For all kinds of industries, future success hinges on mobile advertising -- those little pop ups and banner ads that appear when you are using an app on your cellphone or tablet.
But as ads shrink to fit our mobile screens, are they still grabbing our attention?
“We dedicate about one-tenth of our attention to mobile ads but only one-hundreth of our advertising spending goes to mobile," says Derek Thompson, business editor at the Atlantic who wrote in the March issue on why mobile ads are nowhere near as effective as they need to be.
According to Thompson, that lack of mobile spending amounts to a $20 billion gap and a budding crisis for news and entertainment companies that rely on ad revenue to do business.
Thompson says there are two primary reasons for the failure of mobile ads -- one technological and one cultural.
1. Mobile ad tracking is "dumb". The technology to track smartphone behavior is way behind traditional Internet tracking. Companies that invest in mobile ads therefore don't have a lot of data on who's clicking what, when, and why.
2. Mobile ads are an unexpected nuisance. Unlike TV commercials or magazine ad spreads, people aren't used to ads popping up while they play a mobile game or read articles in their news app. Mobile ads don't have the same cache as radio, tv, or print where you might actually stop what you are doing to hear or look at a commercial.
To hear more about the future of mobile ads, click on the audio player above.
Global stock markets are falling this morning after Italian voters gave the world's eighth largest economy a dose of political uncertainty. Preliminary results indicate no political party won a clear majority in parliament.
The BBC's Mark Duff in Milan joins Marketplace Morning Report host Jeremy Hobson to discuss what the deadlock means for a country caught between forward-looking austerity reforms and current economic hardship.
Governments spying on each other is nothing new. Nor is corporate spying: The U.S. textile industry began after American industrial spies stole factory plans from 18th century Britain.
But Dan McWhorter, managing director of cyber security firm Mandiant, says the scale of China’s state-sponsored theft of data from U.S. companies is unprecedented and difficult for a democratic society to grasp.
"There’s such a firm divide between government and corporation, that it’s hard to wrap your head around," says McWhorter. "In a communist government, the government and industry are tied together and they’re hard to distinguish at times."
Innovation at all costs is what China is after, says James McGregor, author of No Ancient Wisdom, No Followers: The Challenge of China’s Authoritarian Capitalism:
"It’s hard to understand why China wants to face the world with what appears to almost be an economic war footing," says McGregor.
Equally confounding, says McGregor, is the deafening silence on the part of U.S. businesses that have been hacked.
The Mandiant report says Chinese hackers stole terabytes of data from Coca-Cola, yet the company isn’t talking about it. It’s a typical response, says McGregor, for companies who don’t want to upset their sales in China.
"By hiding under a rock and pretending it’s not happening while at the same time they’re hugely threatened, all they’re doing is inviting more of it to happen," says McGregor.
McGregor says a more appropriate response would be to tackle the issue head-on without initially making China lose face.
"If those companies had held a press conference that said ‘we’ve been hacked out of China, the Chinese government says they’re not involved in this, so we’re going to take them at face value and we’re having this press conference to ask the Chinese government to help us figure out who did this and put a stop to it,'" McGregor says, then the onus is on China to do something about it.
Or you can let the U.S. government do it.
Obama administration officials say they are planning to tell China’s new leaders in coming weeks that the volume and sophistication of the attacks have become so intense that they threaten the fundamental relationship between Washington and Beijing.
We know Google plans to make its high tech spectacles called Google Glass available this year. The price tag: about $1,500 a pair. But are these lens-less frames really a technological revolution?
"It's cool for a piece of technology," says Joshua Topolsky, editor and chief of The Verge, who took an official test run of the specs around New York City. But "it has to transcend a piece of technology because you are wearing it on your face."
Though Topolsky says the average person may not be quick to don Google Glass -- at least in its current state -- partnerships with companies like Rayban or Warby Parker could help win over mainstream users.
And then there are slick new features which could interest more than just tech geeks. Glass makes use of Google's Knowledge Graph which serves up instant, easy-to-read information when you search.
"If you ask for the weather, it won't just give you links to the weather, it will show you what the weather is on a nice stylized card," explains Topolsky.
To hear more about Google Glass, click on the audio player above.
High speed Internet in cars could soon become a feature as common as satellite radio or CD players. General Motors and AT&T have announced that so-called "LTE" wireless connections will come as an option in many Chevys, Buicks, Cadillacs, and GMC's next year.
Live traffic maps, Internet radio, and streaming movies are just the beginning for car interiors that could soon could be dominated by apps.
Ford and BMW already have something like this, as does Audi. If the GM deal finally produces a critical mass of "internetobiles," what you have is a big opportunity or a big threat for regular FM and AM radio stations that also cherish the in-car audience.
Molly Wood, executive editor at CNET, joins Marketplace Tech host David Brancaccio from Barcelona's Mobile World Congress meeting to discuss the future of car radio.
This final note on the way out. We did a thing a couple of months ago about beer, and how you could tell a lot about a person's politics by the beverage they choose.
Today, the non-alcoholic version. The polling group Public Policy Polling has some new data. Democrats apparently choose regular sodas over diet: 47 percent to 31. Republicans go 42 percent for diet, 34 for regular. Coke beats Pepsi no matter how you vote.
And soda beats beer. Which just beats me.