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Retailers investing in new technologies during 2016 did so in many cases to keep up with the competition, often represented most specifically by Amazon — the company that influenced how many of them pursued e-commerce, and now is prompting them to consider innovations in the emerging area of conversational commerce.

Retailers also pursued new innovations this year in the name of enabling better interactions and stronger relationships with their customers. That notion is the common thread running through what we believe were the five most significant areas of retail technology innovation in 2016.

1. Artificial Intelligence

It’s very likely a lot of retail folks feel AI was the biggest and most broadly impactful innovation to shape the retail sector in 2016. And it’s not just a single innovation, but a vast field on innovation, affecting everything from chatbots (more about those little guys shortly) to other forms of virtual shopping assistants to mobile and visual search to mall directory services.

The most familiar AI-powered solution is Amazon’s Alexa, and though it arrived before this year, Amazon did a lot of work this year to build an ecosystem around its AI-based assistant — work that will inform future AI innovations all across the retail sector. Late in the year, Amazon made several key moves, including creating an accelerator program releasing some of Alexa’s core technology components to developers, that should help trigger an explosion of AI initiatives in retail for years to come.

Significantly, Amazon also teamed with a couple of other heavyweights  —  Google and Facebook  —  for an alliance intended to advance understanding of AI technology and help craft best practices for its development and use. This teaming could help ensure recent AI innovations are responsibly implemented, something that surely will affect broader retail adoption. As Murray Shanahan, a professor of cognitive robotics at Imperial College London, said at the time of the announcement, “A small number of large corporations are today the powerhouses behind the development of sophisticated artificial intelligence. The inauguration of the partnership on AI is a very welcome step towards ensuring this technology is used wisely.”

Aside from Amazon, there were too many launches of AI-driven solutions in 2016 to list here, but milestones include the just-announced AI-based navigation and information apps for Mall of America and Fashion Island mall; eBay’s use of AI in creating curated marketplaces and other solutions; separate efforts by MasterCard and Stripe to deploy AI to fight fraud; and Staples' efforts to infuse its familiar Easy Button with AI.

These aren't just innovations for the sake of innovation. The chief aim with many of these efforts is to enable better customer shopping experiences, often through AI-driven conversation commerce functions. When Target teamed with startup AddStructure this fall to develop an Alexa-like assistant, a Target spokeswoman told the Chicago Tribune “One of the great things about the technology is it works with customers the way they naturally talk and the way they search for things. Anything we can use to create a better experience for our guests, that’s what is most appealing to us.”

Not surprisingly, AI also was at the center of several acquisitions and executive migrations during 2016. Etsy acquired new AI talent by buying Blackbird Technologies, while eBay, another early champion of AI in retaillost a key AI exec to Amazon. As the retail’s AI revolution ramps up, there is surely more of that to come in 2017.

2. Chatbots

Some of you surely are thinking “Aren’t chatbots just one form of AI? Is Retail Dive cheating us out of hearing about other innovations?”

Gentle reader, we would never do such a thing — and also, while chatbots are indeed one form of AI-based solution, they also represent their own vast area of innovation in how retailers are helping their customers interact with them. While AI is the enabler, a number of parties are taking the concept and running with it to create useful and distinct chatbots, and no company may have done more during 2016 to the emerging retail chatbot economy than Facebook.

The social media giant back in April unveiled a suite of support functions for chatbots to run on its Messenger platform, a move the seemed to release a lot of pent-up energy, as more than 11,000 chatbots joined Messenger over the next few months. Facebook has continued to beef up its program by adding new services and making it easier for its members to find chatbots through newsfeed ad capabilities.

The new chatbots in some ways represent a re-innovation of some functions retailers have tried to offer through their mobile apps, with varying degrees of success.“All these brands have written apps and no one uses those apps,” Razorfish executive and retail blogger Jason Goldberg told Retail Dive at the time of Facebook's original chatbot announcement. “The bots don’t require any installation, so a lot of people, myself included, feel the bot is the new app."

Several retailers have aggressively moved to develop chatbots. The year began with Sephora launching its Virtual Artist chatbot, which it continued to enhance it throughout the months to follow, and activity continued right until the final days of 2016, as Nordstrom launched its first chatbot.

One of the more intriguing chatbot rollouts came from eBay, which launched a still-learning beta version of its ShopBot chatbot with the belief that could learn faster and become increasingly useful to eBay customers by interacting with them. Retail chatbots are right now where retail mobile apps were a few years ago — they’re nice-to-haves, but they soon will be must-haves.

3. Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality

Before we go any further, maybe we should talk semantics: Virtual reality has to do with the creation of immersive virtual environments, while augmented reality is intended to indicate the mixing of virtual and real elements in a hybrid environment. That said, it’s gotten pretty hard to separate the two notions, and the differences may not so much matter to all the retailers than have embraced them in the past year.

VR/AR (not be confused with AC/DC) is an overnight sensation that was at least 25 years in the making. Early VR/AR tools lacked quality and consistency, and were too costly even for adventurous early adopters. We’ve seen that change in recent years, with the development of high-end VR headsets and more affordable solutions from the likes of Google and Samsung, VR/AR technologies and startups have started to draw much more funding, and several industry experts suggested that 2016 was the start of a VR/AR boom.

In 2016, VR/AR certainly played a major role in retail on two different levels — both as a marketing and sales tool for retailers, and a viable product worth their shelf space. Home décor retailer Wayfair.com arguably led the way among individual retailers using VR/AR as a tool to help them sell and interact with customers: The company launched its Patio Playground VR app, developed by its Wayfair Next lab unit, in July, and continued to enhance and expand its VR offerings in recent months.

Wayfair co-founder and chairman Steve Conine called VR a "transformative discovery platform," and explained how Patio Playground allows the retailer to liven up its customer interactions: “By combining our advanced first-party 3-D scanning and visualization capabilities with Facebook’s virtual reality headset, the Wayfair Next team has created an interactive and entertaining way for customers to get inspired and browse items for their home.”

Home improvement retailer Lowe’s also advanced its own VR/AR strategy, expanding its HoloLens virtual design program with partner Microsoft. Meanwhile, Alibaba advanced its aims to allow VR users to pay for items while engaged in VR sessions. Elsewhere, the wildly popular Pokemon Go game helped raise the profile of VR/AR, not that it needed help.

In sales of VR gear, the year started promisingly, with AT&T committing to in-store demonstrations of new VR gear, and got even better when Best Buy expanded its own demos of VR gear to more than 500 stores. Whatever you want to call it, the VR/AR era is here.

4. Payments

Like everything else on this list, online and mobile payment technologies and payment apps didn’t just come to light in the last 12 months, but 2016 certainly was a game-changing year of innovation and new releases.

This year featured the fizzling of retail’s ambitions to have a unified payments app, as the Merchant Customer Exchange consortium’s ill-fated CurrentC gave way to new apps from individual retailers, banks and tradition payment card networks. Among the new launches were Walmart PayCVS PayCiti Pay and others.

Likewise, payments apps from mobile sector players also made strides in 2016. After some stagnant years, contactless in-store payments from mobile devices as well as mobile online and in-app payments started to pick up steam. Apple did its part when it updated Apple Pay for acceptance on retailer websites. Perhaps feeling some pressure, the powers behind Android Pay and Samsung Pay also made moves to expand the availability and utility of their payment solutions.

Finally, 2016 is ending with forecasts of a mobile payments boom unfolding in the coming years. There is some concern about how crowded the market is, but it is very likely that the broad emergence of new payment apps we started to see this year will carry into next year. There are plenty of other retailers who may feel that have something to gain — or customers to keep satisfied — if they launch their own branded payment offering.

Speaking at an industry event this fall, Daniel Eckert, senior vice president of Wal-Mart Services, suggested retailer-branded payment apps represent an evolution in customer loyalty and satisfaction efforts. “We’re all about engaging consumers and not based on any loyalty scheme,” he said. “Time is a currency in our customers’ lives. Saving the customer time is just as valuable as [giving them a discount]. We saw the value [in Walmart Pay] with time and convenience, versus a loyalty scheme.”

5. Personalization

This is another one that could easily have fallen into the broad spectrum of AI, and in many cases, when retailers talk about efforts to enable greater personalization, AI is the technology platform they are using to enable it. But personalization in its own right was the concept often subject to innovation as retailers rolled out new customer service features in 2016.

The recently launched My Starbucks Barista ordering feature in Starbucks’ popular mobile app was a great example of this sort of innovation: The coffeehouse goliath is enhancing the app with a voice-based ordering feature that it plans to evolve to include product recommendations and paring suggestions. It’s the type of capability that Amazon pioneered on a large scale, but other retailers are now putting their own spin on.

eBay is another company that recently has done a lot to enable more personalization within its mobile app, redesigning it with more personalization features, like product recommendations and more search filtering options. R.J. Pittman, the online marketplace’s chief product officer, explained what the company is aiming to accomplish with such efforts: "Shoppers have complex needs, which are often not fully met by traditional search engines. While offline retailers can offer human experts to help, there aren’t enough experts around to help us with everything we want and need," Pittman wrote in a blog post. "Combining AI with eBay’s breadth of inventory and unique selection will enable us to create a radically better and more personal shopping experience."

Personalization capabilities also were a key driver in IBM’s acquisition of Fluid’s personal shopper unit. IBM is intent on further integrating the personal shopping capability with its Watson AI to increase Watson’s ability to engage on a more personal level with shoppers. The desire to create a more personal bond with customers also drove Bed Bath & Beyond to buy PersonalizationMall, a company which creates literally personalized products.

Studies suggest these 2016 endeavors are a step in the right direction for retailers. Deloitte found that many shoppers prefer a personalized, self-directed shopping journey, and Experian reported that personalization efforts improve the open rate of marketing emails.

Getting personal with customers may sound like an old an obvious idea, but this year retailers have begun to put a new spin on it, bringing new capabilities to mobile and online platforms that underline the value of personal engagement in the purchasing process.

Author:  Dan O'Shea

Source:  http://www.retaildive.com/news/5-tech-trends-that-transformed-retail-in-2016/432316

Categorized in Science & Tech

Automation, quantum computing and the Internet of Things are among the trends that will influence the server market in 2017

1. Automation

According to Spiceworks’ annual IT budget survey, 64% of organisations plan on making no staffing changes to their IT department in 2017. With this in mind, IT managers are going to have to start automating activities in order to keep up with their workload. Automation will also need to ultimately advance from scripting when required towards heuristic evaluation (automation based on data).

2. Remote working and BYOD

BYOD is already commonplace in many work environments and as a growing number of employees are sharing sensitive documents and data between devices and locations, security risks increase. Secure containers are an increasingly popular method of securing sensitive information instead of relying on employees having devices with adequate native security protection.

Secure container applications are available on most mobile devices running on the typical operating systems (Android, iOS, Blackberry, Windows). This can help to save an organisation money too, with some employees preferring to be able to access their personal and work information from one device, providing it is kept separate, making the ‘work phone’ a redundant purchase. Although they can’t replace mobile device management strategies, secure containers certainly have their uses.

3. The Internet of Things

Connected devices are set to take off in a big way in 2017, and with this new way of living comes additional capacity, security and analytical requirements. Many devices classed as IoT will rely on vast amounts of data being stored safely and analysed in real-time. We will be producing more data than ever before and it will have to be stored somewhere.

4. Quantum computing

Although mainstream quantum computing is in a future more distant than 2017, it is something that should definitely be on the minds of IT managers, particularly those at large enterprises. Unsurprisingly, Google aims to be an early adopter of quantum computing, with them announcing in 2016 that they are working on building a ‘quantum computing supremacy’.

5. Software-defined storage

Virtualisation is considered quite a mature concept now, but the emergence of a new buzz term that seems synonymous with the concept has thrown some confusion into the mix. That buzz term is ‘software-defined storage’.

Software-defined storage involves separating the data plane and control plane, so that the control plane can also command other pieces of foreign storage. This allows IT managers to create a respectable storage solution without the need for high-performance hardware.

Unsurprisingly, this is becoming a popular solution with medium-sized businesses that need to scale but lack the budget to purchase high-performance storage solutions.

6. Hyper-converged storage

Hyper-convergence is another term that often gets confused with software-defined storage in the marketplace as they both provide similar storage management features.

Software-defined storage is just storage, whereas hyper-convergence incorporates storage, compute, networking, virtualisation and other technologies into a ‘box’. It may also be referred to as ‘cluster-in-a-box’ or ‘infrastructure-in-a-box’.

Gone are the days that medium-sized businesses need to find somewhere to house their mis-matched pieces of hardware each time they require expansion or upgrade. A converged infrastructure takes up much less floor space.

Some cluster-in-a-box solutions are also designed for people to set up without the specialist need for IT skills, something set to be huge for the server space in 2017.

Author:  Ben Rossi

Source:  http://www.information-age.com/7-changes-facing-enterprise-network-2017-123463512

Categorized in Future Trends

Whether you’re a business owner trying to make your enterprise more profitable, a marketer trying to make your life easier, or just a consumer eager for the latest and greatest technology, it’s hard not to be excited about the new tech trends that are shaping our world.

Over the course of the past year, I’ve made a number of predictions about how technology would develop throughout 2016, and while many of my forecasts came true (more or less), there have also been some surprising developments in new areas that are worth our attention.

These are some of the most important and defining tech trends of 2016:

1. Streaming video.

Chances are, you’ve seen at least one of your friends or a major brand you follow stream a live video for their audience over the past year. That’s because streaming video is becoming more practical, more popular, and in heavier demand. Streaming video is interesting to users because it gives them an “in the moment experience,” being able to see through someone else’s eyes rather than just seeing a retrospective update. Because it’s been nearly perfected by brands like Facebook, it’s easier than ever for anyone to live-stream a broadcast at any time. Expect this trend to develop further with products like iGlass and Snap’s Spectacles.

2. Augmented and virtual reality.

AR and VR are already seemingly starting to become overused terms, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention them on this list. Oculus Rift exploded onto the scene this year, along with dozens of competing devices and systems. Sales figures suggest that this is more than just a passing trend, and the hype wasn’t overblown (exactly). Plus, augmented reality app Pokémon Go crushed expectations with over 100 million downloads, ushering in what could be a new era for augmented reality gaming—and some marketing and advertising opportunities that go along with it.

3. Artificial intelligence (AI).

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning have begun to creep into our lives in more diverse and unexpected ways. Just at a glance, AI algorithms are starting to self-improve search rankings and search results, automated investing, and personal digital assistants. So far, there have yet to be any major roadblocks—instead, we’re seeing major breakthroughs, such as AlphaGo beating a human Go master for the first time in history. We’re getting better at making our machines better, and in the next few years, we may start inching closer to approaching human-level intelligence with these systems.

4. Data visualization.

For a few years, every kind of “tech trends” post you could imagine mentioned “big data,” at least in passing. Today, big data is still around and still influential, but people aren’t referring to it in such generic terms anymore; instead, they’re focusing on its applications. One of the most important pieces to the big data puzzle is being able to interpret and manage the data accurately, and draw meaningful conclusions from what you’ve gathered; and that’s where data visualization comes in. Thousands of companies have sprung up to aggregate, project, visualize, and interpret data on behalf of non-professional data analysts, and to make “big data” more practical for the business world.

5. The open enterprise.

The “open enterprise” is a loose term that defines the tendency for different companies and applications to offer themselves through other apps, websites, and device functions. For example, you can order an Uber directly through Google, and Starbucks having plans to expand its mobile ordering app so consumers can order coffee while doing other things on their devices. This is becoming important because the “mobile experience” is becoming fluid, comprising elements of web surfing, information retrieval, and the use of functionality all at once. Being available to your customers no matter what app they’re using is a critical way to build awareness and encourage more engagements.

6. Blockchain and crypto-tech.

If you know the term “Blockchain,” it’s probably because of its association with BitCoin—or because it’s become a hot new tech fad that only keeps growing. Blockchain is a specialized way of sending, receiving, and processing information, which made it the ideal way to track the “ crypto currency ” of BitCoin. Now, Blockchain tech is being used in the healthcare and insurance industriesand is currently being explored by other developers. There’s a ton of potential for higher security and smoother consumer transactions here, and we’ll see those paths unfold into 2017 and beyond.

7. IoT streamlining.

The Internet of Things (IoT) and smart home technology have failed to “take off” for several years; despite lots of smart devices on the market, the diversity of different companies offering solutions and the lack of a singular, unified “language” has made it difficult to create full internal networks. Now, companies like Google (with Home) and Amazon (with Echo) are trying to streamline IoT, making devices revolve around centralized hubs. The problem of unification in IoT may soon come to a close.

 

The success and impact of these tech trends in 2016 means that more companies, entrepreneurs, and developers will be focusing their efforts in these areas in 2017 and beyond. The potential is overwhelming, and I, for one, and thrilled to see how these and yet-unpredictable technologies develop in the next few years, and how they affect entrepreneurs and startups. I’ll be writing about them as they develop, so keep your eyes peeled for new updates.

Author:  Jayson DeMers

Source:  http://www.forbes.com/sites/jaysondemers/2016/12/15/the-top-7-technology-trends-that-dominated-2016/#72e2b0f71ef0

Categorized in Science & Tech

Mobile health has experienced dynamic growth during the past 2 years. All smartphone platforms now have a wide range of apps for management of medical conditions, fitness, and home health monitoring. As consumers become more comfortable with smartphones, their use of apps to manage health and fitness will increase. This is an update to a previous article where we analyzed search trends in Mobile Health using Google Trends.

Google Trends allows users to search its database for trends in search data. The data are scaled from 0 to 100 and plotted over a time scale to create a line graph, with 100 being the peak popularity for a particular search term. Users can compare up to five search terms and apply various filters to refine their search. While search trends might not directly reflect the popularity of apps, it does give a sense of search interest.

Fitness, Health, and APIs

Fitness apps have consistently been the most popular way consumers utilize Mobile Health. Before 2014, the general term “fitness app” was the most popular search term when compared to other popular Mobile Health terms. This changed in 2014 when there was a spike in searches for “health app”.

Google Trends Highlight Trends in Mobile Health

Google Trends Highlight Trends in Mobile Health

This change happened in conjunction with innovations in mobile health, and can be tied to the introduction of Google and Apple’s health APIs for their respective mobile platforms. Google Fit APIs were introduced during the 2014 Google I/O conference, and Apple introduced HealthKit during WWDC 2014. The spike in “health app” correlates with searches for apple and google’s APIs as seen below:

Google Trends Highlight Trends in Mobile Health

Google Trends Highlight Trends in Mobile Health

Now that specific products have been developed for these platforms, “health app” has trended back down to nearly the same level as the term “fitness app”. Health and fitness have been trending more than apps for specific medical conditions, and 2014 saw the largest growth for the field.

Apps for Specific Medical Conditions

In comparison to health and fitness, searches for medical apps specific to common diseases were less frequent. Fitness and health apps had to be excluded in order to see a difference between apps for medical conditions. There are many reasons for this disparity. Compared to fitness, medical diagnoses like diabetes currently do not share the same appeal of posting significant milestones online. Social interactions within apps are a major reason for generating interest and participation, an appeal that most medical apps lack. Fitness applications are also marketable to a broader segment of the consumer market. Health and Fitness apps typically require minimal user input as activity data is tracked automatically from wearable tech and mobile devices. This is in comparison to most diabetes monitoring apps which still require manual input of blood glucose levels. These advantages over medical conditions could account for the increased popularity of health and fitness apps.

There is also a distinct separation of popularity between specific diagnoses. The general term “medical app” remains the most frequent search term. Searches for “Pregnancy app” were higher than other medical conditions such as diabetes, cholesterol, and blood pressure. This is despite the fact that there are more people with these chronic medical problems when compared to pregnancies. There are several factors that could explain this difference. The targeted demographics differ, with the majority of those in childbearing age now being millennials who have grown up with mobile technology. The diagnosis of pregnancy carries an intensive period afterwards where patients seek progressive education and guidance. It is intuitive that younger generations of consumers are more likely to utilize apps as a resource for knowledge and guidance in health. Pregnancy is unique in that it carries discrete stages of progression, while other conditions focus on maintaining goals. Apps for pregnancy also typically don’t require manual input of health data. The popularity of pregnancy apps on Google searches are due to the advantages they have over other chronic conditions.

Medical conditions have different rates of growth on Google Trends. Pregnancy apps show the highest growth rate, while cholesterol app searches remain flat. Blood pressure apps have seen a recent increase in the last two years as more compatible home blood pressure devices have been introduced to the consumer market. New devices and wearable tech that can utilize APIs to automate health data tracking could renew interest in chronic medical conditions. Searches for diabetes apps have seen minimal growth, but as new developments allows for wireless syncing of data from insulin pumps and CGMs, search trends may increase like blood pressure apps have.

Google Trends Highlight Trends in Mobile Health

Google Trends Highlight Trends in Mobile Health

Regional Impact

Google Trends has the ability to display patterns of search trends regionally. The United States remains the leading country in searches for medical apps while Australia leads in health and fitness.

Search patterns also correlate with cultural norms. There are yearly spikes in North American searches for “Health App” during January, where New Year resolutions abound. These patterns are not as evident in Australia, despite the country leading the world in searches for fitness. Australia also shares in the practice of New Years Resolutions, but Australians are known for having a high priority in their fitness culture, which may not be affected by New Year resolutions as with Americans.

Google Trends Highlight Trends in Mobile Health 9

US searches for fitness and medical apps

Google Trends Highlight Trends in Mobile Health 10

Australian searches for fitness and medical apps

Conclusion

Consumers are showing increasing interest in using apps to manage their health and medical conditions. Google Trends is an interesting way to examine this interest through the use of their search engine. Some surprising findings were the popularity of pregnancy apps over more common medical conditions. This popularity can be attributed to millennials becoming the primary demographic for this product. It can be anticipated that as more millennials transition to an age range where chronic medical conditions are common, they will turn towards mobile health as a resource to learn and manage their new diagnoses.

Health and fitness apps saw spikes of searches in 2014 due to innovations from major smartphone developers. APIs have made it easier for developers to integrate the massive amount of data that wearables and mobile devices have been collecting. The differentiation between “health” and “fitness” apps may disappear as fitness data becomes integrated into overall health management. As evidenced in 2014, health apps will have a greater role in consumer use, especially as these platforms develop more ways to help impact health outcomes. Apple has recently partnered with the Mayo Clinic and Epic, which are potential ways to integrate health data with EHRs in a meaningful way for providers to make healthcare decisions for patients.

Regional differences may be evidence that marketing during the new year for fitness apps may hold more impact for North America but may be negligible in countries like Australia. Newer generations of users will look for apps to maintain their health and learn about how to manage new medical diagnoses. As mobile platforms find better ways to integrate social engagement, effectively use health data, and integrate with medical management, consumers and healthcare providers will have powerful tools to manage health.

Author:  David Tseng MD

Source:  http://www.imedicalapps.com

Categorized in Search Engine

 Google Trends is a unique and useful tool for journalists to keep track of what people want to know about. But it’s also invaluable for companies watching their brand health and analyzing consumer interests for the purposes of content creation – even though most users only scratch the surface of the wealth of information Google Trends has to offer.

That being said, here are seven ways to use Google Trends you’ve never thought of before, leveraging some of the service’s newly released and often-underused features:

Dig deeper into trending topics

Google Trends now boasts a “story-centric” homepage, where it aggregates data from Google Search, YouTube and Google News and ranks the most searched for stories. This is by far the most comprehensive trends aggregate you’ll find on the web.

So if I click on iOS Apple Inc., which is number 3 on the trending list above, I’m taken to a dashboard about the story everyone’s talking about: a security flaw in iOS 9 & iOS 9.0.1.

The dashboard shows me the relevant articles on the topic, a trending video, as well as changes in interest in the topic over the past few days

trending list

If your business is in the tech niche, then this would be a great opportunity for content creation – posting a piece on a widely trending topic will help draw traffic to your site. You can even make sure that you capitalize on the topic when you see evidence that interest is growing.

Find real-time marketing opportunities

Google Trends is now offering minute-by-minute, real-time data from more than 100-billion searches through the engine monthly, which allows you to evaluate search trends during different times, or even at major events, such as the Oscars or the World Cup. You can choose any time period from the past week to see the minute-by-minute data.

So how can you use this data for real-time marketing? By watching spikes in search terms during major events, you can quickly determine what topics are grabbing people’s interest.

A classic example of real-time marketing using Google Trends information comes from Oreo’s timely tweet during Super Bowl in 2013, when the lights went out in the New Orleans Superdome for 34 minutes.

Oreo’s marketing team threw this ad together on the fly. Twitter users loved it and shared it — the single tweet has had more than 15,000 retweets up to today.

Think about events that would be a good marketing venue for your brand and look for fast opportunities to employ real-time marketing to increase your brand’s reach on social media.

Research niche topics by geography

Now, you can search for just about any topic in Google Trends and see the popularity of the topic in searches by geography. If you haven’t started a local marketing campaign yet, this is a great place to begin. If you’re hoping to expand or improve it, this is also a great resource.

Let’s say I’m an organic chicken distributor looking to expand my business. Where should I set up shop?

Just type “organic chicken” into Google Trends and it comes up with helpful data about regional interest in the search term, including a ranking of search by city.

Google Trends

So if I already have locations in Vancouver, Portland and Seattle, San Francisco might be a viable option for me.

I can also dig deeper by scrolling down and looking at the related searches that might apply to my product (such as “buy organic chicken”) or other products I offer (“organic chicken food”).

google trends 2

Click on any of these items to see their niche topic details, including super-helpful geographic data.

Research brand health

Google Trends is a great way for larger brands to understand their brand health compared to their competitors. This kind of information can help inform where companies need to work harder to increase their influence.

Let’s say I work with Nissan, and I want to see how our brand measures up to other auto companies in the state of Florida. I just set the following terms on my Google Trends search:Google Trends search

Google Trends search

And instantly, I can see the top auto/vehicle queries for Florida in the last 30 days.

Looks like Ford, Honda and Toyota are doing better in this state, so I know I’ve got some work ahead of me. Depending on the goals you have for your brand, you can also search by certain city in Florida, by the entire US, by a different country, or worldwide.

Research local shopping trends

Another great (and underused) feature of Google Trends is the ability to search for shopping trends in isolation. This data will show you consumers’ purchasing intent for different searches. If you’re a realtor, or looking to be one, this kind of information can be very valuable.

Check out this map put together by Benjamin Spiegel from Marketing Land:

To create this compelling graphic, he searched Google Shopping for the highest purchase intent for beauty products for each state last February. The resulting map shows us the products people most want to buy in these states.

If you sell beauty products, this data could show you where you’ll get the most value for your advertising spend. Adjust your marketing and content campaigns to match the demand in each market.

Brainstorm content with Google Correlate

Google Correlate can help you figure out what topics people want to read about, which can ultimately help you figure out what topics you should be writing about, or how to relate a topic to others that people are interested in.

Using Google Correlate, you can find associations between search trends and any other data point that you want to write about. It’s the only tool on the internet that can do this with search data, yet it goes largely unused.

The Google tutorial explains that Correlate is like the opposite of Trends:

Google Correlate is like Google Trends in reverse. With Google Trends, you type in a query and get back a data series of activity (over time or in each US state). With Google Correlate, you enter a data series (the target) and get back a list of queries whose data series follows a similar pattern.

Let’s say I run a niche blog for baking recipes, and I want to draw more traffic to my site. I can type “baking” into Google Correlate:

And I see instantly that baking has a pretty high correlation with the search terms “egg free,” “sausage,” and “broccoli.” Knowing this, I might decide to write up some new recipes with these ingredients in mind, since that’s where search interest lies.

If you’re statistically inclined, Google Correlate even allows you to upload your own dataset to see what search terms correlate with it. Just click the “Enter your own data” link next to the search bar and upload your Excel file.

Let Google do the analysis for you

In a recent change to Google Trends, the Google News Lab has begun doing their own analyses of trending stories every day and offering useful information about the topics, which you can download from the Google Trends Datastore. If you’re a journalist or content creator, or if you have one on your team, this can be an invaluable tool.

What if I’m writing a story about the latest GOP debate? I can use this tool to find data about the most searched for GOP candidate by county, the debate issues ranking by minute, and the candidates’ rankings post-debate, among many other relevant topics that can serve as useful statistics to add meat to the story.

This is a great way to add credibility to what I’m going to say in a written piece about public interest, without waiting for the next Gallop Poll.

So those are my favorite seven new or underused features of Google Trends that you can use to develop a marketing strategy, improve your SEO, or brainstorm content.

It might be difficult to visualize how exactly you can apply these tools to your own business goals, which is why I recommend trying them out and checking back often – opportunities will arise and the ways to stay on top of the game are endless.

Have you ever experimented with these Google Trends features? Have another great tool to share? Leave me a note in the comments section below:

Note: The opinions expressed in this article are the views of the author, and not necessarily the views of Caphyon, its staff, or its partners.

Author: Aaron Agius

Source: http://www.advancedwebranking.com

Categorized in Search Engine

The Zika virus surprised everybody in 2016 and sent people searching for more information about its symptoms and how to prevent it. Surprising side effects of common medications and high drug prices also earned spots on the list of year’s top searches. Prince’s death from a fentanyl overdose caused a spike in searches for information related to opioid abuse, and Olympian Michael Phelps put cupping therapy on the map.

Here’s a look at the top search trends on WebMD for 2016.

Zika

There have been lots of yardsticks used to show how a little-known virus named Zika rocketed around the globe this year. In 2016, WebMD searches for Zika-related terms increased by 433,558%.

There was a good reason for the spike in interest.

Zika caught the world’s attention in dramatic fashion, as news photographers working in Brazil captured images of babies born with abnormally small heads—a condition called microcephaly.

“Never before in history has there been the situation where a bite from a mosquito could result in a devastating malformation,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden at an April news briefing. Early in the year, Frieden also tweeted a picture of a few medical studies stacked in front of him on a table.

“Entire world literature on Zika,” he wrote on February 12. “50 years of neglect.”

As the year progressed, the news about Zika just got worse. Not only could it cause microcephaly; researchers also learned it could cause a range of harm to babies’ hearing and vision and brain abnormalities, even in babies born with apparently normal head sizes. It can also harm adults. Zika infections have been linked to a handful of deaths in adults, and it’s triggered cases of paralyzing Guillain-Barre syndrome and brain swelling.

We also learned mosquitoes weren’t the only way to catch the virus.

As Zika spread to countries where the infection had never previously been seen, scientists learned that the infection could be sexually transmitted — in some cases, weeks after a man or woman had been infected. That led to sweeping new precautions against unprotected sex for pregnant women and their partners and travelers.

Zika also moved to the U.S. mainland, with new cases being passed from people to mosquitoes in Miami and possibly in South Texas. An area of Miami Beach, FL, still has active transmission, which means we may hear more about this fast-spreading virus in 2017.

Heartburn Drugs and the Brain

New studies out this year tied popular proton pump inhibitor (PPI) medications for acid reflux and heartburn to an increased risk for dementia in older adults. That triggered searches for more information about these widely used medications and their side effects. Searches for the terms PPI and dementia grew by nearly 57,000% this year. A study last year also linked the drugs to an increased risk for kidney failure.

The authors of the dementia study say that the drugs are also known to deplete vitamin B12, which is linked to mental function. They may also affect levels of affect levels of amyloid and tau in the brain, proteins that have been associated with Alzheimer’s disease. But they also cautioned that more studies are needed before a cause-and-effect relationship can be proven.

Drug Price Hikes

The soaring price of EpiPens — a lifesaving device for people with severe allergies — had consumers fuming, and searches for terms related to EpiPens and cost were up 1,677% on WebMD. After the controversy, drug maker Mylan took action to reduce costs for the drug dispenser, which is used to inject the hormone epinephrine.

Cupping

The round bruises on swimmer Michael Phelps at the Olympics sent searches for the term “cupping” up by 136% among consumers in 2016. The centuries-old traditional Chinese therapy is trendy among athletes wanting to improve flexibility and range of motion. Therapists who use it believe it improves blood flow to an area and speeds recovery.

Opioid Abuse

Searches for the terms opioid and opioid abuse jumped 228% this year for consumers. The searches increased after authorities announced that the singer and songwriter Prince had overdosed on the powerful drug fentanyl. The musician was found dead at his home in April.

Search interest also surged after the White House announced a package of new initiativesaimed at expanding treatment for substance abuse.

Food Recalls

Consumers tuned into news about tainted food this year, too. Searches for food recalls jumped 263% in 2016 compared to the year before.  Popular foods recalled this year included Eggo wafflesSabra hummusBlue Bell ice cream, and Tyson chicken nuggets.

Kratom

Is Kratom a potentially helpful dietary supplement? Or a drug of abuse? That’s the question being weighed by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as it considers whether to ban it. The plant’s bitter leaves are used to relieve pain and curb addiction, but have also been linked to at least 15 deaths in the last two years. The DEA was planning to make kratom a Schedule I drug, the same as marijuana and heroin, but postponed that decision. Scientists and consumers have asked the agency to give them a chance to study it.

News of the DEA’s pending kratom ban more than doubled search interest; searches were up 119% from 2015 to 2016.

Important:

The opinions expressed in WebMD Second Opinion are solely those of the User, who may or may not have medical or scientific training. These opinions do not represent the opinions of WebMD Second Opinion are not reviewed by a WebMD physician or any member of the WebMD editorial staff for accuracy, balance, objectivity, or any other reason except for compliance with our Terms and Conditions. Some of these opinions may contain information about treatments or uses of drug products that have not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. WebMD does not endorse any specific product, service or treatment.

Do not consider Second Opinion as medical advice. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your care plan or treatment. WebMD understands that reading individual, real-life experiences can be a helpful resource, but it is never a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a qualified health care provider. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or dial 911 immediately. 

Author:  Brenda Goodman

Source:  http://blogs.webmd.com/

Learn more about Zika Virus: What It Is, Affected Countries, Symptoms, Treatment and More [2019 Guide]

Categorized in Search Engine

The tech revolution, as commonplace as it may seem nowadays, continues to barrel forward, and 2017 will see some of the most innovative and evolutionary disruptions we have seen thus far. There will be more connection, more automation, and more significant impact in business and investment than ever before, and the revolution has just begun.

The innovations coming to fruit in 2017 are poised to redefine business and connection as we know it. From banking to devices, 2017 holds many a change in store — the technology of this next phase is dynamic, gigantic, and will feel like a futuristic sci-fi fantasy novel.

1 Finance will be automated.

Many financial experts are predicting that automated banks are the next big disruptor for the banking sector. According to a recent study by Citigroup, automated banking could replace 30% of bank jobs over the next decade. Financial advisors and analysts are due to be quickly replaced by robo-advisors that render them moot — with big data in the wings, robo-advisors have the data needed to make split-second, uber-informed decisions. The payments and mobile banking industries are riding high, as well: fintech startups raised over $22.3 billion in funding in 2015, up 75% from 2014. This trend will speed up in 2017.

2 Big data will get even bigger.

Big data will be a necessary asset for companies in all sectors, From trucking to data entry, big data algorithms will change the landscape in a big way, metaphorically and literally — geographical information systems will get a major upgrade in speed and efficiency. For example, MIT and Ford Motors recently partnered to read the cellphone location data of Bostonians, producing instantaneous traffic and transportation patterns that typically take years to build. Innovation will continue with developments in big data storage, providing much needed revolutionary agility in IT. Steve Wozniak has joined big data storage company Primary Data as their Chief Scientist, so we can be sure to see some huge changes there.

3 The Internet of Everything truly begins.

The Internet of Everything in both the consumer and B2B market will continue to rise, especially in North America, connecting data, things, processes and people. Intelligent systems will grow rapidly in 2017, especially after the release of the Home app from Apple this fall. Over 100 products are already on the market that will work seamlessly with apples HomeKit, so a smart-linked home will be an affordable possibility for anyone. Security, lights, electronics, and climate can all be controlled for the first time in one app. Wearable devices will continue to climb and mesh with healthcare and big data.

4 Mobility will continue to dominate.

Customers are almost completely mobile — as of now, four out of five people use their phones to shop. The global workforce is becoming increasingly mobile, working from home, and tech software and communications will begin to reflect that predominantly. From mobile storage for work-from-home employees to advanced security, mobility has only begun to gain traction. Verizon is one company to watch, as they are in the process of acquiring Irish fleet and mobile workforce management company Fleetmatics, positioning the mobile company to be the largest mobile workforce management company in the world.

5 Space exploration will become increasingly affordable.

Expect in 2017 to see huge changes in the space exploration sector. Costs will go down drastically, with what would previously cost billions of dollars costing only millions. The U.S. Federal Aviation Authority recently approved private company Moon Express to launch an unmanned exploratory moon mission in 2017, and the company plans to forge ahead with commercial missions to the moon to exploit its mineral resources.

We will also see huge strides in satellite use – Planet Labs Inc. has launched a fleet of tiny shoebox-sized satellites that can transfer daily high-res earth images, providing affordable and useful information to companies interested in economically sensitive areas like farmland, oil storage tanks and parking lot usage.

6 Marijuana tech will thrive.

Revenues from Colorado are booming, and investors are seeing huge returns on legal medical marijuana investments from other states, so 2017 will definitely see more of that. Marijuana in 2017 will be technologically pumped up, with fully automated grow operations that are both energy efficient and green (so to speak). Perfectly calibrated lighting and high tech grow software and control systems will make growing an even more lucrative business than it already is. Though legalization has been slow to come to all of the U.S., when it does the cleanliness and energy efficiency of high tech grows will make meeting regulations for high quality, safe, clean medicinal marijuana very easy.

This is certainly not a comprehensive list of all the innovations due to arrive in 2017, but a sneak peek into what may be most prominent on the radar next year. Ubiquitous mobile advancements, quantum computing, VR, AR, and virtual intelligence have been changing the landscape and will continue to do so next year as we move into what seems like a science fiction novel at times: a mysterious, exciting adventure.

Author:  Murray Newlands

Source:   http://www.forbes.com/

Categorized in Science & Tech

A new year is around the corner and we might see some new things in 2017. Four CEOs of leading Nordic ecommerce companies share their thoughts on what they think will be the key ecommerce trends in 2017.

According to Marcus Fredricsson from Swedish car service portal Mekster, dropshipping is over. Customers have stronger demands, which makes convenient shipping options more important. “Today more customers disqualify online retailers who send goods directly from suppliers, particularly in cases when the goods come from different suppliers since they then need to spend far too much time to collect the goods in different batches”, he says.

Focus more on logistics

The CEO also thinks smaller online retailers must be prepared to partially loosen the customer relationship and focus even more on the logistics so they can successfully offer their products through international marketplaces like Google Shopping and Amazon. “You need a tremendous control of the supply chain logistics to satisfy customers.”

Fredricsson also thinks highly of virtual reality. “Although the ecommerce industry hasn’t found a way yet to utilize the technology, I think they will take on VR in a big way in 2017.”

Cut out the middleman

Cut out the middleman

Christoffer Tyrefors from Cykelkraft, Sweden’s largest online bicycle shop, thinks online retailers can do more themselves and only pay for actual delivery and thus cut out the middlemen. “Ecommerce players should find fundamental profitabilities of their core businesses and therefore needs to stop paying money to intermediaries.”

Rely less on Google and don’t get eaten

He also thinks Google has become way too powerful and online retailers are more dependent on the search engine than ever. “The ecommerce industry is feverishly looking for ways to reduce the importance of search, which in practice means to build brands. To build a brand requires something which happens to be the third major ecommerce trend in 2017 and that is: eat or get eaten”, he says, referring to large online market places that are being rolled out globally and the dominance of Google in the entire purchase process funnel. “Volume will become even more important. It translates to economies of scale, and with economies of scale it is easier to build the brand.”

Performance and sales will align more in 2017

Sven Hammer, CEO of monitoring platform Apica System thinks the B2B shopping experience will become more like B2C, as business-to-business retailers take advantage of all the actions the business-to-consumer industry took to improve their business models and shopping experiences. In less positive news, he thinks DDoS will continue to flood ecommerce website with disruptions and targeted. His third predicted trend is focused on analytics. “A platform that performs faster will lead to higher sales – a 100ms increase in page load can increase sales by 1 percent. Performance and sales will align more in 2017 as organizations establish KPIs like web/cloud/app performance to increase profits”, he says.

Salesman

The last CEO, Torkel Hallander from ‘ecommerce factory’ Nordic Etail, thinks SMR, “Sales Man Replication”, will become the new buzzword. “When ecommerce websites start acting like the world’s best salesman, shoppers will get a better experience and spread the world, but retailers will also increase their conversion rates and higher margins as result.”

Mobile engagement will increase influence over ecommerce

He also predicts mobile engagement will increase its influence over ecommerce. “Functionality for shopping mobile will reach new heights, selecting and choosing products, moving between devices, payments will be easier etc… but more importantly, the critical-mass hurdle for people to start realize they can do it in their phone has been passed: once you have purchased one thing in your phone, you will start wanting to do it all in the phone.”

Lastly, he thinks online stores and digital marketing will become even more targeted. In order to satisfy the customer and as a result maximize sales, online retailers will design their website presentation and their offering more for individual customer preferences, behaviors and purchasing power.

Author:  Ecommerce News

Source:  https://ecommercenews.eu

Categorized in Market Research

When it comes to making the most out of your SEO budget, quality matters. You want to provide the best possible experience to customers when they’re on your site by giving them quality content and striking visuals, but how can you make it work without breaking the bank?

Here are cost-effective ways to create custom content and stay ahead of content marketing trends in 2017.

Creating Custom Content on a Budget

At Pubcon 2016 in Las Vegas, SEJ Executive Editor Kelsey Jones sat down with Erin Robbins, President of Ginzametrics, to talk about ways on how to create custom content when you’re on a budget.

Here Are Some Key Takeaways from Her Interview:

  • Everyone should be budget-conscious when it comes to creating content. Find out what kind of content you need to create and where it needs to go. Research where your audience is and what they’re looking at, then create content that matches the format of where your audience is — whether it’s video, podcast, blog posts, and more. The research will tell you where to focus your resource.
  • Use keyword discovery to find out what topics and trends your audience is paying attention to. Use competitor discovery to see who’s new in the space and talking about certain things in your area. Then do a mix and match of keyword and competitor discovery to check what specific overlap in keywords and content they may have.
  • Another strategy is to create a central piece of content and build other pieces around that. For example, Erin does a weekly live video series which is turned into a podcast, blog post, SlideShare, and even an e-book. It may also turn into a case study or white paper when she has thought leaders or experts come on as guests.
  • Take advantage of user-generated content. Aggregating information from conferences and webinars can be helpful because it’s interesting to compare how people’s views have changed over time. Webinars are also a great way to get content ideas from people asking questions.

Upcoming Trends for Visual and Regular Content in 2017

In this interview at Pubcon 2016 in Las Vegas, Matt Siltala, President and Founder of Avalaunch Media, shares his insights on the upcoming trends for visual and regular content in 2017. You can listen to the podcast version of his interview at the top or bottom of this article.

Here Are Some Key Takeaways from the Interview:

  • 360-degree photos and videos give a fun twist to content. They may be used next for infographics. 360 videos are especially useful for the real-estate market in showcasing houses and showing where these houses are, and also for cruise lines to show what you can expect on your next vacation. 360 videos give you the perspective of being part of the experience.
  • We will also see more of virtual reality in games, websites, videos, and other experiences.
  • As wearable devices become more popular, we should think about the kind of content we’ll be serving up there. We should be conscious of the size of content and the audience that consumes this content. We should also think of the best ways to serve content on wearable devices.
  • Live streaming is another upcoming trend. You can show specific events to your audience. You can also share promo codes and giveaways targeted to your live audience. Live streaming is a way to get people to view your content and can cater to their fear of missing out.

Author:  Rina Caballar

Source:  https://www.searchenginejournal.com

Categorized in Future Trends

As the world turns to prophetic predictions, a Bulgarian blind psychic seems to have foreseen the future of the U.S., while predicting political aspects of the 2016 elections. The psychic was called Nostradamus from the Balkans" and her name was Baba Vanda.

Many of her predictions became increasingly popular after 1996 when she passed away - at 85 years old. The blind woman called a prophet apparently had an 85 percent success rate among her prediction, which makes people around the globe turn to her opinions whenever social or political events raise questions.

 The Blind Prophet Of the Balkans

Among the predictions that made her famous, the woman's idea that the 44th U.S. president will be African-American was by far the most popular. However, she also stated that the man who we know to have been Obama will be the last president of the U.S.

Other predictions included the idea that Muslim people would "invade" Europe in 2016. According to the blind woman ,the increased immigration rates will end in chemical warfare that will be employed against the European population as a result of this trend.

 Currently, people around the U.S. are thrilled to read about her predictions, especially the ones who do not acknowledge Donald Trump as their president. While this problem is related to the way people feel about their national political situation, the dead blind psychic has gained their attention.

The idea that Donald Trump is the man following "the last U.S. president" encourages people to follow the woman's predictions, and read the tremendous amount of information available online about her biography and her ideas, the self-claimed insights on what the world will go through.

Among her predictions, the economic crisis of 2008 was also very popular at that time .The fact that she suggested the economic implications of the Bush Jr. administration is no less than  Surprising, and believers in her gift worldwide had turned to her visions to a better understanding of what will follow.

 Baba Vanga: International Phenomenon

While her words were not always very specific when it came to the event she predicted, people always correlated the woman's words with occurrences from further in time.

"A huge wave will cover a big coast covered with people and towns," for instance, is a phrase that was used in correlation to the tsunamis in 2004.

While, from a scientific point of view, her predictions were merely words that were given context depending on the world's events, it is also true that she gained a lot of popularity, having the website baba-vanga.com exclusively dedicated to her art of predicting the future.

Author:  Livia Rusu

Source:  http://www.techtimes.com/

Categorized in Future Trends
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