miércoles, 29 de febrero de 2012

Yahoo Stabs Facebook In The Back, Says Pay For Its Patents Or Get Sued

After years of positive relations, friendly blog posts, and referral traffic, Yahoo may have just been biding its time waiting to declare war on Facebook. Today it suddenly accused its former ally of infringing on 10-20 of its patents. It demands a settlement from Facebook or it says it will sue. The betrayer only warned Facebook privately once the New York Times had publicly published details passed to it by Yahoo. Though dastardly opportunistic, this patent trolling could produce a big windfall for Yahoo's investors.

Facebook tells me it was blindsided, saying "Yahoo contacted us at the same time they called the New York Times, so we haven't had the opportunity to fully evaluate their claims." Facebook has been very conservative about its use of patents. It bought some especially far-reaching social networking patents originally owned by Friendster from Malaysian company MOL for $40 million in 2010, but never used them offsensively even when it felt threatened by Twitter.

Yahoo has long worked closely with Facebook, using the social network to power sign-up and login of its email service and Flickr. Just 11 days ago, Facebook congratulated Yahoo in a blog post noting its Open Graph protocol had helped Yahoo's news reader app gain 25 million users, including 2 million each day, and more than 500,000 referrals a day. I doubt we'll see such courtesies between these two anytime soon.

Today's attack comes at a particularly vulnerable time for Facebook, during the quiet period leading up to its IPO. Facebook could be forced to license the patents or settle with Yahoo by paying out pre-IPO stock, the same way Google was coerced into giving Yahoo 2.7 million shares in a patent settlement before the search giant's 2004 IPO.

Details are sketchy on which of Yahoo's patents it believes Facebook has infringed upon. However, Forbes reported in November that Yahoo held 1,100 US patents with 2,661 pending, and it could have 3-4x that many international patents. These include patents on paid search that Facebook may be violating through its deal with Microsoft Bing, and basic social networking patents that could apply to core parts of Facebook's business.

Yahoo has held these patents defensively for years as a deterrent to trolling by other patent holders. But Facebook is a young company without a robust portfolio, and with record buzz about its IPO, now might be the perfect time to shake down the social network. A Yahoo crony tells the NYT that the two companies met today, and now it says "We must insist that Facebook either enter into a licensing agreement or we will be compelled to move forward unilaterally to protect our rights."

Honestly, this is despicable. After relentlessly stagnating as Facebook innovated, to now try to extort Zuckerberg's company just as it enters the spotlight reeks of desperation. The only positive news from Yahoo in recent memory was thanks to the viral nature of Facebook's social graph that Yahoo may says it owns the rights to. Did the Winklevii join Yahoo's board?

GigaOm's Mathew Ingram puts it eloquently:

Perhaps Yahoo sees Facebook as too big of a threat to its ailing display ad business. Even if it does score cash or stock in a settlement, Yahoo's shareholders should be worried. Your business model shouldn't depend on the remarkable shortsightedness of a patent officer who thought it was ok to let someone own the concept of connections between personal profiles online.

[Image Credit: Cambria Politico]

NASCAR Driver Tweets From Car, Gains Over 100,000 Followers in Two Hours

When the Daytona 500 ran into a protracted delay following an explosion and fire on the track Monday night, NASCAR driver Brad Keselowski did what any social media addict would: grabbed his phone and began posting status updates to Twitter.

Then he gained more than 100,000 followers in less than two hours.

Keselowski's fellow driver Juan Pablo Montoya crashed into a safety vehicle mid-race. The collision and jet fuel — the safety vehicle reportedly holds 200 gallons of jet kerosene — sparked a huge ball of fire, although both vehicles' drivers appeared to avoid serious injury. The race was halted. From his spot in the racecar traffic jam, Keselowski sent this tweet to his (at the time) less than 85,000 followers:

More than an hour later, the race resumed. Keselowski's follower count topped 185,000.

Keselowski's initial tweet set off a hysteria in the sports Twittersphere, and triggered a set of funny exchanges between him and his fans:

Keselowski then passed the continued delay with a steady stream of tweets updating and reacting to the accident and to-be-continued race. Eventually, the Daytona 500 got underway again, and Keselowski passed the message on to his swollen follower count by retweeting NASCAR's senior vice president Steve O'Donnell:

Earlier, Keselowski had retweeted fan Jessica Lynn Burkett, who spoke for pretty much everyone when she posted:

Keselowski then got into a wreck of his own after the race resumed. No word whether it was a case of tweeting-while-driving, but he did post another message to his account minutes after his crash.

Thumbnail image courtesy of Brad Keselowski

Is Google's Motorola "firewall" really a good thing?

Posted 27 February 2012 17:21pm by Patricio Robles with 0 comments

Google is now seeing more than 850,000 new Android device activations per day, and Android head Andy Rubin says the search giant will "double down" on Android tablets this year.

But the real key to Android's success could be found in Google's acquisition of Motorola Mobility, which was recently approved by EU and US regulators.

The reason for that is simple: to win in the software world, it helps to win in the hardware world, and to win in the hardware world, it helps to win in the software world.

Case in point: Apple. The iPad wouldn't have been successful without iTunes, iOS wouldn't be what it is today without the iPhone and iPad, and so on and so forth.

As Daring Fireballs' Jon Gruber succinctly put it recently, "Apple is an experience company. That they create both hardware and software is part of creating the entire product experience." He points to an Alan Kay quote that Steve Jobs was apparently fond of:

People who are really serious about software should make their own hardware.

Google, of course, is serious about software, and in particular, its Android OS. But it's obviously hasn't been anywhere near as adept when it comes to hardware. The company's acquisition of Motorola Mobility could change that, but it might not because of political reasons.

As reported by The Verge's Nilay Patel, Google is building a "firewall" between its Android team and its new Motorola Mobility subsidiary:

Rubin said he was "painfully aware" of concerns, but stressed that Google has "literally built a firewall" between the Android team and Motorola. "I don't even know anything about their products, I haven't seen anything," he said. "They're going to continue building Motorola branded devices and it's going to be the same team doing it."

Such a comment is probably designed to appease Android partners that compete with Motorola Mobility, many of whom were, for obvious reasons, not exactly thrilled when their OS supplier announced it was buying a competitor that makes devices. But such a comment also suggests that Google is going to struggle to take advantage of its new asset.

To really heat up the battle with Apple and iOS, Google would want its Android team working closely with the folks at Motorola Mobility. Letting the people designing the software work side-by-side with the people designing phones would put Google in an Apple-like position, and even if there's only one Apple, there's little reason to doubt that Google could have used such a relationship to address some of the issues that plague the Android ecosystem.

Instead, Google has sort of painted itself into a corner with its Android distribution model, and while that doesn't mean its acquisition of Motorola Mobility won't bear fruit, it almost certainly won't bear as much as it could have under more ideal circumstances. That's bad news for Google, and good news for Apple.

Use Facebook? Expect to see more ads, and more annoying ads

Posted 27 February 2012 10:18am by Patricio Robles with 1 comment

Facebook's upcoming IPO will likely go down as the richest technology IPO ever - but that doesn't mean that the company's continued success is guaranteed.

In fact, the world's largest social network may miss its Q1 revenue target.

That's according to Sam Hamadeh, the CEO of PrivCo, a company which bills itself as the "private company financial data authority." Hamadeh's sources "close to" Facebook indicate that the company is "behind its projections for ad revenue for the first quarter."

Obviously, information from unnamed sources should be taken with a grain of salt, and it's easy to sensationalise matters like this without having appropriate details, like how far behind its projections Facebook is.

That said, there is little doubt that the world's largest social network will face increased pressure to monetize once it's a publicly-traded entity. With user growth slowing, it will no longer be able to grow revenue as easily. That will not only push the company to monetize in currently unmonetised areas, like mobile ads, it may also logically push Facebook to serve more ads, and more aggressive ads.

On that note, PrivCo has obtained leaked documents from Facebook which detail a new ad offering, "Premium Ads", which will supposedly replace Facebook's existing premium ads offering:

Facebook's not yet publicized new "Premium Ads" product will have a larger format and more intrusive placement and distracting features that will appear on users' profiles. In addition to a much larger size than current ads, advertisers will be allowed to add distractions such as video and sound to what were previously text ads. In the leaked documents to ad agencies, Facebook touts that the new formats should hopefully increase "engagement by 40%", with an "80% increased likelihood to be remembered," without citing any supporting data.

Needless to say, if and when this comes to pass, the Facebook experience could radically change for many users. And not in a good way.

The big question, of course, is whether or not more ads, and more annoying ads, will drive Facebook users to change their behaviors (read: use Facebook less). On this front, it's worth noting that Facebook users are reportedly 'unfriending' at a more rapid pace. That's not only potentially worrisome for Facebook because of the implications for the size of the company's 'social graph', but also for the new models of advertising Facebook has been trying to pioneer which promise viral distribution of ad messages through that social graph.

At the end of the day, Facebook shouldn't assume that because it has a high level of lock-in, its users will go along with whatever changes it makes. Yes, they have put up with a seemingly countless number of privacy gaffes, but a more in-your-face approach to advertising could be the straw that breaks the camel's back.

Open Label wants to be Yelp for barcodes

Posted 27 February 2012 21:29pm by Patricio Robles with 0 comments

Thanks to the internet, it's never been easier for consumers to share their thoughts and opinions about products and services. That has spurred the creation of an entire online reviews ecoystem.

Popular reviews sites like Yelp, which is planning to go public, can literally make or break a business. Earn favorable reviews and a steady stream of eager new customers could be coming through the door. Earn poor reviews and attracting customers can become a difficult task, although there's some evidence that negative customer reviews aren't as bad as thought.

The businesses most affected by sites like Yelp are usually local and service-oriented (think restaurants and spas), but if the creators of the OpenLabel project have their way, Yelp-like reviews could be coming for just about any product with a barcode.

As detailed by Springwise, OpenLabel "enables anyone to scan a product barcode and append their comments" using a mobile app:

Using the Open Label iPhone app — which is now in private beta — consumers simply scan a product's UPC barcode to open its virtual "Open Label". There, they can read what others have said about the product, and they can also attach their own comments as to why it is or isn't worth buying, focusing in particular on topics such as the manufacturer or producers' environmental, safety, health or animal rights records. If the product's maker has a poor record for sustainability, for instance, users can note that on its Open Label. Conversely, users of the app can also ask questions about particular products, and — in Twitter-like fashion — they can "follow" the people and organizations they trust as well.

Springwise notes that similar apps exist in other verticals, but the OpenLabel is taking what appears to be a more ambitious approach in trying to aggregate reviews for any product with a barcode.

Obviously, it remains to be seen just how many consumers will actually use OpenLabel. The project will also have to deal with the issue of negative bias. In many cases, those most likely to go out of their way to review a product or service are those who don't like it. The local nature of reviews sites like Yelp gives loyal patrons an incentive to help promote the businesses they do like, but it's not certain that the same loyalty will translate to positive reviews for products.

More importantly, OpenLabel's success could be determined by its focus. On this note, it appears that the project's creators are interested in cultivating reviews around 'social' issues, like a product's impact on the environment or a manufacturer's labor record. While there may be a place for this, the more mainstream play is probably around reviews focused on the basics (does the product do what it's supposed to, is it of high quality, is it worth the price, etc.).

But even if OpenLabel's social slant relegates it to a niche, manufacturers should prepare for the day when their products are reviewed in a Yelp-like fashion. Sooner than later, somebody is going to get the model right.

How social media can make CSR more visible

Posted 27 February 2012 12:36pm by Natalie Cowen with 1 comment

A Reputation Institute 2011 survey found that a company's CSR programme (in its broadest sense), can be responsible for more than 40% of a company's reputation, whilst companies with stronger social leadership programs have 55% better internal morale and 43% more efficient business processes. T

his is added to the fact that highly engaged employees have three times the operating margin.

So when I say this, I may be going out on a limb, but very few brands seem to be effectively using social media to communicate their social responsibility initiatives.

In many cases I would expect that this is due to a mismatch of goals between marketing (the people who have the social media budget) and CSR (the people focused on delivering in-the-field). 

But, the stats don't lie.  Facebook now boasts in excess of 800m users worldwide, Twitter has more than 200m users, LinkedIn has 64m (and growing), and 23% of all time spent online is on social networks etc… etc….

This has to represent one of the biggest (relatively) untapped opportunities in the history of CSR. Three factors; huge audiences congregating around shared interests, the rise of online activism and the ability for brands to find, engage with and enrich these groups mean that instead of having to "go it alone" brands can become the enablers of social change. A sea-change in the way CSR gets done. 

It's not as if brands have nothing to talk about either. Examples such as the work large brands like Nike, Dell, Apple, AmEx and GAP have done with (RED) to create specially branded retail offerings would provide the perfect stimulus for engagement.

They've raised more than $180m to date for AIDS research and treatment, with 100% of profits going towards in-the-field work. This is fantastic but how much more could be achieved if RED products engaged their consumers to make even more amazing things happen. 

If you want a demonstration of the power of social media to bring people together around real-world causes you only have to look back at the summer riots.

A disaffected youth came together through BBM to riot, but then residential communities across the country worked together to rebuild their communities - all organised and enabled through social media.

The latter was lauded as the 'Big Society' in action but as our CEO said in a Guardian piece last week, the 'Big Society' isn't a new concept - it's just a new phrase to describe good social leadership, and highlight what's often already there. 

Social media is essentially about empowering people by allowing like-minded individuals to come together around ideas regardless of their geography, and this is where brands can really make a difference by providing the resources to make that engagement richer, easier and more fulfilling.

It is a huge opportunity and one that is yet to be fully grasped by most businesses.

Natalie Cowan is Head of Brand and Communications at first direct and a guest blogger on Econsultancy.

Yahoo treads lightly in social with Open Graph integration

Posted 27 February 2012 19:24pm by Heather Taylor with 0 comments

Last week, Yahoo brought together a panel led by Patrick Albano, VP Sales of Social, Mobile and Innovation, to talk about how Yahoo is using its own content across social media.

The panel focused on the integration of Facebook's Open Graph into their home page and the use of Social Bar, a tool that allows advertisers to ask consumers questions through the ads themselves.

Yahoo, like most brands, is looking to harness the power of social content. Yahoo's social media goals are pretty much the same as most brands. Deepen audience engagement, bring users back to the main website whenever possible, amplify messages, stimulate positive sentiment, and anchor marketing programmes and big events into its social media campaigns. But why is this important for Yahoo to do?

Yahoo's main audience until now has been 30-40 year olds which makes sense as Yahoo would have been their main news source when they were in college. People grew up with Yahoo. Since using Facebook's Open Graph on its homepage to help users navigate content that their friends are reading on Yahoo, the company has found that 70% of people using this are under 30. This is obviously a big change for Yahoo and could help it become more relevant to a new audience if they innovate.

As for advertising, Yahoo is looking to create socially active ads and is exploring how social amplification and ads go together. This puts ads as a part of a sharing element and not just as a logo on something unrelated. This is why they've created the Social Bar. Brands can ask a user a question and they can engage with the ad. The interaction is then in their Facebook feed and is sharable, as is the nature of Facebook. So far there are 25 million users with social bar installed.

Is this going to bring Yahoo back to the forefront?

What Yahoo demonstrated is interesting but isn't new or exciting. Other content providers are doing the same as them and more.

Yahoo have spent the first five years of social connecting people and the next five years is going to be about the crazy things they can do with them. Maybe what they are doing is enough for its current users, but Yahoo doesn't appear to be going out on a limb. Robin Zucker, Yahoo's marketing director, commented that social is not just Facebook and Twitter. She said Yahoo is experimenting with new social platforms but it appears that its integration is mainly based around Facebook at the moment.

Yahoo are looking to innovate on its own site through editorial, social and the personalisation of those but it feels as if the company is now following instead of leading. It has no plans to create its own social networks, which would be fine, but Yahoo currently owns social platforms such as Flickr. The photo sharing site once had great potential as a social platform but is now, for most people, falling off the radar.

As brands move further into mobile and original video content, the question is, will Yahoo pick up the pace or will it continue to play safe and stay one step behind. According to Zucker, "Social is at the big kids table," but it appears Yahoo may be looking to retain its seat.

Office Wars

Although Microsoft has denied the media reports, it seems likely we're on the threshold of Office coming to the iPad. I'm writing this on Word on the Mac, but it won't be long before Pages will have some serious competition. If Microsoft pulls back, there's OnLIve Desktop that delivers Office as a cloud service with a free version up to 2 gigs of storage. Adobe delivered Photoshop Touch for the iPad this morning. Why now?

The most obvious reason is that Apple has reached a tipping point with its tablet platform, where PCs have become little more than set-top boxes for streaming services. We recently bought the second season of Downton Abbey; I downloaded it to my iPad while we watched the Grammys on cable. I figured I'd use AirPlay to stream it to the Apple TV in the living room, but when I switched over to the small box, the show was already listed thanks to iCloud. Effectively, the smallest box in the house, Apple TV, was the server.

We'd gotten hooked on Season One on Netflix, which already has become the dominant source of programming for the 60-inch Sony in the living room. You'd think it would be outweighed by network shows, the View, and live events, but with our daughter running non-stop Grey's Anatomy and Lost-fests on the biggest screen whenever possible, the competition for control has overcome the other shows. With more and more original programming transferring to Netflix and TV Everywhere, the set-top box is quickly becoming the control point.

If rumors of Apple TV undergoing a hardware refresh in March are correct, it may suggest both an upgrade to 1080p for iPad 3 and some improvement in the WiFi routing capabilities of the AirPlay network. While TV Everywhere only supports mobile devices today, there's no reason why Comcast (or other TV Anywhere partners) wouldn't see the value in extending their OnDemand extended episode access to Apple TV customers. Already you can use AirPlay to push downloads up to the big screen; why not cut the mobile cord altogether?

HBO will continue to exercise its leverage to constrain its original productions to the big cable cord model, but competition at the content level is accelerating. HBO series such as Luck with Dustin Hoffman are not available on iTunes, but audiences are accustomed to such windowing tactics with movies and will move on to other more accessible series. This is what Microsoft and Adobe are afraid of with Office and the shrinking PC software market.

Once the incumbents blink, then the real battle begins. OnLive shows one strategy, moving to the cloud while preserving the document-centric model of Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and, tellingly, Gmail instead of Outlook. Already the Google cloud product is a better fit, at least in the marketing screen that greets you when you go to the site. But there's a wall between OnLive's apps and other apps on your iPad that will need to be bridged, and in the process Microsoft will be forced to give up effective control of the overall experience as is happening with Hollywood and the record business.

The real platform becomes the push notification bus, where cooperating apps post alerts and exchange data with virtual clipboards of dynamic data. By cloning iOS as much as possible with Windows 8, Microsoft hopes to provide an iPad experience compatible with its forthcoming Windows Phone and tablet architecture. The Windows and Office teams may have finally made the decision to jump to parity with Apple, just as they did with Windows NT and Adobe to successfully (that time) force a transition off the Mac in graphics and video processing. That would explain Adobe's move as well, as the ex-Flash provider keeps Microsoft from squeezing out Photoshop at Adobe's weakest moment. OnLive Flash support is window dressing at best and months from irrelevance.

For me, Office represents an increasingly minor amount of screen time in my computing experience, while social computing is transitioning much of that work to stream-based objects. Google's forced march of Google + data into its social experience may be a good long term move for the search company, but it comes at the cost of meshing with Apple's accelerated Twitter interoperability. As Chatter builds out support for Customer groups across Salesforce business customers and their partners, Twitter's direct messages and @mention authority model are being extended in this new form of collaborative communication.

Microsoft and its partners are right to confront this new model before it's too late. They only have to look to our behavior at the end of the work day to understand how quickly we will shift the rest of our time. As one Upstairs character suggests about a Downstairs character she fancies in Downton Abbey, in times of war those distinctions of class mean less and less. When time is short, pragmatism takes root, and once in place, it's very hard to displace.

Following Thefts, Luxury Car-Sharing Service HiGear Acquired By Rent2Buy

San Francisco-based HiGear, a peer-to-peer car-sharing service for luxury vehicles, has been acquired. The news follows the company's decision to shut down operations last month, after a criminal ring targeted HiGear, resulting in multiple incidents of theft involving its members' cars. The criminals stole four cars totaling $400,000 by using stolen identities to bypass HiGear's background checks.

Today, the company is announcing its assets have been sold to another peer-to-peer car-sharing marketplace known as Rent2Buy. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Rent2Buy is the car-sharing service started by Automoti founder Moti Kahana and e-commerce executive Todd Daum, formerly of Overture, Yahoo and TrueCar. Automoti, an online rent-to-buy service was later acquired by Hertz in 2009. Currently, Rent2Buy's advisors include current and past executives from top rent-a-car companies, including National, Hertz, Budget and Alamo.

Unlike HiGear, which had previously specialized in the temporary rentals of luxury vehicles by clients, Rent2Buy, as the name implies, also facilitates the purchase of the cars in its inventory. Car owners, both individuals and dealers, are able to generate rental income on vehicles while waiting to sell. Meanwhile, renters have the opportunity to get to know the cars they're interested in purchasing by driving them for extended periods of time.

With the acquisition of HiGear, Rent2Buy will be able to provide additional access to consumers and inventory in the San Francisco and Los Angeles markets. Daum tells us that Rent2Buy purchased both the HiGear sharing platform as well as the sharing inventory and customer database.

Rent2Buy had been bound by a non-compete with Hertz since the sale of Automoti in 2009, and have only recently been able to re-focus on the rent-to-buy space. "We had been exploring other potential verticals such as real estate, where we had grown to 1.7 million listings," says Daum. "We are now focusing only on autos and have interest from dealers and rent-a-car companies to partner with us on this new initiative. The HiGear platform will help us quickly fulfill on this demand," he adds.

Starting on February 28th, HiGear members will be able to use the high-end car-sharing service once again, the company reports. Accounts are being moved over automatically, but all customers are being contacted so they'll have the opportunity to opt-out, if desired. So far, Daum says the retention rate is close to 100%.

HiGear's website now redirects to Rent2Buy's domain (where it appears that the hot car + hot model photos popular on HiGear have also re-emerged). Going forward, Rent2Buy will establish a new domain (HiGear.Rent2Buy.com) which will be home to the company's "VIP" program.

The previous shutdown of HiGear is now being referred to by both companies not as the end of operations, but merely a "pause" to ensure that "appropriate consumer protection tools were in place."  For what it's worth, HiGear did have protections in place at the time of the thefts, it's just that when criminals steal identities, things like background checks and driving record checks can be easily thwarted.

According to Rent2Buy's site, there are extra protections now in place for vehicles over $30,000, which would include all of HiGear's inventory, of course. These luxury cars in the Rent2Buy "VIP Club" will only be rented to those who pass secondary trust and safety screening processes which involve the renters being contacted by the company itself, as well as a $1,000 deposit on vehicles.

"We have brought Jeff Frimmersdorf on board to focus on this area," explains Daum. "He was head of eBay Motors 'Trust & Safety' for seven years and has fantastic experience dealing with these issues."

The initial efforts are focused on improving identity validation by launching the above-mentioned second tier screening process. Rent2Buy is also working with partners such as MicroBilt to deploy the new solution.

But the issues that occurred with HiGear are indicative of the potential for abuse in these new types of peer-to-peer environments. According to HiGear investor (now Rent2Buy investor) Dave McClure, there are "a lot more opportunities to figure out the collaborative consumption market," he says, and specifically the process of rating its individual users. The traditional vetting process may not be enough.

Perhaps what we need is something like a modern version of eBay's seller rating system, except one not limited to a single website? This system could take into account our online profiles, social media presences and more. A system like this wouldn't just rank "influence" as Klout does, but could rank a history of our transactions across the collaborative consumption space, whether we're ride-sharing, renting, or vacationing on Airbnb.

In addition to McClure's 500 Startups, HiGear's other investors, Battery Ventures and BV Capital, are also now investors in Rent2Buy following the acquisition.

Move Over, Super Bowl. Spectator Gaming Reaches Millions Online

Ten years ago, Sundance DiGiovanni set out to standardize competitive gaming. He wanted to create a "world-class organization" type of league that would bring in players from around the world into the living rooms of rabid fans.

Three months ago, Major League Gaming's StarCraft 2 Pro Circuit National Championship had 241,000 concurrent unique viewers from 175 different countries, and fans watched more than 3.6 million hours of video from Nov. 18-20. Their total tournament season had over 15 million hours of video watched by 3.5 million people. Contrast that with the number of people who watched the Super Bowl live stream this year — 2.1 million — and you see DiGiovanni's dream has been realized.

DiGiovanni owes most of his success to improved streaming technology, and to the rise of companies like Justin.tv and TwitchTV, which support streaming esports and meet the demands of an exploding audience.

"Streaming has allowed us to take what was an in-the-room experience and broadcast it to millions of people," says DiGiovanni. "If you go back five years ago, that wasn't possible. The costs keep getting reduced and the quality keeps getting better."

Events are always streamed in high-definition. And viewers aren't just restricted to watching one match at a time; during the past weekend's Winter Arena, another StarCraft 2 tournament, viewers were given four different matches with commentary to watch at once, along with an additional stream that featured interviews with players. This might seem like a lot of content, but for fans of the sport, it's exactly what they want. DiGiovanni explains that MLG's viewers are so passionate about watching matches because they are gamers too, and can relate intimately with the drama.

"There is a big difference in what we have compared to the something like the NBA. Most of the people who tune in to watch that sport are passive participants; they don't necessarily play basketball," says DiGiovanni. "We have an active participatory group; people who watch also play the games that they watch. It's a lifestyle."

The results of its active, vocal audience is that many people are tuned into streams for three hours or more at once. It also helps that StarCraft 2 is the most popular esport in the world. According to developer Dustin Browder's keynote at last year's GDC, Blizzard purposefully developed StarCraft 2 to be the perfect esport after the wildfire success of StarCraft in South Korea as a competitive sport. Browder says the key elements to a successful esport are that it's something that people can play competitively and spectate easily. They need to be simple enough to pick up, but have a high level of skill available for competitive play. Matches also must be uncertain all the way up to the end, an element that helps bump up streaming views on MLG's matches.

DiGiovanni said social media is also helpful in the times between matches, where they can keep fans in the loop about day-to-day goings on. They also create almost daily video content related to professional gaming, which covers other esports as well.

Day-to-day interactions with viewers extends beyond MLG as well. Nick "Axslav" Ranish, playing in last weekend's Winter Arena, says he uses a streaming channel to interact with and even educate newer fans.

"When I play, I basically walk through everything I'm doing, and then I read the screen chat, see the questions and respond. It's great way to talk to anyone all over the world," says Ranish. "I actually try to run my stream very educationally. I used to be a math tutor, so I have background in teaching."

Major League Gaming decided to hold a tournament in its New York offices for the first time with last weekend's Winter Arena. The tournament brought the top 32 StarCraft 2 players from around the globe to compete for spots in the Winter Championship tournament at the end of March, and offered $10,000 to the champion. This was an experiment for MLG in many respects: It was the first time they converted their offices — which are used for broadcasting daily content — into a tournament space, and it was the first time the company sold pay-per-view passes to the whole weekend of tournament coverage, thus imitating the business model of other sports. It was a test to see if PPV was a viable streaming method, or if viewers would balk at paying $20 for a weekend of games.

Just before the final match, in which 18-year-old Lee Jung "MarineKing" Hoon from South Korea took the top prize, DiGiovanni made an announcement on the stream: Because of the success of the Winter Arena, MLG will hold two Arena events leading up to the spring championships June 8-10.

Check out our photos from inside the MLG offices during warmup in the gallery below.

New report examines how affiliates can achieve valid incremental sales

Posted 27 February 2012 09:57am by David Moth with 0 comments

A new report by Affiliate Window and buy.at examines how affiliate promotions can complement an advertiser's online marketing strategy to deliver incremental sales.

Affiliate Window client strategist Owen Hewitson points out that advertisers commonly question the extent to which the sales achieved through the affiliate channel are incremental.

The customer may well have bought the product anyway, for instance, or affiliates might simply be capitalising on the promotions financed by advertisers to give their own campaigns a boost.

But Hewitson suggests there should be some recognition on the part of advertisers these questions should take into consideration the reality of online shopping habits.

There is more choice online than on the high street, and shoppers tend to browse several sites in search of the best deals.

Incrementality can also be defined in several ways – as well as looking at the number of new customers, advertisers should consider whether the average order has surpassed that of other channels and the type of products that are being sold through affiliates.

The report looks at several different aspects of the affiliate channel, including behavioural retargeting, cashback offers and voucher codes.

Voucher codes are a complex area, made apparent by the sheer number different types available – they are also important for brands as a study by LinkShare found that 56% of people would buy from an unfamiliar brand if offered the right deal at the right time.

So which type of voucher should advertisers use?

Depending on the objectives of their particular campaigns, there are a number of tactics that advertisers may wish to pursue to ensure that they do not unnecessarily sacrifice their bottom line or compromise brand values in pursuit of higher sales volume."

Hewitson suggests that advertisers should avoid offering a blanket discount on all products, as it cheapens the perception of the brand.

Instead it might be better to offer a code that gives free delivery or one free product, or an exclusive code to a select few affiliate sites that refer high quality, repeat customers.

One way to deal with this is voucher tracking functionality, which identifies where a code has been used and by which affiliate – so affiliates can't get away with offering discount codes they haven't actually been given access to.

Another interesting tactic is the use of basket abandonment codes.

The report points out that as many as 87% of online shoppers abandon their baskets prior to purchase, but if the email has already been captured affiliates could entice the shopper to return with a discount code.

The report cites a case study from Red Letter Days – the site uses technology that ensures that the voucher code box at a checkout page is only shown to customers referred from an authorised affiliate site.

The inbound URL was also tagged with a 'deal ID' linked to the affiliate's own network ID that is valid for a single session.

Red Letter Days could then offer its affiliates exclusive deals unique to a single affiliate and multiple affiliates could also offer different exclusive codes on the same product.

This technology also negates the fact that some consumers may be tempted to abandon their basket and search for a voucher code if they see a box to enter a voucher code at the checkout.

The full report, 'Achieving Incremental Sales in Affiliate Marketing', can be downloaded here.

David Moth is a Reporter at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter

martes, 28 de febrero de 2012

Q&A: RBS on Google+

Posted 27 February 2012 11:37am by Vikki Chowney with 2 comments

Following our review of H&M's Google+ page - and a compilation of some of the best G+ photos strips - several brands have approached us, keen to discuss their use of the developing platform.

To coincide with the impending relaunch of its website, we start with a brief Q&A with Royal Bank of Scotland Group's Devang Chouhan on why G+ is a priority from a search perspective.

Why did you decide to open a G+ page?

As search has evolved, we expected search engines to give more weight to social signals while ranking search results. 

When G+ launched it was expected to be deeply integrated with Google search - and this was confirmed with the arrival Search, plus your World (SPYW).

So optimising our page/site for Google search was the primary reason in creating our G+ page. 

What are the benefits? 

As mentioned search was our main reason, but G+ also opens up a new channel of communication with our customers and shareholders.

While its too early to comment on our specific plans, we might use certain G+ features like hangout to engage with our customers, shareholders or staff, and circles to share relevant content with right audience. 

We can assume that G+'s influence will continue to grow as it gets integrated more and more into Google products like Search, YouTube, Blogger etc.

Do people engage with you via the platform?  

We've just begun working with the platform and haven't really publicised our page yet - but this will change as we look to integrate G+ in our new website.

What are the most important aspects to keep in mind before creating a page, and then when it's set up? 

I know this sounds cliché but you should begin with a clear goal, what do you aim to achieve from the page and the platform and how would it benefit your customers? This holds true while creating any social media account.

Also once you create a page you need to have a dedicated team/resource who would look after that page – update it on a regular basis, engage with followers/customers and have the power or know the right people in the organisation to resolve customer problem or any issues they report.

Like all platforms, comments and mentions need to be monitored closely.

G+'s real-time aspect of the comment monitoring feed invites the possibility of businesses responding to all kinds of users within seconds.

What are the challenges? 

I think there needs to be start-up culture within organisations to try out new networks. As in, to adopt a trial-and-error approach.

I know most of the organisations prefer adopting a more 'wait and see' attitude, especially with regards to social media.

By that I don't mean an organisation needs to join every social network, but identify those that are relevant to them and their customers.

With regards to G+ I think there is a lot to be gained (and little to lose).

Do you think there's any difference in how a B2C might approach G+ than a B2B company? 

No I don't see any difference. The way I see it, even in B2B, a business is your customer but, of course, your products are different.

How do you see the future possibilities for RBS using G+? 

G+ is still quiet new and the possibilities are endless so it all depends how it shapes up.

Google are yet to make the APIs available to developers, so it will be exciting to see the applications that the developer community creates.

This Calendar Fills Itself Based on What You Like

The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark. If you would like to have your startup considered for inclusion, please see the details here.

NYC ShopperName: UPlanMe

Quick Pitch: UPlanMe is an online notification system that filters upcoming events and specials based on what you like into one place for your viewing pleasure.

Genius Idea: Instead of searching blogs, websites, magazines and newspapers for local events, simply unlock a category of interest — sports, music, shopping, food, nightlife and T.V. — to collect new events and local news on a customized events page.

For those of us who don't have access to human lint rollers (ahem, Sean "Diddy" Combs at this year's Oscars) or personal assistants, say hello to UPlanMe. This free product will save the social lives of busy bees.

UPlanMe is called the "Pandora of calendars" for a reason. It tailors your events calendar based on what you like on Facebook, what categories you have unlocked and prior events you've noted as interesting. If you say Bloomingdale's sales on UPlanMe are appealing to you, similar related shopping experiences at Sak's Fifth Avenue, Barney's and other high-end retailers will show up in your queue.

If your Facebook page says you "like" Jeremy Lin, it will remind you when New York Knicks' games are airing on television or when front-row tickets are available on Ticketmaster.com.

The site pulls from various APIs for events and special happenings. Sports fans will appreciate the latest game updates from ESPN, CBS Sports and other national networks. Fashionistas will hear the first word about sample sales, store openings, and beauty events in their area. There's also a television section, so people can keep up with when their favorite shows and movies air.

This is why we would suggest logging into the site with a Facebook account. It will incorporate Facebook likes and interests into the UPlanMe system to improve social suggestions.

"We like to think of the platform as a giant switchboard," UPlanMe co-founder Brian Kantor told Mashable. "Users can turn on or turn off what they are interested in to personalize event calendar. Users can then share events on Facebook and Twitter, and sync with whatever calendar client they use most."


"A lot of brands and businesses are creating Facebook events to connect with users, but there is somewhere around 1% engagement," said Sean Barkulis, CEO and co-founder of UPlanMe.

The website will give businesses a step up by reaching online audiences that are truly interested in their brand. UPlanMe provides a free, embeddable calendar for business and brand websites, promotions on the discovery page and demographic data on existing customers to tell you what events and specials to plan next.

UPlanMe just launched a couple of weeks ago, but it already has a social media reach in the millions. It's gaining page views by working with businesses who self-promote on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks.

The New York City-based startup hopes to gain about 500,000 new users by the end of their first year. The current business model is based on revenue from music, shopping, sporting event ticket sales and website promotions of different brands and businesses.

"In general, it's really about bringing people closer and connected with brands and businesses they love," Barkulis said. "We are trying to excel beyond anything that came before us."

Image courtesy of Flickr, vonSchnauzer

Series Supported by Microsoft BizSpark

Microsoft BizSpark

The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark, a startup program that gives you three-year access to the latest Microsoft development tools, as well as connecting you to a nationwide network of investors and incubators. There are no upfront costs, so if your business is privately owned, less than three years old, and generates less than U.S.$1 million in annual revenue, you can sign up today.

Sequoia, Kleiner Perkins, And Obvious Put $4.5M In Sleek Social, Mobile Gifting Platform Karma

Karma, a new social, mobile gifting service from the founder of TapJoy, has raised funding from Kleiner Perkins, Sequoia Capital, The Obvious Corporation, Stephen Gillett, Felicis Ventures and other angel investors. While Karma declined to reveal the exact amount of the funding round, which was raised last summer, SEC documents reveal the startup has raised around $4.5 million. In addition to announcing its investors, Karma is also debuting its disruptive mobile, social gifting platform that could change the way people give and receive gifts.

Founded by  Lee Linden, and Ben Lewis; Karma aims to give users the option to give friends gifts on the go via iOS and Android apps. While there are a number of mobile, social gifting apps on the market, Karma's service combines intelligence, social discovery, and the easy of gift giving in a sleek app that's definitely worth a look.

Here's how it works. Once you open the app and connect via Facebook, Karma will actually sift through your news feed, birthday reminders and more data from your friends to find all the occasions that could possibly be worthy of a gift, note, or thoughtful message. Karma will get rid of all the noise and highlight those important moments in your friends' lives you might not want to miss. For example, Karma will break down occasions by birthdays, new jobs, engagements, weddings, birth announcements, condolences and more. Linden tells me the startup built a semantic analysis engine on top of Facebook to highlight the most important moments in your friends' lives.

Once you choose a friend who you'd like to give g gift to, you can choose an actual gift from a selection of goods from over 50 product companies, including Magnolia Cupcakes, 23andme, Crane & Co., Domaine Chandon, Gund, Jawbone, Kate Spade, Macmillan Publishing, Moleskin, MOMA Design, Movie Tickets.com, Netflix, Pandora, Spotify, and others. So you could send a friend a dozen cupcakes or could send someone ride to airport in an Uber or simply send them a bottle of champagne.

You then choose an animated card and message to attach to the gift, and a method of delivery of the gift notice. Because you may not know your friends' physical mailing address (or may not want to type this in your phone, Karma lets you send the notice of the gift to a friend's phone via text, post a message on Facebook, or email the notification of the gift to the friend. When the recipient accepts the gift and sees the message, he or she can specify where they would like the gift to be sent.

In terms of payment, you don't necessarily have to pay right away. In fact, Karma says that users don;t have to pay until the recipient accepts the gift and it is shipped. Once that happens, Karma will allow you to enter your credit card info via the web or mobile, which will be saved for all future purchases. You can also schedule delivery of a gift for a certain time frame as well.

On the recipient side, he or she will receive a card via email, text or Facebook and will be able to open it in an HTML5 optimized web interface. The recipient enters the address the gift should be sent to or can actually choose the exchange the gift or even donate the gift's worth to a charity. Recipients can also write a thank you note (sent via email, text or Facebook update) to the gift giver. Each product/gift comes gift wrapped as well.

As Linden and Lewis explain, they thought of the idea because they lived far from family in Michigan and felt that they missed important moments in the lives of their families. Posting on a Facebook wall or sending a text just seemed impersonal and the duo wanted to figure out a way to make gift-giving more simple and social while not sacrificing convenience.

So far, in closed beta, Karma has sent several thousand gifts already and have had positive responses from recipients and gift givers.

The company also has major talent on its side. Prior to Karma Science, Lee co-founded mobile app distribution platform Tapjoy, which was acquired by Offerpal Media. He's also worked as an associate at Kleiner Perkins, at Microsoft, and was the co-founder of Y Combinator startup ContestMachine. Other employees (20 in total) hail from Amazon, Google, Kraft, Microsoft, Nestle, OpenFeint, Palm, Skype, and TripIt.

After seeing Karma in action, it's clear that the startup and its founders are onto something big. And clearly investors agree as well. Not only is the app sleek and incredibly easy to use, but it really does seem to simplify the act of remembering those important moments in friends lives while also simplifying the gift giving process. You can tell that Linden and Lewis have been very thoughtful about how the user experience can be optimized specifically for the gift giving process (i.e. not requiring payments right away which Linden says has increased conversion rates tremendously).

There are a number of other players in the mobile gift giving space, including Wrapp, so Karma will definitely face competition. But the app's ease of use and sleek user experience should be able to create a loyal following.

Why You Can’t Dismiss Nokia’s 41-Megapixel Phone

My first reaction upon hearing about Nokia's 41-megapixel 808 Pureview was that it was an absurdity, a perfect example of the very worst of consumer electronics, and a total miss. But the more I read, the better I understood that this phone isn't just some freak of nature with a ridiculously high number attached to it. It's just the slightly awkward first steps of a serious move by Nokia to differentiate itself.

If you've only skimmed the news, there are some things you should probably know about this strange beast of a camera.

First, the 41 megapixel figure is really misrepresentative, not to say untrue. It doesn't take 41-megapixel photos in any way, shape, or form. Even in the special high-res creative mode, it "only" produces 38 megapixels. Mostly it will be taking normal-size shots, between 3 and 8 megapixels. So what the hell does this 41 megapixel figure even mean?

It means Nokia is being smart about the way cameras at this size actually work. I wrote a while back about how HD does not always mean high definition, and cameraphones were an excellent example of this. Their tiny sensors and bad lenses meant that while they may produce pictures of a certain size, the quality was sorely lacking. This was because they insisted on wringing every possible pixel out of an incredibly small sensor.

The 808?s sensor (supposedly manufactured by Toshiba) is not small. At 1/1.2?, it's four or five times the size of most cameraphone sensors, including the one in the iPhone 4S. Bigger in fact than the sensors in most point-and-shoots. Now, when you make your sensor bigger, you can either keep the same resolution but have bigger wells or photosites (which detect light and make up pixels), which usually improves sensitivity. Or you can keep the same photosite size and just put more of them on the sensor, which improves resolution. In this case Nokia has done the second thing.

But they've done it almost to an absurd amount, and they know that their lens, good as it is (and fairly fast — F/2.4 is solid, though there's lots of distortion right now), can't really resolve detail well enough that 41 megapixels would be necessary. Even on full-frame cameras that many pixels is questionable.

So instead of just bumping this one spec and expecting it to sell itself, they built a whole photo system around the idea. The 808 camera doesn't take 41-megapixel photos; it collects 41 megapixels of data and uses all that data to create a very nice photo of a much smaller size. Imagine a photo around 8000×5000 pixels that isn't particularly sharp; now shrink it down to something significantly smaller — maybe around 3000×2500 pixels (~8MP), just as an estimate. You do it intelligently, sharpening and de-aliasing and doing noise removal.

Here's a rough estimate of the sizes (DPReview lists more specs):

They're using 41 megapixels of raw material to give you 8 megapixels of product. And that 8 megapixel product is going to be significantly better than a "real" 8-megapixel image captured by a sensor a quarter the size of your pinky fingernail. Their camera really is better.

Of course, this comes with the standard caveat that independent testing must be done and what really matters is how it performs in everyday situations like dimly lit kitchens, restaurants, and out of the windows of cars. We'll try it out ourselves, and will be sure to let you know if any more photographically-inclined authorities find out anything interesting.

The other shoe

And then there's the handset itself. It's chunky, it's a weird shape, the camera sticks out the back. And it runs Symbian. Symbian! Why would Nokia do such a thing?

Because this project has been going on for five years, and five years ago the idea that Nokia and Symbian would be fighting for dear life wouldn't quite have been believed. Nokia was still king of the world, iOS was just being born, and everyone was looking forward to Limo instead of Android.

They're running it on Symbian because it was designed for Symbian, and it was too late to port the software and adapt the hardware to Windows Phone 7, which came along at the 11th hour, and at any rate the design spec for their Lumia phones would never have admitted a lens bump like the 808?s.

But they're promising to bring the whole package to WP7 — which means Microsoft just got five years of Nokia R&D for free. It also means that if these guys play their cards right (a big "if"), WP7 could be the de facto gold standard for mobile photography in a year or two. When you consider how point and shoots are giving way to camera phones, and WP7 is aiming at the exact population that loves point and shoots, the pieces start looking very complementary indeed.

Nobody will buy the 808. It's an evolutionary dead end. But the camera is a desirable trait that will be introduced to the Nokia-Microsoft hybrid soon — if either of these companies has any sense. Again, that's a big if.

But this camera has restored some of my faith in Nokia and in mobile photography, something I truly didn't expect to happen any time soon, and not by them of all.

With Second Cohort, NewMe Continues Accelerating Minority Entrepreneurship

In a tech world where just 1% of startup founders are African American, it's easy for young minority entrepreneurs to feel discouraged trying to navigate Silicon Valley. But that sense of alienation is on its way out if the digital minds behind the accelerator NewMe have their way.

With its second group of budding startups one week into the three-month program, NewMe is poised to continue making progress in its mission of broadening and demystifying the path to startup success for African American, Hispanic and female founders.

"A lot of them can't go to their parents or immediate network and say, 'Hey, I want to start this app or this website, how do I get started?'" NewMe founder and CEO Angela Benton said in an interview.

When NewMe's first group of startups finished the program's inaugural session last summer, 60% were able to secure an average of $92,000 in investment money from outside funders, Benton said. The group's journey was also documented by Soledad O'Brien in the CNN documentary Black in America: The New Promised Land: Silicon Valley.

NewMe's current class of seven founders is farther along with with their products going in than the first group was, Benton said. The group is working out of a co-working space in San Francisco and being put up communally in a house in the city. NewMe has also attracted a growing list of sponsors for the accelerator, including Google, the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, and the social discovery site Tagged.

A Network of Opportunity

NewMe participant Amanda McClure is co-founder of the startup Kairos, which aims to leverage augmented reality technology for the day-to-day interactions of the enterprise market. She said she was attracted to NewMe both for the issue it addresses and its moment of inception.

"Women aren't really encouraged to start a business," she told Mashable. "But I think now the team is ripe because people are getting a little more irritated with working for a big company and not being able to innovate."

Fellow accelerator participant Naithan Jones of the startup AgLocal said the key to making NewMe a tool for progress is companies like his and McClure's actually getting off the ground.

"It's not just a happy-to-be-here thing," said Jones, whose company intends to create an online marketplace for restaurants and consumers to buy locally-raised meats. "We need to create venture-backed, customer-backed companies that are successful. Then we can really impact this."

NewMe takes a small equity stake in its participating startups, but unlike many accelerators, does not itself provide them with investment capital. Benton said NewMe invests sweat equity in its startups and provides them with something more valuable than additional funding — a network of mentors and advisers.

"A founder of a new company needs that exportable network," Jones said.

If the experience of McClure, Jones and their cohort is anything like Curtiss Pope's NewMe experience, the twelve weeks will be time well spent. Pope's company, AisleFinder, essentially works as a Google Maps for supermarkets, directing shoppers to the items on their lists. Pope said NewMe opened a world of networking and feedback that would have previously taken much longer to access.

"I think having something of your own is what everyone wants," Pope said. "But to have the confidence and execution to make it happen is an important piece. A vehicle like NewMe, where you have that support, is huge."

Creating a New Cycle

Pope is now a member of the new crop's network of feedback and advice. He spent time at the group's house shortly after they arrived in San Francisco, giving honest reactions to their apps and business plans. But NewMe also strives to create a longer tail of influence than simply former participants advising current ones.

NewMe partner Wayne Sutton said he's seen a couple similar programs launch since NewMe began. And, while in the program, participants give talks and share their own experiences with younger minority students who may have tech or business dreams.

At a recent event at Tagged, NewMe's entrepreneurs enjoyed snacks and conversation with a group from a program for African American students at San Jose City College. The students go to school near the tech world's epicenter but are often a world removed, said program coordinator and professor of African American Studies Khalid White.

"To see people from NewMe who look like them and share some of the same interests merging their passion with their profession adds a real sense of relevance," White said. "It kind of put the students in the mind-set of, 'This is possible for us, we could also do these kinds of things.'"

With that kind of long-range impact, that 1% number won't last long.

Image courtesy of NewMe

40% of leading UK fashion brands run out of PPC budget before end of day

Posted 27 February 2012 11:09am by Vikki Chowney with 1 comment

To coincide with the end of London's AW12 Fashion Week, Epiphany has released a study that looks at the most visible fashion brands in the UK according to search results.

Using data from five sub-sectors of keywords (fashion, clothing, dresses, jeans and outerwear), the company examined link profiles and tracked which brand appeared in relation to 'key terms' for the industry. 

When considering PPC, it found clear evidence that fifteen of the thirty-five advertisers featured in the report were running significant campaigns that were regularly running out of budget well before the end of the day.

Epiphany operations director Andy Heaps said that as you would expect, search engine marketing is a big focus for the UK's biggest fashion brands.

Surprisingly though, very few are utilising both paid and natural search to full effect. We found multiple instances of poor PPC budget management, limited visibility in Google Shopping results and significant natural ranking opportunities amongst the leading brands. This shows that while paid and natural search command a substantial amount of marketing budget there is still a huge opportunity for additional customer acquisition through these channels." 

The table of visibility below, according to product and online, was based on the percentage of available clicks that an advertiser can expect to get, given their position. So 100% visibility (either on organic or paid search) would represent the top position in the appropriate set of the search results for every keyword, across the entire period considered in the analysis.

ASOS dominates the market from an online perspective (largely due to how active it is in link building activity – plus high levels of social visibility), while New Look tops the league for product due to its large catalogue.

However, objectives aren't always so broad. The study also reveals how specific strategies result in better performance, using Diesel's success in targeting 'jeans' specific keywords as an example - which isn't neccessarily reflected overall in the table.

The clothing retail industry is incredibly competitive, with high street stores competing side-by-side with catalogue retailers and online specialists for customers.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the search engine results – there are over 1m searches in the uk each month for clothing-related terms - and the value of a high ranking in the search results (either organic or paid) is potentially huge.

As such, the overlying conclusion from the study is opportunity, as you can see from the executive summary below:

  • The lack of brands using both paid and organic strategies to their full extent means more opportunity for brand exposure, especially since many studies show that there is little cannibalisation of traffic if a website has high ranking listings for both (aside from searches for the brand's name).
  • This also demonstrates that brands have an opportunity to integrate their thinking on both PPC and SEO. 
  • A lot can be achieved by looking at which keywords drive successful PPC campaigns and whether those keywords are integrated into a SEO strategy. 
  • Equally, there might be keywords driving a long tail SEO strategy that fashion retailers might not have thought of for PPC. 
  • Clearly, both paid and organic search have advantages and disadvantages for fashion retailers, so it's not all that surprising that different brands have opted to put most of their effort (or in some cases, all of it) into one or the other.
  • In most cases there is a real opportunity for fashion brands to increase their organic rankings for keywords appearing on page two or three of Google.
  • All of the most visible brands are actively engaged in link building activity, with even the least active still building hundreds of new links in the 3 month period that we reviewed.
  • Social signals are slowly being brought into search results; however social visibility can also have a positive impact on link acquisition. The viral nature of social sharing often means that as a brand, or one of its initiatives becomes more and more visible through social media, the chances of websites noticing (and therefore linking) also increases 
  • There are also huge opportunities for many brands to improve their Google Shopping visibility.

A full explanation for the methodology behind these rankings, and more detailed analysis of each brand's position is available here.

You can also review Econsultancy's SEO best practice guide, which contains everything you need to know about search engine optimisation, whether you work for an in-house client team, independently or for an agency.