Adtech

Advertising in 2020 is way more than a billboard on the side of a highway these days. When it comes to catching consumer eyeballs, it’s personal. 

As consumers, we know it well. We can’t scroll to a news site, or any site for that matter, without a barrage of ads that may or may not be tailored to our interests.  And it’s true— thanks to advertising technology, advertisements are more targeted than ever.  

Adtech is a relatively new industry that has become part of the fabric of the modern world, and it’s only just begun. 

For consumers these days, the constant ads are the price of free, and so mostly, we accept it. After all, we aren’t paying for Google search, for Facebook, or to watch our favorite show on YouTube.

The internet-based services that have become so ingrained in our daily lives learn about us so that they can most successfully serve us ads and use those dollars to provide their services. This is especially true since the coronavirus pandemic shifted so many “in-person” norms to virtual experiences.

It’s a crazy world we live in, and for all of the unknowns, we can rest assured that advertising isn’t going away anytime soon. 

What is adtech?

Advertising technology (or adtech) is driven by what’s called programmatic advertising. If that sounds more like an AI algorithm than a sales team, that’s because it is. 

Programmatic advertising is “the real-time buying and selling of ad inventory through an automated bidding system. Programmatic advertising enables brands or agencies to purchase ad impressions on publisher sites or apps through a sophisticated ecosystem.”

And while we all gasp at how expensive Super Bowl commercials are every year, we don’t always consider how companies try to get in front of their target audience 365 days per year while consumers watch, click, and scroll throughout the day.

Programmatic advertising includes display ads, video ads, social ads, audio ads, native ads, and digital out-of-home ads. It’s at play whether we Google something random or tune into the season finale of our favorite show.

Consumer ad fatigue has simply led to more creative ways to grab interest. For example, native ads appear to be part of the media they appear on, rather than stand out like a pop-up or a banner ad. 

The Economist famously used programmatic advertising to tap into an entirely new audience. In one campaign, it generated 650,000 new prospects with a return on investment (ROI) of 10:1 and increased awareness by almost 65%. 

How did it achieve such success? It referenced subscriber, cookie, and content data to identify audience segments (finance, politics, economics, good deeds, careers, technology, and social justice), creating more than 60 ad versions to target potential customers effectively. 

No longer was The Economist considered a dry, intellectual journal by most. Instead, it had new relevance. What’s more, it had new readers. 

Adtech isn’t limited to the internet. For example, how many people have you heard at least consider ditching cable and just using streaming services? Meet connected TV, which is anticipated to grow to reach 204.1 million users by 2022 according to eMarketer. 

As subscribers to services including Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and Disney Plus have increased, so have over-the-top (OTT) advertising dollars to the tune of $5 billion in 2020. These ads are typically highly personalized according to a viewer’s interest and cannot be skipped, but rather must be viewed to continue consuming content. 

Ads on our computers aren’t the only adtech at play. Digital out-of-home advertising includes the high-tech billboards, on-vehicle ads, etc. Where online advertising can feel nagging, outdoor advertising is innovating in a way that appears interesting and grabs attention. According to IBIS World, in 2019 billboard advertising revenue grew by more than $8.6 billion in advertising revenue.

Why invest in advertising technology?

Lots of companies these days don’t necessarily run on our dollars, they run on our eyeballs, and our clicks. According to VentureBeat.com, “all major ad-supported tech companies are ad tech companies. They market advertising technology and use technology to support their advertising businesses.” This includes Facebook, Google, Pinterest, and Reddit. 

Adtech is the way of the future, especially as technology evolves and consumers become increasingly glued to screens. In addition to enhanced targeting capabilities, programmatic advertising gives companies real-time insights, enhanced targeting capabilities, greater transparency, and better budget utilization. 

Advertising is part of the fabric of our modern culture. Because companies can use platforms to serve us advertisements, we have access to tons of information and entertainment for no cost. As a consumer, it’s hard to ignore. 

It’s not just Google searches and websites that are ideal for digital ads. “In-game brand advertising is set to see tremendous growth in the coming years,” says Ajitpal Pannu, CEO of Smaato, an adtech platform.  “We are building up a strong foundation to support this new media channel.” 

COVID, interestingly, has moved more eyeballs on screens than ever before. And while advertising spending is down across the board as companies move to save money, adtech spending is bound to rebound, making now an ideal time to invest.

How to invest in adtech?

Advertising is by nature a very broad industry. Just about every company advertises in some way, and the technologies driving those activities are all over the map. Fortunately, a search on Magnifi suggests that there are a number of ETFs and mutual funds to help interested investors access the growing adtech sector without having to invest in many different companies.

Magnifi is changing the way we shop for investments, with the world’s first semantic search engine for finance that helps users discover, compare and buy investment products such as ETFs, mutual funds and stocks. Try it for yourself today. 

This blog is sponsored by Magnifi. The information and data are as of the publish date unless otherwise noted and subject to change. This material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as individualized investment advice or an offer or solicitation to buy or sell securities tailored to your needs. This information covers investment and market activity, industry or sector trends, or other broad-based economic or market conditions and should not be construed as investment research or advice. Investors are urged to consult with their financial advisors before buying or selling any securities. Although certain information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy, completeness or fairness. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. This content may not be reproduced or distributed to any person in whole or in part without the prior written consent of Magnifi. [As a technology company, Magnifi provides access to tools and will be compensated for providing such access. Magnifi does not provide broker-dealer, custodian, investment advice or related investment services.]


Green Initiatives

The sky over the Bay Area is covered with a smoke so thick that it is blocking the sun, leaving it orange and ominous. The image (even in a news article) is a wince-worthy reminder that we are in the year 2020, and the world is different.

With a record 900,000 acres of wildfires burning across Oregon, more than 10% of the state’s 4.2 million population have been evacuated, according to the Oregon Office of Emergency Management. That’s a lot of people, and evacuations aren’t anticipated to end there. In total, 12 western states are burning somewhere, with Oregon, California, and Washington most severely impacted. 

“There’s certainly been nothing in living memory on this scale,” describes Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability at the University of California in an interview with the New York Times

Extreme weather is a new reality, and it matters a lot to the future of economies around the world. In January 2020, before the most recent fires, the Bank for International Settlements (an umbrella organization for the world’s central banks) predicted that the disruptive effects of climate change could usher in the next financial crisis. 

This report was not a one off. According to the January 2020 Global Risks Report by the World Economic Forum, the top five global risks are climate-change related. Extreme weather, which includes floods, storms, wildfires and warmer temperatures, is putting millions at risk for food and water insecurity, property and infrastructure damage, and displacement. 

Now, it’s September and we are looking from near or far at the hazy orange sky above the Bay Area wondering: what’s next?

Where climate change was once a theory that people accepted or not in the same way that they preferred cream or not in their coffee, things are changing fast. This is especially true among millennials, who are making no mistake about where their money is being invested, namely into sustainability-oriented funds.

In what might be considered a ray of hope in a strange world, their environmental investment dollars are starting to add up and smash investing records. 

Here’s what environmental investing is and why it has more momentum than ever before. 

What is green investing?

In 2019, “estimated net flows into open-end and exchange-traded sustainable funds that are available to U.S. investors totaled $20.6 billion for the year,” according to Morningstar. “That’s nearly 4 times the previous annual record for net flows set in 2018.” This near exponential growth in investor interest is in part attributed to younger investors with a specific interest in the environment. 

Perhaps even more impressive, in the first quarter of 2020, sustainable investing totaled $10.5 billion, keeping momentum despite the economic downturn ushered in by the pandemic. 

So, where exactly are these dollars going?

It depends. When it comes to Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) investments can look much differently from one to the next. 

For one, some investors have a specific interest in “climate change innovators.” According to MSCI, these are companies working to innovate and scale new technologies in a way that solves climate problems in new ways. Beyond investing in the next big technology that might lead us to a net-zero carbon world, investors are looking more and more at the environmental policies of the companies that they invest with across the board. These policies include water management strategies that use water responsibly and the prioritization of protecting biodiversity in corporate operations.  

The relevance of biodiversity to our day-to-day lives is as close as the latest summer “Save the Bees” campaign. Honeybees are crucial for pollinating much of the global food supply, from apples to almonds. It’s estimated that bees are responsible for one of every three bites of food eaten in the United States. In addition to the use of insecticides used for many commercial crops, the destruction of habitat and decline in biodiversity have severely impacted this important species.  

In other words, in today’s world, how businesses do business matters greatly, not only to the environment at large, but also to the long-term value of a company. To address that, companies are putting more effort than ever into describing how they meet sustainability standards in their business operations. 

Why invest in sustainability? 

In a letter to CEOs, Blackrock CEO, Larry Fink describes climate change as “a defining factor in companies’ long-term prospects.” According to Fink, “awareness [of climate change] is rapidly changing, and I believe we are on the edge of a fundamental reshaping of finance.” 

Fink anticipates a “significant capital reallocation” into sustainable strategies as millennials, who are currently pushing for institutions to develop sustainable strategies and who will eventually become the policy makers and CEOs of the world. 

In other words, environmentally focused investing is the future. 

Not only is it becoming more popular among millennials, it is paying off for investors. According MSCI, “There is a direct, dollar-value payoff for companies to better manage their ESG risks or meet stated sustainability commitments.” 

Interestingly, since the arrival of COVID-19, awareness to and demand for ESG products is on the rise. Not only did the pandemic accelerate interest in these products, it gave them an opportunity to demonstrate their resilience, with ESG investments less impacted by the pandemic-driven market drop in the spring. 

If you are ready for a certain investment in an uncertain world, environmental investing is a natural choice.

How to invest in green initiatives

The environment, of course, impacts every one of us and touches every industry. Investing in such a broad theme can be challenging for investors. Fortunately, a search on Magnifi suggests that there are a number of ETFs and mutual funds that can help investors access this growing and all-encompassing sector.

 

Magnifi is changing the way we shop for investments, with the world’s first semantic search engine for finance that helps users discover, compare and buy investment products such as ETFs, mutual funds and stocks. Try it for yourself today. 

This blog is sponsored by Magnifi. The information and data are as of the publish date unless otherwise noted and subject to change. This material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as individualized investment advice or an offer or solicitation to buy or sell securities tailored to your needs. This information covers investment and market activity, industry or sector trends, or other broad-based economic or market conditions and should not be construed as investment research or advice. Investors are urged to consult with their financial advisors before buying or selling any securities. Although certain information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy, completeness or fairness. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. This content may not be reproduced or distributed to any person in whole or in part without the prior written consent of Magnifi. [As a technology company, Magnifi provides access to tools and will be compensated for providing such access. Magnifi does not provide broker-dealer, custodian, investment advice or related investment services.]


SaaS

Software-as-a-Service is now standard, from mobile phones and laptops to business solutions for the largest of entities. It seems that there’s an app for everything, and it’s all personalized to each user’s credentials. 

Is your gym closed during Covid-19? Subscribe to Truecoach to build an online training platform for customers. Need to set up an online store, especially with COVID-19 closures? Build one on Shopify. Too busy to make a baby book? Text Queepsake your baby milestones and they’ll make one for you. (Not kidding.)

The solutions are big, small, and endless. 

But, it wasn’t always that way. 

Cloud computing has transformed how users interact with software. Before the software-as-a-service model, users had to purchase their software, either on physical media or via direct download, and had to pay for updates or replacements as technology improved. These days, that’s not how it works. 

Rather than purchase software annually or biannually, users pay for access to the software that they need on a subscription basis. They have credentials and they pay a small fee to accomplish their needs.

This model has transformed how we operate as a society, and it offers a frontier of investment opportunities as software companies strive to create solutions for the next big thing.  

What is SaaS?

Salesforce, which pioneered the software-as-a-service model in 1998 defines software-as-a-service as “a way of delivering centrally hosted applications over the internet as a service. SaaS applications are sometimes known by other names: Web-based software, On-demand software, and Hosted software”

How is this different from previous models?

Consider that hardware is the physical computer or user device. Now consider that software is the programs and apps that help users do things on the computer. 

Before software-as-a-service, customers would buy software housed on a physical source, such as a compact disc. After purchasing, they would take it home, download it to their computer, and then use it. While this utilization of software was helpful, it was also exceptionally hard for companies to update.  

It also wasn’t the most user friendly. For example, if someone was using a tax software before SaaS, they would purchase the software, download it, and input their information. However, every year, they would need to repeat the process in full. Knowing the autofills and recalls of today’s applications, starting from scratch seems tedious and time consuming.

Not to mention that because traditional software is so difficult to update with information, such as the annually revised tax code, for example, users would need to repurchase the software every year. 

Software-as-a-service is different in that it doesn’t require customers to purchase software. Instead, users purchase access to software that’s available on the cloud. 

What exactly is the cloud? It’s a “a vast network of remote servers around the globe which are hooked together and meant to operate as a single ecosystem,” according to Microsoft. 

This type of infrastructure has changed the way software companies administer software, users access and use software, and multiplied the uses and ease of use of software products. For one, SaaS companies can focus on improving their product rather than dedicate energy to producing and marketing new versions. It limits distribution costs like packaging. It also does away with the hassle of administering licenses because the software can only be accessed by paying customers. 

It has also changed payments from one-time to subscription-based. While subscription fees are much smaller from month-to-month than the one-time purchase fees previously were, the fees often add up to more than the cost of the software over the course of the year. 

For companies, pivoting to SaaS has more perks. Because the functions of SaaS have become so familiar and house a user’s data, switching services is often a hassle despite the minimum software cost. This user data can also be leveraged by companies to test new features. 

Why invest in SaaS?

There have been many success stories in SaaS, from Salesforce to Shopify. 

In 2015 at its IPO, Shopify was valued at $1.27 billion. As of spring 2020, it’s valued at $127 billion. Founded by Tobias Lütke and Scott Lake, Shopify started as an online store in 2004 to sell snowboards when they couldn’t find a platform that worked well for them. Now, its e-commerce platform is used by individual sellers and big companies like Google. 

And, the industry is poised to keep growing, especially in the wake of COVID-19

Consider the workforce shift to remote and the Zoom solution, connecting coworkers, families, and even loved ones in nursing homes. Another SaaS platform on the rise is Dynatrace, which provides software intelligence that streamlines user experience and improves business outcomes. 

SaaS companies are solving problems from providing e-commerce solutions for businesses, business solutions that are making remote work scenarios work, to giving users access to platforms that help them do everything from monitoring their finances to staying fit to doing their taxes. 

As the world adopts new post COVID-19 norms, these new solutions are likely to stay in one form or another. 

How to invest in SaaS

Naturally, in an industry as large and diverse as software, picking winners and losers can be challenging. However, for those investors interested in accessing the segment more broadly, there are a number of ETFs and mutual funds available to help streamline the process. A search on Magnifi suggests that there are many SaaS funds available to choose from.

Magnifi is changing the way we shop for investments, with the world’s first semantic search engine for finance that helps users discover, compare and buy investment products such as ETFs, mutual funds and stocks. Try it for yourself today. 

This blog is sponsored by Magnifi. The information and data are as of the publish date unless otherwise noted and subject to change. This material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as individualized investment advice or an offer or solicitation to buy or sell securities tailored to your needs. This information covers investment and market activity, industry or sector trends, or other broad-based economic or market conditions and should not be construed as investment research or advice. Investors are urged to consult with their financial advisors before buying or selling any securities. Although certain information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy, completeness or fairness. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. This content may not be reproduced or distributed to any person in whole or in part without the prior written consent of Magnifi. [As a technology company, Magnifi provides access to tools and will be compensated for providing such access. Magnifi does not provide broker-dealer, custodian, investment advice or related investment services.]


gaming

Video Games

If the image that comes to mind when someone mentions video games is a teenage boy sitting in their parent’s darkened basement playing Mario Kart, surrounded by discarded Mountain Dew cans and Doritos bags, then it is time to discard this outdated stereotype.

Whether or not you yourself enjoy playing video games in your leisure time, gaming has evolved considerably and expanded well beyond its niche origins to sit squarely in the entertainment and cultural mainstream. Fortnite, you may recall, became a global cultural phenomenon following its 2017 release, with everyone from World Cup soccer players to Michelle Obama getting in on the dances popularized by the game.

The demographics of gaming are rapidly evolving with this expansion into the cultural mainstream. In a recent study by AARP, the percentage of adults age 50-59 who play video games at least once a month increased from 38% in 2016 to 44% in 2019, with women more likely than men to regularly play.

Gaming’s explosion in popularity is due, at least in part, to transformative changes in the video game industry over the past decade.

Ten years ago, if you wanted to play the latest game, you would go to a local store (GameStop, for instance), buy the game for around $60, and take the discs home to install/play. These days, mobile gaming (primarily on smartphones) accounts for the largest share of total gaming revenue worldwide, and popular games are often free to download and play. Developers monetize these free games by offering players in-game purchases.

Another relatively recent development is the rise of subscription gaming, which offers players access to a multitude of games for a monthly subscription fee. Similar to the “streaming wars” between Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, etc., developers are scrambling to build competitive subscription services as they work to attract larger shares of the growing market.

For those interested in the investment potential of this dynamic market, there are a few important points to understand.

What are video games circa 2020?

The Cambridge Dictionary defines a video game as “a game in which the player controls moving pictures on a television screen by pressing buttons or moving a short handle.”

Video games have been around in one form or another for decades, beginning with arcade gaming in the 1970s and transitioning to home gaming in the late 70s and early 80s with popular titles such as Space Invaders, Frogger, and PacMan.

Gaming today largely falls into three distinct categories: console gaming, personal computer (PC) gaming, and mobile gaming. Console gaming happens on devices that are built exclusively to play video games (think PlayStation, Xbox, etc.), while PC gaming happens on high-performance personal computers, and mobile gaming, as the name implies, happens on your mobile device (such as your smartphone or tablet).

Until relatively recently, console and PC gaming were the dominant forces in the video game industry, but the recent explosion of smartphone use and internet connectivity globally has dramatically reshaped the industry.

According to market research firm Newzoo, mobile gaming is currently the fastest-growing segment in the video game industry, and revenues from mobile gaming account for 46% of the total gaming market in 2019. This isn’t to say that dedicated gamers are ditching their consoles and PCs in favor of games on their smartphones; rather, the market is expanding as more people gain access to free or inexpensive games through their mobile devices.

This expansion and diversification of the gaming ecosystem have given rise to novel revenue streams; most notably, live streaming and esports.

Live streaming involves gamers broadcasting themselves playing video games live on the internet. The practice has become wildly popular, as evidenced by Amazon’s 2014 acquisition of the streaming startup Twitch for $1 billion.

Esports, meanwhile, refers to competitive, organized video gaming. You may recall the story about the 16-year-old who went home with $3 million after winning the 2019 Fortnite World Cup.

Global revenues from the burgeoning esports market exceeded $1 billion in 2019, an increase of 26.7% over 2018 revenues. The emergence of live streaming and esports has fueled greater interest in gaming while offering outside investors a new way to reach this diverse group of consumers.

Why invest in video games?

According to Newzoo’s 2019 Global Games Market Report, there are more than 2.5 billion people globally who play video games, and global revenue from gaming reached $148.8 billion in 2019. The U.S. market alone generated about $35.5 billion in 2019.

As a point of comparison, the 2019 global box office for films reached a record $42.5 billion, and the U.S. box office finished with $11.4 billion. This means that in 2019, people spent more than three times as much on video games as they did on seeing movies.

This remarkable performance comes amid a changing revenue landscape in which console and PC gaming account for less and less consumer spending.

Mobile gaming comprised about 46% ($68.2 billion) of overall market revenue in 2019 – an increase of 9.7% over 2018 revenues. Though smaller than mobile, console gaming continues to see healthy growth, occupying 30% of the market ($45.3 billion) with an increase of 7.3% from 2018.

Newzoo forecasts that video game revenues will grow to $196 billion by 2022 at an annual growth rate of 9%. Mobile gaming will continue to grow over the next several years, increasing from 46% of the total market in 2019 to a forecasted 49% by 2020 ($68.2 billion to $95.4 billion).

Mobile gaming’s expansion in the market may even be accelerated by outside factors, including the rollout of 5G networks (faster connectivity means better gameplay in more places) and further advancement of augmented/virtual reality (think Pokémon GO).

The video game market offers a unique investment opportunity because the industry is projected to continue its extraordinary performance in the coming years, and the various segments offer a wide variety of options when it comes to risk vs. return.

How to invest in video games

However, despite their popularity and long-standing growth, investing directly in the video gaming sector can be challenging. There are hundreds of different companies working on individual gaming properties, and the rise of mobile gaming has introduced new players to the sector, such as mobile providers and hardware manufacturers. However, a search on Magnifi suggests that there are a number of other ways to profit from the growth of video games as a whole.

Magnifi is changing the way we shop for investments, with the world’s first semantic search engine for finance that helps users discover, compare and buy investment products such as ETFs, mutual funds and stocks. Try it for yourself today.

This blog is sponsored by Magnifi. The information and data are as of the publish date unless otherwise noted and subject to change. This material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as individualized investment advice or an offer or solicitation to buy or sell securities tailored to your needs. This information covers investment and market activity, industry or sector trends, or other broad-based economic or market conditions and should not be construed as investment research or advice. Investors are urged to consult with their financial advisors before buying or selling any securities. Although certain information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy, completeness or fairness. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. This content may not be reproduced or distributed to any person in whole or in part without the prior written consent of Magnifi. [As a technology company, Magnifi provides access to tools and will be compensated for providing such access. Magnifi does not provide broker-dealer, custodian, investment advice or related investment services.]


cybersecurity

Cybersecurity

Upon arriving for work on March 19, 2019, employees of Norwegian aluminum producer Norsk Hydro found alarming signs posted throughout the office notifying staff that the company had been hacked and to not use any network devices. Locked out of all company computers, and unable to even use the office printers, desperate employees drove to local print shops to make the signs.

What happened at Norsk Hydro in early 2019 was a significant, and increasingly-common, type of cyberattack in which hackers gain entry to a company’s secure network, encrypt important data, and hold it hostage until the company agrees to pay a ransom. Norsk Hydro decided early-on that it would not pay the ransom and would instead endeavor to retrieve the data from back-up servers. While Norsk Hydro scrambled to address the attack, no company computers or devices could be used, which meant that the 35,000 employees across 40 countries were, temporarily, reliant on pen and paper to conduct business. 

Ultimately, the attack cost Norsk Hydro an estimated $71 million.

The threat of cyberattack is becoming more sinister as life moves increasingly online. Hackers continuously probe systems for vulnerability, and individuals, businesses, and even governments are learning (sometimes the hard way) that cybersecurity needs to be taken extremely seriously. 

[Cybersecurity matters more than ever in today’s Blockchain-enabled economy. Here’s how.]

The World Economic Forum’s 2019 Global Risks Report, which annually identifies the most pressing global challenges, ranked cyberattacks among the top 10 risks globally in terms of overall impact. Facing this looming threat, organizations around the world are investing heavily in cybersecurity solutions. 

For instance, federal funding for the newly-created Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency increased by $334 million between 2019 and 2020. In addition to building internal cybersecurity capability, businesses are under increasing pressure to comply with new data privacy laws, such as the recently implemented General Data Protection Regulation in the European Union. Implementing strong cybersecurity practices is increasingly seen as essential for organizations of all sizes, and businesses offering cybersecurity solutions are in high demand. 

For those interested in the investment potential of this booming market, there are a few important points to understand.

What is cybersecurity?

According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity (often referred to as the NIST Cybersecurity Framework), cybersecurity is defined as “the process of protecting information by preventing, detecting, and responding to attacks.” 

[It’s not all virtual. Here’s how to invest in… Military & Defense]

A successful cybersecurity strategy involves multiple layers of protection integrated across an organization’s technology and workforce. This involves securing devices, the network, and cloud with advanced protection technologies that prevent outside intrusion and bolster internal security. Educating people on basic cybersecurity principles is equally as important as implementing advanced security tools; even the best security systems can fail if people are careless or unaware of potential threats. 

Organizations that implement a successful cybersecurity strategy often do so with the help of a cybersecurity framework, which helps inform decision-making when it comes to thinking critically about cybersecurity risks within an organization. The NIST Cybersecurity Framework is one such framework, and it is increasingly implemented by private companies in the U.S. as cybersecurity concerns increase.

Still, cyberattacks are becoming more sophisticated as technology becomes increasingly interconnected, and organizations of all shapes and sizes are scrambling to update their cybersecurity strategies. Unfortunately, hackers adapt, and the threats evolve just as fast as the defenses. There is a growing gap between the need for cybersecurity solutions and the ability for organizations to produce those solutions in-house. 

Increasingly, organizations are looking to third-party security providers to help cope with complex, evolving threats. Even a robust, well-trained staff of IT professionals may not be sufficient to protect an organization from these threats. As such, there is growing interest in companies like Splunk, which specializes in analytics-driven security solutions. Splunk is valued at more than $25 billion, and the company’s total revenues increased 36% over the past year. 

The U.S. Department of Defense recently announced that it is buying Splunk software as part of a 10-year, $820 million purchase agreement.

Why invest in cybersecurity? 

The global cybersecurity market is growing rapidly. According to market research by Mordor Intelligence, the global cybersecurity market was worth about $161 billion in 2019 and is projected to grow to about $363 billion by 2025 at an annual growth rate of 14.5%. 

However, market research by International Data Corporation (IDC) paints a more conservative picture, valuing the 2019 cybersecurity market at $106 billion and growing at an annual rate of 9.4% to $151 billion by 2023. 

Regardless, the trend is undeniable: cybersecurity is a healthy and growing market. 

All the fundamentals are solid, and powerful global trends are pushing cybersecurity toward the forefront of all conversations surrounding technology for years to come (data privacy issues, the internet of things and increased connectivity, grid vulnerabilities, etc.). 

Mordor’s research notes that the cybersecurity market is somewhat fragmented, meaning that it is highly competitive and not completely dominated by a few powerful companies. For potential investors, this diverse market offers real opportunities for sustained and potentially rapid growth. 

Venture capital (VC) funding in cybersecurity companies has been increasing rapidly over the past several years. According to KPMG, VC funding of cybersecurity companies in 2018 reached a record $6.4 billion, and 2019 funding numbers are expected to exceed that figure. Given that technological innovation and adoption are accelerating globally, and that cyberattacks are occurring more frequently and with greater impact, investment in cybersecurity solutions will likely continue to grow for the foreseeable future. 

For the savvy investor with an eye on the future of technology, the cybersecurity market offers excellent growth potential. 

How to invest in cybersecurity

However, as an emerging and highly-technical industry, jumping right into cybersecurity by investing directly in one of the field’s leading firms can bring with it undo risk for investors. As with any tech investment, it’s important to understand the products and services that these companies are offering their customers, and how those offerings truly set them apart from the competition, in order to accurately gauge the potential growth as well as the potential risk in any cybersecurity investment.

A search on Magnifi suggests that there are a number of mutual funds and ETFs available that offer exposure to the growing field of cybersecurity requiring investors to get a PhD in technology first. 

Magnifi is changing the way we shop for investments, with the world’s first semantic search engine for finance that helps users discover, compare and buy investment products such as ETFs, mutual funds and stocks. Try it for yourself today.

This blog is sponsored by Magnifi. The information and data are as of the publish date unless otherwise noted and subject to change. This material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as individualized investment advice or an offer or solicitation to buy or sell securities tailored to your needs. This information covers investment and market activity, industry or sector trends, or other broad-based economic or market conditions and should not be construed as investment research or advice. Investors are urged to consult with their financial advisors before buying or selling any securities. Although certain information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy, completeness or fairness. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. This content may not be reproduced or distributed to any person in whole or in part without the prior written consent of Magnifi. [As a technology company, Magnifi provides access to tools and will be compensated for providing such access. Magnifi does not provide broker-dealer, custodian, investment advice or related investment services.] 


Virtual Reality

Our addiction to screens isn’t anticipated to change anytime soon, but with the growth of virtual reality, how we relate to our screens is sure to.

The proof? Headset sales are booming. Over the holiday season, Facebook’s popular Oculus Quest virtual reality headset sold out and is now on a two-month back-order.

In other words, when it comes to virtual and augmented reality, the technology is ready and so are the users.

So, what exactly is virtual reality? 

Virtual reality is a type of technology that “shuts out the physical world,” creating a completely immersive experience in digitally created “real world” or imagined environments. 

[Support the data that’s making Virtual Reality possible. Here’s what investors need to know about Big Data]

This is slightly different from augmented reality, which adds digital elements to our real-life view. Think of Pokémon Go, for example, which digitally plants Pokémon characters around real-life cities and towns for players to physically go and find. That’s augmented reality.

What Can Virtual Reality Do?

Both virtual reality and augmented reality are changing the ways that almost all industries deliver goods and services to consumers.

First, and maybe first to come to mind for most people, is virtual reality’s place in the gaming world. The video gaming industry is anticipated to grow to as large as a $300 billion industry by 2025. Virtual reality will no doubt help to stimulate that growth, transforming the gaming world by dramatically changing the dynamics of how players relate to their games.

After all, games are no longer built like the old Nintendo or Atari platforms. New games allow players to be real participants in the action, and virtual reality is just the next step in this direction.

For instance, the much anticipated virtual reality game, Half Life: Alyx, is set to release a sequel more than a decade after its first iteration. Other highly anticipated virtual reality video game releases include The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners, The Walking Dead Onslaught, and Iron Man. These games have a ready market and mountains of consumers that have or have yet to order their headsets.

Virtual reality and gaming, yes. But what about virtual reality and spas? Yes, it’s a thing. 

The Four Seasons Resort in Oahu is now offering the world’s first multisensory virtual reality and wellness experience in what it calls the Vessel. And, it’s not alone. Spas across the U.S. now offer similar experiences in a device known as the Somodome, a self-contained meditation pod.

Virtual reality is challenging companies to reimagine how they engage consumers of all kinds. This includes retail, even though online shopping seems to be doing just fine without it. Consider virtual reality shopping. Soon you may be sipping coffee and exploring the various kitchen options from the comfort of your couch thanks to Ikea’s Virtual Reality Showroom.

Beyond consumer goods and services, virtual reality has huge potential to improve training for higher education and corporate entities alike. Walmart is on board, training employees with virtual reality programs that offer new hires the opportunity to experience specific customer situations. The military is also using virtual reality for training purposes, and even the Denver Broncos football team is using virtual reality as a tool for training new and injured players (quarterbacks specifically).

The technology also has the potential to be used for highly sophisticated simulations in the healthcare field. Emmanuel Hospice, a non-profit hospice company, offers patients the ability to leave their rooms with virtual reality-based therapy. Using the technology, one patient went on a virtual trip to Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park, and another to Ireland.

The possibilities are endless and virtual reality technology is everywhere. 

Why Invest in Virtual Reality

With all of these different applications, it should come as no surprise that the VR industry is set to grow rapidly. The global virtual reality market is anticipated to reach $120.5 billion by 2026, a dramatic increase from $7.3 billion in 2018. 

And, the market is ripe for investment. As the technology advances, virtual reality is expected to play an increasing role in training and education, entertainment, retail, healthcare, and more.

Not only is the technology required for virtual reality improving, but the costs associated with it are decreasing. Quality virtual reality experiences require both a headset and a powerful graphics card. These two elements have big-name companies like Sony, Samsung, and Facebook, as well as lesser-known companies, competing for market share in each. As virtual reality becomes increasingly mainstream, these companies are poised to benefit. 

Beyond these two primary technology elements, virtual reality is also primed to create new investment opportunities in the industries that adopt it. Whether it’s the next big game, the next big hospital training platform, or something we have yet to imagine, industry-specific virtual reality solutions are sure to create a buzz and further stimulate consumer adoption.

When it comes to virtual reality, opportunity abounds. You can invest in the technology itself, or the products, services, and solutions that it delivers. 

How to Invest in Virtual Reality

Of course, virtual and augmented reality are high-growth, high-volatility sectors, meaning that they can make for risky investments when bought directly. Rather, a search on Magnifi suggests that there are a number of other ways to profit from virtual reality innovation via mutual funds and ETFs that cover this fast-growing sector.

Magnifi is changing the way we shop for investments, with the world’s first semantic search engine for finance that helps users discover, compare and buy investment products such as ETFs, mutual funds and stocks. Try it for yourself today.

This blog is sponsored by Magnifi. The information and data are as of the publish date unless otherwise noted and subject to change. This material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as individualized investment advice or an offer or solicitation to buy or sell securities tailored to your needs. This information covers investment and market activity, industry or sector trends, or other broad-based economic or market conditions and should not be construed as investment research or advice. Investors are urged to consult with their financial advisors before buying or selling any securities. Although certain information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy, completeness or fairness. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. This content may not be reproduced or distributed to any person in whole or in part without the prior written consent of Magnifi. [As a technology company, Magnifi provides access to tools and will be compensated for providing such access. Magnifi does not provide broker-dealer, custodian, investment advice or related investment services.] 


microsoft

Microsoft (MSFT)

When your cofounder and former CEO is regularly in the mix for richest person in the world, you know the company they founded is going to be a huge one, and Microsoft (MSFT) lives up to the billing. Founded by Gates and his business partner, Paul Allen, in Albuquerque, NM in 1975 as a software company focused on BASIC applications, Microsoft later moved to the Seattle suburbs and has become synonymous with personal computing and software ever since. 

Today Microsoft sells computer software, consumer electronics, personal computers, cloud computing and a wide range of related products and surfaces, including the Microsoft Office software package, Windows operating system, Xbox video game consoles, and the Microsoft Surface table computer. It is the world’s largest software company by revenue, and also owns social networking site LinkedIn as well as online communications provider Skype.

As of 2019, Microsoft is the world’s most valuable company, with a market cap of $1.14 trillion and fiscal year 2019 revenues of $125 billion.

Rationale

The most direct way to gain exposure to Microsoft is to buy its listed shares. But investors have good reason to reconsider that approach given Microsoft’s participation in the extremely competitive and trend-focused personal computing market. Companies like Microsoft must constantly innovate and find new ways to drive revenue as both technologies and consumer needs change and evolve. This can be extremely lucrative for those can stay ahead of the trends, but those fortunes can change quickly when a new technology or need is overlooked or claimed by a competitor.

However, for investors interested in gaining exposure to the software sector, rather than buying MSFT shares themselves should consider buying funds that provide exposure to Microsoft and other similar firms. After all, the return drivers that will benefit MSFT might also benefit other similar tech firms. As investment management is gradually moving to the construction of portfolios using ETFs and mutual funds in addition to single stocks, investors would do well to consider gain exposure to firms like Microsoft through these types of funds.

Investing in MSFT

A search on Magnifi suggests that investors can gain access to Microsoft via a number of different funds and ETFs, including those shown below. 

Magnifi is changing the way we shop for investments, with the world’s first semantic search engine for finance that helps users discover, compare and buy investment products such as ETFs, mutual funds and stocks. Try it for yourself today.

This blog is sponsored by Magnifi. The information and data are as of the publish date unless otherwise noted and subject to change. This material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as individualized investment advice or an offer or solicitation to buy or sell securities tailored to your needs. This information covers investment and market activity, industry or sector trends, or other broad-based economic or market conditions and should not be construed as investment research or advice. Investors are urged to consult with their financial advisors before buying or selling any securities. Although certain information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy, completeness or fairness. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. This content may not be reproduced or distributed to any person in whole or in part without the prior written consent of Magnifi. [As a technology company, Magnifi provides access to tools and will be compensated for providing such access. Magnifi does not provide broker-dealer, custodian, investment advice or related investment services.]      


Apple (AAPL)

Apple (AAPL) is a Silicon Valley legend. Literally founded in a garage – in this case, belonging to Steve Jobs’ parents in Los Altos – Apple got its start in 1976 when cofounders Jobs and Steve Wozniak began building the very first Apple personal computers by hand, shipping them in handmade wooden cases. Always the showman, Jobs later said that the company’s name was a nod to a “fruitarian” diet he was on at the time. He had just come back from an apple farm, and thought the name sounded “fun, spirited and not intimidating.”

That was then.

Today Apple produces far more than just Apple computers, including such products as the iPhone, Apple Watch, Apple TV, iPad, AirPods and much more, including a wide variety of Macbook laptops and Mac desktops.

Apple is among the world’s most valuable companies, with a net worth of more than $1 trillion and annual revenues of $265 billion in 2018. It is the world’s largest technology company by revenue and employs 123,000 full-time employees and maintained 504 retail stores in 24 countries as of 2018. There are currently more than 1.3 billion Apple products in use worldwide, ranking it as the world’s most valuable brand.

Rationale 

A direct way to gain exposure to Apple is to buy the listed shares. But that can be a risky approach, given Apple’s focus on the consumer market. Consumers can be finicky, and what sells today (like iPhones) may not sell as strongly tomorrow or next year. As such, Apple is forced to constantly innovate in hopes of finding the next big tech trend. The company has done this successfully for more than 40 years, but the innovation cycle is accelerating.

A solution that can dampen some of that volatility is to buy funds that provide exposure to Apple and other similar firms, rather than AAPL shares themselves. After all, the return drivers that will benefit Apple might also benefit other similar firms in consumer electronics, computer hardware and personal entertainment. As investment management is gradually moving to the construction of portfolios using ETFs and mutual funds in addition to single stocks, investors would do well to consider gain exposure to firms like Apple through these types of funds.

Investing in AAPL 

A search on Magnifi suggests that investors can gain access to Apple via a number of different funds and ETFs, including those shown below. 

Magnifi is changing the way we shop for investments, with the world’s first semantic search engine for finance that helps users discover, compare and buy investment products such as ETFs, mutual funds and stocks. Try it for yourself today.

This blog is sponsored by Magnifi. The information and data are as of the publish date unless otherwise noted and subject to change. This material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as individualized investment advice or an offer or solicitation to buy or sell securities tailored to your needs. This information covers investment and market activity, industry or sector trends, or other broad-based economic or market conditions and should not be construed as investment research or advice. Investors are urged to consult with their financial advisors before buying or selling any securities. Although certain information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy, completeness or fairness. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. This content may not be reproduced or distributed to any person in whole or in part without the prior written consent of Magnifi. [As a technology company, Magnifi provides access to tools and will be compensated for providing such access. Magnifi does not provide broker-dealer, custodian, investment advice or related investment services.]      

 

 

 


Big Data

Big Opportunities in Big Data

We create an astonishing amount of data every day. From the photos we upload to social media, to the swipe of a card when we hop on the bus, the average person produces tremendous amounts of data at every turn. Delving into this collective ocean of data to find discrete patterns and trends may seem impossible, but innovative analytics are making it a reality thanks to Big Data.

Organizations across the globe are beginning to recognize the value in unlocking information imbedded in large, complex data sets.

Whether it’s hospitals using algorithms to catch infections early, researchers developing cutting-edge tools to map the furthest reaches of our universe, or the NHL deploying “smart pucks” to capture live data and enhance fan experience, our world is increasingly shaped by our relationship to data. Innovators at the leading edge of big data analytics stand to gain tremendously as technology improves and novel applications are discovered in the coming years.

[Invest in… Robotics]

For those interested in investing in this rapidly-growing sector, however, there are a few important points to understand.

What is Big Data?

Big Data refers to large, complex data sets that are difficult to process using traditional analytics. Included in this definition is the process of storing and analyzing the large, complex data sets.

According to IBM, a leader in big data analytics: “Analysis of big data allows analysts, researchers and business users to make better and faster decisions using data that was previously inaccessible or unusable. Businesses can use advanced analytics techniques such as text analytics, machine learning, predictive analytics, data mining, statistics and natural language processing to gain new insights from previously untapped data sources independently or together with existing enterprise data.”

[Climate change is one of the primary challenges of our time. Here’s how investors are supporting the technology that’s making a difference.]

And where does this data come from? Increasingly, it’s coming from internet-connected devices that we interact with every day. This growing network of sensors, relays and more is known as the Internet of Things (Iot).

Why Invest in Big Data?

According to the International Data Corporation (IDC), global revenues for Big Data analytics are forecast to reach $189.1 billion in 2019, a 12.0% increase over 2018 revenues. IDC also predicts the annual growth rate increasing to 13.2% throughout the next five years, with 2022 revenue reaching $274.3 billion.

Focusing in on specific sectors, the trend becomes even more pronounced. The value of big data analytics in the healthcare sector is projected to grow at an annual rate of 19.1% between 2018 to 2025, and the value of big data analytics in law enforcement is projected to grow at an annual rate of 17.5% between 2015 and 2022.

Organizations of all sizes are investing in big data solutions to address challenges and increase competitive advantage.

In a recent survey of executives at industry-leading firms, 92% responded that they are accelerating the pace of investment in big data and AI. Analytics are also becoming more affordable, bringing the technology within the range of small and midsize businesses. According to the IDC, roughly one quarter of global revenues for big data analytics in 2019 will come from businesses with less than 500 employees.

And 2019 has already been marked by a number of notable acquisitions in the data analytics market. Salesforce acquired Tableau for $15.7 billion on August 1, and Google is in the process of acquiring Looker for $2.6 billion.

As noted by Amir Orad, CEO of Sisense, a business analytics software company: “The value of the data analytics market can’t be ignored. The Looker and Tableau acquisitions demonstrate that even the biggest tech players are snapping up data analytics companies with big price tags, clearly demonstrating the value these companies have in the larger cloud ecosystem.”

In 2015, it was estimated that the possible value of intangible assets, including data, in the United States alone was roughly $8 trillion. As organizations increasingly come to view their data as capital, it will become more and more of a strategic imperative to put that capital to work.

This presents a unique opportunity for investment. As enterprises invest in big data analytics, so too should savvy investors consider the companies supplying the analytics.

How to Invest in Big Data

What’s the best way for investors to get involved in this growing tech sector? Big Data crosses over a number of different specialty areas, including cloud storage, data science and analytics, but a search on Magnifi suggests that there are a number of different ways to profit from the big data trend as a whole.

Magnifi is changing the way we shop for investments, with the world’s first semantic search engine for finance that helps users discover, compare and buy investment products such as ETFs, mutual funds and stocks. Try it for yourself today.

 

This blog is sponsored by Magnifi. The information and data are as of the publish date unless otherwise noted and subject to change. This material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as individualized investment advice or an offer or solicitation to buy or sell securities tailored to your needs. This information covers investment and market activity, industry or sector trends, or other broad-based economic or market conditions and should not be construed as investment research or advice. Investors are urged to consult with their financial advisors before buying or selling any securities. Although certain information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy, completeness or fairness. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. This content may not be reproduced or distributed to any person in whole or in part without the prior written consent of Magnifi. [As a technology company, Magnifi provides access to tools and will be compensated for providing such access. Magnifi does not provide broker-dealer, custodian, investment advice or related investment services.