Blog Directory Martinspiration

Bottom dollar battles

March 18, 2018

If convenience store operators want more Washingtons in the drawer, they need to pay more attention to rivals where George rules the roost. Because chances are, dollar outlets - including Family Dollar, Dollar Tree, Dollar General, Five Below, and 99 Cents Only Stores - are steadily garnering greenbacks from the 7-Elevens of the world in key categories where they shine, like snacks, beverage, tobacco and even fresh edibles, say the experts.

Learn more about the pressure that dollar stores are putting on convenience retailers by reading my most recent story for CSP Magazine, available here.


First-time buyers are purchasing more homes: here’s why

March 11, 2018

Ask any first-time home buyer and they’ll likely tell you their quest isn’t easy. It’s tough saving up for a home. Landing a mortgage at a desired rate can be tricky. And beating out contenders to the right home requires good timing. But fresh numbers show that first-timers aren’t giving up. In fact, they’re buying more homes than they have in 12 years. That’s a good sign for the market. And it may encourage others to pursue their dreams of owning.

If you’re eager to buy your first home, the good and bad news is that you’re not alone. But with careful planning and the right approach, you’ll stand a better chance of buying your first home sooner. That's one of the takeaways from my newest story for The Mortgage Reports, which you can read here.


Hoodwinking Alexa

March 4, 2018

If you own a smart speaker, you know that it can be fun trying to trick Alexa, Siri or Google into doing or saying something it shouldn’t—like obeying your friend who imitates your voice commands. While such ruses are fun and harmless, the truth is that bad actors are undoubtedly attempting trickery of a more nefarious nature and voice-controlled systems (VCSs) and speech recognition systems (SRSs) can be easily fooled via clever techniques.

In my first article for Speech Technology Magazine, I examine new potential threats to VCSs, including a "DolphinAttack"that uses high frequencies incomprehensible to human ears but detectable by electronic microphones. Read all the details by clicking here.


Social studies

February 25, 2018

What makes the world go round today? Some say money. Others say love. But many would point to social media. And who would argue, considering that we increasingly rely on social platforms to communicate, share content, get news and information, watch video, make purchases and more? Indeed, we’ve reached a point where it’s become the go-to tool of choice, the indispensable Swiss Army knife of tech utilities that can replace newspapers, telephones, TVs, email and even human interaction. And therein lies great opportunities for – and the need for greater responsibility from – marketers and brands who seek to wield this formidable weapon.

Consider for a moment that, today, over 70 percent of Americans engage in social media – up from only five percent tallied in 2005, according to the Pew Research Center. A handful of key players in the space continue to rule: the most popular social networking sites include Facebook (over 2 billion users), YouTube (1.5 billion users), Instagram (800 million), Twitter (328,000) and Reddit (250,000), per Dreamgrow. Social Media Examiner’s 2017 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, meanwhile, revealed that the top platforms used by marketers are Facebook (94%), Twitter (68%), LinkedIn (56%), Instagram (54%), YouTube (45%), Pinterest (30%) and Snapchat (7%).

Click here to read more about the current state of social media, a topic I recently investigated for EContent Magazine.


News flash: We like to watch

February 18, 2018

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. But a video can be worth nearly 4 million times more – just ask Puerto Rican singer Luis Fonsi, whose “Despacito” music video became the most watched YouTube video ever, with over 3.9 billion views tallied in late 2017.

The takeaway here is simple: people like to watch, and they’re doing it on a diverse array of devices, platforms and apps more often. Consider, for a moment, the latest staggering stats. Worldwide, people watch an average of five hours and 45 minutes of online video weekly – a 34 percent increase from 2016, based on results of Limelight Network’s State of Online Video 2017 consumer survey.

By 2021, a million minutes of video content will cross global IP networks every second, according to Cisco; at that rate, it would take you over 5 million years to watch all the video crossing the network each month. And within three years, IP video traffic will account for 82 percent of all consumer Internet traffic, per Cisco.

In my latest article for EContent Magazine, I assess the current state of online video. Read it by clicking here.


Mind in the gutter

February 11, 2018

Climbing up your ladder to clean out the gutters every spring and fall is not only a messy and tedious hassle, it’s also dangerous. But skimping on this chore can result in blocked gutters and downspouts, causing water, ice and snow to back up and leading to costly roof, siding, window and foundation damage. Thankfully, there’s a solution that can simplify matters and help safeguard your home from these threats: a gutter guard system.

Learn more about gutter guard products and systems available by reading my latest article for The Costco Connection on this topic, available here.


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