ixigo powers IRCTC site for hotel bookings
ixigo’s range of accommodation offerings from its domestic and international hotel partners and OTAs will be available on IRCTC’s web and mobile platforms
Railway travellers can now go to IRCTC Hotels and compare budget and luxury hotels across prices, ratings, reviews and amenities through this new hotel search and booking platform. ixigo searches and compares over 40,000 hotels from all leading travel websites and allows travellers to filter by offerings such as ‘pay at hotel’ and ‘free cancellation’.
Commenting on the tie up, MP Mall, CMD, IRCTC, said, “Our partnership with ixigo is part of our efforts of enhancing service offerings to railway customers. The smart and personalized hotel booking options aggregated from multiple online travel sites will help IRCTC deliver affordable accommodation to users through ixigo’s simple and innovative hotel platform.”
Announcing the partnership, Aloke Bajpai, CEO & Co-Founder, ixigo, said, “We are delighted to power hotels for IRCTC and extend our offerings for their large base of rail customers. As a company, we have a decade long commitment towards understanding the pain points of train travellers and solving them. Through this partnership with IRCTC, ixigo’s hotels meta-search technology will be made available to fulfil the government’s vision of providing more convenience and services to rail travellers.”
IRCTC’s website and app witnesses over 7 lakh train bookings a day and through this exclusive partnership with ixigo, it aims to fulfill the hotel booking requirement for thousands of travellers every day. Rail travellers will benefit from exclusive deals and discounts as ixigo will aggregate and compare prices across branded budget hotel aggregators and OTAs on IRCTC.
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The breach which took place over a 12-day period in September, adds to Facebook’s mounting privacy troubles after several incidents earlier this year
Facebook on Friday has revealed that a major software bug may have allowed third-party apps to incorrectly access the photos of up to 6.8 million users, including images that people began to upload to the site but didn’t post publicly, according to reports.
The breach which took place over a 12-day period in September, adds to Facebook’s mounting privacy troubles after several incidents arose earlier this year, in which the social media giant failed to fully safeguard the personal data of its users. These incidents have prompted European regulators to investigate and bring on fresh calls for the company to be fined.
Facebook usually allows apps by third-party developers to obtain users' permission and access photos shared on their timeline.
However, because of the bug, nearly 1,500 apps could access “a broader set of photos than usual,” Facebook explained in a blog post. This includes photos that a user may have started to post, but abandoned before actually publishing it. This is because Facebook keeps a copy of the draft in the event a user might want to complete the upload later.
The software breach may have also allowed developers to access photos they were not allowed to on Marketplace, a Facebook hub for users to buy and sell goods, and some posted in Stories, where users can share short photo or video updates that appear for 24 hours.
Facebook declined to detail the exact apps that may have obtained these photos, or what they may have done with them.
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Consumers who subscribe to pay channels would also be able to watch them on Facebook
Taking a big step in the video space, Facebook is reportedly planning to strike deals with pay TV networks to sell consumer subscriptions.
According to media reports, the social network is talking to pay TV channels about a proposal to sell those companies’ streaming TV services on its platform.
Reports suggest that consumers who subscribe to the pay channels would also be able to watch them on Facebook’s properties.
This will be something similar to what Amazon has been doing. Reports have quoted industry sources as saying that Facebook could launch the service in the first half of 2019.
The step from Facebook does not come as a surprise as the social media platform has always working towards becoming a video hub for sometime now.
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Michal Kosinski, an assistant professor at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, wrote in the New York Times that Facebook is “eager to monetise” a range of personal characteristics
Facebook has hit back at a recent New York Times opinion piece that called out the social media giant for “selling user data.”
Rob Goldman, VP Facebook Ads, has replied with a series of tweets, saying that Facebook does not sell people’s data.
Michal Kosinski, an assistant professor at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, wrote in the New York Times that Facebook is “eager to monetise” a range of personal characteristics. He said advertisers are encouraged to selectively target people on the basis of data such as age, gender or location and other highly personal information such as political views, family size, education, occupation, marital status or interest in a gay dating app.
Kosinski wrote that in a study he and his colleagues “discovered that advertisers can target users based on their intimate psychological traits, such as personality.” He further added, “If you can think of an important personal characteristic, there’s a good chance it’s targetable on Facebook. Through this ad-targeting system, Facebook discloses facts about you to advertisers, in exchange for money, every time you click on an ad. I’d call that “selling data, and I bet that you would, too.”
Kosniski in his article said that “Facebook is extremely clever at dodging this issue.” “Facebook's claiming that it is not selling user data is like a bar’s giving away a free martini with every $12 bag of peanuts and then claiming that it’s not selling drinks. Rich user data is Facebook’s most prized possession, and the company sure isn’t throwing it in for free,” he wrote.
Goldman “fact-checked” NYT back in a series of tweets. Goldman began his series of tweets by pointing out that Facebook does not sell people’s data. “That’s not a dodge or semantics, it’s a fact. We don’t sell or share personal information.”
1/ You are certainly entitled to your opinion, but we don’t sell people’s data. Period. That’s not a dodge or semantics, it’s a fact. We don’t sell or share personal information. https://t.co/VGYc0utqX9— Rob Goldman (@robjective) December 13, 2018
“It’s is not in our business interest to sell or share personal information with anyone. Our business model only works if it works for people - if people don’t, they won’t come to Facebook, advertisers won’t be able to reach them, and we won’t have a business,” he tweeted.
He further added “Clicks do carry certain information about their visitors– where they are generally located, what device they’re using, parameters passed in the URL. That’s true of the clicks you make to any website on the internet. It’s how the internet works, not just how Facebook works.”
Goldman fired back noting that “FB advertisers do learn about people who click their ads. We provide them with reports, which give them information about the people who clicked. That information is anonymous. We don’t need to tell advertisers who you are for them to know if their ad was effective.”
In his final tweet on the issue, Goldman said, “We know that there is much to do to make ads better, but I am proud of the principles that guide our work.”
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Customers can now engage with others who share similar interests to discover trends and products
Amazon.in has introduced Spark, a personalized, interest-based community experience consisting of images, videos, and articles shared among like-minded people. Spark gives customers the ability to share or seek advice or get inspiration in an experience that brings people together, and engages them in conversation around common interests. Whether it’s finding inspiration for a new home decor project or discovering the best hiking boots for your next trek, Spark provides a place to view, shop and share content.
Customers can shop items directly from Spark stories or pictures within their personalized feed wherever they see a tagged product.
The company, in a statement, said, customers enjoy Amazon’s vast product selection to help them make purchase decisions, which are made largely based on product features, relying instead on external blogs and social networks for in-depth research and seeking advice. With the increased engagement on social media, there is also a rise in social trust among Indian consumers. Increasingly, a large section of the online consumers (especially those between the age group of 16 and 24 years) in India trust what people say about brands on the Internet than from other sources.
Now with Spark, Amazon customers will find both trusted, in-depth content from influencers, brands and publishers and also community content from other select, qualifying customers. Spark enables a rich ecosystem of online publishers, brands and influencers who will drive engagement and thereby have the opportunity to gain followers and create a deep, ongoing connection with Amazon users.
With community rewards and enthusiast badges baked in for contributors of high-quality content, Spark will now serve as a daily destination for customers to be engaged and inspired. Besides being aligned to the customer’s interests, the feed experience is further personalized with features like incorporating trends from the customer’s browsing and shopping behaviour.
Kishore Thota, Amazon.in’s Director of Customer Engagement, said, “With Spark’s interest-based social community and content model, we are aiming to make product discoverability easy and convenient as well as fun. We are thus using this community content and experience to enhance product discovery by tagging products to content and making them seamlessly ‘shop-able.”
“Be it driving discovery by shoppable photos posted by an influencer covering the latest fashion trends or being inspired by a fitness review written by a US based mom turned marathon runner, Spark on Amazon helps customers connect with both local and global Spark communities making social engagement and in-turn the online shopping experience truly delightful,” he added.
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The two will leverages movie ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ to introduce Vodafone’s Future Job Finder programme
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Google has also expanded the Merchant Center to Hindi
Google on Thursday unveiled a new and immersive shopping search experience for Indian users. The new personalised experience will allow users to easily filter through offers, review prices from multiple retailers and find the products they are looking for. This experience is available across several Google products: a made-to-browse experience on the Shopping home page, the Shopping tab on Google Search and in Google Lens. For retailers, Google has expanded the Merchant Center to Hindi.
The new ‘Shopping Homepage’ is a made-to-browse destination for shoppers to search across multiple product categories, and browse products from thousands of retailers. To make the shopping experience richer, smart features like price drops and a collection of the most popular products on Google have been added. The experience will also be available as a Progressive Web App (PWA) for users with entry level phones.
The ‘Shopping Tab’ in Google Search will allow users to post queries in Hindi and English and show product lists, local store inventory and review prices from across multiple retailers.
Finally, Style Search in Google Lens is an all-new visual approach to find products such as clothes, furniture, and home decor, by simply pointing the Lens app.
Talking about the launch of the new experience, Surojit Chatterjee, Vice President -Product Management, Google, said, “More than 40 million Indians are coming online every year, and search is an integral part of their online journey. From seasoned desktop shoppers to first-time users with entry-level smartphones, we hope this new shopping experience will make finding what people are looking for just a little bit easier.”
For retailers, Merchant Center has always been the place to upload store and product data for shopping ads. So far, the Merchant Center has been only available in English, and starting today it is expanding to Hindi. Retailers can now also use Merchant Center to upload product details so they can appear across Google, without paying for ad campaigns.
Speaking about the offerings for retailers, Chatterjee said, “With this launch, our aim is to support the entire retail ecosystem, from shopping sites and large retailers to small local shops, and give them the tools, technology and scale to thrive in today’s digital economy.”
According to the Sixth Economic Census, there are 58 million SMBs in India of which 35 per cent are engaged in retail trade. However, a very small number of them have an online presence -- clearly highlighting a huge opportunity for retailers to surface their merchandize to the millions of online consumers.
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Parachure brings over 11 years of experience with specific expertise in mobile and digital marketing, marketing automation, mobile analytics, web analytics and business intelligence
AppsFlyer, the global leader in mobile attribution and marketing analytics, has announced the appointment of Nikhil Parachure as Director - Solutions Architect for the India market. In this role, Nikhil will primarily be responsible for providing insights that shape the marketing strategies of AppsFlyer’s clients, as well as advise enterprise businesses and educate the market how to leverage AppsFlyer’s technology, products and service to address mobile and marketing challenges. Nikhil will also drive the Customer Success functions and work closely with various internal and external stakeholders, enabling businesses to develop strategies that will enable AppsFlyer’s clients to achieve new levels of growth.
Parachure brings over 11 years of experience with specific expertise in mobile and digital marketing, marketing automation, mobile analytics, web analytics and business intelligence. Prior to joining AppsFlyer, Nikhil was the founder of Measur-ed, a measurement and revenue consulting company. He has also held senior roles at Ajio, Myntra, and Iprospect India. He will be based in Bengaluru, India, and report to Sanjay Trisal, Country Manager for AppsFlyer in India.
AppsFlyer has witnessed tremendous growth in India since establishing its office in 2015 with a headcount of under ten, and continues to expand its team and dedicate significant resources for empowering brands, marketers, and app creators in India to grow domestically and beyond. Today it is the market leader in mobile attribution and marketing analytics with five times the number of employees than when it first started. AppsFlyer’s business has grown by three times year-on-year over the past three consecutive years, while acquiring new clients in every vertical.
Growth highlights between 2017 and 2018:
- App installs measured - 73% increase
- In-app events measured - 331% increase
- Number of apps running in India: 19% increase
- Media spend measured - 277% increase
Speaking on the development, Sanjay Trisal, Country Manager, India, AppsFlyer, said, “AppsFlyer’s strong emphasis on hiring, marketing, sales, support, and product management are part of our commitment to the India market, which continues to offer us opportunities through its growth and development. We can only measure our success based on our clients’ success, and Nikhil brings to his role a depth of experience and insights from customer perspectives in the area of mobile and digital marketing. We believe he is well-placed to support our team in helping AppsFlyer achieve success for its customers in India.”
AppsFlyer owns 75% of the market share and works with over 250 clients in India, 94% of which comprise leading industry players across Telco, OTT, eCommerce, and News. In addition, AppsFlyer is the most trusted partner in India’s BFSI, video OTT and entertainment sector. Some of AppsFlyer’s clients include Airtel, Paytm, Vodafone-Idea, Hotstar, ICICI and more.
Globally, AppsFlyer previously raised US$56 million for its series C round in January 2017, which brought its total funding to US$84 million. Since then, it has planted its roots firmly in Asia, investing heavily in new offices and hiring while obtaining an impressive regional market share of 80%. The company also surpassed $100 million in Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR) in the third quarter of 2018, growing at 100% every 12 months.
Driving the company’s revenue growth are the 85,000 apps whose marketers use AppsFlyer’s products and services, propelling the company to over 70% market share worldwide. In the past year, AppsFlyer has continued to form partnerships with many prominent global brands, including eBay, NBCUniversal, Adidas, Hyundai, Coca-Cola, Times Internet, Grab and ByteDance.
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Guest Column: Sahil Shah, VP Operations & Media - South and West, WATConsult, on the top digital trends of 2018 that took India into full gear
It’s the best time of the year and how. Well on one side it’s everybody’s favorite month; December! And on the other, it’s because of a fantastic year that’s passing us by.
Clearly, much has happened for digital in India over the last one year and a lot needs to be spoken about. In my view, it’s been a key year that has changed the course of digital by starting to impact the lives of over half a billion Indians (truly going mainstream!). But no, I am not here to talk about how the JIO revolution democratized data costs to build more connected consumers or the rise of affordable smartphones that’s pretty much scaled adoption to 350 MN+ Indians. Instead, I am going to talk about some key trends that have emerged in 2018 due to these industry defining shifts in adoption and scale of digital.
Here the top digital trends of 2018 that took India into full gear:
Rise of Bharat
Digital in India has grown to nearly 500 MN users with almost 40% coming from rural India. Which means 200 MN audiences in India, mostly media dark, is a brand new audience a digital marketer can start addressing as a function of “growth hacking” through digital. Both voice searches (400% rise) as well as vernacular language adoption (higher than English, already) have had considerable scale too. To top it all, only 22% of rural India accesses Internet in terms of penetration leaving a huge room for growth and building the next 300 MN heavily through rural India.
Quick Fact: Bihar is the highest YouTube watching state in India by time-spent which only proves that there is going to be steady rise in vernacular content, no. of rural users and heavy video consumption.
Video, Video & More Video
This is no surprise in the almost free data world that we are living in. YouTube has reached a billion home page impressions in a day, Instagram recently launched IGTV for long form vertical video content and Facebook introduced an optional “video only” newsfeed. All of this triggered due to consumers tilting towards video watching more than anything else on the internet. OTT players saw more than double digit growth in all event/show formats, live & non live. The biggies of OTT world; Netflix, Hotstar, Amazon Prime, etc. have started to see immense amount of growth in regional language video content over English; due to huge dearth + demand of/for it. So comfortably video has arrived and is here to stay for the long term.
Apps Breaking the Internet
The app world is continuing to surprise us with more and more apps getting adopted by Indians daily. While there are some functional apps, some flash in the pan ones and some niche ones solving specific problems; the year of 2018 highlighted two big apps sitting right in the top 10 lists of almost every young mobile user in India. First one being, TikTok (previously known as musical.ly) built on content off the people, for the people and by people model and the second one was an addictive social gaming app called PUBG. These two struck chords of millions of young Indians and is on every marketers target list to consider.
A lot of introspection has started to happen inside the walls of various (small and large) businesses. Brands that have grown doing digital marketing is a passé now; 2018 was the year when digitization and digitalization took the driver’s seat. How do you win the customer in a digital first world by harnessing the power of data is the key question. And for this reason, businesses have started to rethink their models and automate processes to become more agile and deliver better. There are many industries that are experiencing transformation; right from consumer appliances to healthcare to education and even agriculture. In the years to come, we will start to see the impact of it all for other industries to follow.
India’s e-commerce industry has continued to evolve over the last one year. The FMCG & Food industry has gone completely hyperlocal with same day or even 2 hour delivery formats while the retail industry is going through an“omnichannel experience” transformation for a customer. There is a steady rise in non-cash payments that’s been built through assisted e-commerce practices. Digital payments is a segment, everyone from banks to technology companies are targeting as the upside is huge and 2018 was the year when it has started to see considerable growth at scale.
Data Driven Decisions
In today’s time every marketer is looking at building her/his brand through digital as a key marketing and commerce channel. 2018 was the year when data started getting used to a fuller potential in order to take better marketing decisions. For e.g., Flipkart created a record breaking 3 MN video ads by using 200 audience signals for their Big Billion Sale. This just shows the scale and breadth of how data is started to put to use. An increasing number of brands are shifting focus from platform buying to audience buying and 2018 saw a big rise with clients, agencies and publishers all working towards the same goal.
All these trends and much more would not have been possible if digital in India did not grow at the pace it has and through the relentless efforts of publishers, agencies, clients as well as the governmentto adapt to digital in an ever evolving form, making it truly mainstream in India. There’s a lot to work on for the future in the field of digital where predictive marketing, voice (rural & urban), AI, blockchain, AR/VR, robotics, etc.will start to break new grounds. I am no Nostradamus to predict where India will go from here but I do know it will quickly catch up on advanced digitization and digitalization of every kind to become the front runners on digital in the world in the years to come.
(The author is VP Operations & Media - South and West, WATConsult)
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of exchange4media.com.
VP Operations & Media - South and West, WATConsult
The acquisition will expand Cognizant Interactive’s digital content capabilities, adding video development and distribution
Cognizant has announced it is acquiring Mustache, a privately-held creative content agency based in Brooklyn, NY, known for its innovative approach to planning, producing and distributing compelling video content and programming. The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2019 subject to satisfaction of certain closing conditions. Financial details were not disclosed.
Founded in 2010, Mustache specializes in creating award-winning original and branded content for digital, broadcast and social mediums, all increasingly important for marketers. An April 2018 study by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) shows that nearly 60 percent of marketers’ digital ad budgets today are allocated to video alone, and spending continues to rise.
Mustache’s capabilities extend across the content creation continuum, from developing concepts through to production, post-production, and distribution services. Mustache’s TV business unit is widely recognized for its expertise in long format video development, including the “Most Expensivest” reality series created for Viceland. The agency is also recognized for its integrated campaigns across a range of industries, including tech, tourism, beauty and television marketing. Mustache’s clients include leading edge brands such as: A&E Networks, Brand USA, Google, Grammarly, L'Oréal, Netflix, and Viceland.
Upon the close of the acquisition, Mustache’s team of content experts -- including creative directors, strategists, art directors, writers, producers, animators, graphic designers, video editors, and post production specialists -- will become part of Cognizant Interactive.
Speaking about the acquisition, Donna Tuths, Senior Vice President and Global Head of Cognizant Interactive, said, “CMOs are looking for a single-source, at-scale provider to help them with the capabilities they need to win in the experience economy."
She continued, “Creating engaging content remains a singular challenge due to the demands of ‘always on’ social media channels – especially when it comes to video. With the addition of Mustache, Cognizant Interactive is even better positioned to fill this need.”
Tuths added, “We look forward to welcoming the Mustache team to Cognizant Interactive. These highly-skilled content specialists and the rich expertise they bring will set us apart in our ability to provide a complete range of digital content services, particularly long format video, which we know is increasingly driving consumer engagement and purchase decisions.”
“Mustache was born of the conviction that brands need to connect and engage with their customers more authentically, and the best way to do that is through honest, compelling, and provocative content,” said John Limotte, Founder, Chief Executive Officer, and Executive Creative Director, Mustache. “By joining forces with Cognizant, we can leverage their deep resources and geographic reach to scale our capabilities more quickly and effectively to provide clients with more comprehensive solutions — marrying our content and creative with their cutting-edge technology and analytics to create a powerful, forward-looking, full-service model. We are particularly drawn to the global agency network developed under Cognizant Interactive, and the leading position they’ve taken on applied innovation and on solving clients’ challenges with what they call a ‘human-centered’ approach. We look forward to combining our strengths with Cognizant to deliver great results for clients.”
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Sundar Pichai testified before the US House of Representatives Judiciary Committee on Wednesday
Google Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai on Wednesday testified before the US House of Representatives Judiciary Committee. The hearing was titled, ‘Transparency & Accountability: Examining Google and its Data Collection, Use and Filtering Practices”, and was led by Chairman Bob Goodlatte.
According to media reports, during the hearing, which lasted for more than three hours, US lawmakers questioned Pichai on a host of issues, including political bias, tracking users, content moderation and a China search engine.
Pichai reportedly opened the session saying that as an American company, Google cherishes the values and freedoms that have allowed it to grow and serve so many users. He said the company works and will continue to work with the government to keep the country safe and secure.
On being questioned about Google’s plan to launch a censored version of its search engine in China, Pichai reportedly said that at the moment there is no plan to launch a search engine in China. He, however, did not fully deny the possibility. “If we ever approach a decision like that, I will be fully transparent regarding this, including with policy makers,” he reportedly said.
The lawmakers then question Pichai if Google's search results were politically biased. Pichai replied, saying that the search results were based on algorithm and were not influenced by any bias.
“Users also look to us to provide accurate, trusted information. We work hard to ensure the integrity of our products, and we’ve put a number of checks and balances in place to ensure they continue to live up to our standards. I lead this company without political bias and work to ensure that our products continue to operate that way,” he was quoted as saying by some media reports.
Pichai was also asked if Google could track the location of an individual. He replied that Google did have access to users’ basic information, but the company keeps track of how that data is being used.
The CEO also faced questions on the kind of content being allowed on the platform. Pichai said that “this is an area we acknowledge there’s more work to be done.” He shared that the company gets around 400 hours of video every minute on YouTube and agreed that it is their responsibility to check the kind of content that is allowed.
Another question that Pichai faced was why US President Donald Trump’s photos appear in Google Search when one searches for the word ‘idiot’.
Pichai’s reply was that Google relies on several parameters when a search result shows up, and it is not one factor that determines rankings.
“Things like relevance, freshness, popularity, how other people are using it. And based on that, at any given time, we try to rank and find the best search results for that query,” he reportedly said, adding that Google does not manually intervene in search results.
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