Google Now is a really exciting product, providing people with hyper personalised results without a search even taking place. The immediate, pro-active information sent direct to consumers has seen traditional Google searches amongst its users drop significantly, as people wanting to know travel information, weather forecasts or directions has plummeted. As the algorithm becomes more intelligent and the the number of people using it grows, traditional queries are likely to drop further as more information is supplied proactively. As we become more comfortable with wearable tech, this kind of interruptive results will become yet more prevalent as the social norm of typing or speaking searches declines.
As uptake increases it’s near certain that Google will monetise Google Now through advertising. This will create opportunities for agile advertisers to drive a substantial amount of business via intelligent targeting and first mover advantage. So how might this monetisation take place? Here’s my take on what I expect to be round the corner.
The obvious first possibility is for Google places and Google+ local, managed through AdWords. The advantage here being that the technology is already in place and many businesses already use one or both of these products. I would expect Google to introduce native ad formats, which are likely to be very similar to the Google Now cards themselves with text and promotions defined by the advertiser. As with Product Listing Ads (PLAs), the better the data businesses are able to provide, the less it will cost them to appear thanks to relevancy factors. With the added bonus of them being much more likely to appear organically. Local businesses that share as much data as possible such as opening times, menus, phone numbers etc as well as encouraging reviews, +1s and G+ interactions will be well placed to capitalise. Optimisation will need to focus on data freshness and accuracy, as well as encouraging people to interact with their content. Google will strive to avoid there being a race to “game the algorithm” as we had in years gone by in SEO. Imagine the scenario of insurance companies stuffing their data sets with “5 star Italian restaurant” in order to appear.
‘Have you ever had a dream that you were so sure was real? What if you were unable to wake from that dream? How would you know the difference between the dream world and the real world?’
The Matrix turned 15 this year, and while it set a new standard for action film special effects and cinematography, it’s probably best remembered for its central themes. For the uninitiated, the film revolves around the premise that the world around us is an illusion, constructed hundreds of years in the future in order to prevent humans from realising the truth – that we’re being harvested as batteries by advanced computers.
It sounds far-fetched, but actually it’s not as unlikely as it might initially seem.
Computers are already pretty adept at creating simulations of the real world. Games like ‘The Sims’ and ‘Football Manager’, whilst simplistic, are effectively small scale systems capable of reproducing a niche version of reality. Elsewhere, meteorologists use increasingly sophisticated computer programmes to run virtual weather systems, and are able to take into account an incredible number of minute variables in their pursuit of ever more accurate forecasts.
With Universal Analytics (UA) finally out of beta, adoption rates look poised to soar. Boasting cross-device tracking, custom metrics, dimension widening and the measurement protocol (among other features), UA generates more insights than Sherlock Holmes can shake his pipe at. As with any new product, however, there are a few teething problems.
Recently a client approached us with an unusual problem: their visit data were behaving erratically, with historic values changing over the course of the day.
After fruitlessly searching for issues with the tracking code, we found that manually checking for data discrepancies on a regular basis would be time consuming and ultimately unfeasible. With this in mind, we decided to create a custom alert to monitor changes in traffic volume.
Although they have come under some scrutiny in recent years, done well they are an extremely useful way of presenting data in a cohesive way that allows you to easily compare and contrast key findings. With good creative work, they can also be a really attractive piece of marketing communication.
When pulling your data together for an infographic, you must focus on a topic that is engaging to your target audience. However, once you have all the data, have created a beautiful image, and have it all set to go, you’ll want to maximize its effectiveness, so here are our top seven tips for doing just that:
Always provide a high-resolution version of your image. If press or bloggers want to share it, they’ll need it in high resolution, so don’t limit your options before you start.
It’s also a good idea to build a smaller version of the infographic, or an “infogram,” which will appear as a small, attractive image when shared on Facebook and Twitter. Typically an infogram is a concise part of an infographic that can be viewed as standalone content.
Though not essential, this will make outreach a lot more successful, as you can offer bloggers an infographic to host on their site and an infogram to share online. The infographic must look great, but you should make sure it is also the right size for your website.
This is a condensed version of an ebook which is available to download in full on our website.
We’ve put together this guide to help digital producers and strategists think about their content in a flexible and fluid way that will allow what they put together to adapt and flourish, regardless of the device it’s viewed on. We look at it from the point-of-view of your consumers as well as the colleagues and partners you work with day-to-day.
This isn’t a technical walkthrough (head to the appendix to see some recommended reading for the geeky stuff), rather an overview of the considerations that those in charge of content need to make when planning out what should be produced and how it should be presented.
1. Out and about
Today’s average smartphone has more processing power than the desktop computers we were buying three years ago, allowing website owners to create feature-filled portals their audience can access anywhere.
That said, it’s wrong to presume that someone accessing your website via a phone is always going to be on the move. They’re just as likely to be lounging on the sofa or sat at their desk as they are walking through the Lake District.
What’s it really like to work in the world of digital marketing?
This series of blog posts will show the variation of roles we have at iCrossing and will give an insight into what happens on a daily basis including commuting journeys, social activities, lunch time food spots as well as the best and most challenging aspects of the job. This post introduces Ed from the research & insight team based in London.
I started at iCrossing within a week of my final university exam in June 2012. I was studying Mathematics with Statistics at the University of Southampton and was looking for a role where I could immediately start applying the analytical and statistical skills I learnt in my academic life.
The digital marketing industry appealed to me as it is constantly developing with masses of data to work with. I applied to iCrossing because it is a market leading global agency with an established research & insight team.
Google are currently testing the performance of product images within the organic listings. Up until now, product images have been available just in Google’s paid listings. Thus, this could be big news for e-commerce (and finance) sites should the search giant decide to permanently include them in its free listings.
It is still unclear how Google picks the image thumbnail that is being displayed in the organic search results as they do not seem to be influenced by the use of structured data, nor the image properties (e.g. filename, alt tag).
In the following example, all three search results are from Ebay, yet two appear with a product image and one without.
Organic listings for ‘Summer hats’
It is also worth noting that the product thumbnails are bigger compared to the authorship ones, hence more prominent as we can see in the following example.
It is becoming increasingly difficult for brands to ignore affiliate marketing as the evidence supporting its effectiveness as a channel continues to stack up, but there are still some brands that are apprehensive about entering the space.
The latest IAB report clearly shows that the channel is still growing and here to stay. The report not only outlines the increase in spend to £1 billion in affiliate marketing and lead generation, but also highlights the massive increase in overall ROI of 14 compared to 9 the previous year.
Despite this, there are three questions I frequently hear from brands that have concerns about joining the industry:
Question 1: “We have a strong brand so wouldn’t having an affiliate programme devalue the brand reputation?”
Answer: This is a common misconception and the emergence of several high end luxury brands and retailers in this space over the last few years is proof that even the most protective of brands can have a successfully tailored affiliate programme.
This has to some extent been brought on by the industry itself which did suffer from a handful of affiliates using unethical methods to stuff cookies on to people’s machines and bid on brands when they thought they weren’t being monitored. I am happy to report that this was quite a few years ago now and this kind of activity has been marginalised through the advancement in technological tools and regulation through the IAB on affiliate practices. Today there are several high end brands that have very successful affiliate programmes like Burberry, Harrods, and Alexander McQueen amongst others. Most of them choose to operate on a private program level and hand pick their affiliates.
We all know that searches on mobile have been increasing hugely over the past year, and it’s no shock to us to hear that this has continued to grow in Q1 but when you also look at the figures that accompany this expansion it’s even more baffling when you see a brand not optimising their site for mobile.
In a study undertaken by Google and Nielsen it was found that consumers are spending over 15 hours a week researching on their smartphones and that 48% of these researchers are starting on a search engine, as opposed to a mobile site or app, and 74% are using a search engine at some point in their journey. This means that search ads need to be optimised for mobile as this will be a potential touchpoint in so many users purchase journey.
Couple this with the fact that 55% of consumers using their mobile wish to make their purchase within the hour of their mobile research and you have a strong case for improving your mobile UX to encourage that purchase to be made there and then as smoothly as possible. If a user has to switch devices to enable them a better journey to purchase, the chances are they’ll just buy from a competitor with a superior user experience.
After finishing high school the majority of my friends jumped into uni while I spent some time travelling and freelancing, taking a bit longer than them to decide what career path I wanted to follow. By the time I had decided that I wanted to work in digital media, my friends where all coming out of uni. Although most of them had great grades they struggled to get a job.
I kept hearing the same stories that their qualifications counted for nothing in the face of experience. Having already faced the tough job market, I decided to take a different route.
Starting an apprenticeship seemed to offer the solution; they provided a level of education at college as well as work place experience at the end of the course.
So what is an apprenticeship?
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- Greatfinds – iCrossing U.S.
- Talblick – iCrossing Germany
- The Content Lab
Other Blogs We Recommend
- Core Audience
- Forrester Blogs
- Google Plus Blog
- iMedia Connection
- Media Monkey
- Mobile, Social, Ambient by Rachel Pasqua
- Online Marketing Blog by Tristán Elósegui
- Search Engine Land
- The Content Lab
- The Facebook Blog
- The Official Google Blog
- Twitter Blog
- Wired Sussex
- WSJ Digits