Tuesday, September 4, 2012

About.com Finally Finds a Buyer


Written by Bill Pojunis on 29 August 2012.

About.com has finally found a buyer in InterActiveCorp. IAC is owned by Barry Diller and a deal has recently been agreed upon between his company and the NY Times, which owned About. The deal will be closed within the next few weeks.
The NY Times is expected to hand over About.com to InterActCorp for a cash amount of $300 million. This is $90 million less than what the Times paid for the website when it acquired it in 2005. 

It is expected that there will be an official announcement made about the acquisition shortly.

Aside from IAC, other companies made bids. Demand Media, which has been struggling in its own right since last year and Answers.com were interested in purchasing About.com. The Diller owned company should find About to be a perfect fit into its fold as the reference content site has approximately 100 million unique visitors per month. IAC already owns content website The Writers Network and subsites related to it.

The About Group is kept going strong as it relies on freelance writers who produce expert knowledge on various topics, from technology gadgets to home improvement to finance and many more. In the last few years, it has had trouble in drawing traffic and relies greatly on advertising. InterActiveCorp has improved other similar websites such as Ask.com that are frequently searched online to up to 46 percent in recent days. About should see no difference as it is believed the acquisition will make it more profitable.

As the About Group has seen a decline in traffic since being purchased by the NY Times, it seems that a partnership with InterActiveCorp can only improve its chances in online searches. It seems to be a good fit with the other properties owned by the Diller company, which may be able to pool its collective resources to reduce certain costs on the website. At the same time, About can prove to be a useful tool for advertising that will nicely fit into the network of sites already owned by InterActiveCorp.

The success of the purchase will be determined over time. The About Group also boasts ConsumerSearch.com and CalorieCount.com.

Monday, September 3, 2012

IBM Makes Another Acquisition in Social Media Management Space



IBM Makes Another Acquisition in Social Media Management Space

Written by Bill Pojunis 8/30/2012

Technology giant IBM has once again shown its commitment to providing solutions that are in sync with today's business computing environment. The multinational company recently announced from its New York headquarters that it is in the midst of an acquisition deal with Kenexa, a software developer that specializes in cloud computing solutions for recruiting and employee placement.

The acquisition highlights the importance of social media management and analytics in today's business world. Data analysis is the driving force behind many enterprises these days, and this is something that IBM is very serious about fostering and developing. Online social networking and cloud computing are the current aspects of the Web 2.0 evolution, and just about every business industry is currently interested in the social business paradigm.

Kenexa is a public company that trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol KNXA. Since 1987, the company has concentrated on providing solutions to the human resources and employee management industry. Some of the company's software solutions include the analysis of team dynamics and employee behavior.

Managing Social Media at a Business Level

Companies like Salesforce embraced cloud computing from the start by providing solutions like the Software as a Service (SaaS) platform. Other companies like Oracle and SAP followed suit. These companies are now turning their attention to online social networks and their implementation in the workplace.

Both Oracle and Salesforce have shown their desire to combine the power of their cloud-based business solutions with social media. Oracle, for example, acquired a developer of social media publishing applications earlier this year. Salesforce would respond a month later with the $655 million acquisition of Buddy Media, a social enterprise software developer.

Kenexa has been dedicated to providing enterprise social media solutions for a few years, particularly with regard to the recruiting and interview process. Social media management is a burgeoning aspect of modern business, and it is something that even small companies can benefit from. For example, a job interview that takes place in a private business social network via web conference can be shared across social circles for recruiting and evaluation purposes.



Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Apple Wins Big in Samsung Suit


The technology world is currently all abuzz over the recent judgment of the patent trial Apple brought against Samsung. The South Korean manufacturer was found guilty in copyright and trademark infringement of products made by the Cupertino, California tech giant that resulted in a settlement of $1.05 billion. The jury in the trial came to the conclusion that much of the innovative technology created by Apple was stolen by the South Korean company.
According to reports, Google, which is the Android partner of Samsung, had warned the company not to copy the American company and use its patents. Although Apple originally sought $2.5 billion, the victory is still quite harmful to the competing company.
Part of the lawsuit saw the Cupertino tech manufacturer demanding that the Seoul company remove the majority of its smartphones and tablets from the United States market. Attorney Harold McElhinny claimed that the South Korean manufacturer faced a “crisis of design” after the launch of the original iPhone in June 2007, and that its executives illegally cashed in on the success of the device.
The Galaxy line of smartphones made by Samsung have been the biggest rivals of the Cupertino company’s products. The Galaxy S and Galaxy S II in addition to the Galaxy Tab 10 were deemed to be directly modeled after the iPhone and iPad in a very blatant manner. The South Korean manufacturer countered by claiming its competitor didn’t invent the design of a rectangle with rounded edges.

The settlement amount in the judgment has forced the Korean company to think fast on its feet. As eight smartphones are slated to be banned across the United States market, a spokesperson has stated to the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, August 28, 2012that the company plans to modify devices so that they can continue to sell them.

The Seoul tech giant had also filed a suit against the American manufacturer, but the jury determined that there was no trademark or copyright infringement there. Although the Cupertino, California company did not win every claim it made, it still walked out a big

winner. It remains to be seen how this will affect the tech world and competition in the market.

Monday, August 27, 2012

"Brain Hacking" - Another Unintended Consequence of Technology


Written by Bill Pojunis on 27 August 2012. Posted in Internet Technologies

Brain Hacking  - Another Unintended Consequence of Technology?


Game developers came up with headsets to use with playing video games on computers for "hand-free gaming" - really cool, right? I mean, talk about sci-fi becoming reality! I remember "Firefox" a 1982 movie  with Clint Eastwood, where he played a pilot who stole a super-secret Soviet plane that fired weapons using mind control by the pilot - in other words, all he had to do was to think a command, and the plane responded, firing the aforementioned weapon. Way out there, right? Well not so fast, Bippy - remember the pearl of wisdom from Napoleon Hill - "What the mind of Man can conceive, and believe, it can achieve" (probably not meant in this scenario, but it seems to fit). Leave it up to Video Game developers to come up with something to require even less physical activity, and we have "hands-free gaming" just think your commands using a headset which "reads" your thoughts, and BAM! you're annihilating your competitor with your MIND!

OK on the serious note, researchers from Oxford, Berkeley and Geneva produced "On the Feasibility of Side-Channel Attacks with Brain-Computer Interfaces" - (seriously, that is the title!), which found that subjects could reveal personal information, including PIN numbers, addresses, known people, all through spikes in brain activity when the subject recognized something familiar from a test group of data. Admittedly, this is still kind of sketchy, with about a 40% accuracy rate, but as the devices (headsets) improve their sensitivity and quality, higher results are expected.

According to the researchers, their motivation was to determine whether participants would inadvertently reveal private information while wearing one of these devices for another purpose, say, playing video games. During the testing, participants wore brain-wave reading devices and were shown a list of people, possible PIN numbers, and the likely location fo their home. Spikes in brain activity P300 (which activates  when familiar information was recognized) occurred and the researchers were then able to guess the correct information contained within the lists shown to the participants. Preliminary results showed that the correct first PIN number was identified 20% of the time, their home's regional location 30%, their month of birth 60%, and their bank's ATM branch location 30%.

As the devices (headsets) and technology are improved, this raises the flood of applications and possibilities - consider this one - Law Enforcement Officers can use this technology in interrogation (same with the military) for various reasons, like identifying accomplices, collaborators, etc. as well as potential ambush sites - you get the idea. But, what if Facebook was now able to tell if you REALLY know that person to whom you are sending a "friend request" can you imagine that?

However, let's not forget the 800 pound gorilla in the room - the abject invasion of privacy of our MINDS! Will we inadvertently reveal our innermost secrets and private information, potentially harmful, by wearing one of these devices to play a video game?

And they laughed about the idea of "tin foil hats" - maybe those folks were the ones really onto something way before its time - just sayin'!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Tell Me Again Why Capitalism is So Evil? Just Ask Apple, Why Doncha!


Tell Me Again Why Capitalism is So Evil? Just Ask Apple, Why Doncha!                                                                                        

As reported today, Apple's Market cap of $623 BILLION makes it the largest US publicly traded corporation, surpassing the previous highest tally - $618.9 Billion, Microsoft, way back in 1999. OK, ok you purists, adjusted for inflation, Microsoft would be $850 - but remember that date I mentioned -1999? You might recall that was at at the height of the tech bubble!

Since 1999, Apple has gone on such a wild ride it would make your head spin! In 1999, Apple's market cap stood at about $9 billion, up from  a paltry $2.3 billion just two years earlier, in 1997. To put Apple's run in perspective, what about some other billion$ companies from 1999 - how have they fared? Let's start with a few fairly well-known companies in that category - Cisco, AOL, Oracle, Sun Microsystems, Dell Computers, Nokia, Yahoo.

The rankings of these companies in 1999:
#1 - Microsoft - $618.9 billion market cap
#2 - Exxon   -  $267.02 billion
#3 - Cisco Systems - $350 billion
#9 - Nokia - approximately $200 billion
#12 - AOL - also around $200 billion

Sun and Oracle were both similar, Oracle around $137 billion, Sun a little less at $116 billion.

Yahoo was high on the totem pole at that point, #39, market cap about $100 billion.

Dell rolled in at # 30, market cap was $122 billion.

So much for thie historical base point - what about today, and why should Apple be the subject of an article like this? Did I mention Apple is now the highest valued publicly traded American corporation today? I thought so. While this is remarkable, whre do those others I mentioned above fall now?

Cisco's market cap is near $100 billion; Nokia's - $8 billion and falling; AOL - today is $3 billion, but in the interim they bought Time Warner for $162 billion, and this acquisition turned around and spun off AOL!

Oracle bought Sun for 7.4 billion; Yahoo today has a market cap of roughly $18 billion; Dell has lost $100 billion, current cap is $22 billion.

What has Apple done in the same time? Only increased their market cap $614 BILLION, that's what!
As I mentioned at the outset, none of these  accomplismments are possible in anything other than a capitalist system. The OWS types can scream all they want about "fairness" and "social justice" and "equality", but excuse me, where would all those employees of these "evil corporations" be without the innovation, the at-risk  initial captial investments, the vision to create an enterprise, and yes, the profits which fueled the expansion and the increases of numbers of employees, the benefits paid, the taxes paid, the infrastructure, the construction workers required to erect the facilities where these companies produced their products, the suppliers who provide the supporting casts of thousands of materials used to manufacture the end products - funny, but I don't see any socialist/communist/statist systems capable of such production - correct me if I'm wrong!

Wake up, America! The Occupy movement is intent upon bringing DOWN our system which has produced results such as these, and offer NOTHING with which to replace it except empty rhetoric and vague generalities couched in unproven and unrealistic pipe dreams created from smoke and mirrors. I'll take the reality scenario anytime! $623 billion worth of reality scenario!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Do Consumers Trust Your Web Site More Than Social Networks?


Do Consumers Trust Your Web Site More Than Social Networks?
Recently I came across two articles which surprised me, in the fact that  both suggest that consumers trust e-commerce websites more than social networks. Maybe it isn’t such a surprise.

One was reporting  on a new survey which found that 55% are "mostly willing" to provide shopping preferences to trusted retailers in exchange for an enhanced shopping experience, while 52% stated they are "much more concerned" or "somewhat more concerned" about providing the same information on social networks.  (This survey conducted by the consultancy The E-Tailing Group and personalization services vendor MyBuys Inc of 1,000 consumers).

The second article, (big surprise) found that visitors to social networks go there to socialize, not to “interact with brands”, then further stated that if consumers want information about a purchase decision, they were four times more likely to go directly to the company’s website! Credit this to research by social marketing firm Get Satisfaction and analyst Incyte Group. From their survey: "when customers want information to make purchase decisions, they are more than four times as likely to go to the company’s website (89%) as they are to use a social network (21%)."

So, e-commerce merchants – what should you do now? Ignore social media and concentrate solely on your website? Hardly! What you should do is to adopt a policy regarding social media that serves to engage and inform your potential customers, like offering them the opportunity to participate in surveys, offer feedback and comment on your offerings, explain the differentiation between your competitors and your business. But, do these things on your own website, rather than on social networking sites – use them to drive traffic to your website!


Your website can be fine-tuned to use social media effectively – create communities, offer ratings and reviews, and encourage your customers to share their experiences through an online forum –all these are great opportunities to enhance the value of your website to your customer base, if done well. Bear in mind that the purchase decision occurs on your website, not on your fan page, and allocate your resources accordingly.

Look at social networks from a personal perspective – what do you like about them yourself, and what annoys you about them? Then structure your efforts according to what you would like to see as a consumer, rather than from the perspective of a provider or seller. Ask yourself, would you become a “fan” of your own page? Why or why not? Then you have some basis to evaluate what you should do.

The bottom line – if you provide social networking “tools” on your own website, which allow customers to share content, it is likely that some of them will do just that!
Social media may not yet have attained the "be-all, end-all" of 21st century marketing,  but you cannot deny its impact and potential to generate additional sales, when properly executed and deployed as part of your overall strategy.

The takeaway for small business is this – remember the priority of your online presence is your web site, but never overlook the potential benefit of social network applications, use both in your planning.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Samsung Announces Galaxy Note 10.1


Monday Samsung announced the awaited arrival of the Galaxy Note 10.1, stating that the tablet will be available around the world by the end of this month .

Dual cameras, a forward facing 1.9 megapixel and a 5 megapixel rear-facing are features, as well as the the 1.4Ghz quad-core Exynos processor that powers the 10.1-inch Android tablet. GalaxyNote101

Originally announced at Mobile World Congress in February, the Galaxy Note 10.1 has upgraded to a faster processor as well as other updated specs hoping to make it more competitive with other tablets on the market. It will launch with the Android 4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich" OS.

For those of you in New York City, Samsung is holding an event  on August 15, which will probably introduce the launch of the tablet. 

The tablet  has a multitasking feature, allowing you to run two apps simultaneously on the screen, which could be used to surf the web or take notes during the presentation. Or various other uses creative minds will find useful!

Why Ecommerce Businesses Should be Using Facebook for Market Research


Why E-commerce Businesses Should be Using Facebook for Market Research

Using Facebook’s marketing data may prove to be essential to e-commerce sites. Any e-commerce site that is currently not using Facebook for market research is potentially missing out on significant information that could be beneficial to their bottom line. Sociable Labs explores how technology can be used in innovative ways and recently conducted a survey of over 12 e-commerce sites in different markets. They discovered half of visitors to e-commerce websites are logged on to Facebook. Businesses need to know more about their customers’ interactions with Facebook because of its significance in the day-to-day lives of current and future customers. 

Facebook allows e-commerce businesses to conduct market research in a way that is highly targeted. Businesses can use the data they collect on Facebook to create more effective ad campaigns. These campaigns can be spread across multiple platforms including social media sites and also help businesses create more effective copy for their websites. If businesses are able to determine exactly what their customers need and want they will be in a better position to increase sells and brand loyalty. The days of untargeted ads are coming to an end. People want products that cater to their specific needs and any e-commerce business that can figure how to do this is bound to have lasting success online.

Using social media in particular to market means being relevant. E-commerce companies need to be able to cut through all the noise that individual consumers are bombarded by during their online experience. The average Facebook user spends an average of 15 minutes on Facebook each day. Highly targeted ads to these customers on Facebook alone could be a very effective and economical way for businesses to spread the word about the brand and products. Sociable Labs creates different services to help businesses better understand the response they are receiving from customers on their social media marketing campaigns.

Having relevant and highly targeted information about target audiences and demographics can help businesses create more effective ads for their general audiences and sub-niches within their core audience. Products that are better positioned to sell can also be created based on market research and information received from Facebook’s platform. Companies should be using the Facebook Business Pages to conduct research. The built-in metrics on Facebook’s platform can help businesses make better decisions for the future and understand want their customers are looking for. Companies can also conduct polls as a way to interact with their fans and gather information as well. Including services that help monitor customer response like the ones developed by Sociable Labs can also be a very important component of an e-commerce businesses marketing plan.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

How Can a Company Move "Followers" and "Fans" into Sales Prospects Using Social Media?


How Can a Company Move "Followers" and "Fans" into Sales Prospects Using Social Media?

Written by Bill Pojunis on 28 July 2012. Posted in Social Media Marketing & Strategy

Social media is a great tool to market various products and services. Companies that utilize a Facebook page or manage a Twitter account have a wide audience for potential customers. However, any business that is using a social media site needs to provide content valuable to their target audience. Once this has been done, an online strategy for the generation of revenue is needed. 

Updating fans of a Facebook page or followers on Twitter allows a business to reach prospects early on in the sales process. Getting a potential customer's attention early is the key to successful conversion to a paying customer. To do this a company will need to post a description with a preview of their product or service being offered. 

Potential customers for your business need an easy way to find your product. To do this an example for the type of product or a link to a web page needs to be included with any posted message. Make sure to keep extra clicks to get to the link for your product to a minimum. The link on a Facebook page or your Twitter account needs to go directly to the product. If a link simply goes to a main page for a website, a business may miss out on converting fans and followers into a sales prospect. 

Utilize a Facebook or Twitter page to create soft leads. Potential customers that follow your pages enter the sales process at an early stage and may not be at a buying stage at this point. However, a business is able to create a new lead or sales prospect by using an email list. This allows a business to use an email marketing campaign to promote their product and other offerings. 

The sales prospects being nurtured on fans on Facebook or followers on Twitter are different than those of a traditional sales lead. This means that a traditional email campaign for this type of prospect is not a good choice to drive a purchase decision. These emails should include basic information of a product to keep up interest. 

Measure the effort to convert a fan or follower into sales prospects. This can be done by tracking how many visitors click on a link the is posted to Facebook or Twitter. Compare the number of clicks on your links to the number total number of potential leads following on Facebook or Twitter.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Google debuts "Vault" Archiving and Records Management System


Google debuts "Vault" Archiving and Records Management System

It seems like everything is moving to the cloud and with the advent of the Google Vault, business communications are headed there as well. The company recently announced its archiving service for users of its chat and email services. This service costs $5 per month and is geared toward any organization that might benefit from an archiving system during times of litigation, investigation, and compliance audits. We think it's a strong addition to the company's other business services, which you may already be using, including Cloud Connect, Groups, Sites and Docs.

Water cooler talk has been positive. If you already rely on Gchat or Gmail don't need to make any changes. This records management system simply archives the data that is already being communicated in those channels. It offers an easy solution during a difficult time. Legal processes that require a retention period, or hold, on such data go that much more smoothly when it's easy to locate and save that data.

Google explains that its Vault service allows businesses to comply with those legal holds and the system will hold the chat and email data until the retention expires. Although you can manually save some of this data, the automated records management system ensures that it is preserved for longer than Gmail or Chat may usually allow.

Even when litigation and compliance aren't an issue, this new service allows small company owners to quickly search through archived data to find specific information. The search tool is handy because it allows you to locate data based on message content and meta-data such as labels. It also promotes collaboration between users for message management purposes. Plus, there's no need to move your sensitive files between hard-drives, a practice that can sometimes result in corrupted files. This new service is just one more way to ensure that important information never becomes lost, even in the event of a hard-drive or network failure.

Google wants business owners and IT managers to sign up with this service right away. What is its reasoning? Vault provides an easy-to-access method for quickly finding data. The archiving service is a small fee, the company says, especially when compared to costly data retrieval and wasted man-hours when the auditor makes an appearance. Operations quickly return to normal, and audits become less painful. It's certainly a convincing argument and we think it's always better to be safe than sorry.