Vol 1, #20, July 28, 2009
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July 28, 2009


Connect inbound calls and online actions
PayPal now open to third party developers
CTV mobile video expands its reach
TD Canada Trust site helps users deal with debt
iPhone application...priceless
InsureMyTrip.ca extends corporate reach
MEDIchair launches 50+ local information sites
Voices.com powers VoodooVox's in-call media ad network
Connect instantly with celebrity chefs
2009 on track to be record malware year, says McAfee
Red Urban to open Toronto office

Connect inbound calls and online actions

9th sphere has launched a new web analytics system that connects inbound calls and online actions. This innovative tracking system takes a closer look at how your website visitors correlate to your incoming calls.

REF:CODE Analytics is the first straightforward solution for examining the online behaviour that connects website browsing to inbound calls. Currently available in beta at http://www.refcodeanalytics.com, the easy-to-use system tracks online activities of callers who visited your website prior to contacting you by phone.

REF:CODE provides valuable insights that help website owners determine the effectiveness of their website and its ability to provide information or convert sales. Change of current telephone numbers is not required with this system.

Much more than call tracking, REF:CODE Analytics connects offline actions with online activities providing an analysis of a referral source, paths, keywords, etc. Additional information about your caller can be determined as well. With REF:CODE Analytics you can learn if your caller is a returning visitor to your website, how they found you, and why they decided to call instead of using your website. Those website owners utilizing search engine optimization or other internet marketing services will benefit from an even better understanding of website usability.

In real time, online businesses and companies can now gain even more information that will help them refine their marketing initiatives and engage more effectively with prospects.

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PayPal now open to third party developers

Last week PayPal announced plans to open its payment platform to third-party developers with the release of new APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) that allow developers to embed PayPal's secure global payment system into their applications and platforms.

In opening up the PayPal platform, developers can now create new ways to send and receive payments for services beyond traditional e-commerce. According to a recent McKinsey report, the global payments market represents a $30 trillion opportunity.

“Until now, developer innovation has been stifled by the barriers payment systems impose,” says Scott Thompson, President of PayPal. “With an open platform, we're solving fundamental challenges people face when trying to pay or get paid and giving people the tools to create new business models for their innovations.”

PayPal has spent over a decade creating a secure, global payments network for e-commerce and person-to-person transactions, which seamlessly integrates 27 financial networks, 15,000 local banks, 190 global markets and supports 19 currencies.

Several developers have already integrated PayPal's new APIs as part of a beta program, including Twitpay, a Twitter-based payment service.

“Using PayPal's new open platform, we've dramatically improved the experience of commerce over the social phenomenon, Twitter,” says Michael Ivey, CEO and co-founder of Twitpay. “The global nature and ubiquity of the PayPal service helps us deliver a great service for Twitter users.”

Other companies testing out the new PayPal offerings are LiveOps, with its new on-demand workforce service called LiveWork; and Microsoft's Windows(R) Azure(TM) platform, a cloud development environment.

PayPal also wants to hear ideas for innovative and interesting ways to pay in the future from its community of users. Anyone with ideas is invited to submit them to PayPal and the world via Twitter with the hashtag #changehowwepay and can view responses at www.changehowwepay.com. Top of Page

CTV mobile video expands its reach

Canada's online network just got a little bit bigger. CTV, Canada's leading private broadcaster, and TELUS today announced a new initiative that will give TELUS customers unprecedented access to some of Canada's most-watched television programs via TELUS mobile video streaming service. CTV becomes TELUS' first content provider for its new streaming video-on-demand service.

This new collaboration allows TELUS customers to access an array of content from their Smartphone or mobile phone. Content will be updated on a regular basis, and will be available on demand in easy-to-stream clip format.

“We're proud to work with TELUS in providing their customers with quick and easy access to the shows they love,” says Stephan Argent, CTV's Vice-President, Digital Media. “This new initiative fits perfectly with our commitment to providing consumers access to quality content whenever and wherever they want it. Given the significant growth of high speed wireless networks and Smartphones, there's no question that mobile video will play a role in delivering on this promise.”

The new video-on-demand offering from TELUS will incorporate CTV's programming from some of television's most popular properties including:

  • CTV News
  • BNN
  • MuchMusic
  • MTV
  • The Comedy Network
  • FashionTelevisionChannel

“Two thirds of Canadian households have access to mobile phones and they are looking more than ever for quick access to information and entertainment on-the-go,” says Brent Johnston, Vice-President of Marketing Operations at TELUS. “Working with leading broadcasters such as CTV enables TELUS to bring video-on-demand content into the hands of our customers and to enhance our position as the carrier of choice for Canadian consumers.”

Mobile video-on-demand service is available to TELUS wireless customers with various monthly subscription packages or aÌ la carte. TELUS currently offers more than 27 video-capable handsets. Top of Page

TD Canada Trust site helps users deal with debt

TD Helps, launched by TD Canada Trust, is a website dedicated to helping customers who are experiencing financial hardship. Inspired by stories shared among employees on TD’s intranet, videos on TD Helps feature employees explaining in their own words how they were able to help their customers.

“Our employees were the driving force behind this website. We thought and hoped that a lot of our customers would identify with some of the situations our employees have helped with, and that their stories would encourage people to come and see us sooner,” says Tim Hockey, President and CEO, TD Canada Trust.

Earlier this year, to help customers facing real hardship due to the economy, TD Canada Trust introduced an internal program to make sure that its employees knew what some customers were dealing with. Employees were specially trained and equipped with real solutions, like the ability to defer mortgage payments, and to consolidate debt for lower monthly payments. And, importantly, they were given the decision-making ability to make a difference for those customers.

“The result was that we were helping thousands of customers stay in their homes, get their debt under control and their lives back on track,” says Hockey. “And while we know it isn’t possible to help 100 per cent of the time, the program has been a huge success and we wanted to spread it to more customers. The earlier they come and talk to us, the more we can help.”

The TD Helps website, launched with a full on-line marketing campaign, was the answer. The site features:

  • Encouragement to customers to talk to TD Canada Trust as early as possible about financial problems
  • Video interviews with TD Canada Trust employees sharing real life examples of customers they helped
  • The opportunity for customers to comment on the videos
  • Information about how to contact TD Canada Trust for help with credit card debt, mortgage payments and bill payments

While customers have been able to comment on the TD Money Lounge on Facebook for a couple of years, this is the first time the bank has ever opened up its own site for comments.

“We’re pretty excited about that,” says Hockey. “Customers are going to be able to share their thoughts about the videos and the stories our employees are telling and we are eager to hear what they have to say.”
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iPhone application...priceless

Mastercard Worldwide is bringing its “MasterCard priceless picks” effort to the iPhone through a new app. The new app is an extension of the existing user generated web site and encourages consumers to write reviews of their favorite restaurants, entertainment and fun experiences in general.

“This is an evolution of the 'Priceless picks' promotion that has been on our web site since 2006,” said Cheryl Guerin, SVP, global digital marketing at MasterCard Worldwide. “Consumers love to see other consumers' opinions and that impacts the decisions that they've made, we've seen it on the web for years and now we are seeing it more in mobile. This is about leveraging what consumers already love to do.”

The iPhone app has five different categories: priceless, dining, shopping, entertainment and other. Like other iPhone apps, the app uses GPS to let a user pinpoint their current location and search destinations, as well as write in their own location and description. There is also a send-to-a-friend category.

To get the word out about the new app, MasterCard has launched a new TV campaign that highlights the functions of the app. The 15-second spots show real life situations where people share their special experiences by in the ‘Priceless picks’ app.

This is the second of several new iPhone apps to come from MasterCard. The first is the MasterCard ATM Hunter, which lets iPhone users locate the nearest ATM.

“With mobile being as prevalent as it is today, this allows us to be even more relevant to consumers,” said Guerin. “It makes consumers lives a lot easier, because it will give them priceless places, priceless deals and special experiences, right there on the mobile phone when they are out.” Top of Page

InsureMyTrip.ca extends corporate reach

Creative business strategies are arguably one of the most critical factors to bottom line success, yet according to the Council of Canadian Academies, “Too few Canadian businesses and entrepreneurs choose business strategies that emphasize innovation.”

InsureMyTrip.ca, Canada's premier online travel insurance aggregator counters that statement with promises of exciting changes in the marketplace.

Three years ago, InsureMyTrip.ca began providing a valuable new resource for the Canadian travel consumer.

“We created a comprehensive, travel insurance-only website for consumers to analyze, rate, compare and purchase products from Canada's top travel insurers,” says Jim Grace, President and CEO of InsureMyTrip.ca. “By fine tuning the concept of one-stop shopping, we effectively revolutionized the way travelers look for and buy travel protection, earning their business and their loyalty in return.”

In particular, InsureMyTrip's proven comparative rating technology and affiliate flexibility in white labeling its offers are a natural fit for the affinity marketplace. The company's combined fulfillment, customer service, and product customization capabilities, also provide a unique 'single solution' program for affinity businesses.

“Affinity markets, which are extremely popular with Canadian travel insurance consumers, provide tremendous opportunities,” says Grace. “InsureMyTrip's innovative ideas and services can provide a new competitive edge to established brands who currently sell travel insurance, as well those who don't yet offer these products but recognize the need for strategies that will revitalize and boost brand."

InsureMyTrip.ca has engaged Gary Andrews, President of redconsulting services of Sherbrooke, Quebec, to assist their corporate outreach efforts.

“I am delighted to be able to support InsureMyTrip.ca with their affinity market strategies in Canada,” says Andrews. “They have an innovative and creative approach to business and a strong commitment to affinity development which I believe will challenge existing markets, and lead to success for both InsureMyTrip and their business partners.” Top of Page

MEDIchair launches 50+ local information websites

MEDIchair has embarked on an ambitious updating of its national franchisee network websites.

“Although MEDIchair has an excellent national website, we believe the timing is right to provide local franchisees with added value through the use of information and resources that are customer focussed for each local market,” says Bas van Lankvelt, MEDIchair COO. “Each franchisee website will contain templated material in the form of industry related educational and resource information. This will be supplemented with local features that are relevant for both consumers and health care professionals in each market. This may include the availability of local home medical equipment products and services, funding information and links to government agencies and health care agencies locally, provincially and nationally. There is also an opt-in confidential email program for subscribers to be alerted about special events and product promotions and an on-line map to easily find each store’s location.”

The new websites are ideal for seniors, caregivers and health care professionals looking for educational information and reliable local resources for home medical equipment.

“We are updating the websites regularly with fresh information and adding new features as they become available. Ultimately, we want to create websites with our franchisees that have both a common professional branding component (nationally), and a localized information component specific to each franchisee’s market.”

MEDIchair’s national roll out of the new localized websites is expected to be completed by the fall 2009. Top of Page

Voices.com powers Voodoo Vox's in-call media ad network

Turning waiting time into selling time has always been a strong point for advertisers wanting to leverage in-call media, and VoodooVox, a pioneer in this new terrain, is giving advertisers a variety of voices to choose from through their partnership with Voices.com, an online workplace where business owners hire freelance professionals to complete custom audio ads.

A key component of the In-Call Ad Marketplace is the production network, which allows advertisers to easily create audio advertisements quickly and within their budget. VoodooVox has partnered with Voices.com, whose network of 30,000 voice talent professionals is integrated into the VoodooVox-powered service. Through this partnership, advertisers can create interactive audio ads in as little as an hour with the same voices powering the campaigns of brands such as Disney, Coca-Cola and McDonalds.

“Phone calls are becoming the new page views and VoodooVox is leading the development of the voice advertising industry,” says J. Scott Hamilton, President and CEO of VoodooVox.

“We're excited about our partnership with the leader in in-call advertising. We’ve married our network of voice professionals and ad creation processes with VoodooVox’s In-Call Media platform, providing an easy way for all advertisers to create and launch in-call campaigns,” said David Ciccarelli, President and CEO of Voices.com.

VoodooVox's current roster of publishers generates 300 million calls per month, and the company expects that level to grow to 1 billion by late-2009. Top of Page

Connect instantly with celebrity chefs

Food Network has announced the brand new recipe application for BlackBerry smartphones, which is unlike anything else in the marketplace. Now available on BlackBerry App World(TM), the application allows users to connect with their favourite hosts, recipes and shows, and have access to a wealth of meal ideas on the go.

Application users can take advantage of celebrity-inspired meal ideas from Chefs Michael Smith, Anna Olson, Chuck Hughes and more. They can search and download recipes from within Food Network's extensive library and save those recipes directly to their BlackBerry smartphones. Food Network also provides users with a "recipe of the day" feature that sends them a new appetizing recipe every day of the week. Users with video capabilities on their handset can also enjoy how-to videos of tips, techniques and recipes from some of their favourite Food Network chefs.

“Food Network is one of the most recognized and respected authorities on food. The mobile application for BlackBerry smartphones is the perfect extension of the channel's robust database of top quality recipes and food related content,” says Paul Burns, Vice President Digital Media. “We identified a market of users eager for food related content delivered in a way that suits their busy lifestyles and we are proud to be the first Canadian provider to respond to that interest.”

Food Network's promotional efforts around the launch of the application include on-air commercials airing on Food Network, on-line banner advertisements on Foodtv.ca, and print advertisements in Canwest newspapers.

Online efforts include promotion in the foodtv.ca newsletter (reaching over 225,000 Canadians). Foodtv.ca has also developed a promotional page touting features of the application, helping users discover all the benefits of keeping up to date with their favourite Food Network personalities and promoting access to the best recipes and tips. Food Networks social media pages including Facebook, My Space and Twitter are abuzz with news of the new application.

Polar Mobile, a leading North American mobile solutions provider, is the developer behind the Food Network mobile application. Top of Page

2009 on track to be record malware year, says McAfee

McAfee Avert Labs has catalogued more than 1.2 million unique samples of malware in the first half of 2009, putting this year well on course to smash last year's record in malware creation. The growth of malware continues to accelerate, in the first half of 2008 McAfee identified just shy of 500,000 unique pieces of malware, in the second half of 2008 McAfee saw 1 million pieces, arriving at a total of 1.5 million unique pieces of malware for the full year 2008.

“In the first half of 2009, we have seen about three times the unique malware discovered in the same period in 2008,” says Dave Marcus, director of security research and communications at McAfee. “This tremendous growth is a signal of daunting times for users, as malware infiltrates more and more of the platforms we trust.”

Protection against the rapidly growing number of threats requires a real time approach. McAfee Artemis Technology provides such on the fly protection through an in the cloud service.

McAfee's latest whitepaper on Financial Fraud explains how much of this malware can be used to scam and steal from users. Some key statistics from the report:

  • 30-40% of all password stealing Trojans focus on gaming and virtual worlds, illustrating the high profit potential of virtual goods
  • 80% of all banking emails are fraudulent
  • The average loss per victim from phishing is $866

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Red Urban to open Toronto office

Red Urban, a progressive agency network based in London, announced today it will be expanding into Canada and opening a Toronto office early in 2010.  Red Urban is an Omnicom-owned company that has established itself over the past eight years as an award-winning agency with offices in Europe and the USA.

“The current market conditions have forced a lot of companies to re-evaluate their positions, but Red Urban has decided to look at these times as an opportunity for growth,” says Mike Jefferies, managing director, Red Urban, London.  “We tell our clients that this is the time to invest, so we should too.  We believe Canada is the place to do it; there’s great potential in the Canadian market.  It rounds out our North American offerings.”  

Launching from Toronto, Red Urban will provide Canadian clients with a fresh, open source agency model that will be driven by senior talent and thought leadership and supported by best-in-class services and technical talent from across Omnicom’s diversified portfolio of specialised marketing agencies. Not siloed by discipline or encumbered by size, Red Urban combines strategic brand sensibility with youth, creativity and advanced technical prowess to deliver rewarding brand experiences.

“Red Urban has the energy and opportunity to be brave.  We believe being small, nimble and carefully selective about the companies we choose to work with is a competitive advantage,” says Jefferies. “Soon, Red Urban will provide top Canadian brand marketers with the creative business solutions they’ve been seeking, but aren’t finding in other agencies.”

Presently, Red Urban is pursuing Canadian partners to help create exceptional branding and business solutions. Staffing-related announcements will be made as the office is readied for operation.  Top of Page