As the World Tweets, Social Media Chiefs Remain Tight-Lipped

If only Twitter, Facebook and Google could keep their stories straight.

They thrive by mining the private information of the billions of people who use them, many of whom are naïve about the value of what they are giving up with each post or click. But the companies are grudging at best when it comes to being open about themselves.

Their tendency to show more reserve than the people whom they have encouraged to offer up bits of personal data has been especially striking in recent days.

The Rose McGowan episode was a case in point. After the actress posted a series of tweets suggesting that entertainment and media executives had helped cover up allegations of sexual harassment and abuse against Harvey Weinstein, Twitter shut down her account. Soon after that, the hashtag #WomenBoycottTwitter started trending, and Twitter reactivated it. That was followed by an unsurprising apology, in which Twitter’s chief executive, Jack Dorsey, said there was a need to be more “transparent” in explaining how Twitter comes to such decisions.

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50 Questions to Test True Data Science Knowledge

This was the subject of a popular discussion recently posted on Quora: 20 questions to detect a fake data scientist. We asked our own data scientist, and he came up with a very different set of questions: compare his answer (#1 below – 20 questions) with Quora replies (#2 and #3 below – 30 questions). Note that #2 focuses on statistics, and #3 on architecture. The link to the original Quora discussion is also provided in this article. Which questions would you add or remove?

Many other related interview questions and answers (data science, R, Python and so on) can be found here.

Answer from our data scientist (many of these questions are open questions):

  • What is the life cycle of a data science project?
  • How do you measure yield (over base line) resulting from a new or refined algorithm or architecture?
  • What is cross-validation? How to do it right?
  • Is it better to design robust or accurate algorithms?
  • Have you written production code? Prototyped an algorithm? Created a proof of concept?
  • What is the biggest data set you have worked with, in terms of training set size, and in terms of having your algorithm implemented in production mode to process billions of transactions per day / month / year?
  • Name a few famous API’s (for instance Google search). How would you create one?
  • How to efficiently scrape web data, or collect tons of tweets?
  • How to optimize algorithms (parallel processing and/or faster algorithm: provide examples for both)
  • Examples of NoSQL architecture?
  • How do you clean data?
  • How do you define / select metrics? Have you designed and used compound metrics?
  • Examples of bad and good visualizations?
  • Have you been involved – as an adviser or architect – in the design of dashboard or alarm systems?
  • How frequently an algorithm must be updated? What about lookup tables in real-time systems?
  • Provide examples of machine-to-machine communication.
  • Provide examples where you automated a repetitive analytical task.
  • How do you assess the statistical significance of an insight?
  • How to turn unstructured data into structured data?
  • How to very efficiently cluster 100 billion web pages, for instance with a tagging or indexing algorithm?
  • If you were interviewing a data scientist, what questions would you ask her?

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Citi-Costco partnership shows its strength in Costco’s earnings report

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In its most recent earnings call, Costco provided another update on the performance of its Citi Visa co-branded card for members, which officially launched in June 2016.

The card is doing well across metrics, and is one of the major gainers in Costco’s margins, which fell slightly overall year-over-year (YoY).

  • New users are growing steadily. In the past year, Citi has added roughly 1.8 million new accounts and 2.4 million new cards — a discrepancy that most likely arises from multiple cardholders on a given account. This includes 270,000 new cards in the past 17 weeks, and represents a slowdown from the initial launch of the card, but still indicates a healthy growth rate.
  • And spend is on the rise. Costco reported that spending on the card is up YoY, not just as a result of new account acquisitions, but also organically. These shifts are reflected in numbers that Citi reported earlier this year — Costco’s $103 billion through Q2 2017 helped increase Citi’s card sales by a third. CFO Richard Galanti also noted that this is a card people tend to keep top-of-wallet, and the spend is coming not just from within Costco, but also from out-of-store, which is helping to propel growth. 

The performance of Costco’s product is a testament to why bigger is better for credit cards. When Amex owned the Costco co-brand portfolio, it was strong, posting $80 billion in billed business in its last full year. But it’s doing even better, and seems to be growing more quickly, under Citi — which is of benefit to Costco. That’s likely in part due to the card’s strong rewards proposition — cash-back offerings go as high as 4% for standard purchases, which is higher than those under Amex, and the firm is also running other promotions, like additional rewards on travel and discounts on Samsung purchases, which can incentivize high spending. But it could also be due to Visa’s wide acceptance network, which beats out Amex in the US, and could make it easier for users to turn to the product more regularly. At a time when credit appetite is high and firms are working to attract and engage customers, the scaling success of the Costco portfolio could be a lesson in how subtle changes that simplify and incentivize usage could make a big difference.

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72 Must-Have Features for E-Commerce Websites [Infographic]

by Laura Forer

Whether you’re just starting an e-commerce website or you’ve had yours up for a while and want to look at it with fresh eyes, today’s infographic by WebAlive offers a helpful guide. The website design and development company has put together a list of 72 features you may want to consider for your site.

Some, such as including a product title and description on a product page, are basics.

But others, such as including risk reducers on your homepage or explanations about product download formats on a digital product page, may give you some new ideas for helpful content to be added to your site.

The graphic breaks down websites into the most common types of pages: homepage (including header and footer), category page, product page, checkout/shopping cart/wishlist pages, and blog; it also has information on backend features and other considerations.

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The Actual Management of Content


Poorly designed content marketing campaigns can make even the most ambitious projects crumble.

Marketers get so caught up in managing different tools and systems for multi-channel campaign delivery that they fail to recognize the most important part of this marketing mission: strategy. 

Running a strategic content marketing campaign is essential for achieving business success. Period. It will change a Web professional’s fundamental approach to running a marketing campaign and help them stay focused on the ultimate goal.

What is the best way to run campaigns efficiently without much fuss? Here are a few tips to consider when managing the day to day:

1. Use a content marketing pyramid 

Creating content without a strategy is a dead-end street. By producing a huge amount of content without having a clear idea of how to deliver the message, marketers are entering a vicious circle that usually ends up in a failure.

Those suspicious that they are indeed lacking underlying strategy may want to consider implementing a solution such as the Curata Content Marketing Pyramid, a framework devised to help business writers develop a predictable stream of successful content and coordinate their marketing efforts.

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2018 The American Marketing Association New York Nominations

2018 Nominations


Details about the nomination process:

Nominees can come from any marketing discipline—they can be CMOs or Marketing Directors, work in advertising or branding or research agencies, be academics, journalists, or other marketing experts. The awards are reserved for current marketing practitioners. They must have been in the marketing profession for at least 10 years and be a current marketing practitioner. Our primary focus is on, but not limited to, the U.S.

Achievements that will be recognized include:

  • Marketing that works: Innovations that have had dramatic impact on business results, e.g. dramatically grow sales
  • Raising marketing’s profile: Increasing the influence of marketing, e.g. getting a seat on the board, expanding marketing’s remit to include innovation and growth strategy
  • New marketing tools and approaches: e.g. pioneers of social media, inventors of new forms of marketing research/measurement
  • Innovation in developing other marketers: Both current and the next generation of marketers through education, inspiration, and specialist programs

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Astronomers just proved the incredible origin of nearly all gold, platinum, and silver in the universe

  • For the first time, astronomers have detected a neutron-star collision.
  • Gravitational waves heard by two detectors pinpointed the source to a galaxy 130 million light-years away.
  • The collision produced a radioactive “kilonova” that forged hundreds of Earths’ worth of platinum, gold, silver, and other atoms.
  • The discovery solves a longstanding mystery about the origins of heavy elements.

Platinum and gold are among the most precious substances on Earth, each fetching roughly $1,000 an ounce.

However, their allure may grow stronger — and weirder — thanks to a groundbreaking new finding about their violent, radioactive, and cosmic origins.

On Monday, scientists who won a Nobel Prize for their discovery of gravitational waves, or ripples in the fabric of space, announced the first detection of the collision of two neutron stars.

The team alerted astronomers all over the world to the event right after it happened, helping them point telescopes directly at the scene of the crash and record unprecedented observations of the aftermath in visible light, radio waves, X-rays, and gamma rays.

The Swope Telescope was one of several that recorded a neutron star merger’s kilonova. UC Santa Cruz/Carnegie Observatories

These images revealed a radioactive soup giving birth to unfathomable amounts of platinum, gold, and silver — not to mention elements like the iodine found in our bodies, the uranium in nuclear weapons, and the bismuth in Pepto-Bismol — while shooting those materials deep into space.

The two neutron stars most likely merged to form a black hole, though the tiny bit of neutron star that escaped — and formed new elements — could get recycled into planets like Earth where aliens may eventually dig up the metals as we have.

“The calculations we did suggest most of the matter that came out of this event was in a swirling disk around a black hole. Half of that matter fell in, and half of it got ejected,” Brian Metzger, an astrophysicist at Columbia University who’s one of roughly 4,000 researchers involved in the discovery, told Business Insider. “The matter that ended up in your wedding band could have just as well fallen in.”

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Farhad and Nicole’s Week in Tech: Russia, Russia Everywhere

Each Friday, Farhad Manjoo and Mike Isaac, technology reporters at The New York Times, review the week’s news, offering analysis and maybe a joke or two about the most important developments in the tech industry. Mike is off this week, so Nicole Perlroth, who covers cybersecurity, took his place.

Russians Harnessing American Tech

Farhad: O.K., it was a big week in tech. We should probably start with the thing we’ve been talking about every week for, what, 300 years now? Facebook and Russia. In a report this week, a couple of our colleagues found that when Russian operatives set out to sow civil unrest in America on Facebook, they turned to an obvious source — political messages posted by Americans.

The Russians created Facebook pages that had names like “Being Patriotic” and “Blacktivist,” and they populated their pages with videos and memes created by Americans — for instance, a hoax story about Muslim men collecting welfare checks for multiple wives. I found the story fascinating because the whole thing is so banal. You have this picture of foreign spies using James Bond-type technology to go after an enemy’s political system. Nope, turns out they went about it exactly how you or I might do it — they found some videos online and posted them on Facebook.

Nicole: Yup. It turns out the Kremlin has found their sweet spot in the ugly fault lines in American politics. They’ve truly exploited our country’s political grievances, cultural resentments, news literacy and diminishing faith in once-trusted institutions like the news media to bring out the worst in us, simply by creating some Facebook pages. Who would have thought that Russians would be behind a pro-Texas fan page disseminating pro-secessionist Texas messages, or a “Blacktivist” page advocating for more protests against racial inequality?

Farhad: It wasn’t just Facebook. Google disclosed this week that Russian operatives also bought ads on its platform to interfere with the 2016 race. The amounts were small — about $4,700 in ads from the Russian government — but they added to the overall story line, which is that the tech giants’ platforms are being used in ways they probably had never foreseen.

Nicole: Did we really think Russia was going to try to hack election databases in 21 states, and pour that many resources into Facebook and not touch Google, the No. 1 source of information for most Americans?

It’s frustrating that this is only coming out now, but to be fair, much of the Russian activity was not exactly obvious. The silver lining is that we may finally be getting some answers. This week, the House Intelligence Committee said it would turn over Russian Facebook ad content, after meeting with Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg.

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Chase takes top spot for first time in over 20 years

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For the first time in 23 years, JPMorgan Chase is the largest US bank by deposits, a distinction Bank of America (BofA) held for nearly 20 years, according to the Charlotte Observer citing data from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

Chase, which was already the largest US bank by assets, saw its customers add $96 billion to their accounts over the last year to reach $1.3 trillion, a 7.9% increase year-over-year (YoY), surpassing BofA’s $1.29 trillion. This milestone comes at a time when banks have been aggressively jockeying to capture a larger share of financial transactions, which has placed an increased focus on card rewards and digital channels.

By leveraging their rewards programs and digital channels, banks are hoping to spur growth in key areas.

  • Banks are offering some of the highest card rewards ever seen to increase spend and adoption of card products. In fact, the six largest credit card issuers incurred an estimated $22.6 billion in credit card rewards expenses in 2016, more than double the costs seen in 2010, according to Instinet data cited by the Financial Times. However, for banks, these rewards appear to pay for themselves in adoption and spend — for example, after launching its reward-filled Sapphire Reserve card, Chase reported a 35% increase in new card accounts in Q3 2016, and an over 50% lift on credit card spending.

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The Making Of A Young Latino VC: Meet Rami Reyes

In 2016, I helped to lead a delegation of Latino entrepreneurs and investors to visit Israel — a land also known as Startup Nation — to see what we can learn from the local tech intelligentsia. It was my second delegation, and I was prepared to be surprised in several ways. I had a phrase for one kind of surprise: “the person on the delegation who provokes the most wonder.” In 2016, that person was Rami Reyes, an investor in our group who made practically everyone ask:

“what’s this kid doing here?”

Yes, Rami is young. He turned 29 this year. He’s also baby-faced (in a good way), adding a layer of special optics to the matching reality. Yet beneath the youthful exterior lies a mix of old-soul traits that I have found in the most accomplished investors in Silicon Valley (like the mighty Gilman Louie, who I am writing about next week).

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