Here’s What It’s Going to Take for Democrats to Take Back the House in 2018

Bannon is on the defensive. There’s red dread and blue hope. But election data nerds say Dems must do even more next year.

What a difference one special election makes! Following Tuesday’s historic victory by Democrat Doug Jones in Alabama’s Senate race, Democrats and Republicans—to say nothing of pundits and election data-crunchers—have been revisiting old assumptions about 2018 and 2020.

Most visibly, the radical reactionary Republicans who backed Roy Moore—led by white nationalist and Breitbart News chief Steve Bannon—are on the defensive. Bannon, who never stopped himself from throwing mud before, complained about the Democrat’s “new model” of smearing his Breitbart-branded patriots. Of course, mainstream media, had a villainous role.

“I think the new model is they’re going to come at people with personal attacks and just overwhelm them with media—and you got to remember this wasn’t supported, this was triggered by the establishment,” Bannon said on Wednesday night on his national radio show, referring to The Washington Post reporting of Moore’s habit of preying on teenage girls. “They’re the ones that triggered all this stuff on Moore.”

His guest on Breitbart News Tonight, Pat Caddell, went even further into the us-versus-them, real patriots-versus-establishment shills divide that is likely to resurface in 2018’s GOP congressional primaries. (Caddell is a pollster who, four decades ago, helped elect Democrat Jimmy Carter; but in recent years has backed Donald Trump and white-America centered populism.)

“Understand this,” he intoned. “We’re watching how they are developing to handle the revolt, if you will, or the rebellion; you put it down. And that is to work in concert with the mainstream media. Even Republicans are doing this, as well as the Democratic establishment, to squeeze this out, and they will use it to attack candidates who are unworthy… But as people come forth to take back their country, we’re going to have to find way to protect, to give cover to these people… [from others] trying to take them out.”

The Bannon mob usually isn’t this defensive. But after Alabama, they have plenty to worry about, even if not what they’re fixating on. Alabama saw an unprecedented numbers of whites vote for a Democrat—especially those under 44 and suburban women, instead of reflexively for a Republican.  

That is a break-the-mold political development. It was one of many metrics from the Alabama election that create a new landscape of blue hope and red dread. Another is Alabama counties with majorities of registered Democrats showed up in much larger percentages to vote than GOP majority counties.

This raises a question that some of the country’s best respected election data crunchers and forecasters have been debating since Tuesday: How big of a popular vote majority do Democrats need in 2018 to win back the House?

At Sabato’s Crystal Ball, named after Larry Sabato, who decades ago took the helm at the University of Virginia Center for Politics, a rather dense post by Alan Abramowitz concluded, “a popular vote margin of between three and four points would be large enough for this purpose.”

The reason that Democrats cannot win elections simply with 50 percent plus one is because many House districts have been gerrymandered, which means their boundaries were drawn based on segregating each parties most reliable voters. The GOP did this in a dozen states in 2011 that resulted in Congress and state legislatures being under their control for most of this decade. So Abramowitz is saying that 53-to-54 percent of registered Democrats must vote in November 2018 for their party to win 24 seats to take the House.

Other election data nerds quickly pounced on that figure as too slim in Twitter posts.

“I thought it was more?” replied David Leonhardt, a New York Times columnist. 

“This is way too low. More like 7-8%,” tweeted David Wasserman, the U.S. House editor for The Cook Political Report.

“Totally agree. I don’t have numbers in front of me but I’ve looked at this specific w before. It’s basically 7.25% by which Dems need to win national vote for Congress in order to overcome gerrymandering. Chew on that…” tweeted Jeremy Kalin, a former Minnesota legislator.

Then came FiveThirtyEight.com’s Harry Enten, who tweeted, “Lots of discussion in nerd Twitter on just how much Dems need to win House vote by in order to win majority of seats. Here’s what I wrote in Feb 2017.”

That analysis is worth reposting, because it says Dems need an 8-point popular vote edge to breach the GOP’s gerrymander advantage.

“The median congressional district was 5.5 percentage points more Republican-leaning in the presidential race than the nation as a whole in 2016, meaning Democrats are essentially spotting the GOP 5.5 points in the battle for control of the House,” Enten wrote. “And even that may be underestimating Republicans ability to win a majority of seats without a majority of the vote. Since 2012 (or when most states instituted the current House district lines), Republicans have won, on average, 51 percent of the two-party House vote and 55 percent of House seats. If that difference holds for 2018, Democrats would need to win the House popular vote by about 8 percentage points to win half the House seats.”

Why do these figures matter? Because as some of these same election data crunchers pour over the exit polls and other results from Alabama and every other big election in 2017, it appears that the Democratic wave is right on the brink of closely winning (like in Alabama) or losing (as Jon Ossoff did by a few points in Georgia’s sixth congressional district last spring.)

“In six 2017 special elections, Dems have been outperforming their @CookPolitical PVI-suggested share of the vote by an average of 9%,” tweeted Wasserman on Friday.

So, if Democrats have been turning out by 9 percent more than expected, how come they haven’t swept every race this year—you might ask? The answer is the gerrymandering advantage, which these analysts have been debating, is at the starting line of the process. But there are other intentional barriers that await Democrats at the finish line, where Republicans passed laws and regulations to undermine turnout. The biggest is stricter voter ID requirements to get a polling place ballot, which congressional analysts have said peels off 2-to-3 percent of likely turnout. (Academics say it’s more). There’s other tactics too, such as limiting early voting opportunities, complicating registration, illegally purging infrequent voters, etc.

Alabama’s senate election was the perfect capstone to a year where Democratic candidates and voters increasingly were getting their mojo back. Bannon and his right-wing rabble should be worried, because, as Dems are getting organized and are more optimistic, the Republicans are rife with intra-party strife, deeply unpopular policies and an unstable president.

However, Democrats, progressives and independents need to know the scale of the barriers that await in 2018. Because as much as the opposition party turned around and regained momentum in 2017, more will be needed next year to retake Congress and put a big red stop sign before the GOP.    

 

 

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Is Sea of Thieves an MMORPG?

Sea of Thieves wasn’t high on my radar until its release this week. But the headlines of servers crashing due to too many players strongly reminded me of, well, every MMORPG launch ever. So I was wondering whether the description of “multiplayer action adventure” meant that it was something completely different than a MMORPG, or whether Sea of Thieves basically is a MMORPG and they just changed the label because MMORPG isn’t fashionable any more.

I am wondering if this is something I should buy. However the game is not on Steam, and as we all know, PC games that are not on Steam basically aren’t real. 🙂 And buying a game at full price at release when everybody is complaining about overloaded servers and lack of content doesn’t feel like a good idea. I’d really like to have a better idea about the gameplay first: How necessary is PvP? How twitchy is the gameplay? Et cetera, et cetera.

Anybody here playing who can give me advice?

Civilization VI

I haven’t played Civilization VI yet. I am a fan of the series. But I have too many games and too little time, and I didn’t want to pay full price for yet another iteration of the same game. I was still waiting for the price to come down below $30 when I got the news that the full Civ 6 game has been ported to iOS. Yes, you need a newer iPad to play and it is battery-hungry, but it is the *full* Civ 6, not a toned down mobile version. That is pretty remarkable. So I downloaded the game for free, which lets you play 60 turns with the Chinese empire to see how it works. And then I balked at buying the full version for $60. I didn’t even want to pay that for the PC version, and for an iOS game that is very expensive.

So while I was still pondering what to do, I got another piece of news: You can this month get Civilization VI (PC version) plus 2 expansions plus a collection of other games in the Humble Bundle Monthly for $12. That is basically a subscription service where you pay $12 per month to get a bundle of games every month. But if you only want Civ 6 you can of course unsubscribe after 1 month. As this is the lowest I have ever seen Civ 6 go for, I ended up buying the game that way.

Not sure when I will get around to actually play it, I am still very busy with Zelda – Breath of the Wild. But as an opportunity to get Civ 6 cheap this is certainly worth mentioning. The offer is available until the end of the month.

Scientists Have Just Beaten Down the Best Climate Denial Argument

Even the best contrarian arguments against climate change have not withstood scientific scrutiny.

Climate deniers have come up with a lot of arguments about why we shouldn’t worry about global warming—about 200 of them—but most are quite poor, contradictory and easily debunked by consulting the peer-reviewed scientific literature. The cleverest climate contrarians settle on the least implausible argument—that equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS, how much a doubling of the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will increase Earth’s surface temperature) is low, meaning that the planet will warm relatively slowly in response to human carbon pollution.

But they have to explain how that can be the case, because there are a lot of factors that amplify global warming. For example, a warmer atmosphere holds more water vapor, which is itself a greenhouse gas, adding further warming. Warming also melts ice, leaving Earth’s surface less reflective, absorbing more sunlight. There are a number of these amplifying ‘feedbacks,’ but few that would act to significantly slow global warming.

Clouds are one possible exception because they both act to amplify global warming (being made of water vapor) and dampen it (being white and reflective). Which effect wins out depends on the type of cloud, and so whether clouds act to accelerate or slow global warming depends on exactly how the formation of different types of clouds changes in a hotter world. That’s hard to predict, so many contrarians have wishfully argued that clouds will essentially act as a thermostat to control global warming.

Research suggests if anything, clouds amplify global warming

A new study published in Nature by Stanford scientists Patrick Brown and Ken Caldeira found that so far, the global climate models that best simulate the Earth’s global energy imbalance tend to predict the most future global warming. These results suggest the ECS is around 3.7°C. This is higher than the previous best estimate of 3.1°C, and if correct, would shrink our carbon budget by about 15 percent.

The study found that the biggest contributor to the difference between the accurate and inaccurate models was in how well they simulated cloud changes. And while it’s just one study, several prior papers arrived at similar conclusions.

For example, a 2010 study published in the Journal of Climate found that climate models that most accurately simulate recent cloud cover changes in the east Pacific point to an amplifying effect on global warming and thus a more sensitive climate. Another 2010 study by Andrew Dessler using satellite observations showed that in the short-term, clouds likely amplify global warming, though the long-term effect may be different.

In 2012, a paper published in Science by John Fasullo and Kevin Trenberth of the National Center for Atmospheric Research found that similar to the new Nature study, climate models that most accurately simulated observed cloud changes are also the ones that are most sensitive to the increased greenhouse effect. 

Similarly, a 2014 paper published in Nature found that the least sensitive climate models incorrectly simulate water vapor being drawn up into the atmosphere to form clouds in a warmer world. In reality, as lead author Steve Sherwood explains in the video below, scientists observe water vapor being pulled away from those higher cloud-forming levels of the atmosphere.

Contrarian arguments have not withstood scientific scrutiny

Former MIT scientist Richard Lindzen (one of the most often cited, and most often wrong contrarian climate scientists) was among the first to argue that clouds act as a climate thermostat. He developed a hypothesis in 2001 that as the atmosphere warms, the area covered by cirrus clouds will contract like the iris of an eye to allow more heat to escape into space, thus slowing global warming. His ‘iris hypothesis’ was quickly disproved by subsequent research, but that hasn’t stopped climate contrarians from continuing to make the argument.

More recently, other contrarian scientists have used a combination of climate models and recent observational data to similarly argue that Earth’s climate is relatively insensitive to the increased greenhouse effect (they call these “observational estimates” of ECS). This group often likes to refer to themselves as ‘lukewarmers,’ but really they just cherry pick this one way to estimate ECS because it seemed to yield a relatively low result, while ignoring the other methods that point toward a significantly more sensitive climate.

Over the past two years, climate scientists have identified several flaws in the method that yielded lower estimates of ECS. At this year’s American Geophysical Union conference – the largest gathering of climate and Earth scientists every December – there was a session devoted to this very topic. As one of the presenting climate scientists Andrew Dessler put it:

There’s still significant uncertainty about how clouds will respond to global warming, but the evidence points to an amplifying effect, or at least not a significant dampening. The new Nature study adds to the mountain of evidence ruling out the contrarian argument for an insensitive climate. Clouds aren’t going to save us; only rapid cuts in carbon pollution can do that.

 

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Deal Spotlight: Codeanywhere lets you write apps from any place for 92 percent off

If you want to be able to write code for apps from any location, you have to check out Codeanywhere. This cloud-based development service lets you create code if you have any Android or iOS smartphone or tablet, or if you have access to a web browser.

Normally, a lifetime freelancer subscription to Codeanywhere would cost you a whopping $1,260. However, this week Android Authority readers have the price cut down to just $89, a savings of 92 percent. The fine print is that technically this price will give you access for three years, but the good news is that when that expiration arrives, you just have to email the company at [email protected] and it will renew that three year subscription for free. You will have to do this move every 3 years, but if you do, this subscription will be renewed for free as long as you live.

Codeanywhere offers support for over 75 programming languages, so the chances are that anything you use will be available from this service. Autocomplete support is also available for HTML, XML, CSS, JavaScript, Python & PHP languages. It lets you connect to up to 50 FTP servers, along with pairing support for when you want to collaborate on a coding project with a friend. You can connect your code to  FTP, SFTP, Dropbox, Google Drive and other services, and you can run any command on your container or remote servers by using SSH. 

You can view different versions of your code in Codeanywhere to pinpoint disparities between each of your saves and you can choose from a large number of predefined dev stacks. Finally, you can quickly connect to any of your existing Git repositories.

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A ‘Security Robot’ for the Homeless Has Already Been Tried—It Didn’t Go Well

The 400lb machine that once patrolled outside the San Francisco SPCA prompted a backlash, as some argued its real mission was to drive people away.

To some who are homeless, San Francisco’s latest security robot was a rolling friend on five wheels that they called “R2-D2 Two”. To others living in tents within the droid’s radius, it was the “anti-homeless robot”.

For a month, the 400lb, bullet-shaped bot patrolled outside the not-for-profit San Francisco SPCA animal shelter, rolling around the organization’s parking lots and sidewalks, capturing security video and reading up to 300 license plates per minute. Homeless people who pitched their tents in an alleyway nearby complained they felt the beeping, whirring droid’s job was to run them off.

“We called it the anti-homeless robot,” said John Alvarado, who was one of numerous people camping next to the animal shelter when the robot arrived. He said he quickly decided to move his tent half a block away: “I guess that was the reason for the robot.”

Officials of both the SF SPCA and Knightscope, who rented the robot to the shelter, denied that the intention was to dislodge homeless encampments.

“The SPCA has the right to protect its property, employees and visitors, and Knightscope is dedicated to helping them achieve this goal,” Knightscope said in a statement.

SF SPCA staff members said the facility had been plagued with break-ins, staff members had been harassed as they went to the parking lot and sidewalks were littered with hypodermic needles. Jennifer Scarlett, the SF SPCA president, said in a release that her organization “was exploring the use of a robot to prevent additional burglaries at our facility and to deter other crimes that frequently occur on our campus – like car break-ins, harassment, vandalism, and graffiti – not to disrupt homeless people”.

But after complaints about the program were shared widely on social media, the organization quickly admitted it had made a mistake in its choice of security guards – and fired the robot.

“Since this story has gone viral, we’ve received hundreds of messages inciting violence and vandalism against our facility, and encouraging people to take retribution,” said Scarlett, noting that their campus had since been vandalized twice. “We are taking this opportunity to reflect on the ‘teachable moment’.”

Some of the homeless people who crossed paths with the white security robot, which bore images of dogs and cats, as it patrolled outside of San Francisco SPCA this month thought it was a cute and a positive addition to the area.

TJ Thornton, whose tent is still pitched across the street from the shelter’s parking lot, nicknamed the bot “R2-D2 Two”. He liked how the machine made little whistling sounds as it moved along the sidewalk and how it would even say “hello” if you walked past it.

Thornton said he thought the bot had a positive influence on the neighborhood and relieved the pressure on local homeless people to always keep an eye on cars parked nearby. “People living on the streets actually watch out for the cars. If anyone does anything stupid, like breaking into cars, it reflects on us.”

Others saw the robot as Big Brother, surveilling their every move with video cameras. “That SPCA robot was the bane of our existence,” said Lexi Evans, 26, who has been living on San Francisco’s streets for 13 years. “It was driving us crazy.”

She said her group of friends had a tent encampment behind the SPCA. When they first saw the robot looking at them, they found it creepy. Then they noticed its white light flashing and thought it was recording their every move on video. Later they observed police officers coming to interact with the robot and wondered whether it was feeding information to law enforcement.

“We started feeling like this thing was surveilling us for the police,” said Evans, whose whole tent encampment has now moved around the block outside another business. “That’s officially invasion of privacy. That’s uncool.”

Evans said that once, someone became so angry with the thing that they knocked it over. The robot made a “whee-ooh wah” sound.

In another instance, somebody “put a tarp over it, knocked it over and put barbecue sauce on all the sensors”, Scarlett, the SPCA president, told the San Francisco Business Times.

Trouble really started for the robot last week, when the city issued an order for it to stay off the public sidewalk or face a daily penalty of up to $1,000 for operating in the public right of way without a permit. Then the story hit the internet, with Scarlett telling the Business Times that “from a walking standpoint, I find the robot much easier to navigate than an encampment”.

But by Friday, SF SPCA was apologizing for having brought in the machine.

“We regret that our words were ill-chosen. They did not properly convey the pilot program’s intent and they inaccurately reflected our values,” said Scarlett. “We are a nonprofit that is extremely sensitive to the issues of homelessness.”

Knightscope’s robots have gotten into trouble in other cities. Last year, a similar robot allegedly ran over a 16-month-old toddler at the Stanford Shopping Center in the town of Palo Alto, causing minor injuries. Another Knightscope security robot became famous on social media for drowning itself in the fountain of the Washington DC office complex it was policing.

“I already miss it,” said Danica Dito, who works in the SPCA administrative offices. “Just the fact that it rolled around discouraged crime.”

 

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Rage of Demons: Session 5

In the previous session the group left Gracklstugh and traveled to Neverlight Grove. As they had spent two sessions in Gracklstugh, I thought I could at the very least fill one full session with the events in Neverlight Grove. Unfortunately I was wrong, and and we had a short session due to me running out of prepared material. My bad!

The myconids of Neverlight Grove are a peaceful people, organized into circles. Even their “hunter circle” doesn’t actually kill things, but just collects corpses of anything that dies close to the village and uses them as fertilizer. So the group’s first encounter with the myconids (other than their travel companions Stool and Rumpadump) was after they killed a Shambling Mound near the village, and the “hunters” turned up and asked politely if they could collect it. That got the group a friendly welcome to the village, and a quest to kill another monster which was attacking myconids outside the village.

I had some commercial poster battlemaps of Underdark caves, and used one of them for this fight against a Grick alpha. What I hadn’t noticed was that on the map there was a pond with treasure chests visible at the bottom. So after the fight the group wanted to lift those chests, and I didn’t want to spoil their fun and say there weren’t any. So I let them roll on the appropriate treasure table in the DM’s Guide, and they ended up with a Figurine of Wondrous Power (Ebony Fly). Nice, but not overpowered.

Back in the village the group interacted with the myconids and learned that they were split in two factions. The “normal” ones were a bit naive, friendly, and not very emotional. The others were overly enthusiastic, dancing around, and awaiting a great event for tomorrow in the Garden of Welcome. They were asked not to go to the garden so as to not spoil the surprise, so of course they went.

That resulted in several fights against infected myconids and other creatures. Ultimately the group discovered yet another demon lord, Zuggtmoy, who apparently is preparing her wedding to the “Great Body”. Various infected plant creatures serve as chamberlains and bridesmaids in some sort of perverted wedding ceremony. But it is rather obvious that the group can’t stop the wedding without fighting the “bride”, and they aren’t strong enough to tackle demon lords yet. While the un-infected myconids flee, the group decides that they should do the same, and travel on towards Blingdenstone.

Here is how tech companies are responding to the repeal of net neutrality

Save the Internet

Unless you’ve been in living under a rock the past several months, you knew that a vote on net neutrality was coming. It played out just as everyone suspected and the FCC voted to reclassify internet service providers like Comcast, Spectrum, and Verizon. The vote removed restrictions on the companies that many felt were vital to an open and fair internet.

Here are how some large tech companies are reacting the vote.

Google

Google is a proponent of net neutrality and has repeatedly voiced its support of it in the past. In a statement released to news organizations after the vote, Google pledges to continue to follow the policies of net neutrality. Here is its statement in full:

We remain committed to the net neutrality policies that enjoy overwhelming public support, have been approved by the courts, and are working well for every part of the internet economy. We will work with other net neutrality supporters large and small to promote strong, enforceable protections.

Facebook

Facebook is another company that voice support for strong net neutrality regulations. Many fear that with the repeal of net neutrality, world-changing companies like Facebook may never be able to sprout up. Facebook’s COO released the following statement after the vote:



Netflix

As the largest video streaming service on the internet, Netflix has a vested interest making sure people are able to stream their content. Even though the company has seemingly waffled on its net neutrality, it came out with a firm statement stating, “We’re disappointed in the decision to gut #NetNeutrality.” Here is the company’s full statement:

Amazon

Amazon is another of the tech giants that stood behind net neutrality. With its repeal, Amazon’s Chief Technology Officer took to Twitter to share his statement:

Microsoft

Microsoft is a staunch supporter of net neutrality, saying earlier this year, “Without an open internet, broadband internet access service providers gain the power to outright prevent edge content and services from reaching their customers, levy tolls on edge providers and customers for access to edge content and services, and pick winners and losers in the internet economy, thus subjecting edge provider success to the control of broadband internet access services providers rather than the forces of customer demand.” After the vote, its Chief Legal Officer made the following statement:

Reddit

Reddit bills itself as the “Front Page of the Internet”. It’s another company like Facebook that was started by a couple of kids and turned into a phenomenon. If you’ve used the site any time in the last few weeks, you’ll know that the site and (most of) its users are strong supporters of net neutrality. In a statement today, Reddit CEO Steve Hufmann (Spez) said in part:

It is disappointing that the FCC Chairman plowed ahead with his planned repeal despite all of this public concern, not to mention the objections expressed by his fellow commissioners, the FCC’s own CTO, more than a hundred members of Congress, dozens of senators, and the very builders of the modern internet.

Nevertheless, today’s vote is the beginning, not the end. While the fight to preserve net neutrality is going to be longer than we had hoped, this is far from over.

You can read the statement in its entirety here.

Comcast

Comcast is one of the companies that could seemingly benefit from the net neutrality changes. Many fear that companies like Comcast could wield its power to prevent users from reaching sites or streaming video content to benefit its own platforms.

But, According to a blog post by Senior Vice President David L. Cohen, Comcast believes that Congress should move to enact net neutrality laws. Its stance is that the rules enacted by the FCC were just governmental overreach, but it really supports net neutrality. Whether you believe that or not is up to you, but you can read the full blog post here.

Charter/Spectrum

Charter is the second largest ISP in the country and obviously had its eye on the FCC’s meeting. After the vote, the company released a statement on its website that read in part, ” Charter has been consistent and clear: we support a vibrant and open internet that enables our customers to access the lawful content of their choice when and where they want it. We commend the FCC Chairman and Commissioners for their action today that re-establishes the light touch regulatory framework that had been in place for decades when the Internet took root and grew into an important tool for daily life and a major engine of economic growth.”

You can read the rest of its comment here.

AT&T

AT&T repeated many of the same sentiments as Comcast and Charter. AT&T’s Senior Executive Vice President of External & Legislative Affairs, Bob Quinn, took to the web to express that the repeal of net neutrality laws isn’t that big of a deal.

In the post, Quinn states, “AT&T intends to operate its network the same way AT&T operates its network today: in an open and transparent manner. We will not block websites, we will not throttle or degrade internet traffic based on content, and we will not unfairly discriminate in our treatment of internet traffic (all consistent with the rules that were adopted – and that we supported – in 2010, and the rules in place today).”

You can read the full post here.

Verizon

Verizon hosts a Broadband Commitment website that states, “Verizon supports the Open Internet, and is committed to offering services that allow our customers to take full advantage of all of the lawful content and services that the Internet has to offer.” Speaking to Inverse yesterday, Verizon spokesperson Rich Young backed up that sentiment with this statement, “Verizon fully supports the open Internet, and we will continue to do so. Our customers demand it and our business depends on it.”

T-Mobile

T-Mobile released a very short statement after the vote. It reads, “We always have and will support an open internet that enables us to provide new and innovative services to our customers and keep them first! We will continue to provide amazing service and support to our customers each day!”

Sprint

Sprint’s statement on the repeal of net neutrality is longer than T-Mobile’s, but says just as little. It reads, “Sprint applauds the FCC’s efforts to simplify a complex and challenging issue, while balancing multiple stakeholder interests in this important proceeding. Our position has been and continues to be that competition is the best way to promote an open internet. Complex and vague regulations previously created uncertainties around net neutrality compliance. The Commission’s decision today eliminates those uncertainties and appears to allow Sprint to manage our network and offer competitive products.”


Which company had the best response?

PPC – SomeOne SpenDing – SomeOne EarNing

We have the Internet that provides a huge platform for advertising products and services online. Advertisers around the world have shown a keen interest in making good use of the Internet that is omnipresent these days.

Contrary to the traditional advertising model, the recent methods of internet marketing involve innovative techniques to catch more eyeballs and pull online traffic to visit, listen, view, or buy a product or a service that is on offer. It is done through a model that is now being widely regarded as Pay Per Click (PPC). It is a successful model for internet advertising that directs online traffic to particular websites, where the advertisers pay the publishers a certain amount when their ad is clicked.

Pay-per-click (PPC), also known as cost per click (CPC), is an internet advertising model used to direct traffic to websites, in which an advertiser pays a publisher (typically a website owner or a network of websites) when the ad is clicked.

Entities Involved in PPC Advertising:

  • Product or Service Seller
  • PPC Advertiser
  • Landing Page Provider
  • Landing Page
  • Viewer or the Visitor

Take a close look at the illustrations below that depict the general roles of the entities involved in PPC advertising:

A product/service seller contacts advertisers for PPC based Ad programs.

PPC Advertiser creates Ads and provides landing pages for Ads.

Users click the Ads and visit the landing pages.

PPC – Bird’s eye view

Lets take a look at Terminology related to PPC:

Ad group
It is a collection of relevant keywords under one name. Maximum 20,000 keywords can be added into an Ad Group.

Ad Network
An Ad Network is an online business that specializes in matching up of advertisers to the websites looking to host the ad. Ad networks work as brokers for both suppliers (sites with content that can host ads, and buyers (the advertisers).

Ad Position
Ad position is the order in which an ad is displayed on a webpage. For example, ad position “1” means the ad is displayed first on the webpage.

Ad Rank
It is a value used to determine the Ad Proposition.

Call-To-Action (CTA)
This is a marketing term used for the action you want the website visitor to take.

Campaign
It is a series of relevant ad groups.

Click-Through-Rate (CTR)
It is a metric showing how often a visitor clicks your ad after seeing it. It can be defined as the number of clicks per thousand impressions. CTR contributes to Ad Rank.

Conversion
Conversion is the action the user wants when he clicks on an ad. It occurs when a visitor takes action. For example, the user makes purchases, signs ups, submits enquiry forms, views a page, or downloads, depending on the program’s goals.

Conversion Rate
It is the measurement of the success of a paid campaign. It is measured by the number of potential visitors performing any of the desired actions such as buying a product, filling a form, etc.

For example, if there are 100 visitors to a particular webpage via a PPC ad, and six of those 100 visitors buy the product the website sells, then the conversion rate for that particular ad is six percent. The larger the conversion rate, the more successful the website is.

Cost Per Action or Cost Per Acquisition (CPA)
It is the amount you pay for every lead, sign-up, or purchases.

Cost Per Click (CPC)
It implies the amount you pay for every single click on your ads.

Cost Per Mille (CPM)
It is the amount paid for every thousand views of the PPC ad.

Destination URL
It is where you want the user to land when he clicks on the ad.

Display URL
It is the name of a page of the website.

Geo-targeting
Delivery of ads to a particular geographic location of the users. It allows the advertisers to choose specific locations where they wish to show their ads.

Keyword
It is a search query made by a user. A word or a phrase of words entered in the search box by the user. The search engine matches your keywords and gives you relevant results on the Search Engine Result Page (SERP).

Landing Page
It is any standalone webpage distinct from the main website on which the visitor lands.

Negative Keywords
They are the ones for which you do not want your ad to appear.

PPC Bid
It is the maximum amount of fees an advertiser is ready to pay for a click.

Prospect
Prospect is a potential user who can buy a product/service being advertised.

Quality Score
It is a dynamic metrics assigned to each of your keywords and ads. It determines the quality of your keyword, ad, and the landing page. High quality score boosts the ad rank.

Creating a Keyword List

Keywords are the primitive entities of PPC ads. Choosing a correct and relevant set of keywords can help design a crisp and persuasive ad to fulfill the sole purpose of increasing the number of clicks on the ad.

You can use the given target model for keyword research and building a keyword list. The basic steps of building a keyword list are

  • Create a basic list (Seed List) of usual business terms
  • Expand the list using keyword research tools
  • Refine the list of keywords

Creating a Seed List

A seed list is nothing but the initial set of keywords of the seller’s business. Write down the six keyword categories in columns. Use a combination of brainstorming and investigation for categorizing the keywords into these six groups by keeping the brand and the product terms at the center of attention.

You need to build this list thoroughly, keeping in mind all the features of the product or service the seller is providing. You need to ponder and create a list of words about what all problems this particular product or service can solve.

Expanding the List

Initially, you need to think of only a few dozens of keywords, then expand, and finally refine. While expanding, you can add new potential keywords in the existing list so that the list is always up-to-date. For this, you need to:

  • Review the seller’s website for new or upcoming products or services.
  • Understand how people talk about the product and its features.
  • Identify unique and well-performing keywords that need to be added in the list.
  • Use keywords research tools for various suggestions.

Refining the List

While expanding, you may have added non-value adding or non-interesting keywords. Now it is time to refine the keywords list by eliminating the less interesting keywords and keeping only the best ones. There is no hard and fast rule to do this. Refining the keywords list is vital, as you need to take care not introduce any negative effect on the present list.

Keyword Research Tools

Keyword research tools help you to expand the list of keywords in most relevance of the seller’s product or service. These tools suggest numerous variations of the words from which we can select the appropriate one.

These tools include:

  • Google AdWords Keyword Planner
  • Word Tracker
  • SEO Book Keyword Suggestion Tools
  • Keyword Discovery
  • SpyFu

Writing a Killer PPC Ad

Refer the diagram shown below. To create an effective and compelling ad, the following methodology is helpful:

Elements of a PPC Ad

Refer the following image to understand the elements of a PPC ad.

Headline – This is the main title of the ad. It must be magnetic, crisp, and compact.

Display URL – This is the link of the relevant web page where the prospects will be taken onto. It is not required to be the exact landing page but it should be relevant. You can, for example, include your website with the top keyword in your Ad Campaign.

Description Line 1 and 2 – This is the body of the ad. It describes the product or the service the seller is offering.

Landing Pages

If you create a beautiful and catchy PPC ad with an effective Call-To-Action and do not link an appropriate landing page to it, then all your efforts go in vain.
Use of landing pages in the PPC ads helps to:

  • Increase conversion
  • Reduce Cost-Per-Click (CPC)
  • Reduce bounce rate

Elements of an Effective Landing Page:

  • Engaging and beautiful appearance.
  • Well-organized contents.
  • Tight coupling between advertise and page contents.
  • Simple, yet descriptive and informative.
  • Clear and discrete Call-To-Action and offers.
  • Capability of building trust about authenticity of a product or service the seller offers.
  • Capability of pursuing the visitors to take action.

PPC Bidding

Bidding is offering a competitive price that a bidder is ready to pay for a service. The term ‘bidding’ is always used in the context of auction. Bidding is very useful to set the value of an object, an art piece, a property, a commodity, etc. The amount itself is called as a bid.

In the context of internet marketing, the amount an online business organization allocates for PPC advertising is known as PPC bid. The bids specify the maximum amount that an organization is ready to pay each time a user clicks your ad. This is called the maximum Cost-Per-Click (max CPC).

Factors That Affect Bidding:

  • Advertising budget of the organization
  • The time the organization plans to use paid advertising.
  • Keyword popularity
  • Competition from other advertisers

What to Bid For?

With the help of bid management tools, you can bid for:

  • Conversion events such as video views, contact forms, store directions, the time of ad display, etc.
  • Keywords such as brand phrases, user phrases, direct response phrases, lead generation phrases, engaging phrases, etc.

Want to learn Digital Marketing?

Samsung Pay update allows users in India to pay bills inside the app

  • Samsung Pay is being updated to allow users to pay monthly bills within the app.
  • The bills include mobile postpaid bills, electricity, television, and more.
  • This update follows Google Tez rolling out similar features just a few weeks ago.

It seems like every day we hear about new mobile payment apps. But one of the biggest and most successful so far has been Samsung Pay. Even though the app is limited to Samsung’s devices, it has great features like utilizing Magnetic Secure Transmission (MST) to pay on machines that don’t have NFC.

Now, users in India are getting another fantastic feature. Samsung Pay is now letting users pay their monthly bills right from inside the app. According to SamMobile, the options include mobile postpaid bills, electricity, DTH (Direct-to-home television), and utility bills. Users can also save bank account and IFSC information for their friends and family so they can easily transfer money to them.

See also

Adding bills to Samsung Pay comes shortly after Google made a similar move. You might remember that a few weeks ago, Google’s Tez rolled out billpaying options for household and utility bills from major companies like Airtel, DishTV, Tata Power, ACT Fibernet, and DoCoMo. The service will eventually cover 70 different billers and cover national and state electricity providers, gas, water, and more.

Competition for customers in India is really heating up. Samsung is currently battling companies like Xiaomi and Huawei for supremacy in the country, and it is finding success. Even though Xiaomi may have come level with the South Korean juggernaut, Samsung is still a force. It recently added more than a million users to Samsung Pay in a single month and it continues to add features like UPI payments via Bharat QR codes.

Google is also working on its presence in the country through the Next Billion Users program. With affordable Android Go devices hitting the market, the competition is only going to get more fierce.

To get the new payment options, all you have to do is update the Samsung Pay app on your Galaxy device.