Archive | September 22, 2013

Will #actiontags be the future?

Rotterdam – The start-up Chirpify was the first tool in 2012 that enabled it’s customers to buy and sell via tweets, payments included. But it never really took flight. That’s why recently the company shifted its focus from consumers to organizations.

From now on Chirpify will act as an intermediary between big brands and consumers. It’s going to facilitate through tweets, or basically all platforms that support hashtags (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.). This could mean selling, but also voting or donating.


As the figure above shows, Chirpify will do so with so-called actiontags. The combination of an actiontag with an instructiontag will be processed and lead to the action as the figure shows. When transactions are involved these will be handled via Paypal and Chirpify earns a 4% fee of every transaction.

The company already works with some big brands like Adidas and Green Day. Combine this with the increasing combination of Twitter and TV and it is easy to see the huge potential.

Personally, I have a lot of trust issues with the online and mobile payment possibilities of today. Do you think this could be the next big thing for online shopping? Let me know


Faking negative user-generated content, a new marketing strategy?

One of the nine resonance marketing guidelines for managers (mentioned in this weeks article by Clemons) is “do not attempt to sock puppet, impersonate a customer to post your own reviews, or edit the content that is posted on community Web sites. There is now ample evidence that this will be outed, and that it will be more damaging than allowing the unflattering content to remain.” But what if the company itself is creating the unflattering content?

I am referring to a recent case in Finland in which Sonera, one of the three big mobile operators in the country had its website “attacked by hackers”, as all text and pricing information on the company’s marketing website was changed into X’s. Company representatives along with their Communications Manager gave differing comments, some said it was a security breach, others claimed to not be aware of the whole problem. The next day, a Sonera billboard advertisement in the Helsinki central railway station was “ruined by graffiti”, and a picture of this was quickly spreading on the company’s Social Media channels, with the message “Thank you for the attention”.


It was quickly proven that Sonera was the one who had “hacked” its own website and scribbled over its own billboard during the night. This caused a lot of frustration amongst reporters and consumers who felt they had been lied to, leading to a lot of negative coverage and word of mouth about the company. A few days after the event, the company officially apologized, before launching a new line of service bundles for a segment of young consumers between ages 18-25.

Clemons states that promotion is becoming organic and largely outside of a company’s direct control, because it is increasingly determined by the reported experiences of consumers. But these “consumers” online are faceless and anonymous. If a multinational company such as Sonera thinks it is a good idea to go on to faking such massive “guerilla” actions, how much of the smaller user generated content online is faked by companies or generated by bots? It is actually by getting caught that Sonera got the most publicity out of its morally questionable actions, and as they say, all publicity is good.

So fellow BIMers, remember to be critical about your information sources!

Clemons, E.K. 2008.  How Information Changes Consumer Behavior and Consumer Behavior Determines Corporate Strategy. Journal of Management Information Systems 25(2) 13-40.

I hereby agree to the terms and conditions.. wait what!?

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Just about every time we use the internet, a communication network or an app. We agree to some very long terms and conditions. But what exactly are we agreeing to and how many people actually read it?

This concept is actually pretty new. For instance you never had to sign an user agreement for an old fashioned telephone line or to watch television or to read a book. But if you use a smartphone or facebook or watch Hulu you do . In fact, if you were to read everything you agree to on the web, it would take one full month of work out of every year. That’s 180 hours you have to spend every year. And according to the Wall Street Journal, consumers lose 250 billion dollars each year due what is hidden in fine print.

Here’s an example from Linkedin’s terms, which can be found directly in their user agreement on their website:
You grant LinkedIn a nonexclusive, irrevocable, worldwide, perpetual, unlimited, assignable, sublicenseable, fully paid up and royalty-free right to us to copy, prepare derivative works of, improve, distribute, publish, remove, retain, add, process, analyze, use and commercialize, in any way now known or in the future discovered, any information you provide, directly or indirectly to LinkedIn, including, but not limited to, any user generated content, ideas, concepts, techniques and/or data to the services, you submit to LinkedIn, without any further consent, notice and/or compensation to you or to any third parties.”
So Linkedin basically takes pretty much everything from you forever and  when you agree to Instagram’s terms you allow them to post and sell your photo’s without your consent and any compensation for you. You will find this kind of language in Google, Facebook, Instagram and pretty much everything people consider free. . And even if you are paying, companies basically have the ability to make you accept just about whatever they please.

In 2009 Gamestation, a company in the United Kingdoms, put some pretty sneaky stuff in their terms. They did not take money or your first born child. But for one day, their terms stated: “By placing an order via this website, you agree to grant us a non-transferable option to claim, now and for ever more, your immortal soul.” The contract was only live for a day, but more than 7000 people have placed an order and accepted the agreement during that timeframe.

This is of course a joke, however it makes me wonder, what if there were more serious consequences that might result from not reading terms and conditions. What if privacy policies are not there to protect your privacy but instead taking it away. That is the world we are currently living in. The government and companies can track our location, listen in with our conversations, and monitor our information in any way they like.

Wouldn’t it be a relief if we can request them to stop doing it when we ask them? We need terms and conditions that are reasonable and we need privacy policies that promote the most basic principles of our democracy rather than taking it away.

This all leaves only one question to be answered.

Do you agree?

321583 Nicholas Chow

Google+ grows, but remains far behind Facebook

Rotterdam – Figures from Nielsen show that the iOS and Android apps of Google+ had 20 million unique visitors in the U.S. last March. Compared to March last year an increase of 238 percent. The desktop version had an increase of 63 percent with 28 million unique visitors. Facebook still has way more unique visitors on the desktop site (142 million) as well as on smart phones (99 million).

Although these results are from last March, the most striking and concerning for Google+ were the results on time spent on the site. An average visitor of Google+ spends 6 minutes and 47 seconds on the site and an average visitor of Facebook 6 hours and 44 minutes. These numbers do not include visitors of the apps on iOS and or Android smart phones.

So at the moment it is obvious Facebook is still winning, but this raises the question whether this will change in the future. A lot of pros and cons concerning Google+ are spreading the Internet. Google+ is everywhere (integration), it has a beautiful UI, Hangouts and Circles are frequently called pros. Some cons are the inability to search, the complexity and it is nowhere near as big as Facebook or Twitter. Another big concern for me regarding Google+ is the changing costs. As I stated earlier Facebook has way more users. These users have created complete profiles with a lot of information. Besides, they created a huge network of friends, which takes a lot of time to create again on a new site. I think the current customers of Facebook are happy with the system and are not that keen on going to all the trouble again to create a new profile and network of friends.

I do believe Google+ has the ability to eventually win, but certainly not in the near future. To win Google+ has still got a long way to go if you ask me. What do you think?

Technology of the week Team 10, AR and QR code

Our technology of the week will be about AR and QR-codes. AR (Augmented Reality) is considered to be THE Bridge that integrates human and machines. The technology aims to replicate the real-world’s environment into a computer and allows users to combine real scenes in virtual scenes generated by the computer that augments these scenes with more information. This allows the computer to distinguish targeted images in the real world and response directly with associated information.

QR (Quick Response) code is a block shaped figure that stores useful information such as URL for a website. Users with a phone camera equipped with the correct reader application can scan the image of the QR code to display contained information or redirect to a webpage. QR codes can be included to any kind of product, from food boxes to advertisements in TV spots, newspapers and magazines. However, the users need to download a QR code reader first. Moreover, Tim Dunn claims that QR-code is dependent on fast connections, without a fast connection the users will be impatient to wait for the redirect.

Instead, AR technology is quite new and requires a large amount of investments in support technologies. At the current stage, AR tends to be most widely adopted in advertising, sport and navigation industry. Here, the AR technology is used to distinguish the pre-selected images form the others. However, the future of the AR will look more promising, wherein the technology advances to a stage that it will recognize human gesture, emotion, and voices in order to interact with us.

Comparing these two, AR is more interactive and has a shorter response time. It is not limited by a code as it does with QR-code. However, AR is still on beta versions on most devices and its future is dependent on the technologies around it. Unlike AR, QR code is considerably more accessible, cheap and user-friendly compared to the newest technology.


Technology of the Week Team 8: A Comparison of Mobile Payment Options (NFC vs. Square)

One of last year’s hottest topics at the CeBIT was the discussion about the potential of ‘The Internet of Things’ (IOT).  This term refers to real world objects being given a virtual representation, and thus enabling the object to communicate with a user through an electronic device such as a smartphone or tablet.

While there are many application possibilities for IOT, our group chose to focus on mobile payment in B2C transactions. In this arena, the upcoming, competing technologies are Near-Field Communication (NFC) and Square, a Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) technology enabled device.

With NFC, the sales process functions in the following manor: a smartphone wirelessly connects to the Point of Sales system via NFC and money is transferred via an App like Google Wallet. Its inherent ease of use, speed and reliability in securely connecting two devices are the technology’s main advantages. On the downside, from a consumer perspective, people have to become comfortable with transmitting their banking information wirelessly and this will take time. From a business point of view, retailers are reluctant to replace conventional swipe systems with terminals that support NFC payments as they are costly to install ($15-50 per terminal) and no dominant technology standard for mobile payment has emerged, yet.

This brings us to the competing technology: Square. Square is a device that is plugged into the audiojack of any smartphone enabling the smartphone to wirelessly read credit or debit card information by converting the information saved on the magnet strip of the card into an audio signal. Its pros are the ease of integration into existing systems offering small vendors to accept credit card, and the competitive pricing model relative to existing credit card pricing models. A minus is the sensitivity of the device and security issues in the past.

All in all, both technologies share similar strengths and weaknesses. It seems that NFC has more sponsors of big industry players, however, it is crucial to point out that those adopters have not fully subscribed themselves to the technology. On the other hand, Square is cheaper and more universally applicable. Finally, one has to note that the presence of network effects makes the outcome of this technology battle inherently uncertain.  The acceptance of the technologies amongst consumers is yet to be decided.