Route 66 maps + Navigation by TomTom on Android App - "Follow me"

Route 66 maps + Navigation by TomTom on Android App - "Follow me" - Route 66 joined forces with TomTom at the end of last year in order to create a few new products.

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Monday, January 31, 2011

Mashable! - How Egyptians Used Twitter During the January Crisis [INFOGR

Over the past several days, Twitter and other social media platforms have been flooded with links, images and information about the current political crisis in Egypt.

Social media intelligence firm Sysomos has analyzed a lot of the Egypt-related tweets and mined them for important cues, such as keywords and location data, that might show us just how news and information about Egypt are being disseminated via social media.

Twitter has been framed — by its founders, no less — as an important news-bearing medium in this any many other situations of global portent. Even while the service, and in fact, all Internet access, has been intermittently blocked in Egypt during the crisis, news, video clips and images continue to spread around Twitter with the greatest urgency. In fact, Google today launched a voice-to-Twitter service specifically to assist Egyptian Twitter users wishing to act as citizen journalists.

“Given how social media is being increasing leveraged as a real-time reporting tool,” said Sysomos strategist Mark Evans, “we wanted to look at how many people are using Twitter in Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen — places in which there is active political protest.

“We analyzed 52 million Twitter users, and discovered that only 14,642, or 0.027%, identified their location as Egypt, Yemen or Tunisia… It is important to note this number probably doesn't reflect the number of Twitter users since many users in Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen likely do not provide their location information to protect their identities.”

Still, with all the tweets containing keywords like “Egypt” and “Yemen,” Sysomos had a lot of data to work with. Using the company’s Media Analysis Platform (MAP), Sysomos analysts created the following visual overview of Twitter users’ response to the Egyptian crisis:


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Mashable! - Startup Launches to Save Men From Giving Bad Gifts on Valent

If anecdotal evidence is to be believed, men are notoriously bad gift-givers. Seattle-based startup Thoughtful launches its social gifting private beta product Tuesday — just ahead of Valentine’s Day — to help save the day.

The premise is simple enough: Men need help buying gifts; Thoughtful connects to Facebook to surface local experiences and gift recommendations that match their mates’ tastes.

Thoughtful curates gifts sourced from local merchants who work with the startup to feature their products and experiences. Gifts start at $25 and include affordable spa options or much pricer fare: clothing, accessories, Valentine’s Day dinners and romantic weekend getaways.

The service will continue to keep track of important birthdays, anniversaries, and special events and will follow up with reminders to ensure the user’s gift-buying plans are prepared accordingly.

"Guys don't shop — they buy," says CEO Chris Lynch. "There are a million places to shop online, but what most of us guys struggle with is having a good idea and then easily making it happen. Our app is built to recommend the perfect gift this year so that you can be the hero."

While Thoughtful is targeted at men, the service will work for women as well. To say the fairer sex is the more thoughtful sex is a gender generalization that doesn’t always apply.

Thougtful, for now, is restricted to beta users in the Seattle area, which means not all men can become Thoughtful “heros” overnight. The service plans to expand elsewhere in the future, but for now Mashable readers in the Seattle area can gain priority access by entering “Mashable” in the location field at signup.

Thoughtful is both a consumer and local merchant play, and part recommendation engine. It connects the dots between the three in a way that is unique...

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Mashable! - iPhone App Strips Out Spam to Turn Twitter into a News Reade

The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark. If you would like to have your startup considered for inclusion, please see the details here.

Name: Smartr

Quick Pitch: Smartr is a news reader for Twitter on the iPhone.

Genius Idea: Web denizens are turning to social sites to find and consume news more and more. Smartr, an iPhone app released in mid-December, is going after the social news crowd who turn to Twitter for their daily news fix.

Smartr for iPhone [iTunes link], which comes from natural language processing startup Factyle, gathers all the tweets in your Twitter timeline and determines which of them have meaningful content. The app then fetches the web pages housed within tweets and optimizes the content — text, images and video — for iPhone.

Instead of seeing tweets, the Smartr user views a Twitter feed filled with news snippets. “It’s a lens on top of your Twitter Feed,” says Factyle founder Temo Chalasani.

Users can click on updates in the filtered Twitter stream to read a Smartr reformatted, ad-free version of the article, share it with Facebook, Tumblr or Posterous, and choose to save it in-app or via Instapaper or Read it Later.

The application is best suited for news junkies who want an experience that automatically filters out checkins, badges, stickers and updates of the same ilk — updates the startup considers “Twitter spam.”

Poorly formatted articles with excessive ads will also get caught in Smartr’s spam filter, according to Chalasani.

The still-nascent application has a small but highly engaged audience, says Chalasani. App users are making Smartr their primary way of consuming content, and the team added in support for Twitter lists after...

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Mashable! - Digg Gets an Overhaul to Draw Users Back

Digg has launched an overhaul and redesign of the struggling social media service in an attempt to bring users back and regain some momentum.

This rollout incorporates three major changes for the site. The first is a redesign of the site based on user feedback. It places the key Digg topics — Gaming, Technology, Science, etc. — at the top of the page rather than on the side. Story pages have been cleaned up, and the “submit” box has been given more prominence. It now sits at the top of every page, while search has been been reduced to a magnifying glass icon that will display the search box when you click it.

The second part of the update focuses on profile pages and the return of profile statistics. At the top right of every profile page are the Digg, commenting, submission and following stats for every user. Digg says it took “much longer” than expected to import the Digg data from V3 to the current version. It’s definitely incomplete, though — my stats say I’ve made zero submissions and zero comments in my many years on Digg, both of which are definitely not true. Some data is still missing.

Finally, Digg has added a new slew of opt-in notifications for when your stories hit “Top News.” While “Top News” has lost much of its prominence since “My News” was made the default, it’s still a point of achievement to have a story you submit reach the front page, so it makes sense that many people would want to be notified when that happens. These notifications will appear either by e-mail or on-site.

The changes are designed to counteract Digg’s painful decline by adding the most-requested user features. Users famously revolted after the New Digg launched last August. Since then, Digg has been in decline, enough to force Digg to lay off more than one-third of its team.

The new...

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Mashable! - “New York Times” Updates Homepage With Links to Twitter & Fa

On the same day it quietly rolled out an algorithm-based recommendations service, The New York Times added links to both its Facebook and Twitter accounts on its homepage.

Now, two tiny logos — one for Facebook and one for Twitter — appear to the right of the words “Follow us” under the New York Times header. The logo is situated between a search box and, perhaps ironically, a text ad for home delivery. Lists of stories recommended by editors and one’s Facebook friends are listed below.

At the time of writing, the newspaper has nearly 2.9 million followers on its main Twitter account and a little more than 1 million Facebook fans.

It’s yet another sign of the times in the ever-evolving — and increasingly overlapping — spheres of old and media.

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Mashable! - Foursquare’s University Badges Now Available at All Colleges

Foursquare has just announced that its “Foursquare for Universities” program is now available at every college and university around the world.

That means the new-to-many-campuses university badges can be unlocked by any relevant checkins at any college or university campus around the globe.

Foursquare’s collegiate checkins program began about a year ago with a partnership with Harvard. At the time, the idea behind the partnership was to help students connect with colleagues, friends and professors through the app and to help campus visitors find their way around interesting and useful on-campus locations.

Last fall, Foursquare launched Foursquare for Universities, an official program to partner with many different schools. The program, which also made way for custom badges for each school, eventually grew to include more than 100 colleges and universities.

Since the Foursquare for Universities launch, more than 25,000 university badges were unlocked, and Foursquare said it received more than 1,200 requests from non-partner schools to bring the popular app to those campuses, too.

Now, university badges will be available at any campus around the world. Also, all students are encouraged to sign up for the startup’s ambassador program, which will give participants free Foursquare gear and tools for spreading the word about the location app.

The standard university badges (pictured in order below) include Bookworm Bender (for checking into a library or study area after midnight), Smells Like School Spirit (for five checkins to a sports venue), Quad Squatter (for 10 checkins at a common area), Munchies (for checkins at five separate campus dining facilities), and College Explorer (for checkins to any 10 different campus locations).

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Mashable! - Facebook, Google, and IBM Partner With Whitehouse to Encoura

After promising a basketful of tax breaks for small business in his State of the Union address last week, Presdient Obama seems to be standing behind his commitment to entrepreneurship — at least where highly visible initiatives are concerned.

On Monday, the White House announced Startup America, a national campaign to encourage startups. The initiative will be chaired by AOL co-founder Steve Case. The campaign already has an impressive list of partners, including Facebook, Intel, IBM, HP, the Kauffman Foundation, and Google.

These partnerships bring a lot of cash to the table, but not everyone is convinced the new campaign represents a true opportunity for startups. Small business blog Gigaom, for instance, called the program “an opportunity to get a lot of press, with low returns for actual startups.”

While few particulars about the program have been named, most partner commitments fall under three categories: creating workshops for current business owners, bringing classes in entrepreneurship to higher education, and funding new businesses.

Aside from making an effort to “marshal private-sector resources to spur entrepreneurship in the U.S,” the federal government’s largest named commitment to the campaign is $2 billion that it will direct to match private sector investment funding for startups in under-served communities and for early-stage investing in firms with high growth potential. The initiative through which this will be accomplished — the Small Business Investment Company program — has existed since 1958.

But even though the government’s role in the campaign might be more “marshall” and less “game changer,” the campaign might still have an important role to play in the startup landscape.

“It affirms the importance of startups and entreprenuership, and I think...

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Mashable! - “New York Times” Quietly Rolls Out Recommendations Service

Today, The New York Times quietly rolled out a new page that serves up a list of recommended stories based on recently read items.

Available at, the page is designed to help readers “see through the news fog,” NYT lead technology reporter Nick Bilton tweeted. It lists 20 recommended articles alongside personal data about the sections and topics one reads most often, suggesting that content is suggested based on those criteria rather than, for example, keywords.

As far as we can tell, the feature is not integrated into the rest of the site, at least not yet. And unlike The Huffington Post‘s recommendation system, for instance, there is nothing social about it — suggestions are based purely on one’s own reading habits, not the reading habits of one’s friends.

We’ve reached out to The New York Times for comment and will update this post with further information after a scheduled call Tuesday.

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Mashable! - MacBook Air Suspended From Balloon in Apple Store Display [V

Apple’s marketing prowess apparently extends beyond its TV spots and much-hyped press conferences — it goes into in-store displays as well.

The above video, captured in an unidentified Apple Store, seems to have taken inspiration from Pixar’s Up. A MacBook Air, which is touted for its light form factor (it weighs roughly three-quarters of a pound), is shown suspended from a balloon. (Admittedly, it could be a cardboard replica, although it effectively conveys the message either way.)

Interestingly, Apple’s ads for Air seem to have mostly played up its thinness rather than its weight. Perhaps the company should tap its store personnel for more marketing suggestions.

[Via TNW]

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Mashable! - HarperCollins Plans To Publish Novel Submitted To Social Net

Thanks to HarperCollins’s crowdsourced social network, one teen writer from Ireland will get the chance to see her novel, The Carrier of the Mark, on the printed page.

According to a release from HarperCollins, Leigh Fallon had attempted to get her novel published in the past, to little avail. Finally, she submitted the book to Inkpop — a Kickstarter-esque site for teen authors — and soon her manuscript was voted into the “Top Five.”

Such an honor garners books a review by an editor at HarperCollins, and, perhaps, publication. Fallon is the first to have her book chosen for print (it’s about paranormal romance, surprise!), but more books will be announced soon. Fallon’s book will come out in the fall of 2011.

"The opinions of our readers matter to us,” says Susan Katz, president and publisher of HarperCollins Children’s Books.

“Inkpop is HarperCollins Children's Books' first site (and not the last) to really put the users' voice and ideas in the forefront. Social media is incredibly empowering if used correctly, and HarperCollins recognizes this and is gearing up to make social media the cornerstone of all of its digital endeavors."

Inkpop has been on the scene for around a year, during which 60,000 projects have been uploaded.

More and more we’re seeing Internet denizens taking on the role of cultural curators — Kickstarter has partnered with Sundance to make filmmakers’ projects a reality, and services like Roadrunner Records’s Sign To Me and Crowdbands turn fans into music industry professionals.

What do you think of this trend of crowdsourcing what content rises to the top?

Photo courtesy of Flickr, timetrax23

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Mashable! - Google Spent More on Lobbyists in 2010 Than Yahoo, Facebook

Google dropped $5.16 billion on lobbyists in 2010, according to the Lobbying Disclosure Act Database. The sum represents a 29% increase over the $4 billion the company spent in 2009.

The search giant hired its first lobbyists in 2006 and has increased its spending in the category every year since.

With issues like net neutrality, online privacy and online tracking getting legislative attention in 2010, it’s no surprise that the company’s lobbying budget continued to increase throughout the year. Google spent more money on lobbyists in 2010 than Yahoo, Facebook and Apple combined, the lobbying disclosure database reveals.

Facebook, which filed its first lobbying disclosure in Q2 of 2009, paid lobbyists $351,390 last year, while Apple spent $1.6 billion and Yahoo spent $2.21 billion.

Google’s increasing monetary dedication to influencing policy decisions worries some privacy advocates who oppose the company’s policies.

“It's a huge increase and shows that Google has become a high-stakes influence peddler throwing its weight around Washington like the rest of corporate America,” says John Simpson, a privacy advocate with Consumer Watchdog, a group that regularly opposes Google’s decisions.

The search giant spent about 33% less on lobbying than Microsoft, a company that generated almost 50% more revenue than Google last quarter.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, tforgo

More About: Google, lobbyists, net neutrality, Online Tracking, privacy, trending

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Mashable! - Google Launches Voice-to-Twitter Service To Help Protesters

A group of engineers from Google, Twitter and SayNow (which Google acquired last week) were hard at work building a speak-to-tweet service for protesters in Egypt this weekend.

The service, which is already live, enables users to send tweets using a voice connection. Anyone can tweet by leaving a voicemail on one of three international phone numbers: +16504194196 or +390662207294 or +97316199855. Tweets sent using the service will automatically include the hashtag #egypt.

People can also listen to the messages by dialing the above numbers, and by clicking on the links posted to @speak2tweet.

“We hope that this will go some way to helping people in Egypt stay connected at this very difficult time. Our thoughts are with everyone there,” Ujjwal Singh, co-founder of SayNow, and Google product manager Abdel Karim Mardini wrote in a blog post.

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Mashable! - New York City Subway System Comes Alive in HTML5 & Javascrip

If you live in New York City, you most likely have a love/hate relationship with the subway (one that tends to wander toward “hate” more often than not).

Well, Brooklynite, musician and Google Creative Labs employee Alexander Chen has created a little HTML5/Javascript art project that is sure to put a smile on your face next time you’re crammed into a crazy person’s armpit whilst enjoying the eclectic symphony of children crying on your morning commute.

Conductor, Chen’s recently released project, is an interactive subway map that pulls data from the MTA's public API to illustrate the motions of the New York City transit system.

Colored lines representing each train move across the screen in accordance with the real cars, and every time they intersect, they produce a “twang!” — like a stringed instrument. You can also “play” the map by tugging on a line with your mouse.

“As a viola player, it was interesting territory to try to replicate that feeling of tugging at a string,” says Chen, who lives off of the G line (known as the “Ghost Train” to locals) in the Greenpoint neighborhood of Brooklyn.

“Once I had that code down, my wife and I were talking about what other things could work, and a subway map came to mind. My friend has a Vignelli map on his wall, and it’s really beautiful.”

“I’ve also always liked the idea of inanimate objects generating music, coming alive,” he adds. “With all of the emphasis on realtime and location-aware technology, I thought it would be interesting to create a website that begins in realtime, but time slowly unravels.”

According to Chen, the map is not wholly accurate — so, New Yorkers, we don’t suggest using it to get to work on time or anything. The train launch time in the lower left is apparently on par with reality, but...

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Mashable! - The Truth About Cutting the Cable TV Cord [VIDEO]

Ad agency Hill Holliday recently conducted an experiment, asking five families to give up cable TV in favor of connected TV devices for a week.

The growing availability of online content and video subscription services, coupled with an exploding market for connected devices, has pushed the idea of cord cutting — or dropping a traditional cable TV subscription package in favor of online video sources — into the mainstream. But how viable is the concept, really?

For its experiment (which the agency stresses was not intended as a scientific research study), Hill Holliday provided each family with a different connected device: the Roku, Apple TV, Xbox 360, Boxee Box and Google TV.

The agency conducted interviews with the participants at the beginning and end of the week, and also had the participants record their own thoughts throughout the process. Hill Holliday compiled that footage into a short video clip and presented the results of the experiment at last week’s TVnext summit.

Check out the video:

Connected Devices Aren’t Cable Box Replacements (Yet)

The big takeaway from the experiment is that in their current iteration, connected devices are not drop-in cable box replacements. Ultimately, this makes a lot of sense.

As Hill Holliday notes in its write-up of the experiment, none of the connected devices used in the study are advertised as cable TV replacements. Most of these devices are promoted as a way to augment regular TV viewing and not as a sole provider of video content.

Where connected devices fall short of emulating the cable TV experience (at least in this experiment) can be separated into two areas:

  • Lack of live content
  • User experience

The Live TV Conundrum

Live content is a problem for which there is no easy solution. Live streams of...

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Mashable! - Facebook To Launch Third-Party Commenting Platform [CONFIRME

Facebook is about to launch a commenting platform to compete with the likes of Disqus and other third-party services, sources familiar with the matter have told us.

The rumor was first reported by Cnet Monday afternoon. People familiar with the matter have confirmed that a commenting platform is in the works and that Facebook has been reaching out to prominent media organizations to partner for the launch. We also learned that:

  • Users can use the platform by logging in through Facebook or Twitter.
  • Comments are threaded, and can be voted up (“Liked”).
  • Comments are synced across a publisher’s site and Facebook Page, meaning that a comment made on a publisher’s site will show up on its Facebook Page, and vice versa.

We have reached out to Facebook for official confirmation and will update this post with any further information.

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Mashable! - To Launch Social Video-Sharing App

The guys over at are planning to launch SocialCam, a video-sharing app for mobile that will make uploading video to one’s social network a snap, in early March.

Back in September, released apps for Android and iPhone that allow users to stream live video recorded on their smartphones directly to the website.

Matthew DiPietro, VP of marketing and communications at, says the team learned an important lesson from this first crack at apps: Broadcasting live may not be the coolest aspect of the mobile video experience. In fact, more than 90% of video views came after the videos were posted.

With SocialCam, is focusing more on the social aspect of mobile video. Much like Instagram, which makes it easy for people to snap pics and share them on the fly, SocialCam uploads video automatically, letting users tag people in the video and share that video with friends across social media platforms.

“SocialCam is created to be social at its core,” says DiPietro. “It takes the idea of watching home movies into the social generation.”

We’re not exactly sure how the app works yet — the team gave us a sneak peek with the screenshots below — but we could see it catching on.

As of right now, the app is slated to launch on Android and iPhone pre-SXSW. You can sign up to test it out here.



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Mashable! - How Journalists Are Using Social Media to Report on the Egyp

With the Internet still inaccessible for the majority of people in Egypt, much of the international community is relying on journalists with satellite phones for real-time updates on the violent protests calling for Hosni Mubarak to resign after 30 years in power.

The demonstrations are continuing despite the government’s attempts to block communications channels, including the Internet, SMS, TV broadcast by journalists, and mobile networks. Pundits have been weighing in on the role of social media in sparking the uprising, and whether it is a necessary ingredient in accelerating modern revolutions or simply an over-hyped notion.

In some respects, the attempt to block communication has done little to stifle reports coming out of the country. Though much of the citizenry isn’t able to broadcast themselves, their stories are being told and amplified by reporters. What’s interesting is that the information flowing out is a hybrid of the “old school” reliance on reports from journalists on location and “new school” amplification through the social web.

Real Time Tweets

Journalists on location have been updating their Twitter accounts with 140-character stories. Ben Wedeman of CNN has been posting noteworthy updates. Sometimes they are quotes from sources he’s interviewing and other times he is simply commenting on his observations.

Though Twitter use by journalists for reporting isn’t anything new, what’s notable is that it has evolved and matured since the Iran elections, with more journalists using the tool for real-time updates. Also, several news organizations like NPR, CNN, The New York Times, Al-Jazeera English and others have curated Twitter lists of journalists and citizens tweeting from Egypt.

Facebook Storytelling

Journalists like Nicholas Kristof...

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Mashable! - New Technology Measures Emotional Responses to Web Videos

Startup Affectiva is building technologies to measure emotion in web video. It is technology the founders, MIT scientists Dr. el Kaliouby and Dr. Rosalind Picard, are looking to perfect with the help of a newly awarded $150,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Affectiva, a commercial rendering of MIT’s FaceSense (also NSF-funded) technology, was originally dreamt up to help those with autism spectrum disorders better understand emotion. The founders now see the potential of opening their emotion measurement technology for market research, product testing and development, clinical use and other academic purposes.

In its current web state, Affectiva analyzes a single facial expression associated with happiness: the smile. Viewers, who must grant the application permission to “watch them,” tune in to a film trailer. The software tracks when the user smiles, and he or she can see the complete “Smile Track” once the viewing is complete.

This early prototype is centered around the smile, but Affectiva’s software is capable of analyzing multiple expressions and associating them with states of minds. More of those technologies will be carried over to the web thanks in no small part to the NSF grant.

With the new funds, the team now has a six-month window to move Affdex, its facial expression recognition technology, to a cloud environment. The company is also eligible for $600,000 in additional grant funding and has enough runway to go without outside funding for the immediate future.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, Yakobchuk.

More About: Affectiva, facial recognition, grant, mit, NSF, video

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Mashable! - 100+ Upcoming Social Media & Tech Events

Every week, Mashable puts together a calendar of upcoming social media and web events, parties and conferences. Would you like to have your conference or event listed here? If so, please contact us for the Mashable Media Partnership Guidelines document. If your event meets our requirements, contact us at least one month before your event to establish a media partnership with us. For more upcoming listings, check out Mashable’s‘s Events section.

In the meantime, here are some tips on how to network, share your information and/or promote your event(s) using social media:

  • The Future of Event Planning and Social Media
  • HOW TO: Plan and Promote Events with Social Media
  • 35+ Ways to Find and Plan Events Online
  • 8 Ways to Create Paperless Business Cards
  • 5 Useful iPhone Apps for Business Networking

Mashable’s Weekly Social Media and Marketing Event Guide is proudly supported by Eventbrite, the Web’s Event Marketplace.

January 31 – February 3, 2011, Toronto, Canada: Attend the Advanced Learning Institute's 23rd updated forum on Social Media for Government: How To Engage Your Employees & Citizens By Using The Latest Web 2.0 Technologies To Drive Communication Results, to learn how to incorporate social media into your communications & marketing plans & leverage the latest interactive Web 2.0 tools & techniques to advance your organizational goals. Hear practical advice from: ON Ministry of Labour; Toronto Police Service; Northern Lights Canada; Royal Bank of Canada; Genome Alberta; ON Ministry of Health & Long-Term Care; Public Service Commission of Canada; City of Ottawa; Halton Region, ON & more. Register and mention Mashable to save $200!

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Mashable! - Motorola Evokes “1984″ Ad To Tweak Apple [VIDEO]

Motorola is picking a fight with Apple, attempting to use the latter’s iconic “1984″ ad against the the company.

A video hyping an upcoming Super Bowl ad for Motorola’s Xoom tablet lays down the gauntlet. Called “Goodbye 1984,” the ad features a shot of Earth — from space — outfitted with a pair of iPod earbuds. “2011 looks a lot like 1984,” reads the ad. “One authority. One design. It’s time for more choices.”

The ad then touts features from the Xoom, like a dual-core 1GHz processor, 1080p HD video playback, a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera and a 2-megapixel front-facing camera.

A rep from Motorola said that the company’s PR agency, Weber Shandwick, created the video, which is meant to hype a 60-second ad, by New York ad agency Anomaly, that will run in the second quarter.

When Apple ran the “1984″ ad during that year’s Super Bowl, the company posed as an alternative to the domineering PC industry, as represented by IBM. Twenty-seven years later, Apple is the industry behemoth with a market capitalization in excess of $300 billion, which is not only higher than IBM’s, but higher than that of any other company in the world, save ExxonMobil.

Not surprisingly, rivals have used Apple’s “1984″ playbook against the company. In 2009, Microsoft ran a campaign showing “average consumers” snubbing their noses at Apple’s high-priced laptops and choosing Windows-based machines instead. In 2006, SanDisk also launched a campaign called “iDon’t” that attacked iPod users as conformists.

Of course, one major flaw in Motorola’s argument is that, although Apple’s iPad has commanding share of the tablet PC market, smartphones based on the Android OS are actually more popular than ones based on Apple’s iOS, according to one study. It should also be...

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Mashable! - HOW TO: Create a Facebook Engagement Policy

The Facebook Marketing Series is supported by Buddy Media, Power Tools for Facebook. Unsure how to respond on Facebook? Download Buddy Media's free whitepaper, "The Definitive Guide to Social Media Moderation and Publishing." With more than 700 status updates posted on Facebook per second, you need a game plan.

As Facebook has become a primary customer interaction point for businesses, many companies have established formal policies for how community managers and employees should engage with fans. These engagement policies run the gamut from a brief checklist of best practices to a multi-page legal document with detailed instructions on how to handle issues.

Since every company’s goals, style and tone are different, it’s important to develop policies that fit your business. Here are six steps to get you started.

Categorize Posts

The first step in creating engagement guidelines is to categorize the different types of posts you’re likely to see on your page. One approach is to group posts into broad categories — such as praise, complaints, questions and general conversation — so you can create basic guidelines for responding to each.

Ben Foster, VP – Digital Strategist at PR agency Ketchum, recommends going a step further and creating a detailed decision tree for posts. This would include asking questions such as “Does the response include a suggestion for the brand?” and “Is the response positive and favorable to the brand and/or messaging?” and guiding the community manager in how to respond accordingly.

Establish Acceptable Response Times

The next step is determining acceptable response times — depending on the size and nature of your business and fan base, this could range anywhere from a few minutes to a day or more.

Chris Dessi, a...

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Mashable! - World Bank Opens Data Catalogue for Social Good Competition

Voting has just opened on the World Bank’s Apps for Development Competition. The competition marks the first time the World Bank, an international institution that makes loans to developing countries, made available its catalogue of development data to the general public.

Apps for Development tasked the public and developer communities to take the World Bank’s data and create tools, games, apps or analysis to solve the global issues. A gallery of the submissions can be found here.

All the submissions were required to use World Bank data and work to solve the Millennium Development Goals, a list of philanthropic targets to be reached by 2015. The goals are linked to topics such as world poverty, education, health, gender equality, sustainability, and HIV/AIDS.

Started in October of 2010, Apps for Development received 107 submissions from 36 countries. Submissions included SMS services and children’s games for the iPhone, as well as educational and statistical modeling tools. While a panel of experts will determine the final winners, the public can start voting on the Popular Choice award at the competition website.

The winners will be announced at the joint meetings held by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund in April.

The competition is part of the World Bank’s Open Data initiative meant to connect its resources with a talented pool of professionals. It’s also a huge resource for developing nations where access to free and transparent data can be limited.

“Think of it as a new kind of R&D, done without traditional fundraising and project management — a way for, in this case, an [international organization] to innovate in full view of the public, and in collaboration with highly-engaged technologists, no matter where they reside,” said Aleem Walji, Practice Manager for Innovation at The World...

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Mashable! - Why Social Media Is Bringing Back Our Grandparents’ Values [

This post reflects the opinions of the author and not necessarily those of Mashable as a publication.

Josh Rose is the EVP, digital creative director of ad agency Deutsch LA, who, when time permits, moonlights as a photographer. Follow him on Twitter: @joshrose.

On January 4 at 9:46 p.m., I posted this message to Facebook:

"Vegas tomorrow. Who's in?"

I was preparing for my drive/pilgrimage to Las Vegas for CES. And, as one does, I alerted 500 of my closest Facebook friends of this fact. I didn't even think much of it.

The next morning, before I settled into the long drive, I stopped in to my local coffee shop. Ashley, who works there and knows my kids' names, asked, "Your usual?” And then added, "Heading off to Vegas, huh?" She'd seen my status update.

Some may find this intimacy alarming. I found it oddly comforting. I bet this is what it was like for my grandparents, in a time when communities were close-knit; when someone knew if you were going on a trip or noticed if you didn't show up somewhere. But this is just one of many parallels between our behaviors today and those of our grandparents. Here are a few more ways I think that social media has bridged these generations, culturally speaking.

The Return of the Slide Show

Our grandparents celebrated travel. Being worldly and seeing things that others hadn't was a privilege. It opened your eyes to the world and that knowledge made you a more enriched person. But you also shared those stories with your friends and relatives. To go, see things, and then come back home and share your observations through pictures and stories — that was part of the experience. I can still remember sitting next to that slide carousel.

We're doing that today with Flickr, Instagram, blogs and Facebook photos, to name a few. There's a theme in iMovie that makes your video look...

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Mashable! - Google Docs Gets “Gmail-ified”

Google has released an update to Google Docs that makes it easier to find, organize and share documents. The refresh focuses around the Google Docs document list, the page where users choose which documents they want to access or edit.

The search giant has launched a series of new filters designed to help users more quickly navigate larger caches of documents. It has added visibility filters so users can find private documents, public documents or draft documents. It also has added ownership filters so it’s easier to find the documents based on author, or documents others have shared.

Google Docs has also gotten another addition, thanks to Gmail. Google has added a “priority sorting” filter to the documents list, bringing the most important documents to the top of the page, a feature based on Gmail’s popular Priority Inbox feature that algorithmically sifts through a user’s e-mail and tags the most important threads.

Google has also added a preview pane to the documents list. It sits on the right-hand side of the page and displays information like last viewed, tags and who has access to the document. If it’s a multimedia document like a video or a photo, you also have the option to play or view the file as a full-screen slideshow.

The final addition is the inclusion of a “home” menu item. Again, it’s like the Gmail inbox, in that users control which content is in the home list, and they can essentially archive documents that they’re no longer using. Google has also changed “folders” into collections, which works exactly like Gmail labels.

At every single level, this update is about the “Gmailification” of Google Docs. The Google Docs team has applied Gmail’s organization principles in order to make it simpler to navigate. It’s a rather clever update that...

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Mashable! - Startup Applies Hot-or-Not Style Ratings to Professional Net

LinkedIn recommendations are awkward. You need to solicit them, they’re not anonymous, and they are generally too vague to be particularly useful to potential employers.

Now, startup Mixtent is launching an alternative reference system that asks professionals to play a game of skill set “hot or not” with their LinkedIn networks, instead of writing recommendations.

After one connects his or her profile to Mixtent, the application asks the user to choose two people who share a particular skill. It then asks the user to decide which person is better at it. The algorithm is built to generate comparisons that are fair (so an intern doesn’t get matched against an SVP, for instance), and relevant to the user’s own skillset. If it fails in either respect, there is an option to skip that comparison. In return for their participation, users discover how others have rated them.

Aside from being easier to complete than a written recomendation, co-founder Jonathan Gheller says the hot-or-not format provides more valuable information for both job seekers and recruiters.

“When you start the system, you don’t start by telling me ‘this is who I am, this is what I’m good at, and these are the people who rock and these are the people who stink,’” Gheller says. “The system is completely intermediated to actually capture good data, and even though it looks like a game, it’s not gameable.”

By compiling data about how people are rated against each other, the company will be able to give fairly objective recommendations for job openings — an ability Gheller hopes will one day serve as the company’s bread and butter.

Mixtent isn’t the first company to recognize the niche for online professional recommendations as an opportunity., formerly called Unvarnished, has provided a platform...

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Mashable! - Eminem To Star in Lipton Brisk Super Bowl Spot

Lipton Brisk’s Super Bowl ad this year could be called “The Eminem Show.”

The rapper, or at least an animated version, will appear in an ad showing a “typical day” in his life. The video from the ad hasn’t been posted, but a rep for Mekanism, the production company that created it, said there’s a chance that a teaser for the ad might be posted.

The ad is Eminem’s first product endorsement. According to The New York Post, the rap star is getting more than $1 million for the ad. The going rate for a 30-second Super Bowl buy this year is around $3 million.

About a decade ago, Lipton Brisk ran claymation-like animated ads featuring various celebs, including one featuring Danny DeVito that ran during the 2002 Super Bowl. More recently, the PepsiCo brand brought back the use of animated celebs with ads featuring Ozzy Osbourne and Danny Trejo.

More About: advertising, eminem, Lipton brisk, Super Bowl ads

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Mashable! - Mashable Weekend Recap: 15 Stories You May Have Missed

It was a busy weekend here at Mashable, with a revolution underway in Egypt, Zuckerberg yukking it up on Saturday Night Live, and a new version of Angry Birds on the way.

Afraid you missed something? If you did, we’re here to get you all caught up — the perfect way to spend some quality time on a Monday.

So here it is, a weekend’s worth of Mashable goodness, all laid out for you in a neat column. Take it all in, and then make it a great week.

News and Opinion Essentials

8-Year-Old Girl Lectures Egypt's Mubarak on YouTube [VIDEO]

Twitter Declares, "The Tweets Must Flow"

BlackBerry Service Restored in Cairo? [UPDATED]

How Much Does Identity Theft Cost? [INFOGRAPHIC]

Helpful Resources

HOW TO: Land a Job at 9 Hot Startups

Plug Hub Makes That Mess of Cables Disappear [PICS]

42 New Social Media Resources You May Have Missed

Another 10 Creative Uses of the New Facebook Profile [PICS]

Top 10 Twitter Trends This Week [CHART]

Weekend Leisure

Review: Logitech's Mouse for Couch Potatoes [PICS]

Chewsy Looks to Add Flavor to Dish Reviews

10 Incredible Interactive YouTube Videos

HANDS ON: Garmin StreetPilot for iPhone [PICS & VIDEO]

Zuckerberg Appears on "SNL" Alongside His Cinematic Counterpart [VIDEO]

"Angry Birds Rio" Game to be Released in March [VIDEO]

More About: Egypt, facebook, garmin, hands-on, logitech, twitter, Weekend recap, Zuckerberg

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Mashable! - Apple Changes Policy on Water-Damaged iPods

Apple has amended its policies for water-damaged iPods, according to new service documentation.

The French website published an image provided by an Apple Authorized Service Provider that highlights a more lenient approach to dealing with water-damaged devices.

Apple devices, like the iPhone, iPod touch, iPod nano and iPod shuffle, have a liquid contact indicator (LCI) at the bottom of the headphone jack. The sensor changes color — from white/silver to red or pink — if it comes in contact with water.

When inspecting non-functional phones or iPod units, Apple repair specialists can use a magnifying flashlight to peer into the port to see if the sensor has changed color. These sensors are not supposed to be activated by changes in temperature or humidity. In the past, Apple’s official policy stated that without manager intervention, if a device indicates it has come into contact with water, repairs aren’t covered under warranty.

This policy had triggered criticism because of the alleged sensitivity of these sensors. In 2009, news reports indicated that perspiration from the gym (or even sweaty palms) could trigger the LCI.

In December 2010, a 13-year-old Korean girl sued Apple after the company refused to repair her iPhone 3G, claiming it had come into contact with water, which she denied had happened. Rather than settle with Apple, the family decided to take the matter to court. The plaintiff’s father said they hoped “Apple [would] improve its service policy so that people facing similar situations can get back unjustly paid repair expenses.”

The lawsuit just might have paid off. Apple’s new policy states that customers who deny that their devices came into contact with water (and whose devices do not show external evidence of water damage or corrosion) may still be eligible for...

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Mashable! - DEMO: Rdio Now Available on Sonos

Music subscription service Rdio recently took its 8 million song library beyond the desktop and mobile sphere with an integration with Sonos’s wireless multi-room music system.

We first heard about this partnership at this year’s CES, and now Rdio is live on the music system.

The Sonos S5 system — which we introduced you to back in June — works as a speaker for all music in the cloud. It can play music from your iTunes, as well as services like Pandora, Rhapsody, Napster, SIRIUS, and a ton of radio stations and podcasts. One can use a smartphone or iPad to control the whole shebang — for around $400 per room.

Now, Rdio, a super social music subscription service that lets you follow friends and listen to music on demand, is part of the Sonos stable (at least for users in the U.S. and Canada). Rdio on Sonos costs $9.99 per month.

We got the chance to play around with a Sonos music system and its newly minted Rdio integration. Check out the video above for a sneak peek!

More About: gadgets, rdio, sonos, tech

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Mashable! - Skype To Hire 350 People in 2011

Google is not the only company with plans to go on a hiring spree this year: Skype announced Monday that it expects to hire 350 people between now and the end of 2011.

Many of the hires will be placed at Skype’s new offices in Palo Alto, a spokesperson told Mashable. The company is looking “to add super star engineers to our already super talented team” at that office, she added.

The company, which recently acquired video-calling service Qik for a rumored $100 million, has rolled out a number of new services lately, including video calling on Apple mobile devices. The company will need additional engineering talent to help build out its current set of products, in addition to developing new ones.

Currently, 85 openings are listed on Skype’s careers page. For more information, check out the promotional reel above.

More About: jobs, Skype

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Mashable! - Facebook Deals Goes Live in Europe

Facebook Deals, a service that enables users to surface nearby deals using their mobile phones, went live in five European countries Monday morning.

Facebook users in the UK, France, Germany, Spain and Italy can now take advantage of the first round of offers from companies like Starbucks (free coffee), Mazda (20% discounts on Mazda MXes) and clothing retailer Benetton (£2/€2 charitable donation to Architecture for Humanity). Users can find deals by looking for the yellow icon when they check in to venues using Facebook Places, available through Facebook’s official iPhone and Android apps, as well as

Users can simply click on a deal to claim it, and then show it to the cashier to cash in. Deals claimed can then be shared to their newsfeeds, which helps spread awareness about popular offers through users’ networks of friends.

Since Facebook Deals launched in the U.S. in November 2010, “millions” of people have used the service, and more than 50% of merchants have elected to renew their offers, Emily White, Facebook’s director of local, told the Wall Street Journal.

Other European countries will be added “as soon as we possibly can,” Facebook VP Joanna Shields said.

Image courtesy of the University of Kentucky

More About: advertising, facebook, Facebook Deals, Facebook Places, MARKETING

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Unleaded Group’s Nonstop Kindle E-Book About Internet SEO Hits Amazon Best Sellers List

Written by the staff of Denver’s premier website design and development firm, the electronic book is a detailed guide to garnering top rankings within such search engines as Google and Yahoo.

Denver, CO (PRWEB) January 29, 2011

The Unleaded Group, Denver’s premier website design and development firm, hit the best sellers list in January for Kindle ebooks with its Nonstop: Uncommonly good advice about taking the Internet to new levels, ranking as high as #48 on January 25th in the Reference>Writing>Technical list for sales of books design for electronic delivery over Amazon’s exclusive Kindle e-reader.

The Unleaded Group book, published in May, 2010, was featured in Amazon’s US Book Store – Amazon Insider ( on January 21 and saw its ranking within the category increase eight points within 4 days.

Nonstop: Uncommonly good advice about taking the Internet to new levels was written and edited by a variety of Unleaded Group staff members and addresses the ins and out of organic Search Engine Optimization, the art of having a website garner high search results within the major search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing! The book’s 22 chapters go in-depth into web content, blogs, marketing, web video, e-commerce and online shopping, e-newsletters, web domain establishment and more. Nonstop sells for $6.95 on in the Kindle eBooks area (

“The Internet is the centerpiece of business in the 21st Century, and our book is a detailed guide to the often mystifying art of having your website stand out among competitors,” says Jarod Clark, president of Unleaded Group, and one of the book’s chief authors. “Just having a website isn’t enough anymore. It has to be built right and then constantly optimized to remain competitive in search engines and driving business to your company. This is true for everything from plumbers, electrician and retail stores, to doctors, lawyers and financial planners. Optimization is especially important for companies which sell products and services through online retailing. People won’t buy if they can’t find your website.” has emerged as a key online retailer, especially of classic books and ebooks, and sells millions of books and other items online each year. Unleaded Group’s Nonstop ebook is not among the site’s major best sellers, ranking over 300,000 on the Paid rankings with sales of some two dozen books each month. However, ebooks designed for Amazon’s exclusive Kindle e-reader and other similar electronic platforms are growing in popularity, and experts estimate that electronic books will account for as much as 25% of the $25 billion annual market for all books by 2012.

Unleaded Group is a comprehensive affiliation of firms engaged in website design and development, marketing, public relations, advertising, web and television video production, and web hosting. The core of the group is Unleaded Software which concentrates on website design and development, with a particular area of expertise in building online merchant sites utilizing the world’s leading Internet shopping cart technology, Magento Commerce. The firm is one of a handful of U.S. website development firms to have achieved Magento Professional Partner status, and has built dozens of online merchant sites for national and local e-retailers.


Google's New Content Farm Algorithm In Action

Google's New Content Farm Algorithm In Action

By: Navneet Kaushal

Google had announced earlier this month that it will Focus on Content Farms in 2011. In regards to the same they have launched two major algorithmic changes focused on content farms and low-quality sites or spammy sites that are noticed in Google search results. Well, the algorithmic changes were approved, launched and in action now.

Google's New Content Farm Algorithm In Action
Google's New Content Farm Algorithm In Action

Matt Cutts, Google's Principal Engineer, confirms it in his personal blog post. In the post, Matt updated the news by saying, "My post mentioned that "we're evaluating multiple changes that should help drive spam levels even lower, including one change that primarily affects sites that copy others' content and sites with low levels of original content." That change was approved at our weekly quality launch meeting last Thursday and launched earlier this week."

He also added that "This was a pretty targeted launch: slightly over 2% of queries change in some way, but less than half a percent of search results change enough that someone might really notice. The net effect is that searchers are more likely to see the sites that wrote the original content rather than a site that scraped or copied the original site's content."

The impact of the algorithmic changes seems to be evident as well. A Webmasterworld Google SEO News and Discussion Forum, has various SEOs and webmasters reporting traffic drop from Google. A webmaster commented that "Something really BIG changed yesterday about midday. We are still in triage mode here covering our basics. We saw a huge 10-20 drop in almost all positions for our biggest and oldest site.," another said, "We have lost 40-60% traffic in several sites, all same time yesterday. Very frustrating and to see server idle now."

Most of the complaints hint that the traffic upset set in on 26 or 27 January. Affected site's webmasters are most unimpressed at Google's latest changes. Who will be? When you are watching your site's traffic from going great to a sudden death like transition. More updates and reports can be expected from both Google and webmasters in the days to come.

About the Author:
Nav is the founder and CEO of PageTraffic, a premier search engine company known for its assured SEO service, web design and development, copywriting and full time SEO professionals.

Navneet has wide experience in natural search engine optimization, internet marketing and PPC campaigns. He is a prolific writer and his articles can be found in the "Best Articles" section of many websites and article banks. As a search engine analyst , he has over 9 years of experience and his knowledge is in application here.

Mashable! - Is This The LG Optimus 3D Smartphone? [PIC]

Photographs purporting to be the upcoming LG Optimus 3D smartphone have hit the web.

At CES 2011, LG showed off some glasses-free 3D screens that could be used in smartphones. A pair of leaks last week indicated that a new 3D smartphone, dubbed the Optimus 3D, could make its debut at February’s Mobile World Congress.

Phandroid received Monday a photo of the alleged device from an anonymous tipster. The phone, which doesn’t look like either the Optimus 2X or the Optimus Black, could be the first glasses-free 3D mobile handset to hit the market.

These are the specs, according to the Phandroid tipster:

  • Large screen — Phandroid estimates that it is 4.3 inches.
  • The screen offers glasses-free 3D visuals.
  • Dual-core processor with multi-channel RAM.
  • Front-facing camera.

The phone is running on an unspecific version of Android. The large, 3D screen and dual-core processor certainly situate it in the high-end category.

We expect to see lots of Android handsets at MWC, including Motorola’s Atrix 4G. Mashable will be at the LG event at MWC February 14 and we’ll update you with news as we hear it.

Are you interested in a 3D smartphone?

Photo courtesy of Phandroid

More About: 3D, android, LG, lg optimus 3d, MWC, optimus 3d, smartphone

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Mashable! - Facebook Ads Perform Half as Well as Regular Banner Ads [STA

Ads on Facebook cost more but got fewer click-throughs in 2010 compared to 2009, and performed about half as well as traditional banner ads, according to a new survey.

A study conducted by Webtrends looked at more than 11,000 campaigns on Facebook to try to establish benchmarks for brands looking to advertise on the platform.

According to Webtrends, the average click-through rate (CTR) for Facebook ads in 2009 was 0.063% and 0.051% in 2010 — half as much as industry standard of .1%. The cost per click (CPC) was also $0.27 and $0.49 for those periods, respectively.

Webtrends also detailed the cost-per-thousand (CPM) and cost per fan (CPF):

According to the study, not all visitors to Facebook interact with ads the same way. “The older we get, the more we click,” the survey notes, adding that there’s a falloff, however, after age 65. Women and men click at pretty much the same rate.

Similarly, there are few geographic variations, except for Hawaii, whose residents click through at almost half the average and North Dakota and Wyoming, whose residents click at double and triple the average rate.

Not surprisingly, users are also more apt to click on an ad for a category they consider fun, like media and entertainment or blogs, categories that trounce laggards like health care and software.

As the report notes, Facebook is projected to post $4 billion in advertising this year. Part of the appeal, aside from the network’s huge base of users, is the ability to get friends of targeted consumers to give their thumbs up. That apparently combats ad burnout. According to the study, ads targeting friends of fans last three times longer than standard ads because new fans keep coming on board, adding more friends and thus more potential ad targets.

The takeaway? Facebook ads may not get a lot of click-throughs, but they do a lot...

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The Ultimate Email Marketing Success Kit

Complimentary Success Kit:
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Getting Back to the Basics of Social Media:VIDEO

New Online Directory DeclareMedia Helps Advertising Agencies Get Their Word Out

Local Internet Directories Assist Advertising Agencies to get more clients to their website

Salt Lake City, UT (Vocus/PRWEB) January 31, 2011

DeclareMedia has created a new way for many local businesses to get the word out by using their online directory. They can help advertising agencies with a listing in the directory for free. If businesses want to be shown on the homepage for only $20.00 per month space is limited so hurry and get a featured placement before it gets taken by other competitors.

Businesses are probably trying to figure out how to maximize marketing dollars and get ahead of their competition using the internet. DeclareMedia wants to make it easy for advertising agencies by using multiple directories to get more clients. If anyone searches on Yahoo or Google for Florida ad agencies, there’s a directory for that. If someone wants to find an advertising agency in Nashville, there’s a directory for that too. There are over 100 directories to help advertising agencies get more clients on the web.

Many businesses rely on advertising companies to help create, plan and handle all the advertising needs. It’s always best to get an outside point of view to help grow businesses. Especially with how the economy has been today where clients are hard to gain. There has been a high amount of businesses that are searching for local ad agencies they can work with. Whatever type of business it is, they all need the marketing tools that an ad agency can offer.

“DeclareMedia’s solution is unique in a way that it is easy it is to use, and works well when it comes to search engine optimization or SEO,” said Ben Martin, VP Product Development, DeclareMedia. A free listing only takes 2-3 minutes to create. A featured placement listing takes just a minute longer, and businesses can gain more traffic and lead flow for their ad agency due to the prominent placement on the homepage of the directory. There is now a way to get good rankings for these directories on search engines, which ends up helping customers with their SEO efforts.

DeclareMedia is planning to launch more advertising agency directories in the next few weeks.

About DeclareMedia: DeclareMedia manages over thousands of online, multiple directories covering hundreds of business categories. Now there is an easier way for both businesses and customers to find what they need. DeclareMedia has made it easier and better for businesses to list their website and more convenient for customers to find what they are searching for. Since the directories rank well in search engines, they help local businesses take advantage of the web to reach customers in their local area. DeclareMedia is located in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Joshua Steimle, CEO

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Email marketing is the standard by which all other online marketing is measured. Everyone has an email address, and many of us read our emails all the time and everywhere via our mobile devices.

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