National News

Advertisers can now tell if we're paying attention

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-10-16 11:12

Online advertising has long been dominated by the click and impression — how much an ad is shown to users. Now the industry is establishing a new metric: our attention.

People click on the average Internet display ad about .1 percent of the time. It's a dismal fraction for advertisers, and it doesn't tell the full story. Ads can have a large branding impact on us even if we don't click on them. That's why advertisers need metrics that deliver a more nuanced picture, says Chartbeat CEO Tony Haile.

His company is the first to have its techniques for quantifying attention certified by the Media Ratings Council, an organization that determines if an audience measurement tool is “valid, reliable, and effective.”  For years, Chartbeat has been measuring attention for web content — trying to determine if we are really engaging with websites, or just happen to have the tab open while watching a cat video elsewhere. The company is now taking the tools it built for content and applying them to advertising.

To analyze our engagement, Chartbeat measures things like how we move the mouse, scroll, and tap on our keyboards. “All of those signals effectively allow us to get a picture of behavior,” Haile says, “it gives us a sense of when attention is happening or when someone is distracted.”

Chartbeat's content analytics have been especially popular with news organizations. They use it and other services to see what articles engage readers. You might recognize a few of Chartbeat's clients: The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, CNN. Now, some are starting to use it for ads as well.

Jon Slade directs digital advertising for the Financial Times. With attention metrics, he says, “I'm able to value engagement and commercialize it.” That helps the site compete against websites with a larger volume of content that people interact with more superficially.  The metrics are changing how the Financial Timessells ads. Advertisers can now pay for how long people will see and engage with an ad instead of how many times it will be shown and clicked on. It's quality over quantity, Slade says — a huge shift for online advertising, and a better business model for those who create content.

This shift in the advertising industry could be a big boost for news sites. In the words of Trevor Fellows, “the recognition that not all impressions are equal is huge.”

Fellows is the chief revenue officer for The Wall Street Journal. He says attention metrics will show advertisers it's worth paying to have ads displayed next to engaging content. It's a way for news sites to stand out from the soup that is the Internet.

Fellows predicts it will be a while before engagement becomes a standard measurement in the advertising industry. “A change of this magnitude is going to be a long time in becoming commonplace,” he says.  Advertisers still quibble over the old metrics—how to determine whether an ad has actually been viewed and intentionally clicked.When it comes to human attention there's more going on than just the push of a button.

Your Car Won't Start. Did You Make The Loan Payment?

NPR News - Thu, 2014-10-16 10:21

Growing numbers of lenders are getting tech savvy, remotely disabling debtors' cars and tracking customer data to ensure timely payment of subprime auto loans.

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WATCH: Florida's Gubernatorial Debate Gets Off To A Bizarre Start

NPR News - Thu, 2014-10-16 10:18

The debate began not with discussions about the economy or even about Obamacare, but about whether candidate Charlie Crist should be allowed to have a small fan to keep him cool.

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Poll: Majority Of Americans Worried About U.S. Ebola Outbreak

NPR News - Thu, 2014-10-16 10:04

More than half of Americans polled said they were concerned about an Ebola outbreak in the U.S. within a year. When asked the same question in August, 39 percent of people expressed the same concern.

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A Balanced Diet For World Food Day: Bugs, Groundnuts And Grains

NPR News - Thu, 2014-10-16 09:41

Termites and mung beans are among the ingredients that can bring better nutrition to the 800 million undernourished people in the lower-income world.

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Citigroup's Mexican Unit Fined $2.2 Million For Shoddy Oversight

NPR News - Thu, 2014-10-16 09:24

Regulators in Mexico said Banamex should have spotted red flags that resulted in a $400 million fraud. Earlier this week, Citigroup announced it had discovered a $15 million fraud.

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The Most Common Jobs For The Rich, Middle Class And Poor

NPR News - Thu, 2014-10-16 08:50

What do people up and down the income ladder do for work?

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As Oil Prices Fall, Who Wins And Who Loses?

NPR News - Thu, 2014-10-16 08:26

Prices are down 25 percent since June, unleashing ripples around the globe that range from lower gas prices in the U.S. to budget problems in Russia to political pressures in the Middle East.

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6 More Graves Found Near Mexican Town Where 43 Students Vanished

NPR News - Thu, 2014-10-16 08:15

Nineteen graves have now been found near Iguala, in the southern state of Guerrero. Authorities said DNA tests showed that 28 bodies recently discovered in five graves were not those of the students.

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LA Schools Superintendent To Step Down Amid iPad Controversy

NPR News - Thu, 2014-10-16 08:03

Rachel Martin talks with KPCC's Annie Gilbertson about the pending resignation of John Deasy, who had been at the center of a controversial plan to purchase 700,000 iPads for students and teachers.

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The numbers for October 16, 2014

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-10-16 07:05

Apple unveiled the iPad Mini 3 and the iPad Air 2 at a big media event Thursday, though the basics of the new tablets were already leaked by Apple itself. IPad sales have been falling or staying flat for the past several quarters, as the market gets more crowded and iPhones get more popular (and larger).

Quartz has a good look at Apple's iPad conundrum and some suggestions for giving the device a more distinct place in their product line.

Here's what we're reading — and some numbers we're watching — Thursday.

1 in 4

The portion of millennials who have cut the cord or never had a cable subscription at all, TechHive reported. That's especially important as HBO and now CBS have announced they'll uncouple streaming from pay TV packages, and offering their online-only services.

300

The number of companies that signed a pledge earlier this year to reduce hiring barriers for the 3 million job seekers who have been unemployed 27 weeks or longer. It's why some companies are exploring with getting rid of resumes, and opting instead for video applications.

72 percent

That's how many Airbnb listings in New York violate zoning or other laws, according to a new report from the city's attorney general. The start-up, valued at $10 billion, blamed a lack of clear laws for home sharing,  the New York Times reported. Nearly all of the rentals are in Manhattan, and many are from individual hosts with a high number of listings: Six percent of renters take in 37 percent of Airbnb revenue in the city, which amounts to about $168 million.

Lessons From Ebola School: How To Draw Blood, Wipe Up Vomit

NPR News - Thu, 2014-10-16 06:54

Think of the routine jobs health workers do in a hospital: Sticking a needle in a patient's arm. Cleaning up vomit. Escorting a patient to a bed. Now imagine doing those tasks for someone with Ebola.

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Despite Legal Reprieve On Abortion, Some Texas Clinics Remain Closed

NPR News - Thu, 2014-10-16 06:37

Texas clinics that provide abortion services were surprised by a ruling from the high court this week that allows them to reopen. But the bruising legal battle may have already changed the landscape.

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Death Toll In Himalayan Avalanches Reaches 27

NPR News - Thu, 2014-10-16 05:30

The highest number of dead, many of them foreigners, are on the trail of Mount Annapurna, the world's 10th-highest peak.

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Thailand Official: Martial Law Is Good For Tourists

NPR News - Thu, 2014-10-16 04:57

With tourism down 20 percent, Thailand is looking for novel ways to lure visitors. According to the head of the tourist authority, military rule means it's extremely safe to visit.

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Hong Kong's Renewed Offer Of Talks With Protesters Meets Skepticism

NPR News - Thu, 2014-10-16 04:33

The government says it's willing to talk with student pro-democracy activists, but that their demand for open elections will never meet with approval from Beijing.

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PODCAST: Here's my video resume

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-10-16 03:00

First up, the Fed released new data on industrial production this morning. How will the markets react? Plus, Americans who've been out of work for months face an uphill battle getting hired. That's why 300 companies signed a White House pledge earlier this year to bring down some of the barriers faced by the long-term unemployed in this country. One company's approach is to forget resumes and turn to videos. And Mexico's been trying to attract foreign investment to help boost its economy, but the country's facing challenges. Corruption is big one. Violence is another. More on that.

The value of voicemail

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-10-16 02:00

Text messages, e-mails, missed phone calls, "Yo's — it's easier than ever to let someone know you want to get a hold of them. In many ways, the voicemail is a relic in the eyes of millennials and those younger, but a staple of etiquette for Gen X'ers and older.

This was the precise problem that Leslie Horn ran into with her mother. She just wouldn't stop leaving voicemails.

But then something happened that made her change the way she viewed the end of unanswered phone calls forever: her father passed away.

Upon the passing of her father, Horn's phone rang for months. Many of them ended at the machine.

It was here that she realized a few things about these messages. People often ended up saying more than they do in an actual conversation (in an endearing way), it's nice to hear a voice other than your own sometimes, and that there was a special place reserved for all the messages people left her throughout the years waiting in storage.

Old friends with stories, the occasional ramblings of a drunk dial, and one very special message for her birthday last year: A voicemail from her dad.

A push to hire the long-term unemployed

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-10-16 02:00

People who’ve been out of work for months often face an uphill battle getting hired. That’s why some 300 companies signed a White House pledge earlier this year to reduce hiring barriers for the three million job seekers who’ve been out of work 27 weeks or longer.

One company’s approach: Forget resumes; turn to videos.

Frontier Communications Corp. sells things like high speed internet and phone service. The company realized that resumes can’t always predict who’ll be good at selling its triple play packages. Jim Oddo was looking for soft skills.

Like the ability to delight the customer,” says Oddo, senior vice president of human resources. “How do you read that on a resume?”

So this year, Frontier has been moving from a resume-first hiring model to a video-first model. To do so, the company teamed up with a group called HireVue. As the system rolled out, applicants started answering a few questions on videos they could submit from their smartphones.

“So the very first evaluation that we would have of someone is how they communicated," Oddo says. "And then we would look at their resume."

Frontier’s needs dovetailed with the Obama Administration’s push to decrease employment barriers for the long-term unemployed. Oddo says Frontier hired more unemployed people this year, half of whom were long-term unemployed.

The White House is touting this strategy and others.

Mitchell Hirsch with the National Employment Law Project says otherwise qualified jobless applicants are sometimes rejected by automatic filters.

“So they’re being unfairly screened out,” he says. “Often without the direct knowledge of the hiring managers themselves.”

A new guide to hiring the long-term unemployed recommends removing those filters. 

For homebuilders, things are looking up...just a bit

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-10-16 02:00

The latest figures on builder confidence are out today. Tomorrow, the U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development report on housing starts and permits for September 2014 will be released. The consensus among economists is for a rise in both measures of homebuilding, compared to August figures.

Confidence among homebuilders is gradually improving, as unemployment falls and job creation has strengthened since the end of the recession, says David Crowe, chief economist at the National Association of Home Builders. Still, housing starts have only recovered to about half the level of the mid-2000s, before the housing crash.

From 2004 through early 2006, housing starts consistently numbered 2 million annually. So far in 2014, Crowe says, housing starts have bounced back and forth around the 1 million mark. Nonetheless, that’s a major improvement on construction levels at the depths of the recession, when housing starts fell below the 500,000 annual level.

“It’s pretty good now, from where we’ve been,” says Crowe of the current state of homebuilding.

Crowe points to several factors that are still holding back home construction. He points out that builders—those who are left in business after a severe winnowing of the industry following the housing crash—have a hard time securing financing, due to tight lending standards. They are also having trouble finding skilled construction workers, since so many left the field during the recession. Finally, land that has been prepared for development is scarce in many markets around the country.

Economist Stephanie Karol at IHS points out that the real estate market is still digesting a decade-old oversupply of new homes. “We saw a lot of overbuilding leading up to the crash,” says Karol. “There’s less of an incentive to add to the housing stock, especially when household formation is below expectations.” Young people have been delaying marriage, and eschewing major financial commitments, like getting a mortgage, since the recession hit. Many also face high levels of student loan debt.

David Crowe says the hottest sectors of the residential construction market right now are ‘move-up’ homes (in the $300,000-plus range) for those who already own, as well as multi-family housing, which has fully rebounded since the recession.

First-time homebuyers looking for new homes in the $125,000-$150,000 price range are having a harder time, he says.

“We have very tough lending standards,” says Crowe. “So even for people ready to buy, if they have the least ding on their credit, it gets more difficult.”

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