From the very start, Click Here has always been involved in “social media”; however, in this case that means participating in local education and networking organizations within the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. Local organizations, such as DFWIMA, offer a vast amount of resources and educational opportunities of which Click Here takes full advantage to continually better itself as a premier digital agency. Just as Click Here pushes the envelope when it comes to digital projects, its employees push themselves to always be on top of the latest trends, digital education and strategies. Networking forums also offer exciting opportunities for Click Here to stay on top of both the online and offline advertising world as they continue to meld as we advance through “the twenty-tens.”
Click Here employees participate in a variety of networking and digital organizations throughout North Texas, and a few of the main organizations are outlined below via excerpts from their websites. While each of these organizations has a specific target and message, Click Here feels that constant presence and participation within these organizations is key to continue as a premier agency.
DFW Interactive Marketing Association
The DFW Interactive Marketing Association is a forum for interactive professionals, businesses and educators in the Metroplex dedicated to sharing ideas, information and best practices that will help define and develop the growing interactive marketing industry and its disciplines.
Dallas/Fort Worth Chapter of the American Marketing Association
The mission of the Dallas/Fort Worth Chapter of the American Marketing Association is to educate, support and enhance the performance of its members and marketing professionals in the DFW Metroplex. Members come first; we strive to support them. We exist to serve their needs by delivering an interactive environment built on top-notch educational content, professional development and networking opportunities.
DFWAMA is committed to leading the long-term development and growth of the Dallas/Fort Worth marketing community through improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the chapter, resulting in a positive impact on the bottom line. We do our utmost to improve the member experience and continually increase awareness of the DFW AMA.
Dallas Ad League
Founded in 1908, the Dallas Ad League, rebranded AAF Dallas, is more than 900 members strong and is affiliated with the Tenth District of the American Advertising Federation, part of AAF’s national network of more than 200 ad clubs and 40,000 professionals.
AAF Dallas strives to elevate the success of the advertising community through innovation, creative excellence, collaboration, professional development, education and philanthropic endeavors.
Digital Dallas was created to bring together the digital minds of Dallas and the greater DFW area to network, showcase local talent, educate and facilitate idea exchange. Brought to you by the creators of Digital DUMBO, the professional digital hub of New York City.
The DFW Metroplex has the second-largest concentration of brand headquarters in the nation behind New York. We have a gold mine of digital talent here that those brands and the nation need to know about.
Refresh Dallas is a community of designers and developers working to refresh the creative, technical and professional aspects of new media endeavors in the Dallas area. Do you feel like the Web needs a new look? Interested in the latest web technologies? Care about design, but feel it must be usable? Then you’ve come to the right place.
While the above list contains some of the premier organizations in the DFW area, it is not a complete list in terms of what the employees of Click Here involve themselves with on a weekly basis. Click Here knows the education process never stops in order to produce best-in-class work day in and day out.
It’s a sad note, and a testament to his brilliance, that at 32,000 feet on a Wednesday night on Flight AA 654, I pop open my MacBook Pro, hop online and read of the passing of Steve Jobs. Without his vision, persistence and dedication to end users, it’s highly doubtful we all would enjoy the incredible technology we so easily take for granted. Like accessing the Internet at 550 mph using an amazingly brilliant device like my “Mac.”
It was at the NeXTWorld Expo in San Francisco on January 23, 1992, that I had the fortunate chance to meet and talk with Jobs. It was the very early period of his second computer company start-up – NeXT Computers – and this was the first developer conference for the strange new platform. I had been invited to attend the conference as a company ambassador from the old Bozell, Jacobs, Kenyon and Eckhart agency. For some crazy reason, our CIO at the time thought we should equip the entire agency with NeXT computers. Just imagine the culture shock within the typing pool, let alone an entire floor of creative types wondering what the heck they were going to do with these funky black square boxes that had no floppy drives and would only use data CDs.
During a brief period between conference sessions, Jobs eagerly accepted numerous questions from a number of early evangelists. He deftly handled every query with a sincere but pointed manner and skillfully weaved in key selling points vs. Sun “this” and Microsoft “that.” I had simply turned a corner on the way to the upcoming session and suddenly was within three feet of the man. As he worked the group, I quickly realized the gravity of the moment and struggled to come up with some kind of semi-intelligent question. Ensuring that he left no question unanswered, his face turned to me and at that moment I immediately realized this was no salesman hawking hardware or a computer geek justifying why his box is better than all the rest. It was the sense of intense, burning, myopically directed focus that completely overwhelmed me. After babbling about possible plans for interconnectivity of the mail app to other platforms, Jobs locked into the point and effortlessly delivered the three key points on why the superior features of NeXT mail would mean other platforms needed to catch up with NeXT first, then we’ll talk about bridging to other programs. My question was quite frankly a minor detail, but it was the way he instantly laser-focused his mind that left an indelible impression with me. From that moment on, I had no doubt there was no problem he could not solve, no challenge he could not address, no vision he could not achieve. And that’s not because of his incredible intellect, but because of his ability to minutely focus.
I’ve taken that little moment in time and shared the sense of what I call “laser focus” with friends, colleagues and even my kids. It’s a talent that we all have to learn and sometimes relearn in this hyperkinetic new media world where every angle and moment of our day demands our attention.
Yes, I’m one of millions who love their iPhones, iPads, Macs and on and on and on. But it’s the ability to “laser focus” that’s the best gadget I’ll savor most from Steve.
Our thoughts and prayers to his family and friends.
When it comes to innovation in the digital space, it’s no secret that Google is the one to watch. This past week was the annual Google I/O conference where they revealed their latest and greatest for 2011. Here is a quick recap of the announcement highlights and what to expect to hear more about in the coming year from the interactive giant.
A Unified Mobile Delight
A good portion of the announcements revolved around the growth and success of Google’s Android mobile platform – to date there are over 100 million activated devices and 200,000 apps in the Android Marketplace with over 4.5 billion downloads. Currently, there are separate operating systems for tablets (Honeycomb) and smartphones (Android). Google I/O 2011 not only set the stage for updates, but also the introduction of the next phase – a unified mobile operating system, currently nicknamed Ice Cream Sandwich. Launching in Q4 2011, the single operating system will work across devices, bringing the advanced features currently available on their tablets to their smartphones.
Google Entertains Us
In 2011, Google is getting into the movie and music spaces with two important initiatives:
- Google Movies is now providing rentals to the masses via both YouTube and the Android Marketplace. YouTube now offers 3,000 titles for rent, and now Google Movies for Android will bring rentals to tablets and smartphones for $1.99.
- Google Music is a cloud-based storage and streaming system that will store up to 20,000 songs and provide users the access to their music library from any connected device. It will compete with Amazon’s new cloud player and is currently in an invitation-only beta stage.
Android Interacts with Smart Homes
Google is also pioneering an initiative that will allow for automated home control from Android devices. Android@Home is a new framework for developers to create apps that interface with our homes, such as lighting, appliances, home theaters, etc. There are already partnerships in the works, so expect to see these types of apps by the end of the year.
New Devices and New Pricing Models
As the tablet revolution ensues, Google brings another option to the table with the Chromebook. The laptop-style device is Internet-only capable and allows users to always have access to their personal cloud. What’s interesting is the pricing models Google has set forth. The new devices can be purchased, starting at a competitive price of $350, but Google is also initiating some subscription models. To position Chromebooks to niche markets, Google education editions can be rented to students for a $20 monthly subscription and business editions will start at $28/month.
Google is always pushing innovation, and I’m sure these newly announced highlights are just the tip of the iceberg. Be prepared to adapt as new platforms and digital opportunities come our way.
When I look at a book in the store, I think about it in terms of what I’m going to learn and be able to share after reading it. After all, reading a book is an investment of time you’ll never get back, so I always try to make sure I’m looking for the best return. In the hope of jump-starting your reading list, here are three books that are well worth the investment – both in buying the book and taking the time to read it.
Drive by Daniel Pink
Drive is a great, easy-to-read book about what motivates people. If you’re in a leadership position at your company, this is a good look at how to get the best out of the people with whom you work. If you’re in the advertising industry, I thought it was interesting to think of Pink’s conclusions in terms of how to motivate consumers to develop a relationship with a brand or purchase a product.
Pink delves into a deep discussion of motivation and which factors intrinsically motivate people versus extrinsic motivators. Pink also discusses the need for autonomy, mastery and purpose in work. Being able to apply the above factors as a frame of reference when working with motivating teams or consumers makes this book great for any discipline, but especially planning and brand management.
It took me about two and a half hours to get through this book – it’s a pretty easy read and it’s structured to make it a quick read. I appreciated the summaries at the back; Pink provides a “Twitter Summary,” “Cocktail Party Summary” and a more detailed summary for easy reference once you’ve finished the book.
Perfect Pitch by Jon Steel
Yep, I admit it – this is a well-known advertising classic. But if you haven’t read it, it’s worth reading. Or if you have, it’s worth reading again. I recently re-read this book and looked at it in a whole new light. For me, re-reading this book reminded me that every single client presentation should be approached with the same intensity and care as a new business pitch. Every presentation is an opportunity to tell or remind your audience why they hired you, why they should care and is a chance to show how much you care.
Steel emphasizes the need for storytelling in presentations and the importance of making a personal connection with the audience. He also has great tips for delivery, presentation aids and the importance of fitting the presentation for the audience.
This book is the “perfect” read for anyone who has to give a presentation in just about any field, but at 288 pages, it’s a bit lengthier than Drive. This book took me a good four or five hours to get through, but I did spend some time pondering Steel’s stories and tips.
A Leader’s Legacy by James Kouzes and Barry Posner
This book is a good reminder about always keeping in mind the legacy you are leaving behind. Whether it’s the legacy you leave behind at a job when you move on or your life’s work, it’s always worth thinking about. I was reminded of this on Friday at the Chick-fil-A Leadercast, where Suzy Welch asked a simple question “What will you regret at your 70th birthday?” Keeping your legacy in mind is an effective way to keep yourself focused on what is most important to you.
The other thing I think about when I think about legacy is that of a company. What will your company’s legacy be?
Kouzes and Posner focus on four main areas of development – significance, relationships, aspirations and courage. Each section has about five to six subsections, with examples being “Leaders should want to be liked,” “The best leaders are teachers” and “It’s not just the leader’s vision.”
Kouzes and Posner have set out a clear path to thinking about your legacy, and this book is a quick read, well worth the two hours it takes to get through it. It’s broken up into easy sections that can be read in the five minutes while dinner is in the microwave or you’re waiting for soccer practice to end. These sections are structured with a clear moral or thought to keep in mind for each part, so you can walk away with ideas to implement after each one.
Everyone’s getting involved in social media these days. Brands have appointed social media directors and some have hired large teams dedicated to social. Agencies have started social media practices and hired practitioners dedicated to social, or created new agencies specifically for social media marketing. After working with brands using a mixture of most of the structures above, it’s become clear to me that no matter what the approach, social media has become one of the ultimate tools for integration.
What do I mean by this? Simple…social strategies without integration are one-dimensional in execution.
For example, the social media program run by customer service alone misses the sales potential. Someone has to be in charge, but to realize the full potential of social platforms, that owner must be collaborating across departments and agencies to provide the most robust customer experience.
Brands Must Integrate Across Internal Departments
Every company is structured differently, but the most common departments in charge of social are marketing, PR and customer service. As sales become more common in social, merchandising will also need to be involved.
Agencies Must Integrate Across Expertise
Each agency has given ownership for social to different groups. Most commonly, digital, PR and relationship marketing groups will need to work hand-in-hand to create the best social offering for clients.
Here are a few concrete ideas for how to make integration happen with your social efforts:
Set a Strategy Together
One of the most important first steps is to create clear goals and objectives for social. This should happen together, so the group can all weigh in and priorities can be established together. We’ve built our social strategy framework in a workshop format to do just that.
Create Clear Ownership and Responsibility
Clear roles and responsibilities will go a long way toward achieving social success. Someone needs to be in charge, but setting expectations for how much and how often the other groups contribute provides a road map for social integration.
Solicit Feedback from the Group
Get the most out of integration by soliciting regular feedback from all the disciplines involved in your social efforts. Don’t just interact with the merchandising folks when you have a need; set up regular reports to share with the team and get their thoughts on what’s working or new ideas.
I believe that the strongest social media presences right now are coming from more integrated approaches. As Facebook adds more robust features, its uses will become broader and it will require more than a social media guru to work well.
A few weeks ago America tuned in to watch IBM’s supercomputer named Watson compete on “Jeopardy!“ Thanks to advanced technology in voice recognition and data processing, the machine competed effortlessly with its human challengers, besting both Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter without sweating a byte. Personally, it was difficult to watch Watson perform and not think that maybe I spent too much time investing in surviving the zombie apocalypse and not enough time being worried about the rise of robots. However, outside my own psyche, the advent of super-human-like, super-smart computers isn’t nearly as science fiction as it sounds. Or as it should be.
“Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek and contestants (from left to right) Jennings, Watson (non-humanoid) and Rutter.
For the past 25 years, there has been an interesting theory brewing in scientific communities that, thanks to machines like IBM’s Watson, may be coming to the social consciousness very soon. The theory is called Singularity, referring to the moment that humans and machines become one. The author Ray Kurzweil used the term to describe what he viewed as the inevitable point in time when humans create machines that surpass their own intelligence, the output being “spiritual machines.”
Kinda creepy, right? Maybe sounds a little too far off to even be talked about seriously in an advertising blog? Well, since your mind is only that of a mere human, you might be surprised at how close we could be to a technological future where the lines of what we traditionally view as technology and actual life are blurred.
For example, Watson is a mega-computer that runs an incredible amount of data through an incredible amount of algorithms incredibly fast to find statistically high corresponding keywords (i.e., fake a super-human intelligence). Watson’s processor ran at 500 GB/sec, allowing it to access terabytes of information much faster than its poor human opponents. But how does that affect life outside a game show? Well, currently it is a machine fine-tuned to kick ass on “Jeopardy!” but its creators believe Watson also has great potential to unlock solutions in a series of industries involving heavy data analysis such as healthcare, finance and customer service.
Now, that’s all great and I truly hope my banker pals get their turn with Watson (think of the more complex pyramid schemes they could design!), but here’s what I’m interested in: what could Watson do in advertising? And more specifically, knowing that the advancement of technology is starting to break down the barrier between human and machine, what does advertising look like in light of Singularity?
Well, Google is the best example of a company creating revolutionary technology to become more relevant to advertisers. They’re certainly not creating cars that drive themselves just for the hell of it. Sure, their products, like Facebook’s, increase productivity and social sharing, but they’re also great at creating large databases of information about user behavior that are awfully useful when targeting advertisements. And collecting this data is only getting easier.
We’re already tracking user behavior on things like websites, email or anything you do from a laptop or smart phone. But it’s thanks to the rise of things like “the app” and Internet TV that allow us to track users across untraditional platforms such as in their car. The new Chevy Cruze will read your Facebook updates to you, which is cool, but what’s even cooler is when your in-car Pandora app serves you an ad for a specific pair of shoes you were shopping for earlier from your iPhone.
A future in Singularity between man and machine includes more than just a flat digital world, though; it could go as far as the interconnectivity of body parts. Thanks to what would need to be some insane advancements in medical technology, one day I might be able to install a telephone/headphone combo directly in my inner ear, have my eyes enhanced to allow for true photographic memory or download an Adderall prescription straight into my brain. All things that would have been perfect to have in college.
So not only will advertisers track your video consumption on your laptop or shopping orders on your iPhone, but there is a possibility that we will be able to collect data on all human interactions. A future with Singularity could go as far as to include the option to run a direct download from your brain into Google of every personal preference, idea, action, piece of advice, dumb joke, sad memory or terrible pickup line you’ve ever heard (I could probably fill a few gigs with the latter).
To keep it going, think about every client’s favorite acronym in 2010, DSP. Demand Side Platforms are great for targeting users and serving qualified impressions on the Web. But think of the great potential we have when using Watson’s computing power to create targeted advertisements or look-alike modeling across all human interactions. In the not-so-distant future, my agency might be able to win an account pitch by not only making the promise of knowing the brand’s target audience, but also knowing everything that they know (their dreams, their fears, their personal beliefs, what turns them on, etc.).
What if in five years I walk into a Footlocker and a hologram of my favorite rapper, Jay-Z, walks up to me and says, “Yo, Nate, what’s up? It’s cha boy. You know I know you’re sad about your girlfriend breaking up with you and all, but here are some new Nike kicks you gotta buy. You’ve already seen the commercial for them eight times, been exposed to three billboards for them and clicked on a Facebook ad for them yesterday, so I know you like ‘em. Also, they’re blue, which has been your favorite color since you were three and you would color pictures of the ocean at Grandma’s house. You’re crazy for this one!”
So I might have creeped you out with that last example, but it’s a conversation worth having when it comes to the future of advertising. As our offline world becomes more online and connected, we are going to be swimming in user data (maybe even literally). Add the lightning-fast supercomputing power of machines like Watson to the equation, and we’re going to see advertisers take advantage of that data in some really interesting and unique ways.
So what do you think? Should we just go ahead and call the Terminator now?
It’s the week after Super Bowl Sunday and the annual commercial evaluations are well under way. But this year, the conversation involves much more than the TV spots themselves. The high cost of running media during the Super Bowl this year is making advertisers look beyond just TV impressions. And with the continuing rise of online video and social media, there are plenty of other outlets to maximize the number of eyeballs on your brand. Here are a few of the tactics that we saw in play on Sunday.
One of the biggest opportunities to have a branded video go viral is during the Super Bowl. By releasing a spot at the big game, you’re automatically entering yourself into the biggest public advertising conversation of the year. This guaranteed word of mouth spreads your videos even further than the initial impressions during the game.
Until recently, the culture around Super Bowl advertising was tight-lipped to preserve the element of surprise for game day. This year, however, advertisers’ efforts to make their spots spread online began well before the weekend. Pre-game spot releases and teasers have become more popular to capitalize on the pre-game buzz. As AdAge’s John King calls it, “The explosion has been replaced by the fuse.”
Doritos has been using this strategy for years, with its annual “Crash the Super Bowl” crowd-sourcing contest to select the brand’s Super Bowl spots. Each year, Doritos receives hundreds of submissions, which are narrowed to ten. Although the final list of the three spots that will air during the game is kept secret, all the spots are available online beforehand. The Doritos campaign has received lots of buzz online well before Sunday, aided by the company’s PR efforts.
Other brands have followed suit this year: Volkswagen released its “Force” spot a week before the Super Bowl and received 12 million views – all before kickoff. Chevrolet released all five of its spots on its YouTube and Facebook pages during the week before.
Budweiser and our client, Bridgestone, took a similar approach by releasing teasers of their spots the week before Super Bowl Sunday.
Because these advertisers released their spots earlier, they will have a much better search presence when viewers look for Super Bowl spots during the game, because they will have already gained traction.
Some brands are looking to more actively engage their consumers before and after the Super Bowl spots themselves. This is an opportunity to use social media to continue to involve people. For this year’s Super Bowl, Mercedes announced a “Tweet Race,” where four teams of Mercedes fans embarked on a cross-country journey to Dallas for the Super Bowl. Over a three-day period, they earned points by generating “TweetFuel” from other fans and by their performance on a series of social-media-related challenges along the way. The team that reached the finish line with the highest total score was declared the winner and received an all-new 2012 C-Class Coupe. Online videos related to the campaign generated more than two million views in January.
The automaker’s competitor, BMW, took a similar approach. After viewing its X3 spot during the game, fans were encouraged to go to Facebook to build a match of the X3 shown during the game. Several clues were given in the spot to help the guessers. Of those who guess correctly, one fan will win a two-year lease of a 2012 X3, and ten fans will win a VIP trip for two to the BMW Spartanburg plant, museum and Performance Driving School.
But advertisers aren’t only reaching out to social media in their cross-platform initiatives. Mobile is becoming a player in the Super Bowl as well. In addition to its regular Super Bowl spots, Anheuser-Busch also released an iAd the day after the Super Bowl that featured behind-the-scenes footage, free iTunes downloads and a 24-hour takeover of all iPhone applications accessible to adults 25 and over.
A recent effectiveness study for the iAd, which was funded by Apple and early adopter Campbell’s, showed that in Campbell’s case, those who were exposed to one of Campbell’s iAds were more than twice as likely to recall it than those who had seen a TV ad. The five-week study, conducted by Nielsen, showed that consumers shown an iAd remembered the brand “Campbell’s” five times more often than TV ad respondents and the ad messaging three times more often.
The trend of advertisers spreading their Super Bowl budgets beyond just television is an important one, but should not be misinterpreted. Social media and online video will never replace the traditional Super Bowl spot; they will only serve to enhance it. The online world is a great place for consumers to engage with Super Bowl advertisers both leading up to and after the big game, but it is still dependent on the event itself: the television spot.
Analytics, driven by data, is a vital instrument to help advertisers spend smartly, effectively, and efficiently. The challenge with data is often as simple as collecting it. At Click Here, we’re keeping our eyes on three developments that will impact how we conduct analyses in 2011, and what it will mean for the future.
There’s no shortage of web reporting tools, but many of those available are limited in the source of data. Collecting and storing data from multiple sources into one tool is advantageous when reporting and evaluating performance. Consolidation of data in one place is not only going to standardize it, it’s also going to appropriately marry data from multiple sources, increasing reliability, quality, and accuracy. In the long run, data consolidation will lead to dramatically quicker and more thorough reporting and analyses.
The day-to-day web user experience is rapidly changing as new technologies emerge. Location-based services, social networking, and mobile add a new level of complexity to analyzing how people interact with brands. In other words, it’s easier to track keyword search conversions, as opposed to a product recommendation in a Friend’s tweet.
The voice of the consumer is undoubtedly one of the most critical aspects of the health of a brand, but currently, publishers such as Facebook and Foursquare are not sharing usable data for analysis, though there are third party vendors attempting to monetize social network tracking, according to Mashable. Our hopes are that they begin to so that we can monitor and better understand brand engagement on a deeper level than any propriety platform available now. Facebook has incorporated user “Likes” in ads to make brands more relevant to friends, Ad Age reports, which goes to show that any brand can have a complicated involvement across multiple concurrent social circles.
If publishers do cooperatively begin sharing data, it is to be expected that it will take some time to be standardized and reliable; in its most usable form, this data will be a finger on the pulse of a brand, as there is no way to track conversions.
One’s privacy in the digital world has been an ongoing debate since the mid-90s. A Do Not Track list in the vein of the successful Do Not Call list has been proposed in response to a public outcry over the data harvested from online usage and made available to marketers.
The working solution to limiting this flow of data relies on the user to update browser privacy settings. Doing so will limit a marketer or brand’s ability to be significant. Web analysts will no longer be able to determine how conversions are made. Behavioral targeting initiatives will no longer be able to serve relevant information to an already-defined audience. Every click and impression will be a singular, solitary event, independent of one another, because there will be no data in which context can be defined.
Best case scenario, the digital privacy issue will fall to the wayside and people will accept that the collection of this information largely makes ecommerce a more successful enterprise. We’re hopeful that education of the issue will ensure that the collection of meaningful marketing information does not personally identify anyone.
It will be exciting to see how these developments impact digital advertising over the course of 2011 and what it will mean for the future of analytics as a whole. The more useful data we can process, the more clearly we can tell a story that helps our brands grow and drive results in the most efficient and effective way possible.
Over the past few weeks, search has undergone a major facelift, sending search engine marketers into a tizzy. From the shift in search engine market share, the launch of Google Instant, the Bing/Yahoo! transition and the continuing significance of mobile search, marketers have a lot to soak up for their next search campaign.
Current Search Engine Market Share
According to The Nielsen Company, Google continues its dominance within the U.S. search space with a commanding 65.1% of search engine market share. However, the attention-grabbing fact about August’s results is that Nielsen is reporting that Bing (formally MSN Live) has surpassed Yahoo! in terms of market share, 13.9% to 13.1%, respectively. The rise of Bing can be attributed to the rebranding it went through this past year, updating its image from MSN Live to Bing in addition to the $100 million marketing campaign to promote the update.
Google launched Google Instant on September 8, 2010. Google Instant is a new search improvement that displays search results instantly as a user types. Google has created a brief video introducing Google Instant as well as giving some examples of how they feel it will impact the search community.
In addition to faster searches, smarter predictions and instant results, Google Instant is the next progression in search. Concerning search impressions, an impression is still counted when a user hits “enter” once completing a search. New to the foray is that when a user remains on the updated search results for over three seconds, they are then counted as an impression. Google Instant has no impact on the current search engine rankings, so sites that ranked highly for certain keywords before September 8 will continue to rank highly for the same terms. Also, the use of longtail keywords within paid search campaigns and search engine optimization updates will continue to be utilized if not expanded based upon Google Instant and the new predictive search methodology that pushes users to make a more specific search query to identify the most relevant search results. Currently, Google Instant is not supported in mobile search; however, it’s a feature that should be forthcoming in 2011. With the combination of instant results and predictive searches, campaign clicks may become more relevant as users are finding the most appropriate information based upon their search.
Bing + Yahoo! Transition
In July 2009, Microsoft and Yahoo! entered into an agreement in which Bing would power Yahoo!’s search results for the next 10 years. Well, it appears the transition is finally under way. As of October 18, 2010, Bing is powering 100% of Yahoo!’s natural search results and between 30%-40% of Yahoo!’s paid search results. The deal grants Bing an estimated 27% of search engine market share, albeit on two search engines. Search engine marketers now will have to monitor and likely utilize Bing to achieve the extended reach necessary for most large-scale search campaigns. By November 1, 2010, Bing is expected to power 100% of Yahoo!’s organic and paid search engine results.
Mobile Search Market Share
Mobile search is currently dominated by Google. Google commands a reported 98% of search engine market share within the mobile search space. Bing will power Yahoo!’s mobile search results, but together Bing and Yahoo! make up around 2% of the mobile search engine market share. While it’s projected that Bing will eat away at a portion of Google’s mobile market share, it’s currently all Google all the time right now. Campaigns utilizing mobile search would be wise to utilize Google and its dominating market share.
Overall, the search space is ever evolving to ease users into a more specific, clear-cut habit of searching to allow the engines to serve up the most relevant results. Search remains one of the most relevant and efficient conduits to reach users, via both paid and natural search engine results. While initial results from the Google Instant implementation and the Bing/Yahoo! transition are still forthcoming, the updates signal a shift in the way users will view search going forward. Watch out for more updates from the search engines to continue pushing searchers toward more relevant search queries.
No one knows everything.
Ask Jim Collins, author of Built to Last and Good to Great, who observed that companies that have risen above the rest understood that such progress was cultivated over time through focused discipline, not through big personalities and initiatives. He called this discipline “The Flywheel Effect.”
The term is based on the process for getting a large, heavy flywheel to rotate on an axis. From a resting position, it takes enormous effort to get it to move an inch. After a lot of time and many individual pushes — all to the same design – the flywheel eventually builds speed momentum until the its own weight is doing most of the work.
If someone came at the tail end of this process and saw the flywheel spinning rapidly and unstoppably, what could they say caused it?
“You wouldn’t be able to answer; it’s just a nonsensical question. Was it the first push? The second? The fifth? The hundredth? No! It was all of them added together in an overall accumulation of effort applied in a consistent direction. Some pushes may have been bigger than others, but any single heave – no matter how large – reflects a small fraction of the entire cumulative effect upon the flywheel.”
Even the best web designers cannot anticipate every scenario, so the best initial design is going to be, in some form, incomplete.
Websites that must last more than a few months should be tested and refined at regular intervals to root out and correct problems that occur — even if “genius designers” have built it.
This cumulative effect of all this testing acts on a website like the tiny pushes on the flywheel. Over time, it becomes an incredible force.
The relative cost of doing nothing
Which costs more:
- A modest monthly budget for regularly testing and refining a website to make sure it doesn’t anger, frustrate or bore your audience, or
- Having a website that angers, frustrates or bores your audience?
At the risk of equivocating, the answer depends, really, on who you are, what you’re building and why. If people consuming your content or using your website for you to fulfill or significantly enhance your core mission, your inability to deliver it can cost tens of thousands — if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost opportunities and goodwill brand equity.
Does having a good designer help? Of course, but as Jakob Nielsen points out:
“Design is an inexact science; even if you have a superb designer, not all of his or her ideas will be equally great. It’s only prudent to reduce risk and subject design ideas to a reality check by user testing them with actual customers.”
Pushing your website’s flywheel
Remember: it isn’t about a big splash. The goal isn’t a single, grand transformation, but in putting in the work to make dozens of small improvements over time that accumulate into a significantly better product.
The simplicity of the solution may be deceptive. Like the small pushes on the flywheel, repeated enough times, these steps can produce dramatic results. A competent cross-discipline UX improvement team engages in the following activities:
- Decide what to test
- Choose the appropriate testing method
- Analyze the results
- Pick a problem area to fix
- Implement fix
If, in the course of creating or redefining a strategy, the company has accurately identified appropriate objectives, metrics and scenarios, testing will always result in some call for change, big or small.
If the tests are designed well and the solutions are executed well, this will mean the website is always getting better. Even if an experiment lands a dud (which will happen every once in awhile), the team is confident that their strategy of continuous monitoring, testing and refining will root even mistakes out at the next or subsequent tests.
What of the rest?
Although Collins didn’t mention it specifically in his book, it’s hard to miss the connection between the other attributes of a “Good to Great” company and a “Good to Great” website as well.
Level-5 Leadership – Humble leaders know that they don’t have all the answers. They understand results are more important than credit and are willing to do what it takes to get results. Thus, they have the humility to admit that the work isn’t done at launch, because they know that they don’t even know what all the questions are, let alone how to answer them.
First Who, Then What – Intelligent, collaborative, adaptable and creative problem solvers always trump strict adherence to bureaucratic rules. A good interdisciplinary UX team will be willing to look at their own processes critically and nimbly change directions if they lose confidence in the results.
Confront the Brutal Facts – Willingness to test ideas and correct ineffective choices prohibit becoming too infatuated with any one idea. It is the hallmark of any study. Ask the hard questions and let the data guide decisions. But always keep the faith that the overall efforts will ultimately be successful.
Hedgehog Concept — The UX improvement team focuses on one issue at a time. Preferably they improve those qualities that fall at the intersection of three things:
- What their users are deeply passionate about
- What drives their company’s economic engine
- What the website can help them accomplish
Culture of Discipline – Every week, twice a month, monthly – whatever interval the company deems appropriate — without fail — test, analyze, change. Without the discipline to keep pushing the flywheel at regular intervals, it’s easy to give up after a few pushes based on the lack of dramatic results.
Technology Accelerators – The nature of today’s age is that technology is always changing. As new tools become available for either a website or a testing method, UX improvement teams should be aware of what technologies will help a company become better at meeting its “hedgehog concept,” online or off.
Given the rapid changes in technology and markets, a website redesign should never be considered “completed.” Even the best teams with the best plans must take time to implement everything. Immediately after launch, the work begins to transform your good website into a great one.
Anyone who has ever been through a major website overhaul understands how tempting it is to catch their breath before you planning the next major redesign. However, in any case where your website plays a critical role in communications or distribution strategies, the best time to start planning to change a website is while still planning the initial redesign.
It doesn’t have to be a major change. In fact, every major change to the exclusion of smaller ones forbids the minor course corrections necessary to refining an idea. More appropriate is a series of smaller changes determined through the disciplined efforts of the right people asking the right questions and addressing the problems those questions uncover… fearlessly.