Is AT&T’s U-Verse on the way out the door?

AT&T has been upfront about the benefits of shifting customers off U-Verse cable in favor of DirecTV, and their approach to doing so has facilitated the shift.
Last year, the company gained 1.2 million satellite connections while losing 1.4 million cable connections. Overall, by the end of the year, the company had about 21 million DirecTV connections compared to about 4.2 million U-verse connections. (First quarter figures will be out with the company’s earnings on April 25).
Still, analysts have…

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How green is Austin? Here’s how its building practices compare to other U.S. cities

The United States saw more than 3,400 properties win LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council over the past year, a surge in energy-efficient construction affecting some 1,324 cities nationwide.
The flurry of activity pushed LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) designations to a record 28,582 properties as of mid-March, with approximately 12 percent of those certifications — 3,442 properties in all — occurring since January 2016. The LEED-certification program…

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PricePlow presents Java Monster – “LOCA MOCHA” Review

Java Monster – “LOCA MOCHA” Review
Monster Energy Drink is a well known brand and has a ton of different options now! One of the more interesting is their line of Coffee + Energy drinks – Java Monster.

CJ wanted Robert to try out his favorite flavor, Loca Mocha. Check out the review and Roberts reaction to the Java Monster brand.

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Pharmaceutical giant Merck selects Austin for IT hub

One of the biggest promises of Dell Medical School’s creation in Austin — and that has yet to take shape — is the creation of an "Innovation District," where promising companies will work alongside academics to steer the future of health care.
Now one of those big pieces could be falling into place. Merck & Co., a global pharmaceutical giant with annual sales of more than $39 billion, wants to create a 600-job information technology hub in Austin, and is in line for an economic incentive agreement…

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Baking in Values in Your Brand

John Roescher and Alex, co-founders Handsome

“To me, marketing is about values.

This is a very complicated world, it’s a very noisy world.

And we’re not going to get the chance to get people to remember much about us. No company is.

So we have to be really clear on what we want them to know about us.”

— Steve Jobs, founder of some company

It’s a sunny day in Austin, Texas. I’m sitting down on one side of a beautifully carved wooden table, and can see the rush-hour traffic pass me by. It’s 5PM in East Austin, so of course there’s quite a number of bikers that pass by the glass-windows.

On the same side of the table is John Roescher, co-founder and CEO of Handsome, which he describes as a digital agency that can “think, make, create, and hack everything”.

If you’re thinking that’s a rather broad statement, John agrees.

“Yes, for some people, that can be a little ambiguous. We are concerned with designing and defining consumer experiences for brands — the entire user experience.

That means designing and building new mobile app products, in-store experiences new businesses, and transforming businesses for the digital world.”

Now, there are a LOT of companies, from Austin to timbuktu, doing the same. Yet, why is Handsome one of the most well-known design agencies in Austin?

It can’t be just because it opens it resources to local organizations, from fresh2design to 3 Day Startup, or that it’s cool enough to host the official SXSW Interactive Launch Party, or that has clients such as Facebook (no, I’m not adding a link to Facebook).

The Handsome office. But, more emphasis should be put on that lady’s killer shoes.

Here why Handsome is successful and well-known: All of Handsome is designed and built around a core set of values, which in turn influences it’s branding, community engagement, strategy, product design, and even office space.

By values, I don’t mean a listicle of adjectives that the leadership team said Handsome would shout from rooftops — “5 VALUES WE MUST SAY WE HAVE TO SUCCESS AS A COMPANY” — in order to be perceived as a forward-thinking company.

In this case, it’s much deeper; values are why Handsome does what it does, why everything seems coherent across their digital and physical presence, and what consumers remember when they interact with the company.

So, what are these values?

Or more accurately, what’s the value most important to the company and its team members?

Being Handsome.

Is that superficial? John argues it’s not, because while appearances matter, it goes deeper than just looking pretty. It’s about how they do things — in a handsome manner.

“Where people have generally been successful, and I don’t mean financially necessarily, is when they were handsome, when they cared about the way they were presenting themselves, the way they communicated.”

Handsome cares about doing everything a certain way, from the small details such as the immaculateness of the bar in their office, to the minimalist (some would say underutilized) aesthetic of the office, to the websites and applications they design.

It goes back to the beginning.

Handsome started because the founding team believed in designing online experiences in a different way. A couple of designers and developers, who had known each other for a while, came together, not because they wanted to work together around a tested business model, but because they saw customer expectations around digital experiences were evolving beyond the a-website-is-not-an-experience model.

Technology was becoming an integral part of people’s lives, and it was becoming important that brands created experiences for their consumers. In this case, handsome experiences.

What do YOUR customers associate you with?

Stepping away from this particular example, think of a few brands you are aware of. What do you associate them with?

Chances are, what they do is only a small part of your perception of them. Nike doesn’t sell just sports goods, it sells personal excellence. Apple doesn’t sell just computers of all sorts, it sells technology you can call beautiful.

If you already have an accurate answer, kudos. You’re way beyond most brands.

If not, send over an email to your 5–10 top or most engaged consumers, offer them a small giveaway, and ask them for candid feedback. Some questions you could ask them:

  • What words come to their mind when they think of your company?
  • What interaction did they have worth your company that cemented that association?
  • Why do they think your company does what it does, beyond generating revenue?

Before you go and do that, here’s a few local Austin companies I do associate certain values with:

What are some companies you feel embody a certain set of values?

If you liked this post, listen to the rest of John’s interview on the Austin Fire Show: iTunes + Soundcloud.

If you hate this post, vent at me @rmhayat.

Or maybe just tell me you liked it. I can’t tell you what to do.

Baking in Values in Your Brand was originally published in Austin Startups on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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RideAustin SXSW Key Learnings — and wow — there were a lot…

By Andy Tryba & Marisa Goldenberg

What an experience… To be less than 10 months old and take-on an iconic event like SXSW was an amazing learning opportunity for RideAustin. And despite the hiccup for a few hours — we’d have to say ALL the local rideshares did a kick-ass job. I think a few of us learned the hard way that the spotlight is incredibly bright when you mess up (as did Uber and Lyft on Halloween 2014 or on New Year’s Eve 2016 on their outages) — but we all live and learn… And though several of us compete in Austin for rides — for this event — we were all on the same side to support the mountain of requests. And a mountain it was — we believe the collective upstart rideshare companies in Austin completed over half a million trips during these two weeks — more than the entire month of January.

As part of our open data pledge — here were some of our key learnings from our first SXSW:

181k rides in 2 weeks — far and away more than we’ve ever done…

In a short 280 days since we launched — we’ve now done over 1.3M rides. Our first 100k rides took 94 days, our latest 100k took 8 days.

During the 2 weeks of SXSW — we did nearly 80% more than we did the 2 weeks prior. The weekly ride chart (below) looks like a crazy tall tree in a forest — will be a long time until we see that again. Makes me think about the 160 TOTAL rides we did on our first day of service — we’ve come a long way… And every day from Sunday, March 12th through Saturday, March 18th was a record.

We exceeded our ‘Round-up’ goal and raised $27k for local charities during SXSW!

The SXSW crowd was very generous and a large % elected to Round-up — despite the visitors not being native to Austin (or perhaps even know much about the Austin charities in our app). We had originally set out a target of $25k for the 2 weeks — but did 10% more than that. The total raised to date is now nearly $160k.

We’ve also been asked by various media our take on Lyft’s new ‘Round-up’ feature. Contrary to others in social media saying they ‘stole our idea’ — we’re incredibly happy to see the #2 rideshare company electing to use their platform to also help charities. We believe that they will donate over $25M per year with their current volumes (and assuming our current % of riders who elect to ‘Round-up’). That’s awesome and we’d be ecstatic if every rideshare converted their platforms to help local communities.

RideAustin paid nearly $3M in driver earnings over the 2 weeks.

We had over 2,000 drivers each day of the festival, averaging ~2,300 per day. Our top driver made $5,200 in 2 weeks. 53 drivers made over $3,000 and 1,068 drivers made over $1,000. During a typical week, we usually have between 250–350 concurrent drivers on the road at any given time during the day. We averaged 475 concurrent drivers across the past two weeks, with more drivers in the evenings and on the weekends.

On average, including all time logged online with the app, our drivers made $23/hour during SXSW. Looking at only the driving time, drivers made $65/hour. For the drivers who position themselves in the highest volume areas, and take as many rides as possible — earnings were around $30/hour (with driving-time earnings of $66/hour).

Passing on the SXSW sponsorship was the right thing to do — despite giving up 90k rides

Hugh Forrest and the rest of the SXSW team are good friends of ours and they were part of our RideAustin launch event. We had good discussions on if RideAustin should be the rideshare sponsor. At the end — we decided to pass on it — knowing that it will reduce our overall ride count.

There is a good argument on if passing on the SXSW sponsorship was a smart or dumb move. Every previous Austin event sponsorship we’ve paid for had a negative ROI. But we knew SXSW could be a bit different. Unlike local Austin events we’ve sponsored — this SXSW sponsorship was a great way to reach visitors into Austin before they got to AUS airport. And since SXSW is such a heavy visitor event — reaching them was important to capture the largest % of total rides. And it turns out that this visitor awareness drove about 90k additional rides for the rideshare company that bought the sponsorship.

Purely looking at the financials — the 90k additional rides (assuming they would have gone to RideAustin) — could have created a neutral to positive ROI due the cost of the sponsorship and the margin per ride. However, we would have likely needed to spend much more on rider credits than the sponsorship itself. If pure volume was our end goal (or the marketing value of being #1 volume at SXSW) — then the sponsorship could have made sense.

But our thoughts were that a majority of the incremental rides would be from visitors that wouldn’t likely be RideAustin customers long term. And given our local Austin focus vs. visitor volume — we made the call to focus our energies (and limited non-profit marketing spend) on the Austin riders instead. It turns out they came out in spades. 55% of our SXSW rides were done by pre-existing RideAustin users — much higher than we expected — particularly since the University of Texas and local public schools were all on spring break.

From a marketing spend standpoint, we spent a total of $10K for SXSW. Most of this spend was on Facebook, Brand Ambassadors at AUS & major hotels as well as other small marketing swag. We also participated on various SXSW panels to continually drive awareness on the ‘cheap’. Amazingly — with this small spend and other activities — we were able to capture the 77K additional user rides. We estimate the TNC that did the most rides and paid for the SXSW sponsorship spent nearly 20x our marketing spend. They have a different cash position than our small non-profit and have national awareness aspirations — so I suspect they will say that the ROI was positive (and it probably was for their goals).

But for us — the $10k was a great spend and great ROI — even if we did come in 2nd in volume for SXSW.

Drivers miss Uber 10X surges, but riders don’t — is there an appropriate middle ground?

Surge…. Riders hate it, drivers love it. SXSW was really the first time we really had to use our version of surge called ‘Priority Fare’ in volume to attract more drivers. During the SXSW days — 56% of our total trips were with Priority Fare turned on vs. 11% in a typical week. Weekends always have more trips under Priority Fare than weekdays — but you’ll see the significant increase above normal in the SXSW windows below.

The fundamental reason ‘surge pricing’ exists is to incentivize drivers to come out and fulfill rider demand. By temporarily increasing what the driver makes — the theory is that more drivers will come out. And for the most part — this theory is accurate.

Surge pricing, however, can get out of hand quickly when left unchecked. Will more drivers come out for super-high cost trips? Of course. But surely there is a point that gets substantial driver supply at high, but ‘acceptable’, prices.

Social media has plenty of examples of outrageously high rideshare trips. But at RideAustin — we have always strived to have a balance. I’m sure we are still learning what that is — but we do know that we will stay ‘pure’ to the theory.

We also learned this last week that we have a different ‘surge’ philosophy than other rideshare companies. We believe that you should only increase the rider fares just enough to increase drivers to fill them — and the money should all go to the drivers (thus minimizing the total fare increase on the rider to just enough to get the drivers). But we didn’t realize that some companies actually MULTIPLY THEIR BOOKING FEE by the surge value also. To us — this feels crazy. This then incentivizes the rideshare company to surge their prices higher than necessary to pad their wallets vs. simply responding to rider requests to get more drivers out. But to each their own…

Additional data points that may be interesting:

Ride costs (including voluntary tips + charity round-ups) averaged $19.34 this week vs. $16.12 for the first week of SXSW and $14.86 the last week of February.

Trip fares can vary significantly by day and hour but averaged $19.34 for the week. And our peaks were a bit different last week — Friday was the most expensive day at $21.81, and 1–2 a.m. was the most expensive hour across the week, averaging $31.08.

RideAustin averaged 3 minute 47 second pickup times across the city and across all hours during SXSW.

After our last blog post, we learned that other ridershares use a different definition of ‘pickup times’. We previously calculated ‘pickup times’ as the time between when a driver accepted a ride and a rider got into the vehicle. But this is different than what others use since it adds about 2 mins (on average) that a driver has to wait for the passenger to get into the car and start the ride. So to be consistent with others — we modified our definition of pickup time to be the time between when a driver accepted a ride and arrives at the rider location.

As a result — RideAustin’s pick-up times average 3 minutes and 28 seconds in a typical week, with downtown areas having shorter times, and the outlying suburbs longer times. In addition, our late evening and late night hours are the shortest, because the requests are generally concentrated to downtown Austin and the University of Texas campus. Both areas draw a lot of drivers in these hours, due to the predictable nature of the incoming requests.

You’ll see from our charts that our late night pick-ups during SXSW were 3 minutes and 15 seconds, but during a typical non-SXSW week averaged 2 minutes, 24 seconds.

SXSW interactive attendees were better tippers than SXSW Music/Film

Demographics make a difference — or perhaps expense accounts do! Once the Interactive attendees headed home, Music/Film attendees were comparable tippers to our regular users.

Overall — we’re proud of all of the rideshare companies that stepped up to deliver a solid SXSW. We at RideAustin certainly had a lot of learnings — and we feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to serve both local Austinites and the visitors. It wasn’t ‘perfect’ — but as long as we learn everyday — we’ll continue to get better and better…

RideAustin SXSW Key Learnings — and wow — there were a lot… was originally published in Austin Startups on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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Round Rock close to limiting number of downtown bars

Round Rock, just north of Austin, has benefitted from the region’s economic ascendance. That includes its bar scene, creating more of a nightlife in the metro’s largest suburb.
But city government is moving to limit the number of bars that can operate in the historic urban core with a zoning change — and some residents worry that doesn’t go far enough.
Round Rock City Council approved on March 23 the first reading of an ordinance that would cap the number of downtown bars at 12, according to…

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Financial giant shows what $100 million-plus can buy you in Austin office construction

Charles Schwab Corp. showed off progress Thursday on its new Austin campus. With one building completely renovated and more structures under construction, the area east of The Domain in North Austin will eventually have 469,000 square feet of office and amenity space.
The San Francisco-based brokerage and banking titan already has about 600 employees working on the site, with plans to move all of its 1,600 workers in Austin there next year, according to Community Impact. The campus will be able…

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Automation and the New Frontiers of Market Research

The following is a guest contributed post by Wale Omiyale, SVP of Market Research at Confirmit

Market Research, like the rest of the global economy, is reinventing itself. End users are more demanding than ever; they need faster, cheaper and more strategic insights to drive business decisions – and they need it now. While Market Researchers have been focused for years on meeting this ever-growing demand, new technologies have emerged to automate activities and revolutionize the approach.

Automation and Market Research have a long intertwined history. Simpler forms, including questionnaire scanning, was created in direct response to the need for faster results and helped speed up the process of data capture. Modern automation tools have been developed with this same need in mind. The difference is that these tools now span the entire lifecycle of Market Research and bring a wealth of benefits – not just to end clients, but also to research organizations themselves.

Social Media Listening

With approximately two billion active social media accounts on a variety of platforms, it has become clear that a tremendous amount of social interaction is conducted digitally. Timelines on Twitter, Youtube and Facebook are digital documents of thoughts and experiences over time. They use algorithms to automate shares, tags, and tweets in what most people regard as a generally helpful way, serving up micro-moments so users can focus on enjoying and discussing what they find meaningful in those streams of thoughts, pictures and videos.

Considering the importance of a consumer’s socially shared opinions, it is imperative that businesses know what is being said about their brands across all social channels. Social listening can give brands the language that its customers use and brands can use this to match their campaigns to what customers want and need. This has been a key driver for developing automated analysis tools that provide a broader, more holistic research view into key social performance indicators (likes, follows, etc.), market sentiment, and also, your client’s competitive positioning. Business can now analyze unsolicited feedback without manually monitoring review sites, forums, discussion boards, and blogs.

Smartphone-Based Research

With an even greater penetration and more users than social media, mobile technology is a key area where Market Researchers should be looking to innovate their offerings. Studies have shown that users dedicate more mobile time to using applications than searching the mobile web. And, considering the conveniences that applications offer, it isn’t much of a surprise.

It should also come as no surprise that the overwhelming majority of mobile users have enabled location on their mobile phone to facilitate app function. The main benefit of location services is the ability to personalize their mobile experience by tailoring results or apps services to their location. Mobile location features not only drive user downloads due to added convenience, but Market Researchers can leverage a user’s location via a fully-branded panel app and their mobile phone’s GPS. With this technology, they can automatically deploy in-the-moment surveys. This powerful technique can be used for entrance and exit surveys to support customer research or competitive research, for example.

For situations where GPS location isn’t precise enough, beacon technology can be a great alternative. Beacons are small devices which leverage the panellist’s mobile Bluetooth and can be placed in strategic locations, for example, within a store. When a customer comes within a certain proximity of the beacon, a survey can be automatically triggered.

Self-Service Programs

Automation is driving organizations to deliver ‘self-serve’ research programs. This allows researchers to select the most appropriate tools for their project, choose the audience or sample, as well as the type of reporting they need to produce, all from a single source. Not only can this shorten timelines, but it can also simplify results sharing and analysis through easy-access dashboards.

However, this does not negate the need for in-depth research programs. Rather, it is a new layer that sits on top of substantial analysis and insight. What clients need now is quick insight, though sometimes they only want to focus on questions that get to the heart of their issue most quickly. With automation tools to support this way of working, they may still get 80 percent of the information they need in 25 percent of the time.

Developments in automation are taking us towards a hybrid model of research – where the needs of clients are met for whatever level of program they require – and can be delivered in the time-frames and formats most suited to each.

Fewer Tasks for Interviewers

With administrative tasks being capably handled by automation tools, researchers have seen a shift in their roles and daily tasks. Some may see this as a structural issue, but to the contrary, it frees up researchers and allows them to focus on high-value processes that differentiate their offerings.

In fact, many research teams are evolving into specialist hubs, where researchers become data scientists and reports become strategic business guidance. Automation is increasing the requirement for more broadly-skilled project managers, where in-depth subject knowledge is no longer required, but an understanding of the many automated steps of the research process is crucial. This certainly impacts the role of the research subject matter expert, but allows research organizations to be more flexible in recruitment and service delivery.

A New World of Insights and Consulting

We are increasingly seeing a new world play out in the market, with a number of traditional MR agencies no longer identifying themselves in the MR category and the push from certain sections of the industry to rebrand “Market Research” into “Insights”.

Automation is here to stay, whether we like it or not, as will the need to deliver results faster and more easily. While there is still much more opportunity for it to evolve, it’s clear that automation is already firmly entrenched in our day-to-day processes – and that’s a good thing. It enables Market Researchers to not only broaden their research but also improve their competitive positioning in this challenging marketplace.

About the Author

Wale Omiyale has over a decade’s experience in the Market Research industry and has a detailed understanding of the issues facing the industry as a result of maturation and technological advancement.

Wale works closely with some of the world’s leading Market Research agencies, helping them to implement innovative MR programmes using the most up-to-date data collection channels and practices available.

The post Automation and the New Frontiers of Market Research appeared first on Mobile Marketing Watch.

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New Study Finds ‘Rule of Three’ Most Effective in Reaching Physicians with Pharma Advertising

The rule of three is just what the doctor ordered when it comes to effectively reaching physicians with pharma advertising.

According to leading pharma-focused media company, SSCG Media Group, new insight is being gleaned into the best way to get on the radar of doctors with your advertising.

The organization’s MAP MD survey of physicians regarding their preferences on advertising and other content they access each professional day was released this week.

A key finding, the Rule of Three, is that physicians require three views of a given pharma ad to ensure recall.

Specifically, nearly half (47%) of physicians reported that after seeing a pharma ad an average of three times, they feel aware of the information. Further, after the third view of the same ad regardless of where it is seen, 37 percent would read some of the ad and 13 percent would read the full ad.

It is important to keep in mind that it may take numerous exposures of an ad before a physician actually “views” the ad, validating the need for purchasing multiple impressions based on your brand’s digital media objectives.

“Physicians are driven to engage with information, whether on a dedicated site or advertising message, that will help deliver better outcomes for patients,” said Debbie Renner, President, SSCG Media Group. “As physicians have limited time in their professional day to seek important insights that can impact their clinical decisions, it’s crucial that we consider their distinct media preferences in order to maximize engagement and ultimately address their needs.”

The results further revealed numerous insights with respect to physician preferences regarding digital advertising and other content. To learn more, check out SSCG’s website here.

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