Jan. 18, 2012 | by Jeremy Head Let the content battle begin!

I think 2012 is going to be a really interesting year for content creators like me.

Regular readers of connect will know we’ve talked a lot about the Panda update to the Google search algorithm. A key reason for this update was to try and stamp out the really poor quality content that mucked up search results. Content farms were publishing 1000s of pages using search term research to create content that did just enough to fool search engines into ranking them high up in their search results. This was seriously impacting the quality of people’s search experience.

Panda kind of worked –a lot of the junk has dropped right off the search results. Many bonafide companies would argue they have been unfairly demoted too, whilst big brands seem to have done rather well.

The changes to Google’s algorithms in 2011 make it clear that it is increasingly serious about ensuring that quality content from trusted brands gets pushed further up the search results.

Content will matter like never before in 2012 – I see a really interesting battle on the horizon.

In the blue corner! Brands

‘Brands as publishers’ is a buzz phrase that has been around a while. With the arrival of the web, publishing was democratised. The right to an opinion that can be widely published is no longer exclusive to traditional publishers like newspapers, magazines and TV.

Up to now, brands have only dabbled with publishing online content for engagement and conversation, rather than to sell products. Why?

Firstly, cost. Creating great content involves serious investment. Why bother if sales are ticking along nicely? Just because you can publish content aimed at engaging with people before they’re serious about buying doesn’t mean you actually need to.
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Jan. 11, 2012 | by Adam Skalak Google gets personal with search plus your world

Just 11 days into 2012 and Google is launching a major change. Anyone signed in to Google will start getting results personalised based on their Google+ network in the main Google search. Google announced that the main new features include Personal results, Profiles in search and People and Pages. So content from Google+ together with content from other social sites integrated in the main web search results. This merge of content, people and relationships is a big shift for Google that isn’t about Google bringing the Facebook (Google+) experience to your regular Google. They are bringing search into a Facebook (Google+) experience and re-hosting it as your normal Google.

A more narrow SEO view could be an expansion of Universal results. Depending on the query and its context Google’s algorithm blends the standard webpage results with images, videos, news, blog content, maps and so on. With Search plus Your World Google is going to blend personal and even private results into the existing Universal results (e.g. Google+ photos into Universal image results) and also add new boxes with content from People and Page profiles (status updates).

From a digital marketing perspective this change is going to make our lives and campaigns even more interesting. Just like with the launch of Universal results we will be looking to gain and sustain visibility in these new verticals. Our Google SEO strategies will need to be expanded to analyse keywords, customer segments and industry verticals for which we will need to come up with content strategies that gain enough social signals to appear in Google’s new results. Imagine a situation where you search for a keyword in Google and the new personalised results feature prominently. While these results will be personalised to every searcher, brands that produce content that is useful, engaging, relevant and timely will be able to gain visibility and clicks. Google’s algorithm filters out duplicate content therefore strategies for Google+ should provide content that is unique and refrain from duplicates of Twitter or blog posts.
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Jan. 11, 2012 | by Gregory Lyons Facebook to Hit a Billion Users in the Summer

Last summer we took a look at Facebook usage around the world, and with Facebook recently announcing that they’re currently at over 800 million active users we thought it would be interesting to extrapolate their current grown rate and estimate when they’re likely to hit a billion active users.

Facebook billion users

Using a process of linear regression on the data from the end of 2008 onwards we expect Facebook to hit a billion active users around August 2012. Looking at the data from 2006-mid 2008 it looks like Facebook was growing at an exponential rate, however more recent data suggests it’s growing in a linear fashion.

Facebook’s growth has slowed or stopped in many of its early adopting countries such as the US and the UK. However, developing countries such as India and Brazil have shown strong growth with India growing from 22
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Jan. 09, 2012 | by Sam Vining Exporting large sets of data with Google Analytics

For top-level information, Google Analytics offers some nice summary graphs that help you quickly get to grips with your site’s information. For those of us that like to get our hands dirty with the data underneath though, Analytics offers a handy ‘export to CSV’ function for endless tinkering in your spreadsheet application of choice.

The default limit for exporting rows of data is set at 500 – fine for a smaller site with just a few dozen pages, or reports over a short time period. But what to do if you operate a larger site, and would like to export information for your several thousand pages? Or would like to download the entire list of keywords that brought users to your site? Based on the popularity of your site or variety of your content, these lists could easily generate tens of thousands of rows – potentially hundreds of thousands over a long enough period. This could lead to painstaking hours exporting 500 rows at a time to get at the data you need, and find the crucial insight that will change your world.

Fortunately for all of us spreadsheet-jockeys there is an easier way. Analytics veterans will be aware of a workaround to help them export larger amounts of rows at once – simply adding the text &limit= and the desired number of rows (up to a limit of 50,000) to the end of any Analytics URL, for example:……………..&limit=5000. With this extra parameter you’d be able to export up to 100 times more rows at once!

Anybody who has adopted the latest update of Google Analytics may have been dismayed to discover that this tactic will not work with version 5. So how can we achieve the same result now?

The process is similar, and hopefully a bit more straight-forward. When viewing your report of choice, scroll down to the bottom of the page and you should see this in the right corner:

Number of rows

From the drop-down menu, choose ‘500’. Once your page has loaded, you’ll notice an extra bit of text has been added to the end of your URL: it should now finish with explorer-table.rowCount%3D500. Replace the ‘500’ in this string with your desired figure – as before, anything up to 50,000 will work. Hit enter and export, and you have your data!

All well and good, but what if your data requirement is slightly larger? What if you need to export, say, 200,000 rows? Find the part of your URL that contains this text: geo-table.rowStart%3D0. The ‘0’ here can be amended to begin at any row you desire – so for the next 50,000, let’s start at row 50,001 with the following text: geo-table.rowStart%3D50001. The end of your URL should be changed to explorer-table.rowCount%3D100000. You’ll now have the next 50,000 rows ready to export.

Using this technique you could export one million rows by loading just twenty pages. To do this 500 rows at a time would require you to generate 2000 pages – quite a time-saving!

Dec. 22, 2011 | by Gregory Lyons 2011 the year of the mobile

Last year we took a look at what we thought would be big in 2011 and mobile was one of our predictions. In this post we’ll take a look at how mobile did in 2011 and where it might head in 2012.

If we look at the data from November 2011 we can see that mobile search represented 15% of total search for popular Christmas items in the UK. With as much as 44% of total last minute gift searches coming from mobiles.

When it comes to local information and specifically maps usage, Google’s Marisa Myers predicted that by June this year mobile would have surpassed desktop usage with over 50% of people accessing map information via mobile devices. In addition 24% of UK consumers are using mobiles for in store comparison.

Worldwide mobile search usage has increased five fold
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Dec. 21, 2011 | by Georgie Wright New Year plans from Facebook

As we’re all winding down for Christmas, Facebook is working on a few additions which could be interesting for our social campaigns next year. Here’s a quick heads up…

1)      Sponsored Stories ads

Building on the success of Facebook’s Sponsored Story as a format in 2011, the social network is readying a plan to expand the format to introduce ads into users’ news feeds from early next year.

As display ads do not currently appear in a users’ feed, the initial roll out in the New Year will be introduced ‘thoughtfully and slowly’ and will be clearly marked. A spokesperson from Facebook said that initially no more than one ad per day will be shown to users.

Initial stats from Facebook’s introduction of Sponsored Stories showed that they were effectively driving up click through rates and decreasing the cost per acquisition.  The user feedback to the presence of ads in their new feeds will be interesting over the next few months so it’s definitely one to keep a close eye on in 2012.

Brand Republic has written a great article covering this.

2)      Private messages for Pages

It was announced yesterday that Facebook has begun to roll out a functionality that allows users and Page owners to exchange private messages! It’s breaking news – that could potentially allow page owners and brands direct access to their audience, however, with the initial roll out Facebook is requiring individuals to initiate the conversation.

The potential for this is huge with Econsultancy stating that ‘it’s far easier to market to consumers than it is to communicate with them. Facebook may be looking to change that slightly’. The possibilities for  customer service is huge and it could propel brand pages towards being a much more effective marketing tool for brands. Those brands with larger Facebook followings should look into this sooner rather than later, and be geared up for possible increased communication through the channel in 2012.

As always we will be sure to let you know of any further advances as the New Year kicks in.

Dec. 20, 2011 | by Maya.Kamourieh Affiliate Marketing and the lemon squeezer

Affiliate Marketing has been around for over ten years ever since Jeff Bezos, CEO and founder of, pondered the idea of having others advertise links on their sites to and receive a commission on sales for doing so. Well that’s how legend has it that the first affiliate programme on the internet launched. Since that time Affiliate Marketing has grown into a multi-million pound industry which forms an integral part of an advertisers marketing strategy.

As new affiliate models are created and existing models are developed, account managers continue to adapt to the different ways of managing a client’s brand. Affiliate Marketing has greatly advanced especially over the last six years where affiliates have grown from the “back bedroom” operations of the past to corporate businesses that have spent years developing and promoting websites enabling a larger reach. But just as Affiliates have grown so have internet shoppers who have all become a savvy bargain hunting nation looking for the lowest possible prices.

These “lemon squeezers” spend hours surfing the net for discount vouchers and other deals such as a two-for-one offer at a pizza restaurant, free delivery codes or limited-time discounts. Unfortunately there are also a hard core of internet users looking to exploit the many loopholes out there and Affiliate Marketing is no different. It’s easy to get stung if you don’t fully understand the world of Affiliate Marketing. You have probably already heard of things such as “brand bidding” and “cookie dropping” where individuals are looking to make easy money on your natural traffic but there are many other pitfalls which we have to be aware of in order for an affiliate programme to fully succeed.

With experience we can build up knowledge of the pitfalls that advertisers can suffer. One example of this is taking advantage of misspelt URLs. If you take a look at the WHOIS for a domain listed as (missing the leading period) for example, there is a good chance you will find the domain is registered to an individual who more likely than not will use an affiliate link to re-direct the user to the retailer site. It’s very simple and can easily be missed if you don’t look out for it. Things like this are very preventable and you could save thousands by taking certain steps when launching an Affiliate Programme.
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Dec. 20, 2011 | by Georgie Wright Ambush Marketing and the Law in 2011 + 1

There is a certain sporting event coming up next year that I am sure you are all aware of. Its impact on the UK, and globally, will be huge as the world pauses to watch some of the greatest sporting performances, and achievements, of our time. We wait with baited breath, yet I’m hesitant to mention its name for fear of a smacked wrist!

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Dec. 14, 2011 | by Daniel.Fernandez 5 tips for students looking for a digital marketing placement

I thought it would be a good idea to write a post about my placement experience at iCrossing, and give some tips to those students that are about to finish the second year at University and are thinking about building a career in Marketing by gaining work experience before graduating.

Let’s crack on…

Who am I?

My name is Daniel Fernandez – a third year Marketing and Management Student at the University of Gloucestershire. I am currently doing my placement at iCrossing, based in the offices that the company has in Brighton.

Here is a picture of me..

Dani Fernandez

1 – Choose your specialism

Once you have decided to go on placement, the first thing to do is have a look at the opportunities that your degree and the different markets offer you. I chose Digital Marketing among other options such as Branding and International Marketing…

2 – Choose the right company
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Dec. 12, 2011 | by Daniel.Fernandez What do Twitter brand pages mean for marketers?

First Facebook was followed by LinkedIn and Google. Now its Twitter’s turn as they have announced new profiles for businesses. At the moment they are only available to a limited number of companies, but Twitter has said that it will be rolling out more broadly in the coming weeks together with important updates across the different platforms; PC and mobile versions.

As competitors did before, Twitter has partnered up with some of the biggest International companies in supporting the new version, such as  McDonalds , Coca-Cola, Bing, Dell, HeinekenHP and  Intel among others. Most of these already have official  brand pages on Twitter.

What’s different?

Design, Videos and Images

On Twitter’s official blog, the company describe a new and simplified version of the social network, which provides companies the ability to customise their profile with more of a branded look. As we can see in the below example from the Coca-Cola Twitter page.


However, customisation is not the only new advantage for companies and followers. The new twitter also allows brands to show embedded multimedia; videos and images. This makes the new Twitter site more visually appealing for users and gives businesses the opportunity to spread content in different formats.

Space tweetSpace tweet






What are Embeddable Tweets?

A new feature from Twitter allows content authors to add tweets to their websites, simply by copying and pasting a simple line of code.  That enables visitors to follow, reply, re-tweet or favourite a tweet with a single click and without leaving the page.

Twitter Buttons
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