of business owners trying to sell you their products. For example, ask Alexa to buy you a soda, and she immediately suggests the top two products, one of them being a 24-pack of Izze Sparkling Juice drinks. Izze drinks are getting quick advertising to interested customers disguised as a casual conversation. Consumers don’t recognize advertising as easily in this new and unmarked territory.

Cons:

  • Now that consumers are able to order a new product or search something on the internet without even pushing a button, the emphasis on digital marketing is threatened. Desktop and mobile devices have been the biggest platforms for reaching consumers. Only time will tell how AI will modify the relationship between customers and new businesses.
  • AI devices are always listening to all sound sources in the home, waiting to be activated. AI marketing is supposed to be the next big leap in marketing, but what information is gathered, how, and what happens to that data? What price are customers willing to pay for those advancements. Privacy in our homes is guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Will consumers give up that right by agreeing to a software licensing agreement? Sometimes, with no marked path to follow, a fresh line will need to be drawn when it comes to what is ethical and what is business-savvy.

AI emphasizes the importance of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) more than anything. Recommendations by virtual assistants like Alexa and Siri are based on the top results in search engines. Making sure that your service or product is at the top of the list will allow your business to wedge its way into those recommendations. AI management of various details in our lives can be a great asset. The question becomes, “what will be the cost of that growth?”

Google addresses download speeds with Instant Apps

Google addresses download speeds with Instant Apps

In 2016, Google announced that they were releasing Instant Apps on Android devices. The feature became available on select devices in January this year, but it’s expected that it will be available on all Android devices very soon. The rollout will allow users to access certain apps without downloading them to their mobile device. This new feature has caused a lot of controversies — especially for app owners, who earn revenue from users paying for downloads. However, Instant Apps could also create new opportunities for marketers to reach a larger audience.

Instant Apps will work much like Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) in that the pages will pre-download content for a faster experience for the user. Content will download as the user approaches it, rather than the whole page loading in advance. This means users are more likely to stay on the app because they’re not waiting to interact with the content: 47% of users expect a page to load in 2 seconds or less.

This new feature will enable you to widen the top of your funnel and allow more users to interact with your app. An Instant App will act like a lite version of the pre-existing app, so new users who normally would not engage with your content get a taste of the full version and be encouraged to download it. Google also believes that the new feature will act as an “acquisition strategy” and boost downloads in the long run because the Instant Apps will be easily shareable. For example, by including a link to your app in an email campaign, users can engage with the app immediately without having to download it. There are fewer barriers between the user and your content.

Instant Apps could create both new opportunities and new complications for mobile marketers. Which way the scale leans will depend on how users interact with the new feature and how it will affect app downloads.

Data visualization

Data visualization

Data visualization tools create graphic representations of business data to make information understandable and meaningful. By doing so, they can bring insight to your marketing strategies and shed light on trends, patterns, and possible changes that affect your business. These insights change with growing technology. The modern visualization tools make viewing data simpler, more accessible, and easier to apply to your marketing strategy.

These tools essentially allow you to look at data from a bird’s eye view. The wider scope means more accurate results. So instead of taking a small sample of data and applying it to your larger consumer audience, you can rake through your entire customer database for more precise results.

Data visualization also gives you the freedom to uncover trends within highly specified categories in your customer database. You can analyze customer data based on purchase history, demographic, or response rates to campaigns and use it as you fine-tune future strategies. The tools even give you the ability to study correlations between specific services or products so you can personalize future offers to your customers.

One of the primary reasons data visualization is important is that it helps to draw meaningful conclusions from the data and make the most of the numbers. By doing so, it can reveal patterns and trends and give hints into upcoming opportunities to interact with your consumer audience. This is especially significant because it not only gives you a direction in which you can move forward; it also gives insight into previous campaigns. Getting a more granular knowledge of your strategy can show you where you’re wasting money and where to focus your spending in the future.

Data visualization tools do all of this while cutting down on time and resources. There’s no longer a need to hire a specialized IT worker to sift through the numbers. Even marketers with a very basic knowledge of analytics can easily navigate and react to the system.

As technology rapidly advances, data visualization allows for more complex analytics at an almost instantaneous rate. Quite literally, it allows you to do more with less by giving you a more comprehensive analysis of your data with fewer resources.

Live streaming video

Live streaming video

Live stream video is the superpower of the video marketing world. It offers the potential of a memorable marketing video while multiplying engagement with its interactive nature. Viewers can respond to the video in real-time, creating a conversation between customer and company. Unlike other forms of media that are strategized, planned, and produced, live stream video has a natural feel that allows customers to see a company in an organic environment.

Why use live stream video?

Live video ultimately creates the illusion of a face-to-face interaction. You may not have time to sit down individually with each of your customers, but through live video, you can make them feel as though you have. It embraces conversation and develops a dialogue between a company and its customers. Unlike the thousands of other advertisements that consumers are exposed to daily, live streaming doesn’t leave room for edits, coverups, or patches. The format provides transparency — a characteristic that continues to hold more power with each year.

How to get started with live streaming video:

  • Ditch the script. Micro-organizing everything can make your video appear stiff and rehearsed. Take advantage of the organic nature of live video by finding the healthy balance between preparation and improvisation.
  • Bring in a fresh voice. Do interviews, ask others’ opinions, or create a mock panel. Changing things up gives a unique perspective and keeps consumers engaged and interested.
  • Have fun. It’s okay to crack a joke or stumble over your words. Be willing to be spontaneous, and let your customers get to know you.

Top trends in live streaming video:

  • Q&A sessions give the illusion of a face-to-face conversation. Consumers have a short attention span, but live video creates an environment that fosters immediacy. They’re much more likely to ask a question in this type of environment than they are to email someone and wait for a reply.
  • Customer supportAWeber hosts “office hours” during which customers can ask questions directly during live streaming. These office hours are scheduled and consistent, while still maintaining the feel of a personal conversation.
  • Special announcements — Announcing a new product or feature via live video helps build anticipation and excitement. Your customers are much more likely to get pumped about the big news when they see that you are.
  • Live events — Giving consumers a glimpse of a live event builds excitement and encourages customers to celebrate with you.
  • Behind-the-scenes looks — Giving a sneak peek of what goes on behind the curtain not only peaks curiosity; it also develops loyalty because customers feel knowledgeable about the company.

Research shows that consumers will watch a live video eight times longer than an on-demand video. Its unique personality cuts through the clutter of other forms of media and likely will continue growing as digital technology develops.

Accelerated Mobile Pages

Accelerated Mobile Pages

It’s been a year since Google introduced the Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) project — a collaborative initiative that substantially decreases the loading time for mobile web pages. The project focuses on minimizing the code for static content (content that doesn’t change based on user behavior) to make pages load almost instantaneously. A regular mobile page takes seven seconds on average to load, but AMP pages take less than half a second. As consumer audiences’ attention spans get shorter and shorter, the ability to deliver content immediately is a precious tool to gain loyalty.

It’s no secret that faster loading content is appealing to consumers. The desire for instant gratification is a key characteristic of young consumers that comes with the rapid growth of technology. But AMP provides just as much to content publishers as it does to mobile device users. When companies join the AMP project, it gives them the ability to guarantee fast content to their users, creating a reliability that will continue to build trust over time. Consumers come back to the brands they trust, and if they know your company gives immediate accessibility to your content, they’re likely to return.

More than that, AMP pages are prioritized by search engines. Between two identical pages — one that uses HTML and one that uses the slimmed-down AMP HTML — the AMP version will rank higher up in the search engine results.

This stripped version of HTML shows itself in a few different ways. First, it prioritizes content that needs to be loaded first so that users can begin reading content immediately. For example, the text is going to load before images appear. And to make it even faster, images won’t actually load until the user scrolls to their location on the page. AMP also loads the layout of the page in advance to keep the page from loading more content — and making the page jump around — as the user is trying to engage with the content. Lastly, AMP only allows asynchronous JavaScript to run on its pages instead of waiting for everything to load at once.

Organizations worldwide are realizing the significance of the AMP project. Earlier this month it was announced that AMP was being adopted by Yahoo Japan and two other Chinese search engines as well. Publishers that have already been using AMP for a while have reported  that AMP pages get more on-site time, higher user engagement, and better monetization. Growing support for the project suggests that this young initiative won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.

Object-Based Targeting

Object-Based Targeting

Object-based targeting allows companies to focus the content of an advertisement to match the content posted by a consumer. If you post pictures of dogs, this technology will marry canine-themed advertisements to appear in your social media.

With real-time social media playing such a big role in the lives of consumers, it was only a matter of time before somebody grabbed ahold of the reigns on real-time advertising. Snap Inc. took a big leap last year by patenting a new technology that will change real-time advertisements in a central way. The technology will allow advertisers to target Snapchat users in a uniquely personal way.

Snap Inc.’s object-based targeting will enable advertisers to promote their product based on the content that Snapchat user posts to their account. If a user snaps an image of a new pair of Nikes, they’re likely to see ads for footwear.

Snap Inc. has yet to enable the technology on Snapchat, but it’s expected that the new features will bring in a significant revenue increase and user growth. In fact, they expect to make between $500 million and $1 billion in 2017 — a big jump from the $59 million they made in 2015.

Consumers repeatedly respond more to image-based advertisements than to written content, so object-based targeting offers a way to speak the language of your consumer audience. Behind Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram are the top social media sites. Both of these rely almost completely on visual content. Not only is it more engaging, but visual content makes your advertisement more memorable. Research shows that when people listen to information, they’ll remember 10% of the information three days later. If that information is paired with a relevant image, they’ll remember 65% of the information three days later.

Snapchat’s new feature will mean that advertisements can be targeted even more specifically than they already are. Advertisers will be able to respond to users automatically and instantaneously, virtually serving up a user’s interests on a silver platter.

Push Notifications, How They Drive Engagement in Mobile Apps

Push Notifications, How They Drive Engagement in Mobile Apps

An ever-growing mobile audience is challenging the mechanisms needed for marketers to interact with the audience’s fluid movement. Desktop Marketing finds itself struggling to keep up with the quick pace and instantaneous engagement on mobile devices. Despite the statistic that desktop still accounts for 42% of internet time. Web push notifications, also known as browser push notifications, are a new channel of marketing that brings the personalization of the mobile medium to the desktop.

Web push notifications are pop-up messages from a website that, when clicked, send the user to a specific link (for example, a new blog post). They’re not the same thing as web notifications, which are active only on an open web page. Instead, web push acts much like mobile application notifications, which are initiated only when the user gives permission to receive them. After the user gives permission, the company can send push notifications at any time, even if the website isn’t open in the browser.

A clean example of this is when a newspaper can notify its readers about the content of the most recently posted story. This immediate interaction helps to provide additional context to the story at hand.

Unlike the more common medium of email marketing, web push allows websites to engage users without having their contact information. Users are more likely to opt-in to the push notifications because they’re generally less invasive and make it easier to unsubscribe. Research has shown that less than 10% of users who opt-in for web push notifications unsubscribe within a year. This is despite the ease of opting out.

These are not the only benefits to using web push notifications:

  • Web push notifications deliver immediately to users, eliminating the possibility of being sent to a spam folder, like email.
  • Web push notifications have conversion rates 30 times that of email.
  • Push notifications are less content-heavy (generally between 40-120 characters) and better appeal to the shortened attention span of the consumer audience.
  • Web push offers the benefit of mobile app push notifications without investing money in developing an app.

Web push is supported by Safari 7.0.3, Chrome 42, and Mozilla Firefox. The channel continues to grow, pushing email marketing to the wayside and offering companies a more direct and concise avenue of communication with consumers. While there is yet to be much research on the direct success rate of websites using web push notifications, it is expected that it will be close to that of push notifications in mobile apps, which boost engagement by a notable 88%.

Web push notifications allow for a low-profile and noninvasive way to communicate with customers. Its low cost makes it a great investment for small and medium-sized businesses, so we can expect it to be on the uprise within the coming years.

Bluetooth Low-Energy (BLE) Beacons Are Making Mobile Apps Smarter

Bluetooth Low-Energy (BLE) Beacons Are Making Mobile Apps Smarter

Advertisements today can be overwhelming to consumers. Especially in the last decade as advertising has come to focus upon online consumerism, customers are constantly bombarded with popups for the latest and greatest products. The negative response to this shift in marketing has led to a need for innovative and unique technologies that avoid overwhelming consumers while still reaching an audience. Indoor location technologies, such as Bluetooth Low-Energy (BLE) Beacons, is one of these innovative designs.

What are BLE Beacons?

Bluetooth Beacons are wireless devices that draw attention to a specific location, within a finite space. A clear example of a beacon is a lighthouse: its light draws attention from offshore ships, letting the ships know their distance from the lighthouse and the shore. Bluetooth Beacons do the same thing in a virtual environment, allowing brick-and-mortar businesses to send out signals to mobile devices in the immediate area.

Bluetooth Low-Energy Beacons, also known as Bluetooth 4.0, are just as their name suggests. They do the same thing in practice while maintaining low energy consumption.

How do BLE Beacons work?

The wireless device draws attention to its location by periodically putting out a radio signal. This radio signal consists of a small packet of data, usually advertisements. A beacon at a sports store, for example, might periodically send signals for current deals on hiking boots. Compatible mobile devices within close proximity to the beacon (usually about 100 meters) would then receive those advertisements, triggering applications to prompt responses like push messages or actions.

Why use a BLE Beacon?

Bluetooth Beacons, in general, allow businesses to deliver highly contextualized and personalized advertisements to their customers. Unlike other indoor location technologies such as GPS and NFC, Beacons are hyper-localized and specified for indoor environments. This means that the customer isn’t going to get advertisements for every store in the mall, but they also don’t need to be standing directly next to a product to receive an advertisement.

BLE Beacons also cost 60-80% cheaper than classic Bluetooth Beacons (although classic Bluetooth is recommended for more complex applications). Their low-energy consumption allows them to last much longer than the classic Bluetooth Beacon. The BLE Beacon stays in sleep mode unless it is actively configuring a connection, so it can last up to 3 years on one coin-cell sized battery.

Who benefits from using BLE Beacons?

Both Classic Bluetooth and BLE Beacons can be beneficial to a company. Classic Bluetooth can handle larger amounts of data, but BLE Beacons are ideal for transmitting advertisements to applications that periodically use small amounts of data. This, in addition to their low-energy consumption and cheaper cost, means that small businesses may benefit from using a BLE model over classic Bluetooth location technology.

The value of in-store retail sales influenced by beacon technology increased by $40 million between 2015 and 2016. The benefit of being able to personalize advertisements to customers continues to appeal to businesses, and it’s expected that 4.5 million beacons will be active by 2018.

Big Data Analyitics

Big Data Analyitics

The recent digital explosion has not just been limited to devices and mobile applications. The analysis of large sets of digital data is now more important than ever. The growth and practicality of digital analytics in recent years has made it more accessible for companies to take the leap into data mining.

Big data analytics allows you to assess large sets of raw data to reveal patterns, trends, unknown correlations, industry trends, consumer preferences and other valuable sets of information. You can take that valuable information and use if to generate new revenue, better service, and improved efficiency. Big data is very important because it can give companies the edge they need to give them a leg up on the competition. Leveraging data-driven strategies will lead to increased competition and innovation.

With Big Data, companies can acquire more in-depth knowledge about how their business operates, which in return can lead to improved performance and decision making. If you want to know the quantity sold of a particular product or service, you can track that with big data. If you want to know which products did not perform well you can track that with big data. If you want to the particular demographic of who bought your product or service, you can track that with big data. The possibilities are becoming endless. Amazon has been using big data to take their business to the next level.

The online retailer has been using big data to extract large amounts of data on consumer names, addresses, payments, and search inquiries. They also use this information to improve customer relations. Netflix has also used data analytics to find ways to improve their entertainment streaming service. They have an abundance of data that they use to provide insight when it comes to analyzing the viewing behavior of their subscribers giving them information n what content they should pursue and in which markets, both domestically and internationally.

To get ahead of the competition you have to understand where you are as a company and know how your company stacks up against the industry leaders. Big data analysis gives companies that opportunity to close that gap and create leverage for themselves. Big data, provides insight your market, your clients, and yourself.

Live streaming video

Live streaming video

One of the fasting growing video sharing innovations is through the live streaming of real events. Live streaming is the new kid on the block giving viewers the opportunity to see videos over the internet in real-time, and the chance to engage with brands in an authentic and transparent way. It is becoming evident that people want live content in real-time, but is live streaming a sustainable business practice that is here to stay? 

Video marketing is now most beneficial way to promote your services on the web and live streaming is just a better way for brands to develop more interactive marketing campaigns. It is less expensive than traditional video marketing. All you need is a mobile phone and someone interesting enough to captivate an audience. It will be interesting to see if the cost effectiveness allows live streaming to usurp traditional video marketing, similar to the way reality TV began to overtake traditional studio-produced shows. People want to know what’s going on with their favorite people and brands. They don’t want a choreographed routine. They want something that is transparent.

Businesses are learning to expand their reach with live streaming. Companies are shelling out large amounts of dough to launch campaigns through live streaming. The titans of social media such as Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, & YouTube have all been investing in efforts to enhance their streaming platforms, but other companies are starting to join in and grab a slice of the pie. Target sponsored the first-ever live streaming of a music video, which garnered over 25 million views during the commercial break at the Grammys. This turned out to be a massive success.

While live-streaming indeed provides certain advantages to communications, it still presents several risks. Not all projects will pan out. People are used to watching content when they have the chance, but live streaming places the viewer in the hands of the streamer. Gathering feedback is often an extra step that is often not engaged to measure the effectiveness of a streamed event. Live streaming is proving to be attractive; it should be part of our mobile lexicon for some time.

Mobile App Marketing With Indexing & Deep-linking

Mobile App Marketing With Indexing & Deep-linking

Mobile search has been transformed from a simple search of the Internet’s content to an index that includes downloadable mobile applications into the results. The evolution is called mobile app indexing. Although Google introduced app indexing in 2013, businesses are only now realizing the advantages it produces. The benefits of app indexing do not only pertain to businesses, but to the entire marketplace, especially mobile users. As the awareness and understanding of app indexing increases, the installation of apps by businesses and users will skyrocket.

In prior years, the results of a Google search (via a mobile device) would primarily be a list of recommended website links. Due to the introduction of app indexing, the results will now include suggested applications pertaining to the search terms. Just as users can click on and connect to a web page link, users can also launch the app directly from the results page if that app has been installed on the device prior to the search. However, if the app is not downloaded onto the device, there will be an option to install the app to receive the desired content. This addition opens up a whole new and innovative way of mobile searching.

If your business does not have an app, it may be smart to adopt one, if you have a valid need. If your business does have an app, make indexing a priority. Since the majority of businesses have not yet adopted app indexing, this act will immediately set you apart from the competition. Now is the best time to take advantage of the numerous opportunities and benefits mobile app indexing will generate for your business. Advantages of app indexing include an increase in customer loyalty, app installations, and user traffic. Additionally, your business will become more visible to the eye of the user through the presence of the app on the results page.

For mobile users, app indexing has created an improved and advanced search experience. The indexing of both websites and apps broadens search results. The expansion of search potential will result in an increase in the amount of useful information that can be utilized by the mobile user. Not only a development in marketing for businesses, app indexing is also a way for mobile users to access information more effectively and efficiently. To help you define your mobile app indexing experience, contact Colure’s project management team. 

Virtual Reality meets your world

Virtual Reality meets your world

The future is now. The once faint dream of experiencing life in an altered dimension is now within the grasp of our fingertips with Virtual Reality (VR) technology. 2016 appears to be the year virtual reality devices are set to take off, with an expected surge of devices ready to hit the mainstream. The technology is familiar, having been around for decades, but now the integration of the technology with gaming, social, and mobile platforms has the technology heating up. Companies like Samsung, Sony, Google, and Oculus are vying for market share with their renditions of virtual-reality enabling devices.

 At the forefront of the technology sits the Oculus Rift, the headset that started this new wave of deceives diving into alternate dimensions. The high-tech headset plugs right into your computer’s DVI and USB ports. The Rift tracks your head movements projecting 3-Dimensional imagery onto its screens at a 2160 x 1200 resolution. Then there’s the HTC Vive, which has a chance to usurp the Rift, with its 70 sensors that offer full range head tracking, minus the motion sickness. You might need to install motion sensors around your house, but it’s worth considering.

The options are plentiful. There is the PlayStation VR, the Razor OSVR, & the Microsoft Hololens just to name a few, but the most interesting VR device may turn out to be the Google’s interpretation, known as the Google Cardboard. Yes, the VR headset is called the Google Cardboard because it is made out of cardboard. A bold idea, but it is a true testament to the wonders of the smartphone with the mobile device having the ability to tap into the VR market. Apparently, your smartphone is all you need if you desire that out-of-body experience. All of the necessary gyroscopic sensors and positioning systems to track your head movements are already in your smartphone.

The virtual reality market is diverse, competitive, and pricey. While some devices may appear to have an advantage, there’s no telling how decisive that advantage may be. What you can expect is stiff competition. These high-powered devices will have a bevy of options when it comes to games. Developers will be working overtime to create games that maximize the experience of the VR devices. You can expect to be visually impressed with better camera options, and you can expect unlimited potential to use the device beyond the confines of your living room. With the technology ready to be release you have to sit back and ask yourselves this question. Will this just be a trend or will virtual reality be a mainstay & pioneer of a new breed of technology for generations to come?

National Cyber Security Awareness Month

National Cyber Security Awareness Month

Cyber security is critical to your business. No matter your endeavor, the safety of your data is central to your success and security. At the heart of every business are passwords, financial transactions, employee data, and a host of other digital concerns. The protection you extend to this data is critical to your success.

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, organized by a joint effort between the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the National Cyber Security Alliance. This alliance between private industry and the U.S. Government is celebrating its 13th year helping you protect your data.

Take a few moments to explore the issue of cyber security. StaySafeOnline.org coordinates many efforts to protect the digital concerns of individuals, small businesses, and large corporations. Simply put – if you have a computer, you are at risk. Anyone anywhere can be hacked. This group has created an extended list of free tools and resources for everyone to help define their individual risk assessment. Here is a technology checklist for your business’s cyber concerns. Examine your company’s digital resources, to become #CyberAware of your network’s security status.

The National Cyber Security Alliance has listed an extended series of events taking place around the globe during the month of October to discuss various aspects of cyber-security. Some of these events are virtual; others are physical. Take a look at this list to see if there are any events in your area that you may be able to attend.

We often use this space to discuss advertising or tech developments. This week, we felt we’d explore an issue that helps to define our security, our independence, and our freedom in the marketplace. If you cannot specifically define the security status of your system, you may not be aware of the actual nature of your exposure.

 

Application Programming Interfaces (API)

Application Programming Interfaces (API)

When companies go design their new shiny corporate app, a software engineer might tell the boss that the proposed mobile application will have to ‘talk’ to other computers. In order to facilitate this digital chit-chat, an added program may be needed to facilitate that electronic conversation. These coded exchanges are often facilitated by an Application Programming Interface (API). These may sound complicated, but they really aren’t. An API is just a way for one software system to interact with another. APIs form a set of rules and protocols that are designed to help programs communicate. Through an API, different software solutions can be integrated and work together. This is incredibly important for all levels of software development. 

How Does an Application Programming Interface (API) Work?

Imagine that you are from France and you only speak French. An acquaintance of yours is from Italy and only speaks Italian. How can you talk to each other? Many programs interact exactly like this; they have their own internal methods and processes that they use to complete tasks. A third-party program will need to learn to “speak their languages” and help the first two programs to understand each other. This is needed if they are going to complete a task.

You’re probably most familiar with APIs through eCommerce portals: online shops. When you’re buying something online, you’re often given the option to pay through PayPal. But how does PayPal know how much to charge you? How does it know what items are being purchased and who to send the money to? The website is using PayPal’s API: a series of directions that PayPal has published for interacting with their system.

When you buy a shirt through an online shop, the online shop sends that data through PayPals API. PayPal then collects the information, which has been formatted properly for its use, and uses it to charge you. It then sends information back to the online shop, regarding whether or not the transaction was successful. To you, the user, this transaction will appear quick, easy, and seamless. But there’s a lot going on in the background!

How Can APIs Be Integrated Into Mobile Devices?

Mobile applications often take advantage of APIs for advanced features. One of the most common examples is the Google Maps API, which includes all of the information that Google Maps does and is available for both Android and iOS. The Google Maps API has been the foundation of many critical apps, including the recently popular Pokemon Go. Other commonly used APIs include weather services, social media integration, and local directories. Through APIs, developers can gain access to a suite of features and a wealth of data that they would otherwise have to collect themselves.

Can an API Be Dangerous?

By now, you may be wondering whether an API could be used against you. Can it take you places without your knowledge? Can it transfer your information without you knowing? Put simply, yes: once you hand your information over to a software system, it can use that data as it wants. If you load an app that has a Google Map API, then Google may very well be able to see your location. And an API itself can become a vulnerability within a system.

This underscores the importance of maintaining your own security and using only reputable software vendors. In fact, many recent security leaks have occurred due to third-party software solutions. That being said, most software today contains some element of API usage, and it is impossible to avoid. For mobile devices, security settings can often be managed to control what you do or don’t give out — to anyone.

APIs provide an incredibly useful and necessary method of communicating between programs. For developers, they allow project teams to take advantage of resources that they would otherwise have to build themselves. For users, they ensure a better overall user and are often seamless in integration. Either way, APIs are an essential part of software development.

Messaging Apps

Messaging Apps

When was the last time you asked someone out on a date, face-to-face? This may sound a bit prehistoric. Doesn’t it? That’s because the simple act of social interaction has been redefined by digital interaction. Mobile messaging apps have revolutionized the way people communicate.

Over 2.6 billion people have at least one mobile messaging app installed on their smartphone device. Today’s global market seems to be defined by a small handful of messaging apps. Each app offers the ability to capture a moment in ways the other cannot. The increased competition for content exposure has forced some mobile apps to implement similar features.

Recently, Instagram integrated a story feature to their app similar to Snapchat. Instagram has a much larger following than the “exclusive” Snapchat. If this new “clone” attempt by Instagram discovers a footing in the market, it shows that market disruption is more useful when one company duplicates the strengths of another and turns them into weakness.

Because of their demonstrated income streams, mobile messaging has changed the way businesses advertise. With these apps, companies are less dependent upon selling their product. Through mobile messaging apps, businesses can establish a presence and create a greater brand awareness.

Profits are often affected by who (or what) controls the information funnel. Corporate giants, such as CNN and ESPN will be distributing original content directly through Snapchat’s new feature.

They’re aggregating people’s attention and linking it to other forms of commerce,” Mitch Lasky told the New York Times. He’s a Snapchat board member and a partner at the venture-capital firm Benchmark.

Mobile messaging apps have changed the way we communicate. They are captivating, exclusive, and unique. They have changed how we share ideas and re-shaped the market, all in the palm of your hand.

What is the difference between a web app vs a mobile app?

What is the difference between a web app vs a mobile app?

In a day when there’s an app for almost every need or function, companies providing these digital problem solvers often ask “do I need to develop a mobile application just to provide a simple function?” The answer is no. An application that operates on your web browser may be the answer. Web apps have filled the void to provide those functions. Web apps provide the feel of a mobile app with the power, accessibility, and stability of web-browser.

From a technical viewpoint the web is a highly programmable environment that allows mass customization through the immediate deployment of a large and diverse range of applications, to millions of global users.” – Acunetix

One user defined the differences as:

a website is defined by its content, while a web application is defined by its interaction with the user. That is, a website can plausibly consist of a static content repository that’s dealt out to all visitors, while a web application depends on interaction and requires programmatic user input and data processing.” – kerrek-sb 

Defining you needs is the first step to deciding how to proceed. Many variables will affect your selection. Here are a few ideas to keep in mind as you progress:

  • Design with the user in mind. This decision may mean thinking beyond your personal opinions. An aesthetically pleasing won’t satisfy customers if it’s hard to use. Think simple. Sensory overload with images and options will only turn customers away. Try to keep the app’s main functions first, with more advanced settings tucked away. Ask yourself: if my app only did one thing, what would it be? Build off of the main focus, adding additions only where it enriches the customer’s user experience (UX).
  • Balance personal creativity with traditional functions. Colors have meaning and emotional responses. Choose a palette that represents your goals and functions. Experiment with different color schemas before the app is released. The color blue may give your app a calming feel and is the choice of many social media giants. A red color scheme may elicit strong emotions like passion or urgency but also serves as a warning color. Decide how you want your users to feel when they use your app.

It’s important to beta test your app. Try to seek a large group of beta testers to help define the strengths and weaknesses of your app. The benefits of a solid beta-test have been well established. It may be a cost, but an untested app will lose profits in the future. Your goal should be to have the best performing, most efficient app in your field. Otherwise, why would customers choose yours over a competitor?

Develop your app to fulfill the needs of your clients and to answer those questions you seek to conquer. Proceeding with the proper format for your app will facilitate greater function for everyone involved with the process.

Selecting a mobile application’s programming format: native, HTML5, or a hybrid

Selecting a mobile application’s programming format: native, HTML5, or a hybrid

Businesses who are seeking to create the best mobile application must choose which programming environment they will use. Should they peruse a mobile platform’s native language, HTML5, or a hybrid of the two environments? Your selection of a format will be dependent upon several factors including development costs, your project objectives, and the preferences of your customer. Many companies have found that the investment of time to define your objectives will pay off later in the development cycle.

Software developers have debated each type’s efficiency over the years. Each form creates a different product. Here is short look at the differences between these three formats:

  • Native apps take advantage of built-in functions, such as GPS or the camera. These apps can utilize features of the smartphone’s operating system to provide an enhanced user experience. Double tapping, pinching, or other touch gestures can serve purposes in the function of your app.
  • HTML5 apps come with the advantage of universally applicable code; these apps use standard web technologies and can operate seamlessly on many devices. Web language is also widely known and learned considerably easier than that of specific operating systems. These factors lead to HTML5 apps ability to be quickly developed, tested, edited, and retested. The development of HTML5 over HTML4 also allows for apps to look and feel more like native apps more than ever before.
  • Hybrid apps allow a developer to take the format of an HTML5 application and wrap it inside of native environment, crafted for a given platform.

While HTML5 apps may be easier to create and implement into multiple devices, there is a critical cost-benefit ratio in the app performance. When 79% of people won’t try an app again if it fails more than twice, you must decide if the ease in creating HTML5 apps is worth the potential losses. HTML5 and hybrid apps can’t keep up with native apps in this arena.

TheLadders, a job recruiting company, first selected HTML5 with their web app before switching to a native format. They found that the concept of “write once, run everywhere” wasn’t as simple as it seemed. Testing and retesting the app in different screen sizes and devices proved to be a challenge. These short-term changes led to the app only being released for iOS and receiving little success. The company then decided to rewrite the app natively. The developer team mastered native coding much faster than they thought. The result was a much smoother, faster, and modern-looking app.

Having a native app can give you an edge over the competitor. Domino’s and Delta Airlines have both used native apps to give increased convenience to their customers. The result is beating out competing companies who may have outdated or slower apps.

If you don’t believe that your company’s app performance is very important or necessary, an HMTL5 or hybrid app may be a fine choice. A company looking to create a truly pleasing app may consider a native format. The investment in time and money will pay off with better app performance and increased customer satisfaction.

Contact Colure’s development team to discuss which format may be best for your company’s objectives and your customer’s UX.

Exploring a complementary user experience

Exploring a complementary user experience

An excellent user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) is necessary in today’s interconnected world. In our lives, it’s common for users to use multiple smart devices in multiple environments. As users move between devices, it makes sense to transfer a user’s UX across those platforms. An example of this type of event may start by watching a Netflix movie on your living room television. After a while, you get up and continue watching that film on a laptop in the garage while you work on the lawnmower. That singular experience is maintained through different environments and platforms.

The key is providing a seamless UX within a user’s network. Each device becomes an extension of that network; each is a compliment for the other devices in that network. A complementary user experience allows for mobile applications and experiences to intermingle across these platforms. The true essence of the event is found in the experience, not the network.

Mobile gaming apps are another type of application that can benefit from complementary designs. SMHK Funklab’s game Padracer uses an iPhone as a steering wheel and an iPad as a racetrack. Extra iPads can be added to the game as well. The creativity behind Padracer led to its success as one of the first mobile games with a complementary design.

There are two main types of complementary designs: collaboration and control. In a collaborative design, two different devices have different functions. Padracer falls into this category. Control designs allow for one device to remotely control the other which typically serves the main function. An example of this would be using your smartphone to switch the song playing off Spotify from your laptop. Devices in the complementary ecosystem can also fall into two categories: must-have or nice-to-have. A must-have device is required for the app to function. In the case of Padracer, an iPad and iPhone are must-have devices that are necessary to use the app. Additional iPads add to the experience but aren’t required. These extra devices fall under the nice-to-have category.

A complementary design can unlock endless options for a business to provide an enriched experience for app users. More and more companies are discovering how a complementary UI/UX can lead to company growth. A study by AppDynamics discovered that 65% of people have very high expectations for app performance. Additionally, 30% of customers would spend more money on a company with a good app. If your business uses a mobile app, consider how multiscreen compatibility could boost your user experience.

What is deep linking?

What is deep linking?

Time is money

Anyone who has used a search engine knows that you can easily waste hours looking for a particular piece of content. If your customers spend too much time or energy searching for your product, sooner – more often than later, you will lose them to readily available content. To combat this waste of time and energy, the practice of “deep linking” has evolved to take that customer to a specific target.

Deep links differ from broader linking practices because the deep link usually bypasses the landing page of the destination website and takes the customer to a specific location deeper inside of a website.

Deep links help to establish control over the conversion process by providing direct access to a specific goal. By taking control of the journey through customer’s conversion funnel, programmers can sidestep the need for a search and take the customer directly to the destination service, good, or data.

Deep links and mobile apps

Companies can include these deep links in a mobile text or an email format. The flexibility and speed of mobiles apps have bridged the continuity gap between the web and the mobile universe. Corporations are able to tailor the customer’s user experience (UX) to be faster and more functional. The journey has been crafted to fit the wants of the customer with the needs of the business.

A deep link is a URL that opens and directs a user to a specific location within an app. When a developer creates an app, they can register a URL scheme with iOS. For example, in our app Agenda, we registered “agenda” as the app’s URL scheme, so any URL that starts with agenda:// will deep link to the app,” – Savvy Apps.

Deep links differ in complexity, due to their intended function. They can range from being very basic to very complicated. Many variables will define the complexity, such as function, audience, and medium. A goal for your website may be the download of a corresponding mobile application. By downloading the application, the user can access the information in an email or text more quickly than going to the website. “When the app has been downloaded, the user can be taken to specific content immediately,” – Branch.

This type of mobile device behavior will only increase in order to keep users engaged and to be able to deliver content and information whenever the user needs/wants it. Deep linking makes applications more appealing, even if the user may not want to download it. Eventually, applications will be favored over websites because the functionality of the application will overcome the functionality of the website. User engagement and experience will drive the continued creation of deep linking.

If you are interested in learning how to connect better with your customers, contact Colure’s mobile development team.

Mobile application security and your safety

Mobile application security and your safety

With millions of mobile applications available for your smartphone, the question of data security has emerged as the key concern among experts. People load their smartphones with a wealth of information including credit cards numbers, banking data, and corporate server access codes. Our phones provide access to both our very private, personal and work lives. The result has made smartphones a valuable target for hackers. On the forefront of mobile app marketing and development lies the question “How secure is our mobile data?”

Functionality Overrides Security in App Development

The drive for app functionality has often outweighed the value of mobile security. Three out of four applications will fail basic security tests, and 96 percent of all organizations use at least one high-risk application. Different applications have different security needs. Discovering the balance between security features and the app’s functionality is part of the development life-cycle. Because of this competition for resources, not all applications have the same level of security.

App stores are filled with applications that mostly prove their advertised usefulness. Nevertheless, enterprises and individuals should not use them without paying attention to their security. They should download and use only those applications that have successfully passed security tests conducted by specialized application security testing vendors.” said Dionisio Zumerle, principal research analyst at Gartner.

Data Leaks at the Centre of Security Flaws

The biggest security flaws identified by developers involve attacks on data in applications where developers were unaware of vulnerabilities. The use of personal algorithms in place of proven modern algorithms has been the main pitfall. A lack of data encryption leads to risky storage of data and exposed back-end services leave data unprotected from unauthorized access. Personalization and the use of analytics in mobile app marketing have provided another major issue with “leaky apps” that allow people to gather personal information that can be tapped if not properly secured.

Encryption is the Future of Mobile Security

Encryption of data is critical to protecting the integrity of data. Recent news of Apple’s iCloud hack and demands from the FBI for Apple to decrypt the San Bernadino terrorist’s iPhone illustrates the critical role security plays in our lives. These discussions illustrate an ongoing debate in the development community over security concerns. All this media attention should be seen as positive because it highlights that mobile app security has become a priority in the consumer market. While the number of unsafe applications on the market remains high, recent applications have made strides to develop a safer environment for consumers.

Recently WhatsApp introduced end-to-end encryption, securing all conversations to only the participants involved – unable to be accessed even by the developers. As people demand a new standard for mobile app security, the battle for encryption will continue to grow, highlighting the discussion between private and public safety. If you have questions about mobile application security for your firm, contact our development team here at Colure.

Geofencing in mobile applications

Geofencing in mobile applications

Allowing a mobile device to recognize environmental elements can truly make an application dynamic. Because consumers live and breathe by their mobile devices, having environment-awareness available in mobile devices keeps users on their toes and engaged in their environment. This concept is called geofencing, also known as context awareness. 

Awareness of their physical environment for mobile applications brings more depth and attractiveness to an application’s user experience or UX. It engages the user by sending individually tailored data to their phone based on their geographical location. This plays a critical role in executing in-app mobile marketing and mobile app retargeting campaigns. 

Context awareness is a property used in mobile devices to identify where the user is using an application and how that might affect what the user is doing,” – Matt Carver at Bigspaceship.

In a context-aware environment, wireless devices such as environmental sensors, radio frequency identification tags, and smartphones send location, presence and other status information across the network. Specialized software captures, stores and analyzes the data, sending it back over the network to provide context to the end device as needed,” – Computer World. Having a mobile device react to its environment and offer advertising suggestions in terms of retail therapy or even a coffee shop facilitates the needs of each user.

Goals of context awareness

The ultimate goal of a context-aware system is for the system to arrive at a representation of the surrounding world that is close to the perception of the user,” – Interaction Design Foundation.

The layering of data allows the use of time of day and GPS coordinates to create a customized, ever-changing source of space and time relevant content for the consumer. They might provide breakfast suggestions in the morning, clothing suggestions relevant to elevation and weather, and locations for cocktails in the evening.

Geofencing is the ability for a mobile device to pinpoint the context of the user’s geographical location. “Context-aware applications look at the who’s, where’s, when’s and what’s (that is, what the user is doing) of entities and use this information to determine why the situation is occurring,” – GA Tech.

Challenges of context awareness

Mobile devices allow consumers to always be connected to the world around them. These connections can have difficulties. Computer World sheds light on challenges involving context awareness. One challenge of context awareness is privacy issues. Because context awareness uses data from the mobile device as well as environmental data, data breaches can occur. Being able to balance the security risks against the rewards is something that will be answered in time.

Geofencing is an interesting feature for mobile devices and applications. This functionality advances the capabilities of the smartphone for the specific user’s advantage. By having a more dynamic experience with your mobile device, it is no wonder that consumers fill every moment of the day looking at their phone. Advertisers and marketers will continue to take advantage of this desire for customized content and hyper focus audience targeting.

Hololens Holoportation: Virtual 3D Teleportation in real-time

Hololens Holoportation: Virtual 3D Teleportation in real-time

The Microsoft Corporation has created a functional, virtual 3D teleportation system that is a mixture of multiple high-powered lens-displays, cameras, and computers. It allows for the creation of multiple virtual people in real-time, creating interaction between the participants. The system brings people from remote locations together in a single space – a virtual environment. The developers call this the “Hololens.”

In 1977, a generation of film-goers was swept up by the film “Star Wars”. Viewers were shuttled off to a distant corner of the universe that was filled with mystery, adventure, and amazing technologies. There, a holographic image of Princess Leia appears to Obi-Wan Kenobi, pleading that he’s her “only hope.”

Now, almost forty years later, that holographic dream has become a reality. Microsoft has designed their Hololens Holoportation system. It is the digital interface between imaginative dreams and amazing tech developments.

Holoportation is a new type of 3D capture technology that allows high-quality 3D models of people to be reconstructed, compressed and transmitted anywhere in the world in real time.” – Microsoft

In the demonstration video, Microsoft Research’s Shahram Izadi illustrates the practical applications of this technology.

This development shatters our perception of the boundaries of space and distance in the physical world. Sit back and enjoy. Listen to the development team describe the reality of real-time interaction with computer generated images of real people. No, we don’t need droids to share these messages. The reality of this message delivery system is undeniably amazing.

Voice activated digital components (AKA – digital assistants)

Voice activated digital components (AKA – digital assistants)

The recent developments in voice activated technologies have opened the door for explosive growth in the realm of digital interaction between humans and machines. Technology platforms across the board have embraced user control activated by voice commands. Individuals can ask their phone any question and a response will be given. The voice recognition by the operating system is as valid a command input as that from a computer keyboard. These developments created the birth of the ‘digital assistant.’

With the sound of your voice, random data can be searched, reminders can be given about certain events on your mobile calendar, requests become completed actions. Convenience for the user plays a huge factor: it is easier to talk to your phone than to type on it.

The range and depth of these computer responses are impressive. Joe Hindy, The Android App Guy on Youtube, posted an interesting side-by-side comparison of three frontline voice activated platforms – Siri, Google Now, and Cortana. It’s not a perfect demonstration, but it clearly demonstrates how the competing products perform.

Siri

When Siri was introduced in 2011 on the iPhone 4S, it was a sensation.  Back then, PCMag described this new technology “Siri is a speech-recognition computer application. It has both speech input and output, meaning you can speak to it, and it can speak back to you.”  Prior to Siri being introduced as part of the operating system, a voice-activated app was available at the Apple App Store. The technologies were focused on a specific market share, those who may have had difficulties working with a smartphone. The function was similar to Siri but had nowhere near the capabilities of the current Siri. That company was acquired by Apple, and the mobile app was pulled from the App Store. Later, that same technology emerged as the Apple tool we now call “Siri.” It was a cool new addition that Apple built into its iPhones. From then on, it has become a staple of the iPhone user experience.

Google Now

In 2013, Google Now was created.  This program is Google’s answer to the virtual assistant. Google Now “can answer questions like Siri and search the web, but more importantly, it cannot only assist, but pre-empt your requirements using your calendar, email, historic behaviours, and location.” quoted from Koozai.com. Google Now is like an upgraded version of Siri.

Cortana

In 2014, Cortana for Windows Phone 8.1 was introduced.  Cortana is a Halo-inspired personal assistant.  It is Microsoft’s answer to Siri and Google Now.  What started for the Windows Phone is now on every desktop using the Windows 10 operating system.  “Cortana is powered by Bing, and can perform many of the functions one has come to expect from artificial intelligence-style assistants, such as setting reminders and powering vocal updates to one’s calendar” – CNET.

Amazon Echo

Also, in 2014 was the unveiling of Amazon Echo.  Amazon Echo is an at the home tower and  “lives as a piece of hardware, not just a layer of software available through a mobile device. It has built-in speakers and lets users sample and purchase music as well as stream that music on demand,” according to CNET.  Amazon is trying to make a statement with Echo by offering this virtual personal assistant.

“A June 2014 study by Thrive Analytics found that over half of US adult smartphone users (56%)” use their voice-activated assistants. – Emarketer.

The Future is Now

Millennials will continue to drive the use of virtual personal assistants and will be the deciding factor on whether this trend will stick or be a bust. The digital stage has been set to respond to the sound of our voice. Interaction with a digital assistant is now part of our daily routine. How that interaction is crafted will depend upon the minds of the users and dreams of mobile app developers.

The power of multimedia convergence

The power of multimedia convergence

The diversity of mobile devices has increased the way information is spread across society. No longer do individuals rely on only a single device as their data source. The increasing volume of mobile devices used by any one person allows individuals to constantly want to check the latest trends, follow the latest celebrity, or look at the latest technology across all their devices. The melding of media is starting to be practiced by many.

“Simply put, media convergence is bringing together different media platforms to support one single campaign or promote a product.” – Gerhard Jacobs writing for Target Marketing

What is the power of multimedia convergence?

A vast majority of consumers are cross-device users regardless of age demographic and mobile device usage is on the rise,” according to Millennial Media. Because information is at our fingertips and individuals have to have the latest technology trends in their hands, there is no secret that multiple device users exist. In addition, individuals are more likely to choose a mobile device over a desktop to search the internet or just for enjoyment.

Millennials (Gen Ys) have definitely changed the way individuals view information on the internet. These individuals are at the forefront of the way information is received and will definitely continue to pave the way marketing and advertising companies deliver their product or service to the general public.

Great power lies in combined media sources; it allows for different mediums to display and send the same message. Because of this overlap, individuals are prone to look at multiple devices throughout the day. The question becomes “Why not streamline those messages to show similar images and branding pieces?” From the public’s standpoint, the increased convenience of information provided by converged stories makes using the media a better experience.”

Why is this such a powerful tool for marketers?

Being engaging with the audience is something that every marketer needs to keep in mind when creating content. The audience wants to know the latest, up-to-date information about their favorite product or brand. By displaying the same message across different platforms at different times during the day/week will help reach different audiences at different times in different ways.

Industry revenue resources will drive the deliverance of the messaging and will help marketers to gauge how to reach different audiences on different platforms. Of course, the difficulty will come trying to figure out rotation of advertisements and trying to figure out the best times to display those advertisements.

So marketers are faced with a multifaceted chess game – how, where, and when do place your content in a dynamic marketplace? How do you reap the greatest ROI with constantly revolving players?

Progressive Web Apps – a growing development trend

Progressive Web Apps – a growing development trend

As program development, marketing, and advertising move forward, developers continue to craft new experiences for users. The latest trend to grasping for our attention is a hybrid environment – the “Progressive Web App” combines elements of both a search engine and a mobile application. It is a new technological experience for web users that takes into account an individual’s habits within a web browser but gives the capabilities of a mobile application.

What was that?!

 “The short explanation: a web application that has a responsive layout, works offline and can be can be installed on the home screen of a device. And by “installed” I mean: a shortcut to the web app is added to the home screen. When the user taps on the shortcut, the web app will be loaded in a browser in full screenmode.” – gonhybrid.com

The importance of this hybrid type of mobile usage lies within the user. By taking into account the users mobile habits, progressive web apps will become a rising trend in years to come.

“A Progressive Web App uses modern web capabilities to deliver an app-like user experience. They evolve from pages in browser tabs to immersive, top-level apps, leveraging the web’s low friction,” – Google’s Progressive Web app definition.

The progressive web will call for offline use with the help of an application shell and a service worker. The application shell will allow for:

  • fast information loading
  • the storing of past data searches and downloads
  • displaying content in its original form.

The constant use of these progressive web apps will change the users experience over time. With multiple uses and visits to the site, the progressive web app will become stronger and will satisfy the user in a different way current websites and mobile applications cannot. It will also allow the user to use the app even when Wi-Fi or 4G isn’t available.

Its importance?

For users, the technology has allowed for the transmission of rapid information to be at our fingertips. Individuals crave speed. They want their question answered in a matter of seconds. With the progressive web app:

  • it takes away the downloading time, especially if it uses cached information
  • the experience will be different for every individual
  • it can have home screen access without having to download a mobile app

The significant advantage for developers is that this environment bypasses the need for an app-store. No longer are development teams bound by the constraints of third-party vendors. This may be a double-edged sword. Developers can freely release their product. However, the restrictions provided by the app stores will be eliminated. App stores often establish standards of quality or development, often to protect consumers.

Different than previous environments?
Individuals now have choices in their mobile usage with progressive web apps. Sometimes, mobile sites can be difficult; the same goes for downloaded applications. By combining the use of mobile sites with the idea of mobile application, progressive web apps will make for a powerful way to view a website. It gives the user complete control of their mobile internet usage.

Programmatic media buying

Programmatic media buying

The ability to present the right advertisement, to the right person, at the right moment is priceless. Computers have forever changed the advertising landscape. They have brought together all of the key stakeholders in a place of efficiency and finesse. This is called programmatic media buying (sometimes simply referred to as ‘programmatic’). Its simple beauty is founded in highly complex math. This is the algorithmic purchase and sale of advertising space in real time (1). Fluid and seamless; it presents seemingly effortless connections between the consumer, publisher, and advertiser.

It is more than just the computerized buying and selling of ad space. It’s an interactive relationship between all of the players of the online advertising world. One definition is “the automated method of buying digital advertising in which supply and demand partners make decisions on a per-impression basis and adhere to business rules as provided by the operators of each platform”. Defining the inter-relationships between the stakeholders can be difficult. A group of industry experts offered their insights to help define the process for the layperson.

Simply stated, this process levels the playing field for companies of all sizes. If two companies have the same amount of funds for advertisements, ‘Bob’s Key Shop’ can have the same market reach as a ‘Target’.

This process provides an established pathway allowing all parties to reach highly focused goals. Companies can focus their advertising budgets toward an exact audience. If they need assistance in defining their target audience, they system provides the support and data to bring the parties together. Long gone are the guesses of “how do I get my audience to notice my business?” A focused approach delivers data based results.

Programmatics have dramatically changed the marketplace for everyone. For clients entering the marketplace for the first time, the system is tremendously beneficial. “Programmatic buys are a good thing for our clients when it comes to paid media campaigns, (meaning SEM, display banners, desktop and mobile marketing) along with traditional tv campaigns. It allows us to get inventory which normally wouldn’t be available to the client, at an affordable rate. It’s definitely a good thing for paid media campaigns.” – William Belle, Chief Colure Advisor.

The system hasn’t always been embraced by everyone in the marketplace. This response is from a blog posting from just two years ago:

“Sounds like another thing for large companies to spend more on staff figuring it out than they’ll ever make/save on ROI, and another thing for scammy marketing companies to sell contract services to small businesses. In 3 to 5 years, the fad will have passed, some lessons will have been learned and the smart businesses will come and implement changes and software then. My ROI is not a beta test.”

Some of the concern is based on who the end consumer may actually be. “There is some skepticism of Programmatics because we don’t truly know if a real human is absorbing the content,” says William Belle, Chief Colure Advisor. The focus and delivery are there, but it’s impossible to gain a definitive assessment of the message consumption. The fact that a human is still the ultimate consumer leaves a variable in the equation. The true level of message absorption can never be accurately measured. Like they say, ‘you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make ’em drink’.

Despite voices of concern, the marketplace performance of programmatic purchasing has been well established. The significant growth in market share has provided the viability that few question.

If you want to discuss entering the marketplace with your business, contact Colure’s project managers to see how programmatic media buying can assist your company.

The problem with information density

The problem with information density

The volume of data accessed daily on the internet is absolutely staggering. It boggles the mind to grasp that so much of our lives are connected to our keyboards. At some point, the sheer volume of data becomes unmanageable and negates the true value of the content.

Users reach a moment where they can no longer meaningfully examine the available volumes of data. By the sheer size of a search query result, the search engines overwhelm users’ resources. Figuring how to effectively evaluate over 28,000,000 cat videos can be a problem. This is the problem of information density. This is where we live, accessing only snippets of the entire volume of data available to our questions.

Take a moment to examine how ‘we’ use a single minute of our lives on the internet.

Although technology’s advancement helps in many ways, it also brings challenges. Anyone with a camera or a computer can be a journalist. However, we must find a way out of the information density on the web.

Over time, readers establish relationships with certain sites. The key is to have a functional relationship between your site and the user. Give them a source of internet content they trust. If the reader has built a relationship and connection with a journalist or channel, they will certainly consult that source for his content. How they spend their day surfing the net will be determined by your quality of content. 

The way to stand out from the crowd of information is to be credible, research and document your facts, and to provide the content that your customers want to consume. With billions of other options only a keystroke away, be sure that you understand the needs of the consumer.

The age of the Smart Home is now

The age of the Smart Home is now

The vision to interconnect your washing machine, refrigerator and even your windows by an internet connection, may soon be built into your next home. True control the of your home’s operation from your smartphone is rapidly approaching.

The redefinition of objects changes not only the form but the function of an object. It tandem, the modifications change the home from a static object into an interactive reflection of your life. In one example, the deadbolt for your front door has been computerized. The metal key is often gone and access has become a relative commodity. Owners can now control who has access, where and for how long right through a mobile app.

Over the past decades, what was seen as fanciable dreams is now being engineered into reality. The ideas of books and TV shows like “Star Trek” continue to find a growing place in our lives.

The bringing together of multiple devices in your home, working in tandem, is soon to be a reality. It requires an openness of spirit and vision in the manufacturing sector. “Without this kind of openness,” Samsung CEO BK Yoon stated in a recent keynote presentation, “there won’t be an ‘Internet of Things’ because the things will not fit together.”

What is the ‘Internet of Things’? It is a realm, in the near future, where multiple household items hold as valid a place on the Internet as do your smartphone and computer. In a few short years, it is widely proposed that many of the items in our homes, those we now see as independent and isolated, will all be interconnected.

When it comes to our homes, many believe the issue is a matter of redefining our vision of the world around us. To meet this challenge, Apple has embarked upon Homekit. This framework is designed to provide developers the tools “…for communicating with and controlling connected accessories in a user’s home.”

The market has been defined by our dreams, needs and technologies. As time quickly passes, we will see the marriage of what we once thought of as static and isolated. The idea of how and what we define as ‘home’ will quickly shift, as developers continue to provide us more control over our living spaces.

The future of data cookies could be on a restricted diet.

The future of data cookies could be on a restricted diet.

Cookies have long been at the center of software developer’s diets (that’s data cookies). In order to gauge the appetite of the public, developers track user’s digital behaviors. Cookies have been the default bit of tracking code inserted programs of all sorts, in order to read the digital footprint of a consumer.

While this has been wonderful for the marketer and business person, many consumers have found the “tracking from the shadows” to be an intrusion into their private lives. As technology continues to evolve, we’ve seen how cookies have been used.

Two new shifts present another set of changes for the evolving diet of consumer information:

  1. Mobile devices offer a limited use of data tracking. The major problem with mobile cookies that they are not universal. They cannot be applied everywhere.
  2. Upgrades in the next iOS operating system will allow consumers to block cookies. Adblocking is coming to the iPhone with iOS 9. Consumers will be able to block advertisements from hitting some of the major web pages. What this means to advertisers and the finances of the digital ecosystem still remains to be determined.

Although the function and face of cookies continue to shift, the end purpose of tracking consumer behavior will never end. As we see these two trends take hold, new courses of consumer tracking are sure to evolve.

If you are interested in defining your mobile dreams, contact Colure’s Project Managers to describe your project.