The Google+ offensive continues today, with the announcement from Google that it’s pulling together parts of its omnipresent search engine with its social network to introduce a new feature that suggests other articles to mobile Web visitors.
The feature’s launch is seemingly restricted to Forbes for now, but it’s safe to assume more will be announced in the coming days and weeks.
From today, visitors to Forbes’ mobile website (on iOS or Android) will be ‘recommended’ other Forbes’ articles based on Search Authorship, signals and other articles with significant Google+ activity, such as +1s and shares.
All recommendations are context-specific, and will vary depending on the page currently being viewed. It’s worth noting, they aren’t pop-ups, so to speak, they only appear when a users ‘taps’ the little button at the bottom to read more.
Recommendations can appear whether a visitor is signed in to their Google Account or not, but if they are signed in they will also see pieces that have been +1d or shared by people in their circles.
We’re starting to see a flurry of Google+ related activity ahead of Google I/O this week. Earlier this year, Google announced Google+ Sign-In, essentially taking on Facebook Connect. Following on from this, Google announced it was “bringing app activities to Google Search” through Google+ Sign-In. Essentially, this means that if you search for a site or app on Google (assuming it has Google+ Sign-In integration), you’ll see popular and aggregate user activity within the search results page. Tying in with this, SoundCloud introduced Google+ Sign-In today.
“We’ve got lots more planned for Google+ content recommendations, and Google+ Sign-In more generally, so we’re looking forward to having over 50 companies who have integrated Google+ Sign In share their stories this week from Google I/O,” says Mario Anima, Product Manager, Google+.
Feature Image Credit – Thinkstock
Read the original here: Google targets mobile Web publishers with content recommendation tool built on Google+ activity
I don’t want to awaken the ire of any committed pet owners — because I think you can do whatever you want with your pets (and your money) — but I would be lying if I said I didn’t cringe a little bit when I hear about extreme pet products and services like doggie treadmills, pet psychiatrists or pet fitness centers and the like.
In a quick conversation behind the stage at TechCrunch Disrupt, an unofficial, unscientific, non-statistically sound poll indicated that “if you don’t have time to walk your dog and need to outsource that to a health club…maybe you just shouldn’t have a dog.”
I concur with those results.
Still, I came across FitBark on the floor of the Hardware Alley at TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2013 and while it could, at first, seem “extreme” I found that after talking to these guys and hearing their explanation, their little device actually seems pretty reasonable.
What is the FitBark? From a technological standpoint, it is a wearable accelerometer that you put on your dog’s collar to monitor their activity. In most ways the product is very similar to products like the Nike Fuel + Band or the FitBit, however the strategy behind it — and this is the reasonable part — is quite different.
FitBark is not designed to be a performance indicator or weight loss utility or competitive device for animals. Instead, it’s just an activity monitor so loving pet owners can make sure their dogs are getting enough activity.
How it works is that, as the dog moves about, their activity is captured and stored on the device (up to three weeks of data can be stored).
Whenever the FitBark comes into the proximity of the owners iPhone’s or optional homebase unit — via Bluetooth 4 or Wi-Fi — the data is transferred off of the FitBark, passed through the FitBark app on the iPhone and transferred up to the cloud where that data is stored.
The historical data can then be visualized on any of the iOS devices that are allowed to view the data. In this way, dog owners can have real-time info about the pet’s activity.
Another hint that the FitBark is reasonable is their one-time pricing model. There are no ongoing monthly service fees or memberships required. You buy the hardware device upfront ($99 from their Kickstarter page), and you get the data it produces for free. I”’m guessing they have worked their data hosting costs into the hardware price.
In this way, it really seems like a tool for care and not a stingy racket for recurring fees.
I’m not sure this is a product I myself would ever use, as I tend to think dogs are evolutionarily equipped to survive living in what James Brown would call “a man’s world.” However I can see how loving, caring and yes, reasonable pet owners might like to see this data about their dogs. Because of that, the FitBark seems like a useful piece of hardware.
Private company M&A and venture capital database CB Insights has issued its Q1 2013 report on venture capital and deals. According to the report, VCs invested $6.9 billion across 841 deals (eclipsing a Q3 2012 high), which is the highest level since dot-com days, says CB Insight. You can find a full copy of the report here.
One of the most interesting data points noted by CB Insights was that Series C, D and E all saw an increase in shares of funding dollars while Series A and B both saw declines. Consistent with the reports we’ve seen over the past few months, seed funding continued relatively the same despite concerns about a Series A crunch.
Deal volume was up 7 percent from last year, and funding, relative to Q1 2012, was up 17 percent. Seed VC activity was fairly flat on a sequential basis (194 seed VC deals in Q1 2013 vs. 190 in Q4 2012) but year-over-year VC seed deals are up 31 percent (148 in Q1 2012). Internet deal activity climbed to multi-year highs hitting 379 deals (best since Q1 200), but social as a category made up only 4 percent of deals. CB Insights attributes this jump to the boom in enterprise deals. Clean-tech deals and dollars also hit multi-year lows.
Investment dollars within mobile hit $718 million in Q1, a high beat only by Q3 2012, which saw $968 million in investment. The actual amount of deals dipped to 106 from 122. As a sub-industry in mobile, security is seeing a boom, with over 30 percent of funding dollars for the quarter.
Specifically for Internet companies, deal activity and funding to Internet companies increased 10 percent and 12 percent from Q4 2012, respectively, and climbed 16 percent and 35 percent on a year-over-year basis.
In terms of states for the second time in the last two years, New York beat out Massachusetts on overall number of deals and funding in a quarter (behind California). In fact, CB Insights says Massachusetts hit a five-quarter low for deal share. As CB Insights reports, “The holy trinity of California, New York and Massachusetts was disbanded in Q1 with Mass. falling out of the top 3 for both deals and dollars.” Utah replaces Massachusetts for the third spot.
If you thought corporate websites were gathering the equivalent of digital dust as marketers moonlight on social media to lure in the punters, think again. According to a new poll of U.S. marketers conducted by Gartner, corporate websites are ranked as the top digital activity for marketing “success” — beating marketing on social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Social media marketing, however, ranked as the next most important activity, equal in importance to online advertising.
The survey, conducted in November and December of 2012, polled a relatively small sample of 250+ marketers from U.S.-based companies with more than $500 million in annual revenue, across six industries (financial services and insurance, high-tech, manufacturing, media, retail and healthcare).
Design, development and maintenance of the corporate website was cited by 45% of survey respondents as contributing to marketing success, with marketing on social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter cited by 43%. Digital/online advertising was also cited by 43%. The survey asked respondents to rank different marketing activities first, second and third in importance, collating all three preferences to get the overall percentage. On first place preference, corporate websites came out joint top with online advertising, cited by 18% apiece as the most important activity. Social media slumped in importance on this measure — cited by just six per cent of respondents as the most important activity (and second only to the company blog):
The results indicate that corporate websites still have a key role to play when it comes to marketing a company’s offerings, despite the big role also played by social media. It’s also notable that mobile marketing is still relatively low down the priorities list, with an aggregated percentage of 24%. It’s still far better than the poor unloved (and doubtless rarely updated) company blog, though, with just 6%.
“The survey results suggest that the corporate website will not be displaced anytime soon by a brand’s social media presence,” said Bill Gassman, research director at Gartner, commenting on the results in a statement.
And while the Facebookification of the Web evidently hasn’t replaced corporate websites quite yet, it does pose a challenge to marketers — in terms of making sure dull but worthy sites stand out. Gassman says marketers should therefore be investing in “measuring and optimizing their websites through Web analytics and testing, paying attention to all aspects — from customized landing pages to compelling content that encourages visitors to be engaged with your brand”.
Corporate websites perhaps have a key reputational role to play in the marketing mix, supplementing and underpining social media marketing spending — by providing reassurance of a brand’s professionalism where a Facebook page can provide evidence of user engagement/approval (or otherwise).
In other results from the survey, Gartner found the majority of respondents are spending between 10% and 50% of their marketing budget on digital marketing activities, with the average being a quarter (25%). While digital marketing spending averages 2.5% of company revenue — but budgets are expected to rise to 9% in 2013.
In 2012, the survey found marketers allocated the largest share of their digital marketing budget (12.5%) to digital advertising, vs. 9.4% to social media marketing activities (the seventh largest share). Mobile marketing took 7.4% of the 2012 allocation.
The top priorities for increased budgets in 2013 are commerce experiences, social and mobile marketing, and content creation and management, according to the survey.
We’ve previously written about how music service Senzari was planning to take on Pandora and traditional radio, launching initially back in 2011 in private beta, before opening to everyone in Brazil, Spain and the US last March.
The Miami-based company then went on to acquire Berlin location-based music startup Wahwah.fm in October last year, before announcing it was taking on the Wahwah branding for its own main service a few weeks back. And today, at SXSW in Texas, Senzari finally launched its new rebranded service, going mobile-only with its first incarnation which is now live in Apple’s App Store. It too will be restricted to the same three countries as before.
“After we acquired Wahwah.fm, we went to work to combine the vision of both companies and decided to build a completely new mobile-first experience from the ground up,” explains Bill Hajjar, CEO of Senzari. “We want to be more than just a music player for smartphones, which is the focus for most current services. Wahwah is a real-time, intelligent, social music experience that contextually adapts to whatever the user is currently doing, like driving, cycling, running, cooking or just relaxing, and broadcasts the experience, allowing others to join in and listen in real-time.”
In a nutshell, Wahwah lets users enjoy music with friends and strangers around the world, while participating in their favorite activities. Each station has an activity and location associated with it, so Wahwah is striving to make it easier to find other listeners based on what they are doing and where they are.
For example, if someone is going for a cycle across the Golden Gate Bridge, they can start their own activity-based station, or join someone else that may be cycling somewhere else.
First up, you will have to connect your Facebook account to even look inside Wahwah, which won’t appeal to everyone. Assuming that’s not a deal-breaker, when you launch the app you’ll first see a series of trending radio stations…that is, stations that are being accessed by the most people. You can also filter by ‘Featured Radios’, which is curated, ‘Radios Around Me’, ‘Friends Radios’ or ‘Radios by Activity’.
Now, the latter of these include ‘Driving’, ‘Cycling’, ‘Cooking’ and more, and all have been specifically programmed for the activity in question.
“We decided to put Trending front and center, to show that it is a real-time service, and people are doing things live right now,” explains Demian Bellumio, COO of Senzari. “We could have put ‘Featured’ there, which has editorial stations from our partners and us for people to choose from, but we think the real-time aspect is a unique experience.”
You can create your own personalized artist-based station simply by entering the name of your favorite artist in the search box.
You can make it private if you like, but Wahwah sells itself as a social app, so making it ‘On Air’ is more in-keeping with the app’s ethos. Ironically, one of the first songs served up on my Bob Dylan-themed station was a George Harrison song called Wah-Wah, but I’ll put that down to a happy coincidence rather than a bizarre marketing stunt.
You can scan the various markets Wahwah is available in (the US, Spain and Brazil for now), and look at current broadcasts by location, while the main menu section gives you access to the ‘Radios’ portal and personal settings.
Here, you can tweak your Facebook sharing/follow settings, or log-out. You can also view your personal profile that shows the number of stations you’ve created, and ‘Following’/’Followers’ count.
You can view the station history, which includes songs-skipped and who else has joined the station to listen. And within the station settings option, you can tell it whether you want everything automated, or opt to gain more control over what it plays.
There’s certainly a lot of potential here for Wahwah, and it does bring a new social-based music service into the mix, but it would be good to see this roll-out globally.
“Technologically speaking, we have concentrated on optimizing the experience for a real-time, personalized and mobile co-listening experience; which is very different than just building a music player,” explained Bellumio. “We try to leverage every sensor of the phone, from the GPS to the accelerometer, to ensure that we can understand the context of the user. This allows us to deliver the perfect song, and do it as close to real-time and as efficiently as possible.”
An iPad-optimized version will be hitting the market too, as will Android and Firefox OS. Interestingly, a Web-based incarnation will be reintroduced for the new rebranded app too, though this is seemingly not even in development yet. The learnings from the mobile app(s) will be used to build this over time.
The new Wahwah app is available to download for iOS now.
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