tag:econsultancy.com,2008:/topics/search-marketing Latest Search Marketing content from Econsultancy 2017-07-13T13:17:13+01:00 tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69239 2017-07-13T13:17:13+01:00 2017-07-13T13:17:13+01:00 Will emoji search ever catch on? Kayak certainly hopes so Nikki Gilliland <p>However, despite recent a suggestion that we’ve reached ‘peak emoji’ – with 59% of millennials also saying that brands try too hard when using emojis in ad campaigns – it doesn’t look like the trend is about to disappear any time soon.</p> <p>Kayak, the online travel search engine, has recently announced a new feature that allows users to search for a specific travel destination by emoji. While the concept itself is nothing new – we’ve already seen the likes of Google and Yelp launch emoji search – Kayak is one of the first travel brands to get on board.</p> <p>So, how does it work exactly? And are other brands experimenting with emoji in this way? Here’s a bit more on Kayak’s activity as well as whether it’ll catch on with online consumers. </p> <h3>Using emoji for a better UX</h3> <p>Instead of incorporating emojis into brand communication, companies are now starting to think about how emojis can be used to aid or enhance the user experience.</p> <p>The idea that most people now recognise and understand emojis (even when there are no accompanying words) arguably means that it has become a language in its own right.</p> <p>Let’s say, for example, if a person uses an American flag and a statue of liberty emoji in an Instagram post – it’s pretty obvious where they’re going on holiday, even if they don’t specify using text.</p> <p>This is the thinking behind Kayak’s new search tool, which so far involves 10 emojis each relating to a specific location. The three-leaf clover signifies Dublin, while a red light stands for Amsterdam. Kayak is allowing users to vote for what emojis should be used for other destinations, too.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p lang="en" dir="ltr">Just a few days left to vote: which city is worthy of the ? The ? The ? Help us pick the next 15 searchable emoji <a href="https://t.co/i00e3t85l8">https://t.co/i00e3t85l8</a></p> — KAYAK (@KAYAK) <a href="https://twitter.com/KAYAK/status/884447635859492864">July 10, 2017</a> </blockquote> <h3>Will it catch on?</h3> <p>It’s clear that consumers are open and willing to engage with emojis – a recent study by <a href="https://www.leanplum.com/resources/library/emoji-push-notifications/" target="_blank">Leanplum</a> suggests that emojis in push notifications increase open rates by up to 85%. However, search is an entirely different ball game.</p> <p>The real question for Kayak is – will users bother to use emojis when searching or even be aware that the feature exists? While a lot of people naturally use emojis in conversation, there’s certainly a difference between talking to your friends and a brand – and even more of a leap to researching travel. </p> <p>In this case, Kayak’s example could merely be classed as clever bit of PR – something to merely generate interest and awareness. </p> <p>We’ve seen many brands do a similar thing. Domino’s launched a feature to allow users to order via the pizza emoji. Meanwhile, <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/69189-a-closer-look-at-wwf-s-social-strategy">WWF</a> launched the #endageredemoji campaign, using emojis to highlight animals that are endangered all over the world, as well as raising money via retweets. </p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p lang="en" dir="ltr">Retweet to protect these <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/endangeredemoji?src=hash">#endangeredemoji</a> <br>...a <a href="https://twitter.com/WWF">@WWF</a> mission</p> — Satya Chudhary (@satyach17) <a href="https://twitter.com/satyach17/status/875680812368375808">June 16, 2017</a> </blockquote> <p>Kayak says that its new search tool is not just the brand getting on board the emoji bandwagon – neither is it a marketing ploy or a ‘trendy’ PR campaign. Rather, it is about utility. Recognising that emojis are now such an ingrained part of everyday culture, the aim is to simplify the user experience by allowing users to communicate with the brand just like they would their friend.</p> <h3>Issues with user intent</h3> <p>One of the biggest problems brands face with emoji search is determining user intent. After all, emojis can be highly subjective or simply too general.</p> <p>As a rather broad example, someone might search Google using the apple emoji, but it will still be unclear what exactly they are searching for. The answer could range from recipes to supermarkets – even the ‘Big Apple’ i.e. New York City. </p> <p>In this instance, instead of simplifying the experience it actually means that users will spend more time scrolling or looking for the answer that’s relevant to them.</p> <p>So, perhaps emoji search will be better suited within a specific category or industry, like travel. Kayak is cleverly getting around the problem of user intent by choosing to let consumers determine what emojis are used for what city. </p> <p>Other brands, like Yelp – which lets users search for local businesses and restaurants – also capitalise on the fact that people will always be searching for a place (not subjective results like information or meaning). If a user searches for the hamburger emoji on Yelp, it is quite clear what they’re looking for.  In this case, I can definitely see how emoji search might appeal to those who already naturally use emojis.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/7394/Yelp.JPG" alt="" width="340" height="609"></p> <h3>Emoji search on social</h3> <p>Lastly, while emoji search might have its limitations for brands, perhaps social media platforms could be a better fit. </p> <p>Earlier this year, it was revealed that Twitter had added the ability for users to search using emojis. And though the feature is likely to be underemployed by users, it seems to present far more opportunities for brands themselves. </p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p lang="en" dir="ltr">Twitter now supports emojis in search. Here are people using the fax machine emoji for some reason <a href="https://t.co/MWO6BrN4sk">pic.twitter.com/MWO6BrN4sk</a></p> — Emojipedia (@Emojipedia) <a href="https://twitter.com/Emojipedia/status/857919719202058240">April 28, 2017</a> </blockquote> <p>This is because the feature returns all tweets that include the emoji you search for, essentially allowing brands to target people on this basis.</p> <p>So, if we turn the tables, and Kayak wanted to target Twitter users including the Statue of Liberty emoji or the Irish flag – it means they could easily find and engage with them.</p> <h3>In conclusion…</h3> <p>Kayak’s new emoji search is certainly a fun feature, and one that is bound to give its content and social strategy a boost (the tool can also be used via the brand’s Facebook Messenger bot). The added gamification element of people voting to determine different emojis is also likely to generate involvement – especially considering the famous ‘poop’ emoji has yet to be assigned.</p> <p>In terms of whether the feature will be heavily used in future is much less certain.</p> <p>Maybe it depends on how the technology itself evolves. As it stands, most search engines can only recognise a few emojis at a time, but as the ‘language’ itself continues to evolve, perhaps too will the ability to interpret it.</p> <p>Will we see travellers researching and booking entire holidays via emoji in future? Probably not. For now, at least, it makes the process of looking for flights a little more fun.</p> <p><em><strong>Related reading:</strong></em></p> <ul> <li><em><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68607-the-art-of-the-emoji-how-and-when-brands-should-use-them/">The art of the emoji: How and when brands should use them</a></em></li> <li><em><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68745-five-examples-of-brands-using-emojis-in-marketing-campaigns" target="_blank">Five examples of brands using emojis in marketing campaigns</a></em></li> <li><em><a href="https://www.econsultancy.com/blog/67965-emojis-gone-wild-twitter-unveils-emoji-targeting" target="_blank">Emojis gone wild: Twitter unveils emoji targeting</a></em></li> </ul> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:ConferenceEvent/840 2017-07-13T06:02:28+01:00 2017-07-13T06:02:28+01:00 Digital Cream Sydney <p style="border: 0px; vertical-align: baseline;">Exclusive to 80 senior client side marketers, <strong style="border: 0px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">Econsultancy's Digital Cream</strong> is one of the industry's landmark events for marketers to:</p> <ul style="border: 0px; vertical-align: baseline;"> <li style="border: 0px; font-weight: inherit; font-style: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; font-variant: inherit;">convene and network with like-minded peers from different industries</li> <li style="border: 0px; font-weight: inherit; font-style: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; font-variant: inherit;">exchange experiences</li> <li style="border: 0px; font-weight: inherit; font-style: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; font-variant: inherit;">compare benchmark efforts</li> <li style="border: 0px; font-weight: inherit; font-style: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; font-variant: inherit;">explore the latest best practice</li> <li style="border: 0px; font-weight: inherit; font-style: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; font-variant: inherit;">discuss strategies</li> <li style="border: 0px; font-weight: inherit; font-style: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; font-variant: inherit;">learn from others who face the same challenges with suppliers, technologies and techniques. </li> </ul> <p style="border: 0px; vertical-align: baseline;">In a personal and confidential setting (It's Chatham House Rules so what's said at Digital Cream, stays at Digital Cream), the roundtable format is a quick and sure-fire way to find out what's worked and what hasn't, an invaluable opportunity to take time out and come back to the office full of ideas.</p> <h3 style="border: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; color: #004e70;">Roundtable Format</h3> <p style="border: 0px; vertical-align: baseline;">There are 8 roundtable topics and each delegate chooses 3 table topics most relevant to you, each session lasting about an hour and fifteen minutes. Each roundtable is independently moderated and focuses on a particular topic discussing challenges or areas of interest nominated by the table's attendees in the time available. This level of input ensures you get the maximum from your day.</p> <p style="border: 0px; vertical-align: baseline;">Digital Cream has been devised by the analysts and editors at Econsultancy in consultation with the most senior digital buyers in the world and runs in London, New York, Melbourne, Sydney, Shanghai, Singapore and Hong Kong.</p> <p style="border: 0px; vertical-align: baseline;"><strong style="border: 0px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">Attendees pick three tables choices from the following full list of topics offered (extra topics will be removed at a later stage. If there is a topic you'd like to discuss which is not listed here, you can suggest it while registering):</strong> </p> <p style="border: 0px; font-weight: inherit; font-style: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; font-variant: inherit;">1. Agile Marketing - Develop a more responsive &amp; customer-centric approach</p> <p style="border: 0px; font-weight: inherit; font-style: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; font-variant: inherit;">2. Content Marketing Strategy</p> <p style="border: 0px; font-weight: inherit; font-style: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; font-variant: inherit;">3. Customer Experience Management</p> <p style="border: 0px; font-weight: inherit; font-style: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; font-variant: inherit;">4. Data-Driven Marketing &amp; Marketing Attribution Management</p> <p style="border: 0px; font-weight: inherit; font-style: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; font-variant: inherit;">5. Digital Transformation - People, Process &amp; Technology</p> <p style="border: 0px; font-weight: inherit; font-style: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; font-variant: inherit;">6. Ecommerce</p> <p style="border: 0px; font-weight: inherit; font-style: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; font-variant: inherit;">7. Email Marketing - Trends, Challenges &amp; Best Practices</p> <p style="border: 0px; font-weight: inherit; font-style: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; font-variant: inherit;">8. Integrated Search (PPC/SEO) - Trends, Challenges &amp; Best Practices</p> <p style="border: 0px; font-weight: inherit; font-style: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; font-variant: inherit;">9. Joining Up Online &amp; Offline Channels Data</p> <p style="border: 0px; font-weight: inherit; font-style: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; font-variant: inherit;">10. Marketing Automation - Best Practices &amp; Implementation</p> <p style="border: 0px; font-weight: inherit; font-style: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; font-variant: inherit;">11. Mobile Marketing</p> <p style="border: 0px; font-weight: inherit; font-style: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; font-variant: inherit;">12. Online Advertising - Retargeting, Exchanges &amp; Social Advertising</p> <p style="border: 0px; font-weight: inherit; font-style: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; font-variant: inherit;">13. Real-Time Brand Marketing - Using Data &amp; Technology To Drive Brand Impact</p> <p style="border: 0px; font-weight: inherit; font-style: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; font-variant: inherit;">14. Social Media Measurement &amp; Optimisation</p> <p style="border: 0px; font-weight: inherit; font-style: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; font-variant: inherit;"><strong style="border: 0px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;"><strong style="border: 0px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">&gt;&gt;</strong> <strong style="border: 0px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">View past Digital Cream event photos (source: facebook page)</strong><br></strong></p> <p style="border: 0px; font-weight: inherit; font-style: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; font-variant: inherit;"><a href="https://www.facebook.com/pg/Econsultancy/photos/?tab=album&amp;album_id=10153875617599327" target="_blank">Digital Cream Sydney 2016</a>, <a style="border: 0px; font-weight: inherit; font-style: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; color: #004dcc; font-variant: inherit;" href="https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10153214103704327.1073741876.90732954326&amp;type=3" target="_blank">Digital Cream Singapore 2015</a>, <a style="border: 0px; font-weight: inherit; font-style: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; color: #004dcc; font-variant: inherit;" href="https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10153124439974327.1073741873.90732954326&amp;type=3" target="_blank">Digital Cream Sydney 2015</a>, <a style="border: 0px; font-weight: inherit; font-style: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; color: #004dcc; font-variant: inherit;" href="https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10152276242849327.1073741856.90732954326&amp;type=3" target="_blank">Digital Cream Melbourne 2014</a> and <a style="border: 0px; font-weight: inherit; font-style: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; color: #004dcc; font-variant: inherit;" href="https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10152209218799327.1073741854.90732954326&amp;type=3" target="_blank">Digital Cream Hong Kong 2014</a></p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69236 2017-07-07T12:40:12+01:00 2017-07-07T12:40:12+01:00 10 superior digital marketing stats from this week Nikki Gilliland <p>On we go...</p> <h3>Mobile shopping ads presents growth opportunity for retailers</h3> <p>According to a new report by <a href="http://www.foundit.com/blog/mobile-shopping-search-retailers-biggest-opportunity-improve/" target="_blank">Foundit</a>, mobile clicks on Google Shopping ads represent the largest single source of visitors for online retailers, accounting for nearly 25% of all sessions across direct, paid and shopping search traffic.</p> <p>However, the report – which reviewed over 60m shopping sessions across leading retailers – also states that search is the worst channel for bounce rate, with users typically viewing just two and half pages before quitting.</p> <p>In terms of the difference in bounce rates between Google shopping on mobile and desktop, just 27% of sessions browse past the first page, compared with 38% on desktop. </p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/7342/foundit.JPG" alt="" width="706" height="318"></p> <h3>TV sponsorship increases positive brand associations</h3> <p>According to a study by Thinkbox, brands that sponsor TV shows are able to improve brand health metrics – mainly thanks to the strong affinities viewers have with their favourite programs.</p> <p>Research found that there was a 53% increase in ‘personality fit’ between viewers of a TV show and the sponsoring brand when compared to non-viewers. In turn, viewers were far more likely to recommend the brand than those that didn’t watch the TV show. </p> <p>Meanwhile, when the sponsorship creative was a natural fit with the program, key brand health metrics for viewers were 5% higher than for non-viewers. </p> <h3>UK shoppers buy from just three online stores</h3> <p>According to a YouGov poll commissioned by Apptus, online fashion retailers are struggling to attract new and loyal customers.</p> <p>In a survey of over 1,500 online shoppers, 62% of people were found to have a core group of favourite online retail stores – a figure that rises to 68% for women.</p> <p>Interestingly, younger shoppers appear more likely to stick to a narrow selection of sites, with 78% of 18-24 year olds and 70% of 25-34s staying loyal to a select few retailers.</p> <p>In order to tempt them away from their favourites, 66% of shoppers said that other retailers should offer greater value for money, while 48% said they should make it easy to find products they are looking for. In contrast, just 4% pointed to ‘lifestyle content’ as a means of grabbing their attention and building loyalty.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/7346/online_payments.jpg" alt="" width="718" height="487"></p> <h3>North Dakota named the best US state to start a business</h3> <p><a href="https://wallethub.com/edu/best-states-to-start-a-business/36934/" target="_blank">WalletHub</a> has compared 50 US states across 20 key indicators to determine where startup businesses are most likely to succeed.</p> <p>It found New Jersey to be the worst, mainly due to high office space and labour costs as well as inaccessible financing.</p> <p>On the flip side, North Dakota was ranked the best, seeing the highest average growth in small businesses. The state also has the most startups per 100,000 residents – three times more than West Virginia, the state with the fewest.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/7341/Start-ups_US.JPG" alt="" width="780" height="311"></p> <h3>75% of users are searching on mobile more often due to voice technology</h3> <p>New research from Google shows that voice search is influencing user behaviour, with 75% of consumers saying that they now search on their mobiles more often because of the technology.  </p> <p>People who started using voice search in the last six months are said to be the most frequent users, with 42% now using it daily. In comparison, just 25% of people who started using voice search over four years ago use it as frequently.</p> <p>The research also found that both visual and text search remain popular, with 51% of respondents using the two interchangeably.</p> <h3>Cyber-attacks on UK businesses increase 52% in Q2</h3> <p>A new report by Beaming suggests that the number of cyber-attacks aimed at UK-based businesses increased by more than half in Q2 2017. This means that businesses saw almost 65,000 attacks in just three months – an increase of 52% from the previous quarter.</p> <p>68% of attacks targeted connected devices such as networked security cameras and building control systems. However, there was also a marked increase in attacks on company databases, with businesses experiencing an average of 105 attempts per day compared to just 14 in the first quarter.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/7340/Cyber_attacks_UK.JPG" alt="" width="780" height="192"></p> <h3>Mobile traffic at an all-time high across Europe</h3> <p>A new <a href="https://www.slideshare.net/adobe/adi-2016-europe-best-of-the-best" target="_blank">report from Adobe</a> – which includes analysis of the top 20% of companies using Adobe Experience Cloud and a survey of over 5,000 consumers across Europe – suggests mobile traffic is increasing across Europe.</p> <p>It states that smartphones accounted for 31% of all European web visits in 2016 – an increase from 22% in 2015. In comparison, desktop accounted for 58% of browser traffic - down from 65% in 2015. For the top-performing companies, 41% of web traffic came from a smartphone in 2016, up from just 31% the previous year. </p> <p>Meanwhile, the report found that consumer expectations are driving mobile usage, with 57% preferring to use a smartphone over another device when completing tasks in 2016 – up from 51% in 2015.</p> <h3>Shoppers’ dual-screening habits present big opportunities for retailers</h3> <p>Data from eBay has revealed there was a huge spike in consumer spending during last summer’s sporting events, indicating the potential for retailers to tap into dual screening behaviour.</p> <p>On the final day of the Tour de France last year, searches for ‘Pinarello’ – the bike that Chris Froome rode – rose by 62% on eBay.co.uk. Meanwhile, searches for ‘cycling shorts’ and ‘road bike’ increased by 46% and 71% respectively.</p> <p>Similarly, in the two weeks of the Rio Olympic Games, searches for ‘running shoes’ rose by 66%, and interest in running watches jumped by 113%.</p> <h3>Uber gains more customers than any other US company in the past year</h3> <p>Despite the series of scandals that have plagued the company in the past year or so, Uber has made the largest customer gains since the first half of 2016. </p> <p>26% of all US millennials are said to have recently used the service, which has increased its <a href="http://www.brandindex.com/article/ride-sharing-brands-top-biggest-millennial-customer-gains-over-last-year" target="_blank">Adobe BrandIndex</a> ‘current customer score’ by 8.2 points.</p> <p>Other companies in the sharing economy have also grown, with Lyft – Uber’s biggest US rival – becoming the third biggest gainer, and Airbnb coming 12th in this list.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/7343/uber.jpg" alt="" width="724" height="483"></p> <h3>Online consumers desire security over transaction speed</h3> <p><a href="https://mypinpad.com/consumer-trust-report/" target="_blank">New research</a> suggests that retailers who favour speed and convenience over security measures could be losing customer trust. This is because 67% of consumers surveyed said they are concerned about their online banking and shopping security, with one in four respondents being ‘very concerned’.</p> <p>In order to improve levels of trust, retailers must implement greater transparency around security practices, as well as increased security steps. </p> <p>40% of respondents said they would like to use cardholder PIN to authenticate online transactions, while 50% would like to use a combination of both PIN and biometrics. Only 2% of consumers believe transaction speed is more important than security.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69201 2017-06-30T01:30:00+01:00 2017-06-30T01:30:00+01:00 Four search engine marketing updates busy marketers might have missed Jeff Rajeck <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/7014/algorithm.jpg" alt="" width="800" height="411"></p> <p>Marketers do, however, need to keep up with them, even if search engine marketing is a small part of their job.</p> <p>At a recent Econsultancy event in Singapore, Digital Outlook 2017 Part 2 hosted by NTUC, delegates received an overview of several significant changes Google has made recently. Here are four provided by search engine marketing expert Eu Gene Ang, Econsultancy's lead trainer in Asia.</p> <h3>1) It's time to take another look at your AdWords campaigns</h3> <p>Search engine marketing is not always core to a brand's digital strategy and, as a result, AdWords campaigns can often be left unattended for lengthy periods.</p> <p>Eu Gene advised that brands should revisit AdWords now, though, as the search engine results page (SERP) has changed dramatically in the past couple of years.</p> <p>First off, the SERP used to have two columns, with one dedicated to AdWords ads, but it is now a single column designed to appear the same on mobile and desktop.</p> <p><strong><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/7019/2.jpg" alt="" width="800" height="550"></strong></p> <p>While that change may seem somewhat trivial, one important thing for marketers to note is that the old SERP had up to 11 ads at the top of the page...</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/7015/1.jpg" alt="" width="800" height="500"></p> <p>...and now the top of the SERP only has four ads with three more at the bottom.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/7020/3.jpg" alt="" width="800" height="657"></p> <p>As the potential ad space on the first SERP has been reduced from 11 to seven, optimizing keywords and bids has never been more important.</p> <p>Another major change to the SERP is that the AdWords ad text has been greatly expanded.<strong> </strong>Previously advertisers were limited to a headline, sub-header, and a link.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/7021/then.jpg" alt="" width="760" height="133"></p> <p>Now advertisers have much more space to draw attention to their brand, internal sitelinks and even reviews.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/7022/now.jpg" alt="" width="800" height="333"></p> <p>Marketers are advised to review their current AdWords ads and read up on the extensions at the <a href="https://support.google.com/adwords/answer/2375499?hl=en">Google support site</a>.</p> <p>Keyword bidding strategies have also had a number of upgrades over the years. While advertisers can still bid on individual campaigns, ad sets and keywords, Google has added multiple strategies which will make your life easier. These include: </p> <ul> <li> <strong>Target search page location</strong> - to help you stay at the top of the SERP</li> <li> <strong>Target CPA -</strong> in which you set a conversion goal (cost per acquisition) and ask AdWords to budget based on that conversion</li> <li> <strong>Target outranking share</strong> - to help your ads stay ahead of a specific competitor</li> <li> <strong>Maximize clicks</strong> - to drive the most traffic to your site</li> <li> <strong>Enhanced CPC (cost per click)</strong> - which adjusts your manual bids to help you get more conversions </li> </ul> <p>More detail on each of these strategies can be found at <a href="https://support.google.com/adwords/answer/2472725?hl=en">Google's AdWords support site</a>, but in short the recommendation from Eu Gene is that marketers should avoid spending a lot of time on manual bidding and 'let Google's AI do your bidding for you!'</p> <p><strong><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/7025/4.jpg" alt="" width="800" height="500"></strong></p> <h3>2) Organic search engine optimisation is changing, too</h3> <p>A whole industry has blossomed around optimising content and page markup for Google, commonly known as Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).</p> <p>However, as Eu Gene pointed out, nearly all of SEO is based on the notion that Google is an 'information engine' which simply reads web page content and stores it in an indexed database. The theory behind SEO is that the easier you make it for Google to read, store and recall your site's information, the more optimized your page is for a top position on the SERP.</p> <p>Now, however, Google is changing from an 'information engine' to a 'knowledge engine'.  Instead of showing search results only based on keywords, Google now aims to understand each user's intent and provide the best answer it can on the front page.</p> <p>This change is quite noticeable when searching on a well-indexed topic like a movie, a company or a country. While Google still offers results based on the keyword, the SERP also displays 'knowledge' (as Google searches semantically, finding the data it believes the user wants to see).</p> <p>Here we can see that a search for 'Laos' not only provides a normal SERP (left), but there is also a 'Knowledge Panel' on the right containing commonly-sought detail about the subject.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/7016/laos.jpg" alt="" width="800" height="506"></p> <p>What this means is that marketers must re-examine their keyword strategy and ensure they are not trying to optimize for short keyword terms which are already well catered to by Google.</p> <p>Additionally, for retail brands, Google may offer locally relevant business information in the Knowledge Panel.  While Google indicates that<a href="https://support.google.com/business/answer/6331288?hl=en"> it is not possible for marketers to change this panel directly</a>, best practice is to keep all information on the brand website up-to-date so that the brand's site remains the central authority of brand information.</p> <h3>3) Google is going mobile in a big way (again)</h3> <p>On April 21st, 2015 Google updated its algorithm to rank web pages which appeared correctly on mobile higher than those which were optimized for desktop.  Known coloquially as 'mobilegeddon', this update resulted in a 21% decrease in non mobile-friendly pages on the first three pages of search results, according to BrightEdge.</p> <p>As Google said at the time, however, 'mobilegeddon' was just the beginning.</p> <p>Recently, Google announced that <a href="http://searchengineland.com/google-divide-index-giving-mobile-users-better-fresher-content-261037">it will be splitting its page index into two indices</a>, one for pages which are optimised for mobile and another for those which are not.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/7023/indices.jpg" alt="" width="800" height="233"></p> <p>Attendees were also warned that the index for non mobile-optimized will not be updated as often as the mobile-optimized index. This means that brands who are not optimized for mobile may not have the most up-to-date information in Google and may not even appear in a mobile search.</p> <p>Delegates whose brands have not yet optimised all of their web properties for mobile viewing were highly advised to do so now.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/7026/5.jpg" alt="" width="800" height="500"></p> <h3>4) RankBrain is a new, and misunderstood, SEO ranking factor</h3> <p>Finally, Eu Gene told delegates about a new Google ranking factor which uses artificial intelligence to process search results and provide more relevant results for users. Called 'RankBrain', it has been widely misunderstood by many marketers as just another SEO ranking factor for which they will have to optimise their website.</p> <p>According to Google's Gary Illyes, though, there is no RankBrain 'score' and it is not possible to optimise a website for RankBrain.</p> <p><strong><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/7024/rankbrain-illyes.jpg" alt="" width="800" height="319"></strong></p> <p>Instead, RankBrain acts as an interpreter of both the searcher's intent and website content in order to find the best match for the user.</p> <p>To ensure that brand websites do not fall in ranking, Eu Gene suggested that <strong>marketers should ensure that content is:</strong></p> <ul> <li> <strong>Fresh</strong> - so that searchers are likely to be seeing recently relevant information</li> <li> <strong>Engaging</strong> - as RankBrain will assess whether previous searchers have been satisfied by results</li> <li> <strong>Deep</strong> - so that RankBrain can better assess the relevance of the page for a searcher</li> </ul> <p>While this seems like a difficult list to follow, Google has always advised that web content should 'provide high-quality content' through a 'helpful, information-rich site' with page which 'clearly and accurately describe your topic.'  </p> <p>So, the best practice for RankBrain is simply to follow the same <a href="https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/40349?hl=en">steps to a Google-friendly site</a> which have been recommended now for many years.</p> <h3>A word of thanks</h3> <p>Econsultancy would like to thank Eu Gene Ang, Lead Trainer, Asia, Econsultancy for his presentation as well as the delegates who took time out of their busy schedules to attend.</p> <p>We hope to see you all at future Singapore Econsultancy events!</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/6936/event3.jpg" alt=""></p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69213 2017-06-29T12:00:00+01:00 2017-06-29T12:00:00+01:00 How Europe's $2.7bn Google antitrust fine could impact the internet economy Patricio Robles <blockquote> <p>...Google's strategy for its comparison shopping service wasn't just about attracting customers by making its product better than those of its rivals. Instead, Google abused its market dominance as a search engine by promoting its own comparison shopping service in its search results, and demoting those of competitors.</p> </blockquote> <p>Google, not surprisingly, was quick to issue <a href="https://www.blog.google/topics/google-europe/european-commission-decision-shopping-google-story/">a response</a> refuting the EC's claim that it has illegally acted to stifle competition. In it, Google's general counsel Kent Walker stated that the company "respectfully disagrees" with the EC's conclusions and suggested that the rise of competitors like Amazon could be responsible for the challenges other shopping comparison sites have faced.</p> <p>"When you use Google to search for products, we try to give you what you're looking for," Walker wrote. "Our ability to do that well isn’t favoring ourselves, or any particular site or seller – it's the result of hard work and constant innovation, based on user feedback."</p> <p>An appeal, while not yet announced, would appear likely.</p> <p>In the meantime, Google parent company Alphabet has 90 days to cease the conduct the EC found to be illegal or it will face daily fines of 5% of its average daily worldwide turnover. The EC also noted that in addition to the fine being levied by the EC, Google could face civil penalties for its behavior and that a new EU Antitrust Damages Directive will "[make] it easier for victims of anti-competitive practices to obtain damages."</p> <h3>A sign of things to come?</h3> <p>While Google, which generated some $90bn in revenue last year, can easily swallow the EU's $2.7bn fine without batting an eye, the billion-dollar fine signals that regulators, after years of talk, might now be willing to take action to reign in large tech companies that are increasingly dominant.</p> <p>Google and Facebook, for instance, <a href="https://digiday.com/media/will-duopoly-face-government-intervention/">have been labeled by some as a duopoly</a> that needs to be regulated more heavily, and as a candidate, now-U.S. President Donald Trump went so far as to <a href="http://www.cnbc.com/2016/05/13/trump-says-amazon-has-a-huge-antitrust-problem.html">publicly state</a> that Amazon has "a huge antitrust problem."</p> <p>There's no evidence that tech giants like Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon are going to become less dominant any time soon. In fact, the evidence <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/69186-is-the-whole-foods-acquisition-the-beginning-of-amazon-s-endgame/">indicates</a> that the dominance of a handful of large tech firms will only grow. This has led to concern that these companies are becoming too powerful and must be reigned in to protect the public.</p> <p>While it's too early to know whether the EC's Google fine is the beginning of a period of aggressive antitrust enforcement, the EC did use its press release to point out that it "has already come to the preliminary conclusion that Google has abused a dominant position in two other cases" involving Google's mobile OS Android and AdSense. </p> <p>It also noted that it "continues to examine Google's treatment in its search results of other specialised Google search services" -- a not-so-subtle warning that Google is still under a powerful antitrust microscope.</p> <h3>Is a Europe-US split developing?</h3> <p>Some observers have suggested that the EC unfairly targeted Google, an American company, and that this week's fine is actually intended to serve protectionist goals without starting an overt trade rift. The EC <a href="http://money.cnn.com/2017/06/27/technology/eu-google-biased-protectionism/">has dismissed</a> these arguments.</p> <p>While U.S. presidential candidate Trump bandied about the "antitrust" word in reference to Amazon, which is owned by one of his most prominent tech industry critics, Jeff Bezos, it's somewhat doubtful that President Trump will eschew his business-friendly political platform and go after big tech firms who employ tens of thousands of highly-paid workers in the U.S.</p> <p>This raises the prospect of a Europe-US split in which large tech companies, most of which are headquartered in the U.S., are forced to change the way they operate in Europe while keeping their modus operandi the same across the pond.</p> <p>For companies that rely in some form on these tech giants, particularly large brands, this possibility is worth paying close attention to. After all, if Google is forced to make significant changes to the way it operates in Europe, it could affect how Google's many frenemies work with and compete against it in Europe versus the rest of the world.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69042 2017-04-28T11:15:00+01:00 2017-04-28T11:15:00+01:00 Driven by mobile, digital overtakes TV in US ad spend for the first time Patricio Robles <p>The milestone is one that industry analysts and observers have been waiting for and 2016 also brought with it another milestone: for the first time, mobile ads produced more revenue than desktop ads.</p> <p>All told, digital ad revenue in the US hit a record $72.5bn last year, up from $59.6bn in 2015. Mobile ads were responsible for $36.6bn of that, a massive 77% year-over-year gain.</p> <p>A good portion of mobile's gains were due to the growing popularity of mobile video ads. Spend on those skyrocketed by 145% year-over-year to reach $4.2bn, which helped fuel a 53% year-over-year jump in digital video ad spend overall. That figure now stands at $9.1bn.</p> <p>Spend on social ads, which in recent years have become a staple of many advertisers' digital campaigns, grew 50% to $16.3bn. Even search managed to produce a 19% gain to reach $35bn in spend.</p> <p>According to the IAB, mobile's ascendency across all digital channels is not surprising. "This increasing commitment [to mobile] is a reflection of brands’ ongoing marketing shift from 'mobile-first' to 'mobile-only' in order to keep pace with today's on-the-go consumers," IAB president and CEO Randall Rothenberg stated. </p> <p>"In a mobile world, it is no surprise that mobile ad revenues now take more than half of the digital market share," IAB EVP and CMO David Doty added.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5773/iabchart.png" alt="" width="705" height="488"></p> <h3>The rich get richer</h3> <p>While digital's eclipsing of television in terms of ad spend is no doubt good news for the digital economy generally, not everybody is benefiting equally from the growth of digital ad spend. By most estimates, two companies, Google and Facebook, have realized the vast majority of ad revenue growth, leading some to label the two companies a duopoly.</p> <p>According to Digital Content Next's Jason Kint, Google and Facebook took 89% of the growth last year. Brian Wieser of Pivotal Research <a href="http://fortune.com/2017/04/26/google-facebook-digital-ads/">estimates</a> that amazingly the two companies were the beneficiaries of close to 100% of the growth.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p lang="en" dir="ltr">so <a href="https://twitter.com/iab">@IAB</a> just dropped 2016 <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/s?src=hash">#s</a>. Duopoly in full force -&gt; takes 89% of growth. "Everyone Else" loses more share courtesy of Facebook. <a href="https://twitter.com/DCNorg">@dcnorg</a> <a href="https://t.co/urglxDrooM">pic.twitter.com/urglxDrooM</a></p> — Jason Kint (@jason_kint) <a href="https://twitter.com/jason_kint/status/857255714678603777">April 26, 2017</a> </blockquote> <p>The IAB disputes such claims. "73% of revenues in Q4 came from the top 10 digital companies, but they only contributed 69% of the growth," the IAB's Doty <a href="http://adage.com/article/digital/digital-ad-revenue-surpasses-tv-desktop-iab/308808/">told AdAge</a>. "That means 31% of the growth came from companies outside the top 10." He also stated that some estimates count revenue outside of the US and don't account for traffic acquisition costs.</p> <p>But even if the estimates of how much Google and Facebook are taking as the digital ad spend pie grows are slightly exaggerated, it's clear from the companies' <a href="https://abc.xyz/investor/news/earnings/2016/Q4_alphabet_earnings/">financial</a> <a href="https://investor.fb.com/investor-news/press-release-details/2017/facebook-Reports-Fourth-Quarter-and-Full-Year-2016-Results/default.aspx">reports</a> that advertisers are funnelling increasingly large sums of money to the two internet giants.</p> <p>At the same time, other notable players, like Twitter, are losing. The still-popular microblogging platform has finally managed to grow its monthly users by a meaningful amount, but despite user growth Twitter <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/apr/26/twitter-revenues-fall-first-quarter-results-advertising">just reported its first quarterly revenue decline</a> and acknowledged that it is facing "revenue headwinds."</p> <p>While Google and Facebook face some challenges of their own, including <a href="https://digiday.com/uk/youtube-ad-boycott-concisely-explained/">an advertiser boycott</a> and <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/apr/26/facebook-must-step-up-fake-news-fight-before-uk-election-urges-mp">criticism over fake news</a>, every indication is that the two companies, official duopoly or not, will continue to dominate internet advertising. Whether that's ultimately a good or bad thing for digital ad economy remains to be seen.</p> <p><strong><em>For more digital marketing and ecommerce data, download the <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/internet-statistics-compendium/">Econsultancy Internet Statistics Compendium</a>.</em></strong></p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69008 2017-04-20T01:01:00+01:00 2017-04-20T01:01:00+01:00 Which channels do marketers really use? Jeff Rajeck <p>Part of what makes marketing interesting is that the discipline is constantly evolving. Hardly a week goes by without some major change to a consumer service or a new way to use a platform to engage with our audiences.</p> <p>Yet sometimes the pace of change can be overwhelming. It's often difficult to both keep up with the latest innovations and stay on top of daily marketing tasks.</p> <p>To find out just how necessary it is for marketers to be familiar with the latest platforms, <strong>we surveyed over 200 marketers in Australia and New Zealand about the channels they use for their marketing efforts</strong>. Below are some of the surprising findings along with some commentary.</p> <p>For more data from the survey please refer to the Econsultancy report, <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/cross-channel-marketing-in-australia-and-new-zealand">Cross-Channel Marketing in ANZ</a>, produced in association with IBM Marketing Cloud.</p> <h3>1. Conventional digital channels still rule</h3> <p>First off, the survey results make it clear that <strong>marketers are most frequently using familiar digital touchpoints for their marketing efforts</strong>. Social media, email, and SEO (natural search) are all used by more than eight in ten marketers (87%, 87%, 81% respectively).</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5487/top__5_channels.png" alt="" width="800" height="514"></p> <p>One reason these channels are the most popular is because <strong>companies tend to use channels which are well-understood and easy to integrate into overall marketing activity.</strong></p> <p>The conventional channels are also where the brands' customers are spending their time.   </p> <ul> <li> <strong>Email</strong>: According to the <a href="http://www.radicati.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Email-Statistics-Report-2015-2019-Executive-Summary.pdf">Radicati group</a>, more than 2.5bn people use email every month.  </li> <li> <strong>Social</strong>: The largest global social network, Facebook, <a href="http://money.cnn.com/2017/02/01/technology/facebook-earnings/">is now approaching 2bn monthly active users (MAUs)</a>.</li> <li> <strong>Search</strong>: Google has announced that its search platform has <a href="http://www.theverge.com/2016/2/1/10889492/gmail-1-billion-google-alphabet">at least 1bn MAUs</a>.</li> </ul> <p>When the usage of these platforms is compared to, say, Snapchat, we can easily see why marketers are so much more likely to use them.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5486/1.png" alt="" width="800" height="371"></p> <h3>2. Offline touchpoints are still relied upon by many brands</h3> <p>A somewhat surprising result from the survey is that <strong>offline touchpoints are still a significant part of the marketing mix.</strong> While point-of-sale and call centres are only used by around one in three companies (34% and 31% respectively), traditional media and events are used by significantly more (47%, 71% respectively).</p> <p>The popularity of offline touchpoints makes a bit more sense when data from <a href="https://www.consumerbarometer.com">recent research from Google</a> is considered.</p> <p>Google recently surveyed consumers in Australia and New Zealand and reported that only <strong>just over half of consumers (58% Australia, 53% New Zealand) used an online channel to research or purchase a product.</strong></p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5489/google1.png" alt="" width="800" height="348"></p> <p>So to reach customers where they are likely to research their products and buy them, marketers must still operate offline to a significant extent.</p> <h3>3. Mobile is not as popular as you might think</h3> <p>Another interesting survey result is that mobile touchpoints are less popular in Australia and New Zealand than offline channels.</p> <p>Though the mobile web is used by nearly half (49%) of client-side respondents, mobile messaging, mobile apps, messaging apps and mobile push notifications are each only part of less than one in four companies' marketing efforts (23%, 22%, 10%, 7%, respectively).</p> <p>This apparent lack of enthusiasm for mobile is even more confusing considering the relatively high penetration of smartphones in the region. More than <a href="https://www.statista.com/statistics/257041/smartphone-user-penetration-in-australia/">80% in Australia</a> and <a href="http://www.researchnz.com/pdf/special%20reports/research%20new%20zealand%20special%20report%20-%20use%20of%20smartphones.pdf">70%  in New Zealand</a> use mobile devices with internet connectivity.</p> <p>But going back to Google's Consumer Barometer data offers a reasonable explanation. When asked where in the buying cycle did people use a smartphone, <strong>fewer than 50% use a smartphone for anything at all in the buying cycle and only around 10% use a smartphone for buying.</strong></p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5490/google2.png" alt="" width="800" height="185"></p> <p>So while there is a lot of advice out there about how brands should 'embrace' mobile and aim to be 'mobile-first', <strong>i</strong><strong>t seems that consumers are not quite there yet with mobile. </strong></p> <h3>4. Messaging apps hardly appear on brands' radars</h3> <p>From our data, it seems that the biggest chasm between conventional wisdom and reality concerns messaging apps. If you read the tech press, you'd be forgiven for thinking that messaging apps dominated our culture and each change to these apps affects millions of lives. Marketers, one might think, should be flocking to them in droves.</p> <p>While there is some chance that this is <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68429-six-things-marketers-should-know-about-social-media-in-asia-pacific/">true in China</a>, <strong>marketers in Australia and New Zealand indicated that messaging apps are not popular channels for marketing in the region.</strong> A mere 10% of client-side marketers use messaging apps and only 15% of agency marketers said the same.</p> <p>From other data, it's clear that the problem with messaging apps isn't consumer interest. <a href="http://www.onmsg.com.au/">According to messaging app agency On Message</a>, Australia will have over 11m messaging app users in 2017 and messaging apps are the primary form of contact for more than half (54%) of 15-19 year olds in the country.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5491/On_Message.png" alt="" width="800" height="234"></p> <p>Instead, it is much more likely that <strong>messaging apps are still simply too difficult to use for marketing.</strong> Besides some basic self-service ads on Facebook Messenger, engaging with messaging users requires dedicated resource to build contact lists, 'man' the consumer outreach or customer service desk, and build bots to handle incoming traffic.</p> <p>This is not to say that marketing via messaging apps will never happen, but rather that it is likely that it will be some time before most brands have to worry about engaging their customers on these platforms.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68947 2017-04-13T10:27:40+01:00 2017-04-13T10:27:40+01:00 Automating SEO: An introduction to Python Ben Davis <p>At a conference where artificial intelligence and voice search seemed to be the topics on everyone's lips, I found Valentinova's talk refreshing in its advocacy of just getting on and setting up some simple (ish) alerts to make your workflow more manageable. </p> <h4>What is Python?</h4> <p>Python is a very popular open-source computer programming language, supported by a large community of programmers. It has been used, amongst many other things, in natural language processing and as the main user language for the Raspberry Pi.</p> <p>Python is one of the chief languages for scripts, but if, like me, you've only ever messed about with HTML and CSS, you can take heart from Python's philosophy as described in the Zen of Python:</p> <ul> <li>Beautiful is better than ugly</li> <li>Explicit is better than implicit</li> <li>Simple is better than complex</li> <li>Complex is better than complicated</li> <li>Readability counts </li> </ul> <h4>What use is Python for the typical SEO?</h4> <p>You may already use third-party software such as Screaming Frog, and Valentinova posed the question, "Isn’t that enough?" Well, she says, not always. Scripts allow the SEO to be proactive, not reactive, receiving notifications at any time.</p> <p>Python scripts can be used to automate repetitive but necessary tasks. You might use them to compare canonical URLs or to look for changes in indexation. Or alternatively you may want to scrape competitor pages and keep an eye on changes to their products and pricing.</p> <p>Similarly, you could use Python to check on your own data, such as headings and structured data. Valentinova gave one example, citing instances where multiple content editors are making changes to data on key product pages. In this scenario, the SEO may not receive notifications to make them aware of these changes. If the changes aren't communicated to the SEO team, it could impact rankings, and therefore a script can be used to provide a timely alert. </p> <p>The Python script parses HTML and compares current value with expected values, sending an email alert that highlights any discrepancies. This type of activity could be taken further and used to send a regular update to your manager or stakeholder.</p> <h4>Worried this might be too technical?</h4> <p>Valentinova points out that you don’t need to use code on a daily basis, you simply have to set up some of these scripts and then sit back and enjoy the benefits of proactive management.</p> <p>There's a <a href="http://www.alfianita.me/python-for-seo-checks-meta-data/">detailed methodology on Valentinova's blog</a> (including a script download), guiding you through step-by-step to run an example script that checks for metadata changes. It breaks down simply as follows:</p> <ul> <li>Download and install Python.</li> <li>Download Valentinova's example metadata script.</li> <li>Create an .xlsx input file which is simply a list of URLs and the page title and meta description you expect to see.</li> <li>Add your email address and login details and the input file name to the config file.</li> <li>Make sure your Gmail account will allow the script to access it (turn 'less secure apps' on).</li> <li>Use command line to download the necessary Python libraries (these allow for certain functionality, such as sending emails).</li> <li>Run the script.</li> </ul> <p>After you've got to grips with this example, Valentinova recommends a number of other resources, including the creative commons manual <a href="https://automatetheboringstuff.com/">Automate the Boring Stuff with Python</a> and urllib2, a Python module that can be used to fetch URLs.</p> <h4>Spend time finding the solution not the problem</h4> <p>As Valentinova infectiously pointed out, there's lots you can do with Python and it doesn't have to be a daunting experiment. Ultimately, once you've mastered a few alerts, you can reduce the manual checks you have to do, and spend more time finding the solution rather than the problem.</p> <p>In the words of Valentinova, "automation is not a silver bullet, but SEO is a race" - Python is simply a way of getting a headstart.</p> <p><em>For more on this topic, check out these Econsultancy resources:</em></p> <ul> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/seo-best-practice-guide/"><em>Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Best Practice Guide</em></a></li> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/courses/topics/search-marketing/"><em>Search Marketing Training</em></a></li> </ul> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68984 2017-04-11T10:00:00+01:00 2017-04-11T10:00:00+01:00 How visual search is helping ecommerce brands Nikki Gilliland <p>I attended Brighton SEO last week, where Purma Virji from Microsoft gave a talk all about this topic. </p> <p>So, what exactly is visual search, and more specifically, how is it changing the way we buy online? With inspiration from Purma’s talk, here’s a bit of elaboration on the subject along with a few brand examples.</p> <h3>Visual search + artificial intelligence</h3> <p>Visual search works by comparing the pixels in imagery to identify and return results that are similar. </p> <p>So, instead of typing in a keyword such as ‘black mini dress’ - which will return thousands of general results – users can upload an image to help narrow it down to something much more specific.</p> <p>This technology is not brand new – you might recall Google Goggles being launched way back in 2010. Zappos also introduced a way to visually navigate through its vast shoe collection in 2009.</p> <p>More recently, however, advancements in artificial intelligence have meant that visual search is becoming much slicker, with the ability to compute more data at a much quicker rate. Purma coined the term ‘visual intelligence’ to describe this rapidly improving technology. In 2016, Bing added visual search to its app.</p> <h3>What are the benefits for ecommerce brands?</h3> <h4>Social discovery</h4> <p>According to research by Accenture, social media will become the preferred shopping channel for <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68554-how-retailers-are-targeting-generation-z/" target="_blank">Generation Z</a>, with <a href="https://newsroom.accenture.com/news/generation-z-to-switch-the-majority-of-purchases-to-retailers-that-provide-the-newest-digital-tools-and-channels-accenture-research-reveals.htm" target="_blank">69% of young consumers</a> interested in purchasing directly through social networks.</p> <p>Visual search could offer a breakthrough for social sales. Pinterest’s Lens feature allows consumers to search, discover and shop even more products based on a single image. In turn, this presents a greater opportunity for ecommerce brands looking to drive purchases from the platform.</p> <h4>Capturing the spearfisher </h4> <p>Visual search is a particularly great tool for shoppers who are looking for a specific item – also known as ‘spearfishers’. This is because it reduces the amount of steps the user would otherwise have to go through, such as typing in a keyword or scrolling through results. Instead, the desired product is immediately brought to the shopper’s attention.</p> <p>In turn, visual search could also help to reduce basket abandonment, eliminating the tedious processes that usually frustrate and annoy users.</p> <h4>Cross-selling and inspiration</h4> <p>Another benefit of visual search is that it can be a great cross-selling tool. If a website does not have a desired product in stock, it is able to show similar or related items that might still prompt a purchase. Moreover, it can also help consumers to imagine how other products might complement it. For instance, someone might search for a red dress, but if they see an image of a woman wearing a red dress <em>and</em> a bag that completes the entire look – they might be inclined to buy more than originally intended. </p> <p>Another example is home décor, with consumers commonly using <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68765-why-brands-should-be-making-more-use-of-pinterest/" target="_blank">Pinterest</a> to visualise or plan an entire room rather than just search and buy a single item.</p> <h3>Ecommerce brands using visual search </h3> <p>So, how are brands using the technology? Here are just a few examples to appear so far.</p> <h4>Amazon</h4> <p>Amazon introduced visual search into its main iOS app in 2014 (and with the Firefly app on the ill-fated Fire phone), giving users the option to search using their smartphone camera. It is mainly designed to capture the ‘showrooming’ shopper – someone who is visiting a physical store but checking comparison prices online.</p> <p>While it doesn't recognise every single item (especially if unboxed), reviews suggest that it's particularly good for recognising images like DVDs or records.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5351/Amazon.JPG" alt="" width="472" height="465"></p> <h4>Target</h4> <p>Target’s ‘In a Snap’ app also launched back in 2014, allowing users to shop for items from the pages of magazines and printed ads - removing the need to manually search for the product online.</p> <p>While this version doesn’t appear to be available anymore, Target’s main app also allows shoppers to scan barcodes in-store to view more information like reviews and ratings. Again, this speeds up the path to purchase, taking away the need to ask for further assistance from in-store employees.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5354/Target.JPG" alt="" width="600" height="315"></p> <h4>Neiman Marcus</h4> <p>Alongside fellow US retailer, Macy's, Neiman Marcus has increased its focus on visual search technology in recent years. Its app now allows users to upload photos to find similar styles to buy on the website.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5353/Neiman_Marcus.JPG" alt="" width="600" height="298"></p> <p>This taps into real-time demand, with consumers able to search and buy an item they like on-the-spot, whether it’s an outfit on a celebrity or someone passing by in the street. Camera-discretion is advised.</p> <p><em><strong>Now read:</strong></em></p> <ul> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68777-10-uses-of-computer-vision-in-marketing-customer-experience/">10 uses of computer vision in marketing and customer experience</a></li> <li><a href="https://www.econsultancy.com/blog/68919-how-visual-social-listening-is-helping-fmcg-and-beyond/">How visual listening is helping FMCG brands and beyond</a></li> </ul> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68937 2017-03-24T15:05:08+00:00 2017-03-24T15:05:08+00:00 Stories from SXSW 2017: ad blocking, content distribution, and Joe Biden Nick Hammond <p>These looked at the areas of <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67076-the-rise-and-rise-of-ad-blockers-stats/">ad blocking</a>, <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/the-rise-of-influencers/">influencer marketing</a>, social video, <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66752-10-steps-to-better-content-distribution/">content distribution</a>, and the thoughts of Joe Biden, former Vice-President of the USA.</p> <p><strong><a href="http://schedule.sxsw.com/2017/events/PP67501">Ending The Ad Blocking Wars</a></strong></p> <p>The panel for this session included representatives from Brave Software, The New York Times, Digital Context Next and The Christian Science Monitor. They considered whether publishers can improve the ad experience to persuade readers to turn off blockers? Or will add blockers bring about the end of the free web?</p> <p>As you may imagine there was no simple solution to this conundrum. The two biggest players in the digital space (you know who they are) are not affected by ad blocking and therefore are not bothered by its effects. </p> <p>Although ad blocking is plateauing (<a href="http://www.campaignlive.co.uk/article/uk-ad-blocking-levels-stabilise-22/1425085?bulletin=campaign_breakfast_briefing&amp;utm_medium=EMAIL&amp;utm_campaign=eNews%20Bulletin&amp;utm_source=20170223&amp;utm_content=www_campaignlive_co_uk_ar_6">at least in the UK</a>), the real squeeze is on smaller publishers, the little guys getting caught in the middle. These organisations are caught in an imperfect storm, made up of greater reliance on ad revenues and lacking the engineering investment levels and knowledge to respond to the threat.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0008/5034/adblock-blog-flyer.png" alt="" width="470" height="163"></p> <p>As a result of this, there is a real possibility of local, smaller publishers, starting to disappear. This could create a regional ‘news desert’ as even more people seek their news from social media. Currently 44% of Americans use Facebook as a news source and the number is rising. </p> <p>There was also a discussion around different types of ad blockers. Much of the debate tends to be around the big players, such as AdBlock which has 200m downloads; but there are other providers with different business models. <a href="https://brave.com">Brave Software</a> (represented on the panel) doesn’t just remove ads – it replaces them with new ads and splits the revenue between publishers, users, network partners and the company itself.</p> <p>Brendan Eich from Brave suggested that this software is the first ‘post-bad’ ad blocking solution. Still early days for this, 'softer' ad blocking model and it will be interesting to see how it plays out.</p> <p>Predictably, content was identified as a way to get around this challenge. The NYT emphasized the importance of engaging content – ‘pull instead of push’ – and advised strongly against using technology to push advertising onto consumers.</p> <p>Sponsored ‘native’ content is not necessarily the panacea to solve this problem, as publishers often tag creative to acquire more data; these are then identified as ads and therefore blocked. </p> <p>Ad fraud was a serious related issue discussed, with an estimated 23% of global video traffic being served to robots. </p> <p><strong><a href="http://schedule.sxsw.com/2017/events/PP65228">The Hundred Thousand Dollar Snap(chat)</a></strong></p> <p>The panel for this one was ShopStyle and Neiman Marcus, who considered the opportunities and challenges arising from social commerce, as well as the <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/the-rise-of-influencers/">growing importance of influencers</a>, particularly within retail.</p> <p>The background to this is the change in consumers’ consumption of media and the importance of the mobile channel. 30% of all time online is spent on social and 60% of that is on mobile.  </p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/5033/snapchat_logo.jpg" alt="" width="470" height="243"></p> <p>As is often not the case, influencer activity should be approached in the same manner as any other communications campaign. It is not safe to assume that a single endorsement – ‘one and done’ – will do the trick. An effective frequency of ‘seven’, was mentioned as appropriate to the fashion retail sector. As with other channels, planning should be considered over an extended activity period, not as a series of one-offs. </p> <p>In addition, activity should not undermine influencers connections with their followers, and these retail influencers can be initially incentivised through special deals to offer to their followers. </p> <p>An interesting analogy compared the purchasing process for expensive items, such as for a Chanel bag, to the dating process; where buyers return to the store to view and interact with the product over time. In instances like these, iterative influencer messages can be effective in moving an individual closer to purchase.</p> <p>Strategies need to be different across separate social channels. Facebook is all about advertising, whilst Instagram benefits from a more organic approach. Snapchat is the new kid on the block and the hardest to measure. </p> <p>Above all, brands need to work out when to act as themselves, or through influencers in the social space. What are the key KPIs, how to measure these and how to ensure valuable content lives effectively beyond social channels? </p> <p><strong><a href="http://schedule.sxsw.com/2017/events/PP97038">Social Video and The Future of Consumption</a></strong></p> <p>Representatives from Vox Media, Vice Media and the New York Times joined this panel to discuss how social media is impacting video journalism. This session made very clear that Facebook is now the platform for video consumption. </p> <p>The NYT identified Facebook as ‘the stage’, and the essential channel for engagement and getting time with its audience. A major focus for NYT is around <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67808-10-pioneering-examples-of-brands-using-facebook-live/">Facebook Live</a>, which is being used to provide real-time coverage of news events. They are even looking at using this channel to create crowd-sourced investigations, a kind of mass citizen journalism.</p> <p>The upside of the live video phenomenon is that brands have an opportunity to powerfully engage with a massive audience, using current, exciting and rapidly changing content. </p> <p><iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fnytimes%2Fvideos%2F10151119750979999%2F&amp;show_text=1&amp;width=560" width="560" height="476"></iframe></p> <p>The downside of live unedited content, is a concern around quality and the loss of editorial perspective. As a result, insightful user comments can be important to create context; but recognising this may not always be the case, Vice has indicated that all user comments are monitored in real-time.</p> <p>More controversially, the <a href="https://tytnetwork.com">The Young Turks</a> news channel is allowing users to pay to have their comments listed. Although the rise in importance of user comments can be seen as a democratic trend, allowing a financial bias on inputs would seem rather less altruistic. </p> <p>Another concern is that a publisher brand cannot easily prevent incorrect stories or unsuitable content being viewed. They can provide a retraction or an alternative perspective later on; but this may be seen by many fewer people. A good example of this would be the <a href="http://money.cnn.com/2016/06/10/technology/hillary-clinton-google-search-results/">SourceFed Hilary Clinton conspiracy theory</a>. </p> <p>For me, this progression towards an ‘always-on’ society is worryingly redolent of Dave Eggers' book, and now film, <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QCOXARv6J9k">The Circle.</a></p> <p>In any event, the benchmark for how quality video is defined is changing rapidly as we transition from a ‘TV-centric’ to ‘mobile video-centric’ world. In the digital space, where everyone with a phone is a director, quality is now less about production values and more about the story, speed and authenticity. </p> <p>Separate approaches to video content are needed across different channels. For example on Facebook a ‘raw’ approach is more appropriate and authentic. <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67977-four-examples-of-brands-using-an-episodic-content-marketing-strategy/">Episodic content</a> on Snapchat is popular, with bitesize ‘episodes’ being used to tell a story in a manner entirely fitting to the medium. </p> <p>With live video, there is also a greater ethical onus on brands to decide what they will show and what they will not. A good example of content that could be considered to be on this demarcation line is <a href="http://mashable.com/2016/10/21/snapchat-breaking-news/#i0SLEFuJPsql">Snapchat’s coverage of the conflict in Mosul</a>.</p> <p><strong><a href="http://schedule.sxsw.com/2017/events/PP65066">Content Distribution Platforms – Friends or Foes?</a></strong></p> <p>The panel for this session included The Economist, Conde Nast International, The Young Turks and ABC News. They looked at how<em> </em>publishers are becoming more reliant than ever on content distribution platforms such as Facebook and Snapchat to reach new audiences. </p> <p>A good starting point for this session was mention of Emily Bell’s 2016 article <a href="http://www.cjr.org/analysis/facebook_and_media.php">Facebook Is Eating The World</a>.</p> <p>Facebook is the key platform under consideration here, as it increasingly becomes the place where online content is consumed. It’s importance and control over brand content has increased with the rise of <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67544-facebook-to-open-up-instant-articles-what-publishers-need-to-know/">Instant Articles</a>, as opposed to publisher feeds, keeping traffic within the Facebook ecosystem. As an aside, Snapchat was seen to be on the rise but not currently a viable global option. </p> <p>With this is in mind, the panel considered that Facebook was both a friend and a foe. It was seen to be a friend in terms of providing a broad distribution platform and a foe with regards to its control over advertising revenues. </p> <p>According to Steve Oh of The Young Turks, the key to content success with Facebook is threefold:</p> <ul> <li>Creating regular, relevant content</li> <li>Swift use of new product features released</li> <li>Focus on building an audience </li> </ul> <p>The Economist’s approach is to focus on bite size content that lures customers towards subscription, with news topics including ‘on this day’ and ‘famous quotes’. A specific approach is with ‘Vimages’, using Facebook <a href="http://www.niemanlab.org/2016/09/with-vimages-the-economist-is-using-facebook-to-make-low-budget-video-versions-of-its-stories/">to re-package magazine stories into video form</a>.</p> <p>One of the questions in the session, was how to keep up with the rapid changes at Facebook and the best ways to share content. There was no clear answer, but suggestions included looking for Newsroom tips, and Google Alerts pertaining to Facebook algorithms. </p> <p><a href="http://schedule.sxsw.com/2017/events/PP61899"><strong>Art + Science: Videos That Inform, Inspire &amp; Scale</strong></a></p> <p>Finally, PopSugar's David Grant discussed what brand marketers need to know about creating video that engages their target audience at scale while delivering on brand KPIs. The session sought to explain the success of PopSugar in targeting millennial women.</p> <p>The starting point for the brand's success is to understand, as does Snapchat, the increasing cultural relevance of the camera (<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/08/technology/snap-makes-a-bet-on-the-cultural-supremacy-of-the-camera.html?_r=0">as identified in this NYT article</a>) and that humans naturally gravitate towards content that is made up of <a href="http://www.kvibe.com/2015/03/17/why-we-as-humans-gravitate-towards-video/">sight, sound and motion.</a></p> <p>PopSugar creates videos that inform, and are created from a combined perspective drawn from its brand, brand partners and their data. PopSugar has created its own tool, <a href="http://www.adweek.com/digital/how-popsugars-new-tool-will-help-you-stay-ahead-social-media-trends-174640/">Trend Rank</a>, to help it identify areas of content focus, supply ‘velocity data predicting’ and find trends ahead of time.</p> <p>Grant observed that, with video, companies typically have only one second to make an impact, so selected content has only that time to have an effect. </p> <p>Some examples of PopSugar's recent successful native content campaigns are: </p> <ul> <li>Doubletree by Hilton: ‘Find Your Happy’ campaign. Building on the fact that Hilton always leaves a cookie for its guests, PopSugar a campaign focusing on wider acts <a href="https://www.popsugar.com/smart-living/Random-Acts-Kindness-You-Can-Do-Every-Day-40742607">of kindness and generosity</a>.</li> <li>Garner Shampoo: ‘Photo Ready Mums’. Based on the insight that mums often take pictures of the family, <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UzaKYqPYKyo">but regret that they are not in the pictures themselves;</a> this campaign shows how mums can be in the photos, and look great, with the help of Garner. </li> </ul> <p><strong>Joe Biden</strong></p> <p>And finally, some lessons from the keynote speech of SXSW 2017 (and a totally inspiring moment) from Joe Biden, former Vice-President of The United States. </p> <p>Perhaps more recently famous for his (unwitting) appearance in <a href="http://www.boredpanda.com/funny-barack-obama-joe-biden-tweets/">a sequence of memes with Barack Obama</a>, Joe Biden appeared on stage in Austin to raise awareness and seek support for his <a href="http://www.cnbc.com/2017/01/09/biden-outlines-steps-to-pursue-post-obama-cancer-moonshot.html">cancer Moon-shot agenda</a>.</p> <p>He discussed the progress made during Obama's presidency by the call for innovative solutions to tackle the barriers that prevent faster gains in ending cancer; and described how he plans to remain in the fight. </p> <p>This talk has a wider relevance for business because, as Joe Biden put it, organisations involved in the cancer treatment process had become ‘siloed by design’ and their ability to face the growing threat of this disease was limited by this lack of co-operation.</p> <p>One of these silo-related issues was the low number of patients involved in clinical trials (only 4/100) as there was no system for companies to match the correct trial drugs to the correct patients and vice versa. In addition a database of patient learnings was not being effectively shared between hospitals.</p> <p>Biden’s efforts to break down the barriers in the cancer treatment process are a lesson to organisations who may have similar silo problems. </p> <p>Organisations in this process have started to collaborate and other bodies have become involved in the fight. NASA is adding information regarding the impact of radiation on astronauts, and Amazon has provided free cloud data storage for the project.  </p> <p>There is also focus on clear KPIs and where the biggest return on investment can be derived. As Biden said, of any process "where everything is treated as equally important, then nothing is considered important."</p> <p>The key to the project’s increasing success (apart from the obvious profile of the promoter) is the open sharing of information, offering clear encouragement and, of course, giving hope.</p> <p>Inspiring stuff and a lesson to all businesses interested in breaking down silos and identifying priorities.</p>