Search + social media, the evolving landscape

Screen shot 2009-12-10 at 11.31.30 AM.pngYou have undoubtedly heard about Google and Bing announcing partnerships with Twitter/Facebook/et. al. to include real time social media results into their search indexes. However, even if you did hear about it, I think few people have seen what it looks like in Google's environment, so I recorded this short video for the search term "Copenhagen". Have a look. (Bing takes a slightly different, segmented approach.)

Key Takeaways:


  • These results are pulled into the first page of Google, there are substantial reputation issues to consider
  • These updates are not listed like other webpages/fan pages/primary Twitter accounts, they are in a separate area on the page (fairly contained...for now)
  • The searcher will see what is hot at that point in time
  • It seems like this would be very susceptible to fraud and Tweet bombing, would love to get your opinion on that

What does this mean for you and your brand(s)? How are you preparing/sharing and engaging around this? One of the keys to social media gaining the traction it has is its uncanny way of tapping into the power of search and this is taking that to the next level.

Let me know what you think.

[UPDATE 12/11]: It seems that Yahoo has also added in-line Tweets to search results. This model pulls in three recent (not sure the exact algorithm here) Tweets to the bottom of the result page. Screenshot below.

Screen shot 2009-12-11 at 4.06.01 PM.png

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Can Google's weight give momentum to QR codes?

I was reading through a post today on the Ad Age Digital Next blog by my colleague Allison Mooney and wanted to share it with you. The post is on Google's support of QR code technology through a program called Favorite Places.

In short, Google is tapping into their local search data to find the top local establishments. They then send them a sticker for their door which has a QR code printed on it and takes the person to that business' listing on Google. It's an interesting way to tie live search data to a physical location and then back to search again.

The trick here, as noted by Allison, is that the QR reader software is an add-on to devices. There are some free versions around, but many people will have to pay for it, not to mention the level of education that needs to happen around this to make it successful.

Here is a quick video overview that Google produced to explain the program:

(Does anyone else find it weird that they used the iPhone throughout the video and not a Google Android device? Oh well.)

If you're interested, here is more information on QR codes from a previous post I did.

So what does this mean? Not much at this point. It's great to have a giant like Google throw their weight into it, but there is a lot of education that needs to happen first. If and when device manufacturers start installing a reader standard on all handsets (Nokia does on some handsets) we can talk more about it as a solid marketing option.

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Killing Google

google-.jpgToday, I am featured on Louis Gray's fantastic blog with a post that I've been working on called "The time is right to kill Google (if they don’t kill themselves first)". The post comes out of a couple of experiences I have had with the company at a time when user loyalty and customer service should be paramount. Click here to read the post, and if you don't subscribe to Louis' blog I suggest you do!

[Update:] Some great comments on Louis' blog as well as on the FriendFeed thread. Check em out.

If you're visiting here from Louis' blog, welcome to Techno//Marketer. I hope you stick around!

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Inside//Out: Cuil

cuil_logo.pngThe launch of Cuil (pronounced like "cool") hit the RSS readers and tech news with a bang recently. Despite the horrible name that nobody knows how to pronounce (you would think they didn't want any word-of-mouth traffic) and the lack of obvious "beta" status, the new search engine on the block does have some redeeming qualities.

Most importantly, Cuil does not collect user data to refine results instead looking at the context of the result set. Cuil's topical categories and filtering options are handy and the fact that it is not weighted by a mysterious algorithm (like Google's Pagerank) give it a different set of results. Time will tell if it is better overall. Take a peak at the following video overview.


[Feed readers please click through to the post if you cannot see the video.]

Here are a few stats that look at the huge uptick and subsequent recoil in attention to the service.

Take this graph from Bill Tancer's blog that looks at Cuil's fading marketshare of visits after a strong lift in the upfront.

AF6D1F4F-9C9B-4DCA-91D8-68EE042A86F4.jpg

Bill's data is backed up by this Compete.com look at daily traffic attention.

Picture 1.png

Differentiators:


  • Does not collect personal data for search result optimization
  • Uses context of the results to refine set
  • Different layout including handy sub-categories and topic sorting

So what do you think?


  • Is there room for change in search?
  • Do you switch search engines or stick with one? (Take the T//M reader poll in the right column!)
  • Is there innovation happening in search?

Let me hear your thoughts.


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Google is (still) stalking me

google_blinds.jpgA little over a year ago I wrote a post that turned out to be one of my most popular ever. So, to have a bit of fun, I want to revisit that post and see how my relationship with Google has evolved in the past 365+ days.

So come on. Take another trip with me through my day with Google.





545.jpg clock_small.jpg5:15am: Ugh. The day starts to my blaring clock radio. There is an ad running that Google has sold through ClearChannel.
615.jpg clock_small.jpg5:30am: I get up, take a shower and go to the home office to check my Gmail account.
Picture 1.png clock_small.jpg5:40am: While I am at it I check my Feedburner account to see where my traffic is coming from. Google owns Feedburner now.
645.jpg clock_small.jpg5:45am: Once the email is done I let the dogs outside and turn on the TV. There is a spot running placed by Google.
730.jpg clock_small.jpg7:00am: I start up the car and hear another ad placed by Google.
blog_outdoor.jpg clock_small.jpg7:30am: Driving to work I pass 10-20 ClearChannel billboards. Probably pretty likely Google will place ads on those as well.
800.jpg clock_small.jpg7:45am: I roll into work and sit down. Having stopped at Starbucks in the lobby I open the paper to see what's happening in Cleveland. Again, more ads placed by Google here too.
830.jpg clock_small.jpg8:30am: I jump online, check Google News and my GMail acccount again.
900.jpg clock_small.jpg9:00am: I surf my favorite blogs, most of them have Google AdWords placed on them even in the feeds. I am reading those feeds with Google Reader.
945.jpg clock_small.jpg9:45am: I check my copy of AdAge and see a couple more ads placed by Google.
urinal.jpg clock_small.jpg10:00am: Finally! I am free from...damn...it's another Google SMS alert on my phone. No peace.
Picture 4.png clock_small.jpg10:10am: I go to buy an item that I found in a Google search and purchase it with Google Checkout.
1030.jpg clock_small.jpg10:30am: I continue writing a client brief in Google Docs (formerly Writely).
1100.jpg clock_small.jpg11:00am: Head to the kitchen and see a couple of ads running on TV through the Dish Network which Google placed.
blog_carphone.jpg clock_small.jpg12:00pm: I'm heading to lunch now, but I can't find that new trendy sandwich shop. I ask Goog411 and get the address and phone number.
Picture 2.png clock_small.jpg12:15pm: I take a stroll through YouTube to see what videos are hot and why they may be gaining traction.
115a.jpg clock_small.jpg1:15pm: I am back at the office now and my phone vibrates again. I have new Gmail. I check it and respond from my phone.
130.jpg clock_small.jpg1:30pm: I am going to a meeting after work and I don't have the address yet. I turn to Google Maps and send the directions to my phone for easy access in the car.
230.jpg clock_small.jpg2:30pm: I take a break from work and veg out with an online racing game. Throughout the game are product placements and pre-rolls. Google places those too through AdScape. I wrecked and lost the game.
245.jpg clock_small.jpg2:45pm: I check my RSS feeds again through Google Reader. I go through about 150 feeds and post the best to my blog roll (it's embedded on the left column of my blog).
300.jpg clock_small.jpg3:00pm: I check on the stats for my blog over the past week using Google Analytics. Interesting to see where readers come from. Hello New Delhi!
315.jpg clock_small.jpg3:45pm: Just in surfing the web I come across 2 or 3 major sites that run Google for searching site content. MySpace is one of those.
445.jpg clock_small.jpg5:30pm: I see some display ads running on a couple of sites powered by DoubleClick's DART system. Google owns them now too. More on this development in a future post.
530.jpg clock_small.jpg6:15pm: One last check of my Gmail and I wrap up a blog post and head home.
600.jpg clock_small.jpg7:30pm: I get home, turn off the phone and play ball with Copeland and Crawford. Just then, the phone rings. Is that Google calling me? They certainly have my number.

Oddly, not that much has changed. Google has crept in a little more through M&A, but they definitely aren't going away. I know I am missing things that Google offers. Leave me a comment with the other ways in which you are impacted by Google in your everyday life.

 

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Do you communicate at the speed of Google? Why you must

google_logo_blur.jpgCommunication is happening at a faster pace than ever before, but many companies are not adapting their communication strategies/processes to keep up.

Search engines are indexing content within minutes, micromedia outlets like Twitter are delivering messages real time and blogging allows mass communication to happen with very few barriers. Rumors and leaks will never go away, but companies now have the tools to be the first to provide key, relevant information.

The 15 minute Google rule.

Almost without exception within 15 minutes of posting to this blog I receive a Google alert email that there was a new post matching one of my keywords. (Seriously, if you haven't done this yet, do yourself a favor and click here to set them up.) I have "Matt Dickman", "Techno//Marketer", "technomarketer" and "Fleishman-Hillard" alerts set up as well as alerts for competitors and clients. I often get Google alerts for items before they show up in my RSS reader or are floated to me in email.

[Update: I posted this entry at 9:43pm and I received my Google alert email that it was indexed at 10:02pm. See screenshot below.]

Picture 1.png

This is invaluable information to have and it illustrates the point that I am trying to make. Companies who have typically thought that they could control the news and release it when and to whom they saw fit are at the end of the line.

Mergers and acquisitions, executive departures, layoffs and regulatory approvals are just a few of the topics that employees, shareholders and the general public are hearing about in near real time. It takes just one blog post, a Twitter message (the example that comes to mind was the Yahoo layoffs that were broadcast on Twitter as they happened) or an email that sneaks past the firewall and the story is broken. Google's search spiders are constantly scouring servers looking for new information and once found (or told) they broadcast it to the world.

Danger Will Robinson
There is danger for companies in communicating in real time. Facts still need to be vetted and rumors that are unfounded can hurt a company's reputation. However, the tools are in place to allow faster, transparent communication to all of the stakeholders so that they don't find out from a Google Alert. Companies should be using these tools to become more connected with their audiences and be the first voice on any issue that impacts their people or their business.

How might this play out?
Here are a couple of ways that I can see companies adopting new technologies to communicate more quickly and more accurately in the future (and some are already doing this today):


  • Sales force empowered by micromedia. Go beyond names like Twitter and Jaiku to the core technology behind those services. Imagine a company that has a private version of Twitter to communicate in real time with their sales force. Price changes roll out in seconds, questions are answered quickly and customer service follow up is prompt.
  • Internal communications blog. Some companies are using internal-only blogs, but more will definitely start. This is a great way to create a two-way dialog and communicate information and changes quickly and transparently. Once information is in the open, everybody feels like they're on the same page.
  • Targeted blogs. Companies will start creating blogs that are focused on key audiences (investors, customers, employees) and communicate to each in a more open and rapid manner.
  • Email is still key. Many executives and employees will be more easily reached via emails that fit into their existing workflow. Companies will need to adapt their processes to use this as a key delivery vehicle for internal communication.

Need to adapt the communications process
How many times have you read a press release or seen a story that you heard about weeks ago? I would venture that happens a lot and a big reason is the outmoded model most companies use to create, refine and release information. Let's look at two models, first the old model and second the new model.

Do you want to communicate information to your audience or do you want Google to do it?

The old model: In the old model (which is still the predominant model) news is written in the form of a release. It goes from agency to client with some back and forth for refinement. Then it gets refined to a final version. This version goes through legal review and some type of corporate communications review. If there are changes, it goes back and loops through the process again. The final version gets scheduled for release, the wire service queues it up and on the agreed upon date/time it drops.

The new model: In the new model, communications are an open book. Issues are addressed in real time, communicated quickly with thoroughly written copy, supported with video/audio and open to feedback/discussion. The good and bad are handled in the same way. Everyone stays on the same page and nobody feels like they're the last to know or that they've been blindsided.

This won't work for highly regulated companies, but it could work for a majority of the rest. Companies have to get over the command and control mentality to communications. Don't get me wrong, there is still strategy to messaging and communications need to be thought out, but it needs to happen more rapidly, more flexibly and less forcibly.

What do you think? Can this work? Have you seen examples of companies using new technology to communicate more quickly with the right messages? Let me know what you think.


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Faster than a speeding bullet, more trendy than a SoHo hipster; the power of search data

Picture 3.pngAre you a spotter of trends? Do you revel in knowing things before your friends and colleagues? If so I am going to share a little information that will make you a very happy person.

A couple of months ago I came across one of the coolest RSS feeds that I've ever seen. Google Hot Trends now offers an hourly feed that shows the top 100 search terms. Every hour a new item is sent to my RSS reader for my consumption.

Why is this cool you ask? Imagine the power of the collective, "crowd sourced" data of millions of Google searches aggregated into one place. It's pop culture at its best. Want to get the scoop before mainstream media? Subscribe to this feed.

The type of information is unfiltered so you will get things like:


  • Scoops on sports trades
  • Celebrity news
  • Breaking business and economic news
  • World news
  • Scandals of all sorts
  • See how powerful TV is at driving search

To me, Google Hot Trends represents the real power of collective intelligence. In the case of Google Trends this is information aggregated across the globe, but imagine if you could do this only for technology or social media. The trends that you uncover would be catalysts for innovation and change.

What are you doing with your search data?

If you are running a web site, what are you doing with your search data? Are you storing it? If you're storing it, are you looking at it? If you're looking at it, are you analyzing it for trends and insights?

Search is as key to a site as your navigation. The data is extremely powerful and can tell you what your customers are looking for, what they really want and what you need to create more of.

How are you using your search data?


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When did you switch?

I was reading a post from David Armano today about association and it got me thinking. He wrote out a number of brands and the word that he associates with each. It's a pretty clear and powerful exercise in the emotive power of brands.

As David pointed out in his post, he started (back in 1996) using and admiring Yahoo! as the de-facto internet company that "got it". They were to search and the web the way Google is today.

yahoogle.jpg

So when did you switch? When did your default search go from silly-sounding Yahoo to (at that time) ridiculous sounding Google?

For me it seemed like an overnight thing. One day I was a Yahoo! guy and the next I was committed to Google. It was nothing that Yahoo did wrong per-say, but Google fit my needs better. I didn't want the content that came with the portal concept, I wanted to find what I wanted in one click. Over time, the Google brand grew and it grew on me.

Did you switch? Millions of people still use Yahoo. They are still satisfied or unwilling to change major markers like email addresses or IM accounts. Why did you (or didn't you) make a switch?

In light of the Microsoft takeover bid, what would you do if you were Yahoo's shareholders? Would you merge or would you try to reinvent search like you did back in 1996?

On that note I saw this quote on Noah Brier's blog from Fake Steve Jobs on the Microsoft/Yahoo merger:

"The Borg-Yahoo merger won't work. Here's why. It's like taking the two guys who finished second and third in a 100-yard dash and tying their legs together and asking for a rematch, believing that now they'll run faster."


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Inside//Out: Jaiku

logo-big.gifJaiku is a service that has been on my radar screen for some time now and I've been meaning to do an Inside//Out post on them. So why do one now? Simple, Google acquired the company yesterday (10/9/07). That alone has sent a deluge of marketers to the web trying to learn more about this presence application.

To keep it simple, Jaiku is on the same principle as Twitter (see my earlier video on Twitter here) or Pownce. You have 140 characters to tell people what you're doing, promote something of interest or communicate with colleagues and friends. Communication is one- and two-way through the messaging system. Here is the video with a more in-depth look.



[Feed readers please click through to the post if you cannot see the video]

Similarities to Twitter/Pownce:


  • There are 140 characters to each message
  • Brands can participate by creating an identity in the system
  • Users are added to each profile to receive updates
  • There is a developer API to pull information from the system
  • You can send and receive messages from a mobile device
  • Both services allow users to create a badge widget to post on their blog or website
  • Both allow updates from IM

Differences:


  • Twitter lacks the channel functionality to target messages to users of similar interests
  • Jaiku messages are threaded so that people can reply to an individual message and create a new, focused conversation
  • Jaiku can act a a life streaming repository to pull content from multiple places into one feed
  • Jaiku allows icons for each post to add visual context

[Extra:]
Robert Scoble did an interview with the founders of Jaiku on Podtech.


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Inside//Out: Google Orkut (beta)

orkut_logo.pngFollowing up on yesterday's Yahoo Mash video, here is a look at Google's Orkut social network. There are a lot of similarities between the two search giants as they try to find their place in the social media universe.

Orkut is a little more refined and has more community hooks to join groups, etc. It lacks, however, the integration with third party applications like Facebook, MySpace and even Mash. The functionality in Orkut is pretty basic and requires some more advanced editing to really personalize the content. Orkut also suffers from a bit of identity confusion and sits at the "pro-social" (part social, part professional) divide.

Check out Google's Orkut:

[Feed readers please click through to the post for the video.]

Key takeaways:


  • As with Mash, enable people to do cool stuff and get out of their way!
  • Find out where your target audience is and focus there (Facebook, MySpace, Mash, etc.) - don't get sucked in to the hype of one network over another
  • If you're looking to build on the platform, you will need to wait until Google opens this up
  • Future hooks into outside content sources could make or break Orkut as network consolidation starts setting in
  • Expect Google to make some moves around this network to bring its content into one place and allow users to even further customize their branded search experience

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In search of the best, or why Google and Yahoo may not win the war

iStock_000003985556XSmall.jpgThe idea of universal search is a hot one in the online marketing world. If you're not familiar with the term, it's basically the joining of multiple types of content into one cohesive result. For example, if you go to Google right now and search for "apples", the main listing that returns to you are text links to text content (sometimes photos and video are added in-line). They are including blogs and other social media, but it's all text based. If you want to expand your search to video, photos, pro message boards, etc. you have to click another link and you get another set of independent results. Universal search combines everything you need into one set of results.

There are a couple of sites (experimental and otherwise) where companies are playing around with this idea. Ask.com is leading the pack with their current integrated solution as Google and Yahoo play around with the idea in beta (here and here respectively).

Here is a screenshot from Ask's result page. Note the images, Wikipedia and news items pulled into the right column to supplement the text results

Ask.com search results

If you look at the text results from each of these services, there is little differentiation. Different algorithms give different priorities, but for the most part you get the same results at Google, Yahoo, Live search or Ask. Wikipedia is universally accessed as are dictionary.com and sites like Amazon.com.

The difference comes when you look at the unique properties that each search company owns. Take a look at the following, ultra-simple diagram.

webinabox.png

[Click to enlarge]

My main question here is can Google win at search if Yahoo owns the best photo content? Can Yahoo win if Google owns the best user-generated video content?

Right now there is almost no sharing between them, so if you do a Google image search, you will not get Flickr images in your result and the same goes with searching for video on Yahoo as you won't get the best YouTube results.

Some questions for you to ponder and share:


  • Should the companies open up all of their content to one another for the benefit of the end users? Or will they start blocking access?
  • If you were Google would you sacrifice the content in the Yahoo network to make sure they can't access your content?
  • Would they be violating each other's terms of service since they both make money selling ads based on the results?
  • If it's not Google or Yahoo or Ask or Microsoft, who will emerge? Could it be a human-powered option like Mahalo?
  • Are people getting enough from their search engine of choice that they don't need a new option?

I can't wait to hear what you have to say.


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Google's community-powered video

A while back I wrote about Google's call for submissions for a short video promoting their GMail product. Each person had to submit a clip where the GMail icon travelled from one side of the screen to the other in order to patch them all together into one continuous handoff. The concept is old, but the community-powered nature makes it intriguing at the very least.


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Where have you gone John and Stephen?

Picture 2.png Picture 3.png

Let me ask you an honest question. Since YouTube was forced to remove all of their Viacom content, have you seen any web footage of John Stewarts's Daily Show or Stephen Colbert's Colbert Report?

At one point the two had a very high following on YouTube that resulted in millions of impressions. Then one day they were gone. Personally I haven't see one single clip since that point in time and I would wager the same is true for many of you. YouTube (according to a May 2007 HitWise survey, YouTube has a 60.2% market share in online video. It gets 50% more traffic than the closest 64 rival sites combined.

What have you noticed?

[If you cannot see the poll in your reader, click through to the post to weigh in.]

Yesterday, in an odd legal maneuver Google requested to have the two comedians deposed for trial. Surely Google wants them to talk about their exposure, but I wonder if the two know enough about it personally to make any difference.


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Metrics shape our perceived value; why the formula matters

iStock_000003339307XSmall.jpgOkay marketers. Let's say you are prepping to run an ad campaign for a mass, commodity good and you have to rank your ad buys over the top content networks. How would you rank the following and what metrics would you use? Go ahead and try it.


  • AOL
  • Ebay
  • Fox Interactive Media
  • Google
  • Microsoft
  • MSN/Windows Live
  • Yahoo

Would you have ranked them by total audience knowing that you could reach a more robust and accurate subset with targeted ads? Or, would you have opted for total page views thinking that the more pages served the more eyeballs will take a look? Better yet, did you opt for the new Nielsen-suggested standard of time on site knowing that time leads to engagement and better eyeballs? You may be surprised at how different these results are.

Nielsen.jpg
Source: Nielsen/NetRatings,
U.S., home and work, May 2007
Take a look at the chart to the left. The first chart shows each network based on total unique audience with Google in the lead. It is followed by Yahoo, MSN/Live, Microsoft and AOL. Remember AOL's last-place position in this chart for later. There is a gap of roughly 20 million people between first and last place.

But you may not have wanted to go with total audience, instead you want to use page views as your metric. Well, in that case Yahoo is your network of choice. Yahoo is followed by Fox (including MySpace), Google, MSN/Live and EBay. In this case there is a roughly 20 billion page view difference.

However, you may be detered by page views and total audience and find yourself looking at total time on the site. In that case AOL comes out of nowhere to take a firm lead (remember they were last in total audience). They're followed by Yahoo, MSN/Live, Fox and Google who drops like a stone. There is a difference of roughly 17.5 billion minutes between AOL and Google.

So what the heck does this mean to you? Let's look at each network to see what the metrics tell us.


aol_logo.jpgAOL - The AOL network is where to go if you want people who spend a lot of time there, but they are not generating a lot of page views in that time. There are an estimated 90 million people in the audience.


ebay_logo.jpgEbay - EBay pops up only in the page views metric as you would expect. Each listing is a page and visitors crank through them quickly. Total audience is lower as is the time on the site.


logo_fox.gifFox Interactive Media - The Fox network, while not large, generates quite a few page views and stays engaged with that content longer when you consider its size. I think MySpace has a large part to do with that summary. as people stay engaged, but constantly churn through pages of friends as well as adding content.


logo-Google.gifGoogle - Google is still the king of search so if you're looking for SEM and you want the volume, this is your stop (according to 2007 April figures from Nielsen//NetRatings, Google has the largest share of U.S. based web searches at 55.2% (Google Acquisitions), Yahoo is second at 21.9%, MSN is third at 9.0%, AOL is fourth at 5.4%, and Ask is fifth at 1.8%). The downside of Google is that people are coming for a specific task and jumping off hence the low engagement times and high audience.


microsoft logo_qjpreviewth.jpgMicrosoft - The Microsoft audience is large as you would expect, but that's where the company's advantage ends. They don't show up on the total time on site or the page views metrics.


250px-MSN_(logo).pngMSN/Windows Live - MSN represents Microsoft's consumer facing entity and their Live search function. Live has been picking up some momentum in total search volume, but they've a long way to go to catch Google. MSN comfortably sits in the middle of the pack on almost every point. They dip below when it comes to page views. It's a large audience that spends an average amount of time on fewer pages.


yahoo-logo.jpgYahoo - Yahoo comes out the best of any network when you look at each metric. They have the second largest audience, the most number of page views and the second most time in minutes. This should be an attractive combination to marketers especially in targeted display ads. Yahoo still lags behind Google for SEM where there is still a 30%+ gap.


In the end, no matter who you are or who you are marketing to, it comes down to a few key factors:

  • Find your audience. If they're not using Google then you're wasting your money
  • Relevance is key. Making hyper-targeted ad buys will help make sure relevance is there and waste is minimal
  • Nobody likes iterruption. The last thing I want is to have my visit to a network interrupted by your ad. Give me some value and be relevant to what I am looking at. If I'm in the auto repair section, don't offer me camera equipment.
  • Think outside the banner. Look at sponsorships or creating value-add programs to hook users.
  • Think social. Engaging with the community on a social level will lead to more success. Think about shifting dollars to social/conversational media. You may get more bang for your buck.

What do you consider when you run ads? Have you started shifting dollars to digital? Are you shifting those dollars to social media? Let me know in the comments.


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Why is Ask.com selling the drill bit?

ask-logo-13518.gifOne of the earliest bits of marketing knowledge that was imparted to me was the lesson of the drillbit. The saying is along the lines of "people don't buy a 1/4 inch drill bit, they buy a 1/4 inch hole". The focus on the end result and the benefit over the feature has stuck with me over time.

When I started seeing the new ad campaign for Ask.com, this lesson came flying back into my mind. The ads are mostly unbranded placements that focus on their algorithm. My immediate thought was "I bet Google is doing this", not good for Ask. Secondly I thought "who cares about the algorithm?". If you have not seen the messages, here are a couple pulled off of Flickr:


Photo by johntrainor

Photo by stan

Photo by mil8

Photo by mlinksva

Here is a TV ad in the same campaign:

Feed readers click here.

If you are not a computer scientist or an engineer at a search company, why should you care about the algorithm? I don't think most Americans know what an algorithm is, much less how it benefits them.

I don't envy the position Ask is in. They are a smaller player in an industry with a LOT of very well funded competition. This campaign, however, is not helping their cause. Selling the algorithm is the equivalent of selling the drillbit. What I'm really after are better search results. That's the hole they should be selling. That's the need I have that needs to be filled and is currently filled well by Google. Tell me how you do that in plain English and I may listen.

Their new TV campaign does have more focus on the benefit even if the over-the-top, broadway-esque production detracts from the message. He got what he was looking for. They need to expand on this point with new ads that reach more people.

Feed readers click here.

Search is a game that extends well beyond the browser. I interact with my search engine of choice from my global search on my desktop, from the toolbar on Firefox, from my OSX dashboard widget and they touch my life in many other ways too. Ask needs to tell me why I should make those moves and dislodge my current option. Their new 3D search is a start, but it's not really much different than what Google, Yahoo and Microsoft are doing. The results seem about the same too.

My question is why should I switch? I asked, now I'll wait for the answer. What would make you switch? Are they doing enough with these ads to make you try them out?


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Buzz Friday for June 1, 2007

more-buzz.jpgHere is a look at what is happening across a couple of sites I keep an eye on. Let me know if there is anything you would like me to add on.

Thanks to CK for providing me the inspiration to start doing this entry with video. This is the inaugural post so check it out! (Would anybody be interested in seeing this become a separate video podcast feed? Let me know in the comments.)

Here are all of the items I think are interesting this week:

Top 10 Technorati Searches


  1. youtube
  2. ron paul
  3. myspace
  4. orkut
  5. bebo
  6. paris hilton
  7. dailymotion
  8. cecilia bolocco
  9. facebook
  10. google gears

Top Five Web2.0 Movers of the Week (using Alexa data)


  1. Feedster
  2. CrazyEgg
  3. Revver
  4. Kaboodle
  5. Bolt

More

Top Ten Marketing Blogs from Viral Garden


  1. Creating Passionate Users
  2. Seth's Blog
  3. Gaping Void
  4. Logic + Emotion
  5. Daily Fix
  6. Converstations
  7. Drew's Marketing Minute
  8. The Viral Garden
  9. Jaffe Juice
  10. Church of the Customer

Be sure to check out Mack's new blog design and note that this list is now running off of Technorati rankings and not Alexa.
View the top full top 25

Top 5 "Viral" Videos This Week


  1. Women in art
  2. Miss USA 2007 slip
  3. Sony's Flexible, full color LCD
  4. Google Maps Street View
  5. Battle at Kruger

More


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Knock knock. Who's there? It's your customers

Picture 5.pngA couple of days ago Google released a new feature on their Maps product that lets users virtually walk through the streets using real photographs. Currently this is available only in NYC, SF, Denver, Las Vegas and Miami, but there are plans to expand it. They call it "Street View", I call it a marketing opportunity.

The Street View lets you move through city streets like you were in a taxi cab. If you, as a marketer, knew that anybody anywhere in the world could virtually come right up to your office or storefront, would you do anything differently? Can people read your signage? Would they take one look and run away or do you create an inviting atmosphere from the street?

Here is an example I pulled up for the apartment building I lived in when I was interning with Mattel Toys in NYC. You can see the level of detail, while not high-resolution, gives you a first impression. You can read the words on the awning and see people within the shot.

Picture 4.png

Now, imagine if you knew when the cameras were coming by. You could have a welcome committee like Google has at their campus? What about creating games like a scavenger hunt using the maps? If you're running outdoor campaigns, can people see them through this experience?

UPDATE: Here is a quick video tour I put together to show you what it's all about.




Feed readers click here to see the video.

Any company with a valid address will be indexed once the camera goes through your town. How could you create a remarkable experience from the very first search?

NOTE: Microsoft is running a similar map beta for Seattle and SF.


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What won't be around in five years?

iStock_000000806066XSmall.jpgThis was the question that was asked of a panel I saw recently here in Cleveland. The panelists each took a good shot at the answer, but to me they missed the most glaring option. Software.

Software as we know it will not be around in five years. I'm talking about dead, packaged, disconnected software. New versions of software are already starting to appear and they use the web browser as their operating system. Look at Google Docs and Spreadsheets. They've created an online version of the word processor and spreadsheet. Google has a presentation application in the works to complete the office suite.

The problem up until now has been working online. If you're working on a project proposal in Word, you can have it auto save for you and you have a local copy. Using online apps meant no local copy and if you accidentally closed your browser, you lost your work.

Google just took a huge step to bring the online offline. Google Gears (still in beta) allows Google apps to store data and run apps locally when you are offline.. Google Reader is first with Docs and Spreadsheets to follow. The app responds like you're connected and when you re-connect it syncs up where you left off. Third party developers can write their own web-based applications to use this technology.

So in five years (or less) software as you know it will not be what you know today. The productivity suite you use for presentations, word processing and spreadsheets may not have the same name on it either. Your software will be a living, breathing entity updating each time you connect, allowing you to stay connected even when you're not.

Best of all worlds, Google's suite of applications is free. No license right now. Have you tried these apps online? Would you consider ditching your Microsoft Office suite for the Google Office? Microsoft has plans to do something similar, but Google has taken the lead and pushed the boundaries of what is possible. On top of that, Google's platform will allow others to take advantage and bring their services offline. Think Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, etc.

Just another thing to add to my day with Google.



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Represent (or be misrepresented)

fish_swim_cropped.jpg

Up until now social marketing was an option. Companies could partake if they wanted or they could sit on the sideline and wait. Up until now social media was looked at as a fad by "serious" marketers. It was simply filling a gap until we learn how to convert 15s and 30s into online pre-roll.Up until now you had reason not to participate. Until now you may or may not have looked at the buzz to see what's being said about you. Those moments are gone folks. Bye-bye. If you're not participating in social media someone else could be misrepresenting you in the vacuum.

A new generation of search engines are coming online and pressing the issue for us. 50Matches is one such search engine. The difference with 50Matches is that ONLY indexes content that has been tagged on sites like del.icio.us or voted for on sites like Digg and Reddit. The engine then returns the top 50 matches. The theory here is that the content tagged to those sites is pre-filtered and therefore more reliable and accurate than what you would get searching through Google, Yahoo or MSN. All of those major engines include any content on the web that is spiderable.

50Matches ONLY indexes content that has been tagged or voted in social networks

The following diagram shows why the team at 50 matches thinks this model works. As more people tag content the quantity will increase as will the quality.

graph showing quality v. quantity of indexes

50Matches is a young startup and is facing some pretty fierce competition (how would you like to have Google, Yahoo and Microsoft staring you down), but their model has potential. The idea of trusted content is evolving to answer a question that consumers are asking, "How do I filter all of this information into trusted, manageable chunks?"

I have noticed that Google is folding in social media site content into their primary result sets. This includes sites like Digg, tags in del.icio.us, myriad blogs, podcasts and even comments on blogs. Line that up with Google's AdSense Q1 2007 revenues of $1.35 billion and numbers from Yahoo that state 67% of US adults who research purchases online do so using search engines. Search is big business and it's being driven by consumers.

What are you doing to ensure your social media strategy is on track? Have you jumped in or just gotten your toes wet? Is there anybody that is stuck out there? Let me know in the comments.


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Google is stalking me, but what does it mean?

crystalball.jpgI wish I had a crystal ball to see where the online landscape will be in 5-10 years. The only thing I know for sure is that it will look very different than it does now. Google's invasiveness in my life will certainly change, but it's not a bad thing right now. They are adding value to my life and making my day easier. They're friendly and colorful and people go out of their way to evangelize their products and services. But this may not always be the case. I can think of a couple other companies who are/were this invasive.

Hindsight is 20/20 the old saying goes. I see parallels between Google's current path and a couple other companies that go by the name of Yahoo and Microsoft. Each of those companies attempted to be and, in each case, had a chance to become what Google is today before taking a back seat.

To read the rest of my article click over to The Madison Avenue Journal.

Click here for the back-story of how Google is stalking me.


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Buzz Friday (week of May 4)

buzz_listen.jpg
Here is a look at what is happening across a couple of sites I keep an eye on. Let me know if there is anything you would like me to add on.

 

 

Items I think are interesting:

Top Five Technorati Blogs
**This doesn't change so this is the last week I will feature this item**


  1. Engadget
  2. Boing Boing
  3. Gizmodo
  4. Techcrunch
  5. The Huffington Post

View Top 100

Top 10 Technorati Searches


  1. galilea montijo
  2. youtube
  3. myspace
  4. joost
  5. silverlight
  6. next07
  7. digg
  8. britney spears
  9. pandora
  10. shoppero

Top Five Web2.0 Movers of the Week (using Alexa data)


  1. SmugMug
  2. Newsvine
  3. Flixter
  4. Woot!
  5. Revver

More

Top Five Web2.0 Sites (using Alexa data)
**This is also not changing so I will discontinue it and find a new item to include**


  1. YouTube
  2. MySpace
  3. Orkut
  4. Wikipedia
  5. hi5

More

Top Ten Marketing Blogs from Viral Garden
**Expanded to include top 10 to show more change**


  1. Seth's Blog
  2. Creating Passionate Users
  3. Gaping Void
  4. Duct Tape Marketing
  5. Marketing Shift
  6. Daily Fix
  7. Converstations
  8. New School of Network Marketing
  9. Drew's Marketing Minute
  10. The Viral Garden

View the top full top 25

Top 5 "Viral" Videos This Week


  1. Oh Nine, Eff Nine
  2. Happy Feet Trailer
  3. David Hasselhoff Intoxicated
  4. Linkin Park What ive done original clip 2007
  5. Web 2.0 ... Beyond E-text (2nd Draft)

More


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Article series at The Madison Avenue Journal

google_blinds.jpgIt seems that everywhere I speak, one of the questions innevitably is "aren't you afraid we're losing personal interaction with all of this technology?". My answer is an emphatic, resounding NO! In fact I tell people that, in my experience, I have been able to form better relationships with people faster using the web, and more specifically by blogging, than in any other medium.

Case in point. I met CK in person a few months ago and I knew it would be the start of a great friendship. CK subsequently introduced me to Tim McHale at The Madison Avenue Journal and my first in a series of articles about Google stalking me came out today. Head over there and check it out. Here is the permalink. Each day this week will unveil a new look at Google and then Monday will culminate in what it all means.


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Buzz Friday (week of April 20)

buzz_listen.jpg
Here is a look at what is happening across a couple of sites I keep an eye on. Let me know if there is anything you would like me to add on.

 

 

Items I think are interesting:
  • If you don't know who Lionel Messi is, he is an Argentine soccer phenom playing in FC Barcelona. Check out this video. Fantastico! (This is a shout out to my friends in Buenos Aires.)
  • I added a link on my blog below LinkedIn to a service called MyZiki. You go on and create a profile for yourself and it aggregates all of your media (posts, photos, comments, twitters) in one place. They also buy the keywords for your name in major search engines so you come up at the top of the list. Go ahead and search for 'Matt Dickman' in Google and Yahoo. You'll see my Ziki ad show up at the top.
  • Nikon's PR force launched a blogger focused campaign for the D80 (the camera I personally use). It's gotten mixed feedback, but certainly has generated plenty of buzz. Check our Mack's post and the comments for more thoughts.
  • Valeria Maltoni at Conversation Agenct asks a question that I've been curious about. Is LinkedIn working for you? Hop over there and join the conversation (agent).
  • Speaking of LinkedIn, Mario Sundar (LinkedIn's new Customer Evangelist) has a couple great posts from the Web 2.0 Expo on the topic of Community Evangelism.
  • Seth Godin had a post on his Dip Blog last week asking for a list of quitters. I sent mine in and was chosen by Seth to receive a signed copy. I devoured it and will post more here when the book becomes publicly available on May 10. I recommend you go ahead and put your order in now.
  • In a hilarious twist of irony, Microsoft is urging an anti-trust review of the DoubleClick merger. There is even Microsoft conspiracy theory saying that MS intentionally ran up the price on DoubleClick and then lost on purpose.
  • Lots of new competition heating up in social tagging systems. MySpace announced a Digg-like service and Google announced a service close to StumbleUpon.
  • Coke announced a new venture in Second Life that has everybody talking. Done by Crayon, Virtual Thirst is an innovative move to invigorate the SL space after much doomsday talk in past weeks.

Top Five Technorati Blogs


  1. Engadget
  2. Boing Boing
  3. Gizmodo
  4. Techcrunch
  5. The Huffington Post

View Top 100

Top 10 Technorati Searches


  1. joost invite
  2. cho seung-hui
  3. virginia tech
  4. ismail ax
  5. youtube
  6. myspace
  7. sanjaya
  8. ubuntu
  9. web 2.0 expo
  10. messi (Argentine soccer phenom)

Top Five Web2.0 Movers of the Week (using Alexa data)


  1. Geni
  2. 37 Signale
  3. Bolt
  4. Ze Frank
  5. Frappr

More

Top Five Web2.0 Sites (using Alexa data)


  1. YouTube
  2. MySpace
  3. Orkut
  4. Wikipedia
  5. hi5

More

Top Five Marketing Blogs from Viral Garden


  1. Seth's Blog
  2. Creating Passionate Users
  3. Duct Tape Marketing
  4. Gaping Void
  5. Marketing Shift

View the top 25

Top 5 "Viral" Videos This Week


  1. Gol de Messi al Getafe 18/04/07
  2. The Zimmers "My Generation"
  3. The Landlord
  4. Alanis Morissette "My Humps Video"
  5. Gangsta Happy Feet Remix

More


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Google is stalking me...I kinda like it

google_blinds.jpgI'm not a complete Google fanboy, but I do respect the company and what they do. I also happen to use a lot of their products. As news rolls in about the company's recent acquisitions (most notably YouTube and Doubleclick) I wanted to come up with a format to show you just how pervasive Google is becoming.

So come on. Take a trip with me through my day with Google.

545.jpg clock_small.jpg5:45am: Ugh. The day starts to my blaring clock radio. There is an ad running that Google has sold through ClearChannel.
615.jpg clock_small.jpg6:15am: I get up, take a shower and go to the home office to check my Gmail account.
645.jpg clock_small.jpg6:45am: Once the email is done I let the dogs outside and turn on the TV. There is a spot running placed by Google.
730.jpg clock_small.jpg7:30am: I start up the car and hear another ad placed by Google.
blog_outdoor.jpg clock_small.jpg7:45am: Driving to work I pass 5-10 ClearChannel billboards. Probably pretty likely Google will place ads on those as well.
800.jpg clock_small.jpg8:00am: I roll into work and sit down. Having stopped at Starbucks on the way in I open the paper to see what's happening in Cleveland. Again, more ads placed by Google here too.
830.jpg clock_small.jpg8:30am: I jump online, check Google News and my GMail acccount again.
900.jpg clock_small.jpg9:00am: I surf my favorite blogs, most of them have Google AdWords placed on them even in the feeds. I am reading those feeds with Google Reader.
945.jpg clock_small.jpg9:45am: I check my copy of AdAge and see a couple more ads placed by Google.
urinal.jpg clock_small.jpg10:00am: Finally! I am free from...damn...it's another Google SMS alert on my phone. No peace.
1010.jpg clock_small.jpg10:10am: I check the top clips on YouTube (Google owned). Hey, that's HeeHaw 1.1.
1030.jpg clock_small.jpg10:30am: I continue writing a client brief in Google Docs (formerly Writely).
1100.jpg clock_small.jpg11:00am: Head to the kitchen and see a couple of ads running on TV through the Dish Network which Google placed.
blog_carphone.jpg clock_small.jpg12:00pm: I'm heading to lunch now, but I can't find that new trendy sandwich shop. I ask Goog411 and get the address and phone number.
115a.jpg clock_small.jpg1:15pm: I am back at the office now and my phone vibrates again. I have new Gmail. I check it and respond from my phone.
130.jpg clock_small.jpg1:30pm: I am going to a meeting after work and I don't have the address yet. I turn to Google Maps and send the directions to my phone for easy access in the car.
230.jpg clock_small.jpg2:30pm: I take a break from work and veg out with an online racing game. Throughout the game are product placements and pre-rolls. Google places those too through AdScape. I wrecked and lost the game.
245.jpg clock_small.jpg2:45pm: I check my RSS feeds again through Google Reader. I go through about 150 feeds and post the best to my blog roll (it's embedded on the left column of my blog).
300.jpg clock_small.jpg3:00pm: I check on the stats for my blog over the past week using Google Analytics. Interesting to see where readers come from. Hello New Delhi!
315.jpg clock_small.jpg3:15pm: Just in surfing the web I come across 2 or 3 major sites that run Google for searching site content. MySpace is one of those.
445.jpg clock_small.jpg4:45pm: I see some display ads running on a couple of sites powered by DoubleClick's DART system. Google owns them now too. More on this development in a future post.
530.jpg clock_small.jpg5:30pm: One last check of my Gmail and I wrap up a blog post and head home.
600.jpg clock_small.jpg6:00pm: I get home, turn off the phone and sit on the couch with Copeland. Just then, the phone rings. Is that Google calling me? They certainly have my number.

As overwhelming as this may appear, I know I am missing things that Google offers. Leave me a comment with the other ways in which you are impacted by Google in your everyday life.


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Google, Yahoo testing next generation search

Within the past two days I have come across new, early beta versions of both Google and Yahoo's next gen search. Yahoo's alpha and Google's SearchMash are serving as test beds for new features. The two are notably similar in interface and content (who copied who I wonder?) and show a clear direction from both firms moving toward a more integrated search experience. The content is pulled in through AJAX-like technology so the user doesn't need to surf to view related content.

Here is a side-by-side comparison of each engine:

Google SearchMash home page
Picture 5.png
Yahoo alpha home page
Picture 6.png
Google SearchMash results page
Picture 3.png
Yahoo alpha results page
Picture 7.png
Google SearchMash integrated content
Picture 4.png
Yahoo alpha integrated content
Picture 2.png

Similarities: Besides the interface, the results formatting and the type of information included in the related content are similar. Both have videos (Note: Yahoo even pulls in Google's YouTube content), Wikipedia entries and images (Flickr on the Yahoo side).

Divergences: Google singles out blogs (even though they're included in the main results) and Yahoo pulls in News and Answers information. I would look for Google and Yahoo to add in all of their properties over time (groups, shopping, etc.).

What does this mean for marketers? It means that more content is going to be presented to the user with higher importance. For example, right now most marketers probably don't pay attention to the images that may be tagged to their company name. With this new search, consumers will be able to quickly see image information (like your CEO dancing at the Christmas Party) on the main landing page. On the flip side, images can be powerful marketing vehicles and special attention should be paid to making sure they are tagged appropriately.

The same can be said for video. Video search is just starting to get traction, but the marketing potential (both up-side and down-side) is tremendous. Users will be one click away from information that now takes them 2-3 extra clicks. This will put a higher weight on that content. We need to prepare now for this change as I'm pretty sure this is not too far off.

Go to both of these sites and use them. Get acquainted with the format. Then think to yourself, what can I do today to make sure all of my content is search-ready tomorrow?


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