Amazon doles out freebies to juice sales of its own private-label products cracked down on fake reviews two years ago by prohibiting shoppers from getting free products directly from merchants in exchange for writing reviews. It was a major turning point for the world's largest online retailer, which had previously seen "incentivized reviews" as a key way for consumers to discover new products. Amazon changed course because it realized some merchants were using such reviews to game its search algorithm, undermining faith in the customer feedback that helps drive e-commerce. Amazon instead used its "Vine" program, in which Amazon serves as a middleman between prolific Amazon reviewers and vendors eager for exposure. Amazon would still allow freebies in exchange for feedback so long as there was no direct contact between its retail partners and reviewers, theoretically lessening the chance of quid-pro-quo. Amazon would select shoppers eligible for the program, and Amazon vendors would pay a fee and provide free products Continue reading "Amazon doles out freebies to juice sales of its own private-label products"

Toyota says it gets a boost when applying blockchain to digital ad buys

Toyota is accelerating its plans to use blockchain technology to root out fraud when buying digital ads. The automaker recently piloted a campaign after inking a deal with blockchain analytics outfit Lucidity, with hopes of making sure its ad dollars weren't going to waste. The end result was a 21 percent uptick in visits to Toyota's website when compared to similar ad buys it made without Lucidity tech, says Nancy Inouye, media director at Toyota Motor North America. Now the company plans to extend its deal with Lucidity beyond the originally planned three-week test. "We are in discussions to take it to the next step and [test] further with additional campaigns for a longer period of time," Inouye says. "We feel that if we go longer we would see stronger results." Continue reading at

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen dies at 65

Paul Allen, who co-founded Microsoft with Bill Gates and used the fortune he made from the iconic technology company to invest in professional sports teams, cable TV and real estate, has died. He was 65. Allen died on Monday in Seattle from complications of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, according to a statement from Vulcan Inc., his investment firm. Allen's source for his varied investments and sizable charitable donations was his once-major stake in Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft. He had a net worth of $26.1 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. He stepped down as an officer of the company in 1983 because he was grappling with Hodgkin's lymphoma. In 2009 Allen was treated for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, which in October 2018 he said had returned. Continue reading at

Walmart wants to expand digital video service Vudu with HBO, Showtime and more

Walmart is looking to create an online store that would sell other companies' video services, according to people familiar with the talks, opening up a new front in its fight with Amazon. The world's largest retailer has approached several media companies about reselling their streaming services, according to the people who asked not to be identified because the talks are private. The idea would be to let customers of Walmart's video service, Vudu, pay for additional services like HBO Now, Showtime or Starz. The discussions are still exploratory, and Walmart's plans may change. The retail giant is trying to convert its hundreds of millions of customers into users of online services, responding to changes in how those customers watch TV. DVD sales have declined for more than a decade, as customers trade discs for streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Continue reading at

Netflix earnings will test waters for tech giants after sell-off

Beleaguered technology investors are looking to Netflix to stop the bleeding. The company's earnings are poised to be even more closely watched than usual on Tuesday after last week's market rout. Netflix is one of the first major U.S. companies to report third-quarter results -- and 2018's best-performing FAANG stock -- making it especially influential in the wake of a drubbing that hit the tech giants hard. "Trends at Netflix, whether above or below expectations, will set the tone," MKM Partners analyst Rob Sanderson said in a note. Continue reading at

Palm plans comeback with tiny phone, Stephen Curry endorsement

Now that phones are half a foot long and sell for more than $1,000, a San Francisco-based upstart says it's time for a smaller companion phone with a throwback name: Palm. Starting next month, consumers can buy the credit card-sized Palm for $349 from Verizon Communications. Like a smartwatch, the Palm isn't designed to replace an iPhone -- it's more like an accessory for people who don't want to lug their main device to the gym or dinner. "You have your SUV or minivan, but sometimes you want to take a spin in your sports car," said Howard Nuk, a co-founder of the startup, Palm Ventures Group. Continue reading at

Adobe Photoshop is coming to Apple’s iPad in mobile-app push

Adobe unveiled a new generation of Photoshop that will be available on Apple's iPad for the first time, signaling an acceleration in the software maker's drive to boost sales with more mobile applications. Photoshop CC will be available to customers in 2019, the San Jose, California-based company said in a statement Monday. The announcement is the culmination of Adobe's long-held goal to bring its iconic image-editing program to mobile devices. Adobe has been on a multiyear journey to modernize its dominant creative media software, after shifting all of its apps to the cloud in 2012. With Photoshop CC, Adobe has stepped up its multi-device strategy to capture creative professionals and hobbyists who enjoy working on touchscreens. Continue reading at