The Top 10 Companies Working on Education in Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality

Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality are new technologies which have been making all kinds of waves recently; but VR and AR are not only going to be used for gaming, several companies are exploring applications for VR and AR to be used in education. Around 90% of what we see and do is retained, which is something that has always been missing from education; students do not retain as much information if they are just reading a textbook compared to having more real applications of what they’re learning. Which is why VR and AR in education are so beneficial; these technologies engage students in a completely new way which is more fun and engaging for them, and it increases retention. Several companies are currently working on innovations in this space; and the work we’ve seen so far is surely a good sign of things to come.


Immersive VR Education

Lecture VR is a VR app by Immersive VR Education which simulates a lecture hall in virtual reality, while adding special effects which can’t be utilized in a traditional classroom setting. Lectures are accompanied by images, videos, and immersive experiences which enhance the lesson. Imagine learning about Apollo 11 and while the instructor is lecturing, they can transform the classroom to be inside the space shuttle which they’re lecturing about; adding much more to the lecture than would be traditionally possible. Another major asset of this type of learning is that students and professors can remote in from anywhere in the world, which makes education more accessible on a global level.




Unimersiv is a VR learning platform which releases educational content on a monthly basis. The content in Unimersiv’s app is more individualized and immersive, and at the moment the 3 educational experiences available on the app are: Explore the International Space Station, Anatomy VR, and Learn about Stonehenge in Virtual Reality. The diversity in this content shows the true potential in the range of things we can learn by using VR in education; and it also shows that Unimersiv is dedicated to creating educational content on a wide range of topics, which makes their potential truly unlimited.


Google Expeditions Pioneer Program

Google is also making waves in the space of VR education with their exciting Expeditions Pioneer Program. The purpose of the program is for Expeditions teams from Google to visit schools around the world and provide everything teachers need to take their students on a journey anywhere; the team will also assist the teachers in setting up and utilizing this technology. The VR experiences are meant to be like a really cool field trip which teachers would ordinarily never be able to take their students on; whether it’s to an underwater coral reef, or into a city like Barcelona, the potential is truly limitless here. The way the app works is that the students and the teacher will see the same things and be in the same session, but the teacher will be able to lecture and highlight certain things which are relevant to the lesson.


Alchemy VR

Alchemy VR is creating immersive educational experiences on an impressive scale. The experiences on Alchemy VR are like a narrative being told to the user where they will get to see and experience a myriad of different things; one such example is exploring the Great Barrier Reef. What makes Alchemy VR standout in this space is their partnerships which contribute to the level of content they produce. Alchemy VR is partnered with Samsung, Google Expeditions, Sony, HTC, the Natural History Museum in London, and the Australian Museum in Sydney. Alchemy VR has actually made several projects for Google Expeditions and is set to release experiences on pyramids and the human body soon.




Discovery VR

Discovery has been telling stories like no one else for over 30 years; and now they are entering the modern era with their Discovery VR app. Some of your favorite content is available on the Discovery VR app, so you can experience some of your favorite Discovery shows in a whole new way. Discovery brining content to virtual reality is great for the space of education in virtual reality; Discovery has been creating educational content for years, they’re a household name and when people hear you can watch Deadliest Catch or Mythbusters in Virtual Reality it might just get more people interested in the potential applications of virtual reality for education.



zSpace is unique in the space of education in VR because of the technology they’re using. zSpace feels that VR technology should not necessarily be so antisocial and one sided as everyone putting on their own headset. zSpace has monitors which are similar to the way 3D movies work, where a group of people use glasses which are similar in feel to 3D glasses; these glasses make the content come off the screen. Additionally zSpace users have a pen which they use in order to manipulate the stimulus as you can see below. zSpace currently has content available for STEM education, medical training, and more general math and science experiences.




Curiscope is a startup company focusing on education in VR, and their Virtual Tee is already turning heads. The way it works is that one person wears a t-shirt while another person with a smartphone launches the app and is able to learn about the human body in a unique way. This is a unique way to utilize AR in education and it is surely a sign of good things to come from Curiscope.





Woofbert VR is focusing on bringing art to VR technology, they are looking to reshape the landscape of storytelling and revolutionize the way we look at art and culture. WoofbertVR is a unique way to visit an art gallery, either individually or in a classroom setting giving students the opportunity to take a field trip which they would never normally get to experience. Exploring a gallery using WoffbertVR’s app is nearly identical to how you would explore it in person; you can follow any path you choose, zoom in on paintings you are interested in, and listen to audio segments on certain exhibits. The only difference here is that you do not need to take an expensive trip in order to visit a gallery which has some of your favorite paintings or pieces, now it can be done from the comfort of your own home.



Nearpod is an organization which combines VR and AR technology with traditional lesson plans in a classroom for a more immersive technology driven approach to learning. Nearpod utilizes 360 degree photos and videos in lesson plans, and also has something akin to a PowerPoint for students to use alongside the 360 photos and videos. There are also options to have students answer questions by typing into their laptop or tablet. Nearpod VR is giving us an idea of what a classroom of the future is going to look like, with lesson plans being enhanced with VR and AR technology and students being more engaged by using this new technology.


EON Reality

EON Reality is looking to change how teachers utilize technology in the classroom. Students and teachers can create blended learning environments with the EON Creator, which is an interactive tool that allows users to combine 3D content with videos, sound effects, notes, Powerpoint, and more. EON also has an EON Experience Portal where teachers and students can upload their work and also explore the creations of other teachers and students. There is also the EON Colliseum where students and teachers can meet virtually, which makes collaboration possible at any time and from nearly any location.



Schell Games

Schell Games is one of the largest independent game development companies in the United States; with their forte being in what they refer to as transformation games, or games that change people for the better. Among the countless games they have developed includes Water Bears VR, which is a VR puzzle game aimed at kids that promotes systems thinking and spatial recognition. There has always been a challenge in education with engaging students, especially kids, and making learning fun has always been a practical solution to that challenge. With companies like Schell Games producing fun VR games for kids, which have the added bonus of being educational, we find a fun solution to the challenge of getting kids interested in learning.




Gamar is a company who is attempting to make museum visits more modern through the use of Augmented Reality. The way that Gamar’s content works is that they have interactive experiences and supplemental information which can be paired with certain locations to enhance museum visits. One of the chief rules of a museum is not to touch anything, but with Gamar’s app museum attendees will be able to point their smartphone or tablet at an exhibit at one of their paired locations and get additional information on that exhibit. Museum visits can be tedious for kids when all they want to do is pull out their smartphones and play with them. Gamar has provided a solution to this problem by finding a way to engage kids in museums and doing it in a way that’s interesting to them and on their level. AR and VR technology are great tools for education, but if we can’t get kids to use them then it’s all for not; which is why we need organizations like Gamar who find ways to get kids to utilize this technology in educational ways.




A unique take on 360 images has been developed for classroom use by ThingLink. The way that their technology works is that it allows teachers, or students, to annotate 360 images with various interactive tags, or links to different videos or applications or third party tools. Imagine being able to look at a 360 picture of London and click on various things throughout the picture, one tag might be a video enhancing something you are looking at, while another tag might be a writing assignment or a place to record notes. This kind of all in one learning experience will help in breakages in immersion which would typically occur in learning which utilizes VR or AR technology.  If students do not have to look away from a 360 image in order to take notes or do an assignment then the immersion will never truly be broken. ThingLink’s technology encourages students and teachers to utilize AR in the classroom for a unique one stop experience, and it has the potential to shape adoption of VR and AR technology in the classroom on a broad scale due to its appeal to students and teachers alike, not just one or the other.




Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality are the next big step forward in education, and these technologies are good for educators and students alike. Educators will be able to capture the attention of their students like never before and get them more actively involved in the classroom. Students are always trying to do what’s cool and what’s new; utilizing VR and AR technology in classrooms will appeal to students because it’s the latest and greatest thing and it’s very cool to use. Using VR and AR technology will not only make learning more interesting and exciting to students but it will also increase retention because it engages them in a way which textbooks simply cannot compete with. These technologies give us a window into the future of education, and it probably won’t be long until it is standard for classrooms to come equipped with some form of VR or AR technology.

[TouchStone Research]

October 4, 2016 / by / in , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Five Secrets To Reduce Your Cost of Venture Capital And Financing

(L to R) Aviv ‘Vivi’ Nivo, venture capitalist and major shareholder in Time Warner, and Robert Scully attend the annual Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
As I noted in a previous blog, entrepreneurs pay a high cost for capital. As an entrepreneur, your cost of capital includes many aspects (some of which overlap).

  • Financial cost of money that includes the target return to investors or interest rate to lenders
  • Dilution cost of money that includes the portion of future wealth given to investors, which is based on the investors’ target return
  • Control cost of money, which is the loss of control of the company and of the wealth generated (if any)
  • Leadership cost of money, which is evidenced by the potential that you may not stay as the leader of your venture going forward, and
  • Guarantee cost of money that is the cost of the personal guarantees (and personal collateral) demanded by lenders

But can you reduce your cost of capital? Here are some strategies from high-performance entrepreneurs that may help you to cut the cost of your venture’s financing.

Prepare before you launch – test your key assumptions. Many entrepreneurs make decisions based on their gut feel. But instinct can take you in the wrong direction. Instinct can be inaccurate and can often be based on greed and fear – neither is a great foundation for sound decisions. Poor decisions can result in poor financing and wasted opportunities. What I found is that highly successful entrepreneurs prioritized their key assumptions, and tested the ones that could kill their business. Jill Blashack Strahan tested her assumptions for about two years before launching Tastefully Simple – one reason why she built it into a $100 million+ company with an investment of $6,000.

Learn what you need to know. Most entrepreneurs cannot recruit a team, which is the VC-preferred method. Or they cannot recruit a highly qualified team. Or they may not want to form a team with the often inexperienced people they can attract at an early stage – especially if “team” means that you share control of your dream with the others. So it is important to know the basics before launching, especially if you don’t want to pay a high price for this lack of knowledge. The two most common skills that the very successful entrepreneurs had were sales and financial management, along with the technical skill needed for the specific business. Mark Zuckerberg knew coding, which is one reason he was able to launch his venture without seeking others to help him develop his site.

Launch and adjust. But even with the testing, reality is usually different from expectations. The best way to get real feedback is to launch, but with the ability to adjust to reality. Uber launched as a limo service but switched to its current model of disrupting the taxicab industry and became a billion-dollar company.

Finance to control. Raising money before Aha is difficult and money is expensive. Before Aha, VCs usually demand control and recruit a professional CEO. This means that entrepreneurs, who want to control their dream and the wealth it creates, need to know how to get to Aha with control and how to grow after Aha with control. Most of the billion-dollar entrepreneurs controlled their venture. To control, you need to do more with less – especially before Aha. Mark Zuckerberg got VC after Aha and controlled his venture and the wealth created.

Understand the industry. In an emerging industry, no one knows the rules to succeed. Everyone is improvising. Stay flexible until you, or someone, finds the formula. If someone else does, imitate and improve. If it is you, take-off and constantly improve. In an established industry, learn the strengths and weakness of your competitors, the unmet needs of the market, and the new trends you can ride. That’s what Kevin Plank did in athletic wear, and Hamdi Ulukaya did in Chobani.

MY TAKE: Should you learn the lessons of entrepreneurial experience without paying the cost? Unless you are perfect, or don’t mind losing, or are very lucky, you don’t have a choice.


August 6, 2016 / by / in
Say No! to Fake Work

I really liked this infographic because it calls BS on all ways that we accidentally de-motivate ourselves and those around us.
Some definite good advice in this one, especially for that “busy bee” that become so common in today’s offices.




June 22, 2016 / by / in
Moss Voltaics: harvesting electrical energy out of moss.


Moss Voltaics is a green façade system that aims to explore how moss might be used as a source of renewable energy and how it can be implemented to the urban scale.

Mentioned emerging technology is called biophotovoltaics (BPV) which uses the natural process of photosynthesis to generate electrical energy. In this process plants using light energy consume carbon dioxide and water from the environment to convert it into organic compounds. Those compounds are required for the vital processes of a plant.

“When the moss photosynthesises it releases some of these organic compounds into the soil which contains symbiotic bacteria. The bacteria break down the compounds, which they need to survive, liberating by-products that include electrons.”

(From <http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/the-hidden-power-of-moss> )

By providing an electrode for the micro-organisms to donate their electrons to, the electrons can be harvested as electricity.


The system can work with other species of plants and algae, nevertheless moss was chosen because of its eligible properties. As mosses are commonly found in cities: in cracks between paving, on roofs, on walls and trees, the system can be well adapted into the urban environment. Advantages of mosses over higher plants include reduced weight loads, increased water absorption, no fertilizer requirements, high drought tolerance and low maintenance.

Compared with silicon-based photovoltaic cells, a solar cell that uses biological material to capture light energy would be cheaper to produce, self-repairing, self-replicating, biodegradable and much more sustainable. The manufacturing process is harmless to the environment. Furthermore BPV panels can exist in the places where solar panels are not efficient – northern countries with the lack of direct sunlight.

Biophotovoltaic cell represents an organization of units combined in series or parallel circuits. Unit is a full operating bio-electrical system. It consists of the anodic biological material (moss), the anode, the cathode, the cathodic catalyst, the “salt bridge” that permit to the positive charge (generally protons) to travel from the anodic biological material to the cathode. The anode represents the mixture of hydrogel and carbon fibers that help to attract the electrons. Hydrogel is a polymer that can absorb water up to 400 times to its weight, it keeps complementary humidity for the moss and it is pH neutral. The materials are not damaging any metabolism. Thus first tests to check how fibers coexist with moss and polyacrylate were made. One unit 100×100 mm: for the anode were mixed carbon fibers and hydrogel in cubes (sliced for thinner small sheets) + a layer of carbon fabric, the mixture was covered with moss. The cell showed 0,35 volts. Meanwhile “moss plantation” was set up wherefrom anode would be taken for embedding it to the structure. For this fibers with polyacrylate were mixed and moss was placed atop and pressed down + moss was divided in small pieces and distributed over the same mixture. After 1 months moss grew through the mixture of carbon fibers and hydrogel.

anode copy

Design of a system. Bricks represent sort of a container that can create special microclimate that helps to keep moss alive. The bottom part inside that brick is glazed to be waterproof, the rest is a porous clay without a coating. This clay absorbs water, so the system could be passive receiving water from rain, where hydrogel retains liquid for a long period.

The first elements were made to see if the method of slip clay casting works. Slipcasting is a technique for the mass-production of pottery and ceramics. A liquid clay body slip is poured into plaster moulds and allowed to form a layer, the cast, on the inside cavity of the mould. For a hollow cast mould, once the plaster has absorbed most of the liquid from the outside layer of clay the remaining slip is poured off for later use. Generally there are few steps in making a plaster mold: a) forming a shape made of clay; b) formwork around the matter + several divisions for pieces of the mold; c)pouring liquid plaster. In this project those items have been overstepped, the plaster mold was done with the milling CNC machine. So the shape was created digitally that means accuracy and precision.



Receiving data. There was made a device that can read Lux, Humidity, Temperature and Volts every 5 seconds with sensors and save it directly to .csv file. Here is a graph with 4 days, where you can see the relation of voltage and humidity.


sensors copy

graph d1 copy

graphs copy


suface area
The initial idea is to go for the facade, so the scale of the first prototype was quiet small considering it as a ventilated facade brick. As far as the customization technic and the electrical components are functioning the shape transfers to a new design. It is predicted by the system of assembling, by the forces that are distributed through the whole volume, and by the specific conditions linked with the fabrication process (the size of bits for milling, the quantity of pieces for the mold, the way clay is casted). Elements are gathered by the relief on their side faces without adding any cement mixture. Electrical connections are passing through those system joints. Moss is not exposed to the direct sunlight, blocks provide the required shading.
explosion large bricks copy
circuit copy
slip.glaze copy
DSC00066 copy
One Unit is giving 0,4 – 0,5 Volts. Six bricks are connected in the series circuit to increase the voltage- 3 different modules, two of each ones. Two and more groups that were connected in series are combined in the parallel circuit to increase the current.


May 22, 2016 / by / in
Over 140 B2B Content Marketing Statistics for 2016 Strategy Planning

B2B Content Marketing Report 2016

The best content marketing strategies are informed by data and one of the most consistent B2B marketing research reports chock full of data comes from Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs.

Today the 6th edition of the B2B Content Marketing – 2016 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends – North America report was published revealing a canyon of difference between successful content marketers and those that seem to be lost in the wilderness. This report is also a reality check for content marketers that drink too much of their own kool-aid, offering a mix of slightly downward trend data right along with numerous reasons for future content marketing optimism.

What do I mean by reality check? Fewer marketers have a documented content marketing strategy than last year 32% vs 35% and less marketers see their content marketing as effective 30% vs 38%.

What are the content marketing disconnects? Here’s one example: 57% of B2B marketers are still using Print or Other Offline Promotions, even though only 31% consider that paid tactic as effective. Also, 55% are still using traditional banner ads, even though only 29% consider banners effective.

B2B Marketers are still missing on tactics. The most popular content marketing tactics are things like shiny object social media (93%) and blogs (81%) while the most effective B2B content marketing tactics are In-Person Events (75%) and Webinars / Webcasts (66%). Only case studies get near-top treatment when it comes to both popularity (82%) and effectiveness (65%).

Marketers are still challenged to produce engaging content (60%) on a consistent basis (57%). That said, their priorities are in the right place, putting the task of creating engaging content (72%) at the top of the list for future focus.

Here’s the good news: 88% of B2B marketers are using content marketing, up from 86% in 2015 and 76% of marketers will produce more content in 2016 – they just want to know what content is effective and what isn’t (65%). They also want to know more about repurposing (57%) creating more visual content (51%) and telling better stories (41%).

The most successful B2B content marketers do these four things including documenting both their strategy (48%) and editorial mission statements (49%) as well as meeting with their content teams frequently (41%) and having organizational clarity on what content marketing success actually looks like (55%). There’s a consistent message in this: marketers who are goals focused, strategic in planning and action are more effective.

B2B marketers who are goals focused, strategic in planning and action are more effective.

Ways to use this data: Marketing research data, statistics and charts are useful in different ways when it comes to informing a B2B content marketing program. Whether it’s citing a key stat when building a business case, advocating a particular course of action in a report or reinforcing recommendations in a presentation, the kind of information in this report can be effectively persuasive.

That’s why I’ve had the individual statistics broken out by category so you can easily copy and paste into whatever content, presentation or social share you’re creating. Just be sure to cite @CMIContent [email protected] the source.

Hopefully this compendium will help those with clarity about content marketing confirm being on the right track and at the same time help those that are a little lost get pointed in the right direction.

B2B Content Marketing Use and Effectiveness

88% of B2B marketers use content marketing (86% in 2015)
12% of B2B marketers do not use content marketing

8% of of B2B marketers rate their content marketing maturity as sophisticated
24% of of B2B marketers rate their content marketing maturity as mature
29% of of B2B marketers rate their content marketing maturity as adolescent
27% of of B2B marketers rate their content marketing maturity as young
11% of of B2B marketers rate their content marketing maturity as first steps

CMI’s Content Marketing Maturity Definitions

  • Sophisticated: Providing accurate measurement to the business, scaling across the organization
  • Mature: Finding success, yet challenged with integration across the organization
  • Adolescent: Have developed a business case, seeing early success, becoming more sophisticated with measurement and scaling
  • Young: Growing pains, challenged with creating a cohesive strategy and a measurement plan
  • First Steps: Doing some aspects of content but have not yet begun to make content marketing a process

64% of sophisticated/mature marketers say they are effective at content marketing
6% of young/first steps marketers are effective at content marketing

5% of B2B marketers say their content marketing is very effective
24% of B2B marketers say their content marketing is effective
44% of B2B marketers say their content marketing is neutral
22% of B2B marketers say their content marketing is minimally effective
1% of B2B marketers say their content marketing is not at all effective

What do the most successful content marketers do to be more effective?

48% of B2B marketers with a documented content marketing strategy are effective
49% of B2B marketers with a documented editorial mission statement are effective
55% of B2B marketers with organizational clarity on what content marketing success looks like are effective
41% of B2B marketers that meet daily or weekly are effective

44% of B2B marketers are clear about what a successful content marketing program looks like
34% of B2B marketers are NOT clear about what a successful content marketing program looks like
21% of B2B marketers are unsure what a successful content marketing program looks like

Strategy and Organization

32% of B2B marketers have a documented content marketing strategy
48% of B2B marketers have an undocumented content marketing strategy
16% of B2B marketers do not have a documented content marketing strategy
4% of B2B marketers are unsure if they have a documented content marketing strategy

54% of B2B marketers say team meetings are valuable to content marketing effectiveness

Content Creation and Distribution

76% of B2B marketers will produce more content than 2015
19% of B2B marketers will produce the same amount of content as 2015
2% of B2B marketers will produce less content than 2015

The top content marketing tactics:
(the average number of tactics used: 13)

93% Social Media Content
82% Case Studies
81% Blogs
81% eNewsletters
81% In-Person Events
79% Articles on Your Website
79% Videos
76% Illustrations / Photos
71% White Papers
67% Infographics
66% Webinars / Webcasts
65% Online Presentations
49% Research Reports
47% Microsites / Separate Website Hubs
42% Brand Content Tools
39% eBooks
36% Print Magazines
30% Books
29% Digital Magazines
28% Mobile Apps
25% Virtual Conferences
23% Podcasts
22% Print Newsletters
12% Games / Gamification

The most effective B2B content marketing tactics:

75% In-Person Events
66% Webinars / Webcasts
65% Case Studies
63% White Papers
62% Videos
61% Research Reports
60% eNewsletters
59% Blogs
58% Infographics
58% Online Presentations

Top social media platforms for B2B content marketers:
(Average social platforms used: 6)

94% LinkedIn
87% Twitter
84% Facebook
74% YouTube
62% Google+
37% SlideShare
29% Instagram
25% Pinterest
21% Vimeo
10% iTunes
9% Tumblr
7% Vine
6% Medium
6% Periscope
5% SnapChat

Most effective social media platforms for content marketers:

B2B Social Media

Congratulations yet again, to our client LinkedIn for being the top, most effective social media platform for B2B content marketers!

Paid advertising tactics used most by content marketers:

66% Search Engine Marketing
57% Print or Other Offline Promotions
55% Traditional Online Banner ads
52% Promoted Posts
51% Social Ads
29% Native Ads
14% Content Discovery Tools

Most effective paid advertising tactics used by content marketers:

55% Search Engine Marketing
48% Promoted Posts
45% Content Discovery Tools
45% Social Ads
40% Native Ads
31% Print or Other Offline Promotions
29% Traditional Banner Ads

Goals and Metrics

The most important goals for B2B content marketing:

85% Lead Generation
84% Sales
78% Lead Nurturing
77% Brand Awareness
76% Engagement
74% Customer Retention / Loyalty
61% Customer Advocacy
58% Upsell / Cross-Sell

Most important metrics for B2B content marketing:

87% Sales Lead Quality
84% Sales
82% Higher Conversion Rates
71% Sales Lead Quantity
71% Website Traffic
69% Brand Lift
67% SEO Ranking
66% Customer Renewal Rates
64% Purchase Intent
62% Subscriber Growth

Budgets and Spending

28% on average is the percentage of total marketing budgets spent on content marketing
51% of B2B marketers will increase content marketing spending in 2016

Challenges and Priorities

Top challenges for B2B content marketers:

60% Producing Engaging Content
57% Measuring Content Effectiveness
57% Producing Content Consistently
52% Measuring the ROI of Content Marketing Programs
35% Lack of Budget
35% Producing a Variety of Content
25% Gaps in Knowledge and Skills of Internal Teams
24% Understanding / Choosing Technology
23% Lack of Integration across marketing
21% Finding or Training Skilled Content Marketing / Content Creation Professionals
19% Lack of buy-in / vision from higher-ups
18% Implementing the technology that we already have

Top priorities for B2B content marketers:

72% Create More Engaging Content
65% Better Understanding of What Content is Effective and What Isn’t
57% Finding More and Better Ways to Repurpose Content
51% Creating Visual Content
41% Becoming Better Storytellers
41% Better Understanding of Audience
38% Content Optimization
22% Content Curation
20% Content Personalization
19% Becoming Stronger Writers

To see the full B2B Content Marketing – 2016 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends – North America report, check it out below:

What do you think? Were there any statistics in this year’s report that surprised you?

If you’re looking at investing in your B2B content marketing skills, I would highly recommend MarketingProfs B2B Marketing Forum conference coming up in just 3 weeks. Boston is a great place to visit in the fall and who knows what smarts and new network connections you’ll pick up when you’re there. TopRank Marketing staff will be attending and speaking at the event so we hope to see you there.

October 3, 2015 / by / in
The 10 Things You Need To Know In Advertising Today

Getty ImagesModel Sash Luss will likely be fronting lots of ad campaigns in 2015.


Good morning. Before you wind down for the weekend, catch up on the most important stories in the advertising world today.

1. Time Inc. is making a huge ambitious bet to become a tech company. The magazine publisher accelerating partnerships with tech businesses, most recently IFTTT, and is looking at developing its own standalone apps and tech.

2. Google is letting companies rack up hundreds of thousands of dollars in ad revenue — then taking it away. One business has sued Google for $1 million in revenue it allegedly earned from AdSense ads, which Google declined to pass to the company.

3. Unilever has dropped its lawsuit against Hampton Creek’s Just Mayo. Hellmann’s maker Unilever had said that “Just Mayo” has no eggs, therefore doesn’t meet the definition of mayonnaise, but it has now withdrawn the suit so Hampton Greek can address its label issue directly with industry groups and regulatory authorities.

4. YouGov’s BrandIndex has ranked the restaurant chains that have the highest brand loyalty amongst millennials. McDonald’s, Taco Bell and Wendy’s are not in the top 5.

5. Instagram has begun to delete millions of accounts. It is cracking down on spammers and fake accounts, but people are freaking out.

6. From start to finish, this is how beacons send ads to your phone while you’re shopping. From creating a target customer called “Jennifer,” to an ad landing on her phone while she does her grocery shopping.

7. These are the 15 hottest up and coming models. You’ll see many of these people fronting ad campaigns in 2015.

8. Bustle, the one-year-old publication for women, now has 20 million monthly readers and has just raised a $15.5 million round of financing. Bustle founder Bryan Goldberg tells Business Insider the site will pull in more than $1 million in the fourth quarter of this year, largely from native advertising.

9. NBC Universal is offering social media guarantees to advertising, AdAge reports. NBC’s new “Social Synch” product guarantees impressions on social media, elevating the role of social media in ad deals and trying to attract advertisers who are increasingly thinking digital-first.

10. Google is making it easier for brands to figure out if online ads actually drive in-store traffic, Adweek reports. Its new “store visits” tool uses an algorithm to estimate how many people went into a store within 30 days of seeing a search ad.

December 20, 2014 / by / in
Here is Why Interactives Are the Next Big Thing in Content Marketing

Visual content is taking the web by storm with infographics, motion graphics and micro-contentto name a few. It’s hard to keep track of it all.

While these concepts are making waves now, I’m here to talk about the next big thing: interactive graphics.

Here is why they are the next big thing.

What makes an Inter-ACTIVE?

Interactive graphics, or “interactives” for short, are like the Transformers of visual content: They can take on a variety of forms. You can find an interactive that’s a micro-site, dashboard or a map, to name a few. But at the core, they’re all visualizations that allow viewers to explore the information presented for themselves.

By definition, interactives engage viewers in a very active way — and that engagement can be incredibly powerful to marketers. People viewing interactives spend more time on the page while also seeing a brand associated with content that interests them, all at their own pace.

If infographics blew up because they caught people’s attention where a boring report wouldn’t, interactives are blowing up because they catch people’s attention — and hold it.

The difference comes down to being active vs. passive. People consume information in infographics and motion graphics passively by sitting and staring at whatever’s on their screen. Interactives, however, are more dynamic. The information you see can change depending on where you click and scroll.

The Power of Three: When to Go Interactive

Now, making content more active is great but don’t ditch the infographics and motion graphics quite yet. A smart marketer needs to know when to make their content active. As always, context is key.

There are three situations where making an interactive is the way to go 1) complex data visualization 2) personalized branded content and 3) customized product explainers.

Complex Data Visualization

Distilling complex data into a meaningful visual is what vaulted infographics into the spotlight in the first place and made visual content a “thing.” It’s no wonder, then, that interactives excel in data visualization too.

A great interactive allows easy exploration of data with multiple layers. Viewers should be able to dive deeper into the info that most interest them and gloss over other details. All while seeing the ‘big picture’ on how everything’s interrelated.

Take Visually’s Startup Universe, for example, where we visualized CrunchBase data on startups, founders, and venture capitalists.

Why Interactives are the Next Big Thing in Content Marketing

The Startup Universe provides an interactive platform for users to explore CrunchBase’s startup ecosystem. In it, you can focus your scope on one particular startup, look at an industry segment (e.g., biotech startups), or even select one founder or venture capitalist that you want to track.

The beauty of the Startup Universe lies in how it took important yet unwieldy CrunchBase data — data that before had been buried in the CrunchBase API — and made it accessible and understandable. Suddenly everyone could track the Silicon Valley’s network of money, ideas and people, all in one sleek and sexy interface.

Personalized Branded Content

Sometimes marketers need to make visual content that raises a brand’s profile but doesn’t necessarily highlight one of their product or service offerings: That’s Branded Content 101.

With an interactive, you can make branded content that’s informative and entertaining — and personalized.

Toyota and the Huffington Post recently came to us, for example, wanting to make an interactive U.S. map that lets families discover fun ideas for road trips this summer. Depending on what you select — your region, state, and family type — the map reveals a different travel destination for you to check out.

Why Interactives are the Next Big Thing in Content Marketing

Toyota and HuffPo’s interactive map taps into the same formula that’s made BuzzFeed quizzes so wildly successful in terms of driving readership and engagement: giving people “personalized” results based on how they answer a series of questions.

Interactive quizzes and maps will continue to drive brand engagement going forward, and it’s because it’s not always enough to just make branded content informative or entertaining. It needs to be personalized.

Customized Product Explainers

Riding the same wave as personalized branded content comes customized product explainers.

It’s almost inevitable that you’ll have different customer segments – from active to inactive, corporations to small businesses – and the question for marketers has always been, how can I tailor my brand’s message to each of these customer types?

Instead of making a one-size-fits-all product explainer, with an interactive you can make a responsive interface that gives out tailored information based on each customer’s needs.

Twitter made a small business guide that did just that, offering customized tips for small businesses on how to use Twitter. The tips were filtered based on how active users already were on Twitter: Were they new to the service, familiar but not experts, or experts who wanted to take their marketing to the next level?

Why Interactives are the Next Big Thing in Content Marketing

The result was a smart, useful resource that drew small businesses further into Twitter’s service, no matter how deep (or not) they were in to begin with.

Interactive Content: The Future is Now

“I believe the fourth wave [of content marketing] is making content more interactive, on a mass scale,”Scott Brinker, editor of the Chief Marketing Technologist blog, told VentureBeat in a recent interview.

Marketers need to pay attention to interactives. And don’t just take my (or Scott’s) word for it. The numbers are in: Interactive content leads to higher education and conversion rates.

According to Demand Metric, an analyst firm, 45 percent of marketers who used interactives rated their content “very effective” in educating buyers, versus 6 percent who used passive and not interactive content. Conversion rates bumped up, too. Nearly twice as many respondents in the interactive group said they saw “moderately well” or “very well” conversion performance compared to the passive group. If interactive content’s the next big thing in content marketing, then the future is now: you need to find a place for interactives in your marketing tool belt.

August 31, 2014 / by / in
Big Data: The Secret to Revenue Creation [Infographic]

In this article, you will learn...

  • Why there’s a disconnect between the data that companies have access to and what they use
  • How Marketing can share data to make an impact on revenue
  • The importance of providing data related to the buyer’s journey to promote more effective social selling

Although we now have more valuable data about buyers than ever before, only 12% of organizations are putting that information—Big Data—into play.

Big Data has become a major buzzword, but many marketing specialists and salespeople still don’t know what to do with the vast amount of information we have access to.

And the companies that are using it often do so in a disjointed manner: Marketing gets the data but doesn’t know what to do with it; the focus of Sales is on small, specific data, and so it would be overwhelmed with such a vast amount of information.

It’s rare that the two departments work together to benefit from shared information.

Working Together Nets Better Results

Marketing collects and manages data in a variety of systems, and it is effective with one or two of those systems (usually CRM and Web analytics). Sales zeroes in on turning leads into customers but has no time whatsoever to analyze data. Marketing has much more data than it can harness, and Sales doesn’t get enough nuggets from Marketing to turn leads into customers.Before we look at all the ways that collaboration vis-à-vis Big Data by Sales and Marketing can help an organization, let’s first look at the reality for most companies.

It turns out that spending some time with that data can hugely pay off. In fact, companies using Big Data and analytics register an increase of 5-6% in productivity and profitability over their peers. Although diving into Big Data is a large time investment, it can cut down on the energy that Sales and Marketing put into chasing the wrong leads, and so increases the bottom line as a result.

When Sales and Marketing work together, interesting things happen. They begin to better understand buyer behavior, which enables the two teams to execute much better marketing campaigns, followed up with better-targeted sales efforts. They can create a tailored integrated marketing campaign based on where a buyer is in the purchase lifecycle. And, of course, the two departments can coordinate efforts to close more sales.

Where Social and Online Fit In

Your sales team is wasting a lot of time if it’s not paying attention to what buyers are doing online. Let’s use an example of Stephanie who works for a company that needs cloud computing solutions. She’s the decision-maker.

A typical buyer goes through three steps in the buyer’s Journey:

  • The Trigger step is where buyers become aware of the problem and the solution.
  • The Research step is where they actively conduct research to learn as much as they can.
  • The Purchase step is where they are ready to make a purchase decision and want to engage with the sales organization.

The Trigger Step

The Trigger step is where something that Stephanie sees or hears triggers her interest in a solution. To help Stephanie move into this stage, Marketing can feed the sales team with nuggets of information that have triggered other buyers into looking at a cloud computing solution. Then, Sales can share those nuggets with social networks (while Marketing is doing the same via a broader effort).

Examples of nuggets of information for the Trigger step:

  • A third-party report on trends in cloud computing
  • A blog post detailing a success story
  • An article discussing the benefits of cloud computing

The Research Step

Once Stephanie is triggered to look for a solution, she moves into the Research step. If you collect data on Stephanie, you see that she has clicked a few ads for cloud computing and visited those websites. She has searched on Twitter for advice about which cloud software users like. She’s visited small business blogs and even downloaded an e-book titled “How to Choose the Best Cloud Platform for Your Business.” She’s liked your software company’s Facebook page and shared some of your content with her followers.

The key contribution that Marketing can make to the sales team is to help them provide Stephanie (and people like Stephanie) with information to help guide her research.

Examples of information for the Research step:

  • A third-party article about how your company has been increasing market share
  • An announcement about a company thought leader speaking at a conference
  • Information about how well your solution stacks up against competitors

The Purchase Step

Finally, when she’s ready to buy, she enters the Purchase step. At this point, Stephanie has completed much of the buyer’s Journey without talking to any salespeople. She has done most of the work online and by talking to peers and analysts. When she is ready to purchase, she needs to confirm or deny her belief that your solution is the right one for her.

The key contribution that Marketing can make to the sales team is to help them know what Stephanie is probably thinking at this point, and to prepare them for that conversation.

Examples of information for the Purchase step:

  • Negative perceptions of our solution that Stephanie has been exposed to, along with a rebuttal
  • Common misperceptions that might slow her decision-making process, and ways to alleviate those misperceptions
  • Positive information that the sales team should emphasize

Marketing has data about buyers—sometimes more data than it knows how to handle. There’s no reason to fear Big Data. It’s just a matter of getting a handle on which information is the most beneficial for marketing activities, and which is most helpful to the sales organization. By working closely with Sales, Marketing can make a significant contribution to revenue.

Read more: http://www.marketingprofs.com/articles/2014/24883/big-data-the-secret-to-revenue-creation-infographic#ixzz30SiCR7gU

May 1, 2014 / by / in , , , , , , ,
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