Deborah Tannen

Deborah Tannen

The online lead generation has become a vital sales strategy for businesses, especially in the B2B sector. With the rise of the digital age, businesses are opting for advanced and efficient methods to generate online sales leads.

This process of online generated is carried out by marketers before it is passed on over to sales. With new techniques and strategies being developed rapidly, it is hard to determine the best performing strategies.

There are numerous online lead generation strategies and tips available on the web to boost sales. The following are the 10 best online lead generation strategies that have proved to be successful-

1.Email Marketing

Emailing is an extremely efficient and flexible medium that provides access to any number of prospects who are otherwise inaccessible. Direct email can be used for various purposes such as to sell products, generate sales leads, follow-ups, keep in touch with customers, referral marketing etc. You are able to consistently present every benefit or your product or service. You can contact prospects who are everywhere at any time. Reaching the right set of prospects with the right message and the right offer is the key to a successful lead generation campaign. The most important aspect of any online lead generation campaign, especially email campaign, is the number of sales inquiries it generates.

Source: MarketingWizdom.com

ImageSource: DigitalMarketingPhilippines

ImageSource: DigitalMarketingPhilippines.com

2.Website Lead Generation

A good website needs to be able to generate leads and not just attract traffic. Many websites are not designed to generate leads. They are mostly focused around propagating their products or services via brochures and banners. This makes the visitors passive. A good lead generation website needs to have a user-friendly description of your value proposition and provide information on the key problem or requirements that you can fulfill. Unless the visitor acquires this information upon visiting your page, they’ll go elsewhere. A lead generating website also needs to be easily accessible, provide valuable information, offers opportunities to sign up and provide contact information that easily accessible.

Source: Kyle-irving.co.uk

ImageSource: VTLDesign

ImageSource: VTLDesign.com

3.Automate Your Online Lead Generation

The online lead generation has given rise to various online lead generation tools and services. Using such lead generation tools and services saves a lot of time and resources and also help in acquiring qualified leads. Various web-based prospect and lead generation tools help mine qualified leads from various online sources. Such tools also provide you with lead management features where you will be able to edit, categorize and manage your leads in an organized manner. You can further automate this process by opting for advanced lead generation services. These prospect and lead generation services provide you with a processed list of qualified leads that is specifically built for you. This list contains leads with qualified contact details with email addresses and can be provided within 48 hours as per your requirements.

best lead generation tools | aeroleads

4.SEO, SEM, and PPC

Gabriel Shaoolian, the CEO & Founder of Blue Fountain Media says that generating leads through SEO and PPC is the best lead generation strategy for IT companies or B2B companies for the lowest cost per acquisition. He feels that way as whenever people require IT companies or IT services, a large majority of people search via Google. To capture these people, you need to increase the effectiveness of SEM and PPC campaigns. Brett Prince, President of Marketaire, says that his can be achieved by using long-tail keyword phrases. These keywords are highly targeted and drive targeted traffic due to their specificity, and they’re less competitive than related, shorter search terms, which tend to be higher in volume and more competitive. For SEO purposes, you need to focus on offering something informational or beneficial to the audience. You can rank faster and start generating traffic and leads once you identify your target keywords and create content around it.

Source: CIO.com

ImageSource: SearchEngineLand

ImageSource: SearchEngineLand.com

5.Online Lead Generation via Social Media

As per the report of Global Digital Statistics, Stats and Facts, social media is one of the most effective sources of lead generation. Social media is a very important channel not only in engaging or connecting with your targeted audiences, but it has evolved into a new digital marketing culture that has a strong influence on consumers’ buying behavior. Forbes indicates that up to two-thirds of the top sales experts in the world categorize social media as an important lead generation and sales channel. Another market research expert, Chadwick Martin Bailey, reported that up to 67% of twitter users and 51% of Facebook users are most likely to purchase based on recommendations from the brands they follow or their followers. This is the impact of social media on lead generation and sales. As per the report on US Social Network Ad Revenues by eMarketer, revenues are expected to go up exponentially through social media.

Source: DigitalMarketingPhilippines.com

Image Source:

Image Source: BMA Carolinas

6.Landing Pages

Landing pages which are created around the intention of online lead generation have a very specific purpose. Such pages are used to capture user data such as email addresses, names, phone numbers etc. Their only purpose is to collect such information so that it is available to you later to market your product or services to them. Acend2‘s  landing page optimization page survey reveals that 93% of respondents said increasing conversion rates is one of the most important objectives of a landing page strategy. Improving lead quality came in second at 58%. Landing page visitors are specifically directed to a page from a social media page, an email, a paid ad or similar source of traffic. These visitors are not coming to the page blind, and they expect it to be consistent with the content that brought them there. According to Marketo, you can make your landing page copy and CTAs clear and direct by going through these 4 steps: 1. Set up the problem, 2. Talk about the solution, 3. Point out the WIFM (what’s in it for me), 4. Deliver the goods.

Source: Digioh.com

ImageSource: DCDAgency

ImageSource: DCDAgency.com

7.White Papers or E-Books

This is one of the most common and successful online lead generating techniques. This lead generation technique works on the simple principle of give and take. White papers or E-Books can help in establishing credibility and generating leads. These downloadable can be offered on your website or be distributed through third party services. For the website visitor to obtain such downloadables, registering with an email id must be necessary in order to generate leads. Such downloadables also make a great PPC offering. A variation on the white paper is the e-book. Typically longer than a white paper, it serves a similar function. If you e-book goes into great depth on a subject, it can generate a great deal of buzz and establish your reputation and help boost your online lead generation campaign.

Source: HingeMarketing.com

ImageSource:

8.Online Lead generation via Blogs

Online lead generation is all about engaging your website visitor with content. Blogging is such a phenomenon that is all about sharing great content with your website visitors. Offering content that helps readers solve their business problems or provide some value will have them coming back and share your site with other people. Blogging isn’t as instant as some of the other suggestions but is very beneficial in the long run. You can have dedicated members from your team to write such valuable and insightful content that helps readers. This should be a good way to get a lot of posts written fairly quickly. Once you get the ball rolling, you can reduce to around 2-3 blogs per week.

Source: CoBloom.com

ImageSource: WrittenT

ImageSource: Writtent.com

9.Growth Hacking

Growth hacking is a revolutionary way to spread awareness of your business. Offering free trials, freemium versions and free credits are good ways to start online lead generation via growth hacking. You can make this valuable and addictive element of your website accessible to a larger audience by sharing and inviting new users which will expand your leads tremendously in a short span of time. Whether it be free credits for use of a particular plug-in or a queue jump of some kind, create a simple problem with a simple solution. The best aspect of growth hacking is that it is more so an inbound lead generation technique as you get the people to do the work for you. People will spread the word about your value offering and gradually, more and more people will come to your site, which provides an opportunity for more leads.

Source: WhoIsVisiting.com

ImageSource: StartUpNation

ImageSource: StartUpNation.com

10.Webinars for Online Lead generation

Webinars are the best ways to engage your audience and in turn, provides an opportunity for an online lead generation. When you host a webinar, you can reach a new audience of people interested in your topic. They may not know much about your brand yet, but they probably know that they’re interested in the webinar subject. Once your webinar event concludes, make sure to continue to nurture your leads with appropriate follow-up content. Thank them for attending, send them more relevant articles or downloadable resources, invite them to your next event, and survey them regarding their experience. Webinars provide information to attendees that your potential customers can actually use. You can increase your event’s draw if you partner with an industry influencer to promote or co-host your event. That way, your influencer can advertise the webinar to their audience, introducing more of them to you in the process.

Source: Business2Community.com

ImageSource: ReadyTalk

ImageSource: ReadyTalk.com

Online lead generation needs to be done consistently and always ensure you monitor your campaigns. Analyzing the progress of your various online lead generation campaigns can help you improve your campaigns.

Comment below and share your insights on online lead generation.

 Source: This article was published aeroleads.com By Vedh Jagadish

Google Inc. is making web browsing slightly less annoying for users with a host of new features.

Google Thursday released the latest version of Chrome to all Windows, Mac, and Linux machines. Chrome 64 comes with a stronger pop-up blocker, 53 security fixes and specifically fixes for the potential Spectre processor-based attacks.

The company starting rolling out Chrome’s anti-autoplay features in version 63 with the introduction of a feature that provides users with the option to disable autoplay videos on individual sites. Now with Chrome 64, Google expands these features with the ability to mute an entire site.

Google has also announced two new ad-blocking features to give users more control to mute the ads they see on Google, websites and in apps.

Here’s a look at the new features Google is rolling out:

Chrome 64

Mute an entire site

When you visit a site with annoying autoplay videos, Chrome 64 will now let you mute the entire site. Instead of users trying to find and mute the offending video, users can just right click on the relevant website’s tab and select to mute the entire site. If you later change your mind and want to hear the autoplay videos, you can follow the same process to unmute the site.

This feature replaces the previous “mute tab” option that was only temporary.

Stronger pop-up blocker

Chrome 64 also includes a stronger pop-up blocker that will protect users against sneaky redirects, such as third-party websites disguised as play buttons or transparent overlays on websites that capture all clicks and open new tabs or windows.

Although these redirects can be used maliciously to trick users, many redirects are unintentional, explains Ryan Schoen, a product manager at Google, when the upcoming feature was announced in November. “We’ve found that this redirect often comes from third-party content embedded in the page, and the page author didn’t intend the redirect to happen at all.”

Chrome 64 will now prevent these redirect tactics, whether intentionally abusive or not. While site owners can use the Abusive Experiences Report in Google Search Console to see if any of these tactics have been found on their own site. It will also offer advice on how their site can be improved.

Better ads

From Feb. 15, site owners will also need to ensure they comply with standards overseen by the Coalition for Better Ads.

“Starting on February 15, in line with the Coalition’s guidelines, Chrome will remove all ads from sites that have a ‘failing’ status in the Ad Experience Report for more than 30 days,” Google said. Site owners can “submit their site for re-review once the violations have been fixed.”

High-dynamic-range support for Windows users

Google is adding HDR support for Windows users in Chrome 64. Users will need a computer with the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, an HDR-compatible monitor, and a graphics card.

Security fixes

Finally, Chrome 64 also contains 53 security fixes, which include 24 bugs reported by third-party researchers.

It also includes some of Google’s fixes for the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities. Like other browsers, Google is disabling the SharedArrayBuffer feature to mitigate against the attacks.

In Ad Settings, users have more control over what reminder ads they see. Image via Google

In Ad Settings, users have more control over what reminder ads they see. Image via Google

New additions to ‘Ads Settings’ and ‘Mute This Ad’

Mute reminder ads

While reminder ads, those ads that follow users around the web once they have visited a site, can be useful, they can also be very annoying, especially if you never intend to return to the relevant site. Google is rolling out a feature to assist with this.

Advertisers tend to start showing reminder ads within a month of visiting their site. Muting reminder ads with Google’s new feature will last for 90 days.

Muting, however, will only apply to non-Google websites that use Google ad services. For websites and apps that don’t use Google ad services, users will be unable to mute reminder ads.

To mute reminder ads, sign into your Google Account Ad Settings > under “Your reminder ads,” click the X next to the relevant advertiser that you want to mute.

More control with ‘Mute This Ad’

Google introduced the “Mute This Ad” feature back in 2012 and it is now used by millions of users. After receiving 5 billion pieces of feedback from users who mute ads because they aren’t relevant, Google has removed 1 million ads from their ad network.

The tool has been updated with two new features. The “Mute This Ad” tool will work across devices where you are signed into your Google Account. Mute an ad on your smartphone and it will automatically be muted on your laptop.

Google is also expanding “Mute This Ad” to be available in more places and will work across more apps and websites that partner with Google to show ads.

Source: This article was published siliconangle.com By COLLEN KRIEL

AT&T, a steadfast opponent of the prior net neutrality rules, has launched a new ad campaign touting what it dubiously calls an "Internet Bill of Rights."

"Congressional action is needed to establish an “Internet Bill of Rights” that applies to all internet companies and guarantees neutrality, transparency, openness, non-discrimination and privacy protection for all internet users," the company says in ads that ran this week in newspapers including The New York Times and Washington Post.

The telecom, which sued to overturn the 2015 net neutrality rules, now says it's "committed to an open internet." AT&T's concept of an open internet leaves a lot to be desired.

The telecom says it doesn't block sites, censor content or degrade network performance based on content. But net neutrality -- at least as defined by consumer advocates, not to mention Columbia law professor Tim Wu, who coined the term -- is a lot broader than simply not blocking or throttling sites.

For instance, the net neutrality rules that were passed by the FCC in 2015 also banned carriers from charging higher fees for prioritized delivery. The 2015 order also was interpreted to ban carriers from discriminating by exempting their own content from consumers' data caps. AT&T violated that principle, according to former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, by excluding DirecTV video streams from wireless customers' data caps -- a practice that could effectively discourage customers from watching Amazon Prime or Netflix.

AT&T also says in its new ad campaign that new laws should apply "across all websites, content, devices, and applications" -- meaning that the telecom wants companies like Google and Twitter to be subject to the same regulations as broadband carriers.

AT&T isn't the only one to suggest that companies like Google, Facebook and Twitter should be subject to some sort of "neutrality" rules -- despite the obvious differences between companies that provide broadband access and those that offer content. A major one is that consumers have a lot more choice about which websites to visit than which broadband companies to use.

Net neutrality advocates were quick to point out some of the most glaring problems with AT&T's public call for the so-called Bill of Rights.

“In the long run, a permanent law must do much more than what AT&T calls for," Public Knowledge Vice President Chris Lewis stated. "It must not only protect net neutrality but also empower the FCC to protect other critical consumer protections that many Americans expect and take for granted until they are gone."

Free Press Action Fund Policy Director Matt Wood added in a statement that AT&T's "head fake toward one-size-fits-all rules for all websites and content providers should fool no one."

Wood continued: "No matter how much it wants to pretend otherwise when a company like AT&T connects you to the internet, that’s not the same thing as the information and content you find online. ISPs aren’t like newspapers, movie studios or even social-media platforms that produce and curate information for their users."

Source: This article was published mediapost.com By Wendy Davis

Visual search engines will be at the center of the next phase of evolution for the search industry, with Pinterest, Google, and Bing all announcing major developments recently. 

How do they stack up today, and who looks best placed to offer the best visual searchexperience?

Historically, the input-output relationship in search has been dominated by text. Even as the outputs have become more varied (video and image results, for example), the inputs have been text-based. This has restricted and shaped the potential of search engines, as they try to extract more contextual meaning from a relatively static data set of keywords.

Visual search engines are redefining the limits of our language, opening up a new avenue of communication between people and computers. If we view language as a fluid system of signs and symbols, rather than fixed set of spoken or written words, we arrive at a much more compelling and profound picture of the future of search.

Our culture is visual, a fact that visual search engines are all too eager to capitalize on.

visual culture

Already, specific ecommerce visual search technologies abound: Amazon, Walmart, and ASOS are all in on the act. These companies’ apps turn a user’s smartphone camera into a visual discovery tool, searching for similar items based on whatever is in frame. This is just one use case, however, and the potential for visual search is much greater than just direct ecommerce transactions.

After a lot of trial and error, this technology is coming of age. We are on the cusp of accurate, real-time visual search, which will open a raft of new opportunities for marketers.

Below, we review the progress made by three key players in visual search: Pinterest, Google, and Bing.

Pinterest

Pinterest’s visual search technology is aimed at carving out a position as the go-to place for discovery searches. Their stated aim echoes the opening quote from this article: “To help you find things when you don’t have the words to describe them.”

Pinterest 200M_0

Rather than tackle Google directly, Pinterest has decided to offer up something subtly different to users – and advertisers. People go to Pinterest to discover new ideas, to create mood boards, to be inspired.  Pinterest therefore urges its 200 million users to “search outside the box”, in what could be deciphered as a gentle jibe at Google’s ever-present search bar.

All of this is driven by Pinterest Lens, a sophisticated visual search tool that uses a smartphone camera to scan the physical world, identify objects, and return related results. It is available via the smartphone app, but Pinterest’s visual search functionality can be used on desktop through the Google Chrome extension too.

Pinterest’s vast data set of over 100 billion Pins provides the perfect training material for machine learning applications. As a result, new connections are forged between the physical and digital worlds, using graphics processing units (GPUs) to accelerate the process.

pinterest object detection

In practice, Pinterest Lens works very well and is getting noticeably better with time. The image detection is impressively accurate and the suggestions for related Pins are relevant.

Below, the same object has been selected for a search using Pinterest and also Samsung visual search:

Pinterest_Samsung

The differences in the results are telling.

On the left, Pinterest recognizes the object’s shape, its material, its purpose, but also the defining features of the design. This allows for results that go deeper than a direct search for another black mug. Pinterest knows that the less tangible, stylistic details are what really interest its users. As such, we see results for mugs in different colors, but that are of a similar style.

On the right, Samsung’s Bixby assistant recognizes the object, its color, and its purpose. Samsung’s results are powered by Amazon, and they are a lot less inspiring than the options served up by Pinterest. The image is turned into a keyword search for [black coffee mugs], which renders the visual search element a little redundant.

Visual search engines work best when they express something for us that we would struggle to say in words. Pinterest understands and delivers on this promise better than most.

Pinterest visual search: The key facts

  • Over 200 million monthly users
  • Focuses on the ‘discovery’ phase of search
  • Pinterest Lens is the central visual search technology
  • Great platform for retailers, with obvious monetization possibilities
  • Paid search advertising is a core growth area for the company
  • Increasingly effective visual search results, particularly on the deeper level of aesthetics

Google

Google made early waves in visual search with the launch of Google Goggles. This Android app was launched in 2010 and allowed users to search using their smartphone camera. It works well on famous landmarks, for example, but it has not been updated significantly in quite some time.

It seemed unlikely that Google would remain silent on visual search for long, and this year’s I/O development revealed what the search giant has been working on in the background.

google lens

Google Lens, which will be available via the Photos app and Google Assistant, will be a significant overhaul of the earlier Google Goggles initiative.

Any nomenclative similarities to Pinterest’s product may be more than coincidental. Google has stealthily upgraded its image and visual search engines of late, ushering in results that resemble Pinterest’s format:

Google_Image_Search

Pinterest_image_search

Google’s ‘similar items’ product was another move to cash in on the discovery phase of search, showcasing related results that might further pique a consumer’s curiosity.

Google Lens will provide the object detection technology to link all of this together in a powerful visual search engine. In its BETA format, Lens offers the following categories for visual searches:

  • All
  • Clothing
  • Shoes
  • Handbags
  • Sunglasses
  • Barcodes
  • Products
  • Places
  • Cats
  • Dogs
  • Flowers

Some developers have been given the chance to try an early version of Lens, with many reporting mixed results:

Lens_BETA

Looks like Google doesn’t recognize its own Home smart hub… (Source: XDA Developers)

These are very early days for Google Lens, so we can expect this technology to improve significantly as it learns from its mistakes and successes.

When it does, Google is uniquely placed to make visual search a powerful tool for users and advertisers alike. The opportunities for online retailers via paid search are self-evident, but there is also huge potential for brick-and-mortar retailers to capitalize on hyper-local searches.

For all its impressive advances, Pinterest does not possess the ecosystem to permeate all aspects of a user’s life in the way Google can. With a new Pixel smartphone in the works, Google can use visual search alongside voice search to unite its software and hardware. For advertisers using DoubleClick to manage their search and display ads, that presents a very appealing prospect.

We should also anticipate that Google will take this visual search technology further in the near future.

Google is set to open its ARCore product up to all developers, which will bring with it endless possibilities for augmented reality. ARCore is a direct rival to Apple’s ARKit and it could provide the key to unlock the full potential of visual search. We should also not rule out another move into the wearables market, potentially through a new version of Google Glass.

Google visual search: The key facts

  • Google Goggles launched in 2010 as an early entrant to the visual search market
  • Goggles still functions well on some landmarks, but struggles to isolate objects in crowded frames
  • Google Lens scheduled to launch later this year (Date TBA) as a complete overhaul of Goggles
  • Lens will link visual search to Google search and Google Maps
  • Object detection is not perfected, but the product is in BETA
  • Google is best placed to create an advertising product around its visual search engine, once the technology increases in accuracy

Bing

Microsoft had been very quiet on this front since sunsetting its Bing visual search product in 2012. It never really took off and perhaps the appetite wasn’t quite there yet among a mass public for a visual search engine.

Recently, Bing made an interesting re-entry to the fray with the announcement of a completely revamped visual search engine:

This change of tack has been directed by advances in artificial intelligence that can automatically scan images and isolate items.

The early versions of this search functionality required input from users to draw boxes around certain areas of an image for further inspection. Bing announced recently that this will no longer be needed, as the technology has developed to automate this process.

The layout of visual search results on Bing is eerily similar to Pinterest. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Pinterest should be overwhelmed with flattery by now.

Bing_Pinterest

The visual search technology can hone in on objects within most images, and then suggests further items that may be of interest to the user. This is only available on Desktop for the moment, but Mobile support will be added soon.

The results are patchy in places, but when an object is detected relevant suggestions are made. In the example below, a search made using an image of a suit leads to topical, shoppable links:

Bing_Suit

It does not, however, take into account the shirt or tie – the only searchable aspect is the suit.

Things get patchier still for searches made using crowded images. A search for living room decor ideas made using an image will bring up some relevant results, but will not always hone in on specific items.

As with all machine learning technologies, this product will continue to improve and for now, Bing is a step ahead of Google in this aspect. Nonetheless, Microsoft lacks the user base and the mobile hardware to launch a real assault on the visual search market in the long run.

Visual search thrives on data; in this regard, both Google and Pinterest have stolen a march on Bing.

Bing visual search: The key facts

  • Originally launched in 2009, but removed in 2012 due to lack of uptake
  • Relaunched in July 2017, underpinned by AI to identify and analyze objects
  • Advertisers can use Bing visual search to place shoppable images
  • The technology is in its infancy, but the object recognition is quite accurate
  • Desktop only for now, but mobile will follow soon

So, who has the best visual search engine?

For now, Pinterest. With billions of data points and some seasoned image search professionals driving the technology, it provides the smoothest and most accurate experience. It also does something unique by grasping the stylistic features of objects, rather than just their shape or color. As such, it alters the language at our disposal and extends the limits of what is possible in search marketing.

Bing has made massive strides in this arena of late, but it lacks the killer application that would make it stand out enough to draw searchers from Google. Bing visual search is accurate and functional, but does not create connections to related items in the way that Pinterest can.

The launch of Google Lens will surely shake up this market altogether, too. If Google can nail down automated object recognition (which it undoubtedly will), Google Lens could be the product that links traditional search to augmented reality. The resources and the product suite at Google’s disposal make it the likely winner in the long run.

Source: This article was published searchenginewatch.com By Clark Boyd

Thursday, 14 September 2017 12:19

Steps to tackle cyber security breaches

With more organizations introducing technology-based systems such as cloud computing into their work culture, the threat of a cyber-security breach has increased manifold.

Internet accessibility has only enabled the critical role of information technology in our daily lives. It has always been an inevitable part of organizational functioning, however access to the internet puts a lot of power in the hands of organizations and individuals alike.

Some recent examples include the leaking of several episodes from the wildly popular Game of Thrones series. While fans eagerly awaited to see what happens next, little did they realize that this excitement would be dampened by spoilers spread across the internet and social media.

The latest season of the hit fantasy TV show has been marred by several cyber security breaches. Apart from the hackers’ attack, the channel itself leaked the penultimate sixth episode accidentally.

This has been an example of C-suite executives everywhere that even one-time cybersecurity threats can greatly hamper a business, regardless of its size. In spite of its scale, the company has been reeling, attempting to fix holes in their cybersecurity procedures while keeping up with Game of Thrones fan hysteria.

In fact, its size makes it more vulnerable to the negative impacts that such instances can have on its reputation and revenue. Organizations must ensure that they accord top priority to data security as any low-level threat can percolate to the wider network and cause the organization to face financial penalties, lose revenues, incur customer wrath and have its brand image and future business suffer.

The cons of a security breach

A Drain on Money and Other Resources

The first and foremost impact of a breach is the economic losses to an organization, which go beyond just sales. Once confidential data is leaked, companies would need to spend heavily on forensics to investigate the breach as well as re-establishing stricter security protocols. Lawyer fees, filing of lawsuits and payment of fines to data protection authorities, all add up. Further, resources of time, energy and money are diverted to fire-fighting rather than growth and development. Companies should just avoid incurring double costs and disruptions by having cybersecurity hygiene from the get-go.

Loss of trade secrets/Disruption of Operations

Computer hacking primarily involves theft of proprietary and confidential information such as research, strategies, and financial reports. Compromised information and intellectual property can make an organization fall behind its competition by affecting its business operations and continuity.

Loss of trust and valuation

Customer relationship is built on trust and such attacks can lead to loss in reputation for a service provider. Cyberattacks can damage the reputation of a company and shake the faith that its customers place in it. A study conducted recently has shown that there is a strong relation between cyber breach in a company and its share price performance with some breaches having wiped off as much as 15% off companies' stock market valuations. For instance, Yahoo’s massive hacks raised questions on the company's deal to sell itself to Verizon Communications.

The lesson to be learnt

It is imperative for companies to be proactive about putting resilient systems in place to safeguard a company against possible cybersecurity threats. There are courses available which can equip people with the core concepts of network security and an in-depth understanding of cybersecurity mechanisms. Here are some other things to consider for professionals and executives in any organisation working with technology-based systems:

Invest in protection

This assumes importance as technologies which help protect against possible breaches can detect network intrusions before hackers have the chance to access sensitive data. Assessing and identifying organizational vulnerabilities and then formulating procedures to avoid them is the very first step. Some companies choose to employ a security firm for this or many prefer specialised training for their own trusted and employed professionals.

Educate employees

Very often, employees may unknowingly download viruses, install unauthorized software, register weak passwords or transfer work files to their home computers. This can result in data breaches and vulnerabilities. It is important to educate employees about best practices and how they can use the internet securely. Besides the education of employees, management and senior executives should also undergo basic training. One such course that we offer at Acadgild is 'Ethical Hacking' which introduces people to hacking concepts, network security, viruses, sniffers, cryptography and more.

Encrypt company data

There is research to back the fact that about 60% of those companies who faced a data breach did not encrypt their data. This is an essential step to avoid possible hacking and loss of information.

Screen vendors

Organizations that provide any third-party with access to confidential data, must do some research on their policies. This will help in understanding whether they comply with security best practices. The first Game of Thrones leak occurred owing to an outsourced agency that did some work for HBO’s Indian content distribution partner.

In conclusion

Apart from all the above measures, organizations should have a contract in place that protects them from liability in case of a security breach. Technology is bringing the world together and therefore, the likelihood of cyber-attacks will only amplify in the future. However, companies should constantly update themselves about both the scale and sophistication of cyber security threats and take adequate precautions to safeguard themselves.

Source: This article was published tech.economictimes.indiatimes.com

The CIA is developing AI to advance data collection and analysis capabilities. These technologies are, and will continue to be, used for social media data.

INFORMATION IS KEY

The United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) requires large quantities of data, collected from a variety of sources, in order to complete investigations. Since its creation in 1947, intel has typically been gathered by hand. The advent of computers has improved the process, but even more modern methods can still be painstakingly slow. Ultimately, these methods only retrieve minuscule amounts of data when compared what artificial intelligence (AI) can gather.

According to information revealed by Dawn Meyerriecks, the deputy director for technology development with the CIA, the agency currently has 137 different AI projects underway. A large portion of these ventures are collaborative efforts between researchers at the agency and developers in Silicon Valley. But emerging and developing capabilities in AI aren’t just allowing the CIA more access to data and a greater ability to sift through it. These AI programs have taken to social media, combing through countless public records (i.e. what you post online). In fact, a massive percentage of the data collected and used by the agency comes from social media. 

As you might know or have guessed, the CIA is no stranger to collecting data from social media, but with AI things are a little bit different, “What is new is the volume and velocity of collecting social media data,” said Joseph Gartin, head of the CIA’s Kent School. And, according to Chris Hurst, the chief operating officer of Stabilitas, at the Intelligence Summit, “Human behavior is data and AI is a data model.”

AUTOMATION

According to Robert Cardillo, director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, in a June speech, “If we were to attempt to manually exploit the commercial satellite imagery we expect to have over the next 20 years, we would need eight million imagery analysts.” He went on to state that the agency aims to use AI to automate about 75% of the current workload for analysts. And, if they use self-improving AIs as they hope to, this process will only become more efficient.

While countries like Russia are still far behind the U.S. in terms of AI development, especially as it pertains to intelligence, there seems to be a global push — if not a race — forward.  Knowledge is power, and creating technology capable of extracting, sorting, and analyzing data faster than any human or other AI system could is certainly sounds like a fast track to the top.  As Vladimir Putin recently stated on the subject of AI, “Whoever becomes the leader in this sphere will become the ruler of the world.”

Source: This article was published futurism.com By Chelsea Gohd

The Supreme Court of Canada issued an order to Google Wednesday: Stop showing search results for a company accused of fraud, not just in Canada, but throughout the world. Yes, that includes everybody reading this in America.

But the court’s ruling that the Alphabet. Inc., (GOOG, GOOGL) search subsidiary “de-index” the company could also invite other courts — including those in countries not as nice as Canada — to issue their own global takedown demands for other sites, which can easily lead to free speech being squashed.

And U.S. companies that want to do business in those other nations will have little choice but to comply. Too bad, eh?

Litigate locally, punish globally

This story started with a lawsuit filed by Barnaby, British Columbia-based Industrial-networking vendor Equustek Solutions Inc., alleging that a competitor, Datalink Technologies Gateways Inc., had started selling its technology as its own.

A lower court told Datalink to knock it off, but the firm then fled the province to “an unknown location” while continuing to hawk its wares online. 

Equustek asked Google to stop sending people to Datalink’s sales pages, and Google complied. But as Datalink kept moving the offending sales pitch from one page to another, Equustek asked Google to stop pointing people to Datalink’s site entirely — and to do the same around the world.

An appeals court granted that request, and Canada’s Supreme Court upheld that while rejecting free-speech arguments in a 7-2 ruling.

“This is not an order to remove speech that, on its face, engages freedom of expression values, it is an order to de-index websites that are in violation of several court orders,” Justice Rosalie Abella wrote. “We have not, to date, accepted that freedom of expression requires the facilitation of the unlawful sale of goods.”

Google’s press office released a statement in response: “We are carefully reviewing the Court’s findings and evaluating our next steps.”

Corporations versus governments

The traditional view of trying to keep something off the internet, as Electronic Frontier Foundation co-founder John Gilmore points out is, “The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it.”

But multinational corporations, unlike internet packets, operate in fixed locations. They have employees that can be arrested, assets that can be seized and bank accounts that can be hit with fines.

Having any one country tell a company doing business there that it must take something offline within that country has always been a risk, and sometimes tech firms have opted not to run accept such demands — Google’s decision to pull out of the booming Chinese market over government censorship is a perfect example of this.

But Canada’s Supreme Court has flipped this script with its globally-binding ruling.Daphne Keller, a director of Stanford University’s Center for Internet and Society, called it “much more far reaching than most” in an email.

And the underlying offense here, an intellectual-property violation, is far from being something everybody can agree on as being beyond the pale worldwide. Said Keller: “I am in tons of discussions about this, and the one point of consensus is global removal of child pornography.”

Further, this isn’t just any rogue judicial body engaging in global grandstanding. “The Canadian Supreme Court is well respected around the world, and this ruling will carry some weight elsewhere,” emailed Michael Geist, a law professor at the University of Ottawa.

Geist, who had earlier urged the court to adopt a narrower remedy, said the judges should have limited their ruling to Google’s google.ca Canadian site.

Everybody loses

The court’s ruling is a mess all around. It won’t actually solve the problem of people finding undesirable content online for the same reasons that the European Union’s “right to be forgotten” doctrine can’t.

Like the EU’s “RtbF,” Canada’s ruling doesn’t encompass every search engine and says nothing about social media, with its proven ability to send massive amounts of people to a site. Nor can it stop individual people or sites from pointing to offending pages — something that can become more likely after a dose of publicity.

The problem looms much larger for everybody else online. Canadian judges may be a reasonable lot, but if they see fit to assert global jurisdiction, so can any other country’s judges.

In France, privacy regulators have fined Google a token amount for not honoring a right-to-be-forgotten request worldwide. (Memo to French president Emmanuel Macron: This is not a good look for will not help your startup nation ambitions.)

Libel laws are far friendlier to plaintiffs in the United Kingdom; imagine British courts deciding that their rulings must now apply worldwide?

And on Monday, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan got a court order demanding that Twitter (TWTR) close the account of American Enterprise Institute scholar Michael Rubin. What if he forced Google to stop linking to attacks on him?

“What’s hate speech in France is free speech in the U.S.,” explained Pamela Samuelson, a law professor at the University of California at Berkeley. “What’s fair use in the U.S. may be infringing in Spain. What’s defamation in Australia or the UK may be protected speech in the U.S.”

In every case, the result will be courts overseas deciding what we as Americans can find online. And then maybe U.S. courts will return the favor, and the internet as a whole can get meeker and shallower, one ruling at a time.

Source: This article was published finance.yahoo.com By Rob Pegoraro

Amazon (AMZN) is virtually everywhere you look at this point; from your nightstand, to your refrigerator and, of course, your smartphone. And now the company is launching its own kind of social network called Amazon Spark.

Amazon Spark app.

Amazon’s Spark is a social network that for spending cash.

Available Tuesday for Amazon Prime members using the company’s iOS app, Spark is a Pinterest-like service that lets users upload images of themselves using products, or just products. Other users can then view those images and follow links to purchase the displayed items through Amazon.

You don’t have friends on the social network, though. And you can’t search for particular users. Instead, you can follow people so that they show up in your feed more, but you won’t get any updates on their lives or anything along those lines.

So far, the majority of the images I’ve seen on Spark look like they were taken by professional photographers, while just a handful seemed like they were shot by regular consumers using their smartphones.

Spark interests page.

My interests on Spark are pretty accurate.

Spark is obviously designed to let you view products in their natural habitats (your home) rather than against a plain white backdrop. The shots are meant to make products look more inviting, so you’ll feel more inclined to purchase them. Like Pinterest, Spark also provides you with ideas for things like decorating your home or wedding favors.

The service’s social aspect is similar to Facebook’s (FB) Instagram in that you upload, comment on and share images. When you do upload a photo of a product to Spark, you have the option to add a link to its Amazon Prime page, giving other users a quick means to purchase it.

Purchasing made social

ptype="text" content="Images with Prime links have small shopping bags in their bottom right corner with a number corresponding to the total products you can view." data-reactid="59">Images with Prime links have small shopping bags in their bottom right corner with a number corresponding to the total products you can view.

One image by a user named Ray had a shopping bag with the number 2 next to it. When I tapped the bag, the image popped open with two orange circles pointing to the products being displayed — in this case a treadmill and elliptical machine. Tapping the circles pulled up amazing Prime purchase links for the items.

Spark product Prime page links.

Images in Spark display a shopping bag when products have links to their Prime pages.

ptype="text" content="You don’t have to include purchase links in your photos, though, and you can always just upload a photo you want to share like any other network." data-reactid="72">You don’t have to include purchase links in your photos, though, and you can always just upload a photo you want to share like any other network.

ptype="text" content="To ensure you’re not bombarded with images of items that you have no interest in, Amazon requires that you select up to five areas of interest. I chose Video Games, Electronics, Technology, Automotive & Vehicles and Fitness, because I’m a nerd, but also want to seem cool." data-reactid="73">To ensure you’re not bombarded with images of items that you have no interest in, Amazon requires that you select up to five areas of interest. I chose Video Games, Electronics, Technology, Automotive & Vehicles and Fitness, because I’m a nerd, but also want to seem cool.

ptype="text" content="If you get tired of an interest, you can easily delete one of the five and add a new one. For instance, I deleted electronics, and added home decor to get ideas for how to furnish my new apartment." data-reactid="78">If you get tired of an interest, you can easily delete one of the five and add a new one. For instance, I deleted electronics, and added home decor to get ideas for how to furnish my new apartment.

ptype="text" content="Like any social network, Spark gives you a public profile made up of a profile image, your Amazon Wish Lists and registries, and your community activity. So if you ever left a particularly snarky review for an item you didn’t like, everyone who follows you will see it. " data-reactid="79">Like any social network, Spark gives you a public profile made up of a profile image, your Amazon Wish Lists and registries, and your community activity. So if you ever left a particularly snarky review for an item you didn’t like, everyone who follows you will see it.

ptype="text" content="Of course, Amazon also offers a number of privacy options, including the ability to hide all of your activity. In other words, you can still troll blender manufacturers by leaving obnoxious reviews with little fear of reprisal." data-reactid="80">Of course, Amazon also offers a number of privacy options, including the ability to hide all of your activity. In other words, you can still troll blender manufacturers by leaving obnoxious reviews with little fear of reprisal.

ptype="text" content="Spark also has an Explore section that allows you to view Amazon’s Staff Picks and trending posts, as well as popular posts in a variety of categories." data-reactid="81">Spark also has an Explore section that allows you to view Amazon’s Staff Picks and trending posts, as well as popular posts in a variety of categories.

ptype="text" content="Amazon isn’t commenting on if or when Spark will be available for Android users, and won’t say if the service will eventually be broken out from the Amazon app and exist on its own. For now, it feels a bit barebones. That said, it makes shopping for products you find incredibly easy, which is the entire point of the site." data-reactid="82">Amazon isn’t commenting on if or when Spark will be available for Android users, and won’t say if the service will eventually be broken out from the Amazon app and exist on its own. For now, it feels a bit barebones. That said, it makes shopping for products you find incredibly easy, which is the entire point of the site.

ptype="text" content="Amazon wants your money, and it will get it anyway and anywhere it can." data-reactid="83">Amazon wants your money, and it will get it anyway and anywhere it can.

Source: This article was published yahoo.com By Daniel Howley 

Google makes another attempt at allowing users to save their search results to a single location.

Google has added a new “save” feature, which you can access under a new hamburger menu, navigation drawer, on the left side of the Google home page on your mobile device. You can now save images, itineraries, places and web pages while using Google on your mobile device. You can then access all of what you saved by going to the “save” button in the navigational drawer.

Here is a screen shot of the new menu on Google mobile:

When you click on it, it gives you access to the “save” button:

Here is what you see the first time you go to that “save” section:

The hamburger menu is available throughout Google search and other sections on Google.

For example, Google has now replaced the share button with a save button for the local panel as well. I am sure there are spatters of this change throughout much of Google.

A Google spokesperson told Search Engine Land, “We’ve created a new tool so you can collect and keep track of things that interest you more easily. When you see the bookmark icon appear, you’ll have the ability to save images, itineraries, and places you visit in Google Search on the mobile web. To access your inventory, just tap ‘Saved’ in the navigation drawer on any mobile search results page.”

Google has let you save results for a while now, but it now appears Google is expanding this feature to more areas. Google introduced local place saving in May 2015 and expanded that in 2017, then image search saving in 2015 and also expanded that in 2016. As far back as 2010, Google offered starred results to save your search results.

So this seems like a new push from Google to allow users to save their search results in one place.

Source: This article was published searchengineland.com By Barry Schwartz

There are many factors that contribute to high search engine rankings, but columnist Ryan Shelley argues that we often overlook the most important one: the user experience.

Why do companies large and small invest billions of dollars each year in search engine optimization (SEO) and other search marketing tactics? There is more to the answer than, “Because it just works.”

The truth is that there are a number of psychological principles that can explain why search is such an effective form of marketing. Understanding why users interact with some search listings and not others can help you craft a better user experience, from the initial click all the way through to the conversion.

Every decision we make based off one of two motivations: We are either looking to avoid or remove pain, or we are looking to gain pleasure. Pain and pleasure drive us to look for ways to make our lives better. Now, before you stop reading because you think I am getting a little too “unscientific,” let me give you an example.

At 2:00 AM, you wake up to a flood of water in your home. The water heater has broken, and now you are experiencing a ton of pain. What do you do?  You search for an emergency plumber in your area and give them a call. Why did you do that? You were experiencing the pain of your water heater bursting. If it didn’t cause you pain, you would have just said, “I’ll deal with this in the morning,” and headed back to bed.

Here is another example. You get a raise, and you want to “reward” yourself. There is this car that you’ve always wanted, and now you have the means to purchase it. This car has been the reason you’ve worked so hard in the first place. You know that getting this car, sitting in the driver seat, and cruising down the highway will make your life better. So you search for a dealership, haggle for the best price, and drive away in your dream car. Again, why did you do that? Because it created pleasure.

Pain and pleasure are key driving forces behind every person’s action. As search marketers, we can use this understanding to help us better align our products, services, website pages and search strategy to connect with people on a deeper level. As entrepreneur and digital marketing expert Neil Patel notes:

[U]nderstanding the psychology behind why people behave the way they do plays a crucial role in establishing an effective online marketing strategy.

Getting to know your users

You don’t have to have a psychology degree to better understand what motivates your users — you just need to be willing to do the work.

It starts with creating a detailed persona. A persona is a semi-fictional character that represents your ideal customer. When developing personas, many stop at demographic information. But the real power is uncovering the psychographics. One exercise we use when creating personas is empathy mapping.

Empathy mapping helps you step outside yourself and into the world of your persona. It forces you to experience the world from a new perspective. Often times when creating marketing material or planning a search strategy, we get wrapped up in the metrics and forget about the actual human on the other side of our strategy. Empathy mapping will help you detach from the technical for a bit and help you focus on the practical.

Why are they searching?

Before ever doing keyword research, you must understand why people are searching in the first place. User intent will help you define terms and phrases that lead to action. Here are a few questions you can use to identify user intent and uncover the “why” behind the search:

  • What are you promoting, selling, delivering?
  • What problem does your company solve?
  • What actions do we want a site visitor to take?
  • Why should a user visit your site?
  • What are users expecting from your site?

These questions will help you take your product or solution and discover why it’s valuable to your end users. Now, typically your business will have multiple personas, but there are usually a few key pain points that all you users share. If you can find, uncover and leverage these pain points, you’ll be able to create a search strategy that delivers results.

Creating connections in the SERPs

People trust Google. They trust that the results they receive after submitting a query are ordered that way because those sites deserve to be there. While the search engine results pages (SERPs) aren’t perfect, they are typically very relevant. This is how Google has built trust over time, by continually providing relevant results to its users.

Now, sites that earn these higher rankings also earn trust. But, if you abuse that trust, you will lose in the long run. This is why having a human-centric search strategy is important. Many try to take shortcuts with black-hat tactics that may drive them traffic for a short amount of time. But, if your site does not meet the needs (pain or pleasure) of the user that clicked your link, your site will not maintain that position or viability in the long run.

While we often obsess over the hundreds of different ranking factors (which are important), we often overlook the most important part of the equation: the end user. Because the user trusts the search results, we need to learn the real motivations behind their searches and build a strategy that speaks to them.

Source: This article was published searchengineland.com By Ryan Shelley

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