General

Streaming Video – The Future of Television?

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Is streaming ads the next stage of TV marketing evolution? It certainly seems to be the case. Consider some of the following evidence.

Streaming Services

2 out of 5 households in the US are already subscribing to at least one streaming service, and many of those households decided they just couldn’t choose. Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime are the big three. Each offers unique content, albeit Prime and Netflix often have similar free shows. Hulu sets itself apart by airing current content.

The real dramatic change in recent months is the influx of made-for-streaming TV shows. The 2015 Emmy nominations were given out to 48 different networks. Netflix original shows took 6th for most nominations and received only one less nod than Fox. In fact, other than HBO, no other station received more than 42 (compared to Netflix which received 34). Amazon Instant Video (Prime) received 12 nominations. Streaming services don’t just have original shows; they have some of the best shows on TV.

Streaming Devices

Google, Apple, and Amazon have all released devices to compete with the Roku. The fact is that streaming devices are a great way to turn a dumb TV into a smart TV instantly. Suddenly, you have access to Netflix, Hulu, and tons of other streaming services. And it’s not just TV. These devices can also be used to stream music. It looks like streaming is the future of radio too.

Streaming Apps

There hasn’t been a bandwagon like this in a while. It seems like every network has decided to produce a streaming app, each with different rules that restrict what shows can be watched without some membership or login that proves a user has a TV provider. It makes for some frustration when it comes to finding your favorite show and discovering what hoops you need to jump through in order to watch it. This seems to be the one weak link in the streaming take over.

What This Means for Marketers

Before you start prepping your next service for streaming ads, it is important to note that the majority of streamers are between the ages of 18 and 34. In fact, once you hit 55 and over, the number using a streaming service drops rapidly.  In fact, viewers age 45 and up are still primarily watching broadcast TV. It is also interesting to note that the number of women who prefer streaming TV online still outnumber the men. Finally, and perhaps most significantly, streaming video is preferred in lower income houses, and the number of streamers drops off quickly in homes that gross more than 75k per year.

The Tech Industry Is Still Struggling With Gender Roles

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Sexism is still rampant in the workplace, and it may show up in the tech industry even more dramatically than in some other fields of work. Why is the tech industry such a boys club? What role do gender stereotypes play? Do women even want these jobs? It is clear that a substantial distinction still exists between men and women in the workplace when it comes to jobs involving technology.

Gender Perception

The lack of women in the tech workplace probably goes back to childhood. Just like you don’t hand Barbie dolls to your boys, few parents encourage young girls to become computer programmers or to work in technology in general. The fact is that most people perceive the industry as being better suited to how the male mind works (more logical than emotional).

What Do Researchers Say?

A UK periodical conducted a survey of individuals who work in the tech industry. More than half were convinced that women will get paid less than men for the same job. Of course, you may argue that this occurs in other industries as well. The survey also determined that nearly three-quarters of both women and men perceive the tech industry as being sexist.

How Do Women Feel About Tech Jobs?

An interesting study followed the career path of university students who got jobs in the tech industry after graduation. Surprisingly, nearly a third of the men in the study eventually left their tech jobs to find other kinds of work. However, more than half of women left tech-heavy work to seek out other professions. Is it possible that this study is reporting an interesting truth – that most women don’t want to be in the tech industry anyway?

Regardless of the whys or wherefores, the fact is that the tech industry is still struggling with gender roles because it is seriously slanted in the direction of males, at least for the time being. Time will determine if women care enough to seek out better positions in the industry for future generations or if the stereotypes will prevail.

Measurability Faces Off Against Creativity in the Social Media Forum

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When it comes to social media and business, one of the hottest topics is crisis management. After all, scandals from social media abound. It raises a question: Which is better for your business, a creative but risky use of social media or a safe a measurable campaign? The debate continues on.

The Risks and Rewards of Real-Time Marketing (RTM)

Real-time marketing has become the gambling addict’s form of marketing. After all, there is an awful lot of money to be made in a short amount of time if your business hits it just right. It calls for creativity, but also a lot of luck. Unfortunately, real-time marketing is far more likely to end up blowing up in a company’s face. It is definitely a high risk, high reward form of marketing.

But real-time marketing does not have to mean waiting around for something to happen on the world scene in order to try and capitalize to make a profit. Some of the most successful real-time ventures involve campaigns that are already in place. The fact is that if your firm focuses on measurable campaigns, there is nothing wrong with capitalizing on something related that comes up. Keeping RTM efforts relevant to already existing campaigns lowers the risk.

Snapchat is an obvious RTM tool. Popularity of the app is growing and this is a great opportunity for businesses to get into a form of social marketing at the ground level. The conundrum then is about finding the best way to use Snapchat as a marketing tool. This is yet another RTM method that could go horribly awry. One method that many marketers have successfully used is “learn from the mistakes of others.” You do not have to be the first company in your industry to take on Snapchat if you can do it better when you finally get on the bandwagon.

How Instagram Topped the Social Media Site Twitter

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In December of 2014, Instagram announced that it hit the 300 million mark when it comes to active users on a monthly basis, finally surpassing Twitter after years of being in the social media competitor’s shadow. How did the photo sharing site catch up to and finally outdo its uber-popular counterpart?

It probably all started when Facebook opened up the piggy bank and purchased Instagram for an obscene amount of money ($768 million). Suddenly, Instagram went from becoming popular through word of mouth to being owned by the biggest name in social media. With over 1.3 billion Facebook users, maybe 300 million Instagram users should sound like too few.

Instagram is a much more manageable form of social media for most people. I don’t know about you, but I could never possibly see every tweet from every account that I follow. On Instagram, however, I can check a couple of times per day and see everything. It is just a very convenient way to see diverse content without being spammed by a ton of stuff I don’t care about.

It is unfortunate that Instagram is a little restrictive as far as digital marketing is concerned. It’s basically just a customer engagement tool as far as businesses are concerned. Plus, if companies lose credibility over an employee posting a 140 character tweet, imagine what would happen if they posted an offensive image (especially if you count a picture as 1,000 words)?

In short, Instagram is all about user engagement, and that is what makes it such a popular social media choice. For businesses who want to venture into the Instagram world, keep in mind the reason people check their Instagram. Sell less, and work on brand perception more. They’ve added about 50% to the user base in the past nine months, so the app must be doing something right.

Google Ups the Content Ante Once Again With Panda

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The one constant about digital marketing and Google’s algorithms is that both these are constantly changing. As a digital marketer, you have to be on your toes. Panda, while not as extensive as previous updates, is still making waves when it comes to content. If you want to continue to drive targeted traffic to your website from the search engine super giant, then you need to know what each update is all about.

Do not forget the reason behind the constant updates from Google. Search is their golden goose. Everything else that the corporation owns and runs spring from the enormous fortune they make off of things such as Adwords. Why do people use Google? It provides them with the most relevant search results. That’s the bottom line. They offer a service to their customers. While many of Google’s clients are businesses, their attention has to be fixed on the client using their primary product – the search engine. Companies only pay for ads with Google because they know they can count on those millions of searches. That means you cannot expect Google to be looking out for your best interests when they improve the search algorithm.

The reason for the Panda update is simple. More and more people are shopping on their phones. Google needed to make sure that search results provide consumers with the best buying options. That means that location-based data is ranking more strongly in a local setting. It also means that weak content and copied content are being hit with harder penalties. It looks bad for Google when the first five search results are all fluff–all the same fluff at that. It also means that Google is ranking sites based on UX. If your content is keyword stuffed, the page is riddled with ads, and the site is so cluttered that the bounce rate is high, Google will stop sending traffic.

That means, in the end, the same rules apply as did before Panda for digital marketing. Provide the best content, and get the best ranking. It really is that simple. If you look at the algorithm as a puzzle you have to solve, you never will. Google doesn’t care about whether you win or lose. They just want you to play fair. That is, what is best for their customers, which makes it best for their bottom line. Don’t forget: Google is in business to make money, just like everyone else. And they are very good at it.

2016 Search Engine Optimization – Trends to Follow

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Big changes are in store for SEO in 2016. Is your company ready to stay on top? Here are a few things you need to prepare for.

  • Voice Search – Not only are more and more people searching using mobile devices, but many of those searches are voice searches. That means ranking for long-tail keywords that consumers are likely to speak. Don’t forget that people are utilizing their digital assistants like Siri, Ok Google, Facebook M, and Cortana, so be sure that your content is optimized to meet their needs.
  • Real-Time Penguin Penalties – Google’s latest update has been pushed back to early 2016. At least, that gives you a little extra time to prepare. Penalties will now be assessed in real-time. That means sticking to algorithm guidelines more closely than ever before.
  • Integration Is a Must – SEO campaigns will have to align more closely with the rest of a brand’s marketing initiatives. This includes everything from media buying and PPC to social media and affiliate marketing.
  • Google Answers Queries – The trend is for Google to present itself as the authority on every searchable topic. However, Google’s answers generally come from authority sites. This presents the opportunity for brands to move to the front of a search even if the site doesn’t rank number one.
  • Image and Video Recognition – As search engines get better at examining speech, we can look forward to advances in the use of images and videos for SEO. For now, we still need to tell Google what our videos and images are about. Will 2016 be the year that Google starts watching our videos, viewing our images, and picking out keywords on its own?
  • In-Platform Competition – With Google, Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon vying for supremacy, you can expect platforms to be where the hottest competition takes place. Google still rules the world for search, so SEO will continue to focus on Google ranking.
  • Jazz Up Your SERP Appearance – Schema can increase click-through by giving searchers a more accurate description of what they’ll get when they click on your link.

Search engine optimization continues to be a vital driver in online marketing, and with its inherent connection to technologies, SEO must keep up with them more now than ever.

Doomsday for Higher Education

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Doomsday for Higher Education: Another Casualty of the Digital Age?

By higher education, we are referring to university degrees of four years or more. So, what happens during those four years? For most people, they amass a huge amount of student loans without acquiring the skills that the digital age requires from just about everyone. The sooner people realize that, the sooner higher education facilities are going to feel the effects of how little they really do to prepare people for the modern business world. If universities don’t change, it could be doomsday for higher education.

Universities often boast about how they prepare students for the real world, and how higher education is necessary to secure a job in a tough market. Maybe that was true a decade ago, but universities aren’t reaching those goals for most people. Just check out the unemployment rate and know that many of those people are college educated and trying to pay off massive student loans. How can academia fix this failing? First, they need to start providing practical skills for students rather than just giving students years of theory.

The next major failing of higher education is ROI (that’s Return On Investment for those of you with PhDs). School is just too expensive. There’s almost no way (unless you are a doctor or a lawyer), to graduate and pay the loans back in a reasonable amount of time. State colleges are averaging nearly $9,000 a year, and that’s if you are a resident (don’t bother if you are from another state). Private collages average over $30K a year! So, here’s the bottom line: Is what you get back worth what you put in?

Ultimately, higher education is not just failing students in the modern business world; they are also failing companies by not producing people with the skills needed for the digital age. The best education someone can get today is to learn how to be a good learner and be willing to adjust to the ever changing business world. If not, then it really will be doomsday for higher education.

Smart Carpet

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Digital Signage: Soon to Be Underfoot

Phillips may have gotten the idea from watching The Wizard of Oz and seeing Dorothy follow the yellow brick road. Regardless of where the idea came from, you may find yourself looking down for signs instead of up in carpet buildings like airports, hotels, and more. Phillips is working on carpets with LEDs embedded.

It’s still early in the planning phase, so there isn’t an official name yet for the carpet. It will be able to produce all sorts of digital displays and then go back to looking like normal floor cover. The plan is twofold, since many high-traffic areas are becoming cluttered with signs, but many people look down while they walk. Wall space is freed up, and signs will be more readily visible to people who are keeping their heads down.

Maybe the best function of this carpet will be as emergency lighting in situations that call for it. LED arrows on the carpet could direct traffic towards emergency exits much like airplanes have emergency lighting designed to direct passengers to the closest exit. Of course, you can expect ads to eventually be underfoot, as well.

The carpet may be released as early as 2014 overseas, but there is not a scheduled release yet in the United States. It may not be long, though, before we don’t have to lift our heads to find a way out of a building in an emergency.

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