Web/Tech

145 posts categorized

July 24, 2015

The Great Fake Traffic Swindle

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$7.5 billion. That’s the size of the black hole into which hundreds of companies have inadvertently thrown their digital advertising budgets in the past few years, according to a Moz.com article. Most of these companies never realized their marketing dollars weren’t being spent wisely.

 

What Happened?

How did companies manage to lose $7.5 billion on Internet marketing traffic that never existed?  Investigators point to three key facts:

 

  • At least half of the paid online display advertisements companies have purchased over the past few years have never been seen by a real human.
     
  • Nevertheless, ad networks and agencies were often driven to sell these ads by the presence of “volume discount” kickbacks, which made them profitable for the sellers in the short term – even if the ads did not operate as promised.

  • Instead of real people viewing the ads, bot traffic was used to artificially inflate the number of “people” who were supposedly viewing the ads.  These bot-traffic numbers both impressed the companies who purchased the ads and, in a cost-per-click agreement, cost them money.

 

The Rise of Non-Human Traffic

Bot traffic is also known as “non-human traffic,” because it results in increased impressions without the intervention of real people.  Instead, traffic comes from bot programs that mimic human behavior online.  Often, these bot programs are installed on hacked devices that are operated by real people.  As potential customers browse the Web, an army of bots works quietly behind the scenes to artificially inflate ad traffic, without the human at the keyboard ever knowing – or seeing any of the ads the bots are pretending to view.

Not all bots are bad.  Google and other search engines use bot programs to find web pages to include in search engine results.  But bot traffic that’s used to drive up search engine results offers zero return on investment for companies.  

 

From Bots to Buyers: How to Place Your Content in Front of Real People 

No company wants to spend money with no hope of ROI.  Fortunately, companies can take steps to place their digital marketing materials in front of real human audiences that are genuinely interested in what they have to offer.  Here’s how:

 

  • Ask questions.  Before signing off on digital marketing, ask how the company defines “human traffic” and whether traffic results will be verified by a third party.  Doing this demonstrates that you’re aware of potential fraud and that you won’t settle for bots.

  • Go mobile.  According to a recent Mobile Marketing Magazine article, the rate of bot traffic fraud is much lower on mobile platforms than on desktop platforms.  In-app ads may also provide an added layer of protection.

  • Leverage the power of SMS.  SMS and MMS advertising send your content directly to customer and client cell phones and tablets, ensuring there’s a real person on the other end of the line to get your message.

July 23, 2015

How to Design a Mobile-Friendly Website

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Creating a mobile-friendly website boils down to simplicity and elegance. You may already have a terrific website that you love, but you’re going to have to overhaul it if it doesn’t play nicely with mobile users. Essentially, a frustrated mobile website visitor is a soon-to-be former customer. Here at EzTexting, we want to help you take the guesswork out of mobile design. With that in mind, we’ve outlined several key design concepts for your new mobile website:

  • Simplicity is Key. Don’t bury your mobile website visitor in banner ads, images, and other content. On a desktop monitor, there is room to spare for descriptions and bios, but on a mobile device, you have to streamline your content. Keep your info in the form of short and easy-to-read blurbs. Additionally, you should make all calls to action more available with finger-sized buttons, and limit the number of fields that a mobile user might have to fill out.
  • Concision Within Context. Keeping your mobile website tight requires a foreknowledge of how your customers intend to use your site. Pay attention to mobile users’ needs, which are often quite different from the needs of desktop users. Take the time to determine why they are visiting: Are they booking reservations? Looking for a phone number to click-to-call? Or are they gathering information about your company? Whatever the case, make the options your customers desire easily available, and eliminate images (or even entire pages) that are extraneous to your mobile website.
  • Responsive Design. Likely a familiar concept, responsive design allows a programmer to adjust style sheets to behave differently when a mobile user accesses your site. This is the perfect solution for businesses that want to tweak their existing design for mobile usage.
  • Design for Screen Size, and Beta Test. To ensure a seamless mobile experience, design your website with the typical mobile screen size in mind. Buttons (and spaces between buttons) must be large enough for the average user to tap effectively. Create copy that is clear for each blurb, and again, don’t overcrowd pages with content or images. Finally, test and test and test again. Beta test your mobile website across all types of devices: Androids, iPhones, and tablets of all sorts. Each kind of phone will have a different filter with which to view your website; be sure to troubleshoot all of those bugs that pop up before unveiling your new site. 
  • Don’t Forget Your Brand! Sometimes mobile website designers are altogether too concise, forgetting to include branding images, slogans, and other elements of your company’s identity. If your page is getting a little overcrowded, don’t fret; with a little creativity, you can incorporate your logos and style concepts into your design without negatively affecting the mobile user’s experience.

The above suggestions should help you get the ball rolling on improving your mobile user experience. When you are ready to take your business a step further into the mobile universe, give us a call at EzTexting. We’re at the ready to enhance your mobile capabilities, and we’re looking forward to hearing from you!

 

July 20, 2015

Android Leads the U.S. Market but Trails in Europe

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According to a recent report by Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, the Android OS increased its market share by 2.8% at the end of a three month period; leading the US with an overall market share of 64.9%. The first full month of sales for Samsung’s latest Galaxy device propelled the company forward year-over-year in the US. However, the same did not hold true for the EU market, where sales have slowed throughout the big five: Germany, Great Britain, France, Spain and Italy. 

According to the report, iOS users in the US began to drop off as the shares declined period-over-period and year-over-year. Meanwhile, in Europe, the demand for the iPhone 6 has been steadfast, with the latest model reaching unprecedented success in Great Britain, Germany and France. 

Android-based smartphones received assisted growth from LG, which nearly doubled its US shares year-over-year. This was not the case in Europe. Android vendors in Europe had to count on winning new users away from apple—which has seen little success. Ending in May, only 5% of new Android users switched from apple; down from 11% percent during the same period the year before. 

The Galaxy S6 has been reported as the third best-selling device in the US, just behind the iPhone 6 and its Samsung predecessor the Galaxy S5. Samsung’s year-over-year success is up as well, down only .5% compared to 1.6% in three months ending in April.

Other foreign markets are shifting as the smartphone wars wage on. Urban China, for example, has introduced a third contender to a once two-pronged industry. Currently apple leads in China, followed by Huawei and third competitor Xiaomi. The three are all within half a percentage point share of each other, though considerable differences in niche markets may explain the spread. 

In China, Apple’s sales continually come from high-income users and throughout the most prominent cities: Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai, and Shenzhen. Close to 7% of apple’s total sales in China are from these affluent areas, while Xiaomi only captures 2% of this same market.  

In urban China, Huawei became the best-selling Android device brand. Thirty-nine percent of Huawei’s sales come from users with a monthly income of less than 2,000 RMBs.  

With several markets developing new infrastructure, the likeliness of new users is on the horizon in several underdeveloped countries. With Apple prices comparatively high, it’s left considerable room for competitors to come in and offer less expensive alternatives. 

World Cup Hat Trick Heroine Gets 124 Text Messages Per Goal

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On Sunday, July 5th 2015, the world witnessed the fastest hat trick ever performed on a soccer field in the World Cup Finals. The player, Carli Lloyd, managed the amazing maneuver within the first sixteen minutes of the final match versus Japan, earning a total of four goals that veritably sealed the win for the US women’s soccer team. A hat trick has only been performed a handful of times in any professional soccer game, let alone the World Cup Finals. (The last time a hat trick was successfully executed in the World Cup Finals was in 1966, by England’s Geoff Hurst.)

Ponder for a moment the shockwave that this hat trick unleashed in the world of international football. Not only was the event shocking for players and fans in general, but it also comes years after another World Cup Final in which the US was defeated by the same country – Japan. It should come as no surprise that this past week’s finals were one of the most watched events in televised sports history.

Soccer Meets Social Media

The blogosphere and Twitterscape also reflected the ubiquitous nature of the historic hat trick. In a single week, the World Cup Final has been written about by several sports websites of note, particularly ESPN.com, Sports Illustrated, and Grantland. Further, Carli Lloyd herself has added over fifty thousand new followers on Twitter as a result of her extraordinary plays.

While Lloyd’s accomplishment is surely impressive, the most legendary statistic about the hat trick might not have anything to do with soccer, but rather the amount of messages she received on her smartphone during the match. Carly Lloyd claims that she received over 372 text messages over the course of the hat track. Essentially, this means that she received an average of 124 text messages for each goal that she made during her hat trick.

 To put that into perspective, imagine the amount of time you spend reading and responding to text messages. Perhaps one minute for each? Hence, Lloyd would have to spend a minimum of six hours to respond to all of the messages she received during the game! 

Contact EzTexting for Bulk Texting Help

For someone to receive such a myriad of texts in such a short time is astounding. Fortunately, modern technology makes it simple to prepare a response as a bulk SMS text message to be sent out to all of those adoring fans. With EzTexting, you can easily develop several different types of responses, depending on how you wish to address your recipients. And thanks to our competitive pricing, you can bet that our services will defeat the competition. So if you, like Carly Lloyd, are being inundated by massive texts from your customers, try out EzTexting to get on the ball for your business.

July 12, 2015

Android Leads the U.S. Market but Trails in Europe

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According to a recent report by Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, the Android OS increased its market share by 2.8% at the end of a three month period; leading the US with an overall market share of 64.9%. The first full month of sales for Samsung’s latest Galaxy device propelled the company forward year-over-year in the US. However, the same did not hold true for the EU market, where sales have slowed throughout the big five: Germany, Great Britain, France, Spain and Italy. 

According to the report, iOS users in the US began to drop off as the shares declined period-over-period and year-over-year. Meanwhile, in Europe, the demand for the iPhone 6 has been steadfast, with the latest model reaching unprecedented success in Great Britain, Germany and France.  

Android-based smartphones received assisted growth from LG, which nearly doubled its US shares year-over-year. This was not the case in Europe. Android vendors in Europe had to count on winning new users away from apple—which has seen little success. Ending in May, only 5% of new Android users switched from apple; down from 11% percent during the same period the year before. 

The Galaxy S6 has been reported as the third best-selling device in the US, just behind the iPhone 6 and its Samsung predecessor the Galaxy S5. Samsung’s year-over-year success is up as well, down only .5% compared to 1.6% in three months ending in April.

Other foreign markets are shifting as the smartphone wars wage on. Urban China, for example, has introduced a third contender to a once two-pronged industry. Currently apple leads in China, followed by Huawei and third competitor Xiaomi. The three are all within half a percentage point share of each other, though considerable differences in niche markets may explain the spread.  

In China, apple’s sales continually come from high-income users and throughout the most prominent cities: Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai, and Shenzhen. Close to 7% of apple’s total sales in China are from these affluent areas, while Xiaomi only captures 2% of this same market. 

In urban China, Huawei became the best-selling Android device brand. Thirty-nine percent of Huawei’s sales come from users with a monthly income of less than 2,000 RMBs. 

With several markets developing new infrastructure, the likeliness of new users is on the horizon in several underdeveloped countries. With Apple prices comparatively high, it’s left considerable room for competitors to come in and offer less expensive alternatives.  

June 29, 2015

Uber Goes App-less With SMS Version

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Last month, Uber and Coding Dojo hosted a 48-hour hackathon competition in San Jose—a student and alumni challenge to generate ideas that would improve Uber’s impact on the community. The winner of the contest was TextBer, an SMS version of Uber’s popular smartphone app that will allow non-smartphone users to access the service using basic text messaging.  

The idea isn’t as passé as one might think. While it’s easy to take smartphones for granted in the age of instant-access, the TextBer team focused on people who are marginalized from services like Uber due to various circumstances.  

According to an April study by Pew Research Center, only 27% of adults over 65 have smartphones; half of all adults making less than $30,000 a year are without smart devices as well. However, many of these individuals have the ability to send text messages using their mobile devices, which is precisely what TextBer aims to capitalize on in their SMS version. 

“My grandfather has Alzheimer’s,” said Arash Namvar, one of TextBer’s developers. “…TextBer allows him to easily get an Uber ride from his house to my house. It makes me feel better because he’s safe.” 

Namvar and four other creators spent several hours brainstorming the dilemma before they decided to construct TextBer for the contest, which is currently in beta and utilizing UberX car—Uber’s lower-cost product. 

 

How it Works 

Using a desktop computer, users create an Uber account with a credit card and link their TextBer account with a specific cell phone number. To receive the service, users simply text a pickup and dropoff address to TextBer. A time estimate and quote will be texted back to the user’s cell phone, at which time they can approve the message and dispatch the driver. 

 

Going Forward

The current version of TextBer is limited to UberX vehicles and SMS messaging; however, the team of creators hopes to build more features that will benefit the visually impaired and those with disabilities.  

Other features discussed may include default home settings and common location identifiers so users wouldn’t have to type repetitive information.

SMS is an affordable alternative for service-based communications, which may grow in popularity as this SMS service moves forward through production. In addition to helping users without smartphones, this service will hopefully provide a service that makes life a little easier (and safer) for those in need of a driver; regardless of age, economic status or smartphone.  

 

 

June 22, 2015

Will Apple's Taptic Engine Make it to Mobile?

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Apple’s latest innovation is the Taptic Engine, a new feature for their smartwatch as well as the 13-inch MacBook Pro. Utilizing a research lab technique engineered 20 years ago, the technology features an electromagnetic motor that “tricks your fingers into feeling things that aren’t actually there.” This is due to the motor’s oscillation, which potentially promises a future full of smartphones and desktop trackpads where fingers are used to feel rather than touch interfaces.  

Named Force Touch, Apple has touted the technology as the "most significant new sensing capability since Multi-Touch," which foreshadows the idea of using the technology for the iPhone, etc. Its use in the MacBook trackpad, for example, presents something more sophisticated than the almost base motors used to make smartphones and game controllers vibrate.  

“Today’s Apple announcement made possible by Margaret Minsky’s lateral-force haptic texture synthesis research, 20 years ago,” former Apple designer Bret Victor wrote in a tweet. Minsky’s 1995 doctoral thesis focused on simulating texture with lateral force using a “custom software environment called Sandpaper.” Minksy discovered applying specific patterns of horizontal force to a joystick made it possible for users to “feel” assorted textures. Amplitude adjustment changed the effect, with a key point of Minksy’s work that sideways spring forces frequently feel like downward spring forces when touched by fingertips. 

 “It is, in the Apple way, very well engineered,” haptics pioneer Vincent Hayward of McGill University said of Apple’s Taptic Engine. “There’s a lot of attention to detail. It’s a very simple and very clever electromagnetic motor.” 

The potential to use the engine in a number of applications is somewhat outlined in Apple’s release notes: “When dragging a video clip to its maximum length, you’ll get feedback letting you know you’ve hit the end of the clip. Add a title and you’ll get feedback as the title snaps into position at the beginning or end of a clip. Subtle feedback is also provided with the alignment guides that appear in the Viewer when cropping clips.”

Does this mean “Bumpy Pixels” are the proverbial wave of the future? Hayward imagines a variety of possibilities. 

“It could make interaction more realistic, or useful, or entertaining, or pleasant,” he noted. “That becomes the job of the user experience designer.”

Should the Taptic Engine appear in the iPhone, the result could include keyboards where you feel the grooves in between the letters, or feel texture while skimming Instagram or playing a game. Hayward believes the iPhone potential is definitely there, it simply requires creating a motor that’s powerful and battery-efficient enough for such devices. 

“More interesting paradigms really are around the corner,” he said. “They already exist in labs. If you come to Paris, I can show you some things that you will have in phones in 10 years. Or maybe five years. Or two years, if we’re lucky.”

 

June 18, 2015

Adblockers are Costing Google Billions

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According to a recent report from anti-adblock tech firm PageFair, Google lost $6.6 billion in global revenue to ad blockers in 2014. The rise of ad blocking is becoming quite problematic for digital media companies, with Google so far taking the brunt of it.  

The $6.6 billion accounts for 10 percent of Google’s total revenue for last year. PageFair used Google's own revenue numbers as well as market data from research companies eMarketer and comScore to predict Google's total potential ad revenues from YouTube, search, AdSense, and DoubleClick. AdSense and DoubleClick are Google’s display advertising properties.  

"This is a relatively small sum for a global corporation with revenues of nearly $60 billion, while being a huge cash injection for a fast-growing adblocking startup in Cologne,” PageFair wrote in a blog post. “It is not credible that these funds are simply being spent on the administration of the acceptable ads program. Instead, they are presumably being reinvested in the future development of adblocking ... Although paying Adblock Plus may recover some short-term search engine revenue, it also tightens the adblocking stranglehold on the remainder of Google’s revenue." 

Adblock Plus is one of the most popular ad blockers of the moment, and the company PageFair referred to regarding its $6.6 billion figure for Google. The adblocker provides internet companies with the chance for their ads to be whitelisted should they meet an "acceptable ads" policy. Acceptable ads include what ad blockers consider non-intrusive, such as sponsored search links. Yet according to The Financial Times, bigger digital advertising companies such as Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and Taboola must pay Adblock Plus substantial fees — up to 30 percent of additional ad revenues if their ads weren’t blocked. 

Google’s lost revenue would have been much higher if not for the digital juggernaut’s whitelisting deal with Adblock Plus, which excluded search ads from the ad blocker’s filter. Google reportedly paid Adblock Plus $25 million to exclude search ads, but subsequently “saved” $3.5 billion in 2014.

Doubleclick and AdSense got “the worst of it,” and together lost Google $2.1 billion globally in 2014. YouTube, in comparison, lost $675 million in 2014 due to pre-roll ad blocking.

“The actual global adblocking rate is probably about five per cent, while the percentage of adblocked dollars is much higher,” Pagefair CEO and co-founder Sean Blanchfield told Mobile Marketing. “There is very low adblocking among many non-western countries, where access is primarily mobile, but where the ad spend is lower.”

Neither Google nor Adblock Plus have commented on the PageFair report at this time.

June 13, 2015

6 Mobile Marketing Myths

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Has your business still not taken a ride on the mobile marketing train? Considering Americans spend about two hours per day on their mobile devices, and one in seven people worldwide own such devices as of 2013, you may want to buy your proverbial train ticket. One out of every four mobile searches is conducted using a mobile device, and some 57 percent of users refuse to recommend companies without mobile-friendly site.  

If still not convinced, check out six mobile marketing myths to sway your vote: 

 

Myth #1: Mobile Marketing is Currently Enjoying Its 15 Minutes of Fame

Think the mobile marketing craze will be over soon? Think again. To quote Internet marketing expert Matt Bacak, “You’re simply an idiot if you think mobile marketing is not here to stay.” A bit harsh, but very true. 

 

Myth #2: Mobile Marketing is Crazy Expensive 

Many, many tools are now available to start a mobile marketing campaign without breaking the piggy bank. 

 

Myth #3: Optimizing Websites For Mobile Marketing Isn’t Necessary

Another popular myth surrounding mobile marketing is any normal business site is easy to read on a mobile device. This is rarely the case, and most users who find your site isn’t optimized for mobile devices are unlikely to visit the site again. 

 

Myth #4: Mobile Users Are the Same

A good number of businesses believe mobile users are limited to Millennials and Generation Y. Again, not true. According to media company Digiday, many mobile users--more than half--are 35 or older. Older generations are increasingly just as likely to use their mobile devices and bring them everywhere, so don’t dismiss them as old fogies who can barely operate a flip phone, let alone a smartphone. 

 

Myth #5: All That’s Required For Mobile Marketing is an App

While having a mobile app for your business is definitely a good thing, it’s merely one component of a larger mobile marketing strategy. A mobile-optimized website, QR codes, and texting messaging play sizable roles as well, and put together offer many opportunities for customer interaction and loyalty building. 

 

Myth #6: Mobile Marketing Doesn’t Apply to Small Businesses

Hardly. Mobile marketing offers a more personalized, more one-on-one experience, something the small business specializes in. It therefore makes perfect sense to capitalize on mobile marketing as a new way of talking to customers and ensuring their loyalty. 

Mobile marketing isn’t going anywhere, and businesses who take advantages of its many benefits are the ones sure to thrive. 

 

June 01, 2015

Should I Use an SMS Aggregator for Mobile Marketing?

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The whole idea behind sending SMS (short message service) messages is in the name--you’re sending a short message that you expect sent in a short amount of time. The right bulk SMS provider is therefore essential to ensure messages are sent in a timely fashion. However not all providers, or aggregators, are of the same quality. 

Understanding the difference between good and bad aggregators means understanding the history of SMS, grey routes included. Check it out: 

 

A Brief History Lesson

SMS technology came about in the 1980s as a method of sending messages to offline or otherwise unavailable mobile phones. Messages were (and still are) up to 160 characters in length, and use a ‘store and forward’ approach, meaning messages are stored and sent once a mobile link is established. SMS also uses a signaling channel in that it does not interfere with phone calls--sending and receiving messages is possible while on a call. 

Few realized how popular SMS would become when the first text message was sent in 1992. Mainly viewed as a way for professionals to page each other, it quickly became a easy way to communicate anywhere, anytime. SMS use “exploded” in 1999 when it became possible to text regardless of whether the receiver was in your network or not. Especially popular among teens and adults, texting also served as a less expensive communication option. 

Telecommunication companies set up international roaming networks as well so those traveling internationally could still send texts to loved ones at home. The subsequent adoption of SS7 (Signaling System #7) was a way to facilitate global P2P SMS.

Telco companies have never charged each other interconnect fees for sending P2P SMS across networks. When a person sends a message, the receiver usually replies, thus cancelling fees out. 

 

Aggregator Origins

Eventually assorted entrepreneurs found a way to send SMS messages to vast numbers of mobile phones through a computer. All that was required was a Global Title, which provided a network identity and allowed them to send traffic on SS7 roaming networks. 

This resulted in aggregators, or non-telco companies that allowed businesses to send bulk SMS. Such companies did not have individual customers, and created issues for telcos by sending huge numbers of SPAM messages. Other aggregators went for illegal grey routes. 

Grey routes were used to send messages to recipients in other countries without paying networks for message delivery. And while some aggregators don’t use grey routes, they do utilize least cost routing (LCR), which usually involves passing messages through several aggregators. It is not considered a reliable means of communication. 

 

Wrap-Up 

Grey routes not only interfere with legitimate SMS traffic, they also cost telecommunication companies millions of dollars in lost revenue every year. A grey route crackdown by telecos has resulted, with companies working with trusted aggregators only. 

So when debating whether an aggregator is right for your mobile marketing campaign, remember that old piece of advice: if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Go for aggregators who have direct relationships with telcos--you may pay more, but the investment is very much worth it.