Judge Approves Class-Action Facebook Privacy Settlement

A U.S. Northern District Court of California judge approved the settlement of a class-action lawsuit against Facebook on Monday, which claimed that Facebook’s “Sponsored Stories” product shared users’ “Like” data with friends without the ability to opt out. Facebook will pay out $20 million to members of the suit as a result of the settlement. “We are pleased that the settlement has received final approval,” a Facebook spokesperson told AllThingsD.

T-Mobile Finds That Giving Away Free Data Is Harder Than It Sounds

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T-Mobile figures that by giving tablet users free data, it might turn a few of them into paying customers.

But it turns out that giving away data is sometimes harder than it seems. T-Mobile’s operations – both human and computer-based – were just not set up to have a nonpaying relationship with customers. As a result, some of the company’s new tablet customers were erroneously charged $10 per month for data that was supposed to be free. T-Mobile has since corrected the problem, and plans to issue refunds to affected customers.

“We had a technology glitch and a training issue that caused some people to believe [they were being charged] – and some people to be charged,” T-Mobile chief marketing officer Mike Sievert said in an interview. “That’s just not right.”

T-Mobile’s plan does allow tablet buyers to bring over any new or existing tablet that’s compatible with T-Mobile’s network and get 200 megabytes of free data each month. On the iPad, for example, customers don’t even need to enter a credit card number, Sievert said. Anyone who was charged $10 for the free service will be credited automatically, he added.

“Every single customer gets free data for life if they have a tablet on our network,” Sievert said. “You don’t need to have any paying relationship with us whatsoever.”

The only other catch – and T-Mobile argues it has been clear about this from the start – is that customers who want to finance their tablet purchase through the carrier must have a paid relationship with T-Mobile.

But that doesn’t necessarily need to be through the tablet. For example, a T-Mobile postpaid phone customer could finance their iPad interest free, even without signing up for a monthly plan for the tablet. Those who aren’t phone customers need at least a $20-per-month tablet plan in order to finance the purchase.

Still, some are grousing that T-Mobile did make it sound like every customer could have both totally free data and finance their device.

“By offering free data for life with incredible upfront pricing, T-Mobile is un-leashing customers to fully enjoy iPad as it was meant to be enjoyed – mobile and connected,” CEO John Legere said in a press release touting the free data offer in conjunction with the ability to pay for the device in installments. T-Mobile phone customers can do both, but those without another line of T-Mobile service have to pay for their device outright or sign up for monthly paid data service to get the 200MB of free data.

Sievert said the free data offer is designed primarily to give people who aren’t currently T-Mobile customers a chance to try out the company’s network. “It has so rapidly improved and changed,” Sievert said. “It stacks up to everyone … People will eventually want more data from us.”

Update, 8:20 p.m.: T-Mobile has posted an updated FAQ to its Web site detailing the issues.

“We readily admit that we had some executional issues around our tablet launch on Nov. 1.,” T-Mobile says on the page. “Breaking with the industry norm and giving data away for free is complicated. There were legacy elements in our system and in our training activities that created the confusion. We are actively working to fix and clarify the website while re-educating all of our channel reps.”

Or, as Legere put it on Twitter:

“Bottom line: we are working to clear up the confusion, but at least we admit it & make it right,” he said, before taking a swipe at AT&T.

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97% of Three’s network traffic is data

Ninety-seven per cent of the traffic carried on the Three network is data, according to a company blog posted this afternoon. Do people even make phone calls anymore?

The British Telco angled themselves as a 3G data network when they started in 2003 and that’s now one of their big selling points: usually offering bulkier data deals than other providers.

Then they also shift a lot of USB modems, which solely provide data, so it’s probably not surprising that the Three network is streaming more bits than the average phone operator.

[S]ince June last year and September this year (just 14 months) we’ve seen a 427% increase in data usage on Three for smartphone customers. Downloading apps, streaming movies, getting around town with Google Maps, even checking in on Facebook – it all adds up, and you’re doing it now more than ever.

Problems ahead for data-guzzlers include the spectrum shortage forecast over the next four to five years.

Why Wall Street Should Care About Marketing Data

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Image copyright leungchopan

Today’s CMOs are making major investments to reach their target audiences across dozens of touchpoints – on their own websites, through search, display advertising and email, and increasingly on social channels and mobile devices.

The problem is, most of the technology platforms marketers are using to accomplish this don’t talk to each other.

What’s more, many of the groups within the organization running these programs are just as siloed. This means that the things marketers learn about customers in one channel often don’t translate into sound strategy decisions for other channels.

I’ll give you an example. Today, if someone clicks on a display ad, reaches a landing page and fills out a form, the CRM or marketing automation system can capture that lead and track that it came from display advertising. What marketers can’t yet do is take advantage of the information exchange in the opposite direction. What if they could use the rich information stored in the CRM system – such as how far along a prospect is in the sales pipeline – to make the display ad creative and messaging more relevant?

Marketing executives know they need to get their systems and people to talk to each other. In fact, a new study by Accenture Interactive, “Turbulence for the CMO,” reveals that 70 percent of top CMOs think they have five years to fundamentally overhaul their companies’ corporate marketing operating model to achieve competitive success. Big marketing technology companies know this too, and it is why companies like Salesforce, Oracle and Google are duking it out to own the customer data and CRM system. They want to be at the center of the value created by unlocking this marketing data and getting at an integrated view of a prospect or customer.

Think about how powerful it would be to serve up personalized Web content based on the ads someone has previously been exposed to, events they’ve attended, or when they’ve most recently engaged with a sales rep, or, to easily target email or display ads to just those people who engaged with a social campaign.

One company in particular has built a business around this very concept: Amazon. Amazon.com might very well be the most sophisticated marketer on the planet today, and if you spend a few minutes on their site looking at products, you’ll notice that the follow-up emails you get, the next experience you have on the site and even the display ads you see will all be synched to your product searches and prior browsing history – all to help you convert. Amazon is far ahead of the pack, with very few keeping pace today.

As companies get better at integrating their marketing systems to more fully understand the customer journey – from first exposure to the brand to the last program that drove the sale, and every touchpoint in between – every marketing dollar spent becomes extremely efficient.

And it’s a lot of dollars at stake. According to research by Outsell, B2B marketers alone will increase their advertising and marketing digital spend by almost 11 percent to $65.9B in 2013. Imagine the bottom-line impact when the performance of these investments improves by five percent or 10 percent – just by having the left hand talk to the right.

As companies use data to optimize their digital tactics – whether it’s through better targeting, reaching people where they are consuming media or tying together all the pieces of the marketing funnel – they’ll inevitably achieve a step-function in efficiency in terms of deploying marketing spend for impact. They can then cycle the additional revenue back into marketing, or R&D, or more salespeople.

And this is where Wall Street comes in. Wall Street should care about marketing data because companies that do the best job of tying together and leveraging marketing data will ultimately win and create outsized shareholder value.

So how can you tell if a company has a data-savvy CMO? Look for clear evidence of marketing integration.

It’s actually pretty amazing how many large companies have yet to integrate their marketing tactics. Investors should be looking to see, for example, if a company has a Super Bowl TV spot that they’re also using search ads and display ads to reinforce the Super Bowl message. The company should also be previewing the ad online to test customer response and drive viral awareness before the TV ad ever launches. Companies that only have a single spot and don’t back it up (and there are lots of them!) aren’t communicating effectively across the organization nor are they maximizing returns on invested capital. This is likely a good indicator that other programs are not well integrated either.

Another great way to test for marketing integration is simply the relevance of the ads you’re seeing. If they are relevant, and improving over time, the company is likely making the right investments in marketing technology to be ready for the next 10 years of growth. If you still get the same untargeted direct mail piece that you throw away every week, there’s cause to be concerned.

There are a lot of reasons to be bullish about the economy and the stock market over the next five to 10 years. Look no further than the innovation beginning to hit the CMO’s office to help decide if you agree, and if so, how to find leaders to invest in.

Russell Glass, CEO of Bizo, is a serial technology entrepreneur, having founded or held senior positions at four venture-backed technology companies. Prior to Bizo, Russ led the marketing and product management teams at ZoomInfo, a business information search engine, where he sharpened his B2B marketing skill set and developed his love for business data.

New Bluetooth Basketball Analyzes Your Shooting, Dribbling Skills

It’s called “madness” for a reason — the college basketball frenzy in March is enough to convince many that if they only had a better handle on the ball, or a higher arc, they, too could have made it to the Final Four.

InfoMotion Basketball

Now there’s a basketball for that.

An Ohio-based company called InfoMotion has created a high-tech, Bluetooth-equipped basketball that senses the player’s motions with the ball and, after analyzing the data, shares it wirelessly to a compatible iOS or Android smartphone app.

InfoMotion has kicked off a Kickstarter campaign today to raise money for the production of the ball.

Mike Crowley, InfoMotion’s CEO, says the app doesn’t just spit out data; it’s supposed to offer advanced diagnostics to help players improve their games. “Five years ago, when we started the company, we knew consumers needed data. But the next evolution, beyond just activity tracking, is, how do I get better?”

The sensors in the ball can measure the direction of the ball’s spin and how quick your release is after catching the ball. In terms of ball handling, the Bluetooth ball knows the efficiency of your left hand versus your right hand, and how hard you dribble with each — in a sense, how confident you are with the ball.

Using this data, the app will recognize patterns and offer suggestions to shoot with a higher arc, or use your legs, or change the trajectory of the ball.

While the ball can sense when it has hit backboard, rim or net, InfoMotion’s “hit-or-miss” technology is still in development, so right now the app won’t tell you how many shots you’ve made — only how many you’ve taken.

The app also has a multiplayer mode, in which you and up to three other friends can take turns shooting 10 shots at a time and compete. InfoMotion’s goal is to create a kind of virtual playground, in which ballplayers around the world can compare scores within the app.

InfoMotion_Basketball App

The sensor-laden basketball is made of indoor/outdoor synthetic leather, courtesy of Spalding. Despite the fact that the ball comes packed with an eight-hour battery, Crowley says it meets regulation weight and size. It’s Qi-compatible, so it can be charged wirelessly, and comes with a charging sleeve.

If you can already feel the synthetic leather pimples under your fingertips, here’s the part where you might get a little, um, deflated: InfoMotion doesn’t expect the ball to ship until the third quarter of this year. And it will retail for a whopping $295. That almost makes these basketball sneakers look reasonable (not really).

To be fair, this new offering is much cheaper than InfoMotion’s first high-tech basketball, which launched in 2011 and ranged in price from $2,500 to $5,000. That ball was aimed mainly at high-level coaches and players.

But $295 is still a lot for a synthetic-leather basketball. Here’s a little free advice, kids: High-tech or not, just get out there and shoot — a lot!