Friday Five: 3/20-3/24

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TGIF! Check out some of the top tech headlines from the past week before you head out:

Walmart Is Launching a Tech Incubator in Silicon Valley – Fortune
To stay ahead of retail tech trends, Walmart has launched its own tech incubator, Store No 8. The Silicon Valley center, coined as an “innovation cluster,” is encouraged to grow, think and invent independently of the nation’s largest retailer and its influence. Walmart hopes this incubator will modernize e-commerce strategy with the production of robots, artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality and other tech trends.

Instagram now has 1 million advertisers, will launch business booking tool this year – VentureBeat
Instagram announced Wednesday that it now hosts more than 1 million advertisers on the app each month, which is a 400 percent increase from last year’s numbers. This growth has inspired the app to create innovative ways for businesses to interact with consumers, such as the ability for users to book appointments directly through the app, which is set to appear later this year. Technology and improvements that convert fans and followers into paying customers are the app’s “next steps.”

Here’s everything Apple announced on Tuesday – Business Insider

Tuesday saw the release of multiple new Apple products – unaccompanied by a large media event. The company instead unveiled a handful of new products and some “refreshes” of existing models on their website. Among the new offerings were a 9.7-inch iPad, a special edition iPhone 7 (RED) benefiting HIV/AIDS prevention and research and product updates to Apple Watch bands and iPhone cases. Most notable was the release of Apple’s new app, Clips, which is described as a hybrid of both iMovie and Snapchat.

Facebook tests an enhanced local search and discovery feature offering business suggestions  – TechCrunch 
Facebook’s newest search feature is essentially an in-app Yelp. The enhanced search capabilities allow users to inquire about “dinner nearby” or “best bars in Chicago” within the app itself. The search results also come with star-ranked reviews, pricing, location and a list of friends that have visited – all similar to services like Yelp, Foursquare and Google Maps. This is currently in the testing stage, but users can expect to see it in the coming months.

AT&T and Johnson & Johnson Pull Ads From YouTube – New York Times
YouTube has found themselves in a not-so-pleasant situation. Industry giants Johnson & Johnson and AT&T have both opted to pull their ads from Google properties after being paired with sites that promote hate speech and extremist views. This comes after a series of European entities (the British government, The Guardian and GSK) pulled their ads for similar reasons. Google has promised an “extensive review” of their ad policies and pledges to give brands more control over ad placement in the future.

Tweet us your favorite tech story from the week @WalkerSands!

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Walker Sands Earns Spot on Clutch’s List of Leading Chicago Full Service Digital Agencies

We are excited to announce that Clutch, a research firm that identifies leading software and professional services, has named Walker Sands Digital as one of Chicago’s leading full service digital agencies. Last year we were given the same recognition in both Chicago and San Francisco. Making the list a second time is a true testament to the clients we get to work with and the talent our teams contribute.

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To qualify for the list, Clutch judged Walker Sands on industry awards and recognition, portfolio items, services provided and key clients. A team of Clutch analysts then reached out to our clients to collect additional information to help qualify us as one of the top digital agencies in Chicago. The client feedback was more than we could have asked for.

One client remarked:

Walker Sands’ project management skills across the board for our services are really top-notch. They are really easy to work with and open about our results. They provide weekly reports for our PPC efforts, so it’s really easy to keep a really good pulse on how we’re performing overall. The same goes for their SEO work.

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Later adding:

As soon as we give them a project, they really stick to their deadlines well, and the end product is always really well done. They keep me to my deadlines too, which is always appreciated.

We’ve been so fortunate to work together to build websites for clients like CloudCraze and Surgical Directions among others as well as an interactive micro-site for a cause for CompTIA. It’s great to be recognized by Clutch, and we mean it when we say we can’t do it without our clients.

Take a look at our full company profile to hear more from our clients and get an in depth view at how we were evaluated.

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[VIDEO] Why Walker Sands Works

At Walker Sands we take a holistic approach when it comes to client services, taking care from the beginning to integrate the most viable channels to generate satisfactory results. We started off as a small group of people in 2001, and set our goals high to bring together advanced digital marketing and public relations.

Sixteen years later we’ve successfully infused digital marketing and content campaigns into creative public relations, resulting in an integrated triple threat marketing agency. And it works.

In this latest video from Walker Sands, Mike Santoro, president, and Ellen Hanson, COO, weigh in on how our unique services set us apart from other agencies. Mike explains how we integrate our two strong points, media relations and digital marketing, to effectively create powerful integrated campaigns to generate leads for our clients. In the video Ellen adds that it’s our curiosity for learning about the latest innovations in marketing technology that empowers our work.

From our humble beginnings, to the passion we instill into our work, this video gives a holistic depiction of how we work with our clients to provide the best digital marketing services possible.

Discover why Walker Sands works in the full video here.

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Friday Five: 3/13-3/17

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Happy Friday and St. Patrick’s Day! Before you head out for the weekend, check out some of this week’s tech stories:

RIP Siri? You can use Alexa in Amazon’s app now, and it’s really smart – Mashable

Amazon launched Alexa in its official shopping app, which offers shopping suggestions and provides answers to any questions. (Some say its responses are better and more informative than Siri’s). The in-app A.I. technology is familiar to anyone who already has an Echo device and when asked a question reads out the answer instead of displaying text.

Vevo aims for more traction with Watch Party, a chatroom for queuing, watching videos – TechCrunch

Vevo, a leader in the music video hosting industry, introduced a new feature called Watch Party. This new social feature allows users to chat with each other, queue up songs and vote for songs in a collaborative group playlist. These are also seen as virtual “rooms” for listening to music so, bringing people together via a group-listening platform. This is the company’s attempt to draw users to its own properties instead of using Vevo only through YouTube.

Google starts flagging offensive content in search results – USA Today

Google is enlisting over 10,000 independent contractors to work as “quality raters.” These individuals aid Google algorithms by helping steer search results away from certain types of content, and this week Google announced the new task for these contractors is hunting for “upsetting-offensive” content. According to the company, this means limiting content such as hate or violence against a group of people, racial slurs or graphic violence to name a few. The goal is to deliver the most accurate information to users and provide less inflammatory results.

Twitter goes after Facebook and YouTube with streaming video move – Fortune

Twitter recently announced it will open up its application-programming interface allowing outside services to connect to the Twitter network to publish and push streamed video content. This solidifies the company’s promise after it shut down Vine last year that it wanted embedded video streaming instead of a standalone app. This move puts Twitter in the video industry alongside competitors like YouTube and Facebook.

Microsoft is infesting Windows 10 with annoying ads – The Verge

Microsoft is known for its up-to-date operating systems that often come at the expense of user control. However, the constantly updated systems are now embedded with more ads than ever. The newest Windows 10 update includes ads in the file explorer and task bar. These ads that come via notification when using built-in features are being seen as a distraction more than ever.

Tweet us your favorite tech story from the week @WalkerSands!

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Walker Sands Shortlisted for Crain’s Best Places to Work in Chicago

We are humbled to announce Walker Sands has been shortlisted for Crain’s Best Places to Work in Chicago! We are honored to be recognized among some of Chicago’s best companies.

Untitled designThis is a testament to how we have maintained a great work culture despite rapid growth over the last several years.  In 2016, we expanded Walker Sands by adding 21 new employees to our Chicago team and venturing out West with a new office in San Francisco.

Through all this growth, we continue to recognize the importance of a work culture where people feel at home and comfortable, but also empowered to do great work for our clients. Whether our employees are duking it out in our annual Lip Sync competition or giving each other company-wide shoutouts in the weekly newsletter, they embody our core values every day: learn, support, do.

Crain’s Chicago will announce its top 25 best companies to work on Thursday, April 6.. The winners will then be unveiled publicly in the Best Places to Work editorial feature of Crain’s Chicago on April 10.

Interested in learning more about our award-winning work culture? Check out the current job opportunities at Walker Sands here.

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