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Amazon Is Finally Starting To Harness The Visual Web

Amazon has launched a visually dominant storefront for showcasing exclusive products. Called Amazon Exclusives, this Pinterest-like image grid allows users to browse through products from paddleboards to patterned Mary Janes that are only for sale on Amazon.

“Amazon Exclusives is comprised of sellers that have chosen to sell their products only on the Amazon Marketplace and through their own websites and physical stores,” the company wrote, and other than that, the products have little in common. The grid display appears to have been chosen order to encourage browsing instead of searching behavior.

“We are using a unique product layout to better showcase the items to make the store visually appealing to customers and fun to navigate,” an Amazon spokesperson told me by email. 

You may recognize the image grid from Pinterest, of course, but also other visual shopping sites and apps like Wanelo, Polyvore, Wish, Etsy, and eBay’s iPad app overhaul. (Amazon has even tried this approach before with a Pinterest knockoff called Collections.) It’s a tried and true effort to acquire eyeballs by showing off potential objects of desire.

The Rise Of The Visual Web

From the days of cave paintings to the advent of emoji, human beings have always been very visual creatures. In the earlier days of the Web, limited bandwidth made use of multiple images impractical, leading us to develop a text-based infrastructure.

Now that quick-loading images and even video are a technological reality, Web companies have either gotten way more visual—or died off. Twitter and Facebook, once the bastions of text-based updates, provide simple image support. Google and Pinterest are both experimenting with true visual search, where users can search by one image to find similar ones.

See also: How The Visual Web Could Achieve Its Potential

The Visual Web, however, has had the biggest influence in users’ shopping habits. Companies are aiming to put fewer and fewer steps between the instant a user sees a product and their ability to buy it. It’s why Pinterest, the first to implement this grid-like display on a large scale, was able to drive more sales than more popular social media sites.

Ever since Pinterest caught the digital world by surprise, Amazon has been experimenting with increasingly Pinterest-like image grids. One notable one is Beautiful things, updated daily, a collection of sponsored products related to fashion, which can be categorized by looks for women or for men.

Both the fashion focus and the grid of large images invoke the Pinterest approach to the Visual Web. In addition to Collections, which is no longer on the site, Amazon also regularly displays some products—primarily clothing and shoes, but also some consumer electronics as well—in a grid format.

“Amazon Collections was a test,” the spokesperson said. “We learned a great deal and always look for ways to apply these lessons in the future as we continue to innovate on behalf of our customers.”

Whether the still-experimenting Amazon will adopt this kind of un-Amazonian design permanently isn’t yet clear. By implementing it for a group of products that aren’t available anywhere else, it ought to find out quickly how well it works. 

Photo of screen by Lauren Orsini

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Pinterest Is Stripping All Affiliate Links From Its Network, Starting Today by @mattsouthern

Just as reports surface that Pinterest is working on a new way to monetize its network, there is now news from VentureBeat that Pinterest is banning all affiliate links. Pinterest power users are being warned via email that links containing affiliate info, redirects, or pin trackers will be automatically removed. These types of links have already being removed as of today, and Pinterest is apparently keenly focused on popular affiliate networks RewardStyle and Hello Society. Pinterest is no stranger to banning affiliate links on a case by case basis, but this is the first time the company has ever issued […]

The post Pinterest Is Stripping All Affiliate Links From Its Network, Starting Today by @mattsouthern appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

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From Kings To Grannies: These Vine Stars Are Starting The New Year In The Top 10

Vine, the social media platform for creating and sharing short video loops, is one of the hottest growing social media trends right now. Here’s a look at the top 10 Viners from the last 30 days based on new followers. Which up-and-coming Vine stars continue to grown in popularity in 2015, and whose careers will fizzle and burn before the year is out? We’ve got a few ideas.

No 1: King Of The Hill

At the top of the heap this month we have KingBach coming in with 624,567 new followers. Arguably best known for his infamous #ButThatBackFlipTho Vine, KingBach brings us comedic stylings with a street sensibility that even Grandma can enjoy … if she’s OK with occasional cursing.  

No. 2: School Is Hard

No. 2 on our list is Lele Pons with 488,666 new followers. LeLe brings us a lot of slapstick comedy, and with it, the relief that high school (for some of us), is over and we never ever have to go back. Ever.

No. 3: Hey Piano Man

Rudy Mancuso comes to us at No. 3 with 450,714 new followers. Rudy may  clown around frequently with his friend and fellow Viner, King Bach, but he also knows how to bang out a tune on various instruments which his Vines demonstrate.

No. 4: Farts + Close up = Success for LIFE

JAY VERSACE, who is not afraid of ALL CAPS or close-up selfie videos, is in 4th place with 441,653 new followers. While other Viners are building their shorts around a concept, JAY is building his around the fact that his farts smell like iPhone chargers. It’s working out well—because, let’s face it—nothing is funnier than flatulence.

No. 5: That One Kid From Some Nickelodeon Show Or Whatever

Halfway between being incredibly awesome and kinda mediocre, we arrive at Josh Peck at No. 5. Josh, who is quick to point out that he’s real famous vs. Vine famous, models his comedy closer to that of his friends LeLe Pons and KingBach. Real famous or not, Josh is pretty funny and more importantly, allows other people hold the camera from time to time. JAY, are you taking notes?

No. 6: And Now For A Word From Our Sponsors

Oddly enough Vine itself comes in at number 6 with 427,493 new followers. More like a looping vlog for its business, Vine’s Vines provide news about new features, people dancing poorly in settings where dancing is uncalled for and musicians who one day may be real famous… just like Josh Peck! While it makes sense to use your own platform to spread knowledge and create brand identity, blank videos with dripping sounds and a hashtag isn’t the way to do it. At all.

No. 7: Stop Trying to Make Fetch Happen

Logan Paul steals the No. 7 slot with a whopping 418,010 new followers. Logan, who claims he never begs for followers, spends a lot of his time begging for followers on other social media accounts like Instagram. While his bro comedy does have a certain charm, I think we all know what Regina George would say about the like-for-like requests.

No. 8: Low-Carb Snacks For On-The-Go

No. 8 goes to Nash Grier with 395,704 new followers. Nash is somehow No. 1 in all of Vinedom. Seriously, how did this happen? This kid makes me sad for humanity and scared for the future of our infrastructure. If you’re in the market for a new diet plan in 2015 that will really work, check out Nash’s video of him chewing a tube of chapstick like a cow; it’s guaranteed to make you never want to eat food again.

No. 9: Background Actor No. 1

Not-the-worst this month is Christian DelGrosso at No. 9 with 361,406 new followers. You may recognize Christian from some of his more popular friend’s videos. Christian is pretty funny in his own right, even if he is enrolled in the Logan Paul School of Social Media Advertisement.

No. 10: Granny Got Game

Like the last kid picked for Dodge Ball, Curtis Lepore rolls into 10th place with 344,808 new followers, which he should still be proud of. Curtis’ saving grace is not his more popular friends, but his grandma who easily steals the show in every video in which she appears. Coming in closely behind Grandma are Curtis’ parents. We can safely assume they’ll only get funnier as they age.

BONUS: It’s A Bird, It’s A Plane …

As a special treat and not to be left out of the fun is David Lopez with 228,864 new followers this month. His humor is pretty spot-on and his BatJuan is hilarious. Any man who will willingly post several videos of himself in a Superman onesie is pretty much aces in my book.

Lead image courtesy of YouTube

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Pinterest To Roll Out Promoted Pins To All US Users Starting January 1, 2015 by @mattsouthern

After a successful beta launch of Promoted Pins, first introduced eight months ago, Pinterest has announced its decision to give all users the ability to take advantage of this advertising unit. Starting January 1, “reservation-based” Promoted Pins will be available to all US users at a CPM. Here are some of the benefits of Promoted Pins, based on data gathered from the beta launch: Promoted Pins perform as good or better than organic Pins. Brand advertisers achieved about a 30% bump in earned media from people who saw a Promoted Pin and saved it to one of their own boards. […]

The post Pinterest To Roll Out Promoted Pins To All US Users Starting January 1, 2015 by @mattsouthern appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

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Big Data’s Fence-Sitters Are Starting To Experiment

Big Data may finally have arrived. Not “arrived” in the sense that everyone is swimming in data lakes and discovering actionable insights and other buzzwords. After all, most companies, including yours, are still baffled by Big Data and how to derive value from it.

See also: Oh, Go Jump In A Data Lake, Says Fed-Up Gartner Analyst

But for the first time in years, the Big Data fence-sitters have decided to get into the action. According to recent Gartner data, Big Data experimentation has hit 73% of enterprises, suggesting that too much is at stake with big data to sit it out. 

The trick now is to learn how to optimize those Big Data projects so they can fail, fail and fail again—and yet produce useful lessons for improvement with each iteration.

More Companies Jumping Into Big Data

While some signs point to a slowdown in Big Data-land, like this tweet from Gartner analyst Nick Heudecker—

—other data suggests the opposite. Some of it, ironically, from Gartner.

For example, for the last few years Gartner has been asking survey respondents,”Which of the five stages best describes your organization’s stage of Big Data adoption?” From 2012 to 2013, the number of naysayers remained roughly constant:

Source: Gartner, 2013

But this week Gartner released its newest survey data, and the percentage of respondents declaring they have “No plans at this time” to embrace Big Data declined considerably:

Source: Gartner, 2014

That’s a seven-point drop in the “no plans” contingent, swelling the ranks of those investing in or planning to use big data projects to 73% from 64% in 2013.

That’s a big deal.

Learning To Try

Of course, many organizations continue to struggle to put their data to good use, which is why a mere 13% of organizations have actually rolled out Big Data projects. That’s a nice leap from 2013, but still indicates that technology vendors haven’t done nearly enough to simplify their products and that many organizations have the wrong approach to Big Data to begin with.

The gap between “want to work with Big Data” and “actually work with Big Data” is also captured in this 451 Research chart:

Source: 451 Research

Part of the problem is that we’ve confused what Big Data actually means—volume is rarely the most important problem to solve; variety of data is—and we think of it as a discrete project rather than as a core component of a company’s culture. 

Cloudera co-founder Mike Olson nails this in a recent interview with Bosch’s Internet of Things group:

We talk to a lot of people who are fascinated by the technology of [Big Data]. They are excited about Big Data as Big Data. Those are bad people for us to work with, because they are not fundamentally driven by a business problem. It’s important when you start thinking about [Big Data] to think about why it matters…. The “shiny object syndrome” of engineers who want to play with new technology—I totally get that, I am one of those guys, but those projects generally fail because they don’t have clear success criteria.

The key, as I’ve written, is to set up an architecture of experimentation. This involves a heavy reliance on open-source software, cloud-based hardware and a multi-faceted team that understands your business and the right questions to ask of your data. 

It’s clear that many organizations don’t follow this practice, or we wouldn’t see nearly half of CIOs surveyed by Deloitte saying they have inadequate budget to fund innovation. Innovation isn’t a matter of big budgets; it’s a matter of little iterations. 

By embracing this more agile approach to big data innovation, more organizations will discover how to turn big data tire-kicking into big data success.

Lead image courtesy of Shutterstock

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Developers Are Starting To Chase After Apple’s Swift

Apple really wants developers to switch to Swift. And it looks like the feeling is mutual.

Six weeks after Apple unveiled Swift, the new programming language for iPhone and Mac applications is attracting a noticeable level of interest from developers. Phil Johnson at IT World crunched the numbers, and at least on GitHub, developers are picking it up.

See also: Apple Wants Devs To Love Swift, Its Shiny New Language—But There’s A Catch

Swift is now the 15th most widely used language on GitHub, with more than 2,600 new Swift repositories created since June, according to Johnson’s study. More significantly, Johnson believes that interest in Swift is directly replacing interest in Objective-C:

“From the beginning of January through the end of May, developers created about 294 new Objective-C repositories per day on GitHub. Since Swift was released in early June, that average has dropped to about 246 repos per day. That drop of 48 repos per day is pretty close to the average number of new Swift repositories created per day since its release and initial spike in interest.”

Apple has shown a marked interested in getting developers to adopt Swift, even going so far as to launch a surprisingly open and friendly development blog.

See also: Why Apple’s Blogging About Swift, Its New Programming Language For iPhones And Macs

From Apple’s perspective, Swift is a simpler, safer, faster-to-run alternative to the somewhat clunky and error prone language Objective-C now used to write apps for iPhones, iPads and Macs. But even if Swift is the magic bullet Apple conveys, it’s still going to have to rally developers to switch from the old way of doing things to an unproven new language.

The GitHub data shows that at least some developers are turning a new leaf.

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Sean Si on Starting a SEO Company the Right Way [INTERVIEW] by @AkiLiboon

On June 21, Search Engine Journal’s Philippine team had the privilege of attending a one day marketing conference called SEO Summit 2014. I interviewed one of the hosts, Sean Si, about his company SEO Hacker and its humble beginnings. You mentioned at SEO Summit that your company, SEO Hacker, started out as a one-man team before becoming one of the leading SEO companies in the Philippines. Can you share a brief history of your company’s journey? Yeah, sure! I started providing SEO services as a side job in January of 2010–one month before I graduated from college. I studied IT but I was a really bad student […]

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Lessons from @Buffer in Starting Small: v1.0s of Google, Facebook, YouTube by @BelleBCooper

“The best things we know and love started as tiny things.” — Joel Gascoigne Buffer’s CEO, Joel, wrote a post not too long ago about the importance of starting small with new projects. He makes some great points about how easy it is to see the finished product of someone else’s hard work and forget about how long it took them to get to that point: “It’s difficult to understand how the evolutionary process of products and brands contributes and is vital to what they are today.” Joel goes on to say that success is more likely when we execute on small projects. Start […]

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Search is the Starting Point for 60% of Travelers, While Social Informs [Study]

Kenshoo has released an industry spotlight report on the travel sector that shows 58 percent of leisure travelers and 64 percent of business travelers begin with search, with one out of four tablet users converting by booking air travel on a tablet.

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Starting A Shopping Campaign In AdWords? Forget All You Know About Keywords!

Now that Shopping Ads and Product Listing Ads (PLAs) are getting more prominent positions on the SERPs (and taking away traffic from search ads); I’ve started to focus on them more with my clients. I found that working with Google Shopping campaigns is a good deal different from working with…



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