When I meet people (outside of our industry) and after they learn what I do, I frequently get the same question: “How do online suppliers I have been to follow me around the Internet?”
One friend explained a scenario where he had attempted to buy a diamond ring for his wife, as an anniversary present, from an online supplier. At the last moment he got cold feet and backed out of the process. Thereafter the supplier haunted him as he moved from website to website, making him feel guilty for reneging on the gift.
In most cases a high level explanation of retargeting suffices, but in this case (as my friend has a reasonable technical understanding) it didn’t. The issue that stumped my friend,was more the breadth of websites that subsequently displayed ads for diamond rings and how they had gained a common understanding of him.
OK, to try and get this down once and for all and to give me the opportunity to be less boring at parties, I will try to explain the process.
My friend (to hide his identity I will call him Gary) visited “Diamonds Online”. At a point in the process, after he decided not to make the purchase, Diamonds Online decided to retarget Gary, hoping to bring him back to the website and complete the sale.
Diamonds Online have a small image on their page, which called out to a demand side platform (DSP), when Gary loaded the page. This enabled the DSP to drop a unique cookie onto Gary’s PC, which I will refer to as “DSP cookie 1” later.
The DSP is a company and platform that manages the advertiser’s (Diamonds Online) advertising requests. In this case, retargeting potential buyers.
When Gary moved on to “Sports Online” he was retargeted. Sports Online sell their advertising inventory through a supply side platform (SSP). The SSP makes the inventory available for the DSPs to bid on in real time. The SSP also dropped a cookie onto Gary’s PC, which I will refer to as “SSP cookie 9”.
As I previously said, Gary is technically savvy and immediately said “but, the SSP cannot get access to the DSPs cookie as it was not issued by them; therefore how does the DSP know it was me on the Sports site?”
“Ah”, I said, “That is were the magic comes in!” The SSP caused Gary to run a script, which calls known DSP bidders, passing on the reference “SSP cookie 9”. This in turn enabled the DSP to collect their cookie reference from Gary’s machine “DSP cookie 1”. “Gotcha”, the link was established. This process is known as piggybacking.
Whenever Gary visits a website that deals with the SSP, the DSP will know that it is Gary, he is a potential buyer of diamond rings and is interested in sports. They are now able to bid in real time for inventory that the SSP makes available, in an informed manner.
In reality, the retargeting would probably take place on a site that is more closely related to diamond rings (such as a lifestyle site) than a sports site, but this explains the principle.
For those who are really interested, some SSPs work the other way around. Instead of the DSP storing the match, the SSPs store the match, which is a result of a redirect from the DSP, essentially achieving the same thing.
Good, glad I got that one off my chest!
I would encourage publishers to get involved in RTB, at least to gain a fuller understanding of what it is - and more importantly what it is not. Moreover, I encourage you to converse with all stakeholders in the RTB ecosystem (SSPs, DSPs, agency trading desks, brands, peer publishers’ private market place teams). Listening to only one interest group (such as the SSPs) will project an alluring future, but you will be getting a biased perspective, which may be incompatible with your longer-term goals.
Exploring RTB (in a way that is safe and grounded in marketplace reality) is likely to result in a strong case for investing in direct sales and technology that supports direct sales. After dipping your toes into RTB, it becomes possible to assess its short/long term implications on your core business, and how this ultimately impacts strategy and positioning.
RTB is rightfully accredited for the introduction and early adoption of mega trends but the application is in no way limited to RTB or exchange-based trading. Appreciating this disconnect is valuable when developing direct advertising sales and premium advertiser services.
Audience data has the power to transform digital publishing from selling commoditized space to selling audience intelligence. Audience intelligence is what helps both you as the publisher and your clients to understand precisely how different audiences engage with advertising.
For example, optimizing for a higher click-through rates (without visibility of who is clicking), will lead to suboptimal performance. Yes, the campaign KPI will look good, but I find that few advertisers are excited about the clicks alone …
To achieve true audience intelligence, we need to establish in-depth demographic (as well as interest based) profiles of our audience at a visitor level. With this level of granular understanding, providing detailed real-time insight of what is/isn’t working will become the norm.
Publishers are finally in a unique position, which enables them and only them to create the required intimate relationship with their readers. This subsequently allows them to collect and refine vast amounts of bite-sized data and transform it into genuine audience intelligence. This is value that is clearly of a premium nature, and will help re-invent direct sales.
In 2012, Pew Internet stated that nearly 50% of American adults own a Smartphone and that 67% of adults use social networks.
The challenge for us all is monetizing this growing audience segment. It is clear that behavior is changing and that there is an expectation that all experiences will provide a higher degree of interaction.
It is this expectation that produces the opportunity for successful monetization.
Advertising in the form of quizzes, contests, games and polls not only provides the desired interactivity, but it also enables the collection of detailed profile information, which in turn can be used to produce a more relevant experience.
By sharing amusing trivia or historical tidbits that are associated with the advertisers product, brand loyalty can established or further reinforced.
Interactive experiences create longer lasting and more robust associations between message and brand.
It is for these reasons that we have launched Atex Engage. A SaaS based solution that will enable ad sales teams to offer exciting and “engaging” packages.
Our customers now have a single mechanism to interact with the community across mobile devices, websites, microsites and social networks.
If you would like to find out more about Atex Engage and what it can do for you, please download a datasheet.
When I was an ice hockey coach (okay, assistant coach) I always told my players, “Keep moving your feet.” This directive is shouted daily in ice rinks at all ranks – from junior skaters to professional levels. Today, the same instruction is as valid for teams in the software business as it is for hockey teams. We must keep moving, because we simply can’t afford to stand still.
There are three main reasons why hockey players are implored to continually keep their feet in motion:
Because it is harder to get moving again once you’ve come to a stop.
Because it is more difficult for your opponent to hit you if you’re constantly moving.
Because if you stop moving your feet, the goalie will know that you’re about to take a shot.
As my Atex colleague and longtime hockey head coach, Phil Campana, says, “Once the feet stop, the momentum stops. This prevents getting to loose pucks and stopping opposition players. When you stand still, the opposition can gain position and advantage on you. Offense is all about finding and creating space, and you have to keep moving to do that. Defense is just the opposite. You want to close gaps and take away space. Without momentum, it’s hard to do.”
A metaphor to the software business leaps up like a rising slapshot to the corner of the net. I know, that’s actually a simile. But, the point is, you’ve got to keep moving your feet in business to maintain momentum, to stay ahead of your competition, and to achieve your goals.
John Maxwell in his book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership talks about “The Law of the Big Mo” and harnessing the power of momentum. Sometimes in business, momentum is the only difference between winning and losing. As Maxwell says, “Momentum is easier to steer than to start – getting started is a struggle, but once you’re moving forward, you can really start to do some amazing things.” Sounds exactly like hockey talk to me.
In my company’s business, we use a continuous development model. New software builds are compiled daily and tested every night. This model is built into our agile, team-based software practice. Among other benefits, it ensures that we generate momentum every day. Our development teams are continually making progress, and always moving toward the shared goal of delivering quality, innovative software releases on-time and on-budget.
In addition, with continuous development, we are always integrating, refining and improving our software. Bugs are found and fixed quicker in the release process than with other non-agile methods. And, as every programmer knows, bugs can be a huge momentum killer. Often referred to as the “Broken Windows Syndrome”, there is a psychological phenomenon that shows we have less energy to find and fix bugs when there are a lot of them to attack, rather than knocking them off one at a time.
Having momentum is important to our business because it pushes us to think on our feet, to be more productive, and to make better decisions. Hockey shifts are only 45 seconds long, so players must make an impact every time their skates hit the ice. In business, we need to take the same approach. By maintaining forward progress, we are able to add value every day. If everyone comes to work with this feet-moving philosophy, we become an elite team, rather than a team of elites. And, this benefits our teammates and our customers.
Speaking of customers, I recently read that the founder of HubSpot, Darmesh Shah, said that to build a successful software business, “you don’t just want customers, you want crazy loyal fans.” I can think of no fans more passionate than hockey fans. We are most impressed by those players who give 110% on each shift, and who show their support – through passing, checking, scoring, defending, and sometimes fighting – for their teammates.
Whether we’re talking about developing software, selling, building a marketing strategy, supporting customers, or executing a financial plan, it always starts by getting our feet moving and keeping them in motion. Just like in hockey, achieving momentum in business is all about (1) creating and executing a gameplan; (2) seizing opportunities to score; (3) responding to competitive pressures; and (4) always focusing on teamwork.
It’s Newton’s law. An object in motion tends to stay in motion. An object at rest tends to stay at rest. So, let’s get moving and keep on moving until we hear the whistle blow – or even better – until the puck ends up in our opponent’s net.
Pete Marsh Google+
A decision facing technologists is whether to use responsive web design and/or to have different sites for different devices.
A responsively designed web site will automatically rearrange content based on the size of the browser window. The experience of a mobile user will be the same as a desktop users with a narrow browser window. A good example of this is the Times Colonist http://www.timescolonist.com/, as you change the width of the browser window you will notice that content rearranges itself automatically.
Responsive design allows a single site layout to work across the array of accessing devices. It also removes the need to detect the device being used and redirect the user to the appropriate site.
This redirection comes with a number of issues. Do you redirect the user to the article on the mobile site or do you redirect the user to the mobile site? Do you offer the mobile users the option of viewing the full site? Viewing the full site may be useful to a user since they may be used to navigating on the full site. Do you offer viewers of your full site access to your mobile site in case your mobile detection missed them?
One of the hurdles for companies planning to transition to responsive design is the way they sell ads. It is common to sell mobile ads separately from web site ads. In responsive design this separation between mobile and web site is artificial, so it may be necessary to alter the way ads are sold.
Responsive design's killer feature is that it allows you to support a single site across multiple devices. An emerging trend in responsive design is touch-screen optimization. Touch-screen optimized sites use responsive design to support tablets, mini tablets and phones. They use a fundamentally different navigation that features reasonably-sized images rather than impossibly small text links. This image-based navigation provides a natural experience for touch-screen users. Touch-screen optimization is an excellent solution for supporting multiple displays and user interfaces.
Other related articles:
Is Your Web CMS Ready for Responsive Design
Atex Web CMS Live at Glacier Media
Is Responsive Web Design Right for You?
As an Atex engineer, I would like to share a couple of insights about Atex Polopoly Web CMS projects. In order to build high performance websites with a limited number of engineers the developer experience must be first-class. Over the last year, the Atex Web CMS platform powered by Polopoly has released significant news in this field.
The first impression is installation. Polopoly has one single command to install and run the software. If it notices that the binaries are stored on the local machine, it will not download them. If it notices that the project code is compiled, it will not compile it again. If it notices that the content is imported, it will not import it to database again. Yet installing from scratch every build in a Continuous Integration (CI) is a one-liner. This is what everyone should expect from a true build system.
The developer environment does not share the same goals as a production environment and is therefore in many aspects differently optimized.
Perhaps the most important productivity factor is the turnaround time from code change to browser request. Polopoly scans the incremental compilation of your integrated development environment (IDE) and loads changes on the fly. There is no deployment step, just refresh the browser. The load time can be cut even further with commercial Java Virtual Machine (JVM) plugins.
Hot deployment does not stop with Java byte-code. Polopoly content will be validated, boot-strapped and imported automatically, not to mention instant refresh of HTML templates, static web resources and Polopoly configurations. This is fast turnaround in a complete package.
By the way, there is a single log that outputs programming errors. A pleasant developer environment should require few context switches.
A lesson from real-life projects is that things don't work before they can be seen with your own eyes. With the new Polopoly text content format, it has become increasingly fast and easy in projects to create demo sites. The purpose of the demo site is to display features as they are developed. Apart from having test images/video/articles, it should look like the real site. It means that not only the product owner can click around and transparently know the state of progress, but also new developers can join the project and get an identical view from day one.
No one wants to do boring and monotonous QA. Providing the ability to write concise test content data reduces most integration tests to clean assertions. The test acceptance module runs a separate Polopoly instance and individual tests depend only on their associated content data. These tests are automated, isolated and repeatable; hence they give developers information about regressions. Well-covering test suites allow short release cycles.
The highly optimized Java platform has widely become regarded as the strongest link in the Java ecosystem. The JVM is today a polyglot environment with at least 80 programming languages . With the strengths of Polopoly’s plugin system you can write plugins in your favorite programming language such as Scala, Groovy or Clojure. One word of caution: Self-developed plugins are not automatically covered by product support until they are validated, so you need to know what you are doing. If so, add the necessary language dependencies to your plugin.
Most of the features above were released in Polopoly Nitro.
It’s certainly an interesting time to be in digital publishing. Print circulation and advertising numbers continue to drop like a tonne of bricks. Digital is seen as the solution/saviour but we’re still working out how to actually make the transition from print to digital, particularly from a financial profitability perspective. We’re experimenting with intentionally leaky paywalls and digital-only publications; and we’ve had some success and (quite a lot of) failure.
There is no doubt that this transition to digital and away from print needs to be made. For some time now, Amazon has sold more ebooks than they do hardcopies, a trend also confirmed last week in a recent Pew Research study. Newspapers around the world (with a few exceptions in specific geographical regions) are seeing a dramatic decrease in circulation - but it’s not because people are less interested in consuming content. If anything people are more addicted than ever to the constant stream of news, commentary, pictures and video that they can get to in an instant. The idea of taking a snapshot of the state of the world and packaging it up in some dead trees and ink is getting more and more irrelevant (what I’d like to know is what my nasi lemak will be wrapped in once printed newspapers go the way of the dodo bird).
So, what to do?
I’d say the key paradigm shift that we all need to make is that digital publishing is not print-on-the-web (or print-on-the-iPad, etc). It’s not enough to dump all print content on the web and call it a day. Whether it is via a website or a mobile application, the content needs to be presented in such a way that it takes full advantage of the medium. It has to be fast, searchable, readable - it has to do everything one would expect on a digital device (read: selectable text should be a given and not a ‘feature’). The goal shouldn’t be to fill up as much white space on the front page as possible and indeed, having an e-paper feature on your website is probably a waste of effort. Potential customers should be able to pay for something (like a subscription...?) with a Paypal account or a credit card and a couple of clicks - not by having to print out a form and mailing it in with a cheque.
There is plenty of commentary around the demise of The Daily - News Corporation’s ambitious project to create an iPad-only publication - but the point that stuck out the most to me was the costs of running that operation. Even with over 100,000 subscribers it was losing millions of dollars for the business. Perhaps then, there is some wisdom in moving away from general purpose, big budget productions - that most traditional publications are - which in turn require a large subscription base along with a healthy advertisement order book to be sustainable. Perhaps the future of digital publishing (and perhaps most publishing in the future) would be closer to the smaller, low cost and more focused model as we see in startups like The Magazine, The Brief and Evening Edition.
A revolution could well be upon us. But we need to be willing to change.
Who has the highest profit margins in tech right now? Of course it’s Apple. What about cars? I couldn’t find definitive numbers but there is good evidence it is Porsche.
And so it goes on. Whether it is IKEA or Twitter. Take your favorite business model. Remove the lucky skimmers and monopolists and I predict there will be a few shining examples of large profit margins for businesses that, like the examples above, put out an amazing product and charge a competitive price for it, or put non-intrusive advertising on it. As for Atex’s largest target customer base of media, broadcasting and journalism-industries, may I suggest looking at The Economist in England and HBO in the US.
The glaring omission here is of course online publishing. I still know of nobody truly making it work. Especially in the “old” media business, the stumped silence of rejection from web surfers and tablet owners seems to go on like taken directly from an Ingmar Bergman-dialogue. Maybe the presumption that we could just put the same content on a five megabyte webpage and go charge for it was wrong and maybe it is time we fix it.
Even though they can feel it in their gut, most people seem consciously unaware of how great a newspaper is. It is light, quick, cheap and makes for a great reading experience. It is of course also, by now “old news” and lacks many of the features we have come to expect from the digital platforms, but in the areas that will actually make people pay for it, the newspaper as a medium is still king of the hill. Compare that to your average news web experience. Slow, clunky and in many cases: shockingly intrusive. I suspect until we provide a digital experience just as amazing a product as the newspaper, nothing will happen. The iPad is a good step in the right direction, but it merely provides the medium. Our products still have a long, long way to go. They need to get slimmer, clearer, more valuable and much, much faster.
Luckily there are plenty businesses who have burnt their ships and are going digital only, allowing me to test my hypothesis. News Corp’s The Daily was a failure but it was a pioneer in actually trying. Now the floodgates are open and I urge you try The Magazine on your iPad and The Verge on the web. Great content in a better package. Now, what if it was an amazing package?
At the risk of sounding like a self-help author for Cosmo magazine, I’ve prepared a simple quiz to help you determine if Responsive Web Design is a good thing for your business.
Responsive design uses a collection of software techniques that enable your website to automatically adapt to the size, shape, resolution and orientation of any device it’s being viewed on. With responsive design, all users have an optimal web experience. Best of all, as a web publisher, you don’t have to create separate sites for different mobile, tablet, laptop and desktop screens.
Responsive web design also helps your Search Engine Optimization efforts. Because there is no need to build separate web, tablet and mobile sites, your marketing team does not need to worry about creating lots of backlinks and redirects for mobile users. With responsive design, there’s only one URL to develop and maintain, which saves time and money. Link popularity can be consolidated in a single responsive site, which helps drive organic search traffic, audience engagement, and sales.
Sounds great, but …
Responsive design’s “one site fits all” model requires a significant up-front investment. This includes project planning, website development, programming and testing. You also may need to purchase a number of tablets and smartphones to ensure that your site is optimized for as many devices and browsers as possible. You might also need to invest in updates to your content management system, since some Web CMS platforms do not fully support responsive design today.
Responsively designed websites can take a bit longer to load then non-responsive sites. (To enable automatic image resizing, responsive design often requires the full size images to always be loaded, which can cause this delay.) Also, the performance of responsive design relies heavily on the browser itself, so you can’t throw a lot of horsepower on your back-end servers and expect significant speed improvements.
Finally, responsive design might not be appropriate for your business. Maybe your mobile traffic is light. Maybe you only have one or two dominant web channels. Maybe your mobile audience is so specialized that a dedicated mobile app is required in order to create the most engaging user experience. As a result, responsive design simply might not yield appreciable benefits for your business.
Lots of questions to be considered. So, just like in your favorite monthly consumer magazine, please take the following self-help quiz to determine whether or not responsive web design is worth considering for your digital business. Here’s how it works. Answer each question below on a scale of 1 to 5, where:
1 = completely unimportant to my business
2 = somewhat unimportant to my business
3 = neither important or unimportant
4 = somewhat important to my business
5 = very important to my business
A. We want to improve our editorial workflow to enable authors and editors to write content once and publish it to any web, mobile or tablet channel.
B. Visitors access our site(s) throughout the day from multiple screens and digital devices.
C. We want our visitors to have a consistent user experience with our brand(s) across all digital channels.
D. We our willing to invest time and money up front to create a single responsive site, rather than dedicating resources to the development and maintenance of multiple sites or mobile apps.
E. We are prepared to form a dedicated team for our responsive design project, including web developers, editors, marketing specialists, testers, clients and users; and we have identified an executive sponsor to support our efforts.
Now, add up the scores for each question. If your total score is 20 or higher, then you should seriously consider embarking upon a responsive web design initiative. If your score is less than 20, then your current multi-site or dedicated mobile app strategy is probably best for your business.
In either case, please keep in mind that the rules of responsive design are neither simple nor finite, as any Cosmo girl or guy would know. It all starts with understanding your business needs, understanding your end-user needs, and planning your digital strategy accordingly.
A British judge has expressed amazement after technology giant Apple claimed it would take two weeks to change a notice on its website about the loss of its heated patent battle with Samsung.
The UK court of appeal has reprimanded Apple over the wording of the statement on its website acknowledging that Samsung did not infringe the iPad's registered design, and ordered it to put an amended statement prominently on its homepage – rather than tucked away in a linked page.
For Apple, ‘sorry seems to be the hardest word’, for the rather sarcastic apology was mostly devoted to the judge’s explanation of how Apple’s devices are for the ‘informed user’, while Samsung’s products are, er…. not. The ‘apology’ continues to say that Samsung’s product is simply not cool enough to be a replica of Apple’s ‘far more popular’ iPad. Ouch! If you’re looking for it, you’ll find it buried in small print in the bottom corner of the UK homepage.
At a court hearing on Thursday morning, the judge told Apple that it had to change the statement within 48 hours, publish it on its home page, and use at least 11-point font. Apple tried to argue that while it could take the original notice down within 24 hours, it would take at least 14 days to put a corrective statement on the site – a claim that one judge said he "cannot believe".
Lord Justice Longmore told Michael Beloff QC, "We are just amazed that you cannot put the right notice up at the same time as you take the other one down".
Needless to say, Apple’s request for 14 days to make the changes has been rejected, and Sir Robin Jacob suggested that Apple's chief executive make a statement to the court, setting out the technical difficulty facing the American firm.
Is Apple’s web content management system (CMS) really so poor, or complicated that it takes two weeks for any web changes to take effect? In that case, allow me a moment to do a little shameless self-promotion. We don’t do it very often through the Atex Blog, (ok, other than the last post), but say for instance, we had a product that would enable Apple to update its website instantly. Well, that might be worth mentioning – we’re always keen to lend a hand, after all.
Fortunately, Atex just happens to have its own Web CMS, known as Polopoly, or Atex Web CMS. Some of the world’s most advanced high-traffic websites are using our solution to enrich their digital offerings and provide an engaging digital presence. Perhaps Apple’s IT director is on holiday for a fortnight… that may explain the technical difficulties it describes. Well, with Atex Web CMS, you no longer need to involve IT in content publishing. Editors and journalists can instantly publish anything that goes online, regardless of the content type.
If it keeps the judges happy, it’s surely worth investigating? And well… Atex most certainly has the coolest and by far the most popular products in the market!