“Sophus3 has the capability to identify visitors who come from online campaigns, how they behave on your website and whether they turn into a lead or buy after that. With our analysis tools we can determine the effect of online advertising on consumer interest.”
According to Google, UK internet users searched for the term “cars” on Google 185 million times in October. The historical 12 month average has been 226 million – so there has been an 18pc decline in search term usage.
Should we draw any connections between these statements? Before I have any Freakonomics fans on my case, the answer is – not necessarily.
For a start, I’m still trying to get my brain around the figure of 185 million. If we accept that the UK internet population is around 35.6 million, that would mean we online Britons searched on the term “cars” over 5 times each last month. Clearly not every UK internet user is interested in cars, so that suggests that there are some people who are searching on the same search term in an almost obsessive fashion. And why would you do that? Perhaps people check multiple times because they believe they will get different results – which will almost certainly be true in terms of ads served – and even natural rankings.
Then again, there may be other possible explanations:
1. Google’s numbers are rubbish
2. There are automated searches on the term “cars” which is hugely inflating numbers (though of course this contravenes Google’s Terms of Service).
3. The term “cars” is not just related to automobiles, but covers other things such as the Pixar film, etc.
Leaving this aside for the moment, if we drill down into some more specific terms such as “new cars” and “used cars”, we get something that seems a bit more realistic.
New cars 368,000 (Oct 08)
Used cars 1,500,000 (Oct 08)
(NB: Google Trends shows that people seem to search on term “used cars” most often on Sundays – which is worth knowing if you are looking to sell a used car).
If Google is to be believed, then these search volumes are the same as the historical 12 month trend. Which might offer cheerier news for car dealers. Then again, they may want to keep monitoring Google Trends carefully to see whether this holds up.
So what does this all mean? As a nation of Internet users, are we attempting to ignore the credit crunch by searching for “cars” all day? (Then again, we apparently searched on the term “shoes” 101 million times last month as well).
I still stand by my view that SEO Keyword Tools can be very helpful in helping to formulate a PR or marketing content strategy. However, like any tool, you need to be aware of its limitations – and how to use it properly. And have some confidence in the underlying data.
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….
Specifically, he is referring to the search term Mike Hancock MP. (WARNING: the results for this term in Cuil may offend some people and could be considered non-office safe).
Perhaps Mike may prefer the results he gets on Google. Then again, according to TheyWorkForYou.com, he has voted moderately in favour of equal gay rights. So who knows.
Roy Greenslade at The Guardian has picked up on a new survey that looks at public attitudes to PR:
According to a study by Ciao Surveys, 60.3% of people in Britain believe that PR officers often lie, while only 3.3% are convinced of the opposite. Additionally, only 17.9% of the respondents think public relations have a positive effect on society, against 26.5% who disagree.
Despite these findings, the survey shows that nearly a third of Britons believe the PR industry is a necessary one at 32.7%, as opposed to only 21.1% who believe it to be unnecessary.
Respondents evidently showed a good understanding of the industry because, when asked about their impression of a PR officer’s main job function, they stated it is strongly related to: media relations (49.6%), event planning (18.2%), advertising (9.5%) and word of mouth marketing (7.9%).
According to Ciao, 55.1% of respondents seem to be aware of the symbiotic relationship between the PR industry and the media, as they declared that the two are biased by each other.
Some people recognise that the media are the main vehicles for the PR industry’s messages, with 13.8% believing that up to half of the content in daily newspapers is initiated by public relations, and a sizeable group think up to 80% of the content in consumer magazines is PR-related.
I’m curious to know how the word “lie” is being defined in this context. Do they mean outright untruths or lying by omission? If PRs were uttering outright porkers to the extent the public appears to believe from this survey, I think we’d know about it. I suspect it is more an unspoken distrust of PRs (apparent) attempt to influence by careful selection (and omission) of facts. I think there is a qualitative difference between simply wanting to put your best case forward and deliberately trying to bamboozle your audience – the latter, surely, an ultimately doomed strategy – the truth will always out.
Douglas Adams once described Nicholas Negroponte as someone who: “writes about the future with the authority of someone who has spent a great deal of time there.”
Being Digital is best remembered for his distinction between bits and atoms – but second time around it made me appreciate how uncannily prescient he was on a whole host of things: mash ups (commingling), the current travails of the music and media industries and the rise of Chindia for example).
But it also made me realise there were lots of other gems he uncovered. One was regarding MIT faculty member Mike Hawley who had looked at the challenge of cramming more music on to a normal CD. As Negroponte described it, the music industry was tacking the problem in a very incremental manner: “by changing the laser from red to blue.” Hawley looked at recording a piano piece as an example – and noticed that the gestural data density, the measurement of finger movement, was very low. In other words, by storing this on the CD and using a MIDI interface, you could get around 5000 hours of music on a single CD.
According to Negroponte: “By looking for the structure in the signals, how they were generated, we go beyond the surface appearance of bits and discover the building blocks out of which the image, sound, or text came. This is one of the most important facts of digital life.”
PR and marketing is still very much about signals (messages) – though as Negroponte stresses: “interaction is implicit.”
Or consider his Dec 1998 Wired column in which he pronounced: “The technology is already beginning to be taken for granted and its connotation will become tomorrow’s commercial and cultural compost for new ideas. Like air and drinking water, being digital will be noticed only by its absence, not its presence.”
A trip through Negroponte’s past writings thus still holds valuable guidance for today and the future.
According to David Hill, Blair’s former communications director from 2003 to 2007 (and now a director at Bell Pottinger)”
‘His attitude was always that he had people working for him whose job it was to keep in constant touch with stories and he was not going to allow a story to deflect him from his strategic approach unless absolutely necessary. So, he did not listen to a single edition of the Today programme from 1998 until he stood down last June – and I’d bet my bottom dollar he still doesn’t. As far as I am aware, he never watched a TV news bulletin – or listened to a radio bulletin – during the four years I was at Number 10.’
A shocking revelation? Or simply sensible time/resource allocation?
The debate over video versus text continues to rage – both in journalism and PR. Some argue that TV news can’t provide the depth of analysis of a lengthy editorial. And should PR be exploiting new web video technologies more fully?
To me, it is a bit of a red herring. The real issue is the amount of time you have to convey the necessary information and how well you use each respective medium – the so-called ‘attention economy.”
Here is a case in point.
I read Charles Goodhart’s lengthy article (sub required for full feature) in Prospect magazine last week which went into the background of the current financial crisis. I then watched the following Bird and Fortune sketch on YouTube.
I came away feeling that Bird and Fortune pretty much captured the key points of Goodhart’s piece and delivered it in a more impactful way. On this occasion, video 1, text 0. But the video versus text argument remains, generally, a waste of energy.