Why understanding frequency is key to success with Facebook advertising

How do you ensure that your Facebook ad campaign is working as hard as it possibly can? 

For Facebook advertisers, it can be easy to get stuck into the multitude of statistics and metrics that your campaigns generate.

For those that are analytically minded, Facebook marketing can feel like being a kid in a candy shop, but can be equally daunting to the uninitiated.

Reach, the number of unique individuals have seen your post, gives you an indication of just how far your ad has been seen, but it doesn’t really give you much of an indication of how effective it is.

It’s a similar story for impressions, which tells you how many times your ad has been served. The key metric is the latter divided by the former – frequency.

Frequency is a measure of how many times a user has been exposed to your post, and acts as an indication of how effective your targeting is. If your frequency is low, you are arguably targeting too wide an audience, investing too little to reach your target audience, or a combination of the two.

There are different ways of viewing frequency, and Facebook divides your campaigns into three levels; you can view the frequency for each ad, each group of ads (an ad-set) or each campaign (a collection of ad-sets).

Ad level frequency

Ad level frequency is the simplest level of frequency analysis. In the example below, each dot refers to a unique user, with the encompassing circle representing one ad.

As users who have already seen the ad are served it again, the impressions increase. However, because the number of users hasn’t increased, so does the frequency (because a greater number of impressions are served to a static number of users).

facebook frequency

In this example, we have 19 unique users (represented as individual dots), with an ad that has been served a total of 27 times (once to 13 people, twice to four people and three times to two users). This generates a frequency of 1.42.

Ad-set level frequency

Ad-sets are designed to group ads together, making it easier for advertisers to organise and manage multiple campaigns, and manage their collective spend and targeting. This allows the targeting for many ads to be changed quickly and efficiently.

That might be great for campaign management, but it’s not so brilliant for frequency management. Ad-sets track all of the users who have visited all ads and if an individual is served several ads from an ad-set, that will still only count as one unique user.

One user that sees five ads would be considered as “one unit” of reach, five units of impressions and so that individual’s frequency would be classed as ‘five’.

facebook ad set frequency

In this instance everything within the larger oval is the ad-set.

  • The green Ad still retains its 19 unique visitors, 27 impressions, and Frequency of 42
  • The red Ad has 20 unique visitors, 22 impressions (as 2 individuals see the ad twice), giving a Frequency of 1
  • 12 of the users however, have seen both Ads, with 1 user seeing both Ads twice
    • The total unique users is 27 (not 39, which would be a combination of both ads)
    • The total ad-set impressions is 49 (which is the combination of both ads)
    • This pushes the frequency of the ad set up to 81, despite the green ad having a frequency of 1.42, and the red ad having a frequency of 1.1.

Confused yet?

As both ads in this ad-set are served with the same targeting, they’re just as likely to be served either ad. Adding new ads within ad-sets would only compound the problem, so you should look at limiting ad volume within ad sets wherever feasible.

Campaign level frequency

A cursory look at the next level of frequency reporting potentially complicates matters further. In campaign level frequency analysis, we have a situation where a campaign may include several ad-sets, each with their own targeting.

That’s not really an issue when each ad-set includes mutually exclusive targeting, typically when negation is applied, but as we can see from the example below, many targeting approaches will overlap. After all, your audiences may have many interests.

A user may be a fan of a specific confectionary brand page already, or they may not – they can’t be both. However, complications arise when the targeting may seem mutually exclusive at first glance, but in actuality it isn’t. A fan of chocolate may also be a fan of candy, which means that they are likely to see ads from both ad sets.

campaign level frequency

In the above example, ad-set one (to the left) has two ads, as does ad-set two (to the right). Ads one and two, in ad-set one, have 31 unique users between them. As some individuals have seen each ad several times, their impressions is at 71, giving that ad-set a frequency of 2.09.

Ad-set two (to the right) has 35 unique users, and 82 total impressions, giving that ad-set a frequency of 2.34.

However, some of those users will feature in both ad sets, so the campaign as a whole has 54 unique users, and 153 impressions. That’s a frequency of 2.8, which is a step up from both ad-sets.

So how does this work in practice?

Let’s take an example of the sweet company wanting to promote their latest line of confectionary products.

Of the two products that they want to promote, one includes gelatine based products, and the other contains chocolate products, the brand therefore creates a campaign with two distinct ad-sets: one aimed at gelatine lovers, and one at chocolate lovers.

One of our target audiences, Tom loves gelatine, whilst another member of audience, Dick, loves chocolate. However, poor Harry loves Turkish Delight. Unlike Tom and Dick, he gets targeted by both the gelatine product ads and the chocolate product ads. While Harry is technically well served by the targeting, he gets an ad about milk chocolate, then an ad about jelly beans, rather than just one type of confection.

That may not sound like a huge problem, but it doesn’t give you a true indication of your Facebook ad strategy.

So what level should you listen to?

Campaign level frequency will provide you with the truest picture, but that alone won’t tell you the full story behind your campaigns.

campaign frequency on facebook

Check your campaign. If it’s got a low frequency, then no problem. If it’s starting to creep up, then look at the ad-set level. If the ad-set levels are fine, then the first thing to look at would be to see if and where your targeting is duplicated.

If one or more of your ad-sets are high in frequency, then look at your ads. See if you have too many, turn them off, review how broad or narrow your targeting is, and look to either expand, or turn the ad-set off completely.

Why is high frequency an issue?

With the average internet user exposed to 1,707 banners each month (Comscore), campaigns can be serving your ads to people who just aren’t paying attention to them. They come up in their feeds, but they don’t get seen or actioned upon, leading to what is sometimes known as “banner blindness”.

Banner blindness (individuals learning to sub-consciously recognise, and then ignore your Ads), and campaign fatigue (signs of the campaign being less effective as time goes on) can be disastrous for your ads campaigns. It leads to soaring costs and diminished returns, but this isn’t the worst case scenario for a campaign.

If users receive several iterations of an ad over and over again it can start to feel like spam, and breeds negative sentiment towards the brand. Even worse, given that the ads are being displayed on a social platform, it’s easier for users to vent their frustrations as comments that remain visible to all future audiences.

So just what should your frequency be?

There’s a fine line, and much debate, on whether or not individuals will get annoyed, or whether they’ll see an ad enough times to be finally convinced to click.

The size and type of targeting that you’re doing will ultimately determine what the optimum frequency should be.

Smaller campaigns, focusing on a smaller number of individuals, will naturally reach a higher frequency, but if the ads are more accurately targeted, a higher frequency might be less of an issue.

If you focus on an audience that loves bear shaped gelatine products in London only, but the ads are tailored to the London Gelatine Bear Emporium just around the corner from where the audience lived, they may take more kindly to seeing the ads more often.

While it’s less likely to reach a higher frequency as quickly, broader targeting may start to annoy users who see the ads multiple times.

Users may become much more sensitive to how often they’re seeing the ads, given the drop in relevance with the targeting. Non-specific ad copy is for anyone, and being told about sweets 11 or 12 times when you’ve seen the message, taken it on board, and decided to do something about it (even if that decision is to ignore it) the message serves only to frustrate an audience.

As a rule of thumb, a frequency between five and ten for an entire campaign is still acceptable, but you have to review this at a campaign level to ensure it encompasses every individual that sees every ad, and not just focussing on either ad set one, or ad set two.

Splitting the report up will count a unique user every time they’re served an ad, giving false duplicates. Only viewing at campaign level with no other splits (demographic/day by day/device etc.) will show the true story.

So how do you avoid ad frequency mayhem?

Having established that there is no defined “right or wrong” answer to the frequency conundrum, how do we go about ensuring that we can at least control our ad campaigns? There are some key stages to go through:

Do your targeting homework

Understand your audience and use some of the extensive tools that are available to you in order to find them. The more you know about your audience, the better your targeting can be.

Plan your targeting coexistence

Could there be any cross-over between your ad-sets? If so, try to separate one group from the other to minimise the risk of duplication.

Choose your budget wisely

If an audience is particularly niche, track the reach, and campaign duration. If you plan to reach 100 people a day, are expecting £1 cost-per-click and the campaign lasts seven days, then £700 for the campaign will need every single user to click on the ad (or for some users to double click). Calculate your possible CTR and if it’s unrealistic, plan ahead by reducing spend or widening your targeting pool.

Manage campaigns, ad sets, and ads properly

Don’t setup several campaigns to target specific groups of people that will likely contain similar users. For example a group that likes chocolate, and a group that likes Mars Bars – one of these groups will largely encompass the other. Frequency won’t show up at an ad-set level report as Facebook will tally each individually, and your folly will only appear under the campaign level reporting.

Know how to report on frequency

Look at the big picture. Don’t review frequency on a day by day basis, ad by ad, or even ad-set by ad-set (each splits up your unique users). Look at the whole campaign.

Limit ad volume

A large volume of ads pushes Facebook to serve as many of them as possible to the same audience, increasing the likelihood of frequency jumping high.

While you may be tempted to include many ads to A/B test your creatives, don’t do this to an excessive level. A couple of ads per ad-set should be your limit. Trust your creative!

Review your ad relevance score

If some of your ads have a low score, it’s likely not resonating with the audience, so remove it. This removes the ad from collecting additional reach.

Will Conboy is head of marketing communications at Stickyeyes and a contributor to SEW. This article was co-written with Jonathan Hemingway.

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SEO Brand Named Best Search Engine Optimization Agency by topseos.com for August 2016
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Google AdWords: the dos and don’ts of callout extensions

Callout extensions are a really important component of Google AdWords, and they can be incredibly useful in describing what your business has to offer that may not be clear by your links and description alone.

Take the example below from Google:

acme example

“Acme Electronics” uses AdWords and is able to list their website in the first line, general business description in the second line, and then the third line offers three “call-out” phrases where they can let users know about special services they offer which set them apart from the competition.

It is a non-clickable addition to your listing, similar to rich snippets. In this case they have chosen three callout extensions:

  • Free Shipping
  • 24-7 Customer Service
  • Price Matching

It is clear that in order for callout extensions to be useful, you want to pick things that are not only relevant to what your company offers, but also things that are going to stand out and set your company apart from the rest.

So what are the best practices? How can you take this opportunity and make it work for your business? Read below to get a feel for how to be most successful:

Getting started with callout extensions

Not only are callout extensions included in your AdWords advertisement options, but if you aren’t using them, you are still paying for this space that just simply isn’t being used.

To get started you will want to sign in and open your AdWords account. Look at your campaigns tab and then click on “Ad Extensions” to the campaign where you want to make this addition.

Then you will want to view your “callout extensions” from the dropdown menu. Callout Extensions can be implemented at account, campaign, or ad group level. See the screenshot below as an example:

callout extensions

Once you have filled out 2+ callout extensions (although 3-4 is recommended), the page will look something like this:

number of callout extensions

As you can see in this example above, four different callouts are being used by the AdWords account above:

  • Customized quotes
  • Nationally recognized
  • Unsurpassed quality
  • Creative edge

Anywhere from two to four of these four callout extensions will appear at the bottom of the ad, just like the Acme example above.

Remember that callout extensions may not always show on your ads either – AdWords use several factors to determine how many callouts will actually show at any given time (if any at all).

Unfortunately these factors are unknown, but that being said, the basics are easy with callout extensions and it takes practically no time to get them set up.

The hard part is getting creative and figuring out exactly what it is that you need to do to develop the correct callout extensions for your business specifically. Keep in mind that callout extensions are nothing new, but some of the dos and don’ts have changed, so learn the latest best practices below.

Do: highlight services you offer

Do you offer free shipping? 24/7 customer service? Price matching? These kinds of services that are exactly what you want to highlight in callout extensions.

People love to know that when they choose a business, they are going to be getting some benefit with you that they won’t get from someone else. When it is right in the ad itself, people are more likely to click and move forward with your company.

Do: create multiple callout extensions

One thing that really helps for optimizing callout extensions is to create four or more extensions for each campaign. The more that AdWords has to work with, the more optimized your ads are going to be. You shouldn’t have less than 4 callout extensions on any campaign, and the more the better!

Do: be unique and creative

Originality and uniqueness are the basics for developing callout extensions because they are going to draw attention that other companies in your industry do not have on their campaigns.

One of the most challenging parts is actually thinking of two-word phrases that will capture attention. There are a ton of callout extension “lists” online that can help to get you started, but you really want to choose something that is original and eye-grabbing.

In the AdWords account above for an advertisement photographer, the phrase “nationally recognized” is effective because it sets their studio apart from other photographers with credibility. Try to think of things that other businesses may not necessarily have when stacked up against you.

You can also implement custom callout extension scheduling so you can have certain extensions only run in the morning, during holidays, or whatever is going to optimize your specific campaigns.

Don’t: go overboard on characters

The limit for characters on callout extensions is 25, but I would recommend only using 12-15 characters for each callout extension that you add. You want them to be readable and really eye-catching. When you go overboard on this you limit the chances that 3 extensions are actually going to fit nicely side by side.

Don’t: use title casing

Title casing means that you capitalize: All of The Letters in the Sentence or Phrase. While this might be tempting to do, studies have shown that it is actually more effective to only capitalize the first word of the phrase in Google AdWords callout extensions.

This is because it is easier for people to read three side-by-side, and it puts more emphasis on each individual phrase. Although this might feel a little awkward, it is definitely best practice in this case.

Some examples!

Below are a list of callout extensions that could be useful. Keep in mind that you must offer these services and have them be relevant to your industry in order to actually use them as callout extensions:

  • History of results
  • 40yrs combined experience
  • No service fees
  • Money back guarantee
  • Free Cancellation
  • 24/7 customer service
  • Best price guarantee
  • Peace of mind guarantee
  • Best rate guarantee
  • Top customer service reps
  • Expert friendly service
  • Guaranteed satisfaction
  • 10% Off clearance items
  • Customization leader
  • Free shipping
  • Satisfaction guaranteed
  • Shop best sellers
  • Top designer collections
  • Price matching
  • Upfront pricing
  • Trusted for 50 years
  • Fast response
  • Affordable pricing

The takeaway

Callout extensions are a great opportunity to add more to your existing ad. In fact, you can even hack the system and use them as an additional line on your ad if you want to.

The important thing is to make sure that you are using callouts to the fullest and taking every opportunity you can to make them unique, useful, and stand-out compared to other competitors in your industry.

Make sure that you highlight the services you offer that make choosing your company the best deal. Most importantly, make sure that you implement multiple callout extensions (more than 4), so that AdWords can optimize your ads in the most useful ways.

And lastly, keep the character limit low and don’t use title case. Hopefully these dos and don’ts will get you on track and help your callout extensions to be more optimized than they are currently!

Do you have any other thoughts on callout extension advice? Let us know in the comments section below! We would love to hear from you.

Amanda DiSilvestro is a writer for HigherVisibility, a full service SEO agency, and a contributor to SEW. You can connect with Amanda on Twitter and LinkedIn

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SEO Brand Named Best Search Engine Optimization Agency by topseos.com for August 2016 – Benzinga

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NAPLES, FL –(Marketwired – August 30, 2016) – topseos.com, the independent authority on online marketing, has named SEO Brand the best search engine optimization company for August 2016. Each month the independent research team at topseos.com …
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5 Traffic-Growing On-Page Optimization Tips for Publishers – DBW – Digital Book World

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Discover Precisely Why It Is Critical To Hire A Professional For Electric Repair

Electrical maintenance will almost certainly be required in the home at some point. A lot of property owners feel that small projects may be handled without the aid of an expert, however this just isn’t true. In fact, electrical repair might be unbelievably harmful, even the minor jobs, and it is something that’s better left to an individual who understands exactly what they are doing. Besides this, the professional already knows just what they’re doing and presently has the right tools to be able to get the project carried out swiftly and also accurately.

Whenever electrical work is actually completed, it needs to be completed extremely carefully. Simply switching off the breaker might not be adequate, especially if the person just isn’t certain which breaker will be the correct one. In case they aren’t careful, they might be electrocuted. Even if everything will go easily, there might be issues in the future. In the event the electrical repair isn’t completed appropriately, it could very easily result in a fire or even may cause an individual to be electrocuted down the road. This could be incredibly harmful and can cause considerable accidents or the loss of the home just because a minor mistake was made working on the electricity within the home.

Together with having the expertise in order to accomplish the fixes and also to be able to remain safe, the electrical contractor will already have all of the required tools to finish the job. They are able to deal with a variety of jobs, from fixing a defective electric outlet to setting up a whole new electric outlet or even appliance. They’ll understand just what to do in order to make sure the job is done correctly and also could use the proper equipment to figure out any problems that have to be resolved. This can save the homeowner cash in case they won’t do electrical tasks frequently because they don’t have to pay for the equipment to get the job done.

In case you have electrical problems you have to have restored or there is something you wish to add in, ensure you contact an electrical service company today. A specialist may help you with any tasks you might have and also ensure everything is completed properly in order to be sure your residence is safe. For far more details, visit www.kmahomeservices.com/electrical/ today.

Test points to likely influence of click-through rate on search rankings

Columnist Brian Patterson shares the results of a click-through rate test performed on one of the test websites he maintains.

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The legacy of Willow Garage…The “PARC” for robotics


The robotic industries have been one of the hottest topics worldwide since there has been progressing from the traditional manufacturing applications to the non-manufacturing applications such as service industry. Like other industries, startups in US Bay Area cover the whole area of the San Francisco-Silicon Valley has led the innovation. You have heard Savioke developing a butler robot for the hotel industry, Fetch Robotics developing a picking and transport robot for logistics that is also well known as Softbank has invested, and Suitable Technologies which has created a telepresence market.

In such robotics community in Bay Area, a group which has been recognized and respected is Willow Garage. There is a common point that all founders of companies mentioned above used to work for Willow Garage. Today, we are going to have a close look at Willow Garage, which is said: “Willow Garage in robotics industry is something like Bell Labs and Xerox Parc in the personal computer industry.”

hi_wg01 Butler robot by Savioke

Willow Garage’s impact on the robotics industry

The Willow Garage is a robotics research development and incubation company founded by Mr. Scott Hassan in 2006. It develops open source robotics software ROS (Robot Operating System), standard robots PR2 and TurtleBot for the purpose of research and development. Willow Garage contributed to the development of the robotics industry until they shuttled down the business in 2014.

ROS is widely used as a standard software in not only the research and development field but also US robotics start-ups or robot-related new business of major companies. It have been adapted for Rescue robots used in the DARPA Robotics Challenge, Baxter from Rethink Robotics known as collaboration type robot, and the development of autonomous vehicles by BMW and Robert Bosch. You remember that you heard recently Softbank Pepper is supported by ROS.

In the background of the current robotic boom, both hardware and software reached the level that the robotics meets business needs with its performance and cost. In terms of hardware, developing human interaction robots was not realistic due to performance and high costs of the sensor and processor until the first half of the 2000s.

Misrecognition or response delays could have caused the technology to harm people in everyday environments where humans around. It was in the late 2000s that the foundation was prepared mostly to develop robots that can withstand an everyday environment by the computing ability of processors mounted on robots reached enough to the real-time data processing and low-cost sensor become available such as Microsoft’s three-dimensional sensor Kinect.

Perceiving these changes in the hardware side, Willow Garage developed ROS an open-source software for reduction of the software development process that was a major hurdle of the software side, and for re-use promotion Software that has been already developed, (To be precise, they promoted the project originally started at STAIR of Stanford University [Stanford AI Robot] or PR [Personal Robot] program). As a result, the efficiency of software development was dramatically improved. Even a small start-up developed complex robot applications in a short period of time.

Mirza Shah, the CTO of Simbe Robotics that manufactures a display shelf inventory management robot Tally explained that they succeeded to build the robot in 18 months with ROS, which was originally estimated to take 22 years. You can see how the impact Willow Garage gave on the rise of the robotic startups was great. By the way, Mirza Shah was also involved in the software development in Willow Garage before he started Simbe Robotics.

How did Willow Garage manage to produce the products to be a source of innovation involved in the robotics like ROS and a large number of entrepreneurs? Let’s look into the history from the beginning.


Billionaire founder foresees a world of personal robots

Willow Garage founder Scott Hassan was once enrolled in Stanford University lab with Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page. Hassan was involved in the development of the Google prototype search engine there and invested $ 800 in Google only after 12 days of its establishment. Also, Hassan himself launched the e-mail service called eGroups and sold to Yahoo for $432 million in 2000.

After this success, Hassan founded Willow Garage to realize the development of a personal robot – the big picture he had held in his mind for a long time. When Willow Garage was established in 2006, the only robots that people had a chance to see in everyday life was largely Roomba of iRobot. However, the future was visible to Hassan that a general-purpose automatic robot will be moving around the house to help the daily life for the people.

Why did Hassan want to develop a personal robot? What led him to the idea that the software he developed for it to open for anyone? He said the three reasons in his speech at PR2 Beta Program launch party in May 2010.

First, he felt “with the productivity of a robot, I felt it should be able to improve the daily life of the people.” He said that he was impressed when he visited a Toyota factory with the production line capable of making more than one car per one worker per one day and the robots used there, and it would be possible to change the world if this is utilized outside the factory.

Next, he mentioned, “high-level degree of professionalism and network of connection is necessary because the development of a robot needs to gather talented engineers in each field of hardware, electric, software and collaborate.” At the time of 2006, the market for non-manufacturing purpose robotics was small, and there was no person who was willing to invest the funds. Besides, since he could not find anyone except him who combined expertise, the network of connection and the financial ability, he reached the conclusion “I should do this.”

And finally, his mother was a big fan of robots. He wanted to realize a household robot during his life. For that purpose, it would not be in time if his company had been developing alone. He thought that it is necessary to involve with a variety of people to work together. He chose the stance to publish what he developed.

I would say that not every robot fan has the same way of thinking as Hassan. The idea of Colin Angle of iRobot is opposite. Collin is well known as a successful Robot entrepreneur in the United States. He criticized the activities of Willow Garage as he has the strong opinion that open-source robotics software would allow other countries to piggyback off potentially blockbuster intellectual property.

However, it is no doubt that foundation of the current robotic boom has been made by the great entrepreneur who drew a grand vision and gave priority to the realization of vision than profit.

First, change the world, then worry about returns

Willow Garage, which just gave the cry, welcomed Steve Cousins to their CEO as a leader to team up a variety of members. Hassan had an employment relationship since he was hired as an intern by Cousins when he was a student at the University of Washington. The two men hired world leading researchers or robotics engineers under the financial plan that was able to cover 60 researchers per year and proceeded the business with the policy “Impact first and return on capital second.” The work environment for the researchers was like a playground because they were able to work on a project such as to make a robot fold the laundry while enjoying the free food and drink based on ample funds.

When it was established, some directions were indicated such as involvement with DARPA project. However, it was gradually shifted towards the final goal that was the research and development of personal robots. It was focusing on the development of the standard robot PR2 and the software ROS to support PR2.

The beginning was the encounter of Hassan and Cousins with graduate students of Stanford University. They got along with two graduate students Keenan Wyrobek and Eric Berger, who were making the PR2 prototype robot  — made with wood at that time — at Stanford University lab. After that, Willow Garage poured the in-house resources to the development of PR2 and ROS. Also, the majority of employees were involved in PR2 and ROS projects. When they were not involved in those projects, computer vision or tactile feedback research were proceeded.

PR2, which was developed over four years by the release on 2010, were very welcomed because of the effort for joint research with the partner universities and positive acceptance of external researchers and intern students. And, ex-employees of Willow Garage began to have the strong influence as people whispered “Willow Mafia” in the robotics industry. Brady Forrest Highway 1, which is hardware accelerator in San Francisco, tweeted “Willow Garage is the technical equivalent of the PayPal mafia for robotics.”

From playground…to closure

After the success of ROS and PR2, Willow Garage changed the direction to the commercialization of their research results and transformed from “playground for the robot researchers” to “robotics entrepreneur group.” Hassan started to establish a separate company and invest when a new idea was brought up. “Eventually, the floodgates opened, and a lot of people got the startup bug,” Cousins recalled those days. Willow Garage spun out the eight companies. In 2013, two companies of those were acquired by Google.

Among the spin-out companies, the one which made Hassan excited the most was Suitable Technologies that pioneered a new market called telepresence. Hassan took about ten employees from Willow Garage and started to devote himself to the development of a mobile robot and the remote control system. The robot is called Beam which has a display to show the face of the operator on top of a body with wheels.

Willow Garage at the time lost $ 20 million annually. Hassan realized that the arrival of the world a robot will move around inside the house to support daily life would be still much further ahead. He decided to stop the investment in the second half of 2013 and to concentrate on the management of Suitable Technologies. The reason he determined that the time was still premature was not because of software limitations. It was because of hardware limitation which had huge costs, even to implement a simple function.

After that, Willow Garage continued sales and support for such as TurtleBot for a while. Currently, it leaves the business for such as Clearpath Robotics, and it is no longer seen substantially activities. For the ROS, it was spun out as a non-profit organization to continue the developer community-led development.

The largest robot entrepreneur group arose

Triggered by the spin out, many excellent employees left Willow Garage. After a temporary sentimental mood, even remaining people began to think what they were able to do with the technology they developed in Willow Garage. Cousins also decided to leave Willow Garage and founded Savioke mentioned at the beginning. “It isn’t your typical Silicon Valley success story. But we wanted to seed an industry and have an impact on the robotics world, and I think we did that,” he said.

Thus, the largest robotics entrepreneur group in the Bay Area was born. They include Computer Vision, in order to achieve human-robot interaction; Path Planning, a software startup based on elemental technologies such as manipulation; another startup to develop a service robot to perform specific tasks, and so on.

In addition to startups, I can see many of my friends who used to work for Willow Garage succeed in many places in the robotics industry such as a developer of various industrial robots in Alphabet robot-related team, a self-driving car developer, a UAV development leader, a leader of Project Tango to achieve a 3D scan with smartphones, a self-driving car developer in Robert Bosch, etc. They continue to commit for ROS development with holding their wish to realize a personal robot one day while they make every effort for the startups to survive. Lively discussion still exchanged among the developers beyond their company settings.

Although Willow Garage might not have been able to get a success as a fruit like Google and Facebook, the soil has been ready, and many seeds have been sown by a billionaire with time and monetary commitment who has expert knowledge, network of connection, experience as an entrepreneur and the passion.


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Proxy dumps office key cards for a simpler way


Proxy, a San Francisco-based startup, wants to kill the key card and replace it with a mobile app that can access all sorts of devices.

To start off, Proxy has launched a pilot for offices. A technician installs a maximum of two Bluetooth sensors (for the pilot), and from there an account manager can set up accounts for employees and rules.

See Also: Who are the startups upgrading the auto industry?

When walking towards the door, the Bluetooth sensor will automatically recognize an employee and unlock the door. An account manager can also set up guest accounts for interns or temporary staff.

Most employees bring their phone to work, so it shouldn’t be hard for businesses to deploy Proxy’s sensors in the office. In the next tier stages (coming soon), Proxy will add additional security measures to the app, like two-factor authentication and private cloud services.

proxy-app-androidIn the future, Proxy could be used for more than office doors. Users could connect any IoT device to the sensor, removing the need to sign-in to a specific IoT device to make changes.

Some IoT devices already use Bluetooth to recognize a specific person inside the house. Nest’s smart thermostat recognizes when a member of the house enters or leaves, and adjusts the temperature accordingly.

Co-founders Denis Mars and Simon Ratner have been working on Proxy for over a year and have already seen a lot of interest in the Bay Area. Twenty companies have reportedly signed up, according to TechCrunch.

The first also recently raised $1.6 million from Y Combinator and Blackbird Ventures. It was part of the most recent Y Combinator accelerator, which provides funding and support to tech startups.

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SearchCap: Google review guidelines, Panda mode & more

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web.

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How to prepare for the digitization of manufacturing

Lightenings effect background in blue sky

Imagine the mid-18th century.

People going about their agrarian lifestyle completely unprepared for the Industrial Revolution that would change their way of life forever. In those days, the majority was completely unaware of the impending transformation the coming years would unveil: improved living standards, population growth, the rise of capitalism, urbanization, and more.

Today, we are in a similar situation.

We are on the cusp of another Industrial Revolution and most of us are ill-equipped to handle the forthcoming realities that will change the world, as we know it.

History repeats itself …again

There have been three past industrial revolutions and if there’s anything we can learn from their similarities, it’s that they were much bigger than the technological innovations that defined them. They altered the realities of life for the people of their time and generations after. 4th-industrial-revolution

The farmers of pre-first-industrial-revolution Europe transformed into factory workers, (or far more effective farmers) and with that professional shift came a massive human shift. Gone were the days of subsistence living as a default, from then on the people of the industrialized world would live with a sense of economic ambition. Similarly, with the advent of the second great industrial revolution when those same factories were made far more efficient and more scalable; thus changing lives, economies, and societies.

The third revolution took the suburban-living commuters employed largely by service companies and armed them with computers and mobile communications. As a result, lines between work and home began to blur and the 9-to-5 job morphed into an always-on and always-connected and mobile job.

Now, the fourth industrial revolution — Industry 4.0 — is upon us and we must be prepared, lest we remain the last farmer without a cotton gin or the last stock trader without a cell phone.

Each of previous industrial revolutions preceded societal transformation on an epic scale, with considerable economic, social, political and environmental implications. So too, each of the prior revolutions had innovation at their core. To understand the coming modernizations, we must understand the innovations that are shaping tomorrow.

Digitization via IoT and the “big data” tsunami

Like the innovation of the assembly line fueled industry by connecting separate tasks, the IoT is fueling manufacturing by connecting separate devices. In the 1800s, when manufacturing tasks could be interwoven into an interdependent array of tasks in the assembly line, manufacturing became more efficient.

Today, the IoT is interweaving asynchronous manufacturing equipment into an interdependent array of connected systems. These systems communicate with each other, monitor each other, self-optimize, and alert of any anomalies, thus minimizing downtime, reducing costs, and increasing outputs – in other words, making manufacturing more efficient.

For manufacturers to ensure they are not left behind in the coming revolution, they must now take action to connect their equipment through the IoT, connecting disparate systems to enable intelligent flow of data.

With the IoT serving as the method of innovation, Big Data serves as the catalyst, making it possible and increasing its effect. Thinking back to the first industrial revolution again, Morse’s innovation, the telegraph, acted to expedite the speed and increase the volume of information that is communicated.

Today, Big Data systems are expediting the speed and increasing the volume of information that is collected and analyzed.

To prepare for the coming revolution, manufacturers need systems that can automatically analyze big datasets into meaningful insights that can drive optimizations and efficiencies.

How to minimize the effect of defects

The third innovation that is contriving the coming revolution is akin to the “interchangeable parts” championed by Eli Whitney in the first revolution, which lessened the time required to repair devices.

Today, predictive maintenance (and in the near future, prescriptive maintenance) advancements are reducing both planned downtime (from preventative maintenance) and unplanned outages (from reactive maintenance). Predictive maintenance relies on information to forecast which equipment needs which service at what time.

By only performing the necessary service at the required time, resources are spared, critical systems run optimally and manufacturing becomes more efficient.

To prepare, manufacturers should invest now in setting benchmarks and baselines for their equipment and acquiring systems that will use this information to order maintenance.

An “In-DATA-strial” Revolution

Manufacturing 4.0 is centered on data. Preparing for the revolution means becoming data-minded, retrofitting equipment to collect and communicate data, acquiring big data analysis systems, and learning how to use that data to drive business decisions.  

Though the investment is minimal, the payout will be maximal.

Like history has taught us, being prepared and remaining flexible to the new realities brought on by the revolution will position us to leverage the economic, social, political, and environmental gains it brings.

The author is the general manager at Panoramic Power, a member of the Direct Energy group of companies, and a leading provider of device level energy management solutions. 

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Europe, Japan team boost smart cities with open data project

smart city and wireless communication network, abstract image visual, internet of things

A new EU-Japan collaboration looks to take smart cities to the next level with a cloud-based open data platform.

Telecom Paper recently reported on the summer launch of the research project “City Platform-as-a-Service – integrated and open,” or CPaaS.io for short.

The EU-funded initiative is a partnership between government and private sector players in Japan and Europe, with a key role played by Bern University’s E-Government Institute.

This project comes amid increased interest in collaboration between smart cities around the globe.

The collaboration aims to develop cloud-based urban data infrastructure that will be used as a key foundation that smart cities can be built on.

The experimental platform will work toward linking such technologies as big data, Internet of Things (IoT), and cloud computing with Linked Open Data and open government data. This will allow cities and private firms to develop new applications and services for the public and businesses.

“The platform – operated by or on behalf of a city – thus forms the basis for an open digitized society, making the city more attractive for its citizens and new businesses, and also helping the city in streamlining and improving its own governmental processes and services,” according to the project website.

Creating a platform-as-a-service?

Project proponents stressed the focus of the platform to act as a service solution.

“Flexibility and elasticity will be key principles in the design of the architecture in order to support the deployment in many different cities with differing requirements, both regarding use cases, services and operational aspects,” said the site. “The platform will also annotate such inherently unreliable IoT data with quality parameters, so that applications can decide if the data quality is good enough to be used.”

As the platform is rolled out, it will be validated in cities currently possessing advanced Open Data capability. Currently the European cities involved include Amsterdam, Zurich and Murcia, while Japanese locations include Tokyo, Sapporo and Yokosuka.

The two-and-half year project is being run by Bern University and Japan’s YRP Ubiquitous Networking Laboratory. Other European players involved include NEC, Odin Solutions, Europe AGT, The Things Network, the University of Surrey and Europe AGT. Japanese partners include Microsoft Japan, the University of Tokyo, Japan Access Co. and Ubiquitous Computing Technology Corp.

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Is the Cybathlon the future of the Paralympics?

ETH Cybathlon rehearsal at the Swiss Arena in Kloten, Switzerland, July 14th 2015. (ETH/Alessandro Della Bella)

With the 2016 Paralympics kicking off in a couple of weeks, highly trained athletes are preparing for a range of competitive events that pit people with similar disabilities against each other in 528 events sports including wheelchair basketball, blind rugby and canoe sprints.

But as sports training and equipment becomes more technologically advanced, some are asking question about the place of technology in the Paralympics.

After VISTA 2013 themed that year on “Equipment and Technology in Paralympic Sports“, speaker, participants and sports enthusiasts were asking about the parity of equipment in the Paralympics given the cost of highly advanced technology. Some questioned whether the more wealthy countries would dominate the medal tables as they potentially have more money to develop “performance enhancing” technology. Others questioned the role of science and technology and whether it would surpass the raw ability of the athlete.

Brendan Burkett, an ex-Paralympian swimmer and now professor in biomechanics at the University of the Sunshine Coast commented:

“But we still need to keep the essence of the sport. We need to keep that while also improving the functionality of the sport. We don’t want the sports to be inhibited by robots, though. We want them to always be controlled by the humans.”

This is further challenged by a lack of sponsorship for individual competitors, low ticket sales and limited television access compared to the Olympic games.

But one event is taking a different approach.

The inaugural Cybathlon kicks off on October 8 in Zurich, Switzerand and will see 74 athletes from 25 countries competing to show how robotic technology helps them in their daily lives. Competitors are referred to as “pilots” and depending on their disability, they compete in a series of tasks to test their agility, dexterity and speed.

Obstacle courses with prosthetics and wheelchairs

Screen Shot 2016-08-23 at 19.08.27

In the respective obstacle courses, four pilots compete simultaneously on parallel tracks against each other to solve six tasks in the shortest time. For example, in the obstacle course with prosthetic legs, different step sequences and movements must be carried out such as climbing stars and walking across a beam. Those with prosthetic arms must demonstrate dexterity with a range of fine motor skills tasks.

See also: Wearables make a big splash at Rio 2016 Olympics

In the motorized wheelchair course, wheelchairs which are controlled by joystick, tongue control, touchpad or by other technologies are approved and their pilots are encouraged in small teams to develop innovative solutions to everyday access challenges such as building inputs with thresholds, uneven pavements or steep ramps. Eligible athletics include those with various types of spinal cord injuries, bilateral leg amputations or other serious injuries that make walking impossible.

Exoskeleton obstacle course


For Cybathlon, the most comfortable and most agile exoskeletons are sought which enable pilots to perform various everyday movements easily and reliably – even climbing stairs or walking on uneven terrain. Only pilots with complete leg paralysis due to a spinal cord injury can participate competing on simultaneous parallel tracks.

Virtual Racing with Brain Control Interface (BCI)


Brain-computer interfaces are able to detect brain signals enabling people with various levels of paralysis to move things with their mind. In virtual racing the pilot utilizes thought control to control characters — or avatars — in a specially developed computer game. The pilots must send the appropriate signals at the right moment so that their avatars jump over obstacles or accelerate. False signals lead to a slow down or a clash. Most teams use the electroencephalography (EEG) for detecting brain signals, but other methods such as near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) are permitted.

The Cybathlon is designed to provide a platform for the development of novel, practical assistive technologies whilst breaking down barriers between people with disabilities, the public and technology developers. It’s not turning people into cyborgs but it is an opportunity to participate in an event with the world’s most ground breaking access technology.

It’ll be interesting to see it’s impact on the Paralympics and whether it attracts people audiences and sponsors to the innovative world of adaptive technology.

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