Oneupweb : Netflix’s PAC Problem

Birds do it. Bees do it. Even people over seas do it. Let’s do it. Let’s start a PAC!

That exact line of reasoning (no doubt) was behind the recent move that Netflix made, establishing a PAC entitled FLIXPAC.

Now, for those of you not hip on the current politico jargin, a PAC is a Political Action Committee. So, it’s an acronym. Look at all we’re learning today!

Anyway, a PAC is a group of likeminded folks who will lobby for, finance and otherwise support a certain law, regulation, candidate or other policy influencing entity. We’ve all heard the term Super-PAC, yes? At times, the only thing keeping a candidate or initiative alive isn’t popular support, it’s some rich old guy funneling loads of cash into a campaign through a PAC of one sort or another……*cough*Newt Gingrich.

Now, that tarnished reputation enjoyed by PACs and Super-PACs has begun to influence Netflix’s reputation. When this PAC was revealed, many minds instantly jumped to the conclusion that Netflix was about to throw massive support behind SOPA and PIPA or any other likeminded pieces of legislation, especially given CEO Reed Hasting’s “flip-flop” (read “changed his mind”) on the SOPA legislation. Funny thing about that, though. He was an early supporter, his mind change was one to that of non-support. Because of this assumption, the loosely affiliated hacker group Anonymous launched a boycott of Netflix. I swear to God, if my streaming gets hit by a denial of service attack and my Wednesday movie night is ruined, dooooom on yoooooooou.

Turns out that Netflix is not launching the PAC to support SOPA or PIPA or any other similar bill. So, this has become rather a non-issue.

What is not a non-issue is why Netflix has chosen to create a PAC in the first place. Is Reed running for president?

It’s not uncommon for companies to form PACs,” says Oneupweb’s legal guru Christopher Carol. “I won’t pretend to know all the ins and outs of political action committees, but at the core of any PAC is a form of political speech spoken in the language everyone understands: money. Netflix’s FLIXPAC is another way for the company to protect its business interests through political action and monetary contributions. As to the why, there’s probably several reasons. Rumblings about supporting SOPA or PIPA are over-blown, although it would be in Netflix’s interest to curb pirated media and support legislation that seeks to tackle that issue. As an aside, I think the hubbub over SOPA and PIPA is a little hyped; the laws are not drafted well, which is problematic, but I have a hard time believing those laws would lead to a pseudo-prohibition-era censorship of the internet.”

More likely than not, FLIXPAC will direct its attention at more pressing issues that can directly influence Netflix’s bottom line,” continues Chris. “For example, in 2011, Netflix and Facebook were set to launch a feature which would allow Facebook users to share information about their Netflix queues, rather like Spotify, but for movies, which actually exists for Facebook users outside of the U.S. and presents not only the opportunity to flex one’s theatrical and cinematic tastes, but also acts as a way to coax non-Netflix friends into joining the conversation. But, the Video Privacy Protection Act (originally passed in 1988) prevents disclosure of personally identifiable video rental information absent express consent from the renter to do so. Netflix got cold feet about the legalities of it all and it never came to fruition. Netflix actually backed legislation in 2011 to overturn the bill. FLIXPAC could also turn its attention to issues such as broadband caps, especially with the rise of mobile web surfing. Broadband caps potentially harm the Netflix business model in that a Netflix user with a mobile phone contract can easily blow through their broadband cap. Try watching ‘Seven Samurai’ a few times on your new smart phone; before you know it, your cell phone provider will slow down your connection speed and you’ll be put into a position where streaming another movie is like waiting for a page to load via dialup.”

Netflix’s new muscle could certainly help power through new regulations that seek to stem the tide of pirating online content. There is no doubt that any piece of legislation put forth that may influence the bottom line over at Netflix will garner a huge response from the entertainment giant. The same goes for any candidate that may run for office. If Netflix thinks that a certain person would be better than another in office, they may just throw their weight behind that pol.

This move seems to be a forward thinking venture designed to preempt any  adverse legislation and keep Netflix’s interest top-of-mind in the brains of those who represent this nation on a daily basis (when called for, of course).

As for the piracy issue, Anonymous, you can relax. I can tell you that after having lived for 2 years in Guatemala and having had no other choice but to buy my movies from the local market, piracy (complete with an FBI warning before the movie starts!) is alive and well.

 

Oneupweb : Facebook Forks Over $1 Billion For Instagram

Instagram fun from Oneupweb's Raquel Smith! Copyrighted, haters, fyi.

Poor old Facebook. So slow in the mobile innovation department. Relying on stock mobile cameras to fuel their massive photo sharing engine. You’d think that they’d try to market some sort of internal option for their rabid, picture snapping users to take advantage of, right? Am I right? What? They just bought Instagram. Well, there goes my blog topic for the day. I suppose that I’ll have to adapt.

Ahem. That’s right folks! Facebook just made their biggest acquisition to date! Instagram. The beloved photo sharing/tampering app long loved by iPhone users, and more recently loved by Android peoples, has officially become a Facebook entity. Time to change those business cards!

Once the sale was finalized, blue Facebook branded forklifts could be seen moving pallets full of money into the Instagram San Francisco headquarters.

This acquisition is no small potatoes, people. Mobile photogs love their Instagram. When it was released for Android users recently, the app had signed up more than one million new users in less than 12 hours. That, combined with their more than 30 million iPhone users, makes for quite a few interested parties in this little dust-up!

Folks are already speculating as to what this purchase means. What will Facebook do to Instagram? According to Instagram’s CEO Kevin Systrom, nothing.

“It’s important to be clear that Instagram is not going away. We’ll be working with Facebook to evolve Instagram and build the network. The Instagram app will still be the same one you know and love.”

I’m certain that it will be, but, as always, only time will tell. Something tells me that with a billion dead presidents in the bank, Instagram’s core group of employees will be somewhat less involved in the everyday decision making going on inside the formerly 13 employee strong company.

For his part, Zuckerberg tepidly backed up Systrom’s statement. He also stated that Facebook ain’t no Google; meaning, of course, that Facebook does not plan to make a habit of making such large purchases in the future.

One very telling part of Facebook’s press release announcing this venture gave what many believe to be a small vision into the future of the relationship between Instagram and the biggest social network around. From Mark Zuckerberg’s wall post:

“For years, we’ve focused on building the best experience for sharing photos with your friends and family. Now, we’ll be able to work even more closely with the Instagram team to also offer the best experiences for sharing beautiful mobile photos with people based on your interests.”

I’d call that some pretty solid evidence that Facebook intends to bring some very capable photo sharing capabilities in-house.

Some further reassurance from the Boss (at Facebook) for Instagram users goes like this:

“We believe these are different experiences that complement each other. But in order to do this well, we need to be mindful about keeping and building on Instagram’s strengths and features rather than just trying to integrate everything into Facebook. That’s why we’re committed to building and growing Instagram independently. Millions of people around the world love the Instagram app and the brand associated with it, and our goal is to help spread this app and brand to even more people. We think the fact that Instagram is connected to other services beyond Facebook is an important part of the experience. We plan on keeping features like the ability to post to other social networks, the ability to not share your Instagrams on Facebook if you want, and the ability to have followers and follow people separately from your friends on Facebook.”

This is the sort of reassurance that many Instagram lovers hope will come to fruition.

So, as always, I’ve attempted to boil this down to its basest elements, distill it, if you will. For that, I turned to Oneupweb’s former Social Media guru and current Account Manager, Daniel Truel.

“This is a big deal,” begins Daniel. “The purchase price may be smaller ($1 billion vs. $1.65 billion), but I would argue Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram is more significant than Google’s purchase of YouTube back in 2006. Both sites are hugely popular, but Instagram is immediately more relevant for Facebook in 2012 than YouTube was for Google in 2006. The fact of the matter is, Facebook is fueled by photos. Photos drive more engagement than any other type of media on the site, and the new Timeline Profile and Page design is more photo-intensive than ever. So, in that sense, Facebook acquiring Instagram is sort of like the United States purchasing a lifetime supply of oil. Facebook thrives on photos, and with the most popular photo-sharing app in its arsenal and a highly anticipated IPO on the horizon, there’s not much to stop it — at least for the time being.”

Putting this purchase into a more truly awesome personal perspective is Oneupweb’s Social Media Client Success Specialist, Sarah Peschel.

Dan’s likening Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram to the US buying a lifetime supply of oil is dead on,” says Sarah. “This is a smart move and it makes total sense. Though Zuckerberg swears that there will be few changes to Instagram as it exists currently, I for one, hope that this acquisition comes to mean that I can apply those super cool Instagram filters to any of the photos I upload to Facebook.  If this is the case, Facebook users everywhere are about to feel  more like they are entering  a virtual photography exhibition and less like they are flipping through old family photo albums. I can’t wait to apply Poprocket or Apollo to my 8th grade school photo.  I think either will really compliment my huge buck teeth and the laser background I chose that year.  Get excited, I am!”

That’s right. Big oil is unstoppable. I mean Facebook. Yes, Facebook.

The future is looking swell and well integrated at the social media giant. And, within the halls of Instagram, life is, undoubtedly, good.

 

Oneupweb : Apple Virus Explosion?

I know, I know. I said that today’s topic was going to be retargeting. Well, thanks to Jesus, Lisa Wehr and the schedule gods here at Oneupweb, we’re out at noon today and most of those 4-ish hours have been taken up by meetings. Soooo, retargeting will have to wait until next week! Today, we discuss the end of the comfort zone that surrounds Apple and its products.

There’s a beasty out there called Mac Flashback Trojan. It’s been around for a while, but it’s never really caused any major concern. Well, it’s back with a rabid vengeance that would usually be reserved for, say, Menelaus, for example.

Instead of jumping out of some wooden horse and hacking you to death as you slumber all innocent and unsuspecting like, this little virus/malware directs you to a bogus site. If you are a Mac user who dutifully updates your system, specifically keeping up to date with your JavaScript, you’re now screwed. No accidentally giving away your password, no incredibly obvious traps, no ingenious social engineering, just visiting a site. Now you have Flashback Trojan.

How did you get it? All quiet like! Once you’re on this site,  a specific JavaScript code that contains the virus is used to upload an applet. This is how the malware is introduced to your Apple device.

Originally, this virus was conceived as a money making scheme by the Russians! Oh Vladimir, you cad!

Actually, the creators were a small group of Russian “entrepreneurs” who used the infection to sell a rogue antivirus software that would remove the malware from the Apple product. They were none to careful about their operation, though, and a few wound up in the stoney lonesome. But, alas, their creation lives on!

“This was not the first exploit of a vulnerability in Apple’s OS X operating system,” says Oneupweb’s Director of Systems and Technology Bill Slater. “The OS X operating system was added to SANS Institute’s list of top-20 internet vulnerabilities in 2005.   Many industry professionals attribute the increase in vulnerabilities to Apple’s transition to the Intel microprocessors.  These Intel microprocessors provided a greater number of people, already familiar with exploiting vulnerabilities in the Windows-based devices,  another platform for their malicious activities.

“There has never been much publicity surrounding past OS X vulnerabilities because,” Bill continued. “Let’s face it, until the introduction of the ‘i’ devices, there was only a very small portion of the ‘community’ that used Apple products.  Many of those that did use Apple products mostly did so within a work or specialized environment limiting their exposure to exploits. The Apple OS X operating system does include a number of security features but, many are disabled by default or require additional configuration to be functional.  I.e. On a fresh installation of Mac OS X Snow Leopard on a MacBook, the firewall is disabled.  Really?”

Bill’s confusion at such a decision is shared by many throughout the industry. With the explosion of popularity surrounding Apple’s product line and the never ending press that they garner, some are shocked and amazed that it has taken this long to see malicious activity within the world of Apple.

Apple’s shortcomings within the field of device protections are almost legendary, especially when it comes to fixes for their software.

“Every one of the vulnerabilities in the April update had existed in OS X for a minimum of 18 months before being patched,” writes Ed Bott of ZDNet. “Every entry on that list was capable of executing hostile code on an unpatched system with little or no user interaction.”

For a company founded by a couple of hackers, this lackadaisical attitude toward the Black Hat world is rather surprising, to say the least.

Bill expands upon their lack of response to the current virus and the press surrounding it here: “The main reason, in my opinion, ‘BackDoor.Flashback.39′ or ‘Mac Flashback Trojan’ has gained so much publicity of late is mainly because of the time it took Apple to respond.  The exploit first spread to malware back in February.  Then in March, the developers changed the exploit to a different vulnerability.  Apple did not respond with a patch until April 3.”

As far as a solution for this conundrum for you Apple folks, many, including Bill, suggest a “look out for number one” strategy.

There are many security product vendors out there which provide both free and pay for products to further improve the level of security. Apple users may want to hunt them down.”

Finally, the blissful existence of certain Apple users has urked tech geniuses for some time now. No device is immune to anything.

If you thought that you were immune to viruses or other malicious exploits because you use an Apple product, you deserve what you have coming to you,” says Bill, rather exasperatedly. “Everyone, everywhere, with devices that connect to the public internet need to be, and always should have been, concerned with security.”

That goes doubly so for brands!

So, there you have it! Apple is not immune to anything, have a care for your brand’s overall security if you employ the use of the Apple brand, or any brand!

See you all next week! Have a lovely holiday weekend, where we all celebrate Jesus by idolizing a freak rabbit that shoots out colorful candy eggs……

 

Oneupweb : 10 Gadgets We Can’t Wait to Get Our Hands On!

Greetings from the third healthiest county in the nation, folks!

I’ll admit it. Today’s blog is heavily influenced by the release of Google’s glasses video. Yeah, yeah, there’s certainly some hating going on. The mocking of the Google specs has commenced. But, let’s face it, Google is no stranger to mocking and ridicule. I’m sure that they can handle it.

To be honest, I was a bit skeptical about this whole Google-eyes thing. But, after seeing that video, I must say, I am severely intrigued!

And, as everyone loves a bit of intrigue in their life, I’ve done a little sweep of the office and have come up with this list of ten gadgets that set our collective hearts a twitter (yes, it was a word before Twitter).

Here, in no particular order, are some awesome stuffs that we can’t wait to take for a test drive!

To photograph the Northern Lights, for example.

She’s chatted up Cindy Crawford. She’s been the picture taking version of Carrie Bradshaw in NYC. She’s been everywhere and seen everything, and photographed it. Now she’s reaching for the stars. Goodness, that sounds like a Ms. Teen USA intro…..who knows, she may have “been to Haiti and seen the depravity” (actual beauty contest quote…..from the winner). Anyway, she’s Raquel and she wants the Cannon EOS 60Da DSLR. It’s for Astronomy enthusiasts looking to capture the true colors of the cosmos. Now that’s a camera!

Bend That Thang!

Robert Hall, Oneupweb’s resident developer genius, lusts hardily after this flexible, bendable, lovable tablet from LG. He also enjoys the looks of this Evangeline Android phone. I can see why. Evangeline. Whew, that’s a lovely name!

Gadgets That Get Us Out There!

Kelly Yauk, one of our awesome PPC Client Specialists and an avid outdoorsmanwoman is a lass after mine own heart! Her wants are simple. She wants a water bottle that’s good for her body and for the environment…..and looks pretty sweet to boot. She wants plants and a BBQ, but doesn’t like using a lot of space. And she wants a ride on Lenny’s Beer Bike. Kelly, I applaud you. I would love to toast you, but, unfortunately, Lenny is in Munich. This makes Brooks a sad panda. Oh well. We have Right Brain!

Gamers Rejoice!

By the power of two PCs combined, you are XBOX 720! Yup. Here there be gamers. And yup, they be excited about the prospects that have been laid out by the newest Microsoft gaming platform, set for release in 2013.

An Apple Product

No gadget list is complete nowadays without an Apple product! Jillian Wilhelm, one of our SEO Goddesses, is holding out on renewing her contract in anticipation of this newest Apple addition, the iPhone 5.

Speaking Of Google Glasses

The booming voice of Oneupweb, Tim Kauffold, is rather curious about these little beauties. There are a few different versions of glasses that bring you movies in a “senses dominated” sort of way. Who knows, this could actually be the experience that they describe: “…watching a 27 inch TV in a living room.” Or, it could be the sort of  face melting tripe that one would expect when a screen is positioned less than an inch from your eyes. Only one way to find out!

Waiting For 2.0

Nicole Emenhiser, one of Oneupweb’s mind blowing Interactive Graphic Designers, has a soft spot for Inkling, a technology that transforms a hand drawn picture into an actionable computer based work of art. The first version has its quirks, she says, but she holds out hope that life will be good inside 2.0. A solid idea, once the kinks are worked out.

CS6

Another of our bevy of Interactive Graphic Design beauties is David Kehrer. He’s a guy who loves him some practical awesome. That’s why he lists Adobe CS6 at the top of his list of desires. Making beauty more attainable, it’s an Adobe attribute!

Playa Hatin’

Making the rounds as a rather comical gadget is the Playa Case for your iPhone. Hmm. Interesting concept. Perhaps I will start an office pool and we’ll all buy one for Jillian as an iPhone 5 welcome gift?

……good thing Jillian’s all the way across the building. I’ll hear her rage approaching before she can attack me….

Anywho. We’ve reached number ten!

Brooks’ Gadget

For me, there’s only one “gadget” that is a must. This one.

Come back tomorrow when I take up an entire half day on the topic of…….retargeting! Sales peeps rejoice!

 

Oneupweb : Does the Machine Dream?

“Will I dream when I am turned off?”

Good God. The level of creepy skyrocketed this morning in our little office as Raquel and I watched this robot pose that exact question to its creators as it said goodbye, preparing to be shipped off to some university where it would do many amazing things, no doubt, culminating in (insert apocalyptic scenario here).

Needless to say, this little clip made me pause and think about the wider implications of Artificial Intelligence within our digital marketing world, or “AI” as the cool kids call it.

Dreaming. The robot asked if it would dream. This is where I truly became intrigued by this video. To dream, one must first possess creativity. Creativity has been at the root of all of my most awesome ideas, including sending Paris to Las Vegas to ambush unsuspecting business owners and marketing pros on behalf of Oneupweb. That was a doozy!

Creativity  drives this industry. Without creativity, brands will die. Strangely enough, that’s how many feel about the human race if we allow robots to gain the sort of consciousness and self awareness that is required to possess true creativity. But, that’s an entirely different blog, probably for a Friday.

The fact of the matter is that AI, in various forms, is already permeating our digital marketing world. This very blog platform is, itself, a form of AI, albeit not a very wise one. Every time I write “blog” it underlines the word in red and tells me that it is mispelled and does not exist. You are a blog, Wordpress. This is why you exist, for folks to blog. I suppose there is a case to be made for the fact that the mere denial of its true purpose in life is a step closer to human intelligence…..getting too deep here, let’s move on.

How will advancements in AI help marketers? That’s the root question in this cesspool of a blog post.

“Artificial intelligence is no replacement for natural stupidity,” says Oneupweb’s director of technology and systems Bill Slater. “So much of a person’s heart and soul goes into their creation, no matter what that creation may be, that the creation then becomes an extension of themselves, complete with their beliefs, hopes, thoughts and idiosyncrasies. In a way, that so called natural stupidity built into the machine is a positive thing. It will, in the end, help a brand or consumer reach a desirable goal, one that a human mind would have reached.”

That’s right. Bill’s a freaking genius.

But, aside from the big picture, what advancements in AI are we witnessing right now that brands need to be paying attention to?

“The frontier for AI advancement within the business world right now is in analytics,” explains Bill. “It seems like every day there is a newer, better something that allows you to keep track of your brand’s ROI or how much money/product is being moved around internally, etc. We are seeing some very impressive things within the analytical fields across the board, no matter what industry you are in. In my opinion, this is where AI will be most helpful, both in the near future and a bit further out.”

Bill should know. His team of intrepid Oneupweb wizards have recently launched (together with our developers) ROSI Trax. This Return On Social Investment technology allows you to track your brand’s social media properties. This tracker, created exclusively for Oneupweb clients, allows marketing peeps to present the value of a Like or a Share to their C-Suite when budget decisions come around. This little bit of in-house AI, affectionately called Rosi, is a perfect example of how analytical artificial intelligence is driving the digital marketing industry forward.

Bill also points to Oneupweb’s ROI Trax, a wider tracker for Oneupweb clients that allows a brand to track the results of the partnership between Oneupweb and their brand across the board.

Both of these technologies have brought relevance to Oneupweb’s work within the digital world (and more than a few trophies, but I digress). We can turn on a monitor, log in with our clients at our side and take them on a step by step journey through their 500% ROI increase across the board. This allows our clients to justify that almighty contract renewal, full of joy and expectations!

Could we, as a company, maintain and build upon our client base without Rosi and Roi (pronounced “Roy”)? Who knows? Our work would still be amazing and results driven, but our ability to demonstrate our necessity to our clients would be greatly diminished.

Thus is the importance of AI in the digital marketing world today. Each company has a story akin to our’s. Each brand has some form of AI, no matter how primitive or advanced it may be, that allows them to conduct their business with an ease and accuracy that would not be possible were it not for that technology.

Apple’s Siri. Vlingo. Rosi and Roi. Pandora. Netflix. These familiar names and brands won’t be conquering humankind any time soon, but their AI based services, and many others like them in industries around the world, have firmly established themselves as indispensable to our daily existence as an entertained human and as marketing pros, and beyond.

Does the machine dream when you shut it down? Perhaps…..if its creator does.

 
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