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The Many Faces of Multivariate Testing
August 14, 2014
When Facebook and OKCupid recently admitted they had been tinkering with headlines and content to see how users reacted, many consumers were outraged -- but the business community just shrugged. What the companies were doing was simply a form of multivariate testing -- albeit in the case of OKCupid, it was particularly aggressive. The practice itself has been around for years.
Vevo Music Videos Get Pinned
August 14, 2014
Pinterest said Wednesday that it has signed a deal that will allow users to create boards that include their favorite Vevo music videos. They now will be able to share, search for and watch Vevo videos on Pinterest, as well as pin videos to Pinterest straight from Vevo.com or the Vevo iOS app. The move is an indication that Pinterest is serious about providing a broader social platform.
When It Comes to Technology, Humans Are Idiots
August 04, 2014
There are a lot of things going on at the moment. Israel is tactically defending itself against Hamas -- winning the battles but losing the war, because the Israeli government can't see the big picture. The U.S. is still blaming Snowden for leaks, even though Russia clearly is able to pull damaging information pretty much anytime it wants without Snowden's help.
Twitter Claims Legions of Uncounted 'Users'
July 30, 2014
Twitter posted healthy revenue for the second quarter -- US$312 million, up 124 percent year-over-year. Its profit? Not there yet. However, even though the company reported a net loss of $145 million, investors are likely to overlook the lack of profit for some time. Financials aside, what Twitter really wants everyone to know is that it is big -- as in average monthly user big.
Bubblews Will Give You a Penny for Your Thoughts
July 29, 2014
Bubblews, a social media platform that offers to pay users for their posts, last week moved out of its testing phase, which began in 2012. It emerged with a new look designed to attract users who might be dissatisfied with other social media offerings. Bubblews is attempting to build a self-sustaining ecosystem in which users who create engaging posts are paid for their work.
Google May Give YouTube a Sibling
July 25, 2014
Google apparently is adding another prominent streaming video service to nestle alongside YouTube in its stable. It reportedly has acquired Twitch for around $1 billion. When the deal will be announced and the official purchase price are not yet clear, though Twitch investors are said to be pleased with their return. Twitch allows gamers to stream their gameplay and commentary to others.
'Buy' Button Could Turn Facebook Into Impulse-Shopping-Ville
July 18, 2014
Facebook is testing a function that would allow users to buy products without leaving the site or app. Small and medium-sized businesses in the U.S. that are taking part in the trial can add the Buy button to ads displayed in users' News Feeds or in posts on their pages. Users will see the Buy button in relevant ads whether they're on the Facebook website or using their mobile device.
Google AdWords Nixes the Raunchiest Stuff
July 07, 2014
Google has kicked explicit pornographic advertising from its ad network. The company said it made the AdWords change, which it announced in March and recently brought into effect, "as an effort to continually improve users' experiences with AdWords." Advertising policies were updated to reflect the updated stance on sexually explicit content. The policy still allows advertising for strip clubs.
Yahoo Saves Greendale in 'Community' Rescue
July 02, 2014
Fans of the sitcom Community have cause to celebrate after Yahoo renewed the show for a sixth season. Creator and showrunner Dan Harmon has signed on, along with seven core cast members. The season will have at least 13 episodes and will air weekly starting this fall. NBC ran the show, which centers on the fictional Greendale Community College, for five seasons before canceling it.
YouTube Adds More Tools to Creators' Belts
July 01, 2014
YouTube last week announced the addition of new bells and whistles for videographers, apparently to encourage them to create more high-quality content. Among the new tools is a creator studio smartphone app for viewing analytics and managing channels, among other things. An updated audio library offers thousands of royalty-free sound effects, along with more free songs.
SnappyTV Could Amp Up Twitter Amplify
June 19, 2014
Twitter just announced a new addition to its social-TV arsenal: SnappyTV, an online service that allows content owners to clip, edit and share video from live broadcasts in near-real time. "As we continue to invest in video, it's important for us to provide tools that make it easy for TV broadcasters, businesses, and event producers to share high-quality videos," said Twitter's Baljeet Singh.
Facebook Plunges Into Online Ad Mainstream
June 12, 2014
Facebook on Thursday announced it will soon move to interest-based advertising, almost three years after archrival Google, and well after other major players such as Yahoo and Amazon. It also will introduce "ad preferences," a tool accessible from every ad on Facebook that will explain why users were served an ad, and let them remove interests that form the basis on which that ad is served.
Amazon May Set Up Neighborhood Services Market
June 12, 2014
Amazon reportedly is planning to test a local marketplace that could make it a one-stop shop for local services. Those services could include anything from dog walking to a plumbing. Backed by Amazon's already established ratings and recommendations infrastructure, the service could take on sites like Yelp, Angie's List and Craigslist. It might also threaten home improvement chains.
Google Buys Skybox in Move to Democratize Space
June 11, 2014
Google's acquisition of Skybox may be a small step for the search giant, but it could be a giant leap for the Internet. Google on Tuesday announced its intention to buy the satellite imaging startup for $500 million. The move not only would enhance Google's satellite imaging resources, but also provide it with some top talent for its blue-sky plans for space.
Wheels Greased for Summer Yahoo-Tube Debut
May 28, 2014
Yahoo is in advanced talks to launch its own online video channel this year, a product meant to rival Google's YouTube, based on a report citing unnamed sources. The news has intrigued the online video and advertising industry because it would introduce some very welcome competition into this channel, owned largely -- but not completely -- by Google.
Twitter Poised for Growth Spurt in Asia
May 28, 2014
Twitter is positioned for some nice growth in the coming months and years, according to a report released Tuesday by eMarketer. However, that growth largely will be occurring in emerging countries. What makes that trajectory problematic in the view of some investors is this: It was Twitter's U.S. user base that accounted for close to three-quarters of the company's total ad revenue in 2013.
Pinterest Tacks On New Marketing Tool
May 22, 2014
Pinterest on Tuesday revealed that it was rolling out an analytics tool for marketers designed to offer them more information on which content does well. The new Business Insights API lets businesses track which of their boards, pins and products are attracting the most engaged users, as well as which ones aren't garnering clicks. Devs also will be able to use the API to track user activity.
Facebook Gets Nosier Than Ever
May 20, 2014
Facebook recently made it easier to pry into your friends' private affairs on the social network. Specifically, the Ask button -- which already has been available to those seeking more information about many other aspects of a given user's life -- now is an option when it comes to a user's relationship status as well. If users choose to answer, the information then is added to their profile.
On Pins and Needles Over Pinterest
May 19, 2014
Pinterest last week announced that it had raised $200 million in a new round of fundraising from existing investors SV Angel, Bessemer Venture Partners, Fidelity and Andreessen Horowitz. The latest funding puts its valuation at $5 billion, which is quite a tidy sum for a company that has little to offer in terms of revenue. What Pinterest does have is a hot brand and legions of users.
Facebook Seeks Better Fit With Small Biz
May 07, 2014
Small businesses have been an elusive market for sellers of online advertising. That's because the value proposition of those ads is a tough sell. Facebook hopes to reduce some of the resistance in the small business community to advertising online with a series of summer boot camps, dubbed "Facebook Fit," that combine business advice with a soft sell for Net marketing.
Alibaba's Treasure May Not Open Doors for Yahoo
May 07, 2014
The market is waiting with bated breath to see the exact size of Alibaba's IPO, but investors in Yahoo, which owns about 23 percent of Alibaba's stock, don't seem impressed. Yahoo's shares closed Wednesday at $34.07, down 6.6 percent. Yahoo's stake is worth about $26 billion based on the fair value of about $109 billion Alibaba assigned to its shares in March.
Mobile CRM May Widen the Big Data/Privacy Divide
May 06, 2014
The White House last week added to the ongoing national discussion about online privacy and tracking with the release of a review counselor John Podesta conducted on Big Data and privacy issues. Among other things, privacy advocates hope the findings will spotlight the role of mobile in the gathering of consumer data by companies. Mobile technologies have a particularly voracious appetite.
Amazon Rolls Its Shopping Carts Onto Twitter's Turf
May 05, 2014
Amazon is now allowing consumers to add items to their shopping cart simply by sending a reply on Twitter. Users who connect their accounts on the two services can add a product they see in a Twitter link to their Amazon shopping cart simply by replying to the tweet with the hashtag #AmazonCart -- or #AmazonBasket in the UK. The feature is available only in the U.S. and the UK at present.
White House Urges Big Data Privacy Legislation
May 05, 2014
The White House last week released a review of Big Data and privacy written by counselor John Podesta. The report stems from President Obama's January request to define what is new about the technologies in this space, how Big Data affects public policy, and how consumer privacy is affected by corporate use of Big Data. The issue has been center stage since the Snowden revelations.

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