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Technology often seems to improve merely for its own sake. We’ve all too often witnessed “feature creep” in our favorite software apps, services, and devices, with new developments not just adding new enhancements, but cost and complexity as well.
Isn’t it high time that the innovators in technology focus on our needs in earnest? Fortunately, 2008 is likely to bring us improvements in how technology can impact our lives for the best. I’ve identified nine here (well, almost nine — we’d like your thoughts, too.)
Some are sweeping, some are trivial, but all of these stand to improve how we live in the coming year and beyond.
Will the Internet get faster for users in 2008? Doubtful. In fact, there have been a number of doom and gloom predictions of an exaflood in the next few years that threatens to stagger the Internet under the weight of all the digital media clogging its pipes.
But there will be plenty of specific areas where we’ll see speed improvements.
For mobile users, Wi-Fi is getting more prevalent and reliable and a faster specification, 802.11n, is starting to catch on. WiMAX, (define) which has a broader range than Wi-Fi and is much faster than current cellular service, is poised for growth in 2008.
Last month was not so great for yours truly, as I had my first overnight hospital stay with a mysterious, still-to-be-diagnosed stomach ailment. Fortunately, I had great care at a fine facility, Stanford Hospital, but it was boring as heck.
Still, it gave me an opportunity to consider the state of hospital technology.
Tech giants including Intel have been trumpeting efforts to update patient care with the latest technology. It all sounded good to me, but now that I’ve experienced first hand being a patient in a hospital, the message really resonates.
Intel helped develop a tablet system for the nursing and medical staff that makes it easier to update medical records. Hallelujah. This would be a dramatic improvement over current technology: At Stanford Hospital, the nurse told me the computer she used was the latest addition — a flat-panel desktop system that has to be wheeled around on a big, clunky cart.
Google also has an effort underway to digitize X-Rays and bring portability to medical records that could be carried on simple USB thumb drives.
Another option would be to offer personal access online from a secure account, regardless of changes in an individual’s medical provider.
I’m hoping this effort picks up some serious steam in 2008; a breakthrough like this is long overdue.
On a related note, I’m not sure what the policy is at other hospitals, but where I was, they didn’t grant patients access to the hospital’s Wi-Fi network — so no Web surfing in bed. There was a single PC with Web access in a community room for the whole floor I was on.
The upside was that I was able to catch up on my reading. But c’mon folks, let’s make 2008 the year the Web is more accessible to patients.
I don’t see technology coming to the rescue here in 2008, it’s more of a hope. In fact, technology is actually more of the problem than the solution. We spend far too much time waiting for our PCs to start up and shut down, and in dealing with spam, bugs, and security issues. We could be putting these ever-sleeker systems and online services to better use.
The spam control issue is being attacked on a number of fronts, and I think/hope even better solutions are fast upon us. Solid-state drives, which will start to come down in price in 2008, speed up the interminable Windows boot time.
But security’s another matter. Solving today’s security issues won’t address what the deviants out there are sure to unleash during the coming year, so brace for the worst.
observed: “You can’t create time. You can only steal it, reallocate it, use it, or waste it.”
That inherent value of time for oneself seems be resonating in, of all places, Silicon Valley. Here, a book called The 4-Hour Workweek has become a surprise hit, replacing the bestseller I assumed everyone had been reading, Work Like a Dog For Stock Options That Won’t Ever Pan Out.
There’s a “Seinfeld” episode in which George Constanza brags that he knows all the best places to find a bathroom in New York. For those with not quite as much time on their hands as George, a company called Yojo Mobile announced MizPee in December.
The free service lets mobile users locate the nearest clean bathroom facilities in 16 major U.S. cities, based on — I’m not making this up — “peer reviews and ratings.” Expect to see the network expand in 2008 because, hey, let’s face it, the need is there.
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Today we have all heard, at least once in our lives, about artificial intelligence. And although it seems like a term taken from a science fiction movie, the reality is that Artificial Intelligence is already part of our daily lives, you just are not aware of it. Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become an extremely powerful digital tool, which has been adopted by many organizations in almost all sectors, markets, and industries because this type of technology allows them to optimize work and profitability. You can see how AI is applied for a wide variety of purposes today, from medicine to theWhat is Artificial Intelligence?
Roughly we could say that AI is the technology whose main objective is to try to imitate human reasoning and thought. These are systems created to store information, solve calculations and manage to process data to anticipate certain tasks. Artificial Intelligence allows machines to reason, plan, create and learn like human beings (or as close as possible). Through an algorithm, the AI can perceive the environment and relate to it. The machine receives information (provided by man), then it processes it and can respond to it. In this way, the AI manages to adapt its behavior, analyzing the effects of previous situations, and therefore manages itself autonomously. One of its greatest virtues is its speed of response, which makes it an extremely profitable tool for most businesses since it can learn from habits due to its intuitive nature, and it also allows for speeding up mechanical processes.What is the AI for? In which fields can it be applied?
As we have mentioned before, today this type of technology is more used than you think. Surely you will be surprised to find out the scope it has today. Although this type of technology is applied to a wide variety of fields, we could classify it into two large subgroups or areas: information processing and robotics. When it comes to information processing (which actually involves the storage, processing, and analysis of information), there are many machines that have been developed to accomplish almost any task in the most cost-effective and efficient manner. Thus, most platforms are capable of performing the following functions: Manage and control information; Analyze, plan and query data; Diagnose, configure and distribute components and hardware in computer systems; Interpret data; Make conclusions; Anticipate tasks and situations; Monitor tasks. In relation to robotics, it refers to a more dynamic facet, since we are talking about robots that are used to perform various tasks. Nowadays, this type of technology is more than anything used for assembly lines or in tasks related to the manufacture of objects; mostly covering monotonous and repetitive tasks.Some examples of AI applied to everyday life
AI applied in customer service Today, most of the live chats that offer customer service in different areas work through AI. Chatbots are those that assist people by answering basic help or technical support questions. For example, most legal online casinos and US operators are managed by a chatbot that offers fast and practical solutions 24 hours a day. This type of technology can help customers by handling simple requests such as opening an account, closing an account, and the like. AI applied to voice assistants/home automation We are not only referring to cell phones and other electronic devices, but also to smart homes that use Google Home or Amazon Echo technology. Through these assistants, which use NLP (natural language processing) technology, which allows them to interpret voice commands and respond to them, families have the possibility of carrying out most household tasks through a simple command by voice. AI applied to maps and navigation directions AI is fundamental to the existence of the navigation systems we use today, such as Google Maps.
Today we have all heard, at least once in our lives, about artificial intelligence. And although it seems like a term taken from a science fiction movie, the reality is that Artificial Intelligence is already part of our daily lives, you just are not aware of it. Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become an extremely powerful digital tool, which has been adopted by many organizations in almost all sectors, markets, and industries because this type of technology allows them to optimize work and profitability. You can see how AI is applied for a wide variety of purposes today, from medicine to the legal online casinos US industry. It is really surprising how this technology operates around us in most areas. Let’s see a little more in-depth what Artificial Intelligence is all about.Roughly we could say that AI is the technology whose main objective is to try to imitate human reasoning and thought. These are systems created to store information, solve calculations and manage to process data to anticipate certain tasks. Artificial Intelligence allows machines to reason, plan, create and learn like human beings (or as close as possible). Through an algorithm, the AI can perceive the environment and relate to it. The machine receives information (provided by man), then it processes it and can respond to it. In this way, the AI manages to adapt its behavior, analyzing the effects of previous situations, and therefore manages itself autonomously. One of its greatest virtues is its speed of response, which makes it an extremely profitable tool for most businesses since it can learn from habits due to its intuitive nature, and it also allows for speeding up mechanical chúng tôi we have mentioned before, today this type of technology is more used than you think. Surely you will be surprised to find out the scope it has today. Although this type of technology is applied to a wide variety of fields, we could classify it into two large subgroups or areas: information processing and robotics. When it comes to information processing (which actually involves the storage, processing, and analysis of information), there are many machines that have been developed to accomplish almost any task in the most cost-effective and efficient manner. Thus, most platforms are capable of performing the following functions: Manage and control information; Analyze, plan and query data; Diagnose, configure and distribute components and hardware in computer systems; Interpret data; Make conclusions; Anticipate tasks and situations; Monitor tasks. In relation to robotics, it refers to a more dynamic facet, since we are talking about robots that are used to perform various tasks. Nowadays, this type of technology is more than anything used for assembly lines or in tasks related to the manufacture of objects; mostly covering monotonous and repetitive tasks.Today, most of the live chats that offer customer service in different areas work through AI. Chatbots are those that assist people by answering basic help or technical support questions. For example, most legal online casinos and US operators are managed by a chatbot that offers fast and practical solutions 24 hours a day. This type of technology can help customers by handling simple requests such as opening an account, closing an account, and the chúng tôi are not only referring to cell phones and other electronic devices, but also to smart homes that use Google Home or Amazon Echo technology. Through these assistants, which use NLP (natural language processing) technology, which allows them to interpret voice commands and respond to them, families have the possibility of carrying out most household tasks through a simple command by chúng tôi is fundamental to the existence of the navigation systems we use today, such as Google Maps. Artificial Intelligence applied to these programs is what makes it possible to provide information on the state of traffic in real-time and up to date. It also allows recommending to the user the best route to access the desired site, considering all the necessary factors.
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The best way to enjoy a national park, in my opinion, involves little more than a tent, hiking boots and a hydration pack — the only gadgetry I bring is a digital camera. This Luddite sensibility is not shared by many of my fellow park-goers, of course. As The New York Times reported this weekend, modern technology has gotten some national park visitors in trouble, meaning added work and added risk for rescue crews and park rangers.
With Labor Day approaching, it’s worth keeping in mind that technology, while great, cannot always save us. In national parks, it might actually make things worse.
Rather than come prepared, inexperienced hikers plan to rely on their gadgets — GPS devices, cellphones, what have you — to save them. They know they can use a cell phone to call for help, so they may take greater risks. And when they do seek rescue, they often take it to extremes: In one example, a lost hiker in Grand Teton National Park called for help, and asked her saviors to bring hot chocolate.
The Times recounts the incredible story of a man hiking in the Grand Canyon’s backcountry with two teenage sons. He pressed an emergency button on his personal GPS device, summoning a helicopter, but declined to board when it arrived because water was all he wanted — the canyon water “tasted salty,” he said.
Of course, technology can be a literal lifesaver. Three separate incidents in one park on one day this month highlight this fact. Aug. 11 was a busy day at Rocky Mountain, according to 9News in Denver:
At 9 a.m., someone used a cell phone to call for help from just below the summit of 14,255-foot Longs Peak, where a woman had injured her knee. Other climbers helped her down to the Boulder Field (around 12,760 feet), where a helicopter picked her up. Then, at noon, rangers were notified by satellite phone that a woman had fallen while hiking in the backcountry on the park’s west side. She was brought out by a horse. And finally, at 2:15, someone used a cell phone once again to call for help from a beginner-level lake trail, where a woman had fallen and broken an ankle.
Technology might have saved these hikers’ lives, or at the very least serious injury if they had been forced to hike out or spend the night in the mountains. Without cell phones, it’s likely that they would not have found help for several hours — a major problem if they were unprepared.
But that’s just it. People are increasingly relying on technology, rather than training and preparation, to cover their backs when they push themselves too far. An inexperienced hiker might be excited about his new handheld GPS, so he takes it into the backcountry, but forgets the essentials: Water, a compass and a map. (And, of course, warm clothing, food, etc.) Then what happens when his batteries run out?
Not to sound all Boy Scout-y, but it’s best to be prepared for any scenario, and to avoid depending on technology. It’s great that Americans are enjoying our national parks — July was a record month for visitors at Yellowstone, according to the Times — but here’s hoping our gadget-loving lifestyle doesn’t ruin the experience.
[ The New York Times]
Beneath all of the specifics, though, mobile technology will be driving many of the trends on display at CES 2012 in Las Vegas next week. Phones, tablets, and mobile software are soaking up most of the energy and attention in technology today. We’ll see lots of new mobile products and technologies at CES, but we’ll also see older products–laptops, cameras, and even desktop PC OSs–trying to remain relevant by adopting features of mobile devices.
A prime example is the Ultrabook, the year’s hot new laptop design. Ultrabooks are razor-thin and light, but unlike the cheap netbooks of a few years ago, they aim for beautiful, sophisticated designs and enough power to buzz through most of the tasks that an average user needs to perform. You can look at Ultrabooks as Windows versions of the MacBook Air, since Apple’s svelte laptop has clearly helped inspire the new designs. But the Ultrabook is just as clearly a response to the growing popularity of tablets. By cutting the weight of their laptops to a level only slightly greater than that of a full-size tablet, and by focusing on cutting-edge designs, laptop makers can argue that Ultrabooks are almost as portable and just as fashionable as tablets–and that they’re more useful, thanks to the built-in keyboard and ability to run more-capable software.
Tablet makers aren’t focused on the competition from Ultrabooks, however. Instead, they’re trying to figure out how to beat Apple’s iPad. The only tablet that came close to competing with the $500-and-up iPad in 2011 was Amazon’s $200 Kindle Fire. The lesson seems clear: Tablets need to be much cheaper than the iPad to have much of a chance of widespread adoption. Expect to see lots of budget-priced tablets at CES, many of them running the new version of Google’s Android operating system, nicknamed Ice Cream Sandwich.
Windows 8 is another example of older PC technology hoping that a mobile makeover will make it look hip again. The most notable part of the new OS is its Metro interface of brightly colored, interactive tiles. That design comes directly from Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 OS, which reviewers have praised, even though it hasn’t yet broken through with consumers.
We don’t expect to see the final version of Windows 8 until the second half of 2012, but at CES we hope to see a more evolved beta version of the software and perhaps to try it out on prototype tablets and laptops designed for the new OS.
Today’s smartphones take decent images; they’re in people’s pockets virtually 24 hours a day; and once you get a great shot, you can share it with friends with the touch of a button. So to combat phones that are becoming more like cameras, cameras must become more like phones. Expect this year’s CES to include lots of phones that allow users to upload images to Facebook, email them to friends, or put them on a photo-sharing service–instantly and wirelessly.In Short
Tablets: We’re looking for a flood of tablets, including some with budget prices. We also expect to hear some buzz about Windows 8 for tablets.
HDTVs: The HDTV industry will focus on improving the TV-watching experience, with less emphasis on improving the TVs themselves.
Laptops: We anticipate announcements of thin-and-light Ultrabook laptops equipped with Intel’s upcoming line of CPUs (code-named “Ivy Bridge”) that promise improved graphics capabilities.
Smartphones: Perhaps we’ll see the first LTE Windows Phone for AT&T, or maybe a Sony Ericsson phone equipped with a 13-megapixel camera.
Cameras: Look for Wi-Fi-enabled imaging devices as camera manufacturers try to beat the competitive heat from smartphones. We also expect to see a lot of very small cameras with big optical-zoom ranges.
Desktop PCs: The biggest desktop PC news likely to come out of CES will involve the inclusion of Ivy Bridge CPUs, and the emergence of thinner, lighter all-in-one PCs.
Networking: We’re looking forward to demos of a new wireless standard that will mark the next step up from 802.11n.
Apps: Expect a deluge of apps, including some that will be available in new cars from Ford.
For more blogs, stories, photos, and video from the nation’s largest consumer electronics show, check out PCWorld’s complete coverage of CES 2012.
Next: Tablets, HDTVs, LaptopsTablets
Tablets will be everywhere at CES. I expect to encounter a wide range of screen sizes, from the 5-inch displays of oversize phones/miniature tablets to screens with diagional measurements of 10.1 inches or more. And we’ll probably see many different features in these tablets (stand-alone GPS! waterproof! 3D!).
Android 4.0’s blanketing approach will ultimately benefit consumers: It encourages competition and invites more options, as well as lower prices overall. It also means that you’ll have to be smart about what you’re purchasing, in order to avoid buying a clunker that touts its shiny new Android 4.0 OS, but may contain subpar components elsewhere that slow the tablet experience to a crawl.
For tablet makers, Android 4.0 isn’t the only big selling point this year. The other is Windows 8. I’ve received word of several Windows 8 tablets that will be shown (though some may be behind closed doors only), and smaller vendors are already touting “Windows 8-ready” tablets, a designation that presumably means the tablet has the guts and screen resolution needed to run Windows 8. –Melissa J. PerensonHDTVs
Most of the really interesting HDTV-related stuff that I expect to see at CES this year will involve experimental or otherwise not-ready-for-market TV tech demos. The actual 2012 lineup, meanwhile, will consist largely of unimpressive incremental updates to last year’s sets. In other words, the theme for the show in the HDTV category will be “Bet You Can’t Wait Until 2013!”
Consider LG’s upcoming 55-inch OLED TV. Undoubtedly it will look beyond beautiful, and the new manufacturing process that the company used to achieve its extralarge size will (I hope) help reduce OLED manufacturing costs dramatically. But bear in mind that LG’s 15-inch OLED TV from 2010 debuted at $2700–the same price as a top-of-the-line 55-inch LED TV.
Likewise, people have been working on glasses-free (“autostereoscopic”) 3D TV for a long time, and we’ve seen prototype sets at CES for several years now. This year I expect some manufacturer to show off an almost-market-ready glasses-free 3D TV that is as watchable as a normal TV–and it will probably reappear at CES 2013, with a projected release date and a price tag.
I predict that the HDTV industry will focus this year on improving the TV-watching experience, not on hugely upgrading the TVs themselves. Though TV manufacturers won’t have a lot of new ways to boost their HDTV specs, they may try to make their image-tweaking options more user-friendly (and include even more useful preset modes). They won’t be able to add many new content channels to their streaming video catalog, but they will be working on touchscreen remotes and smartphone/tablet apps that make searching and navigating through your many options easier. All in all, you can expect to get more TV from your buck in 2012–but don’t plan on seeing much shiny new tech this year. –Patrick MillerLaptops
The stars of the show, where laptops are concerned, will be Ultrabooks. Only a few Ultrabooks had reached market by the end of 2011, but we’ll see dozens of models debuting throughout 2012. Many will be configured with CPUs from Intel’s upcoming line code-named “Ivy Bridge,” which resembles today’s Sandy Bridge Core i5 and i7 processors, but with improved graphics capabilities and lower power use. The improvements should make Ivy Bridge perfect for thinner, lighter laptops. In addition to dozens of new laptops from current manufacturers, we may see one or two companies entering the field for the first time. Like Razer with its Blade gaming laptop, companies better known for other categories of tech products may sense an opportunity in the laptop PC market.
I hope to see at least one Ultrabook with discrete graphics. It doesn’t have to be high-end–even a modest GPU from Nvidia or AMD would easily outclass the integrated graphics in Intel’s chips, even with the improvements in Ivy Bridge. I’d much rather see discrete graphics than an optical drive, and I know companies will be building Ultrabooks with those. Laptops equipped with responsive touchscreens, in preparation for Windows 8, would be nice another treat at CES 2012. Whatever the laptop manufacturers have to announce, I hope it doesn’t involve stuffing thick, heavy plastic machines with an array of parts to produce the cheapest laptop possible. Let’s hope that the days of the crappy $500 laptop are behind us.
Windows 8 looms large over the whole PC industry, including laptops. Though it’s unlikely to be released until the latter half of the year, the OS is probably going to very big–or at least heavily marketed. New Windows releases tend to possess a halo effect that lifts PC sales; and since Windows 8 is the most dramatic change to Windows in the last few years, the lift this time around could be larger than usual. With any luck, we’ll see an updated version of Windows 8 at CES that will give us a hint about what’s in store for us in February when the public beta appears. We may even get an early peek at laptops or convertible tablets designed with Windows 8 in mind. –Jason Cross
For more blogs, stories, photos, and video from the nation’s largest consumer electronics show, check out PCWorld’s complete coverage of CES 2012.
Next: Smartphones, Cameras, DesktopsSmartphones
CES is a hot-or-cold show for mobile phones. With Mobile World Congress slated to take place the very next month, and with CTIA happening in May, previous CES events have been a bit on the quiet side for phone news.
Nevertheless, CES 2011 was a big year: Verizon unveiled its first LTE 4G phones, including the HTC Thunderbolt and Droid Bionic; AT&T stepped up its Android game with the Motorola Atrix 4G; and LG revealed its superslim Optimus phones. Will this year be equally exciting? It’s hard to say. [Read: “15 Sizzling Smartphones of CES 2011.”]
Speaking of the Windows Phone OS, Nokia is expected to announce a U.S. version of its flagship Lumia 800 phone. According to rumor, the Lumia “Ace” 900 is larger than its European sibling, with a 4.3-inch display rather than a 3.7-inch display. The Lumia 710 for T-Mobile has already been announced; but some additional, lower-end Nokia Windows Phones may also make an appearance.
We probably won’t see the Samsung Galaxy S III at CES, since the company traditionally announces its flagship phones at Mobile World Congress. However, some affordable Galaxy phones are likely to show up. Likewise, LG tends to make its big announcements in February, but I’m hoping to get my hands on the flashy new LG Prada, which rolled out in Europe and Asia last month. Sony Ericsson, which is rebranding as Sony, has a few press events at the show. I expect to see at least one new Xperia phone, which may be the rumored “LT28at” (and which I hope has a catchier name at launch). This Sony Ericsson Xperia supposedly comes with a 13-megapixel camera (yes, 13 megapixels), LTE and HSPA radios, a 4.55-inch display, and a front-facing camera. –Ginny MiesCameras
Expect a bigger-than-usual crop of camera announcements at this year’s CES, as 2012 marks the first year that the annual PMA (Photo Marketing Association) will occur simultaneously with CES. PMA usually sees more high-end camera announcements in the realm of DSLRs, compact interchangeable-lens cameras, and lenses; whereas CES tends to be a showcase for point-and-shoots and relatively beginner-friendly photography devices.
Big optical zoom ranges in very small cameras are another big trend, as the pocket megazoom category has grown in popularity over the years. In the past year, we saw pocketable cameras with optical-zoom reaches of up to 20X–specs that required a camera about the size of a DSLR just a few years ago. What’s more, cameras with zoom ranges of up to 12X have become more pocketable than ever; at less than an inch thick, they’re smaller than some 3X-optical-zoom cameras from just a few years back.
For an in-depth discussion of what to expect in the cameras category at CES and beyond in 2012, see “Camera and Camera-Phone Trends to Expect in 2012” and “CMOS Is Winning the Camera Sensor Battle, and Here’s Why” –Tim MoynihanDesktop PCs
The biggest desktops news out of CES will be the long-awaited appearance of Intel’s Ivy Bridge CPUs. These processors will make thinner, faster all-in-one PCs possible, cutting down on power consumption while boosting performance–theoretically.
Expect the new all-in-ones to be thinner, faster, and equipped with larger screens. Their tower counterparts will continue to shrink, primarily targeting folks who need a media-center PC or want an inexpensive Web-surfing machine. Massive, performance-level desktop PCs will be out in force, too, but they will be aimed at exclusively at content producers who need lots of horsepower, and at gamers.
It’s probably too soon for actual products to make the rounds, but I hope to see a few prototypes of impossibly slim all-in-ones and monstrous gaming rigs running Intel’s latest and greatest processors. –Nate Ralph
For more blogs, stories, photos, and video from the nation’s largest consumer electronics show, check out PCWorld’s complete coverage of CES 2012.Networking
Besides encountering all kinds of dual-band, 802.11n, and high-power routers for home use, we expect to see new, more-powerful hybrid routers that use your home’s power line to extend your connection into rooms where other desktops or Internet-capable TVs might not otherwise enjoy wired Internet. The routers will also be able to use that connection to expand wireless Internet coverage to hard-to-reach rooms.
Another item generating some buzz is the upcoming debut of consumer routers that operate on a new wireless standard that represents the next step up from 802.11n. The new version will operate on the high-frequency 60GHz band of spectrum, and proponents say that it’ll be blazing fast for wireless connections–delivering almost 7 gigabits per second. The downside of the new standard is that, since it operates at such high frequency (most routers today use the 2.4GHz or 5GHz bands), it functions at only a very short range before the wireless signal begins to disintegrate.
I expect to see a demo from Wilocity (one of the forerunning distributors of chipsets designed to work on a 60GHz band) on the speed and range of the new standard. This may provide a taste of what a future of fast, short-range wireless on top of slower, long-range wireless will be like. –Megan GeussApps
The number of augmented-reality apps should pick up steam at CES, promising new “Kinect-like” features such as gesture recognition.
On the business side, apps that provide IT support are likely to be a big hit among companies that let their employees use their own smartphones for work.
Phones and tablets won’t be the only things running apps this year: Ford will demonstrate more apps for its new line of “connected cars,” which the auto maker says will contribute to a much more enjoyable driving experience. For people who want to view and work with apps on something bigger than a 10-inch display, TV manufacturers such as Samsung will make another big push to promote app-centric “smart TVs.” –Armando Rodriguez
These Facebook ad hacks are designed to improve your ad creative, offering unique ways to make an ad more attractive and convertible. So often an ad can fail simply because it’s creative wasn’t thought out as much as the targeting was.Hack #1: Stock Videos Are Better than No Videos
Tired of hearing that you need to create videos but have no idea where to begin? You aren’t alone.
A video on Facebook receives on average 135 percent more organic reach than a Facebook photo. Photos used to be the most engaging type of creative on social media, but video has quickly surpassed images and is now the thing.
So here’s the solution:
Quickly and easily put together a video for your next Facebook ad campaign with these steps:
Head over to Adobe Stock’s video selection and start there. Adobe has one of the largest selections of stock video footage to choose from, meaning they have something for every type of industry.
Make the video your own with branding. No one needs to know that you didn’t spend thousands of dollars and hire an entire production team to produce this video. Simply add a logo or a text overlay to the video and a call to action slide with the company’s information at the end and voila!Hack #2: Avoid Using the Color Blue in Ad Creative
Facebook’s primary color is blue — #3b5998 to be exact. Using images and videos that have blue tones in your ad campaigns isn’t going to help your ad stand out in the News Feed.
By the way, I’m not referring to a solid blue image with text. I’m talking about anything that has a blue hue to it such as a sky background, ocean waves, or a person standing in front of a blue wall. These blue tones will make the ad blend in with the News Feed, which is exactly what we don’t want an ad to do.
Instead of focusing on blue tones, try using colors that match your brand especially if they’re vivid colors like orange, green, and red.
Orange is blue’s complementary color so not only will it stand out, but it will look darn good in the News Feed.Hack #3: Be a Fun Ad & Include Emojis in the Ad Copy
Everyone loves a good emoji these days, so why not include one or two in your ad copy? There are two rules to live by when using emojis in your ad copy:
Do not overuse emojis.
Only use emojis that make sense with the copy.
No one will appreciate four rain drop emojis, two poop face emojis, and the cat with heart eyes next to copy about booking a winter vacation. The emojis need to be relevant to the action you want the user to make and the emotion you’re trying to convey.
Take this ad for example. They used the speaker emoji to communicate “turn on your sound.” These emojis make for an extra awesome addition because so often people watch videos on social media without their sound on.
By having a little extra encouragement in the ad copy with the speaker emojis, it’s telling users you’re not going to want to watch this without sound. So turn it up!Hack #4: Don’t Just Rely on the Button for Website Traffic
Facebook ad objectives should be something easy for users to do, and something they’ll actually want to do.
One way of accomplishing both of these things is by including a link to your website/landing page in the ad copy.
Sure, the call to action button will direct users there, but the button can really feel “ad-like.” What I mean by that is just about everyone knows if a Facebook post has “Sponsored” on it and a call to action button, then it’s an ad.
Aside from the “feelings” side to this reasoning, adding the URL in the ad copy also gives the user the option to act quickly. If they like what they’ve read and want to respond, give them the option to do so without having to get all the way down to the button.Hack #5: Design an Ad Your Audience Will Be Attracted To
Not only does your ad copy need to speak to your demographic, but your imagery and video, too. Let’s dissect Facebook’s example.
To the left, you’ll see an ad for a restaurant that focuses on a cocktail. This ad is targeting a younger, millennial type of audience that most likely has a 9-to-5 job and enjoys going out with coworkers at the end of the day for a drink. This is a very specific type of person, even though we can probably all relate, and the ad is created just for that part of the restaurant’s demographic.
The photo to the right is by the same restaurant but is targeting their older demographic, the portion of their customer base that comes in just for the food. If the restaurant had used the same cocktail photo to attract that older audience, say 50+ years old, they may have turned the audience away by looking too much like a bar atmosphere and not a restaurant.Hack #6: Ask a Question Right Off the Bat
We’re all here to provide some sort of solution to our customers, right? Right!
By addressing the issue in the beginning of an ad, you’re stopping a user in their tracks from continuing on with their regularly scheduled News Feed.
Need help bulking up, but don’t know which protein powder is right for you?
Tired of spending your mornings sorting through emails?
Worried the IRS is going to come after your business?
Each of these questions speaks to a unique audience and addresses a primary concern for them. It gives each user a reason to keep reading the ad, look at the imagery and/or watch the ad’s video.
Don’t believe an ad hack can be as simple as inserting a question at the beginning of the ad copy? A/B test your next ad objective with Ad A asking a question at the beginning of your ad copy and Ad B not asking a question anywhere in the copy.Summary
The next time you’re working on a creative for a new Facebook ad campaign, try implementing these six hacks and watch your conversions soar.
In-Post Images: Screenshots by author. Taken June 2023.
6 Macro Disruptors That Will Change Information Technology Jon Brown
VP, Market Intelligence
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Change is a good thing in the long run, but change can really suck while you’re experiencing it. Right now, six (6) macro phenomena are changing the practice of Information Technology. These changes provide both opportunities for new solutions to enter the marketplace, but also threaten the status quo – and the leaders therein. Whether you are responsible for the success of new technologies that offer revolutionary new capabilities or are tasked with positioning your existing technology in an evolving technology landscape, these six (6) macro changes are ones that every marketer should understand today. Those six are:
Business#1 Macro Disruptor: Bi-Modal IT
What is Bi-Modal IT? – Bi Modal IT occurs when a company’s IT team is supporting traditional client / server application development and deployment (mode 1) while simultaneously embracing newer, faster approaches to application development and deployment like agile and DevOps and A/B testing on production applications.What are the impacts of Bi-Modal IT?
Bi-Modal’s impact on IT is two-fold. Mode 1 IT is what IT teams have been perfecting since Windows NT arrived on the scene – managing for high availability, uptime, reliability and compliance. Mode 1 IT, however, is seen as inflexible, regimented and sometimes out of alignment with changing business needs. The apex of Mode 1 thinking is ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) which sought to document and codify absolutely every IT process to such a degree that any person, stumbling upon the ITIL documentation could recreate the process from scratch. This works great unless you want to do something that’s never been done before. There’s a word for that – it’s called innovation – and it’s something that IT’s business counterparts really gravitate toward. Innovation under mode 1 has a long planning horizon, a long delivery cycle, a long refresh cycle and represents much of what frustrates business users (especially those that went around IT and started using SaaS and personal mobile devices outside of the purview of IT who would have surely shut them down) when dealing with IT. Mode 1’s infrastructure is designed for long, uninterrupted processing – with relatively few, well-documented and well-tested changes to production applications.
Mode 2 upsets the status quo of Mode 1 (extra credit to the marketer that can come up with names better than Mode 1 and Mode 2 for these IT organizational styles) by introducing the concepts of agile development – breaking large development projects into smaller, bite-sized pieces that can be delivered into production rapidly. This rapid change dynamic – publishing application upgrades and modifications continuously, is not what the mode 1 data center infrastructure nor processes were designed for. Mode 2 breaks Mode 1 infrastructures and processes because it demands rapid changes to product applications and flexibility.
Areas that suffer when Mode 2 enters the organization;
Gartner suggests that a high percentage of CIOs are not going to be able to adjust processes and infrastructure to accommodate mode 2 style IT need for agility. There will be culture clashes when mode 2 teams meet mode 1 infrastructure constraints. Indeed, much of the early adoption of â€˜rogue’ infrastructure as a service (IaaS) was mode 2’s solution to being saddled with mode 1, inflexible or unavailable infrastructure.Advice for Marketing
Stay relevant. If you’re mode 1, go Bi-Modal. Discuss and present your product in the context of an agile infrastructure and how you’re able to exist in that environment. Understand that organizations on the journey to Bi-Modal IT are going to be re-evaluating their infrastructures. You, as the incumbent, want to be a part of that discussion. The key words for organizations that are embracing Mode 2 IT are DevOps, Agile, Flexible, ssrScrum and cloud (on or off premise). Use these keywords to attract the attention of Mode 2 buyers.
If you’re mode 2, showing how (not telling) your product or service fits into and addresses compliance concerns may open up opportunities – especially at firms with more than 500 employees that are very often subject to compliance obligation.#2 Macro Disruptor: Device Change
We are talking about the shift from fixed PCs to pervasive, wireless mobile computing using laptops, mobile phones, tablets, and wearables. The evidence of this change is everywhere. In our current IT Priorities survey, we found that organizations are as likely to have a mobile device management (MDM or EMM) project for 2023 as they were to have a windows desktop migration planned – to any version of windows 7, 8, or 10! So, it’s safe to conclude that mobile devices have arrived and are mainstream to corporate IT.
In this case, it is TechTarget who has done the changing, and here is what we’ve done:
Relaunched chúng tôi to provide the latest news, analysis and how-to information about enterprise mobility management, mobile operating systems and application delivery. chúng tôi also expands its coverage into backend infrastructure and application development — increasingly important markets as mobility entrenches itself in the enterprise.Advice to Marketing
“Consumerization” as a concept is dead and BYOD is no longer exceptional, but mainstream, so if your messaging platform is built upon these, you may want to re-think your strategy. Think of both of these passed areas as â€˜harbingers of change’ rather than actual change. Organizations are now focusing on delivering applications to these platforms and integrating mobility into workflows to provide greater efficiencies.#3 Macro Disruptor: Smarter Software
Times were that software ran atop hardware, and they were managed separately. Today, software is getting smarter along two axes. The first axis, smarter applications, can manage the hardware and software upon which they run. In the case of Hadoop, the software is able to configure itself to manage clustering and failure recovery – two tasks that were the exclusive domain of hardware operations and performance management teams. The second, and more dramatic axis is software defined hardware – like software defined networking (SDN) and software designed storage (SDS) – logical extensions of server virtualization that promise:
Greater efficiency and flexibility in infrastructure architecture
Ability to respond rapidly and automatically to changes in service demand
One other effect of software defined infrastructure is a diminishment in the importance of features and capabilities as a means of differentiating hardware products. In a nutshell, smarter software allows for dumber, more commoditized hardware.Advice to Marketing
Right now, 16% of the TechTarget audience has firm plans for software defined networking and 13% for software defined storage. That means that these markets are not yet mainstream, but that they are set to “cross the chasm” in the next 12 to 18 months. What this means for marketers is that when talking about software defined infrastructures, the vast majority of those conversations are going to be introductory / awareness focused. Your content model should reflect that.#4 Macro Disruptor: Cloud Computing – Compute Resources Available Over the Internet On-Demand and At Scale
Few topics have lived up to the hype quite so well as cloud computing. You are living through this one.
Cloud computing changes the way that applications are written, tested, and deployed. The net effect is to dampen demand for privately owned compute infrastructure, increase the demand for services related to implementation, and to introduce competition to a previously cloistered IT team. Now they are fighting for resources against external options.
Software as a Service is now the most popular way to acquire and deploy new technology – displacing on premise installations for the first time in 2023.#5 Macro Disruptor: Asia
When it comes to embrace of new technology, the appetite in Asia is stronger than what we see in other regions of the world. There are 10 topics that Asia is much more likely to be investing in than the rest of the world. These include:
Platform as a service (cloud)
Cloud application development
Integrate cellular and wireless LAN
Implement a bring your own device program for smartphones or tablets
Network management and monitoring
Internet of things
You can see that some of the most important strategic initiatives are much more likely to be happening in Asia right now than elsewhere in the world. If you consider your technology â€˜cutting edge’ or if it is a â€˜first purchase in a new category’ (new capabilities, not a replacement for old technology) as many on this list are – consider investing heavily in the Asian marketplace as your results will likely pay off earlier than they would with a North American or EMEA based approach.#6 Macro Disruptor: Business
Business is not new, but the sentiment that business is more involved in IT is new. Is this valid?
Here is what is true:
Business buyers can promote change / go around when IT is resistant. We saw this in the early days of SaaS cloud computing and mobility in the form of BYOD. Business professionals are most involved in IT decisions that are:
The first purchase in a category
Technology they use directly – end user facing applications.
SaaS for a business function (marketing & sales, mostly) that doesn’t need to integrate into the existing infrastructure
In organizations that have lower concerns regarding compliance
Business people are almost always at the forefront of new technology. One measure of the technology hype cycle is whether business people are talking about it…. If they’re talking about it, it’s still in hype. This phenomenon has been well documented by Gartner and others. The true utility and value of a new technology is after the business people have gone through the trough of disillusionment and technical teams are implementing and extracting business value from the technology.
The takeaway here is that you will get early hits and interest in new technology from business people. To turn those early hits into purchase reality and long term customer retention – an essential metric for the SaaS licensing model – you must also market to, sell to and service the IT team that is actually responsible for the successful implementation, integration, and management of the products that their teams use every day.Navigating Transformation
We are living through yet another transformation – cloud, mobile, smarter software, Bi-Modal IT, Asia’s rise are all factors. To my recollection change at this scale and across many axes is unprecedented. Many dominant firms from the last generation will not make it to the next generation. Be on the lookout for new challengers and stay flexible. While your business is changing, so is ours – specifically to meet the needs of today’s marketer. By taking leadership as an industry data provider, and with adjustments to our websites and overall footprint, TechTarget is staying ahead of the curve to do the hard work of delivering the right buying audience at the right time to our clients. And we can help you too.
Disruption image via Shutterstock
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