Apr 06

China Watch Blog reports that authorities around the world should set up emergency communication teams to manage the amount of misinformation circulating on social media during disasters, terrorist attacks and other social crises.

A study on the use of social media in three major incidents, including the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack, by Dr Onook Oh, of Warwick Business School, Manish Agrawal, of the University of South Florida, and Raghav Rao, of the State University of New York at Buffalo, revealed that Twitter is emerging as the dominant social reporting tool to report eye-witness accounts and share information on disasters, terrorist attacks and social crises as a collective effort to make sense of what is happening.

But when it is the online community who are creating and exchanging the news rather than official news channels, this can not only exaggerate the unfolding situation, but also unintentionally turn it into misinformation, diverting attention from the real problems.

Dr Oh, Assistant Professor of Information Systems, believes authorities or organisations involved in a disaster or terrorist attack need to set up an emergency communication centre to provide speedy, relevant information on the unfolding crisis and to confirm or dispel misinformation circulating on social media.

The study, which is the first application of rumour theory to social media and community intelligence, analyses three large Twitter data sets: the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks, where a group of gunmen killed 165 and injured 304 people, the May 2012 shooting of five people by a gunman in Seattle and the recall of four million cars by Toyota in 2009 and 2010 because of a faulty accelerator pedal.

Within minutes of the initial terrorist attack in Mumbai, a local resident posted a stream of pictures on photo sharing website Flickr. Almost concurrently, a group of people voluntarily formed a Twitter page with a link to the Flickr site and spread eyewitness accounts of the terrorist attacks with texts, photos, and links to other sources.

While the flurry of social media activity had many positive outcomes, enabling people to contact family members, encouraging blood donations and providing eyewitness accounts, it also caused many rumours to circulate.

In total 20,920 tweets were analysed on the Mumbai attacks in the study, ‘Community Intelligence and Social Media Services: A Rumor Theoretic Analysis of Tweets During Social Crisis’ published in MIS Quarterly, from the moment the terror attack occurred on November 26 until November 30.

Dr Oh said: “Natural disasters and crises such as terrorist attacks provide the optimum conditions for rumours to spread which can exacerbate the situation for emergency response operations and cause panic amongst the public. For example, during the Mumbai terrorist attacks, the police control room was flooded with incorrect reports of explosions at leading hotels.

“Misinformation on the internet was also influencing what was being reported on official news channels. In fact, the BBC was forced to admit they had made a mistake after using Twitter coverage of the Mumbai terror attacks as a source of their official news.”

Dr Oh believes the main motivation for people turning to Twitter in a crisis is to find out what is happening in their immediate area or to acquaintances, so in order to control the flow of misinformation, emergency communication centres need to be set up quickly to respond to misinformation through social media channels.

“People use mainstream media to try to make sense of the situation but it usually provides general information or repeatedly broadcasts a few sensational scenes over and over again,” said Dr Oh, who cites the US Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Rumour Control Centre website during Hurricane Sandy in 2012 as an example of one way of using emergency communication centres. “Whereas what people involved in the crisis really want is very localised information in real time to aid their decision-making. Hence they rapidly realise that mainstream media do not provide them with local information that they desperately need to overcome the extreme situation, hence, they turn to social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

“Emergency response teams need to put in place prompt emergency communication systems to refute the misinformation and provide citizens with timely, localised, and correct information through multiple communication channels such as website links, social network websites, RSS, email, text message, radio, TV or retweets.

“In cases of community disasters, emergency responders need to make extra effort to distribute reliable information and, at the same time, control collective anxiety in the community to suppress the spreading of unintended rumour information. This includes the setting up of an ‘emergency communication centre’ in the local community who would monitor social media very closely and respond rapidly to unverified and incorrect rumour information.

“Given that the motivation of rumouring is fundamentally to make sense of uncertain situations such that people can deal with a possible threat, the provision of timely and certain information may lead to successful crisis management in partnership with voluntary online citizens.

Tagged with:
Jan 04

China Watch Blog has learnt that in room-size metal boxes, secure against electromagnetic leaks, the National Security Agency is racing to build a computer that could break nearly every kind of encryption used to protect banking, medical, business and government records around the world.

According to documents provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, the effort to build “a cryptologically useful quantum computer” — a machine exponentially faster than classical computers — is part of a $79.7 million research program titled, “Penetrating Hard Targets”.

Much of the work is hosted under classified contracts at a laboratory in College Park. The development of a quantum computer has long been a goal of many in the scientific community, with revolutionary implications for fields like medicine as well as for the NSA’s code-breaking mission.

With such technology, all forms of public key encryption would be broken, including those used on many secure Web sites as well as the type used to protect state secrets.

Tagged with:
Dec 19

Li Ka Shing Foundation writes that Amidst the fast paced bustle of our great city, wouldn’t it be great if we could pause for a second and give support to someone who is carrying a heavy load for HK on his or her way?

The latest numbers paint their stories: there are 260,000 children from grass root families, 130,000 unemployed, 120,000 single-living elderly, and over 70,000 runaway troubled teenagers. Every day, Hong Kong’s 18,000 registered social workers are tirelessly labouring 50-hour plus workweeks to lend a helping hand to the aging, to the lonely, to the weary and defenceless; channelling light, warmth and bringing hope to improve the well being of our community.

We, the Li Ka Shing Foundation, together with the Hong Kong Council of Social Service and St James’ Settlement, launched “The March of Social Engineers” program in November – this offshoot of LKSF’s “Love Ideas, Love HK” program received an overwhelming 390 proposals from registered social workers.

From 23 December to 11 January 2014, citywide registered social workers may support their peers by voting for their favourite proposals; the top 25% will receive a funding of HKD 100,000. In addition, the funding of the top 20 elected projects most “liked” by the public will also be doubled to a total of HKD 200,000.

Please support our social workers with your gift of “like”—it is easy—you just need to browse through the listed projects on http://www.lovehkyourway.org today and click on the “like” button.

Results will be announced on 15 January 2014 and funding will be granted within one month. Everyone can follow the progress of the successful projects on www.lovehkyourway.org, and should they wish to, can give further support to the social workers through their affiliated qualified charitable organisations’ websites.

Hong Kong is renowned as a kind and decent society, we may be passionate and divisive towards an array of issues but we have deep capacity for empathy, fairness and mutual kindness. We rank 19th in the world, and devote 80 million hours to volunteer service each year. Let’s take a cup of kindness together, find time to love our city; “Like” to vote; support our social engineers today.

Tagged with:
Jul 20

China Watch Blog has learnt that people’s fear of sales and marketing, which has long been viewed as a mysterious art, is unfounded.

According to Richard White, founder and Chief Executive Officer of WiseTech Global, if there’s one thing all companies struggle to measure, it’s the relationship between marketing and sales, and how these business units affect new revenue creation.

“We all know that there’s a connection, but actually tracking a prospect from the time they know nothing about you through to the point where they are a revenue-generating customer, who is happy to recommend your services, continues to be a challenge.

“Part of the problem is sales staff and their work methods,” White explains.

It’s in their interests to wave their hands mysteriously, and suggest their innate skills and talents are the secrets of their success, and the way most businesses operate ensures that it remains in their interest to behave in this way. Their success is measured based on how much new business each sales person wins, and little attention is paid to the amount of business they have lost, or failed to win on the way. Even less attention is paid to the contribution made by brand, the product itself, price or all the other inputs which ultimately affect the outcome.

Because we don’t ultimately know what contributes to success and failure, it becomes impossible to learn from what we’re already doing. It therefore also becomes impossible to improve. Failure is always put down to outside influences, while success is ascribed to the mysterious talents of the sales person.

The other part of the problem is the way most companies remunerate sales staff. They’re usually paid on a very narrow measure of personal success, with no reference to what the organization achieves overall. Little attempt is made to track their day-to-day activities, interactions with customers, or the correlation between marketing and sales. As a result, we lose the link between what they do, and what they achieve.

We understand that there are talented, successful sales people, but what makes them successful is routinely misunderstood or misinterpreted; and as a result, we create a situation where real improvement through learning is impossible.

Most companies manage this issue by employing sales staff based on what they say they’ve done, put them on trial, and fire them if they haven’t met expected sales goals. But this method does not provide any business insight into the steps involved in transforming a prospect from a complete stranger into a customer willing to pay for, and promote, your services.

The central problem, however, lies not with the sales people and their methods, or with the way they are remunerated, but with the way we think about the sales process itself.

We think of it as a process – as an ongoing flow rather than a series of discrete stages. We focus on the movement rather than the points of interaction. As a result, it becomes impossible to understand what happens at each of those points; how people change and what changes them.

If we were analyzing a factory process, we wouldn’t look at the conveyor belt which moves the goods, but at each of the points along the line when the good is changed or modified.

In marketing and sales, there is movement from one state to another, but it is perhaps more useful to consider it as a series of points rather than one long continuum – and here’s why:

There may be tens and perhaps even hundreds of tiny points of transition where the customer is ‘touched’ by either sales or marketing – so many in fact, that it may look like an impossible task to first quantify them and then measure their effect. Good sales people will personally make many attempts to ‘touch’ the customer, as they qualify, understand education, inspire, and ultimately create the confidence that converts a “lead” into a “customer”.
However, it is possible to identify and measure many of the small transitions that occur, and it’s well worth the while of each sales person to track them, because they are able then to plan for when they need extra inputs like an email, video, phone call, automated message, or detailed personal interaction.

The process may sound overwhelming, but when you begin to do this you will also be able to figure out that there are many small stages that can be skipped, and others which could do with more focus in order to properly manage the sales cycle.

Once you divide the activity into discrete stages, you can also begin to use software to track and manage the progress of leads into customers; you can design and target your skills toward particular customer types, and most importantly you can turn the sales process into something which is predictable and therefore scalable.

I can already see sales people all over the world lean in closer to the screen, narrow their eyes, and grow angry at the assertion that part of their magic can be clearly, logically deconstructed and managed by software.

However, it is possible to create a highly successful and scalable sales and marketing system that grows your business even in times of economic turbulence or downturn, assuming your base product and pricing is right.

By focusing on the points of transition rather than the movement, it is entirely possible to create a predictable, and measureable set of steps specifically targeted to your prospect no matter where they are in the sales cycle.

The ‘magic of sales’ is about giving people what they need, when they need it, so they can respond to the needs of the prospect as they develop into a customer … simple really.

Armed with such a tool marketing teams can create a succinct plan, and build content which boosts the effectiveness of the sales team, enhancing their confidence to respond to high-quality leads through a well-designed set of targeted stages.

Effective sales people can become more productive because they have access to all that they need, and weaker sales people can be stepped through the different stages without having to double-guess what is needed to advance the sales process, and when.

By Identifying, quantifying, tracking, measuring and training, you ignite the torch that brings light into the dark art of sales and marketing.

Tagged with:
Apr 22

China Watch Blog reports that Qantas and the NSW Government have announced a new $30 million partnership to promote Sydney and regional NSW to the world.

NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell and Qantas Group Chief Executive Officer Alan Joyce signed the three-year agreement at Qantas’ facilities at Sydney Airport, marking the largest tourism and major events marketing partnership in the State’s history.


Premier O’Farrell said the deal involved Qantas matching the NSW Government dollar for dollar to attract more international visitors particularly from the United States, United Kingdom, Continental Europe, China, South-East Asia, Japan and New Zealand.

“Nothing says Australia more than the unmistakeable red tail with the flying kangaroo and the home of Qantas is right here in Sydney,” O’Farrell said.

“This partnership with Qantas is the cornerstone of our strategy to increase tourism to NSW, providing a boost to our economy and helping to create more jobs.

“We will be aggressively targeting big spending leisure and business travellers from overseas which will be a boon for our hotels, restaurants and retail sector.

“This will build on our standing as the nation’s leader for international visitation and expenditure and the preferred destination for key emerging markets.

“We understand the importance of tourism to the State’s economy – that’s why we’re building a new convention and entertainment precinct at Darling Harbour and investing in partnerships like this with iconic brands like Qantas.”

Joyce said the time was right to elevate the partnership between Qantas and Destination NSW to a higher level.

“Qantas is Australia’s national airline, flying from Sydney to every continent on earth and to every corner of Australia,” Joyce said.

“Sydney is the gateway to Australia with more than 50 per cent of all international visitors to Australia arriving at Sydney Airport so it’s fitting this is the largest partnership we have ever entered into with a State Government.

“We have seen a fantastic and tangible response to work we have done with Destination NSW in the past and we think working more closely will result in more people visiting NSW and flying Qantas.”

The partnership – which sees both the NSW Government and Qantas invest $15 million each over the three years – will include international advertising and marketing campaigns, marketing activities around major events and joint public relations activities. There will be a strong focus on digital
platforms including online and social media.

Tagged with:
Mar 30

China Watch Blog reports that airlines should charge obese passengers more, a Norwegian economist has suggested, arguing that “pay as you weigh” pricing would bring health, financial and environmental dividends.

Bharat Bhatta, an associate professor at Sogn og Fjordane University College, said that airlines should follow other transport sectors and charge by space and weight.

“To the degree that passengers lose weight and therefore reduce fares, the savings that result are net benefits to the passengers,” Bhatta wrote this week in the Journal of Revenue and Pricing Management.

“As a plane of a given make and model can accommodate more lightweight passengers, it may also reward airlines” and reduce the use of environmentally costly fuel.

Bhatta put together three models for what he called “pay as you weigh airline pricing.”

The first would charge passengers according to how much they and their baggage weighed. It would set a rate for kg per passenger so that someone weighing 59 kg (130 pounds) would pay half the fare of a 118 kg (260 pound) person.

A second model would use a fixed base rate, with an extra charge for heavier passengers to cover the extra costs. Under this option, every passenger would have a different fare.

Bhatta’s preferred option was the third, where the same fare would be charged if a passenger was of average weight. A discount or extra charge would be used if the passenger was above or below a certain limit.

That would lead to three kinds of fares – high, average and low, Bhatta said.

Airlines have grappled for years with how to deal with larger passengers as waistlines have steadily expanded. Such carriers as Air France and Southwest Airlines allow overweight passengers to buy extra seats and get a refund on them.

Asked about charging heavier passengers extra, Southwest spokesman Chris Mainz said: “We have our own policies in place and don’t anticipate changing those.”

United Air Lines requires passengers who cannot fit comfortably into a single seat to buy another one. A spokeswoman said the carrier would not discuss “future pricing.”

About two-thirds of US adults are obese or overweight.

In a 2010 online survey for the travel website Skyscanner, 76 percent of respondents said airlines should charge overweight passengers more if they needed an extra seat.

Feb 06

China Watch Blog reports Apple’s revenue may have missed expectations as sales of the iPhone reportedly disappointed. However, data from leading independent digital marketing agency, Greenlight, shows no slump in the number of online searches pertaining to iPhones, in the lead up to Christmas.

In fact, search volumes for the term ‘iPhone 5’ saw a dramatic 594% jump. However, the opposite was true for the term ‘Blackberry’. Just last week, its inventor, Research in Motion (RIM), showed off two new smartphones for its newly built BlackBerry 10 operating system.

According to Greenlight’s ‘Brown Goods Sector Report – Issue 14’, in November 2012, a total of 12 million searches were made on Google UK for Audio & Accessories, Cameras & Camcorders, PCs, Laptops and Tablets, Phones & Accessories and TVs & DVD Players, up 5 million on August 2012 levels.

Phones & Accessories-related search terms proved most popular. They accounted for 53% of all Brown Goods-related queries compared to 32% in August, when searches pertaining to PC’s, Laptops and Tablets dominated (48%).

‘iPhone 5’ search volumes see a six-fold rise

According to Greenlight, the term ‘iPhone 5’ was queried more than 4 million times, accounting for 34% of all Brown Goods-related searches in November, up from August’s 673,000.

In the case of ‘Blackberry’ however, the opposite was true. Greenlight’s data shows search volumes for the term totalled 246,000 compared to 301,000 in August.

Apple knocks Amazon UK off top spot to become the most visible site for Brown Goods

Greenlight also assessed which brands, retailers and review sites were the most visible in both Natural Search* and Paid Media** results and therefore had the greatest share of consideration when UK consumers searched on Google UK for Brown Goods in November.

Greenlight’s Integrated Search league table shows that Apple, which in August lay in fifth place, snatched Amazon UK’s lead to become the most visible website overall. In November, it achieved a dominant share of visibility across both the Natural Search and Paid Media listings – 60% and 72%, respectively.

Whilst Amazon UK was relegated to fourth place, it was one of just three sites that managed to hold on to a spot in Greenlight’s top ten, from August.

Tagged with:
Nov 10

China Watch Blog has learnt received an article entitled, “THE ASCENT OF ONLINE TRAVEL AGENTS (OTAs) And why Google will likely be planning your next vacation” which sounds interesting and even highly probable.

The article says: “If you are like most people in the developed world, you have had at least one infuriating experience when booking a hotel room or an airline ticket. From technology (the site crashes just after you have entered all your details but before you pressed “confirm”), to pricing (the buyer’s remorse you feel when you continue browsing after purchasing only to find the hotel you have booked cheaper elsewhere), to transparency (“low-cost” providers not actually being low-price, when all additional fees and taxes are accounted for), transactions can cause frustration.

The travel and hospitality industries have been impacted by the internet more than most, and customers’ experiences signify the corresponding rate of flux.

Online travel agents (OTAs) such as Expedia and Priceline have claimed huge market share gains from traditional players in a short period of time. They have grown into giants, with multiple brands and business lines, catering to all segments of the market.

On the other hand, “brand.com” sites, where hotel chains and airlines sell direct to customers, have had mixed success. Low cost airlines such as Ryanair that cater to a price-sensitive segment, sell exclusively directly, and the internet has helped boost sales and reduce costs.

Flag-carriers, such as British Airways and Lufthansa, also sell directly online, but their target customers often see value in making comparisons over a variety of suppliers, and use an OTA to do so.

OTAs are attractive as they also facilitate the bundling of complementary services, such as hotel rooms, car hire, travel insurance etc. While suppliers have also added these ancillary services to their portfolios, they offer deals with “preferred suppliers” rather than the broader assortment found at OTAs.

Aggregating the aggregators

July of this year saw the IPO of Kayak, a company founded by ex-executives from a variety of OTAs. Currently valued in excess of $1 billion, Kayak aggregates the aggregators. Its novel approach simply presents all offers from all suppliers, whether brand.com or OTAs, to the customer. Kayak makes money from the suppliers or OTAs for providing the referrals or click-through, and in addition has a revenue stream from advertising on its site. Interestingly, Kayak plays no part in the actual transaction as it merely refers customers to vendors.

This Kayak model has been imitated by other start-ups, such as Trivago, but perhaps the biggest disruption on the horizon will come from Google. Google recently acquired ITA, a company that provides information solutions to the industry.

And, travel and hospitality related searches on Google have been impacted. For example, typing “4-star hotel in Chicago” into Google will produce the usual thousands of results, but top of the list are links to hotels that, when clicked, derive referral income for Google. Google is, in essence, acting like Kayak, a referrer of customers but removed from the actual transaction.

Of course, Google has for long delicately balanced the need to provide unbiased and relevant search results to the user with the economic imperative of favoring sites that pay money to be higher up that list.

As one looks to the future, this industry is likely to continue evolving rapidly. For the same reason most of us prefer going to a supermarket instead of myriad specialist stores, aggregation and bundling are here to stay.

Whether substitutes or complements, there is value in having all alternative offers under the one roof, or more accurately, on the same site. Data, or more precisely an understanding of customers via data analysis, will become even more critical. This is true for suppliers, for OTAs and for aggregators such as Kayak alike.

Having visibility across all of the customer’s purchase behavior – all flights, all hotel stays etc. – will facilitate a better understanding, an ability to make recommendations and better serve the unique needs of each customer. This is why aggregation and bundling matter. And, it is what may put Google in the driving seat for the future as it has the potential to assemble the most complete dataset of transactions, the competence to analyse it and push relevant offerings to customers.

John Walsh is Professor of Marketing at IMD and Director of the Building on Talent program, which is for high-potential managers early in their careers looking to take on greater responsibility.

Tagged with:
Sep 04

China Watch Blog has learnt that beginning on August 30, Guangdong government has launched a 4-month on-line sales campaign to promote made-in-Guangdong products.

The government, for the promotion, has opened an official website www.ghwsx.gov.cn, wishing to push forward e-commerce.

Hundreds of companies will take part in this campaign, mainly providing high-tech electronics, smart home appliances and brands with a long-standing history, said Vice director of Guangdong’s Economic and Information Commission Qi Zhenli.

Tagged with:
Aug 11

China Watch Blog has learnt that Google has announced a trial which will enable people using the search engine to see search queries feature results from their Gmail account.

The search giant also said it is extending Google Knowledge Graph to every English speaking country. According to Adam Bunn, Director of search engine optimisation (SEO) at leading independent digital marketing agency, Greenlight, the former, if rolled out permanently, would have some drawbacks for marketers data-wise and, whilst it could be viewed as an opportunity from an email marketing perspective, that would be highly dependent on message retention. The Knowledge Graph meanwhile will benefit retailers, brands and digital marketers.

Gmail in search results will make site visit data tricky to track – Marketers will need to seek out marketing technology solutions that will help plug the data void

“In terms of the impact of Gmail integration on search as we know it, there will start to be cases where Google searches will surface relevant emails the searcher has forgotten about that end up winning the click at the expense of advertisers and sites that rank in the ordinary search results,” says Bunn.

“For example, if a friend of mine has sent me an email recommending a particular restaurant to try, and that email appears on the right hand side of the search results the next time I type “restaurants in London”, then it seems likely I’ll at least consider re-reading that recommendation rather than clicking on one of the normal search results.”

According to Bunn, this will also encourage people who currently go digging around in their Gmail accounts for information, to perform a Google search instead, as in the “my flights” example that is being discussed currently.

“Over time, this should increase the share of Google users who stay logged in when searching; this will make personalised search a bigger deal, and swell the number of visits to sites that can’t be tracked to the keyword level due to logged in users appearing as “not provided” or similar in Google analytics.”

However, this can be plugged by utilising marketing technology solutions, such as Hydra’s One Platform, which can transform real-time unstructured ‘big data’ into actionable intelligence; uncovering opportunities to achieve optimal performance.

With ‘personalisation’ in search growing, it is key for marketers and brands to focus on how well they engage with customers

According to Bunn, whilst Gmail in Google search results may be perceived as an opportunity for email marketing, it would be heavily dependent on people retaining the message.

“It’s pretty obvious that email marketing can jump on this as an opportunity. But how likely is it that your email will stay in someone’s inbox to appear later in their search results if they don’t know and like your brand, something that needs to be created and supported offline and online with digital PR, social media engagement, natural and paid search presence? Equally as unlikely that someone will have recommended your restaurant, I’d bet.”

Either way, with personalisation of one sort or another growing on all fronts, the reaction of marketers should be – how well am I engaging with my customers and potential customers across all channels?

The expansion and roll out of the Knowledge Graph bodes well for marketers

In Bunn’s view, the expansion and roll out of the Knowledge Graph is also important.

Boiled down, the “Knowledge Graph” is a glorified version of “related searches”, except Google has a smarter way of interpreting what is related to your original query such that the related results are broader and more intelligent. Furthermore, says Bunn, they are (or will be) displayed even more prominently than they have been to date in the new carousel format.

“What matters about this development is that the things Google puts in the carousels are links to further search results; this move is actually reasonably good for marketers, since before the introduction of the carousel, the related results were below a mini wikipedia-esque listing (see below). Now it seems likely they will be somewhat more prominent. This is useful because it, in theory, broadens the search patterns of users giving marketers who focus on targeting a broad array of related keywords more opportunities to gain traffic from Google.

Tagged with:
Custom Search

Other Links

Free Web Directory Including Breaking News Resources, Offer automatic, instant and free directory submissions. Free web directory Directory Free
gardening supplies Shop online at the gardenerscentre for a wide selection of garden and gardening supplies and products at low internet prices and fast home delivery service - gardenerscentre.eu
Media Directory. We are listed under Media Organizations category Newsmedia Directory Hong Kong Directory

Hong Kong Directory - A directory of Hong Kong based and themed web sites


  • Partner links

  • Technorati button