Google recently announced an overhaul of its incredibly popular analytics platform, Google Analytics. Some users (including myself) have been given early access to the new interface for testing.
If you’ve signed up for the preview, it isn’t immediately obvious whether you have access or not. You need to go in to an actual profile before the option to switch to the new interface appears.
One of the major changes to the platform is the ability to have multiple, customisable dashboards. Custom widgets can be set up to track almost any metric you can think of.
There are four different widget types as follows (from the Google Analytics Blog):
- Metric: Shows the value of a metric and a sparkline of that metric over the selected time period
- Pie Chart: Best suited for displaying breakdowns of a metric by a certain dimension. E.g., Visits by Browser Type.
- Timeline: A graph of any metric over time. You can also compare two metrics in the same graph.
- Table: Think of this as a mini-custom report. You can show one dimension with two metrics and up to 10 rows of data in a table.
When browsing for a new pair of specs yesterday, I noticed that Google seem to be trialling another visual tweak for their ads in a bid to boost click-through rates.
Following a return to the yellow background, punctuated and non-punctuated extended headlines it looks like spaces are now being added to display URLs. It appears the presence of a space is determined by whether the keyword being searched is in the display URL or not.
I quite like this one, as it goes, it seems to add an extra degree of legibility to the listings.
Anyone else seen this?
6-8pm at: The Railway Club, 4 Belmont, Brighton
In these austere times of cuts and gloom when the old adage that charity begins at home might be even more pertinent, it is vital that all charities whether large or small are making the most of any opportunity to raise both awareness and cash for their cause. Recent disasters in the media can also lead to ‘donation fatigue’ and the feeling that people cannot really help when they can only afford to give a few quid. This isn’t the case, as for example, just £4 pays for a child’s call to Childline, and £8 could pay for ten Ugandan children to be tested for malaria so they can get a quick diagnosis and receive life-saving treatment through Comic Relief.
So when I was asked to be a social media ‘adviser’ at a ‘charity speedmatching’ event in Brighton based on my experience working for the NSPCC with the Baby Peter Tribute Fund and my iCrossing credentials, I was keen to take part and share some knowledge and best practice tips. Supporting the NSPCC has mostly involved raising money and awareness for Childline using social media, primarily Facebook and Twitter, with over £32,000 raised so far by 4 ordinary women working together in their own time.
The event was organised by mediatrust who work with media organisations and charities to enhance their communications and enable communities to find their voice and make it heard. Social media is therefore key to making this happen. They found me searching LinkedIn, where I mention my third sector interest and work.
The charities were given a seat for the night and then the advisers asked to join a charity for the first round of ‘matching’. The charities were given a ‘Match Card’, to fill in as they went along, to let Media Trust know whether they were interested in meeting further with any of the potential ‘matches’. When the bell rang there was five minutes to talk to the first potential match, and see if any needs could be met. I was expecting questions about ‘how do I use Facebook’, ‘what is Twitter’ and so on, however I wasn’t expecting ‘I have a problem with a troll’, and for the Japan quake and potential nuclear threat to be mentioned.
Image Search advertising is a relatively new ad format from Google. Very simply, it enables you to pair an image with text and appear for related searches by user on Google Images.
The 2 current methods available to serve an Image ad are reservation & auction based, with the latter far the more stable and easier to implement.
Although probably not suitable for many clients, the format may have credible potential for those whose products and core KPIs have a direct relation to the images being viewed.
Using my own experience of Image Search, a good example of where an image ad would have been appropriate was about 4 months prior to a holiday my family and I were planning in Thailand. At the time I hadn’t purchased a flight or hotel.
What is Twestival?
Twestival® (or Twitter Festival) uses social media for social good by connecting communities offline on a single day to highlight a great cause and have a fun event. Twestival is the largest global grassroots social media fundraising initiative to date. Since 2009, volunteers have raised close to $1.2 million for 137 non-profits. All local events are organized 100% by volunteers and 100% of all ticket sales and donations go direct to projects.
Twestival was born out of the idea that if cities were able to collaborate on an international scale, but work from a local level, it could have a spectacular impact. Over 200 international cities from Buenos Aires to Bangalore, Seattle to Seoul and Hong Kong to Honolulu have participated in Twestival.
Brightwest is the Brighton Twestival, this will be the 4th Twestival we have run and this year we will be raising money for a local charity. The charity we have chosen is The Crew Club. The Crew Club is a thriving centre for young people living on the Whitehawk Estate in East Brighton and the surrounding areas. Run by local residents, young people and volunteers, the Crew Club welcomes up to 100 young people on club nights, and many more get involved in sport, social and educational activities during the school holidays. The Crew Club has more than 500 members, whose ages range from 11 to 22 years.
After years of a largely unchanged creative format, 2010 saw an unprecedented year for the diversification and development of Paid Search ads, with the way led – unsurprisingly – by Google’s Adwords platform.
My intention is not for this to be an Adwords ‘how to’ – you can research Adwords’ nuts and bolts on the many excellent industry blogs. Moreover, I hope to provide an overview of two of my favourite and most impactful PPC developments of the last 12 months and highlight how they can and should be having a beneficial effect on your campaigns.
In the second half of the article, drawing upon my experience of running large-scale and successful paid search campaigns for some of the world’s biggest brands, I’ll share my thoughts on two of the key mind-sets and approaches required for delivering brilliant paid search.
We’ll kick things off with a look at what’s proven to be one of the most popular and successful additions to Adwords ad formats in recent years…
Countries such as Germany already have stricter privacy policies in place, brough in by Government measures based on complaints from consumer groups. This legislation has led to several high profile investigations into how companies such as Apple, Facebook and Google collect personal data. Whilst none of these investigations have led to any fines or sanctions they are openly promoting a more public discussion about what data is collected and how it is stored.
I’ve been lucky enough to spend the last week over in the US with some of my colleagues down in Arizona. Not only did this trip allow me to visit the beautiful town of Scottsdale and spend some time there, but also reinforced the fact that Charlie Sheen is indeed omnipotent as well as giving me enough time on the flight home to write this blog post.
The whirlwind that is the ‘car crash’ demise of US actor Sheen is everywhere; tv, print headlines, twitter, facebook and bar conversations on both sides of the pond. His inevitable deterioration is captivating the public’s thirst for gossip but in the greater scheme of things where does he sit? There’s plenty going on in the world at the moment; political unrest in North Africa and the much anticipated launch of Apple’s iPad 2 for example, not that you can in any way compare the two but their contrast makes them even more interesting to compare. So what if you were to look at the popularity online of the celebrity breakdown vs. the political dictator vs. the latest technology launch from Apple, who would win?
UK sentiment analysis firm, Brandwatch, have done just that in their latest Friday Fix to look at who, when pitched against each other, has the most value in social media. Stats measured from this weeks launch of the iPad 2. Let battle commence…
The February 2011 edition of Revolution covered an article looking at online brand building activity through search at the expense of display according to a recent survey carried out by communications firm Rocket.
Natural search ranked top with 32% of marketers citing it as the most effective marketing channel for online brand building. As highlighted by iCrossing’s CEO, Paul Doleman, this higher figure is no surprise as SEO offers a trusted source in online brand building with consumers trusting the natural search rankings more for research purposes than paid alternatives. Not only is this content derived from the brand but we must also consider user generated content, reviews and network contacts as key branding aspects highlighted through natural search.
Coming in second at 28%, paid search. Seen as a key response tool, paid search is increasingly being used in creative ways to compliment brand building activities – check out Ann Summers. Likewise, online PR and email marketing sitting in the middle spots at 22%, can drive brand through targeted campaigns to specific demographics with targetted messaging. What is more surprising is the position of display and social coming in at the bottom of the pack.
Much of the focus at the moment on social, everyone’s talking about it. As outlined by Rocket’s MD, Pete Hendricks, ‘social media pretty much matches search engines in terms if traffic nowadays [...] but some brands don’t see social media as such an effective medium for brand building as there is much less control.’ the age old question of ‘what is the ROI’ maybe a concern for some but surely, in branding terms, social media done well is invaluable which makes it’s low position surprising. Instant consumer reviews, interactions and improved customer service can be the instant gains from social but dedicated resources and management are required to benefit from such rewards.
In the last year Google has shifted its focus from pure link based anchor text to include other metrics. As a result greater attention is anticipated for broader ranking considerations such as user behaviour, social signals, content quality, brand authority etc.
Google is constantly fighting to curtail spam and has realised that the importance of links within its algorithm is effectively contributing to a large amount of it. Hence the growing importance of various other ranking metrics; some of which are discussed below.
User behaviour – Chrome extension to send signals to Google about search quality
Google has recently launched a Chrome web extension to allow users to block sites of their choosing in the SERPs and has indicated that it’ll use this to rank websites in search results. Not sure what effect this will have on Google’s results as the numbers of Chrome users are limited and not everyone will download the extension.
Google has previously attempted to leverage user data in the search results by means of SideWiki, Starred results etc. which signifies that Google is exploring ways to integrate user behavioural data which can be used as strong ranking signal.
Traffic from social – an important signal to Google?
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