Q&A: on handling PPC in a competitive market

2013 has seen plenty of changes to paid search, mainly driven by Google. For a brand in a competitive market like insurance, little tweaks here and there matter. 

Changes include the addition of Google’s own comparison products to the SERPs, meaning less visibility for organic results, enhanced campaigns, and changes to the style of PPC ads

I’ve been asking Heledd Jones, head of search marketing at (and an Econsultancy guest blogger), about the challenges presented by these changes, and her thoughts on how PPC will evolve in the next year.

Eight brands that have run video contests using Twitter’s Vine

Since launching back in January Vine has been downloaded more than 13 million times on iOS, so there’s potentially a sizeable audience out there even taking into account people who have used the app once then never gone back to it.

As with Instagram, brands were quick to begin experimenting with Vine and several launched competitions using the platform.

This generally achieves several goals – it shows that the brand is forward-thinking and innovative, gains exposure as people will be sharing branded content with their friends, and also help to attract lots of new followers.

So having previously showcased brands that have run competitions through Instagram and Pinterest, here are eight examples of businesses that have launched contests using Vine. Not all of them were particularly successful though…

When is a comparison site not a comparison site?

The UX world has been gearing up for a big event this week. No, not the US Presidential Election (although hopefully poor usability will not play a major part in this election as it supposedly did in 2000 ).

Today (November 8) is actually World Usability Day 2012, during which organisations and companies around the world hold events to spread the word and work of Usability and UX Professionals.

This year’s theme, apt for the current economic climate, is Financial Services. So, in keeping with this we decided to take a look at how two of the UK’s most popular financial comparison web sites stacked up against each other: and  

Using we asked users to conduct some typical tasks involving a specific type of financial service that many of us may be familiar with as it blurs the line between finance and lifestyle: pet insurance.

The results were quite surprising and not what I would have predicted. My guesses of the issues: confusing terminology, cluttered layouts, not knowing where to start, were all present but not the main problem.  

I think it’s a reasonable assumption to make that when someone goes to a comparison site to look at the cost of insurance they expect to be able to, well, get a comparison.

The two sites that we tested both failed in this mission in their own way. 

What Car and’s new apps: are they any good? has launched a new mobile app that uses GPS to rate and reward drivers.

Available on iPhone and Android, MotorMate is a simple promotional tool that has the potential for adding some variation to the morning commute.

Following the motoring theme, What Car also launched a new mobile app recently in iPhone, Android, Nokia and WP7. It allows users to value new and used cars and find dealers in their local area.

Both apps come as free downloads, so how useful are they?

Q&A:’s Sharon Flaherty on Facebook and Pinterest

For consumer industries such as fashion and retail social media is now a central part of their marketing strategies.

But for other businesses, the benefits of social marketing are less obvious and the tactics are more experimental.

Insurance comparison site might not jump out as an obvious example of a brand that you would expect to invest heavily in social, but in recent months it has unveiled several Facebook apps and launched a Pinterest competition.

To find out more about’s social strategy and how it measures success, I spoke to head of content and PR Sharon Flaherty… tries out a Pinterest-based competition has launched a Pinterest competition that aims to highlight the dangers of driving in heels.

The ‘Driving in Heels’ campaign asks women to pin a picture of their “most extravagant heels” to a specially-created pinboard by

A supporting video outlines the associated dangers of wearing inappropriate footwear – and the ten women judged to have pinned the most outreagous will win a pair of Butterfly Twist flat pumps.

Using a competition to grow followers on Twitter and Facebook is now commonplace, and we’ve started to see more brands doing this on Pinterest – last month Peugeot launched a competition that asked people to complete puzzles by repinning images of its cars. launches personalised ‘House of Horrors’ Facebook app has launched a video app for Facebook called ‘House of Horrors’ to raise awareness of the importance of home insurance.

The app, created by A Social Media Agency, is part of an ongoing digital marketing strategy that aims to alert consumers to the benefits of home insurance, promoting the comparison site as a destination for buying a policy.

After connecting to the app users are asked to enter their postcode, which connects with Google Maps to start the video with a personalised shot of their house.

Drawing inspiration from Take This Lollipop, images from the user’s Facebook profile are then shown during a video of a burglar breaking into a house  - making it appear as if it is their home that has been broken into.