Mar 6, 2013
Instagram has over 100 million users, but it doesn’t generate any revenue for Facebook. On the flip side, Shutterstock has over 22 million photos in its database and is a publicly traded company generating tons of revenue.
So, what’s Shutterstock doing differently than Facebook?
For starters, Shutterstock is a subscription service that relies on a secure approval process for its photos.
Shutterstock founder and CEO Jon Oringer talks to us about Shutterstock’s comprehensive approval process and what life is like as the leader of a publicly traded company:
- Privacy and Terms of Service Changes on Instagram Effective January 16, 2013, Instagram is updating its Privacy and Terms of Service documents. The new policies, which can be read on their blog, addresses sharing user information as a part of Facebook and new spam/abuse policies. The biggest change, found in the ‘Rights’ section of the new Terms of Service, gives Instagram the right to use your photos and profile information in ads without compensation. [Instagram Blog]
- Facebook to Launch Its Own Snapchat Competitor App Facebook is prepping to launch a service that will go head-to-head with Snapchat, a popular app that lets users send photos and short videos to one another—which are then automatically deleted after a brief increment of time. Facebook’s as-yet unnamed application will be, much like its Messenger and Camera apps, entirely self-contained and separate from the main Facebook app. Look for its release before the year’s end. [AllThingsD]
- New Rhapsody for iPad and iPad Mini: the Fastest, Most Visually-Stunning Rhapsody Experience Yet Premium music streaming service Rhapsody has released a new iPad app. Built for the ground up for the tablet with a visual-heavy interface, the Rhapsody app comes with a free 30-day trial for those looking to give it a shot. [Rhapsody Blog]
Last week, Verizon filed a patent for a set-top box that detects what you’re doing while you watch TV, and serves you advertising accordingly. Ew, weird, companies watching what I do while I consume content. Big brother! Chill, son.
“Methods and Systems for Presenting an Advertisement Associated with an Ambient Action of a User” describes a system by which a device captures information about what you’re doing while enjoying TV, movies, etc, and uses it to target advertising to you. Using a “a depth sensor, an image sensor, an audio sensor, and a thermal sensor” the system would be able to detect whether you’re fiddling with your phone, interacting with another person, as well as performing any of:
eating, exercising, laughing, reading, sleeping, talking, singing, humming, cleaning, and playing a musical instrument.
Now, this might seem kind of creepy, but there’s a few important points to remember before you freak out and sound the privacy alarm. First, companies like Facebook, Google, etc, are capturing all sorts of information about what you’re consuming online and using it to serve you targeted advertising. Second, any system like this would almost certainly require you to opt-in before peeking into your life. Besides, how many of these patents actually turn into products, anyway? [USPTO via Ars Technica via Betabeat]
Image from: Holiday Shopping / Shutterstock
As we reach the end of October, more consumers are focusing their sights on December. As of October 21, about half the consumers surveyed in the Compete Holiday Intelligence™ survey had already begun shopping for the holidays, up 5 percent in 2 weeks. In fact, almost 1 out of 10 consumers had already finished half of their holiday shopping.
While more consumers got into the holiday spirit last week, they did not favor any one particular category. Shopping was up across almost all product categories. One of the most noticeable changes that occurred over the past few weeks was the decrease in gift card shopping and the increase in photo gift shopping. Perhaps consumers shop for generic stocking stuffers early and are now focusing on more personalized gifts.
Mass merchants continue to be the preferred destination for early holiday shoppers. Both in store and online shopping at these retailers increased last week compared to the first week of October. It is interesting to note that while Walmart in store purchases increased more than Target in store purchases, the opposite is true online. Target.com purchasing increased 150 percent whereas Walmart.com shopping only increased 58 percent.
The Compete Holiday Intelligence™ survey is your source for holiday insights. Be sure to check back in the coming months as we continue to track consumer shopping.
Every company has to deal with people who talk about it on the Internet, and different ones handle it differently. Nestle for instance, maintains an elite team of Digital Accelerators that, as an article by Reuters reveals, watches the wide world of Internet comments like a hawk.
The Digital Acceleration Team, comprised of over two dozen people, is located in Nestle’s HQ in Switzerland where they man a control room outfitted with all manner of displays, keeping a close eye on the words of commenters across the globe, and deciding when to intervene.
Pete Blackshaw, 47-year old head of digital marketing and global media, is in charge. On a recent weekday, the American and his staff of 30 to 40-year-olds were monitoring the online action on such topics as the latest cute dog photo on the Purina pet food website, or who was drinking Nescafe.
…”If there is a negative issue emerging, it turns red,” says Blackshaw, indicating a screen powered by software from Salesforce.com Inc., which is also used by such brands as Dell computers and delivery company UPS. It captures millions of posts each day on topics of interest to Nestle.
Nestle insists that it neither pays pro-Nestle bloggers nor buys fake fans and followers. Instead, it merely supports a group of professional browsers to comb over the most mundane references to the company day after day, week after week. Historically, Nestle has had some serious enemies, so the lengths to which they’re going might not be too far out, but it’s still wild to imagine the control room devoted to this monitoring, and knowing it actually exists.
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Best Buy plans to match the price of internet retailers like Amazon over the holidays this year, as well as offering free home delivery when stores are out of stock.
According to a good ol’ “person familiar with the matter”, the electronics chain is assuming the strategy over the holiday season to draw customers away from shopping purely online. That’s something that will appeal to many consumers—especially those who prefer a traditional shopping experience.
It does, however, seem to contradict comments made by Best Buy’s new CEO Hubert Joly. He recently claimed that the prevalence of “showrooming”—where consumers head into shops to check out goods before ultimately buying online—has been blown out of proportion.
Maybe that contradiction is just reflective of the conundrum all big-box retailers face: they need to keep up with online retailers, but they don’t want to lose sight of what once made them successful. That’s a tough call.
Either way, price matching would inevitably draw in more custom. Would you buy something at Best Buy instead of ordering online, all prices being equal? [WSJ]
The Pirate Bay tends to be a website that national governments aren’t particularly fond of. That being the case, it’d be surprising if a national government ran ads on the site, advertising an Economic Action Plan, right? Canada did that, but not on purpose.
Banner ads for Canada’s Department of Finance’s Economic Action Plan started showing up on the site a few days ago, right next to ads for finding a Chinese bride, as shown by an image from the Ottawa Citizen. The ads were removed quickly, and the Department of Finance is blaming ad networks that were included in their media buy, specifically Yahoo!.
Yahoo! is in turn pointing a finger at Sympatico:
We have confirmed that Yahoo! was not responsible for the EAP ad showing up on The Pirate Bay. We have been able to trace the ad to Sympatico who were responsible for this ad’s appearance on the site, and they have been notified of the issue so they can take the appropriate actions.
Regardless of whose fault it actually was, the fact remains that for a while, the Pirate Bay had the pleasure of running a few government-purchased ads, and is enjoying the irony. According to TorrentFreak they’re even considering covering the site with unsolicited ads for the plan, for kicks. Though only the first run paid in real money, a second one would probably pay pretty well in smirks. [TorrentFreak via CNET]
Smart diners rely on restaurant reviews to find good food. But a new study investigates for the first time the complex relationships between online ratings and real-world success—and reveals that losing just half a star can leave a restaurant in ruin.
The Guardian reports that a team of economists from the University of California, Berkeley, has investigated how 300 restaurants in San Francisco perform, and cross-referenced the results with star ratings from Yelp.com to understand how reviews affect success.
They found that an extra half-star caused a restaurant’s 7pm bookings to fill up 20 percent more often. Interestingly, they also managed to disentangle those changes in trade from price differences, food quality and service, suggesting that it was the reviews alone that brought in custom. Writing in the Economic Journal, the economists explain:
“The findings of this study demonstrate that – although social media sites and forums may not generate the financial returns for which investors yearn – they play an increasingly important role in how consumers judge the quality of goods and services.”
The research does, however, suggest that some restauranteurs shouldn’t be too happy with Yelp’s calculations. The researchers point out that when Yelp.com computes a star rating for a business, it it rounds off to the nearest half-star. That means that a restaurant with a 3.74 rating shows up as a 3.5-star venue, while an establishment with an almost-identical 3.76 score appears to have a 4-star rating.
Given the financial impact such ratings have, according to the economists, there’s never been more incentive for restaurants to rig reviews. In the meantime, though, the research also suggests that star ratings might not the best predictor of how great your plate of food turns out—so it might be best to take them with a pinch of salt. [The Economic Journal via The Guardian]
Image by Olly/Shutterstock
Mankind has been able to accomplish some pretty impressive things, but some of them were around long before we figured them out. Ants, for instance, hunt for food in a way that’s basically the same as the Internet’s Transmission Control Protocol (TCP), and they were doing it long before the Internet was around.
It all has to do with how harvester ants gather their food. The same way that TCP will throttle data transmission if initial packets indicate little bandwidth, harvester ants will send less foragers out for food if the initial ones take too long to come back with grub.
From Stanford News:
[The] rate at which harvester ants – which forage for seeds as individuals – leave the nest to search for food corresponds to food availability.
A forager won’t return to the nest until it finds food. If seeds are plentiful, foragers return faster, and more ants leave the nest to forage. If, however, ants begin returning empty handed, the search is slowed, and perhaps called off.
And that’s not where the similarities end either. Ants also use TCP’s slow start technique, by sending out a wave of foragers (packets) to figure out the relative amount of food (bandwidth) before scaling their numbers up or down. Likewise, the same way a connection will time out if the source stops sending packets, the ants will stop sending out new foragers if none return for 20 minutes.
Balaji Prabhakar, one of the researchers behind the discovery, says that if this behavior had been uncovered pre-Internet, it might have influenced its design. Even so, this foraging process has been seriously time-tested, and there still might be things we can learn from it. In the meantime, who knows what other algorithms might already be out there, quietly waiting to be discovered. [Stanford News]
Image from: Colored Pencils / Shutterstock
I love office supplies. No one should ever leave me alone in a supply closet of office supplies unless they want to return to the sight of me hoarding fresh notebooks and pens. This Sunday Series I decided to take a look at June’s data for the industry profile of Shopping>Office and School Supplies, and I noticed that a few of the biggest movers were related to ink supplies. It looks like offices aren’t feeling the drowsiness of summer and are keeping their ink supplies stocked and ready. Next month I’ll check back in to see if the impending school year has shifted the top 10, or if ink is still reigning supreme.
Dr. Augustine Fou is Digital Consigliere to marketing executives, advising them on digital strategy and Unified Marketing(tm). Dr Fou has over 17 years of in-the-trenches, hands-on experience, which enables him to provide objective, in-depth assessments of their current marketing programs and recommendations for improving business impact and ROI using digital insights.
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