Tag: marketing

Channel needs to support the free press

Pieter Brueghel the Elder

Boys thrashing tops in 1560 – Brueghel

The Canalys Channel Conference closed at 3PM prompt this afternoon, Barcelona time,  but not before one of the few channel journalists left standing was given a five minute slot to stand and address the thousand or so attendees at the conference.

Cristoph Hugenschmidt, a journalist at Inside Channels CH, made an impassioned speech about how the community of vendors, distributors and resellers need the independence that real journalism – rather than fake news or marketing spin – offers that influential group.

Cristoph reckons – and ChannelEye agrees – that the hugely lucrative market needs independent journalism more than ever before. He gave as an example a Canalys event he attended a year or two back where a marketing spinner told the assembled hacks that journalism wasn’t necessary any more because his company could put out the message it wanted via social media and using impoverished hacks to write online press releases.

Nevertheless, after delivering this insult to the hackettes and hacks at the table, according to Cristoph, he tipped up a couple of hours later and said: “I do expect you journalists to be at my 9AM roundtable tomorrow.”

The Swiss hack was basically saying that unless the channel supported free and independent journalism as part of the community, we’ll all wither away and companies will lose the insight, gossip and spinicide that hackettes and hacks deliver.

Why does the channel need journalists like Cristoph and the few of us that are left? My feeling is that despite the noise of Twitter and other social media, and PR and marketing executives spinning like tops, there is a need for a cool third party appraisal of what’s going on. “Going forward”, to use an infamous marketing perversion of the phrase “in the future”, company CEOs need to decide whether they can afford the ridiculous price of marketing spin and decide whether it’s worth it.

ChannelEye of course,  is notorious as purveyors of “fake news” – via The Rogister and theINQUIRER.net,  and coined the term “wide awake news” two years after Donald Trump was born.

Intel culls sales and marketing staff

Bent AxeIntel is ordering its sales and marketing staff to clean out their desks as part of its glorious campaign on restructuring.

In April, Chipzilla announced it would lay off 12,000 employees worldwide saying that there was no more money in this PC lark. It also stopped work on its Atom chip and those working on it were the first to be escorted from the building with their belongings in an old photocopy paper box.

But now sales and marketing in Intel’s distribution channel operation are having to face the music. Ironically a corporate PR person who has not been sacked yet issued a statement saying:

“To support our transformation, we are restructuring our sales organization to drive tighter alignment with Intel’s business units and fuel our growth engines. Customers can expect to see more specialized technical support, faster decision making, and streamlined processes with a strong focus on enabling a consistent and personalized customer experience.”

Still it is early days yet. The cuts are not being completed until the end of the month, so maybe the person who wrote the above comment is still blissfully unaware that there is a corporate axeman waiting in the corridor waiting to pounce.

It looks like regional head offices will be the target. Intel offices will now report direct to the US headquarters rather than to their nearest regional head office. Big processor buyers, such as China-based Lenovo and Taiwan’s Acer, will also deal direct with teams in California from now on


Flash advertising starts to die out

additional-oxford-dodo-bookFlash advertising is starting to go the way of the dodo (pictured).

Amazon has decided to stop accepting Adobe Flash ads starting next month. The move affects not just the company’s website, but its whole advertising platform.

While one supplier, however big, giving up on a platform is not significant it is a wider sign that the buggy platform is dying and the industry is moving to HTML5.

Google began automatically converting Flash ads to HTML5 in February. At the start of 2015, YouTube ditched Flash for HTML5 video by default and last month, Twitch announced plans to do the same.

Amazon’s decision is primarily driven by browser makers stopping what Flash can do. Apple’s Safari and Mozilla’s Firefox and Chrome have limited the plugin.

Writing on its bog a spokesAmazon said:

“Beginning September 1, 2015, Amazon no longer accepts Flash ads on Amazon.com, AAP, and various IAB standard placements across owned and operated domains. This is driven by recent browser setting updates from Google Chrome, and existing browser settings from Mozilla Firefox and Apple Safari, that limits Flash content displayed on web pages. This change ensures customers continue to have a positive, consistent experience across Amazon and its affiliates, and that ads displayed across the site function properly for optimal performance.”

In June, Google’s Chrome beta channel began automatically pausing less important Flash content to boost performance and battery life. The feature is enabled by default in Chrome beta for Windows, Mac, and Linux. Google expects to flip the switch for the Chrome stable channel in… you guessed it, September.

For most of the world the death of Flash is a good thing. However in some ways Adobe own management decisions killed the software off early.

In November 2011 the company could not be bothered researching improvements for Flash Player on mobile devices.  In fact it is surprising that after that Flash is still around and pretty important.


Facebook wants to be a business tool

thumb-mark-zuckerberg-facebook-pro-4566The social notworking site Facebook has decided that its users really want to talk to businesses through its site.

Facebook rolled out features yesterday that let  businesses privately communicate with customers through messages as the Messenger app.

Businesses can now include a “send message” button in ads that appear in Newsfeed that allow Facebook users to click a button and send messages, which are private. If users post a comment on a business’ Facebook page, then the business can privately message that person

The features are part of Facebook’s efforts to convince more small and medium-sized businesses – especially those in emerging markets, such as India, Brazil and Indonesia – to advertise on its platform.

By giving them direct access to customers, the world’s largest social network hopes to show that advertising on Facebook directly leads to increased sales.

To encourage quick responses, Facebook will award “very responsive to messages” badges on business pages that respond to 90 percent of messages and respond on average within five minutes. People will, however, still be able to block private messages from businesses.

The features will be especially valuable in Southeast Asia, Facebook wrote in a blog post. About twice as many Thai and Singaporean users use Facebook messages to communicate with businesses each month and most Southeast Asia users follow some company pages.

Facebook hosts more than 40 million active small and medium business pages, it said, with more than 1 billion page visits each month.


Cisco tells analytics to get more evil

1682942-dr.evilCisco’s head of digital transformation and analytics has told his marketing minions to stop using analytics to get brand awareness and concentrate on making more dosh.

Writing in his bog,  Pascal Lendermann said that the “the primary responsibility for the Cisco marketing organization (sic) has shifted from brand awareness to revenue generation”.

In other words everyone knows who Cisco is, it is time to encourage people to sell more of its gear. He also thinks it is better to focus on web-based marketing, which is cheaper, than prime-time television advertising.

If you visit the Cisco website, the outfit will apply analytics to put you in front of something to buy as quickly as possible.

If Cisco’s can tag you as owning a Catalyst switch or you have a license that’s up for renewal, it should guide you better to a “Click here to issue invoice” button.

“Cisco IT is using big-data analytics to predict which solutions each online visitor is likely to be interested in. Cisco IT plans to collect, store, and analyse this customer data from various sources to identify clusters of interest, such as Cloud, Data Center, Switches, and Social. Our data sources include search history, webinar registrations, company demographics, and the solutions that other people in the same company are also researching”, Lendermann said.


Ex-Googler wants to disable ad-blocking software

brick-wallA technology war is brewing between those who want to block internet advertising and those who want to stop their software working.

CEO and co-founder is Ben Barokas has founded a company called Sourcepoint which launched yesterday with $10 million in Series A investment funding.

Barokas wants to help publishers by providing them with technology to punch through “all the ad blockers”.

He said that it was important that publishers have a more open dialogue with readers about the transaction that takes place when they consume content. He said that publishers serve ads in exchange for content being presented for free. And that a transaction needs to take place in the first place because content requires investment.

Google did not prioritise ad blocking in its roadmap, and Google CEO Larry Page downplayed the threat of ad blocking. He said that it was instead up to the industry to make better ads that people wouldn’t want to block.

However Barokas thinks Sourcepoint’s technologists have the expertise force users to look at as many adverts that publishers through at them. There are many other “ad blocker blocker” systems but they provide “unsophisticated solutions” that just replace a publisher’s intended ad with a lower quality alternative.

Sourcepoint lets a publisher decide how to present a message to a web visitor that has an ad blocker installed.

The publisher could choose to circumvent the ad blocker and serve the ad, or it could say to the visitor “our ads pay for your content, how about you choose to allow them,” or it could allow the user to choose their advertising experience (three ads for three stories, for example,) or the publisher could ask them to pay to subscribe.

Sourcepoint is working on a number of “sophisticated” subscription options that are designed to take away the friction that usually comes with subscribing to a website’s paywall.

However it still has the problem that advertising departments insist on making adverts so irritating that people want them switched off so they can actually read the content.

For now, Sourcepoint is offering its services to “two dozen top 100 comScore publishers” for free. That not only includes the ad blocker circumvention software, but also analytics tools for publishers to establish their ad blocking audiences.

Barokas is lloking at different business models including a software as a service-type licensing option, an advertising recovery service which would take a cut of ad revenue returned to the publisher, taking a percentage from new subscriptions the publishers sign up, or a mixture of the three.

Of course the ad-blocks will come up with ad-block, blocker blocking software and soon everything will be unblocked again.




Ubisoft in face off over reviews

face offUbisoft’s PR and Marketing policy has come under the spotlight after it released a buggy version of its Assassin’s Creed: Unity game.criticised for widespread glitches

The game came out of the box full of more bugs than an ant farm which has evolved its own love cult.  The problem is that Ubisoft managed to keep people buying the game because it had silenced reviewers.

When the game was released, Ubisoft gave out review copies but only on the condition that the review did not come out until 18 hours of the US release. This meant that people everywhere frantically bought the game blissfully unaware that it should never have been released.

Ubisoft said that it is working on an update that will help address some of the specific problems  some players are having including: the hero Arno falling through the ground; the game crashing when joining a co-op session; Arno getting caught inside of hay carts; delay in reaching the main menu screen at game start, it said. PC users also have images of people missing part of their faces

Ubisoft insisted that its control of the reviews was nothing to do with censoring reviews that it knew were likely to be bad. It said that the complexity of creating a multiplayer title was the reason that the game had only became available for review relatively late in the day.

In fact, a patch to tackle “random crashes” and some animation issues beat many of the bad reviews to press.

Activision’s Destiny and Sony’s Driveclub also had post-release embargoes placed on them this year, while Sega did not send out any pre-release copies of Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal at all. All three received mixed reviews.

There are major questions as to how the software could have been released in such a state and no one saw it.

Assassin’s Creed: Unity is set in the French Revolution, and its simulation of Paris streets and buildings is more complex than anything attempted  before.

One suggestion was that the company had been under pressure to meet the titles’ scheduled release dates after announcing lengthy delays to other high-profile games: Watch Dogs, which ultimately went on sale about a year later than expected, and The Crew, which is running roughly nine months late.


Marketing firms scan online snaps

19th-century-photographerMarketing firms are scanning the 1.8 billion photos posted every day to social media sites such as Instagram and Facebook looking for clues about what to peddle you.

US company Ditto Labs has created a program which ‘reads’ digital photos Software scans photos for brands and analyses the facial expression with it.

This data then builds profiles of people to help targeted advertising. Apparently, this is being used by Coca-Cola, Budweiser, Procter & Gamble and Adidas.

The software, created by Ditto Labs in Massachusetts, also ‘reads’ the background, the person’s clothing and even the location of the photo in a bid to glean as much information as possible as the customer and how they view the product or brand.

The wealth of information is then used to set up a profile which spells out exactly how that customer should be targeted by advertisers.

Liberty rights campaigners have warned the process goes ‘far beyond’ what most users should expect and that companies should seek permission before passing on the information to third parties.

Emma Carr, director of Big Brother Watch, a campaign group set up to challenge policies which it believes threatens privacy, said  scanning our photos for logos and certain backdrops will go far beyond what many would expect companies to do with the photos we post.

“If companies want to use our data in this way, explicit permission should be sought. It is also only right that users ask for complete transparency about what data will be collected, analysed and who it will be sold on to,” she said.

Computer scientists began creating the program more than a decade ago. Other brands include Adidas, which, through the program, discovered that 13 percent of its ‘Adidas population’ are also interested in Justin Bieber. Of course, 87 percent want him killed on sight. Budweiser has found that beer drinking generally peaks at 11PM, presumably because its customers are returning their rented product.


Intel replays marketing card

Intel-logoBecause Intel has so few products to show at its expensive upcoming Intel Developer Forum in September in San Francisco, it will play its old three card trick and show off new logos and marketing plans instead. Ailing Intel, it seems, has run out of “innovation”.

That’s according to reliable sources within the corporation that told the Eyes that newly formed CEOs need marketing ideas because product ideas are few on the ground.

The source – based in Asia – told the Eyes that it had attempted to convince ex CEO Paul Otellini that the marketing needed changing to a retro kind of thing, but had come up against determined opposition from the then CEO.

But facing ruin because it was slow off the mark with chips for tablets and for smartphones, instead Intel will attempt to bamboozle the world with marketing. The newly born CEO – and the INTC board are  up for it.

The re-branding will re-position Intel as a 21st century company that doesn’t really invent technology any more. Just manufacture it.

Although we don’t have the new logos and that yet, expect a blast of marketing publicity that talks a lot about not very much at all, faced with the opposition. Oh, that’s not AMD, by the way.

IBM buys Xtify

ibm-officeIBM has bought cloud based mobile messaging company Xtify for an undisclosed amount.

Big Blue hopes the buy will help it further push its capabilities in mobile towards digital advertising, as well as helping shape its public sector offerings, through cloud services.

Xtify, IBM promises, will provide campaign creation, personalised content, and real time analytics for mobile devices and browsers. It was built to retain mobile app users and site visitors. Campaign management also tells users when new promos or content are available.

IBM veep for digital marketing, Kevin Bishop, pointed out there’s profit to be had in selling technology to companies trying to figure out mobile. “The acquisition of Xtify provides new ways for our clients to foster a direct, one-to-one communication channel with their customers,” Bishop said.

Big Blue wheeled out some figures of its own to highlight just how important mobile strategy can be, claiming 73 percent of those surveyed in an IBM Business Value study “experienced measurable results” from mobile initiatives. It cites companies like Disney Stores and 20th Century Fox as among those using Xtify push notifications on mobile to boost sales.

Avnet extends marketing initiative

avnettsAvnet has extended its Socialondemand service in the UK.

According to the distie, since the marketing initiative launched in April 2012, seven supplier partners and over 150 business partners have joined up.

It said in the last nine months 353 media posts have been reposted by business partners achieving click-through rates of up to 50 percent, with more than 86,000 downloads and retweets.

Initially introduced with Microsoft, Avnet socialondemand is a social media service which syndicates and disseminates targeted social media content from Avnet supplier partners to the social media connections of its business partners.

Avnet claims it’s able to input, categorise and target social media content and then control and track what, when and where it is published, for example, via business partners’ Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter accounts.

Linda Patterson, marketing director, at the company said Avnet and supplier developed content went further and allowed partners to decide how and when to target customers, while tracking exactly when, where and by whom the content is being read.

She pointed out business partners often had stretched resources particularly in terms of their use of social media and yet they appreciate its value.

Salesforce announces real-time social ads in Social.com

Salesforce_Logo_2009Salesforce has brought out Social.com which it reckons will transform advertising – being what it claims as the first social advertising application which integrates social ads with CRM.

The application will allow agencies to run social advertising campaigns on Facebook and Twitter in conjunction with real time responses from customers and social listening, which Salesforce touts as a way to utilise data to maximise dollar return on ads.

Part of Salesforce Marketing Cloud, Social.com will let advertisers create optimise and ultimately automate the social advertising campaigns. The differentiator, Salesforce says, is that the competition mostly offers outsourced services, however, Social.com is here for agencies and advertisers to use themselves.

Using Social.com, Salesforce claims brands will be able to put together and launch social advertising on scale in mobile, as well as optimising them by testing and targeting different placement and creative combinations, then use data from Facebook and Twitter to figure out where to go next.

Social.com will also allow advertisers to alter advertising spend automatically, and automate how it is allocated using real time optimisation decisions.

Marketers will also be able to use Social.com to put offline and online purchase data side by side, as well as other useful data like customer loyalty, contest data, whitepaper downloads, and active campaigns. The idea is providing a bridging connection to existing and potential customers.

Social.com is generally available now, while real time customer data and listening should be generally available this Summer.

HTC plans to pull its nadgers out of the fire with direct marketing

htc-isntHTC is turning to marketing as the Viagra to restore its flaccid brand image and it will not rely on its telecom businesses partners so much.

Peter Chou, chief executive officer of HTC, said some of the problems his company had were from overly relying on partnerships with telecom operators.

The new marketing strategy, targeted particularly in Europe, will focus on “pushing the brand” and “driving demand,” Chou said at a press conference in London.

He said that HTC and its partners would see major changes this year as the company attempts to communicate with consumers more directly.

In the good old days HTC led the industry in technology innovation but the marketplace has changed. HTC needs to change in terms of its “market positioning and execution”. Market positioning is low and someone will have to be executed.

HTC unveiled its new HTC One smartphone in London and New York on Tuesday with revamped camera and audio.

Chou did not say why he felt that the company had been let down by its business partners. But there was a feeling that the company had suffered from poor marketing as the telcos pushed phones from Samsung and Apple instead.

The cunning plan seems to be for HTC to take a more direct marketing approach, although this might create a backlash against the company from business partners who feel left out of the loop.