Monday, March 25, 2013

Brin: Glass fits with Google's plan to ditch traditional search

Lots of interesting subjects in this short video about Project Glass. Want to hear the Glasses better? Cover your ear as the glasses project sound into your bones.

Brin makes the point of saying that the glasses help do away with search queries in the traditional sense. There's even a shoutout to Blackberry.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Google's autocomplete suggestions get stranger and stranger

It's amazing what people discover Google's algorithm suggesting. In the case of autocomplete the search box tries to work out what you might be searching for in advance and gives you a few suggestions.

Imagine your surprise if two out of the four suggestions for [my cat is] suggests you may be the father of kittens.

It's most likely that the search is due to people looking for this Yahoo! Answers question in which someone actually asks whether they could have got their cat pregnant. Yahoo! Answers is the home to so many dumb questions it can be hard to sort the really odd questions from planted fake questions.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Bing complies with the ePrivacy directive - Bing UK cookie policy

I've been making the effort to use Bing. Why? It's worth keeping up with alternatives and I was inspired to look around for Google alternatives after the sad decision to drop Google Reader.

Actually, I do check into Bing now and then and so I think this banner across the top of the search engine is fairly new. This is Microsoft's effort to stay compliant with the much lambasted ePrivacy Directive. In theory you're supposed to get opt-in permission but that's a nightmare and not even governments do it.

The link goes to this policy page which is pretty well designed, I think. Making Bing/Microsoft's policies pretty clear and easy to find.

Friday, March 08, 2013

The case for animated GIFs in Facebook's news feed

Right now Facebook does not do animated GIFs but it could and perhaps it should.

If you are old enough you will easily recall a time when animated GIFS were horribly but quite correctly mocked. They were awful. They choked modems and were never worth the wait.

Technology progressed; access speeds got faster and new generations, people who had never seen the primitive animated solar flares ruin an otherwise good logo, took to the web.

When Google+ launched and people released you could share animated GIFs there was madness. People shared all sorts of rubbish. The insanity lasted for a fortnight or so and then calmed down.  Now, for the most part, animated GIFs shared on Google+ are worthy of your attention. If someone keeps on sharing rubbish; they’re uncircled.

Let’s not forget Tumblr. This is the platform that resurrected animated GIFs in the first place. This is that platform that the Google+ users found their animations during the madness fortnight. Tumblr is fun, friendly and full of the next digital generation.

The thing about animated GIFs is that, when done right, they tell a better story than a static image. The animation can be subtle or dramatic but the motion adds elements of surprise, reveal and reaction.

What about Facebook? Facebook is a rule to itself. It is not the community of artistic digital natives like Tumblr. Nor is it largely populated by people savvy enough to get value from Google+. If animated GIFs come to Facebook then motion madness will last far longer than it did on Google+

Some people will hate it. Some people will threaten to quit Facebook over the horror of animated GIFs. Guess what? Most won’t. Facebook is used to it.

If Facebook is to move towards the content marketing end of the social media spectrum, away from the noisy updates of micro-actions (they’re safe elsewhere in the new system), then surely it needs to accept this powerful and visual means of communication.

Buzzfeed accepts animated GIFs and look at how well Buzzfeed is doing. What Buzzfeed does with animated GIFs is to keep them static at first and provide a play button. Users can play the GIF if they want.
Perhaps this is the route Facebook should take. Allow animated GIFs but keep them gated. This will open up news feed to more possibilities, help brand with their marketing and users with their creativity while keeping any dizzying animation safely behind a play button.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Layar creates AR QR codes

QR codes boomed in Japan and struggled everywhere else. I like the idea - don't fiddle; just point your cameraphone at something and collect the information you need.

There are challenges though. The general public needs to be educated on the concept. Not all posters and ads can be featured where there's wi-fi signal. QR codes on TV ads are awkward and have to linger long enough to be scanned.

It's no surprise that people started to predict QR codes would simply get skipped. Samrtphones would, instead, recognise the actual object they were looking at and then react to that. No need for a code.

That's AR rather than QR. In the AR space Layar are one of their major players. It's interesting to see that not only have Layar added QR codes to their latest app but they've given them a new AR twist. That's right AR QRs.

Monday, March 04, 2013

Firefox's attack on cookies could boost affiliate and performance marketing

Version 22 of Firework will, like Safari, block third party cookies.

This means that ad servers will not be able to use cookies to count impressions for frequency caps or try and target an audience who might actually be interested in the offer. It may be a setback for some of the Display industry but it is a step forward for the privacy advocates.

Jonathan Mayer, a strong voice in the privacy camp, discussed the details in a blog post about it. It’s a helpful post because it helps align Firefox between IE, Chrome and Safari in how the browsers treat cookies.

Mayer wrote patch that will make this change happen.

It’s worth noting that the change does not just target Display ad cookies. All third party cookies will be effected; analytics and social plugins too.

A third party cookie is one that’s being set from a website other than one you’ve actually visited. For example, you might be on while is trying to download a cookie. With Safari and Firefox 22 will have no luck.

The big catch is that if you’ve been to and are okay with its cookies then it’ll not count as a third party cookie.

The Display industry knows that just counting impressions isn’t the metric they’d like. More meaningful analytics can be found by trying to work out viewable impressions (ie, did the web page visitor actually see the banner) and then whether or not, sometime later, that same person transacted or visited the advertiser’s site. Display accountability means being cleverer with cookies.

The affiliate industry is in a different situation. Yes, it makes sense to look at the impact of post impressions for affiliates and the value of data generated by the performance industry. However, the core proposition is that affiliates get paid on an action.

Affiliate tracking kicks in, generally, on a click. A web site visitor clicks on the affiliate link, quickly passes through the affiliate tracking site and onto the merchant. This means, of course, that the affiliate tracking cookie is dropped as a first party cookie.

As affiliates aren’t generally selling impressions, not even clever audience targeted real-time-bid impressions, the fact that cookies can’t be dropped to accompany the displaying of an ad unit is less of a bother.

Okay, yes, some click and reveal tactics used by voucher code sites will be hit. That’s a pretty big chunk of the affiliate pie.

The privacy debate is on-going but the trend seems to be very much in favour of blocking insight, in favour of privacy concerns, at the cost of advertiser information. This may mean less well targeted ads but that’s hardly an argument to use against the privacy crowd; they seem to want it.

As the debate rolls forward and efforts like Mozilla’s third party cookie block continue to hatch it seems likely to be that advertisers will want to ensure as much of their spend is accountable as possible. If affiliate tracking counts as safe – after all, it only pays when it tracks – then surely privacy advances will only make performance marketing all the more attractive.