Corey Parker

Corey Parker

With the new 6.11 version of Bing's iOS search app, results for a "homes for sale + zip code" query returns real estate listings for specified zip codes.

Bing rolled out updates to its iOS search app today, ranging from new video features to malicious website warnings and real estate searches.

According to the app’s iTunes preview, users can now create video lists from video search results and music videos. To make searching more safe, Bing has added warnings for malicious websites.

It also fixed bugs in the app that were causing certain answers not to display properly.


Included in the update is a new real estate search feature, making it possible to see real estate listings for a specific zip code using a “homes for sale + zip code” query.

bing real estate search

The real estate search feature appears to work only with densely populated zip codes. It worked when I searched for a nearby Louisville, Kentucky zip code, but failed to pull listings when I used my own – much less populated – zip code in Southern Indiana.

Author : Amy Gesenhues

Source : http://searchengineland.com/bing-updates-ios-search-app-new-ways-create-video-lists-find-homes-sale-269061

Up to 80% of the Internet is said to be hidden in the so-called "deep web," which can be accessed using special search systems, like the Tor browser. Often, the "deep web" is associated with criminal activities, like firearms sales and drug trafficking.

The deep web is a kind of mysterious place where one can find everything that has been published on the Internet, but can't be accessed via traditional search engines. In other words, it is collection of websites that are publicly visible, but hide the IP addresses of the servers that run them.

"There are various services within this universe. Some are used to protect delivered information, conceal identities or ensure anonymity," IT expert and CEO of TIB company Maximiliano Alonzo explained in an interview with Sputnik Mundo.

At the same time, Alonzo noted that the deep web can be used both — in positive and negative ways.

"The deep web is like a scalpel: in the hands of a doctor it can save lives, but in the hands of a criminal, it can kill. So everything depends on its use. There are certain countries in which citizens have a limited access to the Internet, and the deep web is for them an alternative way to receive information," Alonzo explained.

The concept of a deep web appeared with the occurrence of the first search engines. All data that can't be accessed by Google is available via special search systems, like the Tor browser, which makes it impossible to trace the identity or address of its users.

"If a user tries to access a certain web site, his IP address gets registered in the system and makes it possible to identify the country, the city and even the identity of the user. The Tor system can change a person's data and make its access anonymous," the expert explained.

The deep web contains any kind of information and is often associated with criminal activities (like firearms and drug trafficking as well as personal data sales).

For instance, the sales of a fentanyl drug caused a wave of deaths and were ultimately prohibited by one of the Dark Web marketplaces.

Earlier, it was also reported that hackers sold on the deep web hundreds of millions of personal passwords from websites such as LinkedIn, MySpace, Tumblr, Fling.com, and VK.com.


Source  : https://sputniknews.com/science/201702181050826186-deep-dark-web-mysterious-universe/

Any job offers extended from www.rds-usa.com should not be accepted. BBB learned that the domain for the website is registered in Hong Kong and isn’t the site it’s pretending to be. The fake website has details designed to make it look like it represents a local company – Rapid Delivery Service, a BBB Accredited Business – but it’s actually based in China and doesn’t have anything to do with the business located in Cincinnati.

Any job offers generated from this site should be treated cautiously as they may be linked to a package reshipping scam. Reshipping scams are where job seekers are hired to unknowingly smuggle stolen goods out of the country or distribute counterfeit money orders to scammers. By simply removing one address label and replacing it with another, the unsuspecting worker participates in mail fraud.


Spoofing occurs when scammers use information about a business found on an Internet search, LinkedIn profile, or social media site to create a website. They’ll generate job postings on common employment recruitment sites like Job Monster or Careerbuilder and link it back to the fake site. Applicants who respond to the post are usually asked to complete online forms with their personal information or in some cases, provide financial information.

Rapid Delivery Service is aware of the spoof and confirmed they’ve received calls about the job from job seekers even though they don’t have a website and didn’t send out a job posting.

Through Scam Tracker data, BBB discovered that the fake position advertised a salary of $2,700 for the first month of work, increasing to $600 per week plus $15 for each package delivered. The job reportedly involved collecting packages, taking their photos and uploading those photos onto a website; once that was complete and the postage for the package was received, the worker was then to send the package to a separate address.

It is important for job searchers to be wary of email offers that promise large profits with minimal effort or companies that extend an offer of employment without an interview. Additional red flags may include recruiters who will only interview via chat or email instead of conducting the interview in person or online. Activity like this should be reported immediately. Businesses should be aware their information may be lifted from Internet searches and social media sites – including professional networking sites such as LinkedIn.

It’s a good idea to periodically search for your business on the Internet to see if there are any fake job postings unrelated to your company. Report any fraudulent listings to the websites where you found them and to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).

Scam activity can be reported to BBB’s Scam Tracker either by phone at 513-421-3015 or online at www.bbb.org/scamtracker/us/.

Sandra Guile is the Community Outreach Specialist for BBB. She promotes BBB’s message of marketplace ethics through public speaking engagements, presentations, media relations, press releases, web content, and other written materials.
Contact Sandra at (513) 639-9126 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Your BBB is located at 1 East 4th Street Suite 600 Cincinnati, Ohio 45202 – to reach the office, call (513) 421-3015.

Source : http://www.nkytribune.com/2017/02/bbb-trends-beware-of-job-offers-online-some-sites-just-arent-what-they-are-pretending-to-be/

Thursday, 16 February 2017 10:07

The Next Frontier Of Internet And Search

Search is an everyday part of our lives. From searching for the ingredients to make breakfast, looking for travel routes, and even to things as obscure as finding a dog-sitter - we are used to searching for things every day, so much so that over the past ten years the number of hours spent on the Internet has doubled to an average of 20 hours per week. However, during that time, the technology employed by search engines has not changed drastically and has been reliant on keyword based search. This kind of search picks out main words, disregards connective words and, in turn, provides users with pages and pages of results, many of which are not relevant.

In recent years, developments in mobile technology and voice search have changed the way people seek out information, and as a result, the way we search has evolved. However, some of the major search engines are yet to catch up.


So, what are the key trends that we can expect to see revolutionise the way we search?

The future of search appears to be in the algorithms behind the technology. Semantic search or natural language is being hailed as the ‘holy grail,’ but in the Search of the Future, new methods will prevail that provide better results thanks to their ability to organise information deriving from improved algorithms driven by the new methods. These methods will also utilise new technological approaches such as “natural intelligence” or “human language search,” rather than artificial intelligence and natural language search.

The difference among the search types is that: the keyword search only picks out the words that it thinks are relevant; the natural language search is closer to how the human brain processes information; the human language search that we practice is the exact matching between questions and answers as it happens in interactions between human beings.

The technology behind the human language search approach allows users to type in words or terms composed of a number of questions in sequences that replicate the dialogue that occurs between human beings. For example, instead of carrying out three different searches for UK golf courses, train stations and hotels under £300, users would simply type in “which UK hotels under £300 have golf courses and are near a train station”. This would immediately provide them with accurate results by returning in a single view information about hotels, golf courses and train stations.

In an ‘always on, always connected’ world, where people demand instantaneous results, the answers to a search must be precise, complete and immediately accessible.


The humanisation of technology and in particular, search, can be attributed to this new direction that the future of search is taking.

The aforementioned technology is transforming search and introducing new trends like the human language search approach. Yet the gap between using personal devices and using traditional search engines is yet to be fully bridged. This quest for an effective, true to life search engine that is identical to the way humans think is the holy grail, the online equivalent of the scientific search for a cure for cancer. In recent years there has been a handful of search engines trying and succeeding in mirroring these search techniques, and we can expect to see them launch into and dominate the consumer market. 

The emergence of IoT and Big Data has resulted in increasing amounts of data being produced, and it’s predicted that by the year 2020, about 1.7 megabytes of new information will be created every second for every human being on the planet. All of this additional information means that search needs to be streamlined so that users can filter through the ‘noise’ and efficiently find what they are looking for. Search engines will need to be far more proficient to allow everyday users to effectively navigate the minefield of additional information.

Another key trend we can expect to see in the future of search is the shift from ‘search engines’ to ‘search platforms’, meaning that they will have a wider use. They will provide tools, services and a level of precision that is not currently available. It will be designed for the organisation, and management of information. Essential to this, is the simplification of results findings, presenting all the relevant search findings onto just one page, instead of the hundreds of results that we are used to being offered.

Ultimately, what the future holds is unknown, as the amount of time that we spend online increases, and technology becomes an innate part of our lives. It is expected that the desktop versions of search engines that we have become accustomed to will start to copy their mobile counterparts by embracing new methods and techniques like the human language search approach, thus providing accurate results. Fortunately these shifts are already being witnessed within the business sphere, and we can expect to see them being offered to the rest of society within a number of years, if not sooner.

Author : Gianpiero Lotito

Source : http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/gianpiero-lotito/the-next-frontier-of-inte_b_14738538.html

Imagine if everything that showed up on Google News had to go through Google(GOOG, +0.15%) first for fact-checking. That's the situation that might arise in Russia, hitting foreign and local web giants, such as Yandex, alike.

Russia has tight media controls that include a requirement to make sure all print, broadcast and online news is true. The Kremlin imposed these rules on bloggers as well in 2014, and now lawmakers from communist and center-left parties are trying to bring news aggregators into the fold.

The bill, submitted to the Duma (Russia's parliament) late February, would effectively say that news aggregators are the same as mass media operations.


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This would probably mean Google would have to shut down Google News in Russia, as mass media companies operating in the country must have no more than 20% foreign ownership (under another recent law).

But it would also cause major hassles for local companies running aggregators, such as Yandex and Mail.ru. These operations would become liable if they spread false information and state agencies complain about it.

According to local reports on Thursday, Yandex executive Ekaterina Fadeeva said it would be impossible for her company to comply with the new law.

Former U.S. Secretary of Defense: Putin is Dangerous
Leon Panetta explains how the Russian leader is still a national security threat.

Fadeeva said the amount of news traffic pumping into an aggregator makes it impossible to pre-moderate everything. What's more, Yandex argues that there is no way it can objectively assess the truthfulness of all the stories showing up in the aggregator — that's the job of the journalists and editors publishing the stories.

"Yandex.News can't exist in its current status if this bill will pass," a Yandex spokesperson told Fortune.

Although the law would create a handy way of further restricting information flows, when the bill came out, the Russian communications ministry indicated it was not keen on the idea.

That said, the Kremlin has already been making life hard for big online players, particularly by mandating that they store users' personal data on servers in Russia.

Author : David Meyer

Source : http://fortune.com/2016/03/18/russia-news-aggregators/

GOOGLE’S artificial intelligence program has learned to become “aggressive” when it is in stressful situations, the search engine giant has warned.

Despite numerous predictions from experts that AI could lead to the downfall of humanity, including Stephen Hawking who claimed it could be the “worst thing” for human beings, tech giants are continuing to invest heavily in AI.

In 2016, Google’s AI program, known as DeepMind, showed its makers it was capable of learning independently, teaching itself to beat the world champion in a game of Go!.

Now, it has continued on its ruthless streak and opts for “highly aggressive” strategies when it is in fear of losing.


In the latest tests, two DeepMind agents were tasked with playing a game of ‘Gathering’ – a computer game where two people, or in this case computers, play against each other to collect the most apples.

alpha go

The AI beings operated smoothly when there were enough apples to go around, but once the apples became more sparse, the DeepMind systems began using laser beams, or tagging, to knock the other one out, ensuring they could collect all the apples.


A blog post from the DeepMind team read: “We let the agents play this game many thousands of times and let them learn how to behave rationally using deep multi-agent reinforcement learning.


“Rather naturally, when there are enough apples in the environment, the agents learn to peacefully coexist and collect as many apples as they can. “However, as the number of apples is reduced, the agents learn that it may be better for them to tag the other agent to give themselves time on their own to collect the scarce apples.”

ai skull

GETTYThere are fears that AI's wishes will not fit in line with humanity's Joel Z Leibo, who is part of the DeepMind team, told Wired: "This model... shows that some aspects of human-like behaviour emerge as a product of the environment and learning."Less aggressive policies emerge from learning in relatively abundant environments with less possibility for costly action. “The greed motivation reflects the temptation to take out a rival and collect all the apples oneself.”


Source : http://www.express.co.uk/news/science/766612/Google-DeepMind-artificial-intelligence-AI


Did your rankings in Google get better or worse over the past week? Many webmasters and SEOs are noticing some significant changes in Google's search rankings algorithm.

Last Tuesday, Feb. 7, there seems to have been a Google algorithm change that adjusted how many sites rank — both for good and bad. I’ve been tracking the update since Feb. 8, and over time, more and more webmasters and SEOs have been taking notice of the ranking changes at Google.

This seems to be unrelated to the unconfirmed link algorithm change from earlier in February. This new update seems to be more related to Panda, based on such things as content and site quality, versus link factors.


Google has not confirmed the update and would not comment on what webmasters and SEOs have been noticing over the past week in the search results. So we cannot confirm if this was a content quality shift, link quality change or something else. But what we can say is that webmasters and SEOs are very busy noticing these ranking changes, through looking at ranking reports or their traffic from Google in their analytics, or using tracking tools that track visibility and other means.

The automated tracking tools from Mozcast, RankRanger, Accuranker and others also all showed evidence of an algorithm update on Feb. 7.

This update seems to have been somewhat significant, which is why we reached out to Google for a comment. If we hear more from Google, we will update you. But for now, this is all based on the conversation and chatter that I track closely within the industry.

Author : Barry Schwartz

Source : http://searchengineland.com/new-unconfirmed-google-algorithm-update-touched-february-7th-269338

Consumers do not always say what they mean, which is giving rise to new forms of market research based on emotional reactions.

As traditional methods of market research go into decline, what are the strengths and weaknesses of newer techniques that track real-time emotional responses and get behind the psychology of the consumer decision-making process?

The value of the data analytics market has grown by more than 350% over the past four years and has been a major contributor to the size and effectiveness of the UK research sector, according to a recent study commissioned by the Market Research Society and carried out by PwC.


The importance of qualitative research has also risen dramatically, as the report states that brands are increasingly looking to clarify the ‘why’ behind raw data and numbers.

The growth of these markets, along with new technologies such as neuroscience and behavioural economics, has come at the cost of the more traditional research methods, the report suggests, with the use of traditional surveys and particularly telephone surveys “declining at a rapid rate”.

But what do these emerging technologies, which track consumers’ emotions and reveal their involuntary reactions, offer brands and what challenges come with the benefits?

“The drive for understanding [motivations of behaviour] has been critical to the growth of qualitative research in the past two to three years,” says Jane Frost, CEO at the Market Research Society (MRS)

She explains that for a long time “research has recognised emotion as a key driver of behaviours”, but that the challenge has always been from the side of marketing that “quite rightly” needs the numbers. Frost adds: “Numbers need context and they only tell you what people do and not why they are doing it.”

“Numbers need context and they only tell you what people do and not why they are doing it.”

Jane Frost, CEO, MRS

Understanding what brand creative works was a contributing factor in Apple acquiring facial recognition company Emotient earlier this year, as the technology allows brands to measure at scale how emotionally engaged customers are with ads and develop marketing accordingly.

Fuelling growth

Chilled ready meals brand Rustlers, owned by Kepak Convenience Foods, sells more than four packs per second in the UK but enlisted the help of research startup TransgressiveX – one of Marketing Week’s 100 Disruptive Brands – to fuel its growth strategy.

Rustlers used TransgressiveX’s research survey, which measures the effect of a brand at each point in the purchase process, scientifically based on psychological responses of consumers, to reveal new marketing potential in the early stages of the consumer journey. The survey employs ‘System 1’ data – looking at automatic, fast and often unconscious responses – alongside algorithms to uncover competitive advantage.

According to Adrian Lawlor, marketing and business development director at Kepak Convenience Foods, an initial brand health survey allowed the company to identify a perception problem among new customers in the early stage of the customer journey.

“The clarity of the insight that comes from that is the defining factor that has helped us get under the skin of our brand,” he says. “When we look at the early stages of the journey, there are issues of perceived product performance – but now we can look at the kind of messaging we need to create to convert those that haven’t come into the brand.”

Rustlers has since used the research method to develop new advertising, packaging and spur product development, resulting in a new TV campaign, which is due to air in November followed by new packaging and products in spring 2017. “The model again is quite efficient and we have been using [these techniques] to test and optimise creative development on each of [these areas],” adds Lawlor.

“[Brand equity is a concept that exists] in a very complex environment, shareholder integrity, supply chain transparency and social media interactions, and above the line advertising and pricing,” says CEO of TransgressiveX and consumer psychologist Nadim Sadek, a former global CEO of Millward Brown’s qualitative network. “All of these add up to an exchange with consumers; a brand has to manage all that and it’s incredibly hard to get your head around.”

He adds: “Insight and research serves no purpose other than to help marketing be better.”

Lawlor agrees and says: “Presenting what is complex stuff in a clear way is important for getting the wider business engaged with it.”

Measuring brain responses

Channel 4 SuperhumansScenes of competition delivered strong emotional intensity for Channel 4’s ‘Superhumans’ campaign

Emotion tracking can also be used for post-analysis research, which is what a study by Neuro-Insight looking at Paralympics ads from Paralympics GB, Channel 4 and Samsung aimed to do.


The study analysed second-by-second electrical responses of the brain to understand how viewers responded to ads. Key measures included: how engaged a person was by an ad, or how personally relevant it was to them; what aspects of the ad were being stored into their long-term memory; and the extent to which they were emotionally energised by an ad.

The results show that in Channel 4’s ‘Superhumans’ campaign, the mix of athletes competing, interspersed with footage of disabled musicians and people doing daily things in their own way, made the ad relatable.

In Samsung’s ‘School of Rio’, there was a stronger engagement with scenes of the athletes either taking part in sporting activity or exchanging jokes with comedian and brand ambassador Jack Whitehall, than there was with scenes where they give factual information.

In ‘Supercharge’ from Paralympics GB, scenes of competition delivered a strong emotional intensity throughout, which was bolstered by the sound of cheering from the crowd during the ad.

The key driver of a positive response in all three ads comes when there is a clear indication that Paralympic athletes are in a position of strength.

Analysing adverts after they air is, in this example, key to understanding how to portray disability and diversity in a way that drives a positive, or desired, emotional response.

Trust in data use

Concern over the use of data by companies is already an issue for brands looking to analyse that data to improve marketing and it can be argued that gathering emotional data would create a bigger concern.

“There is an issue of transparency and trust,” says Frost. “We already know that consumers are much less trusting than they used to be and data is increasingly an area that worries them – [emotion tracking] would go further than written data in concern.

“Emotional stimulation and behaviour change has to be one of those things where any ethical marketer or researcher needs to be very careful,” she warns. These concerns are centred on applications that could manipulate emotion. The worry is over how companies can ensure they are not making an angry person angrier or a depressed person even more depressed.

Frost would like the “greatest range of possibility available to market researchers and marketers” but also wants to be clear that if marketers do it well from the outset, they will get permission to go on doing it. “If you don’t take a considered approach, then someone will come and ban [it],” she warns.

Why emotion is linked to brand loyalty

Brand loyalty is the holy grail for many companies but instead of looking at the numbers, such as traffic driven by an email or social media post or the number of people redeeming a voucher, loyalty can be linked to simply asking how a customer feels.


Organisations need to understand the intuitions that drive customers’ behaviour at an emotional, subconscious and psychological level, according to Colin Shaw, co-author of ‘The Intuitive Customer: 7 imperatives for moving your customer experience to the next level’.

“Customers are human beings and therefore understanding how a human being works is important from a brand perspective. Most organisations tend to focus on the rational side of an experience.”

Colin Shaw, author

“Customers are human beings and therefore understanding how a human being works is important from a brand perspective. Most organisations tend to focus on the rational side of an experience,” says Shaw.

He adds: “Clearly, humans are more complicated and we know that over 50% of experience is based on how a customer feels. It’s surprising how many brands don’t do research on how customers feel about them. That’s not just feeling good or bad but [as a consumer] am I feeling trust, am I feeling cared for and valued?”

Shaw believes the biggest and “most profound area” of work in this sector is by Professor Daniel Kahneman, who won a Nobel prize for behavioural economics, and says loyalty is a function of memory. So if consumers did not remember, they would not be able to be loyal because every experience of a brand would be new.

“Understanding how [loyalty] is formed becomes critical in designing experience. Kahneman argues that what people remember in an experience is the peak emotion they felt and the end emotion and those form a memory.”

Understanding how memories are formed when customers have contact with a brand is therefore key. Shaw advises brands to track the peak emotion and the end emotion “because people don’t choose between experience, they choose between the memory of an experience”. Therefore knowing what emotions get a response can build on perception and loyalty.

Consumers’ emotional reactions to brands, advertising and experiences may sound like an esoteric topic, but tracking these could ultimately be a more reliable method for understanding the motivators of behaviour than asking people to explain them.

Sponsored viewpoint

Gawain Morrison, CEO and co-founder of emotional marketing and tech consultancy, Sensum

Brands and agencies have instinctively known for some time that if you can appeal to a person’s emotions, you have a better chance of not only being able to sell a product or create great experiences, but also shaping brand loyalty. But now science is helping to prove and make more of this.

Instead of relying exclusively on traditional market research methods based on conscious questioning and surveys, which only provide a singular point of view, new research tools that weave in biometric responses allow us to build a 360-degree real-time view of the consumer’s emotional journey.

By using wearable devices we can measure evidence streams from sensors recording the way stimuli affect our non-conscious physiological reactions, such as pupil dilation, eye-tracking, facial expressions, skin-sweat and heart rate levels, all of which are indicators of an emotional response.

There is a much richer palette and deeper insight to be gleaned from this data, giving those using it a better understanding of what drives people to make decisions in context and therefore a deeper storytelling capability. And as any psychologist or neuroscientist will tell you, context is the key to gauging emotions accurately.

As with all research, there’s no one-size-fits all approach. There are circumstances where facial coding tools or heart rate and skin conduction aren’t going to be useful but in other ways they will. Success comes down to good experimental design and considering the use of these insights throughout the creative process, rather than as a tick-box exercise at the end. When used correctly, emotional research can actually aid and focus the creative process.

This year has marked a step-change in how this way of working is viewed. We’re starting to see more forward-thinking brands and agencies embrace it within their everyday methods. Some are using it to identify “white space” on which to build campaigns, while others are using it to pinpoint finer details – like whether an image provokes a more positive response on the left- or right-hand side of the page.

However, there’s still a lot of education that needs to happen before the entire industry feels comfortable with this. But given we’re in a commercial world where the ability to build a truly personalised relationship with consumers is the marker of survival, time isn’t on anyone’s side.

Author : Mindi Chahal

Source : https://www.marketingweek.com/2016/10/12/why-emotional-reactions-are-a-key-driver-of-behaviour/

Each year I have the honor of observing business trends as a keynote speaker and business advisor. For the fourth consecutive year, I am pleased to share the top business trends that leading companies embrace to drive success. Some trends are in their infancy, and others have become part of the mainstream. These patterns emerge regardless of company size. Feel free to take a look at my past predictions using the links at the bottom of the article. Here are my predictions for the Top 10 Business Trends That Will Drive Success in 2017.

1. Subject Matter Experts Become The New Rainmakers

Subject matter experts who understand and can help guide the sales process drive growth in top performing B2B companies.

Consider three different buying personas: an order taker, a salesperson, and a subject matter expert (SME). The order taker merely takes an order, and provides a price and delivery schedule. That function can be easily performed by Amazon (often with better results).


Of the remaining two personas, which one would you want to encounter as a customer? Would you want the person with a mission to sell something to you, or the expert who you might be willing to pay to meet with because of their deep expertise?

When I present these options to executives, they often resist the notion of meeting with a salesperson, but would willingly meet with the SME to gain insight.

Whereas you can hire new salespeople right out of college, SMEs can be harder to scale. However, most organizations have a stable of SMEs who currently do not play a role in growing revenue. The best organizations offer integrity-based sales training to build a sales culture within the organization and empower the SMEs as keys to growth.

Businesses used to throw bodies at sales goals, and accepted that most of the people would fail. With SMEs, businesses place a premium on proper lead qualification and narrow focus on the right opportunities to make efficient use of scarce, yet highly effective resources. SMEs won’t tolerate wasting time pursuing bad opportunities.

2. Crowdfunding Validates New Products

When you think of crowdfunding, you might envision films or artisan leather wallets. To the surprise of many, globally crowdfunding is trending to surpass venture capital by the end of this year.

According to crowdfunding and marketing expert Clay Hebert, “Smart companies are using crowdfunding to not only raise capital, but to validate products before making substantial investments in product development.”

Smith & Bradley, Ltd., a U.S.-based tactical watch manufacturer has launched seven Kickstarter campaigns to validate new designs for their line of watches. Five of the campaigns received market validation. The other two didn’t make the cut.

“When we wanted to produce our first watch, we used crowdfunding to raise the funds needed to go to market,” co-founder Ryan Bradley said. “What we didn’t realize was that we had also discovered a way to validate the market for a product before we went into production. Now, each new product idea has a crowdfunding component to validate the market. Based on the velocity or success of the crowdfunding effort, we shift our resources to meet market demand.”

Bradley still spends his days as an attorney, so staying focused on the right designs keeps their business operating at peak efficiency.

Big companies are capitalizing on this trend as well. GE Appliances created and funded FirstBuild, a "global co-creation community and microfactory" in Louisville, Kentucky to "harness the brainpower of the maker movement to change the way major home appliances are conceived, designed and manufactured." FirstBuild uses crowdfunding to validate new home appliance product ideas. They've already successfully crowdfunded Opal, a nugget ice maker and Paragon, an induction cooktop, on Indiegogo, both of which you can now buy through their website.

Before launching Paragon, FirstBuild assumed the killer feature was sous vide, a popular method of immersion cooking at a specific temperature. But as they engaged their community, they found a significant group of passionate consumers who also wanted to improve how they cooked using other methods, from warming to deep-frying. So they pivoted to include these features in the product design, positioning and marketing. When they launched on Indiegogo, Paragon was almost 600% funded, raising over $360,000. More importantly, they validated the product with over 2,100 backers.

From watches to washing machines, using crowdfunding for product validation allows any company to engage and learn from a small and passionate user community earlier in the process, speeding up time to market, and reducing both the cost and risk of new product innovation.

As Hebert often reminds companies and startups, “The best focus group in the world is the market itself.”

Hebert offers a guide to determine if your idea is right for crowdfunding.

3. Sales And Content Marketing Become Fully Integrated

As customers and buyers continue to do more online research, top performing organizations continue to integrate sales and content marketing. The goal is to ensure that when customers search for risks, challenges, and implementation strategies associated with your solutions, they will find your content to address their questions.

When I purchased my Tesla, I did research online, and scheduled my test drive the same way. The Tesla consultant coordinated the test drive and helped me select the right options (in many cases talking me out of features I didn’t really need). I then completed the purchase form online using a tablet in their store in a shopping mall. Ultimately, I placed the final order via Internet browser, from home.

Tesla provided articles and videos to help educate me as a consumer, and build trust surrounding the purchase. Through its marketing, Tesla established an innovative brand that helped me conclude that they have a long-term vision and position for the company.

As Marcus Sheridan teaches, top companies engage their front-line sales teams to identify topics for content marketing, and the content marketing team helps sales professionals to effectively use content in the sales process.  

The people at SalesMango also have an interesting take on this concept.

4. Video Becomes Essential

According to a recent Forbes study, video is becoming a critical source of information for executives:

  •  More than 80% said they are watching more online video today than they were a  year ago.
  •  Three-quarters (75%) of executives surveyed said they watch work-related videos on  business-related websites at least weekly; more than half (52%) watch work-related  videos on YouTube at least weekly.
  •  Overall, 65% have visited a vendor’s website after watching a video.

Hubspot’s Consumer Behavior Survey confirms this trend. Over half (55%) of users say they consume an entire video, compared to 29% for blogs and 33% for interactive articles. If you want your entire message to be consumed, video tends to be the preferred medium.

Early in the days of television, advertisements were highly effective because the platform was relatively new. Using video to run ads today is a waste of effort. However, providing video as a source of valuable content to address issues or answer questions helps the consumer to feel like they know you better than if they had just read an article.

When you combine deliberate production with technology, video can provide great flexibility. Based on the user’s interests and other details you know about them, you could assemble a video on the fly addressing the user’s specific questions by pulling various snippets of video content. The video snippets are then assembled into one seamless video message.

5. New Collaboration Tools Require Rethinking Email

Collaborative tools like Slack are replacing email for internal communication. Started in 2013, Slack surpassed 4 million daily users in October 2016. Though this does not mean that companies will abandon email all together, it does change how you need to think of email. (Lee Gomes wrote a nice piece about Slack)

In an organization where internal and external communication happens within email, you can count on the fact that most users will spend much of their day with their inboxes open on their desktops.

Organizations using tools like Slack for internal communication might have less need to have their inboxes open throughout the day. Instead of spending eight or more hours with their inboxes open, it could shift to less than one hour. At that point, the only emails will be from external sources. With professionals spending less time in their inboxes, you’ll have even less time than before to make a positive impression with your email communication.


So, how do you reach your B2B audience if they are not paying attention to email? Smart companies will use precision targeting with Facebook and other social media tools to capture the attention of potential customers who shift to platforms like Slack, and start to pay decreased attention to email. Valuable content will attract, and self-serving hype will repel customers.Look for video-based Facebook targeting to grow substantially in 2017.

Top 10 Business Trends That Will Drive Success In 2017

6. Brick And Mortar Stores Without Expertise Disappear

Brick and mortar stores that merely offer merchandise without expertise or curation will continue to suffer.

Nordstrom gives fashion advice. Home improvement stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot offer education. But why does Costco work so well? Costco customers have come to believe that the retailer curates a narrow set of the best products at a great price and stands behind them with exceptional service. If they offered 15 alternatives for a given need, they’d fail. By curating quality and delivering value, they build trust.

Brick and mortar retailers that let you find things on your own will continue to lose market share to Amazon and others. If you have to discover the products on your own, it’s easier to do so online. USA Today reports on vast numbers of traditional retailers closing stores. If you look at the stores listed, they all fit the model of retailers that offer products without expertise. The Balance shared similar information.

7. Subject Matter Experts Get Sales Support

With a shift in subject matter experts (SMEs) to grow revenue (Trend #1), organizations understand that SMEs might not have the ideal professional or interpersonal skills to drive the buying steps for customers. Without proper support and training, SMEs could miss opportunities. However, customers still prefer to work with SMEs over traditional salespeople.

Top organizations recognize that SMEs often have broad roles in the organization. Their time is valuable, and you cannot afford to have them work inefficiently. This means three key components drive SMEs’ success:

  1. Build and reinforce skills to understand the sales process to better appreciate how customers make decisions and how to “sell” with integrity;
  2. Deploy sales support professionals who manage proposals, track details, and ensure continuity with clients who are primarily serviced by SMEs; and
  3. Implement automation tools to keep important tasks from falling through the cracks and ensure focus on the right opportunities.

The sales departments will evolve to support SMEs. Top organizations surround SMEs with resources and tools to help manage follow-through, assign tasks, and track progress. This support network prioritizes follow-through based on rules, and ensures that the organization can be responsive and proactive at the right times. Tools like Salesforce, Contactually, and Infusionsoft provide dashboards and notifications to ensure nothing slips through the cracks.

8. Narrow Segments Capture Attention

When you go to the doctor, you don’t want a diagnosis most people get, you want the report for you and you alone. In a restaurant, you don’t want what most people would enjoy, you want to order exactly what you feel like eating. Marketers and sales professionals are reaching the same conclusion.

You can tell when you get a mass-generated email or see generic content marketing articles. Even if the topic may be of interest, you’ve been conditioned to ignore generic messages. Whereas automation had been used for delivering the same message to thousands at a time, innovative companies have embraced automation for one-to-one messaging.

In his bestselling book, Ask, Ryan Levesque illustrates how to segment your list, and how companies across industries have followed his approach to grow their businesses at incredible rates with narrowly defined segments.

Levesque says, "One of the biggest fears I hear entrepreneurs express in segmenting their market is that their different market segments are too small to be worth addressing individually. So they rely on ‘one-size-fits-all’ products and messaging. But the reality is when you try to be all things to all people, you end up being nothing to nobody. Companies, both big and small, that are adopting a segmented strategy are thriving more than ever in today's marketplace."


This goes beyond inserting the recipient’s name at the top of a message. Rather, by asking the right questions and knowing their interests, market leaders tailor content to exactly what each recipient wants.

The same way Netflix and Amazon suggest products you might like, the best companies are delivering content and communication tailored to your preferences.

9. Recurring Revenue

Companies continue to shift from single, up-front payments for products to recurring revenue for a service. Financial markets reward predictable, recurring revenue. Whether it be monthly or annual, smart companies recognize that recurring revenue with a high renewal rate demonstrates perceived customer value. High renewal rates become an incredible marketing message.

Look for innovative vendors to waive long-term contracts and put their money where their mouth is. When sellers either feel a need to lock you into a long-term agreement or get payment up front, they are implying that you might find a better alternative. If the vendor assumes the risk of delivering and maintaining value by not requiring the long-term commitment, then the customer will reward the seller with more trust.

Just look at what John Legere did with T-Mobile. They went from being on the verge of disaster to thriving by removing contracts and listening to customers.

If you give your client the choice to renew or leave every month, then you’ll have your finger on the pulse of your market.

10. Millennials Groomed For Leadership

Millennials now represent the largest segment of the U.S. population, according to Pew ResearchJust like past generations, millennials will emerge as the next set of managers and executives. Top performing companies will work to magnify their strengths and build systems to compensate for their perceived deficiencies. This same evolution has happened in past generations, too.

According to Brad Szollose, cross-generational leadership expert in NYC and author of Liquid Leadership, “You can’t put someone in a leadership role assuming they have the skills to lead, only to train them 10 years later. If you want Millennials to succeed, invest in their leadership development today.”

The Bersin by Deloitte report predicts the most disruptive year ever. They highlight, “This year, more than 3.6 million company chiefs are set to retire as younger professionals ascend to managerial slots. Companies are busy planning this transition in order to cope with the massive loss of boomers.”

Millennials represent the largest generation of our time, as illustrated in this Goldman Sachs report. Of special note is how millennials are more inclined to embrace fractional or shared usage versus purchasing. Over 55% said that they either had no plans to purchase a vehicle or were indifferent. Many feel that using services like Zipcar or Uber when they need transportation is more convenient.

This notion aligns well with the shift to recurring revenue models for businesses going forward (Trend #9).

It’s Your Turn

How do these trends get you thinking about changes in your business? What trends do you think should make the list?

Author : Ian Altman

Source : http://www.forbes.com/sites/ianaltman/2016/12/06/top-10-business-trends-that-will-drive-success-in-2017/#6f0752f74132

The clandestine data hosted within the Dark Web is not secret anymore and has been compromised.

A group affiliated with hacker collective Anonymous has managed to bring down one fifth of Tor-based websites in a vigilante move. The group infiltrated the servers of Freedom Hosting II and took down almost 10,000 websites as they were sharing child porn.

For the unfamiliar, Dark Web is a part of World Wide Web that exists on overlay networks and darknets. Dark Webs uses public Internet but access to it can only be gained through some specific software, authorization codes or a particular configuration.

The Dark Web or Deep Web as some call it, in not listed by search engines and keeps the identity and activity of the user anonymous.


Freedom Hosting II is the single largest host of sites on the Dark Web. The hacker group has managed to breach down the servers of the host and currently, has access to gigabytes of data that they managed to download from the service.

Looks like Freedom Hosting II got pwned. They hosted close to 20% of all dark web sites (previous @OnionScan report) https://t.co/JOLXFJQXiH

— Sarah Jamie Lewis (@SarahJamieLewis) February 3, 2017

Dark Web researcher Sarah Jamie Lewis states that, Freedom Hosting II hosts almost 15 percent to 20 percent of all underground sites on the Dark Web.

“Since OnionScan started in April we have observed FHII hosting between 1500 and 2000 services or about 15-20% of the total number of active sites in our scanning lists,” stated Lewis in her OnionScan 2016 report.

All these underground websites hosted by Freedom Hosting II are .onion and can be accessed through browser Tor.


People visiting the hacked websites were greeted with the message: “Hello, Freedom Hosting II, you have been hacked.”

A petty ransom of 0.1 bitcoin, which is about $100 in today’s exchange rate, has been demanded by the hackers who managed to compromise and download 75 GB of files and 2.6 GB of database from the host servers.

The Anonymous affiliated hackers shared that it decided to attack Freedom Hosting II servers as it learnt that the host was managing child pornography sites and they have zero tolerance for the same. About half of the data downloaded contains child pornography.

The hackers claim they found 10 child pornography sites with almost 30 GB of files and asserts that Freedom Hosting II was aware of these sites and had their content.

“This suggests they paid for hosting and the admin knew of those sites. That’s when I decided to take it down instead,” said the hacker group to Motherboard.

Although it is tough to believe the claims of the hacker group, it does fall in line with past history of the previous Dark Web hosting companies. The original version of Freedom Hosting was prosecuted for child pornography in 2013 by law enforcement officials.

The hackers which took down Freedom Hosting confessed to Motherboard that it was their first hack. The leaked data may now attract law enforcement officials in intervening and it would not be too surprising to hear of arrests since this data could be used in many ways.


Source : http://www.themarshalltown.com/anonymous-attack-thousands-of-websites-on-the-dark-web/19265

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