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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 on 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.

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.

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?

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 computerized, mathematical purchase and sale of advertising space in real time. 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 in 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 on 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.

Programmatic has 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 five 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.”

Over $46 billion will go to programmatic advertising in the US this year, according to eMarketer’s latest programmatic forecast—about $10 billion more than last year (2017). That means 82.5% of all US digital display ads will be bought via automated channels in 2018.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Mobile application security

Mobile application security

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.

The importance of UX and UI in mobile app design

The importance of UX and UI in mobile app design

Creating a fluid user experience is central to the function and flow of any mobile application. User Interface (UI) design explores how an app looks and interacts with a user. User experience (UX) defines how the app feels, from the users’ perspective. These concepts are at the development core of any mobile project.

During the development cycle, focus on the end product. Be sure that all of your efforts are centered upon the end user; concentrate on how they will interact and react to your app. Here are a few things to keep in mind while you design your new app:

UX/UI Must Haves:
  • Offer specific mobile-only functionality. Be sure that the product you put in the users’ hands will fulfill their mobile needs and wants. Make certain that the end experience is as solid as the function.
  • Design core features specifically for the target audience. Are you focusing on gamers or shoppers? Regardless of your audience, all features must deliver as promised. Take the time to ensure that the user’s experience dovetails with the features in hand.
  • The use of multimedia should be considered for the project. Be sure that the user has full control over the media. Don’t allow the media to become a memory hog.
UX/UI Mistakes:
  • Don’t confuse web UX for mobile UX. Simply scaling down the UX features of a web page is not the same as designing an app that is built specifically for a mobile platform. These are two different platforms with very different audiences.
  • Build an app that highlights your mobile users’ needs. Don’t build an app just so you can justify all of your ideas. Feedback, change and growth are all critical factors in the development cycle.
  • Be sure that you app has a specific function. Make sure that it actually does something. If your app ends up as a glorified sign-up page for a service, you’re going to upset the very people you are trying to reach.

DigitalGov.gov has established a set of guidelines to help the US Government develop quality mobile applications for the consumer. They looked at a wide variety of UX and UI design issues. This list provides an interesting set of ideas to examine while you consider your next mobile app. Not all of these ideas may be relevant to your project, but they provide a solid core of ideas to consider while you dream and design.

No matter the purpose or function of your application, the end product must provide a superior quality customer UX. If you aren’t ready or able to place a flawless mobile experience into your customers’ hands, the release of a lower quality app could be doing more harm than good to your reputation. Keep both the UX and UI concerns at the forefront of your design.

Contact Colure’s development team to discuss your dreams for a mobile application.

The importance of responsive web design for mobile devices

The importance of responsive web design for mobile devices

In a mobile environment, it is critical to provide users the finest quality user experience (UX). Web browsing must be experienced as a seamless transfer of form and function across all platforms. Consumers demand a fluid environment regardless of which device they hold in their hands.

To meet this consumer demand, Responsive Web Design (RWD) was crafted to provide fluid mobility to web content. Designer Ethan Marcotte was concerned with the collective elegance of both the internal code and the external page. He largely crafted the concept and practice.

RWD is the practice of building a web page able to display cleanly on any screen and any device, of any size. To the user, this means the media may be displayed a bit differently, graphics look slightly different, and there may be an alteration of function. But for the most part, the web page you saw on your desktop will display on your mobile phone.

A design problem:

Sadly, for many websites this is not the case. A non-RWD site may look perfectly fine on a desktop. That same site may become ‘user-hostile’ when viewed on a smartphone. Certain content may extend beyond the width of the screen (a common occurrence if it’s held in the vertical position). Some content and media may simply not display on different devices. Navigation throughout the site on a mobile device might be troublesome for a user because the design elements aren’t found where users expect them to be.

The reason for a responsive website design is to present users with a flexible interface. Without a responsive design, you risk losing potential customers who can’t figure out how to use your website or simply offending those who won’t accept its less-than-professional rendering on a mobile device. Either way, you lose face and revenue.

To create a responsive website, you’ll need the assistance of a design team who appreciates the desires of your company and the needs of your audience. Contact Colure to discuss your mobile design needs.

The cost of an instant society

The cost of an instant society

Artificial intelligence (AI) technology is changing society’s expectations of reward and activity. This modification is leading to the creation of an “instant society” – an environment where both reward and access to any information is instantaneous and free.

This new paradigm runs in the face of the human experience, established throughout our history.

AI is experienced through virtual reality video games and wearable technology; it interacts gathering information in real time with Google Home and Amazon’s Alexa. But how do companies and brands deliver content to an instant society? And more importantly…is this “new,” mentality collectively beneficial to that society?

With being able to gather information in an instant, marketers now have to race the clock to get information out to its intended audience. With most consumers having an attention span of about eight seconds, marketers must create content that is straight to the point and memorable. Technology, however, is on their side as well due to consumers keeping up with new technological trends, always reachable 24/7.

This content can be shown on any platform and even compatible with the wearable technology. Content is being created with the consumer in mind and the fact that we prefer to instant access to information and content.

App development, on the other hand, is becoming a second hand to artificial intelligence. Through Amazon’s Alexa, you are now able to pair multiple devices and control things such as lighting and temperature in your own home.

An “instant society” is not necessarily a bad change. According to Brad Smith of politico.eu, “By 2038, a personal digital assistant will be trained to anticipate our needs, help manage our schedule, prepare us for meetings, assist as we plan our social lives, reply to and route communications, and drive our cars. Beyond our personal lives, AI will enable humans to make breakthrough advances in areas like healthcare, agriculture, education, and transportation. We’re already seeing this begin in impressive ways”.

Artificial intelligence is making changes to the medical and health field, as well as technology. Although an instant society seems detrimental to the workforce by taking away jobs, it also creates jobs and opportunities in a different way. App development and the output of content for marketers are being developed in ways that apply to the change of an instant society, as well as the consumer’s needs.

Wearable technology might be a good fit for your company

Wearable technology might be a good fit for your company

Wearable technology isn’t a new concept but is becoming a larger trend in everyday life. In fact, wearable technology is becoming the new gateway for big data by collecting user information in a more natural way.

Products such as FitBits, Apple Watches, and even wearable rings are becoming fashion trends, yet most users don’t realize how much data is being collected. Wearable technology not only presents us with potential risks but also potential rewards as well.

In industries such as health and wellness, entertainment, and outdoor sports, wearable technology becomes a helping hand. It can be your GPS, track your heart rate, monitor your sleep and even keep track of your activity.

Rewards include sending personalized data to the user that can analyze their health and fitness and can even fill in the gaps in patient records. Yet, wearable technology can also present the risk of too much data becoming accessible to companies and the device manufacturers.

As the devices are used more and more, big data will be able to gather more specific information regarding a person derived from wearable data such as the time, duration, and proximity of an activity to other tracked individuals. Combined with demographic information, it can provide crucial and detailed context to each individual interaction.

Data gathered impacts how businesses market their products and how companies recruit talent and motivate their employees.

Wearable technology gathers a new class of sensitive data about people: not only who they are, what they do, and who they know, but also how healthy they are, what movements they make, and how well they feel. With growth and changes occurring in the technology of the devices, security and privacy must grow as well.

While companies innovate independently, there is not a lot of information addressing your data security. Users must be aware of the potential dangers when engaged in wearable technology just as they would with normal devices such as tablets, computers and mobile devices.

Personally identifiable information

Personally identifiable information

Personally identifiable information (PII) is any digital data that can locate, contact or identify a specific individual, either by itself or combined with other easily accessible information. It includes information that is linked to an individual through financial, medical, educational or employment records.

PII is mainly used in information security (IS) services to search, locate and identify specified individuals.

PII is considered sensitive information that can consist of information such as fingerprints, biometric data, names, telephone numbers, email addresses, passports or social security numbers to identify a certain person.

It does not include public information that is lawfully made available to the general public from federal, state, or local government record. It is up to federal agencies to safeguard personally identifiable and other sensitive information. It should only be accessed on a need-to-know basis and handled with care.

It is important to protect PII and even personal health information (PHI), which also contains certain aspects of PII that relate to the medical field. People are required to sign statements that specifically allow health care providers to access their records or share the information with a person of choice. The data can help when needed but can be dangerous when misused.

If a data breach were to occur, it can be devastating to a company and its employees. Not only would the loss of a reputation for the company be an issue, but also the thousands of people whose data was stolen would be at risk.

It goes without saying that PII data that is transmitted must be secure and encrypted so that outsiders of the organization or company cannot decipher it.

Redefine your audience

Redefine your audience

Audience extension” uses technology that allows digital publishers to generate revenue from their web traffic, allowing advertisers to reach their target audience far beyond the company’s website. Through audience extension technology, publishers can track their website visitors, allowing advertisers to serve ads to the specific audiences on different sites as they continue browsing the web.

This allows the company to reach its audience far beyond the corporate website. Through audience extension, advertisers are able to identify which audiences they anticipate targeting to based on the type of users visiting a particular website.

This technology has become important for both publishers and advertisers. It allows them to reach a specific audience that is of major interest while creating a mutually beneficial relationship between the two.

Advertisers are asking publishers for advanced targeting data rather than having to go through third-party data sets. An advertiser is then able to provide users with a higher quantity of advertisements across the web rather than flood the publishers’ site with banner advertisements.

The practice of audience extension allows the advertiser to place advertisements on numerous sites in a variety of ways, which in turn, create a lasting impression on the target audience.

Collaborations between The New York Times and Netflix promote the series “Orange Is The New Black” demonstrate how mutually beneficial audience extension is for the two brands.

Publishers are starting to realize how valuable their audiences are through technology such as audience extension. The data that is being passed between publisher and advertiser remains the same, while the audience that is being reached continues to grow.

Online user experience will become more personalized as services such as audience extension continue to grow. It will become customized to the user through likes and dislikes, with advertisements that are more relevant and useful for the customer.

International markets drive a new definition of service

International markets drive a new definition of service

For many companies, their market has been redefined because of the internet. A good or service offered to a traditionally domestic market can now catch the attention of an international audience. Being able to understand and respond to the needs of clients from any location provides an advantage to a company.

Most nations employ English as either a primary or secondary language. This approach helps to breach barriers to your business. Having a well-designed website and utilizing search engine optimization strategies will allow customers and clients around the world to see what your company is capable of doing.

Refining the scope of the markets that you want to address is critical when taking your business global. According to Forbes, you want to “Develop a disciplined method to expanding your business and ensure that every new market you explore offers at least one of the following advantages over others:

  • A larger customer base, potentially with a higher willingness to pay
  • Access to cheaper supply of labor or raw material, leading to cost efficiencies
  • Legal, regulatory, or other systemic factors that make it easier to do business.”

Successful international marketing is similar to marketing in the United States. You have to identify customer needs that your company can address. Make sure your products and services, can address them more completely than competitors in that market sect.

Customers will base their loyalty to a company based on how well their needs are tended to, especially on an international scale. Global customer service is important to any consumer. A company with excellent customer service is more likely to get repeat business from customers. Consequently, the company will benefit with greater sales and profits.

As you consider global expansion, one thing to keep in mind is that you never want to make a move that will diminish success and hard work on home soil. Domestic sales are what got you to where you are and will be the key to expanding that success.

Neglecting your foundation and home market to pursue global markets can easily backfire. By maintaining a strong balance between both markets, you will create a strong brand image at home while slowly establishing yourself internationally. This will allow a company to maintain their core mission while responding to its international potential.

It will take time for a small company to take their business international. But with the right steps and commitment, a small business can find itself competing with larger known businesses and gain the same amount of success.

Artificial intelligence and SEO

Artificial intelligence and SEO

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a web search engine’s results page (SERP). Complicated algorithms examine tremendous amounts of data to produce these results.

To facilitate this workload, search engines now employ the use of artificial intelligence (AI). This change has made it necessary for legitimate digital marketers to refine their efforts to maintain quality in terms of technical SEO and content development.

The artificial intelligence learns and uses natural language processing, meaning that AI SEO becomes smarter and more human-friendly. AI is trained by using known data, such as:

  • Content

  • Links

  • User behavior

  • Trust

  • Citations

  • Patterns

The AI systems then analyze that data using user experience, big data, and machine learning to develop new ranking factors. The process is capable of producing marketable results most likely to meet user needs.

RankBrain is Google’s machine-learning, artificial intelligence system that helps process its search results. The system uses an entirely new way of processing queries. This portion of the search engine’s core algorithm looks at search terms that have not been used before and compares the keywords against other searches to determine what type of results the end user is looking for.

Google’s RankBrain is just one form of artificial “narrow intelligence,” which means that, while it can perform things better than a human in one specific area, it is still a relatively weak form of artificial intelligence.

Yet, AI offers marketers insights that will improve ad campaigns. Adopting AI specifically for SEO efforts presents marketers with tactics that enable them to rank higher in search engines and get their ads seen by more people. The data provides insight that enable you to optimize a website, build links with the high-authority domains, and identifies the best keywords to use for each webpage.

Artificial intelligence has now progressed into deeper learning. While combined with search engine optimization, the list of possibilities to perform tasks has brought a whole new way to produce search engine results.

The execution of SEO has changed because Google, Bing, and all the other search engines are employing artificial intelligence (AI) to evaluate the content of pages.

When SEO is combined with artificial intelligence there are improvements in the results that come from search engine optimization.

Cybersecurity is your responsiblity

Cybersecurity is your responsiblity

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, sponsored by the US Department of Homeland Security. This annual campaign raises awareness on the importance of cybersecurity.

In today’s online age, the number of threats to businesses and their customers increases every day. Almost daily, more information about cyber attacks makes its way into headlines. These attacks range from sensitive information such as credit cards stolen from companies to claims of movies being stolen from production companies such as Disney.

Small businesses are key targets

Yet, big business is not the only target. About 43 percent of cyber attacks target small business, and 60 percent of these small companies go out of business within six months of a cyber attack. So why is cybersecurity important?

The increasing prevalence of cybersecurity attacks on both individuals and businesses emphasizes the need for IT security professionals who specialize in cybersecurity.” Attacks are categorized into three general categories:

  • Cybersecurity attacks that target hardware and software, such as malware
  • Financial crimes, such as online fraud and phishing schemes
  • Abuse, also known as “sexploitation”

The threat of data leakage via unmanaged devices is serious,’ says Eduard Meelhuysen, head of EMEA at Bitglass. ‘But having a culture of restricting staff access can actually make an organization more vulnerable, not less.” Companies are attacked due to employees misusing company systems far more regularly that one would expect.

Creating a safe environment

Creating a security culture within a company is all about training and awareness. Hackers constantly find new ways to access information, which is why constant awareness of threats is so important. Individuals face the same effect of cyber attacks and may receive less training on how to protect themselves from cyber attacks.

Cybersecurity procedures should be treated just as important as health and safety procedures have been.

For companies, training can consist of the following:

  • Have a universal security policy
  • Start with basics- learn the difference between each type of attack and how to avoid these situations
  • Make training relevant – training needs to be specific to your organization

For individuals, the following measures will help keep personal data safe:

  • Don’t give out personal information over the phone or via email unless you’re positively sure of whom you’re giving it to
  • Keep your operating system, browser, and anti-virus software updated
  • Create complex passwords that would be hard to guess
  • Never click on links sent via email even if you’re sure they’re legitimate-the safest practice is to go to the company’s website

It’s important to be aware of the risks and threats you might face in cyberspace, but that you also take steps to protect yourself and your data.

Virtual Reality: Life within a Screen

Virtual Reality: Life within a Screen

Virtual reality (VR) is a new, exciting technology to be explored. Only a few years ago, it seemed to be something straight out of science fiction; its roots can be traced into film history of the 1950s. The ‘Sensorama’, invented in 1956, presented short films in specially outfitted movie theaters with corresponding sounds and smells. Its creator, Morton Heilig, used this early VR technology to further immerse the viewer into a storyline.

Though no vocabulary existed for the technology until 30 years after this cinematic appeal to the senses, today Heilig is recognized as the “father of virtual reality”.

Modern virtual reality is experienced by its user through a wearable screen. It encodes head, eye, and motion tracking and conveys them onto an LCD display. This makes it possible to transform 2D images into 3D environments. By manipulating the senses, the user accepts the “reality” presented to them.

With no separation between your sight and the ‘world’ in front of you, virtual reality allows for a deeper submersion than does augmented reality.

The VR boom in the late 1980s was too short-lived to make real strides. Silicon Valley’s VPL invested heavily in the new technology only to declare bankruptcy a few years later. After the market failure of several VR systems in the 90s, interest in its development was lost until very recently.

In the last decade, virtual reality has been sought after by innovators as being the latest in computing technology. According to Palmer Luckey, it is the “final platform”.

Luckey founded Oculus VR, which sold to Facebook for $2.3 billion in 2014. As an authority in the industry, he has a definite understanding of the limitless applications of VR.

As its original backers hoped, VR is already advancing the fields of education, science, exploration and career training. It has also been implemented in treatments for lazy eye and PTSD. VPL’s original founder, Jaron Lanier has made the modest comment that virtual reality is merely the “next logical step” in human innovation.

Following Facebook’s purchase of Oculus VR, Mark Zuckerberg took to his personal page to write: “Our mission is to make the world more open and connected…we can start focusing on what platforms will come next.” Zuckerberg added that “Virtual reality was once the dream of science fiction. But the internet was also once a dream…The future is coming and we have a chance to build it together.”

Augmented reality

Augmented reality

Augmented Reality is the melding of the real world with the digital world found on your smartphone. Think “Pokemon Go.”

You have more than likely encountered augmented reality, even if the term is unfamiliar. It is not to be confused with virtual reality, another recent development in the tech world. AR is experienced alongside the real world, while VR simulates its own reality.

Charles Arthur, a contributor to The Guardian, describes AR as taking “a real-life scene, or (better) a video of a scene, and add[ing] some sort of explanatory data to it so that you can better understand what’s going on, or who the people in the scene are, or how to get to where you want to go”.

By blurring the line between what is real and what is not, AR enhances the digital experience.

The most well-known examples of augmented reality in today’s market are Snapchat filters and Pokémon Go. While it is more easily recognizable in entertainment, AR has also been utilized in marketing, educational and retail ventures.

Augmented reality is also starting to play a role in the workplace. It has been adapted for certain hands-on training exercises. An employee’s virtual presence erases the need for direct contact with different environments.

Where direct involvement is risky, the immersive qualities of AR allows for otherwise impossible experiences. For example, NASA has started to use it for scientific research. This enables advances in exploration that humans couldn’t achieve. We can’t send a person to Mars, but technology is taking that giant leap for us.

In the near future, you might not even be able to tell who is seeing the world through an AR wearable. Going through a single day without experiencing augmented reality in some way might even be impossible.

As the technology behind AR continues to evolve, its limits will be pushed even further. Think about how Pong and other early video games now seem so primitive, yet they were what introduced many the members of today’s workforce to computing. Their innovations have increased the capabilities of operating systems hundreds of times over.

These same kinds of giant strides in AR are still to come. The next generation might be taught about the game-changing nature of Pokémon Go just as today’s youth learn about Tetris.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has already labeled augmented reality as the ‘next new thing’. Anyone who is familiar with the tech industry will agree: now that AR has captured Apple’s eye, every competitor will be clamoring to take it to new heights.

The importance of clean data

The importance of clean data

Data plays a critical part in marketing your brand. It provides insight into your target audience and helps to focus your advertising efforts. Your campaigns can only be as beneficial as your data is accurate.

It’s vital to make sure you’re collecting data in a way that’s precise and useful to your business. Just a few simple changes can make your data collection more serviceable.

Data collection concerns:

  • Don’t ask for too much information. Users are wary of giving out information that they feel is unnecessary or invasive. To avoid this, give succinct explanations of how the data will be used.
  • Avoid using outdated technology. Information forms that look outdated can appear untrustworthy to users. Whatever form you use to collect data should still be consistent with the rest of your site. It should appear simple and professional.
  • Be sure your form fields are efficient. Form fields that require specific formatting, like phone numbers or drop-down menus that don’t offer enough options can cause frustration for users and inaccuracies. For example, users who can’t find their occupation as an option in a drop-down menu are likely to choose another occupation that doesn’t accurately represent them.
  • Validate your data. Although data validation can seem monotonous at first, it’s extremely important. If a user accidentally submits the wrong information, it could lead to complications down the road or an inability to provide quality customer service.
  • Not giving enough incentive for providing information. LinkedIn is a spectacular example of offering a valuable exchange for information. As users add more information to their profile, they can look for jobs that better fit their experience or connect with other users that are closer to their industry.

The common theme throughout each of these concerns is the act of not looking at the big picture. For example, offering a drop-down menu might mean less work for you, but it also means less accurate data. Be sure that your form facilitates your function.

Thoughtfully formatted documents communicate trustworthiness and professionalism. When making changes to the way you collect data, it’s important to think about the larger scheme of things. What changes will be more beneficial to your organization further down the road? How can you make it easier for a user to provide information? In the end, it’s accuracy that’s going to provide you with the best results.

Artificial intelligence (AI), your sales, and customer dollars

Artificial intelligence (AI), your sales, and customer dollars

Artificial intelligence (AI) is the use of computer systems that perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages. Artificial intelligence allows big data sets to be analyzed, segmented and filtered while also gaining the meaning behind them.

AI maximizes data and customer targeting. Most digital campaigns implement data in a broad way. They will identify users who fit a profile and send a mass campaign their way. This type of marketing will target a vast amount of people who may no longer interact with that profile or no longer identify with that profile.

If a retail chain wants to promote their newest pair of basketball shoes, they may target their entire sports audience. Yet, not all of these customers are basketball affiliated. By marketing this product to the all-sports sect, the business would be wasting its time marketing to customers who aren’t interested in the product.

The use of artificial intelligence is able to target specific users. By examining who engaged with the basketball shoe ad, artificial intelligence is able to predict who will engage with similar campaign ads.

In order to keep up with the increased efficiency of the digital age, artificial marketing is necessary to keep digital marketing consistently relevant. The use of artificial intelligence allows marketers to spend their time more wisely by managing campaigns rather than worrying about crunching numbers into data. As digital marketing continues to expand so will artificial intelligence.

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.

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.