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 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

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 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.