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Wed Feb 12 2014
 

For most companies, mobile marketing begins in-house. A single person starts working with self service tools on a popular mobile platform. The marketing team lacks inside knowledge and close relationships with major media buying platforms, which makes media planning less efficient. If this sounds like your situation, perhaps you’re ready to seek agency help?

Agencies Have Knowledge and Expertise Your Organization Doesn’t

The best reason to engage with an mobile agency is to maintain your focus. A marketing team needs to focus on the business, not become experts in mobile advertising technology. A good agency will provide you with expertise, knowledge and partner access that otherwise would be difficult to get. Even the most well organized and thoughtful companies rely on an outside agency for many tasks. Why? Because agencies can attract and manage talent that wouldn’t thrive in the very culture that makes your company successful. It is access to these ‘outliers’ that enriches the agency offering, providing you with original thinking and niche technical expertise.

Creativity Comes Unleashed

If there is one single area that agencies excel in, it’s creativity. Agencies have experience and personnel who are great at generating ideas, lots of good ideas. Good ideation is at the core of every good creative approach. Marketing teams should leverage this capability of an agency as much as possible. Generating these ideas is time consuming, but having a great creative agency frees up marketing to work on other more essential aspects of the business.

Stay On Track With a Rigorous Process

Securing approvals from different stakeholders in your organization is another key function an agency can manage. Because they’re a third party, they have nothing vested in any particular strategy, in fact they’re highly motivated to ensure that your campaign is a success from the start. This means they will push for what they truly believe will work based on experience with other companies who have faced similar challenges. A good agency will also have a rigorous process in place. This will help make approvals happen on time, as they are required for the agency to move onto the next phase.

Hiring a Mobile Agency: A Checklist

Once you’ve made the decision to hire an agency, you should meet with multiple candidates of varying size in order to determine the best fit. Here’s a checklist of core attributes you should evaluate them on:

1. Capabilities

Get a detailed list of services and capabilities. Ask which services are filled in house and which are filled by outside contractors. If they use contractors, try to understand the depth of those relationships.

2. Partners

Understand the platforms or partners they have direct experience with. Some specialize in a particular platform, which is the ideal fit if that’s the platform you need.

3. Business Model

Take time to understand their monetary incentives. Some charge hourly, while others a percentage of media spend. Match the model to your performance goals.

4. Culture

Agency culture is surprisingly diverse and varied. It ranges from nerdy and quantitative to quirky and irreverent. Find the culture that best matches your expectations.

5. Case Studies

Get detailed case studies of past client engagements. Be sure to have key people take you through them and ask questions. Try to gain an understanding of the role the agency performed.

6. Key People

Meet with the principals and key partners to find out exactly who will be assigned to your project. Be sure to have this in proposals as part of an hourly breakout.

7. Success Metrics

Determine with the agency what the success metrics should be. Clearly articulating this from the start is the best way to ensure a successful engagement at the end.

8. Approach

Get a good sense of their overall approach. Are they process driven? Creatively driven? Technology driven? Try to understand what motivates them. This will help you determine the right fit.

 
Wed Feb 12 2014

Native Ads Document Signup Native Ads Document Signup <> From: <> Phone: Company: -- This mail is sent via eBook #2 page on TapSense http://tapsense.com marketing@tapsense.com <> Message body: -- This mail is sent via contact form on Phasire http://demowordpress.templatesquare.com/phasire Your message was sent successfully. Thanks. Failed to send your message. Please try later or contact the administrator by another method. * Please fill out the required fields. Please accept the terms to proceed. Email address seems invalid. Please fill the required field. Your answer is not correct. Failed to upload file. This file type is not allowed. This file is too large. Failed to upload file. Error occurred. Failed to send your message. Please try later or contact the administrator by another method. Your entered code is incorrect. Failed to send your message. Please try later or contact the administrator by another method. Date format seems invalid. This date is too early. This date is too late. Number format seems invalid. This number is too small. This number is too large. URL seems invalid. Telephone number seems invalid. on_sent_ok: "_gaq.push(); location.replace('https://s3-us-west-1.amazonaws.com/jm-testbucket/website_test/products_page/TapSense+Native+Ads+Marketplace.pdf);"
Tue Feb 11 2014

Click here to see the post on Entrepreneur Magazine Everyone in business today is being asked to do more with less. There is constant pressure to improve performance, maintain growth and beat the numbers. From large multinationals to independent contractors, increasing efficiency is top priority. Here are five tips that you will help you grow your business, without adding more overhead: Automate tasks with software. Lots of tools are now available that allow for many manual tasks to be automated. For example, social media management tools such as Buffer or HootSuite let you queue up content and have it post automatically. They also let you manage social media as a team, instead of as individuals. Most blogging software also has similar functions. Set up content to post in advance, which frees you up to focus on generating new material. Email marketing can also easily be automated. Low-priced software from vendors such as Hubspot and Marketo allow small companies to build automated customer relationship management systems that rival the sophistication of what Amazon has had for years. Consider what other tasks you can automate, such as billing or accounting. Even public relations teams can set up daily searches to look for relevant articles based on keywords, instead of reading each headline one by one. Focus on scalable channels and ignore everything else. Email is still the most cost-efficient and scalable channel. Every organization should have an email strategy. Even the smallest retailer can effectively use email to drive additional in-store traffic or online sales. Digital advertising and social media are also scalable and both require very little money to get started. While it does take time and effort to build a social media following, once you have it in place, it’s powerful and effective. Door-to-door selling, cold calling and other traditional methods of sales are not scalable. Instead of adding headcount to sales, focus on giving your sales team more warm leads to follow up on. Make the sales team more efficient, rather than larger. Build your business through referrals. Referrals are a simple way to grow a business. Asking customers for referrals directly is low-hanging fruit that everyone should take advantage of. But why stop there? It’s simple to develop a rewards system to encourage customer referrals. This is a popular technique with many retailers and consumer brands. But business-to-business companies can also adopt this by providing incentives or rewards to customers for referrals or loyalty. The absolute best way to accomplish this though is to incorporate sharing into your product. This approach has been exploited over and over again by many Silicon Valley companies such as Facebook, Dropbox, AirBnB or even Yelp. Their products require them to be shared in order to be used effectively. Be an efficient leader and project manager. Effectively managing your own time is another key area that will help you improve the overall efficiency of your business. Focus on efficient business communications by training people to contact you by email instead of by phone. Why? Email is searchable, scalable, documented, available 24/7 in the cloud and there are a host of productivity tools available to become even more effective with it. Become a planing ace, and schedule your entire week in advance. In order to be effective at this, your calendar must be sacrosanct. If it’s not on your schedule, then the meeting shouldn’t take place. This takes discipline to implement. Be polite but firm with people and they will respect it and get on board. Another great tip is to utilize cloud-based tools such as Dropbox, Google Docs, Asana, Basecamp and Box. This will allow you to easily share important documents with people and work collaboratively. With all your files in the cloud, you can work anywhere at anytime, even without your workstation. Don’t aim for perfection. Be smart when implementing any of these ideas. Find small opportunities to test and learn as you go. Some of these ideas will require a significant amount of investment, social media for example, before it will yield measurable results. That doesn’t mean you should give up on it, it means that you need to invest in multiple areas at the same time. Scale the ones that show results and nurture the other ones. Aim to improve the quality over the long term by making each iteration slightly better. Don’t worry about getting it right on the first try -- you won’t. It’s repeated often in my office that the first iPhone shipped without a copy/paste function, and that didn’t stop Apple from launching it. When in doubt, just remember what’s painted in the hall at Facebook: “Done is better than perfect.”
Tue Feb 04 2014
This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com here. In The Art of War, Sun Tzu wrote that "It’s more important to outthink your enemy than outfight him." Even after 2,500 years, this maxim is still so universal and relevant. Sun Tzu warns against waging war without a strategy or understanding what your ultimate goal is. Tactics are not strategy. In the business world it’s common for people to confuse the two, because engaging in tactics makes it appear as if you have strategy, even when you don’t. The best leaders must first understand what their goal is and then work to develop unique tactics that will help you achieve that goal. But they must also be prepared to change that goal, then employ new tactics to achieve it. Here are some strategies to employ to outthink your competitors: Search for unique marketing arbitrage opportunities: In the early days, Google search ads were very cheap and drove high-quality traffic to ecommerce sites effectively. Today mobile advertising is still relatively cheap and can be used in a similar fashion, but it’s getting more expensive. Street teams and guerrilla marketing have proven cost effective for many new soft drink brands such as Red Bull. Lots of companies employ technology evangelists, whose job is to attend hackathons and meetups to promote tools to programmers. Find lower-cost suppliers: This is what drove most manufacturing out of the U.S. to far flung regions of the world. It also drove technology companies to outsource engineering resources to Asia or Eastern Europe. Ikea actually pioneered this approach by moving manufacturing from Sweden to Poland, which was at the time a communist country and difficult for westerners to operate in. There are still opportunities to be had by finding low-cost suppliers, if you’re willing to put in the time, effort and energy to find them. Take risks with your brand: Use spokespeople or content that other more conservative brands won’t use. Fiat has done this successfully by using Charlie Sheen, who was fired from his own show for unprofessional behavior, as a spokesperson. Virgin brands are well known for using unique, creative and outrageous marketing techniques. Its chairman, Richard Branson, once tried to circumnavigate the world in a hot air balloon. He was unsuccessful at the journey, but extremely successful at generating PR for his company. Seek out and solve big challenges: Look explicitly for hard problems or difficult-to-employ strategies that others are avoiding and master them. Before Apple, everyone in the industry believed that a touchscreen only device was impossible to make. When the iPhone came out, it was revolutionary. A blog where one posts only 140 characters at a time sounds like a ridiculous idea, but that’s exactly what Twitter is. In many organizations there are systems, departments, technology or partners that people avoid because it’s viewed as difficult. Take on these challenges, master them and you will become an invaluable and unduplicated resources. Study your competition, carefully evaluate yourself and be honest. It's only through truth and self awareness, combined with a careful analysis of the situation, that you will find your path to success.
Thu Jan 30 2014

Are you using banner ads now in your marketing, but thinking about switching over to native ads? Or maybe, you’re new to mobile advertising and what to know what all the hype is surrounding native ads? Perhaps you’re a digital advertising veteran, you remember all the excitement around Flash and you’re skeptical of trendy new ad technology?

To help marketers keep up with the rapid pace of change in advertising technology, we developed this comparison of the two ad formats. The strengths and weaknesses of mobile banner ads are as follows:

The Strengths of Mobile Banner Ads

  • Massive Reach: Mobile banner ads are currently supported by a large numbers of publishers. The format is also standardized and managed by trade associations like the IAB (Internet Advertising Bureau) and MMA (Mobile Marketing Association). This means advertisers can get massive reach through the format. Billions and billions of banner ad impressions are available on mobile daily.

  • Inexpensive Format: Relative to most channels, banner ads remain low cost. Search, sponsorships, print and television all have high price points and are almost impossible to buy in low quantities. Banner ads can be purchased easily in small amounts and available to advertisers with the smallest budgets.

  • Highly Flexible: The format supports a multitude of unique targeting options such from a variety of vendors. There are retargeting options, lookalike targeting options, data segmenting options, publisher specific targeting systems all available in almost every country around the world.

The Weaknesses of Mobile Banner Ads

  • Accidental Clicks: Some estimates put the number as high as 50%. This number is not a huge surprise when the touch screen nature of most smartphone is taken into account. It does pose a problem for marketers, since a significant portion of those clicks are wasted, it skews brand measurement down and drives up cost.

  • Tiny Sizes: The limited screen real estate offers brands and advertisers a sub par creative experience at best. It’s a challenge to communicate any message more complex than a logo and tagline. The rich and captivating experience of television is the reason that the format still commands the bulk of advertising dollars.

  • Poor Performance: On mobile, banner ad performance overall has seen low click-through-rates and even lower engagement metrics. Performance starts to look real bad once you see that some of the clicks you do get are in-fact accidental. One study found that the average CPM pay out to publishers in mobile is a meager $0.75 (Kleiner Perkins). Another study found that users you’re more likely to die in plane crash then click on a banner ad.

While Mobile Native Ads are relatively new, the excitement around them has been significant. Facebook alone was able to scale Mobile Native Ads to over a Billion dollars in 2013. The strengths and weaknesses of mobile native ads are as follows:

The Strengths of Mobile Native Ads

  • Strong Performance: While the format is still new and data is limited, early test have show strong performance and significant return on investments for marketers. Facebook in only a years time, has been able to scale their native ads business to over a Billion dollars in revenue. Which means mobile native ads must be working extremely for a certain segment of advertisers.

  • No Creative Development: Most mobile native ad products don’t require a significant investment in creative resources. This is great for marketers who want to test with a limited budget and have limited resources. Creative development for digital advertising is a significant barrier for many marketers.

  • Targeting Options: Most native ad products have rich first party data targeting options that can be difficult to access through another method. For example, accurate / male female targeting is possible, as is relationship status targeting.

Native Ad Format

The Weaknesses of Mobile Native Ads

  • Currently Limited: Scalable native advertising models are limited. Outside of Facebook, most native ad products are still new and in early testing stages. At scale native ad buying and campaign management tools are still emerging.

  • Fragmented and Non-Standardized: The formats are not currently managed by the IAB (Internet Advertising Bureau) and MMA (Mobile Marketing Association). Each publisher is free to create their size, style, with different functionality and options. Which makes at scale campaign management tough.

  • Still Just a Trend?: Are mobile native ads here to stay? Or will they fade away like so many other promising and exciting technologies. Investing too early into a technology that goes the way of betamax or Flash is a problem. But if they take off it could prove to a massive competitive advantage to your product or company.

Mon Jan 27 2014

Read the article on iMedia Connection here.

Mobile native ads, or sponsored content that adopts the user experience of a publisher, is just a new spin on an old concept, advertorials. But the recent explosion in adoption of the format by both publishers and advertisers shows that its time has come. For publishers, there are many benefits to incorporating native advertising into an app such as, providing a better user experience and increasing engagement rates, which will result in better CPMs. When exploring adding native advertising options for your app, here are five things to consider:

Select a Sponsored Content Format that Works Best with Your Product

Some apps like Facebook offer advertisers the ability to sponsor a newsfeed posts, while photo sharing apps like Instagram offer advertisers sponsored photo posts. For commerce apps such as Gilt or Ebay they offer merchants a featured listing post that’s very prominent in a specific category. Each app’s unique user experience lends itself to a different native ad format. What’s important is to understand the user experience and offer something that will create value for both advertisers and the users.

Many apps have some kind of newsfeed which makes it easy to develop one of the most popular native ad formats, by simply offering a sponsored news feed post. If your app doesn’t have a newsfeed, a bit more creativity is required. Some good examples of non-newsfeed native ad formats include, sponsored groups or channels, sponsored rooms, pages, or a sponsored playlist for music apps.

Native Ads Perform Better and Bring Higher CPMs For Publishers

Recently a few studies have tried to quantify native advertising performance versus banner ads. One study found users were 25% more likely to look at a native ad than they were at a banner, and that they looked at them 53% more frequently. That same study also found that users were much more likely to share a native ad, which is a huge benefit to the format. Also, given the higher engagement rates, incorporating native ads will impact a publisher's bottom line significantly. Here is an example:

  • Mobile Banners: $.10 CPC on a banner ad gets 0.5% CTR = $0.5 eCPM = $5,000 net payment to the publisher if served on 10MM views.

  • Native Ads (averaged over native ads publishers): $.30 CPC on a real piece of content gets a 2% CTR = $6.00 net CPM = $60,000 net payment to the publisher if served on 10MM views.

Tap Into RTB Native Demand to Expand Monetization Efforts

For publishers, RTB marketplaces offer great opportunities to capture demand that extends well beyond the reach or expertise of an in-house sales team. New technologies allow advertisers to scale programmatic ad buying and put relevant ads in front of consumers based on real-time data. Now that native is coming to many exchanges, you can tap into programmatic demand for that format in addition to banners.

With more demand now migrating to exchanges, and the targeting data layer becoming larger and more robust, advertisers can access unique opportunities to reach consumers. Another benefit of programmatic demand is that it allows a publisher to scale direct sales efforts by using RTB as the delivery method for direct buys. RTB platforms generally have better campaign management and targeting capabilities that will improve a publisher’s workflow and campaign delivery.

Be Sure to Provide Analytics and Reporting Tools and Incorporate Viral Lift

Helping buyers understand the total value of your native ad offering is key in scaling demand. Viral sharing and engagement numbers should be incorporated into the full analysis for customers, to help quantify the success of their campaign. For example LinkedIn does this by combining all shares and clicks into a single engagement number number in their campaign reports. Facebook also does something very similar. Because viral lift from sharing can be significant, publishers want to make ad buyers aware of it’s impact on their campaigns. Providing metrics that quantify this unique aspect of native advertising will go along way in helping create long term value for your advertisers. It also clearly demonstrate the unique value native ads have and increase differentiation.

Don’t Forget to Label Sponsored Content Clearly, The FTC is Watching

The FTC recently held a meeting specifically on native advertising and while no official labeling guidelines have been agreed to for native ads, the FTC did use the meeting as an opportunity to remind publishers, that existing guidelines require all publishers to clearly label any native ad content as sponsored. How this is done is still up to the publishing platform. Google now simply uses the word “Ads” above their sponsored links. While Facebook labels their native ads with the term “Sponsored Post”. Even clever publications like The Onion have a section called “Special Coverage” that contains articles marked “Sponsored By”. Terminology, size, and wording are still all up to the publisher at this stage, what’s most important is to label the sponsored content appropriately.

Thu Jan 23 2014

With Valentine’s Day only three weeks away, mobile advertising is the perfect channel to reach an affluent, on-the-go audience who are busy, but still want to do something special for their significant other. The technology has progressed a lot and marketers have plenty of options to help them reach their audiences. Here are some of our recommendations on how to approach mobile marketing this Valentine’s Day.

Use Targeted Social Media Native Ads

Native Ads are now all the rage. Why? Their performance is hard to beat and the scale is significant. Users love to engage with Native Ads, in fact sharing them is quite popular, which is not the case with mobile banner ads. Using this new ad format, with first party data from Facebook for targeting is very powerful way to drive engagement. One easy way to take advantage of this during Valentine’s Day, is to target ads to facebook users that show they are in a relationship. This strategy will work great for many products such as restaurants, gift shops, flower shops and other retailers. Using Valentine’s Day themed creative and offers will also boost performance.

Take Advantage of Local Search with Mobile PPC Ads

With the rise of Native, In-App Ads, and other new ad formats it is very easy to forget about the PPC search advertising. Google’s enhanced campaigns uses context to adjust the results to take advantage of mobile specific data. For example, when you search for a “romantic restaurant” on your phone, the results will be pulled directly from Google Maps and Google Places and be relevant to your location. So leveraging PPC ads is a great way to have your restaurant or shop listed above the organic results. Plus, bids should not be ridiculously priced since you will only be trying to serve impressions in a small area for a few select keywords. It will also allow you to target specific zip code so you are not wasting impressions or ad spend on other cities. The click-to-call option make is it easy for a user to make an reservation or place an order.

Re-Engage Past Users with Email and Push Notifications

Re-engaging past customers through email or push notifications is a great way to improve ROI from marketing. With 61% of emails being opened on a smartphone or tablet, it makes sense for marketers to send email in a mobile friendly format. If consumers had a great user experience with your brand previously, it should be easy to get them to use your service again. Push notifications can also be a great re-engagement tool for apps. Time the push for last minute sales or during a “Happy Hour” where users can take advantage of a special Valentine’s Day offer.
Mon Jan 20 2014

If you don’t have a multimillion dollar advertising budget, don’t worry. Mobile offers a unique opportunity to get your brand or product in front of consumers during the Super Bowl. Mobile advertising platforms are now operating at a massive scale and offer features that help ensure you can reach that coveted Super Bowl audience and avoid the Super Bowl price tag. Here are a few creative ideas to help you get excited when you’re planning a mobile ad campaign for this year's Super Bowl.

Use Mobile In-App Ads or Native Ads to Promote Your Product Before the Big Game

The Super Bowl is the single most watched event in the world, even more than the World Cup. Which is why it’s the single most important advertising event of the year. Super Bowl party planning happens well in advance of the actual event. Even casual fans, start to prepare a week or two ahead of time to ensure they have everything they need for the game. For many advertisers, this means you want get ahold of your audience ahead of the game, to increase awareness of any product that a Super Bowl party might need. Whether its snacks, soft drinks, alcohol, or grilling items there is a ton of opportunity if you reach your audience a week or two before the kickoff.

Hotels, Airlines and Travel Apps Should Target Travelers Booking Their Trip to NYC

If you’ve ever been to a host city during the Super Bowl, you know it is pandemonium at its finest. Tens of thousands of people flock to city, not just for the game, but just to be part of the festivities. Travel apps should target these users as they book last minute flights and hotels. For example, use location data to target creatives developed for the respective teams of each region. Or, try a super bowl themed offer targeted at users who booked a flight or hotel but never converted.

The Location of this Year's Super Bowl Cities to Increase Retail Sales

This year’s Super Bowl is in New York City during what is predicted to be a big winter storm. There will be hundreds of thousands of tourists, all not from New York, who are not be used to cold and snowy northeast. Retailers should take advantage of this, in order to drive sales of winter hats, coats, scarves and gloves. It’s a great opportunity to liquidate old winter inventory in the beginning of February, as they prep for spring. Not only can local retailers benefit, but official partners of the NFL can utilize this years location and target sports fans to increase sports apparel purchases before the big game. Sports insiders like to joke about this, but it’s true that bandwagon fans spend big money on team clothing before any big game. Brands can also take advantage of tools like Foursquare or Facebook check-ins to give sports fans coupons for a check-in at a store that sell their respective products. This will give sports fans extra motivation to leave with your brands products.

Food Delivery Apps Should Increase Their Install Base Prior to Game Day

Not everyone cooks at their Super Bowl party, many sports fans (myself included) like to take the easy way out. In fact, not only does pizza delivery sales spike, but it’s one of the top days in pizza sales for the entire year all year along. Pizza is not the only hit on Super Bowl Sunday, according to the National Chicken Council Americans ate 1.23 Billion chicken wings during the Super Bowl. Mobile media is still cheap relative to other channels, restaurants or apps that offer home food delivery can buy downloads and drive sales all the way up to until halftime. It’s an inexpensive and easy way to claim the low hanging fruit and grab tons of orders from people who were already looking to have food delivered.

Have the Marketing Team Watch the Game Together

Advertising is a 24/7 game now with social media. Some of the best sports advertising moments come during the more interesting or bizarre moments of a game. You might remember last years Super Bowl, when during the 3rd quarter, half of the stadium lights went out. They had to postpone the game for a full 34 minutes. In that short time span, Oreo put out this tweet. Which has became legendary in social media advertising circles and is almost as well known as the event itself. This particular tweet also trumped TV ads during this break since TV ads during the Super Bowl are on strict time slots so most of the ads played during the stoppage were repeat or old TV commercials.

More recently, you might have watched the end of the AFC Divisional Round when Peyton Manning said, “What’s weighing on my mind is how soon I can get a Bud Light in my mouth?" As expected, the Bud Light marketing team wasted no time. They retweeted the journalist who asked Peyton the question, as well as posted a tweet of their own. It was a magical social advertising moment, that created great significant brand awareness while spending little or no money at all. Having the team together for Super Bowl game day is a fun bonding experience. But it also can be a productive and creative venue, where great marketing moments are born.

For more mobile marketing insights download TapSense’s free eBook: A Complete Guide to Mobile Marketing 2014 Second Edition

Thu Jan 16 2014
This post originally appeared on the FullStart blog here. Engineering is hard and creativity doesn’t happen on-demand. Developing a great product takes great minds. At TapSense we recognize that the best, most talented people do not excel by simply staring at their screen for eight hours a day. Talented people do great work in a collaborative environment, one that accepts that each employee is unique, but still requires them to work together as a team.

Why We Take Time Out For Foosball

Foosball has long been associated with startup culture and we think it’s a great game, but it’s also a great symbol for a new type of work organization, one that breaks completely with the antiquated nineteenth century model of work — a model which unfortunately still persists in the minds of many managers and business types. The nineteenth century model of work was developed specifically for organizing workers on a factory floor, getting them to do boring repetitive tasks, quickly and efficiently. This couldn’t be farther from the modern office environment, which is why those management methods are so outdated. Coding, design, and even writing all take a deep level of concentration that can’t be sustained for hours on end. They also all tend to be solitary pursuits, which is why we encourage our team to take frequent office breaks. In this context, games at work for our team are not a distraction; they’re an essential part of the process. It gives them an opportunity to interact with each other, relax their minds and come together as a team.

Team Building and Hackathons

Until recently, hackathons were the sole territory of only the nerdiest tech industry insiders. But now, hackathons are increasing in popularity, and this hasn’t diminished their usefulness. Hackathon Hackathons are essential to our culture and our ability to innovate. Why? Because with technology evolving so rapidly, how does our team find the time to experiment with new ideas? Research new approaches? Test out new technologies? In most startups, the team is extremely busy updating and maintaining the business. It’s hard to find time to stay current. Spending time on your own, outside of work, isn’t ideal either. Because you don’t always have all the resources required to test and learn. Hosting a company hackathon allows the team to come together and try out these new ideas. The company should provide resources like servers, testing equipment and software that are difficult to get outside of the office. Providing incentives and fostering a friendly, but competitive environment will help increase motivation and encourage teams to tackle real problems.

How Cake Can Equal Innovation

The tradition of having cake on your birthday is wonderful one. We make it a point to have a cake for each employee’s birthday. In fact, our team enjoyed the cake tradition so much, that we started to have cakes at work on occasions other than employee birthdays. We had a cake for the anniversary of the founding of the company. We took cakes to meetings with some of our customers. We even created our own holiday, to announce a new product and had cakes delivered to all of our key partners, customers and journalists. They all loved the cake, but they also loved the uniqueness of receiving cake as a gift. It was symbolic of our dedication to innovation and creativity – and was a cost-effective marketing tool. Cake Building a true culture of innovation is an easy thing to say, but a very tough thing to do well. It requires a careful mix of good judgment and risk taking. If startups take too many unnecessary risks, you can easily lose what little traction you have, alienating early supporters. On the other hand, if you’re too conservative and too slow, competitors both big and small will fly past you. All the best approaches to company culture generally come down to one essential ingredient: building a great team. This is why at the earliest stages you have to put in place a rigorous hiring process. Not only hiring the best and brightest, but hiring those who share your values and who you can see yourself working with closely on a daily basis. If you can assemble a great team, the company culture should easily fall in line.
Wed Jan 15 2014
We are excited to announce that Ash Kumar will be speaking at Brand Innovators next Thursday, January 23rd. Ash will moderate a panel on Native Ads. The discussion will address how they changed mobile advertising, and how big brands are taking advantage them. Below is the description from Brand Innovators:

Native Advertising: The Banner Buster?

Native advertising is gathering steam. From BuzzFeed to YouTube, the format is catching on with both publishers and marketers. Even the venerable New York Times introduced the format this month. Fact: native advertising is more authentic, engaging, and shareable than traditional banner advertising. And, brands are catching on. Take a deep dive into the technology powering native advertising and learn how Fortune 500 brands are getting big returns from the native advertising phenomenon.
You can see the entire agenda of the conference by clicking here.