Category Archives: Adtech

Education, dating and e-commerce startups in full force at NY Tech Day

By Dennis Clemente

Last April 25, New York had its biggest NY Tech Day ever with an audience that is triple its size from last year and exhibitors from education, dating and e-commerce industries showing up in full force. All in all, about 10,000 people trickled in to hear from more than 400 startups and not-so-recent startups at the sprawling 75,000-square-feet Pier 92, with majority of them based in New York and its boroughs.

Startup founders talked to everyone who cared to listen.
There was Paul Canetti of MazDigital.com, formerly of Apple, who offers a publication app with no programming required. “Now, the magazine industry need not bother with the million-dollar cost of coming up with their own magazine app if they can use our app system.”
Would it save and even make magazines thrive? That remains to be seen.

There were about a dozen education sites and apps for both young and old—and those looking to transition to another career. Moocdom.com aims to give professionals the chance to upgrade their skills.

Across from each other were MeeGenius.com and Kitukids.com. Founded in 2010 Wandy Yeap Hoh and David Park, MeeGenius digitizes children’s stories in audio playback, whereas the latter, founded by Daniela Arredondo, comes in video format. Both think they can co-exist in the marketplace.

For adult learners, Mediabistro.com and General Assemb.ly talked to everyone interested in their short courses and workshops, which range from the marketing kind (social media marketing) to the startup and programming kind, for those not yet familiar with them.

Learning another language took another dimension with Smigin.com. Susan O’ Brien demonstrated the app’s interactive capabilities; they’re developed as videos and games.

Sites for the romantically inclined abounded. InkedMatch.com is about online matchmaking for tattoo lovers; Cheekd.com is still doing the online matching in reverse; Datenight.is for couples who need dating ideas and Parlor.me dares you to start phone conversations with strangers.

Asked about how she is going to compete against all the other dating sites, Lori Cheek of Cheekd.com raised her hand in a triumphant gesture. “I’m in it to make it!” Cheekd.com was featured in The New York Times sometime back.

To look great in those dates, DietBet offers a unique app game—you lose weight you win money. To begin, everyone puts money in a pot. You’ve got four weeks to lose 4 percent of your starting weight. Whoever hits their 4 percent goal is the winner—and splits the pot.

And for those looking to give special gifts, there’s Egifter.com for those must-have coupons, Giftivo.com, which bills itself as a “smart gifting engine,” and Danggle.com, with the most unique gifting idea—“social gifting for yourself.” You go to the site, post your lusted-after item, let your friends chip in, and get the money to buy it.

Those looking to make skilled, trade and household services easier to find were also in attendance: Handybook.com, Servicerunner.com and Myclean.com aim to fit every possible need outside of IT. Finding IT professionals is an entirely different challenge. For even the best recruiters, like TheLadders.com and Landover.com and the new ones like SoundAdvice.jobs, it must really feel like looking for a needle in the haystack with startups mushrooming everywhere. Some e-commerce sites like Bonobos.com and media companies like Medialets.com also used the event for their tech and marketing recruitment efforts.

Not all startups were for necessarily for consumers. Carlos Carbonell and Mat Gaver of JustEcho.com, a digital agency with emphasis on mobile innovation, launched their new company, EchoTime at the event. “It makes time tracking affordable and fun for employees to fill up.”

There were some physical devices, too—and they’re both made from Brooklyn. Solidoodle.com demonstrated its 3D printing machines which sold for $499. Set to launch this year, Bitponics.com offers a real-time sensor data that allows you to manage your garden from any web browser.

For those who want to start their own online businesses, start getting crowdfunded at Seedinvest.com or Indiegogo.com who were also in attendance. But if you can fund the business yourself like Afzal Faroroqui, owner of Rentagizmo.com, then we should also see you in next year’s tech startup event.

Without technology, are millennials no different from everyone else?

By Dennis Clemente

How do you tell a New Yorker from a tourist? In the sea of humanity that fills up Times Square, it’s the ones who feel relieved just making it in one piece at the Viacom Building, at MTV Networks for the Product Group meetup last March 7. Nearly 400 people came to learn something at the meetup, but the organizers knew they would also be getting lots of insights from a group just as eager to be an “instant focus group.”

The diverse audience came from various backgrounds and ethnicities–marketers, programmers, startup founders–to tackle some serious questions like “What are millennials?”

Jeremy Horn, the host and organizer of the Product Group meetup, kicked off the proceedings by asking everyone to introduce themselves—obviously to find out the type of participants it was getting, some admitting to being a Gen Xer. A roundtable discussion ensued.

Horn only needed to ask two questions to get the crowd’s utmost attention. The first one that got everyone stirred up was, yes, the question, “What are Millennials?” Echo founder Mat Gaver leaned in later to say conspiratorially, “It’s the question that gave the much older ones reasons to get back at the younger ones for the life they can’t live anymore.”

Going by a very loose definition, millennials (or Generation Y) are those born after 1977 all the way up to the 2000s. Gen Xers are those born from 1965-1976. At the meetup, the attendees were a mixed of both generations.

The insights the attendees provided made for good entertaining talk. Even the millennials in attendance didn’t challenge the assumptions flying thick and fast.

How much do millennials really know? From a media standpoint, one said “they get news from social networks—Twitter, “political” comedians Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart,” but is that enough when “they can absorb information in big chunks.”

Others said they look for the best information, but they have a short-attention span. One explained this to mean how “cachet is moving quickly” (i.e. who is popular now is just as easily forgotten the next few weeks), and loyalty is non-existent, because there’s always ”something new.”

How can they be loyal when “they do internships without pay?” and companies lay off people without care. On top of that, “they have student loan debt” they can’t pay. So it’s not surprising why they have such a blasé or numb reaction to employment. “They can easily spot a company with integrity, but they can also spot ‘phony’ instantly.”

They live in an era where they have probably seen more companies closing down. “They have seen more people get laid off” and this is probably why more of them “want to do something for themselves, or for the world through social entrepreneurship. They are fearless.”

They are also the multitasking generation. Realizing the world is moving faster than ever, they think success and failure could hinge on a missed twit or Facebook posting. For this reason, “living an intense public life” is absolutely essential, damn privacy.

“But weren’t we all these, too?” a Gen Xer quipped. “Technology just makes millennials visible.”

After an hour, the second question came, “What do all of these mean for our products?”

This time, the group had more questions than answers.

Cristo gives the ‘last word’ on social SEO (for now); reaction to Coke study

EXCLUSIVE
By Dennis Clemente

Dan Cristo, director of SEO Innovation at Catalyst Online, a leading search marketing agency, doesn’t seem to have any problem holding people’s attention against the backdrop of a noisy bar on a Friday night. Cristo was presenting “Mastering the Art of Social SEO” at the Joshua Tree on East Avenue early this month. Find out more here at http://www.catalystsearchmarketing.com/pubs/social-seo-strategies/

“I thought for sure I was going to lose my voice,” he said in jest, but the attendees clearly knew why he did his SEO presentation at the bar. In such a setting, people are more comfortable to “expand and deepen one’s network.”

dancristo

Fortunately, Cristo speaks with emphatic clarity and enthusiastic openness. He genuinely likes to share his ideas. He breaks down traditional search against social search this way: The former is “authority,” the latter is “intimacy.”

He elaborated: “Social SEO is much like traditional SEO in the sense that search engines are looking for relevant, trustworthy answers to people’s questions. The difference is how trust is measured. In a world without online social connections, trust is measured on ‘topic authority’, which links are used as a proxy.

“So where online social interactions abound, a second ‘trust measure’ is introduced, intimacy. The deeper your online connection, the most trust exists between two people. That new intimacy-based trust now affects search rankings,” he added.

He gives an example: “If a good friend recommends a restaurant on Yelp, and I’m looking for a good restaurant, a search engine should rank that Yelp recommendation higher in my search results.

“This translates into an SEO strategy that looks at how brands can optimize not just web pages, but relationships to improve their search rankings.”

Apparently, Cristo leads by example. His name appears on every page of Google results–his main website, twitter profile, linkedin account, Google +, interviews, and articles, among others. “Use social SEO to dominate the Google results page. You can do this by optimizing you social profile, sharing multimedia content and creating long-tail content.”

Cristo is also persistent in saying “don’t neglect Google+.”

Whether you like it or not, Cristo said you need Google+ to establish a strong social presence. “If you want to use any of Google’s products, you will also be using Google+. Why? Search is at the core of all Google products.”

That search algorithm is being personalized for you. It comes from actions you perform on each of Google’s products–Chrome, YouTube, Maps Android, Music, Docs, News, Calendar, etc. His insights appear to be plain common sense but he is clearly making people more aware of it.

In response to the recent report about online buzz not working for Coca Cola sales, he acknowledges the brand for mastering traditional marketing, but not as much in terms of its social media approach.

Cristo is fully committed to his thinking: “Take a look at Coke’s Facebook and Twitter pages; 99% of the time they are talking about themselves. They do that, because that’s how TV works, but that’s not how friendships work. How long would you hang out with a friend who talked only about themselves? Look at the engagement their posts get on Facebook: Out of 62 million fans, only 4,000 to 5,000 on average ‘like’ a post, with maybe a hundred or 200 comments.”

“Compare Coke to Red Bull which has 37 million fans. Red Bull posts get 35,000 and 45,000 likes with 3,000 or 4,000 comments. The difference here is Red Bull is talking about extreme sports, athletes and amazing feats of accomplishment, not their own product.”

He concluded: “It’s not a question of whether social media drives sales. It’s a question of whether Coke is participating in social media in a way that drives product sales. The data may say ‘no’. However, run the same test with Red Bull, and the data will say, ‘yes.’”

Catalyst manages 100 brands in the consumer package goods, automobile, B2B, retail, entertainment, software, technology, travel, healthcare and pharmaceutical industries. Its clients include P&G, Microsoft, Novartis, Whirlpool, and Pfizer. Headquartered in Nevada, it has offices in New York, Seattle, Chicago, Toronto and Montréal.

Siman of 360i gives skinny on content marketing

By Dennis Clemente

The Content Marketing Bootcamp at the 360i office on February 19 was packed with marketers listening intently to Rosie Siman, a social strategist with a huge following. She works at 360i (http://www.360i.com/), a digital agency specializing in search engine marketing, social media, mobile marketing and web design and development.

The bootcamp was clearly designed to spread the word of mouth about how industry people and brands should be doing more content marketing campaigns. Only 38% of brands have a strategy in place for content marketing, according to data from econsultancy.

Having helped brands like Dentyne navigate the world of social and emerging media, Siman presented examples for people to better understand content marketing. One effective example she showed was American Express’ Open Forum.

The Open Forum has been one of the most-talked about content marketing idea, because it humanizes the American Express brand. The forum provides a wealth of resources for business owners—videos, articles, blogs, podcasts and expert advice.

Rosie Siman

Siman also explained the difference between content marketing and a TV commercial. “I’d argue that all commercials are content, just not necessarily good content. Although the reverse isn’t necessarily true: good content doesn’t have to resemble what we traditionally think of as commercials.”

The attendees agreed that the Red Bulls Stratos Jump was content but many also considered it a commercial. (It run on TV.)

But what is content, exactly?

Siman says it is defined as assets and experiences that, in aggregate, form pieces of your brand story. It can range from apps to ebooks, infographics to transmedia experiences, tweets to filtered photos. And content marketing is really just the organization, creation and distribution of these assets in order to better connect with consumers or potential consumers.

With the popularity of self-publishing, consumers have become both competitors and collaborators for brands. Some are outperforming brands with content uploaded from their smartphones, while others are partnering with brands to gain more influence.

She adds, “Let’s not forget the rise of curation, another popular buzzword from 2012 whose relevance will likely continue over the next few years.”

In the early days of publishing, the focus was on content creation but with so much content out there, filtering and surfacing content has become its own trend. Average monthly unique visits on curation sites like BuzzFeed, Tumblr, Pinterest are steadily increasing, so content definitely isn’t something that will go away anytime soon.

What can marketers and brands do? The three key pillars of content marketing include content development, syndication and distribution and optimization.

Siman gives the skinny on what brands and marketers should do:

Listen. Articulate where your consumers or fans hang out online and what kinds of content they like in addition to what they think about your brand. Even paying attention to product reviews or competitors pages can help you better understand the landscape.
Plan. Put a plan on paper. Determine who should be involved at each stage of the planning, production and approval process. Figure out key content themes or buckets. Develop your social tone of voice and make sure the team is properly trained.
Be nimble. You have to make them first! The best way to plan for real-time content marketing is to have a system in place so you know the strengths and weaknesses of the system and where you might be able to speed things up in special circumstances.
Measure and showcase success. There are so many data points available, but rarely are they all needed to tell a story. Start with what you want to know and then figure out which data points will help you paint the clearest picture.

At 360i, Siman also curates The Tuesday Ten (http://tuesdayten.com), her weekly newsletter featuring 10 must-see links. She can also be found on Twitter (twittercom/rosiesiman).

Raking in awards, $135M earnings–who knows Yodle?

By Dennis Clemente

Yodle, the online advertising company for small business, expects its 2012 revenue to reach $135 million. But how come nobody has heard of it? Has the industry grown that much? Or should the question be, Is it too different to be under an entirely new category other than advertising? People don’t know where to place it.

Still, you got to give it to Yodle is raking in the awards. It was cited as one of the “Best Places to Work For,” “Fastest Growing Company” and “Most Promising,” as brandished by Forbes and other biz pubs.

Still doesn’t ring a bell? How about its projected 2012 revenue of $135 million?! It may even be more mystifying that in 2008, only three years after it was founded, the company’s annual revenue was a “measly” $18.8 million.

Which is why is not unusual why it has won several honors. The money’s there.

In Charlotte, North Carolina, The Charlotte Business Journal cited Yodle as “The 13th Best Company To Work For;” with The Phoenix Business Journal in Arizona going as far as naming us one of the “Best Places to Work for In The Valley.” In Austin, Texas, Yodle was cited by the Austin-American Statesman as one of the “Top Workplaces” and the Austin Business Journal “The 2nd Best Medium-sized Company To Work For.”

Yodle was also recognized as a great place to work for. To cite an example, Inc. magazine’s Hire Power Awards placed Yodle 33rd among the top job creators in America.

From 10 employees in 2007, Yodle now has 850 employees claiming it gives a cost-effective way for local businesses to connect with consumers using online methods. It has put more than 30,000 local businesses on Google’s top pages.

Still, people I’ve asked don’t know Yodle from its business model. I guess that’s how the Internet has become such a vast landscape. Or it could be just how a Yodle insider simply puts it: “It’s not Pinterest.”