UK online spending up by 16% according to Ofcom

By Simon Dye - Last updated: Monday, December 23, 2013

UK shoppers’ online spending increased on average by 16% per person in 2012 compared to 2011- according to the latest data from Ofcom.UK online spending up by 16% according to OfcomThe figures show that the average spend was £1,175 compared to £1,017 the year before. The figure is more than double the average spend per head of other countries in the survey.

According to Ofcom’s research, shoppers in the UK trust online retailers more than shoppers in other countries. The research also suggested that UK online shoppers have greater confidence in the security of the sites they buy from.

Ofcom’s research for online shopping was based on data from IMRG, the industry association for online retail sites.

Ofcom’s annual International Communications Market Report indicates that UK consumers benefit from cheaper access to mobile phones, landline and broadband deals than customers in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the US.

The proportion of household income spent on communications deals in the UK was 2.3%, compared to 2.5% in the US and 3.4% in Germany, the report said.

“Consumers in the UK are benefiting from one of the world’s most price competitive marketplaces for communication services,” said Ofcom’s director of research, James Thickett.

“Telecoms bills have been falling in real terms in the UK for the past ten years. However, consumers are not just benefiting from cheaper deals – they are also getting much more for less, as the quality and range of telecoms services has expanded hugely in that time,” he added.

Additionally, researchers asked survey respondents if they were aware of 4G mobile services.  The UK had the highest proportion of people who knew about faster mobile speeds, it found. This was unsurprising, given the high level of advertising around this service at the current time, said Ofcom.

If your website needs help with maximising it’s online mobile sales, then please contact us now:
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GCHQ and NSA tracking billions of mobile phones

By Simon Dye - Last updated: Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Almost five billion mobile phone location records are logged by GCHQ and NSA every day according to reports the Washington Post.GCHQ and NSA tracking billions of mobile phonesThe data is said to help the NSA track individuals, and map who they know, to aid the agency’s anti-terror work.

The “dragnet surveillance” was condemned by digital rights groups who called for the NSA’s snooping efforts to be reined in.

The huge database built up by the “Five Eyes”- the USA, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand keeps an eye on “hundreds of millions” of mobile phones, said the Post, adding that it let the agency map movements and relationships in ways that were “previously unimaginable”.

It added that the vast programme potentially surpassed any other NSA project in terms of its impact on privacy. Information about the programme was in papers released to the Post by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The spying agency is said to have accumulated so much data, about 27 terabytes according to leaked papers seen by the Post, that it was “outpacing” the NSA’s ability to analyse the information in a timely fashion.

The analysis, via a computer system called Co-Traveler, was necessary as only a tiny fraction of 1% of the data gathered was actually useful in its anti-terror work, said the paper. The analysis is so detailed that it can be used to thwart attempts to hide from scrutiny by people who use disposable phones or only use a handset briefly before switching it off.

The vast majority of the information gathered is said to come from taps installed on mobile phone networks and used the basic location-information that networks log as people move around. Analysing this data helps the NSA work out which devices are regularly in close proximity and, by implication, exposes a potential connection between the owners of those handsets.

The American Civil Liberties Union said it was “staggering” that the NSA could mount such a vast location-logging system without any public debate. The “dragnet surveillance” broke US obligations that require it to respect the privacy of foreigners and Americans.

“The government should be targeting its surveillance at those suspected of wrong-doing, not assembling massive associational databases that, by their very nature, record the movements of a huge number of innocent people,” it added.

Dyenamic Solutions cautions that it isn’t just governments that are snooping on you- don’t forget that Facebook, Google and Apple are watching your every post as well.

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Ethics of blocking ads debated

By Simon Dye - Last updated: Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Is it ethical to block adverts online- or are the ads intrusive?
Ethics of blocking ads debatedAccording to one count, 84% of the top 100 websites in the world rely on advertising to generate revenue, utilising the now long-established trade-off: use our website for free, but you need to look at some ads while you do it.

On traditional mediums such as TV and radio, advertising has over time developed into a form of entertainment itself.

But online, evidence suggests we’re far less forgiving. Adblock Plus, the most popular adblocking program on the market, has been downloaded 250 million times, and has around 60 million active users.

Adblock Plus sees its “mission” as being to encourage advertisers, and the websites that carry their material, to rethink how those ads work – minimising discomfort for internet users.

Yet an increasing number of people are questioning whether Adblock Plus’s software is unfairly using its powerful position not just to encourage better ads, but also to build a quite considerable revenue stream of its own.

It’s no understatement to say that most online publishers or advertisers have little time for Adblock Plus – and recently that annoyance has stepped up a notch. Descriptions like “extortion”, “protection racket” and “like the mafia” are all terms being voiced to describe the operation.

Where initially Adblock Plus would block all advertising, it now operates using a whitelist – a collection of, so far, around 150 sites and services whose ads are allowed through the filter.

To get on this whitelist, the advertising has to meet several fairly strict criteria: no animations, don’t get in the way of reading text, and don’t take up more than a third of a page’s width, plus various other things.

Sensible parameters on the face of it, but here’s the rub: for “big” companies that want to be on the whitelist, Adblock Plus demands they pay a fee.

If that fee isn’t paid, advertising is blocked, even if it fits the “acceptable” criteria.  Pay up, in other words, or Adblock Plus will knock-out some of your revenue.

The principles of “acceptable” advertising, as defined by Adblock Plus and its volunteer community:

Around 10% of the companies on the whitelist pay for the privilege and they list Google, Amazon, Yahoo and Reddit as some of the company’s “strategic partners”.

They would not not be drawn on how much they charge, nor do they give up any details on which companies had refused to play ball.

The Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB), a UK-based trade association for online and mobile advertisers, released a report earlier this year that hypothesised what it thought an advertising-free internet might look like.

The report argued that if some of the web’s most popular services – excluding shopping – did not carry advertising, users would each need to pay around £44 a month, on top of existing fees, to make up the revenue needed to keep those sites alive.

While the trade association has an obvious motivation behind stressing the importance of advertising, the report does at least highlight how integral that revenue stream is.

Although often descending into a bitter war of words, both sides of the adblocking debate at least agree on one core issue: they want the advertising to be relevant.

The more relevant it is to the consumer the more attractive it is to the advertiser, and it’s more valuable to the web publisher. But targeted advertising requires sophisticated techniques to track users and their browsing habits – a highly-contentious issue, to put it mildly.

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Stolen Facebook, Google passwords dumped online

By Simon Dye - Last updated: Thursday, December 5, 2013

More than two million stolen passwords used for sites such as Facebook, Google and other web services have been posted online.Stolen Facebook, Google passwords dumped onlineIt is suspected the data was taken from computers infected with malicious software that logged key presses.  It is not known how old the details are – but the experts warned that even out-dated information posed a risk.

The website containing the passwords was discovered by researchers working for security firm Trustwave.

In a blog post outlining its findings, the team said it believed the passwords had been harvested by a large botnet – dubbed Pony – that had scooped up information from thousands of infected computers worldwide.

Often, criminal gangs will use botnets to steal large amounts of personal data, which can then be sold on to others or held to ransom.  In this instance, it was log-in information for popular social networks that featured most heavily.

The site – written in Russian – claimed to offer 318,121 username and password combinations for Facebook.

Trustwave said it had notified the sites and services hit prior to posting the blog entry.

Analysis of the passwords by Trustwave showed a familiar picture – the most popular password, found in the database over 15,000 times, was “123456″.

We have repeatedly warned people and businesses not to use simple passwords. In this day and age of Advanced, Persistent Threats (APTS) it is only a matter of time before you will be hacked. Not if.

Here is a list of the most stupid passwords- if you use any of them, then please change them NOW!


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Black Friday ecommerce passes billion Dollar sales

By Simon Dye - Last updated: Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Black Friday sees $1.2 billion spent by Americans on ecommerce via their desktops.
Black Friday sees $1.2 billion spent on ecommerce via desktopsAmericans have opted for ‘Couch Commerce’ by staying at home, avoiding the crushes and increased on Thanksgiving Day spending.  Apparel & Accessories ranks as the top product category with Amazon being once again the top online retailer.

Due to variation in the 2012 and 2013 holiday shopping calendars with Thanksgiving falling so late this year, current season figures are being compared to last year’s, which contain a full week of heavy post Thanksgiving/Cyber Week buying.

As a result, the season-to-date growth rate is being artificially suppressed in the short term, with the effects likely to normalize as the season progresses. (An alternative comparison to the four weeks preceding Thanksgiving in our blog post of last week: Ecommerce sales forecast for 2013 holiday season shows a growth rate of 24 percent, which overstates the growth trend much in the way the current rate understates the real growth trend.)

Black Friday 2013 (November 29th) saw $1.198 billion in desktop online sales, making it the season’s first billion dollar day and heaviest online spending day to date, while representing a 15-percent increase versus Black Friday 2012. Thanksgiving Day (November 28), while traditionally a lighter day for online holiday spending, achieved a strong 21-percent increase over Thanksgiving Day last year to $766 million.

Amazon Ranks #1 Among Online Retailers on Black Friday
66.1 million Americans visited online retail sites on Black Friday using a desktop computer, representing an increase of 16 percent versus year ago. Amazon once again ranked as the most visited online retail site on Black Friday, followed by eBay, Walmart, Best Buy and Target.

Most Visited Retailer Properties on Black Friday 2013
Total U.S. – Home & Work Desktop Computers
Source: comScore, Inc.
Retail Property
1     Amazon
2     eBay
3     Walmart
4     Best Buy
5     Target

Apparel & Accessories Leads the Way for Holiday Category Spending

Top Online Product Categories by Dollar Sales in 2013 Holiday Season to Date
Non-Travel (Retail) E-Commerce Spending
Excludes Auctions and Large Corporate Purchases
Total U.S. – Home & Work Desktop Computers
Source: comScore, Inc.
Category     Share (%) of Online Dollar Sales
Apparel & Accessories               28%
Computer Hardware                  19%
Consumer Electronics                 7%
Consumer Packaged Goods       5%
Shipping Services                       5%
All Other Product Categories      36%

The Apparel & Accessories category is posting particularly strong sales this holiday season as compared to the rest of the year with nearly double its baseline (i.e. January through October) market share while leap-frogging Computer Hardware to be the top-grossing product category. Notably, Computer Hardware is also outperforming its baseline market share for the prior ten months.

Whilst mobile ecommerce has grabbed the headlines- good old fashioned laptops and computer towers still dominate the actual spend figures.

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Ecommerce sales forecast for 2013 holiday season

By Simon Dye - Last updated: Friday, November 29, 2013

14 % ecommerce sales forecast to grow to $48.1 Billion for the 2013 U.S. holiday season.
Ecommerce sales forecast for 2013 holiday season
The first 24 days of November has seen strong desktop online spending with $18.9 billion in sales during the 2013 holiday season. The mobile ecommerce sales are expected to reach $7.1 billion, bringing the total digital ecommerce forecast spend to rise to $55.2 billion.

comScore reported the holiday season retail e-commerce spending for the first 24 days of the November-December 2013 holiday season, as well as its official spending forecast for the season.

For the holiday season-to-date, $18.9 billion has been spent online using desktop computers, marking a 14-percent increase versus the corresponding days last year. Tuesday, November 19 has been the heaviest online spending day of the season to date at $963 million. Two other shopping days – Thursday, November 14 and Sunday, November 24 – have also seen at least $900 million in online retail spending.

Black Friday- today and Cyber Monday can both be expected to easily surpass that total, with Cyber Monday already beginning to point toward $2 billion.

The forecast of 14 percent growth for desktop based buying still represents a strong outlook versus last year that highlights the continued channel shift to online. We also expect m-commerce spending growth to contribute about 2 percentage points to that growth rate, meaning that total digital commerce will grow at a rate of nearly 16 percent.

Black Friday is the biggest shopping day of the year in the USA. However this year the 11th November ecommerce sales in China were close.

The day is traditionally when millions of US shoppers descend on stores across the country on the Friday after the Thanksgiving holiday, hoping to save on their Christmas shopping.

Black Friday became the biggest shopping day of the year in 2001 and although it’s often touted as the biggest shopping day of the year, the day didn’t earn the designation consistently until the 2000s.

That’s because, for many years, the rule wasn’t that Americans loved deals, it was that they loved procrastinating. So up until that point, it was the Saturday before Christmas that typically saw the most wallets being emptied.

Recently, Black Friday has become an international affair as online shopping has grown with retailers like Amazon having looked to Cyber Monday, first heard of in 2005, to promote deals for shoppers across the globe.

These sales figures come as no surprise to us. Is your website optimised and mobile compatable- if not you will be missing out on online traffic- and probably sales?

If your business needs some help with maximising it’s online sales potential, then please contact us now:
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Vodafone reports half year profits of £1.5billion in tough conditions

By Simon Dye - Last updated: Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Vodafone has reported a half year pre-tax profit of £1.5 billion as it announced that trading in Europe remained “very tough at present”.Vodafone reports half year profits of £1.5billion in tough conditionsChief executive Vittorio Colao said he had seen “intense macroeconomic, regulatory and competitive pressures during the period” there, but he was “encouraged” by forecasts that Europe would return to growth.

Mr Colao said the emerging markets businesses were doing well thanks to the growth of smartphone usage.

He said he hoped for a shift in regulation to support industry investment and consolidation.

Mr Colao said mature markets were “challenging”, but that focusing on cost efficiency was helping.

The figure marks a big fall from its £3.9 billion half-year pre-tax profit in 2012.

Vodafone, the world’s second largest mobile operator said it plans to spend £7 billion on improving its networks by March 2016.

The move follows Vodafone’s deal in September to sell its US business to Verizon Communications for £81.2 billion.

The US arm made up 45% of Vodafone’s business, and the deal marked one of the largest to date in corporate history.

As part of its growth plan, “Project Spring”, the introduction of 4G networks, will be accelerated and investment for laying fibre optic cables increased, to allow Vodafone to offer faster broadband to its customers.

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Sir Tim Berners-Lee- UK and US govt encryption cracking is appalling and foolish

By Simon Dye - Last updated: Thursday, November 7, 2013

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who created the world wide web called for a “full and frank public debate” over internet surveillance by the National Security Agency and GCHQ- warning that the system of checks and balances to oversee the agencies has failed.
Sir Tim Berners-Lee- UK and US govt encryption cracking is appalling and foolishAs the inventor of the global system of inter-connectivity known as the web, with its now ubiquitous www and http, Berners-Lee is uniquely qualified to comment on the internet spying revealed by the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

In an interview with the Guardian, he expressed particular outrage that GCHQ and the NSA had weakened online security by cracking much of the online encryption on which hundreds of millions of users rely to guard data privacy.

He said the agencies’ decision to break the encryption software was appalling and foolish, as it directly contradicted efforts of the US and UK governments to fight cybercrime and cyberwarfare, which they have identified as a national security priority. Berners-Lee also said it was a betrayal of the technology industry.

“Whistleblowers, and responsible media outlets that work with them, play an important role in society. We need powerful agencies to combat criminal activity online – but any powerful agency needs checks and balances and, based on recent revelations, it seems the current system of checks and balances has failed,” he said.

As the director of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) that seeks to forward global standards for the web, Berners-Lee is a leading authority on the power and the vulnerabilities of the internet.

He said the Guardian’s coverage of the Snowden leaks had to be seen within the context of the failure of oversight of GCHQ’s and the NSA’s surveillance activities. “Here is where whistleblowing and responsible reporting can step in to protect society’s interests.

“It seems clear that the Guardian’s reporting around the scale and scope of state surveillance has been in the public interest and has uncovered many important issues which now need a full and frank public debate.”

Talking in his office at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Berners-Lee said that though he had anticipated many of the surveillance activities exposed by Snowden, he had not been prepared for the scale of the NSA/GCHQ operations. “I didn’t realise it would be so big,” he said.

At worst, such spying could damage the public’s confidence in the intimate privacy of the internet as a free and safe place to interact. “When you take away the safe space, you take away a lot of the power of human problem solving,” he warned.

He also criticised the cracking of encryption on ethical grounds: “Any democratic country has to take the high road; it has to live by its principles. I’m very sympathetic to attempts to increase security against organised crime, but you have to distinguish yourself from the criminal.”

Berners-Lee said that the series of Snowden disclosures revealed a failure at the heart of oversight in both the US and UK governments, which he called “dysfunctional and unaccountable”. The leaked documents raised the question: who guards the guards themselves?

In practice, he said, the only practical answer to that question was the whistleblowers. He called for the introduction of an international system of protection for whistleblowers such as Snowden, who has taken a year’s temporary refuge in Russia.

The Obama administration has pursued official leakers heavily, launching eight prosecutions under the 1917 Espionage Act including that of Snowden himself – more than twice the total number under all previous presidents.

“Civilisation has to a certain extent depended on whistleblowers, and therefore you have to protect them,” Berners-Lee said.

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Google’s shares top $1000 as it reports earnings increase 36%

By Simon Dye - Last updated: Friday, October 18, 2013

Google’s share price has broken through the $1000 mark today- the day after it reported an increase in it’s third quarter earnings.Google's shares top $1000 as it reports earnings increase 36%The numbers released yesterday impressed investors who had been fretting about a downturn in Google’s ad prices that began two years ago. Those concerns evaporated, at least temporarily, with a third quarter performance that exceeded the analyst projections steering Wall Street.

Google’s ad prices are still sagging as marketers pay less for commercial space on mobile devices, but the number of revenue generating clicks on those ads is rising at a much faster rate.

The equation resulted in a 36 percent increase in Google’s earnings for the three months ending in September.

The robust share rally represents an abrupt about face. As the overall stock market rose, Google’s shares had slipped slightly during the past three months. The reason: Google’s previous quarterly report in mid-July revealed the deterioration in the company’s ad prices was getting worse.

Google’s average ad price has now declined from the prior year in each of the last eight quarters, primarily because advertisers aren’t yet paying as much for mobile ads because the screens on smartphones and tablet computers are smaller than those on laptop and desktop computers.

As more people rely on mobile devices to connect to Google’s search engine and other services, it’s driving down the company’s average ad price, or “cost per click.”

In Google’s latest quarter, that measure fell 8 percent from last year- which was worse than the 6 percent drop in the previous quarter.

But the number of so-called “paid clicks” on Google’s ads helped offset the lower prices in the third quarter. The clicking volume increased 26 percent from last year, an indication that Google’s data analysis is doing a good job matching ads with the interests of its services’ users.

Google Inc. earned nearly £1.87 billion, or £5.46 per share, during the three months ending in September. That compared to income of £1.37 billion, or £4.08 per share, at the same time last year.

Revenue for the third quarter rose 12 percent from last year to £9.32 billion. After subtracting commissions paid to Google’s ad partners, Google’s revenue stood at £7.43 billion.

In a mild surprise, Google CEO Larry Page disclosed yesterday that he doesn’t plan to regularly participate in the company’s quarterly earnings calls with analysts in the future.

Mr Page, 40, missed an earnings call last year because of an ailment on his vocal chords that made it difficult for him to talk. Although his voice remains raspy, Page didn’t mention that as a reason for skipping the calls. He said he wants to devote more time to running the company and helping Google’s engineers build great products.

Google’s rise and rise is based upon the Golden Egg that is it’s pay per click gem Adwords. We did some research a few years ago and for every £100 you donate to it, £85 used to pay for the bubbly at the shareholders’ AGM.

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World slows down- last VC10 flights

By Simon Dye - Last updated: Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The world slowed down last week as the last two VC10 flew to museums.
World slows down- last VC10 flights
A chapter of British and global aviation history closed on the 25th September 2013 when the last flying Vickers VC10 (ZA147) landed. Following a farewell flight from RAF Brize Norton, the VC10 ZA147 arrived at Bruntingthorpe, Leicestershire where it has retired after 47 years of exceptional service.

The VC10 was a long range British airliner designed and built by Vickers-Armstrongs (Aircraft) Ltd. The airliner was designed to operate on long-distance routes with a high subsonic speed and also be capable of hot and high operations from African airports. The initial concept of the VC10 was to provide a jet-powered airliner that could comfortably make use of the shorter runways commonly in use at the time.

The performance of the VC10 was such that it achieved the fastest crossing of the Atlantic (London to New York) by a jet airliner- a record which it still held to date for a sub-sonic airliner; only the supersonic Concorde was faster.

It was first flown at Brooklands, Surrey, in 1962, the same area where ZA150 landed for the final time on 24th September 2013 and will go on display at the VC10 Exhibition at Brooklands Museum.

Group Captain Steve Lushington, Station Commander of RAF Brize Norton who landed VC10 ZA147, provided some words following arrival into Bruntingthorpe. He said:

“This aircraft has such a fantastic history, its a world record holder and been involved in operations around the globe. There was a weepy eye on the flight deck from many of the crew, it was very poignant day but today should be a celebration of everything the VC10 has done, a quite incredible service history.

“I feel very privileged today. When I look back in my retirement and flick through the pages of my log book it will be with big smiles and fond memories.”

The Captain of the final flight was Flight Lieutenant Paul Smith who said:

“The weather was right on the limits of visual flying and we had to work very hard to get in here. I was 24 years old as a fresh faced Flying Officer when I first walked up the steps of a VC10 and I’ll be 52 in February so you can guess what it means to me, a bit of a bereavement. But she deserves a rest, she’s served us very well.”

From: with the image at:

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