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Digital News & Analysis

ESPN Slam Dunks Its Public API

2014-26-August-In-The-Air.jpgSay it ain't so, Joe! API fans everywhere suffered a heartbreaking defeat when one of the most prominent public content APIs packed it in and said there might not be a next season.

Marketing Wisdom from Netflix's House of Cards

(8-26 UPDATE) If you're a digital marketer, odds are you didn't learn everything you needed to learn in kindergarten. Nope, you probably learned it from TV — that shining source of all modern wisdom.

In the past year, we've shared what marketers could learn from AMC's Breaking Bad and HBO's Game of Thrones. Now we're shifting the focus to the Netflix exclusive House of Cards, the drama that surprised many people by failing to win the big prize at this year's Emmy Awards. 

Monetate, a provider of marketing personalization solutions, is a fan, despite the show's surprisingly poor performance at the Emmys. In fact, the loss may even make the insight shared by the characters on the show all the more interesting.

Why? Because the true test of great marketing occurs not when situations unfold as expected but when they fall apart faster than a ball of string in the paws of a kitten.

Is It the Right Time for HubSpot's $100M IPO?

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Digital marketing technology is all the rage in the CRM space and HubSpot co-founders Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah must believe Wall St. knows that.

The Cambridge, Mass.-based marketing automation provider filed for an IPO late today hoping to raise as much as $100 million. It will trade as HUBS on the New York Stock Exchange.

The IPO market for Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) vendors is lukewarm at the moment. But investors like General Catalyst, which owns 27.1 percent of the company, and Matrix Partners, which owns 17.1 percent, must think that now is the time.

Parents Aren't the Only Winners When Kids Return to School [Infographic]

2014-25-August-vintage-back-to-school.jpgAs a major office store so accurately suggested in a TV ad a few years ago, it's back to school season … the most wonderful time of year for parents everywhere.

But before the kids are back on the bus, crowded into classrooms and discovering all new reasons to whine and complain, parents have to engage in the annual ritual of back-to-school shopping.

While many parents look at back-to-school shopping as rituals in frustration, they are important drivers of revenue for companies and brands. According to the National Retail Federation’s 2014 Back-to-School Survey, the average family with children in grades kindergarten through 12th grade will spend more than $669 on apparel, shoes, supplies and electronics, up 5 percent from the nearly $635 average last year.

Total spending on back to school will drop slightly to $26.5 billion because the survey found there are slightly fewer students in households this summer.

So what do marketers need to know?

Rocket Fuel to the Moon and Back

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Investors in ad-tech specialist Rocket Fuel have been on quite a thrilling ride. Drawn by the buzz of the company’s automated platform, which uses artificial intelligence and big data analytics to purchase ad spots on digital exchanges, traders last September rushed into the IPO: the stock was priced at $29 and opened at $59.95.

Rocket Fuel shares by late January were at a new post-IPO high of $71.89, a gain of 147 percent from the offering price. Today, they change hands at around $14.50.

So what caused Rocket Fuel to run out of gas?

'Lizard Squad' Targets Sony in New DDoS Attack

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Today brought more hacker woes for Sony's PlayStation Network (PSN) and Sony Entertainment Network in the form of a crippling distributed denial-of-service (DDoSattack from a vandal collective known as "Lizard Squad.”

In addition, the FBI is investigating the diversion of a flight carrying a top Sony executive amid reports of a claim that explosives were on board. An American Airlines flight carrying Sony Online Entertainment President John Smedley from Dallas to San Diego was grounded because of a bomb threat.

It appears that the same group behind the current PlayStation Network outage is responsible for the bomb threat on flight 362, which was safely diverted to Phoenix. The group, in fact, retweeted Smedley's tweet: 

Get Better Content Marketing Insights, FREE

Yes, the headline reads like link bait. And it may or may not work. Will it put you off so much that you’ll scroll past it without reading this article at all? Or will the word “free” be just enough to win a few seconds of your attention?

And if so, how do we know that it’s “Free” and not “Marketing Insight” that’s causing you to read on? Have our competitors tried tactics like this? How did they fare?

What if we knew the answers to questions like this before we even started writing?

Connected Enterprises Provide Better Customer Service

Networking your organization -- making it more agile, more enabled and more responsive -- makes a ton of sense from a practical perspective. From an operational perspective, however, it is much more difficult. Microsoft introduced the catch phrase of “working like a network” through a video for its enterprise social offering. But “working like a network” goes beyond just the social channel -- and permeates every department within the entire organization.

So how does an organization transform how they work? How do you put the concept of working like a network into practice? Let’s look at the three key components of “working like a network” that Microsoft mentions, how organizations can support these components and how they will help create alignment across the company to serve your customers.

Netbiscuits Launches Routing Device for Adaptive Mobile Experiences

In a time when mobile devices outnumber PCs, having a mobile-optimized web presence is no longer considered a luxury, but a necessity. Data from ComScore revealed that in January of this year, Americans used smartphone and tablet apps more than PCs to access the Internet -- for the first time in history. Moreover, according to The Diffusion Group, a quarter of all broadband households in the US also own a TV set with internet connectivity, making the ability for a company’s website to adapt its user experience beyond the PC more important than ever before.

Customer Service on Stage: 3 Ways to Avoid Brand Failure [Infographic]

2014-19-August-Stage-Fright.jpgBusiness leaders across the globe have confirmed that, in the midst of stiff competition and growing customer expectations, customer and field service differentiation is key to growing revenue and delivering an excellent customer experience. These are the findings of two new reports and an infographic released by SAP SE and The Service Council (TSC).

The reports, “Service Transformation: The Business Case” (pdf) and “Reviewing Field Service Strategy: Aligning Focus and Execution,” (pdf) provide important insights that executives should consider in redefining customer service and field service strategy. 

Turning Data Into Marketer's Best Friend

2014-19-August-Baseball-Score-Card.jpgFrom business to baseball, data is having its moment in the sun. Data provides marketers information that can be used to execute targeted campaigns that can drive revenue. The marketer now more than ever has the ability to deliver personalized experiences across digital channels, and help customers build relationships with their brand.

Samsung Pushes Open IoT with SmartThings Buy

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Samsung has just made a play for a bigger stake in the Internet of Things. It plans to buy SmartThings’ open platform for monitoring, controlling and automating homes from a single device.

The deal, which was announced late last week, will see Samsung buying SmartThings — reportedly for the relative pittance of $200 million — which will then operated as an independent entity under its founder and CEO, Alex Hawkinson.

A Career in Marketing? Sure Beats Being a Doctor or Engineer

It's easy to second guess your career choices. How often have you wondered what your life would be like now if you'd have listened to your parents, teachers -- or your own intuition -- and embarked on Path A rather than Plan B?

So there's reassuring news today for everyone who bypassed oh so many possible careers to instead become a marketer. In a blog post provocatively titled Pass on Math and Science to Embrace the Power of Marketing, Marcie MacLellan, a writer for the London School of Marketing, explains:

In many cases, we are pushed toward stable, rewarding and lucrative career options such as doctors or engineers. But what if you do not possess the ability or desire to crunch numbers? What if your passion lies in more creative pursuits?"

In that case, she suggests, "there are some sectors that will never stop growing no matter how the world evolves -- and marketing is one of them."

The Internet of Things Could Empower People with Disabilities

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Ubiquitous sensors are one of the driving ideas behind the Internet of Things.

The ideas is that we will put on and wear more and more sensors until they become pervasive — enabling everything we interact with on a daily basis to have the potential to offer us greater insight or context for our activities.

It's not hard to see how many of the devices already available are impacting our lives, even in small ways. There are thermostats that can learn from our habits and even be controlled remotely through our phones, window shutters that adjust automatically, depending on how much sunlight is coming through and objects fitted with RFID devices, which let us know when they pass through checkpoints.

All of these devices make life a little easier. But one segment of the population could potentially benefit even more than the rest from IoT technologies: People with disabilities — not just at home, but at the office and everywhere in-between.

Friday Fun Day: Insider's Guide to Facebook Image Sizes

2014-15-August-Oven-Roast.jpgFacebook may generate a lot of hate. But it generates even more interest — especially from marketers who struggle daily to keep up with its ever changing guidelines on how and what to do everything from encourage page "likes" to keep customers engaged.

So it was with great interest that I stumbled upon a blog by Emily Goodrich. She's a technical writer at Heyo, a Blacksburg, Va.-based startup that wants to help small-business owners gain followers on sites like Facebook and Twitter and convert those followers into email captures and sales. 

Goodrich shared a marketing essential: a Facebook image size cheatsheet.

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