Friday, October 9, 2015

Job's Vulcan Nerve Pinch from the Grave: Ad Blocking

“I’m Going to Destroy Android, Because It's a Stolen Product” 

--Steve Jobs

Job’s statement was the plot heard around the world and Apple’s declaration of war on Google. Once good friends, Apple CEO Steve Jobs and Google CEO Eric Schmidt (a former Apple board member) became avowed enemies, causing a collective jaw-drop in the tech industry.

A brief history
The love was lost when Google’s continuing acquisitions (acquisitions for which Apple itself bid and lost to Google) along with the 2010 launch of the Android instigated the ensuing intergalactic wars. Android technology integrated touch screen with its devices, a feature that Apple said it singularly owned. This resulted in many lawsuits filed by Apple against Google, among numerous other corporations, for patent infringements and stealing intellectual property. These actions, buoyed by opposing business philosophies (Google campaigns for open-products while Apple leans heavily toward proprietorship.), became a tailspin with ramifications that will reach into 2016 and beyond. The lawsuits were settled (Apple got money; Android kept its touch screen.), but the war wages on.1

What’s going on now?
One fall out of this war concerns an important factor of today’s e-commerce: Ad blocking. In fact, a recent report published by Adobe and PageFair stated that blockers would cost publishers nearly $22 billion in revenue in 2015.2  Here are some sobering findings:3
  • Usage of desktop ad blockers in the United States grew by 48% during the past year.
  • Desktop ad block usage in the United States resulted in an estimated $5.8B in blocked revenue during 2014; it is expected to cost $10.7B in 2015 and $20.3B in 2016.
  • In Q2 2015, mobile accounted for 38% of all web browsing, yet only 1.6% of ad block traffic on the PageFair network in Q2 2015 was from mobile devices. 
  • During Q2 2015, 40% of mobile ad blocking came from Firefox users who had installed an extension to block ads. That is about to change with ad blocking now available on iOS 9; mobile Safari represents 52% of the mobile browsing market (and 14% of total web browsing).
  • At 50%, misuse of personal information was the primary reason given for enabling ad blocking overall.
  • 57% of millennials cited an increase in the quantity of ads as their reason.
These stats should likely make advertisers rethink the ways they connect with their audience, which, in turn, could cost Internet readers access to a lot of free content as free is not really free...advertisers foot the bill.

While ad blocking has been around for awhile, Apple’s latest iOS 9 release has significantly upped the ante on ad blocking4, which could leave businesses eating stardust as users easily banish their banner ads, pop-ups, and autoplay videos once and for all. All those Google ads that companies purchased won’t be visible to Apple users who turn on this feature, and the feature is not selective at this time. This means that it blocks ALL ads, including quality ads of quality products that don’t implement tracking functions. This is bad news for Google’s business model (not to mention all those paying advertisers), which derives a large portion of its revenue from advertising sales. (Steve Job’s Vulcan nerve pinch from the grave.)

So, what’s an advertiser to do? Is the face of e-commerce changing...again?
You bet! But most experts in the industry think it’s a good opportunity to repair a system of intrusive, data-heavy ads that slow down the browsing experience and frustrate the consumer. Over time, experts believe that ad blockers will feature an option for a whitelist that will allow some ads through. One ad-technology company, Rubicon Project, said they were in the early stages of the development of this technology that they believe will offer the user a better experience while giving the advertiser more opportunities.2

Like most technological changes, the evolution of online advertising will be refined and, hopefully, elevated in terms of quality information and user experience. Accomplishing this feat will certainly add authenticity to a brand. But currently an advertiser must consider that Apple wins the web traffic market share in the United States at 52%,5 84.6% of which come from users of the iPhone 5 and older iPhone models6. That’s a lot of phones when you consider that models back to the iPhone 4s can upgrade to iOS 9.7 Ultimately, advertisers will need to aggressively develop new tactics in order to connect with this massive challenge.

  1. The DailyTech:
  2. New York Times:
  3. "Ad Blocking’s Impact and the Future of Digital Marketing," a Tap Influence webcast by Dr. Johnny Ryan of PageFair:
  4. Forbes:
  5. Venture Beat:
  6. Marketing Land:
  7. Apple:

Not so freaky thoughts from Stephen Dubner

Dan Schawbel (contributor to Forbes Magazine) recently spoke to Stephen Dubner, co-author of both Freakonomics and Super Freakonomics. Freakonomics is one of The New York Times bestsellers and has sold more than 4 million copies worldwide, in more than 35 languages. In his interview, Dubner talks about ways that entrepreneurs can make better business decisions, habits they need to break, and why pursuing your passion is so important. The following is a summation:
  1. Say “I don’t know” more often. Too many people in business – act like they know everything. Get rid of your ego and open yourself up to learning something new. 
  2. “Once you know what you don’t know, you can start gathering feedback.” Run experiments to discover and investigate what you don’t know. These don’t have to be complicated or expensive. Real randomized experimentation is one of the most basic, useful tools in solving problems. 
  3. Spend time thinking. Really thinking. You may believe you already spend a lot of time thinking, but, in fact, many of our ideas are just rehashed thoughts given to us. 
  4. Question conventional wisdom and figure out what your own biases are. “Even the smartest people among us have strong biases—in fact, the very smartest people are likely to be even more biased. That’s not a crime, but when you’re trying to solve a problem, you need to figure out where your biases lie and how to work around them.” 
  5. Don’t be afraid to quit. “Don’t fall for the 'sunk-cost' fallacy: once you’ve put a lot of time, money, energy, etc., into a project, it may seem counterproductive to stop. But that’s not necessarily the case. Instead, consider the opportunity cost: every hour, dollar, or brain cell that you’re putting into Project A is one less that you could be putting into Project B...Failing fast and failing well is greatly undervalued.” 
  6. Find something you love more than anything—and especially a pursuit that other people aren’t doing—you will run circles around the competition. Why? Because if you truly love what you’re doing, you’ll be thinking about it when you go to sleep, you’ll wake up with a head full of ideas, and you’ll be eager to experiment and fail and start over again until you solve the riddle. 

5 Ways to Set Your Brand on Fire

Nothing successful in business happens without a plan, especially when it concerns branding. A branding plan is essential to the lifecycle of your business. Here are five reasons why:
  1. Information & Analysis: You gain valuable insight when researching market positions and trends. You find out where you stand in the marketplace, where you stand with your customers, where your competitors stand, what’s the climate like for your product, and what are the market projections. It’s vital to know where you are before you can map out where you’re going.
  2. Differentiation: In gathering the research, certain qualities about your product will begin to rise to the top. You’ll discover differences between your brand and your competitors’. This will form the essence and launching pad for your message. If you’re not different, then you are white noise, and no one will be able to distinguish you from your competitors. Differentiation is key to a brand’s viability.
  3. Leadership alignment: With a brand plan, you will form common objectives for growth and direction, meaning everyone in the company will be using the same map. Everyone, regardless of his or her role, will be on the same page with the same goals in mind.
  4. Appeal, Action, Achieve: A brand plan should include implementation strategies with the end results meeting your objectives. Implementation defines how to appeal to your target, how to speak your target’s language and where they will hear you, thereby giving your brand the tools to achieve its objectives.
  5. Evaluate & Adjust: Brands live and breathe. The plan should as well. It should include measurable benchmarks and tests to see if you are reaching your business objectives. See where the needed growth areas are and make adjustments to strengthen those areas.

8 Entrepreneurial Tips for Kids (& Adults)

  1. Never quit.
    Entrepreneurs face the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. One thing we learn fast is to never quit when things get tough. This is the time where growth happens—when we step and live outside of our comfort zones. These lessons teach us about leadership, entrepreneurship, and how to bring these skills and services to the real world. Entrepreneurs know how to hustle. Figuring out how to achieve your goals despite setbacks, doing something that might not be the traditional way, and persevering is what hustle is all about. 
  2. Cash is king.
    Cash is king. Cash is freedom. Having a war chest (instead of debt) allows for good and bad moves. This will give you freedom to navigate without restraint. 
  3. Exercise integrity.
    We all want to work with people who are honest and fair. Hard work is important. However, if you are dishonest, you might get that first sale, but the customer will not return. Maintain your moral code, especially when money is involved, and you will create a customer for life. Honesty is ALWAYS the best policy. 
  4. Negotiation skills can help you save money.
    Learn to negotiate. Understanding when and how to push will help save a startup lots of money. 
  5. You can't be all things to all people.
    In our quest to acquire a new customer or expand operations, it is easy to overlook our current customers and forget how we became successful in the first place. Stay focused on what you do best.
  6. You can do a lot more than you think you can.
    You really can do almost anything if you put your mind and passion to it. Don’t settle for the status quo or be content with what already exists. Society only improves if entrepreneurs explore new paths and new ways of doing things. Being an innovator is about fighting complacency and never being satisfied with the “good enough” answers of today.
  7. It’s important to make personal connections.
    Everyone you meet can bring something interesting to the table either at the moment or down the road, so making and maintaining a network of connections is very important. 
  8. Pursue a work-life balance.
    Demonstrate a healthy work-life balanced attitude toward business. Be a present role model to inspire, rally, and build-up those around you.

Jet Fuel for Air Travelers

Did you know you can speed through airport security?  If you qualify for the TSA PreCheck program (and pay the enrollment fees), you will be assigned a known traveler number and be allowed to speed through expedited-screening lines without unpacking your laptop or removing your shoes, belt or jacket. Nice to know!