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.
Businesses in rural Lancashire are set to receive a £4.6m windfall in the form of funding grants, which aim to boost employment and encourage growth in the region.
The money is aiming to help businesses of all types. Farmers will be able to bring their businesses into the twenty-first century by investing in new technology, or diversifying their existing offerings. Small businesses in the area are also set to benefit, with funding allocated specifically for small or micro enterprises that want to create job opportunities for locals. Rural businesses across Lancashire and other areas of Greater Manchester will be in line for the grants, which are expected to become available in June this year.
A previous programme of a similar kind helped gather funding to create a manufacturing facility for a family-owned crisps business, while a local chair-making company benefitted from funding to move them to a larger site after they outgrew their old premises. It’s hoped that this new programme will provide advantages similar to the older schemes, helping small local businesses to grow and expand without having to take on any debt or reduce their service standards.
The task of allocating the funding will fall on local authorities known as Local Action Groups. These groups consist of members of the public, as well as representatives from the private and voluntary sectors, many of whom spent 2014 identifying certain funding priorities. It will be a tough ask to narrow down the shortlists and choose the lucky recipients of the grants, but the job has been passed on to locals and members of the public to ensure fairness and impartiality for all businesses involved.
UK website owners using the popular WooCommerce ecommerce solution will now be able to integrate a hosted version of PayPal Pro as the developers roll out the service in Europe. The UK is the latest in a string of countries to be granted hosted PayPal Pro access with WooCommerce integration.
The hosted version of the PayPal Pro plug enables website owners to securely process credit, debit and PayPal transactions securely, without having to capture sensitive data such as the credit or debit card number on the site itself. Instead, PayPal Hosted is collected by PayPal within the WooCommerce store.
For those getting started selling online, this removes the need to obtain an SSL certificate. WooCommerce describes PayPal Hosted as an easy way for sellers to offer their customers the safety and security of a PayPal payment solution without sending the client out of the ecommerce site and over to PayPal to complete the transation.
PayPal Hosted has been available outside of the UK as an iframe extension from WooCommerce for some time. The move is expected to further expand PayPal’s grip on the online transactions market. According to figures published this week on its blog, PayPal completed transactions for 162 million customers in 2014, across 26 currencies. The total amount it transacted was $228 billion.