A Look at Snovio for Drip Campaigns

September 11, 2019

Marketing strategies evolve with the technologies available, and right now drip campaigns are popular. This approach involves sending pre-written messages to leads or existing customers over time. Naturally, automation makes drizzling such series into many inboxes a snap. Several apps exist to do just that; The Tech Block describes one of them in its write-up, “Snov.io Email Drip Campaigns: The Perfect Tool to Reach Out to More People.” We learn:

“Snov.io is a platform that gives marketers an opportunity to search for leads and their email addresses, check if they are real, send auto follow-ups, and some other useful features. You can use the email finder as an extension for Google Chrome and as a web application. It will help you find emails from various websites and even LinkedIn. With the help of the email checker, you will verify all the email addresses that you have found. This way you will be able to create an entire email contact list of potential prospects and send drip emails to them via the Email Drip Campaigns tool. The Gmail Tracker traces the sent emails and provides the details on email opens and link clicks.”

Snovio boasts professional message templates that help companies put their best foot forward, and promises “complete” automation. See the write-up, or Snovio’s website, for more details; don’t forget to check out some of the competition as well. Founded in 2017, Snovio is based in New York City.

Cynthia Murrell, September 11, 2019

Tech Giants Are Classy and Semi Clever

August 16, 2019

I read “Google Attacks Windows by Comparing It to a Broken-Down Car.” Classy on two criteria:

  1. TechRadar’s story title. DarkCyber loved the “broken down” bound phrase
  2. Google’s decision to diminish the Microsoft system.

The Google has coveted Microsoft’s position in the computing world. The company rolled out its word processing, presentation, and ledger software specifically to undermine Microsoft Office. Years ago a Googler explained the strategy. (Sorry. I can’t tell you why a real Googler was talking to a person who lives in rural Kentucky.)

Humor is useful, particularly for stand up comedians. Jack Benny made fun of Fred Allen. The two had a feud.

The difference is that from where I view the world across the hollows and streams filled with mine drainage:

  1. Both companies deliver software and services which are deeply problematic. Whether it is Google’s irrelevant results on ad choked page or Microsoft’s updates which kill systems upon which people rely for “work” — both outfits have some technical work to do.
  2. Both companies are monopolies in distinct ways. Google controls a number of services; for example, content delivery via the Android complex. Microsoft dominates in business software.
  3. Both companies have an arrogance which surfaces in product support and public messaging.

To sum up, two deeply flawed organizations sniping at one another is less amusing than what flows from professional comedians.

The ad and the news giant reporting about the ad remind me of individuals who think that their insights are really clever.

Maybe they are, but will high school antics determine what type of laptop computer I will buy? Nope. I am happy with an eight year old Mac Air. No reason to change because advances in the tools I use on a day to day basis are not changing in a meaningful, useful manner.

When innovation stalls and creativity wanes, why not go for jokes?

Stephen E Arnold, August 16, 2019

Clever or Clumsy? Attempts to Achieve Lock In from Nervous Giants

August 9, 2019

The master of lock in is Amazon. (Lock in means that a company finds a way to ensure that a customer remains a customer. The term, as DarkCyber uses it, refers to the golden age of IBM. Remember that era?)

Apple and Google don’t have the Prime play. But both companies are trying, and their efforts are interesting. DarkCyber finds these “moves” amusing.

First, Apple is going to annoy customers of iPhones who try to get a battery replaced at a non Apple service location. Beta News explains this stroke of genius in “Apple Is Discouraging the Installation of Third Party Batteries by Displaying Battery Health Warnings.” The “you may get harmed” angle is fascinating. The write up states:

While it could be argued that Apple is concerned that iPhone users might install low quality batteries in their handsets, the more cynical response would be that the company is trying to scare people into buying more expensive batteries direct from Apple rather than a third party. This is not the first time Apple has been caught blocking or discouraging the use of third-party components; similar activity has been seen in relation to replacement screens and  home buttons.

With Apple stores becoming less and less friendly, now an iPhone customer has to deal with a click through annoyance and a message from the Apple chief parent. What’s the goal? Simple. Control, money, and interactions with the customer. Yes, some of the ingredients of lock in. Not an Amazon Prime grade play, but it is interesting and a bit sad for some black turtleneck wearers.

Second, the Google has an anti-Prime play. Amazon charges people to become a member of a virtual Costco. Google pays people to join. Here’s how this works if DarkCyber understands the implicit message in “Google Flights Will Offer Money-Back Price Guarantees.” Uber Gizmo states:

Google has announced that they will be introducing a money-back price guarantee feature to Google Flights. This means that you won’t need to worry about finding the best price as Google will refund you the difference. According to Google, “When we predict the price won’t decrease for select itineraries booked between August 13 and September 2, we’ll guarantee the price won’t drop, and we’ll refund you the difference if it does. We’ll monitor the price for you and if the price drops any time before departure, we’ll send you an email letting you know once your flight takes off–so there’s no work on your end.”

Our conclusion: Use our service, and the Google will provide you with an Amazon Prime type benefit for free. Is the benefit free? DarkCyber does not believe that any Google service is “free.” Google wants traffic, and it wants to provide a cash benefit for trusting Mother Google.

What do these two examples suggest?

  1. Prime envy is real
  2. Apple and Google are trying to generate what DarkCyber interprets as “millennial loyalty”
  3. The “plays” are not exactly subtle.

Net net: Apple and Google have adopted “marketing” tactics which call attention to a a subtle shift from a “power” position to a “threatened” position. Prime case examples, right?

Stephen E Arnold, August 9, 2019

Clickbait: Still Tasty After All Those Years

August 8, 2019

This will come as no surprise to many who consider the rise of smartphones a scourge on society. Haas Newsroom, a publication of UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, explains “How Information Is Like Snacks, Money, and Drugs—to Your Brain.” Writer Laura Counts reports on a study performed at Haas which found that, as with eating tasty food or receiving money, taking in information can produce a dopamine surge. So, clickbait junkies are real junkies, addicted to junk information instead of drugs, money, or junk food. Counts writes:

“‘To the brain, information is its own reward, above and beyond whether it’s useful,’ says Assoc. Prof. Ming Hsu, a neuroeconomist whose research employs functional magnetic imaging (fMRI), psychological theory, economic modeling, and machine learning. ‘And just as our brains like empty calories from junk food, they can overvalue information that makes us feel good but may not be useful—what some may call idle curiosity.’ The paper, ‘Common neural code for reward and information value,’ was published this month by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Authored by Hsu and graduate student Kenji Kobayashi, now a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, it demonstrates that the brain converts information into the same common scale as it does for money. It also lays the groundwork for unraveling the neuroscience behind how we consume information—and perhaps even digital addiction. ‘We were able to demonstrate for the first time the existence of a common neural code for information and money, which opens the door to a number of exciting questions about how people consume, and sometimes over-consume, information,’ Hsu says.”

See the write-up for the study’s methodology. Though researchers did not specifically examine the brain’s response to consuming information online, their results do indicate information prompts the reward response. That is why we find ourselves seeking out details that are not really helpful in any way. Except, of course, to get a shot of that sweet, sweet dopamine.

Hsu draws a parallel to junk food. Sugar was a rare treat for our distant ancestors, and the desire for sweetness drove them to eat healthy fruit whenever they could. Now, though, refined sugar is all around us and usually divorced from fruity nutrients. Similarly, we live in a time when unhelpful (and downright untrue) information pervades our environment. As with watching our diet, we must be careful which information we choose to consume.

Cynthia Murrell, August 8, 2019

The Platform of the Future Is…

August 2, 2019

What’s the platform of the future? Here are your choices:

[a] Artificial intelligence

[b] Neuro linguistic services

[c] Silicon brain implants connected to the cloud

[d] Indexing

[e] Pay to play content.

Did you pick “d”: Indexing.

If you did, you are on the same wavelength as the rock and roll, up and down advisory and analyst firm IDC.

The pronouncement comes from Stewart Bond, research director at IDC Research Inc. (Note: DarkCyber has written reports for IDC. The firm sold these reports on Amazon without DarkCyber’s permission, and IDC did not pay for the use of the DarkCyber reports. How much were our reports? $3,200 for eight pages of goodness? Want to know more? Drop us an email: darkcyber333 at yandex dot com.)

This revelation appeared in Silicon Angle which presented a summary of an interview with IDC Research’s director. Other gems from the write up were:

Pre-existing silos and multicloud can give companies a lot of disparate spaces to scavenge through. The most sensible place to start may be with the available data about all that data — or metadata.

Yes, indexing, an art practiced for millennia.

We noted this statement:

Companies are realizing that poorly cleansed or inaccurately labeled data are resulting in inaccurate insights. And vendors are rushing to the rescue. The number of vendors offering cataloging solutions has increased about 240% in the last year and a half, according to Bond’s research.

Hmm. What’s the research methodology? Remember that IDC has generated some specious numbers in the past; for example, the amount of time a person in a company spends looking for information. DarkCyber is curious about this 18 month period, the sample, the methodology, and the reliability of the analytic process. A 2.4X increase is robust, particularly for indexing and the accompanying tasks embraced in the sweeping generalization.

And we put an exclamation mark next to this passage:

Multicloud has flung data all over the place. Effective software must have spider legs that can reach out and quickly gather intelligence about it. Data cataloging may do this with machine learning, human annotation, Google-like search features, etc. “I think that’s going to be the data platform of the future,” Bond stated. Informatica Corp. currently leads in this market, according to Bond.

Okay, flinging data all over the place. Colorful. We also noted that Informatica Corp. is the leader in “this market.” Exactly what market are we thinking about. Google, search, cloud—what, which?

Keep in mind that Informatica has been around since 1993, and it has grown to about $1 billion a year in revenue. Impressive when compared to the local tire store, but a bit behind the curve when it comes to data. Amazon in the last quarter generated about $8 billion. Annualized Amazon is about 32X bigger than Informatica. Who will win in the cloud cataloging game? Informatica? Sure it will.

But why the love for Informatica? One possibility is that Informatica is a client or prospect of IDC. That’s an idea worth considering.

And where did this “indexing” pronouncement appear? In Silicon Angle. Here’s the explanation which appeared with the IDC research director’s startling insight:

SiliconANGLE Media Inc.’s business model is based on the intrinsic value of the content, not advertising. Unlike many online publications, we don’t have a paywall or run banner advertising, because we want to keep our journalism open, without influence or the need to chase traffic.The journalism, reporting and commentary on SiliconANGLE — along with live, unscripted video from our Silicon Valley studio and globe-trotting video teams at theCUBE — take a lot of hard work, time and money. Keeping the quality high requires the support of sponsors who are aligned with our vision of ad-free journalism content. If you like the reporting, video interviews and other ad-free content here, please take a moment to check out a sample of the video content supported by our sponsors, tweet your support, and keep coming back to SiliconANGLE.

DarkCyber interprets this information as a way to make “sponsored” content less front and center.

“Indexing” is a sure fire way to generate buzz for a consulting company and maybe, just maybe, some revenue from sponsored video for Silicon Angle.

The video is here.

Stephen E Arnold, August 2, 2019

Search Engine Optimization: Why Search Delivers Irrelevant Results and Ad Budgets Can Go Poof

July 23, 2019

DarkCyber noted “What Are Click Farms? A Shadowy Internet Industry Is Booming in China.” A diligent “real news” professional noted that one can buy clicks. DarkCyber spotted these services on gig economy sites like SEOExperts, Fiverr, and similar services some time ago. Think in terms of years.

The write up explains: Click farms

are plugged in and programmed to search, click, and download a certain app over and over again. The goal is to manipulate the system of app store rankings and search results.

The procedure is:

Click farms use an automated process hacks into the normal App Store Optimization (ASO) practice — which requires developers to use certain keywords in descriptions and attract users by being a useful product — and are programmed to promote apps by imitating a real user by searching for certain keywords, clicking on the app, downloading, and even writing positive reviews.

The write up focuses on apps and China.

DarkCyber wants to suggest that click farms are available to perform tasks like these:

  1. Target a company’s online ads, click on them, and burn through the budget for a keyword so a second place owner of a keyword pops up and presumably gets the “real” clicks from an actual interested person. (Keep in mind that a savvy competitor can have this technique used against his or her campaign.)
  2. Target a concept and click links. The result is what DarkCyber and its beloved leader calls “augmentext.” The idea is that a concept, not a site, can be converted into an attractor for a Google-type relevance system
  3. Click on an entity and cause that entity to have “magnetism.” With the loopholes and weaknesses inherent in the core algorithms, an entity can become “hot” or a “trend.”

The write up points out that click farms are illegal. Perhaps the estimable search engine optimization industry should police its behaviors? Perhaps online disinformation consultants should not use these services?

I am not sure that click farms are new, particularly shadowy, or going to go away. Spoofing relevance is too darned easy and there’s zero incentive for certain vendors selling ads or offering to manipulate opinion to change.

Stephen E Arnold, July 23, 2019

Facebook: Soldiering On Despite Adversity

July 19, 2019

The Libra hearing was painful to watch. Not only was the information presented in a colorless manner, Facebook’s attention shifter illuminates what happens when governance and regulation take a holiday.

Anyone considering a job at a large company should take note of this resource— ZDNet reports, “Glassdoor Survey: Employees Give Top Rating to VMWare’s CEO, but Zuckerberg Plunges.” Poor Zuck; the famous Facebook CEO dove from 16th place last year to number 55 in this year’s roster of the 100 best CEOs to work for. It could be worse. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos has yet to appear on the list, which began in 2013.

Glassdoor only considers companies with more than 1,000 employees “large” for the purpose of this survey. Writer Tom Foremski reports:

“The annual ranking of the top 100 CEOs of the largest US companies is prepared by Glassdoor, which hosts reviews of companies and their management by employees. … Adobe, Microsoft, and LinkedIn CEOs joined VMware in the 2019 top 10. Overall, the tech sector has the most employee-approved CEOs with 27 in the Top 100, followed by healthcare with 12 CEOs, and manufacturing with eight CEOs. The San Francisco/Bay Area is home to 17 CEOs on the Top 100 List — with nearly all in tech. New York City has 16 CEOs on the list — none are in tech — with mostly financial services and management consulting companies.

We also noted this statement:

“Zuckerberg held the No. 1 spot on the list in 2013 and maintained a top 10 rank until 2018, dropping to No. 16. His declining popularity with employees appear to mirror his handling of high-profile problems over privacy and targeted advertising. A similar fall from grace has affected Google, which had the No. 1 CEO in 2015 with Larry Page but now sits at No. 46. Like Facebook, Google has come under considerable public criticism over the past few years.”

Three CEOs have made the list every year for the past three: Zuckerberg, Tim Cook of Apple, and Salesforce’s Marc Benioff. Only seven women appear on this year’s list; that’s actually pretty good, though, considering only five percent of CEOs at S&P 500 companies are female. Glassdoor assures us it employs an algorithm that can tell if respondents are trying to skew results, and that it punishes guilty companies accordingly. The curious can see this year’s results, and an archive of previous ones, here.

DarkCyber believes that more exposure of the company’s plans and ideas may not add sparkle to the social media firm.

Cynthia Murrell, July 19, 2019

Intel: Chips Like a Brain

July 18, 2019

We noted “Intel Unveils Neuromorphic Computing System That Mimics the Human Brain.” The main idea is that Intel is a chip leader. Forget the security issues with some Intel processors. Forget the fabrication challenges. Forget the supply problem for certain Intel silicon.

Think “neuromophic computing.”

According to the marketing centric write up:

Intel said the Loihi chips can process information up to 1,000 times faster and 10,000 times more efficiently than traditional central processing units for specialized applications such as sparse coding, graph search and constraint-satisfaction problems.

Buzz, buzz, buzz. That’s the sound of marketing jargon zipping around.

How about this statement, offered without any charts, graphs, or benchmarks?

With the Loihi chip we’ve been able to demonstrate 109 times lower power consumption running a real-time deep learning benchmark compared to a graphics processing unit, and five times lower power consumption compared to specialized IoT inference hardware,” said Chris Eliasmith, co-chief executive officer of Applied Brain Research Inc., which is one of Intel’s research partners. “Even better, as we scale the network up by 50-times, Loihi maintains real-time performance results and uses only 30% more power, whereas the IoT hardware uses 500% more power and is no longer in real-time.”

Excited? What about the security, fab, and supply chain facets of getting neuromorphic disrupting other vendors eager to support the artificial intelligence revolution? Not in the Silicon Angle write up.

How quickly will an enterprise search vendor embrace “neuromorphic”? Proably more quickly than Intel can deliver seven nanometer nodes.

Stephen E Arnold, July 18, 2019

Google: Help the GOOG Find Your Business with the Help of Search Engine Optimization

July 11, 2019

One can buy Google ads. That may help.  But if you just want to create a listing for your business, you may have to do a bit of work. If your business does not come up in a Google query, that business may be missing out on sales. That’s called leaving money on the table. Not much fun DarkCyber thinks.

Well, there’s a fix. Just point your browser to this write up:

What do you do if Google My Business doesn’t understand your business? Pop-up shops, mobile by design, are legitimate businesses but Google has no easy way to help you find them.

No kidding. That an SEO friendly title.

The write up points out this easy fix:

Fortunately, Google has been helpful in working with us to find a solution, which shows that Google is flexible and willing to evolve. As more companies adopt business models shorn of permanent locations, the bigger question is how will Google adapt over time? If you are one such business, you may need an advocate to work with Google – but it’s worth trying. Google, to its credit, watches for patterns of behavior among its users and adapts. It behooves Google to provide the best experience to its users, and if more of its users are struggling to find businesses, Google will adapt rather than lose them to another ecosystem.

Yep, Google is helpful. But not as helpful as hiring an SEO expert. There’s nothing like a “real” news story with substantive information. Fascinating. As Google’s results become less and less relevant to a user’s query, the SEO crowd wants to ensure that your business can be found even if the query is not relevant to your business. That’s just “good” business in SEO land.

Stephen E Arnold, July 11, 2019

Online Manipulation Made Easy

July 11, 2019

Do you want to manipulate one or more people using social media or other online communication channels? Science Focus reduces the approach to a selection of ten effective techniques. “Nudge Theory: 10 Subtle Pushes That Change How You Think” is a distillation of the University of Chicago techniques plus some spice imported from Cambridge University. What are the methods? Here’s a snapshot of five of the 10. Navigate to the source document for the complete list:

  1. Simplify. Yep, keep it simple stupid.
  2. Make things easy and convenient. Yep, easy. Convenient like search results which come from a curated subset which people perceive as comprehensive but are not.
  3. Disclosures. Think unsealing court records from the Epstein Florida case.
  4. Ask questions. Just don’t ask, “Does the person asking the question have an ulterior motive?”
  5. Remind people. This is called “nagging.”

See. You too can be a master of online manipulation. Simple, convenient, backed by proof, and just like a nagging partner. Is that great?

Stephen E Arnold, July 11, 2019

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