Archive for the ‘technology’ Category

How Google Will Use High-Flying Balloons to Deliver Internet to the Hinterlands

Friday, June 21st, 2013

Google has launched Project Loon, an innovation that is said to, if it works, set hundreds, even thousands of high pressure balloons circling the earth to provide Internet to the world’s 5 billion unconnected souls.

This is said to give the population an enriched life with vital news, educational materials, lifesaving health information and fantastic global visuals on the world-wide-web.

As Google holds a press conference in Christchurch, New Zealand, they will also stage Project Loon’s biggest trial yet – 50 testers in Christchurch within the 12 mile range of the balloons will see if they can get connected from the sky.

Project Loon began 2 years ago, with the goal being to provide reliable Internet access using balloons. This idea was said to be crazy at first, with a number of obvious problems, many of them involving the limitations of ballooning itself.

googleballoonThe idea of “variable buoyancy” had come to pass by Rich DeVaul, an expert in wearable technology, with altitude allowed to be tweaked to find wind currents travelling in the right direction. This would accurately simulate wind currents in the stratosphere.

Finally, the project was pitched. DeVaul began a series of trial runs in California, and setup of a team of experts in energy, technology and engineering to name a few. With the help of Raven Aerostar, the company that makes weather balloons for NASA, Project Loon started to take shape.

When the balloon is launched, it is not fully inflated. As it rises, the air pressure difference expands the balloon at its float altitude is around 20km, twice the altitude of commercial airlines. At this height, the balloon will soar over the weather.

“Two years ago, this idea was just scribbles on a whiteboard,” DeVaul says. “The next part is seeing how the world reacts to this.”

Project Loon still has plenty hurdles to overcome. But for now, DeVaul is out of reasons to kill his project.

 

Image Reference:

Wired, Business Article, viewed 14 June 2013, <http://www.wired.com/business/2013/06/google_internet_balloons/all/>

Facebook launches photo comments

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

Don’t have the words? You don’t need them. Facebook is now offering its 1.1 billion users the chance to comment on a friend’s photo using an image.

FB PhotoComments_610x1305This feature was released yesterday, and allows users to add photos to comment threads using a new “Attach a Photo” button.

Facebook has announced that to start off, uploads of photo comments will be restricted to the Facebook website and mobile site, but viewing photo comments will be available via Facebook’s mobile applications.

Photo comments are a feature that was released because “sometimes showing a photo helps [users] tell a story much better than words alone”, said Bob Baldwin, one of the developers behind the release of this feature. Photo comments are a product of one of Facebook’s famous hackathons as users respond better to images than text on this massively successful social media platform.

This new addition to the Facebook platform could well transform the social network into a more meme and teen-friendly zone, adding a more playful side to comments. It’s important to note that there is also potential for spam, abuse and ugly comment threads – but Baldwin is wishing for the best. “I hope this will make threads with friends more expressive and engaging,” he said.

Image Reference:

Source: CNet, viewed 19 June 2013, <http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-57590094-93/facebook-launches-photo-comments/>

The Importance of SEO Copywriting

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

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The new Google algorithm clearly shows that content is king. However keyword-stuffing days are over. Natural content written for humans is one of the numerous ways in which Google will consider your website relevant. Unique and quality information that serves a purpose is the number one factor taken into consideration.

The Functions of SEO Copywriting

SEO copywriting serves two functions. The first one being, relevant keywords that allow search engines to index the website. It must also contain content that encourages users to read the copy.

Websites must have value to offer visitors. Content needs to interest the user enough to read through what your website has to offer so that they enquire or buy something on it, improving your website conversion rate. Not to forget – this also increases repeat visits. Users who find relevant information on your site are sure to return to it as long as you keep your information fresh and provide value to them.

How SEO Copywriting Benefits Websites

  • It places keywords correctly so that the search engine ranks your website.The key is to get your website to the first page of Google as statistics show that very few users click to the second page of a search engine.
  • It offers valuable content to website visitors. Google loves websites that encourage a lengthily time on site. The theory links back to good content keeping visitors interested in your website now, and in the long term.  Remember bad content encourages visitors to leave, hence a high bounce rate.
  • Good content makes people want to share it. Having social signals on your blog or articles page, gives browsers the opportunity to share content to their social media platforms. When this content is shared, not only does it increase traffic to your site, Google also considers you to be relevant, hence improving your organic ranking.

SEO Copywriting and Social Media

Remember that SEO Copywriting is not confined to article writing. It also includes blogs and social media. There is no reason to miss opportunities to drive traffic to your website, so make sure you make use of social media platforms to increase visits to your site. Users spend a significant time on social media sites – so take advantage of this.

Be sure to have content written the correct way from an SEO perspective. Keep an eye on algorithms that are constantly changing and take advantage of any opportunity that’s out there to increase traffic to your site.

Apple unveils music streaming service

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

itunes

Apple unveiled its music streaming service, iTunes Radio, at the Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, this week.

Apple says iTunes Radio will personalise users’ music based on what they’ve listened to and what they have purchased on iTunes.

Built directly into both iTunes on OS X and into the music app on iOS 7, the service will be ad-supported and allow users to buy songs directly from the app.

iTunes Radio features more than 200 radio stations, and subscribers to Apple’s iTunes Match, which costs $25 per year, will be able to use the service ad-free.

Like other streaming services, iTunes Radio will offer users a personalised listening experience, with recommendations based on the music you have listened to in the past. Users will be able to create their own radio stations based on songs, genres and artists.

The app will allow you to see which songs are trending on Twitter. It will also be used to provide live-streaming of Apple’s live events, like the iTunes festival in London. iTunes Radio is also built into Apple TV.

The service enters a competitive field with Google All Access, Spotify, Rhapsody and others. This new Apple addition will arrive in the next few months for US users initially. The release is said to coincide with iOS 7.

Mercedes Benz to stick QR codes to cars to help save car crash victims

Monday, June 10th, 2013

benzdialqrcode

Luxury car maker Daimler has found a valuable use for QR codes. The black and white square barcodes are seen as yesterday’s technology to many, however they are being used effectively by Mercedes Benz.

This code is linked to a rescue sheet, giving emergency services responding to an accident, access to detailed maps to show the layout of the vehicle, allowing for trapped victims to be found quickly and safely.

“[It] informs about the location of the airbags, the battery, the tanks, electric cables, high-pressure cylinders and other components – in the case of hybrid models the location of the additional batteries and high-voltage cables, too,” a press release said.

“This information can save lives, because in an emergency every action counts and every second is precious,” the German car maker said.

Mercedes is said to stick one QR code onto the inside of each vehicle’s petrol tank flap and another on the B-pillar on the opposite side. This is due to these areas being rarely damaged in the event of an accident.

Daimler has waived the right to a patent registration on the system, allowing all car manufacturers to make use of it.

Another innovative safety feature is introduced by the European Commission – eCall. This is an initiative where the car carried a device which calls an emergency number with details of the car including accident location, design and driver information.

It is said that testing of this innovative safety feature will commence in 2015.

5 Digital Marketing Tactics for the Travel & Hospitality Industry

Monday, June 10th, 2013

hospitalityindustry3

Reaching Today’s Digital Traveller

The following 5 powerful tips assist you with optimising your digital marketing efforts and connect with your customers where they spend most of their time online.

1.    Grow your Subscriber Lists

If you are looking to engage with consumers the key is to create a social buzz around your promotions and attract repeat customers. Broaden your reach by acquiring more subscribers who have a keen interest in your travel brand’s offerings.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you promote digital engagement on your website with high visibility email opt-ins, social sharing buttons and real-time promotions?
  • Are you asking for travellers’ email addresses at the point of sale?
  • Are your contact details easy to find on all your online platforms?

2.    Deliver Relevant and Timely Messages

Travellers are on-the-go types by nature, so relevance and timeliness is key. Some customers travel often, as often as several times a month, while others plan one large scale holiday a year. This makes it crucial to connect with them on the right channel at the right time.

To avoid annoying your subscribers, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you see customers unsubscribing often?
  • Has your deliverability rate been falling?
  • Are your social media messages being heard?

3.    Personalise your Interactions

Cross- channel marketing assists with reaching an individual at the perfect time. This is imperative in the travel industry as booking holidays can be planned or extremely spontaneous, such as a last minute business trip.

“25% of people unsubscribe from permission based emails because the content hasn’t been relevant to them from the start.”

The key is to be more than just relevant, you need to be personal. Have a look at these questions to optimise engagement with your subscribers personally:

  • Does your social media manager have regular, personal interactions with your fans and followers?
  • Does each customer that asks questions receive a personal reply? (This is either via email or social media in most cases.) This includes compliments, enquiries and complaints…
  • Are you constantly collecting new data about your customers?

4.    Automate the Travel Customer Life Cycle

You have the mighty task of reaching the digital traveller who is already on-the-go and constantly multi- tasking. Bring effective messaging to travellers at every stage in the customer lifecycle and support them along the way.

Ask yourself:

  • Do travellers receive automated communications according to their travel preferences at every stage of their buying cycle?
  • Do you have a shopping cart abandonment strategy?
  • Would a prospective customer receive any re- targeted messages about hotel packages or travel destinations they were browsing?

5.    Increase Customer Loyalty

Frequent flyers is a buzz term at the moment. Travellers are one of the best audiences to retain as loyal customers as they are highly likely to rebook with your brand if they have had an incredible experience there.

Evaluate your current customer loyalty status with these questions:

  • Are you rewarding return customers with points or discounted stays?
  • If so, are you giving these perks away often?
  • Are you giving freebies to keep subscribers excited about your brand?

hospitalityindustry1

This user experience ensures that there are no risks of missing that narrow window of time when travellers are ready to convert their tentative travel plans into a purchase.

Image References:

ExactTarget, Downloadable Resource, viewed 7 June 2013, <http://pages.exacttarget.com/EN-5MarketingTravelTips/?ls=Blog&lssm=Corporate>.

Groupon, Travel Advertisment, viewed 10 June 2013, <http://www.groupon.co.za/deals/johannesburg/anytime-holidays/3065894>.

 

Casinos ban Google Glasses

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

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Casino’s in several states of America are forbidding gamblers from wearing Google Glass, the tiny eyeglasses-mounted device. This device is capable of surfing the Internet, taking photos and recording videos.

The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement ordered Atlantic City’s 12 casinos to bar casino patrons from using the device this week.

Casinos in Las Vegas, Pennsylvania, Ohio Connecticut have also made the decision to ban Google Glass to prevent cheating in gaming such as poker and blackjack. Security workers at the famous Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts will be asking patrons to remove devices if they suspect that the person is using the device to secretly photograph or take video recordings.

“If these eyeglasses were worn during a poker game, they could be used to broadcast a patron’s hand to a confederate or otherwise be used in a collusive manner,” David Rebuck, the division’s director wrote in a memo to the casinos.

“Even if the glasses had not been used for cheating … their presence at a gaming table would lead to the perception that something untoward could be occurring, thereby undermining public confidence in the integrity of gaming,” he wrote in the directive.

In a statement, Google said, “We are thinking very carefully about how we design Glass because new technology always raises new issues.” It said its “Glass Explorer” pilot program “will ensure that our users become active participants in shaping the future of this technology.”

New Jersey casinos ask anyone wearing the glasses to remove them, and can kick out any customer who refuses.

 

Google will soon launch Google Web Designer

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

Google Logo 2010

 

Google is said to be launching Google Web Designer, an HTML5 development tool for creative professionals. It will be aimed at users who have relied on Flash for banners, widgets and even entire sites.

 

The service will launch in “the coming months” and is designed to “empower creative professionals to create cutting-edge advertising as well as engaging web content like sites and applications – for free.”

 

Google shared the news in a side note in a blog post about its DoubleClick advertising platform this morning, hence the emphasis on ads. Web Designer is said to be a stand-alone product that will be aimed at creative agencies and designers.

 

“To help advertisers and publishers more seamlessly unlock the potential of cross-device programs, we are investing in a new HTML5 creative development tool – Google Web Designer,” Google explained.

 

Google’s only service for creating websites currently is Google Sites, allowing users to create basic sites from pre-built templates. Web Designer is expected to be a more sophisticated replacement for Sites’ editor.

 

Even if the tool is developed to be aimed at advertisers, it could be an interesting product. Its output could be integrated into any existing website or web app.

Sony launches Xperia Tablet Z in SA

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

sonyexperiatablet

 

Sony Mobile has launched its new tablet in South Africa. The company is looking to capitalise in the hype of the Xperia Z smartphone.

 

Xperia Tablet Z Specs

The Xperia Tablet Z has a 25.6cm display and is powered by a 1.5Ghz quad core processor. that puts it near the top in terms of mobile device performance.

It has an 8 megapixel main camera with  2 megapixel front facing camera. The tablet also records video in Sony’s “Exmor R for mobile” format.

With Sony being famous for their ability to produce state of the art sound, it is no surprise that this tablet hosts four built-in speakers.

The tablet is NFC-enabled, allowing multimedia content to be shared with peripherals. It also has 16GBs of storage and a microSD slot.

One of the main selling points of this Android-powered tablet is that it is water resistant to 1m depth for 30 minutes.

The functionality of the tablet has been expanded so it can be used as a TV remote.

 

User Experience

Although the Tablet Z specifications are remarkable to say the least, Sony has announced that they would like to focus on the user experience rather than the hardware of this device. The unit was built with a mindset of entertaining the user.

 

Launch Date and Pricing

The Xperia Tablet Z is expected to be available at the beginning of July with an estimated retail price of between R7,000 and R10,000.

The Best and Worst Times to Post on Social Media Networks

Monday, May 27th, 2013

Social media is a range of networks around the clock. Someone is always tweeting or updating their Facebook status. For social media managers, this could be problematic as they don’t have the time to be online 24/7. Even if you do work for a digital agency, you cannot be online all day long.

So how do you reach your audience best with the limited online time you have? Have a look at some suggestions below:

Trial and Error

By updating statuses and tweeting using link shorteners like bit.ly, you can track how many times this link was clicked. It is also a good idea to keep a record of what you shared on which social media platform, to see what is working most effectively for your business. This also shows you the best times to post according to the level of engagement with fans and followers. Sounds pretty simple, but could be an effective method to use.

Social Media Tools

With the fame of social media, many monitoring and reporting tools have come about. Tools such as SocialBro allow you to pull daily reports on the best time to tweet. You can view the daily times that most users are online and capitalise on that. Other tools that can be used such as Hootsuite can be used for auto-scheduling to get your posts through to your audience at the best time, no matter how busy you are.

 

Be sure to remember your customers, product or service and the types of messages you are posting. Thanks to research, the infographic below shows us the best and worst times to post  on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google + and Pinterest. To maximize your reach, be sure to post within the following times:

Social Media - when to post