Monthly Archives: February 2021
This patent is about presenting data with search results and deciding when to show that data in a knowledge panel with those search results. The Web provides access to a wide variety of resources, such as image files, audio files, video files, and web pages. A search system may identify resources in response to queries … Read more
The Facebook-Australia news battle seems to have reached an end, Android gets an update and Lucid Motors is going public via SPAC. This is your Daily Crunch for February 23, 2021.
The big story: Facebook brings news sharing back to Australia
Last week, Facebook responded to the Australian government’s proposed law requiring internet platforms to strike revenue-sharing agreements with news publishers by blocking news sharing and viewing for users in the country. But with the government amending the law, Facebook said it will restore news sharing in the “coming days.”
Among other things, the amendments call for a two-month mediation period before Facebook is forced into arbitration with publishers, and it also says the government will consider commercial agreements that the platforms have made with local publishers before deciding whether the law applies to them.
William Easton, Facebook’s managing director for Australia and New Zealand, said in a statement that the amendments address “core concerns about allowing commercial deals that recognize the value our platform provides to publishers relative to the value we receive from them.”
The tech giants
Android’s latest update will let you schedule texts, secure your passwords and more — This update will integrate a feature called Password Checkup to alert you to passwords you’re using that have been previously exposed.
Twitter relaunches test that asks users to revise harmful replies — Twitter is running a new test that will ask users to pause and think before they tweet.
Area 120 is beginning to use Google’s massive reach to scale HTML5 GameSnacks platform — GameSnacks is an HTML5 gaming platform where titles are bite-sized and load much faster.
Startups, funding and venture capital
Lucid Motors strikes SPAC deal to go public with $ 24B valuation — This will be the largest deal yet between a blank-check company and an electric vehicle startup.
Shippo raises $ 45M more at $ 495M valuation as e-commerce booms — The startup provides shipping-related services to e-commerce companies.
Reddit ups Series E round by another $ 116M — Reddit had already announced a $ 250 million Series E earlier this month.
Advice and analysis from Extra Crunch
How to overcome the challenges of switching to usage-based pricing — The usage-based pricing model almost feels like a cheat code, according to OpenView’s Kyle Poyar.
Oscar Health’s initial IPO price is so high, it makes me want to swear — Alex Wilhelm doesn’t mince words: “Public investors have lost their damn minds.”
RIBS: The messaging framework for every company and product — The test is designed to tell you if your story is memorable, so you can turn it into a compelling message.
(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Announcing the complete agenda for TC Sessions: Justice — Our second-ever dedicated event to diversity, equity, inclusion and labor in tech is coming up on March 3.
Six Miami-based investors share their views on the region’s startup scene — Investors see a huge opportunity for the region to become a major startup hub by utilizing its diverse workforce and wonderful quality of life.
SolarWinds hackers targeted NASA, Federal Aviation Administration networks — Hackers are said to have broken into the networks of U.S. space agency NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration as part of a wider espionage campaign.
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 3pm Pacific, you can subscribe here.
Rode Microphones has a new and improved version of its much-loved Go portable mic, the Wireless Go II, which uses the same form factor as the original but adds a list of new and improved features. Most notably, the Go II offers two transmitter packs that can simultaneously talk to a single receiver, letting you record two individual speakers to the same camera or connected device.
The Rode Wireless Go II ($ 299) ships with everything you need to begin recording high-quality audio to a camera or anything else that can connect to a 3.5mm jack. The transmitter packs — there are two of them in the box — have built-in microphones that offer great sound on their own, or you can use them with any 3.5mm-equipped lavalier mic, depending on your needs.
The receiver pack can output to 3.5mm TRS, but it can also transmit using USB Type-C (which is also for charging). This is new for this generation, and Rode also sells USB-C to USB-C and USB-C to Lightning cables so you can use them with modern Android devices, iPhones, iPads, Macs and PCs.
Each of the three packs has a built-in rechargeable battery that can provide up to seven hours of operating time on a single charge. You can independently adjust the gain on each of the transmitters, and mute each individually or both from the receiver pack. You also can swap between mono recording with each transmitter as a channel, and stereo recording modes.
The transmitters can operate at a range of 200 meters (roughly 650 feet) from the receiver, provided they have line-of-sight, and the receiver has a display to show you input levels, battery status, connectivity and more. The transmitters each have two LEDs that provide visual feedback for connectivity and gain. Each also automatically records locally, with the ability to store more than 24 hours of audio on built-in storage in case of dropouts in connectivity.
Design and performance
With this update, it really feels like Rode has thought of everything. You can get started immediately, for one, since the transmitter packs and receiver come pre-paired and assigned to left and right channels by default. They’re incredibly user-friendly, and while Rode has introduced a new Windows and Mac app for centralized control of them called Rode Central, you don’t actually need any additional software to get started recording with them.
This updated version also uses a new RF transmission tech that has 128-bit encryption built in, with a much farther line-of-site range for their use. This is designed to make them much more reliable in areas where there’s a lot of RF traffic happening already — like a busy shopping mall (once COVID times are behind us), conference halls or other public areas with lots of people and smartphones around.
The onboard memory is also new, and means you’ll never have to worry about any potential dropped connections because you’ll always have a local file on which to rely on the transmitter packs themselves. A similar peace-of-mind feature is a safety channel that records a back-up track at -20db, so that if you encounter any overloud sounds that cause peaking in your primary recording, you’ll have another option. Both of these features have to be turned on proactively in the Rode Central app, which Rode will also use to deliver future firmware updates for the Go II, but they’re very welcome additions.
Meanwhile, the best new feature might be that you get all these improvements in the same great package. Rode’s original Go was remarkable in large part because it came in such a small, portable package, with transmitters that featured built-in mics as well as being great body packs. The size here is exactly the same, and these use the same integrated clips that make them compatible with all of Rode’s existing Go accessories.
There’s a concept of “lapping” in racing, where you’re so far ahead of a competitor that you overtake them again. That’s basically what Rode has done with the Go II, which pads the lead for the best mobile video/field podcasting mic on the market, with smart features that address the few downsides of the original.
It would be an understatement to say that enterprise-focused startups have fared well during the pandemic. As organizations look to go remote, and the way we work has been flipped on its head, quickly-growing tech companies that simplify this transition are in high demand.
One such startup has, in fact, raised $ 61.5 million in the last 12 months alone. Electric, a company looking to put IT departments in the cloud, just announced the close of a $ 40 million Series C round. This comes after an extension of its Series B in March of 2020, when it raised $ 14.5 million, and then an additional $ 7 million from 01 Advisors in May of 2020.
This Series C round was led by Greenspring Associates, with participation from existing investors Bessemer Venture Partners, GGV Capital, 01 Advisors, Primary Venture Partners as well as new investors including Atreides Management and Vintage Investment Partners.
Electric launched in 2016 with a mission to make IT much simpler for small and medium-sized businesses. Rather than bringing on a dedicated IT department, or contracting out high-priced local service providers, Electric’s software allows one admin to manage devices, software subscriptions, permissions and more.
According to founder Ryan Denehy, the vast majority of IT’s work is administration, distribution, and maintenance of the broad variety of software programs at any given company. Electric does most of that job on behalf of IT, meaning that a smaller business only needs to worry about desk-side troubleshooting when it comes up, rather than the whole kit and caboodle.
Electric charges a flat price per seat per month, and Denehy says the company more than doubled its customer base in the last year. It now supports around 25,000 users across more than 400 individual customer organizations, which puts Electric just shy of $ 20 million ARR.
This is the first time Denehy has come anywhere close to sharing revenue numbers publicly, but it’s a good time to flex. The company has recently introduced a new lighter-weight offering that includes all of the same functionality as its more expensive product, but without access to chat functionality.
“The name of the game is just simplicity, simplicity, simplicity,” said Denehy. “Part of this is in response to the fact that people are realizing the permanence of hybrid work. During the pandemic, people stopped paying their landlords but they didn’t stop paying us. So in the summer, we started to focus on how we can create more offerings that we can get in the hands of more businesses and let them start their journey with us.”
Denehy says that a little less than half of Electric’s client base are tech startups, which makes sense considering the company launched in New York in a tech and media-centric ecosystem. As a way to expand into other verticals, Electric acquired Sinu, an IT service provider who happened to have an impressive roster of clients outside of Electric’s comfort zone, such as legal, accounting and non-profit.
Here’s what Denehy said at the time:
Organic market entry, even in adjacent markets can be extremely time consuming and expensive. Sinu’s team has done an excellent job winning and pleasing customers in a lot of industries where we currently don’t play but probably should. The combination of our two companies is a massive shot in the arm to our national expansion strategy.
Alongside growth, both of the Electric team and its customer base, the company is also investing in expanding its diversity programs and philanthropic efforts.
The Electric team is currently made up of just under 250 full-time employees, with 32.5 percent women and around 30 percent of employees being non-white. Specifically, nearly 12 percent of employees are Black and 10 percent are Latinx.
Denehy explained that he thinks of the company’s payroll, which is in the tens of millions of dollars, as one of the biggest ways he can make a change in the world.
“We will wait longer to fill a role to make sure that we have the most diverse pipeline of candidates possible,” said Denehy. “A lot of founders will say that nobody applied. Well, the reality is you didn’t look hard enough. We’ve just accepted that like it may take us longer to fill certain roles.”
This latest round brings Electric’s total funding to more than $ 100 million.
When a Search Marketing Agency pitches a new client, they may provide them a complimentary audit, initial strategy overview, competitive analysis, etc… However, once the client signs on the dotted line and the work begins, more often than not, overt time the client slips into the dark with regard to the specifics. These specifics consist of the day-to-day “blocking and tackling” of PPC. (keyword matching, search queries, ctr%, quality score, competitive bidding, affiliate hijacking, etc…). When something goes wrong with an account (and is always does), the PPC Marketer/Agency needs to explain the cause and effect and it is that situation where the client needs to know what they hell they are talking about.
In this post, I will discuss some specific instances where it’s in the best interest of both parties to educate one another in order to not only grow the business, but to keep the relationship from turning sour.
Discuss What Metrics Matter Most
Regardless of how seasoned a client/prospect might be with regard to “PPC metric lingo”, it’s in the best interest of both parties to explain which metrics matter the most and why. Sometimes, Adwords metrics such as interactions, engagement rates, etc… are not exactly accurate on measuring success. Success is should identified by conversions. For example, take this scenario.
- Increased Impressions: In general, one might think this is a good thing but depending on the targeting and platform, absolutely NOT and here’s why.
- Search Networks: More impressions can reduce the CTR% which in turn lower Quality Score and hence, result in higher costs and worse AVG Position. This also results in additional “irrelevant” traffic that will drive up budgets and lower the overall Cost/Conversion.
- Display Networks: Depending on the bidding options, (especially CPM) an increase in impressions will only drive up costs. Need to make sure CPC is set to this option.
The Influence of Competitors:
When a company enters the world of PPC Marketing, they will encounter competitors not only bidding on similar keywords, but also their “sacred” brand terms and this can have a detrimental effect on the overall performance of the account. It’s important to keep a watchful eye on this and develop strategies to counteract this problem. Here are some strategies to protect the brand:
- Make sure the client files their trademark with Google to ensure no one else can use their trademarked term in text Ads.
- Send an email/letter to all Affiliates and Resellers that they are NOT permitted to bid on the trademarked name in any of their Text/Banner Ads.
- Contact competitors directly and ask them to stop bidding on their trademark terms. (if they do not oblige, getting legal assistance would be beneficial)
Attribution of other Online or Offline Advertising
Attribution can be a tricky thing to interpret, especially to a client, but it’s imperative to tell a story that makes sense. Understanding attribution varies depending on the life cycle of the client (history, offline advertising, social media presence, etc..). Typically, a new advertiser will have to rely on “non-brand” terms to drive the most relevant traffic to their product or service. Once history as been accumulated and more people get familiar with the brand, consumers will ultimately type in their brand name (Search Engine, Direct/Bookmark) to get to their site.
The client needs to understand that it will take time to grow their brand and that this is a revolving cycles. For example, “non-branded” terms are more costly and do not provide many conversions so we automatically want to pause the campaign. Bad Idea! Quite often, the “non-brand” terms are the first point of contact that introduce the brand. Yes, it costs more money, does not result in an immediate conversion, but over time it’s what generated the customer.
Importance of “After-the-Click”
Perfecting the fundamentals of Quality Score in a campaign is a good thing. Buuuut….. it’s only half the battle. The other half is persuading the customer to take an action and frankly that is the only thing that matters here. Even though the term “after-the-click” is simple in its meaning, execution is another story. It is this strategic obstacle that can be achieved, but requires constant and intelligent testing to ensure maximum effectiveness. Bottom line: The client needs to understand that in order to maximize their Ad dollars, they will need to the invest time and money into these strategies. The following Tactics would include:
- A/B Landing Page Testing
- Cart/Form Testing
- Audience Testing
- Promotion/Offer Testing
The Trust Factor:
It’s very easy for customers to trust the platform that they are advertising on. There is this “fuzzy / comfortable” feeling that if Google recommends it, then it must be a good strategy. However, I would strongly recommend that any of the Google’s Opportunities (even though sometimes justified) need to be viewed as a just a suggestion, not an immediate decision. Remember, Google is a lucrative business because they want advertisers to spend more money with them. Increasing traffic and spend may sound good on paper, but they do not come with any guarantees in terms of conversions. When appropriate, clients need to understand the difference.
There is a “fine-line” that needs to be met where Agencies need to maintain control the PPC Accounts, while allowing the client to continue to interact and take part in the overall strategy. One way to overcome any potential issues is to educate them on all of the intricacies that may occur throughout the client-agency relationship. Once the client has developed a good rapport with the agency, it becomes easier to properly manage their performance expectations.
This patent is about presenting data with search results and deciding when to show that data in a knowledge panel with those search results. The Web provides access to a wide variety of resources, such as image files, audio files, video files, and web pages. A search system may identify resources in response to queries … Read more
Twitter recently held talks to acquire Indian social media startup ShareChat as the company explored ways to expand its presence in the world’s second largest internet market and build a global rival to TikTok, three sources familiar with the matter told TechCrunch.
The American firm, which is already an investor in Bangalore-based ShareChat, offered to buy the five-year-old Indian startup for $ 1.1 billion and had committed an additional investment of $ 900 million, two of the sources said. ShareChat, backed by Lightspeed Partners India, Elevation Capital, and India Quotient among others, has raised about $ 260 million to date.
The talks did not materialize into a deal, two sources said, requesting anonymity as the matter is private. TechCrunch could not determine the reason the two companies ended the talks.
Two sources said Twitter had expressed intention to take Moj, a short-form video app that ShareChat owns, to international markets and position it as a rival to Chinese app TikTok.
Twitter declined to comment and ShareChat did not respond to a request for comment.
Moj, with over 80 million users already, has emerged as one of the largest players in the category. Earlier this month, Snap inked a deal with ShareChat to integrate its Camera Kit into the Indian short video app. This is the first time Snap had formed a partnership of this kind with a firm in India.
With the buyout offer no longer being entertained, ShareChat has resumed talks with other investors for its new financing round. These investors include Google, Snap, the sources said.
TechCrunch reported in January that the Indian startup was talking to Google and Snap as well as some existing investors including Twitter to raise over $ 200 million. A potential acquisition by Twitter prolonged the investment talks.
ShareChat, which claims to have over 160 million users, offers its social network app in 15 Indian languages and has a large following in small Indian cities and towns, or what venture capitalist Sajith Pai of Blume Ventures refer as “India 2.” Very few players in the Indian startup ecosystem have a reach to this segment of this population, which thanks to users from even smaller towns and villages — called “India 3” — getting online has expanded in recent years.
In an interview with TechCrunch last year, Ankush Sachdeva, co-founder and chief executive of ShareChat, said the startup’s marquee app was growing “exponentially” and that users were spending, on an average, more than 30 minutes a day on the service.
Twitter, itself, has struggled to make inroads outside of bigger cities and towns in India. Its app reached about 75 million users in the country in the month of January, according to mobile insight firm AppAnnie, data of which an industry executive shared with TechCrunch. It inked a deal with news and social app Dailyhunt to bring Moments — curated tweets pertaining to news and other local events — to the Google-backed Indian app.
The American social network has broadened its product offering in the past year amid pressure from activist investors to accelerate growth.
This Week in Apps: Sneak peek at TikTok shopping, new iOS and Android betas, kids’ app Prodigy hit with FTC complaint
Welcome back to This Week in Apps, the weekly TechCrunch series that recaps the latest in mobile OS news, mobile applications and the overall app economy.
The app industry is as hot as ever, with a record 218 billion downloads and $ 143 billion in global consumer spend in 2020.
Consumers last year also spent 3.5 trillion minutes using apps on Android devices alone. And in the U.S., app usage surged ahead of the time spent watching live TV. Currently, the average American watches 3.7 hours of live TV per day, but now spends four hours per day on their mobile devices.
Apps aren’t just a way to pass idle hours — they’re also a big business. In 2019, mobile-first companies had a combined $ 544 billion valuation, 6.5x higher than those without a mobile focus. In 2020, investors poured $ 73 billion in capital into mobile companies — a figure that’s up 27% year-over-year.
This week, we’ve got a first look at one of TikTok’s early e-commerce tests, which involves a program for sellers involving product anchors on videos and the option for affiliate sales. We’re also digging into the new iOS and Android betas, the FTC complaint against math app Prodigy and more.
TikTok tests a new e-commerce experience in Indonesia
The Financial Times recently reported TikTok was preparing to launch a range of new e-commerce experiences in 2021, including the ability for creators to share links to products, support for affiliate sales, and even livestreamed shopping. Now, we’ve got a first look at some of the live tests around e-commerce that TikTok has in progress.
The company recently launched a “Seller University” website aimed at its Indonesian audience, where it details how brands can advertise their products on video. Here, TikTok explains brands have two ways to advertise, either by making their own videos or by working with affiliates.
“If you choose to sell through your personal page, you can then display products via livestreaming or short videos, with product anchors embedded in your content. When customers view your content, they can be redirected to the corresponding product detail page by clicking on the product anchor,” the site explains.
The Seller University also details other information, like how to sign up to be a TikTok seller and what sort of products are prohibited, along with other rules and guidelines.
TikTok Sellers have to provide their contact information, including location, phone, email, shop and warehouse location, and other required documentation to be approved. They can then set up a Seller profile, where they can manage other users associated with their account. Once live as a Seller on the app, they’ll have a “TikTok Shop” on the second tab on their profile, which users can view when they visit the page.
When their videos showing their products are viewed, there are “product anchors” embedded in the content. Clicking on these anchors will redirect the viewer to the product detail page where they can transact. In addition, brands can collaborate with TikTok influencers to promote their products through a new “TikTok Affiliate” program.
TikTok told TechCrunch the program is a test of its e-commerce solutions in Indonesia, and one of several product tests in the area of e-commerce.
Consumer advocacy groups file FTC complaint against edtech app Prodigy
A coalition of 20 consumer advocacy groups, led by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, have filed an FTC complaint against the popular edtech app Prodigy, which offers a math learning app for web and mobile. The app is designed much like modern-day freemium games, with math “battles” designed to improve math skills, grades and test scores.
The complaint alleges a variety of abuses, including how it aggressively pushes kids using the free version provided to schools to nag parents for the paid $ 59 annual subscription, which includes a richer gaming experience.
The groups also take issue with the app’s in-app rewards and badges — some of which are only available to paid users, including fancier loot boxes — saying these features cause division between those who pay and those who can’t. And it alleges that Prodigy’s claims about educational improvements don’t hold merit.
In response, Prodigy says it takes the concerns seriously, but over 95% of users play the game for free and the business model involving the paid membership is how free access is provided.
“Without this model, we would be required to put all of our educational content behind a paywall, which contradicts our mission of providing full access to fun and engaging math learning,” a company spokesperson said. “The alternative would be to generate revenue via advertising, which is not a model we believe best benefits or protects our users. We never show third-party ads on our platform, nor do we sell or lease any other user information to third parties,” they noted.
The FTC has stepped up its enforcement over how apps targeting children can behave, with a focus on data collection practices and COPPA violations, which has resulted in fines for apps like TikTok and YouTube. This complaint, however, is not about children’s privacy, but rather how they’re being marketed to via edtech.
Apple rolls out iOS 14.5, beta 2. The update includes a new Apple Music interface with the ability to share lyrics on social and use new swipe gestures; new Shortcuts actions for taking screenshots, setting screen orientation switching between cellular data modes, and more; expanded support for iPad privacy features (in relation to shutting off the microphone); and more than 200 new emoji.
The most notable new emoji include the heart on fire, exhaling face, face in clouds, gender options for people with beards and an updated syringe that removes the blood, making it more useful for conversations about the COVID vaccine.
Apple welcomed the teams from 13 app companies in its inaugural cohort for Apple’s Entrepreneur Camp for Black Founders and Developers. The program focuses on building technical skills and designing a great user experience through sessions, hands-on labs, one-on-ones with Apple experts and engineers, and more. VC firm Harlem Capital will also offer mentorship.
Participants include fitness app B3am, news app Black, music app Bar Exam, 3D photos app Film3D, MIDI Controller app FormKey, healthcare app Health Auto Export, gardening app Hologarden, remote learning solution Hubli (beta testing), game Justice Royale, sneaker enthusiast app Kickstroid, nail art app Nailstry, social app Peek: Movies & TV Shows and music app TuneBend.
Google launches the first developer preview of Android 12. The update includes new privacy controls; pre-set password complexity levels of high, medium and low; other improved user experience tools and app compatibility improvements; the ability to transcode media into higher-quality formats like the AV1 image format; transitions and animations for notifications, plus the ability to decorate notifications with custom content; enrollment-specific IDs for employee-owned devices; streamlined credential management for unmanaged devices; an improved screenshot editor; better support for multi-channel audio; Project Mainline improvements; and more.
Google’s Play Store adds support for Nearby Sharing. The feature allows users to share apps and updates with nearby Android devices.
Google suspended the Trump 2020 app from the Play Store for non-functionality. The app would either hang upon first launch or immediately reported a server error. Google says the app was in violation of its policies around non-functional apps, but the app can return if it’s fixed.
YouTube says it’s now beta testing a new e-commerce shopping experience in the app that allows creators to market products to fans, who can then buy directly on YouTube. The feature, which aims to compete with TikTok’s growing shopping ambitions, will expand later in 2021 beyond the initial group of creators.
Robinhood’s CEO Vlad Tenev testified before Congress this week over the GameStop frenzy. Tenev denied helping hedge funds and asked for the SEC to modify trading rules. AOC pointed out that Robinhood isn’t truly free, it’s just hiding the cost from retail investors by subsidizing free trades with payment for order flow. (A percentage of its revenue Tenev ridiculously claimed he couldn’t recall, saying only “it’s over 50%.”)
TikTok parent ByteDance is exploring a sale of its TikTok operations in India to Bangalore-headquartered Glance, a mobile content platform founded by InMobi founder Naveen Tewari. Glance operates a TikTok rival Roposo, which has seen massive growth since TikTok was banned in India over national security concerns. The two companies — ByteDance and Glance parent InMobi Pte — share an investor with SoftBank, which initiated the talks, per a Bloomberg report.
Instagram is fixing the iMessage bug. Some suspected the issue was related to Apple and Facebook’s ongoing public battles, but Instagram said the problem where Instagram links in iMessage wouldn’t show a preview was just a bug. The company noted a fix will arrive soon.
TikTok inks a multi-year deal with UFC which includes livestreams of pre- and post-fight content, and other behind-the-scenes footage. The content will stream on UFC TikTok accounts including @UFC, @UFCRussia, @UFCBrasil and @UFCEurope.
Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok, now has 550 million users for its in-app Search feature alone. The app last reported in September it had 600 million daily users, indicating an even larger base of MAUs.
Right-wing social network Parler announced it’s back online for existing users and will re-open to new users next week. The company also has a new interim CEO, Mark Meckler, who previously co-founded the Tea Party Patriots.
Triller is mired in controversy over its MAUs. A Billboard report says the company misrepresented the number of monthly active users it had — 25 million instead of the 50 million it claimed. Triller CEO Mike Lu had said the discrepancies didn’t matter because there’s “no legal definition” for an MAU. After the report came out, Lu denied the company was inflating its numbers. We happen to recall that Triller immediately threatened to sue over a report that it had inflated its downloads last year.
YouTube star David Dobrik’s photo-sharing app Dispo, backed by a $ 4 million seed, launched into private beta to a ton of buzz. The app quickly maxed out TestFlight’s 10,000-person limit, instead of being the low-key beta debut the team had expected. Dispo’s gimmick is that users have to wait 24 hours to see the photos they snap.
— Dispo (@DispoHQ) February 17, 2021
Streaming & Entertainment
Clubhouse has topped 8 million global downloads, 2.6 million of which were in the U.S., according to a new report from App Annie. The report also highlighted the broader impact Clubhouse is having on social audio, as local audio apps are gaining new installs, too.
Global mobile users streamed 935 billion hours of video in 2020, up 40% YoY, says App Annie. The pandemic impacts were clear — users went from 146 billion hours in Q1 2019 to 240 billion in Q4 2020, a 65% rise in two years.
Cameo, the app that connects customers with celebs for paid personalized messages, is said to be raising $ 100 million, valuing its business at $ 1 billion, reports Bloomberg Quint. Not coincidentally, Facebook just began testing its Cameo clone, Super.
— Matt Navarra (@MattNavarra) February 17, 2021
- YouTube to redesign its YouTube VR app homepage to improve navigation, accessibility and search functionality.
- YouTube says it will expand its video chapters feature to add chapters automatically and update the watch experience to be more intuitive, including on the tablet.
- YouTube TV, now with 3 million-plus users, will introduce a paid add-on that will support 4K streaming, DVR for off-line playback and unlimited simultaneous in-home streams.
- YouTube Kids will add a feature that allows parents to specify the channels and videos their kids are allowed to watch.
- YouTube will expand its Applause tipping feature to more creators in 2021.
- YouTube Music will improve playlist creation and make those playlists more discoverable.
- And as noted above, YouTube is testing an e-commerce feature that lets users check out on the app.
- YouTube Shorts, an in-app TikTok rival of sorts, will come to the U.S. in March, following its tests in India.
Microsoft xCloud, the game streaming service that lets users play Xbox games on Android tablets and phones, has begun testing a web version. In a review by The Verge, the experience is described as similar to the mobile version, with a simple launcher, recommendations, access to cloud games through Xbox Game Pass Ultimate and the ability to resume recently played games.
Apple demanded sensitive data from Valve to aid in its legal battle with Epic Games. The request included things like total yearly sales of apps and in-app products; annual ad revenues from Steam; annual revenues from Steam; annual earnings gross or net from Steam; and more. Apple also wanted the names of all Steam apps, price and IAP, and date range available. Valve, not surprisingly, did not agree to this. PCGamer has the full report.
Epic Games expands its legal fight with Apple to the EU. The Fortnite owner filed a formal antitrust complaint with the European Commission, alleging Apple’s anti-competitive restrictions that have “eliminated competition in app distribution and payments.” Epic Games is also fighting Apple in the U.S., U.K. and Australia.
We’re bringing our fight to end Apple’s App Store monopoly to Europe. Apple’s practices are harming consumers and app developers in Europe and around the world, and we’re joining the #EU’s ongoing investigation into Apple’s abuse of its dominant position https://t.co/LIb346QmEi
— Epic Games Newsroom (@EpicNewsroom) February 17, 2021
Stadia layoffs shocked team. Google Stadia, the game streaming service available via Chromecast Ultra, the Chrome browser, ChromeOS tablets and the Stadia mobile app for Android, recently shut down its in-house game development studio, Stadia Games and Entertainment. A report from Kotaku this week indicates how much of a surprise this was to team, as just days before the mass layoffs, leadership was praising staff for their “great progress.”
Health & Fitness
Apple tells developers that only apps submitted by recognized public health authorities will be able to publish “health pass” apps to the App Store. These apps are designed to show someone’s COVID-19 testing and vaccination status. Apple says it will accept apps from government, medical and other credentialed institutions, healthcare providers, laboratories and test kit manufacturers.
Apple promotes iOS health apps to Apple Card holders. In honor of American Heart Month, Apple emailed Apple Card users savings on iOS health apps including Strava, Ten Percent Happier, Sleep Cycle and Lifesum.
U.S. health & fitness apps saw over 405 million installs in 2020, up 22% year-over-year, reports Sensor Tower. The apps, which benefited from gym closures amid COVID, saw $ 838 million in consumer spend, up 42% YoY. The average age of users also continued climb, demonstrating better retention with older users.
A second report from the firm indicated U.S. pharmacy app installs were up 47% as the COVID-19 vaccine began to roll out.
Microsoft launched a unified app for iPad that combines Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote into one single app. The app is a free download with in-app subscriptions, starting at $ 6.99/month. A $ 69.99/year subscription is also available. Microsoft previously launched unified apps for the iPhone and Android.
Government & Policy
TikTok faces a new series of regulatory complaints in Europe, including unfair terms over its virtual currency, whose exchange rate can be modified by TikTok; unfair terms in relation to copyright, related to TikTok’s ability to redistribute users’ videos without paying them (e.g. for ads); child safety concerns over suggestive content and “hidden marketing” of its branded Hashtag Challenges; and other accusations of misleading data processing and privacy practices.
North Dakota’s Senate votes down the App Store bill that would have forced Apple to allow users to sideload apps on their mobile devices. The bill was funded by the advocacy group Coalition for App Fairness, which includes Epic Games, Spotify, Match Group, Tile and others with a beef against Apple over its commission structure. Similar bills are under consideration in Arizona and Georgia.
Breaking: The North Dakota senate just voted down the bill that would've banned Apple and Google from taking a cut of app sales from firms in the state.
Arizona and Georgia are considering similar bills, which are attracting intense lobbying on all sides.https://t.co/jKRBnH7NeI
— Jack Nicas (@jacknicas) February 16, 2021
The Post-IDFA Alliance, which consists of Liftoff, Fyber, Chartboost, InMobi, Vungle and Singular, launched a new “No IDFA? No Problem” resource that aims to help publishers and advertisers navigate the iOS 14 transition.
File sharing app SHAREit, one of the world’s most popular apps, is found to have several security flaws, researchers reported. The vulnerabilities could be abused to leak sensitive user data and “execute arbitrary code” with app permissions.
Funding and M&A
Robinhood rival Public.com raised $ 220 million just months after its $ 65 million Series C, as previously reported by TechCrunch. Prior investors returned, including Greycroft, Accel, Tiger Global, Inspired Capital, and others, valuing the business at $ 1.2 billion.
Robinhood rival Webull raised $ 150 million in a new round that values the business at over $ 1 billion. The brokerage was founded by Alibaba alum Wang Anquan and, like Public.com, has benefitted from the exodus of disgruntled Robinhood users, who left over the GameStop debacle.
Math learning app Photomath raised $ 23 million in Series B funding in a round led by Menlo Ventures. The app, now with 220 million downloads, lets you point your phone at a math problem and it explains the solution.
Live video shopping startup Talkshoplive raised $ 3 million from Spero Ventures for its live video shopping platform that lets users watch its videos on the web and mobile web — or anywhere else they’re embedded.
Event networking app Grip raised a $ 13 million Series A, despite the pandemic. The app pivoted last year to support virtual, hybrid and live events, instead of just in-person events.
Mobile gaming startup Artie raised $ 10 million for its gaming platform that lets users play mobile games without installing an app, from the browser or anywhere links can be shared online. Investors included Zynga founder Mark Pincus, Kevin Durant and Rich Kleiman’s Thirty Five Ventures, Scooter Braun’s Raised In Space, Shutterstock founder Jon Oringer, Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, Googler Manuel Bronstein and YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley.
Low-code app development service OutSystems raised $ 150 million in a round led by Abdiel Capital and Tiger Global, valuing the business at $ 9.5 billion.
Cross-border neobanking app Zolve raised $ 15 million in a seed round led by Accel and Lightspeed. The app was founded by the Raghunandan G, the founder of ride-hailing firm TaxiForSure, which exited to Ola. It’s aimed at people moving from India to the U.S. or vice versa.
Dating app Jigsaw raised $ 3.7 million for its app that hides daters’ faces with puzzle pieces in an effort to push users to engage and get to know each other before the reveal. While “face reveals” are popular on social media, a dating app that does this lends itself to objectifying people by not showing the face, as users focus on the daters’ body instead.
TechCrunch this week covered DIY home renovation startup Outfit, which leverages consumers’ mobile devices to help them with their home projects. After submitting information, including dimensions and photos, Outfit’s app offers the customer a step-by-step guide for completing the project, including documenting their space, getting items and tools delivered, a custom to-do list and receiving support while the project is underway.
Hush, a recently launched Safari ad blocker for Mac, iPhone and iPad, does more than just block ads. The app also works to block other invasive trackers and those annoying cookie warnings that now pop up everywhere due to GDPR laws. (it actually doesn’t consent or deny the “accept cookies?” requests — it just blocks the scripts and elements on the website. It doesn’t interact with the site or click any buttons.
The updated version of Zillow’s 3D Home app introduced new technology that combines into one interface 3D Home tours, listing photos and AI-generated floor plans. To create the floor plans and home tour, the app uses computer vision and machine learning on panoramic photos the agent or photographer captured using the app and a 360-degree camera. The app also leverages AI to predict things like room dimensions and square footage. Both the home tour and floor plan can then be automatically uploaded to the lists and added to a website, MLS or shared on email/social media.
Due to the pandemic, Zillow 3D Home tours published on for-sale listings increased 255% during 2020 as customers used it as a safer way to tour properties, the company also noted.
Over the years, I have seen so many horror stories when it comes to PPC Management. Whether it’s advertisers flying blind with their ad budgets or the common event of not knowing that their ads are being shown with irrelevant terms, there should always 100% transparency between the agency and the client. Furthermore, there needs to be more HONESTY on behalf of the PPC Agency. In this post, I will talk about a few areas of the Agency/Client Relationship that should be based on being honest with the client.
Educate the Advertiser:
Let’s face it, the PPC agency knows more about PPC Marketing than the client. However, that does not mean the client needs to be taken advantage of because they do not know how everything works. The person handling the client’s account needs to “in many ways” educate the client as to what is working, not working and where there are opportunities.
Everyone makes mistakes, right? Well, PPC Agencies should not try and hide them just because they can get away with it. Agencies should be forthcoming with admitting mistakes that were made and how efficiently and effectively they were fixed. It’s better to be honest with the client, than having them find out later that you lied to them. Ever heard of a Referral or a Testimonial?
Honest and Factual Reporting:
Over the years, I have seen so many poor examples of PPC Reporting where clients receive an excel spreadsheet of just Clicks, Impressions, CTR%, CPCs, etc… and not a single keyword or text ad or even a sentence on the performance of the account. In today’s world that is unacceptable. Moreover, I have also seen examples of trend charts being manipulated to disguise the true performance of a specific metric. Agencies have a responsibility to provide not only excellent service, but also honest and factual reporting.
PPC Marketing is not for everyone and for those who are spending money have this perception that the more they spend the better the results. That is completely FALSE. If an client/advertiser was given any sort of Guarantee from an agency, they should “run for the hills”. Guarantees in PPC Marketing are very dangerous for both parties because they create false expectations. An agency must be honest and upfront with the client when it comes to setting expectations both on performance and future success. The agency must have a clear understanding of the client’s:
- Cost per Conversions/Acquisition
- Targeted Audience
- Messaging Tactics
- Daily and Monthly Budgets
Honesty is always the best policy in PPC. Agencies have a responsibility to not only provide excellent service, but also be honest and forthcoming with the client. I have heard countless stories of poor PPC Management, including the topics I mentioned in this post. Some may say that is good for the industry because it creates more “turnover” and more opportunities for other agencies. However, for this PPC Geek, I believe in Happy Clients.
- More often than not, your contact page will be one of the few pages that are mostly viewed on your website
- Chances are you’re making a mistake or two that might be unknowingly costing you conversions
- Grace P. highlights the top four contact page mistakes and how you can fix them
A contact page is a medium that connects you with your intended audience. More often than not, it will be one of the few pages that are mostly viewed on your website. It is also one of the most crucial parts to get your conversions. Sadly, chances are you are making a mistake or two that might be unknowingly costing you conversions. Some mistakes are more visible than others. Do you want to know whether or not you are already making any contact page mistakes?
Our article highlights the top four contact page mistakes that might be costing you conversions. It also teaches you how to fix them.
Top four contact page mistakes you need to stop doing
1. Insufficient or invasive contact forms
The exploration of a contact form is both trying and sacred, and it takes some time to get it right but takes only a moment to get it all wrong. Contact forms typically fall into two categories: Either too many fields or insufficient fields. So many areas that it involves inputting the maiden name of your maternal grandmother and, of course, the scary phone number request.
People want to tell you what they need to say to you. However, if you do not allow them, you can miss out on a conversion. On the other hand, not everyone has the patience and time to fill out twenty fields just to be able to ask you if their discount code will be active. In this case, you could also be losing on a conversion by failing to explain each form’s purpose or the right way to fill in their information.
Build your contact forms based on your site’s purpose and your site’s target audience. If a customer feels like your form does not sufficiently let them communicate their needs, it is a poor form.
If it takes more than two minutes to fill your form, it is a pointer that you are asking for too much from them. Instead of opting for the standard type of contact form that needs a name, address, and the message that they get, create your contact form based on your clients’ needs.
Doing this will help them to give tailored responses based on their individual needs. The questions on the forms are sufficient for them to gauge needs and wants without being overly invasive.
2. Using just forms
Forms are excellent. However, they are not the ultimately convenient way for a potential client to contact you for one reason or another. Usually, when a person is trying to contact you, it is more often than not, for something crucial, and you do not want to deprive them of it.
Creating more than one medium for them to contact you will make you seem fairly accessible. You don’t always need to follow the standard form. You can use other viable options such as call, chat, or email.
You do not need to add your phone number to your page. However, add other ways for users to contact you. If you are not comfortable adding an electronic or physical address, you can use your social media icons. Wonder site has an excellent example on this point.
3. Untracked form submissions
Replies from filled and submitted forms are not always guaranteed. People fill forms and do not get responses sometimes and this boils down to the fact that no one was monitoring what came in.
Failure to watch your form submissions is one way of tossing a potentially crucial opportunity away. It also speaks poorly about the management of your site, and the relationship you have with your users.
Connect your contact forms to an account that you are likely to check regularly. You can even assign this single task to someone. It does not make sense to have a contact form if you will not bother to respond to users who contact you. Here’s an example of another effective contact page by NJI3.
You want to make an effort to respond to all inquiries that come to your site. You can take this to another level by writing positive confirmations with a name attached to your contact forms. For instance, telling them that Joshua will get back to them before the end of 24 hours.
Doing this will compel your users to fill and submit the contact forms.
4. Broken forms
It is usual for things to break, however, leaving them broken is unusual. Like many things, forms can be broken in many ways.
Examples of broken forms are:
- Submit buttons that do not work
- The forms that fail to acknowledge that you have completed all fields and keeps sending back error messages
Forms can break for weird reasons. You are not always to blame for broken forms, primarily if you use a third-party application. However, your users will not see it in this light. They will take their conversions with them and flee your site.
Ensure to test your contact form at least once every month especially if you have not gotten submissions recently.
Doing this will enable you to detect any type of form error as they come before your users even notice. One sure way for your potential customers to tell if your form works correctly is when a confirmation alert pops up soon after clicking on the send button.
Contact pages are very crucial as it acts like a bridge that connects your business to the world outside. And because of the importance, you want to ensure that you are getting it all right. There are certain mistakes you might already be making that are costing you conversions. Our article provided the top four mistakes and their solutions that we hope will help you gain more conversions.
Grace P. is a Content Writer at Monify Media.
The post Top four contact page mistakes that cost you conversions appeared first on Search Engine Watch.
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