miércoles, 31 de julio de 2013

California Regulator Proposes New Ride-Sharing Rules In A Victory For Uber, Lyft And SideCar

Lyft Highway shotThe California Public Utilities Commission issued its proposed framework for the regulation of ride-sharing services today, granting a huge victory for companies like Uber, Lyft and SideCar.

The proposal follows months of discussions between the regulator and the startups, which seek to connect passengers with drivers who haven't been licensed for commercial driving. The PUC is calling those operators Transportation Network Companies (TNC) and has built a new regulatory framework for them. The key portions of the proposal revolve around public safety and ensuring that drivers have had background checks and are covered by insurance in the case of an accident.

The proposal requires that TNCs:

  • Obtain a license from the CPUC to operate in California;
  • Require each driver to undergo a criminal background check;
  • Establish a driver training program;
  • Implement a zero-tolerance policy on drugs and alcohol; and,
  • Hold an insurance policy that is more stringent than the CPUC's current requirement for limousines, requiring a minimum of $1 million per-incident coverage for incidents involving TNC vehicles and drivers in transit to or during a TNC trip. Limousines with a seating capacity of seven passengers or less requires $750,000 in insurance coverage.

Discussions between the PUC and the affected startups have been ongoing since last summer when Uber, Lyft and SideCar received cease-and-desist orders from the regulator for operating unlicensed charter party services. While each of the three have individually reached interim agreements with the PUC, the regulator has also been working on a new framework for regulation that falls outside the existing rules for taxi or limo services in the state.

The new regulations, if adopted, should clear up uncertainty for the companies in major cities, such as San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego. They could also set a precedent for the adoption of ride-sharing rules that those startups could propose in other states and jurisdictions.

At the same time, the PUC has been lobbied hard by taxi and limo organizations opposed to the new rules. In San Francisco today, taxi drivers gathered outside government buildings to show opposition to the acceptance of unlicensed drivers roaming the streets. In the past month, officials at the San Francisco International Airport have been citing and arresting drivers from Uber, Lyft, and SideCar.

Safety remains the key issue facing these companies, as opponents argue that they're not subject to the same requirements of taxi and limo services.

At the same time, Uber, Lyft and SideCar maintain that their community drivers are subject to more stringent background checks than taxi or limo drivers. The existence of an identity layer for both drivers and passengers also ensures that the companies will know who was in the car in the case of any incident.

The PUC proposal also is happening as venture money is pouring into local transportation startups. Uber is close to raising a new round of funding from TPG that will value it at $3.5 billion. Earlier this spring, Lyft raised a $60 million round of financing led by Andreessen Horowitz.

Billy Gallagher also contributed to this article.

Uber, a San Francisco-based technology startup, is innovating at the intersection of mobile technology, car transportation & logistics. Uber captures the elite limo experience and transforms it into an on-demand service that fits an efficient and modern lifestyle.

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Your friend with a car™ Lyft is a friendly, safe, and affordable transportation option. Just tap a button and in minutes you'll be riding in the front seat with a new friend. Our Lyft community drivers have been background checked and personality screened to offer the best ride experience in the city! Lyft is currently available in San Francisco, LA, Seattle and Chicago.

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Sidecar is a leader in Big Data Marketing for e-commerce. Sidecar's Big Data Marketing Engine® leverages large, complex data sets to power the most precise marketing decisions in e-commerce, with end-to-end automation. Sidecar is designed to optimize each phase of the e-commerce life-cycle - from Customer Acquisition to Conversion to Retention - to power Paid Search, Comparison Shopping Engine Advertising, Dynamic On-Site Merchandising, and Email Retargeting. Sidecar's Big Data Marketing Engine leaves no opportunity in the e-commerce catalog unturned, and requires...

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Quip Is A Beautiful New Mobile-First Word Processor From Ex-Facebook CTO Bret Taylor

30 years later and our word processing software hasn't changed, not even to adapt to mobile. That changes tonight with the launch of Quip, a free new word processing app from former Facebook CTO Bret Taylor's new startup. Quip works on desktop but is designed for mobile. It automatically formats documents to the size of your screen, offers in-app collaboration and messaging, and even works offline.

macwrite"Quip is a modern word processor optimized for the era of tablets and phones", Taylor tells me." We're in the middle of a transition away from the desktop computer, yet word processors have stagnated. For dramatic effect, Taylor dropped a screenshot of MacWrite (shown to the left) into the Quip introduction post, and told me "It's comical how similar that looks to what we use today."

The shift to mobile is so seismic that it trumps the importance of all the legacy word processing features and "gives us an opportunity to change this software", Taylor says. That's an opportunity Microsoft was stupid to squander.

Quip looks polished, which makes sense considering Taylor specifically left Facebook in June 2012 to start the company with Kevin Gibbs, the father of Google Apps Engine. Taylor redirected his backchannel.org site to Quip.com in December 2012, revealing the startup's name to the world. While no details were released, our own Ingrid Lunden sniffed out that it might be a collaborative writing app based on the pen in the app's icon and a patent for cloud collaboration awarded to the startup.

Now we have all info. So what makes Quip different?

Quip-iPhone-InboxFirst it adapts documents to whatever size or shape screen you're working on. If you're on an iPhone an embedded photo might appear full width, but on an iPad it would appear on the right surrounded by text.

The collaboration tools might be the most exciting part. You can share any document with another user, and when they first open it you'll get a notification. Taylor says this lets you jump in and walk them through the doc using Quip's internal messaging system. "It feels like sitting at a desk with someone around a piece of paper" Taylor tells me.

All your collaborative edits and messages are turned into a chat-like thread you can follow. To find your co-writers, Quip asks you to sign in with Google and let it access your contacts. That might seem like a snub to Taylor's old employer, but really it just denotes that Quip is built for serious business, not just playing around with your friends.

On the iPad you'll see the communication stream right next to your document, whereas you slide it out on iPhone. You can @ mention people to call their attention within documents, quickly add images, link out to other Quip docs or folders, and use formatting tools to add your own style. I love the "Use most recent photo" option alongside the standard "Take with camera" and "Select from Photos", though its a shame that's only for Quip messaging and now document editing.

From the Quip "desktop" home page of the app you can see all your current documents and check your inbox for new updates and messages. If your connection drops while you're writing, no sweat. Quip will synchronize your documents back to the cloud when you get your connection back. Taylor says he loves how seamless this works while he commutes on San Francisco's BART subway which has spotty mobile reception.

The elephant in the room is how Quip works with Microsoft Word. Right now there's no special way to import docs from Word or export than to the old girl. However, Taylor says his team worked hard on flawless copy and paste. Quip will preserve formatting when you copy text to or from Word.

Quip is free for personal use, but charges $12 a month per user for business. It's available now for iPhone, iPad, and desktop, and Taylor says an Android app is in the works. Typing tools were a lucrative business for Microsoft on the desktop. That opportunity in mobile let Quip raise $15 million in Series A funding led by Peter Fenton at Benchmark Capital, which pays for its 12-person team.

Quip will be mainly competing with the now-misinformed idea that word processing is best done on the desktop. In the app space, though, it will face off with Apple's own Pages, stripped down but cheap apps like iA Writer, and more advanced but pricey options like Textilus.

Quip does have a bit of a learning curve. Not necessarily because there's anything wrong with the design, but because you have to unlearn a lifetime of Microsoft Clippy-instilled habits. There are a few awkward gestures in Quip for iPhone. You pull down from the top to reveal your desktop, but I found myself accidentally opening the iOS notification tray.

Once you get the hang of Quip, though, it seems like it could finally let you express your inner wordsmith from your couch, commute, or coffee spot.


Facebook’s new analytics tool: is it any good?

Facebook New Analytics Walkthrough

Facebook has recently begun beta testing updated page analytics with a swanky new look.

I've been playing about with the new system over the weekend, and while there's plenty to be said for the new aesthetic, is there really any more useful insight on offer here?

Let's take a look...

The new looks starts in the admin panel, with a snapshot update of your current performance:


As you can see, The Econsultancy Page's reach is down this week.

However, Facebook has a rather odd habit of updating on different days, so this figure may have fallen because I looked at this on a Monday.

Less happens on our page at weekends (although typically more happens on most pages, so make sure you know which type of page you are) so the figure drops.

Benchmark this on the same day every week. 

Clearer overview data

When you click through to analytics, you'll be presented with a much clearer overview of recent activity:


The date range is highlighted, and there's some simple graphs showing how you've done week on week.

Remember that if you carry out campaigns on Facebook then week-to-week benchmarking only provides a cursory view. Make sure you compare this over extended periods.  

There's also a snapshot of your recent posts, showing engagement, Likes, and a useful breakdown of fans/non-fans, allowing you to check your organic outreach (clue: it's probably not a lot): 


Note the highlighted 'boost' buttons, continuing Facebook's crazed hunt for revenue.

Moving on, we're still limited to a 90-day date range, but there's a simple slider and some clearer graphs showing page growth: 


People interacting with your page

There's also a section highlighting when you received Likes, and where they came from. Extremely useful for mapping campaigns and checking what worked and what didn't: 


Facebook has also made benchmarking easier, adding automated 'compare over time' dividers. Just click on 'Organic' or 'Paid' to track how well you're doing: 


Measure Tab and App performance

A range of graphs show which tabs visitors hit on your page, who referred them, and activity and mentions of your page by others within Facebook:


Unfortunately the information is presented in a counter-intuitive way. The smaller numbers hover at the top of the graph. In the picture above, the light grey and purple represent much smaller figures than the blue. 

The best time of day to post

Next up we've got some seemingly useful charts showing when  fans are online: 


Unfortunately this is a bit convoluted, and not nearly as revealing as you might think.

The figures displayed are the number of your fans who saw any post on Facebook on given days/hours.

Based on this, it would appear that around 4pm on a Thursday is our best bet, but as these are figures for any posts, your content could still be overwhelmed by updates from friends, promoted posts, or just standout content from competitors.

If you're going for the rush hour, make sure you use content that really pops, otherwise you could easily be buried. 

We've also got a chart showing the best performing types of content, but as we never post just a link on our page, I'm going to assume this is also averaged across all of Facebook, something which should be made clearer: 


Every page is different. What works for Coke isn't going to work for Econsultancy, or Jeyes Fluid, so don't rely on platform averages. 

Finally we have 'people' graphs, showing us a slightly tidied-up version of existing analytics:


These kinds of demographics do have their uses for some pages, but they lack the required detail to be insightful (We are apparently very popular in South Korea, despite a lack of content targeted at the market. Maybe it's my stylish K-Pop good looks.)

As always all of this can be exported to CSV. 

Overall this is an improvement on Facebook's existing analytics, but there are still too many average figures and a lack of click-through without downloading.

Page analytics give you a good overview of how well you're doing, but for more granular detail you must make sure you have tracking attached to all your content, and utilise a variety of analytics tools to gain a clearer insight. 

Does the disavow tool make competitor link analysis pointless?

Working in an agency, you soon realise that most in-house SEO Managers, Marketing Executives, MD's etc. are somewhat obsessed with benchmarking performance against competitors. Of course, we can't exactly phone a competitor and ask for Analytics access to check out their data; so there are a few trusty yard sticks we can rely upon, and one of these is links.

You could argue that links reveal a little less than they used to following the release of Google's and Bing's disavow tools, but is that really the case or do we just need to work a little harder and think a bit differently about the information that links can provide?

Yes, it's fair to say that indicators such as Moz metrics have become almost obsolete in tracking performance against competitors, but links can still provide invaluable insight into a competitor's SEO strategy.

Aggression and investment

In the words of the great Jeremy Clarkson (yes, really); "I believe in speed, power. Power and speed solve many things." Power and speed are also great indicators of an active link building campaign. Using tools such as ahrefs.com and freshwebexplorer.moz.com to analyse a website, we can see the number, quality and speed with which these links are being built.

Admittedly, it is impossible to determine how many of these links have since been disavowed or devalued by Penguin algorithms, however, we can assume those links built since the last update are an indication of a competitor's strategy moving forward.

Combined with ranking and visibility data, we can also make a reasonable guess as to whether a competitor has been conducting link removals, either in anticipation of an algorithm update or in response to a penalty.


Ahrefs.com – JohnLewis.com

Outreach techniques

Closer analysis of a backlink profile doesn't just reveal bottom-line link figures and metrics; we can also gain a great understanding of a competitor's outreach strategy, the media, content and data they have available to share with bloggers and, perhaps most importantly, how effective they've been in promoting it.

Example: MusicMagpie.co.uk

We can see from the below links taken from Fresh Web Explorer that MusicMagpie.co.uk is generating links from a wide range of sources; from top-level publications such as Econsultancy.com through to some lesser-known websites.

We can also see that interviews with their Chief Marketing Officer Eren Ozagir is a very effective means of generating links from leading publications.







Is this approach successful? Well, we certainly can't rest all of the site's performance on links alone, though I strongly suspect outreach has contributed to the searchmetrics graph below:


Keyword and landing page targeting

Certainly, the most basic principle of competitor link analysis is being able to identify which keywords they're targeting and which landing pages they're generating links to. Despite the release of the Disavow tools, we can still clearly see intention to rank for certain terms through the use of anchor text, should a competitor have had time to remove the majority (or for some reason, all) of their exact match anchor text, we can still analyse their landing pages for keyword targets.

A simple Open Site Explorer or Ahrefs data pull can reveal all we need to know here. What's more, we can view this data from a business perspective to help identify their key products or services by determining which keywords and landing pages receive the most promotion and links.

Gap analysis

We can also take this type of analysis a step further and identify gaps in our own keyword targets by setting out our keyword list against our competitors anchor text data. Side-by-side, we can see potential gaps and opportunities we should look to target, this is often particularly useful in identifying long-tail targets but can be key identifying the products and services competitors are offering which you are not, you may be missing out on a market for which you already provide a service but have failed to promote to its full potential.

We may have the ability to disavow links but we still cannot mask the invaluable data they can provide about a business, its resources, and the SEO techniques behind its outreach campaigns.

Though we've come a long way from comment spam and article syndication over last few years and outreach has moved on to integrate PR; even design and digital links remain key components in achieving rankings and the insight they can provide should never be underestimated.

If you've got any other suggestions for using link data, let us know in the comments below!

BY David Smith AT 1:47pm ON Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Dave's our Senior Search Strategist and Training Manager. Heading the SEO strategies of many of our biggest clients, Dave's knowledge and experience in the industry knows no bounds, and he frequently trains the in-house online marketing teams of some of the most well-known brands in the country. Follow @bigdave773 on Twitter


  • Good post Dave, I think it comes down to being able to assess the quality a link especially with the disavow tool.

'Just Text Me' Is the Anthem for Phone Call Haters

Everyone has that friend who insists on communicating via old-fashioned phone calls. He rejects texting and its simple ways. Maybe the friend is really bad at typing, or maybe he just really likes the sound of your voice — either way, it's annoying.

At least, that's the mantra of the YouTube video "Just Text Me" produced by soundlyawake. In the video, Keisha is frustrated with her friend Brandi, who can't seem to grasp the power of texting.

We can only hope that the Brandis of the world learn that in the 21st century, phone calls are reserved for very important occasions. Otherwise, we can use the handy reject button.

Watch the video above, then tell us — do you have a friend who always resorts to old-fashioned phone calls? Or is that person you? Share with us in the comments below.

Image: YouTube, soundlyawake

Six examples of brilliant marketing creative to enjoy with your coffee

Here on the Econsultancy blog, we're going to start teasing you with details of the week-long siren of excellence and japes that is the Festival of Marketing (8-10th October in London).

One of the many components of the Festival is PUNCH, the event where marketing meets the new creative. To quote our website, 'in today's increasingly saturated media landscape, creative power matters more than ever'.

So, to celebrate this event, and to give you something pretty to look at while you let your mind wander, I've listed some of my favourites in the world of creative in marketing.



In the words of David, our intern, Taco Bell's Twitter account 'doesn't feed out generic, bland, and often repetitive info'.

Instead, those with the keys to the Taco Bell account engage in a mesmerising mix of humour and hyper engagement, crucially targeting a young demographic in a way that no other fast food joints have mastered.

Taco Bell engages with folks like 'Instagram 'Star' Acacia Brinley whose posts attract hundreds of people in a demographic where cheap food, quick-to-purchase ability, and a good metabolism are all part of an average day'.

These words are from our intern, David, who is bang in the middle of this demographic, has lived in New York, and earlier asked me if I knew who the Rizzle Kicks were(?).

Here, from the past few days, are two of the more anodyne replies from Taco Bell, but even these make me laugh, and are proof of constant engagement.


I'll let Buzzfeed show you just how good Taco Bell is when engaging with celebrities and playing the lark. Check out Taco Bell's feed and enable all tweets to show, and you'll see how active the account is when compared to [pick other fast food joint].


Rockstar Games set my heart aflutter with this mural in New York, earlier this year.

Within an hour of the non-completed mural being tweeted, over a thousand visitors had travelled to see the box art.

As our intern, David, succinctly puts it 'murals are not a new thing, which is exactly why this is creative and fun – in a hipster world, looking for not-so-original, originality'.

It's old school, basically, and it blurs the line between the game and the reality, which is exactly what sandbox games are about. It fits perfectly with the product and can then be shared online.



Lululemon is the biggest yoga-inspired retailer, selling clothes and accessories.

Their videos are great and fairly low-fi. Sh*t Yogis Say is a brilliant example of 'viral' content, having been viewed more than 2m times. Namaste. I love pigeons.


Lululemon got a decent amount of publicity for being one of the first brands to use Instagram video. Again, it's low fi and fun, but puts yoga incontrovertibly at the centre of the communication

Out of home

I have to include Google. OK, this is classic out-of-home advertising, old school marketing if you will, but I think we can agree that when it's done well, it's unbeatable when it comes to 'brand tingly feeling'.

These ads, seen last year on London Underground platforms, are brilliant. They remain both out of the ordinary and commonplace, with the phonetic spellings redefining both where you are standing (on your previously oh-so familiar commute) and the product you use likely every day.

Granted, you can't search underground without having access to the TFL WiFi, but this is predominantly an awareness campaign, and not about acting right now.


Cross device

Dulce Vida Spirits

Yes, that's right, organic tequila has made it into this blog post. After all is said I done, I do live in ultra hip East London, which is coincidentally where the Festival of Marketing will be taking place.

Dulce Vida has a responsive website that looks, frankly, beautiful, and terrifying in its capacity to encourage tequila purchasing both from desktop and mobile.

To be honest, the website does have some glitches, and links to other US liquor retailers instead of selling directly, but it's still beautiful, and includes nicely formatted info on process, sustainability and cocktail recipes.

Check out Starbucks for a big hitting version of a beautiful responsive website.




Here are the two ends of the HTML 5 spectrum. From last year's incredible storytelling and publishing for Brandon Generator (ok, not strictly marketing unless you look at it from the perspective of Interet Explorer, who designed the work for IE9), to a Solar Panel website, that attempts to stand out from the hegemony of static service company websites. 

As HTML5 is used more, the challenge of making immersive experiences for the good of  user, and not just to show off, will be taken up by more and more marketers and web designers. Currys' great responsive website has HTML 5 elements within it, and is worth taking a look at to see the near future of responsive and immersive websites.


Disclosure: we have a brilliant new intern, David Olshanetsky (name of a ballet dancer, mind of an entrepreneur) who has compiled much of this list. If you want to give him some love, you can find him on Twitter

Econsultancy's Punch event is where 'Marketing meets Creative in the age of data and insight'. Curated by Creative Review, this event showcases the best of insight-driven creative. This event forms part of our week-long Festival of Marketing extravaganza.

If Facebook Can Profit From Your Data, Why Can’t You?

It has become the Internet's defining business model: free online services make their money by feeding on all the personal data generated by their users. Think Facebook, Google and LinkedIn, and how they serve targeted ads based on your preferences and interests, or make deals to share collected data with other companies.

Before the end of this year, Web users should be able to take a more active role in monetizing their personal data. Michael Fertik, cofounder and CEO of startup Reputation.com, says his company will launch a feature that lets users share certain personal information with other companies in return for discounts or other perks. Allowing airlines access to information about your income, for example, might lead to offers of loyalty points or an upgrade on your next flight.

The idea that individuals might personally take charge of extracting value from their own data has been discussed for years, with Fertik a leading voice, but it hasn't yet been put to the test. Proponents say it makes sense to empower users this way because details of what information is collected, how it is used and what it is worth are unjustly murky, even if the general terms of the relationship with data-supported companies such as Facebook is clear.

"The basic business model of the Internet today is that we're going to take your data without your knowledge and permission and give it to people that you can't identify for purposes you'll never know," says Fertik.

Fertik says he has spoken with a range of large companies and their marketers who are interested in his impending "consumer data vault," as the new feature is called. He won't yet give specifics about what data people will be able to trade, or what for, but he did tell MIT Technology Review that major airlines like the idea.

"All of the airlines we talked to would like to be able to extend provisional platinum status to certain types of fliers to get some kind of loyalty," he says. "It's very hard for airlines to gain a sense of who is worth [it] today."

Reputation.com was founded in 2006 and has received $67 million in investment funding. It currently offers products that help individuals and companies find information about themselves on the Internet and in various proprietary databases. For a fee, the company will also try to remove records or information — a service enabled in part by deals that Fertik has struck with some data-holding companies.

Fertik says those existing products, which have around one million users, mean that many people already have data in Reputation.com's service that they could trade with other companies in return for special offers. That data can include home and family addresses, buying habits, professional histories and salary and income information.

Reputation.com has far fewer users than Facebook, of course, but Fertik says the data people have given his company can be more valuable to marketers than clicks on a like button. Reputation.com has also filed patents on data-mining techniques intended to identify valuable insights in people's data vaults.

Peter Fader, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business, who specializes in the use of data analysis to help marketing, is skeptical that Reputation.com's approach offers enough to tempt either consumers or companies.

"Despite the ways that companies delude themselves, demographics and other personal descriptors are rarely useful," he says. Data that captures customer behavior is much more important, Fader explains, and many companies already have plenty of that flowing in from the various ways they interact with customers.

As for consumers, Fader predicts that, even as companies like Facebook expand how they share and leverage information gathered from users, relatively few will be motivated to actively manage and trade a portfolio of their own data. "The effort required to manage your personal data will be seen as greater than the benefits that arise from doing so," he says.

Shane Green, CEO and cofounder of startup Personal, which provides a website and apps for people to store personal data, disagrees. His company has almost a million users, and he says the growing prominence of privacy issues in the media shows that many people do care about what happens to their data.

Green once spoke of launching a service similar to the one planned by Reputation.com but now has different plans. Still, he says that Fertik's vision makes sense. "I think there will actually be a lot of those marketplaces," he says. "Marketing will shift toward more permission-based opportunities."

Green cites the date that a person's car lease expires as an example of a piece of personal data with an established value that people control themselves. "There'll only be one car company that knows that," he says. "But companies will pay hundreds of dollars, if you are seriously going to buy a car, to incent you to do that."

Personal, based in Washington, D.C. and founded in 2009, has raised $7.6 million in investment funding. The site currently focuses on helping people collate and reuse data — for example, for completing applications for college and loans.

Green says that he intends to develop infrastructure so people can selectively share data with another company, perhaps in return for discounts or other benefits. Similar to how a person might use a Facebook or Google account to log into a website, he might use a Personal account to connect with a company. He could then control exactly what data that company could access, and for how long. An early iteration of this idea can be seen on the website Car and Driver, where its already possible to log in with a Personal account. Doing so leads to a permissions screen where the site requests access to details including the make, model and year of a person's vehicle. "[Data] marketplaces are going to be incredibly valuable, but we're focused on portability," says Green.

Image: Flickr, 401(K) 2012

This article originally published at MIT Technology Review here

Man Impersonates 105 Iconic Characters in 6 Minutes

You'd never expect to see Pee Wee Herman, Spongebob Squarepants and Green Goblin in the same room — let alone hear them in the same voice box.

But Quinton Kappel managed to impersonate each of them in one very impressive YouTube video. In just six minutes, he mimics 105 memorable characters from villains to comedians to tragic heroes.

Certain impersonations are stronger than others, but his ability to emulate so many characters is certainly noteworthy.

Homepage image: Flickr, Gage Skidmore; Brian Geltner

Girl Asks Random Guys for Sex in Hilarious YouTube Prank

Men often get a bad rap. Only interested in sex. Will sleep with any attractive female, no questions asked. You know the story.

Billed as a "social experiment," the YouTube prank video, above, puts those stereotypes to the test. It also, hilariously enough, confirms them in almost every case. A gorgeous girl asks scores of random men if they'd like to have sex. The stunned fellows' stupefied, intrigued reactions are pretty funny to behold.

But that's not all. The video's creators also made a companion piece, in which a guy approaches random girls on the street, asking them to join him for some sexy times. Let's just say he has a slightly tougher audience:

Both videos have become online hits, racking up nearly 3 million combined views in just one day. Check them out; then let us know what you think in the comments.

Homepage image: whatever, YouTube

GQ Gets Twitter Death Threats for One Direction Magazine Covers

GQ UK on Monday unveiled its latest set of covers, which are plastered with portraits of One Direction members and provocative words intended to make you pick up the magazine.

Some Tweeters, however, weren't that impressed. As one would perhaps expect from Directioners, the onslaught of social media responses was rabid. It was fast. It was large. But maybe contrary to GQ's expectations, it was also reportedly overwhelming and merciless.

While some fans simply retweeted and favorited GQ's account, a certain swath of One Direction devotees took to Twitter to exclaim their hateful (and sometimes violent) disgust with the new covers. Below these covers are some of the scariest, tweets per GQ:

Harry StylesLouisLiamNiallZayn

(Warning: Some NSFW)

The general consensus seemed to be that it's not cool to make Harry Styles seem like a gigolo, and it's equal parts not cool to pick on Louis Tomlinson (if you're GQ, that is). We also found GQ U.S. and a handful of staffers getting mixed into the madness as well:

GQ U.S. and GQ UK are two separate magazines. GQ U.S. made this extra clear (or attempted to) in a blog post shortly after it started catching similar flack:

Can't we all just get along? This isn't the first time Directioners have fallen into hyper-ventilated, social media-induced tizzies. A similar fate met Taylor Swift when she "dissed" Styles at the Grammys. The moral of the story here is obviously to avoid throwing any sort of shade at Styles ("he is not a man whore!").

Nate Erickson, GQ U.S.'s social media editor, said the stateside publication has been trying to sort out the confusion all day — but to no avail. Erickson, along with GQ's senior editors have been dealing with barrages of threatening tweets, voicemails and emails — all of which seem trivial after Erickson astutely pointed out that many of the "attackers" weren't yet alive to witness Will Smith's role in Wild Wild West.

"It's the death threats with proper spelling and grammar that worry us," Erickson said.

Another aggressive tweep told Erickson to step on a Lego. Not to worry, though. Erickson assured us that he and the GQ team would be OK — after all, it's not their first rodeo.

On the heels of the Twitter storm, One Direction on Tuesday released the behind-the-scenes footage of its "Best Song Ever" music video (below).

Aside from the VEVO premiere, though, there were no tweets on the other matter from Styles — or the boys — after the outrage.

At the time of this writing, staffers from GQ UK had not responded to Mashable's request for comment. The magazine did, however, post a retort on its website: "We're still debating how to respond," they wrote. "To the rest of you, consider your feedback noted."

What do you think about the Direction drama? Weigh in below.

Images: GQ UK; Francois Durand/Getty Images

martes, 30 de julio de 2013

Five tips for brands acting like publishers

A lot has been written about brands as publishers. Let's face it, to get it right requires planning, investment and the operational agility to react in real-time to breaking news as it happens.

However, the returns can be more than worth it, as a growing list of examples shows.

Becoming a 'brand newsroom' isn't just a trend amongst the big companies either. Whilst there are plenty of big consumer brand examples, smaller brands, B2B companies, non-profits, and public sector organisations are also aligning their marketing and communications plans around content creation and social media.

If you are wondering if you should take the plunge, or have already jumped, the five tips below will help you get the most out of your strategy.

 Real time is the best time

In these times of media saturation and information overload, brands must be ready to react in minutes or seconds, not hours or days to breaking news and the social web and be equipped to publish, distribute and promote new content - instantly. 

Some of the best examples are Paddy Power's response to Alex Ferguson's retirement, or an even swifter reaction from Golden Wonder and of course the now obligatory example of Oreo's "Dunk in the dark" Super Bowl ad.

2.    Multimedia makes the difference

Granted this might sound like an obvious point, but content doesn't have to be text based and it doesn't have to be posted in the obvious place. Some of the best examples of this have been simple, shareable content that people can quickly digest.

If you look at the recent launch of BT Sport, the Mail Online's coverage contained 13 images, a video, an infographic, two financial graphs and numerous quotes. 

Even more traditional releases can benefit from adding a multimedia element, whether that's a simple unboxing of a tech product like the Raspberry Pi or an infographic on cyber security that got some good national media pickup. 


3.    Push your boundaries

Not to the point where you're going to get in trouble, but stepping outside of a brand's comfort zone can generate a fantastic response.

Bodyform's must-watch reply to a post on its Facebook wall, which has now been viewed over 4m times, gave the brand a warm personality, and breathed new life into an otherwise ageing ad campaign.

Recently Lynx had an unwelcome brand ambassador in the form of a character on Channel 4's Dogging Tales programme. Instead of shying away or issuing a very corporate response, their spoof photo picked up a lot of attention.


Just don't push too far, making potential customers fear for their lives is perhaps not an ideal PR stunt as BlackBoxTV found out recently. The stunt certainly got coverage, but probably not the kind they had hoped for.


4.    Think multichannel and what's new 

One of the biggest challenges for communicators is keeping on top of what digital channels are hot and how to use them. Finding the latest and greatest platform for sharing your content can make it stand out over Facebook or Twitter where there's now much more competition and noise. 

Did you know cinnamon keeps insects out of a sandpit?

Whilst you might not think of DIY as an obvious topic for making innovative use of channels, Lowes' short tips on Vine have attracted a massive audience and really made the company stand out. 


5.    Think mobile first

With mobile internet usage expected to soon surpass 'fixed' internet usage, the phone or tablet is now often your first point of contact with your audiences. Being able to deliver your content in a 'responsive' web format - ie so it adapts to look good (and work well) on every device - is now a critical factor in whether an online campaign succeeds.

This can either be a clever app like Debenhams did a few years ago, or something more innovative like the campaign from Meat Pack, encouraging customers to leave competitors' stores with a discount that decreased the longer they took.


Canada Eyes Deep Space With Next-Generation Robotic Arm

Canada has developed a new version of its famed robotic space arm to give exploration of the final frontier a helping hand.

The nation's Next-Generation Canadarm (NGC) program is designed to support both missions in low-Earth orbit and deep space, ranging from repairing communication satellites to assisting manned missions to the moon, asteroids, Mars and other corners of the universe, officials said.

"With the retirement of the space shuttle, a new generation of crewed space exploration vehicles will soon become available," said Alain Ouellet, director of space exploration development at the Canadian Space Agency (CSA).

"However, these new vehicles are much smaller in size compared to the space shuttle, and therefore there is a need to adapt the robotic arm technology developed for the shuttle and the International Space Station," Ouellet told SPACE.com.

A Long Tradition

With apologies to guitar-strumming former space station commander Chris Hadfield, Canada's most important contributions to spaceflight over the years have been made by its robotic Canadarms.

The first Canadarm, a 50-foot (15 meters) arm attached to NASA's space shuttle, blasted into space in 1981. Until the last shuttle flight in 2011, the arm was used to move loads from the shuttle orbiters to the space station.

After the tragic destruction of the space shuttle Columbia in 2003 during reentry to Earth's atmosphere, NASA began attaching the Orbiter Boom Sensor System to Canadarm, to inspect other shuttles for any damage. (Columbia was doomed when a piece of insulating foam broke off the shuttle's external fuel tank during launch and breached the left wing's thermal-protection system.)

Canadarm2 was sent into orbit in 2001 to aid in the assembly of the International Space Station. The 58-foot (17.6 m) arm, which Hadfield helped install on the station during a spacewalk, now takes care of much of the orbiting lab's maintenance work, supports spacewalks and captures so-called "free flyers" — spacecraft that must be grappled to the station, such as the commercial firm SpaceX's Dragon capsule.

Canadarm2 is part of what is known as the Mobile Servicing System, comprised of the arm itself, the Mobile Remote Servicer Base System and the Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator — also known as Dextre or the "Canada hand."

The NGC program thus continues a rich history of Canadian space robotics.

Eyeing Deep Space

Developed for the CSA by MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (MDA), the NGC system consists of two manipulators: a big one with a reach of 50 feet (15 m), and a smaller, 8.5-foot (2.6 m) arm.

While the longer arm is the same length as Canadarm, it is much lighter and more compact, officials said. It is designed to be attached to future spacecraft, even small ones, thanks to a new telescopic boom capability with a three-to-one packing ratio.

This ratio means that the deployed arm would be three times longer than its stowed configuration. When folded, it would take up less than 177 cubic feet (5 cubic m) of space — about the same amount as a minivan.

The smaller manipulator prototype is a robot "handyman" — a possible future equivalent of Dextre equipped with gear designed to help fix satellites in space and support their refueling.

"Many countries around the world now believe that Earth-orbiting satellites can be serviced robotically in much the same way that a car is brought to the garage for maintenance and filling up the fuel tank," Ouellet said. "The on-orbit servicing of the satellites is a great opportunity for the Canadian robotics technology and the Canadian industry."

Although the Next-Generation Canadarm project is only a prototyping endeavor at this point, it is aimed at maturing technologies for future space applications.

"There is a need to maintain the Canadarm's technologies with the state-of-the-art," Ouellet said. "Indeed, the original Canadarm's technologies date back to the 1980s (space shuttle arm), the '90s (Candarm2) and the early 2000s (Dextre), so many of the components that were used in the manufacturing of the arm are no longer available — in particular, the electronic components such as the CPUs and data transmission."

"The upgrading of the technologies with the state-of-the-art represents a fantastic opportunity to enhance the capabilities of the robotic technologies and reduce the costs," he added.

Image: Canadian Space Agency

This article originally published at Space.com here

Three inspiring B2B marketing case studies

We get lots of request for examples of good B2B marketing, so here's a trio for you and all your family. 

For this post, I've been taking a look back at our shortlisted B2B entries from The Digitals awards, which were handed out last month.

Berwin Leighton Paisner: Do Amazing Things

This multichannel digital campaign, essentially content marketing, saw applications for BLP graduate schemes grow by 40% within months.

Graduate talent is the lifeblood of B2B law firm BLP, but the firm faced a double whammy of barriers to attracting new talent:

  • As only the 17th largest firm in the UK, BLP wasn't on the application short-list of law students – missing out to larger brands.
  • Non-law students weren't convinced that a career in law was right for them. BLP had to sell life as a lawyer as well as selling BLP. 

BLP wanted to hire 40 graduates. The strategy was to:

  • Theme the entire campaign around the 'amazing things' students could achieve as a lawyer at BLP.
  • Make BLP people the heroes, letting them tell the real story of life at BLP on an unfettered basis via video, an interactive microsite and blogs.
  • Run an 'amazing things' social media competition to create buzz about BLP.

 Giving a platform to new joiners to discuss their life at BLP was a risky move (for a law firm), so obviously one that stood out against other firms.

In an industry not renowned for brevity or clarity, BLP's partners conveyed via video the core, emotional essence of a life in the law – each in 40 seconds or less.

BLP proved that even within a sector such as the law, social media will get people talking about your brand more than bigger rivals.


  • Applications for trainee job schemes up 40%.
  • Twitter followers tripled.
  • Facebook likes more than doubled.
  • Google traffic doubled in the first month.

With less than £300 invested, Facebook advertising targeted at university students saw exposure of BLP's Facebook page and 'Amazing Things' Twitter competition grow from 1,014 people to 20,542 in just four weeks, with click-throughs growing from 11 in week one to 640 in week four. 

Financial Times 'Smart Match', the B2B semantic ad platform, used by IMD and others

Imagine the entire FT content, matched to your products or articles by a clever semantic tool, and then being able to serve your ads on relevant FT articles.

That's a powerful tool. Here's how it works.

FT Smart Match was used to link IMD's thought leadership library, in real time, to business news stories on FT.com. For example, the FT.com article "Greece races to meet bail-out demands" was semantically profiled and matched to the IMD article "Is your company ready if the Euro collapses?".

Using dynamic content creation, advertisements are created and placed on the relevant FT.com web pages. This efficiently promoted IMD's brand to the desired audience of global senior executives.

Throughout the IMD campaign 350 articles and videos were profiled and matched 392,000 times to FT.com pages over a four month period.

This resulted in an effective CTR of 0.6%, six times higher than the standard online advertising on FT.com. The FT saw 50% more yield per CPM.

Smart Match highlights the following benefits:

  • Clients like IMD are able to make the most of their content.
  • The Financial Times is able to monetise its inventory for higher yields.
  • The FT is able to extend overall campaign lengths.
  • Readers are presented with information they may not have actively searched for.

This whole campaign improved insight into how IMD's content is relevant to global business people. Here's an example of the tool in use on a different campaign for a Dell advert.

Sage: content and search strategy

The people at Sage wanted to engage with 'micro businesses' (fewer than ten employees). So, they decided to focus purely on search to meet objectives, rather than spread the budget too thin across multiple channels.

And although there's some good search analysis going on here, and some PPC spend, the bottom line is this was classic content marketing from Sage.

100,000 business searches were categorised into seven themes to identify user intent (e.g. Start a Business, Grow Your Business, Manage Cash flow, Control costs, Work life balance, Beat Business Fears and Employing People).

From these themes, unique content was developed in multiple formats and used in an integrated SEO and PPC campaign to connect this content with Sage's target audience. 

You can explore the Sage site for this content. Here's some examples:


A measurement framework scored every valuable action, from a visit to a video view to a PDF download and set a permanent cookie to track how these engagements turned into sales up to 180 days later. 

With PPC, Sage bid-managed the campaign according to the relative scale of content engagement, building cookie pools around each theme to extend their reach across Google Display Network.

In SEO, Sage focused on the top 30 keywords in terms of volume and engagement using PPC data. This involved categorising the SEO keywords using the PPC campaign structure to report on SEO CTR (using impression data from PPC). Sage ran a 12-week offsite campaign to ethically build links and social media 'signals' around the seven themes.


The campaign achieved a reach of over 85% in the UK micro-business sector according to Google, generating 130m impressions. 

  • On softer metrics, the campaign generated 578,600 'engagements' (clicks, video views, shares, likes).
  • On harder metrics the campaign generated 13,000 PDF downloads and 600 leads (contact forms completed). 
  • In PPC, CTRs were up to 33% on generic keywords due to the tightly themed nature of the campaign involving over 11,000 ad groups. 
  • In SEO half of the target 30 keywords moved from outside the top 100 to first page on Google within three months.