Google changing online advertising landscape through ad blocking

Following a released study conducted by the Coalition for Better Ads, Google announced a new feature coming to their popular browser Chrome that will block certain types of online advertisements. The study concluded that pop-up ads, flashing animated ads and auto-play ads with sound “fall beneath a threshold of consumer acceptability.”

“Tens of thousands of consumers have made their opinions clear through this robust research,” said Bob Liodice, CEO of the Association of National Advertisers. “Consumers in North America and Europe have similar views on online ad experiences they find annoying and disruptive.”

The research conducted by the Coalition for Better Ads was intended to identify which methods of online advertising push consumers to adopt third-party ad blockers to their browser. Business Insider estimates 236 million desktop devices and 380 million mobile devices have some form of an ad blocking software downloaded.

Ad Block

 

Websites have tried to combat ad blocks before by locking out content from people who have ad blocking software installed and active. According to the official AdBlock “Solutions” web page, a website usually tries to download a resource commonly used to serve an ad, and if that resource is blocked or hidden, the site detects an ad blocker is present. However, most ad block users prefer to simply move onto another site rather than “white list” a site or completely disable their software.

Alternative solutions have been varied across different sites. The Guardian displays a pop-up at the bottom of their webpages asking ad block users to donate to the site directly, whereas Forbes waits until users click on articles to lock out their content. In response, software called “Ad-blocker blockers” has surfaced, tricking websites into thinking a user doesn’t have any ad blocking software active when they actually do.

 

Google’s filtering tool, which is scheduled to be implemented in early 2018, will automatically block the top 12 ad formats that are deemed below the standards of the Coalition for Better Ads. Google is attempting to push third-party ad blocking software companies out of the picture who run varying degrees of white listing programs. For instance, AdBlock Plus has an “Acceptable Ad” program that allows advertisers to pay extra fees to pass through the AdBlock Plus filter. Because of Chrome’s dominance in the browser market share (59 percent on desktop computers, according to NetMarketShare), advertising companies that use any of the 12 threatened advertising forms will have to reconfigure or lose access to almost half of the potential online market.

Dirxion’s advertising widgets have typically passed online advertising standards in order to ensure they’re displayed properly. The alterations to Chrome’s rules will require attention and potential changes to the way Dirxion delivers advertisements to its interface. Consequently, this is being monitored closely by Dirxion’s development team.

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Washington Post shows online newspaper subscriptions can be lucrative

Since the rise of the Internet and it’s evolving role in journalism and news delivery, newspapers across the country have heard the same story: ad revenue and circulation is declining, staff sizes need to be cut, papers need to do more with less. However, The Washington Post has been an exception to the rule in recent years.

The Washington Post was featured in The New York Times in a recent article, highlighting its success and resurgence through online newspaper subscriptions. The two key factors are a $250 million acquisition by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and the hiring of former Boston Globe editor-in-chief Martin Baron in 2013. In the following four years, The Washington Post has shown newspapers can sustain a profitable online presence, having hired hundreds of staffers and almost tripling its technology staff, as reported by the article. According to comScore, an American media measurement and analytics company, The Washington Post now ranks third in digital page views (811 million in April), sitting only below The New York Times and CNN among news websites.

“Our digital ad revenue is in the solid nine figures,” said Jed Hartman, chief revenue officer of The Washington Post. “We’ll have our third straight year of double-digit revenue growth.”

The boom in revenue is partly thanks to the newspaper’s decision to move to a metered subscription model in June of 2013. As explained by an FAQ posted on The Washington Post’s website, all readers are allowed to read 20 online articles a month or can access unlimited content for $9.99 a month. Many other papers are following suit. According to a study published by the American Press Institute, 78 percent of U.S. newspapers with circulations over 50,000 are using a digital subscription model and 62 percent use a metered model like The Washington Post.

Rising digital subscriptions haven’t been an unusual trend though, with many large publications receiving boosts following the coverage of the most recent election. Year-over-year, The New York Times gained 500,000 (a 47 percent increase).

Local newspapers have taken strides to combine their print and online presence using Dirxion’s e-Edition services. These digital replicas of the print publication are a transition tool for many local newspapers, as they venture further onto the Internet and look for ways to promote their core product. Dirxion allows customers to lock their e-Editions behind a subscription login, allowing only subscribers to access the print pages. The e-Edition navigation features, such as custom table of contents, thumbnail page images and cross-reference linking, ensure that the e-Editions are easy to read and use.

 

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Consumers shifting toward mobile e-commerce

Mobile e-commerce has grown at such a fast rate that economists have given the specific brand of online shopping its own name: m-commerce. According to an article recently published by Forbes, m-commerce spending is projected to reach $284 billion by 2020 and account for nearly half of all e-commerce.

Because of this boom, however, m-commerce has encountered hardware and software limitations that can potentially break the shopping experience for consumers. As reported by Business Insider, in Q2 2015, U.S. adults spent 59 percent of their time on mobile devices but spent only 15 percent of their money there. The mobile conversion rate for U.S. citizens shopping on their smartphones in Q4 2016 was 1.55 percent as compared to 4.14 percent for desktops. Smaller screen sizes can make for a frustrating shopping experience, sometimes getting in the way of browsing or entering payment options. Many companies don’t have optimized websites for mobile viewing.

Conversion rates and time spent on a particular device don’t necessarily paint the entire picture though. According to comScore, items bought online are “weighted” differently depending on the means of purchase. For instance, 57 percent of items categorized as “Toys & Hobbies” are bought on a mobile device, and 89 percent of “Consumer Electronics” are bought on a desktop (as of Q1 2017).

Digital Commerce Spending

 

Despite this division of the m-commerce market, consumers overwhelmingly prefer to use dedicated apps as opposed to using a browser on their mobile devices. According to Flurry Analytics, a mobile apps analytics tool owned by Yahoo!, 90 percent of the time a person spends on their phone is within apps. Companies like Amazon have taken the lead on m-commerce app development. Amazon revealed 72 percent of their customers shopped using a mobile device during the holiday season, a 56 percent growth worldwide. Amazon has taken into account the cramped nature of some smartphones by developing augmented reality features and allowing customers to shop via Alexa-based hardware.

To meet the growing demand of the m-commerce market, Dirxion offers custom app development for the Google Play and iTunes stores. Within the apps, customers are able to view a business’s online catalogs or download them for offline viewing. The catalogs, when accessed while the phone is online, are completely interactive and optimized with HTML5. Dirxion can also integrate online catalogs into an existing application. Such is the case for Dirxion customer Ulta Beauty, where eflyers published with Dirxion have been integrated into their shopping app to create a streamlined and seamless buying experience.
Ulta Beauty App

 

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New minimal user interface offers online catalogs a clean look

Online catalogs publishers looking for a simple but complete interface can switch to Dirxion’s new minimal UI. The interface design stores its tools and features within a menu that opens and closes with one click.

The interface was designed with online catalogs in mind, in order to give greater focus on the catalog pages and the product images published within. Publishers with an emphasis on image quality and art direction have shown the greatest interest.

A recent example is retail apparel company American Giant. Its online catalog interface uses Dirxion’s new minimal UI with a menu in the bottom-left corner. When the online catalog loads, only the catalog pages, side-panel page arrows and bottom-left menu can be seen. Products throughout the catalog are linked to American Giant’s corresponding e-commerce pages, in order to drive sales.

American Giant Online Catalog

 

Once the menu button is clicked, American Giant’s custom interface design is displayed. They chose to have a toolbar set at the bottom of the interface — for basic navigation features, a high-res thumbnail strip and a link out to the consumer’s shopping cart. American Giant also has three tabs on the left panel of the interface, where users can access previous catalogs, a table of contents and search results that can be requested through the search field below.

Dirxion is currently showcasing its minimal UI to new and existing customers to accommodate a variety of preferences. In addition to the minimal UI, customers can explore other custom designs, like Restoration Hardware’s modern look, Brady Corporation’s content library or Uline’s toolbar header.

Dirxion’s goal is to provide unique branding and interface design to all of its customers, through the manipulation and addition of templates that are built with HTML5, CSS and Javascript. No two online catalogs interfaces should look exactly the same.

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Georgia Local Search’s online directory given award by Cobb Chamber

We are proud to announce that one of Dirxion’s online directory customers, GeorgiaLocalSearch.com, has been selected as a Cobb Chamber of Commerce 2017 Top 25 Small Business of the Year. Dirxion and Georgia Local Search work directly together through Dirxion’s Local Search platform to provide its web presence, an interactive yellow pages platform that allows local businesses to attract consumers through business listings, advertising and search engine optimization.

Georgia Local Search

 

Local Search specialist April D’ippolito works with Ken and Donna Rae Adams, the owners of Georgia Local Search. She sees their dedication to their business and its many advertisers.

“Ken and Donna Rae are passionate about helping grow their advertisers’ business. They love Cobb County and its surrounding area and are proud to call it home,” D’ippolito said. “They are highly involved with their customers and it shows in their results.”

GeorgiaLocalSearch.com uses SEO practices and business listings to attract local customers. Once there, customers often find specific information on a page dedicated to a local business in Cobb County and the surrounding area. On this page, businesses list accurate locations and contact information, along with additional information like coupons, menus or videos. Premium listings are given preference on Georgia Local Search’s homepage.

For smartphone and tablet users, the site is optimized, providing a responsive experience. This way, Georgia Local Search’s advertisers receive exposure not just on desktops but also on smartphones and tablets.

On their website, the Adams credit the influence of God in their daily decisions and future success. They plan to remain privately owned to help continue their growth and provide job security to those who work with them.

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Online catalogs face loading problems with Adobe Flash, web browsers

It is no secret in the Internet world that Adobe Flash Player is slowly dying and that inevitably HTML5 will take over. The web browser companies continue to create compatibility issues for Flash that only seem to get worse. For online catalogs that are based in Flash, this results in users receiving error messages when trying to load the online publication.

Only recently have the browser companies become more aggressive in their stand against Flash, as pointed out by CSO (a research group that tackles online security topics). They point out that Internet Explorer is going to be the only major web browser with Flash enabled, now that Microsoft is taking some initiative in a recent update to Windows 10 that automatically blocks Flash content. The update makes Edge another browser that can be considered an enemy to Flash, with Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox as the most problematic browsers for Adobe’s platform.

The article continues to point out HTML5 as the successor to Flash’s streaming throne, considering the faith Chrome, Firefox and Apple Safari has placed in the newer technology.


Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari and Microsoft Edge require users to download Adobe Flash plugins, creating errors messages for many online catalog users.


Such changes began taking place for good reason. About two years ago, Firefox led the way by blocking Flash content after serious security problems arose from the platform. HTML5 grew in popularity as a supplementary option that had mobile capabilities; on the other hand, Flash was linked to a few critical online security breaches. It was not an ideal trade-off for Adobe.

There was already dissent toward Flash for not working on mobile devices — a defining blow delivered by Apple when its iPhone’s began growing in popularity — and when security vulnerabilities began to crop up, there seemed little reason to trust Flash. Last year, IAB guideline changes also set in motion the transition away from Flash, helping give reason to Google to no longer accept Flash-based ads.

The result for some online catalogs is a troubling scenario, the possibility that users aren’t receiving any content at all but rather a loading error and security risk message.

As the leader in online publications, Dirxion began a migration away from Flash toward HTML5 about seven years ago. Dirxion released its first HTML5-based product in 2012. Today, the online catalog is one of Dirxion’s most-reliable platforms, using HTML5, Javascript and CSS to provide a custom design for the user’s shopping experience.

Needless to say, these online catalogs load on all browsers and mobile devices. Dirxion also provides frequent product updates to support changes to browsers and operating systems.

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Great ways to promote your newspaper e-Edition

Newspaper e-Editions are becoming a necessity for newspaper websites. They act as an extension of the print version of the paper, broadening its circulation to the endless edges of the Internet. If not promoted properly, however, it will not be found by the newspaper’s target audience. Below are some practices that newspapers are using to promote their e-Edition.

Integrate it into current social media strategies
The online version of the paper is social-network friendly, which means you can easily create links to it from your favorite social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Actively integrating these publications into your existing social media strategy will offer visitors quick access to your brand and will help increase reader interest.Once there, users will be able to share your interactive publication on their favorite social networks by using various interface features. Use social media to circulate the paper to your readers, and then let your readers start circulating it for you.

Facebook — If your company has a Facebook page, then you can post a link to your newest digital edition on your wall or to the sidebar of your profile page. You can even integrate your entire digital edition into your page by utilizing an embedded Facebook app. Also, periodically include links to interesting print articles within the replica version to announce the latest issue in your status updates.

Twitter — Make sure to post an occasional link to your digital edition pages. It’s a great way for new followers to not only get the information they were after but also become more familiar with your company and your publication.

Deliver targeted email campaigns with a clear call-to-action
An interactive publication is an asset; promote it to your customers via email campaigns. Send an email prior to launch as a teaser and then send another to launch your digital edition to your targeted audience, making sure to highlight some of the hottest content to prompt clickthroughs.

Advertise on external sites
Create a banner ad that notifies people about your interactive, online version, and use the banner in an ad campaign on verticals, local businesses (news stations, chambers of commerce, newspapers, real estate companies), industry blogs, etc. You can also generate an Adwords campaign for additional exposure on external sites.

Provide above-the-fold visibility on your homepage
Featuring your digital publication in a prominent position on your home page will naturally grab the attention of your customers. Our research shows that displaying a thumbnail of the digital publication on your home page increases publication use by 21 percent.

Advertise in your printed publication
You’ll reach your entire distribution list at almost no additional cost to you. Be sure to let your print subscribers know all about the benefits of using the digital version — quick search, immediate access, direct click to order, easy to share with friends, video/audio for deeper product info, etc.

Provide the option to view your digital product in lieu of ordering a printed copy
This provides your customers with immediate access to what they wanted and could drive repeat traffic if they start using it. Additionally, offering a digital version of your publication will appeal to the increasingly “green” consumer.

Offer incentives
Everyone loves a discount. Encourage your customers to browse the digital publication and then reward them with a discount toward their next online purchase. Or, provide exclusive content in your digital version.

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Our customers can help you find holiday gifts for kids

Dirxion Gift Guide Header

 

For the past few years, Dirxion has designed a custom publication using its customers’ products to provide holiday gift suggestions. We want to provide some added exposure to our customers while helping you find holiday gifts for kids. The Out-of-this-World Gift Guide for Kids now has its awesome 2016 edition available — 2016 Kids Gift Guide. Maybe you’ve finished your shopping or maybe, like many of us, you’re looking for that last-minute holiday gift for your kids.

Similarly to last year, we have divided it into three sections: Educational Gifts, Unique Gifts and Magnificent Gifts. Kids can easily lend you a hand by bookmarking their favorite items. They might even see some educational toys that weren’t on the original letter to Santa. Jolly Old St. Nick’s hat is in the toolbar, which launches Google’s Santa Tracker.

We hope you enjoy the guide as much as we enjoyed building it. Feel free to share with family and friends, especially if you see something that you might enjoy playing with this year. When all of the new gifts are unwrapped, some of those gently used toys might need a new home. To get you started, on the back cover of our guide, you will find several local charities who will pass along old toys.

Again, you can check out the gift guide here: http://www.dirxion.com/2016KidsGiftGuide

If you want to see what we’ve been up to this year, click the social media tabs on the right to see recent posts and to follow us.

We hope you have a wonderful holiday season!

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An online catalog suited for a global economy

Many B2B catalog providers do business in a variety of countries, cultures and languages. Without the translated catalog, a lot of business could be lost in translation. That is why we think it is important to support a wide selection of languages in our online catalog product.

Among our customers, one of the best practices is use a toggle to switch between languages supported by the print catalog. Industrial metalworking manufacturer, Kennametal, is a prime example, whose online catalog supports 14 languages under one URL. Canadian industrial tools supplier Acklands Grainger has a drop-down toggle to choose between English or French.

If separate URLs are more desirable, consider YP eDirectories. They needed an option for two languages, French and English, to better serve customers in French or English speaking provinces. Instead of using one landing page with a multi-lingual drop down, they chose to use two different links/landing pages and split their directories using that technique.

A third option was used by KohlerPeople where we created a landing page with their six languages under each cover. It works well because the user knows which language they want and they can easily select it.

In a global economy that requires us to do business in multiple languages, these options are important. The primary goal of the online catalog is to expand the reach of your publications, and ignoring foreign languages is a sure-fire way not to do that.