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Thursday, Jun 8, 2023

Encino Internet Research Firm Going Mobile

Headed to the grocery store? Maybe you feel like evaluating the cereal display. Driving past billboards on the Ventura (101) freeway? Tell the advertiser what you think. That’s the idea behind the new iPoll app launched last month by United Samples Inc., an Encino Internet marketing firm. “We’ve rebranded the whole concept as iPoll,” said Allen Vartazarian, director of product, mobiles, for the company. “We have our website, which connects users to online surveys, but now this expands sending them on missions out in the field to visit and do things to interact with what we’re studying.” uSamp, as the company is more usually called, has been expanding its mobile research over the last few years. But now, with the launch of iPoll, it’s really moving away from traditional people-in-a-locked room interviews, according to Vartazarian. The app works like this: users install the program on their phone, and using “geofencing,” which triggers polls based on the phone’s location, respondents are told when they’re near an in-person opportunity. Say, for example, you’re at the mall and walk by a particular store. The app will notify you if there’s a survey that can be taken. Additionally, the app doesn’t just ask questions. It asks for bar code scans, audio recordings and video. How does this help uSamp’s customers, which range from cereal makers to auto manufacturers? “This gives them really detailed information, and more quickly,” Vartazarian said. “We’ve found some clients have been hesitant to move to mobile, just as they were hesitant to move online or move to phones back in the day, but overall they’re really starting to embrace it. (Consumer packaged goods) companies have really been adopting it more quickly than other market segments.” Survey respondents earn money by completing the so-called missions, much like traditional market studies. For now, the app is only available for iPhone, but Verlander said that it will be available for Android platforms later this year. Put Yourself in a Disney Tale Walt Disney Co. is the latest firm to make a play into the photography app market. With printed photo albums going the way of the corded phone, app makers have been looking for ways to plug the hole. Glendale firm Nero Inc. last month launched its NeroKwik Tapestries, which pulls in photos from multiple social sites, like Facebook and Instagram, to create electronic albums of user’s photos. Others, including Apple Inc.’s own iAlbum, have already moved into the market. Disney Interactive’s offering, called Story, isn’t exactly an all-encompassing app, keeping things limited to photos already stored on a user’s phone. It pulls the photos taken from a particular day or location together, and gives users options for captioning and packaging. Those can then be emailed or uploaded to Facebook. But fans hoping the app will include some fun Disney characters or photo manipulation options will be disappointed. There are just five “themes” available in different color schemes, and only one of those is Disney-related – a barely-visible Mickey Mouse background screen. The app isn’t aimed at children, though. The Disney division is hoping to lure in moms familiar with the company, who are looking for new ways to share photos. “When we become moms, our iPhone instantly becomes the go-to device to capture the spontaneous moments of family life. Before we know it, we have thousands of photos and videos on it,” said Brooke Chaffin, senior vice president, Disney Interactive Family, in a statement. Nexicore Layoffs Computer repair company Nexicore Services is laying off 108 people from its Simi Valley location. And a slow down in sales was being cited as the reason. Avnet Inc., which acquired Nexicore last year out of bankruptcy, said the layoffs are necessary as part of a larger restructuring of the firm. “In response to current business conditions, Avnet Services has had to make some difficult decisions to align its staff to the current needs of the business,” said Michelle Gorel, Avnet’s vice president of public relations and corporate communications. The cuts are across all departments, including customer service reps, repair technicians and packaging clerks. Avnet, based in Phoenix, employed 265 employees in Simi Valley when it acquired Nexicore in January of last year. The company already has downsized its Simi Valley facilities by 20,000 square feet. it moved into a 82,000-square-foot building at 4201 Guardian St. that will remain open. Staff reporter Kelly Goff can be reached at kgoff@sfvbj.com or (818) 316-3135.

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