Saturday, February 21, 2015

Marketing technology is big (really big) business

Hold on to your hats, spending on marketing tech is about to take off -- $120 billion over the next decade, up from $1.2 billion today. At least that's what Ashu Garg, general partner at Foundation Capital, sees when he gazes into his crystal ball.
"This is unprecedented growth in any software category I've ever come across," Garg says. "There's a fundamental shift, an irreversible trend, of consumers living in a digital world" that's causing a spike in demand for emerging marketing tech.
Foundation Capital, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm, follows more than a thousand marketing tech companies and has an impressive track record of investments in this market and has invested in companies such as Responsys, Tealeaf, Freewheel, Localytics and others. Garg came up with his $120 billion-in-marketing-tech prediction after many conversations with marketers and data analysis of spending trends. (Download “MarTech and the Decade of the CMO.”.)
Money Is No Object
And he's not alone in his rosy view of the market. Late last year, Gartner surveyed some 300 companies and found that digital marketing spending averaged a quarter of the marketing budget in 2014. Half of the companies also plan to increase spending this year.
"Gartner's 2014 CEO Survey found that digital marketing was the No. 1-ranked CEO priority for technology-enabled business capability for investment during the next five years," says Yvonne Genovese, managing vice president at Gartner.
There's no question the CMO is the CEO's new best friend in the world of the digital consumer. The traditionally well-defined lines between sales, marketing and customer service departments are blurring, as digital marketers become the tip of the spear on virtually every customer interaction, including closing online sales.
In the world of the digital consumer, 80 percent of media will be consumed digitally, Garg predicts. The 30-second television commercial will fade into a bygone marketing channel, he says, underscored by Super Bowl spots costing half as much in a decade. Goodbye print media, replaced by digital displays andproximity-based advertising. And all media will be personalized to the consumer and bought and sold programmatically, Garg says.
"Marketing is a technical discipline now," Doug Milliken, vice president of global brand development at Clorox, told Foundation Capital. "We have to re-frame things we have been doing for 100 years."
Can Marketers Control the Message?
One of the top concerns among marketers is the changing nature of content.
Digital consumers have embraced an electric, chaotic word-of-mouth rapport with others online. These possibly crowd-sourced conversations are outside a marketer's control. Digital consumers share stuff on social media, participate on discussion boards, read blog posts, watch Youtube videos, scan customer reviews, and trust comments from strangers over marketing collateral.
Even worse for marketers, most of this "unowned" brand interaction occurs during the critical stage of passive shopping, not active shopping -- three out of four consumers will buy from a brand that rose to the top during passive shopping, says Foundation Capital.
Marketers competing with this unowned content can no longer simply deliver inspirational slogans and pretty pictures, rather marketing content must be chock full of customer stories, fact-based data or other relevant information that lifts it above the noise.
"Marketers must publish or perish," Garg says, as well as use marketing tech to identify the best unowned content and then find ways to amplify it.
While content creation, aggregation, analysis and delivery tools are important for marketers, they are only a piece of the larger marketing-tech puzzle. The many pieces, Garg says, are very complex for marketers to digest and incorporate into their workflow. Foundation Capital has identified some 20 tasks that marketers will need to rely on marketing tech to accomplish, ranging from stitching data together to programmatic buying to surfacing relevant insights at the exact right time to take action and help close the deal.
This story, "Marketing technology is big (really big) business" was originally published by CIO.

Dating App Coffee Meets Bagel Lands $7.8 Million In Series A

Coffee Meets Bagel, the dating service that focuses on quality over quantity, has today announced the close of a $7.8 million Series A financing round led by existing investor DCM Ventures. Quest Ventures and Azure Capital also participated in the round.
Coffee Meets Bagel is an impressive little app.

Launched in 2012, Coffee Meets Bagel aims to find one quality match for their users every day by using friend-of-a-friend connections on Facebook. IF both parties like their match, Coffee Meets Bagel gives the budding couple a discount on a first date activity, like grabbing a coffee or a drink.
Users have 24 hours to respond to a match before it expires and a new day brings about a new potential love interest.
Coffee Meets Bagel is different from most dating apps in that it offers some level of accountability. Potential matches are scraped from real-life connections on Facebook, which ensures that everyone is on their best behavior. Plus, one match ever 24 hours means that attention isn’t divided among multiple matches at once.
The financing will be used to hire more developers and engineers to continue building out the product.
Earlier this year, Coffee Meets Bagel finally launched an Android version of the app, opening up the service to far more potential users. If you want to check out Coffee Meets Bagel, head over to the website here.

Yahoo courts developers at its first mobile conference

Mobile users have become a vital part of Yahoo's recovery effort, and on Thursday it tried to woo developers with new tools to help them build better apps using its services.
The company held its first-ever mobile developer conference in San Francisco on Thursday, where it unveiled tools that help developers collect data about their apps and make money from them using Yahoo advertising services.
Many of the tools come courtesy of Flurry, a mobile analytics and advertising company Yahoo acquired last year. Flurry now has more than 200,000 developers using it's tools, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer said Thursday. Yahoo hopes to get even more developers on board by giving them new ways to see how their apps are performing and by baking Yahoo advertising options directly into Flurry.
Developers who use Flurry can now use the service to incorporate Yahoo search into their apps, for instance. And a new tool called Flurry Explore makes it easier for developers to track how users move through their apps and tweak them to increase engagement.
More than 1,000 people attended the one-day conference, many of them small or independent software developers. Several expressed interest in the new tools, but said they need time to assess how useful they were.
"If they're easy to use like Yahoo says, lots more people might use Flurry," said Ashley Fernandes, who works on prototype app designs at Intuit.
Using Flurry, developers at Tempo AI, a smart calendar app, were able to see a steep increase in engagement after they changed how their app presents alerts. That data helped confirm the change was a good move, cofounder Thierry Donneau-Golencer said.
Flurry's analytics tools are free, but developers must pay if they want to advertise their apps in Yahoo's own mobile products. Developers can also have ads placed by Yahoo within their own apps.
The goal is a mutually beneficial partnership: developers get tools from Yahoo to attract more users and make money, and Yahoo gets to sell more ads and perhaps gather data about mobile users along the way.
Mayer has spent nearly two years rebuilding Yahoo's mobile products, which are a cornerstone of her efforts to make Yahoo a leader again in Silicon Valley.
"We're continuing to invest to make our own apps great, but we want to take what we've learned, including monetization, and make it more broadly available," Mayer said during a talk with the press.
Other developers at the show said they liked having the ability, within Flurry, to advertise their apps within Yahoo apps like Tumblr and the Yahoo News Digest. The ads, known as "native ads," are meant to mimic the content around them.
The event could build awareness of the tools Yahoo offers, said Philipp Kuecuekyan, an independent app developer.
But Yahoo needs more than awareness if it wants to be "the most partner friendly company in Silicon Valley," as Mayer put it Thursday. The company faces stiff competition for mobile developers from Facebook, Google and Twitter, which also provide tools for creating and monetizing apps.
"They've got their work cut out for them," said Nikhil Modi, CEO at Whiz Technologies, which places ads in publishers' apps. He pointed to Google'sAdMob as a powerful competitor to Flurry.
But, he said, "it's good that Google's got competition."

Microsoft's Signature Edition laptops deliver the 'clean PC' experience you really want

Where can you buy a PC without the bloatware, shovelware, or adware that’s characterized Lenovo’s Superfish fiasco? Microsoft has an answer for you: its little-known Signature Edition laptops.
For only a few dollars more than what you’d pay for a laptop from Asus, Dell, Lenovo, or other manufacturers, Microsoft offers a stripped-down notebook with just the latest version of Windows on board, which it claims is “tuned for performance.”
“When you buy a new PC at Microsoft Store, we ensure there’s no third-party junkware or trialware installed,” Microsoft’s Signature Edition Web site says
Toolbars, spyware, utilities and other unwanted apps reside on your hard drive in typical boxed computers, periodically popping up ads and/or enticements for you to subscribe to their services. They also can slow down your PC with hidden processes that run in the background. 
Microsoft’s Signature Editions fill an odd niche in the computing universe, offering a product that the computer manufacturers themselves don’t deliver: a “clean,” optimized PC. In effect, the Signature Edition is the Google Nexus brand of the PC world, presenting Microsoft’s operating system in the best possible light. But instead of one or two Nexus phones or tablets, Microsoft handpicks some of the best PCs: We counted sixteen mainstream laptops and eight additional gaming PCs on the site. Microsoft’s Surface PCs also ship without bloatware installed.

A clean PC, a competitive price

Even better, Microsoft offers a competitive price for its services.  For example, Dell charges $799 for a  Inspiron 13 7000 Series 2-in-1 PC, while Microsoft charges$829 for the same laptop with identical specs. Microsoft support staff say that PCs they sell come with a one-year manufacturer warranty, and a Microsoft Complete service package extends that for an additional two years, complete with Answer Desk support and protection from accidental damage. 
Rather than bundling in time-limited free trial for third-party antivirus solution, Signature Edition PCs ship with Windows Defender, Microsoft's own antivirus/antispyware software—which admittedly falls woefully behind other free antivirus offerings. Windows Defender is enabled by default in Windows 8, but hardware vendors have the option to disable it to include AV trialware. (And if you’re concerned that a Lenovo PC purchased through Microsoft might have Superfish installed—which it doesn’t—Windows Defender now removes it, anyway.)
Microsoft’s Signature Edition laptops have actually been sold since May of 2012—almost three years. You can buy them online or in physical Microsoft Stores, meaning that you can test-drive that new PC yourself, just like at a Best Buy or other computer store. Microsoft used to offer a service where you could bring in a Windows 7 PC and have them essentially convert it to a “Signature Edition” PC for $99; a Microsoft Store representative said that policy is not formally in place, but that in-store techs will also assist with removing bloatware as well as viruses.

Why this matters: Let’s face it: Buying a computer in an electronics store stinks. Not only will you be pressured into buying a service contract, but you’ll need to weed out all the unwanted programs that your new PC ships with. (PCWorld'sguide to blasting bloatware off your PC can help with that.) Microsoft doesn’t offer very many budget PCs, and its physical stores aren’t that easily found. Still, the Signature Edition laptops offer a shopping experience that’s pretty darn appealing.
This story, "Microsoft's Signature Edition laptops deliver the 'clean PC' experience you really want" was originally published by PCWorld.

Apple Accused Of Poaching Employees Of Electric Battery Making Company!

An electronic car battery maker company has reportedly filed a lawsuit against Apple for allegedly poaching top engineers from their team. According to the lawsuit, Apple started their aggressive hiring campaign in June last year to recruit five A123 System employees.

These employees have performed critical development and testing task at the company. The lawsuit clearly states that, “Apple is currently working on large scale battery division to compete in very same field as A123 systems.” They have further provided an evidence that shows Apple’s interest in development of electric car.

A123 Systems specialises in energy storage systems for various commercial and industrial applications. The company was founded in 2001. A123 Systems has many clients in commercial and industrial applications. The company has developed an advanced energy storage for electric-drive vehicles. The company claims that they have built an intelligent lithium-ion hybrid systems for transit buses.

Apple buzzed the media last week for creating a team charged with electric car design. It was also rumored that Apple is preparing to compete with leading electric car maker, Tesla and other electric car manufacturers. However, Apple has not answered to any of these several rumors. 

Apple has hired these five employees from A123 Systems to perform the same tasks, which violates non-compete and disclosure agreements. A123 claims that Apple earlier hired one of their employee in June, which later helped Apple in recruiting more of the other four and all of them finally started working for Apple in the last month.

The lawsuit also indicates that Apple has targeted other battery manufacturing companies like LG, Samsung, Panasonic, Toshiba and Johnson Controls as well. Apple has always been ambitious to enter in the automobile industry. Last year, the company was speaking with Tesla to acquire them. Apple has already hired some of the Tesla employees too.