Monthly Archives: January 2018

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Google or Airline to Predict Flight Delays?

Google is rolling out a few new features to its Google Flights search engine to help travelers tackle some of the more frustrating aspects of air travel – delays and the complexities of the cheaper, Basic Economy fares. With the regard to delays, Google Flights won’t just be pulling in information from the airlines directly, however – it will take advantage of its understanding of historical data and its machine learning algorithms to predict delays that haven’t yet been flagged by airlines themselves.

Explains Google, the combination of data and A.I. technologies means it can predict some delays in advance of any sort of official confirmation. Google says that it won’t actually flag these in the app until it’s at least 80 percent confident in the prediction, though. (Of course, you should still get to the airport on time, but at least you’ll know what you’re about to face once there.)

It will also provide reasons for the delays, like weather or an aircraft arriving late.

You can track the status of your flight by searching for your flight number or the airline and flight route, notes Google. The delay information will then appear in the search results.

The other new feature added today aims to help travelers make sense of what Basic Economy fares include and exclude with their ticket price.

These low-cost fares are often the only option for travelers on a budget, but they have a number of restrictions that can vary by airline.

Read the full story on TechCrunch

Twitter’s #BrandBowl52

Twitter wants to be the top social media destination for this year’s Super Bowl—not just for the game and the halftime entertainment, but also for the biggest ads of the year. That’s why Twitter has created the first #BrandBowl as a place for advertisers and users can congregate and discuss the Super Bowl. The #BrandBowl will hand out awards for ads—including brands who don’t advertise during the game—that drive the most Twitter engagement.

Ryan Oliver, Twitter’s head of brand strategy for the U.S. and Canada, calls #BrandBowl the “first ever social subscription for users to get TV spots delivered to them on Twitter.” It’s a relatively simple mechanism. Users simply retweet a tweet from Twitter’s marketing account (@TwitterMKTG) any time after Jan. 29 to activate both a Twitter notification in real time when ads air and a link to a Twitter moment after each quarter with video of each of ad.

Since brands will likewise have to opt-in to have their ads included, Twitter can’t promise that it will show users every ad that airs during the Super Bowl. But it does offer cord-cutters, busy partigoers and Super Bowl ad fans an easy way to catch up with or rewatch the night’s most talked-about ads.

Read the full story on AdWeek

Spigot Inc Happy Hours at World of Beer

Spigot Inc decided to take off from the office early and head over to World of Beer for some great conversation, appetizers, drinks, mingling with colleagues and of course… giant Jinga and Corn Hole. Some of the guys competed in a hot wing eating contest. Many of the Spigot Inc team love hot sauce. One of our fabulous interns from FGCU brought in a sauce that warms your entire body! It’s so good, that it is on back order. Try it out for yourself… Hot Ones Hot Sauce, The Last Dab. The flavor is amazing. Beware!

If this sounds like an environment that you would thrive in… send us your resume and cover letter to careers@spigot.com for review! Check out all of our adventures on the Spigot Inc blog. Are you a fit?

Be sure to follow us on Twitter and Instagram… like us on Facebook and never miss out on our Spigot Inc lifestyle.

Facebook Ad Prices on the Rise

Mark Zuckerberg recently shared that Facebook is revamping the news feed to prioritize content from friends over content from brands, businesses and publishers. Facebook’s stock price dropped 5 percent immediately following the announcement.

This change should not be taken lightly. While Facebook does update its news feed algorithms regularly, as Adam Mosseri, Facebook’s news feed vp, shared last week: “This one is bigger than the average tweak. It’s not a tweak.”

See the new model and full story on Adweek.

Are You Shopping Straight from Instagram?

Instagram is making their images shoppable. Tell us at Spigot Inc if you have shopped from an Instagram post. Find out the latest news on Instagram shopping from Adweek below.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, how much is a shoppable image on Instagram worth?

Announced at last week’s National Retail Federation conference, Salesforce Commerce Cloud revealed that retailers can now use their entire product catalog to create shoppable posts on Instagram. This includes product details like the price, name and a short description (an example of it, from Milk Makeup, is above).

The new integration is seen by many industry insiders as vital to the growth of ecommerce in a mobile-first world. As users continue to shop through their phones, reducing the steps between discovery and purchase becomes necessary. And as Instagram continues to grow as an important tool for marketers, creating opportunities to make purchases on the platform makes sense for everyone: retailer, platform and user.

“Photos posted on the platform already often contain sponsored retail products, and making them shoppable just adds another layer of convenience, which is of the utmost importance in today’s fast-paced environment,” said Pehr Luedtke, senior vice president, marketing and international at Valassis Digital.

With the new Instagram integration on Commerce Cloud, retailers, which already have their product catalog on the cloud, can simply create shoppable posts, by tagging products.

“This is an example of reducing friction [in the mobile experience],” said Rick Kenney, head of consumer insights at Salesforce Commerce Cloud.

It’s also not an entirely new concept. Shopify, the ecommerce platform, rolled out an Instagram integration as well in 2017. Merchants who use Shopify can also make any Instagram post shoppable.

However, it’s a growing trend that shows a good mobile strategy goes beyond just thinking about an app or web experience, says Maya Mikhailov, co-founder and CMO of GPShopper, a mobile commerce platform.

“Whether from brands themselves or influencers engaged by brands, retailers must utilize social media to reach shoppers not only at the inspiration stage of the consumer journey, but the point of purchase as well,” said Mikhailov. “Shoppable posts are a crucial e-commerce tactic for retailers because they provide a convenient path to purchase.”  

Kenney believes that the new feature will help consumers know more about what they’re looking at—and potentially buy it.

“We think we’re doing [this] right and what we’re able to do is bring that innovation to that retailer,” Kenney said.

These 3 Issues Will Shape the Future of Demand-Side Platforms

AdWeek shares how consolidation, transparency and dwindling disruption will shape the future of demand-side platforms.

Back in the early days of digital advertising, portals and ad networks stepped in where websites struggled. They were able to aggregate sites and audiences to achieve much more scale, leading to better forecasting, larger audiences, pricing efficiencies and bigger buys. Some websites stayed independent, but most became part of something larger.

Enter demand-side platforms (DSPs), which enable advertisers to buy, track, and serve ads from one centralized hub. The downfall of portals and ad networks came from their lack of full control and transparency. A new era of vendors, who had access to both inventory and data via open exchanges for the first-time, stole market share quickly. DSPs evolved and competed aggressively, which put pressure on rates. Ultimately, the DSPs won out.

That’s where we’ve been. But what does the future hold for the DSP market? Here’s a closer look.

Expect consolidation

Market demand for DSPs has led to consolidation within digital advertising. It has also been driven by a desire to streamline ad tech platform operations, boosting efficiency and transparency from vendors. Ultimately, there will be small companies that will innovate for individual buyers and win some share. Inevitably, however, many of these small companies will lose the ability to compete at scale and will get gobbled up.

Many vendors who fall in the middle—who are neither large nor small—will either be forced to exit the space, or will be acquired by a larger company as an attempt to bolt onto other offerings. For example, Adobe bought TubeMogul last year, while Sizmek acquired Rocket Fuel recently. No matter how you slice it, it’s clear that the market wants fewer, better options.

Demand for transparency

Anyone who pays attention to advertising trends knows that transparency is one of the industry’s hottest topics. It’s actually driving some of the DSP market’s consolidation. Now more than ever, advertisers want to know exactly how agencies and technology partners spend their dollars. A survey by the ANA found that a whopping 97 percent of advertisers want greater inventory, campaign and data transparency.

Ultimately, more transparency and accountability leads to better outcomes and ROI for advertisers. And as this demand for transparency keeps growing, the DSPs that operate in the clearest, most evident way will win the most market share. If a buyer is faced with using similar technology with comparable scale from multiple partners, they’re likely to go with the one who provides the most transparency to reduce potential risk. So as transparency demands become more stringent, DSPs who implement safeguards, provide whitelist/blacklist capabilities, activate data, know their inventory and are candid about fees, will be in the best position to benefit.

Barrier to entry is rising

Today, in the DSP market, there’s a higher barrier to entry for disruptors. Due to the high competition early on, it’s gotten harder over time to get into this space. There was a time when it was easy to start a website, and perhaps even easier to aggregate sites into an ad network. DSPs required heavier technological investment, but dozens either sprouted up, or pivoted their models to compete.

Now, you must have proprietary assets like data and inventory at scale. But even if someone has this, there remains another barrier: you need a highly skilled team and technology to manage user privacy, fairness of targeting and quality inventory. To disrupt this new era of digital media, one needs to have accrued a large, proprietary asset, and have the financial resources to safely commercialize them. That’s a tough combination to pull off.

There’s no question that big changes are on the horizon for demand-side platforms. Consolidation, transparency and a growing barrier to entry are three factors that will affect DSPs and their place in the advertising industry moving forward.

Spigot Inc Loves Ping Pong

At Spigot Inc Fort Myers office as well as our Bucharest office, the ping pong table is a hot commodity. The Spigot Inc team loves the game. We would need more ping pong tables if we brought in the robot; however, maybe this robot could challenge our team???

AdWeek shares the story of Forpheus, a robot that was taught to play ping pong….

On the final day of the Consumer Electronics Show last week, I was walking through the crowded Las Vegas Convention Center when I saw the usual gaggle of techies blocking an aisle. Cameras drawn, they were watching a robot that looked more like a giant metallic crab. A moment later, a man walked up to it, and I realized there was a ping pong table between man and machine.

They were about to play a match.

The robot, Forpheus, started hitting the tiny ball back and forth with the stranger, tilting its mechanical arm slightly from side to side in what appeared to be more of a casual exchange of volleys than a competitive match. I walked closer, and after a few minutes of watching others play, someone asked if I wanted to give it a go. (Of course I want to give it a go.)

Stepping into the ring in front of an audience of a couple of dozen onlookers, I took my paddle and waited for Forpheus to serve. Using artificial intelligence, facial recognition and eye tracking, my competitor was able to scan both the ball and me, gauging how tough to play based on how well I was doing. As we hit a few, the robotic voice offered words of encouragement while the digital display on the net showed the score.

Deep Blue this was not. I won.

Forpheus, a product of the Japanese company Omron, has been playing ping pong for a few years as a way of helping the company showcase its capabilities in industries such as automotive, health care and smartphones. For example, in factory automation, it can pick up objects, place them and sort them. For cars, it can use eye tracking to understand when a driver is getting drowsy in order to predict when someone might fall asleep. Meanwhile, 500 million devices have Omron’s facial recognition technology, according to Keith Kersten, marketing manager for Omron in the Americas. (He wouldn’t disclose which phones use Omron but said it’s in a number of popular ones.)

So why ping pong?

While robots were all over CES, seeing them in some parts of the convention center at times felt as common as seeing a squirrel in the woods. Merely rolling along the floor or dancing in place are no longer enough to draw much attention, if any. And while Forpheus made its U.S. debut at CES, it’s not its first time at the table, though it did add skills such as serving and talking as well as better AI tracking this year.

“We were looking for something that would first of all be a challenge and that would really use all of this technology to track in real time and three dimensions a ping pong ball and also to analyze a player,” Kersten said.

YouTube is Making Changes for Brands

YouTube Is Finally Addressing Brand Safety Fears. Creators are getting new guidelines. Spigot Inc shares the news from AdWeek.

After nearly a year of complaints from advertisers concerned about their ads appearing alongside questionable content and a slew of its biggest influencers going rogue on the platform, YouTube is revamping its policies for how creators make money off of their videos.

Over the past year, YouTube has tweaked several of its policies, upping the requirement for channels to hit 10,000 views, for example, and adding more staffers to vet videos. Still, brand safety has quickly become a more mainstream problem for brands. As of just last week at CES, execs were quick to point to brand safety concerns as among their biggest gripes with Google and Facebook.

“While we took several steps last year to protect advertisers from inappropriate content, we know we need to do more to ensure that their ads run alongside content that reflects their values,” wrote Paul Muret, vp of display, video and analytics at YouTube, in a blog post.

Here are the three steps YouTube is taking:

1. Buh-bye programmatic premium ads

Google Preferred, YouTube’s program that allows brands to only run ads against the most popular 5 percent of content, is billed as the site’s top-tier program for the its most premium content.

While those ad buys are limited to a small section of video channels, creators’ individual videos are not vetted. That can be a problem for brands: Think Logan Paul’s controversial “Suicide Forest” video that got the star kicked out of Google Preferred or PewDiePie’s anti-Semitic messages that caused brands to back away from his videos.

To avoid such problems, YouTube is now manually screening each individual video for Google Preferred channels, which should cut down on the number of lone videos that make their way through YouTube’s programmatic pipes. According to Google, Google Preferred channels and videos in the U.S. will be vetted by mid-February and will be finished globally by the end of March.

2. Moving beyond views

Until now, creators were given permission to be part of YouTube’s Partner Program—in other words, how people make money off of clips—based on how many views a channel had.

Although YouTube did increase the requirement to 10,000 total views in April, “it’s been clear over the last few months that we need the right requirements and better signals to identify the channels that have earned the right to run ads,” Muret wrote.

Now YouTube channels will need to amass 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of watch time in a one-year period to run ads. Both new and existing channels will have to meet the new requirements, which go into effect on Feb. 20.

In addition to views, YouTube staff will also monitor spam, community strikes and flags of abuse as qualifiers for whether or not a channel can make money off of clips.

According to Google, 99 percent of the channels that will be affected by the new guidelines make less than $100 from advertising every year, meaning the vast majority of channels affected do not make much money off of YouTube.

3. Tiered media buys

YouTube is rolling out a three-tiered system for brand safety that allows brands more transparency into where their ads appear.

One option caters to brands that are sensitive about where their ads appear. On the other end, a broad-based option lets brands buy ads across a bigger section of videos. The middle option—which is the default option—plays between, with targeted ads that still reach a significant number of channels.

Whether or not the changes will cause brands to pour more money and trust into Google has yet to be seen, but agencies see the moves as important steps from one of the world’s biggest advertising platforms.

“Google’s improvement plans hit on crucial areas: removing inappropriate content and preventing users from misusing the platform; improving their monetization approach to where ads may run; and giving their advertising clients enhanced tools and controls,” said John Montgomery, global evp of brand safety at GroupM, in a statement. “We’re pleased to see the multifaceted approach and the serious investments they are making, and we remain vigilant in holding Google and other partners accountable for the quality of their environments on behalf of our clients.”

Are you looking to make a change in your career? Send us your resume and cover letter to careers@spigot.com for review! Check out all of our adventures on the Spigot Inc blog. Are you a fit?

Be sure to follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram… like us on Facebook and never miss out on our Spigot Inc lifestyle.

Spigot Inc in Fort Myers is Hiring a Web Designer/Developer

Spigot, Inc is looking for an experienced front-end Web Developer/Designer with great web production skills to support our internal marketing team. The ideal candidate will possess the ability to create web content that drives user acquisition. Experience in direct response will be a huge plus. Our internal distribution team is a team of media buyers that distribute our proprietary software. This position requires a multi-talented, creative player with HTML/CSS, Adobe Software abilities, design skills, technical savvy, great attention to detail, and proven expertise in web development. Back-end development experience is highly desired.

A developed skill set of the following tools is required:

  • Photoshop
  • WordPress
  • CSS/HTML/PHP
  • After Effects or video editing software a plus
  • Google Analytics or another web analytics platform like Omniture.

Position responsibilities include, but are not limited to:

  • Conceptualizing and executing deliverables for marketing channels such as: landing pages, microsites, content blogs, banner ads, social media ads, video ads and branding assets.
  • Designing website mock ups and working with the media buyers to create high converting assets.
  • Strategizing and designing landing pages and ad campaigns
  • Meeting and contributing ideas for new initiatives.
  • Ensuring appropriate QA and proofing processes are implemented on all work
  • Performing research on new trends, competitors etc.
  • Provide business insight through a deep understanding of web metrics
  • Setting up multivariant testing strategies and identifying winning creative.
  • Must have excellent communication skills; be detail-oriented and organized.
  • Remain current with changes in relevant APIs and identify possible external assets for landing page content.

Qualification Requirements

  • Bachelor’s Degree in Graphic Design, Visual Arts, Communications, Advertising, Marketing, or related field from a 4-year college, university or design school
  • 2-3 years’ professional experience working on marketing or design team, preferable in a direct response, direct to consumer, or PPC environment.
  • Expert-level HTML/CSS
  • High level of comfort with implementing and working with either Google Analytics or Ominiture.
  • Working knowledge of Adobe Creative Suite.
  • Solid knowledge Javascript/JQuery,
  • After Effects or video editing software a plus
  • Understanding of user acquisition KPI’s & A/B testing strategies
  • Familiarity with SQL or Redshift a plus
  • Backend Coding a plus
  • Fit with the startup mentality and culture of Spigot Inc.

Spigot, Inc is one of the world’s leading digital performance-based marketing companies, dedicated to providing superior results for our advertisers and media partners. Spigot, Inc accomplishes this by combining best-in-class expertise in media optimization and targeting with our in-house analytics and big-data technology.Spigot, Inc has a strong analytical focus that requires quick reaction in this fast-paced environment. Our success is fueled by employee innovation, data driven decisions and a startup mentality. Our teams are comprised of Software Engineers, Web Developers, Media Buyers, Account Managers and Business Intelligence Analysts. This position is available in our Fort Myers office. Employees enjoy free lunches, free benefits, unlimited time off, no dress code and company team building trips.

If you are still reading, send us your resume and cover letter to careers@spigot.com. Check out all of our adventures on the Spigot Inc blog and learn more about the Spigot Inc lifestyle. Be sure to follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram… and like us on Facebook to stay connected.

Spigot Inc President Speaks to Aspiring Entrepreneurs at FGCU

Ryan Stephens, President of Spigot Inc is becoming a regular at Florida Gulf Coast University. Recently he spoke to one of the newest classes added to the curriculum in the Lutgert College of Business at FGCU, a minor in Entrepreneurship. The class, led by Professor Annie Stout were engaged and inquisitive. She sent warm regards to Spigot Inc. ” Thank you so much! My class was so excited after Ryan finished speaking about entrepreneurship! It is amazing when students are exposed to a local tech company and Ryan helped to start the conversation in hiring the right people for a start up and long term business success.” Thanks to all of the FGCU staff and the FGCU Career and Development Services for these opportunities to connect with young, like minded students who are eager to become the next big thing!