5 posts categorized "Search"

01/28/2010 Do Porn and Digital Strategy Mix? Fooled by Google.

I look at my blog stats regularly to see where people come from and how they find my blog. For the past year, I've noticed a lot of search traffic landing on a blog piece about Burton Snowboard, a controversial design, and brouhaha in Burlington politics.

Of course, I used an image in this post to show what I was talking about. That post receives a ton of Google search traffic. Part of it comes from searches for Burton, but only some. The majority comes from people looking for those center fold-outs from one of the most popular girlie magazines of all time (I shouldn't say it here Google, but here goes): Playboy.

If you search for Playboy centerfolds or better yet old Playboy centerfolds, guess what? My Digital Strategy blog pops up on the Image search on page two and even page one!

Now, I think this blog is pretty good, in the scheme of things. Not the best, but certainly not the worst. There are some good ideas here that should make people think some more.

But I can only imagine the disappointment of one of the above searchers when they land on my blog after a Google Image search. Do porn and strategy mix? Should they?

How many digital strategists search for naked woman? Wait, I really don't want to know.

The only thing I do know is that our trusted Google sends some if it's searchers to some terribly wrong places. Like the people searching for centerfolds who land here, for example.

Or maybe I should be more like page 6 and have more racy pictures here to satisfy this audience?

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06/15/2009 From Your Mouth to Google’s (or Bing’s) Ear

Microsoft launched Bing recently in order to take up the fight against Google’s dominance. However good Google is, search in general is a fairly sorry solution to finding things online. Imagine walking into a store and asking a salesperson where to find something and they gave you 10 various answers of which only one, maybe, was correct.  Personally, I would not want to be that salesperson.

The same is true of search. I use search ALL the time. While I get some good results, I feel like I’m never quite getting what I need. Sometimes I don’t get what I need at all.

The problem is that the question I’m formulating in my head is never the taxonomy and description that companies use to describe products or services. Even when it relates to information, the search results break down.

Here’s a simple example from my life as a yard-taker-care-of-er. I need something to spray my new fruit trees so that bugs don’t eat up all the leaves. I could just go up to Ace Hardware or Home Depot, ask anyone that question, and get a good answer. I’ve tried every variation possible online and I never get a good answer to what product I should buy. It’s amazing that it’s still this hard.

BingLogo I thought with Bing would improve this, but not so. Bing provides categories to narrow down your search. It does, however, allow you to see part of the page you’re going to click on so you, hopefully, don’t waste so much time browsing through page results that don’t work for you.

Adding human intelligence doesn’t seem to work very well either; older search engines tried having editorial boards rank things, to little avail.

Nope, unless someone develops a chip to embed in our brains that takes our ideas and concepts and translates them into something search engines can understand I think we’re stuck with what we have for a while. Because what we’re really trying to do is to translate concepts into a common language. Without getting into Wittgenstein, that’s a human problem that not even Google can even solve.

My answer is to go to the social Web, ask the question, and hope that some one answers. Or better yet, I think I’ll just hop in the car and go to the store and ask. I’m lucky to have the Gardeners Supply outlet store nearby as well.At the very least someone will say, “I don’t know” and point me in the right direction.

Or maybe I should just Tweet it…

03/27/2009 How Fast Can Your Marketing Move?

One of the most touted benefits of online has always been that you could change your marketing more easily than other media. It doesn’t mean it won’t cost you anything and it doesn’t mean it won’t take you time to make the change. But it does mean you can move faster in the online medium more than you can print, TV or radio.

So now that we can move faster, do marketers truly take advantage of this? An article at Clickz.com got me thinking about this. They described a home repair service that optimized its paid search effort based on bad weather. 

American Residential Service’s marketing partner tracked weather patterns across the U.S. based on the understanding that the more extreme the weather, the more business ARS usually did. When storms hit certain areas, they wanted to make sure ARS was top of mind when people quickly, and sometimes desperately, needed help fixing their heating, air conditioning, sewers and drains. Face it, when one of these breaks down, you’re quite unhappy until someone fixes it.

So ARS’ marketing group identified the places where they would find those people. But they needed to be very nimble to take advantage of the opportunity. Once they saw the patterns, they shifted their paid search to those geographic areas hit by the bad weather. It was smart, fast, and, apparently, very effective.

I’ve seen and built online marketing that could tell where someone lived and could serve them geographically specific information. But those types of applications usually rely on a set logic. I’ve rarely seen marketing strategies that can react quickly to real time events.

Some, like Super Bowl advertising, don’t move at all, even when they know events will happen. There are many examples of missed opportunity around search, for example.

So how can you make your marketing faster? How can you turn it into Speedy Gonzales?


Look at what ARS did:

  • They set up a listening mechanism. If you want to react, you have to know when something happens. To do that, you have to listen. ARS listened through weather reports. Your brand could do the same, whether its watching markets, to news feeds or other social media listening tools.
  • They had an action plan. Once you’ve listened you need to have concrete steps to put in place once you have a trigger event. You have to map out the steps before hand, so that implementation is quick AND easy. Remember, time is of the essence here. The plan should not only tell you what to do, it should also tell you when NOT to do anything.
  • They had a strong conversion mechanism. Since you have a limited time opportunity, don’t use this as simply a branding exercise. Tie the problem you’re going to solve to a product or service you offer now. Make it easy for someone to convert; you should clearly show how you’re going to lift the weight off of your customers’ shoulders.

This type of marketing brings out the true promise of online marketing. While the examples focus on search, I think it would be worth it to examine doing so with online advertising networks as well. God knows they have the inventory.

Most importantly, put together a good strategic plan on how you’re going to move fast; how you’re going to act and why you’ll grow business doing so. Your clients need this. It also gives them a good reason to pay you for listening, a reason that’s clearly connected to ROI.

Maybe your business or clients don’t provide anything that has to do with outside events. Or maybe you need to use your imagination and you might uncover a missed opportunity.

Or, as Speedy said "Ándale! Ándale! Arriba! Arriba!"

12/05/2008 Display Ads and Search

Ad network Specific Media just released a study showing the impact display advertising has on search. Over a 12-month period, Specific Media was able to show that display advertising had a positive effect on both paid and organic search, increasing search activity by an average of 155% (with variations in different categories).

Apparently Specific Media had by comScore back the data. Otherwise it might look like the study was too self-serving. After all, Specific Media makes its money selling display advertising.

We’ve been seeing smaller studies like this over the years. As digital marketers we continually bring this up when clients ask us for “industry standards.” But this is the first time the numbers are so clear for both PPC and SEO.

The study doesn’t show, however, how the display ads themselves performed when supported by paid search campaigns. Now that would be great data to have.

While the results seem clear, the message to CMOs is not. In fact the study seems to imply that the best way to measure display advertising is through awareness rather than through its own results. It acts indirectly and not directly. Yet a lot of the criticism about display advertising comes from its lack of direct, measurable impact.

What’s more, we see the same types of arguments made on behalf of Television advertising. It makes sense, then, to push for integrated campaigns that work together to make the sum of marketing greater than its parts. For digital marketers we have to find a way to make this argument to our clients in a way they can understand.

On the other hand, it seems like a total cop out for display ads. I’ve said it before, if agencies can only make crappy banners that can’t work on their own and only increase awareness, then clients need to find someone who can make banners work they way they should.

10/02/2008 Managing Inspiration

I get a lot of e-mail and read a lot of Web sites. Most information I pass through quickly, but every once in a while there’s some tidbit that spurs some big thought and is worth saving. If you’re like me, you’ll bookmark the page or save the e-mail. The trouble is trying to get back to that information especially after some time has passed.

I usually search through my e-mail or bookmarks, and then try to figure out where that content is. The Web and computers, with all their searchability, are still hard places to find things, or rather, re-find things.  

So now I’m playing around with a tool called Evernote. It let’s me grab anything, images, text, URLs and put them into searchable notes. It can even scan text in images. Now I know what to do with all of those business cards that I don’t want to transcribe.

The two biggest advantages I see so far are the very good search tool built in, with text recognition, and the fact that its device agnostic, meaning you can use in on your computer, from the Web, or with your mobile device.

So far, it’s helping me keep track of the little information items that are important to me. The question is whether I’ll keep this up or find it too much to keep up with.

But it’s a great idea. Applying Web search to my personal items seems like a forward thinking thing to do.

I’d love to see something like this on e-commerce sites, so that rather than saving the whole item in a shopping basket, I can grab distinct pieces to my personal shopping folder. And keep them there.

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