Avoiding Distractions

distracting fire

Distractions can sometimes have disastrous consequences.  Perhaps the most prevalent distraction are those text messages continually pinging your phone.  A study in Injury Prevention even shows that pedestrians crossing the road take longer and have the highest risk of accidents.  In addition distractions can raise your stress level with possible adverse effects on your health. Continue reading

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Google Search Battles On

In the lucrative search market, Google may have the lion’s share but Yahoo and Microsoft, the other major players, are continually seeking ways to undercut that dominance. Now we hear that Microsoft Plans Major Ad Push Around New Search Engine; Is The Name Bing?

AdAge previously reported that Microsoft was planning a major ad campaign to promote a relaunch of Live Search this spring. It now says that Microsoft will spend between $80 and $100 million on advertising, almost double the amount typically spent on the launch of a consumer product. The campaign will span TV, print, and online. It is so large that ad firm JWT is actually hiring while most of its competitors are shedding employees. AdAge says the campaign will “focus on planting the idea that today’s search engines don’t work as well as consumers previously thought by asking them whether search (aka Google) really solves their problems.”

Google would strongly refute that message, perhaps by pointing out that it offers More Search Options.

We have spent a lot of time looking at how we can better understand the wide range of information that’s on the web and quickly connect people to just the nuggets they need at that moment. We want to help our users find more useful information, and do more useful things with it.

We are announcing a new set of features that we call Search Options, which are a collection of tools that let you slice and dice your results and generate different views to find what you need faster and easier. Search Options helps solve a problem that can be vexing: what query should I ask?

That approach may well counter the Microsoft challenge. After all powerful advertising campaigns do not necessarily mean that the new Microsoft Search – Bing, Kuomo or whatever it is called – will be any better than the previous Live Search that has been notoriously erratic.

What Google Search Options may not do is help in the more heated arena where Google battles Facebook.

Google increasingly sees social networks such as Facebook as challengers to its search engine. As people search out advice online for everyday, personal decisions, the standard list of links served up by Google is not seen as intimate or trustworthy. For decisions such as choosing a restaurant or a day care provider, social networking sites or known review sites have an advantage, said Google Group Product Manager Ken Tokusei. Such sites offer information from friends or acquaintances, and users tend to trust that information more.

Google does allow users to add opinions to search results but this approach really has not gained any traction. However I believe the key battle-ground is regular search where Microsoft will pitch its Bing. I believe Google is in a position to adopt an approach that the others will have a very hard time matching. This will be outlined in a follow-up article entitled, Google Can Continue To Dominate Search With A Customer-Centric Strategy.

Please make sure you have subscribed to the RSS News Feed so that you can see the follow-up when it is published.

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Consumers Rock On The Web

Or Doing digital right as the Vancouver Sun headlined the item.

Big brands need not be afraid of the power that social media places in the hands of consumers, says Bonin Bough, global director of digital and social media of PepsiCo Inc.  Advertisers must realize that digital marketing cannot simply extend the creative work of a traditional media campaign.

The clout of social media is no longer in question. Positive and negative buzz from vocal online commenters can galvanize into a marketing success or a snafu very quickly,

That is why PepsiCo sponsored South by Southwest 2009 interactive and musical festival in Austin, Texas.  It was lauded as a savvy example of linking the Pepsi brand to “content” in the form of user-generated media, live music and creative events rather than using traditional advertising.

Mr.. Bough said. “If Coca-Cola is Frank Sinatra, then we are Madonna, constantly evolving,” he added, paraphrasing new media wunderkind David Armano. “The culture of PepsiCo is an evolutionary culture.” Striving to stay ahead of its rivals in the area of innovation helped Pepsi decide to launch the new Pepsi logo through social media before images were released through traditional media. “We knew we were going to get a lot of real conversation and thoughts in social media and that was what we wanted.”

Apparently PepsiCo will still have traditional agencies of record for brands, but for social and digital programs they will be looking for all the non-traditional people who can help think about these very different digital media and how best to develop communication programs.

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Newspapers When The Going Gets Tough

When the going gets tough, the tough get going.  That phrase came to mind after reading.Mathew Ingram’s article,  Newspaper staff cuts: Good news?

There are a lot of newspapers that haven’t been moving quite as quickly as they might towards an online future. To a large extent, these papers have been insulated from the need to change by a healthy cash balance, a lock on local advertising markets, a magnanimous owner, a sense of entitlement, etc. (feel free to pick more than one).  What better way to force some change than by administering a large but hopefully non-lethal shock to the system?

With the advertising-revenue wolf clearly at the door, managers at these papers have moved swiftly to shed entire categories of sub-editors, to reconfigure the desk system, to merge Web and print duties where they might not have been merged before, and so on.  Even papers with strong unions have been able to accomplish this, because the economic necessity is so obvious.

When times are easy then even weak competitors can survive.  A tough time forces management to consider how performance can be improved.  Only the strong survive in that process.  In some ways it’s the law of the jungle.  Eventually the best survive.

Donna Ladd expressed a similar sentiment in her [Editor’s Note] When the Going Gets Tough.  She had another dimension on which she felt that newspapers could improve and grow:

I strongly believe that the key to weathering the crisis, or maybe even riding it like a wave, is to think as local as possible. We must look at the world around us with abundance in our hearts—not with stinginess in our eyes. We must help others succeed, dance with the ones who really care about us, bolster our local business community in every way possible. They are the ones who are there for us, the ones who don’t have a corporation telling them to lay off people because the outlets out West aren’t doing so well.

It really points to another lesson, which is never to assume that you are doing the very best you can do.  It is always good to have measures of performance and see how you could do even better.  Complacency is a certain recipe for demise when the times are changing.

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SMM Offers Advertisers Display Ad Spots

The website for The Other Bloke’s Blog was recently modified to give a better experience for visitors to the blog.  Since the most common screen width for our visitors is 1064 pixels, the website was widened to reflect this.  The design is now a three column design with the two right-hand columns being available for advertising.  Nevertheless at the same time the left-hand column is wider than it was before so that is of benefit to those who come here to read..

In increasing the area of the screen devoted to advertising, we relied on Google’s policy of trying to ensure that the ads they displayed would improve the readers’ experience.  Here is what they say about their ‘Quality Score’ and how it is calculated.

Quality Score helps ensure that only the most relevant ads appear to users on Google and the Google Network. The AdWords system works best for everybodyadvertisers, users, publishers, and Google toowhen the ads we display match our users’ needs as closely as possible. Relevant ads tend to earn more clicks, appear in a higher position, and bring you the most success.

The other factor of course is to ensure that the ads do return sufficient revenues to achieve our objectives.  AdSense is only one of the potential advertiser networks and we have been trying others.  One of these is Adbrite, but so far the ads do not seem as attractive as those provided by Google.

Of course with the current economy, times are tough for advertisers and for advertising networks. Even Google in reporting excellent results noted that it was tightening its belt.

For Q3, Google’s profit rose 35% to 1.35 billion on revenue that was up 39% to $US5.54 billion.

Although the number of people who click on its search ads grew 18% quarter-on-quarter, Google trimmed costs 18% during Q3 in anticipation of turbulance ahead, and reduced its usual frantic pace of hiring, bringing on 519 staff during the quarter, compared to 2130 during Q2.

Times are even tougher for AdBrite apparently.

AdBrite, the “Internet’s Ad Marketplace,” has laid off 40 percent of its workforce in an effort to be profitable. Two executives, its vice president of marketing, Paul Levine, and its vice president of finance, Bob Feller, were among those laid off.

Given this turmoil in the advertising network sector, SMM decided that going directly to advertisers should be a win win situation.  Accordingly as you will note by the Info button at the top right advertisers can place their advertising directly in all three SMM blogs as a group.  The three blogs cater to the business and Internet marketing worlds with slightly different emphases.  In this way an advertiser will have a broader coverage than using a single blog.  Since the combined traffic for the three blogs is over 15,000 page views per month and growing strongly, this should represent an attractive opportunity.

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