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GamesBeat Summit speakers: virtual beings, exploding kittens, and influencer marketing

GamesBeat Summit 2020 will focus on the latest trends in the gaming ecosystem, and today we’re introducing a trio of speakers who are bringing exciting ideas to the industry. In separate talks, Edward Saatchi of Fable Studios, Doron Nir of StreamElements, and Elan Lee of Exploding Kittens will speak at our event, which will take…

GamesBeat Summit 2020 will focus on the latest trends in the gaming ecosystem, and today we’re introducing a trio of speakers who are bringing exciting ideas to the industry.

In separate talks, Edward Saatchi of Fable Studios, Doron Nir of StreamElements, and Elan Lee of Exploding Kittens will speak at our event, which will take place on April 28 and April 29 in downtown Los Angeles at Two Bit Circus, a “micro-amusement park.” This place combines old-style circus and arcade games with modern virtual reality entertainment in the city’s Arts District.

You can register for tickets here under our early-bird pricing at 30% off. You can see 23 of the speakers listed on the event site, and we’ll have 100 speakers by April.

Other previously announced speakers include:

  • Nicolo Laurent, CEO of Riot Games
  • Gary Whitta, screenwriter for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and former editor of PC Gamer
  • Tina Amini, editor-in-chief of games at IGN
  • Richard Lemarchand, associate professor at the USC Games program
  • Nika Nour, executive director of International Game Developers Association Foundation
  • David Gardner, cofounder of London Venture Partners
  • Anantha Duraiappah, director of UNESCO MGIEP, a promoter of games for peace
  • Andrea Rene, cofounder of What’s Good Games
  • Mari “AtomicMari” Takahashi, cofounder of Smosh Games
  • Paola “Pancakepow” Alejandra, creator of Pancakepow.com
  • Joshua “Jovenshire” Ovenshire

We’ve got more speakers that we haven’t announced yet. They will have their own way of expressing what our theme — the Dawn of a New Generation — means to them.

It’s a time of change in the game industry. Console makers are moving ahead with their new machines. Cloud gaming efforts like Google Stadia are joining the fray. Apple is driving hard with Apple Arcade, and HBO, Netflix, and others are moving into games. The digital delivery stores are proliferating, giving competition to the old guard like Steam. And AR/VR companies are trying to get off the ground with new tech.

Gaming is moving down parallel paths, finding new ways to turn all of us into gamers. It is an ever-widening circle of opportunity, and our speakers will talk about how to best navigate these transitions to new machines, new markets, new business models, and new technologies such as artificial intelligence.

Edward Saatchi, cofounder of Fable Studios

wolves edward ES crop2 - GamesBeat Summit speakers: virtual beings, exploding kittens, and influencer marketing

Above: Edward Saatchi, cofounder of Fable.

Image Credit: Fable

Edward is an Emmy Award-winning entrepreneur; producer of Oculus Story Studio’s Lost, Henry, Dear Angelica and Quill; and cofounder of Oculus Story Studio. He founded NationalField as part of the Obama campaign and was named as Forbes “30 under 30” in technology for his technical contributions to the 2008 and 2012 campaigns with NationalField. Edward cofounded Fable in 2017.

Edward has been exploring the pioneering, exciting, and scary field of artificial people. He runs the Virtual Beings Summit, which is drawing crowds that want to learn about making virtual characters and bringing them to life with AI. We’ll talk about the intersection of virtual beings, AI, and games in a fireside chat.

Elan Lee, cofounder of Exploding Kittens

elan lee - GamesBeat Summit speakers: virtual beings, exploding kittens, and influencer marketing

Above: Elan Lee

Image Credit: Exploding Kittens

Elan Lee is a professional technologist and storyteller. His pioneering work in entertainment has spanned everything from multiple startups raising millions of dollars to creating the Alternate Reality Game (ARG) genre.

I’ve interviewed Lee throughout his career, and his creativity has always struck me in his quest to entertain us in new ways. And most hilariously, he has teamed up with The Oatmeal’s Matt Inman to make tabletop card games like Exploding Kittens. And those tabletop projects are turning out to be a great way not only to make money but also test ideas for digital games. Lee will be doing a fireside chat at our event.

Elan started his career at the Microsoft Games Studio, where he was a lead designer on the original Xbox. He next cofounded 42 Entertainment (the company behind I Love Bees, Nine Inch Nails: Year Zero, and The Dark Knight). Elan was also the founder and chief creative officer of Fourth Wall Studios, and the chief design officer at Xbox Entertainment Studios. Elan most recently co-created Exploding Kittens, the most funded game on Kickstarter and the most backed crowdfunded project in history.

Elan has spoken all over the world on the future of gaming and storytelling. He has won a Primetime Emmy for the series Dirty Work, the Game Innovator of the Year award for Exploding Kittens, and an IndieCade Trailblazer Award for a distinguished career in interactive entertainment.

He has been featured in Wired Magazine, the New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, and the Wall Street Journal. He has also won awards for Best Web Game of the Year, Best Advertising Campaign of the Year, and Best Idea of the Year.

Doron Nir, CEO of StreamElements

DoronNirPic - GamesBeat Summit speakers: virtual beings, exploding kittens, and influencer marketing

Above: Doron Nir is the CEO of StreamElements.

Image Credit: StreamElements

Doron Nir is the CEO and cofounder of StreamElements. He is a serial entrepreneur, gamer, and visionary, driven by a passion for product development, content creation, and the goal of helping creators achieve success.

Doron will be talking about brands in the age of the influencer. With the democratization of social media and online communication, we see the rise of a new media entity: The influencer. Influencers are essentially one-person media companies that are amassing massive engaged audiences with the ability to drive game purchases and move products like never before. In this talk, Doron will share relevant learnings based on the film industry, explore the power of influencers in live streaming, and show how marketers can harness the power of live streamers to connect their brands to the best communities.

Nir has been involved in the games industry for over 25 years with a background including being a veteran game designer, a cofounder of GameIS (Israeli Digital Game Developers Association), an entrepreneur (Happy Sale), and one of the top podcasters in Hebrew (Geekonomy).

Doron is also a lecturer of game design and product development at the Interdisciplinary Center Hertzlia. Currently he is the most cited industry expert on the influencer-driven livestreaming trend, with inclusion in 45-plus stories over the past year in outlets such as VentureBeat, Bloomberg, New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, Forbes, The Verge, Hollywood Reporter, and AdWeek.

What to expect

We’re honored to have these speakers. They’ll be speaking in fireside chats, panels, and solo talks across our three stages: The Boss Stage (CEO/business talks), The Hero Stage (triple-A game developers and consumer-oriented talks), and The Bonus Stage (special talks).

The event will span all of games. We think that bringing the leaders of the industry together from different sectors helps refine the best thinking, and you often get wisdom from lessons that are hard learned. These kinds of talks and the chance for networking across sectors and industries is what will make our event unique in the crowded conference space.

Our event is going to be an intimate affair. And our location this year once again fits right with our theme. Two Bit Circus is a 40,0000-square-foot playground for all ages, with entertainment that includes escape rooms, virtual reality experiences, a VIP loft, live interactive games, a robot bartender show, and modern versions of carnival games. Our attendees will be able to hear business talks in the Club 101 auditorium and consumer-focused talks in a second hall.

We’re still forming our topics around next-generation gaming. The discussions will likely focus on investing in games; mergers and acquisitions and the changes they will bring about; the globalization of games; diversity; esports; the psychology of games; rising regulation; AI’s impact on games; games for peace; the rise of influencers; the convergence of sci-fi, tech, and games; monetization; blockchain and cryptocurrency; and debates on topics such as addiction and loot boxes.

This is our 11th year of GamesBeat events and this year promises to be the best one yet. If you’ve never been to our event, here’s my opening speech at last year’s event. And here are links to the videos for day one and day two. And here’s a summary of a few talks and a story about the Bushnell family that built Two-Bit Circus. Check out those links if you want to see if GamesBeat Summit is for you.

Stay tuned as we announce more great speakers to our first-rate lineup. A partial list of sponsors includes Consumer Acquisition, Rogue Games, Genvid, Niantic, Two Hat Security, Jam City, Scopely, Amber, and Adjust.

How to do Keyword Research for SEO

Keyword research is the backbone of your online presence. It’s common knowledge that this practice determines your rankings and visibility in the organic search. However, the way keyword research is done has changed over time. Today, using Google’s Keyword Planner to find phrases with a high search volume and optimizing your site for them is not…

Keyword research is the backbone of your online presence. It’s common knowledge that this practice determines your rankings and visibility in the organic search. However, the way keyword research is done has changed over time. Today, using Google’s Keyword Planner to find phrases with a high search volume and optimizing your site for them is not enough.

To rank higher, you need to focus on improving user experiences and understanding the intent behind their searches. Most importantly, you need to create quality content around those keywords. These practices will not only improve your online exposure but also help you drive relevant traffic to your site and convert it into leads and sales.

Here are the benefits of keyword research and some key steps you should take when performing it.

What is Keyword Research?

Keywords are the phrases online searchers use to perform online searches and find the right content. For example, if someone wants to make a face mask, they will google something like “face mask diy” or “homemade face mask.”

Your goal is to identify the key keywords your searchers use and optimize your website pages for them to make them more visible in the SERPs. That’s what we call keyword research. 

How Keyword Research worked in the Past

The approach to researching keywords has changed over time. Namely, 10 years ago, Google didn’t know what kind of results its searchers expected to see. Back then, its crawlers would scan the page and look for keywords similar to the search query. In other words, it was enough for marketers to use Google Keyword Planner to identify keywords with the highest search volume and spam their content with them.

To prevent keyword stuffing and provide users with more relevant and quality content, Google introduced several algorithm updates. Some most pivotal algorithm updates that impacted keyword research are:

  • Google Panda (2011) – penalizes low-quality and duplicated content.
  • Google Penguin (2012) – penalizes sites with spammy keywords.
  • Google Hummingbird (2013) – focuses on the improvement of the semantic search and search intent.

The Importance of Google Rank Brain

In today’s era of personalized user experiences, Google is striving to understand the context behind users’ searches. Its goal is to know the search intent and provide each user with the right content. This is where it resorted to artificial intelligence and, consequently, RankBrain was rolled out. 

RankBrain is Google’s artificial intelligence component that helps the search engine understand search queries. It uses machine learning, helping Google understand how searchers interact with search results and what the intent behind their search is. 

Keyword Research in 2019 and Beyond

With the rise of Google’s algorithm updates and RankBrain, keyword research evolved, as well. Namely, it’s not all about identifying profitable keywords and stuffing your website with them. On the contrary, keyword research has become more topical and natural. It now focuses on understanding the idea behind search queries and it depends on numerous factors. 

Benefits of User-Centric Keyword Research

This way of researching keywords benefits your SEO strategy in multiple ways, including:

  • Gaining a Better Understanding of your Target Audience

Just like I’ve already mentioned above, keyword research is essentially the process of identifying the phrases your target audience uses. By finding the most popular keywords in your niche, you can also understand who your audience is, what kind of content they want to see, what their needs are, and so forth. This data will help you create more reliable buyer personas and meet your customers’ needs.

  • Tightening your Content Strategy

Keyword research allows you to discover popular topics in your industry. This way, you will increase your industry credibility, make your content more engaging and attention-grabbing and, logically, boost your rankings. This is where both a basic Google search and content discovery tools can help you a lot.

  • Identifying Relevant Keywords

When building an online brand, you want to know what people think and feel about you. In other words, you want to measure your brand sentiment. Is it positive, negative, or maybe neutral? This is where, again, keyword research can help. Namely, it allows you to track your searchers’ activities and see what kind of phrases they use to find out about you.

  • Monitoring Competitors

When conducting keyword research, you can always focus on your competitors. By knowing what keywords they’re ranking for, you will gain a better understanding of your industry, “copy” their keyword targeting strategies that may work for you, as well as find effective ways to stand out and compete against them. 

Make a List of Relevant Topics and Turn Them into Keyword Ideas

The first step towards identifying your keywords is to create a detailed list of topics relevant to your industry and business. For example, if you’re running a sports blog, you will write about different types of sports and these are your topics.

Short-Tail Keywords Vs. Long-Tail Keywords

Keep in mind that these phrases are not your keywords. They are just some broader topics that will guide you and help you focus on the right phrases during your keyword research. Your goal is to narrow them down into more specific phrases. 

Say you’re writing about cycling. You don’t need to be an SEO expert to understand that one of the keywords you would like to rank for is “cycling.” These are short-tail keywords that were extremely popular a while ago, as they have an immense search volume. However, when targeting highly popular keywords, your competition is also great. Therefore, if your blog is new in the digital marketing ecosystem, chances are you won’t rank high for such keywords. 

Still, when you dig deeper, you will see that there are many natural and organic keywords people search for. Some of them are, for example, “health benefits of cycling,” “how many calories cycling burns,” “best mobile apps for cyclists,” etc. These are examples of long-tail keywords that usually consist of more than 3 words.

Even though they have a lower search volume, they also have fewer competitors, meaning that you have greater chances to rank high in the SERPs. Also, they’re more specific, helping you attract the right traffic to your site and convert it into leads and customers. Above all, they give you the opportunity to create more user-friendly posts, where your keywords would be inserted organically and naturally.

Know what Keywords You’re Currently Ranking For

One of the first steps to take during your keyword research is to see what keywords you’re already ranking for. This lets you see what keywords work or don’t work for you and, in this way, improve your rankings. 

Numerous SEO tools can help you here. For example, with SEMrush, you just need to enter your page URL and you will see what keywords it ranks for. Ahrefs automatically detects the keywords your site is ranking for. Both AccuRanker and Ahrefs let you analyze your keywords based on a particular location. You could also enable Console data in Google Analytics. This will help you observe your keyword phrases, clicks, and the average position on Google. 

Sure, you can also augment keyword tracking by automating your data tracking efforts. There are many reporting tools that let you create customized dashboards, where you would combine the features of the tools you’re already using to gain better results. However, to get relevant results, you need to track your data strategically. The Guide to Making High-Quality Marketing Reports emphasizes that understanding audiences, setting straightforward goals, and aligning them with the right KPIs and metrics is key to creating functional dashboards.  

Powerful Sources of Keywords

There are numerous tools and tactics you could use to identify keywords. However, you should also focus on those that also help you understand your audiences and their search intent. Here are a few tactics to start with.

Google Keyword Planner

This is certainly the first (and the most popular) choice of online marketers. Even though keyword research has become more complex and many advanced keyword research tools have been created, you could use GKP as the foundation of your keyword research

To use GKP, you need to have a Google Ads account. Next, click Tools and go to the Keyword Planner tab. You have an option to “Find New Keywords,” where you should enter your seed keyword to get relevant keyword suggestions. 

Google Search

The basic Google search can serve as an outstanding source of relevant and long-tail keywords. Its major benefit lies in the fact that it displays the keywords your audiences really search for. There are three features you could use:

  • Autocomplete

Google is striving to provide keyword suggestions in its search box. As these recommendations are based on actual searches, they could serve as a treasure trove of potential keywords. For example, if you type “best cycling” into the search box and hit the space button, you will get suggestions like “best cycling apps,” “best cycling shoes,” “best cycling exercises” and so forth.

  • People Also Ask

The People Also Ask snippet is one of the valuable features provided by Google. Simply put, it displays questions people ask that are relevant to your keyword. These may help you understand the search intent and, above all, find some valuable long-tail and conversational keywords.

  • Searches Related To

This feature is similar to the Autocomplete feature. Namely, you google a certain seed keyword and then scroll down to the “Searches Related To” are at the very bottom of the page. For example, if you google “cycling app,” you will get suggestions like “best cycling app for android,” “best cycling app in 2019,” “live tracking cycling app,” etc.

Answer the Public

This app works similarly to Google Suggest. Namely, it gives you a list of questions your customers ask. Using this tool is easy. Namely, you just need to enter your seed keyword and hit “Get Questions.” Apart from the visualized data, you can also go to the “Data” tab, where you will find three major kinds of keyword ideas – question-based queries, long-tail queries, and related topics. 

Reddit

Reddit is our everyday platform for connecting with people from all across the globe, asking questions, and providing valuable answers. As such, it may serve as an amazing source of keywords. The idea behind that is simple – type your seed keyword in the search box and look for relevant subreddits. Then, seek popular treads that have numerous comments. Such threads may have lots of long-tail keywords you could use to understand the search intent.

YouTube Suggestions

YouTube is one of the largest world’s search engines. Therefore, ignoring it during your keyword research means missing out on numerous awesome keyword opportunities. There are numerous searches behind each seed keyword you could type in. For example, if you search “makeup,” you will see a bunch of potential keywords, such as “diy-makeup,” “makeup transformation,” etc.

Wikipedia

Wikipedia has a logical structure, where broader topics branch into more specific ones. For example, if you search for the “Exercise” topic, you will see a bunch of sub-categories and suggestions, including “active living,” “warming up,” “exercise intensity,” “anaerobic exercise,” etc.

Keyword Analysis

Now that you’ve created a list of keywords, it’s time to analyze their relevance and effectiveness. There are three fundamental criteria to consider during the process of analysis:

      1. The popularity of a keyword – is its search volume high enough to deliver the expected results?

You could start by analyzing the data from the Google Keyword Planner, where you can easily see the search volume for each keyword. Google Trends is also a great tool to use, as it lets you see how the popularity of the keyword is changing over time. 

      2. Keyword difficulty – how difficult it is for you to rank for a certain keyword.

Logically, a higher keyword difficulty means that it would be harder for your site to rank for a certain phrase. This is where the quality and number of backlinks play an immensely important role. There are many keyword research tools that will calculate the keyword difficulty for you. When tracking this metric, keep one thing in mind. Namely, it is only a guide that provides generic insights. How well you will rank also depends on your overall SEO efforts, the quality of your site, and the relevance of your content.

      3. Search intent – how relevant your content is to your target audience.

There are different types of search intent. The first is navigational, where a user searches for a specific site. The second is informational, conducted by users wanting to learn something online. The third is transactional queries, performed by users that want to buy something online. Finally, there is a commercial search, done by people that research brands and products before making purchases. Your goal is to understand the intent behind every keyword you use and optimize the right kind of content for it.

Optimizing your Pages for Keywords

When optimizing your site for keywords, start by choosing focus keywords. These keywords illustrate your topic and appear in different elements of a page. These are usually exact-match keywords and you should insert them into your title tag, meta tag, headings, subheadings, and text content. However, don’t stuff your pages with keywords. Always strive to add them organically, where it makes sense. 

When optimizing pages, don’t forget about the importance of long-tail keywords. In today’s era of voice searches, where searchers replace traditional keywords with conversational ones, you need to optimize your content for natural keywords, too. These keywords let you increase user satisfaction and engagement, as well as appear high in mobile and voice searches.

Most importantly, note that targeting the right keywords is pointless if you don’t create high-quality content around them. For example, when optimizing your blog, make sure your posts are informative, insightful, and authentic. They should keep users engaged and deliver value to them. Such content is more likely to rank high in the organic search, compared to spammy, keyword-packed articles. 

Over to You

Keyword research remains a crucial SEO strategy. However, the way we do it has changed significantly. In the past, exact-match keywords and keyword density were enough to rank high. Today, these practices can only compromise your online presence. To gain a competitive advantage and appear high on Google, you need to focus on aligning keyword research with search intent and, above all, to create quality content around these keywords.

b16808cc0f7e655b88e4acab7df02998?s=125&d=mm&r=g - How to do Keyword Research for SEO

Raul Harman

My name is Raul, editor in chief at Technivorz blog. I have a lot to say about innovations in all aspects of digital technology and online marketing. You can reach me out on Twitter.

Ninja’s management agency is ‘actively seeking to diversify’ its talent pool

Just as the debut LCS tournament was playing out in June 2011, the streaming site Justin.tv launched Twitch, a live-video platform dedicated to gaming. Today, Amazon owns Twitch and streaming is mainstream, with popular personalities regularly commanding multimillion-dollar sponsorship deals. While Twitch has dominated this space for the past half decade, competitors like Mixer and…

Just as the debut LCS tournament was playing out in June 2011, the streaming site Justin.tv launched Twitch, a live-video platform dedicated to gaming. Today, Amazon owns Twitch and streaming is mainstream, with popular personalities regularly commanding multimillion-dollar sponsorship deals. While Twitch has dominated this space for the past half decade, competitors like Mixer and YouTube have recently stepped up and infused the industry with competition, signing exclusivity deals with big streamers and esports leagues, including Overwatch and Call of Duty.

Tyler “Ninja” Blevins ditched Twitch in mid-2019 to stream exclusively on Mixer, Microsoft’s rival streaming service, in a deal reportedly worth up to $30 million. A few months later, Michael “Shroud” Grzesiek made the same move. Before the end of 2019, Jack “CouRage” Dunlop dropped Twitch for YouTube, while Twitch responded by snagging Benjamin “DrLupo” Lupo, Saqib “LIRIK” Zahid and Timothy “TimTheTatman” Betar. Each of these deals are reported to be worth millions of dollars per year.

Every streamer in the previous paragraph is signed with Loaded, a management company that sets up marketing and sponsorship deals between streamers and the companies that want to pay them. Davidson joined Loaded this week as Vice President of Talent, leaving her role as senior esports manager at Riot.

“With social interactions these days becoming more of a digital experience, and people being more interested in new forms of content, it isn’t as much of a surprise to me that streaming has taken off like it has,” Davidson said. “Content creators also have more tools and avenues than ever to attract audiences and brands, while the appetite for content is at an all-time high. It is exciting to be able to help creators develop their careers in this space.”

Loaded isn’t the only thing all of those streamers have in common — they’re also all dudes. Though women compose 46 percent of the US video game market, esports are heavily dominated by men. According to Esports Earnings, the woman who’s won the most prize money in professional gaming is StarCraft II player Sasha “Scarlett” Hostyn, who’s earned $357,339 over eight years. Meanwhile, the site says Dota 2 player Johan “N0tail” Sundstein has won $6,890,592 over nine years. There are 329 male players and millions of dollars between N0tail and Scarlett.

“The appetite for content is at an all-time high.”

Of course, professional gaming isn’t the same as streaming. These industries have grown up together, though not all esports players are streamers, and not all streamers are pros. By design, streaming is an open market, where essentially anyone can dive in and start a channel. Still, the most popular names in streaming are men, and women routinely face gender-based discrimination and harassment on live platforms.

Based on hours watched, the top 10 streamers in 2019 were all men, StreamElements reports. Of the nine biggest streamers today by follower count, only one is female, according to The Loadout. Rank streamers by their subscriber numbers — meaning, people who actually pay to watch — and there are no women in the top 10, the site says.

“Why don’t you use voice chat?”
“Why can’t I find a girlfriend who plays video games?”
“Why do you mute people who ask you if you’re a girl?”

Gee, I dunno.

[Warning: extreme language and monumental stupidity] pic.twitter.com/TO4VzU44YF

— Anne Munition (@AnneMunition) May 23, 2018

Loaded represents 36 gaming content creators. Just five are women: Hannah “Bnans” Kennedy, Eefje “Sjokz” Depoortere, Jessica “Jghosty” Blevins, Jodi “QuarterJade,” and AnneMunition (who prefers not to share her legal name).

“Here at Loaded we’re actively seeking to diversify our portfolio of talent, not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because it’s also what’s best for the business and industry,” Davidson said. “Those who are in a position to should be thinking about this and doing what they can to more accurately represent diversity within their ranks and content. In order to accelerate this, leaders in our industry need to support women and other minority groups to create a more inviting and supportive landscape for everyone. It’s something Loaded will be intentional about, and I look forward to playing a big role in our strategy there.”

“We live in a diverse world and that should be celebrated.”

Loaded is one management company that deals with one sliver of the gaming industry, but it holds a lot of sway in 2020. It has the biggest and most lucrative names in streaming, it’s signing deals worth tens of millions of dollars, and it has the power to put new, fresh faces in front of a hungry audience. With Davidson in charge of lining up new talent, expect to see more diversity in Loaded’s roster — and on Twitch, Mixer, YouTube and even Facebook Gaming.

“One of my goals at Loaded is to evolve the kind of support we offer to our talent, which includes deepening our understanding of the services that will really help our talent thrive and become successful long-term,” she said. “We know there are different challenges, needs and opportunities for different talent, so we should have a variety of solutions and offerings to support that diversity.”

Davidson reports directly to Loaded co-founder Brandon Freytag, and she said he’s also committed to broadening the company’s — and the industry’s — streaming portfolio.

“We live in a diverse world, and that should be celebrated and reflected back to audiences,” Davidson said.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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How to Promote a Documentary Storytelling Series on Social Media

Does your marketing include episodic video content? Wondering how to promote your series? In this article, you’ll discover how to release and promote a documentary storytelling series on social media. Why Marketers Should Consider Documentary Storytelling Using storytelling rather than product pushing in marketing content can give you a significant edge. While traditional marketing highlights…

Does your marketing include episodic video content? Wondering how to promote your series?

In this article, you’ll discover how to release and promote a documentary storytelling series on social media.

Why Marketers Should Consider Documentary Storytelling

Using storytelling rather than product pushing in marketing content can give you a significant edge. While traditional marketing highlights the product, storytelling creates a compelling and engaging narrative that puts the customer before the product and spotlights your brand’s mission.

Thanks to Netflix, the docuseries has become one of the hottest formats for storytelling. With consumers hungry for authenticity and transparency and algorithms favoring conversation-generating content, the docuseries is worth exploring. It allows viewers to connect on a deeper level and become more invested in your brand through a behind-the-scenes look at a journey they can relate to.

Video is known to have higher engagement rates and higher ROI than any other form of content on social media. By the end of 2022, Cisco predicts that video will account for 80% of all consumer Internet traffic. According to Hootsuite, the average engagement rate for a Facebook video is 6.13%, while overall engagement rates on the platform are much lower at 3.6%.

The numbers don’t lie. It’s clear that video is a powerful digital marketing tool that brands can’t ignore. As a result, marketers are making big investments in video documentary storytelling to capture the right audience in a competitive social media landscape. Here’s how you can start the type of conversations that get your docuseries content noticed on social platforms.

#1: Ensure Each Episode of Your Docuseries Is Entertaining and Educational

The goal of a docuseries is both to entertain and educate your target audience. Within that context, you want to offer real value to your viewers—share lessons and insights that your target audience can relate to and learn from.

Digital Distillery, an Auckland, New Zealand-based creative agency founded by Cat Howell, is an example of a brand that is successfully using the docuseries format to engage with their target audience. The idea for their docuseries Pay the Invoice stemmed from a challenge (as many great ideas do). The agency was having trouble getting a difficult client to pay their invoice.

Many freelancers, entrepreneurs, and agency owners were struggling with similar issues. From lead generation to late invoices, there were certainly many important shared experiences for this community to connect on. But Howell couldn’t understand why everyone held their cards so close to their chests.

The docuseries she created follows seven budding entrepreneurs on their journeys to scale their businesses. The docuseries was a way for Howell to build a connection between her business and target audience. Pay the Invoice demonstrates why the docuseries is such a powerful video format for brands. It touches on what Howell calls “the human piece.”

#2: Choose a Release Strategy for Your Docuseries

The method you use to release your content can also help keep your audience engaged. “There’s a lot of power in mimicking what the best in the industry are doing. If you look at the best publisher in the world, it’s Netflix, and they release everything at once,” says Howell.

Whether it’s best for your brand to release everything at once or publish episodes weekly will depend on your audience and goals. Both release methods have their pros and cons.

A single release of an entire series can have a big impact. With the binge culture Netflix has established, people will often set aside an entire weekend or a few nights during the week to watch a complete series. Around the release date, with many viewers watching at the same time, conversations on social tend to happen organically. A full series release gives you an opportunity to have a bigger impact on social platforms through conversation among viewers watching at the same time.

If you already have an established viewer base, though, you might want to give your brand the opportunity to stay top of mind with your community over a longer period of time. You can achieve this through weekly episode releases.

#3: Optimize Your Docuseries and Episodes for Primary Distribution on YouTube

You need to catch your audience’s attention right away, especially when your video is competing for views in an increasingly crowded news feed. You’ll need to create compelling imagery and thumbnails to promote your docuseries and individual episodes.

If you don’t have a graphic designer on hand, use a free tool like Canva that helps you create strong, professional-looking graphics without needing to know how to use Adobe Creative Suite.

Subtitles are another crucial component that can help your video content thrive. Audiences tend to watch from their mobile devices when they’re on the go and are less likely to turn the sound on. Headliner (free and paid plans, starting at $12.95/month) is a web-based tool you can use to generate subtitles and allow these on-the-go viewers to follow along.

Before posting your video, double-check that the subtitles are correct and the font type and color are easy to read. Fix any mistakes if necessary before publishing your video.

YouTube has a number of native tools you can leverage to make your content easy to discover. To ensure your video thrives on YouTube, take the following steps:

Compile your videos into playlists: This will help YouTube understand what content is related and can make recommendations to viewers. These playlists also help lead the viewer to watch more than just one video.

Add relevant keywords: YouTube users often treat the platform like a search engine. That’s why it’s crucial to select the right keywords and title for your docuseries episodes so your video is more likely to appear in the search results of your target audience. Think about what your ideal customer might be searching for and use titles and keywords that match up with what they might type into the search bar.

You can research YouTube titles using tools like UberSuggest (free) and TubeBuddy (free and paid plans, starting at $9/month).

Don’t forget your call to action (CTA). Include your CTA at the end of the video, as well as in the video description. Think about what you want to accomplish for your business with this video. Would you like more subscribers, client leads, or website traffic? Decide on one goal and create an appropriate CTA.

Finally, keep track of key metrics with YouTube Analytics. These include click-through rate (CTR), watch time, and audience retention. Record these metrics at least weekly and try to identify any significant patterns or behaviors that will help you improve your videos going forward.

Optimize Each Episode for Native Secondary Distribution on Facebook

When you upload episodes of your docuseries to Facebook, follow these recommended video specs:

  • Dimensions: 1280 x 720; minimum width 600 pixels (length depends on aspect ratio)
  • Aspect ratio: 16:9 (landscape) or 9:16 (portrait)
  • Maximum file size: 4GB
  • Video formats: .MP4 or .MOV (recommended)
  • Maximum length: 120 minutes
  • Maximum frames: 30 fps

A Note About Distribution on Other Platforms

If you choose to publish your docuseries on other platforms, ensure that you load each episode natively to each platform, which will help boost your video’s reach. This is important not just for social media but also for your website. Embedding video content on your website helps decrease the bounce rate and improve your ranking in Google’s search results, according to Noam Judah of SEO agency TopRankings.

In addition, make sure your video is formatted correctly in both length and aspect ratio for the intended platform. You can find a comprehensive overview of recommended dimensions, aspect ratio, video format, and video length here.

#4: Promote Your Docuseries With YouTube Ads and Facebook Ads

Before you spend your hard-earned dollars on YouTube and Facebook ads to promote your docuseries, ensure that you have a solid strategy in place.

Start by creating a few audience groups that you’ll target with a unique strategy. First, identify who your main target audience is. Then break up this audience into various subcategories with similar interests.

Howell describes her main audience for Pay the Invoice as freelancers, entrepreneurs, and agency owners. But she also targets more niche audiences within this larger bucket using specific keywords, and the ad copy for those target audiences is tailored to their more specific interests. To visualize this, she was able to use the hiking episode in Pay the Invoice to target people interested in hiking within the broader audience of freelancers, entrepreneurs, and agency owners.

When you’re ready to set up your Facebook and YouTube ads, consider using Facebook ThruPlay and YouTube TrueView for the best results.

Pro Tip: It’s important to test different teaser video formats and lengths. By testing different creative, you’ll be able to better optimize your paid advertising strategy and save on ad spend.

#5: Boost Visibility for Your Docuseries via Organic Promotion on Facebook

Creating and posting a compelling docuseries are only the beginning steps of a successful content marketing strategy. Meaningful engagement with your target audience is crucial in creating a strong community of loyal brand followers. Here are two ways to generate this engagement on Facebook.

Host a Facebook Watch Party

Changes to the Facebook algorithm in 2018 lowered the reach of pages but increased the priority of posts from Facebook groups. This makes Groups an excellent platform to use to promote your docuseries. Specifically, you might want to explore the Facebook Watch Party feature, which allows group members to watch a video in real time together as a community and share reactions and comments live.

Start by creating a Facebook group post and selecting the Watch Party option.

Next, choose the video you want to watch together as a community. A watch party is perfect for launching the premiere episode of your docuseries. You can also add multiple videos if your docuseries has multiple episodes.

When you start the watch party, group members will see the post if they’re logged in. However, you might also want to consider sending them an invite so they receive a notification about the watch party.

Be sure to promote the watch party to your community in advance so they know when to tune in and join the conversation.

Facebook Live Q&A

Hosting a Facebook Live Q&A can also be an effective way to promote your docuseries on the platform. Facebook Live sessions are shown to have on average six times more engagement than recorded videos. As with a watch party, promote your live video in advance so your community knows when and how to tune in.

Before you go live, test your camera, sound settings, and internet connectivity. To do this, select the Only Me option for your audience and shoot a practice video to make sure there are no technical issues.

When you’re ready to go live, set a location for your live video and write a short but engaging description. This will help increase discoverability.

Keep in mind that it can often take some time to start amassing viewers so you’ll want to develop a strategy to fill the time while you wait for your community to log on and tune in. During this period, keep viewers entertained and engaged but don’t dive into any of the main conversation topics about your docuseries. Save these for when the bulk of your viewers have tuned in.

Throughout the broadcast, periodically reintroduce both yourself and the topic of conversation, your docuseries. You can also give new viewers a short recap of what they missed.

Take questions about your docuseries from your community while you’re live; don’t simply talk at them. This is an excellent opportunity for you to engage with your community directly.

When your video is complete, select the option to post your video as both a Facebook post and Facebook story so users who didn’t tune in live can watch the video later.

#6: Other Ways to Build Awareness for Your Docuseries

Here are a few additional ways you can boost visibility and viewership of your docuseries:

Host a Twitter chat: Consider hosting a Twitter chat as docuseries episodes are posted to create a conversation around the series. Start by picking a topic or theme for the discussion so you can guide the conversation. Also create a branded hashtag for chat participants to use to track the conversation as it’s happening and once it’s completed.

Leverage user-generated content (UGC): Eye-catching merchandise can help you promote your docuseries and also create an additional revenue stream. Consider mugs, hoodies, and hats with a phrase or hashtag your community identifies with. Then as your community posts and shares images of wearing and using the merchandise, it will help boost the visibility of the docuseries, create UGC you can leverage, and foster a sense of community among viewers.

To get the most out of the merchandise and generate as much UGC as possible, consider hosting a contest. Ask users to submit a photo of themselves wearing or using your brand merchandise. Request that they tag your brand and use a specific branded hashtag for the contest so you can track entries.

Encourage additional posting and engagement by giving contest participants bonus entry options. For instance, users who post to both their Instagram grid and Stories will be entered twice. Make the winner selection exciting. Consider hosting a live video where you select the winner and discuss the prizes. Pick multiple winners with different tiered prizes so you can directly engage with more than one follower.

Leverage the personal networks of the talent involved in the docuseries. Provide them with assets to share on their own social platforms to help you expand your reach organically.

Finally, a smart PR strategy can go a long way toward increasing the visibility and viewership of your docuseries. There are a few different ways to do this:

  • Look for guest posting and interview opportunities on relevant blogs and podcasts and ensure that these posts link back to the docuseries website or episodes. This will help you gain new viewers and boost Google search rankings.
  • Announce the launch of a new docuseries on the day the premiere episode goes live through a press release.

Conclusion

It’s clear that video content is here to stay and has become a powerful marketing tool for brands. The docuseries is an especially potent format because when used properly, it can help build brand affinity, start meaningful conversations, and create a sense of community among viewers. Use the above tips to promote thoughtful, quality content that resonates with viewers to help set your brand apart from your competitors.

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What do you think? Will you consider creating a docuseries for your brand? What topic might be a good fit? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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New video series “Inspiring Women” reveals trials and triumphs of female marketers

Presented by CleverTap While women are climbing the ranks and holding leadership positions in the marketing industry, challenges still remain. In an effort to support women and celebrate their many accomplishments, mobile marketing platform CleverTap has created a video series called Inspiring Women. The series features the experiences of thirteen remarkable women who hold leadership…

Presented by CleverTap


While women are climbing the ranks and holding leadership positions in the marketing industry, challenges still remain. In an effort to support women and celebrate their many accomplishments, mobile marketing platform CleverTap has created a video series called Inspiring Women.

The series features the experiences of thirteen remarkable women who hold leadership roles in large corporations like, Legoland, Etisalat, SEMrush and so on. In the videos, each interviewee shares how she got started in marketing, has overcome the challenges of a shifting marketing landscape, and valuable tips for aspiring leaders.

The stories, experiences, failures, and successes of the first five remarkable women are already live:

  • Heather Redling, Head of Marketing, LEGOLAND Dubai
  • Meera Iyer, CMO, Medlife.com
  • Olga Andrienko, Head of Global Marketing, SEMRush
  • Purna Virji, Senior Manager Global Engagement, Microsoft
  • Sudha K., Vice President and Client Leader, Mindshare

CleverTap is releasing the videos every week on their website, with a final installment on March 8, International Women’s Day.

Here are a few highlights from the current interviews:

Heather Redling, Head of Marketing, LEGOLAND Dubai

Redling’s unconventional career path began as an animal trainer. Acting as a spokesperson for animals then opened the door to a career in PR and marketing.

Redling’s learned a valuable lesson as she worked her way up:

“While I was in each job, I didn’t just focus on my role. I tried to understand how that role fit into the bigger business model. That’s what helped me grow.”

Meera Iyer, CMO, Medlife.com

While many different platforms and digital tools have improved her campaigns, Meera Iyer believes the answer to success starts and ends with knowing your customers. The Medlife exec shares the marketing mantra she uses to focus on the customer:

“There are a lot of tools out there, from AI to machine learning, but at the end of the day you’re marketing to real people. Have a deep empathy for them and you can’t go wrong.”

Olga Andrienko, Head of Global Marketing, SEMRush

After starting her career with a stint in filmmaking, Andrienko fell in love with the creative process, leading a team, and achieving success beyond individual accolades. She shares her key piece of advice for aspiring marketers:

“We live in a time of instant gratification. People who start their marketing career want to make an impact now, but it takes time,” she said. “Young marketers must be patient and gain experience. Understand that if you put in the work, success will come.”

Purna Virji, Senior Manager Global Engagement, Microsoft 

After starting her career in journalism and TV production, Virji discovered an interest in two emerging concepts of the time: PPC and search. Following that curiosity led her all the way to a senior management position at Microsoft. After years in the business, Virji says her biggest piece of advice is:

“Always be humble. You can be an expert today only to wake up and find something brand new has come out, and it’s changed everything you know.”

Sudha K., Vice President, Client Leader Mindshare

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When Sudha started her career during the dot-com boom, digital marketing was completely new. With no established roadmap to follow, she learned the value of being innovative, creating your own path, and always learning from the next generation. Even today she emphasizes the value of teamwork:

“Digital marketing is amazing in that it’s so well measured, but it’s difficult to keep up with constant changes. You have to have a passion to learn, and you must surround yourself with young talent to find a balance of new, innovative ideas coupled with experience.”

Follow #InspiringWomen on Twitter and LinkedIn, or watch all of the videos on the Inspiring Women landing page as they are published every week.

Mark Zuckerberg to Somehow Become Even More Unlikable in the 2020s, Mark Zuckerberg Says

Photo: Drew Angerer (Getty Images)Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has an ominous message for the rest of us: You may not like me, but you will understand me.The sprawling social media giant posted record revenue in Q4 2019 on Wednesday, reported Bloomberg, at $21.1 billion. That was 25 percent growth from the period the year prior,…

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Photo: Drew Angerer (Getty Images)

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has an ominous message for the rest of us: You may not like me, but you will understand me.

The sprawling social media giant posted record revenue in Q4 2019 on Wednesday, reported Bloomberg, at $21.1 billion. That was 25 percent growth from the period the year prior, which also makes it “the slowest-ever quarterly sales growth for Facebook, though it topped analysts’ average estimate of $20.9 billion,” the news agency wrote. (Facebook has hit a wall in growth because almost everyone already uses it, with 2.89 billion monthly active users this quarter.)

In a call with reporters, per USA Today, Zuckerberg alluded to the numerous crises, scandals, and political headaches confronting Facebook, like hate speech and disinformation, the use of Facebook to enable political lying, and the non-transparent data harvesting operation it has successfully extended over much of the web. And his message is that more of the same is coming.

“My goal for the next decade isn’t to be liked but to be understood,” Zuckerberg told reporters. “One critique of our approach for much of the last decade was that because we wanted to be liked, we didn’t always communicate our views as clearly because we worried about offending people. This led to some positive but shallow sentiment towards the company.”

“In order to be trusted, people need to know what you stand for,” he added. “These positions aren’t always going to be popular, but I think it’s important for us to take these debates head on. I know there are a lot of people who agree with these principles, and there are a lot more who are open to them and want to see these arguments get made. So expect more of that this year.”

Fortunately, Zuckerberg helpfully outlined all the stuff he expects to get shit for over the next 10 years, per Business Insider.

We’re going to focus more on communicating our principles, whether that’s standing up for giving people a voice against those who would censor people who don’t agree with them, standing up for letting people build their own communities against those who say that new types of communities forming on social media is dividing us, standing up for encryption against those who say privacy mostly helps bad people, standing up for giving small businesses more opportunity and sophisticated tools against those who say targeted advertising is a problem, or standing up for serving every person in the world against those who say you have to pay a premium in order to really be served

Note that these are all abstract principles presented in a manner that suggests only gripers who don’t understand what Zuckerberg is trying to do could be opposed to them.

In reality, the problem is that people understand Zuckerberg just fine. For example, the debate about censorship on Facebook isn’t about “giving people a voice,” it’s about whether its moderation efforts are sufficient to prevent Facebook from becoming a vehicle for hate speech. The debate over whether “social media is dividing us” isn’t about whether people can build their own online communities, it’s about whether Facebook actively propagates disinformation and amplifies outrage as part of its business model. The debate over targeted advertising isn’t about “giving small businesses more opportunity and sophisticated tools,” it’s about how targeted advertising is used on Facebook to discriminate and fuels surveillance capitalism. (For what it’s worth, Facebook has rolled out the helping small businesses line as justification for its efforts to set up a world-spanning cryptocurrency cartel opposed by financial regulators and privacy advocates across the globe.) And all of these issues are really about whether Facebook is too big and has too much power to deal with its problems in any way but issuing rote talking points.

Even the encryption thing isn’t as clear-cut as it sounds: Zuckerberg is right that the Department of Justice and authoritarian governments are full of it when they insist that encryption “mostly helps bad people” and demand tech firms build surveillance backdoors into their products. But Zuckerberg has also mixed this point in with Facebook’s pivot to private and small-group communities that supposedly provide what users crave—never mind that it is doing so by merging the technical backends of Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp, which conveniently lays the ground for the company to argue it’s somehow now too interconnected to break up.

People understand Zuckerberg just fine. That leaves him with just people not liking what he’s doing or believing him when he says why he’s doing it. And as he freely

Find Out How Facebook Tracks You Even When You’re Not Using It

We all know Facebook tracks what you do while using its apps and website, but the social media monolith also collects data from third-party apps, services, and websites, even when you’re not using Facebook. It’s one of the ways Facebook’s targeted ads become eerily specific and seem to know what you’ve been looking up on…

We all know Facebook tracks what you do while using its apps and website, but the social media monolith also collects data from third-party apps, services, and websites, even when you’re not using Facebook. It’s one of the ways Facebook’s targeted ads become eerily specific and seem to know what you’ve been looking up on other websites.

However, Facebook is now letting users see the data that it tracks from non-Facebook sources thanks to a new “Off-Facebook Activity” menu. You can even disentangle Facebook’s data on you with the data it receives from third parties, but that’s not quite the same as deleting the data outright.

I’ve talked about Facebook’s off-site data tracking in previous posts, and most people are probably aware that logging in to a website or syncing an app to your Facebook account means the company gets access to certain data. This is the first time users have been able to easily view and manage tracked third-party data, and it’s something everyone should check out.

How to find and manage your off-Facebook data

You can find the new Off-Facebook Activity tab under Settings > Your Facebook Data > Off-Facebook Activity. The tab exists in the same place for both mobile and desktop users.

The Off-Facebook Activity menu lists which connected apps and websites are sending data to Facebook and includes several options for managing said data:

  • To Facebook from associating its data with the data it receives from a specific app at some future point, tap or click it in the list then scroll down and select “Turn off future activity.” You can also use the “Give feedback about this activity” link to report any concerns you may have about an app’s activity tracking.
  • “Download your information” lets you save an offline report of all previously tracked data up to now.

There are also options to disassociate Facebook’s data with third-party data and block this connections from being made going forward, if you prefer.

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Screenshot: Brendan Hesse

  • “Clear history” breaks the link between Facebook’s data and the data it receives from third-party apps and websites. The latter doesn’t go away; it just isn’t connected to your Facebook account per se. (You’ll still probably be fingerprinted around the web, don’t worry.)
  • “Manage future activity” lets you quickly make sweeping changes to how Facebook treats the data it receives from all apps—even those you may sync in the future.

Keep in mind, however, that even these scorched-earth tactics won’t remove ads from Facebook, stop services from sending data about you to Facebook, or stop Facebook from tracking you elsewhere. It merely disconnects your Facebook identity from the information Facebook has (or will get). While there are ways to manage your ad data to make them more relevant (or less personalized), if you really want an ad-free experience you’ll need the help of third-party

Space Force’s Rough Launch, Oversight for Facebook, and More News

Space Force is being mocked and Mark Zuckerberg might get blocked, but first: a cartoon about airplane mode.Here’s the news you need to know, in two minutes or less.Want to receive this two-minute roundup as an email every weekday? Sign up here!Today’s NewsThe US Space Force had a rough launch on the internetThe internet has…

Space Force is being mocked and Mark Zuckerberg might get blocked, but first: a cartoon about airplane mode.

Here’s the news you need to know, in two minutes or less.

Want to receive this two-minute roundup as an email every weekday? Sign up here!

Today’s News

The US Space Force had a rough launch on the internet

The internet has found a new thing to latch onto: President Trump’s Space Force. The barrage began with the unveiling of camouflage uniforms similar to those worn by soldiers operating on Earth, eliciting jokes and GIFs mocking the fact that the uniforms wouldn’t hide anyone in outer space (or in the windowless computer rooms they’ll actually be operating out of). Then Space Force revealed a logo that looked almost identical to the Starfleet logo from Star Trek.

Why Mark Zuckerberg’s Oversight Board may kill his political ad policy

Mark Zuckerberg isn’t just Facebook’s CEO, he also controls a majority of the company’s stock, which means he cannot be overruled. But beginning at some point later this year, Zuckerberg’s word will no longer always be the final one. After nearly two years, Facebook is almost done setting up its Oversight Board, an independent panel with the power to override Facebook’s most contentious decisions—like Zuckerberg’s political ad policy that allows politicians to lie with impunity unless they say something illegal. Today, Facebook is releasing a set of bylaws that will determine how the board will operate. Next month it will reveal the names of the first set of content arbiters, starting with around 20 and eventually growing to 40.

Fast Fact: 350+

That’s how many Amazon workers protested after reports emerged that the company threatened to fire employees for speaking out on climate change without proper authorization. The protesters published climate change statements of their own in a Medium post on Sunday, intentionally violating the policy en masse.

WIRED Recommends: Best Soundbar and TV Deals

Super Bowl Sunday is upon us, and with it comes a great opportunity to update that old screen and add in a sweet soundbar on the cheap. Here are the 15 best deals we found.

News You Can Use

Here are 20 Oscar-nominated movies you can stream right now.

This daily roundup is available as a newsletter. You can sign up right here to make sure you get the news delivered fresh to your inbox every weekday!

Coinbase poaches Google Shopping VP as CPO for cryptocommerce

“We’re trying to shift cryptocurrency from this speculative asset class to driving real-world utility,” Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong tells me. How? Through commerce and micropayments. But now Coinbase has the who to build it. Today the startup announced it has hired away former head of Product for Indian e-commerce giant Flipkart and Google Shopping VP…

“We’re trying to shift cryptocurrency from this speculative asset class to driving real-world utility,” Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong tells me. How? Through commerce and micropayments. But now Coinbase has the who to build it. Today the startup announced it has hired away former head of Product for Indian e-commerce giant Flipkart and Google Shopping VP of Product Surojit Chatterjee to become Coinbase’s chief product officer.

“I’ve always enjoyed being associated with technology that is on the brink of changing how we live” writes Chatterjee. “Google ads has helped democratize commerce, Flipkart and ecommerce has revolutionized life in India, and I believe Coinbase is going to turn conventional finance on its head.”

Chatterjee spent more than 11 years at Google over two stints, the first as a founding member of Google’s mobile search Ads product that’s grown to tens of billions in revenue per year. When he starts at Coinbase next week, Armstrong tells me he’ll help Coinbase organize its complex array of products, including its cryptocurrency exchange, wallet, stablecoin, incentivized crypto education platform Earn and Coinbase Commerce that lets businesses take payments in Bitcoin, Ethereum and more. Chatterjee replaces Jeremy Henrickson, the former Coinbase CPO who departed in December 2018.

Coinbase Products - Coinbase poaches Google Shopping VP as CPO for cryptocommerce

“Surojit is a huge asset here because we’re a product-led company,” Armstrong says. “We have different leaders and they increasingly have responsibilities around P&L. Having one really experienced chief product officer that can mentor them and teach them to own revenues and budgets — really in the model of Google — that will professionalize Coinbase.”

One opportunity Armstrong hopes Chatterjee can help Coinbase seize on is building products for emerging markets where financial infrastructure is weak. “E-commerce is not equally distributed around the world. Micropayments don’t work that well … Him spending time living in India, a developing market, he deeply understands mobile money.” Given the explosion of phone-based payments, the demonetization and the prevalence of cash on delivery methods in India that Flipkart dealt with, “his background is kind of ideal from that worldly perspective,” Armstrong explains.

GettyImages 1046001872 - Coinbase poaches Google Shopping VP as CPO for cryptocommerce

Chatterjee cites his upbringing as inspiration to deliver “economic freedom for everyone,” as Armstrong says is Coinbase’s mission. “Growing up in India in a poor middle-class household, I saw very closely what a lack of liquid cash does to a family’s lifestyle,” Chatterjee recalls. 

“As a kid I would go with my mom to a local bank to withdraw money. And believe me when I tell you that the process was epic!” It included withdrawal slips, tokens and anxiously trying to match current signatures to versions decades old. When India demonetized and made everyone exchange their cash, “My dad, who was almost 80 at that time, stood in a queue for five hours to get 2000 Rs, which was the per-day limit for the first week. That’s less than $30!” Digital money could ensure people always have access to everything they own.

Surojit Chatterjee - Coinbase poaches Google Shopping VP as CPO for cryptocommerce

Surojit Chatterjee (far right) rides along for a Flipkart delivery to understand the consumer commerce experience

In developed countries, Armstrong sees a chance for Chatterjee to enable digital content creators to turn their passion into their profession. “There’s lots of people who lurk on Reddit or Stack Overflow and answer questions … If there was real money on these things, these could be their full time jobs — contributing content on user-generated social sites,” Armstrong predicts. “I think you’d see a lot more contributions, as well.”

Now might be the perfect time to hire Chatterjee since we’re in a lull period for cryptocurrency in the wake of the rush at the end of 2018. “Crypto is always challenging to navigate. In these periods when it’s relatively quiet, we tend to do really well,” Armstrong says. The company grew market share, volume and app installs versus competitors between 50% and 100%, according to the CEO. Referencing ancient war strategy, Armstrong concludes that, “There’s years where you just want to train the soldiers and stockpile resources and you’re basically just preparing. We’re building the company, not just responding to crazy hype.”

How to Use Your Expertise to Start a Consulting Business

Turn your experience and expertise into a lucrative side hustle. Grow Your Business, Not Your Inbox Stay informed and join our daily newsletter now! Will be used in accordance with our Privacy Policy Image credit: Thomas Barwick | Getty Images Aimee Tariq Guest Writer Founder and CEO of A Life With Health January 28, 2020…

Turn your experience and expertise into a lucrative side hustle.

Grow Your Business, Not Your Inbox

Stay informed and join our daily newsletter now!

Will be used in accordance with our Privacy Policy

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Thomas Barwick | Getty Images

Guest Writer

Founder and CEO of A Life With Health


5 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

We all reach a point in our careers when we start getting questions about our experience or expertise. Perhaps you’ve been asked if you can do someone a favor and “look something over.” Or maybe someone has even asked if they can pay you for a consulting session. Perhaps you tapped into a new way to create marketing campaigns or conduct market research that you know other people would want to know about. Whatever your expertise is, it’s likely you’ve felt the tug at one time or another to offer consulting services

Here’s how to get started marketing your expertise to do just that.

1. Understand your unique expertise, then offer it for free.

Of course, the first step to starting a consulting side hustle is to know what it is you have to offer. This could be based on experiences you’ve had or an area of specialty you’ve studied at length. Depending on your reputation in your industry, you could go out there and immediately start selling sessions. But, you’ll have more luck on sales calls and in marketing yourself if you have clear deliverables on what you’ve done for companies and individuals in the past. 

Related: Need Clients? The 5 Best Ways to Market Your Consulting Business

So, commit to working for 2-3 companies for free at first. This will give you a good sense of your consulting style, and there’s a clear difference between being able to say, “I can help you increase your profit margin” and “I helped two companies triple their profit margin.” Potential clients want to hear about clients you’ve worked in the past. The Ambition Plan writes that offering to work for free is also a great way to “meet and spend time with influential people in your industry.” Get out there and show them what you have to offer!

2. Craft an offer and a payment plan. 

Once you get some experience under your belt, craft an offer that makes sense. Choosing a price is also why it’s so important to know what exactly you can do for companies or individuals. If you help companies hit six figures in their first six months, it’s reasonable to charge at a higher price tag than if you just “help companies become profitable quickly.” Cory Jean, a credit and receivables consultant, noted to this end that, “Clients respond well to numbers. Telling potential clients exact percentages in sales growth helps them understand the full picture of what their investment in you is, and what it will reward them with.” 

Then, figure out if you’ll offer consulting on a retainer or just on one-off sessions. Both serve different purposes. If you have one core branding strategy session for startups, perhaps it will just be a two-hour immersive meeting at one set price. But, if you help with a longer-term strategy and go into the trenches with them, a retainer would be more appropriate. Consulting services usually go on retainer.

3. Create materials promoting your consulting business. 

It’s important that all numbers associated with your consulting promises are listed somewhere; ideally on a funnel or a landing page. Create the exact specifications of what your consulting services entail, including hours spent in 1:1 meetings, materials included, and what the potential client can expect to learn and get from you. The more specific you can be, the better. Make sure to write to their pain points and rely heavily on past experiences for credibility.

Related: Set Your Consulting Fees Using These 5 Tried-and-True Methods

Then, brand strategist Erin Feree recommends marketing through a blog, a newsletter, and a small website. Create more succinct versions of your sales script, such as small paragraphs that can be used as a bio on blogs or in the “about” section on a newsletter.

4. Engage in content marketing.

Finally, remember that the best way to demonstrate your expertise to your audiences online is to release content associated with what you consult on. This type of content is often referred to as “top of the funnel content,” and will give potential clients a taste for your style and insights, thus establishing trust. They need to be able to see your obvious expertise in order to want to hire you. 

Related: 12 Ways to Generate Leads for Your Consulting Business

Do you offer social media consulting? Post a few social media tips a week. Do you offer HR consulting? Post a few HR tips or stories a week. Over time, this will begin to equate with your brand and appeal to your audience. If you feel like you’re running out of content, Tsavo Neil recommends asking your audience what they’re struggling with. The more you can start to solve their problems, the more they’ll see you as the industry leader. 

Over time, as you continue to land clients and help them, you’ll have enough case studies and numerical evidence to expand your consulting business beyond a side hustle. You have something to share and a way to help entrepreneurs or businesses; get out there and show them!

Daily Crunch: Facebook expands privacy options

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here. 1. All users can now access Facebook’s tool for controlling which apps and sites can share data for ad-targeting Facebook is making…

GettyImages 659827634 - Daily Crunch: Facebook expands privacy options

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here.

1. All users can now access Facebook’s tool for controlling which apps and sites can share data for ad-targeting

Facebook is making its “Off-Facebook Activity” tool, which allows users to manage and delete the data that third-party websites and apps share with Facebook, available to all users worldwide. The feature was first introduced in 2018 at Facebook’s annual developer conference, but only launched to users in select geographies last year.

As Facebook explains today, other businesses send Facebook information about your activity on their sites and apps, which Facebook then uses to show you relevant ads. With the new Off-Facebook Activity tool, you can see a summary of that information and clear it from your account.

2. ServiceNow acquires conversational AI startup Passage AI

Passage AI helps customers build chatbots in multiple languages, something that should come in handy as ServiceNow continues to modernize its digital service platform.

3. Flipboard expands into local news

The goal with the new offering is to give Flipboard users an easy way to catch up with local news, sports, dining, real estate, transportation and weather from a variety of sources, including local newspapers, local TV stations, radio stations, college news sites and even blogs.

4. Tech valuations versus tech-enabled valuations: 2020 IPO edition

The value of tech-enabled companies is coming into focus as several American unicorns test the public markets, with data showing that some venture-backed companies that are often grouped with technology companies are in fact worth just a fraction of their tech-first cousins. (Extra Crunch membership required.)

5. With Tony Fadell’s help, Advano is building battery components to power an electric future

The technology was innovative enough to earn the Louisiana-based startup a place in Y Combinator’s accelerator. It has now attracted the attention of Mitsui Kinzoku, which is investing in the company as a strategic partner, and Tony Fadell, the famous product designer known as “the father of the iPod” and the founder of the smart thermostat company Nest.

6. Scroll launches its subscription offering ad-free access across 300 partner sites

CEO Tony Haile previously led analytics company Chartbeat, and he said he founded Scroll because of his frustration with the way news sites were becoming dragged down by ads and trackers — and despite those performance-slowing/privacy-defying practices, publications were still struggling to make money.

7. Filmic’s DoubleTake app brings simultaneous camera shooting to the iPhone 11

The most visually compelling use here is Shot/Reverse Shot, which takes video from both the rear-facing and front-facing cameras at once. Obviously there’s going to be a gulf in image quality between the front and back, but the ability to do both simultaneously opens up some pretty fascinating possibilities.

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All users can now access Facebook’s tool for controlling which apps and sites can share data for ad-targeting

Facebook is making its “Off-Facebook Activity” tool, which allows users to manage and delete the data that third-party websites and apps share with Facebook, available to all users worldwide. The feature was first introduced in 2018 at Facebook’s annual developer conference, but only launched to users in select geographies last year. When the tool was…

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Facebook is making its “Off-Facebook Activity” tool, which allows users to manage and delete the data that third-party websites and apps share with Facebook, available to all users worldwide. The feature was first introduced in 2018 at Facebook’s annual developer conference, but only launched to users in select geographies last year.

When the tool was initially announced in 2018, it had a much more user-friendly name — “Clear History.” But Facebook believed that could confuse users who may think that the tool had something to do with wiping out their Facebook data published to the social network itself. The new name is meant to better clarify what kind of data is getting deleted — “Off-Facebook Activity.”

The name also puts more distance between the data collection processes and the data-sharing bit. But data collection isn’t the real issue. If the apps were careful to protect the data they collected and kept it to themselves, users wouldn’t mind as much — but instead, users’ data is brokered and sold to support the free, ad-supported web.

As Facebook explains today, other businesses send Facebook information about your activity on their sites and apps which Facebook then uses to show you relevant ads. With the new Off-Facebook Activity tool, you can see a summary of that information and clear it from your account.

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Most people don’t understand the intricacies of how the ad-supported web works, which is why they assume Facebook is listening in through their smartphone’s microphone to target them with those frighteningly accurate ads. But, in addition to Facebook’s powerful and granular ad-targeting capabilities, it’s also benefitting from other businesses that are sharing the data they’ve collected through their own apps with Facebook.

Users, meanwhile, aren’t able to keep up with which apps and sites are sharing data or what that data includes because it’s not just one or two — it’s nearly everything. And this is also difficult on mobile, as people with smartphones now have over 80 installed apps and use around 40 of them monthly.

The Off-Facebook Activity tool will offer a clear summary of which apps and sites have collected data, how Facebook received the information, how many interactions (logging in, searching, purchases, etc.) it has received, and more. You can then choose to break the third-party’s connection to Facebook. (To get the third-party to delete whatever data it’s collected on you, you’ll still need to follow its own procedures to delete your account or clear your data there.)

The feature is complicated — it would not be surprising to see hundreds of sites and apps in your list of apps and sites sharing data with Facebook. It also requires Facebook users to enter their password again to view this tool, even if they’re currently logged in. The “clear history” button doesn’t stop the third-parties from future data-sharing — that’s a whole different section. And finally, it warns you that clearing history will log out of dozens of apps and won’t prevent you from seeing ads — warnings obviously intended to get users to reconsider.

Screen Shot 2020 01 28 at 9.48.42 AM 1 - All users can now access Facebook’s tool for controlling which apps and sites can share data for ad-targeting

This feature’s existence is a direct result of Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal, which compromised the data of up to 87 million Facebook users by way of a Facebook app. Since then, the company has been working on improved privacy controls and tools to offer more clarity and user control over its data collection and sharing practices.

The company says the launch of the Off-Facebook Activity tool has taken this long to arrive because Facebook had to rebuild some of its systems to make it possible. It’s rolling out today to users worldwide. (Here’s how to access it.)

In addition to the global availability of the Off-Facebook Activity tool, Facebook says it will also roll out a prompt over the next 2 weeks that will encourage users to review their privacy settings. This prompt will show up in users’ News Feed and direct them to the recently updated Privacy Checkup tool.

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Facebook already this month rolled out alerts for third-party logins, which let you know when you use your Facebook Login to sign into an app. This allows you to stay informed about which apps are connected to your Facebook account, so you can edit those settings or, now, clear their data if need be.

Bond raises $15 million to bring last-mile deliveries and nano distribution centers to online retailers

Bond, a New York-based startup that offers ecommerce companies delivery and distribution center services, has raised $15 million in a round of funding from Lightspeed Venture Partners, MizMaa Ventures, and TLV Partners. Founded in 2019, Bond has developed the technology and infrastructure to let direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands quickly deliver their products and more easily accept…

Bond, a New York-based startup that offers ecommerce companies delivery and distribution center services, has raised $15 million in a round of funding from Lightspeed Venture Partners, MizMaa Ventures, and TLV Partners.

Founded in 2019, Bond has developed the technology and infrastructure to let direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands quickly deliver their products and more easily accept returns. This helps smaller companies keep apace with the likes of Amazon, as it gives them access to an on-demand delivery network and Bond’s “nano distribution centers” (NDCs) in neighborhoods near where the products are to be delivered.

On the software side, Bond is an application programming interface (API) that companies integrate into their own ecommerce apps and websites to offer deliveries. Bond also enables integrations with popular ecommerce platforms such as Shopify, Shippo, Magento, and WooCommerce.

Through these various integrations, retailers can give their customers access to “last-mile” delivery services. Available slots cover three-hour same-day delivery windows if the order is placed before 1p.m., or slots for the next day if the order comes in later. Deliveries can be tracked in real time, and customers can communicate with the courier through the app, as well as scheduling someone to collect an item if they want to send it back.

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Above: The name’s Bond…

Underpinning all this are the physical distribution centers Bond has opened in strategic locations in neighborhoods across New York City. The company plans to start targeting other U.S. markets in the coming years.

For now, Bond manages delivery and storage for more than 30 brands in the Big Apple from six distribution centers in Manhattan and Brooklyn, and it has also partnered with third-party distribution centers to offer deliveries to some locales in Queens and New Jersey. Bond said that by March it plans to open another six NDCs in the New York metro area, with dozens more to follow as it targets new neighborhoods and cities throughout 2020 and beyond.

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Above: A Bond nano distribution center (NDC) in NYC

This represents part of a broader trend in which retailers, including grocery giants like Walmart and Safeway owner Albertsons, are building smaller urban fulfillment centers near their existing stores to cater to the growing number of orders placed online. Emerging startups such as Israel’s Fabric, which recently secured $110 million in funding, and Canada’s Attabotics are also building businesses around “microfulfillment centers” designed to expedite shipping in space-limited city centers.

Bond said it currently manages 15,000 deliveries each month and covers everything from mattresses to groceries. It charges for each service required, including delivery, storage, and other “post-purchase experiences,” such as fulfillment (picking and packing), according to specific brand guidelines.

Pricing varies, but the company said deliveries in Manhattan and Brooklyn should cost between $8 and $12 per item, depending on the weight and number of delivery windows. Storage prices depend on the number of pallets and frequency of use.

Post-purchase experience

Dov Ride - Bond raises $15 million to bring last-mile deliveries and nano distribution centers to online retailers

Above: A Bond delivery vehicle

Bond was born out of an Israeli online grocery startup called Shookit, which was also backed by Lightspeed Venture Partners and has developed much of the technology behind Bond over the past three years. Shookit’s cofounders elected to spin out the technology as its own New York-based company and offer it to other online retailers — a new management team is now leading Shookit out of Tel Aviv.

At its core, Bond promises to help online retailers ensure better customer service after a purchase has been made. Companies typically have limited control over the customer experience once a product has been dispatched, which is something that Bond hopes to change.

“Last-mile delivery is like satisfaction Death Valley,” said Bond cofounder and CEO Asaf Hachmon. “Online brands spend tons of money on ensuring consumers have the absolute best user experience while on their website, yet are forced to entrust couriers to deliver products with that same level of care and attention — and all too often they don’t. We learned that firsthand at Shookit, and it’s why we created Bond.”

Nabbing a major Silicon Valley investor like Lightspeed Venture Partners is a notable milestone for Bond. Lightspeed has previously invested in such ecommerce startups as Bonobos, which was acquired by Walmart in 2017, and lending startup Affirm, which was cofounded by PayPal co-creator Max Levchin.

“We’re investors in many ‘web native’ and direct-to-consumer brands and came to know their challenges up close,” added Lightspeed Venture Partners’ Tal Morgenstern. “One of the biggest challenges these brands are facing is last-mile delivery. Customer experience is very much at the core of these brands, but this important touch point with the end user in the real world is often handled by third parties and can be destructive if handled poorly. With Bond, brands can tailor the customer experience and extend their reach to the very doorstep of every customer.”

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Frontify raises $22.3M to help businesses manage how their brands and logos get used

The rise of design tools like Canva and the vast expanse of digital spaces where a company’s name can appear these days have created a challenge for organisations: how best to make sure that what gets used is up to date and in keeping with how you want it to be used. Today a “brand…

The rise of design tools like Canva and the vast expanse of digital spaces where a company’s name can appear these days have created a challenge for organisations: how best to make sure that what gets used is up to date and in keeping with how you want it to be used.

Today a “brand management” startup is announcing some funding to continue building out a business that it hopes will help them. Frontify, a startup originally founded in Switzerland and now co-headquartered in New York, has raised $22.3 million in funding to continue its international expansion and to continue developing technology for its SaaS platform, which lets organisations create image repositories and brand management guidelines, and helps them manage any kind of brand-related project work.

The funding — at an undisclosed valuation — is being led by EQT Ventures, with participation also from previous investors Blossom Capital, Datartis Ventures, Thomas Dübendorfer, Tenderloin Ventures and Myke Näf. The company had previously raised $8.3 million in 2018. Frontify has been around since 2013, but this round comes on the heels of some strong growth: the company now has more than 2,500 customers, with notable “brands” including Facebook, Dyson, Centrica, Lufthansa, Vodafone and Allianz.

“With a rapidly growing worldwide customer base, we continue to see validation in our platform and the niche we’ve established in the market,” said Roger Dudler, the founder and CEO, in a statement. “Increasing our footprint across Europe, cracking the code to the US market, continuing to innovate on our product and shaping brand on an even deeper level than before; these are the kind of initiatives we forecast championing together.”

The company’s evolution speaks to the opportunity in the market: It started out by providing a repository to customers, a way for them to organise and update brand assets in an easy way and then integrate that into their websites. That in itself was useful since the kind of ordering and managing needed for that was not necessarily what those businesses would have already had in place and would have needed more dedicated time for product to build from the ground up, and that led to a number of outdated assets in circulation.

“I experienced firsthand the increasing number of tools emerging in the marketing and product development space, but for some reason, the coordination of brand assets remained a real challenge,” said Ted Persson, operating partner and investment advisor at EQT Ventures, in a statement. “People would still insist on sending around outdated PDFs, Illustrator files, and fonts. The Frontify team has built a delightful product, enabling everyone to access the most up-to-date brand assets as and when they need to, and the company already has a stellar customer base.”

Over time, that expanded as the use of logos and other design assets across a wider array of use cases have led to a subsequent expansion in Frontify’s target users, from designers to brand, marketing, design, developer and communications professionals. And now the company is moving deeper into the next stage of how brand assets get used by providing tools to help with projects using said assets.

Its place in the market is still relatively ahead of its time, it seems.

“We mainly face players from the fragmented DAM market, which we think is not a very outcome-driven category yet, because it’s mainly a storage for assets,” said Dudler in an interview. “We think of a new, more holistic category called brand management. While companies start to invest more and more into their brand, starting with a purpose, they are looking for sophisticated tools that fit perfectly into their existing ecosystems, which will eventually enable anyone at a company to create branded content easily. This element of trust people want for their brands has become very complex with the large number of touchpoints. We see kind of consolidation in the market going on, combined with the strong demand from all industries, we see the need of brand management solutions rising massively.”

For now, the company does offer some integrations — currently with Figma, Sketch and Adobe XD — but it doesn’t see an expanding list of these as part of its growth strategy. “We think design tools might change rather quickly [while] the single source of truth for all brand resources will stay,” Dudler added. “That’s why we bridge that gap by integrating with as many existing tools as possible.” He notes that the new templating features that the company has added to expand beyond basic digital asset management “bring Canva-like functionality to brands with a much more targeted offering for complex enterprise needs.”

One thing Frontify is not doing yet, but I suspect would be an interesting product, would be to create a way to track where and when those brand assets are getting used, and conversely to figure out when outdated logos and other assets are appearing. Given the millions that businesses and other organisations spend on the efforts to create the designs and logos in the first place, tracking to make sure they actually get used, and used the right way, seems a logical step.

Ring doorbell ‘gives Facebook and Google user data’

Image copyright Amazon Ring Image caption The app launched in the US in May 2018 Ring doorbells are providing customer data to companies such as Facebook and Google, an investigation suggests.The Electronic Frontier Foundation found the Ring app was “packed” with third-party tracking, sending out customers’ personally identifiable information.Five companies were receiving a range of…

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Image copyright
Amazon Ring

Image caption

The app launched in the US in May 2018

Ring doorbells are providing customer data to companies such as Facebook and Google, an investigation suggests.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation found the Ring app was “packed” with third-party tracking, sending out customers’ personally identifiable information.

Five companies were receiving a range of information, including names, IP addresses and mobile networks, it said.

Ring said it limited the amount of data it shared.

The company told Gizmodo: “Like many companies, Ring uses third-party service providers to evaluate the use of our mobile app, which helps us improve features, optimise the customer experience and evaluate the effectiveness of our marketing.”

But the EFF said Ring was failing to protect users’ privacy, noting only one of the trackers it had found was mentioned in the company’s privacy policy.

“The danger in sending even small bits of information is that analytics and tracking companies are able to combine these bits together to form a unique picture of the user’s device,” the EFF said.

“This cohesive whole represents a fingerprint that follows the user as they interact with other apps and use their device, in essence providing trackers the ability to spy on what a users is doing in their digital lives and when they re doing it.”

The five companies identified as receiving information were:

  • Facebook, via its Graph API – each user’s time zone, device model and screen resolution and a unique identifier
  • Branch, which describes itself as a deep-linking platform – a number of unique identifiers, as well as each user’s IP address, device model and screen resolution
  • AppsFlyer, a big data company – a range of information, including sensor data related to the magnetometer, gyroscope and accelerometer on users’ phones
  • MixPanel – the most information, including users’ full names, email addresses, device information and app settings
  • Google-owned Crashalytics – an amount of customer data “yet to be determined”

Out of these, only MixPanel is mentioned in Ring’s privacy notice, along with Google Analytics, HotJar and Optimizely.

The investigation by EFF tested Ring for Android, version 3.21.1.

‘Shut down’

Amazon, which bought Ring in 2018 and sells a range of home security cameras as well as doorbells, has been criticised for partnering with at least 200 law-enforcement agencies to carry out surveillance via its devices.

Digital rights campaign group Fight for the Future said at the time Amazon was encouraging neighbours to spy on each other.

And last year, there was a series of stories about Ring cameras being hacked.

One Alabama-based man, who claims a hacker spoke to his children via his Ring camera, is leading a group legal action against the company over the security of its products.

Writing on Medium this weekend, Max Eliaser, one of Amazon’s software development engineers, called for Ring to “be shut down immediately and not brought back”.

“The deployment of connected home security cameras that allows footage to be queried centrally are simply not compatible with a free society,” he wrote in an article seeking the views of Amazon employees on a range of issues.

Chicago’s ActiveCampaign raises $100M for an all-in-one marketing and sales automation platform

Marketing and sales automation — tools that leverage the advances and data of our digital age to better identify and then interact with customers — is big business, with the whole market expected to generate some $6.6 billion in revenues for related companies by 2025. But “companies” is the operative word here: it’s a very…

Marketing and sales automation — tools that leverage the advances and data of our digital age to better identify and then interact with customers — is big business, with the whole market expected to generate some $6.6 billion in revenues for related companies by 2025.

But “companies” is the operative word here: it’s a very fragmented space, with dozens of hopefuls covering different aspects of marketing and sales, each with its own unique approach. There is an alternative trend, though, and today a customer experience automation company called ActiveCampaign, catering not just to large enterprises but small and medium businesses too, has raised a large round of funding to build out its own one-stop-shop model. It includes the tools to run email and messaging-based marketing campaigns; marketing automation across sites and events; and sales and CRM.

The Chicago-based company is today announcing that it has closed a Series B of $100 million, money that it will use to invest in building out new technology and to expand internationally. The funding is being led by Susquehanna Growth Equity, with PE firm Silversmith Capital Partners also participating.

ActiveCampaign is not your typical startup. It has been around since 2003, and this is only the second time it has raised money — the first time was in 2016, a modest $20 million round from Silversmith. Fundraising is not the only thing that sets it apart: it’s also profitable and has been for years (one reason it hasn’t raised money), and it’s actually already quite large, with 90,000 customers in 161 countries.

Yet it’s something of a theme in the world of “startups” — meaning tech companies that are still privately owned and raising from VCs and related backers — particularly those that are B2B focused, that some of the more interesting and successfully bootstrapped of them at some point turn to VC and private equity when it comes to needing an extra boost to move beyond what has become its natural growth rate.

In the case of ActiveCampaign, it had a taste of what a little outside investment could do in the last few years: Jason VandeBoom, founder and CEO of ActiveCampaign, said the company has seen its annual recurring revenues grow 6x since 2016 to $90 million, with employees booming from 65 to more than 550.

The company’s core proposition is that it provides a less fragmented approach to businesses interested in building in some digital marketing or sales tools into their outreach and then considering what to do next.

“What we are up against are a number of companies focused on a single slice of customer experience, either CRM or a customer success platform,” VandeBoom said. “We’re still at this point in the industry where the category is taking shape,” which spells a ripe opportunity for ActiveCampaign.

The need for what ActiveCampaign provides is a basic one: Whether you are an online retailer or any business that wants to expand its audience or make sure to stay connected to the one you already have, you need tools to reach users, figure out what they want to see from you and connect in a relevant way.

VandeBoom added while there are no specific plans for acquisitions that can be discussed now, the funding also gives the company “optionality” in terms of what it might do next.

Part of the company’s approach is to build technology in-house, but in the spirit of all-in-one platforms, its value also lies in how many other things its users can plug into using ActiveCampaign.

The company has some 260 technology partners and a “recipe library” with more than 250 automations already built, or users can build and customise themselves from more than 300 possible apps that can be integrated, including Shopify, Square, Facebook, Eventbrite and Salesforce.

With this round, Martin Angert, director at Susquehanna, is joining ActiveCampaign’s board of directors. His existing roles on the boards of Workfront, WhiteSource, XebiaLabs and Allocadia speaks to interesting potential strategic partnerships for ActiveCampaign.

“ActiveCampaign and the CXA category have grown significantly and our investment in the series B reconfirms Silversmith’s commitment to ActiveCampaign’s future,” said Todd Maclean, co-founder and managing partner of Silversmith Capital Partners, in a statement.

Ring App Shares Personal Data With Facebook, Other Unlisted Trackers, EFF Says

A doorbell device with a built-in camera made by home security company Ring is seen on August 28, 2019 in Silver Spring, Maryland.Photo: Chip Somodevilla (GettyThe Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) on Monday announced that its research into the Ring app’s Android version identified several embedded third-party trackers sucking up “a plethora” of personal information.Three of…

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A doorbell device with a built-in camera made by home security company Ring is seen on August 28, 2019 in Silver Spring, Maryland.
Photo: Chip Somodevilla (Getty

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) on Monday announced that its research into the Ring app’s Android version identified several embedded third-party trackers sucking up “a plethora” of personal information.

Three of the trackers aren’t included in Ring’s privacy notice—a list last updated a year and eight months ago.

The civil liberties group, whose work focuses on privacy and other digital rights, said it had observed Ring for Android’s activity using tools for inspecting web traffic. EFF researchers found it was delivering users’ personal information to four marketing and analytics firms, including Facebook.

In Facebook’s case, Ring hands over data whether its customers have Facebook accounts or not, the EFF said.

Ring’s privacy policy makes clear that it uses web analytics services. “The service providers that administer these services use automated technologies to collect data (such as email and IP addresses) to evaluate use of our websites and mobile apps,” it says. However, the policy also claims to identify which third-party services specifically are used by the company.

The list, last updated in May 2018, does not include Facebook and other trackers currently in use.

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Screenshot: Ring.com

“Like many companies, Ring uses third-party service providers to evaluate the use of our mobile app, which helps us improve features, optimize the customer experience, and evaluate the effectiveness of our marketing,” a Ring spokesperson told Gizmodo.

According to EFF’s research, Ring for Android version 3.21.1 delivers a range of personal information to the following sites: branch.io, mixpanel.com, appsflyer.com and facebook.com.

Gizmodo also inspected Ring’s web traffic can confirm the EFF’s findings.

“The danger in sending even small bits of information is that analytics and tracking companies are able to combine these bits together to form a unique picture of the user’s device,” EFF said. Privacy researchers refer to this as a digital “fingerprint,” which marketing companies use to paint a complete portrait of a person’s likes and activities.

A Ring spokesperson said that Ring takes steps to ensure its service providers’ use of customer data is “contractually limited to appropriate purposes such as performing these services on our behalf and not for other purposes.”

In the case of business analytics service MixPanel—the only tracker identified by EFF listed among Ring’s third-party services—Ring provides access to users’ names, email addresses, and device information, such OS version and model, EFF said.

Ring told Gizmodo that MixPanel is used to target messaging within the app when new features become available, including security-related settings. Other trackers help the company identify which in-app features are performing the best, it said.

Ring was purchased by Amazon in the summer of 2018. The company markets a line of home security products, including the popular Ring Doorbell, which uses Amazon Web Services (AWS) servers to store footage.

Privacy advocates have scrutinized Ring heavily over the past year, largely due to its quickly expanding local law enforcement partnerships, the terms of which appear often to restrain public officials from speaking freely about the services Ring provides.

Gizmodo reported last year, for example, that Ring had edited the written statements of police officials. In some cases, Ring’s intervened to omit the word “surveillance” from quotes attributed to senior police officials, warning them that use of the term could elicit “privacy concerns” among consumers.

“Ring claims to prioritize the security and privacy of its customers,” EFF Senior Staff Technologist William Budington said in a statement, “yet time and again we’ve seen these claims not only fall short, but harm the customers and community members who engage with Ring’s surveillance system.”

Updated, 11pm: Article was updated to reflect Ring data collected by Gizmodo confirmed EFF

Ring app for Android found to be ‘packed’ with third-party data trackers

An investigation carried out by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has revealed that the Ring app for Android is “packed” with third-party trackers, sending out a wide range of personally identifiable information (PII) to analytics and marketing companies. The EFF investigation found that Ring for Android v3.21.1 sends users’ personal information to four analytics and…

An investigation carried out by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has revealed that the Ring app for Android is “packed” with third-party trackers, sending out a wide range of personally identifiable information (PII) to analytics and marketing companies.

The EFF investigation found that Ring for Android v3.21.1 sends users’ personal information to four analytics and marketing companies: Facebook, Branch, AppsFlyer, and MixPanel. Facebook receives alerts whenever the app is opened and upon app deactivation after screen lock due to inactivity. Even if the Ring user does not have a Facebook account, the social networking giant still receives information such as their time zone, device model, language preferences, as well as a unique identifier.

The most information, however, is sent to MixPanel. In addition to device information, the company receives users’ full names, email addresses, and app settings including the number of locations they have Ring devices installed in. MixPanel also happens to be the only company to be mentioned in Ring’s list of third party services. The Ring Privacy Notice, which was last updated on May 22, 2018, notes that the company uses third-party data analytics platforms “to evaluate use of its website and mobile apps.”

More alarmingly, AppsFlyer receives sensor data from Ring devices. On its test device, EFF found the Ring app was sending out data from the magnetometer, gyroscope, and the accelerometer. Additionally, EFF says Ring sends some information to Google-owned crash logging service Crashalytics, although it was unable to determine the exact extent of data sharing with the service.

While the EFF used Ring for Android v3.21.1 in its testing, Ring released v3.22.1 of its app on the Play Store yesterday. At this point, however, it is unclear if the latest version of the Ring app for Android is “packed” with the same third-party trackers as v3.21.1 tested by the EFF.

Best Smart Doorbells in 2020: Top 6 ranked

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