The Rise Of Social Commerce: How Tweets, Pins And Likes Can Turn Into Sales

admin » 21 June 2013 » In Social Media » No Comments

Overall usage on social media platforms is exploding. Millions and millions of consumers are expressing likes on Facebook, tweeting about products on Twitter, and pinning on Pinterest every single day.

Retailers and brands are therefore increasingly focusing their attention on social commerce.

But, many struggle with the question: how do you convert a “like,” a “tweet,” or “pin” into a sale?

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In a new report from BI Intelligence, we look at successful examples of businesses and business models for generating commerce via social media-based strategies, analyze Pinterest’s success as a social commerce platform, look at Facebook’s potential as a social commerce contender, and examine the e-commerce conversion and order value gap.

Here’s an overview of the converging trends that promise to transform social media into a viable commerce platform:

The rise of mobile: The rise of mobile, which means shoppers can price-compare and solicit advice from friends wherever they are. Overall, mobile accounts for just under 40% of time spent on social media. Facebook has passed the 50% mobile usage mark and Pinterest is at 48%. Together, they combine for over 56% of social generated e-commerce at the moment, according to social commerce platform, Addshoppers. Given the continued growth of mobile devices, it will only rise. Brands’ desire for guaranteed attention in the medium, coupled with this explosion, helps to explain social media’s move away from traditional display ads – like Facebook’s right-rail ads – and into the realm of social commerce.

The rise of the visual Web: Sites like Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram, and Wanelo are becoming repositories for shopping ideas, fashion tips, and wish lists — in essence user-generated catalogs. For example, in a recent survey by Zmags (a mobile catalog company), 63% of online shoppers said they plan to use online catalogs. And 35% said they plan to use Pinterest to make purchases.

Demographics: Today’s mobile-savvy consumers in their teens and early twenties are accustomed to shopping online and tend to see their smartphones and tablets as their main computing device, and an important shopping tool. Pinterest’s average user is between the ages of 30 and 49, which is an age bracket with considerable disposable income. Also, Pinterest users tend to be women (anywhere from 80 to 85% of its user base is female). Marketers know that it is women who usually control the purse strings for household purchases related to clothes, home decoration, and gifts — three strong areas for Pinterest.

Significant challenges remain: Social commerce — whatever the model — needs to better reflect the fundamental rule of e-commerce, which Amazon has always championed: Consumers will click to buy when it’s relatively effortless. That’s even more true of a casual shopper who ends up on a retailer’s site because of a social recommendation. That intent to buy is fragile and can quickly evaporate. Currently, social commerce strategies involve too many intermediate steps before a user ends up in front of the crucial “buy” button.

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Could Statins Raise Diabetes Risk?

admin » 11 June 2013 » In FDA, Legal News, Mass Tort » 1 Comment

Some popular brands associated with high blood sugar levels in study, but odds of problems are low

Certain statins — the widely used cholesterol-lowering drugs — may increase your chances of developing type 2 diabetes, a new study suggests.

The risk was greatest for patients taking atorvastatin (brand name Lipitor), rosuvastatin (Crestor) and simvastatin (Zocor), the study said.

Focusing on almost 500,000 Ontario residents, researchers in Canada found that the overall odds of developing diabetes were low in patients prescribed statins. Still, people taking Lipitor had a 22 percent higher risk of new-onset diabetes, Crestor users had an 18 percent increased risk and people taking Zocor had a 10 percent increased risk, relative to those taking pravastatin (Pravachol), which appears to have a favorable effect on diabetes.

Physicians should weigh the risks and benefits when prescribing these medications, the researchers said in the study, which was published online May 23 in the journal BMJ.

This does not, however, mean that patients should stop taking their statins, the experts said. The study also showed only an association between statin use and higher risk of diabetes; it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

“While this is an important study evaluating the relationship between statins and the risk of diabetes, the study has several flaws that make it difficult to generalize the results,” said Dr. Dara Cohen, a professor of medicine in the department of endocrinology, diabetes and bone disease at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. “There was no data regarding weight, ethnicity and family history — all important risk factors for the development of diabetes.”

Cohen added that there was no information on the patients’ cholesterol and blood sugar levels, and that higher-risk patients might automatically be prescribed stronger statins such as Lipitor, Crestor and Zocor.

Finnish doctors wrote in an accompanying editorial that this potential risk should not stop people from taking statins.

“The overall benefit of statins still clearly outweighs the potential risk of incident diabetes,” researchers from the University of Turku said. Statins have been proven to reduce heart problems, they said, adding that the medications “play an important role in treatment.”

Other statins did perform more favorably than Lipitor, Crestor and Zocor in terms of diabetes, the research found.

“Preferential use of pravastatin and potentially fluvastatin … may be warranted,” the study authors said in a journal news release, adding that Pravachol may even be beneficial to patients at high risk of diabetes. Fluvastatin (Lescol) was associated with a 5 percent decreased risk of diabetes and lovastatin (Mevacor) a 1 percent decreased risk.

In previous research, Crestor was associated with a 27 percent higher risk of diabetes, while Pravachol was linked to a 30 percent lower risk.

For this study, the researchers used patient information from three Canadian databases on 66-year-old men and women who were newly prescribed statins and followed for up to five years. Lipitor accounted for more than half of all new statin prescriptions, followed by Crestor, Zocor, Pravachol, Mevacor and Lescol.

The researchers said between 162 and 407 patients would have to be taking statins of various kinds for one extra patient to develop diabetes.

Results were similar for patients already diagnosed with heart disease and those taking statins to prevent it. Older patients using Lipitor and Zocor were at an increased risk regardless of dose, the researchers found.

People with type 2 diabetes have higher than normal blood sugar levels because their bodies don’t make or properly use insulin. The researchers said it is possible that certain statins impair insulin secretion and inhibit insulin release, which could help explain the findings.

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Doctor’s Doubts Imperil Lucrative Diabetes Drugs

admin » 30 May 2013 » In Defective Products, FDA, Legal News, Mass Tort, Recall » 1 Comment

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LOS ANGELES — Dr. Peter C. Butler initially declined a request by the drug maker Merck to test whether its new diabetes drug, Januvia, could help stave off the disease in rats.

“I said, I’m not interested in your money, go away,” Dr. Butler recalled.

Merck no doubt now wishes it had. When Dr. Butler finally agreed to do the study, he found worrisome changes in the pancreases of the rats that could lead to pancreatic cancer. The discovery, in early 2008, turned Dr. Butler into a crusader whose follow-up studies now threaten the future of not only Januvia but all the drugs in its class, which have sales of more than $9 billion annually and are used by hundreds of thousands of people with Type 2 diabetes.

“I knew some stuff that I thought was a worry and I was obliged to pursue it,” said Dr. Butler, the chairman of endocrinology at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Based on his latest study, both the Food and Drug Administration and the European Medicines Agency have begun investigations that could lead to new warnings on the drugs, or even to their removal from the market.

Or they could result in no action at all.

Dr. Butler faces powerful opponents in the makers of the drugs and many diabetes specialists, who say his studies are contradicted by other evidence.

“The data are inconclusive,” said Dr. Robert Ratner, chief scientific and medical officer of the American Diabetes Association. He said even if there were some excess risk, it would be “exceptionally low.”

Nancy Thornberry, who heads diabetes drug development at Merck, said that clinical trials, the gold standard of medical evidence, had found no increased risk of pancreatic disease from Januvia, even when results of trials were pooled to achieve greater numbers. “In fact, my mother takes sitagliptin,” she added, referring to Januvia by its generic name.

Questions about whether the drugs raise the risk of pancreatitis, a painful and possibly lethal inflammation of the pancreas, arose soon after the first one, Byetta, now sold by Bristol-Myers Squibb and AstraZeneca, was approved in 2005. The drugs’ labels already contain warnings about that. What is new and potentially more serious is a possible risk of pancreatic cancer, which is virtually untreatable and kills most victims within a year.

Many people in the field compare Dr. Butler to Dr. Steven Nissen, the well-known Cleveland Clinic cardiologist whose warnings about Avandia, a different type of diabetes drug, led to its being banned in Europe and highly restricted in the United States.

Both men have faced criticism from those who call them zealots. The F.D.A. is about to examine data suggesting that Avandia might not be so dangerous after all. Some critics say Dr. Butler overstates his conclusions and that his findings have not been replicated by others.

“Basically, no one in the entire world over the last 10 years, with thousands of animals,” has found what Dr. Butler found, said Dr. Daniel J. Drucker, a professor of medicine at the University of Toronto and a consultant to many drug companies.

Still, Dr. Butler is not easy to write off. He is a former editor of Diabetes, the flagship journal of the American Diabetes Association. And he has some defenders.

“He should be an American hero, actually, a rugged individualist who is not going to be browbeaten,” said Dr. Edwin Gale, professor emeritus at the University of Bristol in Britain, who recently wrote a commentary with Dr. Butler on the drugs.

Dr. Butler was born in Kenya to British parents, though he has worked in the United States since 1987 and is an American citizen. His wife, Dr. Alexandra E. Butler, a pathologist who occupies the office next to his, has also worked on some of the studies.

In the last month, lawyers defending drug companies against a lawsuit claiming that Byetta had caused a patient’s pancreatitis, subpoenaed virtually all of Dr. Butler’s records.

“I think the message here is they want him out of business,” said Brian Depew, a lawyer representing the plaintiff, Ross Hubert of New Hampshire, who claims that Byetta caused him to get pancreatitis. Dr. Butler said U.C.L.A. told him not to comment on the subpoena.

More than 100 lawsuits representing 575 plaintiffs around the country are claiming injury from Byetta, mostly pancreatitis, according to the latest quarterly regulatory filing from Bristol-Myers. Forty-three suits claim that Januvia caused pancreatic cancer, according to Merck.

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What a Company Knew About Its Metal Hips

admin » 06 May 2013 » In FDA, Legal News, Mass Tort » No Comments

All-metal hip replacements have failed at a high rate and harmed many patients in recent years. Now there is evidence that a major manufacturer was aware of a serious problem with one of its models yet failed to alert patients or doctors and continued to market it aggressively.

The all-metal hips, in which a ball and a cup component are both made of metal, were thought to be superior in some respects to traditional hip replacements made of plastic and metal. Some 500,000 people in this country received all-metal devices over the past decade. They were not adequately tested because of regulatory loopholes the Food and Drug Administration is now moving to close, and began failing not long after implantation.

Thousands of patients have had to replace them in painful operations; hundreds more have suffered internal damage. Court documents now show that a major manufacturer, the DePuy Orthopaedics division of Johnson & Johnson, buried the bad news about a model known as the Articular Surface Replacement, the most failure-prone of the implants. The implants were recalled in 2010, but the documents show that as early as 2008 DePuy executives were told by a number of surgeons, including its own consultants, that the device appeared flawed. That was never disclosed to doctors who were putting the device into patients, nor were other unfavorable internal studies. By the time of the recall, the device had been implanted in about 93,000 patients around the world.

Surgeons have largely stopped using the device; even so, the company is facing more than 10,000 lawsuits in this country related to past implantations. Though the company says the evidence will ultimately show that it acted appropriately, it clearly has a lot of explaining to do.

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FDA says Zithromax can cause fatal irregular heart rhythm

admin » 12 March 2013 » In Defective Products, FDA, Mass Tort » 10 Comments

zithromax

FDA says Zithromax can cause fatal irregular heart rhythm

The Food and Drug Administration warned on Tuesday that the antibiotic azithromycin, sold as Zithromax, can cause a potentially fatal irregular heart rhythm in some patients.

A study in the New England Journal of Medicine last May compared the risk of cardiovascular death from different antibacterial drugs and found that the drug, which is made by Pfizer Inc and is also sold by generic drugmakers, had a higher rate of death.

In its warning, the FDA said the drug can cause abnormal changes in the electrical activity of the heart that may lead to a potentially fatal heart rhythm known as prolonged QT interval, in which the timing of the heart’s contractions becomes irregular.

The FDA said doctors should use caution when giving the popular antibiotic to patients known to have this condition or who have certain risk factors. Those who may be at risk include people with low levels of potassium or magnesium, a slower than normal heart rate, or people who take certain drugs used to treat abnormal heart rhythms, or arrhythmias. The drug could also cause problems in people with torsades de pointes, a specific, rare heart rhythm abnormality.

However, the FDA noted that other drugs in the same class as azithromycin known as macrolides also have the potential for causing QT prolongation, as do non-macrolide antibiotics, such as fluoroquinolones, and doctors need to consider all of these risks when choosing an antibiotic.
Pfizer officials were not immediately available for comment.

Shares of Pfizer were down 0.5 percent at $28.10 on Tuesday morning on the New York Stock Exchange.

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J&J Must Pay $8.3 Million Over Defective Hip, Jury Says

admin » 08 March 2013 » In Defective Products, Legal News » No Comments

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ)’s DePuy unit defectively designed a metal-on-metal hip implant, a California jury decided in the first of 10,750 lawsuits over the device to go to trial.
The Los Angeles jury awarded a total of $8.3 million in damages to Loren “Bill” Kransky, a retired Montana prison guard who alleged DePuy’s design of its ASR hip caused his injuries. Jurors said J&J was negligent even though the company properly warned of the risks, and didn’t owe punitive damages.

J&J, the world’s largest seller of health-care products, recalled 93,000 of the implants in August 2010, when it said 12 percent failed within five years. Last year, 44 percent failed in Australia within seven years. Analysts say the lawsuits could cost J&J billions of dollars to resolve.

“This is not an imperfect hip, this is a public health disaster,” Kransky’s attorney Michael Kelly said in closing arguments on Feb. 28. “Somebody needs to tell them, ‘Don’t make Bill Kransky come to court. Build these things right. Don’t let this happen again.’”

Patients such as Kransky complain in lawsuits of dislocations, pain, and follow-up surgeries known as revisions. Kransky’s lawyers argued that DePuy failed to test the device adequately before selling it in the U.S. in 2005, buried surgeon complaints of mounting failures, and studied a redesign of the ASR before scrapping that effort in 2008.
Medical Expenses
Kransky’s lawyer Brian Panish had asked for compensatory damages of $5.3 million and punitive damages of as much as $179 million. The jury’s verdict, which came on the sixth day of deliberations, included $338,136 in damages for medical expenses and $8 million for physical pain and emotional suffering.

“This is the first day of reckoning for DePuy,” Panish said after the verdict. “We’ve learned a lot from this trial. We’ll get punitive damages in the next trial.”

One juror, David Vega, said after the verdict that “I wanted punitive damages” based on the evidence that DePuy found the problem and took so long to resolve it.

J&J, based in New Brunswick, New Jersey, says the ASR isn’t defective and the company adequately warned doctors of the risk of injury.

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Google AdWords: Introducing Enhanced Campaigns

admin » 11 February 2013 » In Google, Internet, Marketing, Tech News, Youtube » No Comments

Google AdWords: Introducing Enhanced Campaigns

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Bill Clinton at CES 2013: Don’t Take Tech for Granted

admin » 09 January 2013 » In Internet, Tech News » No Comments

Bill Clinton at CES 2013: Don’t Take Tech for Granted

LAS VEGAS — Former U.S. President Bill Clinton joined Samsung on stage at 2013 International CES in Las Vegas to discuss the power of the Internet and the need to grow its infrastructure in the U.S.

President Clinton — the brand ambassador for the Samsung Hope for Children program, which will provide education to 2.5 million children — told attendees “technology can help overcome challenges that are not even economic.”

“I’ve been backstage looking at all the new devices, and I was reminded that when I was president, the average cellphone weighed 5 pounds,” Clinton said. “The day I took the Oath of Office, a grand total of 50 sites were on the Internet. More have been added since I started talking.”

But he noted South Korea is now number one in the world for computer download speeds, and the U.S. has fallen to number 15.

“Our speeds are one-fourth of theirs, and we have fallen off the map,” Clinton said. “Think about all the basic things we are taking for granted. If the screen went dark or the microphone failed … if you get bored from my speech, you can get water — but I have spent time in part of the world where you can’t do that. Mobile technology is doing so much now to lift the poor.”

He said he is impressed by how much technology is affecting our lives, and how it can be used for the future. Although he said he no longer drives, someone recently told him to sit in his Ford car, and told its built-in infotainment system to provide directions to the nearest Chinese restaurant.

“I got a map about how to drive there, which I didn’t know before,” he said. “I keep thinking about this in terms of the future. If you look at what the Arab Spring did to use social networks … and how social media has been used among my wife’s leadership … there is a lot we can do to overcome challenges.”

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Blood-thinner Pradaxa target of mass-claims suit

admin » 09 November 2012 » In Defective Products, FDA, Legal News, Mass Tort » No Comments

After taking the blood-thinning drug Pradaxa for three weeks, Charles Jackson experienced intestinal bleeding. His doctor told him to get off the drug, which he began taking after suffering a stroke last September.

Months later, Jackson, 75, a retired truck driver from the rural railroad community of Hohenwald, saw a television advertisement imploring patients who had complications with Pradaxa to dial 1-800-BAD-DRUG to learn more about joining a lawsuit against the drug company.

Now Jackson is among hundreds of other patients around the country who are teaming against an anti-stroke drug whose sales eclipsed $1 billion last year. Joining the suit thrusts Jackson into the high-dollar stream of product liability lawsuits, a burgeoning world of mass claims in which specialty law firms cast a wide net for injured consumers who represent the pitfalls of marketing risky products.

Spearheading the Pradaxa litigation is the San Antonio-based law firm of attorney Mikal Watts, a prominent product liability attorney and deep-pocketed Democratic fundraiser.

Watts, who recently hosted President Barack Obama at his home for a private fundraiser, filed tens of thousands of claims for redress after a $20 billion fund was set up to handle claims from the 2010 Gulf oil spill. He was responsible for an $800 million settlement after winning a case against Ford and Firestone alleging defective tires and vehicle parts, one of the country’s largest product liability payouts.

Pradaxa, Watts wagers, could be the country’s next blockbuster civil settlement.

Emily Baier, a spokeswoman for Pradaxa’s company, Boehringer Ingelheim, declined to comment on the lawsuit, though she said safety is the company’s chief priority.

The drug has been under attack by physicians groups and patient advocates since 3,781 adverse effects and 542 deaths associated with Pradaxa were reported last year to the Food and Drug Administration. Its adverse reports and deaths surpassed all other monitored drugs. The FDA is now conducting a safety review of the drug, which millions of people around the country take twice a day.

Yet some legal observers say the case exposes the seams of mass litigation: Clients like Jackson are treated as no more than a claim number. And the fairest outcome for Jackson and numerous others, experts say, will not result from a collective suit in which cherry-picked examples stand-in for hundreds of individual stories.

“It’s going to be one of the larger mass torts in the history of the United States,” said Ryan L. Thompson, attorney with Watts Guerra Craft, who is working on scores of cases including Jackson’s, with a team of 70 employees dedicated to the Pradaxa suit.

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Thousands opting out of BP Gulf spill settlement

admin » 01 November 2012 » In Legal News » No Comments

The architects of a proposed class-action settlement of claims spawned by the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico are confident it won’t be derailed by thousands of businesses and individuals opting out of the deal.

Thursday is the deadline for claimants to postmark written requests to opt out of the multibillion-dollar pact between BP PLC and a team of plaintiffs’ attorneys.

Patrick Juneau, administrator of the court-supervised claims process, said roughly 2,300 potential plaintiffs had asked to opt out as of Wednesday. But Juneau said a final number won’t be known until early next week. And some of the opt-out requests are coming from people who aren’t eligible to participate in the settlement, he added.

BP has the right to terminate the settlement agreement if an undisclosed number of claimants opt out of the deal.

Steve Herman, one of the lead plaintiffs’ attorneys, said in an email that he sees “very little chance” that the deal will fall apart based on the number of opt outs.

“Compared to the thousands and thousands of claims that have been filed, and recognized, the number of opt outs is very low,” Herman wrote. “In fact, many of the objections are from people who are outside of the settlement that want to get into the deal.”

BP estimates it will pay $7.8 billion to resolve claims through the uncapped settlement of economic damage and medical claims from the 2010 disaster.

BP spokesman Scott Dean said the company believes the agreement is “an historic resolution that is fair and reasonable and amply meets all the legal requirements for final approval” by U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier. The judge will decide whether to give it his final approval following a “fairness hearing” on Nov. 8.

“The settlement is a superior alternative to continued lengthy litigation, provides numerous unique claimant-friendly benefits, and fulfills BP’s commitment to pay all legitimate claims stemming from the Deepwater Horizon accident,” Dean said in a statement.

Roughly 75,000 new claims have been filed since the court-supervised claims process took over for the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, which was administered by Kenneth Feinberg. Juneau said his team has made offers to nearly 11,500 eligible claimants worth a total of more than $861 million. About 97 percent of the claimants who responded to those offers have accepted them, he added.

“I’ve never heard of one being this high,” Juneau said of that acceptance rate. “I think it speaks to the claimants’ view of the program.”

Some attorneys with large stables of clients have a dimmer view of the deal, however.

Brent Coon, a Houston-based lawyer, said roughly 5,000 of his 14,000 clients with spill-related claims will ask to opt out of the settlement. Coon said most of them haven’t received offers from Juneau’s team and don’t know how much money, if any, they stand to receive.

“The biggest problem with the class is there is no certainty,” he said. “I can’t tell clients to stay in the class when I can’t tell if they’re going to be paid or not.”

During a hearing last week, Barbier warned claimants that it could take years for them to resolve their claims if they opt out of the settlement and pursue their cases individually.

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