One of the world’s most popular image-sharing websites, Instagram, has launched a brand new app named Layout, aiming to help users create compelling photo collages and inventive new twists on the conventional Instagram picture. The new app, which went live this month, is aiming to cater to the estimated 20% of active Instagram users who tinker with their images to include multiple shots within one post.
The app is totally free and is aiming to provide a more seamless link between photo collage apps and Instagram itself. It’s easy and quick – users can choose photos from the Camera Roll, or use the app’s ‘Photo Booth’ feature, which takes multiple pictures in a row and positions them in fun and unique collage layouts.
Users can use up to nine images in one collage, and there are sixteen different image layouts to choose from. There’s the ‘Mirror’ feature, which flips the same photo horizontally, and ‘Flip’ turns images upside down. As with many regular photo-editing apps, users can drag to reposition the images within the frame, and pinch to zoom in or shrink the picture.
Once the right images are in place and positioned the way the user wants, the app is designed to make it super-easy for users to export the image straight into Instagram, where they can add captions, emojis and those all-important filters.
Layout has proven to be a hit with regular users, but also with brands. In the first few weeks since it launched, Victoria’s Secret, Sephora and Shutterfly have all used Layout to add a layer of interest to their Instagram images.
Ruth Porat, once the ‘Most Powerful Woman on Wall Street’ has been appointed by Google to take on the role of their Chief Financial Officer starting May 26th. Ms Porat, who is currently the Chief Financial Officer at Morgan Stanley, will replace Patrick Pichette, who unexpectedly announced he was leaving the search engine giant earlier this month.
Ms Porat has faced several attempts to lure her from her position on Wall Street over the last few years. In 2013, President Obama himself tried to lure her to Washington, where she was promised the role of Deputy Treasury Secretary – but Ms Porat elected to remain at Morgan Stanley rather than face the long and arduous vetting process associated with such high-level government roles. She had previously racked up 28 years of service at the investment bank, and mainly spent her time helping Amazon, eBay and Netscape through the so-called ‘dotcom boom’.
It’s estimated that the deal to bring Ms Porat to Google is an incredibly lucrative one. Sources report she will receive a $5m cash signing-on bonus, as well as $25m worth of shares in Google – not to be sniffed at. Her base salary will total around $650,000 per year.
Born in the UK but with much of her life spent in California, Ms Porat is said to be thrilled to be returning to what she considers her ‘roots’. Much of her childhood was spent in Silicon Valley, and Ms Poray is thrilled to be able to have a further influence on how tech companies shape everyday lives.
Facebook has reportedly been holding talks with some of the biggest media organisations in the world about hosting content on Facebook, rather than forcing users to head to external sites to consume news or entertainment content. With 1.4 billion users, social media is an absolutely vital source of traffic for media publishers, but some experts have warned publishers may not take too kindly to being ‘serfs in a kingdom that Facebook owns’.
Newspapers like the New York Times, which broke the story earlier this week, have spent much of the last decade attempting to find a lucrative business model that no longer relies on obsolete print media. Online-only publications are the way forward, and media organisations are battling it out to see who can come up with the distribution format that will win out – could hosting content on Facebook be the key?
The move certainly represents a risk for news organisations. With online display ads making up a large portion of their profits, news organisations could have to face up to losing colossal amounts of traffic to Facebook. According to well-placed sources around the deal, Facebook is in the process of discussing ways publishers can replace the money from display ads with advertising that would run alongside the content hosted on Facebook.
Whatever the result of the negotiations currently taking place, news organisations must come up with a new way of reaching audiences, now that much of the globe can access instant news from the palm of their hand. Whether Facebook will be their new way of reaching those audiences remains to be seen.
Micro-blogging social networking phenomenon Twitter has this week struck a deal with location-based platform Foursquare to enable users to tag their Tweets with businesses and other venues, as opposed to simple geographical locations.
In the past, Twitter users wanting to add a location to their Tweet could set their device to detect co-ordinates, which assigned a spot based on those parameters. The new partnership between Twitter and Foursquare means that instead of the randomly assigned ‘Times Square, New York’ tags, users can be a little more specific: ‘Starbucks, Times Square’, for example.
Since its launch, Foursquare has accumulated seven billion check-ins at 65 million different places around the world – from international tourist attractions to small local businesses. The platform is also renowned for its ‘user review’ function, and largely serves as a review platform for a multitude of organisations. Looking for a local coffee shop with great reviews? Foursquare is your best bet. Need a specialist clothing boutique to meet your niche demands? No doubt Foursquare will be able to source one, with some neat reviews too.
The deal between Twitter and Foursquare will provide businesses with plenty of exposure and could throw open doors for ‘loyalty Tweeting’ or other reward systems whereby users are given discounts or freebies for multiple Twitter check-ins. Businesses will also benefit from being able to see what customers are saying about their brand in more detail. Previously, businesses could only see tweets with certain hashtags or phrases, but by tracking the location-tagged tweets of their business, they can get a better idea of what their customers think of their services.
Responsive web design is no longer a mere trend – it’s becoming a real priority for businesses all over the world hoping to reach audiences through multiple devices. 80% of all adults with internet access now have a smartphone, and it’s reported that nearly half of UK homes have access to tablet. Around 1.2 billion people access the web from mobile devices in 2015, meaning it’s never been more important for businesses to boast streamlined websites that are optimised for the device they’re displayed on.
MTV is just one of the multinational businesses that is setting an example to others. They recently restructured their much-visited news pages with a responsive design, to keep up with the changing methods we use to consume media. Ten years ago, the only way anyone could visit the MTV website was by using a PC or a laptop – nowadays they could be trying to view the site on any number of screen sizes, from small smartphones to colossal smart TVs.
As smartphone and tablet adoption shows no sign of slowing, businesses must be pro-active about their web design. Recent research by Mobify found that as many as 30% of people will abandon a transaction if the site isn’t responsive, while 57% of mobile customers will leave a mobile site if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load. There’s never been a better time to ensure your business website is optimised, streamlined, fast and efficient – it could even prevent you from losing business.
Could Gmail be about to make the dreaded task of paying household bills much easier? A new rumour suggests it just might. The website Re/code claims to have seen an internal Google document which sets out plans for Pony Express.
This is a new feature supposedly in development at the search engine’s Silicon Valley HQ which supposedly will see Gmail users able to both receive and pay bills for services like electricity and gas directly from their Gmail inbox.
The document sets out a plan for Pony Express to integrate with Google’s new Gmail app and will give users the convenience of not having to leave their inbox to pay bills on the go. The new feature is expected to go live towards the end of 2015 – with Re/Code suggesting October, November or December. It’s thought the Gmail bill payment feature will also be trialled in the USA first before eventually being rolled out to other regions, possibly in 2016.
To sign up to Pony Express, Gmail users will have to supply personal information that isn’t usually required by the Gmail service including a social security number, home address, full name and possibly even a credit card number. This data will be used to verify the Gmail user’s identity and authenticate their account, to then allow for easy payment of things like phone bills and energy bills.
According to the document viewed by Re/code, Pony Express won’t be just click and pay from an email. It also outlines the inclusion of additional features such as easy access customer service information.
Google AdWords, which has long since enjoyed the lion’s share of the pay per click (PPC) market, is facing renewed competition for advertisers from Bing.
Called Unified Device Targeting or UDT for short, the upgrade is the latest in a series of moves by Bing Ads to catch up to its Google rival. It follows changes rolled out by Google as part of its Enhanced Campaigns upgrades which also saw changes made to AdWords device targeting options for advertisers.
Confirming the launch of UDT, Bing said in a statement, “As of March 23, 2015, we’ll take further steps to unify device targeting by combining smartphone campaigns with PC/tablet-targeted campaigns. Once this change is rolled out, we will be in full structural alignment between how ad campaigns are managed in Google’s AdWords and in Bing Ads — barring any changes in Google’s AdWords.”
The new Bing device targeting option allows advertisers to select the types of device they want their adverts to show on. Options now include mobile, desktop and tablets. For advertisers spending their PPC budget on Bing, the UDT migration officially completes today, 27 March.
Thanks to the upgraded device targeting, all campaigns will target smartphones. That means campaigns set up to target tablets and PCs will now automatically target mobiles too, unless manually changed.
The roll out is expected to have some implications for advertisers, who could potentially end up with a number of duplicated keywords across any number of campaigns. Campaigns previously set up to target PCs for example will automatically now target smartphones too. If those same keywords were already set up as part of a separate mobile device campaign, a duplicate will now exist.