Cooler Screens, which replaces the glass doors in store cooler aisles with interactive digital displays, is announcing that it has raised more than $ 80 million in Series C funding.
The startup has now raised more than $ 100 million in funding. The latest round comes from Verizon Ventures (Verizon owns TechCrunch), Microsoft’s M12 venture fund, Great Point Ventures, Silicon Valley Bank and others.
Cooler Screens is led by co-founder and CEO Arsen Avakian, who was previously founder and CEO of Argo Tea. Avakian told me that before starting Argo, he worked at a number of technology companies, including i2 Technologies.
“The joke was, I went from IT to tea, and now I’m back to IT,” he said. He also suggested the startup draws on all of his past experience — while Cooler Screens is a tech company, it also requires an understanding of how to build a consumer brand.
The idea of replacing simple glass doors with electronic displays might seem unnecessary or even annoying, but Avakian said his first priority is “winning consumers’ hearts.”
After all, we’re used to doing as much research as we want before buying a product online, but very little of that information is available in the brick-and-mortar shopping and experience. Avakian said Cooler Screens is changing that: “You could ask the screens, ‘Show me all the vegan items’ or ‘How many calories are in this product?’”
And it’s already available in some stores. After installing screens in 50 Walgreens locations in the Chicago area (where Cooler Screens is based), the startup announced plans to expand to 2,500 Walgreens stores across the United States. Other partners include Kroger and GetGo.
Avakian said he pitches stores on a partnership for “sophisticated digital merchandising and contextual advertising technology.”
He added, “We can digitize your stores, and as we do that, we’re willing to put our money where our mouth is and show you that the consumers will love us: The NPS scores will be through the [roof]. If we prove all of that to you, we’d love to start bringing into this marketplace the CPG brands that are relevant to consumers in your stores, and now we become the last mile of advertising.”
Avakian said that unlike most forms of digital advertising, Cooler Screens doesn’t gather any personal information about the viewer. Instead, its appeal to advertisers is the fact that it gives them a way to reach consumers “in a safe environment, where they’re in the mindset for shopping.”
Avakian said that since March, the startup has grown from 40 brands advertising on the platform to nearly 150.
Noting that stores like Walgreens and Kroger have been essential for many shoppers during the pandemic, Avakian said, “It’s obvious to everyone that brick-and-mortar retail is here to stay. It just needs to reinvent itself.”
A few weeks after teasing its new product, French startup Klaxoon is launching Board, a visual interface that lets you work together during a video call. Instead of staring at other people’s faces, you get a shared canvas that you can use for presentations and to suggest ideas.
Klaxoon is well aware that many companies have strong opinions about video conferencing services. Some companies are already using Microsoft Teams for everything, others are using Zoom or Google Meet. That’s why the company is trying to make it as easy as possible to use Board while you’re on a call using Zoom, Microsoft Teams or Google Meet.
Given that you’re already in Board when you’re generating a Zoom link, you can also use Klaxoon’s own video-conferencing service called Live.
“Video represents less than 10% of your screen real estate. Our goal isn’t to compete with other services when it comes to pixels, high definition or the number of thumbnails,” Klaxoon co-founder and CEO Matthieu Beucher told me.
Instead, when you use Live, you accept multiple constraints that could help you remain focused on your meeting. For instance, you can only have 15 people in your meeting. The person organizing the meeting can set a limit — it can be 5 minutes, 15 minutes or 30 minutes. But you can’t use Live for a meeting that lasts longer than 30 minutes.
And finally, other people on the calls are represented through tiny thumbnails on the right side of the screen. Most of the screen is filled with a sort of digital whiteboard that you can use to write text, insert images or videos. You can work on your board before starting the meeting or you can add a table from a template library.
People joining your meeting can submit ideas through digital sticky notes. You can also switch from the freeform view to a more structured column view to move ideas from one category to another.
Klaxoon has been working on interactive whiteboards and meeting tools for quite a few years now. Board combines some of the stuff that the company is already providing to its clients, but with a focus on remote meetings. The service is launching today for €9.90 per month.
- Reducing bad user experience of 404 errors by branding and customizing them.
- Including links to 404s allow users to navigate the website even when they come across a potential dead end.
- Boost SEO by placing your sitemap, homepage tab, and search bar.
- Usage of conversational language along with attractive visuals reduces user’s contempt and frustration.
- Mention of blog on your customized 404 error page promotes your intellectual prowess for possible users who might be interested in your content.
- Amanda Jerelyn shares some amazing methods to improve the SEO of your site even through 404 pages.
- Lastly, some tips to help you avoid 404 errors wherever possible.
Bad user experience can lead to your website’s demise and can also adversely affect your website rankings. This is why 404 errors are considered deplorable when taking into their perspective regarding both user experience and the search engine rankings of your website.
However, there are ways through which you can use 404s to boost your SEO, as in some situations, it is not a broken link but an error by the user that can cause them.
A 404 can be generated when a user types in a faulty address, and this may result in an error being generated on their browser that may look bad, but you can definitely address the situation.
According to a recent study conducted by Gomez, a commercial platform that runs tests for web performance, 88% of online consumers are less likely to return to a website after a bad experience.
In the light of this information, let us take a quick look at some of the ways you can use 404s to negate such inferences and strengthen your SEO.
1. Add links to them
Perhaps one of the best ways to make use of 404s is to design them so that it can link random internal pages from your website. This will allow you to get more website pages indexed through your 404 error pages. This can be achieved by running an algorithm that can help you to link out to a random number of internal pages.
Hence whenever a 404 page is generated, the links also change each time. According to Neil Patel’s own practice, he was able to boost TechCrunch search engine traffic by 9% in just a matter of 30 days. As far as search engines go, Google itself encourages developers to create custom 404 pages.
Since it is a standard HTML page, developers can customize it the way they want to, hence adding links to 404 pages shouldn’t be a big hassle.
2. Brand and customize them
The inconvenience user experiences when they run into a 404 can be quite infuriating; however, this is also a moment where you can use creativity to capture their attention. By branding and customizing your 404 pages, one can actually boost their website revenues and increase their conversions.
However, this might involve additional effort where a 404 page has to be properly designed and optimized in order to turn lost visitors into loyal customers. A standard 404 page doesn’t look good at all. In fact, it seems like coming for an era that was far less progressive. We understand that visuals play a huge role in attracting customers.
Several social media and marketing statistics proclaim the power of visuals, such as the fact that 96% of online shoppers watch a video about a product or a service before making a decision and that 88% of marketers prefer visuals in their published content.
So why refrain from using visuals and not branding your 404s? The answer is that you should definitely not only brand them but also customize them to make them even more appealing for your users.
3. Put in a search bar
Another great tactic to follow with your 404 pages is to add in a search bar. This is further reflected by the study published by the Search Engine Journal, where 81% of users think less of a brand if it’s outdated, and that 40% of users consider search box as the most important feature.
Therefore this should be plenty of reasons for you to make this change happen. A search bar added to your 404 is like sweet candy to a small kid who just dropped their ice-cream.
Surely it is not what they were expecting, but with the power of search in their hands, they can begin their adventure anew. Plus, a nice consolidating message to go along with it would also work wonders.
It is all about compensating for the error they just ran into. Hence you are covering damages and making it easier for your users to recover from them.
4. Include mentions of popular landing pages
Remember that your main goal is to create attention for your online users and direct them to your most profitable and viable landing pages. Hence even when your customers accidentally land themselves on a 404 error page, you can continue your efforts to divert their attention from the error and towards your most popular products and services. It is like a never-back down approach.
Sure, you would be offering them some comforting words to soften the impact created by the error. However, marketing is all about never quitting. Hence your 404 actually becomes like a landing page. It is true no one would actually land on a 404 with intention.
However, when they do, you will be prepared for them to divert the traffic to the most popular pages on your website. This can downright act out as a recommendation for your users. According to a recent report by McKinsey and Company, 35% of Amazon’s and 75% of Netflix’s revenues are generated by their recommendation engines, respectively.
5. Place your sitemap
If you are from the SEO side of things and adept in the knowledge that encircles the mastery of search engine rankings, then you know for sure that sitemaps can be extremely good for your websites. Since they are listed in search control, there is no doubt that Google does pay attention to them. Hence it would be great for your 404s to include a sitemap on them.
This will allow users to easily navigate through your website without leaving your website or going back to the SERPs (search engine result pages) to start their journey all over again. Hence you would be effectively reducing pogo-sticking. This will thus enhance your users’ dwell-time.
6. Use conversational language
It must be pretty obvious by now that a remedy for a 404 lies in offering users a human touch that softens their impact, and this can be further augmented with the use of conversational language.
You want your customers and website visitors to feel less infuriated, and in order to do that, you need to spread out some comfort for them so that they do not feel agitated.
This can be reflected by a recent study by Business 2 Community, where they emphasize the use of conversational marketing. According to the study, 79% of consumers are willing to use messaging apps for customer service, 82% consider immediate response as extremely important, and 36% of companies are actively using live chat for marketing and sales.
Hence the idea over here is to make your users feel as if you are directly speaking to them, and this can help break the ice and reduce the tension created.
7. Get to homepage tab
Probably one of the easiest get around for your 404 pages is to link back to the homepage. What you are doing is here is giving your customers the easiest route to start their search all over again without letting them go and trying to keep them on your domain.
8. Mention your blog
Blogs are considered a good choice for your audiences as well. While they may not be good for directly influencing their behavior, they can certainly create awareness that your domain does publish interesting content that users might find interesting to read.
It’s just a small nudge in the right direction. Obviously, customers who are looking to buy products or hire services would like to be directed to their requested pages, but mentioning your blog on a 404 is like saying, “hey there, we have more in store for you!”
Many students nowadays also go through blogs while they buy research papers online to increase their pool of knowledge relating to their field of study.
9. Avoiding the 404 Error
Lastly, I would like to share some guidelines with you to help you avoid 404s where you can possibly manage to reduce them. This will only make your user experience skyrocket and help negate dissonance from users. Here are some quick tips:
- Log into your Google Search Console account.
- Check the Coverage report to see how many URLs are returning error codes.
- Use the URL Inspection Tool to find more details about each error.
- A 301 redirect is considered a good option for rectifying a 404 status.
Why are we doing this after all of the discussion above? This is because having too many 404s can prove to be detrimental to your user’s experience. Hence if you are notified about their existence, you should resolve them.
The 404 error codes undoubtedly leave a negative impact on your users and visitors. However, there are various ways you can make them add value for your customers.
I hope this post was able to offer you some meaningful ways through which you can use 404s in an interactive manner to boost your website’s SEO. For more questions regarding the topic, please feel free to post your queries in the comment section below.
Amanda Jerelyn currently works as a Marketing Manager at Dissertation Assistance, a perfect place for students to buy academic writing services from expert dissertation writers UK. During her free time, she likes to practice mindful yoga to keep herself fit and healthy.
With Dorian, co-founder and CEO Julia Palatovska said she’s hoping to empower fiction writers and other storytellers to create their own games.
The startup is announcing that it has raised $ 3.25 million in seed funding led by March Capital Partners, with participation from VGames, Konvoy Ventures, London Venture Partners, Michael Chow (co-creator of the Twitch series “Artificial”), Andover Ventures and talent management company Night Media.
In addition, John Howell, the former vice president of partnerships at Twitch, has joined the board as an independent director.
Palatskova previously worked in gaming as the head of business development at G5 Entertainment, and she said she’d also become entranced by narrative games and interactive fiction. And while there are existing interactive fiction platforms, she saw “an opportunity that I felt was missing,” particularly in the fact that those platforms are “entirely single player, with no opportunity to play and collaborate with other people.”
So she gave me a quick tour of the Dorian platform, showing me how, without coding, a writer can essentially design characters and backgrounds by choosing from a variety of visual assets (and they’ll eventually be able to upload assets of their own), while using a flowchart-style interface to allow the writer to connect different scenes in the story and create player choices. And as Palatskova noted, you can also collaborate on a story in real-time with other writers.
“In terms of writer productivity, I would say there is almost no difference between creating interactive fiction on our engine and just writing fiction,” she said.
From what I could see, the resulting games look similar to what you’d find on platforms like Pocket Gems’ Episode, where there aren’t a lot of technical bells and whistles, so the story, dialogue and character choices move to the forefront.
When I brought up the open-source game creation software Twine, Palatskova said Twine is “just a tool.”
“We want to be more like Roblox, both the tools and the distribution,” she said.
In other words, writers use Dorian to create interactive stories, but they also publish those stories using the Dorian app. (The writer still owns the resulting intellectual property.) Palatskova noted that Dorian also provides detailed analytics on how readers are responding, which is helpful not just for creating stories, but also for monetizing via premium story choices.
In fact, Dorian says that in early tests involving around 50,000 players, writers were able to improve monetization by 70% after only one or two iterations. And Palatskova noted that with Dorian’s games — unlike an interactive film such as “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch” —”It’s fast and easy to test multiple branches.”
Dorian is currently invite-only, but the plan is to launch more broadly later this year. Palatskova is recruiting writers with and without gaming experience, but she also expects plenty of successful contributions to come from complete novices. She wants Dorian to be “a completely open platform, like Roblox or Twitch for writers.”
“Dorian’s success in creating an interactive platform that values storytelling while prioritizing monetization for its writers is a game-changer,” said March Capital’s Gregory Milken in a statement. “Julia and her team are creating a community that is primed to capture the attention of today’s influential but underrepresented audiences of diverse content creators.”
Update: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that Dorian had raised $ 3.15 million.
Pandora has begun to test a new type of advertising format that allows listeners to respond to the ad by speaking aloud. In the new ads, listeners are prompted to say “yes” after the ad asks a question and a tone plays. The ads will then offer more information about the product or brand in question.
Debut advertisers testing the new format include Doritos, Ashley HomeStores, Unilever, Wendy’s, Turner Broadcasting, Comcast and Nestlé.
The ads begin by explaining what they are and how they’ll work. They then play a short and simple message followed by a question to which listeners are supposed to respond.
For example, the Wendy’s ad asks listeners if they’re hungry, and if they say “yes” the ad continues by offering a recommendation about what to eat. The DiGiorno’s pizza ad asks listeners to say “yes” to hear the punchline of a pizza-themed joke. The Ashley HomeStores ad engages listeners by offering tips on getting a better night’s sleep. And so on.
The new format capitalizes on Pandora’s underlying voice technology, which also powers the app’s smart voice assistant, Voice Mode, launched earlier this year. While Voice Mode lets Pandora users control their music hands-free, the voice ads aim to get users to engage with the advertiser’s content hands-free, as opposed to tapping on the screen or visiting a link to get more information.
The company believes these types of ads will be more meaningful as they force listeners to pay attention. For the brand advertisers, voice ads offer a way to more directly measure how many people an ad reached — something that’s not possible with traditional audio ads, which by their nature aren’t clickable.
Pandora announced its plans to test interactive voice ads back in April of this year, initially with San Francisco-based adtech company, Instreamatic. At the time, it said it would launch the new format into beta testing by Q4, as it now has.
The ad format arrives at a time when consumers have become more comfortable talking to digital voice assistants, like Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant. There’s also an increased expectation that services we interact with will support voice commands — like when we’re speaking to Fire TV or Apple TV to find something to watch or asking Pandora or Spotify to play our favorite music.
But consumers’ appetite for interactive voice advertisements is still largely untested. Even Amazon limited voice ads on its Alexa platform for fear of alienating users who would find them disruptive to the core experience. Spotify also ran a limited test of voice ads this year.
In Pandora’s case, users don’t have to play along. The company says if the user doesn’t respond within a couple of seconds or if they say no, the music resumes playback.
Pandora says the ads will begin running today for a small subset of listeners using its app.
It’s Independence Day in the U.S., which observes the signing of the Declaration of Independence. America has celebrated every July 4th for 237 years. Today’s Google Doodle once again marks the 4th of July, as Google has done every year since 2000.
Google has been celebrating the London 2012 Olympics every day with a unique Olympic-themed Doodle. However, today’s interactive Google Doodle is easily the best and most fun so far, letting everyone compete for their own virtual gold medal.
Work productively? Not so much.
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