Google Adds Quick Insights on Ad Performance and 'Keyword Themes' for Ad Targeting - Social Media Today

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Google Adds Quick Insights on Ad Performance and 'Keyword Themes' for Ad Targeting - Social Media TodayGoogle Adds Quick Insights on Ad Performance and 'Keyword Themes' for Ad Targeting - Social Media TodayPosted: 17 Jun 2020 12:00 AM PDTGoogle's looking to enhance its simplified Smart Campaigns offering by adding a new way to quickly check on your Google Ads performance, and a new listing of keywords to target, based on your products and services.First off is the new ad check - Google's made it easier to check your ad performance in the mobile app, with a simple search on Google itself. As you can see here, search for 'Google ads' or 'My Ads' and Google will provide you with a basic overview of how your campaigns are going, while you'll also be able to see how your ads look to others.As per Google:"If you want an efficient way of checking your ad status, this feature is for you. We've made our reporting features …

“The Virus Changed the Way We Internet - The New York Times” plus 1 more

“The Virus Changed the Way We Internet - The New York Times” plus 1 more


The Virus Changed the Way We Internet - The New York Times

Posted: 07 Apr 2020 12:00 AM PDT

Stuck at home during the coronavirus pandemic, with movie theaters closed and no restaurants to dine in, Americans have been spending more of their lives online.

But a New York Times analysis of internet usage in the United States from SimilarWeb and Apptopia, two online data providers, reveals that our behaviors shifted, sometimes starkly, as the virus spread and pushed us to our devices for work, play and connecting.

We are looking to connect and entertain ourselves, but are turning away from our phones

Facebook.com

Feb. 29

First U.S. Covid-19 death

Average daily traffic

Netflix.com

YouTube.com

YouTube.com

Facebook.com

Netflix.com

Feb. 29

First U.S. Covid-19 death

Average daily traffic

Netflix.com

YouTube.com

Facebook.com

Feb. 29

First U.S. Covid-19 death

Average daily traffic

Note: Averages are calculated with traffic numbers from each date and the six days preceding it in order to smooth out weekly variations (recreational internet use, for example, often spikes on the weekends). Percent change is from the average on Jan. 21 to the average on March 24. Daily app traffic is measured in sessions — the number of times the app is opened — and one user can have multiple sessions in a day. · Sources: SimilarWeb, Apptopia

With nearly all public gatherings called off, Americans are seeking out entertainment on streaming services like Netflix and YouTube, and looking to connect with one another on social media outlets like Facebook.

In the past few years, users of these services were increasingly moving to their smartphones, creating an industrywide focus on mobile. Now that we are spending our days at home, with computers close at hand, Americans appear to be remembering how unpleasant it can be to squint at those little phone screens.

Facebook, Netflix and YouTube have all seen user numbers on their phone apps stagnate or fall off as their websites have grown, the data from SimilarWeb and Apptopia indicates. SimilarWeb and Apptopia both draw their traffic numbers from several independent sources to create data that can be compared across the internet.

With the rise of social distancing, we are seeking out new ways to connect, mostly through video chat

Google Duo (app)

Nextdoor.com (web)

Feb. 29

First U.S. Covid-19 death

Average daily traffic

Houseparty (app)

Nextdoor.com (web)

Houseparty (app)

Google Duo (app)

Feb. 29

First U.S. Covid-19 death

Average daily traffic

Houseparty (app)

Google Duo (app)

Nextdoor.com (web)

Feb. 29

First U.S. Covid-19 death

Average daily traffic

Percent change is from the average on Jan. 21 to the average on March 24. App daily traffic is measured in "daily sessions." · Sources: SimilarWeb, Apptopia

While traditional social media sites have been growing, it seems that we want to do more than just connect through messaging and text — we want to see one another. This has given a big boost to apps that used to linger in relative obscurity, like Google's video chatting application, Duo, and Houseparty, which allows groups of friends to join a single video chat and play games together.

We have also grown much more interested in our immediate environment, and how it is changing and responding to the virus and the quarantine measures. This has led to a renewed interest in Nextdoor, the social media site focused on connecting local neighborhoods.

We have suddenly become reliant on services that allow us to work and learn from home

Daily app sessions for popular remote work apps

Feb. 29

First U.S. Covid-19 death

Google

Classroom

Microsoft Teams

VPN Super

Unlimited Proxy

Hangouts Meet by Google

Feb. 29

First U.S. Covid-19 death

Google Classroom

Microsoft Teams

VPN Super Unlimited Proxy

Hangouts Meet by Google

App popularity according to iOS App Store rankings on March 16-18. · Source: Apptopia

The offices and schools of America have all moved into our basements and living rooms. Nothing is having a more profound impact on online activity than this change. School assignments are being handed out on Google Classroom. Meetings are happening on Zoom, Google Hangouts and Microsoft Teams. The rush to these services, however, has brought new scrutiny on privacy practices.

The search for updates on the virus has pushed up readership for local and established newspapers, but not partisan sites

Percent change in average monthly U.S. traffic

Local News Sites

sfchronicle.com

seattletimes.com

bostonglobe.com

beaconjournal.com

Large Media Organizations

nytimes.com

washingtonpost.com

foxnews.com

Partisan Sites

dailykos.com

infowars.com

freebeacon.com

breitbart.com

truthdig.com

dailycaller.com

Local News Sites

sfchronicle.com

seattletimes.com

bostonglobe.com

beaconjournal.com

Large Media Organizations

nytimes.com

washingtonpost.com

foxnews.com

Partisan Sites

dailykos.com

infowars.com

freebeacon.com

breitbart.com

truthdig.com

dailycaller.com

March averages are through the 24th. · Source: SimilarWeb

Amid the uncertainty about how bad the outbreak could get — there are now hundreds of thousands of cases in the United States, with the number of dead multiplying by the day — Americans appear to want few things more than the latest news on the coronavirus.

Among the biggest beneficiaries are local news sites, with huge jumps in traffic as people try to learn how the pandemic is affecting their hometowns.

Americans have also been seeking out more established media brands for information on the public health crisis and its economic consequences. CNBC, the business news site, has seen readership skyrocket. The websites for The New York Times and The Washington Post have both grown traffic more than 50 percent over the last month, according to SimilarWeb.

The desire for the latest facts on the virus appears to be curbing interest in the more opinionated takes from partisan sites, which have defined the media landscape in recent years. Publications like The Daily Caller, on the right, and Truthdig on the left, have recorded stagnant or falling numbers. Even Fox News has seen disappointing numbers compared to other large outlets.

Beating all of the news sites, in terms of increased popularity, is the home page for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has been attracting millions of readers after previously having almost none. Over time, readers have also looked to more ambitious efforts to quantify the spread of the virus, like the one produced by the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

Average daily traffic

wikipedia.org

Feb. 29

First U.S. Covid-19 death

coronavirus.jhu.edu

wikipedia.org

Feb. 29

First U.S. Covid-19 death

coronavirus.jhu.edu

Averages are over the previous seven days. · Source: SimilarWeb

The single-minded focus on the virus has crowded out the broad curiosity that draws people to sites like Wikipedia, which had declining numbers before a recent uptick, data from SimilarWeb shows.

Video games have been gaining while sports have lost out

TikTok (app)

Twitch.tv (web)

Feb 29

First U.S. Covid-19 death

Average daily traffic

ESPN.com (web)

TikTok (app)

ESPN.com (web)

Twitch.tv (web)

Feb 29

First U.S. Covid-19 death

Average daily traffic

Twitch.tv (web)

TikTok (app)

ESPN.com (web)

Feb 29

First U.S. Covid-19 death

Average daily traffic

Percent change is from the average on Jan. 21 to the average on March 24. One user can have multiple sessions in a day. · Sources: SimilarWeb, Apptopia

With all major-league games called off, there hasn't been much sports to consume beyond marble racing and an occasional Belarusian soccer match. Use of ESPN's website has fallen sharply since late January, according to SimilarWeb.

At the same time, several video game sites have had surges in traffic, as have sites that let you watch other people play. Twitch, the leading site for streaming game play, has had traffic shoot up 20 percent.

TikTok, the mobile app filled with short clips of pranks and lip-syncing, was taking off before the coronavirus outbreak and it has continued its steady ascent ever since. It can be nice to see that at least some things remain unchanged by the crisis.

Xiaomi Is Recording Everything About Your Private Phone Usage: Searches, Screens, Folders, Websites! - Trak.in

Posted: 01 May 2020 01:30 AM PDT

Xiaomi Is Recording Everything About Your Private Phone Usage: Searches, Screens, Folders, Websites!

Xiaomi Is Recording Everything About Your Private Phone Usage: Searches, Screens, Folders, Websites!

Gabi Cirlig told Forbes that his new Redmi Note 8 smartphone was spying on him by watching much of what he was doing on the phone. 

Read to find out more…

The Story That Will Shake All the Xiaomi Users To the Core!

Gabi Cirlig, a cybersecurity researcher jokingly told Forbes, "It's a backdoor with phone functionality."  

The collected data was then being sent to remote servers hosted by another Chinese tech giant, Alibaba, which were apparently rented by Xiaomi. 

Cirlig found a massive amount of his behavior was being tracked, while various kinds of device data was also being sent. Unnerved Cirlig discovered that his identity and his private life was being exposed to the Chinese company.

When he searched the internet on the device's default Xiaomi browser, it recorded all the websites he visited, including search engine queries whether with Google or the privacy-focused DuckDuckGo, and every item viewed on a news feed feature of the Xiaomi software. 

The creepiest part is that the  tracking appeared to be happening even if he used the private 'incognito' mode.

His smartphone was also recording what folders he opened and to which screens he swiped, including the status bar and the settings page. All of the data was being packaged up and sent to remote servers in Singapore and Russia, though the Web domains they hosted were registered in Beijing.

When another cybersecurity researcher, Andrew Tierney investigated, he also found browsers shipped by Xiaomi on Google Play—Mi Browser Pro and the Mint Browser— were collecting the same data. According to Google Play statistics, together they have more than 15 million downloads.

Cirlig describes this as a serious privacy issue and that many more millions are likely to be affected. Cirlig thinks that the problems affect many more models than the one he tested. 

He downloaded firmware for other Xiaomi phones—including the Xiaomi MI 10, Xiaomi Redmi K20 and Xiaomi Mi MIX 3 devices. He then confirmed they had the same browser code, leading him to suspect they had the same privacy issues as well.

The Chinese company claims the data was being encrypted when transferred in an attempt to protect user privacy. However, Cirlig found he was able to quickly see just what was being taken from his device by decoding a chunk of information that was hidden with a form of easily crackable encoding, known as base64. Hence it can be assumed that there are issues with how Xiaomi is transferring the data to its servers. It took Cirlig just a few seconds to change the garbled data into readable chunks of information.

Cirlig warned, "My main concern for privacy is that the data sent to their servers can be very easily correlated with a specific user."

Cirlig also discovered that Xiaomi's music player app on his phone was collecting information on his listening habits: what songs were played and when.

One message was clear to the researcher: when you're listening, Xiaomi is listening, too.

Xiaomi's claim-to fame is its cheap devices that have many of the same qualities as higher-end smartphones. But for customers, that low cost could come with a hefty price: their privacy.

What Does Xiaomi Have to Say?

Xiaomi is one of the top four smartphone makers in the world by market share, behind Apple, Samsung and Huawei valued at $50 billion. 

Xiaomi responded to the findings by saying, 'The research claims are untrue,' and 'Privacy and security is of top concern,' adding that it 'strictly follows and is fully compliant with local laws and regulations on user data privacy matters.' 

However a company spokesperson confirmed it was collecting browsing data, claiming the information was anonymized so wasn't tied to any identity. They said that users had authorized such tracking. 

As highlighted by Cirlig and Tierney, it wasn't just the website or Web search that was sent to the server but collection of the data about the phone, including unique numbers for identifying the specific device and Android version. Cirlig said such metadata could 'easily be correlated with an actual human behind the screen.'

Xiaomi's spokesperson also denied that browsing data was being recorded under incognito mode though both Cirlig and Tierney did find in their independent tests that their web habits were sent off to remote servers regardless of what mode the browser was set to, providing both photos and videos as proof.

Forbes presented their proof to Xiaomi with a video made by Cirlig showing how his Google search for 'porn' and a visit to the site PornHub were sent to remote servers, even when in incognito mode, the company spokesperson continued to deny that the information was being recorded. "This video shows the collection of anonymous browsing data, which is one of the most common solutions adopted by internet companies to improve the overall browser product experience through analyzing non-personally identifiable information," they added.

The cybersecurity researchers said Xiaomi's behavior was more 'prying' in nature than other browsers like Google Chrome or Apple Safari. Tierney said,  "It's a lot worse than any of the mainstream browsers I have seen. Many of them take analytics, but it's about usage and crashing. Taking browser behavior, including URLs, without explicit consent and in private browsing mode, is about as bad as it gets."

Cirlig also suspected that his app use was being monitored by Xiaomi, as every time he opened an app, a chunk of information would be sent to a remote server. 

Another researcher who'd tested Xiaomi devices, under an NDA, said he'd seen the manufacturer's phone collect such data. 

Xiaomi Searching for Reasons to Cover Their Snooping?

Xiaomi has justified their 'surveillance' with another reason: to better understand its users' behavior. 

The company is using the services of a behavioral analytics company called Sensors Analytics. As described in Pitchbook, a tracker of company funding, Sensors Analytics is a 'provider of an in-depth user behavior analysis platform and professional consulting services.' Its tools help its clients in 'exploring the hidden stories behind the indicators in exploring the key behaviors of different businesses.' Xiaomi is also listed as a customer on Sensors Data's website.

The founder and CEO of Sensors Data, Sang Wenfeng, has a long history in tracking users. According to his company bio, at Chinese internet giant Baidu he built a big data platform for Baidu user logs.

Both Cirlig and Tierney found their Xiaomi apps were sending data to domains that appeared to reference Sensors Analytics, including the repeated use of SA. When they clicked on one of the domains, the page displayed one sentence: "Sensors Analytics is ready to receive your data!"  There was an API called SensorDataAPI—an API (application programming interface) being the software that allows third parties access to app data. 

Xiaomi's spokesperson confirmed its business with Sensors Analytics saying, "While Sensors Analytics provides a data analysis solution for Xiaomi, the collected anonymous data are stored on Xiaomi's own servers and will not be shared with Sensors Analytics, or any other third-party companies."

Are Many Other Chinese Tech Companies Spying like Xiaomi?

This is the 2nd time in the past 2 months that a huge Chinese tech company has been seen watching over users' phone habits. 

A security app with a 'private' browser made by Cheetah Mobile, a public company listed on the New York Stock Exchange, was seen collecting information on Web use, Wi-Fi access point names and more granular data like how a user scrolled on visited Web pages. Cheetah argued it needed to collect the information to protect users and improve their experience.

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