The scourge of ransomware has become so ingrained in the very fabric of computing that some of the criminals behind it have actually begun offering live chat support for victims who agree to pay their ransoms. The new “service” was discovered this past summer by Trend Micro, an IT security firm that posed as a victim of ransomware and was cheerfully offered live chat support in exchange for its ransom payment.
While hackers regularly make digital corpses of computer systems run by global giants and mom-and-pops alike, the hard fact is that few businesses have a plan in place to handle a cyber break-in.
While increasing numbers of companies are moving to “native advertising” (advertising that is woven into the very fabric of content produced by publishers), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has warned, “Watch your step.” Disturbed by the growing number of ads that are indistinguishable from news, radio commentary, entertainment video and other content, the agency released new rules this past December designed to reign in firms and ad agencies that are taking too free a hand in drawing the line between advertising and content.
While video marketing is already on the radar of most web-savvy businesses, recent indications are that the medium will continue to explosively transform the internet for years to come. For example, video-based social-media startup Instagram—a mere blip on the web’s radar a few years ago—now boasts nearly 500 million users. Snapchat, another video-centered social-media network is growing nearly as ferociously. And online video king YouTube cruises along these days at more than a billion users. YouTube reaches more 18- to 49-year-olds than any cable TV network in the United States, according to the company’s stats page (www.youtube.com/yt/press/statistics.html).
With most leading businesses devoting more time to content marketing these days—the publishing of articles, videos, images and more to reinforce brand image—it’s more important than ever to ensure that content is optimized for search engines.
Any business that is advertising on the web needs to ensure that the publishers it works with are actively engaged in combating a growing threat: web browsers that are tricked-up with ad-blocking software. Installed in seconds on popular web browsers such as Firefox and Chrome, ad blockers essentially strip out all of the advertising programmed to appear on a webpage, neutralizing any impressions a company is looking to make with its precious ad dollars.
Nearly as old as the web itself, web survey packages have grown ever more sophisticated over the years—to the point where you can use them to essentially run your own, never-ending focus group online. Moreover, given that there’s a crowded market of web survey providers, many businesses find that they can satisfy all of their surveying needs with the free versions of these solutions—and never upgrade to premium offerings.
Businesses are scoring more sales online by programming their websites to serve up custom marketing content based on who happens to be visiting them at any given time. The technique, known as website personalization, has been around a while, but as with most things in technology, personalization has been growing ever more powerful, precise and effective over the years, resulting in greater profits for companies that have mastered it.
While marketing via company blog on WordPress remains an extremely popular way for businesses to get attention, many have not ensured that their blogs are turbocharged with all the latest plug-ins. These tools, which are generally free, can ensure that a blog appears as high as possible in search-engine returns, downloads blazingly quickly for readers, and is well-protected from spammers and others looking to compromise your efforts.
While e-mail spammers are about as popular as a carnival barker at a wedding, too many of us are being unfairly characterized as spammers simply because our e-mails “look like” spam.