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What Meta’s Ad-Free Option Means for Users & Advertisers

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Data privacy concerns are soaring, and Meta is making news with the most recent changes to its social media platforms. The company announced an ad-free option in which users can pay a fee to remove all ads from their user experience. This option will be available in over 30 European countries in its initial phase.

Previously, Facebook and Instagram users could be shown targeted ads based on their personal data, or they could not use the apps at all. But many complained about this ‘deal with it or leave’ approach. Now users will have the option to pay a $10/month fee – which will increase to $17/month in 2024 – and be free of ads completely. Meta will also begin charging an extra monthly fee in 2024 for each additional account connected in a user’s Account Center. So if you happen to have a lot of profiles, this can add up fast.

The European legal system has been pressuring Meta to offer its users more options around data privacy. So it’s unlikely the company would’ve chosen to offer an ad-free option by their own volition.

It’s also unlikely that an ad-free option will be offered in the US, and legislators haven’t passed serious data regulation laws yet and don’t show signs of doing so anytime soon. 

It’s important to note that there won’t be changes made to Meta’s data collection itself. Facebook and Instagram will still gather personal data from users who sign up for the ad-free subscription. The data simply won’t be used for targeted advertising.

Some say the price is way too steep, especially when the platform is still gathering your data. It’s likely that Meta chose its price based on similar services like Nexflix, Spotify, and YouTube Premium.

The implications of Meta’s new subscription are far-reaching. Some hypothesize that this is the beginning of normalizing social media as a paid service. And it could even be the end of reliable social media advertising as we know it. But it’s too soon to tell, and the ad apocalypse isn’t upon us just yet.

Until meaningful regulations are passed in the US and Europe to force big companies to collect less personal data (for free), this is the mediocre solution that Meta has presented for those concerned about their privacy.

What does it mean for advertisers?

Since ad-free is currently restricted to the EU, advertisers would be wise to focus on US and Asian markets. This means putting more effort into quality design and marketing campaigns for these regions.

Getting good at organic content will be a must in 2024, as leaning solely on ads is becoming less and less reliable. Enhancing brand awareness, customer engagement, and social media presence will be vital. Especially for companies that will lose a significant chunk of their viewers as a result of the EU shift, it will be critical to start thinking of natural ways to reach people.

How can businesses level up their marketing strategy?

More than ever, brands need to be leaning into what they’re best at. Now isn’t the time to be following every trend and jumping on every experimental bandwagon. Brands will be looking to distinguish themselves in a more refined way than ever before.

This means tightening up content strategies and cutting the fluff that doesn’t have any ROI. Organic content needs to be directly relevant to the customer’s interests – and brands need to be catching them within the first 3 seconds of viewing. This goes for videos, images, and text posts.

It’s also a time for companies to learn the bones of the social platforms they’re using. What works for you on TikTok may fall flat on Instagram. Part of successful marketing is learning that dance – combining an authentic brand message with awareness of what works. 

If your target audience exists somewhere other than Facebook and Instagram, now is the time to experiment with new ad platforms. Places like TikTok, LinkedIn, YouTube, or Pinterest can be valuable places to expand.

Tools to Level Up Your Ads

Unlimited Graphic Design

Creating ads is often time-consuming and tedious, even for brands that are well-resourced. This is why more companies are outsourcing than ever before. Unlimited design services like Penji and DesignJoy function like an extension of your marketing and design team. They’ll make you ad templates for any platform, custom graphics and illustrations for any purpose, landing pages, and more. 

Partnering with a design company can drastically improve your productivity and output without the costs of hiring a new employee. Most offer unlimited design revisions and access to a variety of specialists (animators, illustrators, logo designers, etc). You can skip the process of vetting freelancers (and probably getting ghosted half the time) and know that you have a design team at your disposal year-round.

Ad Testing

Imagine being able to test your ads with AI algorithms trained on consumer research. Well, you can. Hippoc is a tool that lets you test your ad designs so you can optimize them for maximum effectiveness. You simply upload a design, select whatever your campaign goal is (eg. brand awareness), and the platform will rate your ad on a scale from 0 to 100.

For companies that are tired of blind A/B split testing with confusing results, ad testing tools can give you additional direction. Test different ads on the platform and do a free A/B test based on the AI data gathered in the tool.

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Ataman M2R Bullpup Air Gun Review

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ataman m2r bullpup

Air guns are used for pest control, small game hunting, recreational shooting or plinking, and competitive sports. There are several air rifles, but a bullpup weapon stands out. The overall length of the air gun can be significantly decreased without reducing the barrel length. This enables a bullpup weapon to be more easily maneuvered and concealed in tight spaces than a traditional weapon with a similar barrel length. Whether you are an avid air gun enthusiast or a newcomer looking for a versatile air rifle, the Ataman M2R Bullpup can be the best option. In this article, we will explore the unique features of the Ataman M2R Bullpup. 

Ataman is a Russian brand known for manufacturing air guns. The company is famous for developing high-precision weapons for various shooting purposes, including target shooting and hunting. This includes the Ataman M2R Bullpup air rifle, Type 2 Walnut model.

Overview 

ataman m2r bullpup review

With the legendary expertise of Russian gunsmiths, these guys bring distinct details out in this model. It features a Lothar Walther barrel and an ergonomic walnut stock. In addition, the adjustable trigger provides a personalized setup. Overall, the Ataman M2R Bullpup is an ultra-lightweight and versatile air rifle. Learn more about its specifications in the next section. 

The M2R air rifles are a leading product of the Ataman factory. In producing M2R rifles, the company uses barrel blanks from the German brand Lothar Walther. In addition, the energy source of this PCP pneumatics rifle is a high-pressure tank with a volume of 250 cubic meters and a working pressure of 300. The design of the M2R air rifles allows for adjustments in stroke, force, and length.

Ataman M2R Bullpup Technical Specifications 

ataman m2r bullpup

The Ataman M2R Bullpup has advanced features, making it a popular choice for better performance and maneuverability. When Ataman designed this air rifle, they focused on creating a compact, maneuverable option for tight spaces. It’s noticeably smaller compared to other rifles we’ve checked out. The clockwork trigger is a standout feature for its easy customization, providing a match-grade experience, and the built-in pressure regulator ensures your shots stay consistently accurate.

Below are the technical specifications of Ataman M2R Bullpup:

Caliber: .22, .25, .357

Velocity: Up to 980 FPS

Barrel Style: Rifled

Barrel Length: 520 mm

Energy: Up to 55 foot-pounds

Safety: Manual

Loudness: 4-Medium-High

Shots Per Fill: 4

Weight: 3.8 kg. 

Pros: 

  • Ambidextrous walnut stock
  • Lothar Walther’s free-floating barrel
  • Self-indexing magazine
  • Integrated Picatinny rail
  • Built-in air pressure gauge
  • 1-Year Limited Warranty

Cons: 

  • Heavier than other brands
  • Rather loud

What are the Other Leading Brands of Air Guns? 

Here are some favorite options to help you choose the best air gun for your next hunting adventure. 

1. AirForce Texan LSS Hunter Combo

airforce texan lss hunter combo

One great feature of Airforce Texan LSS is its variety of options. Customers can choose among the .45, .357, and .30 caliber barrels depending on their preference and purpose. You also get a scope, air tank, bipod, and other goodies in the combo kit. Plus, it offers a lifetime limited warranty. 

Features:

Caliber: .30, .357, .45

Velocity: Up to 1100 FPS

Barrel Style: Lothar Walther

Energy: Up to 600 foot-pounds

Safety: Automatic on cocking

Pros: 

  • Pressure relief device
  • Adjustable power
  • Two-stage, adjustable trigger
  • Relatively quiet firing
  • Low-effort, side-lever cocking
  • Lifetime Limited Warranty

Cons:

  • Expensive 

2. Seneca Wing Shot MKII Shotgun

This air rifle is customizable to suit the preferences of upland or bushy-tail hunters. Thanks to the weapon’s removable choke, which will reduce the inner barrel down to .486 feet from .494 feet. This feature will enable  a consistent shot stream and a 12-foot spread at 20 yards out.

Features: 

Caliber: .50

Velocity: Up to 1130 FPS

Barrel Style: Smooth Bore

Energy: 245 foot-pounds

Safety: Manual

Loudness: 5-High

Shots Per Fill: 5

Pros: 

  • Removable choke.
  • Pre-charged pneumatic (PCP)
  • Single air reservoir (244cc)
  • Built-in manometer
  • 1-Year Limited Warranty

Cons: 

  • This air rifle is very loud.

3. Hatsan Blitz

hatsan blitz

The Hatsan Blitz is a fully-automatic air gun with a pre-charged pneumatic tank. It is among the top choices for full-automatic PCP air rifles. This automatic feature makes it a thrilling experience at the range, providing a Rambo-esque feel. Likewise, it can be effective for hunting coyotes and other small vermin.

Features: 

Caliber: .22, .25, .30

Velocity: Up to 1050 FPS

Barrel Style: Rifled

Energy: Up to 53 foot-pounds

Safety: Manual

Loudness: 3-Medium

Shots Per Fill: 130

Pros

  • Full or semi-automatic mode
  • 1,000 rounds/minute cyclic rate
  • Detachable SwingLoad Magazine
  • Combo 11mm dovetail and 22mm Weaver optics rail
  • Three Picatinny forearm accessory rails
  • Built-in manometer
  • Available in 1-Year Limited Warranty

Cons: 

  • Full auto mode consumes many pellets.

4. Benjamin Bulldog .357 Bullpup 

If you are looking for the best big-bore air gun for hunting, consider this Benjamin Bulldog Bullpup air gun. It is a fine hunting weapon. However, the Ataman M2R Bullpup still stands out in accuracy and versatility. 

Features:

Caliber: .357

Velocity: Up to 910 FPS

Barrel Style: Rifled

Energy: 200 foot-pounds

Safety: Manual

Loudness: 4-Medium-High 

Pros: 

  • Rubber recoil pad
  • 2-stage non-adjustable trigger
  • Picatinny optics and accessory rails
  • Ambidextrous synthetic camp stock
  • 5-Year Limited Warranty

Cons:

  • Loud

5. Umarex Hammer

Umarex Hammer is a .50 caliber big bore air rifle that fires pellets at 700 foot-pounds of energy. Airgun Depot considers it the most potent PCP big-bore air gun. 

Features: 

Caliber: .50

Velocity: Up to 1000 FPS

Barrel Style: Rifled

Energy: 700 foot-pounds

Safety: Manual

Loudness: 5-High

Shots Per Fill: 4

Pros: 

  • 2-round chamber magazine
  • Built-in manometer
  • Weaver/Picatinny optics rail
  • AR Magpul-style grip
  • Accept M-LOK®attachments
  • 5-Year Limited Warranty

Cons: 

  • Requires 550-grain lead pellets for optimal power

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The 3 Best Graphic Design Services to Try in 2024

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As companies grapple with the challenge of producing great visuals consistently, Design Pickle, Kimp, and Penji offer subscription-based graphic design services that promise to revolutionize the design process. In this comprehensive comparison, we’ll dive into the strengths and weaknesses of all three platforms, including features, pricing, and the overall value offered by each. If you run a business, this guide will help you identify which service aligns with your creative needs in 2024.

The Subscription Graphic Design Model

First, how does unlimited graphic design work? Penji, DP, and Kimp run on a three-tier subscription model. Regardless of the tier chosen, you’ll get unlimited designs for a flat monthly fee. This includes unlimited revisions on any design as needed.

Traditional graphic design services typically charge on a per-project or hourly basis. This can lead to variable and sometimes unpredictable costs, especially when dealing with multiple design projects. The value of unlimited design lies in both affordability and convenience. Basically, you’ll save a ton when you don’t have to hire a full-time designer or design team. You’ll save time on vetting and hiring freelancers, and you won’t have to pay exorbitant fees to an agency that may or may not get the job done.

Of course, these are only upsides for those with the budget and need for regular design projects. If you only need designs occasionally, the unlimited model won’t be worth it. 

Brands will need to consider:

Scalability – Evaluate your business needs in terms of the number of design requests monthly to choose a plan that can help you scale.

Turnaround Time – Assess the turnaround times offered by each service to ensure they align with your project timelines.

Features & Support – Consider the features provided in each plan, including access to dedicated account managers, unlimited revisions, and other support services.

Unlimited graphic design companies offer a wide scope of services:

  • Infographics
  • Email designs
  • Illustrations
  • Logos
  • Landing pages
  • Ecommerce designs
  • Social media graphics
  • Digital ads
  • Branding
  • And more

Penji Pricing Plan & Key Features

Penji’s three-tiered model includes the Starter, Marketer, and Agency plan. If you need web designs and presentation designs included, you’ll need at least the Marketer plan. Motion graphics become available at the Agency level. 

The Starter level gets you 80+ design services, the Marketer gets you 100+, and the Agency gets you 120+. To get the most bang for your buck, Penji recommends the mid-level plan. It’s worth mentioning that your point of contact at Penji gets upgraded as you upgrade tiers:

  • Starter: Creative Assistant 
  • Marketer: Project Manager  
  • Agency: Art Director

Another interesting perk of Penji’s model is Talent Discovery and Dedicated Teams, each of which becomes available at the Marketer level. Talent Discovery means Penji’s team will examine your brand’s art style and identity and match you to the best creatives for the job. While tier 1’s AI matching system does this according to designers’ skills, tier 2 gives you an even more customized match.

Penji offers a money-back guarantee if you try the service and don’t like it after 30 days. You can also pause, upgrade, or downgrade your subscription at any time as your business needs change.

Kimp Pricing Plan & Key Features

Kimp also offers a three-tiered pricing model, but their setup is a little different. Users can get graphics, video, or graphics and video.

Their graphics tier is cheaper than both Design Pickle and Penji for the first two months. After that, it goes up to $599 and includes a variety of unique perks like GIFs, web and app design, and Canva designs.

Kimp’s video subscription unlocks a dedicated video team and 2-4 day turnaround times. You can get videos edited and enhanced, or animated from scratch. For graphics, their turnaround time is just 24 hours.

The value of Kimp’s business model lies in its customization and unique offerings. For brands that need only graphics or only video, Kimp is a great choice. At the time of this post, their highest price tier of video and graphics is also heavily discounted. So if you want to test out the platform without breaking the bank, now is the time.

Design Pickle Pricing Plan & Key Features

Design Pickle offers a pricing plan largely similar to Penij’s: Three tiers: Graphics, Graphics Pro, and Graphics Premium. The only major pricing difference is that Design Pickle’s top tier is roughly $200 more than Penji’s. They also offer “Power Plans” for larger companies that are scaling and need a heftier package. Costs are determined on a case-by-case basis.

Design Pickle’s mid-level tier unlocks real-time Slack collaboration and an onboarding call with one of their Customer Success representatives. Much like Penji, presentation designs are unlocked at tier 2 and motion graphics at tier 3. Canva file delivery is another interesting perk offered at the highest price tier.

Design Pickle has a toggle option that allows you to pay annually instead of monthly. 

What’s the right service for you?

At the end of the day, these services are neck and neck with what they offer. And because they’re direct competitors, you can expect their plans to stay in the ballpark of one another long-term. With that said, there are some simple ways to parse them apart.

Overall, Penji’s pricing page offers a more detailed view of what you get in each tier. Because Design Pickle’s pricing page is simpler, it’s unclear whether or not they offer everything Penji does. The call-to-action is to get in touch, so DP seems to prefer speaking one-on-one with clients before getting started with a plan. Meanwhile, Penji invites you to sign up right away and start ordering designs through the platform.

Kimp is the only service providing video editing services, so if video is an important part of your 2024 marketing strategy, you’ll want to choose Kimp.

What makes them different?

Consistency: Some business owners and marketers may be tired of inconsistent designs and freelancers who don’t fully ‘get’ their brand. In this case, Penji’s Dedicated Team feature could be the solution you’ve been looking for. 

Integrations: Design Pickle shines in the realm of integrations, especially Slack. If you’re looking to seamlessly integrate the design process into your workflow, DP is the better choice. 

Affordability: If it strictly comes down to price and you run an agency with high design needs, Penji is more affordable than Design Pickle. Kimp’s graphics plan is $100 pricier than the others, but they offer the first two months for just $299/month.

Turnaround time: Both Penji and Design Pickle promise 1-2 day turnarounds for their entry-level tier. The higher-priced tiers promise a same-day turnaround on design projects, so the platforms are evenly matched here. Kimp’s website specifies a “24 hour” turnaround time for graphics and 2-4 days for video projects.

Trial: There’s no mention of a ‘trial’ period on Design Pickle’s site, so this is something you’d need to inquire about. Penji mentions a 30-day money-back guarantee on its pricing page, and Kimp offers a free trial for each plan.

Why use an unlimited graphic design service in 2024?

By opting for a subscription-based service, companies can mitigate the risk associated with the uncertainties of hiring, training, and retaining in-house designers. The subscription model provides a level of predictability in terms of costs and resources. You always know your design costs, and you can get everything you need in one place.

Companies can scale their design needs up or down. This flexibility is particularly beneficial for agencies with fluctuating workloads or seasonal demands.

Outsourcing graphic design lets teams focus on their core competencies. Instead of spending time and money managing in-house designers, businesses can concentrate on their primary goals while getting on-brand graphics quickly.

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Why Corporate Art Sucks (& How Creative Brands are Opting Out)

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Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve stumbled upon the infamous art style known as Corporate Memphis. Whether you’re buying a service online, opening a ‘reset password’ email, or logging into Hinge (yes, even Hinge), you’re bound to come across the quirky outfits and misshapen limbs of Corporate Memphis characters. The art style has been used by renowned brands like Airbnb, YouTube, Slack, and countless others. It’s the water we swim in, so you might not have given it much thought until now. 

So why is everyone using these designs, and why has the internet erupted in a flurry of criticism toward it?

It’s not really that the art is awful. It’s that it’s everywhere, and the more something is copied and regurgitated, the more meaningless it becomes. What was once a simple, friendly art style that emphasized inclusion, positivity, and tech innovation is now a symbol of… everything we hate.

So how did Corporate Memphis cross into the territory of cringe? And what can businesses do to ensure they’re not being snickered at for using bland, outdated designs?

When Good Art Goes Bad

Corporate Memphis has dominated the business world since the late 2010s. Wikipedia describes it as, “flat art developed out of the rise of vector graphic programs, and a nostalgia for mid-century modern illustration.”

One of the basic commandments of good branding is to make sense – don’t confuse your audience. An innocent, family-friendly brand shouldn’t have scandalous design assets. An edge clothing company shouldn’t have a logo that looks like it belongs to a bank. Your designs should tell a coherent story that is relevant to the times. 

This is part of the reason why Corporate Memphis has gone sour. In the midst of things like global wars, pandemics, data privacy concerns, and AI, people are less trusting (and more paranoid) than ever. Today’s world is rife with complex challenges and ethical dilemmas – a stark contrast from the idealistic, one-dimensional figures featured in Corporate Memphis designs.

Corporate Memphis screams utopia, and thus comes off as completely tone deaf. 

We’re not living in an artsy technological utopia. And while brands aren’t required to make deep statements with their graphics, they are required to be relevant and tuned into their customer base. This is where Corporate Memphis falls flat (no pun intended).

Everyone knows good branding is crucial, but good branding requires awareness – both self-awareness and awareness of the customer’s needs, expectations, and perspective. Maybe Corporate Memphis perfectly matched the enthusiasm of the earlier internet age, but nowadays, it just doesn’t fit.

Big companies haven’t caught onto this, and they’re still running with designs that are long past their prime. Artists know that when you copy what’s ‘safe’ and popular, it becomes contrived. Even worse, you hide whatever and whoever you are behind a generic façade. When brands do this, it makes consumers even more cynical and distrusting of corporate culture.

When a business fails to identify and showcase its identity, its designs become purposeless. This is when generic, thrown-together-at-the-last-minute art takes over.

No one expects a Picasso from brands like Amazon, Walmart, and Microsoft. They’re not here to make you question the vastness of the universe. They’re here to sell you things. Still, quality design has become essential to running a successful business, especially an online-only business. Design is the driver of brand recognition, and it massively contributes to a company’s reputation.

How Modern Brands are Breaking the Mold

Fortunately, the growing importance of design has spawned some new avenues for getting decent business graphics. Companies are learning they don’t have to stay ‘inside the box,’ and maybe even that staying in the box is watering down their reputation.

Unique Styles

Design firms and freelancers are experimenting with a number of alternative illustration styles. And while they won’t all be right for every brand, it’s good to glean inspiration and remember the variety that is possible.

By Nando Storalic
An illustration style that adds thoughtful dimension and depth

By Samira Hrustic
Line drawings are simple but can convey significant emotionality

By Cam Giang
Custom isometric designs can provide a breath of fresh air

Unlimited Design

What do you do when your team is overworked and you don’t have the budget for a full-time designer? Or when you’re tired of hiring amateurs who are unreliable?

Enter: unlimited graphic design. It’s a service that gives you the power of a design team for a flat monthly fee. There’s no hiring process and no need to vet freelancers or settle for generic designs. Marketers and entrepreneurs can simply log in and start making requests from professionals with different specialties. You can upload your brand guidelines, show examples of what you want, and get revisions on illustrations, logos, email templates, landing pages, ads, etc. 

Over the past 5 years, unlimited design subscriptions have exploded with companies like Penji and Flocksy leading the pack. For brands with occasional design needs, unlimited graphic design won’t be worth the subscription price. But for others, it can be a gamechanger that streamlines the creative process  and saves time and money. It all depends on the size of the company and its specific design needs.

AI Art

AI is all the rage, and many are experimenting with using it for graphic design. Platforms like Canva and Kittl are beginning to implement AI, making it easier for companies to get everything they need in one place (eg. DIY design templates, AI designs, AI copywriting, etc).

AI algorithms can copy just about any art style you can describe in a prompt. The potential problem is that you can end up falling into the trap mentioned above – creating contrived, unoriginal designs. In that case, you might as well just stick with Corporate Memphis.

Some get lucky with AI and are able to create stunning and usable designs. But getting them to look ‘on-brand’ and without any errors (eg. 6 fingered-humans) is challenging. There’s also the potential legal repercussions that could come down the line as more AI cases are brought to court. Some brands will be happy to take the risk, while others will decide to steer clear of AI art.

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