9 Common Interview Questions That Are Actually Illegal

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9 Common Interview Questions That Are Actually Illegal

During job interviews, employers will try to gather as much information about you as possible, so there’s bound to be some questions that will require you to think.

But it’s the simple questions that are often most harmful, and even illegal.

Any questions that reveal your age, race, national origin, gender, religion, marital status and sexual orientation are off-limits.

“State and federal laws make discrimination based on certain protected categories, such as national origin, citizenship, age, marital status, disabilities, arrest and conviction record, military discharge status, race, gender, or pregnancy status, illegal.  Any question that asks a candidate to reveal information about such topics without the question having a job related basis will violate the various state and federal discrimination laws,” Lori Adelson, a labor and employment attorney and partner with law firm Arnstein & Lehr, told us.

“However, if the employer states questions so they directly related to specific occupational qualifications, then the questions may be legitimate. Clearly, the intent behind the question needs to be examined.

“It is often easy to infer what the interviewer is really trying to find out from an otherwise illegal question. For example, if the employer asks “Are you a U.S. citizen?”, this question is a violation of the law.  Although, the employer may just be  (albeit very inartfully) attempting to find out whether the applicant is authorized to work in the U.S. The applicant can simply respond, that “That question is in violation of the law, but yes, I am authorized to work in the United States.”

If you are asked any inappropriate questions, Adelson advises not to lie, but, instead, politely decline to answer.

“Could they not give you a job because of that? Sure,” Adelson says. “But if they do, they would be doing exactly what they’re not supposed to do.”

We asked Adelson to provide us with some illegal interview questions that are often mistaken as appropriate and judicial.

Have you ever been arrested?

Have you ever been arrested?

Business Insider

An employer can’t actually legally ask you about your arrest record, but they can ask if you’ve ever been convicted of a crime.

Depending on the state, a conviction record shouldn’t automatically disqualify you for employment unless it substantially relates to your job. For example, if you’ve been convicted of statutory rape and you’re applying for a teaching position, you will probably not get the job.

Are you married?

Although the interviewer may ask you this question to see how much time you’d be able to commit to your job, it’s illegal because it reveals your marital status and can also reveal your sexual orientation.

Do you have children?

Again, the employer may ask you this question to see your available time commitment with the company, but this question is inappropriate.

However, they are allowed to ask you directly if you have other responsibilities or commitments that will be conflicting to your work schedule.

What country are you from?

What country are you from?

Kin Cheung / AP

If you have an accent, this may seem like an innocent question, but keep in mind that it’s illegal because it involves your national origin.

Employers can’t legally inquire about your nationality, but they can ask if you’re authorized to work in a certain country.

Is English your first language?

Is English your first language?

Joe Corrigan/Getty

It’s not the employers lawful right to know if a language is your first language or not.

In order to find out language proficiency, employers can ask you what other languages you read, speak or write fluently.

Do you have any outstanding debt?

Employers have to have permission before asking about your credit history and, like a criminal background history, they can’t disqualify you from employment unless it directly affects your ability to perform the position you’re interviewing for.

Similarly, they can’t ask you how well you balance your personal finances.

Do you socially drink?

Employers cannot ask about your drinking, or even legal drug use, habits because these inquiries are protected under the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990.

For example, if you’re a recovering alcoholic, treatment of alcoholism is protected under this act and you don’t have to disclose any disability information before landing an official job offer.

How long have you been working?

This question allows employers to guess your age which is unlawful. Similarly, they can’t ask you what year you graduated from high school or college or even your birthday.

However, they can ask you how long you’ve been working in a certain industry.

What religious holidays do you practice?

What religious holidays do you practice?
Employers may want to ask you this to see if your lifestyle interferes with work schedules, but this question reveals your religion and that’s illegal.
They can ask you if you’re available to work on Sundays.

Read more:http://www.businessinsider.com/9-illegal-interview-questions-that-sound-legal-2012-3?op=1#ixzz2l0oYe5If

29 Smart Answers To Tough Interview Questions

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29 Smart Answers To Tough Interview Questions

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In her book 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions, Vicky Oliver says jobseekers need to treat interviews like a final exam, because it’s “rigorous” and “psychologically draining.”

“Make no mistake: in order to prevail, you are going to need to trounce your competition. You could be competing against someone with three times your experience, or conversely, against someone who can do the job at half your salary level,” Oliver says.

We compiled some of the toughest questions from her book accompanied with smart answers that will help you survive the elimination round.

Q: Will you be out to take my job?

A: Maybe in about twenty years, but by then, I suspect you’ll be running the entire company and will need a good, loyal lieutenant to help you manage this department!

Source: 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions

Q: What if you work here for five years and don’t get promoted? Many of our employees don’t. Won’t you find it frustrating?

A: I consider myself ambitious, but I’m also practical. As long as I am continuing to learn and grow within my position, I’ll be a happy camper. Different companies promote people at different rates, and I’m pretty confident that working for you will keep my motivated and mentally stimulated for several years to come.

Source: 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions

Q: What is your biggest weakness that’s really a weakness, and not a secret strength?

A: I am extremely impatient. I expect my employees to prove themselves on the very first assignment. If they fail, my tendency is to stop delegating to them and start doing everything myself.

To compensate for my own weakness, however, I have started to really prep my people on exactly what will be expected of them.

Source: 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions

Q: You have changed careers before. Why should I let you experiment on my nickel?

A. As a career-changer, I believe that I’m a better employee because I’ve gained a lot of diverse skills from moving around. These skills help me solve problems creatively.

Source: 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions

Q: If you knew that things at your company were rocky, why didn’t you get out of the company sooner?

Q: If you knew that things at your company were rocky, why didn't you get out of the company sooner?

Daniel Goodman / Business Insider

A: I was working so hard to keep my job while everyone around me was being cut that I didn’t have any time left over to look for another job. With all of the mergers that have been happening in our field, layoffs are a way of life. At least I gave it my best shot!

Source: 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions

Q: From your resume, it looks like you were fired twice. How did that make you feel?

Q: From your resume, it looks like you were fired twice. How did that make you feel?

AP Photos/Paul Sakuma

A: After I recuperated from the shock both times, it made me feel stronger. It’s true that I was fired twice, but I managed to bounce back both times and land jobs that gave me more responsibility, paid me more money, and were at better firms.

The morale here is very high. I’ve been exposed to the “seamy underbelly” of this business, but I’m still passionate about working in it.

Source: 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions

Q: I see from your resume that you worked at CC&L for four years, and that’s terrific. But I also noticed that you weren’t promoted during that time. Why not?

Q: I see from your resume that you worked at CC&L for four years, and that's terrific. But I also noticed that you weren't promoted during that time. Why not?

A: CC&L is a great company, and thanks in part to my team’s contributions, they are doing very well these days. But that wasn’t always the case.

During the first two years that I worked there, people were being fired left and right, and just hanging onto my job was a feat.

Once the company began to turn around, [my boss] was offered a terrific job at a rival organization and it took CC&L six months to replace him and when they did, the new boss was eager to bring in his own people. Once again, I tenaciously hung on to my job, and, even though I was long overdue for a promotion, I really didn’t think that the timing was right for me to broach it. No one from the old staff was there to even vouch for my performance!

Source: 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions

Q: If you were running a company that produces X and the market was tanking for that product, what would you do?

A: I would search for new markets for the product while I spurred the engineers to change the product to make it more marketable to its original core audience.

Source: 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions

Q: You majored in philosophy. How did that prepare you for this career?

A: Philosophy didn’t prepare me for a career in architecture at all. But it did force me to become philosophical about my prospects. After two years of trying to figure out what to do with my life, I visited Chicago one weekend, and was absolutely spell bound by the gorgeous architecture all around me.

I came home, applied to architecture schools all over the country, and was accepted by one of the best. I’ve never looked back…this is definitely the career that I was meant to be in.

Source: 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions

Q: What do you view as your risks and disadvantages with the position we are interviewing you for?

Q: What do you view as your risks and disadvantages with the position we are interviewing you for?

donald judge via Flickr

A: I think that the home office located halfway across the globe, there is a very small risk that one might not have the chance to interact with the key decision makers as often as might be ideal. On the other hand, teleconferencing, email, faxing, and having a 24/7 work ethic will go a long way towards bridging the gap.

Source: 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions

Q: Are you telling me that, now that you’re forty-something, you would be willing to start at an entry-level position just to get your foot in the door here?

A: Sometimes you need to take a step backward to move your career forward. Starting in an entry-level role would allow me to learn your business from the ground up.

The career that I’ve been in is so different than yours that I would love the opportunity to start over again in your field. The salary cut will be well worth it.

Source: 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions

Q: From your resume, I notice that you interned at a small investment banking boutique. Did you pursue a full-time job offer with them? What happened?

Q: From your resume, I notice that you interned at a small investment banking boutique. Did you pursue a full-time job offer with them? What happened?

A: Yes, I did very well at my internship, and I had originally assumed that I would come on staff once I graduated from college. However, BB&L drastically cut back the number of new hires they were planning. As fate would have it, they will not be hiring any of the interns they had last summer.

I love working at BB&L, and I brought some references with me today to show you that my job performance there was stellar. Still, in some ways, I consider this new turn of events to be a lucky break for me, believe it or not.

Source: 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions

Q: We love women at this company, but our clients are Chinese and so we were thinking of hiring a man for this particular job.

A: Why is that, exactly? It seems to me that I am probably more qualified to handle this position than anyone, man or woman.

My father’s career as a diplomat took our family around the world seven times, and I even spent my junior year abroad in the Far East. I would need far less training than an American man who grew up here and has never worked outside our borders.

Source: 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions

Q: Can you describe your dream job?

Q: Can you describe your dream job?

A. This is my dream job and that’s why I approached you about it in the first place. I am excited about the prospect of helping your promotion agency upgrade and fine tune your loyalty programs.

Source: 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions

Q: Our clients feel more comfortable with ethnic writers. So, while I would love to recommend you for the position, I’m worried that our client will feel uneasy about us hiring you.

A. I sincerely believe that being a great writer requires one major skill beyond being able to string sentences together, and that quality is empathy. I think that, rather than looking at my skin color, your company needs to consider whether or not I can empathize with our target market, and the answer is certainly yes.

Source: 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions

Q: Why did you take so much time off from work, and why do you wish to get a job now?

A: When I first had the twins, my husband was working 24/7, and I really needed to be there to raise the kids. But during that time, I really missed working.

Fortunately, I kept my hand in the business during those years by consulting for several of my ex-clients.

Source: 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions

Q: How many skis are rented each year?

Q: How many skis are rented each year?

AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani

A: There are 250 million people in the U.S. Let’s suppose that the number of skis is 15 percent of that, or 37,500,000. Of those, let’s figure that 21,175,000 of them own skis, leaving the number who rent at 9,325,000. Then let’s add the number of tourists who ski, say, one million. So the grand total of renters would be 10,325,000.

Now let’s assume that the renters who live here take three trips a year, so three times 9,325,000 is 27,975,000 and add that with 1,000,000 is 28,975,000.

Source: 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions

Q: What would you do if you really wanted to hire a woman under you, and you knew the perfect candidate, but your boss really wanted to hire a man for the job?

A: I’d recommend that we perform an on-site “test,” by hiring both candidates on a freelance basis for two weeks each.

Source: 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions

Q: What if you worked with someone who managed to ‘take credit’ for all your great ideas. How would you handle it?

A: First, I would try to credit her publicly with the ideas that were hers. Sometimes, by being generous with credit, it spurs the other person to “return the favor.”

If that doesn’t solve it, I’d try to work out an arrangement where we each agreed to present the ideas that were our own to our bosses. If that doesn’t work, I would openly discuss the situation with her.

However, if the person taking credit for my ideas was my boss, I would tread cautiously. To some extent, I believe that my job is to make my superiors shine. If I were being rewarded for my ideas with raises and promotions, I would be happy.

Source: 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions

Q: How many hours a week do you usually work, and why?

Q: How many hours a week do you usually work, and why?

Daniel Goodman / Business Insider

A: I work pretty long hours most of the time. With the extra time, I try to find ways to “add value” to each assignment, both my own and the firm’s. When our clients read our reports, I want them to think that no one else could have possibly written them, except for our company.

Source: 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions

Q: Does a company need B players? Or is it better off only having A players on staff, and why.

A: I believe that a company needs both A and B players. When you’re pitching new business, you want the A players on the front line. But behind the A players, you need the B players who can hammer out the details of the projects and stick with them on a day-to-day basis. Having too many A players on the team leads to ego clashes and a disorganized, anarchical way of doing business.

Source: 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions

Q: Are you better at ‘managing up’ or ‘managing down’?

Q: Are you better at 'managing up' or 'managing down'?

A: If you aren’t good at “managing up,” you rarely get the opportunity to “manage down.” Fortunately, I’ve always been quite good at self-management. I’ve never had a deadline that I didn’t meet.

Source: 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions

Q: This ad agency is a TV shop. But I see from your resume that you have far more experience handling print. You’re weak on TV compared to other candidates. Why should I hire you for the job and not someone else who has the credentials that we’re really looking for?

A: One thing I learned from these ad agencies is that print and TV are only mediums. The real thing that we offer clients is our ideas. And a strong, solid award-winning idea will work just as beautifully in TV as in print.

So while I may have fewer TV spots on my reel as other candidates, hopefully you’ll agree that my ideas are stronger than theirs. Hire me for my ideas, and when you do, I promise you that they will translate seamlessly into TV.

Source: 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions

Q: Would you rather get permission from your boss before undertaking a brand-new project, or be given enough rope to “hang yourself”?

A: During my first week on the job, I would ask my boss how she would prefer me to handle projects. If she indicated that she wanted a take-charge person under her, I would take the ropes. If she told me she wanted me to run ideas by her first, I would comply. I think the real challenge is being able to adapt to your work environment, and I’m flexible.

Source: 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions

Q: Let’s discuss a time when you missed a significant deadline.

A: I would absolutely love to, but honestly, it’s never happened.

Source: 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions

Q: Please give an example of the most difficult political situation that you’ve dealt with on a job.

Q: Please give an example of the most difficult political situation that you've dealt with on a job.

Daniel Goodman / Business Insider

A: I was hired by a woman who was on her way out. She asked me to be her “fall guy” on a number of assignments. I just learned to drop the assignments off with my boss on the day that they were due, and when the managers would ring me up, I would recommend that they simply follow up with her. This kept me out of hot water with my boss and with her superiors.

Source: 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions

Q: Did you ever make a mistake that cost your company money?

Q: Did you ever make a mistake that cost your company money?

Daniel Goodman / Business Insider

A: I suppose that asking for name-brand vodka at the Christmas party, instead of the generic swill that they normally serve, doesn’t count, right? No, really honestly, I’m delighted to report that I never made a mistake that cost my company money.

Source: 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions

Q: Is it more important to be lucky or skillful?

Q: Is it more important to be lucky or skillful?


A: I think that it’s more important to be lucky, although being very skilled can help to create more opportunities. Certainly, [at my former job, my boss’] confidence in me inspired the decision makers at our firm to trust that I could do the job. But clearly, I also happened to be in the right place at the right time.

Source: 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions

Q: When do you think you’ll peak in your career?

Q: When do you think you'll peak in your career?

Daniel Goodman / Business Insider

A: I come from a long line of healthy, hardy, mentally active types, and so I confess that I never even think about “peaking” in my career. That having been said, I do think it’s important to have some self-knowledge, and to recognize when one is past one’s prime.

Source: 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/29-smart-answers-to-tough-interview-questions-2012-5?op=1#ixzz2l0K5vtqN

3 Israel start ups in the 12 hot security start-ups to watch ..Adallom, Skycure, and Lacoon Mobile Security.


3 Israel start ups in the 12 hot security start-ups to watch ..Adallom, Skycure, and Lacoon Mobile Security.

Going into 2014, a whirlwind of security start-ups are looking to have an impact on the enterprise world. Most of these new ventures are focused on securing data in the cloud and on mobile devices. Santa Clara, Calif.-based Illumio, for example, founded earlier this year, is only hinting about what it will be doing in cloud security. But already it’s the darling of Silicon Valley investors, pulling in over $42 million from backer Andreessen Horowitz, General Catalyst, Formation 8 and others.

The cloud’s lure is easy to see. More businesses continue to adopt a wide range of cloud services — whether software-as-service, infrastructure-as-a-service or platform-as-a-service. That means the enterprise IT department needs more visibility, monitoring and security controls for what employees are doing and evidence their data is safe. In addition, employees today increasingly use smartphones and tablets they personally own for work in “Bring Your Own Device” mode, leading to other management and security questions. When there are perceived security “gaps,” start-ups see opportunities, as the 12 firms we identify here do.

Security is increasingly delivered not as on premises software or hardware but at least partly if not wholly as a cloud-based service. Gartner is predicting security-as-a-service will grow from about $2.13 billion now to $3.17 billion in 2015.

Gartner: Cloud-based security as a service set to take off

With all of that in mind, here’s our slate of security start-ups worth watching in the near future:

Adallom is based in Menlo Park, Calif., but has its research and development roots in Israel, where its three co-founders, Assaf Rappaport, vice president of R&D Roy Reznik and CTO Ami Luttwak have backgrounds in the Israel cyber-defense forces. Adallom — a word which means “last line of defense” in Hebrew — is taking on the problem in monitoring user actions related to software-as-a-service (SaaS) usage. The firm’s proxy-based technology announced this month is offered to the enterprise either as a security service in the cloud or server-based software for on premises.

The goal is to provide real-time analysis and a clear audit trail and reporting related to SaaS-based application usage by the enterprise. The monitoring can allows options for automating or manually terminating sessions or blocking content download. Though not wholly similar, its closest competitors could be considered to be two other start-ups, SkyHigh Networks and Netskope. The venture has gotten $4.5 million in funding from Sequoia Capital.

AlephCloud hasn’t yet made its software and service called AlephCloud Content Canopy generally available, but its purpose is to provide controlled encryption and decryption of documents transmitted business-to-business via cloud-based file synchronization and sharing services such as Dropbox, SkyDrive and Amazon S3. The company was founded in 2011by CEO Jieming Zhu and CTO Roy D’Souza. Zhu says Content Canopy works by means of the “federated key management” process AlephCloud developed that can use existing enterprise public-key infrastructures used in identity management. For the end user, though, who is permitted to retrieve and decrypt the encrypted document via Dropbox or SkyDrive, it’s all transparent. AlephCloud says its “zero-knowledge” encryption process means the company never holds the private encryption key. AlephCloud will first be supporting PCs, Macs, and Apple iOS devices, and Android next year, and specific file-sharing services. Zhu says the underlying technology can be expanded further to other applications as well. AlephCloud has received $9.5 million in venture-capital funding, including $7.5 million from Handbag LLC and the remainder from angel investors.

BitSight Technologies has a simple proposition. It’s not uncommon for companies to want to try and evaluate the IT security of another business before entering into an e-commerce arrangement where networks may be interconnected in some way. BitSight, co-founded in 2011 by CTO Stephen Boyer and COO Nagarjuna Venna, has a security “rating” service to do this, though there are limits on how far it can go at this point. The BitSight approach, says vice president of marketing Sonali Shah, relies on an analysis of Internet traffic by BitSight sensors on the Internet to detect if the company’s IT assets, such as computers, server or network, have been commandeered by threats such as botnets or denial-of-service attacks. But she acknowledges there’s not yet a way for BitSight to determine what security issues might arise in a company’s use of cloud services. Cambridge, Mass.-based BitSight has received $24 million in venture-capital funding from investors that include Menlo Ventures, Globespan Capital Partners, Commonwealth Capital and Flybridge Capital partners.

Defense.net is focusing on stopping denial-of-service attacks aimed by attackers at both enterprises and cloud service providers. Founded by its CTO Barrett Lyon, who started another anti-distributed denial-of-service firm called Prolexic in 2003, Defense.net relies on a cloud service without the need for an appliance to mitigate against large-scale DDoS assaults. Many in the industry say DDoS attacks are growing worse in scale and number. For his part, Lyon says he thinks the average DDoS attack is probably 16 times larger and “significantly more sophisticated than it was a year earlier.” Defense.net has received $9.5 million in funding from Bessemer Venture Partners.

Illumio, founded by its CEO Andrew Rubin earlier this year, is still in stealth mode, maintaining a discrete silence about its intentions. But the little hints sprinkled across its website indicate the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company’s focus is likely to be tackling cloud-based security with an emphasis on virtualization. Illumio has brought in former VMware techies and execs. As for Rubin himself, he was formerly CEO at Cymtec Systems, a security firm providing the means for visibility, protection and control by the enterprise of Web content and mobile devices, plus a means for intrusion-detection analysis. Illumio has received more than $42 million in funding from Andreessen Horowitz, General Catalyst, Formation 8 and others.

Lacoon Mobile Security has come up with a sandboxing approach to detect zero-day malware targeting Android and Apple iOS devices by means of a small lightweight agent that examines mobile applications through behavior analysis and a process tied to the Lacoon cloud gateway. The start-up was founded by CEO Michael Shaulov, vice president of research and development Ohad Bobrov, and Emanuel Avner, the CFO. The company has its R&D arm in Israel and its headquarters in San Francisco. It’s backed by $8 million in venture-capital funding led by Index Ventures, plus $2.7 million in angel investing, including from Shlomo Kramer, CEO at Imperva.

Malcovery Security, based in Pittsburgh, was basically spun out in 2012 from research on phishing done at the University of Alabama in Birmingham, according to its CEO Greg Coticchia. Targeted phishing attacks can have disastrous outcomes when devices are targeted to infiltrate organizations and steal data. Coticchia says the Malcovery technologies offered to businesses include ways to identify phishing websites and a service that can detect phishing e-mail. The company’s founders include Gary Warner, director of research in cyber forensics at the University of Alabama, and the start-up has received about $3 million in funding from patents and research from the university.

Netskope wants to help businesses monitor how their employees are using cloud-based applications and apply security controls to it, such as giving IT managers the ability to block data transfers or receive alerts. The Netskope service can apply security controls to about 3,000 different cloud-based applications, whether they be SaaS, PaaS or Iaas. The Netskope service is meant to let IT divisions get a grip on cloud usage and avoid the “shadow IT” issue of business people initiating cloud services without informing IT at all. The Los Altos, Calif.-based start-up was founded in 2012 by CEO Sanjay Beri along with chief architect Ravi Ithal, chief scientist Krishna Narayanaswami, and Lebin Chang, head of application engineering teams, all who bring tech industry experience ranging from Juniper to Palo Alto Networks to VMware. Netskope has amassed $21 million in venture funding from Social+Capital Partnership and Lightspeed Venture Partners.

PrivateCore is a crypto-based security play, focusing on making use of the central processing unit (CPU) as the trusted component to encrypt data in use. PrivateCore has come up with what it calls its vCage software that relies on the Intel Xeon Sandy Bridge CPU for secure processing through means of Intel Sandy Bridge-based servers in cloud environments, first off in IaaS. The challenge in processing encrypted data is “the problem with having to decrypt to do processing,” says Oded Horovitz, CEO of the Palo Alto, Calif.-based start-up he co-founded with Steve Weis, CTO, and Carl Waldspurger as adviser. The vCage approach, based on Intel CPU Sandy Bridge, makes use of the Intel Trusted Execution Technologies and Advanced Encryption Standard algorithm to perform the processing in RAM. This can be done with Intel Sandy Bridge because there’s now about 20MB of cache available, he points out, enough to get the job done. The data in question is only unencrypted in the CPU. This encryption approach is being tested now by IaaS providers and some enterprises, and PrivateCore expects to have its first product in general release early next year. The start-up has received $2.4 million in venture capital from Foundation Capital.

SkycureA is all about mobile-device security, with its initial focus on Apple iOS iPhones and iPads. It recently introduced what’s described as an intrusion-detection and prevention package for mobile devices, which Skycure’s co-founder and CTO Yair Amit says relies on the Skycure cloud service for security purposes. He says the goal is to prevent and mitigate any impact from attackers exploiting configuration profiles on mobile devices. Skycure, based in Tel Aviv, Israel, was co-founded by CEO Adi Sharabani and the company has received about $3 million in venture-capital funding from Pitango Venture Capital and angel investors.

Synack was founded by two former National Security Agency (NSA) computer network operations analysts, CEO Jay Kaplan and CTO Mark Kuhr. According to them, the Menlo Park, Calif.-based start-up is bringing together security experts with expertise in finding zero-day bugs in software, particularly in websites and applications of Synack customers. “We pay researchers for vulnerabilities found,” explained Kaplan last August as Synack officially debuted. He says bug bounty rates typically run a minimum of $500 to several thousand for serious vulnerabilities in databases, for example. Synack says it has cultivated relationships with several bug hunters around the world, including at the NSA, who would be available to take on specific assignments. Synack A has received $1.5 million in venture-capital funding from a combination of investors that A include Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Greylock Partners, Wing Venture Partners, Allegis Capital and Derek Smith, CEO of start-up Shape Security.

Threat Stack, founded by CEO Dustin Webber with Jennifer Andre, wants to give enterprises a way to know if hackers are breaking into Linux-based servers that they may use in their cloud services. To monitor for hacker activity, the start-up’s Cloud Sight agent software for Linux needs to be installed on the Linux server under administrative control in the cloud environment, says Webber. “We look for the behavior of the hacker,” he points out, noting the enterprise will get an alert if a hacker break-in is underway and a measure of forensics about incidents can be obtained if needed. Cloud Sight could also be potentially used by cloud service providers as well but the initial focus is on monitoring for the enterprise, he says. Threat Stack, founded in Cambridge, Mass., in 2012, has obtained $1.2 million in funding from Atlas Venture and .406 Ventures. The start-up is yet another example of why there’s new energy directed toward finding ways to provide visibility, monitoring and security for businesses adopting cloud services.

Israel Ranks Second on Global Dynamism Index Science and Technology Sector

English: World GDP growth rate and GDP growth ...

English: World GDP growth rate and GDP growth rate of total OECD countries. Data source: World Bank Group and OECD. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Israel Ranks Second on Global Dynamism Index Science and Technology Sector

Jerusalem Technology Park. Photo: Wikipedia.

Israel has been ranked second in the Global Dynamism Index science and technology sector of one of the world’s largest worldwide accountancy firms with a mark of 62.7. Israel moved up one place to second from third, lagging only behind South Korea with a mark of 64.2. Israel was ranked ahead of Finland (62.6), Sweden (58.8), and Japan (58.7).

The Grant Thornton index draws together 22 indicators, including GDP growth, R&D spend, regulatory risk, access to finance and labor productivity, across five areas of dynamism (business operating environment, science and technology, labor and human capital, financing and environment, economics and growth) to produce the rankings.

Overall Israel ranked eighth place with a mark of 61.8. Australia topped the list followed by Chile, China, New Zealand, Canada, Finland and Singapore.

The Israeli Rental Contract


Housing & Renting in Israel – The Rental Contract

Hebrew: דיור ומגורים – החוזה


The Basic Israeli Rental Contract

There is no standard rental contract in Israel, but you can buy different versions of a basic contract in some stationery stores.  Your landlord may present you with a contract that he drew up with his lawyer.  Take into consideration that the contract will, in all probability, be in Hebrew.   A real-estate lawyer will charge you around half a month’s rent to translate and go over a rental contract with you in detail.  If you can, ask a relative or a friend who speaks good Hebrew to go over the contract with you but realize that there may be some points and nuances that they may miss.

In your Contract

A typical rental contract may include some or all of the following points. Make sure that you have clarified these issues before signing the contract:

  1. Identity and details of the landlord.
  2. Israelis living in other cities or abroad often appoint a friend or relative to handle matters on their behalf.  Make sure you have all the details of all parties involved.
  3. Make sure that the person renting the property has the authority to do so – you don’t want to get caught up in a scam!
  4. Description of the property – the lounge is considered as a room in Israel. A 4 roomed apartment means 3 bedrooms and a lounge.  You may be offered a 3 1/2 roomed apartment.  This means that one of the bedrooms is very small and you may only be able to fit a bed and a small wardrobe/closet.  Often a landlord will close one of the rooms off and store his personal possessions in the room.  Make sure that this is taken into account both in the rental agreement and in the price.  Gardens, storerooms and parking spots must also be stipulated.
  5. Protected tenants law – it was very common many years ago to rent a property for “key money” and this is what this clause refers to.  Mostly this does not happen anymore.
  6. The purpose of the rental: residential, home-office etc.  If you are planning on using the property as a home-office check with your accountant for possible tax deductions.
  7. Verify who can live in the apartment with you – roommates, visitors, pets etc.
  8. Duration of the lease, notice period and regulations (written or verbal)
  9. Option to extend the lease and if there is a possibility to shorten the lease.
  10. Rent – how much, method of payment, frequency (monthly, quarterly etc.).  It was common practice, some years ago, to quote the cost of the rental in US$, to be paid in accordance with the exchange rate, in shekels, on the date of the transaction.  Mostly, now that the shekel is a more stable currency, rent is quoted in shekels.
  11. The state and condition of the property and who is liable for any repairs.
  12. Contents and condition of any furniture, appliances, light fittings or other items that come with the apartment – make a list of the contents.
  13. Check plumbing, gas and electrical – flush all toilets, open all taps, check that there is hot water, switch on all lights, check that the gas balloons are in working order and  that all appliances, included in the contract, are in working order too.
  14. Take meter readings – water and electricity – take photos of the readings.
  15. Is there insurance on the structure, its contents and third party?
  16. Cosmetic  changes – painting, hanging pictures or shelves etc.  Are you allowed to make any?
  17. Vad habayit (house committee) – the tenant is only responsible for the regular monthly payments.  Make sure you give the money directly to the house committee, not via the landlord.
  18. Penalties – agree on a rate.  Whether the landlord does not hand over the apartment on time or if the tenant does not vacate the property on time, it should be the same rate for both sides.
  19. Guarantees – this could be in the form of a cash deposit, a bank guarantee or two guarantors.  The guarantors must have a job and an income.
  20. At what point will the guarantee be returned to you and under what conditions.  This is a very important aspect of the rental agreement.  Landlords often come up with all kinds of reasons in order not to return part or all of the guarantee or deposit.
  21. Visits by the owner/landlord/agent – by prior coordination and at regular hours.
  22. If the property is sold during the course of the contract you must have the option to remain in the property until the end of the lease period.  However if you want to vacate the property, under these circumstances, you should have the option to do that too.

MoreTop Tips

  1. NEVER, EVER, EVER pay with cash. Always pay your rent with a check or by bank transfer so that you have proof of payment.
  2. Demand a receipt
  3. Take photographs of the apartment, furniture etc. before you move in, in case of disagreements when you move out..

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10 Reasons to Not Roll Your Eyes at Lady Gaga’s ARTPOP

English: Lady Gaga performing "Teeth"...

English: Lady Gaga performing “Teeth” on the revamped Monster Ball show. Magyar: Lady Gaga a Teeth előadása közben a megújított The Monster Ball turnén. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Lady GaGa (Photo credit: ama_lia)

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Lady GaGa (Photo credit: ama_lia)

Lady GaGa

Lady GaGa (Photo credit: ama_lia)

Lady GaGa

Lady GaGa (Photo credit: ama_lia)

Image representing Wikipedia as depicted in Cr...

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Gaga performing "LoveGame" on The Mo...

Gaga performing “LoveGame” on The Monster Ball Tour. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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English: Lady Gaga performing "Born This ...

English: Lady Gaga performing “Born This Way” on The Monster Ball Tour. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

10 Reasons to Not Roll Your Eyes at Lady Gaga’s ARTPOP

Lady Gaga's album, Born This Way, was the high...

Lady Gaga’s album, Born This Way, was the highest debut with platinum certification in first week (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Lady GaGa visit Sweden at Sommarkryss...

English: Lady GaGa visit Sweden at Sommarkrysset, Gröna Lund, Stockholm. Svenska: Lady GaGa på Sommarkrysset (Grönan). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Born on 4/16: Selena (med: Acrylic Paint)

Born on 4/16: Selena (med: Acrylic Paint) (Photo credit: CassAnaya)

Lady Gaga performing on the Fame Ball tour in ...

Lady Gaga performing on the Fame Ball tour in Minneapolis, MN at the Fine Line Café. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lady GaGa concert

Lady GaGa concert (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lady GaGa concert (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Lady Gaga holding a speech at Nationa...

English: Lady Gaga holding a speech at National Equality March (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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English: Lady Gaga performing “Hair” on her GMA concert, 2011. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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English: Lady Gaga performing “LoveGame” on The Monster Ball Tour, UK (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lady Gaga - Artpop

Lady Gaga – Artpop (Photo credit: AlexKormisPS (ALM))

10 Reasons to Not Roll Your Eyes at Lady Gaga’s ARTPOP

When you’re the biggest star in the world, it’s hard to keep people interested. When the challenges of your day include asking Cher to hold your meat purse and arriving to the Grammys in an egg (let’s not even talk about Gaga in Space), it’s even harder to avoid the kinds of jaded criticism Lady Gaga has attracted since her muffin-bluffin’ debut. Lady Gaga has everything to lose with ARTPOP, as the favorable media coverage about her has dwindled amongst Madonna shade, toke-related weight gain, broken hips, Katy Perry rivalry, and a general public perception of being over her “reductive gimmick.” While it certainly would’ve been easier to go the Prism route, Gaga accepts that she is going to alienate much of the Top 40 crowd by focusing on the ART and the POP. Really: how many people have conversational knowledge of Jeff Koons and have experienced the addictive thrill of performing for a sold out Madison Square Garden? ARTPOP is Gaga’s point of ultimate trans-genre superstardom and bizarreness; it’s her Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, her Mechanical Animals. Her ARTPOP could mean anything.

Gaga begins the album off strong with “Aura,” the somewhat controversial song originally titled “Burqa.” The song on leaked on the internet in August, when Gaga was still coming out of her Twitter exile and it shows. Lyrics like “Enigma popstar is fun, she wear burqa for fashion” directly address the album’s central theme of displacing meaning. By situating the song as ARTPOP‘s first track, she addresses the inevitable scrutiny she faces and reminds the listener that much of Lady Gaga is an aura. The burqa in the song, appropriative but certainly not meant as a pastiche, acts as Gaga’s covering from the scruples of those who aim to strip her naked by digging too deeply into her personal life and her music. Gaga hides “behind the aura” to separate Lady Gaga the concept, the “enigma popstar” the news media hopes to martyr, from Lady Gaga the woman.

With its nonsensical planetary lyrics (“Aphrodite lady seashell bikini garden panty”) and ’70s-esque synth-packed beat, “Venus” may or may not be Lady Gaga’s demo for the new Sailor Moon theme song. The back-to-basics Gaga certainly isn’t presenting ARTPOP‘s Derrida-inspired multiple meanings philosophy by any means with the track, but its simple-as-pie funk-tastic composition brings to mind tracks on The Fame. Lyrics like “Mercury, Venus, Uranus – Don’t you know my ass is famous!?” show that the creator of what NME Magazine called “the most pretentious album ever” still has a sense of humor.

(ARTPOP album artwork via Jeff Koons)

“G.U.Y.” (or “Girl Under You”) is beyond lyrically engaging, acting both as a “power-bottom anthem” and a gender obfuscation opus dripping with sticky sex. Contributing toARTPOP‘s overwhelming sense of personal satisfaction on Gaga’s part, sometimes resulting in a jarring glass wall for the listener, Gaga’s pop chops shine in this jam because her own confidence radiates. She asserts, “I don’t need to be on top to know I’m wanted, ’cause I’m strong enough to know the truth.” It addresses her satisfaction in her current romantic relationship, but the lyric could easily be applied to her superstardom; when Gaga didn’t immediately hit number one on the iTunes chart with “Applause,” detractors rushed to call it an ARTFLOP. “G.U.Y.” shows that Gaga is still one of the smartest musicians in the pop industry, infusing an addictive beat with a smart feminist philosophy.

In “Jewels & Drugs,” Gaga focuses the addictive nature of The Fame, likening it to the allure of, well, jewels and drugs. A precursor to “Applause,” Gaga elaborates on similar themes when she croons, “I admit that my habit’s expensive and you may find it quite offensive. But I won’t die at the hands of another.” Though the song doesn’t always pull of its trap music conceit (Too Short’s “I’m high as hell, tryna have some fuckin’ fun” is worthy of more than a few groans), it certainly doesn’t feel out of place with the rest of ARTPOP’sR&B vibes. It could certainly be worse; both “Cake Like Lady Gaga” and “Dark Horse” are two worse options in different ways. Seriously, T.I. will always be a better score than Juicy J.

“Do What U Want” is an absolutely funky treat of a song that would lose none of its Oizo-esque appeal if it were manufactured solely for the purpose of a Beats by Dre commercial. Emphatically shouting “You can’t stop my voice ’cause you don’t own my life,” Mother Monster seems to be channeling a place of pain last seen in her iTunes Festival performance of “Swine,” providing a powerful, albeit somewhat troubling, anthem for survivors of sexual abuse while continuing the chronicling of her battles with the Fame Monster. The inclusion of R. Kelly crooning “Do what I want with your body” is positively inviting the subtext surrounding the partly-consensual tone of the song, but you better know Kelly “don’t give a fuck.” The lyrics “Write what you want/Say what you want about me” compounded with the bootylicious single cover serve as a lethal cocktail to her critics: kiss my ass.

LADY GAGA – Swinefest 2013 (iTunes Festival 09.01.13) from Videodrome Discothèque onVimeo.

The title track may be its least interesting musically and its most pretentious. Gaga embraces the enigma popstar label in “ARTPOP,” telling the listeners to “Come to me with all your subtext and fantasy.” Self-aware, Gaga keeps playing off of her public criticism as a shameless self-promoter (Born This Way and Farmville, for instance), noting “I try to sell myself, but I am really laughing because I just want the music not the bling.” As ARTPOP is the embodiment of the album’s concept and, therefore, chocked full of the drug-addled non-sequiturs Gaga’s been tweeting since Born This Way. Like a mad scientist trying to create life, Gaga’s experiment to fuse ART and POP sometimes results in overly ambitious deformities with six legs.

If the “Swinefest” iTunes Festival performance of “Swine” was heartbreaking, the hypnotically in-your-face nature of the album version of the song is its vindication. When Perez Hilton tweeted a link to an article purporting he was the subject of this biting jam, it was easy to assume he was flattering himself. With lyrics like, “You’re just a pig inside a human body. Squealer, squealer, squeal out. You’re so disgusting,” it’s not actually such an unbelievable jump. Regardless of the song’s subject, lyrics like “Maybe I should have a little more just to stay out of my mind” betray a sense of sadness that lies just behind the aura.

“Mary Jane Holland” is easily the song the most atmospheric song on the album, shoving a joint in one hand and pulling the other through the “mad-magical” Red Light District of Amsterdam. Gaga snatches off the platinum weave when she and Mary Jane rendezvous, singing “Lady of the ‘Dam won’t be a slave to the blonde or the culture of the popular.” Free as her hair, Gaga elaborates on the special kind of liberty she feels when she transforms into Smoky Gaga: “The grass heats up my insides and my brunette starts to sprout.” As someone whose hair is iconic not for a certain style or color but for the sheer breadth and variety of forms it takes, Gaga going back to Stefani Germanotta brown is perhaps the greatest way in which ARTPOP serves to destroy the image of Gaga so carefully crafted.

Though powerful on its own, the power of “Dope” really comes from the dissonance between its new grating, unintuitive lyrics and the original overly-saccharine “I Wanna Be With You.” The original song, a sweet but boring ode to the pull of the road and the desire for the kind of love someone like Lady Gaga could never have, goes “You lift me up when I feel strong.” The new, vocally affected version is: “Oh, I’ll hate myself until I die.” Even though the lyrics, when placed side by side, read like the manic-depressive highs and lows of an undiagnosed bipolar teenager, each song has its own purpose. “Dope” works as ARTPOP’s “You & I,” an affected and alienating ballad that envelopes the listener in the emotion of the piece.

Perhaps what makes ARTPOP so satisfying is the kind of self-referential (“I don’t speak German, but I try), celebratory toast that “Gypsy” makes so well, with Gaga Springsteen and Jo Calderone clinking glasses of Johnnie Walker. Gaga handles the wanderlust the song mourns rather well, approaching the bitter-sweetness of a crossroads in her relationship with “Like Dorothy on a yellow brick, hope my ruby shoes get me there quick.” Even with the looming sense of loss, Gaga can’t be sad when she sees all the stamps on her passport and realizes that she has the whole world in front of her. Looking to her Little Monsters across the world, Gaga almost reads off a tour itinerary during the song’s outro: “Russia, U.K., Paris. I’m Italian, Asian konpai.” After the album’s emotional low of “Dope” and the somewhat deluded, pitiful nature of “Mary Jane Holland,” ARTPOP needed a “Gypsy” to send it home in time for the applause.

Does ARTPOP shake off the pretention Gaga has worked so hard to dust herself in these last few years? No. But does Gaga come like a phoenix from the ashes, soaking up the applause (and the occasional “yass!”)? Absolutely.

Check out the lyrics for ARTPOP on Rock Genius:

Lady Gaga – Aura Lyrics
Lady Gaga – Venus Lyrics
Lady Gaga – G.U.Y. (Girl Under You) Lyrics
Lady Gaga – Sexxx Dreams Lyrics
Lady Gaga – Jewels & Drugs Lyrics
Lady Gaga – MANiCURE Lyrics
Lady Gaga – Do What U Want Lyrics
Lady Gaga – ARTPOP Lyrics Lady Gaga – Swine Lyrics
Lady Gaga – Donatella Lyrics
Lady Gaga – Fashion! Lyrics Lady Gaga – Mary Jane Holland Lyrics
Lady Gaga – Dope Lyrics
Lady Gaga – Gypsy Lyrics Lady Gaga – Applause Lyrics

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How Facebook went from sucking at mobile to killing at mobile in 12 short months

Facebook profile shown in 2007

Facebook profile shown in 2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Image representing Velti as depicted in CrunchBase

Image by None via CrunchBase

Image representing Google AdWords as depicted ...

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facebook (Photo credit: sitmonkeysupreme)

How Facebook went from sucking at mobile to killing at mobile in 12 short months

How Facebook went from sucking at mobile to killing at mobile in 12 short months

A little over a year ago, Facebook was so bad at monetizing mobile that the company tried to hide that fact in its legally required pre-IPO documentation, adding it only days before the company went public. The whole mess contributed to what ended up almost being the worst IPO in a decade and a share price that still hasn’t recovered its IPO heights.

Then a week ago, Facebook announced record earnings and a massive 41 percent of revenue from … mobile.

How did the company turn it around that quick?

The year of mobile, at last

“Every single year we’ve heard people say ‘This is the year of mobile,” Nanigans SVP Dan Slagen told me, laughing. “But this is the first time we’ve seen someone come forward and put forward the kind of number that Facebook did.”

Facebook ads ... in 2007?

Facebook ads … circa 2007.

Nanigans might be the single biggest conduit of Facebook ads on the planet, managing “nine figures” of annual ad spend. So Slagen knows a little about Facebook and revenue. And he says that Facebook targeting has gotten so good in the last year that “there’s really no excuse for someone seeing your ad who doesn’t want your product.” That’s had a massive impact on Facebook profitability, especially on mobile.

Mobile ad exec Krishna Subramanian agrees.

He’s the CMO of mobile advertising company Velti, and he says the massive shift is due to Facebook’s data-centric approach to products and decisions.

“I don’t think it was luck,” Subramanian told me yesterday. “Facebook executed flawlessly after spending the second half of last year experimenting and looking at all the possibilities of making money in mobile.”

Perhaps most interesting is that Facebook’s mobile revenue has gone through the roof this year at the same time that Google’s mobile earnings have tapered off — in spite of layering in mobile into AdWords, which was supposed toincrease click prices but actually did not.

For Slagen, it’s all about creative, targeting, and optimization, which have never been better on Facebook.

“Mobile ad units used to be tiny little banners, but Facebook completely broke through that model,” he said. “Facebook’s mobile ad spot is a massively large ad unit, which has given advertisers a whole new opportunity on mobile.”

“Never seen clickthrough rates this high”

Because Facebook’s mobile ad unit is large, brands can be creative again. Aesthetics and visuals are the first things that grab attention, and there’s plenty of room to add a title and some copy — perhaps a call to action. Add in Facebook’s unparalleled targeting capability, and you’ve got a winner, advertisers say — and profitable winner.

“We’ve never seen clickthrough rates this high outside of Google Adwords,” Slagen says.

Also see: Facebook news feed ads generate 49 times more clicks at 45% less cost (study)

Subramanian agrees, but he also points to Facebook’s scale and targeting of specific niches as reason for the social network’s mobile success. Aggregating enough mobile supply is a challenge for even the largest of mobile ad networks, he told me, which makes Facebook’s massive billion-plus network so attractive. Alone, it has more scale than any individual ad network.

And when Facebook added the capability for mobile developers to initiate app installs right from ads, that simply added to the appeal for a market niche that is ready and willing to pay for ads that work.

Facebook's News Feed on mobile

“Facebook’s not just getting higher click-through rates, but also making sure that what they’re doing is driving results for advertisers,” the Velti exec told me. “App installs work extremely well, because advertisers can slice and dice users Facebook users for the right audience so they can drive the lifetime value of customers way up.”

[Editor’s note: If you’re a brand or developer and have used Facebook advertising, we’d love to hear from you. If you fill out our survey, we’ll send you our up-to-date report on our Mobile Advertising Index, which provides analysis about the top forms of mobile advertising.]

Slice, dice, target

That’s what really changed the game from an advertiser’s perspective, Slagen says. Facebook now offers five different slicing mechanisms to give you exactly the audience you want.

  • Affinity: what people like
  • Behavior: what people do
  • Social profile: who people are
  • Customer relationship management plug-ins: finding your customers on Facebook
  • Retargeting: what people have been browsing outside of Facebook

Add them all up, and you’ve got targeting that is making Facebook a contender against the company we’ve traditionally thought of as having the richest data about people and purchases ever: Google.

“We just haven’t seen the data capture on Google that we’ve seen on Facebook,” Slagen says.

And Facebook makes it easy for advertisers.

Graph search: finally starting to pay off

The ad unit Facebook uses on mobile is the same ad unit that lives on desktop. It’s one campaign, one set of keywords, the same imagery, and the same words. From a recall perspective, that’s much more memorable for consumers, and therefore much more effective for advertisers.

facebookmobileadsiphone-580x574Interestingly, that’s similar to what Google has tried to do, with varying degrees of success, inmaking AdWords campaigns mobile as well as desktop.

And yes, graph search is starting to help as well, for reasons both personal and local.

“If you see people searching for things you have an idea of what they’re interested in,” Subramanian says. “And while local search is huge for Google, for Facebook it could be even more interesting as Facebook becomes the start screen for your life.”

He points to experiments such as Facebook Home and open graph as ways for Facebook to continue building the intent graph that Google has owned so profitably for years as a result of its premier position in search. Which certainly continues to be one of the most important things the social network needs to continue to work on, Slagen adds.

That, with Facebook’s custom audiences, and more external data, could help Facebook — which already is the largest player in mobile display ads – increase its share even more.

And make targeting even more real time, more focused:

“We used to optimize campaigns by week, and look at them day to day,” Slagen says “Now you optimize by day, and look at them hour to hour. If it starts raining in Boston, start the Netflix ads!”

VentureBeat is providing our Mobile Advertising Index report to those who filled out the survey. If you haven’t filled out a survey, and want a copy of the report, contact Jason Spangenthal. Speak with the analyst who put this report together to get more in-depth information, inquire within.

Facebook news feed ads generate 49 times more clicks at 45% less cost (study)

Evolution of the number of Facebook users. Dat...

Evolution of the number of Facebook users. Data comes from Facebook’s press room: http://www.facebook.com/press/info.php?timeline. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Illustration of Facebook mobile interface

Illustration of Facebook mobile interface (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Facebook logo Español: Logotipo de Facebook Fr...

Facebook logo Español: Logotipo de Facebook Français : Logo de Facebook Tiếng Việt: Logo Facebook (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Facebook Live Feed on OS X desktop

Facebook Live Feed on OS X desktop (Photo credit: Tschäff)

Facebook news feed ads generate 49 times more clicks at 45% less cost (study)

Facebook news feed ads generate 49 times more clicks at 45% less cost (study)

Social has never performed as well as search for advertisers. That looks like it could be about to change, because Facebook’s new News Feed ads are absolutely killing it.

And the metrics are, frankly, mind-blowing.

According to a new one billion-impression ad study by retargeting giant AdRoll, news feeds ads have a massive 21 times higher clickthrough rates than standard web retargeting ads and an incredible 49 times the clickthrough rate of Facebook’s right-hand side ads.

“A year ago we were having the discussion that Facebook doesn’t work, and GM is pulling its ads,” AdRoll president Adam Berke told me this morning. “Now we’re having the conversation on whether this rivals Google!”

Facebook news feed ads

News Feed ads sit, as the name suggests, right within the flow of the feed of social news that Facebook users come to the site for. Sold via Facebook Ad Exchange, the ad units enable brands to target consumers who have previously visited their sites — hence “retargeting” — which enables advertisers to merge the intent graph (what people want) with a social site (Facebook). They’re larger than Facebook’s right-hand-side ads, and they’re qualitatively different in very significant way.

Also see: How Facebook went from sucking at mobile to killing at mobile in 12 short months

“Facebook hit on a winning combination from a direct response perspective by fusing two things,” Berke says. “They combined the power of programmatic advertising with Facebook’s own secret sauce — this native environment which is very engaging.”

In other words, even though News Feed ads are sold programmatically via the Facebook Ad Exchange, they’re also social entities. News Feed ads are likeable, shareable, and commentable, and as such, they’re embedded into the fabric of what makes Facebook Facebook in a way that no other ads are. They benefit from viral effects, which means great ads will get great earned reach as well as paid, and they fit into the news feed in a very natural way.

Plus, Facebook only sells one of them per user per day.

Facebook revenues

Facebook revenues

The combination of all that adds up to crazy metrics that you just don’t see in today’s highly competitive advertising landscape. While AdWords advertisers scrape and claw for a percentage increase here and a fraction better there, News Feed ads are providing almost 50 times the clicks per ad compared to Facebook’s right-hand side ads and 21 times the clicks of standard web retargeting ads. That translates to massively lower costs: 79 percent lower cost-per-click compared to web retargeted ads, and 54 percent less cost than Facebook’s right-hand ads.

That’s important, because Facebook needs to compete with other advertising channels such as search and e-mail that have resulted in higher-value customers in the past.

While the clicks are so high that conversions are slightly down, overall that translates into 77 percent lower cost-per-action compared to web retargeted ads and 45 percent lower cost than other Facebook ads. That’s pretty impressive data. But it’s what AdRoll was seeing right from the beginning in April when Facebook launched the new ad unit.

“It didn’t blow our mind because we had anecdotal feedback from advertisers about how they were performing,” Berke told me. “From day one our clients were telling us it was working.”

As tempting as it is, the comparison to Google might be a little unfair, however. As Berke says, News Feed doesn’t have the scale of AdWords, and advertisers will still need to use multiple advertising methods to achieve the kind of reach they need. And if Facebook was tempted to increase the number of News Feed ads, the likelihood is that their effectiveness would diminish.

But by merging programmatic buying and social signals, Facebook has created a categorically new advertising world.

“It’s the first time we’ve seen those two big trends come together,” Berke told me. “And the fact that they came together in a very symbiotic way is really exciting.”

Now we know why Facebook put ads in the news feed. And now we have a clue how Facebook is going to monetize its massive web and mobile audience at something at least approaching Google-like levels.

Do you like me now? The real reason even Facebook needs a user feedback tool


Do you like me now? The real reason even Facebook needs a user feedback tool

Do you like me now? The real reason even Facebook needs a user feedback tool

Facebook’s iconic “like” symbol

Did Facebook just have an ‘aha!’ moment?

A couple of weeks ago, the social media giant quietly launched a community called the Facebook Feedback Panel. The invite-only panel of 10,000 users will be regularly surveyed in the next six months about everything from the social network’s advertising platform to general satisfaction with the network.

“We really want to understand, in-depth, how users feel about ads, so that as we grow our business, we maintain the right balance between our advertisers’ needs and the users’ experience,” explained Facebook’s Fidji Simo to The Huffington Post.

This new panel isn’t entirely a brain buster, but it’s interesting because Facebook has been criticized in the past for not listening to user feedback. Once a no-ad king, Facebook now tops the list of getting on consumers’ nerves. A recent report found that out of all social media users, people on Facebook are most irritated by its ads. Many complain that the ads are irrelevant and intrusive, prompting Facebook to promise to tweak its formula. While the world’s largest social network is known to make regular changes to its newsfeed without consulting users, a new change is on the horizon — and at least this time Facebook is looking to connect with the audience that matters most.

But is Facebook’s Feedback Panel really a way for the site to start engaging people and to appease its detractors, who now also include teens? Not necessarily, according to Vision Critical’s Ray Poynter.

“Facebook has used surveys and polls for many years, but what makes this different is that it’s a panel and they want people to commit themselves to the project for six months,” Poynter said. “Facebook has not made the panel open, which suggests that it’s for scientific research as opposed to engagement — a paradox that can confront many brands. Do I talk to everybody or do I create something that readily provides clear, informative advice?”

If Poynter is right, and the panel is primarily for scientific research and will not be used an open forum, then it begs an important question: Why does Facebook need more data?

Facebook has the technology in place to understand how people interact with its interface. The site can measure audience reach, engagement, retention, usage, and ad performance. It can track every user click, understanding which features are adopted and how quickly usage grows and fades. And, with its billions of members oversharing many aspects of their lives, data is something that the world’s biggest social network has no shortage of.

With all the data available at its disposal, Facebook should be able to infer much of the information it needs about users. So why the need to ask the opinion of its users? It could be that this is just a case of “more is better.” Presumably, if Facebook has more information at its disposal, its management team can make better-informed decisions.

Not so fast though — there’s more to it. “The 10,000 people in Facebook’s first ‘feedback panel’ will be surveyed monthly…to see how their satisfaction with the site changes and why,” reported The Huffington’s Post’s Bianca Bosker. That “why” is something that even Facebook hasn’t been able to figure out without communicating with its users.

Indeed, Facebook’s move makes it obvious that the sheer volume of data that it possesses about its users (as of June 2013, Facebook has 1.15 billion monthly active users) still doesn’t tell Facebook very much about why we do the things we do. Facebook doesn’t know why we make the friends we make, why we post the pictures — embarrassing or benign — that we take, and why we go to the places we go. If Facebook doesn’t have enough data to answer the ‘why’, then who does?

By launching a panel where it can talk to members on a consistent basis, Facebook is waking up to something market researchers have known for decades. To get a complete picture of the consumer, brands need both attitudinal and opinion-based insights. Facebook’s big “aha!” is that even having access to one of the largest volume of socially-sourced content available on Earth doesn’t deliver the attitudinal information needed to truly understand your customers and the reason behind their actions.

In short, there is no shortcut to getting the “why”. Understanding “why” only comes from engaging customers — or in Facebook’s case, users — on a consistent basis. Social, transactional, behavioral, and attitudinal data separately cannot result in the same insight that comes from combining these four.

Facebook still has a long way to go in engaging its users. After all, it only now just launched its feedback community, and we’ve known Vision Critical clients who have had communities for well over half a decade now. After Facebook gets the “why”, it’ll have to close the feedback loop and actually show its members that their feedback is being put to good use. And from there, many of the other Facebook departments can do a better good job at integrating longitudinal data into their business processes. Overall, however, Facebook’s Feedback Panel is a good first step in reversing possibly damaging user fatigue.

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