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By Chiyo Robertson

Bridie Lynch has been playing and coaching tennis for most of her life.

As her parents run a local tennis club in Wales, she was immersed in the sport from the age of 14.

One aspect she has noticed is the embrace of technology, at all levels of tennis.

“Tennis is such a technical sport. These days, anyone I play or coach is into tech, be it video analysis or longest rally stats.”

She uses a range of apps and techniques for her own matches and coaching including a smartphone-based video system called SwingVision, which breaks down her performance with details such as forehand errors and backhand winners.

“Personally, I like having the tech to enhance my game. I can see a clearer vision of what I can improve, from my swing to my patterns of play,” she explains.

Data analytics has been around a long time in sport. Perhaps the best known in example of its use is from 2002, when the Oakland Athletics baseball team used statistical analysis to choose their squad, rather than the wisdom of coaches and scouts, and their favoured metrics.

Jonah Hill and Brad Pitt speak onstage at "Moneyball" Press Conference during 2011Image source, Getty Images
Even Hollywood has taken an interest in data analytics with the movie Moneyball starring Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill

That experience was the core of Michael Lewis’s 2003 best-selling book Moneyball, which later become a film staring Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill.

Tennis has also seen this revolution. “Data blew up our sport,” says tennis strategist and coach Craig O’Shannessy.

For him the 2015 Australian Open was a key moment.

As Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray battled on court, powerful computers crunched the data and grouped rally length into three distinct categories, essentially short, medium and long.

Novak Djokovic of Serbia plays a forehand in his men's final match against Andy Murray of Great Britain during day 14 of the 2015 Australian OpenImage source, Getty Images
In tennis the 2015 Australian Open final was a big moment for data analysis says Craig O’Shannessy

“We discovered 70% of all points were each player hitting the ball into the court a maximum of just twice,” he says.

Mr O’Shannessy, who worked with Novak Djokovic between 2017 to 2019, says that insight made him realise that the way players practice was all wrong.

“Ninety percent of practice is focused on consistency, but only 10% of the match court is in rallies of more than 9 points,” he points out.

“This data changed our sport forever,” he says.

Tennis strategist and coach Craig O'Shannessy with Novak DjokovicImage source, Craig O’Shannessy
Craig O’Shannessy worked with Novak Djokovic for two years

That manipulation of data has been taken to a new level.

Coaches now have artificial intelligence (AI), where sophisticated software is fed, or trained, with unimaginable amounts of data. The resulting AI can spot patterns that a human would never be able to see.

“AI can sniff out areas of significances. Humans do a very bad job at layering data, whereas AI can do it in seconds,” says Mr O’Shannessy.

So, for example, if Novak Djokovic hits 50 winners from his forehand those shots could be broken down in multiple ways or layers. Perhaps 40 of them came when he was serving and then 35 came on the first shot after the serve.

Finding a pattern of play where Novak hits 35 out of 50 winners in exactly same way is a first, according to Mr O’Shannessy.

“We’ve stumbled around for decades trying to bring all this together.”

AI requires vast amounts of data to train and build accurate algorithms.

Rafael Nadal of Spain plays a forehand against Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada during the Men's Singles Fourth Round match on Day 8 of The 2022 French Open at Roland Garros on May 29, 2022Image source, Getty Images
Players have access to even more data than ever at this year’s French Open

Raghavan Subramanian is the head of the Infosys Tennis Platform and has been working with the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) since 2015 and with The French Open (also known as Roland Garros) for more than three years.

He has access to videos and statistics from around 700 matches every year. “Valuable data that forms the raw material for all our AI and machine learning systems,” says Mr Subramanian.

He said accuracy has improved over the past four years, as more training data has become available.

From the player’s point of view it means they can analyse a match with more precision. Using the Roland Garros Players App, they can see exactly the placement of key shots, such as winners, errors and serves.

Raghavan Subramanian is the head of the Infosys Tennis PlatformImage source, Infosys
Raghavan Subramanian says the Infosys AI gets more accurate with each tournament

“We saw a 51% jump in the use of the RG Players App in 2021, compared to the previous year, with 1,100 players and coaches using AI-powered videos,” says Mr Subramanian.

The AI is also speeding up media coverage of the tournament. AI is slicing and dicing data to create video content in seconds, a job that would normally take a multimedia team hours to do.

“Fans are able to access and analyse match highlights and other smart playlists almost immediately after a match.”

Feature Image Credit: Bridie Lynch.  Tennis players are embracing tech says Bridie Lynch

By Chiyo Robertson

Sourced from BBC News

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The attrition rates for app users are staggering – but do they have to be? Steve Peretz, group director (health experience and product strategy) at Appnovation, shares four strategies for engagement and retention.

Abandoned shopping carts, neglected Netflix series, snap decisions on Tinder. There’s plenty of evidence that audiences in the digital age have low attention spans and rely heavily on first impressions.

It’s no different with apps. The average app loses 77% of daily users within three days of installation. Within 30 days, it’s 90%. Three months in, 95%.

Often this rapid disengagement results from something simple, such as an error in the app’s design or a frustrating experience. But this negative first impression invariably has adverse commercial consequences for the brand or company behind the app.

Dubbed the ‘halo effect,’ app users can base their entire perception of a business on this initial interaction. They express their dissatisfaction by taking their purchasing power elsewhere.

Fortunately, the halo effect can also work in reverse. Get that first impression right, and customers will stay for longer. Follow up with great customer experience, and they’re likely to spend more, stay loyal and increase frequency of impulse purchasing.

Here are four first impression strategies to help brands achieve a match and ensure initial interactions result in successful engagement:

1. First contact: convey benefits simply and succinctly

Users judge apps by their descriptions. App descriptions and reviews are a fundamental reason people consider a download, so keep it focused. Use relevant keywords. Explain the app’s value proposition concisely. App users don’t want to scroll endlessly to understand the point of a product, so craft a message that cuts through.

Challenger bank Monzo’s app couldn’t be clearer about what it does: ‘Banking made easy.’ Likewise, Deliveroo entices app users by saying: ‘Food: we get it. We all have our favourites. With Deliveroo, get your favourite local restaurants and takeaways delivered straight to your door.’

If the initial messaging easily answers questions around why someone should engage with a digital solution, the brand has hit the bullseye.

2. Debut experience: try before you buy

Sharing a flavour of the app’s experience makes sense before customers commit to the download. If possible, offer the app for free – at least upfront (tiers can come later). Share content that gives a sense of the experience without requiring consumers to hand over personal data. Avoid blitzing people with ads, which will build frustration, not engagement.

Wellbeing app Headspace tells potential customers it will help them ‘Get happy. Stress less. Sleep soundly.’ It then supports app users from the first point of engagement with free educational resources on managing stress, improving sleep and learning to meditate. Users get ample opportunity to build trust in the brand before confidently purchasing the app.

Consider offering a preview video, which increases app conversions by over 20%. A well-crafted video delivers a compelling first impression, building immediate engagement and showing how the app works. For example, podcast and audiobook service Audible differentiates itself with a preview that doubles up as a mini-tutorial and a short promo.

3. Onboarding: use gradual disclosure

After downloading an app, users want to use it immediately. They get frustrated if they can’t engage with an experience quickly. Avoid complex registration processes and complicated tutorials.

Instead, brands need to use gradual disclosure techniques to educate and inform customers about the app in bite-sized chunks. The goal is to tell the audience what they need to know when they need to know it, not overload them.

This can take the form of streamlined content previews, ‘accordion’ elements, mega-menus, sliders or animated hints. Start with the basics and then disclose the more complicated aspects of the solution once the customer needs them.

Shopify is especially adept at gradual disclosure, incorporating the method right from the sign-up page via a non-intrusive pop-up window that explains the domain. Registration processes should be user-friendly and well-tested.

4. Retention: prompt action with instant reward

So far, all the brand has done is get its customer to the starting line. But the main battle begins once the customer is onboard. Work to sustain their early enthusiasm by rewarding their effort immediately and providing instant gratification.

New users should realize that brand interactions will directly lead to personalized rewards. Caffe Nero’s app immediately offers users the opportunity to accumulate stamps for a free coffee, which draws them into an app experience that positions them against competitors through positive reviews on Apple’s App Store.

Elsewhere, health group The Mighty invites new members into the community by extending an invitation to make an introduction. Right away, they feel like a part of the group, having found an online home.

Beware of deterring new users with a barrage of push notifications. It’s a tricky balance, particularly for digital health solutions that require regular inputs (for example, to monitor chronic conditions). If in doubt, err on the conservative side, and restrict communication to relevant, purposeful messages.

Some user attrition is bound to occur, no matter how well-designed the solution. But a strong first impression undoubtedly contributes to committed customer engagement. First impression strategies can help build impactful, purposeful apps with longevity.

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Sourced from The Drum

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Columnist Samuel Scott wanted to understand the true value of NFTs for marketers. So how better to get to the bottom of the craze than to go out and buy one of his own? Here’s what dabbling in Boris Johnson caricatures and Ethereum trading taught him about marketing’s latest trend.

To riff off a famous Rory Sutherland quote, NFTs are just JPGs and GIFs with advertising budgets.

This month, actress Reese Witherspoon formed a partnership with the World of Women ‘non-fungible token’ collective. Universal Music said it will create ‘collectible NFTs’ with the Curio platform. GameStop announced a future NFT marketplace.

In their coverage of such NFT news, the major media often describe them as ‘a unique token on the blockchain’ or ‘a digital asset that represents real-world objects.’ But those vague terms are meaningless.

NFTs are actually just ways to get more people to use cryptocurrency and thereby increase the artificial money’s value. But people can still learn how certain marketing trends have helped to hype this newest business bandwagon. Hopefully they will then use the ideas for something that actually has value and is not destroying the planet.

In this column, I will go through my attempted step-by-step process of buying an NFT – one that features everyone’s favourite prime minister – to show first what they are and then what we can take from one of the biggest crazes since tulips in 1630s Holland.

But beforehand, I have two requests. First, ignore the NFT propaganda, and focus on what you see. Second, disregard the shills who jump on every bandwagon as ‘The future!’ and consider only the facts. (After all, is anyone still using Segways or Clubhouse?) Now, let’s begin.

How to buy an NFT

There are already many places online to sell one’s digital artwork and graphic designs. Creative Market. Etsy. Big Cartel. And more. What makes, say, Mintable’s NFTs (on the left) different from Art Web’s items (on the right)?

Last week, I browsed Mintable – another NFT e-commerce website – to see. And I saw this.

Mintable had my curiosity, but now they had my attention. To place a bid, I had to create an account. No big deal. But then I also had to connect an Ethereum (ETH) cryptocurrency wallet through a company called MetaMask.

Not wanting to spend too much, I bought $20 of funds – or 0.00662957 ETH. After the fees, I paid almost $32 to have $20 worth of ETH. My first concern? That was a 60% markup. (Mintable lets people pay with credit cards in USD, but the amount is still converted to ETH – with assumed additional currency exchange fees.)

So, I placed a bid of 0.006 ETH. Long story short, I lost the auction. Within just a few hours, the price had skyrocketed to 2 ETH ($5,600). My second concern: who would pay that much – the UK Labour Party?

But I still wanted to see a purchase all the way through. So I bid my $20 again on this random ‘UndeadSkelly’ graphic. And I won – no one else had bided against me.

What exactly did I win? Take a look at this other information on the NFT’s listing page.

What did I purchase? A legally enforceable copyright to the image? The sole commercial right to use the media? No.

My third concern: look at the code on the right above. That is the NFT’s metadata, which contains information such as a link that shows where the image is stored on some server somewhere. The metadata is basically a certificate of ownership. Essentially, I had just bought a piece of paper.

Here is what Mintable’s own website states: “When you buy an NFT, what you are really buying is a smart contract (your certificate of ownership) that points to a set of metadata which among other things, includes a link to your NFT file.”

“The only thing secured by the blockchain is the smart contract – your certificate of ownership,” Mintable continues. “This is why there is so much insecurity hindering the widespread adoption of NFTs – without the actual asset being stored on the blockchain, there is no guarantee that the NFT you buy today won’t just end up becoming a broken link to a non-existent file in 5 years if/when the server(s) it is hosted on shits itself.”

Buying an NFT is not buying some type of digital media itself at all. It is purchasing a receipt that shows a link to where something is stored online. And nothing prevents anyone from right-clicking ‘Save As’ and keeping copies of the media for themselves. My fourth concern: the NFTs listed for sale do not even have watermarks.

Remember two things. Real value usually comes from scarcity, and anyone who controls a server where a file is stored can control what file is stored there.

But wait – there’s more. What happened when I went to finalize the UndeadSkelly NFT purchase? For the right to purchase the metadata, I had to pay not only the $32 for $20 worth of ETH cryptocurrency but also $23 in ‘gas fees’ (a carbon offset fee for the energy consumed in blockchain transactions). My fifth concern.

The bottom line? I would have had to buy more ETH cryptocurrency and pay at least $55 to purchase a $20 graphic that countless other people probably already had. That would be a 175% total markup. I thought to hell with this and never confirmed the transaction. (I also deleted my browser history, removed the MetaMask Chrome add-on, poured garlic powder on my computer and threw clumps of salt over my shoulders.)

Of course, most online retailers have added transaction or shipping fees of one sort or another. But I just did not see the added value of this entire process and paying with a sketchy ‘currency’ for an image that I may or may not ‘own’.

For review for a column last month on B2B advertising and content marketing, the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute in Australia gave me the e-book update to How Brands Grow Part 2. Do I now “own” it? Yes.

It sits on my hard drive and in my private Apple iCloud account. I have full agency over that specific digital media item and can do whatever I want with it. No one else has any control over it. Here is a helpful piece of advice: you do not ‘own’ anything digital that is not downloaded and stored on a computer, mobile device, or server that you own or otherwise control.

Buying a copy of an e-book that many others also have is one thing. The story or information itself is valuable. A copy of a random Boris Johnson or UndeadSkelly image is not. Besides, the artistry of most NFTs looks like something I would see in the 1990s video game series Doom. My sixth concern.

So, my original question:wWhat makes Mintable’s ‘NFTs’ different from Art Web’s graphics? That answers lie in the two major marketing trends that people should take away from this whole insanity.

What marketing trends increased NFT’s popularity

Tech vendor lock-in. Take Curio and Mintable. If their goal is simply to facilitate the sale of digital media and take a cut, then why do they specifically push the use of cryptocurrency as the primary payment method? (When I started to create a Curio account, it also prompted me to connect to MetaMask.)

Follow the pseudo-money. Curio cofounder Ben Arnon holds positions in several cryptocurrencies and hypes the industry on social media. Mintable cofounder Zach Burks is a Twitter self-described “crypto nerd” and “NFT lover.”

By pushing users into buying and using cryptocurrency, the companies increase the values of those cryptocurrencies – as well as the values of any personal holdings. After all, the global forex market is also a game of supply and demand – the currencies that are most in use generally have the greatest values. (The Russian ruble is not doing well at the moment.)

It goes far beyond mere NFTs. Take Bitcoin, the original cryptocurrency. According to Scott Galloway, the top 2% of the holders own 95% of the $800 billion supply. The more that crypto is hyped and used in general, the more that a few rich people will become even richer. (For more, I recommend watching ‘Line Goes Up – The Problem With NFTs’ by Dan Olson’s Folding Ideas on YouTube.)

Still, there are other examples of vendor lock-in (though the practice is sometimes uncomfortably close to monopolistic behaviour). In the past, music purchased over Apple iTunes could be played only within iTunes or on an iPod. Some printer companies state that if ink cartridges not sold by them are used, then the warranty is void.

On one level, vendor lock-in can increase revenues. But on an entirely different level, vendor lock-in can create the feeling of being part of an exclusive community who are using the ‘widget’. As in crypto.

Generational sentiment. I often criticize the lazy use of demographic groups as market segments. But the fact remains that all people born at the same time do experience the same general political and economic events and upheavals.

And if NFTs and the entire crypto world have done one thing well, it is capturing the zeitgeist of younger people. Every enthusiast I know personally is under the age of 35. Take Julie Fredrickson, a tech company founder turned investor who attended a cryptocurrency convention this month and described it in her blog.

“It’s full jubilee at the end of the world shit,” she wrote. “You are surrounded by millennials and gen-zers who know in their gut that their future has been stolen from them. And instead of being pissed they decided to build. And they decided to gamble. And it’s not clear which one is which sometimes.

“Everyone is soaking in student debt and working shitty interchangeable jobs for corporations owned by private equity. No one can afford a house. No one is stable enough for a marriage and children … but if you are in crypto the future looks pretty rosy. You are discussing real estate for your second home and the tax advantages of different jurisdictions.”

The possible future of NFTs

While I am loathe to make marketing predictions and instead choose to critique them, I will make an exception. The very economics of cryptocurrencies mean that their values must collapse one day.

Bitcoin has a limit of 21 million coins, and more than 80% have already been created. What does that mean? Soon, the only way for the price to increase will be to rely on the Greater Fool Theory in market bubbles – that there will always be someone who will buy your widget for more than what you paid.

There is always a point where someone is left holding the bag. Rinse and repeat for many, if not all, cryptocurrencies. And that is only one of all the problems. (I’d also read Why the NFT Market Will Collapse at Project Syndicate.)

Recently, more than $200m worth of NFTs have been stolen from the OpenSea marketplace through an email phishing hack. Many NFT sales have been creators buying their own work to increase the prices. Salesforce employees are rebelling after the company said it will launch an NFT cloud.

Cent, another NFT platform, stopped selling them because of counterfeits. (My comment: they are not “counterfeit” – they are likely 100% entirely accurate copies of things that are freely available.) A colleague at The Drum, media editor John McCarthy, posted a Twitter thread of articles on the use of NFTs in money laundering.

And I have one question for Matt Damon: for that Crypto.com advertisement, did you get paid in cash or cryptocurrency? I would love to know.

Yes, I am a little skeptical. Last year, an Israeli PR agency here asked me for a meeting to discuss some potential consulting work. As it turned out, they were pivoting to the cryptocurrency space and were gaining some big clients who wanted publicity.

One question they asked: “So, which cryptocurrencies do you own?” I almost bit off part of my tongue while trying not to laugh. In what was probably not a surprise, they went with another consultant.

And what will I do with the 0.006 ETH that I still have after this experiment? Maybe I will make a sketchy donation to Boris Johnson’s Tories. It seems to be another fashionable thing to do these days.

Feature Image Credit: Adobe Stock

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The Promotion Fix is a​n ​exclusive biweekly column for The Drum from Samuel Scott, a global keynote marketing speaker who is a former journalist, newspaper editor, and director of marketing and communications in the high-tech industry. Follow him @samueljscott.

Sourced from The Drum

The Promotion Fix is an exclusive column for The Drum contributed by global keynote and virtual marketing speaker Samuel Scott, a former journalist, newspaper editor and director of marketing in the high-tech industry. He is based out of Tel Aviv, Israel.

By Samuel Benson

The latest steps come as Russian disinformation spreads.

Twitter will begin labelling content from Russian state-affiliated media websites, the company announced Monday, amid a flood of Russian-backed disinformation related to the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine.

The company began labelling and de-amplifying official Russian media accounts in 2020, Twitter said. The additional action announced on Monday applies to individual Twitter accounts that share links from those state-affiliated sites.

“Since the invasion, we’ve seen more than 45,000 Tweets a day from individuals on Twitter sharing these links — meaning that now the overwhelming majority of content from state-affiliated media is coming from individuals sharing this content, rather than accounts we’ve been labelling for years as state-affiliated media,” Twitter spokesperson Elizabeth Busby told POLITICO in an email.

Twitter maintains a continually updated list of media organizations belonging to the Russian Federation and 20 other countries, and the new label will automatically apply to any tweeted URLs from a designated state-affiliated media website.

The social media company also announced it will continue to de-amplify articles from these websites by barring the URLs from the platform’s top search function. Twitter also will not “recommend” tweets that include articles from the sites.

The move comes after Russia used “false flag” operations to justify its invasion of Ukraine, including false information disseminated through social media to portray Ukraine as the aggressor. Last week, reports from state-affiliated Russian media falsely reported a Ukrainian civilian genocide, a claim that went “unchecked and unchallenged.” Similar Russian-backed falsehoods compiled millions of likes, comments and shares on Twitter and Facebook, a POLITICO review showed.

Twitter blocked advertisements from all accounts owned by Russia Today and Sputnik in 2017. In 2019, the company banned all state-backed media advertising and political advertising.

Feature Image Credit: The company began labelling and de-amplifying official Russian media accounts in 2020, Twitter said. | Matt Rourke/AP photo, file

By Samuel Benson

Sourced from POLITICO

By Conrad Saam

Lead generation service providers are aplenty, but how do they really work and are they right for each lawyer?

Marketing has undergone a radical transformation right under the noses of many lawyers. Lead generation for lawyers is the low (financial) risk marketing channel usually shrouded in some layer of fuzziness—i.e., “how” exactly are these “leads” being “generated” and by “whom”?

Lead Generation Fundamentals

Many law firms have been built on the backs of lead generation services—some with multiple vendors driving a variety of leads. Lead gen companies typically charge lawyers on the pay-per-lead (PPL) model—i.e., law firms pay a set price for each inbound opportunity delivered. Predictably, the pricing is highly variable by practice area, ranging from $20 to north of $700 per inbound opportunity.

One of the reasons law firms like lead generation, especially the pay-per-lead model, is the simplicity in evaluating the cost effectiveness of the vendor. For example, a lawyer can easily think, “If a lead costs $45 and I typically convert 10 percent of my inquiries, then that’s a $450 cost per client while my clients are worth $4,000.” The problem with this overly simplistic approach is twofold: (1) the quality of PPL companies is highly variable; and (2) many lead generation companies cycle the lead to multiple lawyers. This shotgun approach generates a mad rush of phone calls to a prospect who quickly becomes overwhelmed by lawyers and paralegals.

Simply put, turning leads into actual paying clients requires an extremely efficient, responsive, professional intake staff. Applying the typical assumption of a firm’s conversion rate (which is probably overly optimistic already) to lead generation often results in poor cost-per-client numbers (read: poor ROI). Therefore, success in the lead generation market also requires extremely accurate and efficient tracking infrastructure that can track the lead throughout the law firm’s sales cycle.

The Many Players And Models in Legal Lead Generation

There are a variety of lead generation companies—some known brands, some obscure and some operating from the shadows of the legal search engine optimization (SEO) market. Large-branded players in the legal field include Lawyers.com, FindLaw, Nolo and Martindale-Avvo. These cover the gamut of consumer-focused practice areas and rely on SEO-driven traffic to their directory pages. Some, like FindLaw, have extensive content libraries that drive a large volume of inquiries.

While these directory services are used by many, they have drawbacks. One of the nefarious realities of these directories is that many of their leads are driven by a name search for a specific attorney and then resold back to other law firms. For example, a prospective client (PC) may be recommended to Bill Jones. The PC researches Bill Jones through Google, lands on an Avvo listing for Bill Jones and eventually fills out a form that goes to . . . a paying lawyer (or lawyers) other than Bill Jones. These changes can be a detriment to an individual’s marketing efforts as a result.

Some providers have modified their marketing models, while others provide a slightly different approach to marketing for professionals. In 2016, Avvo ran afoul of fee-sharing decisions with its Legal Services—Avvo fixed fees for a consultation for which attorneys paid Avvo a fee. Martindale-Avvo (unlikely brand bedfellows spawned by the acquisition of Avvo by Internet Brands) recently launched pay-per-lead services along with its more traditional advertising blocks. FindLaw’s network, which includes Superlawyers and LawInfo, drives a PPL model driven by basiconline form fills. LegalMatch functions like the eHarmony of legal services, with prospective clients filling out a “case” for lawyers to review and operating on a subscription basis with longer-term commitment requirements.

Innumerable lesser known brands exist in the legal generation business. Unbundled Attorney provides leads for attorneys offering flat-fee services (this makes the all-important ROI calculation even more straightforward). Another brand is 4LegalLeads, which offers a rotation model for its leads—contacting one lawyer after another. This rotation model is a welcome spin on the shotgun approach (blasting a single lead simultaneously to multiple attorneys).

Nonlaw-focused firms have entered the lead generation business as well—most interestingly Thumbtack. This extremely deeply funded tech service provides lead generation for an array of businesses, including law firms. Thumbtack shepherds prospective clients through a series of rudimentary questions in an attempt to prequalify those leads and match them to an attorney. Attorneys provide prospective Thumbtack clients with a quote to review. While lead generation options are abundant, the real issue comes with obtaining results from the lead generation service of choice.

Elusive Economic Success of Lead Generation

In general, the economics of lead generation companies are poor, especially for those who rely heavily on advertising to generate those leads. Consider a simple scenario where a lead gen company drives website traffic through pay-per-click (PPC) advertising and then simply resells that traffic to lawyers. Very little additional intrinsic value exists for the consumer to go through that resource to find a lawyer. (Perhaps the consumer can contact more lawyers from one resource or is shepherded through a “qualifying” series of form questions.) In general, the lawyer is much better off attracting that prospective client directly to her own website instead of through the lead generation middleman who is engaged in advertising arbitrage—aka buying PPC traffic, marking it up and repackaging it in a PPL model.

Having said that, lead generation is a frequent supplement to many marketing portfolios. A smattering of my clients rely extensively on lead generation for the majority of their client development efforts. Anecdotally, these firms tend to be aggressively growth minded, volume-based, midsize personal injury firms with exceptionally well-run intake processes and highly accurate reporting infrastructure. Given the cost, success at scale with lead gen simply requires converting a high percentage of prospects into clients and a firm structure that accepts lower margins.

Lead Generation and Local Spam

For years, local search (the map in a Google search with the red pins in it) has been polluted by fake listings. From a Google perspective, fake listings include local law firms pretending to have an office at a location that isn’t really staffed (think a mailbox at a Regus office), out-of-state law firms pretending to be in state, and nonlaw firms masquerading as law firms. The latter category is the foundation of many leads that are resold to law firms. With the right experience and technical know-how, it is possible to set up a fake business and get it to rank on Google local search results. The legal industry has been particularly targeted with these tactics, because the industry is both very lucrative and very competitive. These tactics have been used by foreign actors, enterprising (albeit unethical) individuals and lawyers themselves.

Even more commonplace is a nonlawyer pretending to be a law firm. The giveaway for identifying these listings is the website that looks very much like a law firm’s until you realize there is not a single lawyer listed anywhere on the site. These listings also tend to have no (or very few) Google client reviews. Leads generated through these fake businesses are then sold back to attorneys—sometimes laundered through the more recognized branded lead generation companies.

The “New” 800-Pound Lead Generation Gorilla

Not to be left behind, Google has entered the lead generation game with its new (to legal) Local Service ads (LSA) that operate on a PPL model. LSA popped up in August 2020 and have been slowly rolling out ever since. They are extremely effective—supplanting Google Ads for the prime position at the top of the search engine results pages (SERPs) and pushing local search and organic search even farther down the page.

The Google LSA aren’t entirely new—they rolled out in 2017 to the home services industry and now cover 48 different types of businesses. Just look for a plumber or roofer in Google, and three ads will appear at the very top of the page with the word “Guaranteed” next to them. Google (wisely) decided not to guarantee legal work, but instead provides a green “Google Screened” checkbox for participating law firms.

To be included within the Google Screened advertisements, law firms need to jump through three hoops. First, Google validates if the attorney is licensed to practice law in the specific state. I had hoped that this would be used to drastically reduce the aforementioned spam on the local search results; however, the data going into the LSA do not impact the other listings on the SERPs (i.e., no green screen check mark next to a local search listing). Second, Google does a background check through a third-party agency called Pinkerton. Third, for states where the state bar requires it, Google confirms insurance coverage. These three elements offer very high value to consumers and are affirmed by the green check mark.

Google has evolved its PPC model into the much simpler PPL model for these LSAs. Further, it has split out legal practice areas into very finite levels of detail to provide an efficient marketplace. For example, there is even a category for red-light traffic tickets. Currently, in typical Google fashion, these ads are being rolled out both geographically and by practice area; so depending on your search, you might not see them yet. But know they are coming.

The firms that are ahead in LSA ads are currently experiencing extremely positive economic returns from their first-mover advantage, with cost-per-client rates hovering around 60 to 80 percent below what a comparable Google Ads campaign would return. This economic windfall will last for a short time. Cost-per-lead numbers for the earliest personal injury ads were pinned at $75, they quickly grew to $150, and now we are seeing numbers in the $250 range.

Lead generation companies are far more sophisticated with better targeting capabilities than previous iterations. For the right type of practice, lead generation could be a worthy financial investment that grows your practice without the lengthy time investment of more traditional forms of new client location and development.

Feature Image Credit: Turning leads into actual paying clients requires an extremely efficient, responsive, professional intake staff. via MikkelWilliam / E+ / Getty Images

By Conrad Saam

Sourced from ABA

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Google My Business is the home of your local online presence and the information hub for potential customers in your area. In this article, we fire through all the key steps of completing and optimising your profile to bring more customers to your business – both online and in store.

Make your NAP & business info 100% accurate

Accurate business information, especially your name, address and phone number (NAP), is one of the strongest signals in local search. So make sure your details are 100% accurate on your Google My Business page and that they match the business information you have listed on your website and third-party sites (directories, review sites, etc).

There are four pieces of basic business information that you need to specify right away:

  • Your business name
  • Your business category
  • Your business address
  • Your service area

You will have chosen a business category when you created or claimed your business in GMB but you can now add further categories to help Google show your listing to relevant searches with greater accuracy.

Provide opening times to encourage store visits

People searching for businesses in their local area might be looking for takeaways open late on a Sunday, shops that are still open on their way back from work or stores where they can look at a product before actually buying it. This means having accurate opening times on your GMB listings can win you customers.

Google My Business encourages you to add opening times to your listing and you absolutely should. Make sure you accurately fill these out and keep them up-to-date so people can always trust the information on your profile.

Capture web and phone leads from GMB

You can track phone calls from Google My Business by using a phone tracking service and entering your tracking code as your primary phone number.

Bonus tip: add your real phone number as an additional number and make sure it matches with the number you’ve got listed elsewhere (area code is important) to show Google that this is, in fact, your business number.

You can also track website visits from GMB by creating a UTM (Urchin tracking module) using Google Analytics Dev Tools.

Once you’re done, simply copy the URL and paste it into the website section of your Google My Business page.

Add products to your GMB profile

If you sell products online or in-store, you can add them to your Google My Business profile to drive in-store visits and clicks through to your website.

You need to name each product and select or create a new product category. You have the option of showing prices or price ranges for each product and you can add a product description, as well as an optional call-to-action button.

Make your business stand out with attributes

Attributes help users choose the ideal business for their needs and also increase the quality of leads you generate from Google My Business.

You can specify that your business has on-site parking or free wifi, for example, or show which Covid-19 measures you’re taking, such as staff wearing masks. You can also list services you provide, like free delivery, takeaways, in-store pickups and other options that could win the customer.

Optimise your business description?

Your business description is one of the few places in your GMB profile where you get to explain what makes your business unique. You get 750 characters to tell people why they should step through your door or buy from you over the other alternatives in the local area (if there are any).

The more competition you face, the more important your description could prove to be. Make sure you’re honest and try to focus on the characteristics of your business that appeal to your target customers.

You can find out what not to include in your business description on this Google My Business Help page.

Show the best of your business with quality photos

Google My Business allows you to upload images of your business and this is one of the most underutilised tools in GMB. These images, quite literally, shape the mental image users build about your business and you want to make sure these photos create the right impression.

Get yourself a professional photographer and upload high-quality images of the following:

  • Your business logo (this shows when you post a photo or reply to reviews, questions, etc)
  • Your GMB cover photo
  • Your exterior building
  • The interior of your business
  • Products/services
  • Covid-19 measures
  • Images showing the attributes in your profile

You can also upload videos to Google My Business so think hard about the kind of message you want to put across, such as your company’s history or a compilation of video reviews from a selection of happy customers. For more tips on optimising your Google My Business page, check out this video.

By

SEO specialist at Vertical Leap

Sourced from The Drum

Sourced from Mashable India

Facebook recently announced that it’s widening the access to Rights Manager to give more creators an ability to better control their content on Facebook and Instagram. As a part of the new expansion, page admins would now be able to submit images and videos for rights protection. Creators would also be able to issue takedown requests for videos and images that are owned by them but are reuploaded on these platforms.

In case you aren’t aware, ‘Rights Manager’ is a powerful, highly customizable tool, which is built for people who want to control when, how, and where their content is shared across Facebook and Instagram. As posted on its blog, the ‘Collect Ad Earnings tool’ and expanding availability has also been improved which means more creators will be able to collect ad earnings from matching videos that also include in-stream ads.

A new filter view for spotting monetizable matches has been added along with a guide on how creators can get more monetization opportunities and exportable revenue reports. Page admins can submit an application for the content created by them that they want to protect.

There’s also a new in-stream ads toggle in the Creator Studio app that will let users easily manage their content and ads directly from their mobile phones. “We’ve expanded In-stream ads to Egypt, Iraq, Morocco, and Turkey, adding to the 45 countries where the in-steam program is already available,” states the blog.

It was back in September 2020 when Facebook had announced an update to its ‘Rights Manager’ tool that allowed photographers to claim ownership over their most popular images and track when these images had been used without their permission. Rights Manager for Images used image matching technology to help creators and publishers protect and manage their image content at scale.

Sourced from Mashable India

By Zeinab Mehdi Poor.

What business doesn’t use technology? Yes, that is the unmistakable sound of crickets. But here’s another, more pertinent question: which businesses maximize their use of technology to generate revenue? The world is abuzz with technological chatter, with the noisy flux of shifting processes, incoming apps, innovative start-ups and increasingly simplistic digital tools which help us streamline our businesses and make a bigger splash for less cash.

As a business leader, you’re constantly learning. Searching for new growth strategies, emerging trends in your industry, and new products and services is a consistent part of your routine. Technology is about innovation and innovation in business is all about doing things differently so as to supply better products and solutions, and an improved service to customers.

If you are a business owner or leader means you’re constantly learning.

Researching new marketing strategies, emerging trends in your industry, and exciting new products is certain to be a continuing a part of your weekly grind. But are you furthermore may maintaining with similar changes in technology? If not, you’ll be missing out on tools which will make your life easier and your business stronger. Technology isn’t just essential for day-to-day business processes, but it also can help companies to realize growth and success when utilised effectively. Successful businesses don’t view technology simply as how to automate processes, but instead use it to open up new ways of doing business. But are you furthermore may maintaining with similar changes in technology?  technology is helping firms of all sizes fulfil their business potential. While the pace at which technology is evolving is faster than ever before, these advancements present a range of growth opportunities for business leaders.

Technologies help you reach more potential customers, around the clock.

Various types of content marketing  increase the visibility of your business far beyond your local community—often on a reasonable budget. Technology can help business owners leverage capital in smarter, more effective ways. In some cases, using technology provides greater efficiency and versatility, making it a natural progression for processes you may already have in place in your business. In others, you may need to make some adjustments to reap the benefits of tech-friendly alternatives. Use digital technologies for more effective marketing.

Businesses are now operating in an era where having a strong digital presence is essential, not only for success, but often simply for survival too. The lack of a strong digital presence is thought to be a contributing factor in the failure of many SMEs, half of which are failing in their first five years of existence. With limited marketing budgets, SMEs got to be wise about how they utilize digital technologies for max impact.

They key is to develop a clearly defined digital marketing strategy, including your aims, your tactics and how you’re going to measure performance. Many companies are digitally active, but not following a defined strategy. This can lead to resources being wasted and opportunities being missed.

Here are ways technology can help your business grow

1. Use a high-quality VoIP system

The benefits of using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) should be obvious, but if you’re still tempted to use the conventional or analog system in your office, know that you could be missing out massively. Using the internet to make calls far cheaper and means you can log in anywhere in the world, conduct videoconferences, discuss important deals, and otherwise stay on top of things as if you were in the office. Mobility, functionality and adaptability are the three key benefits of putting in VoIP, which has undoubtedly enhanced communication within the business world and led to increased productivity across the board.

2. Don’t be afraid of video

A lot of business owners are afraid to put themselves out there: to add a face and voice to the text-based voice which narrates their online story. But embracing video, whether within the sort of live videos and ‘stories’ on social media or product-, category- or topic-led videos on your website, are often a winning strategy. Not only will it help to build brand transparency, making browsers feel like they’re getting to know you, but it will help to stimulate engagement.

3. Connect with people.

One of the best features of technology is the ability to communicate and connect with other people right at the fingertips. More people in the United States are leaning towards the use of technology for connectivity. It has become an essential and worthwhile part of not only an individual’s life but also his business. Technology is a great tool to get in touch with customers and employees. Nowadays, even remote working is a theme. When it involves modern technology, sending targeted emails and newsletters to the designated customers can lead one to grow his or her business over time.

4. Technology as a mean of security.

Apart from the many benefits of using technology for business owners, the best one is how it impacts the security of the business. Technology can be used to prevent any hacking done by hackers over the original work of authorship. In this way, issues like copyright infringement and other copyright laws get easily bypassed. Usage of the proper amount of technology or rather information technology can prevent any breach of security. With active firewalls and encrypted passwords, avoidance of this particular problem, in the long run, is possible.

5. Save on IT spending

Cloud-based technologies help businesses grow with technology by providing state of the art tools without the high cost usually related to huge enterprise software programs. Web based technologies allow multiple users to collaborate during a single document or provide unlimited data storage. Cloud technologies eliminate the necessity for IT departments and therefore the solution providers perform backups, tuning and upgrades as a part of their offering. Small business owners can access their data from any location at any time. These tools are often free or pay as you go eliminating the need for long term contracts.

Social Platforms for Business Growth

Social platforms helps you connect with your customers. What are the advantages of using social media for business? Consider that there are now quite 3 billion using social networks across the world and these people are using social to interact with brands. Social networks offer you the chance to interact directly with customers and fans, and likewise give them the prospect to interact directly together with your brand.

Unlike traditional media, which offers only one-way communication, social media may be a street . If you would like customers and followers to be engaged, you’ve got to be engaged yourself. Stay active and answer comments and questions on your own social media posts during a way that’s appropriate to your brand. Here are reasons why investing in social media may be a wise business move.

1. Build Awareness

If people don’t realize your business, they can’t become your customers. Social media boosts your visibility among potential customers, letting you reach a good audience by employing a great deal of your time and energy . And it’s liberal to create a business profile on all the main social networks, so you’ve got nothing to lose. Define what you would like to urge out of social media to develop a social media strategy. does one want new customers to get your services? does one hope to bring more local shoppers into your stores? By keeping your strategy specific, you’ll determine which social media channels are the simplest fit your business.

2. Improve Search Engine Ranking

There’s a lot of debate around this subject , but rock bottom line is that, this  social media can (and will) improve your program ranking. How?  The domain authority  increases when the social media share rate increases. This results in an improved program ranking of your pages. But it’s quite just that. Many consumers visit your social media profiles before heading to your website to urge a far better understanding of your brand before they create a sale .

3. Social media is cost-effective

As more social networks add algorithms that filter what users see in their news feeds, your organic content may stray within the shuffle. cash in of the low-cost advertising features offered by the social networks to market your content and special offers.  Some social media advertising is cheaper than traditional advertising, so you don’t need to spend tons of cash to increase your audience, and grow your business.

4. Tell Your Brand’s Story

Using social media may be a good way to share your brand’s mission and share stories. Effective stories can have an excellent impact on your brand’s image. they will be simple or extensive counting on what you think that are going to be best .

5. Boost sales

No matter what you sell, social media can assist you sell it. Your social accounts are a critical a part of your sales funnel—the process through which a replacement contact becomes a customer. As the number of individuals using social media continues to grow and social sales tools evolve, social networks will become increasingly important for product search and ecommerce. The time is true to align your social marketing and sales goals.

Feature Image Credit: Pixabay

By Zeinab Mehdi Poor

Sourced from Entrepreneur India

 

BY NATASHA MATHUR

When talking about technology’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, few major innovations come to mind – drones for surveillance, delivering food and disinfecting places, healthcare automation services like robots, AI-powered content moderation to beat COVID-19 misinformation, contact tracing apps, and a lot more. It’s no surprise that technology’s response to the ongoing pandemic has been astounding. And it’s going to continue being a strong pillar of support in the post-pandemic world, especially when it comes to re-establishing workplaces. Although the pandemic isn’t over yet, the lockdown has been lifted across different parts of the world, and many people have already started working from offices.

In India, there have been lockdown relaxations across several states and more people have started to work from offices, which is why it’s important than ever for companies to ensure the health and safety of its employees does not get compromised. While maintaining social distance and hygiene practices like washing your hands, wearing a mask, and carrying a hand sanitizer is an obvious answer to curb the spread of COVID-19, there’s a bunch of tech innovations in the market that companies can opt to make their office space clean and safe.Speaking of which, several tech start-ups and firms have come up with innovations that can ramp up sanitization and safety practices within a workplace.

Video Monitoring and Analysis

Video monitoring can help play a big role in making sure all the employees working at an office are abiding by social distancing compliances and guidelines. Amazon has already rolled out an AI-powered system called ‘Distance Assistant’ that provide employees live feedback on social distancing via a 50-inch monitor, camera, and a local computing device. As people walk past the camera, a monitor displays live video with on-screen indicators to show if employees are within 6 feet of one another. Indian start-ups have also come out with similar tools for monitoring purposes. Staqu, a Gurgaon-based start-up, for instance, is using video analytics for smart monitoring. The company is leveraging its proprietary video analytics platform JARVIS to roll out cutting-edge use cases aimed at identifying, tracking, and curbing the spread of COVID-19.

Video analysis and monitoring is a simple, cost-effective tech solution that can help in big ways. Keeping surveillance around social distancing within offices will help ensure public safety. It can also be deployed across hospitals, pubs, malls, etc, using video surveillance cameras. Since these video analytics tools offer real-time information, it can be quite effective for employees’ safe office return.

Advanced Cleaning Tech

Apart from making sure that all employees follow the guidelines and practice social distancing, it’s very important to keep the office space clean, especially during these times. To curb the spread of coronavirus and other diseases, companies can opt for technological tools and systems that can help ramp up the cleaning process. Robots can be of great help in this case. For instance, there’s a floor disinfecting robot that can navigate and sanitize the floors without any human intervention at various places, including offices, hotels, hospitals, etc. Developed by Milagrow Humantech, the robot moves autonomously without falling and avoids obstruction while planning its own path. It makes use of LIDAR and advanced SLAM technology. Milagrow’s patented Real-Time Terrain Recognition Technology (RT2RT) scans at 3600, 6 times per second to make a floor map in real-time with an accuracy of up to 8mm over a 16m distance.

Similarly, to keep the air clean and fresh within office spaces, companies can invest in tech to deep clean air. A start-up, Magneto CleanTech, launched an enhanced version of Central Air Cleaner co-powered by Filterless Magnetic Air Purification (FMAP) and Ultraviolet (UVGI) technology. This air filtration framework uses the ‘Trap and Kill’ with hostile to microbial UV-C beams to completely sterilize the indoor air. As per the claims, it can slaughter over 90% of airborne infections and diseases. Another solution to ensure cleanliness at the workplace is MicroGO’s GOassureTM IoT-enabled Hand Hygiene device. It ensures good hand hygiene practices, sustainability (water and other savings), and provides real-time data monitoring. It follows a six-step of hand hygiene and a 25-second process to ensure thorough cleaning and disinfection of hands.

Contactless Tech Solutions

Since Coronavirus spreads from touching an infected surface, offices will need a better alternative to biometric attendance systems that requires finger impression to mark attendance. This is where contactless biometrics will be a game-changer to authenticate employees without having them touch or place their hands on a scanner. This can be possible via several technologies out there such as facial recognition tools and digital fingerprint detection systems. Contactless solutions are going to be all the rage in the post-pandemic world and can help not only prevent the virus from spreading, but also make their office space cleaner.

Facebook agrees to $550M slap on the wrist following facial recognition suit

Other examples of contactless technology includes temperature scanners. We’ve already witnessed extensive use of handheld thermometers to scan temperature that helps with the detection of COVID-19-prone patients during the pandemic. While these handheld thermometers require a person standing around with it at all times to scan people, a number of contactless technologies have emerged that automatically scans people as they enter an office. Zesta India’s Wall Mounted Automatic Thermometer is a good example. With Zesta’s Wall Mounted Automatic Thermometer, companies can simply install it at the entrances of the workplace and let everyone scan themselves with zero physical contact. This can be used at the office, shops, hospitals, schools, malls, and other public areas. It also comes with colour code alarm, fast and accurate detection.

Apps For Employees’ Safe Return

Apps have been playing a critical role in the war against COVID-19, and they can also help companies prepare better for employees’ return to offices. Tech companies have been developing apps that’ll act as additional support in keeping employees safe. For example, ServiceNow, a digital workforce company, has released a four-app suite and dashboard that’s aimed to help companies better manage the necessary steps required for returning employees to the office. These include apps around safety management, inventory management, health screening, and employee surveys. Apart from these, there are several other apps in the market that can help keep track on how employees are doing after returning to the workplace.

The post-pandemic world has started to come into focus, and it’s crucial that companies start taking steps that will shield both their employees and the business overall. Technology is helping us more than you realize during the pandemic and it will continue to do so after the pandemic is over.

BY NATASHA MATHUR

Sourced from Mashable India

By

China announced in 2017 its ambition to become the world leader in artificial intelligence (AI) by 2030. While the US still leads in absolute terms, China appears to be making more rapid progress than either the US or the EU, and central and local government spending on AI in China is estimated to be in the tens of billions of dollars.

The move has led – at least in the West – to warnings of a global AI arms race and concerns about the growing reach of China’s authoritarian surveillance state. But treating China as a “villain” in this way is both overly simplistic and potentially costly. While there are undoubtedly aspects of the Chinese government’s approach to AI that are highly concerning and rightly should be condemned, it’s important that this does not cloud all analysis of China’s AI innovation.

The world needs to engage seriously with China’s AI development and take a closer look at what’s really going on. The story is complex and it’s important to highlight where China is making promising advances in useful AI applications and to challenge common misconceptions, as well as to caution against problematic uses.

Nesta has explored the broad spectrum of AI activity in China – the good, the bad and the unexpected.

The good

China’s approach to AI development and implementation is fast-paced and pragmatic, oriented towards finding applications which can help solve real-world problems. Rapid progress is being made in the field of healthcare, for example, as China grapples with providing easy access to affordable and high-quality services for its ageing population.

Applications include “AI doctor” chatbots, which help to connect communities in remote areas with experienced consultants via telemedicine; machine learning to speed up pharmaceutical research; and the use of deep learning for medical image processing, which can help with the early detection of cancer and other diseases.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, medical AI applications have surged as Chinese researchers and tech companies have rushed to try and combat the virus by speeding up screening, diagnosis and new drug development. AI tools used in Wuhan, China, to tackle COVID-19 – by helping accelerate CT scan diagnosis – are now being used in Italy and have been also offered to the NHS in the UK.

The bad

But there are also elements of China’s use of AI which are seriously concerning. Positive advances in practical AI applications which are benefiting citizens and society don’t detract from the fact that China’s authoritarian government is also using AI and citizens’ data in ways that violate privacy and civil liberties.

Most disturbingly, reports and leaked documents have revealed the government’s use of facial recognition technologies to enable the surveillance and detention of Muslim ethnic minorities in China’s Xinjiang province.

The emergence of opaque social governance systems which lack accountability mechanisms are also a cause for concern.

In Shanghai’s “smart court” system, for example, AI-generated assessments are used to help with sentencing decisions. But it is difficult for defendants to assess the tool’s potential biases, the quality of the data and the soundness of the algorithm, making it hard for them to challenge the decisions made.

China’s experience reminds us of the need for transparency and accountability when it comes to AI in public services. Systems must be designed and implemented in ways that are inclusive and protect citizens’ digital rights.

The unexpected

Commentators have often interpreted the State Council’s 2017 Artificial Intelligence Development Plan as an indication that China’s AI mobilisation is a top-down, centrally planned strategy.

But a closer look at the dynamics of China’s AI development reveals the importance of local government in implementing innovation policy. Municipal and provincial governments across China are establishing cross-sector partnerships with research institutions and tech companies to create local AI innovation ecosystems and drive rapid research and development.

Beyond the thriving major cities of Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen, efforts to develop successful innovation hubs are also underway in other regions. A promising example is the city of Hangzhou, in Zhejiang Province, which has established an “AI Town”, clustering together the tech company Alibaba, Zhejiang University and local businesses to work collaboratively on AI development. China’s local ecosystem approach could offer interesting insights to policymakers in the UK aiming to boost research and innovation outside the capital and tackle longstanding regional economic imbalances.

China’s accelerating AI innovation deserves the world’s full attention, but it is unhelpful to reduce all the many developments into a simplistic narrative about China as a threat or a villain. Observers outside China need to engage seriously with the debate and make more of an effort to understand – and learn from – the nuances of what’s really happening.

By

Sourced from The Conversation