Sep 12

Boost Your Marketing Efforts with Messenger Chatbots

Technological advancements have made it possible for marketers and business owners to strategize their marketing campaigns in various social media platforms. Consumers nowadays rely on the internet when they want to look for products or services they need.

Social media has opened up new opportunities for businesses to grow without requiring huge upfront marketing budgets.  According to a report from eMarketer, 45% of consumers said they make purchasing decisions based on the opinions posted by consumers on social media. 

According to a report from Hubspot, 92% of online marketers consider their social media marketing strategies crucially important to their business or specific campaigns they are running. Nearly 50% of marketers who utilized social media in the past two years report improvements in their conversions.

Managing social media campaigns can, indeed, be daunting and require a lot of effort and oversight to attain your goals. However, there are now convenient tools offered by social media platforms that allow businesses to connect, interact with, and communicate with their customers and improve their marketing executions. One such tool is a chatbot.

More and more businesses are using chatbots as a proper marketing tool.

Why social media marketers are using chatbots

Social media chatbots can automate and facilitate many social media marketing tasks, and devising creative and efficient ways to utilize them can take your marketing game (and your business) to the next level.

Facebook is the top social media site, and chances are you already have a business account for Facebook. Within Facebook Messenger, you can create a Facebook Messenger bot to communicate with your customers that helps your business achieve several goals. Below are five reasons why your business should utilize Facebook Messenger chatbots in your social media marketing efforts.

1. Chatbots increase visitor engagement

Chatbots can provide a personalized experience for your visitors by monitoring their posts and noting their personal preferences. Over time, chatbots can provide accurate information, including products, to your visitors based on their preferences. This can help your business attain more engagement with consumers.

2. They help spread consumer awareness of your brand

A chatbot not only delivers content, but you can use chatbots to deliver specific information about your brand. For instance, you can send industry-related news that may interest your visitors or inspire them. You may also do minifeatures like a “brand fact of the day” or a shortlist.

3. Chatbots provide personalized content delivery

Marketers and business owners strive daily to determine the best ways to attract their targeted audiences in a more personalized form – chatbots can do just this; they can be programmed to deliver personalized content based on your visitors’ preferences. Just by asking a few questions, it can give visitors the content they are looking for or need.

4. They provide analytics instantly

Data gathered by chatbots, such as preferences, purchase history, customer behavior, and demographics, are crucial for you to create personalized products or services offers, promotions or advertisements. 

5. Chatbots can provide 24/7 customer service

Customers always have questions about products and services, and they expect an immediate response. If they don’t get an immediate answer, they seek other options. Chatbots can help you establish timely, excellent customer service with a lot less tedium.

They can help you build good relationships with your customers while not having to hire so many customer service representatives to handle common inquiries. You can use chatbots for your general, frequently asked questions while letting your personnel resolve more pressing concerns.

Due to their recent prevalence, people are now more willing to interact and communicate with chatbots. On Facebook alone, there are around 300,000 chatbots installed in Messenger.

How do major brands currently use chatbots on Facebook Messenger? 

Below are a few examples of how different brands are using chatbots on Facebook Messenger. You might want to consider some of these applications for how your business helps customers. 

1. TechCrunch 

TechCrunch’s chatbot sends its followers the content they want, when they want it. Followers choose the number of times they’d like to receive new content and what kind of content they want. Users aren’t spammed, and, the chatbot tracks the types of articles users read so it delivers similar content and suggests new articles for followers.

2. Sephora 

Sephora‘s chatbot, which the company calls your “personal assistant,” provides makeup tutorials, product reviews and ratings for customers shopping the beauty company’s online store. Also, consumers can book appointments for makeovers or skincare consultations using Sephora’s chatbot. Customers don’t have to call their local store to schedule these appointments; the chatbot asks the customer for their location and schedules the appointment.

3. Spotify 

Spotify makes it easy and convenient for their followers and subscribers to search, listen, and even share music with their family and friends. Once you get started, you’re given playlist recommendations that are based on your mood, the music genre you want and what you are doing. Chatbots make it easier for both businesses and customers to interact and engage to communicate about what they need and want.

The limitations of chatbots

While it may seem like chatbots are miracle workers, they’re not without their drawbacks. Many misunderstand what chatbots do and what they’re good for. Chatbots do indeed make social media marketing easier, but they don’t make it hands-free. Knowing their limitations allows you to use chatbots wisely within your own business.

1. It’s not a “set it and forget it” tech tool

No matter how good the chatbot is, you can’t leave it to its own devices and not do anything else. Chatbots automate chat correspondences with customers, but they’re not a computer version of you. They still need to be monitored to ensure they’re providing satisfactory responses to consumer questions and feedback.

Chatbots are not there to replace customer support jobs; they are there to supplement your customer support team’s efforts and make their jobs a little bit easier.

2. Chatbots handle small problems, not big ones

Chatbots are usually designed with live chat takeover, which lets a human jump in at any time. While good chatbots can learn or be programmed to handle higher-level concerns as time passes, there should always be the option that an individual can intervene when an issue has been escalated and requires more serious help.

Even if your chatbot has been programmed over a period of time to handle just about every single problem you can think of, it still isn’t capable of handling inquiries that involve nuance and human understanding.

While chatbots make customer services more convenient, only human representatives can handle customers with unusual requests and inquiries, in addition to resolving complicated problems.

3. Chatbots can be abused

In using a chatbot, your aim might be to let the tool handle every inquiry, and while you might think it’s not a big deal to use a chatbot as a way to respond to customer concerns, it matters greatly in the long run. Not having adequate measures in place to address and resolve customer concerns and complaints is unethical.  

Another potential abuse with chatbots is chat blasting, where you send messages to contacts on your list. Right now, customers can simply not respond to your blast, but if you chat blast contacts with reckless abandon, you may get the attention of Facebook. If your activities are found to violate Facebook’s terms and conditions, you may be banned from the platform.

Bottom line on Facebook Messenger chatbots

Marketers and business owners can create intelligent chatbots within Facebook Messenger to act as a useful and helpful resource for their customers. Your business can offer consumers extensive information about your brand, products or services through a chatbot. Many chatbots seamlessly integrate into Messenger. Regardless of the type or size of your business, many chatbots take just a few minutes to set up, and then you’re on your way to increased sales, leads and higher customer engagement.

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Sep 11

Inside Jakk Media’s Unusual Brand Marketing Strategy

Jakk Media

The Internet is an unparalleled medium for content to make an impact. People want quality content, and the rise of big tech firms are the consequence of users surfing the Internet yearning for progressively more curated information. Everywhere you look, there is written, video, photographic, design, e-commerce, and more material available at your fingertips. 

With that meteoric rise in digital content has also come a downgraded quality of content, however. Many audiences are turned off by overt brand marketing material, which has become the norm within many catch-all campaigns linking brand content to social media. 

For Kenny Kline and Joe Auer, the opportunity to tackle an area that is often ignored entirely was beckoning them to launch their own business, and so, they founded Jakk Media. Today, with a team of 30 employees, two locations, and seven-figure annual revenues, Jakk Media represents a refreshing take on brand marketing — all-encompassing, quality content for niche audiences. 

Bootstrapped Beginnings 

Auer and Kline met at Columbia Business School, and during their final semester in school in 2014, decided to launch Jakk Media on a peculiar business model. Drawing from a blend of early investor uncertainty about their business type and a desire to be their own bosses, Auer and Kline decided the optimal route was to bootstrap their business with their own funds. 

“Initially, it was just Joe and I, for actually two years, doing everything — video, editing, writing, site creation, outreach, you name it,” says Kline. “Those years were tough, but exhilarating as well, because we really believed in what we were making, and we both really enjoy refining our craft.”

Those early days would set the stage for a brand marketing firm that runs contrary to most models shaped by high-profile agencies in the industry. Often, looking in the dark where others are not looking is where you can capture the most value, and Jakk Media discovered vast audiences with a plan targeting niche audiences across brands and markets.

The results speak for themselves, with more than 3 million visitors across their four independently operated sites, Jakk Media has carved out a profitable corner in an otherwise saturated market of brand marketing.

Niche Content Soup-to-Nuts Content 

Jakk Media is what their team refers to as a “soup-to-nuts” company — one where the firm owns and operates all of its web properties, managing everything from content creation to digital marketing, video production, and design.

The goal? Reach curious audiences in niche markets like mattresses or home security systems where engaging and informative content is at the viewer’s disposal.

“We like to think the quality of our content distinguishes us in each of our niches,” says Kline. “When it comes to reviewing and recommending products, we are actually one of the few in each of our spaces that actually personally tests our products!”

For example, Jakk Media’s first site,, is a review-oriented resource site for potential mattress buyers to find their optimal sleeping arrangement supplies. Reviews cover all kinds of brands, from house-name behemoths like Tempur-Pedic to more obscure, boutique mattresses. The website even offers variable information regarding side sleepers, couples, or stomach sleepers, with products actually tested by the Jakk Media team and verified by experts — such as Doctor’s of Physical Therapy (DPT). 

Jakk Media also manages another sleep-oriented website, Sleepopolis, focused on reviewing the biggest brands in sleep tech and products.

“We spend a lot of time testing, writing about, and putting our products on video to help consumers make choices,” says Kline. “As a result, we have a funny looking office that includes many stacks of mattresses, a full wall of every supplement you can imagine, and hundreds of security devices! I love seeing people’s confusion when they first step into our office.” 

The wall of supplements and security devices that Kline is referring to are a byproduct of Jakk Media’s other sites. Besides Mattress Clarity and Sleepopolis, Jakk Media’s team operates Security Baron, an automated home security resources site, and BarBend — a strength, training, and nutritional review/news sites. 

Those sites round out Jakk Media’s suite of four currently owned and operated web domains, all of which target unique audiences that are in the market to purchase something. Interestingly audiences in such niche markets are much more inclined to purchase products because they went their explicitly with the intent of filling a need. 

People don’t typically go online and read reviews or informative blog articles on mattresses or home security systems without bearing the intent of buying something. This runs contrary to many large-scale brand marketing campaigns today that rely on consumers shelling out cash for products that they don’t need, such as $300 Supreme hoodies, but are, nonetheless, ubiquitously advertised online. 

Jakk Media’s ability to leverage the disconnect between large-scale brand advertising and niche targeting has enabled the company to flourish, and in the process, cultivate the type of modern work environment that younger generations seek out. The firm has offices in New York City and Austin, encompassing video editors, writers, designers, marketing specialists, and more — running the four sites controlled by the firm. 

“We love having two offices because it allows us to pull from two great creative talent pools,” says Kline. “The two offices function very differently, but everyone across both offices has a lot of overlap in terms of the work they do and who they interact with. People we work with love to visit our offices and connect with our team as well, so having two offices only makes that easier.” 

As for the continued success of Jakk Media, the team is looking at building and adding another exclusive site to their current suite, although they admit it is a long process due to the time and effort dedicated to each site.

“We invest so much when creating a new site, that we now roll them out very slowly,” says Kline. “We’ve launched only one new site a year in the last 2 years, and will not launch more than 1 a year going forward.” 

The tempered approach has proven successful for Jakk Media, a brand marketing company aiming at the finer details while most of the crowded brand advertising field seeks to harness broader strokes. “We believe that the more targeted the audience, the better than you can serve and delight them,” details Kline. 

With so much content at users’ disposal on the modern Internet, carving out a niche angle with a top-down business model seems counterintuitive, but is an obscure corner of the Internet where value is waiting to be captured. 


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Sep 10

Freelance Site Launches Fiverr Ecommerce Services

Fiverr is looking to serve SMBs selling online with 35 new services designed to cover all of their ecommerce and omnichannel needs. The industry store opened on Sept 4.

The new move is further evidence of the shift to selling goods and services online. There’s a growing number of services like this one that level the playing field between the bigger players and SMBs.

That and the fact the start-up costs for ecommerce are cheap compared to brick and mortar. It all equals a growing momentum for small business and ecommerce.

Fiverr Ecommerce Services

Growing Number of Businesses

“E-commerce is a global trillion-dollar industry,” writes Yan Chelly, Head of Categories for Fiverr. “Fiverr’s ecommerce industry store will help the growing number of businesses that are selling products and/or services online. They can now quickly select from a variety of services to support all of their omnichannel needs.”

If your small business uses Shopify, Magneto or other platforms like Woocommerce, you can get web development and design, SEO and even dropshipping through the new Fiverr product.

Other Advantages

Chelly describes the other advantages for SMBs

“Business owners who have product lines available on marketplaces such as eBay, Etsy or Amazon can select from other services. Like product research, photography and descriptions, Photoshop editing, and channel advisors, among others.”

There’s also something for small business owners looking to get the word out on the goods and services they’ve got to sell.

“There is also a dedicated e-commerce marketing hub to help any e-commerce business with their digital marketing needs,” Chelly writes.

This new service will look after details you might have missed if your starting your first Internet based business.

Chelly explains:

“For instance, when building a website, it’s not just the site that’s needed. It’s the copy for the website, and that copy needs to be optimized for SEO purposes.”

Professional Help

Getting professional help is a great idea for small businesses. Content is still king and you need to have professionally written text. That helps to get the most from your copy and the ranking you need to stay ahead of the competition. Write text that’s too short or with they keywords in the wrong place and you can run afoul of the big search engines like Google.

Same goes for a website. The design needs to take into account navigation and flow so visitors have a seamless experience that boosts your sales.

“In addition to that, a new business will need proper product photography, descriptions for those photos and more,” Chelly writes. “With all of these services easily available for viewing in one properly outfitted storefront, it will become clearer to businesses what items are necessary that they may not have realized they needed.”

Best of all, this new product works across all online verticals.

“It doesn’t matter whether someone is in the business of selling clothes, beauty products or children’s toys. Fiverr’s ecommerce store will give them everything they need to build, market and grow their online store.”

Finally, Chelly outlines Fiverr’s future plans in the space.

“We will continue to open industry-specific stores as we see increased demand for services on our platform from businesses operating in the same or similar markets.

The goal is to create a relevant, one-stop shop for all of the services and ideas they may need to help their business grow and compete.”


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Sep 09

Grand Opening of PNA Resources – A Full-Service Digital Marketing… – Virtual


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Sep 08

Internet of things companies will rule in the 2020s

The nature of work is about to change as Internet of Things (IoT) companies create countless new jobs in IoT security and data science.

The Internet of Things is one of those technologies we have been promised for the longest time. Like VR, people have been talking about IoT for decades as though it’s just around the corner. Each year, Internet of Things companies tell us “this is the year of IoT,” and each year, we get an expensive fridge that no one buys.

The global IoT market will be worth $14.2 trillion in 2030.

But IoT is coming. In fact, it is already here! There are currently 6.7 billion “data collecting devices” in use today, with 20 billion projected for 2020 according to Amazon. Gartner predicts there will be 25 billion connected devices by 2021, and Accenture suggests that the global IoT market will be worth $14.2 trillion in 2030 (as reported by CRN).

Read also: How to add more voice commands to your device

As IoT grows, it is going to have a huge impact on the job market. As a techie, you stand to benefit from this huge paradigm shift. However, you’ll need to expand your skill set to incorporate Internet of Things security and related technologies.

Market forces driving Internet of Things companies

How can we be sure that the Internet of Things is just around the corner?

Simple: the incentive for Internet of Things companies is too great for it not to happen.

internet of things securityinternet of things security

The old-school internet (“the internet of pages”) has taken off in part for the same reasons IoT is about to take off: data collection. By watching our web browsing behaviors, companies are able to gather huge amounts of data about us and what we like. They can then display targeted ads, or sell that information on to third parties.

The scale of these data collection efforts is at once staggering and frightening. Companies track us across the internet using cookies, usernames, and even our social interactions and then take all that information to construct a comprehensive picture of who we They can infer demographic information, hobbies and interests, personality, job role, size of social network, financial situation, aspirations, and even when we’re most likely to be home!

The internet of everything has the potential to take this much further by collecting more data about us than ever before.

It’s an added bonus that the web also provides a perfect medium for marketing, not to mention hosting online stores and payment processing.

Internet of Things companies know that “the internet of everything” has the potential to take this much further by collecting more data about us than ever before. Likewise, IoT devices are capable of communicating with us in more ways than ever before, and even of automating our purchases.

Internet of things companies amazonInternet of things companies amazon

The consumer is similarly incentivized by the convenience of IoT. We will spend less and save time. Without the latest connected home appliances, you’ll risk being left behind.

Finally, businesses also have the opportunity to benefit from IoT. Industrial IoT is a huge topic, and one that can have a huge impact on automation and quality control. Managers will be able to get information about the health of their various systems, to control them remotely, and to collect massive amounts of data.

A quick recap: What is the Internet of Things?

For those that are a little fuzzy on what IoT means exactly, allow me to refresh your memory.

The Internet of Things is a term that is broadly used to describe a future where everything is connected to the internet. That means not only your computer and smartphone, but also your fridge, your television, your front door, and your boiler. We’re already seeing this start to happen with smart locks, smart televisions, home assistants, and more.

This is not the Orwellian surveillance state we’ve all feared – at least not yet.

Suddenly, Internet of Things companies have access to information about how many people live in your home, how stocked your fridge is, and how healthy you are.

This is not the Orwellian surveillance state we’ve all feared – at least not yet. This information should be anonymous, obfuscated, and buried in extremely large data sets. But while that’s true, the data is still immensely valuable to companies that can use algorithms to anonymously show you ads for those things.

internet of things companiesinternet of things companies

And in the future, Internet of Things companies will branch out further. As technology becomes cheaper and internet access becomes ubiquitous, we’ll eventually start to see milk cartons with chips in them. Next will be soap, shaving products, and mirrors….

You could put in a standing order with your local supermarket so that you get new milk whenever yours runs out. Likewise, a company might be able to recommend a skin product based on a quick analysis of your appearance in the morning. If your sleep tracker tells Amazon that you aren’t getting enough sleep, you might start seeing ads for coffee and sleeping pills appearing on your car windshield.

Companies will have unlimited ways to sell us precisely what we need precisely when we need it. And for our part, it could actually be rather convenient and a great way to reduce waste. No more buying milk preemptively because you think the carton is “nearly empty.” And no more running to the shops! This technology is ripe for abuse, but Internet of Things companies will be cautious not to scare us off by pushing their luck too far. At least to begin with.

Companies will have unlimited ways to sell us precisely what we need precisely when we need it.

There will be winners and losers here. Things like Point Of Sale displays might become extinct, reducing our impulse purchases. Our likelihood of stumbling upon products we didn’t know we wanted will also decrease once all our groceries are ordered for us automatically.

Also read: Here’s how we’re already living in 1984

This won’t deter Internet of Things companies though, as they will all see themselves as being the ones to emerge on top. Whether this is an ideal image of automation or a horrifying dystopia is a matter of opinion. But the reality is that it’s coming.

Internet of Things companies

With so many Internet of Things companies clamoring to get to the top, there will be millions of new jobs created for programmers, hardware designers, and researchers. If you have tech skills and you’re looking for a firm that has good prospects in the coming years, browsing Internet of Things companies might be a good place to start.

Also read: Best Google Home accessories: Smart plus, thermostats, door locks, and more

Here are some examples of Internet of Things companies:

  • Flutura is a company that creates “nano apps” to provide AI solutions in the industrial IoT space.
  • Belkin is one of the best known IoT companies thanks to solutions like its WeMo switches.
  • August makes smart locks and door bells.
  • Footbot is a company that makes an air quality monitor.
  • Philips is also well-known for its Hue lighting system.
  • Particle makes WiFi dev kits that help you provide IoT functionality to your own projects.

One of the biggest proponents of the Internet of Things is unsurprisingly Amazon, creator of the Amazon Echo line. Amazon also provides a cloud IoT solution for Internet of Things companies called “Amazon Web Services IoT.”

Google Nest Hub Internet of Things CompaniesGoogle Nest Hub Internet of Things Companies

Google is also betting big on Internet of Things, both with consumer products like Google Home/Nest and behind the scenes. Google Cloud IoT is another platform for creating “intelligent IoT services.” ARM is another big tech firm to offer an IoT platform, called Pelion. Samsung has SmartThings, and not to be outdone, Huawei has its eco-Connect platform. These platforms handle data storage, processing, and analysis from globally distributed devices, making it simple and easy for companies to add smart functionality to their products (while also committing themselves to the platforms that provide the support).

These platforms handle data storage, processing, and analysis from globally distributed devices.

Many other Internet of Things companies are offering APIs for developers that want to get on board, providing general or specific functionality. Cloud Wallet for example will handle closed-loop transactions between users and IoT devices. Mozilla’s WebThings is an API that enables devices to be monitored and controlled over the web.

internet of things huawei eco-connectinternet of things huawei eco-connect

IoT jobs and training

Working for any of these Internet of Things companies or other upcoming startups is a savvy strategy if you want to future-proof your resume with useful experience. General programming skills will help you to land these kinds of jobs. C, Java, and Python are particularly prominent in this space. You should also familiarize yourself with PIC programming and microcontrollers such as the Arduino platform. This is what what lets you add simple logic and code to an otherwise “dumb” product.

Data science jobs are going to be in increasingly massive demand

We recommend: Microcontrollers for the Internet of Things by Thomas Tongue  from Udemy as an affordable and simple way to get started, and Master PIC Microcontroller Programming in Embedded C by OpenLabPro Academy. If you want to get started with Java, then why not let Gary show you the ropes at DGIT academy?

Android development could also be a useful skill, with Android being a highly versatile OS that is being implemented on all kinds of devices.

Data science jobs are going to be in increasingly massive demand for these companies. Collecting all that data from users is only useful if businesses know what to do with it, and how to infer actionable advice from it. How do you turn billions of purchases across millions of users in multiple different countries into a better marketing campaign? That’s where data science comes in.

Also read: How to become a data scientist and prepare for the algorithm-driven future

Data Science Analysis WorkingData Science Analysis Working

Similarly, machine learning and AI jobs are likely to be big business in the near future (AI and IoT go hand-in-hand). More job opportunities might also arise from the concept of “digital twin tech.” This sees a real-world appliance, installation, or product with a digital “twin” – a 3D model that reflects the real-time data from the actual physical object. The twin also allows for remote control and manipulation. 3D modeling is a skill that can serve you well in this capacity, as well as in product design.

Read also: Is your job safe? Jobs that AI will destroy in the next 10-20 years

The need for Internet of Things security

One of the biggest areas of concern for Internet of Things companies is data security. With more data collection than ever before, there is more opportunity and more incentive for hackers to attempt to breach these systems.

One of the biggest areas of concern for Internet of Things companies is data security.

In a recent post on ethical hacking, I explained that the more inputs a system has, the greater the “attack surface” and the more vulnerable that system is. When everything in your home is connected to the internet, how certain can you be that every single one of those devices will have the latest security patches?

Gamers were worried about their Xboxes watching them when the Kinect became a packaged-in accessory. But how do you feel about your clock recording your night-time activities? Or your toilet – normally used to monitor water usage – sharing data with nosy trespassers?

Internet of Things Security Ethical HackingInternet of Things Security Ethical Hacking

Internet of Things security jobs will soon become commonplace and extremely crucial. So perhaps this is a great time to start learning whitehat hacking yourself?

Be prepared

To quote Scar, it’s time to be prepared for the IoT revolution (that may not be the exact quote). If you are a tech professional looking to future-proof your resume, then working for Internet of Things companies or startups might be a great strategy. Likewise, developing skills and certification as an information security analyst, data scientist, or machine learning developer could help you to land jobs with the biggest Internet of Things companies of the future. Or why not grab yourself a Particle WiFi kit, get familiar with PIC programming and any of those IoT platforms, and try launching your own IoT startup?

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Sep 07

SMB Owner’s Guide to Digital Media

Digital media is officially king.

Emarketer reported earlier this year that digital media spend is expected to increase to 54.2% of total U.S. media spending in 2019. This leaves traditional media at 45.8% of total U.S. ad spending, thus making digital media the dominant form of advertising for the first time ever in the United States. Considering the state of the internet, tech-related innovations and digital consumer trends, digital media spend is projected to continue scaling upward. 

Market share in the digital media world is becoming more diversified. According to Emarketer, Amazon will experience a 50% increase in its own ad business, shooting the tech giant upward to third place below Google and Facebook.

As a business owner, allocating a portion of your advertising budget toward digital media is a prudent decision. There isn’t any remaining advantage in utilizing traditional media.

It astonishes me that companies still spend money on traditional advertising methods rather than experimenting with digital advertising. There are a number of reasons why digital advertising benefits small businesses.

Should you spend your entire advertising budget on print, radio and/or TV in 2019? No, definitely not. You wouldn’t spend any of your budget on traditional media if I had my way.

Below I provide some helpful tips and recommendations on digital advertising platforms and ad formats to demystify some hurdles you and your business may be facing so that you can move forward confidently in planning and executing your marketing strategy. 

1. Integrate digital media into your budget 

Decision-makers are increasingly faced with the choice whether to allocate their entire advertising budget to traditional channels, digital channels or both. This decision should not be taken lightly. Let’s look at two different scenarios, what my recommendation would be for each and why. 

Scenario No. 1: You must use your advertising budget for either traditional advertising or digital advertising.

  • Recommendation: I would strongly suggest investing in digital advertising.
  • Why: Digital advertising has many advantages. Two significant advantages it has over traditional advertising are segmentation and tracking. Using digital advertising, you get session-based data. With traditional advertising, though, data is limited to larger data sets you can’t segment further. You can segment data as close to your demographic as possible with digital advertising. This is invaluable.

Scenario No. 2: You have the option to allocate a small amount of your budget to test digital advertising or allocate 100% of your budget to traditional advertising.

  • Recommendation: If you’re required to use most of your advertising budget on traditional advertising mediums, I still recommend allocating some of your budget to digital media.
  • Why: You can utilize this opportunity to supplement your traditional advertising ads with digital media ads a la media buying. Media buying is a great way to ease your business into digital advertising, gauge the impact of digital advertising and compare online customer engagement with offline customer engagement. Some digital advertising platforms provide advertising options integrated with traditional media, such as Facebook’s target rating points (TRP) buying option. 

Digital advertising has opened up a slew of possibilities for business owners to explore. There are more methods to advertise, more strategies to experiment with and more ways to engage your target demographic.

Sadly, this also means there are more ways to waste your company’s advertising budget if you are not careful. It may take some time, money and effort before you find the right digital advertising strategy for your business.

Editor’s note: Looking for the right marketing service for your business? Fill out the below questionnaire to have our vendor partners contact you about your needs.

2. Find the right digital advertising platform for your SMB 

Before you can spend your budget on digital media, you need to determine which advertising platform is best for your business. Many of these platforms benefit companies with any targeting objective. However, some only support certain objectives or criteria. There are more platforms out there.

For the purposes of this article, I will cover five of the major digital advertising platforms based on my experience. 

Platform: Google Ads

  • Description: Google Ads is a versatile platform offering five different main campaign types (with additional subtypes)
  • Targeting objective: B2B – lead generation, B2C – lead generation, e-commerce, remarketing
  • Recommendation: I recommend Google Ads for any objective as long as you’re not trying to drive sales to an Amazon store. Even then, Google Ads can be effective in remarketing to users or brand awareness

Platform: Bing Ads

  • Description: Bing Ads is another versatile platform with about as many campaign types and subtypes as Google Ads
  • Targeting objective: B2B – lead generation, B2C – lead generation, e-commerce, remarketing – search network
  • Recommendation: Bing Ads is usually cheaper on a bid-by-bid basis compared to Google Ads, but it also has a smaller network. I recommend testing it for smaller companies and B2C lead generation

Platform: Amazon Ads

  • Description: A platform that exclusively focuses on
  • Targeting objective: e-commerce, remarketing
  • Recommendation: Amazon Ads is exclusively for Amazon stores. This platform is essential for any company looking to sell products on Amazon

Platform: Facebook Ads

  • Description: A platform that focuses on, Instagram and Facebook audience network
  • Targeting objective: B2B – lead generation, B2C – lead generation, e-commerce, remarketing
  • Recommendation: Facebook Ads can work well as either the primary platform or the support platform for any strategy. I recommend testing it out as a support platform because of its remarketing targeting options

Platform: AdRoll

  • Description: AdRoll focuses on remarketing to a predetermined user base across the AdRoll network and However, it just introduced prospecting campaigns
  • Targeting objective: B2B – lead generation, B2C – lead generation, e-commerce, remarketing
  • Recommendation: AdRoll has only offered display and video remarketing until recently. I strongly recommend this platform for remarketing purposes across the board. It’s a great support platform for lead generation or e-commerce objectives

3. Determine which ad formats are right for your small business 

Now that we have an idea of where we will advertise (fingers crossed), we can examine potential ad formats for each platform. Let’s take a brief look at the available ad formats.

Within the Google Ads platform, you have a pretty sizeable assortment of ad formats to choose from. This can be overwhelming ‒ even for a seasoned advertiser.

As a small business owner, the ad formats these platforms offer tend to complicate advertising-budget decisions rather than simplify them. Hopefully, I can fix that. Just to note, I am focusing on ad formats here, not campaign structure. 

Ad format: Text

  • Platform: Google Ads, Bing Ads
  • Targeting objective: B2B – lead generation, B2C – lead generation, e-commerce, remarketing
  • Recommendation: Text ads can (and should) be used to support all objectives. I recommend using them to penetrate and remarket to your audience

Ad format: Image

  • Platform: Google Ads, Bing Ads, Facebook Ads, Amazon Ads, AdRoll
  • Targeting objective: B2B – lead generation, B2C – lead generation, e-commerce, remarketing
  • Recommendation: Image ads can be effective for metric-driven objectives (calls, sales etc.). They’re typically used for more broad objectives, such as brand awareness, product positioning etc. I recommend testing this format to supplement other ad types

Ad format: Video

  • Platform: Google Ads, Bing Ads, Facebook Ads, AdRoll
  • Targeting objective: B2B – lead generation, B2C – lead generation, e-commerce, remarketing
  • Recommendation: I recommend using video ads for more broad objectives, such as brand awareness, remarketing, new product promotion etc. Users typically engage less with this ad type

Ad format: Call Only (Text)

  • Platform: Google Ads
  • Targeting objective: B2B – lead generation, B2C – lead generation, remarketing – search network
  • Recommendation: This format is pretty straightforward. It drives phone calls on smartphones. I recommend using it to drive B2B or B2C leads

Ad format: Shopping (Datafeed)

  • Platform: Google Ads, Bing Ads, Facebook Ads
  • Targeting objective: e-commerce, remarketing
  • Recommendation: This ad format is also pretty straightforward. It shows product details to users based on a product feed. I recommend this format to drive e-commerce sales

Next steps

We have looked at changing media trends, popular digital advertising platforms and ad format recommendations. Hopefully, this has provided you with a deeper understanding of why digital media is important to utilize for your small business and how digital media can contribute to your bottom line. Now it is up to you to use this information to find the right direction for your business and reach your goals more quickly!

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Sep 06

These are the 28 hottest tech startups to work at, according to LinkedIn

LinkedIn recently analyzed and rounded up the 50 best US startups to work for in 2019.

LinkedIn says it selected the startups based on four factors: employee growth, job seeker interest, member engagement with the company and its employees, and how well these startups pulled top talent from the LinkedIn Top Companies list.

We isolated the tech startups from the full list and present them below. Check out the 28 best US tech startups to work at now, according to LinkedIn.

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Sep 05

How Internet Marketing Creates Cultural Change


Over the summer I had many discussions with people about how new technology has changed their lives—both for the positive and the negative. Many shared how smartphones allow them to multi-task when standing in lines as they respond to email or as they are on hold waiting to speak to customer service. Others spoke of how they have access to information that is up to date on matters of health, taxes and investments without having to go to the local library as was often the case pre-internet. Overall, most were impacted by the way that e-mail allows them to communicate with everyone without having to queue at the post office much less without the need to print out letters on printers. However, many people mentioned that their culture had changed negatively in reaction to new technology: “Everyone is always looking at their mobiles,” said one and another added, “It is almost easier to write someone an SMS while standing next to them.” All, however, felt that technology was not at all linked to culture and that it was something external to culture.

So, I would ask everyone why they thought culture was somehow separate from technology since it seems to me that we can no longer make this bifurcation as technology not only informs culture, but culture is also reactive to new technology. Both culture and new tech change in response to each other. Moreover, culture has always been as much a marketing creation over the past century as it has been an autochthonous element of historical precedent. Can we make the claim that Coca-Cola is not cultural simply because it was originally a marketing creation? How can we claim that chatbots or social media are not cultural simply because they are originally products of technology?

Indeed, scholars like Ashis Nandy of India have been asking these sorts of questions for decades as he has queried the link between science and state reason. Similarly, French philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy examines the link between cultural constructions of “catastrophe” and technology. We already know that culture is a product of various forces, so why not can we not accept that perhaps our culture might very well be the end result of engineering in the form of marketing? Certainly, after the Cambridge Analytica scandal, we should not only be firmly aware of this fact but we ought to be more conscious as to how we interact with marketing, not necessarily embracing it full-on nor outright rejecting these messages as entirely suspicious. Perhaps internet marketing is yet another chapter in our cultural trajectory towards being exposed to new ideas and technologies through more direct, if not aggressive, approaches?

Victor Smushkevich, CEO of Los Angeles based internet marketing agency, Smart Street Media, tells me the strategy of marketing his company employs is not about selling a product specifically: “The goal of our brand is not to sell a product or a company, but instead we aim to sell cultural change. In so doing we force the individual user to contemplate their relation to new technology—from how often and when they use technology to how this tech can positively affect their lives.” Smushkevich goes on to tell me that by focussing on web content his company is necessarily adding to the larger cultural discussion which themselves are a part of culture. “You can’t divorce online content from society,” he tells me, “The internet is here to stay and it serves as one vast expanse of information—spanning the range of online, immediate information and news to online graffiti. This is what culture is.”

Just as we have historically framed cultural value within advertising through accolades such as the Clio Awards, we have similarly come to embrace both the Webby Awards and Business Globe Awards for innovations with their respective fields linking business and advertising innovation to our cultural fabric. Why would advertising Man Men-style be any more relevant to culture than the tackiest of pop-up adverts or marketing layouts? Certainly, we are living the moment where the medium is not only the message, but the medium is most definitely a primary cog in our culture.

As marketing is often being deputized to media influencers today bringing the cultural relevance of materials and services towards a digital anonymity of branding, we are living in a material landscape where the individual spokesperson—neither a retired football star nor a supermodel—is flung into social media “stardom” all for representing the alleged “real face” of a brand. Where authenticity used to mean the elusive symbol of power was something that everyone would aspire to be (and hence purchase), today the symbols of desire and power are more often than not the unknown individual who is able to spread the word via blog, photos and social media posts online. These recent trends in new tech and social media reveal a cultural undertow whereby it no longer desirable to represent what people want to become but rather new technology is selling us the image of who we might already be.

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