Vysk QS1 Case Encrypts Phone Calls Against Hackers, Spies

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April 24, 2014, 4:04 AM PDT By Bonnie Cha

vysk

Smartphones, just like computers, are vulnerable to hackers, who target mobile devices with malicious software to access your personal information. There are security apps that can help prevent this, but one San Antonio-based startup thinks it has a better solution.

Today, Vysk Communications introduced the QS1, a protective smartphone case that the company claims makes it virtually impossible for others to eavesdrop on and capture phone conversations and also encrypts text messages and photos. It does so by incorporating a proprietary encryption processor and its own microphone into the case. The Vysk QS1 also has two mechanical camera shutters for blocking your phone’s front and back camera.

With the case on, you can activate one of two privacy modes: Private Call Mode and Lockdown Mode.

Private Call Mode requires a $9.95 monthly subscription but gets you the full gamut of security features. With the accompanying Vysk QS app (available for Android and iOS), you can make private VoIP calls to other subscribers over Vysk’s encrypted network. The company says no one will be able to listen in on your call, and no data, such as caller ID, phone numbers and call times, is recorded.

The Vysk QS1 will also generate an untraceable number when making calls to non-Vysk users, and if someone does try to hack into your phone call, they’ll be met with a piercing buzzing sound. Other features of the subscription service include encrypted private messaging, voicemail and pictures, remote wipe and password protection, among other things.

Meanwhile, Lockdown Mode jams your phone’s microphones and blocks the cameras. A subscription is not required to use these features.

But why choose a clunky and expensive ($229) case over one of the free or cheap security and privacy apps?

Vysk believes its hardware approach is stronger because software-based solutions are still vulnerable to malware and hackers. The company also considers the QS1 to be a better alternative to the upcoming Blackphone, since it allows people to keep the phone that they like and use every day.

The Vysk QS1 is compatible with the iPhone 5 and 5S and the Samsung Galaxy S4 and S5. Preorders begin on May 15, and the case is expected to ship in early Q4.

Read the full blog post on re/code

The American Middle Class Is No Longer the World’s Richest

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This is disheartening because, according to the article, we are still the world’s richest nation.

Where is the money going then if not to the huge middle class, the upper middle class or lower-middle class? It’s increasingly going to the top 1%!  I fully believe that those who start or successfully lead companies and take the greatest risks, should be duly rewarded. This is after all a free-market economy. However, there needs to be more balance in the equation or the entire system will break down.

This is not about being number one in the world, it is about working harder and having less and less to show for it. People are growing tired of this inequity and it needs to be addressed.

The MIddle Class

The U.S. Middle Class is losing ground

Article By David Leonhardt and Kevin Quely

Read the full New York Times article…

Google Follows Facebook and Twitter Into App-Installation Ads

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Adds Targeted App-Install Ads Within YouTube and Mobile Search

By . Published on April 22, 2014

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Google on Tuesday plans to introduce its latest updates to AdWords, its core search product, and allow app developers to buy ads promoting installed apps in paid mobile search and YouTube. In 2011, Google introduced app-install ads in mobile search. Consumers have been able to open pages within apps via organic search results on mobile since November, but now the company is offering the capability to paid search advertisers.

The news comes a weeks after Twitter started selling app install ads, following Facebook’s lead. Yahoo is floating the idea as well.

YouTube’s app install ads will run with TrueView, the in-stream service that allows users to skip through videos, the company said. It was added to mobile in August of 2012.

A mobile ad with the new capability of opening an installed app on a user’s phone.

Read more…

Twitter to Offer Mobile Ads Beyond Twitter In Bid for Revenue

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Twitter to Sell App Install Ads Across Mobile Apps Through MoPub

By . Published on April 17, 2014.

twitter_app_install

Twitter’s app install ads

Twitter’s ad world just got a little bigger.

The messaging service — whose business is already 75% mobile — started selling ads in mobile apps beyond Twitter today, a key rationale of its purchase of MoPub, a mobile adexchange it purchased in September.

MoPub will allow Twitter’s advertisers to buy mobile app install ads through the exchange. App install ads are today the mobile web’s dominant form of advertising and a key source of revenue for Facebook and other publishers.

Via the integration, advertisers can buy mobile app install and app engagement ads on Twitter, as well as on the thousands of apps within MoPub’s network, which include WordPress, OpenTable, the mobile messaging app Tango, and the music-streaming app Songza.

Twitter’s intention to launch mobile app install ads has been a poorly kept secret. Promoted tweets with Twitter “Cards” attached in which users can click to install an app have been materializing in users’ Twitter streams over the last few weeks.

Though still in a private beta, mobile app install ads will be available for purchase in Twitter’s ad auction, and other targeting parameters can be applied to them. But separately, advertisers will be able to participate in real-time bidding to buy mobile app install and app engagement ad inventory programmatically via MoPub within the Twitter ad system. Those ads will appear as banners, interstitials, video and sometimes in native formats.

Read more on Ad Age.com…

BlackBerry’s meltdown sparks start-up boom in Canada’s Silicon Valley

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Very interesting case study about how Blackberry’s implosion sparks a wave of new start-ups.

STORY BY SAYANTANI GHOSH, ASHUTOSH PANDEY AND EUAN ROCHA Wed Apr 16, 2014 2:42pm EDT

blackberry

(Reuters) – The troubles at BlackBerry Ltd, which fired more than half its staff and lost more than 90 percent of its market value as consumers shunned its smart phones, might have spelled disaster for the company’s hometown of Waterloo, Ontario. Instead, there are hot sports cars in the streets and new companies filling the refurbished office buildings.

 
Read more…

 

Akamai Heartbleed patch not a fix after all

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The Web infrastructure company’s patch was supposed to have handled the problem. Turns out it protects only three of six critical encryption values.

Akami

 

Akamai, the network provider that handles nearly one-third of the Internet’s traffic, released a Heartbleed patch to the community on Friday, saying that it would protect against the critical Web threat. Now it appears that’s not the case.

Writing on his company’s blog Sunday night, Akamai chief security officer Andy Ellis said that while he had believed the Akamai Heartbleed patch fully fixed the issue, a security researcher discovered it had a bug that caused it to be a partial, not full, patch.

More…

 

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Forget the Selfie: Samsung Is Out-Innovating Apple in Marketing Samsung’s Agency May Be Exaggerating, But It Has Something To Brag About

What was the brand and advertising value for Samsung of the infamous “selfie” taken by Ellen DeGeneres at the Oscars? Do we really know?

It was the tweet heard around the world, but was it worth $1 billion?

That was the value Publicis Groupe CEO Maurice Levy put on the star-studded Oscar smartphone “selfie” during an interview in Cannes earlier this week. He also immodestly took credit for it, which is a stretch because while Publicisbuying arm Starcom Mediavest did broker Samsung‘s sponsorship of the Oscars, the tweet itself was spontaneous, according to two sources with knowledge of Samsung’s marketing.

Now, without that $20 million Oscars sponsorship, Ellen DeGeneres would likely have taken the shot with her preferred iPhone, so Mr. Levy can indeed take some credit for setting the stage (the Wall Street Journal reported the agency negotiated with ABC to integrate Galaxy phones into the show).

More…

 

Why the Trend of Global CMO Has Reached Its Tipping Point

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Hint: It’s Not Just About Having a Single Brand Image Worldwide. Digitization and Globalization of Media Are Now Driving the Shift

 

By: , Advertising Age

Published: June 13, 2011

Headshots
(from l.) Keith Weed, Marc Menesguen, Candace Matthews, Tony Palmer and Jim Farley

The year 2010 will be known for many things, but in the marketing world, it might be the tipping point of the global CMO.

Last September, L’Oreal tapped Marc Menesguen as its first global chief marketing officer, a month after Ford Motor Co. appointed Jim Farley group VP-global marketing. In December, General Motors Corp. broadened U.S. marketing chief Joel Ewanick’s responsibilities to global CMO. Last April, Estee Lauder anointed its first executives with global scope across all brands.

While global marketing has been a growing force for decades, chief marketers with truly global scope have only become the norm in the past few years among global players like Unilever, Nestle, Levi’s and Wal-Mart Stores.

It’s not just about making the most efficient use of resources or presenting a single brand image worldwide. Part of the rationale is speeding up the process of finding what works in one place, then making it work everywhere else.

“If you went back four years ago there was a huge disparity between markets where we had really good marketing and the markets in which we didn’t,” said Tony Palmer, who became chief marketing officer of Kimberly-Clark Corp. in 2007. “If you looked at the markets where we were renowned as a great marketing company, our margins were better and we had much better market positions. Basically we had the same brands, but the marketing and innovation was better in those countries.”

Those weren’t necessarily the big high-profile ones you might expect, but rather Australia, Israel, Brazil and South Korea. Mr. Palmer said K-C determined that if it raised marketing performance everywhere to the level of those four, it would produce a sales bump “in the billions of dollars.”

Another big reason Unilever and others are turning to global CMOs is, as Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Keith Weed puts it, “The twin-headed trends of digitization and globalization feed off each other and accelerate the combination.”

Facebook and YouTube either didn’t exist or had very limited impact in 2005, he noted, and their growth alone has made marketing more global. They’re among the stops that make his annual trip to Silicon Valley a necessity.

The globalization and digitization of media have made it both more possible and necessary to focus on the global Unilever brand, Mr. Weed said. “People are much more aware of the companies behind the product brands now.”

As Amway was about to turn 50 years old, it took a strategic look at what it needed to do to keep growing in the next 50, said Candace Matthews, who came on as the company’s first global CMO more than three years ago. “Part of that was really realizing we needed to become a global enterprise instead of independent affiliates rolled up in a holding company,” Ms. Matthews said.

What Amway found was that the company everywhere stood for “a business opportunity [for distributors] with great products.” Simply put, Ms. Matthews has been charged with tweaking that to be “a great business opportunity that also has great brands.”

The rise of the global CMO also reflects a rise of more globally oriented consumers and a much broader cadre of lower-ranking global marketers.

Georgia Garinois-Melenikiotou, senior VP-corporate marketing of Estee Lauder Cos., points out that she is not a CMO, but she does occupy the company’s new global marketing role in part because of growth in the number of cosmopolitan consumers who are the core of the company’s consumer base. By 2020, she said, “1.6 billion people will be global travelers living in megacities, and they will be my prime target.”

Beyond the C-suite, the population of global marketers is exploding, too. Marc de Swaan Arons, chairman of EffectiveBrands, noted in his book “The Global Brand CEO” last year that he estimates only about 25,000 marketers had the descriptor “global” in their titles in 1999. As of last year, per LinkedIn, more than 540,000 marketers had “global” in their titles.

 

A Recipe for Building and Implementing a Social Media Plan

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Social Media Terms Word JumbleSo, you work in the corporate marketing department and your boss wants to know what “your” plan is for social media in 2011 and beyond. After clearing your throat and fumbling with a few papers on your desk, you tell him or her that you have been working on it and should have the plan ready to present in the next week or two.

So you’ve bought yourself some time but what next? Well you do a web search for how to build and implement a social media plan and come across some articles like this one which provide you with enough of a framework to put together a sound plan. What would we do without the internet?

There are a number of variations to this approach but the fundamentals remain about the same. This particular process is intended for a large company but can just as easily be followed by smaller organizations.

Step 1 – Define your Objective(s). Objectives can be things like building brand recognition or loyalty or providing customer service or indirect sales (direct sales via social media is best left to those who have already followed and implemented a plan like this). Be careful not to make your objectives so broad that they cannot be measured. It’s also worth stating the obvious – one person or one group for that matter should not be defining the social media objective(s) for the entire company without input from other key internal stakeholders and ideally one or more subject matter experts.

Step 2 – Understand Your Audience. Will you be interacting with happy or unhappy customers, former customers or prospects, or all of the above? Also don’t forget that whoever your intended audience is, there will be others watching and listening. This includes shareholders, the competition, legislators, regulators, current, former and prospective employees, your business partners, vendors and more.

In order to fully understand your audience you also need to know where they are. Are they on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, industry or competitor blogs, Digg, Delicious, etc.? Are they passive, meaning they are mostly in read-only mode, or are they active in generating messages and commenting on others’ messages? To fully understand this you will need to learn about social media monitoring tools. These tools help track sentiment towards your company or brand as well as the volume of mentions and how influential the person or people talking about your company or product are. Influence is usually gauged by the number of followers someone has, but that is not the only factor. You may be familiar with TweetDeck or Seesmic which are among many basic and free social media interface and monitoring tools. More sophisticated and expensive tools include Radian6, Sysomos, Lithium and others.

Woman on laptopYou can also do some basic look-alike modeling where you input the demographics of the audience you will be engaging (for example your customer demographics) and find out where others who share the same demographic profile are and understand what their social tendencies are as well. Forrester offers a free Social Technographics profile tool on their web site.

Understanding your audience, where and how they engage is an important step in the process, especially as it relates to staffing and operations which is discussed later on.

Step 3 – Assemble a Cross-functional Team. This is a step which arguably can be skipped if you work in a small company, but beware of the dangers of leaving out key internal stakeholders if you do. Generally speaking, a cross-functional team should include members from marketing, sales, public relations, internal communications, human resources, legal and customer service. Obviously this list of departments should be adjusted to suit each organizations unique structure. Also, the level of the participants should be such that they are close to the day-to-day operations and therefore aware of potential challenges, yet empowered to make day-to-day decisions on behalf of that department.

All teams need leaders and it is customary though not mandatory that someone from the marketing department lead a team such as this. Having a strong project manager on the team is a tremendous asset as well as there is no substitute for excellent process and project management.

Once the team is assembled, make sure that they understand their objectives and what is in and out of scope. Ideally there will be an executive-level sponsor of this initiative who has or will take on some of the tougher decision-making assignments with his or her peers.

The cross-functional team (team) should understand and agree with the social media strategy and objective(s) and understand the make-up of the primary and any secondary audiences. If this is not the case, then this is a good way to build some team dynamics and synergy.

Step 4 – Study Best Practices & Lessons Learned. Once you begin searching the internet, you will find that there is no lack of free information or best practices and lessons learned as it relates to social media. What’s more, the information is in a constant state of change and evolution and requires regular monitoring and engagement. Join online discussion groups and forums like those on LinkedIn and elsewhere. Read AdAge DIGITAL and other online publications and blogs and subscribe to Twitter accounts that blog about social media. Also pay close attention to your competition so that you know where the bar is set in your industry. You may see things that you want to emulate and other things that you want to avoid.

Step 5 – Set Goals. Again, depending on how your company operates, goals may have been set at the beginning of the process. Regardless, take the time to socialize the goals with the team and to ensure they pass the test of being measurable and attainable. Start with simple goals like getting a certain number of people to “Like” your company’s Facebook page or a certain number of graphfollowers on Twitter within a defined period of time. If your goals include customer service, you may include resolving a certain number of issues per month via social media. You can also set goals for positive versus negative mentions of your company or brand but beware that sentiment is an inexact science. Even the best monitoring tools can only approximate sentiment because they cannot account for human sarcasm or cynicism in text comments. Goals can also include clicks from Facebook, Twitter, etc. to a specific offer landing page but remember that wherever possible you do not want to disrupt the user’s social networking experience. Generally speaking, people are not engaging in social media to click on a bunch of links to corporate pages. You can however set up separate Twitter accounts and Facebook tabs just for offers and promotions or provide people with an opportunity to opt-in to receive emails or text messages for special offers.

Step 6 – Operationalize. Now comes the fun part – figuring out how to support your social media efforts on an ongoing basis. I underscored the last two words to emphasize the point that social media efforts do not have a hard start and stop date like a direct mail campaign or a print ad campaign. Once a comment or promotion begins, it takes on a life of its own and you need to be prepared to support the conversation until your audience tires of engaging on the subject. This is where most companies fail. They don’t understand that in the digital age, companies don’t really own their brand or the conversation with the consumer. The consumer owns them. As marketers, we now guide, nudge, polish and influence our brand and the conversation, but we no longer own it. This is what marketing 2.0 is all about – giving up control in return for an honest and open dialogue and partnership with your external customers, prospects and other important constituents. It’s no longer “push” marketing, it’s a partnership with your customers for the good of everyone involved. If you try to “control” your social media efforts as opposed to managing them, you will fail. It is important to manage the expectations of senior management on the topic or control versus transparency and partnership.

Back to the operations decisions that need to be addressed. The team must make decisions about when and where to begin. It is often best to start small, like starting a Twitter dialogue. This will help limit mistakes and also help with resourcing the effort. By the way, if you work for one of those companies that need to see a business case with a documented positive ROI on social media before investing in it, you have a huge uphill battle on your hands. That doesn’t mean that social media cant or doesn’t contribute to the bottom line, because it does. My point is you do not begin engaging in social media purely for the ROI. It’s an indirect outcome but not the initial objective of social media efforts.

Different departments will have different objectives. For example, customer service may be focused on servicing customers while marketing may be interested in raising brand awareness or raising positive sentiment. Public affairs may simply be interested in more positive mentions. Additionally, Twitter may be the best venue for customer service while marketing may prefer Facebook or YouTube. This doesn’t mean that departments or objectives should be limited to only one social media channel. I am simply suggesting that the team establish a preferred channel for each main objective.

The team will also need to address monitoring, establishing a policy or as I like to call it, “rules of engagement” which is about who in the company is allowed to engage in social media in an official capacity. Staffing and training will need to be discussed as will in-sourcing versus outsourcing, internal communications to employees and more.

Step 7 – Pilot. Once the team has made all key decisions and senior management has signed off with a full understanding of what to expect, it’s time to cross your fingers and soft-launch your social media efforts. Soft-launching means no major announcements in the media. This will give you a better chance of becoming confortable with whatever you are doing, before you announce it to the world and get more volume than you can handle. Also keep in mind that whatever you are doing, social media should provide at least the same if not a better experience than conventional channels. What I mean is that if your call centers for customer service are 24×7, then your social care efforts should be 24×7.

Of course there are many more details and considerations behind each step, but these 7 steps should serve as a good road map to plan your efforts.

Here are some additional tips.

–          Be honest, don’t “spin” the truth or you will lose credibility and your audience will discount your point-of-view in the conversation that is taking place. It really does not matter that you represent the company or brand, if you are not credible, you will be discounted.

–          Know when to just be quiet and listen

–          Identify key influencers and get to know them and understand their social media habits and behavior

I hope you found this article helpful. Please feel free to ask questions or leave comments and stay tuned for a follow-up article about Social Media Communities.

Author:  Steven Copertino

Copyright 2011. All Rights Reserved.

How You Name Your Web Sites, Microsites and Blogs Can Impact Your Search Engine Rankings

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SEO and Search graphic

Search Engine Optimization
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is very complex, with proprietary algorithms used by each of the major search engines to determine rankings and I am only scratching the surface in this article, but here are some important tips and guidelines.

Background
Many people and companies often talk about web site content and content structure when discussing search engine optimization. Search engine optimization is about making your web site content efficient and effective so your web site ranks as high as possible in organic listings (not sponsored or non-paid advertising, also known as search engine marketing) but did you know that the web site URL you select is also very important?

Many companies like to use vanity URLs instead of a real company name in their URLs. A vanity URL is like a vanity phone number or a vanity license plate. A vanity URL for a fictitious company such as Acme Precision Widgets, whose real web site is www.acmeprecisionwidgets.com could be www.acmespecials.com or www.apw.com.  Typically, the vanity URL would then redirect to the real URL and if you paid close attention you would see this happen in your browser http address listing. For permanent vanity URLs, coders typically use what is called a “301 redirect” to the real page URL shown above, but the user would only need to see (click on) or type the vanity URL. A 301 redirect is a redirect that does not have a time expiration as opposed to a 501 redirect, which does expire at a predefined time interval.

 google search results pageVanity URLs Can Suppress Search Engine Rankings
Search engine relevancy scores (the scores that determine which pages will make it to the top of a search engine’s organic search results) take into account page load times. Therefore, making pages too “heavy” with rich media content or having too many URL redirects (hops due to vanity URLs or other hidden structures) will slow page load times and consequently lower your page rankings with the search engines. This means that your web site moves down the list of organic search results, leading to potentially lower organic traffic and a need to rely more heavily on paid search. 

What Is Your Goal?
If your goal is to drive as much online volume as possible through organic search results, versus paid online media, then vanity URLs are not necessarily the best way to go. Instead, use your company’s real URL wherever possible and add a forward slash to drive to a specific landing page which contains content relevant to what you are promoting. Alternatively, you can drive users to your home page and feature whatever you are promoting there in what is called a “hero space”. Many companies use hero spaces that allow you to feature multiple products, services or offers, by rotating them at pre-set short time intervals.

 When Vanity URLs Are a Must
Sometimes there is a justified need for a vanity URL due to the nature of the product or service or promotion, or because your company URL is simply too long and is not easily shortened. When those exceptions are made, here are some helpful tips to follow.

Track Whatever Vanity URLs You Already Have or Create
When creating a vanity URL, keep a central repository of those links because they need to be maintained over time. A simple example is if you choose to move the location of the real page on your web site, then the reference point for the vanity URL needs to be updated or the user will have a broken link that goes nowhere.

Vanity URLs Should Also Have Strong Brand and Key Word Relevancy
Vanity URLs should also have strong brand and key word relevancy as opposed to making up or using words infrequently used by consumers simply because they sound “cool”. Strong brand and key word relevancy will further increase your relevancy scores with search engines. If the intended audience is not familiar with the term, then even if it’s catchy, it will hurt your organic results because you will achieve fewer exact matches. The only exception is if you are going to literally spend millions and millions of dollars advertising offline and online in order to create brand recognition for something like a new term or a new product, service or company name.

 For those who want to delve further into the technical side of how vanity URLs/redirects erode search engine relevancy, please see this article which discusses 301 redirects and confirmation from Matt Cutts (Google Engineer) that some link equity is lost when a 301 is used within a website – but not as much as when the true URL is completely removed from the vanity name.
http://www.seerinteractive.com/blog/301-redirect-test-how-much-link-juice-are-you-losing/2010/04/09/

Written by: Steven Copertino, Digital Marketer
http://www.linkedin.com/in/copertino