Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Archive for the ‘search marketing’ Category

Google Google

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If you keep seeing a bunch of ads for Nests and Google Pixel smartphones and other Google products atop your Google search results, the WSJ explains that’s because Google’s purposefully hawking those products on its own inventory.

They write:

These days, Google often pushes its growing list of hardware products, from Pixel phones to Nest smart thermostats, in the top ad spot above its search results.
– via WSJ

The Journal conducted an analysis and found that ads for products sold by Google and its sister companies appeared in the most prominent spot in 91 percent of 25,000 recent searches related to such items. In 43 percent of searches, they report, the two top ads both were for Google-related products.

Some specific examples: Google searches for “phones” almost always began with three consecutive ads for Google’s Pixel phones. And all 1,000 searches for “laptops” started with a Chromebook ad. Ninety-eight percent of searches for “watches” presented ads for Android smartwatches.

The WSJ shared its analysis with Google in mid-December, and apparently, many of the ads disappeared. For a week, before they began to reappear the week of December 22.

The innuendo? Is Google using its dominant search share to give its products an edge over competitors, who are also customers of Google?

Google says not, that when it bids on search ads in auctions, other advertisers are charged as if it wasn’t bidding. But online-marketing executives and analysts say Google’s ads can still affect the price, placement and performance of its customers’ ads, writes the Journal.

Duck Duck go, anyone?

Written by turbotodd

January 20, 2017 at 10:35 am

Bada Bada Bing

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How can Microsoft get more bang out of Bing?

By hiring Burson-Marsteller PR firm CEO and former Hilary Clinton campaign loyalist, Mark Penn, the well-known strategist and political pollster.

According to the Wall Street Journal “Digits” blog, Penn is being brought in to help ignite “more consumer use of Bing,” Microsoft’s search engine, which lags well behind Google in terms of search market share.

When examining the earnings results from both Microsoft *and* Google this afternoon, it seems that Microsoft needs all the help it can muster in this particular battle.

Microsoft posted a $492 million loss for fiscal 4Q 2012, largely due to a $6.19 billion writedown of its failed acquisition of advertising-service engine aQuantive.

Google, on the other hand, seems to continue to act second only to the Federal Reserve when it comes to printing money, bringing in $1.25 billion in revenue for the quarter, and realizing a 42% rise in paid clicks year-over-year.

However, it seems Microsoft isn’t the only one out looking for some PR help.  Penn’s firm, Burson-Marsteller just released a study of how Global Fortune 100 companies are using social media (conducted in partnership with Visible Technologies) to create more influence.

First, the top most-often mentioned companies on social media in that group: HP, Ford, Sony, AT&T, Samsung, Toyota, Honda, Walmart, BP, and Verizon.

The study examined some key social media vehicles, including Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Pinterest.

CNET broke down the five key findings of the study:

  1. The Fortune Global 100 were mentioned a totla of 10,400,132 times online in a single month. Gone are the days that companies and brands could tally and sort through all of their media mentions each morning.
  2. Video content creation is on the rise, and there was a 39 percent jump in the percentage of companies with a branded YouTube channel in the last year (and excluding ALL skateboarding bulldogs!).
  3. Engagement is becoming second nature to companies. Seventy-nine percent of corporate accounts on Twitter attempt to engage with other users by retweeting and using @mentions.
  4. Multiple accounts on social media platforms allow companies to target audiences by geography, topic, or service.
  5. Companies are rapidly adapting to new platforms. Google Plus pages for businesses were launched last November, and by February 2012, nearly half (48%) of Fortune Global 100 companies already had a presence on the platform.

The study also highlighted that 93 percent of the Global Fortune 100 companies’ Facebook pages are updated weekly, up from 84 percent and 59 percent each of the past two years.

I’ll add my own two cents, considering IBM is a member of that Fortune Global 100.  In our own Facebook research, for example, we, too, have found video to be an increasingly impactful online resource.

We’re also seeing that the more data we share, the more interest we garner in terms of reshares (infographics are also impactful, but need to be used smartly and selectively).

That is to say, the more useful and insightful data an organization can share through its social media activities, the more they’re able to rise above the information overload fray and present prospects with “news they can use.”

No matter which famous political PR flack they hire.

Written by turbotodd

July 19, 2012 at 9:55 pm

Live @ IBM Smarter Commerce Global Summit Madrid: OgilvyOne Chairman & CEO Brian Fetherstonhaugh Speaks About The CMO Hotseat

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Brian Fetherstonhaugh, as the chairman and CEO of OgilvyOne Worldwide, has a unique vantage point on how brands are built, how corporate cultures are created, and what happens as the world goes digital. In the course of the past 25 years, Brian has worked hands-on with many of the world’s leading brands including, IBM, American Express, Cisco, Coca-Cola, Motorola, Unilever, Nestlé, Kodak, and Yahoo! Today, Brian leads OgilvyOne Worldwide, the interactive marketing and consulting arm of the Ogilvy Group. With more than 4,000 staff in 50 countries, OgilvyOne is at the forefront of the digital revolution. In 2007 and 2009, the Forrester Report ranked Ogilvy as a leading U.S. interactive agency.

OgilvyOne Worldwide Chairman and CEO Brian Fetherstonhaugh started our Q&A today here at the IBM Smarter Commerce Global Summit in Madrid by revealing who his favorite character on the 1960s-era AMC show about advertising, “Mad Men,” was.  Drum roll, please….It’s…JOAN.

Mainly, Brian explained, because Joan “gets things done.”

We then turned our discussion to the vast evolution IBM’s own marketing culture has endured the past two decades, and the opportunities and challenges presented by the changing marketing landscape for CMOs, whose tenures these days last an average 27 months.

Brian also discussed other key issues facing chief marketing officers during this time of great change, including the need for CMOs to focus on new talents and skills development. Before he jetted off to another city somewhere in the world, Brian left the IBM Smarter Commerce Global Summit, and you, with some valuable marketing advice.

And when you watch the video, never mind the Spanish waiter who entered the frame for just a moment: He was simply doing what we wish to see companies everywhere do best, servicing their customers!

Into The Amazon Digital Jungle

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Whoa, what ants got into Amazon.com’s pants this quarter??

Amazon announced earnings earlier today, and though profits for the first quarter dropped 35 percent to $130 million from last year’s same quarter, revenue jumped 34 percent to $13.2 billion, beating the Street’s expectations.

Is this a bellwether indicator for e-commerce en generale, or is it isolated to the ‘Zon?

Hard to say, but The Wall Street Journal is reporting that part of Amazon’s spending has gone towards making itself operate more efficiently.  If you remember, Amazon spent a cool $775 million to buy Kiva Systems last month, which is intended to help them automate and lower their warehouse operations costs.

The Journal story’s also highlighting the fact that the e-commerce market in general “has been strong,” with Amazon reporting particularly good sales for digital goods, including e-books and online video (which, read, means little to no distribution costs other than bandwidth!)

In Amazon’s earnings press release, Amazon pointed out that “9 out of 10 top sellers on Amazon.com were digital products — Kindle, Kindle books, movies, music and apps.”

In the quarter, Amazon also introduced a new version of its Kindle for iPad app, which is the #5 free iPad app of all time and the #1 free books app on iPad.

The Amazon left jab strikes Apple on the chin! Pow!

The Kindle, retailing for $199 through Amazon, continues to be the company’s best-selling product, and the most “gifted.”

I may have even contributed to the strong quarter with a few Amazon purchases meself, come to think of it!

For my money (what little I have left of it after shopping with Amazon), this digital trend is a larger barometric indicator — folks are finally getting more comfortable with consuming books and other media in digital formats, and though it certainly has a negative impact on the “traditional” media industries on one side of the balance sheet, that starts to get offset as the digital column increases.

Of course, I haven’t even gotten to some of the social commerce trends which Amazon is also likely benefiting from (mentions via Facebook, Twitter, etc.) and their own leading adoption of customer ratings and reviews.

Click, mortar, AND pixels is the name of the game for smarter commerce, something IBM thought leaders will be discussing at the upcoming IBM Global Smarter Commerce Summit in Madrid May 22-24th.

More on that in a prior post here.

Impressions From SXSW Interactive 2012: Q&A With SearchEngineLand’s Danny Sullivan On Google, Bing, And The Search/Social Intersection

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When I introduced myself to Danny Sullivan at SXSW Interactive 2012 here in the IBM Future of Social Business lounge, I bowed down, as if before a monarch, and explained “I’m not worthy.”

It may seem an over-the-top gesture, but considering the value that Danny has brought to search engine marketers, optimizers, and Web masters over the past decade, the tribute is most appropriate.

We spent a good 15 minutes chatting with Danny, covering everything from Google to Google+ to the emergent intersection between search and social…and much more.

Written by turbotodd

March 13, 2012 at 6:22 pm

Google’s 2011 Zeitgeist: The Year In Black

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Hard to believe, but here we are, near the end of another calendar year, and being this time of year, it’s time for the Google Zeitgeist for 2011.

This “How the world searched” feature is in its 11th instance, and as Google alluded to it in its official blog, the Zeitgeist provides us with “the spirit of the time.”

Or, as the case may be for extraterrestrial aliens suddenly landing on the planet and examining the Google global search logs for 2011, it provides a psychotic view into our collective predispositions and moral depravity.

“E.T., phone home…and whatever else you do, DON’T read the human search logs.”

Before we allow for the drumroll, let’s highlight the details behind the Zeitgeist. Basically, Google looks at the most popular and fastest rising search terms — those with the highest growth in 2011 — in many categories across many countries.

Those of us who work in global SEO can certainly appreciate the challenges and opportunities those local conditions engender, and to make this effort even more fun, Zeitgeist this year has introduced search visualizations so one can compare terms across categories.

And, if you hate reading, there’s always the Zeitgeist year-end-recap video:

 

If the Zeitgeist is intended to capture the spirit of the times, based on some of the top search queries, I may, in fact, be entirely behind the times.  “Rebecca Black” made the top of the list, and I’ve honestly never heard of the pop singer whose greatest hit appears to be “Friday.”

TGIF.

Other songstresses hit the upper reaches of the Google search universe, including “Adele” (also lost on me), reality star “Ryan Dunn” (of which reality, might I ask), and “Casey Anthony.”

Finally, one I heard of.  The alleged child killer came in at a whopping #4 on the global zeitgeist!  Casey Kasem would be so proud!

“Google+” came in at number 2.  How convenient — and Facebook nowhere to be seen this year?

Apple dominated three other spots in the top 10: “iPhone 5” at #6, “Steve Jobs” at #9, and the “iPad 2” at #10.

A lot of stuff happened in the world this year.

There were natural disasters galore, from the earthquake and tsunami in Japan in March, to the swarm of tornadoes across Missouri and the midwest in May, to the floods in Brazil and Thailand.

We found and killed Osama Bin Laden, even as his former safe haven of Sudan found independence in the South.

There were revolutions, literally, in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and even near Wall Street.

And yes, there were some timely demises, including some of my faves, Joe Frazier, Andy Rooney, Christopher Hitchens, and yes, of course, Steve Jobs.

And despite all that, it’s apparently the big splash of Rebecca Black that topped the search charts, when her video “Friday” went viral and received over 167M views on YouTube.

E.T…don’t just phone home.  Pick me up and get me the heck out of here.

Just please, whatever else you don’t, do NOT put it on YouTube.

Written by turbotodd

December 16, 2011 at 6:58 pm

Do No Evil…Except When It Pays

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Every once in a while you find companies which do something that just makes you shake your head.

Google did just that the other day with its announcement that it was going to start sending all logged in users to their SSL enabled search page.

That sounds harmless enough, right?

Wrong.  The change means that the sites people visit after clicking on search results will no longer receive keyword data.  That data helps we marketers understand what people clicked on in the first place, and helps consumers get a contextually relevant experience.

Not having access to that data creates a contextual disconnect and, ultimately a bad user experience, as the marketer has no way of knowing what led the user to their doorstep — kind of like getting a FedEx package with no information as to the sender.

And so will this move by Google in the greater cyber marketplace.

But ah, Google says, we’re doing this to protect the privacy of our users.  Well, not quite all of them.

Because the out clause in this announcement was that Google would continue to reveal the search results in those referrals which originated with their paid search ads.  You know, the ones that drive 97+% of Google’s revenues.

Google’s corporate mantra has always been “To organize the world’s information” and to “Do no evil.”  They didn’t mention anything about leaving their customers and users in the dark along the way, which is exactly what they’ll be doing with this move to block referrer and keyword data from those search results coming through encrypted connections.

That data, as Google well knows, is very valuable information to marketers who specialize in search engine optimization. Though some search engine optimizers (SEOs) have garnered a reputation for gaming the system, I would argue most of them play by the rules and follow “white hat” practices.

Now, it’s Google that is gaming the system, by limiting the amount of visibility into what referrals are being driven to which keywords in organic search results.

By doing so Google, consciously or not, is discouraging investments in SEO, from which they receive no remuneration, while bolstering the need for marketers to buy their paid search ads, the profit engine of their business.  They do this even while knowing users overwhelmingly trust and click on organic results by a very large margin.

Why this sudden policy disparity?

As Peter Young wrote on his blog, Holistic Search Marketing, “To be honest, the fact that its perfectly acceptable for PPC (pay-per-click) data to be tracked in the same circumstance that Google says it cannot pass organic data through for “privacy purposes” would suggest again this privacy is the least of their concerns. ‘You can have the data — as long as you pay us’ would appear to be the rhetoric here.”

Moreover, as Blogstorm in the U.K. observed, “To me this seems like a move designed both to make Google appear to be protecting users as well as an opportunity for them to take away data that helps big sites build more effective SEO campaigns.”

And the less big sites can build more effective SEO campaigns, the more dependent they’ll become on Google paid search.  Right?

As any good and conscientious search marketer will explain, the best search marketing effort combines the most effective and strategic use and balance of both paid and organic search results.  This move by Google will ultimately hamstring the latter while boosting investment in the former (remembering that at last count, Google already held 81.9% market share for paid search).

That’s great news for Google earnings, but not-so-great news for companies trying to understand their visibility and impact in the Google organic search universe, and the organic search results that users trust most and tend to click the most on.  The less relevant those results become over time, the more marketers will come to depend on paid search.

Today, yes, it’s only a small percentage of users who are “logged in” to the Google platform.  But that number will surely rise with the adoption of Google+ and related Google applications, an increase which will continue to drive down the visibility of organic results and prevent marketers around the globe from understanding the full impact of their SEO efforts.

In short, this move will drive Google organic search results away from the sunshine and into a very deep and dark black hole, and in the process create inefficiencies that defy the elegance and relevance that search engine marketing have brought to the marketplace.

Perhaps at that point Google may ought to reconsider revising its corporate mantra: “Do no evil…except when it pays.”

Written by turbotodd

October 20, 2011 at 1:50 pm

The IBM Customer Experience Suite: Building A Better And More Profitable Web

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I mentioned in a blog post from Tuesday that IBM would shortly be making an announcement that would help reshape the Web experience.

Drum roll, please, maestro.

Today, at four events held around the globe and also live on the Web via LiveStream (the NYC event can be watched live starting at 12:30 E.S.T. today, September 16, 2010),  IBM is unveiling new software designed to help organizations reinvent the way they interact with consumers over the Web and through mobile devices.

This software features analytics, social software and commerce capabilities that helps organizations create dynamic and interactive Web experiences to better target consumers and increase brand loyalty.

Before I get to the nitty gritty details, let me first provide some more background on what has led to and informed this announcement.

We Webizens know that online transactions continue to grow at a rapid pace.  Today, eight out of 10 consumers shop online at least twice a week, and ABI Research estimates there will be 20 times more data and 40 times more mobile transactions by 2015.

The report adds that mobile online shopping is expected to triple annually and rise to $119 billion in the same timeframe!

Web Metrics That Mean Business

But it’s important not to get caught up only in the upside opportunity in terms of new traffic and ways of accessing businesses and conducting transactions via the Web.  We’re way beyond just counting Web clicks and visits.

There are more business-oriented metrics that IBM is seeing companies realize through more effective uses of the Web after they’ve adopted IBM technology.

By way of example, in today’s Web-centric world, on-line banking has become “the norm,” pushing financial institutions to look for new tools to create personalized experiences for its customers in order to remain competitive.

Through the use of blogs, chat forums, videos, social networking, rich media and mobile capabilities, a financial institution can deliver a more personalized Web experience resolving customer issues more quickly while fostering customer loyalty and improving satisfaction.

According to Forrester, in today’s online and mobile consumer era, organizations that deploy sites with superior user experience can achieve as much as a 400 percent increase in conversion of Web visitors to sales leads.

The IBM Customer Suite being introduced today is targeted to address the need for well integrated Web tools.  Using IBM’s current portfolio of portal and Web content management software, IBM has seen clients achieve:

  • 23 percent increase in on-line prescription refills at a cost of $.25/refill compared to $3/telephone refill.
  • 33 percent of patients are less likely to cancel appointments when using online service.
  • 30 percent of all customers rated self service higher than help desk.
  • 75 percent reduction in the time to roll out new customer oriented applications.
  • 30 percent reduction in call center field support calls.

“Our data shows an increased number of visitors to Cars.com from a mobile device,” says Brent Laufenberg, Director of Enterprise Architecture, Cars.com, a business unit of Classic Ventures. “To make the experience easier for our consumers, we are increasing our social networking Web activity and personalization, as well as incorporating more rich media into the site.”

There’s No Better Way to Fly…or Surf…The Web

Lufthansa is another IBM customer that has gained favorable business advantage and improved customer satisfaction using IBM Customer Experience technology.

Lufthansa currently has a Web site supporting multiple brands, including Lufthansa.com, WeFlyHome.com and Miles-and-More.com. Its Web site supports important service functions such as online ticket sales and check-in.

Lufthansa.com: More than two billion page impressions, 16,000 check-in transactions and an average ticket booking every ten seconds!

The underlying IT solution supports more than two billion page impressions, 16.000 check-in transactions and in average a ticket booking every ten seconds. Now Lufthansa is working with IBM to improve its Web presence to reach more airline passengers over the next several years.

“Working with IBM on improving our site Lufthansa.com has made us more competitive and has led to significant operating cost reductions. As a result, we have renewed our contract with IBM and will continue to improve our Web presence together for the next several years,” said Gunter Friedrich, vice president, Information Management and Sales Processes, Lufthansa Passenger Airline.

New IBM Software Suite Can Help Accelerate On-line Sales Leads

Alistair Rennie is the general manager, IBM Collaboration Software.

At the New York City launch event, Alister will speak to the broad spectrum of impact that new capabilities like social and mobile computing are having on expectations customers have, and how those expectations have helped shape the IBM Customer Experience Suite.

“Collaboration and social software have the power to transform an organization’s Web presence reinventing how they relate to their customers on the Web,” said Mr. Rennie in a press release prepared in advance of the event.

IBM consulting services will also be available to support the assessment, development and use of new and enhanced Web experiences. And IBMi (IBM Interactive) consultants will collaborate with clients to deliver the Customer Experience Suite to enable increased differentiation, revenues, productivity, efficiency and reduced costs through an optimized user experience.

“We are aligning the breadth of IBM capabilities — services, support, and software including commerce, social software, business intelligence, predictive analytics, portal, Web content management and web analytics — to help our customers embrace the web as their primary channel for customer engagement,” added Rennie.

IBM is also teaming up with dozens of its business partners including Ascendant, Gemini, Infosys, Ixion, and Perficient on this initiative.

The new IBM Software suite is another piece of IBM’s expanding portfolio of solutions designed to help organizations improve their marketing presence on the Web.

IBM’s recent acquisitions of Sterling Commerce and Coremetrics, and the intended acquisition of Unica, will enhance the company’s ability to support clients’ needs in this growing market.  This new IBM Software suite is an extension of IBM’s $100 million Research investment in advancing mobile services and capabilities for businesses and consumers worldwide.

Visit here to learn more about the IBM Customer Experience Suite core offerings and add-on modules, and for details about new WebSphere Portal 7 and Lotus Web Content Management 7, available now.

Instant Google

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There’s no flies on the Goog.

They introduced a new feature this week, Google Instant.

Unlike most instant coffees, Google’s already been there and done that when it comes to caffeination (hearkening back to the Google Caffeine update from a couple years back).

This go round, Google’s moving into the world of instant search relief.

It’s also setting off a firestorm of commentary about branding online.

Let me explain: Assuming your connection has gotten the update, go to http://www.google.com and just type in the letter “A.”

What comes up first in the listing? “Amazon.” Followed by “AOL.” Followed by “ATT.”

Then, type the letter “B.”  “Best Buy” is at the top of the list. Followed by “Bank of America.”

I skipped on over to “I,” thinking that IBM might come up first.  But no, it was “IKEA.”

IKEA???  Other than being a Swedish furniture company, what in the world is IKEA doing coming up when I search for the letter “I”??

Fortunately, when I typed a “B” after the “I,” IBM finally appeared at the top of the short list.  Whew!

I can already envision the crazy games people are going to try and play to game their way to the top letter of the new Google search alphabet.

The new Instant, non-caffeinated search coffee Google’s brewing is also likely to turn some heads at the online advertising marketplace.

Impressions are going to likely go up with this new feature.  Possibly way up.

For those of you not in the online advertising know, online impressions are typically the ways by which advertisers measure the number of times their message or ad was presented to an individual consumer via a search or online display ad.

But by saying they expect this number to go up, does that mean there really were more search queries Did the Google search sea, in fact, rise?

Google seems to be saying, well, possibly.

On the GoogleWebmasterCentral blog, Doantam Phan from the Instant Search team at Google explains that impressions will be measured three ways with Google Instant:

  1. Your site is displayed in search results as a response to a user’s completed query (e.g., by pressing “enter” or selecting a term from autocomplete). This is the traditional model.
  2. The user begins to type a term on Google and clicks on a link on the page, such as a search result, ad, or a related search.
  3. The user stops typing, and the results are displayed for a minimum of 3 seconds.

So, marketers everywhere, let me be clear: If I’ve been up half the night writing this blog post, and I suddenly go to Google long enough to search on “sleep remedies,” and I fall asleep on my keyboard during that three second interval…well, you’ve just bought yourself a valuable search impression.

I fear this new (and seemingly arbitrary…but hey, you gotta draw a line somewhere) three second rule is going to be talked about ad nauseum.

Hey, could somebody call Miss Blankenship and get Don Draper on the line?!

While we wait for Don to finish his three martini lunch, let’s not forget the great productivity enhancement this new change provides.

Google user experience queen Marissa Mayer wrote in a blog post introducing this new feature that Google Instant saves the average searcher two to five seconds per search, or 11 hours with each passing second.

Awesome.

Google’s just saved nearly 350 million man hours (Note: The latest top-trending search on Google was “tom brady car accident,” just in case you were wondering what folks were doing with that productivity boost).

My only question is, can Google Instant do my laundry instantly as well?  That could save me tens of hours a day per year, hours I could have better spent online searching via Google and contributing to the “Google Bottom Line Benjamin Franklin printing press” (Try finding that query on Google Instant!).

Well, who am I to complain about progress?

I lead SEO in IBM’s Software business, and I think I’m going to go ahead and chalk up the increased impressions from Google Instant as part of my year-end bonus package.

Just don’t look for my name under the letter “T.”

That’s been reserved for “Target.”

Written by turbotodd

September 9, 2010 at 3:41 pm

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