Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Google tests credit card interest rate email service

The news today isn't just that lots more users at Google.co.uk are able to see Google engaged in another Comparison ad test - although it certainly is. Google's actually been testing Comparison ads in the UK for at least 12 months. I can name plenty of suppliers on it.

Weirdly, one of my first thoughts when I saw this today was "I'm surprised to see Google using under scores in their display URL". So, I clicked.

Anyway, here it is;

The new bit of news is the email alert service Google is also pushing. Did you think Google would go into email marketing?

The text says; "Get interest rates updates by email", Google pretends it doesn't know your email address (even though you're probably logged in) and then asks for a frequency.

What next? Vouchers? Email alerts when coupons become available? Hey. That's an idea. Google should buy Groupon and look into that... oh, wait, yeah.

Digital Marketing: Travel

We had another really great Travel Summit at bigmouthmedia this year. It was booked out but we've videoed some of it and you can watch those here.

There was a lot good, sexy, juicy stats at the Travel Summit. One chunk of which came from our Travel Survey into digital marketing spend. We actually give that data away and you'll find all that in the iPaper below this video of the highlights. You'll see everyone turned up in suits, except scruffy me.

bigmouthmedia Travel Summit Event Summary from bigmouthmedia on Vimeo.

Bigmouthmedia Online Travel Report 2011

Friday, December 10, 2010

Digital Marketing Predictions for 2011

This year bigmouthmedia has a 14-pager document for our predictions for 2011. I think that alone shows you how dramatically digital marketing has expanded (not to mention just how far beyond offering just SEO and PPC we've gone) in recent years.

Of course, the prediction document this year features comments and sections from the lovely LBi folks. I'm pleased to say we've got some of bigmouthmedia's many search marketing brains making contributions too.

Here's the big question though. Do you agree with any of our predictions?

Bigmouthmedia's 2011 digital marketing predictions

How much are good reviews worth?

Happy sign is happyImage by Andrew Girdwood via FlickrIt's been a good month in Search. Not only have Google and Bing confirmed that social media can provide trusted Quality Signals, Google actually took the time to adjust their algorithm so that bad reviews can harm your rankings.

Google's decision to react to bad reviews was a quick one. The algorithm change was also a quick one. Was it a surprisingly quick one?

This is just a theory, so much about SEO blogging is about speculation so please forgive this one. The changes Google made to the algorithm to react to bad reviews were born from the same branch of the algo-tree as the anti-Googlebomb rules.

Just a reminder; googlebombing occurred when lots of blogs got together to manipulate the SERPs for political gain or just for fun. George W Bush's bio once ranked first for miserable failure.

When Google made their announcement of a reduced Googlebomb impact I recall many SEOs didn't believe them. These SEOs thought that Google was lying and the announcement was just to cover up manual manipulation of the results by Google.

Dear me. I like still like to give this example of how badly out of touch some SEOs are with the ethos of the core engineering team at Google.

At the time I suggested (based on a patent application Google had filed) that one way to cope with Googlebombs algorithmically was to look for trusted editorial sources that called out the Googlebomb. For example, the algorithm would notice when Trusted Site A used the phrase "Googlebomb" and then detect the phrase "miserable failure" in relation to it.

To support my theory I pointed out that it tended to be trusted editorial sites that rose to the top of the rankings to replace the Googlebomb target.

It's not hard to see how an extension of this approach could allow Google to detect negative reviews on sites that the algorithm trusted and then modify rankings accordingly.

Equally, it's as easy to imagine that Google is aware of positive reviews and success stories for brands. If Google's accepted that reviews can act as a Quality Signal then its no stretch to suggest that positive reviews might positively effect the search rankings for the site.

A good question is whether there would be enough data on the positive review side for Google to confidently take a decision on. People tend to moan about bad service and stay quietly content when they get good service.

It is just a theory but I would suggest some brands do do well enough with customer service to create enough of a positive buzz online.

First direct, for example, was recommended to me by a co-worker as a bank to trust and I still notice lots of positive buzz about it.

Consumer group Which - easily strong enough to be counted as 'trusted editorial' by Google - awarded first direct first place in a customer survey. That was enough for sites like This Is Money to write about it. You could even point to first direct's own social media newsroom as a way in which positive news can be encouraged to propagate through the web.

From a personal perspective it's certainly welcome to imagine brands competing to offer the best possible service, in order to boost their social and Google results and as a business objective. Surely that would benefit the man on the street?

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Is this the most stupid thing Facebook has ever done?

Resized I'm with stupidImage via WikipediaImagine the scenario; you’re an administrator of a fanpage on Facebook. You happily engage with the community, posting on the Wall, leaving comments on other people’s contributions, thanking the helpers, spreading the love while carefully acting as admin and moderator.

Sound good?

Facebook has now made this impossible.

A platform change at Facebook, made last night, now means fanpage administrators can no longer comment on wall posts on fanpages (even their fanpage) by fans who are not also their friend. In other words, unless the administrator is a personal friend of the wall poster they cannot comment on their wall posts.

It’s not a surprise that many people thought this was a bug and there’s a helpful insight on the issue on the Custom Fanpage Center.

There’s already, as you can expect, a healthy "debate" on the developers forums about this.

If you’re willing to put a bit of dev time into your fanpage then Fan Page Help Center has a workaround.

I’m not aware of any official response from Facebook on this one. That might be because they’re still trying to escape the plastic bag they’re trapped in.

Monday, December 06, 2010

10 reasons why Google didn't launch Google eBooks in the UK

Google Lego 50th Anniversary InspirationImage by manfrys via FlickrToday, finally, Google launched Google eBooks. It's a place you can go and buy eBooks for the newly launched eBooks Web Reader or Android. You can read the blog post here.

I'm already a Kindle user via my HTC Desire Android phone. I was pleased to see Google stepping forward and supporting eBooks.

Did you know that not so long ago Google suggested that ads for eBooks on their AdWords solution were discouraged, likely to be poor quality products and therefore likely to have a poor Quality Score. How things have changed.

Here's the catch though. There is no eBook store in the UK. It's US only.

How come? Just some thoughts;

1) Legal. Google may have agreed reselling rights in the US but not anywhere else. Outside the US publishers are unwilling to let people sell their books and are content with an Amazon monopoly.

2) Um. Um. Something.

Actually, reasons 2 through to 10 are the same.

I can't think of any really good reason why Google didn't do better with an international launch.

It's just a shame paper books are region protected, like Blu-Rays and DVDs, otherwise I'd be happy to buy any books not available for sale in the UK from Amazon US. Oh, wait a minute... it's practically impossible to find a book that's for sale in the US but not the UK.

What on earth is going on here? Has some Luddite British publisher association gone and shot themselves in the foot? Or is Google really doing all that it can to put itself at odds with Europe.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The equivalent of 200,000 Holywood movies a week uploaded to YouTube

"Every minute 35 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube. At the end of 2008 only 92% of videos on YouTube were UGC. Today that figure has dropped to 70%.

Consumers want to watch broadcast quality content online." says Dara Nasr, Google UK's Head of YouTube.

Yesterday was the bigmouthmedia Travel Summit. There was a camera crew there so there may well be more professional video footage coming shortly but I can't promise.

I did grab my camera and flick to video mode for just about a minute of Dara's YouTube presentation. We had some impressive YouTube stats.

Google buying Facebook ads to plug touchscreen ebook

In the fast paced digital world the news that Google's produced an HTML5 ebook called 20 Things I Learned About Browsers & Web is old news. I just hadn't gotten around to checking it out yet.

To be honest, maybe I would never had found the time. I'm busy. I don't need browser education from Google's Chrome team. I'm using Chrome right now.

But then I saw an ad from Google on Facebook. That caught my attention.

It's a nice looking ad and it worked on me. I clicked.

Rather nicely, I also discovered that the ebook works wonderfully on my touchscreen Acer Aspire. In fact, it's a great example of the sort of "2011 way to interact with the web" that designers around the world should be paying attention too.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Finally, source attribution from Google!

Magazine VendorImage by caribb via FlickrI like newspaper SEO. I’ve done a lot of it and it manages to be (at the same time) one of the most competitive SEO arts and one of the least well known.

I've wanted a source attribution solution for newspaper companies for multiple newspaper sites (ie; most newspaper companies) for years. I’ve twice managed to talk to Google engineers about this (as they wandered around a conference hall without enough bodyguards in place to intercept the in-coming SEOr on a request mission) and each time I was given the same reason why there was no attribution meta tag.

Google didn't think enough people would use it.

Each time the engineer pointed to other similar solutions (some of Yahoo’s initiatives, etc) and pointed out that the data suggested the feature would be ignored. Surprisingly my counter argument of “Yeah, but that’s Yahoo... it would be different if Google did it” didn’t seem to carry much weight.

Well. Now they’ve done it. You can now tell Google which newspaper is the lead source for a story you’re syndicating. As the paper vender might shout from the corner of the street; "Read all about it!"

Friday, November 12, 2010

Multi-screen marketing is better than a punch in the face

Not sure what I think about this video about multi-screen marketing from Microsoft. I think they've got their finger on the pulse in that multi-screen is going to be big; it's going to be one of the 2011 buzzes. However, the message seems to be multi-screen marketing will get you beaten up.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Judging the Mobile Marketing Association Awards

I was a judge in the MMA awards this year. There were quite a few of us and just as well as there were very many entries.

It wouldn't be right to speculate over individual entries suffice to say we received submissions from big brands directly, from large agencies and small boutiques. It was a varied group.

The MMA awards are also global. One of the challenges I faced as a judge was being able to put the submission into global context. For example, designing a coupon system so that it could work with simple SMS and feature phones has a very different significance for a campaign in the UK than it does in India. The expectations of each of those campaigns would have been very different and therefore so are the success criteria.

I come from a background of being engaged in a lot of complicated multi-lingual Search campaigns. Words like "translation" are hardly used at bigmouthmedia in favour of words like "localisation". When you bring mobile marketing into the picture – has as certainly been the fashion this year – this fragmentation of audience intensifies. Localisation becomes flavoured with culture and technology. Localtech.

Social Gaming gets a BAFTA Boost

Photograph of giant BAFTA maskImage via WikipediaDisclaimer: GAME is a client.
Reason: I'm a geek. This is big news to me.

The GAME British Academy Video Game Awards - the BAFTAs - have created a new category to reward social media gamnig.

It's a good idea. More than half of Facebook's 500m users play social games. Doesn't that dwarf movies?

The GAME British Academy Video Game Awards take place on Wednesday the 16th of March and the London Hilton Park Lane. Dara O'Briain should be host for the night again.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The evolution of the captcha

I'm generally not a fan of captcha. They always seem too hard to read and I worry I get them wrong a badly designed form will ask for all my data again. I'm a short-tempered blogger.

There may be some hope for the captcha though.

Case for captcha evolution: One

NuCaptcha Engage from Christopher Bailey on Vimeo.

Case for captcha evolution: Two

Your Megastores, R2-D2 and cutting affiliates out of TV campaigns

I'm a proper geek so when Currys and PC World sign Anthony Daniels to voice C-3PO and rebuild an R2-D2 for a fantastic Star Wars ad - I notice.

The ad promotes the site Your Megastores which is Star Wars themed and promotes both Currys and PC World.

Or does it?

I couldn't but help notice that Your Megastores links through to Currys pretty much all of the time. If I was the PC World brand manager, I'd be annoyed, I've been cut out.

It's not just PC World that might have cause to grumble. Both Currys and PC World have popular affiliate campaigns (especially in the run up to Christmas). Here are my Skimlinks for both: Currys is http://buyth.at/c4xuh and PC World is http://buyth.at/pa2ml. If you click you'll see the sort of tracking URL deployed by the site and which appears to be missing from the Your Megastores site to Currys.

So, what Currys and PC World are doing are taking a chunk of the brand awareness their TV campaign is producing and channeling that towards a third site, one that's outside the affiliate channel, and then directing it back to a single site. Affiliates earn no commission for linking to the YourMegastores.co.uk site.

Is this a good idea? It's a bit of a debate. I certainly don't think affiliates have the right to ride on the back of a big brand campaign - a well run affiliate campaign is one which empowers affiliates to generate the sales a brand wouldn't have otherwise have got.

However, the phrase [megastores] is an interesting one. It might well have been associated with the old Virgin megastores more than any other brand up until this year. As of the time of posting, PC World, Currys nor the YourMegastores.co.uk site rank on Google for the phrase [megastores] or even [yourmegastores]. Affiliates might have been to help the brands control the natural search space. Right now you could certainly argue that the fantastic advert isn't being that successful in funneling web traffic.

The ad's worth sharing.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Chartered Institute of Marketing and Affiliate Marketing

Last week I went down to Ipswich to present a short talk on affiliate marketing for the Chartered Institute of Marketing.

It was a good day and I was pleasantly surprised by the keynote speaker. Graham Brown of the COI presentation wasn't just well delivered it showed me a COI thinking about marketing and delivery at a level I did not expect from them. I wouldn't grumble if they successfully began to claw back budgets.

I wanted to do the social thing and share my presentation.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Foursquare adds private locations

Ever wanted to have a private venue on Foursquare? I see lots of locations that should be private but people have created anyway. For example, you might see "James' house" as a location, or "My desk", and know that's really not a check-in venue suitable for everyone.

Foursquare will introduce private venues to cope with this. The feature isn't live yet but it's coming. To access it now, and pre-mark locations as private, all you need to do is use the web interface to edit the venue details.

Only your friends will be able to see the location. At least, that's the published intent.

State of Social 2010

Bigmouthmedia sponsored Econsultancy's Social Media and Online PR report again this year. The great thing about that is it gives us the chance to compare year on year trends in social media.

We don't get to give the report away for free. Mind you; if you'd taken part in it then you would have had a copy for free. Either way, you can download it from Econsultancy.

What bigmouthmedia can do is produce a summary / extra insight on the survey. That's exactly what we've done. We call it The State of Social 2010. If you're a client you can contact your account manager for a lovely, shiny, hard copy. You can also check out the State of Social (in a social way) via our Scribd account.

State of Social 2010

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Meet Firstborn: the Video

I'm sure somewhere in the world Firstborn are a competitor so - maybe - I shouldn't be blogging this. This is a cool vid, though, so I will.

Actually, it reminds me of a few years back when a Brighton based competitor was using "Bigmouthmedia aren't big enough to cope with your search campaign" as a pitch tactic. Crazy! But real.

My suggested solution at the time was simply to grab a video camera and do a tour of our offices. We didn't need to linger on people, do interviews, invest on production; just needed to show the size of the operation.

We didn't get around to doing it. We merged with Global Media instead.

I would have been mega pleased if we'd produced a video like this. The beauty of Firstborn's reel is that it's supposed to be a "meet the team" reel. That's the excuse for playing it. In reality, however, it's a show reel. It speaks volume for their creative skills (and their sense of humour; love it).

The unLottery follow up

This is just a very quick post. I wanted to follow up and prove just how tempting fresh and potentially profitable "new keywords" are. This blog has nothing to do with the lottery - in SEO terms; no relevancy.

However, I'm currently ranking for [unlottery]. Twice. It took about 10 minutes and that includes content creation time.

Mind you; that result isn't half as impressive as this one.

What will likely happen, of course, is that as/when/if the phrase [unlottery] becomes more popular, more relevant blogs and sites will pick up the phrase and use it. GeoSweep's actually affiliates are sure to use it. This post will fade into history.

The unLottery. Yup; unLottery!

I can't help myself. Whenever I see anyone clever enough to "invent" a new keyword (in this case unlottery) I always have to go see what the search results look like.

In this case, GeoSweep have made sure they're there by bidding on the term. There's always the natural [unlottery] search results to think about, though.

The unlottery PPC creative also raises the thorny issue of hyphens. The phrase "unlottery" tends to be used by GeoSweep on their site and their offline marketing. The creative uses "un-lottery".

In truth, not only is it good practise to bid on both, its not unheard of for brand phrase like this to run into spelling requirement restrictions from Google's automated quality control.

There's also the issue of the negative search result. A title suggesting that "unlottery" is related to "scam" in some way. There's no GeoSweep connection that I can see (not that I looked hard). It's likely that the problem will fade naturally as other sites begin to rank for the phrase anyway.

So, right now, the SEO field is open for people who want to back GeoSweep and try and rank for [unlottery]. Blogs and sites who do this are better than enough people will pick up the term and start searching for [unlottery]. I think GeoSweep have coined something nice here. I think some people will search for the phrase.

It helps that GeoSweep are doing some pretty bold offline marketing too. There's a blimp floating around the Holborn skies of London.

So - there's the good chances of ranking for "unlottery" in the results and a good chance that people will be searching for it. So what? How do you make any money.

The good news here is that there will be a GeoSweep affiliate program. This means if you can send traffic to GeoSweep and that traffic become players on the unlottery you'll earn some cash.

What exactly is an unlottery, anyway?

GeoSweep's unlottery is a game based on location. Ah, now, there's a popular word from marketing circles these days. I believe GeoSweep's unlottery works like this; pick a location and if that location matches one of the locations picked during the day then you win.

I've a location+review style domain name that I keep on dreaming into turning into a location optimised blog. GeoSweep's unlottery would be excellent fro that. Beside every review I could put a GeoSweep link, based on that location, to the unlottery through the affiliate channel.

If you're a Foursquare competitor and if GeoSweep's affiliate program works well with mobile then the opportunities look very plump indeed!

Here's my unlottery prediction; the keyword [unlottery] will go from not competitive to very competitive in short order. It's one to watch.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Affiliate Marketing Infographic

Phew! It's been a bit of a busy affiliate week for me. Bigmouthmedia opened up an affiliate survey, we had the team out at A4UExpo and I've been down to Ipswich to talk to the Chartered Institute of Marketing (East of England) about affiliate marketing.

We managed to sort through the affiliate survey responses in time to release the results for this busy affiliate week - I had some of them in my presentation - and, of course, found the time to whisk up a quick affiliate infographic.

You don't often see affiliate infographics so I wanted to share.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Consumers now in control so brands like First Direct now keen to spotlight customer services

It’s a funny old world. There is a lot of talk about cuts. Many purchases are being made by people counting their pennies. However, we now also live in a social media world and someone who’s upset with the service they’ve had are now in a position to complain very loudly indeed. We can’t but help notice these complaints as they ripple through our social networks.

What’s the result? The result is that brands like First Direct – and I can think of others – are understandably very keen to point out when they’ve a tried and trusted customer care program in place. Other brands are looking to CRM in advance of – or part of – their social media campaign.

This was a key point made by Håkan Thyr, the partnership director at consumer review company Baazarvoice, at our recent summit. Skip ahead a minute to cut straight to Håkan’s soundbyte in the summary video below or watch his entire presentation here .

I believe a good example of consumers in control of a brand is Gap. Just look at what happened to their attempt to change logo. The new logo lasted a matter of days. The old logo, the brand identity that people preferred is back.

An article at Econsultancy raised an interesting point, though:

At more than 1,000 responses, an interesting fact emerged: only 17% of those polled even knew that Gap had posted a new logo. What's more: 43% of those polled indicated that a new logo wouldn't influence a buying decision; far fewer -- 29% -- claimed that a new logo would have such an influence

We know what they say about stats though.

Is the key point then that the publicly shared thoughts of a few were enough to effect the brand. Could they effect the brand perception of the many. If Gap had refused to change their logo, had they resisted the crowd mentality, would they now being accused of not listening?

It’s not surprising that First Direct are looking to push the customer care line and use it as part of a social media outreach. The brand, after all, already made the news by making it easy to see what Twitter’s sentiment was about them at any given time.

The new strategy is to send “Buddies” out onto the streets of London and help people. Sure; it’s set up but it raises awareness. It means even in an economic climate where we’re braced for cuts and changes that neither companies nor people wish to demote all choices to simple price comparison. Companies now have to be helpful in order to be competitive.

Here’s a quick video of some of the First Direct buddies in action.

Monday, October 11, 2010

GetGlue soars as the check-ins exceed 10 million

I'm a fan of GetGlue. In just a matter of days it became the software I'd use to work out what book to read next. Software because I use it mainly as an Android App but it's a pretty slick web site too.

CEO Alex Iskold posted some impressive checkin stats today. They hit over 10 million check-ins and ratings in September. Just look at that ramp up.

GetGlue has the attention of some impressive names too. Play.com, for example, (disclaimer; client) is integrated with GetGlue so you can socially browse, like or discuss DVDs as you consider your next purchase.

The screen grab below shows what the Caprica: The Feature Length Pilot looks like, at the bottom of the page, with GetGlue installed.

You don't actually need to install anything to use GetGlue. I find it incredibly helpful for social media research though.

Microsoft to close in-game ad company Massive Inc?

I hope this is a rumour that turns out not to be true but MediaWeek are reporting Microsoft are looking to shutter Massive Inc.

I'm a gamer and a digital marketer. It's easy for me to see why in-game ads not only work but are totally cool. Back in 2006, when Microsoft bought Massive, everthing seemed to be going really well. The company was worth about $300 million and had loads of oppertunties lined up.

In fact, just this month Hasbro UK started a campaign with Massive Inc to promote NERF guns in games like Splinter Cell.

As it happens Microsoft may have turned out to be their own competitor in this space. It's far easier to get going with simple banner like ads in the Xbox Live interface and you can be sure of the context in which gamers see them. Advertisers tend to prefer this.

In addition Xbox Live ad revenue doesn't need to be split between Microsoft and the game publishers.

I don't think this news is good for the game publishers though. Whereas they can still broker bespoke in-game deals themselves - even if they're static product placement-like ads - sure it makes sense that if a game features a billboard (a racing game were the cars zoom past ads just as they do in real life (making the game realistic)) to hook that billboard up to an ad marketplace and see who'll pay you the most for it.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Bottom Line - "New Marketing"

Evan Davis, British economist, journalist and ...Image via WikipediaI do like the BBC program Bottom Line. You get CxO level people talking shop. Really valuable insights.

This week we've got a session on New media. New media seems to include search - is that really "new" any more?

On the program we've got Alex Cheatle, the CEO of Ten Group, Jasmine Montgomery, co-founder of Seven Brands and Robin Wight the president of Engine.

In the show Jasmine Montgomery suggests brands haven't worked out how to monetise new media like Facebook. I can think of quite a few brands who do very well - but perhaps they're the exception that prove the rule.

Poor old Evan Davis hadn't seen the Old Spice ad. There you go; we found someone who's not fed up of it yet :)

I was also impressed at how Engine Group's Robin Wight had a simple case of Samsung blogger outreach impress the other contributors as an example of clever, cutting edge, new media.

You can watch the program on iPlayer here if you're in the right geographies.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Can the iPhone overcome the picture plateau?

Flickr keeps tracks on the cameras used to take the pictures hosted on its site. It's a great way to see what the popular tech is in any given month.

It comes as no surprise to see that Apple has done really well. The standout success story is the iPhone 3G which has had about 120 times more uploads the iPhone 4. That's 28,176,526 compared to 240, 429 at the time of posting.

Compare that to HTC - one of the leaders in the Android market. The Dream/G1 is the leader with 486,383 uploads and in fact all of the top 6 easily beat the iPhone 4. The HTC Desire has 349, 543 uploads.

The Evo 4G beats the iPhone 4 for uploads. Is that a surprise?

The usage graphs also show an interesting picture. The amount of uploads from the iPhone 3G are dropping - not surprising given the age of the phone and the iPhone 4 is increasing.

The shape of the growth doesn't match the spiky growth of the HTC devices.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Google should do something about Blank Google

Google Instant has created a type of Google result that I would never predicted. It's also stupid.

Quite often I cut'n'paste from the Google search box. I might do this if I'm using Google as a spellchecker or I might be being all search agency-like and am talking about keywords.

When I do this - removing the search from the search box - I encounter Blank Google.

Blank Google confuses me. Google is the biggest media property in the world and I find it showing me a blank screen.

Surely they could do something with this space?

Or is this an usability issue? Would putting anything here - like, gasp, an advert - cause confusion for too many of Google's core users?

I'm sure some people might be confused by Blank Google too. Surely there's a compromise to be found here. I mean; couldn't Google show me my iGoogle widgets? Or a Chrome like dial screen?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Who are the biggest social media agencies in the UK

DSC01142Image by noodlepie via FlickrThe NMA have their top 100 interactive agencies report out. By "top" I mean; biggest. Size is measured by UK income for digital.

LBi (inc bigmouthmedia) came third. We behind EMC Consulting who seem to have had a cracking year raising from income from £11,200,000 in the year before to an impressive £58,000,000 this year.

Not going to reveal the whole list as it's easy enough to register for the NMA and check yourself. PayWalls and all that.

This year I noticed a large number of agencies quoted social media as an earning channel in their breakdown. This gives us the chance to calculate who the largest social media agency in the UK is.

I worked through the top 20 in the full list, picked out the agencies that included social media as a breakdown and factored that percentage against their total UK digital income.

Amaze (a Design & Build agency) and Bluhalo/GyroHSR (a Marketing agency) declared the highest percentage of social media income - with each agency attributing a full 15% of their income to social media.

Endava is the only Technical agency in the list and they attributed 5% of their income to social media.

The NMA define three types of agency; Marketing, Design & Build and Technical. It's both good and interesting to see that all three types work in social media. The biggest two on the list; SapientNitro (£63,339,749) and EMC Consulting are both Design & Build.

On to the social media league!

Lbi / bigmouthmedia£5,338,700.00
EMC Consulting£1,740,000.00
Tullo Marshall Warren£622,500.00
Glue Isobar£491,450.00

So, the combined LBi and bigmouthmedia come top! I hope our teams will be proud of that. Does this mean anything?

The learnings I take from this is that Social Media doesn't seem to restrict itself to any one type of agency. The combined LBi / bigmouthmedia are the largest Marketing agency on the list but of course LBi has significant Design & Build and Technical capabilities.

I think the trend in Social Media is very much towards agencies that can take care of each aspect of social media and that seems to make sense to me. What do you think?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Rebrand watch: Virgin Media Online Movies

Virgin MediaImage via WikipediaThis isn't a normal hobby. I seem to have a thing for noticing when companies rebrand (Cushelle being a recent example) and blogging about it.

Today I've noticed that my usual email from FilmFlex didn't appear. I got an email from Virgin Media Online Movies powered by FilmFlex arrived instead. In fairness, it might have said that for the last few weeks but I noticed the "Virgin Media Online Movies" part today.

Sure enough; there is a website and it looks pretty slick too. Makes me wonder about Google TV. Imagine what you could do with a site like this that lets you preview and select movies via your laptop before pressing a button and getting to watch them on the big TV screen.

I am a geek. In December 2007 I wrote to FilmFlex to suggest/ask for RSS feeds. I'd still rather get RSS updates when a new movie becomes available via Virgin On Demand (or, er, I mean, Virgin Media Online Movies) than an email summary. I actually got a nice email back from Janis Thomas, Head of Marketing, who pointed me at some possible solutions.

Update: They've been doing this since June. That's why RSS is sometimes better than email.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Intel viral (VCV): The Chimes of Doom. The Bass Jump.

Here's an example of viral seeding. Intel's Romanian team drop themselves from cranes (they quit hanging around) to land on air bags which blow through horns. In theory they sound out in the famous "Intel inside" chime.

It's great that this has come from Romania. It's Intel's EMEA team who have been cool enough to do this. You can tell the video has a worldwide target audience and not just a USA one. They also have the extended version clearly labeled as something out of Romania to rival Finland. It really shows the global scope of Intel.

I've worked out it's called Bass Jump because of this facebook.com/bassjump page.

The Facebook page is also a good idea. There will be people who watch the VCV and think "hey; that looks like fun." It's a way to harvest the buzz and store it in an Intel asset.

Here's the long(er) play asset.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Broken Videos

Inktomi CorporationImage via WikipediaI remember when Google was new. One of the things I first noticed about Google compared to the old Inktomi fed engines was that it didn't have dead pages in it.

One of the most frustrating things of the early web search experience was clicking on a result link which then took you to a dead page. This is why Google had the cache link so early on in their lifespan, I think.

We don't have a problem with dead links in search any more. I wonder if we have a new problem though. A growing problem.

I'm getting frustrated with broken videos; mainly YouTube videos.

The scenario is easy. A search leads to a blog. The blog might have a thoughtful post or discussion in the comment section but a key piece of the page is a YouTube embed. Clicking on the play button results only in a message to say the video has been removed.


It's also frustrating as a blogger to know that videos you share via your blog might die or go away. You've no way of knowing until someone leaves a comment to say it's happened.

I'm reminded of the Broken Link Checker plugin by Janis Elsts. It's ace. It'll alert Wordpress bloggers if links (or images) break. It makes the clean up job easy too.

Is there such a thing for videos? I think there should be.

I doubt YouTube would (or could) have a mini opt-in email alert for each video they host. If they did then webmasters could get a prompt if there was a change in the video status. Email, though, is a crude tool these days. I spend more time in Google Reader than Gmail.

An alternative might be an extra node in YouTube's API. A script could then detect embed codes on the blog, check the video key via the API and react once YouTube returned the "yanked" code.

This solution still relies on webmasters. Mind you; if there's even a suspension that embedding a yanked video might be a negative quality signal for your SEO and webmasters may care a lot more.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Unmasking @BPGlobalPR - @mrjoshsimpson

Josh Simpson is the man - the legend - behind @BPGlobalPR. He's a comedian from Los Angeles and has written/produiced for Funny or Die. He's been associated with the tragically short lived Tonight with Conan O'Brien.

He was the headliner, at least. A total of 15 people worked on the account and in this interview Josh says some of the best tweets came from them.

Do you have 15 people on your company Twitter account?

You need to read the whole interview. It's wonderful. Everything from trying to make t-shirts off the back of a “I’m sorry you’re upset. We’re trying to make this right. Let us send you a free BP Cares T-shirt for $25 shipping.” joke and more.

What @BPGlobalPR tells the advertising world is that digital media, social media, Twitter, lowers the barriers to entry to nothing at all. It may take a bit of luck and a bit of talent but anyone can step forward to become a hugely important individual. No amount of "network research" will reveal them before hand (and if you've heard me talk about the Principle of the Influential Individual you'll know my stance on this).

All in all; @BPGlobalPR represents a step in the evolution of PR and Social Media. I really believe that.

@BPGlobalPR also represents a really funny guy and his 15 friends successfully stepping up to the mark.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Interstitial Search Results

google instantImage by smemon87 via FlickrInterstitial isn’t a new word in marketing and advertising. You may already use the word to describe those annoying ad pages that appear instead of the content page you were expecting. In video (so I suppose TV as well) interstitial ads are ones which appear during the video play rather than at the start (pre-roll) or at the end (post-roll).

Google Instant brings us Interstitial Search Results. As a user searchers Google a series of SERPS flash by and those are our new interstitials.

When we’re judging a keyword/s then we’ll have to now consider the interstitial search results associated with that keyword. If you know that Google is prone to showing a highly eye-catching set of Universal Search in the interstitial searches results as the user types in the keyword in question then you may well view that keyword differently from one which has a less distracting, interruptive or seductive interstitial search results.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Google Instant - Google Psychic

I enjoyed the YouTube experience of Google's presentation today. I thought the streaming video combined with Twitter very well. It was a true "global audience" experience.

Some nice facts;

  • 1bn users, each week, on Google sites
  • A user spends, on average, 9 seconds writing a search
  • A searcher spends, on average, 15 seconds selecting a result
Google Instant, of course, is designed to help speed up the process. If you're looking for the Google Instant URL - just in case it's not already the URL everyone in the world has shared with you - its http://www.google.com/webhp?sclient=psy#

If it doesn't work for you - and it's not working for me on Chrome, here in Edinburgh right now (nor did the bubbles logo - not until I got home and on to a new laptop) - then you'll not see much new. If it is working then you'll have Google updating its results even as you search.

Google point out this is not search as you type. This is search before you type. They're predicting what search you're likely to do and go fetch results ahead of time. Marissa Mayer said, "There's a psychic element to it". In fact, throughout the day the word "psychic" popped up again and again.

Indeed. If you look at the sclient value in the URL you'll see "psy". It seems pretty easy to guess that Google's called this "Google Psychic" as a project name.

If you can remember a year 2000 April Fool's from Google then "Google Mentalplex" will come to mind.

As Google Psychic rolls out, sorry, Google Instant, you'll see three different aspects to it.
  • Instant results
  • Predictions
  • Scroll to Search
There are some interesting implications for search marketers here. You might be disappointed that the news isn't more flashy but Google Instant will certainly impact how people search. Keyword frequencies will change. In fact, Google Webmaster Console's reporting of metrics like search impressions will change too as people might be generating thousands of impressions as they flash their way through to the search term they actually wanted.

Impressions are important. Clickthrough Ratio is hugely important in PPC. Google Instant shows PPC ads and it flashes through ads far faster than anyone can read or click. Now, hopefully Google's system takes that in to consideration as it works out CTR - if not, then Google Instant may destroy some CTRs.

What would the effect of that be? Advertisers will have to increase bids. Google would make more money.

It wouldn't have taken a psychic for Google to predict people would have worried about the PPC spend. It's not mentioned in their official blog post though and that's a little disappointing. (Update: This issue was addressed on the AdWords blog after all)

What struck me as I watched the event - which really walked the audience through the engineering - is that Google is still lead by its engineering heart. This was billed by Google as "big news". It is big news. We'll debate the impact on search and search marketing over the next coming weeks. What's already clear is that this has been a huge engineering project for Google.

You can tell that they're really proud of their work - and I think they've every reason to be proud of this. You may not like it. CTR might be in doubt. All that's true... but as said in the presentation; "Search matters to us" rings true from the lips of the Google team.

A figure which, for me, really puts the scale of Google Instant into perspective for me is this:

Over the course of a year Google Instant will save users 350 million hours

What do you think of Google Instant? If you hate it (what, already?) then you opt-out. Google knows to make sure the opt-out details are available on launch.

Via the Q&A session after the presentation:
Google will "do their best" with PPC. They said CTR will change. However, they also said there's a three second delay in order for a PPC ad to count as an impression.

Affiliate marketing done right - Fiona Robertson

I've been in affiliate marketing for pretty much as long as I’ve been in search. Search came first. It was a hobby. Affiliate marketing came along shortly afterwards as a way to let me turn that hobby into beer money.

At one point, before I joined bigmouthmedia, I even ran an (unofficial) TradeDoubler group in the UK because I was annoyed the network wasn’t telling affiliates when new merchants joined up.

Needless to say, as a keen affiliate, I noticed when MediaCom Edinburgh appointed the highly regarded Fiona MacPherson from the Glasgow based Equator. So did the NMA as the move was covered there.

A little while ago Fiona Robertson (nee MacPherson) started working for bigmouthmedia. She's heading up our growing Affiliate and Performance channels. Frankly, it's a position I expect many people to be jealous of! It’s in the trade press today so I thought I’d blog about it today as well.

What matters to me is the ability to run good affiliate campaigns. A good affiliate campaign is one which is fair to the affiliates and also successful for the merchant. I chatted about this with Fiona when she joined and found that we shared very similar views.

I really think that too many affiliate campaigns are badly run today. The affiliate networks have made great improvements. I think they’ve saved the reputation of the industry.

The next step, however, are affiliate campaigns that work wonderfully with Search, Social Media and Display campaigns.

The next step are affiliate campaigns that are designed so that as they grow they help merchants/brands get those sales they would not have otherwise have made or protect those sales that they would have otherwise lost. I call think Reach Marketing.

I knew Fiona would do well in her new role when I saw her get annoyed at how badly a big brand was letting their affiliate program be mismanaged by a traditional agency. You see the same sort of reaction when a good SEO stumbles into a horror of an SEO campaign from an agency utterly incapable of the task.

You can follow Fiona on Twitter as @fi_robertson or bigmouthmedia’s own affiliate team as @bigmouth_aff. I encourage you to do so. Especially if you’re looking for top class insight.

Google outpacing Apple in brands battle

Every now and then we get some battle of the brands research to talk about. It's usually a PR stunt by either a brand consultancy or a research company. I still like peeking at the results though.

Recently, I've been playing with GetGlue as a way to enjoy some social media/algorithmic reading suggestions. It's early days but the signs are good.

GetGlue also lets people like brands and companies. It's not a big part of their offering but it's there; tucked away inside "topics". I noticed it first on their Android application.

I thought it would be fun - and perhaps more scientific than some of the brand surveys - to see which where the top 10 "liked" companies. GetGlue makes this easy for by providing a list that's nearly in order. I think, inside GetGlue, a subscription to a topic weighs more than a whole bunch of likes. This chart, though, as been ordered just be likes.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Google still bashing creative agencies?

F U GoogleImage by Cayusa via FlickrHere’s a good article from The Register. It looks at the speech given by Google’s UK policy chief, Sarah Hunter (god daughter to former Lord Chancellor, Lord Irvine) to the Westminster Digital Forum last week.

The thing to keep in mind is that Google is trying hard to work with – and not against – ad agencies.

Sarah Hunter said;

"We've got to question the previous focus of Governments on the creative industries… they're not the only thing we've got,"

She went on to suggest, according to El Reg, that the word ‘creative’ was just a polite way of saying ‘content’. As ARHG readers know; content has many forms, including companies like Demand Media and AOL’s Seed.com. Are those creative? Or does Google just view them as a similar type of substance as art sites, newspapers, video hosting sites, etc.

Sarah Hunter wasn’t just having a rant at creative types though. She was at the Westminster Digital Forum to argue that UK retail was just (perhaps more) important. It’s just that the stats hadn’t been recorded.

Experienced SEOs will know this is a little backwards from the usual Googleview. Google often gives the impression that it believes users want to read and research (content) before buying (retail) online. In that argument, the authority content becomes before the commerce.

The Register also has some rather nice stats about the UK creative industry.
  • 87% of creative businesses employ less than 10 people.
  • The UK has the largest creative sector relative to GDP in the world.
  • UK is one of three countries that exports more music than it imports.
  • Games, design and advertising is worth more than £35bn to the UK balance sheet

Kinda interesting to see El Reg place “games” alongside design and advertising in that one.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Flash mob ambush advertising

Okay; I seem to be on a bit of a video kick but it's my blog so I can post whatever I like :) Besides, who's going to object to watching fun and games in France with some bold as brass, flash mob inspired, ambush marketing.

Awesome stuff.

PlayStation Move ad - full of cheese

I'm a gamer (when I have the time!) and I'm really interested in the forthcoming duel between Microsoft's Kinect and the PlayStation Move.

Just in case you don't know: the Kinect is a camera based motion sensor that doesn't need you to hold a device, but is limited in the number of people it can track (just 2) and needs space. The Move is more like the Wiimote in that there's a wand to hold but it's far more sensitive.

One of the biggest challenges Kinect has faced has been the video and TV ads. Simply put; people playing the Kinect look really silly. So silly that it's put people off.

I think Sony have solved this problem with this ad for the PS Move. How? They've embraced the cheese levels. Take a look and see what I mean.

What do you think? Cheesy enough to be successful? An entertaining watch.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Windows Live's Double Rainbow

The fashionable thing to do these days, it seems, is to spoof internet memes. I can understand why; the hivemind of the interwebs is a powerful and formidable intellect.

Microsoft aren't ones to be left out of a party (don't mention Search) so it's not a surprise to see them joining in. No idea which agency to credit for this one. Drop a comment if you know.

I call this one - Windows Live all the way across the sky.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Freaky ad for Google TV

Logitech are one of the launch partners for Google TV. They'll be producing a set top box called "Revue". One challenge they face, of course, is that some time in the not-too-distance future PlayStation 3 devices will also become a Google TV set top box.

If you're not familiar with Google TV or Revue then this YouTube (how's that for irony) explains it all:

And the freaky Google TV ad?

Here it is -it's part of series from RevueIsComing.com.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Terminology: Viral Candidate Video (VCV)

I'm not the only consultant who works in social media who wrestles with the term "viral".

I don't think anyone can grumble when clients suggest things like "We need a viral video" or "We can back this with a piece of viral marketing." Very often that's exactly right. SEOs might sometimes use the word "linkbait" in lieu of "viral" and that's a whole other debate.

My point is this; a video is never born viral, it becomes viral.

It's extremely misleading to refer to the pre-production video as "the viral". It's not a viral. It's a candidate for viral success. The strength of the candidacy is determined by many factors, some of which are outside our control.

The term viral, however, is easy to use. It slips off the tongue. People know what you mean when you refer to a works in progress as "viral" - except, not always. I think it mis-manages expectations to refer to anything as "viral" in the production/promotion phase. I think a good agency should always refer to the asset as a "viral candidate" rather than a "viral" just to help emphasis the truth.

To that end I find myself using the phrase VCV instead. VCV stands for Viral Candidate Video. This is a video that aspires to go viral and VCV is quicker, easier, to say.

My problem with my very own phrase is that we're often not talking about videos. VC still sounds like the money-backers to my ears. However, when we're talking videos and we're talking virals, VCV seems to fit very well.

The internet constantly surprises me in its tastes. Sometimes we'll see cracking videos (or other efforts) that seem to deserve to reach the viral heights fail. Other time, we see a piece of social conscience from the internet that makes me believe the world could be a nice place.

Here's a video, for example, that shows an American mob protesting against plans to build a new Mosque near Ground Zero turning against a black man because he looks a little Muslim. It's an outrage and the internet has surfaced it as such. This video was a candidate and now it's going viral.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Here's how you react to the Google Street Car

Thanks to Reddit for surfacing this and Imgur for hosting this it for the world to see.

What we have here a classic case of "Google Street Car-itice". You can see two perfectly normal men by their van to begin with. Then watch the reaction as the car drives past. In fact, you're watching from the Street Car's view as this is a collection of images from Google Maps itself.

Chicken washing a car

The following videos are a bunch of adverts for Citroen. Will the agency please stand up?

I think it's a great idea. We're not talking about a single VCV (viral candidate video) here, nor even a series like Old Spice. Citroen are going for a viral collection.

I think the technique might work (not just because they're paying for the viral launch through video networks) because the video clips will appeal to a wider ranger of viewers.

For example, I really like the chicken washing the car (followed by the cheerleader washing the car - but not for the reasons you might think).

The Intro

The chicken

The cheerleader

The wrestler

Diva Brown
(shouldn't it be 'The Diva'?)

The master

So, what do you think? Are Citroen attempting too much here with all these videos? Are these VCV strong enough?

Are SEOs blind to the harm they do themselves?

At SMX London I was – perhaps – a little bit too harsh on the state of link development. I accused the SEO community of so much poor quality that they’d forced Google to push the bar so very high. High enough, in fact, that many traditional link techniques didn’t work anymore.

I have an even bigger concern. I worry about the status of the SEO industry as a whole. I believe we are being eaten away from the inside. SEOs are harming SEO. It isn’t just the cowboys – there are still many – at fault, but also well intended but unperceptive SEOs.

Back in July, over on David Naylor’s blog, Paul Carpenter asked Why Are SEOs hated? He raised many interesting points and he certainly meant well.

I just had to chip in. Paul had noted that some SEOs – attempting to run from the shame of the industry – and started to suggest that;

“SEO is just a branch of marketing or some such bullshit”

I disagreed. SEO is a branch of marketing. I don’t try and tell friends I’m a programmer. I tell them I’m in marketing. They might look at me in a puzzled way and wonder why the geek thinks he is in marketing but the work I do for clients is marketing.

SEOs need to accept that they’re not special. We work in marketing.

But wait; I’m also the first one to admit that most of the old school marketing sucks. They’re the enemy. They’re the idiots who still don’t understand the web. Don’t have a Twitter account. Don’t grapple with ROI. I could go on.

My point – just to be clear – is that SEO is marketing.

It was actually a comment to Paul’s post that worried me the most. Someone – again, well intended – said this;

It’s similar to sheep and sheepdogs, the sheep don’t like us until they need us.

My gwad. No. Our clients are not brainless flocking creatures. Clients have brains. They might not be SEO experts but they’re not fools. Don’t treat them like such.

My response to Paul was to point out that SEOs are hated because we’ve had a history of snake oil sales that we’ve never attempted to rise up from.

For example; when was the last time you heard of a search agency being thrown out of SEMPO for breaking Google’s guidelines and buying links?

If a plumber used a technique that was blacklisted by the local trading practise board then they’d face the enmity of other plumbers. It’s a simple and common sense issue in my mind. I don’t see why SEOs don’t act like this.

Today’s post is inspired by an observation from The Next Corner.

Dennis, very rightly, lays into a voucher code affiliate site that’s trying to make some gain out of the terrible disaster in Pakistan. The company in question has an info-graphic on the disaster (though I wonder if it was ‘borrowed’ from somewhere) which is combined with an SEO attempt to gain links. The embed code provided for people to re-use the info-graphic is rich with text links and is cheeky enough to put a nofollow on the only link back to the charity.

Are we horrified at this attempt at SEO?

Not quite. The title suggests the info-graphic is to blame!

The headline isn’t the attempt to profit off death. The headline isn’t the appalling unpleasant SEO approach on the back of human tragedy. No, the headline speculates on the end of the info-graphic.

Gah. I can see how this might have happened. Dennis had the info-graphic in mind as he started to write the post. He might have initially wondered why a voucher code site was writing about Pakistan at all. However, I feel, the dirt he’s dug up can be planted, fair and square, on the boots of the type of SEO that encourages the world to hate SEOs.

It won’t be easy but I really do think we need to start protecting the industry’s reputation.