Friday Wrap #132: LinkedIn simplifies home page, mobile changes everything, computers rule video

A wrapped-up building (Friday Wrap #132)
My web developer, Kurt Deutscher, shot this image of a wrapped-up
building on a rainy winter day in Portland, Oregon.
Mobile dominates this installment of the Friday Wrap, my weekly review of news, reports, studies, and posts from the last week that may not have grabbed the big headlines (like the Sony hack), but still have implications for those of us working in the communications/PR/marketing world. I curate the Wrap from a the items I collect during the week on my link blog, which you’re welcome to follow.


Skype releases real-time translator preview—Microsoft’s Skype now allows you to have a instant-messaging conversation in English on one side and Spanish on the other, with the software providing near-real-time translation on both ends. The preview offers a hint of the functionality to come, with 40 more languages in the hopper. The Skype Translator preview works on Windows 8.1 desktop or mobile, though it will eventually be available on a number of other devices. Read more

LinkedIn simplifies its home page—LinkedIn has relaunched its home page with a more spartan design the social network hopes will lead to more interactivity and visits. Other changes include analytics and traffic displayed on your LinkedIn profile and other pages. The tile-style layout of the new home page will allow each section to function like its own widget. Read more

Twitter and Foursquare partner to improve location in tweets—When I drive into a new geographic location, Foursquare notifies me of places nearby that match my interests. That’s something twitter wants to do, leading to a partnership with Foursquare next year that will add geo-based features to tweets. Read more

Facebook adds call-to-action buttons for Pages—Seven new call-to-action buttons are available for Facebook pages, including Book Now, Contact us, Shop Now, Sign Up, and Play Game. Using the Sign Up button, Dollar Shave Club has converted 2-1/2 times more users than before adding the button. Read more

Microsoft accepts Bitcoin—Bitcoin was declared dead by a lot of observers some time ago, but since then, a number of vendors have quietly begun accepting the virtual currency. Microsoft is the latest, accepting payments in Bitcoin from US users for purchases from Windows, Windows Phone, Xbox games, Xbox Music, and Xbox Video stores. Read more

Google opens research program to develop Internet-of-Things standards—Google is inviting research proposals from academics who want to participate in a “cross-disciplinary expedition intended to address the complex challenges and opportunities before us as we explore the next generation of systems, services, and interconnected devices.” It’s the first phase of a larger Google program to develop standards for the Internet of Things, which is fast becoming a reality with interconnected thermostats, smoke alarms, home lighting, and even cooking tools like crock pots. Read more

Vessel aims to compete with YouTube—Good luck with that. Vessel is the brainchild of Jason Kilar, a former Hulu CEO, who hopes video fans will pony up $2.99 a month to watch the videos from YouTube stars three days before they’re released to YouTube. An ad-supported version will also be available, with creators opting to paywall their work for three days or more for a cut of subscription revenue, or syndicate their videos on the free service and earn a share of the ad revenue (which they already get from YouTube and Facebook). Alec Baldwin will premiere an original series on Vessel next year. Read more

Prezi enables live presentations from anywhere—Prezi fans rejoice. The “zooming” presentation platform has introduced a new feature that will let you deliver a presentation remotely to audiences anywhere in real time. Read more

Mobile and Wearables

Apps are becoming the new mobile web—Mobile accounts for 60% of all media consumption, according to a Comscore study, and a Flurry report notes consumers use apps 86% of the time they’re using their mobile devices, as opposed to the mobile web. Apps, therefore, are becoming the new web, a trend communicators must prepare for. Deep linking and app extensions are key tools at marketers’ disposal, enabling inter-connectivity that had been impossible in the siloed world of apps. Deep linking enables an app to link to content deep within another app, allowing users to move back and forth between apps. App extensions let apps use functions found in other apps, sharing content and functionality. Read more

Mobile will change the face of content marketing—Despite the fact that attention is shifting to mobile screens, most of the marketing on mobile has been awful. Marketers face a challenge: develop mobile content that will drive engagement and transform mobile consumers into brand ambassadors. Examples of companies that have started down this road include Ford Motor Company, which has partnered with extreme sports stuntman and YouTube star Devin Graham to create a video series presented to Graham’s existing base of 2 million YouTube subscribers, creating a new mobile audience for Ford. Read more

Messaging apps are a bigger deal than you thought—Of the 58 minutes per day the average smartphone owners spends on his or her phone, 55% is spent communicating (talking, texting, and emailing). Mobile messaging apps (e.g., WhatsApp, WeChat, Line, Kik, Vibr) plan to bundle these services in order to keep you on their app for all your communication needs. That would mean your audiences will spend less time on the services where you have invested your time and money to engage with them. Read more

Line buys streaming music service—It may not seem like that big a deal—especially for communicators—by Line’s acquisition of Microsoft’s Mixradio music streaming service is another sign that the host of mobile messaging apps are taking some bold steps to keep you on their services when you use your phone. Line doesn’t have the user base of Facebook’s Messenger or WhatsApp, or China-based WeChat, but the addition of a streaming music service could boost its prospects. Read more

Workplace adoption of wearables on the rise—Wearables will be a $70 billion market by 2024, and the workplace is playing a big part in the adoption of the fashion-focused tech category. A PricewaterhouseCoopers study found 77% of respondents believe increased worker efficiency and productivity is a key benefit of wearables; 46% said companies should invest in wearables for their workers. The insights employers can glean from the data produced by wearables is likely to have a huge impact on existing benefits and rewards programs. Read more

Trends and Analysis

Social media prompts cereal maker to revive old brand—U.S. fans of a long-gone General Mills cereal, French Toast Crunch, begged the company to revive the brand via tweets, posts, and Facebook page, and an online petition. Overwhelmed by the passion for the brand, the company decided to reintroduce it. Cadbury had earlier re-introduced a brand based on consumer passion for the candy, and other companies are starting to pay attention to online declarations of nostalgia, both to bring back old brands and reinvigorate existing ones. Read more

The future of privacy—A Pew Research study on the future of privacy found a slight majority of respondents—55%—don’t believe an accepted privacy-rights regime and infrastructure will be established in the next 10 years. Many of those answering both “yes” and “no” said the online life is inherently public, with one suggesting that “privacy will be the new taboo and will not be appreciated or understood by upcoming generations.” Read more

Video is still the domain of the desktop—More than 200 million Americans will consume video on a digital device next year, representing two-thirds of the population, and most of them will watch those videos on a traditional desktop or laptop computer. A survey by HUB Research found 59% of videos were viewed on a computer in 2014, compared to 27% on a tablet and 23% on a smartphone. These numbers represent a slight increase for mobile devices and a 3% decline for computers, but it’s clear that the larger screens still dominate. A similar Adobe Systems study found nearly three-quarters of US digital videos were started on computers. Read more

Marketers struggle with cross-channel campaigns—Only 27% of digital marketers are integrating their campaigns across all digital channels, and less than 25% say their efforts are integrated across online and offline channels. Part of the problem, according to survey sponsor Marin Software, is that programmatic and biddable digital ad buying becomes more common, it’s more of a challenge to interact across different departments with their own budgets to create cross-channel campaigns. The range of devices (like smartphones) is another obstacle to cross-channel marketing. Read more