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Monthly Archives: April 2021

KKR hands Box a $500M lifeline

April 8, 2021 No Comments

Box announced this morning that private equity firm KKR is investing $ 500 million in the company, a move that could help the struggling cloud content management vendor get out from under pressure from activist investor Starboard Value.

The company plans to use the proceeds in what’s called a “dutch auction” style sale to buy back shares from certain investors for the price determined by the auction, an activity that should take place after the company announces its next earnings report in May. This would presumably involve buying out Starboard, which took a 7.5% stake in the company in 2019.

Last month Reuters reported that Starboard could be looking to take over a majority of the board seats when the company board meets in June. That could have set them up to take some action, most likely forcing a sale.

While it’s not clear what will happen now, it seems likely that with this cash, they will be able to stave off action from Starboard, and with KKR in the picture be able to take a longer term view. Box CEO Aaron Levie sees the move as a vote of confidence from KKR in Box’s approach.

“KKR is one of the world’s leading technology investors with a deep understanding of our market and a proven track record of partnering successfully with companies to create value and drive growth. With their support, we will be even better positioned to build on Box’s leadership in cloud content management as we continue to deliver value for our customers around the world,” Levie said in a statement.

Under the terms of the deal, John Park, Head of Americas Technology Private Equity at KKR, will be joining the Box board of directors. The company also announced that independent board member Bethany Mayer will be appointed chairman of the board, effective on May 1st.

Earlier this year, the company bought e-signature startup SignRequest, which could help open up a new set of workflows for the company as it tries to expand its market. With KKR’s backing, it’s not unreasonable to expect that Box, which is cash flow positive, could be taking additional steps to expand the platform in the future.

Box stock was down over 8% premarket, a signal that perhaps Wall Street isn’t thrilled with the announcement, but the cash influx should give Box some breathing room to reset and push forward.


Enterprise – TechCrunch


Sonos delivers a near-perfect portable speaker with the new Sonos Roam

April 8, 2021 No Comments

Sonos has a new speaker that starts shipping later this month, and it’s a significant departure from the company’s usual offerings in a number of ways. The all-new Sonos Roam is a compact, portable speaker with a built-in battery and Bluetooth connectivity — but still very much a Sonos system team player, with wifi streaming, multi-room feature, voice assistant support and surprisingly great sound quality.

The basics

Priced at $ 169, the Sonos Roam is truly diminutive, at just over 6 inches, by roughly 2.5 inches for both height and depth. It weighs under a pound, and is available in either a matte white or black finish, which is par for the course for Sonos in terms of colorways. Roam is also IP67-rated, meaning it’s effectively waterproof, with a resistance rating of up to 30 minutes at depths of up to 1 meter (3.3 feet).

Sonos has placed the speaker’s control surface at one end of the device, including a microphone button, volume controls and a play/pause button. These are actual, tactile buttons, rather than touch-sensitive surfaces like you’d find on other Sonos speakers, which makes sense for a speaker designed to be used on the go, and in conditions where touch controls might get flummoxed by things like rain and water.

The Roam also has a power button on the back, next to a USB-C port for charging. It also offers wireless charging, via a receiver found in the base of the speaker, which can be used with Sonos’ own forthcoming magnetic charging adapter (sold separately), or with any standard Qi-powered wireless charger you want.

In addition to wifi streaming, Sonos Roam can also connect to any device via Bluetooth 5.0. It also features AirPlay 2 for connecting to Apple devices when on wifi, and it works out of the box with Spotify Connect. The built-in battery is rated for up to 10 hours of playback on a full charge, according to Sonos, and can also provide up to 10 days of its sleep-like standby mode.

Design and performance

This is the smallest speaker yet released by Sonos, and that’s definitely a big plus when it comes to this category of device. The dimensions make it feel like a slightly taller can of Red Bull, which should give you some sense of just how portable it is. Unlike Sonos’ first portable speaker with a built-in battery, the Sonos Move, the Roam truly feels like something designed to be thrown in a bag and brought with you wherever you happen to need it.

Despite its small size, the Sonos Roam offers impressive sound — likely the best I’ve yet encountered for a portable speaker in this size class. Inside, it manages to pack in dual amplifiers, one tweeter and a separate custom racetrack mid-woofer, which Sonos developed to help deliver both lows and mids with a faithfulness that normally escapes smaller speakers. The Roam also gets a lot louder than you’d probably expect it could, while keeping audio quality clear and free of distortion at the same time.

One of the keys to the Roam’s great sound quality is Sonos’ Automatic Trueplay tech, which tunes the audio to best suit its surroundings actively and continually. This feature requires that the mic be enabled to work, but it’s well worth having on in most settings, and makes a big difference while streaming in both Bluetooth and wifi modes. This also helps the speaker adjust when it’s switched from horizontal to vertical orientation, and it’s one of the main reasons that the Roam punches above its weight relative to other speakers in this size and price category.

The Roam would be a winner based on audio quality alone for the price, but the extra Sonos system-specific features it boasts really elevate it to a true category leader. These include a standby mode that preserves battery while keeping the Roam available to your system for wifi streaming via the Sonos app (handy, and also optional since you can hold the power button down for five seconds to truly power off and preserve your charge for even longer, which is great for travel).

One of Roam’s truly amazing abilities is a hand-off feature that passes playback of whatever you’re using it to listen to on to the nearest Sonos speaker in your system when you long press the play/pause button. This works almost like magic, and is a great speaker superpower for if you’re wandering around the house and the yard doing chores with the Roam in your pocket.

Bottom line

Sonos waited a long time to release their first travel-friendly portable speaker, but they obviously used that time wisely. The Sonos Roam is the most thoughtfully-designed, feature-rich and best-sounding portable speaker you can get for under $ 200 (and better than many more expensive options, at that). Even if you don’t already have a Sonos system to use it with, it’s an easy choice if you’re in the market for a portable, rugged Bluetooth speaker — and if you’re already a Sonos convert, the decision gets that much easier.

Gadgets – TechCrunch


Master Your Bid Strategies In Google Search Ads 360

April 7, 2021 No Comments

SA 360 has features that aren’t available in standard Google Ads accounts or are more sophisticated. Bid strategies are one feature that makes SA 360 so powerful.

Read more at PPCHero.com
PPC Hero


Beyond the ad: Conversion Optimization

April 6, 2021 No Comments

Today, using data for driving business decisions has become common practice for most companies, with many having a dedicated analytics team checking the impact of marketing investments, which channels to invest in and effect. But the majority of these activities are focused on optimizing parameters before the audience click the ad. The question is: are you taking the same data driven approach to your website design?

If you don’t use data to optimize your site’s user experience, you risk low conversion rates and lost revenue. A well-designed user interface could increase your website’s conversion rate by up to 200 percent, and a better UX design could yield conversion rates up to 400 percent. 

Now take your revenue, check your conversion rate, and calculate what it would be if the conversion rate would increase +200%. The number right there is why the companies that will thrive in the future most likely will be the ones that are data driven in, and focus as much on, both crucial moments during the user journey—before and beyond the ad.

The solution

Building this strength comes down to working with the research methods within conversion optimization and step by step A/B testing your way to a website your customers will love using.

Here are three steps on how to get started:

  1. Find the weak spots on the site. Combine quantitative research in Google Analytics, qualitative research such as user testing (in the Optimize Resource Hub you can find easy instructions) and inspiration from best practices. The Optimize Resource Hub gives you best practice suggestions from Google and a library of test results from other companies

  2. Prioritize the most impactful tests. Give each test idea a score of one to ten according to the uplift you think it will generate, and subtract a score of one to ten depending on the effort the test will require. 

  3. Start testing. You can get started today by setting up Google Optimize—the tool that uses the full power of Google Analytics. A free version is available so you can have a test up and running within a few minutes. 

For more in-depth knowledge around the process of conversion optimization, check out the CRO tips in the Optimize Resource Hub.

Optimize CRO 1

Learn from experts

We have one more treat for you, in the form of a new series of articles that will be published here on the blog: The Optimize CRO Series—Experts share their secrets. In this series, CRO experts from all over the world will give their best advice around these topics:

  • Research methods

  • Prioritizing tests

  • Favorite frameworks for analyzing sites

  • How to do a QA (quality assurance) of an A/B test 

  • The experts’ best tests

  • Learn from the failing tests

Eager to know more? Make sure you start following the Google Analytics products blog through the channel that fits you to get the upcoming guides.


Google Analytics Blog


Esri brings its flagship ArcGIS platform to Kubernetes

April 6, 2021 No Comments

Esri, the geographic information system (GIS), mapping and spatial analytics company, is hosting its (virtual) developer summit today. Unsurprisingly, it is making a couple of major announcements at the event that range from a new design system and improved JavaScript APIs to support for running ArcGIS Enterprise in containers on Kubernetes.

The Kubernetes project was a major undertaking for the company, Esri Product Managers Trevor Seaton and Philip Heede told me. Traditionally, like so many similar products, ArcGIS was architected to be installed on physical boxes, virtual machines or cloud-hosted VMs. And while it doesn’t really matter to end-users where the software runs, containerizing the application means that it is far easier for businesses to scale their systems up or down as needed.

Esri ArcGIS Enterprise on Kubernetes deployment

Esri ArcGIS Enterprise on Kubernetes deployment. Image Credits: Esri

“We have a lot of customers — especially some of the larger customers — that run very complex questions,” Seaton explained. “And sometimes it’s unpredictable. They might be responding to seasonal events or business events or economic events, and they need to understand not only what’s going on in the world, but also respond to their many users from outside the organization coming in and asking questions of the systems that they put in place using ArcGIS. And that unpredictable demand is one of the key benefits of Kubernetes.”

Deploying Esri ArcGIS Enterprise on Kubernetes

Deploying Esri ArcGIS Enterprise on Kubernetes. Image Credits: Esri

The team could have chosen to go the easy route and put a wrapper around its existing tools to containerize them and call it a day, but as Seaton noted, Esri used this opportunity to re-architect its tools and break it down into microservices.

“It’s taken us a while because we took three or four big applications that together make up [ArcGIS] Enterprise,” he said. “And we broke those apart into a much larger set of microservices. That allows us to containerize specific services and add a lot of high availability and resilience to the system without adding a lot of complexity for the administrators — in fact, we’re reducing the complexity as we do that and all of that gets installed in one single deployment script.”

While Kubernetes simplifies a lot of the management experience, a lot of companies that use ArcGIS aren’t yet familiar with it. And as Seaton and Heede noted, the company isn’t forcing anyone onto this platform. It will continue to support Windows and Linux just like before. Heede also stressed that it’s still unusual — especially in this industry — to see a complex, fully integrated system like ArcGIS being delivered in the form of microservices and multiple containers that its customers then run on their own infrastructure.

Image Credits: Esri

In addition to the Kubernetes announcement, Esri also today announced new JavaScript APIs that make it easier for developers to create applications that bring together Esri’s server-side technology and the scalability of doing much of the analysis on the client-side. Back in the day, Esri would support tools like Microsoft’s Silverlight and Adobe/Apache Flex for building rich web-based applications. “Now, we’re really focusing on a single web development technology and the toolset around that,” Esri product manager Julie Powell told me.

A bit later this month, Esri also plans to launch its new design system to make it easier and faster for developers to create clean and consistent user interfaces. This design system will launch April 22, but the company already provided a bit of a teaser today. As Powell noted, the challenge for Esri is that its design system has to help the company’s partners put their own style and branding on top of the maps and data they get from the ArcGIS ecosystem.

 


Enterprise – TechCrunch


Lawmakers press Instagram for details on its plans for kids

April 6, 2021 No Comments

A group of Democratic lawmakers wrote to Mark Zuckerberg this week to press the CEO on his plans to curate a version of Instagram for children. In a hearing last month, Zuckerberg confirmed reporting by BuzzFeed that the company was exploring an age-gated version of its app designed for young users.

Senators Ed Markey (D-MA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Representatives Lori Trahan (D-MA) and Kathy Castor (D-FL) signed the letter, expressing “serious concerns” about the company’s ability to protect the privacy and well-being of young users.

“Facebook has an obligation to ensure that any new platforms or projects targeting children put those users’ welfare first, and we are skeptical that Facebook is prepared to fulfill this obligation,” the lawmakers wrote.

They cited previous failures with products like Messenger Kids, which had a flaw that allowed kids to chat with people beyond their privacy parameters.

“Although software bugs are common, this episode illustrated the privacy threats to children online and evidenced Facebook’s inability to protect the kids the company actively invited onto this platform,” the lawmakers wrote.

“In light of these and other previous privacy and security issues on Facebook’s platforms, we are not confident that Facebook will be able to adequately protect children’s privacy on a version of Instagram for young users.”

The letter set a deadline of April 26 for the company to provide answers to a comprehensive and helpfully specific set of questions about a future kid-targeted product.

In the letter, lawmakers posed a number of questions about how Facebook will handle the private data for young users and if that data would be deleted when an account is terminated. They also asked the company to commit to not targeting kids with ads and not employing push alerts and behavior-shaping features designed to make apps more addictive.

During last month’s big tech hearing in the House, committee members from both political parties grilled Zuckerberg about how Facebook and Instagram adversely affect mental health in young users. Rep. Castor also pressed the chief executive about underage users who circumvent Instagram’s existing age guidelines to use a platform full of posts, videos and ads designed for adults.

“Of course, every parent knows there are kids under the age of 13 on Instagram, and the problem is that you know it,” Zuckerberg said.


Social – TechCrunch


Going beyond keywords: how conversational insights take the guesswork out of marketing

April 6, 2021 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • Keywords represent the tip of the iceberg when it comes to understanding consumer intent
  • Using AI-powered chatbots, conversational data that occurs over messaging channels like Facebook Messenger and Instagram Messaging can give businesses a deeper understanding of what consumers want
  • Below, we’ll discuss how conversational marketing platforms like Spectrm use natural language processing (NLP) and artificial intelligence (AI) to guide customers through the buying funnel
  • A robust conversational marketing platform makes it possible for companies to build chatbots that engage and convert customers on the websites, apps, and social platforms where people spend their time

conversational insights and keywords - Spectrm

For more than two decades, Google and other search engines have attempted to crack the consumer intent code. The entry point for a search marketing campaign is the keyword list. Yet keywords—whether spoken or typed—represent the tip of the iceberg when it comes to understanding what a user wants. There’s no way to clearly measure (or identify) user intent, but Google is getting better at figuring out what a user wants with technologies like Google Hummingbird, an algorithm update they rolled out in 2013. Google introduced Hummingbird in response to the increasingly conversational nature of search queries. 

Per a 2013 article in Wired, “Google is now examining the searcher’s query as a whole and processing the meaning behind it.” In January 2020, Statista reported roughly 40 percent of US search queries contained four or more terms.

Asking a search engine or virtual assistant a question is the beginning of a conversational journey that carries the searcher across channels until they ultimately find what they want (or not). Keywords pull the curtain of intent back, but they only provide a glimpse of the customer journey, labeling the searcher’s thoughts without revealing the “why” of what they’re searching for. 

Once a user clicks on a search result, the conversation—from the search engine’s perspective—is over. 

But thanks to advances in natural language processing (NLP), machine learning (ML), and artificial intelligence (AI), businesses have access to a much deeper understanding of what consumers want across the entire buying journey. 

AI-powered chatbots that “speak” to consumers can collect customer intent data and take the conversation beyond an initial keyword query. They enable businesses to leverage that customer intent data instantly to scale one-to-one personalization in direct chat.

Below, we discuss how conversational marketing platforms employ NLP and AI in chatbots to guide customers through the buying funnel, using conversational analysis to gain an understanding of customer intent that goes far beyond keywords. 

Content created in partnership with Spectrm.

The customer conversation is online

According to Hootsuite’s Digital In 2020 report, 60 percent of the world’s population is online. The report found that, globally, users spend an average of 6 hours and 43 minutes online each day—40 percent of their waking life using the internet. A large chunk of that time, more than two hours, is spent using social media.

Consumers were using mobile messaging and chat an average of 20 minutes per day in 2020, with Business Insider predicting that the average would grow to 24 minutes by 2021. Interacting with chatbots is a natural extension of consumers’ comfort with messaging in social media apps like Facebook and Instagram.

Increasingly, messaging is how we connect with each other. Facebook and Instagram are at the center of this trend. Businesses have the potential to reach and engage with over two billion people on Facebook and Instagram using their respective messengers. This level of engagement gets to the root of consumer intent, diving beneath surface keywords to the conversational data that can help companies understand what’s motivating the consumer to conduct their search in the first place. 

Leveraging conversations to drive results

Conversational marketing platforms use messaging apps to engage with consumers and determine intent. This is next-level chatbot technology that uses AI to create a two-way exchange with every customer, asking them questions throughout the buying process and capable of operating on multiple messaging channels.

Spectrm is an example of a conversational marketing platform that goes beyond simple, generic approaches to conversational AI by using domain-specific NLP to guide consumers through the customer journey. Generic conversational AI uses general NLP that can be used for simple tasks like autosuggestions and basic keyword matching. Domain-specific NLP is trained for the individual business. Spectrm’s approach to conversational AI combines domain-specific NLP with the use of generative adversarial networks, a type of machine learning that enables enterprises with little or no customer intent data to quickly generate their own data sets to train the algorithm.

“Marketing chatbots that use domain-specific NLP learn how your individual customers speak. The customer intent data specific to your business, customers, and goals are used to continuously improve your chatbot. It’s about understanding how your customers engage naturally with your brand, and training your bot to respond to that to drive outcomes valuable to your business. Even if you don’t have a lot of conversational data to train your bot.” – Writes Spectrm

Chatbots are only part of what makes conversational marketing platforms work. Platforms like Spectrm operate across multiple messaging channels where consumers spend all their time including Facebook Messenger, Instagram Messaging, Google Business Messages, and even at the display level via conversational display ads using AdLingo and Google DV360.

Consumers like chatting with businesses. They’re already moving through the buying cycle using one-on-one conversations that provide much more in-depth intent data than a simple keyword search. Consider the follow statistics:

  • 75 percent of consumers prefer to engage with brands in private messaging channels versus traditional channels
  • 65 percent of people are more likely to shop with a business they can reach via chat

Conversational data = More targeted campaigns

Conversational data can be used to create marketing campaigns that are more targeted than traditional search and display campaigns. They enable businesses to design targeted messaging around the customer journey, learning what customers want/need in the context of how they’re interacting with the chatbot.

Conversational data also enables businesses to create customer profiles using the answers people provide in chat. Personalization and segmentation become easier based on the granularity and specificity of conversational data. This information can be used to personalize marketing messages at a one-to-one level directly in chat. 

None of this is possible without the right platform. Some factors to strongly consider while evaluating an enterprise-level conversational marketing platform would be:

  • An easy to implement, no-coding setup
  • Customizations for your specific company and customer needs
  • Easy integrations with your tech stack
  • Enforcement of the highest privacy standards (GDPR, CCPA, and the others)
  • Connection to your product feed (for ecommerce websites) and ability to serve product recommendations/content in real-time based on user input
  • Flexible role management with the ability to set user access roles

Tools like Spectrm are at the heart of marketing automation, enabling companies to acquire new customers at scale. A robust conversational marketing platform makes it possible for companies to build chatbots that engage and convert customers on the websites, apps, and social platforms where people spend their time—no engineering resources needed.

Just like search engines, conversational intelligence tools effectively use language to get to the heart of consumer intent. They go beyond keywords to make every datapoint actionable, using chatbot analytics to optimize funnels and segment customers

In Spectrm’s words, “Reaching the right audience is getting harder every day. Consumers are more curious, demanding, and impatient than ever. They expect their digital experiences to be personalized, instant, and effortless. Chatbots enable brands to connect with their audience personally and offer seamless customer experiences from the start.”

To view Spectrm’s offerings, click here.

The post Going beyond keywords: how conversational insights take the guesswork out of marketing appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


The Opportunities—and Obstacles—for Women at NSA and Cyber Command

April 6, 2021 No Comments

WIRED spoke with three women working in cybersecurity in the US intelligence committee about the progress of recent years and the work that remains.
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Complete Guide To Writing Posts That Convert Into Clients

April 6, 2021 No Comments

Writing high-quality posts that convert clients is hard – these techniques will help you make your content more impactful and turn readers into clients.

Read more at PPCHero.com
PPC Hero


Manage tags easily and safely with the new Community Template Gallery

April 5, 2021 No Comments

Businesses often work with trusted partners to conduct a variety of important functions on their websites. These partners can help businesses accurately measure their online conversions or determine which product reviews to display. For all this to work  businesses need to implement tags, or code written by their partners, directly on their sites. It’s critical for businesses to trust that these tags are working as intended to protect their customers and brand. 

With that in mind, we’ve created the new Community Template Gallery for Google Tag Manager. Community Template Gallery is an open platform where partners can share their tag templates. Businesses can then customize these templates to easily implement tags on their websites.

Not only does Community Template Gallery help businesses quickly implement and manage tags, but it also provides more transparency into how these tags will behave—making the whole tagging process easier and safer.

Less code is more 

In the past, if your business needed to implement a partner tag that wasn’t already integrated with Tag Manager, getting that tag up and running would take a lot of manual work. You might have to consult with your partner to determine how to correctly customize and place the tag on your website so it was tailored for your business needs. Not only did this take a lot of time, it also required heavy involvement from developers, leaving lots of room for error.

Community Template Gallery reduces the potential for incorrect implementation. Once your partner shares their tag template in the gallery, you can find it and simply enter the required information in an intuitive UI. You do not need to customize any HTML or Javascript.

Businesses can add tag templates to their workspace and then tailor the tag by completing the form.

Businesses can add tag templates to their workspace and then tailor the tag by completing the form.

Community Template Gallery also helps partners keep tag templates up-to-date. Whenever partners make updates to their tag templates, the latest version will quickly become available. And if you’ve already implemented that tag template,  we’ll notify you that there is a new version that you can review before making the update.

Increased transparency 

When you publish a partner’s tag on your website, you need to understand what it does and trust that it won’t do anything unexpected. That’s why we’ve built a permissions system into Community Template Gallery.

Before you implement or update a tag from the gallery, you will now be able to review and approve the actions it will take when it becomes live on your website. This gives you more control and transparency over the tags on your sites.

Businesses can review and approve how a tag will behave when implemented on a website.

Businesses can review and approve how a tag will behave when implemented on a website.

Community Template Gallery is now live in both Tag Manager and Tag Manager 360. You’ll find many tag templates already included and ready to use. If you’re a tag developer, we encourage you to build and submit your template today.


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