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Agenda 15

03/30/2015 - 04/01/2015 Amelia Island FL

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How Google’s Emphasis On Mobile Will Affect You

MediaPost

When it comes to search algorithm changes, Google has gone from making official announcements to a “this is something we do every day so don’t expect to hear from us” attitude. With this in mind, the upcoming mobile-friendly algorithm change is a very big deal. As background, here is a high-level history of events:

  • June 11, 2013: Google announced specific recommendations for developing mobile-friendly websites. It listed common configuration mistakes and explicitly called out faulty redirects and smartphone-specific errors (incorrectly served 404s, Googlebot Mobile and unplayable videos).
  • September–October, 2014: Google tested several different mobile-specific indicators, using both mobile-friendly and non-mobile-friendly icons.
  • November 18, 2014: Google officially launched mobile-friendly designations to results in mobile search.
  • February 26, 2015: Google announced that, on April 21, it will be expanding its use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal.

Google has gotten very serious about mobile search and is taking a primary role in improving the experience. In other words, we’re on notice to clean up our site(s). The good news is that Google is providing instructions and tools to help us do this. Here are the top three things that every website owner needs to do in anticipation of the April 21 deadline:

1)     Make use of Google’s guide to mobile-friendly websites.Google provides a 60+ page guide that discusses why and how to build a mobile-friendly website. There are dedicated guides for several open-source CMS platforms (WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, etc.), as well as a specific guide to mobile SEO, with special emphasis on avoiding common mistakes.

2)     Test your site using Google’s Tools. Users of Google Webmaster Tools (WMT) are already familiar with Google’s emphasis on mobile, as WMT has been alerting users to “fix mobile usability issues found on site xyz.” Clicking on “View details” brings users to a three-step process: 1) Inspect mobile issues, 2) Follow these guidelines and 3) Fix mobile usability issues. For those just starting out or who don’t have a WMT account, Google provides the ability to test a single page. This report groups all of the errors in one page and links on how to fix the errors, based on how the site was built (I built via CMS, I built myself, I had someone build the site).

Continue Reading… 

How Important Is Mobile, Anyway?

SocialMediaToday

Mobile optimization has been a ranking factor on Google for some time. But it’s about to matter a whole lot more. According to a recent post on Search Engine Land, “Google said it wants sites to prepare [for mobile optimization].”

If certain pages or sections of your site are not optimized for your mobile audience, Google will take note and demote those pages in the search results for mobile queries. Google plans to roll this out April, 21 2015.

They’ve even provided a tool to test how mobile friendly your website is. Note that they’re apparently working out some kinks so make sure you read this post before testing.

WHAT IS MOBILE OPTIMIZATION?

Optimizing a website for mobile users can mean implementing techniques like responsive design. But adding in some responsive breakpoints for tablets and mobile devices isn’t all it takes.

And sometimes responsive might not be the best approach. There are times when a mobile-only page or website makes more sense. Measurable SEO Founder Chuck Price weighs the pros and cons of mobile-only and responsive design in this useful post.

Whether responsive or mobile-only, you’ll want to factor in speed and usability when optimizing for mobile…

SPEED

Your site speed depends of the server where its hosted and the files the user is required to download. I would recommend hosting your site on a virtual dedicated server or similar. You will pay more for this but its worth it.

Hosting on a shared server where you pay $10 a year for a service pitched by a race car driver is less than ideal. A shared server is one server with a bunch of other sites sharing the server’s resources. The low cost host will load these to capacity for maximum profit. This will slow server speed as more websites are being access – eating up resources.

Read more tips here… 

Take two steps back from journalism: What are the editorial products we’re not building?

Nieman Lab

The traditional goal of news is to say what just happened. That’s sort of what “news” means. But there are many more types of nonfiction information services, and many possibilities that few have yet explored.

I want to take two steps back from journalism, to see where it fits in the broader information landscape and try to imagine new things. First is the shift from content to product. A news source is more than the stories it produces; it’s also the process of deciding what to cover, the delivery system, and the user experience. Second, we need to include algorithms. Every time programmers write code to handle information, they are making editorial choices.

Imagine all the wildly different services you could deliver with a building full of writers and developers. It’s a category I’ve started calling editorial products.

In this frame, journalism is just one part of a broader information ecosystem that includes everything from wire services to Wikipedia to search engines. All of these products serve needs for factual information, and they all use some combination of professionals, participants, and software to produce and deliver it to users — the reporter plus the crowd and the algorithm. Here are six editorial products that journalists and others already produce, and six more that they could.

Some editorial products we already have

Record what just happened. This is the classic role of journalism. This is what the city reporter rushes out to cover, what the wire service specializes in, the role that a journalist plays in every breaking story. It’s the fundamental factual basis on which everything else depends. And my sense is we usually have enough of this. I know that people will disagree, saying there is much that is important that is not covered, but I want to distinguish between reporting a story and drawing attention to it. The next time you feel a story is being ignored, try doing a search in Google News. Almost always I find that some mainstream organization has covered it, even if it was never front-page. This is basic and valuable.

Locate pre-existing information. This is a traditional role of researchers and librarians, and now search engines. Even when the product is powered entirely by software, this is most definitely an editorial role, because the creation of an information retrieval algorithm requires careful judgement about what a “good” result is. All search engines are editorial products, as Google’s Matt Cutts has said: “In some sense when people come to Google, that’s exactly what they’re asking for — our editorial judgment. They’re expressed via algorithms.”

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Bloomberg’s Justin Smith: ‘Platforms have done a better job at media.’

DIGIDAY

It has been a year and a half since Justin Smith became the global CEO of the Bloomberg Media Group with the mandate of making the Bloomberg LP media arm a household name with business executives around the world. Since then, Bloomberg Media has made a slew of new hires across sales, marketing and editorial. The unit has introduced Bloomberg Politics, with other verticals to follow, and relaunched its flagship site, Bloomberg.com.

In an interview, Smith talked about how publishers can compete with Facebook, why print still has a place at Bloomberg, and what he admires about Snapchat.

Bloomberg Media just launched a new ad campaign. What’s the message you’re hoping to get out?
The thing that we’ve been doing, and the reason I came to Bloomberg, is that I believe we’re one of the few companies — large, established, global media companies — that’s truly trying to marry the best of traditional with the most cutting-edge approaches and formats that are emerging from startup media. There’s a global road show, and we’re getting positive feedback. So while the brand has been well-known, I think the exciting part of these conversations is some of the new products. We’re already seeing double-digit traffic growth on the unique front as well as on the page view front.

Which startups do you look to for inspiration?
It’s hard not to admire what all the technology platforms have achieved, from Google to Facebook to LinkedIn and Snapchat now. They are at-scale, large organizations; they have figured out modern media in a better way than traditional media has. To look at how those technology platforms have created mobile content interfaces that have become market-leading, or advertising solutions they have developed that are market-leading or beating because of their measurability — they have to be the first stop in any media watcher’s process.

Publishers are approaching them with some wariness, though. Where do you stand?

I think it’s interesting that traditional publishers always complain about the platforms taking away eyeballs and not sharing. This frenemy type of dynamic: Facebook being the latest focus. The reason for their complaint is quite simple: These platforms have done a better job at media than media themselves. They’ve created better media content mousetraps. They are to a large extent wiping the table on digital advertising solutions that are measurable and data-driven.

Read more… 

The State of Social Media in 2015

Econtent

When you were a youngster and wanted to meet new people and make friends, you had to travel to an event such as an ice cream social. Today, connecting with friends can be accomplished instantly via a few clicks a la social media.

If you need further evidence of social media’s omnipresent influence nowadays, take a gander at We Are Social’s “Digital Statshot 002″ report, which reveals that there are currently about 2 billion active social media accounts worldwide-equating to a whopping penetration of 28% of the planet’s population, with about roughly 1.6 billion of these accounts active via mobile. What’s more, 72% of all internet users are currently active on social media, and 93% of marketers use social media for business.

Social platforms also continue to increase and, for the most part, thrive. In order, the top 10 most popular social networking sites (according to eBizMBA, Inc.) are Facebook (900 million estimated unique monthly visitors), Twitter (310 million), LinkedIn (255 million), Pinterest (250 million), Google+ (120 million), Tumblr (110 million), Instagram (100 million), VK (80 million), Flickr (65 million), and Vine (42 million).

Ask industry experts and they’ll tell you that social media has rapidly evolved from a niche digital channel into an indispensible and expected feature that’s fully integrated into the online experience for users everywhere. “Social media is no longer just for fun, but now provides an essential communication and research function to individuals,” says Annette A. Penney, online marketing strategist for Inspire and Acquire. “We now often prefer to communicate with our friends, family members, and work colleagues through our social media accounts rather than call them on the phone.”

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Google Should Fear Facebook’s New Product Ads

ADWEEK

Anything Google can do Facebook wants to do better. And with the latter’s new product ads, it has a data advantage that could lead to big revenue for the social network.

Yesterday, Facebook revealed that it’s starting to serve ads for retailers’ goods that use the targeting and personal-interest information it has on its 1.4 billion users. These product adsare an answer to a service that Google has offered businesses since 2013 with Shopping Ads (which were initially called Product Listing Ads). Google Shopping Ads show up as paid posts atop retailer-focused search results and render pictures and prices of items for sale. They are highly visual compared with text-based search results and have become a lucrative piece of Google’s search business.

In fact, according to Q4 2014 research from Adobe Digital Index, 20 percent of clicks on Google search links for retailers were on Shopping Ads. Also, Adobe said that merchants spent 47 percent more on Google Shopping Ads year-over-year last quarter, meanwhile they decreased spending on text-based ads by 6 percent during the same period. The interest in the format, which entails more dynamic creative, shows how digital advertisers prefer more visual marketing over simple text.

Now, Facebook has the opportunity to mimic that success with its troves of consumer data while siphoning from its rival’s digital dollars. Its product ads will let businesses zero in on users based on elements such as clothing preferences, musical tastes and location.

“Facebook has the best targeting capabilities, so it can take some of the limelight from shopping ads on Google,” said Tamara Gaffney, principal analyst for Adobe Digital Index (ADI).

Continue reading… 

In APAC, Mobile Consumers Are Very Different – From Each Other

AdExchanger

“There’s a fallacy that exists among many executives in the US that Asia is one block,” said Chetan Kulkarni, CEO of Bangalore-based digital CRM company Vizury. “But it’s actually a complex mix of very different countries that behave in very different ways.”

Take India and China, for example. The population of each is formidable. Based on local census data, China’s population is expected to hit about 1.37 billion by mid-2015, while India is on schedule to clock in at 1.3 billion.

But that’s really where the similarity ends.

“India is about three to four years behind where China is,” said Dippak Khurana, CEO and co-founder of Vserv, a mobile marketing platform focused on emerging markets, including India, Africa and Southeast Asia.

According to Forrester, smartphone penetration in China and India this year is slated to reach 44% and 23%, respectively. But IDC says that India is really the market to watch – the rate of adoption is happening at a greater speed there than anywhere else in APAC.

“There are about 140 million smartphones in India now out of a base of roughly 900 million connected people,” Khurana said. “Most of the smartphone growth in the world is going to be in India in the near term. India is an inflection point.”

In other words, the smartphone potential among the current Internet-connected population of India is more than twice the size of the entire population of the US.

But it’s not just India and China that are worlds apart in terms of consumer behavior.

“Mobile engagement doesn’t vary by client – it varies by market,” Kulkarni said. “Digital media is global. Consumer behavior and data is local.”

Continue Reading… 

Media Companies Need to Wake Up to the Digital Advertising Mess

Quartz

Digital media are stuck with bad economics resulting in relentless deflation. It’s time to wake-up and make 2015 the year of radical—and concerted—solutions.

 Trends in digital advertising feel like an endless agony to me. To sum up: there is no sign of improvement on the performance side; a growing percentage of ads are sold in bulk; click-fraud and user rejection are on the rise, all resulting in ceaseless deflation. Call it the J-Curve of digital advertising, as it will get worse before it gets better (it must–and it will.).
Here is a quick summary of issues and possible solutions:
 The rise of ad blocking systems, the subject of a Dec. 8, 2014 Monday Note. That column was our most viewed and shared ever, which suggests a growing concern for the matter. Last week, AdBlockPlusproudly announced a large scale deployment solution: with a few clicks, system administrators can now install AdBlockPlus on an entire network of machines. This is yet another clue that the problem won’t go away.
 There are basically three approaches to the issue.
The most obvious one is to use the court system against Eyeo GmBH, the company operating AdBlockPlus. After all, the Acceptable Ads agreement mechanism in which publishers pay to pass unimpeded through ABP filters is a form of blackmail. I don’t see how Eyeo will avoid collective action by publishers. Lawyers—especially in Europe—are loading their guns.
The second approach is to dissuade users from installing ABP on their browsers. It’s is up to browser makers (Google, Microsoft, Apple) to disable ABP’s extensions. But they don’t have necessarily much of an incentive to do so. Browser technology is about user experience quality when surfing the web or executing transactions. Performance relies on sophisticated techniques such as developing the best “virtual machines” (for a glimpse on VM technology, this 2009 FT Magazine piece, “The Genius behind Google’s browser” is a must-read.) If the advertising community, in its shortsighted greed, ends up saturating the internet with sloppy ads that users massively reject, and such excesses lead a third party developer to create a piece of software to eliminate the annoyance, it should be no surprise to see the three browser providers tempted to allow ad-blocking technologies.

Top Tips for Improving Your Business Through Social Selling

IDG Connect

 Top Tips for Improving Your Business Through Social Selling

Dale Roberts is VP of Professional Services at Artesian, the innovative developer of social intelligence software. He is also a keynote speaker, blogger and author of Decisions Sourcing: Organisational Decision Making for the Agile and Social Enterprise. Prior to joining Artesian, Dale worked with some of the largest European and US businesses to build analytic and performance management solutions in his role as European Services Director for market leader Cognos, now part of IBM.

Dale discusses his top tips for embracing social selling and explains why smart businesses are putting social insight at the heart of their sales strategies.

We are in the middle of an online and social revolution that has not only changed the way we buy a holiday or book air travel but how we buy for businesses too. Figures show that three quarters of business buyers use social media to make purchasing decisions. The wave of cultural change is being felt beyond consumers as business buyers connect on professional social platforms and check rating sites when considering a wide range of purchases from electronic goods or employer liability insurance to exhibition space.

The pace of change is dramatic, with typical business buyers opting to delay their first engagement with a seller until they are 57%[1] through their purchasing decision. What this means is that more than half of the sales process has now disappeared, taking with it the influence and control that professional sellers previously had.

Businesses must recognise this change and implement social strategies within their sales and marketing departments to transform the way they engage with customers.  To make this effective, sellers have to adopt new habits and the following tips will help them to stand out with the new connected buyer:

# 1 Spend your day more effectively

According to a recent McKinsey Global Institute report, sellers spend only 39% of their time carrying out role specific tasks, eg. selling. Other activities, such as reading and answering emails, searching for information and internal collaboration are pulling them away and whilst email is a valuable communications tool it can also slow progress towards closing a sale.  Sales people and managers can start by assessing how much time they are giving to direct communication and research and restructure their day to focus at least 60% of their day on selling.

#2 Use social tools to support sales effectiveness

Gathering information is a necessary activity, but it’s possible that too much time is being spent on this and not very effectively. Traditional sales intelligence focused on data about people and businesses is limited. Sellers must have access to topical, timely and, if possible, behavioural information, most usefully derived from user-generated content, social media and/or news. If customers are using social networks, sellers should be connected too, so they can communicate with them in the space they occupy and build credibility. Buyers are also more likely to engage with someone they recognise through social networks.

#3 Refine your social listening

The Internet is immeasurable and Google searching or casual browsing for relevant information is not only time-consuming, it is also like looking for a needle in the proverbial haystack. Social intelligence tools are designed to sharpen this process so sellers receive insight that they can use effectively, whether that’s product announcements or managerial shifts, legislation or the impact of political change. The tools tap into social and user-generated content in real-time, and deliver it instantly so that sales people can leverage it to engage with buyers intelligently and at the right moment.

Read all 5 tips… 

2015 Programmatic Predictions

MediaPost

The programmatic ad industry’s 2014 predictions were hit or miss, and it’s time to once again break out the crystal ball and peer into the new year. From ad fraud and viewability to programmatic TV and private marketplaces, these predictions touch on some of the most popular topics today. 

M&As will continue to trump IPOs. I took this space yesterday to note how mergers and acquisitions in the ad tech space trumped IPOs in 2014 — especially over the back half of the year — and it’s a trend that will continue in 2015. That’s not to say there will be no notable IPOs in the programmatic space next year, but more companies will find their “exit” in buyers rather than public offerings.

Ad fraud will remain a major issue. Marketers are relatively split on whether ad fraud will decrease or increase; The 614 Group and AdMonsters found that 58% of marketers believe ad fraud will decrease next year, while 42% believe it won’t.

Count me as one that doesn’t believe ad fraud will decrease next year. In fact, “ad fraud” is a relatively new phrase.

Other than a few scattered mentions between 2002 and 2012, the term “ad fraud” rarely appeared in MediaPost, Adweek orAdvertising Age articles until midway through 2013.

Some form or another of fraud has existed for years (see “click fraud”), but programmatic technologies have ushered in “ad fraud.” And now “ad fraud” is the second-biggest concernmarketers have heading into 2015, thanks to the fact that it threatens to cost marketers worldwide $6.3 billion next year.

There will be two ad tech players that will rise above the rest by the end of 2015 with a full compliment of offerings. The frontrunners must be Google, AOL, Facebook, Yahoo and Twitter, but perhaps new major players will emerge rapidly — including Apple. Each of these companies made strides to better their programmatic offerings in 2014, although those plans may not come to full fruition until 2015.

Yahoo and Facebook both bought video ad platforms in the second half of 2014, AOL has a multichannel ad platform prepped for launch in early 2015, Apple has geared itself for a programmatic push and Google continues to have a hand across the board. The “data and tech” arms race will never truly cease, but with 2014 serving as a major prep-for-the-future year, 2015 is when we can expect to see most of those plans in motion.

Viewability will rise, but not to 70%. The IAB wants marketers to aim for 70% viewability in 2015, but the programmatic ad market sputtered through 2014 just trying to crack 50%. 2015 has been dubbed a “transition” year for viewability, and while I think a renewed interest in ad quality will help rates rise, color me 70% skeptical that the goal will be met.

Continue reading…