Google’s on-by-default ‘Articles for You’ leverage browser dominance for 2,100 percent growth

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When you’ve got leverage, don’t be afraid to use it. That’s been Google’s modus operandi in the news and publishing world over the last year or so as it has pushed its AMP platform, funding various news-related ventures that may put it ahead, and nourished its personalized Chrome tabs on mobile. The latter, as Nieman Labs notes, grew 2,100 percent in 2017.

You may have noticed, since Chrome is a popular mobile browser and this setting is on by default, but the “Articles for You” appear automatically in every new tab, showing you a bunch of articles the company things you’d like. And it’s gone from driving 15 million article views to a staggering 341 million over the last year.

In late 2016, when Google announced the product, I described it as “polluting” the otherwise useful new tab page. I also don’t like the idea of being served news when I’m not actively looking for it — I understand that when I visit Google News (and I do) that my browser history (among other things) is being scoured to determine what categories and stories I’ll see. I also understand that everything I do on the site, as on every Google site, is being entered into its great data engine in order to improve its profile of me.

Like I said, when I visit a Google site, I expect that. But a browser is supposed to be a tool, not a private platform, and the idea that every tab I open is another data point and another opportunity for Google to foist its algorithms on me is rankling.

It has unsavory forebears. Remember Internet Explorer 6, which came with as the default homepage? That incredible positioning drove so much traffic that for years after (and indeed, today) it drove disgusting amounts of traffic to anything it featured. But that traffic was tainted: you knew that firehose was in great part clicks from senior citizens who thought MSN was the entire internet.

Of course the generated pages for individual users aren’t the concentrated fire of a link on a major portal, but they are subject to Google approval and, of course, the requisite ranking bonus for AMP content. Can’t forget that!

But wherever you see the news first, that’s your news provider. And you can’t get much earlier than “as soon as you open a new tab.” That’s pretty much the ultimate positioning advantage.

Just how this amazing growth occurred is unclear. If there’s been any word of mouth, I missed it. “Have you tried scrolling down? The news is just right there!” It seems unlikely. My guess would be that the feature has been steadily rolling out in new regions, opting in new users who occasionally scroll down and see these stories.

And unlike many other news distribution platforms, there isn’t much for publishers or sites like this one to learn about it. How are stories qualified for inclusion? Is there overlap with Google News stuff? What’s shown if people aren’t signed in? I’ve asked Google for further info.

Do you, like me, dislike the idea that every time you open a tab — not just when you use its services — Google uses it as an opportunity to monetize you, however indirectly? Fortunately, and I may say consistent with Google’s user-friendliness in this type of thing, you can turn it off quite easily — on iOS, anyway.

Open the menu at the top right of any tab and hit settings. There should be a “Suggested articles” toggle — disable that and you’re done. While you’re at it, you might just head into Privacy and disable search and site suggestions and usage data.

On Android? You’ll have to dig into the app’s flags and toggle the hidden setting there. Not as user-friendly.

Mobile – TechCrunch

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Why Brands Should Leverage Sponsored Instagram Polls

The following is a guest contributed post by Kamiu Lee, VP of Strategy & Business Development at Activate by Bloglovin’

Since Instagram debuted their new polls feature in October, there’s been quite a positive reaction from brands, influencers and regular users alike. Not only are people using polls more than some of Instagram’s other new features, but they also boast a remarkable engagement rate as opposed to typical content posts. In fact, we have found that anywhere from 10-17 percent of users will respond to Instagram polls that they come across in an Instagram Story, compared to the average five percent who engage with regular static posts on the platform.

Brands and marketers would be wise to leverage influencers to use polls given the positive reception of this feature. In fact, we recently polled our 87K+ follower base of influencers and found that 66% of influencers had already tried IG polls. And out of those who hadn’t, a whopping 87% intended to do so in the future—this means that influencers, oftentimes at the forefront of testing content and platform features, are on board and their audiences are on board as well.

Let’s review some of the reasons why brand and influencers should be incorporating polls into their upcoming partnerships:

Increasing Audience Engagement

Since there is a clear call-to-action, Instagram users are more likely to engage with Instagram polls than regular posts, making polling is a great way for brands to really get their audience involved. In sponsoring an influencer’s poll, brands have the ability to also engage a different and highly engaged audience.

In tandem with the benefits of authentic engagement and valuable consumer feedback, sponsored polls provide a different value from standard “likes” and “comments.” Brands are constantly seeking different ways to track engagement with influencer posts, and polls offer a totally transparent way to do so.

Apparel brands, for example, could promote a new clothing line by working with influencers to create different “ways to wear,” and poll followers about which looks were their favorite. Not only does this approach provide vital exposure for the brand’s products, but offers a reason for audiences to engage and gather inspiration. A travel brand – whether an airline, hotel chain, cruise line or metasearch company – could leverage influencers to source most-desired travel destinations or open dialogue around ‘must-have’ amenities when traveling. 

Gathering Consumer Feedback in a New Way

Influencers call upon their followers all the time for their opinion, asking them for feedback around what they enjoyed about a post or what kind of products or services they prefer. In talking with dozens of influencers in our network, we uncovered that most influencers are currently using polls as a content planning tool. Sam Ushiro of Aww Sam, for example, uses polls to vet potential posts by asking followers what types of content they’d like to see more of.

In the same vein, brands have always proactively searched for conversations around their products or services across social media to get a sense of consumer sentiment. Instagram polls offer brands a specific platform to obtain this kind of valuable customer feedback, allowing them to ask specific questions that may open the door to positive, consumer-driven product enhancements or creation.

Brands can work with influencers to help gauge this consumer interest via polls – especially around new product launches or iterations of existing products. For example, beauty brands could engage influencers to gather feedback around a product like an eyeshadow palette, to uncover target audience preferences around details like colors or finishes. Taking it one step further, when brands incorporate this feedback loop into their product design process, it can help boost brand loyalty amongst influencers and consumers alike.

Cultivating a Conversation via Influencers

Because the best influencers strive to create a more personal relationship with their following, an influencer’s opinion – and decision to work with a brand – holds much more weight than a brand pushing the message across their own channels. The first-person perspective – and approval – provided by influencers can be invaluable.

When there is a strong natural affinity between the brand and influencer, we find that the influencers’ following  will be more inclined to engage, act and provide honest feedback through a third party they trust.

Despite polls still being a relatively new feature, given the strong uptake by influencers and users alike, brands and marketers should certainly consider incorporating it into their influencer and social media strategy. Brands can lean on the influencer themselves for authentic ideation of content, and whether to incorporate features like polls as they know their audiences best.

The post Why Brands Should Leverage Sponsored Instagram Polls appeared first on Mobile Marketing Watch.

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WaterGroup to leverage its smart water metering solutions using Thinxtra’s LPWAN

WaterGroup, renowned name in water conditioning, manufacturing and distribution business since 50 years in North America, has signed a five-year agreement with Thinxtra. WaterGroup will make use of Thinxtra’s Sigfox Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) to boost the capabilities of its IoT smart water meter connections.

WaterGroup, after having spent 24 months researching and developing multiple LPWAN (Low Power Wide Area Network) wireless technologies, found the Sigfox technology most suitable to fit its needs. Thinxtra is expecting the Sigfox network to cover 95% of the Australian population by the end of 2017 from the current cover of 71%.

Guenter Hauber-Davidson, managing director of WaterGroup, believes that heavy users of water will be most benefitted by the usage of this network coverage because it provides many valuable additional offerings apart from the automated meter readings, such as detection of leakage and unauthorised usage. Providing clients with such alerts in real time can lead to tremendous water and costs savings.

Hauber-Davidson said the smart water meter systems and solutions will eliminate the bill shock that users get when they realise that their quarterly water bill has gone up enormously due to a costly leak or large unauthorised use.

He is hopeful of beating the past connectivity-related cost constraints by using Thinxtra’s simple-to-use, large-scale and low-cost Sigfox network, monitoring their water use and identifying leaks.

Loic Barancourt, Thinxtra’s chief executive, said WaterGroup has been chosen as a partner “because it is one of the leading providers of systems and solutions to the smart water meter market in Australia with an excellent reputation of delivering tangible business outcomes to its enterprise and utility customers.

Thinxtra is gaining wide acceptance and popularity in Australia as the network of choice for IoT because it makes it simple and economical for objects to connect owing to the Sigfox networks deployed and operating nationwide. Latest from the homepage

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How to Create Lifetime Customers: Leverage the Marketing Power of the Internet & Mobile Technology to Quickly Get New Customers, Have Them Spend More Money, & Keep Them Buying Forever

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