Month: December 2015

Apple TV is getting 360-degree videos

Apple TV is getting 360-degree videos courtesy of Littlstar

The company, which launched in 2014, serves up VR and 360-degree videos from major brands like Showtime, Disney, Discovery, PBS, National Geographic and Red Bull. It participated in Disney’s second accelerator program in July, alongside startups engaged in AI technologies and 3D printing.

If you’ve been looking for new content to enjoy on your Apple TV, Littlestar might be worth a try.

Mission Viejo aims to save water, stay green by using smart irrigation controllers

It is awesome to see the community recognize the awesome tech and customer experience we have been working on with our Signature client. To many more communities finding the courage to make change and do their part.

MISSION VIEJO – Facing mounting pressure from the state and the public, the city is turning to one of the few remaining options to save additional water: Technology.

How Content Marketers Can Tell Better Stories with Data

Post by HBR
Content marketers have started to tell stories with data, and best practices are quickly emerging. The first step is to find the story you want to tell: how you approach data collection and analysis will determine what kind of content you’ll be able to develop. Once the story becomes clear, craft your message without letting the data overwhelm it.

Finding your story
Start with your dream headline. When I work on a data-driven content marketing project, I like to start by imagining my dream headlines or tweets: the discoveries that I would love my data to yield. When I was looking at child-related security risks, for example, I hoped to discover the security practices that led to the biggest reduction in online misdeeds—something like “good passwords cut hacks perpetrated by kids by 50%.” While the data rarely turns out to support that dream headline, starting there lets me figure out how to tackle my research. What data would I need if I wanted to produce that dream story? How would I go about getting it? Looking for the data that would yield my best-case outcome helps me figure out what kind of data is going to be relevant to my audience, and gives me a clear focus when I’m plowing through a mountain of survey results or social media analytics.

Recognize your bias. Part of the appeal of data-driven content is that we think of data as unbiased and objective. But when you’re using data for marketing purposes, you often do have a bias, because you want data that helps deliver your key message or that shores up your particular brand story. As a marketer, you can and should let that bias shape the questions you ask, the topics you pursue, and the parts of your data you highlight. To make sure that bias isn’t leading you astray, however, ask yourself whether your ultimate story and insights accurately reflect the data you’re working from: a good test is to think about what someone would conclude if they had access to your full data set. If they’d likely come to a different conclusion, you’ve done too much cherry picking, and need to rethink the basic story you’re telling.

Look for patterns. There are times when we just want to tell an interesting story—we’re not interested in it proving something specific. I doubt that Jawbone cares whether New Yorkers go to bed at 10 or at midnight, or that Facebook cares about whether we “LOL” or merely “haha,” but sharing data on those patterns lets brands catch the attention of the media and potential customers. Sometimes it’s the absence of a pattern that’s interesting, like OKCupid’s data showing that gay and straight people have the same number of sexual partners. The easiest way to get started with data storytelling is through stories like these: stories that are quirky and interesting, but where your brand has no particular stake in what the data shows.

Look for surprises. The most compelling data-driven content tells the reader something they don’t already know. Sometimes that surprise lies in finding an unexpected correlation: you might expect younger workers to be more likely to communicate online and less likely to meet in person, but actually, the reverse is true. If it’s not surprising, it’s going to be a boring story.

Telling your story
Once you know the story your data will tell, you need to structure that story in a way that makes it as clear and compelling as possible. To do that:

Choose the right format. Despite the impression you might get from looking at data on Pinterest, one long infographic isn’t always the best way to tell your data-driven story. A white paper, a blog post, or even a simple tweeted-out graphic can all be effective ways of telling a story with data, depending on your goal and audience. If you have a lot of data or a complex story to tell, a long piece that fully explains your results is more effective than trying to fit all that complexity into the margins of a single graphic; if your heart is set on a short visual post, release it as a highlight or teaser for your full-length piece.

Articulate your key message. Whether you succeed in finding the dream story you started with, or find something totally different when you dive into your data, your final story should clearly communicate one key message. How would you summarize your story in a single sentence or tweet? Articulate that story very clearly at the top of your post or document, and use each section or chart to build on that story—just as you would in any other piece of persuasive writing.

Lead with one or two numbers. One of the biggest pay-offs from data-driven content is the kind of media and social media attention it can earn. The surest way of attracting that attention is to highlight one or two surprising, memorable numbers. When Grant Thornton published its latest study on women in corporate leadership, it prominently noted the fact that close to a third of companies have no women in senior management. When Vision Critical released What Social Media Analytics Can’t Tell You About Your Customers, we emphasized the point that 85% of what you hear online comes from less than 30% of your social media audience. These are the kinds of facts that get tweeted out and picked up in news stories.

Balance text and visuals. A lot of data-driven content goes astray by sprinkling a few numbers into a big block of text, or conversely, by burying the reader in charts and graphics. The best content uses text and visuals synergistically: charts provide full context on the data you’re sharing, while text lets people understand how to interpret those charts, and why the numbers are relevant to their work. Make sure that text and visuals are balanced not only in terms of quantity, but in terms of quality: I often see beautifully designed infographics that are full of spelling errors, or that fail to explain what the colorfully presented numbers actually represent.

Illustrate your data with human examples. Whenever you’re telling a story with data, use real or hypothetical stories of specific people to translate the numbers into a human story. Our HBR article ”How Pinterest Puts People In Stores” showed that a third of people said that pinning their most recently purchased Pinterest item had “a lot” of influence on their decision to buy it—and that number was made a lot more tangible through the specific story of Claire, who got a sale alert based on an item she’d pinned. While “Claire” was an invented name, her story was based on the specific responses of a single survey respondent. That kind of example makes it easier for people to understand the story you are telling with your data, and also makes it more relatable.

Make recommendations. If you’re delving deep into a data set, you may see the relevance of your data to a range of business or consumer decisions—but that doesn’t mean the relevance will be obvious to your readers. Once you’ve done your data analysis, step back and think about how you would make difference business or purchasing decisions based on the data you’ve uncovered. Then spell out those insights in a separate “recommendations” or “key insights” section.

The more you follow these best practices, the more they’ll feel like a natural extension of the communications skills you’ve honed in other aspects of your work. And that’s exactly the point: if you’re doing a good job of telling stories with data, it’s the story—not the numbers—that will shine through.

Infographic: Engaging Content Has Everything to Do With Emotion
As content accounts for more of marketers’ budgets, finding direct paths to target audiences becomes increasingly important. AOL Insights analyzed over 7,300 moments when a person engaged with specific content and uncovered new findings that can help marketers better develop content.

“Marketers are good at knowing when and where consumers access content,” said AOL consumer analytics and research vp Christian Kugel. “This research illuminates some of the missing pieces and gives insight into how and why consumers interact with content. Smart marketers can add this knowledge to their toolset to develop content that matches the motivation of viewers, ultimately resulting in a deeper, better and more impactful connections with consumers on any device.”

IoT beyond mobile; it’s coming fast

MOVING THE IoT PAST THE MOBILE APP EXPERIENCE: Both the development and adoption of some consumer IoT devices have been slow so far. This is partly because IoT providers haven’t created many unique experiences optimized for these new devices. Instead, they are merely trying to force the traditional mobile app experience into devices that don’t always support the same kinds of interactions as a smartphone, Roman Kalantari, creative technologist at Fjord, a design studio owned by Accenture Interactive, said in a recent conversation with BI Intelligence.

This problem is particularly apparent in wearables apps like smartwatches, and in the connected car platforms from Apple and Google that simply move a bunch of mobile apps onto the car’s dashboard, Kalantari remarked. Surveys have shown that consumers are not using their connected features after purchasing new models because they’d rather access those services through their smartphone apps.

App developers and device manufacturers need to be more disciplined about what functions they put in IoT devices, John Jones, Fjord’s global SVP of design strategy, recommended. For example, trying to cram all of the functions of a smartphone app into a wearable doesn’t make sense because wearables have much smaller screens. The same is true for connected car apps, since putting too many functions in a crowded app can make it useless for someone who is preoccupied with driving.

Apps for IoT devices should instead focus on providing contextualized information for users, Jones suggested. For instance, Fjord helped design an Apple Watch app for financial advisors that synced with their calendar to send them relevant notifications for the next meeting on their calendar. Apps for IoT devices should also leave some functions up to the smartphone. Putting too much information up on a car’s dashboard is obviously distracting. It would be better to send information that isn’t immediately relevant to the driver’s phone so they could read it after they get out of the car. Once app developers and device manufacturers find more ways to create experiences tailored for IoT devices, consumers will likely find the devices themselves more useful and appealing.

Content Is Critical In The Tech Path To Purchase: Purch And comScore… — NEW YORK, Dec. 9, 2015 /PRNewswire/ —

NEW YORK, Dec. 9, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — When it comes to online shopping, conversions are king. But what kinds of searches, ads and content are consumers interacting with before and after a tech purchase? Purch, a digital content and commerce company, and comScore, a global media measurement and analytics company, partnered to determine the answer in a new study released today—PURCHase Report: Consumer Technology. The research examines more than 3,000 qualifying purchases over a 90 day period to track key influences and behaviors of U.S consumers before, during and after a technology purchase. Purchases tracked include popular products such as mobile devices, tablets and wearables from top online retailers and brands including Samsung, Apple and HP. Findings point to inefficiencies in ad delivery and consumer focus on tech reviews and content both ahead of and after making a purchase.

To learn more about the research and share the news, click here:

“It’s critical for brands and marketers to gain a detailed understanding of the many factors that influence a consumer shopping for a tech product,” said Erin Kapczynski, Vice President of Marketing at Purch. “The Purch and comScore PURCHase Report goes a long way toward providing a more comprehensive understanding of the consumer path to purchase and helps marketers and publishers better service them via advertising, search, and editorial. The media landscape is saturated, but tech content stands out as a go-to resource in the month before consumers land directly at online retail destinations to make purchases.”

Data sources analyzed in the study include search, ad exposure, visitation, mobile and e-commerce. Key findings from the PURCHase Report include:

The majority (52 percent) of relevant ad impressions took place after the consumer had already made a purchase. This indicates significant opportunity to retune ad strategy and messaging to consumers for tech items such as smartphones, laptops and storage devices – to place the right ads at the right phase in the consumer journey.

On the content side, tech media sites are the most widely consumed content throughout the purchase journey (pre- and post-purchase), pointing to trust in product reviews and testing by neutral parties that relay accessible information. Tech media site consumption is followed by multi-category retailer and tech retailer sites.

On tech media sites, buyers read 80% more reviews/buying guide pages than news pages.  Both reviews and news article readership were split fairly evenly by platform, with 53 percent of pages views on PCs and 47 percent of pages viewed on mobile devices.

As consumers move into the final phases of their research and look to complete purchases, they shift their search behavior to retailers’ sites. The majority of their searches —67 percent – took place on retail sites rather than search engines on the day of purchase.

Men dominate tech forums and women consume a slight majority of tech how-to pages, but the genders are split evenly when it comes to time spent on reviews/buying guides – indicating that reviews play an equal role in both genders’ decision making processes.

Gen X consumers (age 35-54) accounted for 45 percent of the tech purchases in this research.  Millennials however, were the big spenders, spending an average of 8% more per purchase than older consumers.

The PURCHase Report uniquely provides in-depth information about relevant online behavior leading up to and following actual tech purchases. The research considers digital influencers holistically, with a look at ad exposure and other types of content important to consumers as they research products, i.e. reviews, news and searches across retailers’ sites, search engines and deals resources. The insight gleaned from this data is a valuable tool for advertisers and marketers seeking to connect with consumers in the right way during the purchase process. View the full report.

Study Methodology:
Purch and comScore partnered on an in-depth analysis of relevant digital activity on desktop and mobile devices by comScore U.S. panelists who purchased a consumer tech product online. comScore’s behavioral measurement software on panelist PCs identified over 3,000 qualifying purchase events in a 90 day period (May 2015 – July 2015), in any of 11 tech product categories ranging from laptops and mobile phones to wearable fitness devices.

To find out more about Purch, visit, or follow the company on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

About Purch    
Purch is a portfolio of digital brands that helps make buying decisions easy for 100 million consumers and businesses monthly. Its respected sites such as Top Ten Reviews, Tom’s Guide, Tom’s Hardware, and Live Science natively integrate commerce and content in more than 1000 product categories so consumers can make better choices before, during, and after an important purchase. The company helps marketers achieve their branding and performance objectives in a high-quality, brand-safe context. Its sites connect in-market shoppers with more than 7,000 marketers and sellers, driving industry-leading conversion rates and $1 billion in commerce transactions annually. Purch is a high-growth, privately held company with more than 350 employees and offices across the U.S. and Europe. For more information on Purch, visit or follow the company on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

About comScore
Founded in 1999 and headquartered in Reston, Virginia, comScore, Inc. (NASDAQ: SCOR) is a global media measurement and analytics company that makes audiences and advertising more valuable. We help media buyers and sellers understand and make decisions based on how consumers use different media, such as TV, video, mobile, desktop and more. Through its products and partnerships, comScore helps its more than 2,500 clients understand their audiences, know if their advertising is working, and access data where they want and need it.

Some focus on the user because it’s in their DNA. Others because the have to

2016 Year in Preview: Ad blocking will force the industry to put the user experience first
Ricardo Bilton @rbilton 11 hours ago
This essay is just one in a series of 10 produced by Digiday’s staff of reporters and editors in which we look to the major trends of 2016. We’ll be releasing a full series download with all 10 essays on Thursday. Sign up here for a copy.

If publishers weren’t thinking about the user before, they will in the coming year.

Spurred by Apple’s introduction of ad blocking to iOS in September, publishers and advertisers spent much of 2015 wavering between muted concern and outright panic over ad blocking’s potential effect on the future of the industry. Over 198 million people globally run ad blockers each month, according to anti-ad blocking firm PageFair, and Apple’s support risked increasing the magnitude of that existential threat even further.


But while the industry has obsessed over various wrinkles of ad blocking — how to fight the tech, whether ad blocking is unethical, etc — the ad blocking story’s actual importance became clear when it started forcing the hard questions about the role of the user experience in digital advertising, and whether the industry has completely forgotten about the people on the other side of the screen. In 2016, the discussion about ad blocking will expand beyond ad blocking to include user experience overall.

“Digital advertising has grown up a like a weed,” said Quartz publisher Jay Lauf. “We built all these sites and places for ads to live but rather than give real thought to the landscaping, we just let everything grow. Now, everyone is saying, ‘we’ve got kind of a mess here so we need to take a step back and clean things up.’”

Even the IAB conceded that the industry “messed up” by chasing automation and data collection at the expense the user experience. “Looking back now, our scraping of dimes may have cost us dollars in consumer loyalty,” wrote IAB senior VP of technology and ad operations Sean Cunningham in October. At the same time the IAB introduced its “LEAN” program, a new set of creative standards meant to produce ads that are lighter, less resource intensive and, hopefully, less likely to encourage people to install ad blockers. This tack made sense to those who argued that the most effective way to fix ad blockers is to make better ads.

But while intrusive ads have borne the brunt of the industry’s blame for ad blocking’s rise, efforts to improve the user experience have gone beyond just ads. Vox Media, GQ and The Verge, for example, have taken deep looks at their sites, making small tweaks to various features that have had major effects on the sites overall. The result: page loading times for these sites have been cut by as much as 80 percent.

The problem is that spending the time and money to rebuild and optimize their sites is a frill that many publishers don’t feel they have. “When the next 90 days of the quarter are staring you in the face and you have to make numbers, it’s hard to take the long view,” said Washington Post chief revenue officer Jed Hartman. “It can be hard to find that balance.”

In other words, the realities of the business today mean that most publishers are more concerned with optimizing their ad yield than optimizing their site load times.

But the idea that publishers have to think about their bottom lines before their users is a false choice, said Lauf at Quartz. “You have to serve your real customer, your audience, first so you can have the foundation for a solid business. No one has the luxury anymore of ignoring the user experience.”

Few understand that dynamic better than the big tech companies, which have used the “spear of the consumer,” as Lauf put it, to battle each other as they pitch their new publisher initiatives this year. Facebook’s Instant Articles, for example, was premised on the idea that the sluggishness of publishers’ sites is driving users away. Likewise, Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) project was created to help publishers speed up their sites by trimming them of slow and unnecessary elements.

All of this should be a lesson to publishers. “The companies that are going to be successful down the line understand that content is a big differentiator but the entire experience is a part of that content as well,” said Digital Content Next CEO Jason Kint. “It’s all about the entire package of speed and performance and technology. The consumer doesn’t differentiate between publishers based on content alone.”

Retail relies on video

Smartphones are an increasingly important device for video consumption, according to a new Digitalsmiths report. In Q3 2015, 41.1% of respondents from its survey of 3,153 US and Canadian adult consumers said they watch video content from their smartphones, a 4.7% year-over-year (YoY) increase in viewership. And 43.4% watch on a weekly basis, an increase of 2.8% YoY. This growing habit toward mobile video has huge implications for e-commerce brands and retailers.

Consumers like seeing videos when shopping online, which ultimately helps lead to purchase decisions, according to Animoto.

73% of US adults are more likely to make an online purchase after watching a product description video.
These videos also leave an important impression about the company itself — 58% of consumers consider a company with product video content to be more trustworthy.
71% say that they leave a positive impression of a company.
And 77% consider these companies to be more engaged with customers.
One example of this kind of success is British e-commerce pureplay Asos, whose site and mobile app offer runway videos of models walking and moving in the listed apparel product. And its overall mobile presence has gained traction worldwide. The company’s mobile app has been downloaded 5.4 million times — and mobile devices accounted for 60% of traffic and 44% of its total sales as of the end of August 2015, according to Internet Retailer.

MOBILE RETAIL APPS GAINING IN POPULARITY: Mobile retail app usage is growing among consumers, with 84% of US consumers having at least one retail app on their smartphone, according to comScore. In addition to merely downloading these apps, consumers are spending more time using them. Top retailers like Amazon, Walmart, and Target see a majority of their mobile traffic coming from mobile apps.

However, increased time spend does not necessarily mean more money will be spent.

There is still a 45% gap between how much time consumers spend researching retail on mobile and how much is actually spent on mobile.
What is responsible for this huge disparity? Mobile apps are not being developed properly for the space they occupy. Many consumers claim they are inhibited from making purchases on mobile apps because they’re not able to see product details or they have difficulty inputting personal and payment information. Brands and retailers that want to attract more users to mobile apps need to focus on designing an experience optimized for the devices consumers use — rather than simply transferring content made for desktop to the smartphone. This could include options like one-step checkout, vertical videos, or larger text sizes for the smaller screen. Otherwise, smartphones will remain a tool used for research rather than for e-commerce.