Archive for October, 2014

Eyal Aronoff’s drive for oil alternatives

Friday, October 31st, 2014

The serial entrepreneur wants a ‘flex-fuel’ revolution

Financial Supervision Commission Chair, ECB Vice-President Discuss Troubled Bulgarian Bank KTB

Friday, October 31st, 2014

Stoyan Mavrodiev, Chair of Bulgaria’s Financial Supervision Commission (FSC), met with Vitor Constancio, Vice-President of the European Central Bank (ECB) during a working visit to Frankfurt.

The FSC, a member of the Financial Stability Advisory Council and the European Systemic Risk Board (ESRB), sought the meeting as part of its efforts to help maintain financial stability in Bulgaria and find an optimal solution to the crisis involving Corporate Commercial Bank (KTB, Corpbank).

Bulgaria’s Corporate Commercial Bank was placed under conservatorship by the Bulgarian National Bank (BNB) in June after a bank run. The bank has been closed since then, with depositors having no access to their money, despite the statutory guarantee for bank deposits of up to EUR 100 000.

During Thursday’s meeting with Mavrodiev, Constancio emphasized that cases such as KTB required swift and efficient solutions in order to allow depositors to access their guaranteed funds, at the same time preserving people’s trust in the financial system and the banking system in particular and minimizing the negative effect on the economy in the long term.

Constancio made clear that the ECB was ready to provide expert assistance for the preparation of amendments to banking laws in the case of a request from Bulgaria and the achievement of political consensus on the necessity of such measures.

Mavrodiev suggested that Bulgaria was supposed to treat its accession to the Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM) and the Eurozone as a strategic national priority.

He claimed that the fulfillment of this goal would help maintain financial stability and ensure greater protection of Bulgaria’s economy against turmoil.

Thursday’s meeting was also attended by Vladimir Savov from the FSC, according to reports of the Bulgarian National Radio.


Sofia City Courts Acquits Activists For Painting Monument

Friday, October 31st, 2014

The Sofia City Court acquitted Asen Genov and Tsvetelina Sarbinska, accused of hooliganism for painting the monument in front of the Bulgarian Socialist Party offices in Sofia last November.

As a part of the anti-government protests in 2013 Genov, a blogger and active participant in the protests, and Sarbinska reportedly painted the monument, depicting communist partisans, in pink and purple and wrote “WHO? BCP – DISGRACE”. WHO? being one of the popular slogans of the protests and BCP referring to the old name of BSP – Bulgarian Communist Party.

Genov and Sarbinska were arrested and charged with hooliganism.

Judge Miroslava Todorva ruled that the painting of the monument and the writing of the slogans was a form of expression of political opinion and pointed out that such acts were protected both by Bulgaria’s Constitution and the European Human Rights Convention.

“Expression of political opinion is highly protected because it is one of the foundations of democratic society and one of the main conditions for its furthering,” Todorova wrote in her motives.

Todorova also noted that the prosecution could not prove beyond reasonable doubt that it was indeed Genov and Sarbinska who painted the monument, as at the time and place were present another two persons.

Genov and Sarbinska did not admit to painting the monument, but said they were assuming the political responsibility.


Bulgaria-Macedonia Rail Line to Start Functioning in 2022

Friday, October 31st, 2014

Macedonia’s Transport Minister Mile Janakieski expects the Bulgaria-Macedonia rail line to start functioning in 2022.

The transport ministers of Bulgaria, Macedonia, and Albania participated Friday in a conference held in Sofia.

The participants in Friday’s event made clear that the first stage of the rail line from Kumanovo to Belyakovtsi was being built, while the construction of the second stretch to Kriva Palanka and the third section to Gyueshevo was to start in 2015 and 2017, respectively, according to reports of the Bulgarian National Television.

The three countries will apply for EU funding for the finalization of the Trans-European Corridor 8.

Albanian Transport Minister Edmond Haxhinasto announced that Trans-European Corridor 8 was essential for the country, especially for its ports.

Haxhinasto said that Albania was striving to not lag behind Macedonia in the work on the project.

The three ministers agreed to set up a working group and to elect a coordinator of the joint project and to organize a trilateral meeting of the transport ministers on an annual basis.


Flydubai Airline To Fly Between Sofia and Dubai

Friday, October 31st, 2014

The Flydubai low cost airline starts flights between of Sofia airport and the Dubai International airport twice a week, according to the winter timetable of the Sofia Airport.

The flights will operate on Wednesdays and Sundays.

Overall, in the winter period (October 26 – March 28) from the two terminals of the Sofia airport daily will depart flights to 41 destinations across the world and Bulgaria’s Varna and Burgas.

Most preferred destinations, with most flights, remain Vienna, London, Frankfurt, Munich and Bucharest.


Victor Ponta Set to Win First Round of Romanian Presidential Race

Friday, October 31st, 2014

Romania’s Social Democrat Prime Minister Victor Ponta leads in opinion polls ahead of the first round of presidential elections on November 2.

According to a CSCI poll conducted from October 27 to October 29,the 42-year-old prime minister is expected to garner 40% support, while his main opponent, Liberal Party head Klaus Iohannis, will get 29%.

An October 23 survey by IRES polling agency showed Ponta is set to win 43%of the vote in the first round to Iohannis’ 30 percent, while an October 2-8 survey by INSCOP showed a 10-point lead for Ponta over Iohannis.

The surveys suggest a run-off between Ponta and Iohannis on November 16, which Ponta is expected to win with 55% of the vote, according to the CSCI survey.

Incumbent President Traian Basescu, who will step down in december after 10 years in office because he can’t run for a third five-year term, has accused Ponta of being a former spy -  a charge Ponta has dismissed as a lie.

A total of 14 candidates are running for president, including former Regional Development Minister Elena Udrea backed by Basescu and former Prime Minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu, who have 8% and 6% percent support, respectively.

Ponta’s popularity seems not to have been badly eroded by corruption investigations of senior Social Democratic Party members. His election pledges include tax cuts, pension hikes, good relations with both the EU and China and even a referendum on the restoration of monarchy.

In Romania, the president wields great powers and the influence of the post goes far beyond ceremonial duties. The head of state names top prosecutors, ambassadors and the heads of Romania’s two main intelligence agencies and is in charge of defence and foreign policy.




Construction of 2 New Bulgaria-Romania Bridges to Start by 2017

Friday, October 31st, 2014

The construction of the two new bridges Silistra – Calarasi and Nikopol – Turnu Magurele will start by 2017, according to Bulgaria’s caretaker Transport Minister Nikolina Angelkova.

Angelkova explained Friday that the deadlines had been included in the bilateral memorandum on building two new bridges over the Danube.

She made clear that in the case of a decision to only build a road bridge, it would be implemented in 2019.

Angelkova, as cited by the BGNES news agency, declared that the first sitting of the Bulgaria-Romania working group would be held next week.

She said that the authorities were working on the application form for the funding for the design under the Bulgaria-Romania cross-border co-operation program 2014-2020.

Angelkova informed that the activities were to be wrapped up in two years for the two bridges, adding that opportunities for public-private partnership were being examined.

There are two bridges connecting Bulgaria and Romania at present. Danube Bridge Ruse – Giurgiu was launched in 1954, while Danube Bridge Vidin – Calafat was inaugurated in 2013.


Mary Lou Song of Fuel451: Using Ad Tech to Turn Videos into Digital Marketing Campaigns

Friday, October 31st, 2014

According to a report earlier this year by ZenithOptimedia, global ad spending is on track to grow 5.5% this year to $537 billion, with Internet advertising expected to account for almost one-quarter of that, at $121 billion. And while Google and others has lead the way when in driving Internet ad revenue, social media and ad technologies like re-targeting is expected to surpass search ad revenues by 2015.

Mary Lou Song, co-founder and CEO of video advertising platform Fuel451, shares how small business can use the power of ad technology along with their video content to help them find more customers – without breaking the bank. (This transcript has been edited for publication. To hear audio of the full interview, click on the audio player at the end of this article.)

* * * * *

using ad techSmall Business Trends: Can you tell us a little bit about your background?

Mary Lou Song: I’ve been in the technology space for about the last 20 years. I was the third employee at eBay, and that’s actually where I got my first taste of technology and the power of tech for small businesses.

A few years ago, I started a company with my brother and we decided to look at video and advertising technology for small businesses, and that’s what we’re working on right now with FUEL451.

Small Business Trends: Talk a bit about marketing from the ad tech perspective; because I think a lot small businesses may not be familiar with what they could possibly do with some of the video content they already have.

Mary Lou Song: A couple of years ago what we were finding was that a lot of small businesses were really anxious to try video with their business. And so they went out and invested a lot of time and energy, and sometimes some pretty decent dollars, into creating videos to promote their businesses. But once the video was made, they would put it up on YouTube and then forget about it.

So what we wanted to do was say, “You’ve made that heavy investment in the video, but the best way you can actually take that and re-purpose it would be to actually turn it into an advertisement for your company.”

Small Business Trends: Can you talk a little bit about what ad units are?

Mary Lou Song: For us, any ad unit is basically one single ad or advertisement that is used across the Internet to promote your business. So for us, the ad unit is created from all of your visual assets. We take your video, your logo, the message that you want to actually give to your customer, and we put all of those things into a single advertisement. That’s what we use to promote your business. So when I say ad units, that’s what we’re actually talking about.

Small Business Trends: Now let’s also talk about re-targeting.

Mary Lou Song: You might actually hear two different terms in the advertising space. You might hear the term re-targeting, or you might hear the term re-marketing. And all that is, is this notion of when somebody comes to your site, you follow them or track them with ads about your business.

So, let me give you an example. If you’ve ever been to say the Nordstrom website, and you’ve looked at Nike shoes, an ad of Nike shoes then follows you wherever you go on the Internet. You’re constantly being reminded of those Nike shoes. That is called re-targeting or re-marketing. Nordstrom is trying to remind you of those Nike shoes and get you back to the site.

Re-marketing should be part of the healthy advertising that you do for your site or your business. But at FUEL451 we say that’s a good starting point, but that’s not the end-all-be-all of what you should be doing to keep a healthy digital advertising strategy for your business. We actually track your customers and we track them with re-targeting first. But what we’re doing is gathering up all of the information and the data that we possibly can about your healthiest customers and use that data to inform you who your target or your new customers should be.

Small Business Trends: So in other words, the way FUEL451 works is learning about current customer behavior so that you can find more good customers that have that kind of behavior pattern too?

Mary Lou Song: That’s exactly right. I think that there are two trends every small business should be aware of. One trend is the video trend and how important that is to sales and conversion rates, and even increasing the trust factor between a business and its customers.

But the second big trend that I think small businesses should be engaging in and using to their advantage is this notion of data. What we are trying to do is wrap that into our offering with FUEL451. So what we want to do is not just stop with the video and the re-targeting. The data that we can actually gather for a small business about their customers, all of that data needs to be leveraged to find new customers.

Small Business Trends: You’re trying to keep the attention of customers that you currently have, and by using a service like yours, you’re able to do that. But you’re also able to collect more information to really help target even more customer or potential customers that could be just like them.

Mary Lou Song: That’s exactly right. Now, the idea of that is not new. That’s what big companies have been doing for years. But the way that we have built our technology, it makes this whole thing possible for a business of any size.

Small Business Trends: How long would it take for them to start seeing some of the impact that we are talking about?

Mary Lou Song: Any business of any size should be tracking their customers. That, to me, is first and foremost and actually more important than launching an advertising campaign. We tell all of our customers and our clients that regardless of your size, we want to start tracking your customers as soon as possible. So even if you’re starting off and you’ve got maybe one or two customers, or a couple of hits a day to your site, that data you’re getting about your customer base is a gold mine for you. We want to be there to help you mine that gold and use that to inform who you should be looking at next.

I know if you go to some agencies, or if you went to an ad network, they might say if you don’t get 5,000 hits a month, or 5,000 hits a day, you’re too small to be doing this. But the way that we’ve built our technology is size agnostic. We are here to help everybody learn whatever they can about their own customer base, and can use that data that they gather to really target new customers because that’s really what we’re all after.

Small Business Trends: So, you’re using a service like this to learn about your customers and learn customer behaviors in order to try to find potential customers like them. But you’re also learning more about existing customers, so you can provide better experiences for them, better interaction opportunities and better engagement opportunities?

Mary Lou Song: That’s exactly right. We are watching what they do on your site, off of your site, what interests them, what are the behaviors that characterize your business and its customers. And what we’re doing is looking for those patterns in that behavior that we can leverage and use to match other Internet users who are out there that should be targeted as potential customers for you.

Small Business Trends: Where can people learn more about your service?

Mary Lou Song: Our site, which is And, of course, they can always call me or call any one of my team and we’re happy to help out.

This interview on using ad tech is part of the One on One interview series with thought-provoking entrepreneurs, authors and experts in business today. This transcript has been edited for publication. To hear audio of the full interview, click on the player above. 

The post Mary Lou Song of Fuel451: Using Ad Tech to Turn Videos into Digital Marketing Campaigns appeared first on Small Business Trends.


Exxon and Chevron profits buck trend

Friday, October 31st, 2014

Integrated operations act as hedge to falling commodity prices

Germany Introduces Road Toll of up to EUR 130 for Foreign Drivers

Friday, October 31st, 2014

Germany has introduced a road toll which requires foreign car drivers to pay up to EUR 130 a year for using the country’s motorways.

The new fee, which will is scheduled to take effect in 2016, aims to secure funds for the maintenance of transport infrastructure, according to reports of EurActiv.

The fee will vary depending on the cylinder capacity and environmental compatibility of the vehicle, the maximum amount being EUR 130 a year.

Foreign drivers will be able to pay a 10-day toll of EUR 10 or a 2-month toll for EUR 22.

The newly approved toll may still be revoked over its incompatibility with EU law provisions prohibiting discrimination against foreign motorists.