What Google’s offline media services mean for the future of PR and advertising


Perhaps it isn’t surprising that Google’s offline TV. radio and print ad services don’t get much attention in Europe (they aren’t available here yet). However, it surely can’t be long before we do get them – and I don’t doubt that they will have the potential to further disrupt the media services landscape.

If you subscribe to Google’s Let’s Take It Offline blog (and only 833 people appear to) you’ll have seen the constant stream of new enhancements and case studies about Google’s services in the offline arena. Take the example of Event Triggers. In the US, it is possible to not only book your radio ad airtime via Google, but only have the ads run if specific environmental criteria are met. As Google says:

With event triggers, you can set up your Audio Ads campaigns to play only when specific environmental conditions are forecasted in your target market. This high-tech feature lets you deliver a relevant message to potential customers in the moment they need you most.
For example, you could set up your campaign to start playing only when the forecasted weather indicates “hazy” conditions or “rain showers,” or when the UV index is above 10. Currently, advertisers can set campaigns to trigger based on four types of environmental cues: apparent temperature, actual temperature, UV index and weather conditions.

How it works:

  • Build an audio campaign with your desired demographic, daypart, format and markets.
  • Indicate the environmental cues you’d like to target during campaign setup. (Tip: You should create a separate campaign for each set of unique conditions)
  • Upload specific ads with messages to match the event that triggers them to play.
  • When the conditions are met, based on the forecast for the next day, Google Audio Ads will trigger your campaign and serve the ad you specified.

The services in TV and print ad booking are no less innovative. For example, it is now possible to carry out the entire print ad process from creative design, media space booking and measurement all within Google. The Hotels.com case study is a good example.

Imagine if you could run PR campaigns like this? And what limit is there on the type of criteria you can use to target your content? Who knows. As William Gibson said, “the future is already here, it’s just unevenly distributed.”

Why you should read Antony Mayfield’s e-book Brands In Networks


First, my thanks to Mr Stephen Waddington for flagging Antony Mayfield’s e-book, Brands In Networks.

As Wadds says “publishers, journalists, PRs and marketing professionals that are looking for a pragmatic analysis of the fragmentation of the media industry should download the 50-page eBook immediately.”

I agree. The book covers a huge amount of ground – and I have to admire the time and effort that Antony has put into writing it. Given one of the key themes of the book is around the subject of attention markets, he has succeeded brilliantly in gaining much of mine this morning.

Rather than a formal critique of the book, I have pulled out below some of the key points that struck me on first reading with my own initial comments.

Antony Mayfield: The numbers

1.4 billion (one-fifth of the world’s population) people online in the world today.

400 Million of them are members of social networks.

There are over a trillion web pages indexed by google.

There are 112.8 Million blogs being tracked by specialist search
engine Technorati.

10 Hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute.

In 2008, for the first time, the volume of internet traffic generated by consumers will overtake that created by corporations and other organisations.

Andrew Bruce Smith: And while we are on the numbers, let’s not forget the billions of e-mails and text messages sent every day.

AM: Any one of the 1.4 billion of us who is connected to the web can create content. from basic, written-word web pages, via interactive blogs and forums with podcasts, through to videos and pictures and endless commentary from us, and from anyone else in the network.

ABS: We can – but we don’t. As per the recent Rubicon Consulting report: “community experts have been aware of this phenomenon for years, calling it “participation inequality.” Jakob Nielsen wrote an influential article on the subject in 2006, describing the “90-9-1 rule”. It states:

• “90% of users are lurkers (i.e., read or observe, but don’t contribute).
• “9% of users contribute from time to time, but other priorities dominate their
time.
• “1% of users participate a lot and account for most contributions: it can seem
as if they don’t have lives because they often post just minutes after whatever
event they’re commenting on occurs.”

The 10pc of “Most Frequent Contributors” are also the biggest influencers in these communities says Rubicon. The logical assumption is that PR might want to assume a role in becoming MFCs – however, frequency needs to be tempered with issues of trust and value.

AM: Prediction: expect to see the first major global brand appoint a digital agency as its agency of recordin the next year.

ABS: Agreed. The recent Sapient survey bears this out.

AM: Email: you can send content or alerts to people’s inboxes. email is already so
embedded in our lives that it doesn’t feel like a revolutionary medium, but it is.

ABS: Jason Baer recently shared the following in relation to e-mail:

1. 21% of email recipients report email as Spam, even if they know it isn’t

2. 43% of email recipients click the Spam button based on the email “from” name or email address

3. 69% of email recipients report email as Spam based solely on the subject line

4. 35% of email recipients open email based on the subject line alone

5. IP addresses appearing on just one of the 12 major blacklists had email deliverability 25 points below those not listed on any blacklists

6. Email lists with 10% or more unknown users get only 44% of their email delivered by ISPs

7. 17% of Americans create a new email address every 6 months

8. 30% of subscribers change email addresses annually

9. If marketers optimized their emails for image blocking, ROI would increase 9+%

10. 84% of people 18-34 use an email preview pane

11. People who buy products marketed through email spend 138% more than people that do not receive email offers

12. 44% of email recipients made at least one purchase last year based on a promotional email

13. Subscribers below age 25 prefer SMS to email

14. 35% of business professionals check email on a mobile device

15. 80% of social network members have received unsolicited email or invites

Draw your own conclusions.

AM: RSS feeds allow people to subscribe to websites and have new
content sent to them via their inbox, a newsreader like google reader, or a widget
sitting on their computer desktop. RSS means that none of the people who enjoy
my fabulous Cat has to remember to check your website everyday to see if there is
new information: they wait for the RSS tool to bring your cat articles to them. This is
the same distribution method that powers audio and video podcasts.

ABS: Adam Parker of WebITPR recently argued that RSS subscribers now numbered around 100 million – hardly a niche any more.

AM: Anyone – brand, media owner or individual – looking to thrive online would do well to
understand how networks work, where their own are and how they fit into them.
for networks are how the online world works and they are the essence of the
revolution that we are living through. Crucially, to succeed in networks we sometimes need to move away from thinking about promotion or selling as the key activity. a selling message pushed uninvited into a social space is rarely useful, and rarely welcome. brands that do this are ignored if
they are lucky, and may find themselves on the sharp end of criticism from blogs and
forums if they aren’t. Once we have understood our networks we need to ask: “What is a valid role for us here?” and: “how can we add value?”

ABS: No doubt brand owners are also asking what (financial) value the network can give back to them in return for adding value. Cracking the transactional element of these relationships is going to be key.

Also, the Rubicon Consulting report had a very good analysis of the varying types of network and community:

“The survey showed that different types of online communities have very different user
bases and rates of usage. Although many observers speak of web community as if it’s
a single thing, in reality there is incredible diversity between communities.
Approaches that work well in one type of community may fail utterly in another. That
means companies looking to found community sites, or partner with them, need to
understand what kind of community they are engaging with.

Every community is unique, but they can be grouped into five broad categories, based
on the motivations of the people who participate in them. The five major types of
communities are:
• Proximity, where users share a geographic location (Craigslist is an example);
• Purpose, where they share a common task (eBay, Wikipedia);
• Passion, where they share a common interest (YouTube, Dogster);
• Practice, where they share a common career or field of business (many online
professional groups fall in this category); and
• Providence, where they discover connections with others (Facebook).

AM: We sometimes like to think that in digital marketing we have developed a new
discipline, but coming to this sector from the outside two years ago it looked to me
like an awful lot of agencies had taken ad agency models and simply transplanted
them to the web. Many laugh at the “brochure-ware” websites of the late 90s – where
people had literally taken the marketing literature formats of the print age and put
them online – but in many ways we have only progressed a small distance in terms of
understanding the way the web works. I
t is my contention that marketing needs to be rethought in almost every aspect. Even if there are things worth keeping, nothing should be exempt from the challenge:

ABS: Totally agree. We have barely scratched the surface.

AM: Our language gives us away. Think of the way we talk about the people we are marketing to, and what we want to do in a channel media context. People, individuals, are masked and herded into demographics that gloss over the complexity of the situation. We talk about consumers, audiences; passive terms. We talk about message penetration, or buying eyeballs. When you start to think about things from the perspective of networks, this language jars. People don’t consume content: they read it or watch it, and then often do things with it such as remixing, forwarding, or linking to it. These aren’t audiences or eyeballs. These are individuals. A lot of the language of channel media marketing sounds militaristic. We monitor (from on high) consumer behaviours. We penetrate markets. We dominate mindshare. We execute campaigns. These aren’t social words. They come from the mass; the industrial level – whereas in the networks we must operate (as we do in our personal lives) at a human level.

ABS: As an Orwellist, I completely subscribe to the view that language shapes our view of the world. Part of the challenge is being able to articulate the value of these new approaches to an audience that is still steeped in the language (and ideas) of an older era.

AM: When we think about attention markets, we should ask; who are our competitors?
They may be different from the people we compete with in our primary commercial
marketplaces – they may include media, social media, or other brands.
Taking full account of the market means properly understanding our brands’
networks, how they operate as markets, and how we can be effective in them. That
means not just having a handful of insights and a great one-at-a-time creative idea. it
means being able to listen closely and respond. it means having several competing
strategies and waiting for one to stand out, then having the resource to back it
up quickly.

ABS: Agreed. Parallel marketing will trump linear marketing.

AM: (In relation to Ted Rheingold’s Dogster site): Suddenly, it seemed, the failure rate for projects began to increase. When a review of projects that were failing was conducted, a common factor was quickly spotted:
almost all of the failing projects had taken six months or more from idea to public release.
They were failing because the community had moved on; was interested in other things. Their needs had shifted. Ted calls this effect: the impact horizon. ever since, he has been working on bringing down the development time for new features to as close to a month as possible.

ABS: Speed rules everywhere. In marketing and PR, developing a test and learn mindset is key. In other words, lots of rapidly implemented small scale projects versus big bang campaigns. Implications for agency structure and resourcing.

AM: At iCrossing we talk about “designed-in measurement” for creative and content.
Thinking about measurement begins at the discovery phase, and it should be
implemented and remain live throughout a given project. measurement gives us
insight and evidence for refining every aspect of a programme – from search terms to
page design – almost from day one. This is a departure from the ‘build it and leave it’
approach that online marketers often take to building beautiful microsites, and then
tacking on some weak analytics measurement at the end.

ABS: Agreed. PR still hasn’t quite grasped the measurement nettle yet.

IT Pro: your grandfather’s computer magazine?


I’ve written before about using Google’s Ad Planner as a PR planning tool. In the original version, detailed demographic information about site visitors was only available for the US – now you can get this data for the UK as well.

And it is quite an eye opener.

If we take IT Pro as an example, according to Google Ad Planner, nearly 65pc of readers are aged 45 or over. Indeed, nobody under 25 appears to visit the site. And 10pc of readers are aged over 65 (perhaps proof that some IT workers remain interested in technology in retirement – or are having to keep working for financial reasons).

Computer Weekly by contrast appears to have a more youthful audience – the majority of CW online readers are under 45. Computer Weekly also seems to have more female readers than IT Pro (both in percentage and absolute terms because CW appears to have a higher readership}.

The point of all this is that it shows again how Google is providing insightful data that can make a big impact on how you approach planning a digital/online PR programme. This kind of detailed demographic information has never really been available – and smart PRs will be able to use this to develop more relevant content for the sites most appropriate to their target audiences.

And perhaps IT Pro might consider a bigger type size to cater for the poor eyesight of its older demographic?

LinkedIn adds application support for WordPress, Huddle.net. Slideshare and more


Another day, and more enhancements to LinkedIn. Not content with recently beefing up Group functionality, today sees the introduction of “featured applications”, a raft of 3rd party apps that now offer varying degrees of integration with LinkedIn. Here’s the list as per LinkedIn’s announcement e-mail this morning:
Google Docs on LinkedIn: Embed a presentation on your profile.
SlideShare on LinkedIn: Share, view and comment on presentations from your network.
WordPress on LinkedIn: Promote your blog and latest posts.
Box on LinkedIn: Share files and collaborate with your network.
Huddle on LinkedIn: Private workspaces to collaborate with your network on projects.
Amazon on LinkedIn: Discover what your network is reading.
TripIt on LinkedIn: See where your network is traveling.
SixApart on LinkedIn: Stay up to date with your network’s latest blog posts.
Company Buzz by LinkedIn: See what people are saying about your company.

Haven’t had a chance to play with all of them yet (except WordPress and Huddle – and both work), but you can see the logic of why much of this will appeal. I know some may fear that LinkedIn profile pages will begin to turn into a Facebook-style dog’s dinner – but on first inspection, this looks like another beneficial move for LinkedIn users.

The Flackenhacks 2008: only 5 days away! Be there or…..


The Flackenhacks 2008 – without question, the most important event in the tech/PR/social media calendar, bar none – is nearly upon us.

If you haven’t already done so, get your ticket now – or live with the regret for the rest of your life.

Once again, here are the vital details:
7pm, Wednesday 29 October 2008

The Village Underground, 54 Holywell Lane, Shoreditch, London EC2A 3PQ

All the latest is on The Flackenhacks blog: http://flackenhacks.blogspot.com/
Tickets on sale here: http://flackenhacks.eventbrite.com/
Hacks up for auction on eBay here: http://shop.ebay.co.uk/merchant/flackenhacks

You know what you have to do. Roll on Wednesday night – I can hardly wait.

What is a Twiphorism? (Pronounced Twi-for-izm) #twiphorism #twphm


Twiphorism is a new word I’ve coined – it’s formed by merging Twitter with Aphorism.

Wikipedia describes an aphorism as “an original thought, spoken or written in a laconic and easily memorable form.”

So a Twiphorism is “an original thought written in a laconic and easily memorable form. And capable of being expresed via Twitter in 140 characters or less”.

As it happens, a number of the aphoristic examples given by Wikipedia could be Twiphorisms eg

Mediocrity is forgiven more easily than talent.Emil Krotky

What are your favourite Twiphorisms? Your own or somebody else’s? If you can squeeze it into 129 characters, include the following hash tag:  #twiphorism (or #twphm if pushed for space).

High tech public relations: high CPC/low search volume mystery solved


In my recent post on Do Tech and Digital PR firms eat their own dog food?, I was curious as to why certain search terms had a high Cost Per Click level and very low search volumes.

I’d spent a while searching for an explanation – Google’s own help pages didn’t shed any light. However, the answer now appears in a post today on Google’s official blog from their Chief Economist Hal Varian:

“Search engines often apply a “disabling rule” that inhibits ads with very low clickthrough rates for a given query from being shown. Or they might set a relatively high minimum cost per click for ads that don’t attract much interest from users as a way to discourage advertisers from showing ads that annoy users and deliver few clicks. A high cost per click can easily be consistent with a low cost per impression when clickthrough rates are low.”

So now you know.

More generally it shows that it is usually a mistake to assume that your potential prospects and customers will automatically use certain keyword terms to find information. Investing time, money and effort in really getting to understand how and what your target audiences are talking about should pay dividends further down the line.

PS This is also an excuse to try out the new instant poll feature in WordPress (see above). Vote away!

Leaders are losers on the FTSE 100


Quite something when the FTSE 100 leader board consists of the companies that have lost the least value. Would appear there are no gainers in the market at the moment….

UK PR job searches increase 22pc in September 2008?


According to Google’s Keyword tool, the volume of UK searches on the term “pr jobs” hit 201,000 in September. That’s a 22pc increase on the historical 12 month average of 165,000.

Is it a case of people returning from holiday and determined to find a new job? Or are PR employees making sure they cover as many bases as possible in the light an impending recession?

Then again, maybe it is recruitment consultancies who are inflating the figure, furiously searching to see what their rivals are offering candidates. Did strike me that 201,000 is a very high search volume. Given there are around 48,000 people employed in PR in the UK, that works out at just over 4 searches on “pr jobs” for every PR person in Britain. Especially odd when you compare it to something like “financial jobs”, which only recorded 22,200 last month.

Do tech and digital PR firms eat their own dog food?


It is now conventional wisdom that PR needs to adopt and integrate new digital techniques into its toolkit. Rather than add to the rather dull debate about what tech PR firms ought to be doing, I thought I’d have a quick look at what they are doing in terms of promoting themselves through digital techniques. In other words, are tech and digital PR firms eating their own dog food?

PPC

Imagine you are an in-house PR manager, marketing manager or director with a technology business. You’ve decided that you want to hire a PR agency or replace an existing firm. In terms of helping you decide who to talk to, you will almost certainly conduct a web search.

In which case, what search terms would you use to help you?

Conventional wisdom suggests they will be terms like:

Technology PR
Tech PR
Technology public relations
Hi-tech public relations

Or UK variations thereof. In fact, if you were looking for a “good UK tech PR agency”, you might think that people would use that as an example search term.

Apparently not. In Sept, the search volumes on the term “good UK tech PR agency” (and other variations such as best UK software PR, etc) were virtually non existent.

Clearly potential purchasers of tech PR services don’t use these terms to find the information they want. But perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised. As I’ve discussed previously, the majority of search terms consist of only 2 or 3 words.

Going back to the usual suspect terms such as technology PR, a number of them have comparatively high CPC (cost per click rates). In some cases, nearly £6.50 per click. And yet when you examine the search volumes, they are virtually non-existent eg “hi tech public relations” was searched for a total of 12 times last month in the UK.

Let’s look at the highest searched for terms – technology PR (UK Sept 2008 – 880) and tech PR (UK Sept 2008 – 390). Worth noting in both cases that these figures show a decline over the previous 12 month average, which might be a precursor to a drop in demand for tech PR services.

The CPC rates for both of these terms is again comparatively high. But accepting that firms are paying above average CPC for these terms, are they doing everything they can to maximise their investment? ie what happens when you click through on these PPC ads? Every single one goes through to a generic company home page. No attempt to create a dedicated landing page to give the prospect more relevant information or to guide them through the sales process. Or give them a simple call to action. Search marketing 101.

Natural search

Clearly some PR firms are more savvy than others when it comes to natural search. Hat tips therefore to my old chums at Rainier PR who have clearly done some work to come top of the search rankings for the highest volume relevant search terms such as “technology PR”.

But does branding also play a part in the tech PR agency selection process? From a digital marketing perspective, we have already seen that 88pc of the most popular UK search terms are brand names. Does the UK tech PR market reflect this?

Just taking a few of the more well known tech PR brands, it looks like Lewis PR comes out at head of the pack (UK Sept 2008 – 1000). Interestingly, other well known brands such as Brands2Life have negligible volumes.

Web measurement

Tools such as WASP allow you to see what analytics package a web site is using to analyse its traffic eg Google Analytics, Stat Counter, Omniture, etc. It is therefore interesting to note how some agency websites don’t appear to be using any form of analytics package. Which begs the question, how can you claim any kind of digital expertise when you have no idea who visits your own site?

Conclusion

I can already hear the objections being raised to much of above. For example, there are clearly many ways in which a potential purchaser of tech PR services may seek information eg asking friends and peers, looking at PR Week league tables, etc. And I’ve only touched on a handful of digital activity (let’s not get into social media, LinkedIn ,etc or we’ll be here all day). In which case some may argue that I’m laying too much stress on non essential business development activities. But I can’t quite shake off the belief that at some point, the tech PR industry will have to stop just talking about “going digital” but really start putting into practice some of the now standard approaches from the digital marketing arena. Cobbler’s children, etc.

If tech PR firms are to gain a greater share of vendor budgets, then we need to not only talk the digital talk but walk the digital walk as well. And yes, it does require effort. And yes, we aren’t perfect here either and haven’t got all the answers. But we have set off on the road. We’ll keep you all posted on our progress.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,501 other followers