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Can Pinterest posts heat up your brand? (Infographic)

Monday, March 19th, 2012

PinterestIf your brand fits certain niches  food, style/fashion, arts and crafts or anything else that lends itself to photographic or graphic representation, you may find posting on Pinterest boosts your marketing efforts.

One food photographer we know saw her posts start grabbing hits days after she began posting.

Personally, we’ve had some problems getting Pinterest to work on our machines and email to them has gone unanswered, so the startup hasn’t worked out all its bugs yet and customer service leaves something to be desired.

Currently Pinterest has a largely female audience, but that may be changing.

Here’s an infographic from Maxymiser on how the site can heat up your brand:

pinterest infographic

Mobile promotions trump brands in grocery & drug store shopping

Monday, March 12th, 2012

Nearly 75 percent of consumers in drug and grocery stores would switch brands if offered real-time mobile promotions delivered to their smartphones while shopping in a store aisle, according to the second part of Aisle Buyer’s mobile shopping survey.

The least brand conscious group consists of 25-34 year-old shoppers, with 82 percent willing to switch brands if they received a mobile offer for a competing product while in the store.“Mobile Shopping Survey Series, Part 2: CPG Shopping Behavior.”

What we found most interesting about this survey is that while it focuses on drug and grocery store shoppers, we suspect it applies more broadly to packaged goods. It also points out that mobile promotions marketing is going to be very, very big.

The survey also found that 81 percent of smartphone owners go to grocery and drug stores prepared with a list of items to buy. Of this group, only 8 percent list specific brands to purchase.

This indicates that a large majority of shoppers are making brand decisions while they are in the store aisle, providing a unique opportunity for brands and retailers to influence pre-purchasing decisions via a customer’s smartphone.

Other key findings from the survey include:

  • 90% of 25-34 year-old smartphone owners expressed interest in receiving instant offers for the things they were already shopping for through a grocery or drug store-based mobile shopping app
  • When they are in a grocery or drug store aisle, smartphone owners’ purchasing decisions are based on:
    • Price/everyday low value (76%)
    • Promotions/getting the most for their money (58%)
    • Coupon availability (51%)
    • Brand loyalty (38%)
    • Generic or store brand availability (26%)
    • New products from existing or emerging brands (22%)

Brands must adapt to the online world

“For years, brands have relied on traditional in-store shopper marketing tactics such as endcap displays, dump bins and sampling programs to influence the purchase decisions that are being made in the store aisle. But today’s shopper has become increasingly tech savvy, and brands need to adapt their age-old strategies to remain competitive in our new online world,” said Andrew Paradise, AisleBuyer’s CEO.

“Given that a majority of shoppers enter stores with only rough shopping lists, they are incredibly impressionable when they are in the aisle. As brand marketers look for new ways to feature their products when shoppers are considering the competition, they should look no further than something consumers already have in hand – their smartphones.”

Additional data from the survey series will be shared over the coming weeks.

About the Mobile Shopping Survey Series

The Mobile Shopping Survey Series is a national survey designed to provide insight into the in-store shopping behavior of smartphone owners. The three-part survey was conducted in February 2012 via Zoomerang, an online survey services provider, and is based on 1027 respondents. The survey is sponsored by Boston-based in-store mobile commerce provider AisleBuyer.

Retail shopping is intertwined with social networking for Gen Y

Friday, March 9th, 2012

Shopping cartFor Boomers, the ideal shopping experience is about getting a good deal on a decent product. For Gen Y, it’s more about a stimulating, sensual, “sharable” experience.

Think sensible shoes vs. smart phones.

This practicality divide is among the many discoveries in a new in-depth study on retail byBrodeur Partners, which is introducing quantitative social science to the often subjective practice of communications, branding, public relations and social change initiatives. The Brodeur Partners’ Retail Relevance 2012 Study used maximum difference scaling methodology to precisely identify what is most and least relevant in a shopping experience.

The study asked 2,000 American consumers to think of their favorite place to shop and identify those elements that were most and least relevant.

  • Sharability of the experience and “association” (I’m ok if people know I’m associated with it) are twice as important to Gen Y (18-34) as to Boomers (55-plus).
  • Sensory appeal and the ability of a retailer to “make me smile” are one-third more important to Gen Y than to Boomers.
  • Practical decisions drive choice of retailers for 8 out of 10 Boomers, but only half of the Gen Y respondents.

“Put simply, younger shoppers view their ideal shopping experience as less functional and much more social, expressive and sensory-driven,” said Jerry Johnson, Brodeur’s executive vice president of strategic planning.

“Retail shopping is probably more intertwined with social networking than we’ve realized. When a Gen Y consumer checks in to a retailer on Foursquare or ‘likes’ a retailer on Facebook, that’s very valuable to a retailer.”

“Peers by nature are ready to have the experience their friends just did.”

And though sensory experiences clearly matter, Johnson warns retailers that they can’t simply barrage the Gen Y consumer with loud music, seductive smells and images of beautiful bodies: the research indicates retailers need to focus equally on the social aspects of the experience, and be a brand with which a consumer would want to associate.

Brodeur’s ongoing research

The survey builds upon relevance research Brodeur released a year ago, which found that many companies have “leading relevance indicators,” or main ways consumers connect. For example, they may primarily excite (Apple, Target and Red Bull) or communicate shared values (Ford) or stand for dependability (Wal-Mart). High relevance scores correlate with superior growth and performance, according to that research, even when a company is dwarfed by industry juggernauts.

Early bird rate for Digital Summit available until March 16

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

TechMedia’s Digital Summit 2012, slated for May 9-10 at the Cobb Galleria Centre in Atlanta, is offering an Early Bird rate until March 16.

Digital Summit 2012More than  50 expert panels and presentations by thought leaders will cover topics such as Customer Engagement, SEO, Analytics, Usability & Design, Paid Search, Email Marketing, Ecommerce, Online Video, Facebook & Twitter Marketing and many more.

This year you can also sign up for a pre-conference event that offers a dozen more sessions covering social media from fundamentals to advanced features and usability & design. The 5-hour long workshops are designed to provide take-aways you can put to work as soon as you get back to your office.

TechMedia events sell-out, so it’s always a good idea to register early. Do so by March 16 and get the Early Bird rate of $245.

From March 17 to April 13, registration will be $295, and after April 14 rises to $345.

Three in ten U.S. adults are using e-readers

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

KindleTo some it may seem like we’ve always had them, but the world of eReaders is still fairly new.

But, as Apple releases its 3rd iPad to the world, it seems like they are here to stay. This past summer, 15% of Americans said they use an electronic reader device such as a Kindle, iPad or Nook to read books while 85% did not.

Fast forward seven months, and that number has almost doubled – now almost three in ten U.S. adults (28%) are using one of these devices to read books while 72% are not.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,056 adults surveyed online between February 6 and 13, 2012 by Harris Interactive.

Unlike some new technology, there is not a great divide by age when it comes to eReader use. Among Echo Boomers (ages 18-35) and Gen Xers (aged 36-47) 30% currently use an eReader and that number just drops slightly to 28% among Matures (ages 67 and older) and 24% of Baby Boomers (ages 48-66).

I’ve been using a Kindle for several years now and do the majority of my reading on it. But I have noticed that some friends with e-readers are not as addicted to theirs as I am to mine. But the content of books have always been what’s most important to me, not their form.

But I’d be willing to bet that when writing shifted from words carved on rocks to paper, someone complained about the lack of permanence in the new medium.

In the future, though, this study suggests you’ll see significantly more people reading on Nooks, Kindles, and tablets.

Looking ahead, 13% of Americans say they are likely to purchase an eReader in the next six months, while 77% are unlikely to do so and 10% are not at all sure. In July, 15% of Americans said they were going to purchase an eReader in the next six months.

Reading and Buying Books
The rise of eReaders may actually be a positive for publishing companies who are embracing electronic books. Among those who are currently using an eReader, three in ten (29%) say they typically read more than 20 books in an average year, while one in five (21%) say they read between 11 and 20 books and one-quarter (24%) read between 6 and 10 books.

So, almost three-quarters of eReader users are reading 6 or more books in an average year.  Among those who do not use an eReader, the numbers are reversed as one in five (18%) typically reads no books in an average year, one in five (19%) typically reads between 1 and 2 books and one in five (21%) typically reads between 3 and 5 books.

So, three in five non eReader users are reading 5 or fewer books on average in a year.

Purchase behavior is similar. Over one-third of those who do not use an eReader (36%) say they do not purchase any books in a typical year while one in five eReader users purchase over 20 (20%) and between 11 and 20 books (21%) in a typical year.

So what?
Is the printed book dead? Probably not dead, but it is becoming easier to imagine a world without as many printed books. Whether it is Apple, Barnes and Noble or Amazon driving this change, the change is coming and they are gladly adding new devices to make Americans look for the next and greatest one. 



“Do you use an electronic reader device, such as a Kindle, an iPad or a Nook, to read books?”

Base: All adults












Gen. X







% % % % % % %
Yes 8 15 28 30 30 24 28
No 92 85 72 70 70 76 72
Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding; The 2011 data was collected in July and the 2012 data in February




“How likely do you think you will be to get an e-reader device within the next six months?”

Base: Adults who do not use an e-reader












Gen. X







% % % % % % %
Likely (NET) 12 15 13 13 16 14 8
     Very likely 3 4 3 3 2 4 5
     Somewhat likely 9 11 10 10 15 10 4
Not likely (NET) 80 76 77 77 71 79 80
     Not very likely 21 25 2 28 22 28 33
     Not at all likely 59 50 50 49 49 51 47
Not at all sure 8 10 10 8 13 7 11
Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding; The 2011 data was collected in July and the 2012 data in February




“How many books do you typically read in an average year? If you are not sure, please use your best estimate.”

Base: All adults






Uses Does not use
% % % % %
0 9 15 14 2 18
1-2 14 14 15 7 19
3-5 20 20 19 16 21
6-10 16 15 19 24 16
11-20 21 16 14 21 11
21+ 19 20 19 29 15
Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding; The 2011 data was collected in July and the 2012 data in February




“How many books have you purchased in the past year? If you are not sure, please use your best estimate.”

Base: All adults






Uses Does not use
% % % % %
0 21 32 29 10 36
1-2 17 17 15 11 17
3-5 22 17 19 21 18
6-10 17 15 14 18 13
11-20 11 10 12 21 9
21+ 12 9 11 20 8
Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding; The 2011 data was collected in July and the 2012 data in February

TV viewing on tablets growing due to user satisfaction

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

tabletsGrowing user satisfaction with mobile TV on tablets will push average monthly viewing times to 186 minutes per month in 2014, according to Juniper Research.

The Ideal Device

The report, ‘Mobile TV: Applications, Devices and Opportunities 2012-2016′ finds that as users become more accustomed to viewing content on tablets, and as a wider range of content becomes available on tablets, consumers will increase their viewing times.

This increase will be most apparent in North America where there is already significant mobile TV usage, and where internet TV services such as Hulu and Netflix are extremely popular.

A tablet is the ideal device on which to consume mobile TV content — their large screen sizes and intuitive user interfaces allow almost everyone to browse for and watch content.

We find even the smaller 7-inch size of the Amazon Kindle Fire fine for watching online video – whether full movies or from YouTube or other services. In fact, the first thing we did was watch Eleanor Powell dancing with Fred Astaire on a YouTube video to show it off to a friend. It’s the convenience, portability and ease of use that makes tablets so handy.

Videos generally look great on the small screens, too.

TV Everywhere

Another driver for this growth is the continued integration of mobile services into pay-TV packages. Tablets can offer a richer viewing experience when used alongside traditional television by allowing the user to access supplementary information such as plot synopses and actor biographies. These devices also enable users to view pay-TV content or to watch catch-up services when away from home, extending the reach of traditional TV services.

According to report author Charlotte Miller, ‘Consumers are already accustomed to timeshifting thanks to DVRs such as TiVo and Sky+; what mobile TV allows them to do is placeshift. This allows users to watch their pay-TV content anytime, anywhere and on any device — the TV experience is no longer confined to the home.’

Other key findings from the report include:

  • The number of users of streamed mobile TV services on smartphones will increase by 2.8x between 2011 and 2016.
  • The majority of broadcast mobile TV users will be from the Far East & China.
  • Subscriptions will make up the vast majority of mobile TV revenues.

The ‘Mobile TV ~ What’s On?’ whitepaper is available to download from the Juniper websitetogether with further details of the full study, ‘Mobile TV: Applications, Devices and Opportunities 2012 – 2016′.

March Madness gives IT pros a network headache

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

March MadnessMarch Madness may be an exciting time for college basketball fans around the country, but it is a stressful season for IT professionals whose job it is to maintain network security and functionality.

In fact, in a recent survey of 500 IT professionals conducted by Braun Research on behalf of Modis, 42 percent of IT professionals say March Madness historically has impacted their network. Of those affected, 37 percent report their networks have slowed down, while 34 percent report March Madness activity has essentially shut down their networks for a period of time.

Starting in the second week of March and extending through the first week of April, March Madness is the NCAA‘s Men’s Division I Basketball Championship. It ranks as one of the most popular annual sporting events in the nation.

Because many games occur during standard business hours, fans often attempt to monitor their favorite teams real-time by watching the games online at work. The increase in web usage can put added stress on the stability and operation of office networks.

Increase in streaming content a problem

In response to the increase in streaming content, some IT departments institute procedures that block or slow down web video. Other IT professionals, specifically those who do not block or slow down/throttle streaming content and video within their organizations (35 percent) say March Madness has impacted their network (55 percent) with 48 percent saying it has slowed it down and 43 percent saying it caused their network to shut down.

“With the increasing popularity and availability of streaming video, it has become easier than ever for workers to watch sports games at their desk—and March Madness is a time when streaming sports content consumption is at an all-time high,” said Jack Cullen, president of Modis.

“It’s an event that boosts office morale and builds camaraderie for many American workers, but it can put a significant burden on office networks, and the IT professionals responsible for maintaining them.”

Many IT departments prepared

Many IT departments are already prepared for the risks March Madness can pose to their network. According to the survey, 65 percent of respondents report their department takes action to hinder or prevent the consumption of streaming video.

This includes blocking streaming content (64 percent), throttling/slowing down streaming content (64 percent), and instituting a company policy that bans streaming (62 percent). Perhaps to help mitigate disappointment among employees, almost half (45  percent) of IT professionals say their company offers workers an alternate location to watch games.

Some other findings include:

  • IT professionals keep an eye on employees. To protect the office network, 42 percent of respondents say they monitor employees who are trying to access March Madness video streams. A smaller number (27 percent) simply trust employees to be honest and not visit sports sites while at work.
  • IT departments in different regions handle streaming content differently. Interestingly, IT departments in the South are more likely than those in other regions to not take any action against streaming content (58 percent) compared to the Northeast (14 percent), Midwest (27 percent) and West (26 percent.)
  • IT professionals’ personal opinions also vary by region. Three in four (75 percent) IT professionals say employees should not be allowed to watch sporting events like March Madness during the workday. When divided by region, IT professionals in the Midwest (49 percent) are less likely to feel this way compared to other regions (96 percent in the Northeast, 79 percent in the South, 75 percent in the West.)
  • March Madness can be maddening to IT professionals. The preparation, execution, and consideration for March Madness season adds stress to the lives of 29 percent of IT professionals.
  • Network stability is a key reason for blocking content. Of respondents, 82 percent block streaming content primarily to maintain a stable office IT network, while 71 percent do it to remove any distractions in the workplace.
  • Networks are vulnerable during other online activities. Throughout the year, there are other key moments and web activities that cause concern for IT professionals. Respondents said networks can be negatively impacted by Cyber Monday/holiday shopping (43 percent), general daily usage of social media sites (42 percent), as well as major tennis championships (37 percent).
  • The employee/IT relationship is still healthy. Though 54 percent of IT professionals often or sometimes receive feedback from employees complaining about their content-streaming, or specifically March Madness policies, 71 percent still believe employees find their respective content-streaming policy to be fair.

“To ensure that the office network remains operational for the workforce as a whole, IT professionals need to make tough decisions,” said Cullen. “In the end, a fully functioning network with streaming video restrictions is better than no network at all. When users can’t access the web, it’s the IT department who has to be on task to fix the situation.”

Intuit leading online tax prep segment, comScore says

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012
comScoreNearly 1 in 7 U.S. Internet users visited online tax sites to compile information and begin filing their 2011 tax returns, according to  comScore, Inc. (NASDAQ: SCOR), a leader in measuring the digital world

This number represented a gain of 15 percent versus January 2011, likely driven in part by ramped up ad expenditure among online tax preparers.

Among online do-it-yourself (DIY) tax preparation providers, comScore data indicated that Intuit leads the market with nearly 60 percent of all tax units or returns filed onlinebetween January 1 and February 18, 2012. The three largest DIY online tax preparation providers (Intuit, TaxACT and H&R Block) accounted for more than 90 percent of DIY tax units filed online.

“While a large segment of Americans have become comfortable with filing their taxes online, the strong gains in the category this year seem to be propelled by increased marketing activity on the part of the key tax prep providers,” said Brian Jurutka, comScore senior vice president.

“During the first several weeks of 2012, we saw the top three DIY online tax prep providers dominate the category, representing more than 90 percent of all online filings, with Intuit alone accounting for a majority of the market. It will be interesting to see whether the overall growth in the category is sustained and how market shares among tax prep providers may shift as we approach tax filing day on April 17th.”

Top 3 DIY Tax Preparation Providers Account for 9 in 10 Online Tax Units Filed

An analysis of the share of online tax units or returns filed through online tax preparation services from January 1 – February 18, 2012 shows Intuit’s TurboTax service accounting for 58.7 percent of all self-prepared units filed online. TaxACT, recently acquired by InfoSpace, ranked second with 17.8 percent of tax units, followed by H&R Block which rounded out the top 3 with 15.8 percent share. Altogether, these three services accounted for 92.3 percent of tax units filed online during this period.

Online DIY Tax Preparation Provider Share of Online Tax Units Filed*

January 1, 2012 – February 18, 2012

Total U.S. – Home and Work Audience
Source: comScore Tax Benchmarker

Online Tax Preparation Provider Share of Online Tax Units Filed
January 1 – February 19, 2011 January 1 – February 18, 2012
Intuit – TurboTax 57.5% 58.7%
InfoSpace – TaxACT 18.7% 17.8%
H&R Block 15.4% 15.8%
Other 8.4% 7.7%

*Non-Free File Alliance (FFA)

35-44 Year Olds Are Fastest Growing Demographic for Taxes Category

A demographic analysis of visitation to the Taxes category shows growth to be spread out across all segments, with 35-44 year olds displaying the highest growth rate, having increased 24 percent from January 2011 through January 2012. Users between the ages of 25-34 and 45-54 followed, with each segment posting gains of 15 percent from the previous year. The 35-44 year old demographic, which previously ranked behind 25-34 year olds in terms of category visitation, now accounts for the greatest share of the category at 25 percent.

“The significant growth we’re seeing among 35-44 year olds suggests that advertisers may be focusing their media plans on this age segment as an area of growth,” added Mr. Jurutka. “In particular, tax prep services seem to be pushing the message that they can offer assistance to help consumers file correctly online, which may be appealing to a segment of the market that prefers conducting transactions on the web but may also have more complex filing needs.”

Growth in Visitation to Taxes Among Demographic Segments
January 2012
Total U.S. – Home and Work Audience
Source: comScore Media Metrix
Demographic Segment % Growth from January 2011
    Age 18-24 5%
    Age 25-34 15%
    Age 35-44 24%
    Age 45-54 15%
    Age 55-64 14%
    Age 65+ 8%
    Males 19%
    Females 11%

Best schools to study video game design from California to the New York Highlands

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

The Princeton ReviewThe University of Southern California at Los Angeles and M.I.T. are the top two schools for studying video game design.

So says The Princeton Review ( — one of the nation’s best-known education services companies, which today reported its third annual list naming the schools with the best programs to study video game design.

The new list, “Top Schools to Study Video Game Design for 2012,” recommends 50 schools in all.  It names 10 undergraduate and 10 graduate schools in rank order to its respective “top 10″ lists and 22 undergraduate and 8 graduate schools as Honorable Mentions.  The Company’s full report on the 2012 list is accessible now at

The Princeton Review chose the schools based on a comprehensive survey it conducted in the 2011-2012 academic year of administrators at 150 institutions offering video game design coursework and/or degrees in the United States and Canada.

The survey, which included more than 50 questions, covered a wide range of topics from academics and faculty credentials to graduates’ employment and career achievements.

Criteria for The Princeton Review’s school selections covered the quality of the curriculum, faculty, facilities and infrastructure.  The Company also factored in data it collected from the schools on their scholarships, financial aid and career opportunities.

The Princeton Review’s top 10 undergraduate schools to study video game design for 2012 are:

  1. University of Southern California (Los Angeles, CA)
  2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, MA)
  3. University of Utah (Salt Lake City, UT)
  4. DigiPen Institute of Technology (Redmond, WA)
  5. The Art Institute of Vancouver (Vancouver, BC)
  6. Rochester Institute of Technology (Rochester, NY)
  7. Shawnee State University (Portsmouth, OH)
  8. Savannah College of Art and Design (Savannah, GA)
  9. University of New Mexico (Albuquerque, NM)
  10. Becker College (Worcester, MA)

The Princeton Review’s top 10 graduate schools to study video game design for 2012 are:

  1. University of Southern California (Los Angeles, CA)
  2. Rochester Institute of Technology (Rochester, NY)
  3. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, MA)
  4. University of Central Florida (Orlando, FL)
  5. Southern Methodist University (SMU) (Plano, TX)
  6. Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, PA)
  7. Savannah College of Art and Design (Savannah, GA)
  8. DigiPen Institute of Technology (Redmond, WA)
  9. Univ. of California, Santa Cruz (Santa Cruz, CA)
  10. Drexel University (Philadelphia, PA)

Honorable Mentions– Undergraduate Schools (alpha order):

Bradley University (Peoria, IL)
Champlain College (Burlington, VT)
Columbia College Chicago (Chicago, IL)
DePaul University (Chicago, IL)
Drexel University (Philadelphia, PA)
Ferris State University (Grand Rapids, MI)
Full Sail University (Winter Park, FL)
Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta, GA)
Miami University (Oxford, OH)
Michigan State University (East Lansing, MI)
New Jersey Institute of Technology (Newark, NJ)
New York University/NYU POLY (New York, NY)
North Carolina State University (Raleigh, NC)
Northeastern University (Boston, MA)
Ohio University (Athens, OH)
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Troy, NY)
University of Advancing Technology (Tempe, AZ)
University of California, Santa Cruz (Santa Cruz, CA)
University of Maryland, Baltimore County (Baltimore, MD)
The University of Texas at Dallas (Richardson, TX)
Vancouver Film School (Vancouver, BC)
Worcester Polytechnic Institute (Worcester, MA)

Honorable Mentions – Graduate Schools (alpha order):

DePaul University (Chicago, IL)
Full Sail University (Winter Park, FL)
Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta, GA)
New York University/NYU Poly (New York, NY)
Parsons – The New School for Design (New York, NY)
Sacred Heart University (Fairfield, CT)
The University of Texas at Dallas (Richardson, TX)
University of Utah (Salt Lake City, UT)

Visitors to the Princeton Review website area on this list can access additional information about the schools’ programs and click on links to the schools’ websites.

“Academic and professional programs in video game design studies – from very specialized college majors to highly concentrated graduate degrees – have evolved tremendously over the past 10 years,” said Robert Franek, Princeton Review’s Senior VP/Publisher.  “We salute the schools on our list this year for their commitment to this burgeoning field and the innovative programs they offer. For students aspiring to work in this more than $10.5 billion industry and for the companies that will need their creative talents and skills, we hope this project will serve as a catalyst for many rewarding connections.”

The Princeton Review is also known for its annual rankings of colleges, law schools and business schools in dozens of categories which it reports on its website and in its books including The Best 376 Colleges and the recently published book,The Best Value Colleges.

The Princeton Review is not affiliated with Princeton University and it is not a magazine.

Durham to stuff the next big thing in a tiny little office

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

By Joe Procopio

Joe Procopio

Joe Procopio

Sometime in May, you’re going to be walking down Main street in Downtown Durham and pass by a glass-encased habitat at the front of a well-known coffee shop where a single entrepreneur or team of entrepreneurs will be feverishly working for your enjoyment.

You may stop in for a delicious coffee, you may just watch for a few minutes while lines of code are slung at some business problem that needs fixing. But when you walk away and go about the rest of your day, you’ll be thinking, “I should have thought of that.”

The Smoffice

You’ll be peering through the glass at The Smoffice, a so-crazy-it-has-to-work partnership between the Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Durham Inc., Beyu Caffe, and a host of other local sponsors.

The idea is to give a single startup six months of free space in “the worlds smallest office” in downtown Durham, driving home the point that a startup doesn’t necessarily need big or fancy or cash or backing, but simply a great idea fostered in a stimulating and supportive environment.


It’s a rather artful statement on Durham as an up-and-coming startup ecosystem.

Of course, there are other bells and whistles, but these are grass roots bells and whistles, most importantly a nearby condo for potential out-of-town candidates, and also free custom office furniture, a tablet, assistance from experts in legal, accounting, and marketing, and finally connections to over 70 of the startups in downtown Durham.

The application process starts Wednesday, 2/29 (Leap Day, just to drive the quirkiness home), and more info can be found on

I’ll wait while you turn your world back rightside up.

So Who Did Think of That?

When people ask me how Durham has come from seemingly nowhere to emerge overnight as the most hypeworthy startup hub of the east coast, I give a varying array of reasons: The establishment of the American Tobacco Complex downtown, the low cost of space, the growing number of privately run support organizations, elves, etc. But usually I include one specific thing.

Or rather dude. Adam Klein at the Durham Chamber.

Klein is one of those guys you see at all the startup-related events in the area, from the smaller, street-level meetups to the big fancy conferences. Because he’s so much better looking than me, I tend to stay away from him, but I have gotten to know him, and I’m floored by the things he’s done, and the things he didn’t do, to contribute to the growth of Durham’s startup scene.

When people think of the Durham Chamber, which admittedly isn’t very often because of the fact that 90% of what they do is support behind the curtain, they think of things like Startup Stampede, a program that put a handful of budding startups into a downtown Durham space with infrastructure and mentoring – like an accelerator, but without the cash and investment components, although said investment was in Durham itself.

See? Sneaky.

How to Start a Startup Stampede: Step 1 = Don’t Start a Startup Stampede

Klein now advises other chambers and government organizations from locals to regionals to the National Chamber on how to build a localized startup culture into a Stampede. His primary advice: Don’t do it, or rather, don’t start with the event, there’s a lot of prep work to do first.

For all the out-of-the-box thinking and risk taking that produced the Stampede, it was the months behind the scenes he and others spent talking to the local startup community and the greater business community.

This meant countless meetings with individual entrepreneurs and potential entrepreneurs, selling the benefits of Durham and listening, intently, to their needs and desires. This is not easy to do, since most of those lists of needs and desires usually start, ill-advisedly so, with “a boatload of working capital,” which of course the Durham Chamber does not have or have access to.

It also meant countless meetings with Durham companies, from giant corporations like HTC to establishments you wouldn’t expect to be a part of the ecosystem at all, like downtown’s Beyu Caffe. In these sessions, he’d sell the benefits of a sprouting startup community back to them, an equally difficult proposition when you’re talking about propping up a tax/customer base known for being broke and desperately seeking “a boatload of working capital.”

And finally, it meant getting out of the way — knowing what to provide, what to support, making it happen, and then letting it grow on its own, grass-roots, live or die.

I’m Looking at You, Every Other Startup Support Group

It took ages for all that to pay off in the form of Startup Stampede, and that, along with multiple other initiatives from both the public and private sectors, a metric ton of hard work from the startups themselves, a parsec of good press, and a half-dozen elves, is how the Durham startup ecosystem sprang up from “nowhere.”

With a couple of successful Startup Stampedes under their belt, Klein and frequent collaborator Matthew Coppedge from Downtown Durham Inc. knew that they had to evolve. They realized that in order to keep up with and properly serve Durham’s fledgling startup environment, they needed something new, something unique, and something bigger.

And because the Raleigh-Durham area has a reputation for being so vanilla that you can literally flavor your coffee with a few blades of grass taken from the finely manicured lawns of Cary, they knew it should push the boundaries a bit.

A bit.

So they went small.

A Tiny Window Into Durham

Klein and Coppedge know that there isn’t nearly enough attention on Durham as a startup hub, certainly within the area and definitely outside of it. So they hope that there are several marketing aspects that can be ramped up through the lifecycle of The Smoffice.

It will start with the application process, which will be worldwide and centered around the uniqueness of the space. This is not only meant to attract outside entrepreneurs to the program, but also serve as an introduction to the location and the culture, a huge and very important task in keeping the Durham startup ecosystem growing.

The marketing will continue with the live nature of The Smoffice itself, offering locals and non-locals alike a peek into how entrepreneurs can succeed in Durham, with or without a Smoffice and all the sponsors and connections, but because of a culture that promotes risk, acceptance, help, sharing, and support. At one point there was talk of a documentary, but I don’t know where that went. It’s a great idea though

Wish I’d thought of it.

Joe’s last column offered “Five Reasons why you need to be at SEVC”

Joe Procopio heads up product engineering for automated content startup Automated Insights. He also founded and runs startup network ExitEvent, consulting marketplace Intrepid Company, and the Intrepid Media writers network. You can read him at and follow him at

TRENDS: Mobile gets more media time than TV

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

InMobi, the largest independent mobile ad network, has announced the results of its comprehensive global Mobile Media Consumption Q4 2011 Survey, finding that mobile users spend more time consuming media on their device than on TV.

Key highlights include:

Mobile has surpassed TV in terms of time spent, with:

  • Mobile web users spending 27% of their media time on mobile
  • Spending 22% of their media time on TV

Mobile consumers recognize the impact of mobile advertising on purchase behavior and their willingness to transact over mobile, with:

  • Three quarters planning to conduct mCommerce activities within the next year (76%)
  • 42% claiming that mobile advertising has introduced them to something new

Some of the most notable findings from the InMobi’s Mobile Media Consumption survey are:

Media Trends

  • On any given day, mobile web users spend 27% of their media time on mobile, 22% on TV and 32% online.
  • Availability, ease of use, and privacy are the top three driving factors to be on mobile
  • Social media, entertainment, and search are the top three mobile media activities among mobile web users. This popularity will continue to grow in the next 12 months

Mobile Advertising and Commerce Trends

  • Mobile, PCs, and TV are the most powerful media that influence the purchase decision among mobile users
  • 66% of mobile users are just as comfortable with mobile advertising as they are with TV or online advertising
  • Advertising on mobile devices has led to mobile gaining tremendous popularity as a viable shopping channel, with
    • 42% of respondents indicating that mobile ads have introduced them to something new
    • 23% of respondents indicating that mobile ads save time and money
    • 14% of respondents indicating that mobile ads have influenced them to buy via mobile

Naveen Tewari, CEO, InMobi, says of the survey’s findings: “Mobile devices are redefining the media landscape across the world. As we move into 2012, we will continue to see these trends rapidly accelerate as consumers rely ever more heavily on their mobile device. While the opportunities to exploit mobile media remain strong, the stakeholders across the industry will be confronted with ongoing questions and challenges which need to be addressed in order to meet the growing expectations of the customer.”

Who’s going to buy an iPad 3 and why (infographic)

Monday, February 27th, 2012

AYTMReports say the iPad 3 may be announced the first week of March, although the release date may be later.  AYTM Research (aytm) conducted research on what current iPad users are doing with their devices and what would motivate them to buy an iPad 3.

They collected the research in this infographic:

iPad 3 Statistics
Source: AYTM Research

Social network users more active in pruning and managing accounts

Friday, February 24th, 2012

PewInternetSocial network users are becoming more active in pruning and managing their accounts. Women and younger users tend to unfriend more than others.

About two-thirds of internet users use social networking sites (SNS) and all the major metrics for profile management are up, compared to 2009: 63% of them have deleted people from their “friends” lists, up from 56% in 2009; 44% have deleted comments made by others on their profile; and 37% have removed their names from photos that were tagged to identify them.

Some 67% of women who maintain a profile say they have deleted people from their network, compared with 58% of men. Likewise, young adults are more active unfrienders when compared with older users.


A majority of social network site users – 58% – restrict access to their profiles and women are significantly more likely to choose private settings.

More than half of social networking site users (58%) say their main profile is set to private so that only friends can see it; 19% set their profile to partially private so that friends of friends can view it; and 20% say their main profile is set to be completely public. Women who use SNS are more likely than men to set the highest restrictions (67% vs. 48%).

Half of SNS users say they have some difficulty in managing privacy controls, but just 2% say it is “very difficult” to use the controls. Those with the most education report the most trouble.

In all, 48% of social media users report some level of difficulty in managing the privacy controls on their profile, while 49% say that it is “not difficult at all.” Very few users (2%) describe their experiences as “very difficult,” while 16% say they are “somewhat difficult” and another 30% say the controls are “not too difficult” to manage.

Social media users who are college graduates are significantly more likely than those with lower levels of education to say that they experience some difficulty in managing the privacy controls on their profiles. 

11% of SNS users have posted content they regret.

Male profile owners are almost twice as likely as female profile owners to profess regret for posting content (15% vs. 8%).  Young adults are also more prone to say they regret some of their social media postings; 15% of profile owners ages 18-29 say they have posted content they later regret, compared with just 5% of profile owners ages 50 and older.

Is the resume an outdated hiring tool? Unrabble says yes

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

UnrabbleBy Allan Maurer

Is the resume an outdated and increasingly less effective hiring tool? Startup Unrabble thinks so, and CEO Kevin Watson says his company’s cloud-based software leverages social media to provide potential employers with much richer profiles of job candidates.

“That way they can focus on exactly what they’re looking for,” Watson says.

Founded in 2009 by Watson, Chris Rickborn, COO, and Marc Slack, CTO, Unrabble has closed a $3 million round of funding in 2010 from C/max Capital and Morgenthau Ventures.

It is one of 60 innovative tech firms presenting at the Southeast Venture Conference in Tysons Corner, VA, next week. The event is nearing sell-out capacity.

Unrabble is looking for between $3 million and $5 million in growth capital.

We’ve seen quite a few firms attempt to update the hiring process for small to medium-sized businesses that do not have the financial clout to hire recruiters or staff large human resources departments. But, Watson notes, “We’re the only non-resume-based system of this kind.”

Its major competition, he adds, is from traditional applicant evaluation systems – typically an in-box full of resumes.

The company evolved after Watson and the other Unrabble founders left identity verification firm Verid when it sold to EMC in 2007 where Watson was chair and CEO. Prior to Verid, Watson founded C/max Capital, where he led investments in Verid, which raised more than $20 million in equity backing.

Watson also served as acting CFO at, leading its $86 million initial public offering.

Find a need and fill it

Watson says that when his team left Verid, “We started talking about what to do next. We realized that we had put together a terrific team, but if we wanted to hire someone, we had to spend days looking at resumes or pay a recruiter thousands of dollars. We looked around for a better solution, but there really wasn’t anything.”

What does a good entrepreneur do when there is a need and no solution? Create one.

“We saw the explosion in social media profiles,” Watson says. And thus, Unrabble was born.

“Hiring is one of the problems that is uniform across industries and stage,” he points out, “but large companies have HR departments. Smaller ones are stuck with the outdated resume process that can be painful and costly in terms of both time and money.”

Since the Unrabble team were not HR pros, they were not constrained by traditional hiring processes. “We just wanted a better way to manage it,” he says. “We want it to be an incredibly intuitive process anyone can use without training or implementation, from a VP of customer service to mom and pop firms with a handful of employees.”

Feedback on the product has been excellent, and the company already has more than 1,000 employers signed up. “We focus on the employer,” Watson says, “but they can post jobs wherever they want, all their social media sites, job boards, their own site, email. Candidates are directed via a link to a white label page where they submit their profile, which can be from LinkedIn, Facebook, or done from scratch.”

Unrabble offers a free plan, a $29 a month plan, and a $49 a month plan – each based on the number of active jobs and selection of features.

Here’s a video demo of how it works:

Are you addicted to the Internet? (Infographic)

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012, the web’s largest opinion-based social community, asked its users if they thought they were addicted to the Internet and 61% of respondents said “yes.”  However, 39% said they could quit if they wanted.

When the numbers are broken down by gender, 64% of women admitted to an Internet addiction, compared to 55% of men.  Internet addiction was present in every age group, however the younger voters were more likely to be hooked (73% of those between 13-17 and 71% of those between 18-24).  The numbers decreased for older respondents with only 39% of those between 55-65 admitting to the addiction.

Full results of the poll, including detailed demographic information, can be found at:

Here’s an infographic from the firm illustrating the results:

Internet addiction

Hulu delivered the most video ad impressions in January

Monday, February 20th, 2012

Online videoGoogle Sites, driven primarily by video viewing at, ranked as the top online video content property in January with 152 million unique viewers, followed by VEVO with 51.5 million, Yahoo! Sites with 49.2 million, Viacom Digital with 48.1 million and with 45.1 million.

Nearly 40 billion videos views occurred during the month, with Google Sites generating the highest number at 18.6 billion, followed by Hulu with 877 million and VEVO with 717 million. The average viewer watched 22.6 hours of online video content, with Google Sites (7.5 hours) and Hulu (3.2 hours) demonstrating the highest average engagement among the top ten properties.

Top U.S. Online Video Content Properties Ranked by Unique Video Viewers
January 2012
Total U.S. – Home and Work Locations
Content Videos Only (Ad Videos Not Included)
Source: comScore Video Metrix
Property Total Unique Viewers (000) Videos (000)* Minutes per Viewer
Total Internet : Total Audience 181,115 39,995,849 1,354.7
Google Sites 151,989 18,633,743 448.7
VEVO 51,499 716,608 62.2
Yahoo! Sites 49,215 538,260 57.4
Viacom Digital 48,104 507,046 58.0 45,135 248,941 22.0
Microsoft Sites 41,491 558,017 51.3
AOL, Inc. 40,991 419,783 51.4
Hulu 31,383 877,388 189.0
Amazon Sites 27,906 86,705 19.7
NBC Universal 27,096 95,034 17.2

*A video is defined as any streamed segment of audiovisual content, including both progressive downloads and live streams. For long-form, segmented content, (e.g. television episodes with ad pods in the middle) each segment of the content is counted as a distinct video stream.

Top 10 Video Ad Properties by Video Ads Viewed

Americans viewed 5.6 billion video ads in January, with Hulu delivering the highest number of video ad impressions at 1.4 billion. ranked second overall (and highest among video ad exchanges/networks) with 652 million ad views, followed by BrightRoll Video Network with 598 million, Tremor Video with 580 million and Specific Media with 398 million.

Time spent watching video ads totaled more than 2.3 billion minutes during the month, with Hulu delivering the highest duration of video ads at 540 million minutes. Video ads reached 47 percent of the total U.S. population an average of 38 times during the month. Hulu delivered the highest frequency of video ads to its viewers with an average of 43, while ESPN delivered an average of 20 ads per viewer.

Top U.S. Online Video Ad Properties Ranked by Video Ads* Viewed
January 2012
Total U.S. – Home and Work Locations
Ad Videos Only (Content Videos Not Included)
Source: comScore Video Metrix
Property Video Ads (000) Total Ad Minutes (MM) Frequency (Ads per Viewer) % Reach Total U.S. Population
Total Internet : Total Audience 5,558,261 2,329 38.4 47.3
Hulu 1,446,618 540 43.1 11.0 651,531 395 10.8 19.8
BrightRoll Video Network** 598,353 370 6.1 32.3
Tremor Video** 580,302 314 12.6 15.0
Specific Media** 397,941 187 5.6 23.2
Auditude, Inc.** 386,702 151 9.7 13.1
Microsoft Sites 385,581 149 11.2 11.2
SpotXchange Video Ad Marketplace** 356,755 207 10.3 11.3
ESPN 343,801 131 20.0 5.6
Viacom Digital 286,024 123 12.8 7.3

*Video ads include streaming-video advertising only and do not include other types of video monetization, such as overlays, branded players, matching banner ads, homepage ads, etc.
**Indicates video ad network
†Indicates video ad exchange

Top 10 YouTube Partner Channels by Unique Viewers

The January 2012 YouTube partner data revealed that video music channels VEVO (50.6 million viewers) and Warner Music (29.7 million viewers) maintained the top two positions. Gaming channel Machinima ranked third with 23.8 million viewers, followed by Maker Studios Inc. with 12.5 million, FullScreen with 11.6 million and Big Frame with 8.2 million. Among the top 10 YouTube partners, VEVO demonstrated the highest engagement (62 minutes per viewer) and highest number of videos viewed (696 million), while Machinima exhibited the second highest engagement (60 minutes per viewer) and number of videos viewed (347 million).

Top YouTube Partner Channels* Ranked by Unique Video Viewers
January 2012
Total U.S. – Home and Work Locations
Content Videos Only (Ad Videos Not Included)
Source: comScore Video Metrix
Property Total Unique Viewers (000) Videos (000) Minutes per Viewer
VEVO @ YouTube 50,563 695,947 61.8
Warner Music @ Youtube 29,718 187,672 27.5
Machinima @ YouTube 23,799 347,380 60.4
Maker Studios Inc. @ YouTube 12,505 135,301 47.4
FullScreen @ YouTube 11,579 50,292 17.6
Big Frame @ YouTube 8,167 42,106 18.8
BroadbandTV @ YouTube 8,016 29,695 15.8
Bigpoint @ YouTube 7,864 43,146 21.1
Blizzard @ YouTube 7,572 13,021 4.1
Demand Media @ YouTube 7,296 19,804 9.4

*YouTube Partner Reporting based on online video content viewing and does not include claimed user-generated content

Other notable findings from January 2012 include:

  • 84.4 percent of the U.S. Internet audience viewed online video.
  • The duration of the average online content video was 6.1 minutes, while the average online video ad was 0.4 minutes.
  • Video ads accounted for 12.2 percent of all videos viewed and 0.9 percent of all minutes spent viewing video online.

Afraid of being without your mobile phone? You’re not alone

Friday, February 17th, 2012

Touch Screen PhonesFirst identified in 2008, it would appear nomophobia – the fear of being out of mobile phone contact, is sharply increasing in the UK – and likely everywhere, considering the way many people seem to have their mobile phone attached permanently to their hands.

A recent survey of 1,000 people in employment, conducted using OnePoll, discovered two thirds of respondents fear losing or being without their mobile phone. The study, sponsored by SecurEnvoy – which provides tokenless two-factor authentication, reveals that 41% of people interviewed, in an effort to stay connected, have two phones or more.

When asked if they’d be upset if a partner looked at the messages and texts on their phone almost half said that they would.

Digging a little deeper, more women worry about losing their phones than men – 70% of the women surveyed compared to 61% of the men, yet it is men that are more likely to have two phones – scoring 47% and 36% respectively, perhaps in an effort to stay connected.

When split by age it is the younger age group (18 – 24) that are more nomophobic at 77%, with the 25 – 34 age group second at 68%. Perhaps a little more surprisingly is that third most nomophobic are the 55 and overs!

“The first study into nomophobia, conducted four years ago, revealed that 53% of people suffered from the condition and our study reveals this has now risen to 66% in the UK and shows no sign of abating. A reversal on the 2008 findings is that, back then, it was men that were more afflicted yet today it’s women. I’d be inclined to draw the conclusion that, perhaps because more men have two phones, they’re less likely to misplace both and therefore be left phone-less,” said Andy Kemshall SecurEnvoy CTO and co founder. “There is another study into mobile phone use that found people check their phones, on average, 34 times a day so it wouldn’t take long for you to realise if you’d misplaced your device.”

Another interesting revelation from this study is that, with 49% of people getting upset if their messages and texts were viewed by a partner, they’re still lax at securing these devices.

Nearly half use no security protection

Forty-six percent do not use any protection at all; 41% use a four pin access code; and just 10% encrypt their device. A security conscious 3% use two factor authentication. Andy suggests, “With 58% of the respondents using at least one device for business use, this lack of security is a worrying trend that needs addressing.”

“What this study does highlight though,” concludes Kemshall “is the extent that people now rely on their mobile phones.  At SecurEnvoy we have certainly seen a huge spike in demand from local government and the private sector looking to turn their staff’s phones into security devices, where they can use SMS tokenless®two factor authentication to access data securely and easily whilst on the move.”

For more about SecurEnvoy, visit

Facebook Timeline could affect job seekers chances

Friday, February 17th, 2012

FacebookThe imminent reformatting of Facebook looks set to further expose the private lives of its users.

The standard layout will be transformed into a timeline of events, a collated year by year account of user’s movements on Facebook since their birth, or Facebook sign-up date.

It has, understandably, caused a stir amongst employers and employees, because of the backlog of history now so readily available to browse and click.

In short, if nothing is tailored, made private or deleted, employers have immediate access to a potential candidate’s ‘social’ history – warts and all.

Guardian Jobs acknowledges it is an interesting issue and a subject of great debate. It raises questions around the relationship between employers, jobs, candidates and networking sites whether professional or social.

Social sites offer their users a powerful connection tools, based on interest, or personal data matching like where users live, or like to shop. But the line between social networking and socialising can be a thin one.

While Facebook has arguably moved things forward within the recruitment process – opening doors of networking and opportunities for many – it has also enabled employers to shut down potential candidates based on their online profiles – including photographs of people socialising.

Employers using Facebook & other social networks as a filter

In the UK 76% of all Facebook profile photos are of people in an inebriated state, the highest figure globally. And numerous surveys have shown that employers and recruiters use Facebook and other networking sites to filter and check the profile and background of potential candidates.

On one hand, this can work very well for the employee by showcasing an involved informed candidate able to discuss industry trends, and taking an interest perhaps in raising money for charity.

But the threat to a candidate’s privacy, ability to let off steam and have fun whilst not at work is also present, and we all need boundaries between work and play.  Prospective employers will have – if settings remain public – access to Facebook footage in all its glory: whether drunk and vulgar abandonment or informed engaged professional.

Guardian Jobs advises users of social platforms whether social or professional to consider their online footprint. This means typing their name into a search engine and checking what comes up. They also advise that candidates may want to consider having professional accounts, and that they must check privacy settings.

Guardian Jobs’ Facebook page is full of news, articles and ideas to help candidates and professionals progress cyber careers. Knowing how to network without jeopardising reputation is a challenge but there is plenty of credible, free advice available to internet users.

Social media trends: sharing, influence, convergence (infographic)

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

By Allan Maurer

Social media trends are evolving as I write. Convergence, the “cult of influence,” social television, and what seems like a new major player in the social media field every month, among them.

I just joined Pinterest, latest of the hot social startups out there (so, we hear, did Facebook founder/CEO Mark Zuckerberg. He’s been active on the new site for about seven weeks. He liked a colorful photo of lemons and his three pins include the movies “Bridesmaids” and “Moneyball.”

I found Pinterest useful right away, perhaps because a handful of my Facebook friends who already share numerous interests with me are already on the site and pinning away.

I’m finding Google+ useful for insight into tech, marketing, social media, and other topics, although it is a less personal social site for me, at least. Facebook, of course, remains the mainstay of actual social interaction with friends for me. How about you?

Twitter always steers me to a browser bar full of links that interest me, but again, it is as useful to me professionally, or more so, than it is personally. It is continually interesting to see how some celebrities use Twitter, though. For a while, movie director Kevin Smith, who has a new show called “Comic Book Men,” made Twitter almost a second career for a while. You may recall his dustup with an airline that removed him from a flight for being too fat.

I haven’t gotten into social TV much yet, but it’s obviously coming down the media superhighway at high speed, whether people use connected sets or second screens.

Here’s 4340’s infographic on social media trends:


Average employee spends 12 percent of the day on social networks (infographic)

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

DeskTimeThe average employee will spend 12% of the working day using unproductive applications, such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube. Only 59% of the day is spent using applications, which are deemed productive. This amounts to 65 hours a month, which have not been used productively, according to data analyzed by DeskTime.

Of course, DeskTime has a dog in this hunt.

The data demonstrates that after a month of using a time tracking system, the productivity of an employee increases by 15%. When considering this data it must be understood that the employees have access to the collected time-tracking data, that is, they see which applications they use and they see the amount of time spent productively, unproductively, and neutrally.

Personally, we use social networks as part of our job. We’ve also seen studies that show that allowing employees some social networking time actually increases their productivity, so we’re not sure it’s a cut and dried equation of time on Facebook equals time lost.

The company created this infographic to illustrate its findings: