Swiping? How Passé.

in Advertising, Mobile, Technology No Comments

Yesterday Google revealed a new product that entices users through convenience: Google Wallet.

Wallet combines the phone and the credit card–two necessities that few, if any, leave the house without–into one tidy package.

The idea is to link credit cards virtually to phones, so that the phone becomes the only thing you need to grab before heading out of the house. To make purchases, the user simply taps the phone against a machine to pay. Google’s goal is not to eradicate credit cards but to eliminate their physical presence, making it more convenient for the user who has one less item to carry around. (It is more eco-friendly, too!) There is no transaction fee for now, so what does Google get out of this? Insight into consumer behavior and choices that can be used to inform other products like Google Offers.  Offers suggests relevant deals, coupons, and vouchers to users à la Groupon, the behemoth daily-deals site that Google failed to acquire last year.

To encourage greater participation and usage, Google stresses that Wallet is an open platform. A wise move considering Wallet is currently limited to one bank, one type of credit card, one mobile service provider, and one phone at launch this summer. If you do not meet all those requirements, you are stuck with carrying around your, well, wallet for now.

Once again Google is thinking big, but let’s see if it will widen its network enough for Wallet to truly take off.

Helping You Make Financial Decisions…

in Search Engine Marketing No Comments

Financial decision assistance

…touts Google Advisor, Google’s latest foray into financial comparison websites.  Riding on the heels of Comparison Ads, the company’s successful search product offering launched in late 2009 and geared toward mortgages, Advisor “makes it easy to find financial offers from multiple providers, compare them side by side, and apply online.”  The site is a destination helping guide users through various financial decisions and making it easier to find and compare relevant offers from qualified financial institutions.

With Advisor, Google is stepping deeper into the lush and lucrative forest of financial comparison sites, already populated by the likes of Bankrate.com, LendingTree.com, and MyBankTracker.com.

Owning a Tablet Means Using It

in Advertising, Mobile, Technology No Comments

It seems as though every day now there is something written about tablets and their influence on consumer habits.

The latest news from Peter Misek, analyst at global securities and investment banking group Jeffries, provides a few predictions and stats about the future of the tablet market and how people are using tablets today. According to this analysis of current tablet users, this new technology beats computers for media consumption including:

  • watching movies/TV shows
  • streaming video, e.g. Netflix
  • music via mp3 files or streaming sites like Pandora, and
  • book reading

Worldwide sales predictions beyond Apple and the initial introductory year of 2010:

  • Tablet sales are rapidly increasing, expected to reach 70 million this year, up close to 300% from last year
  • In 2011, Apple and Samsung will make up 74% of the market share, 64% being Apple alone
  • By 2014, their combined share will decline to 44%, but Apple will remain the clear leader
  • Tablets are not typically used as the primary computer; less than 30% of users do so
  • The majority of tablet owners still spend more time per day watching TV and using a smartphone or computer than using their tablet
  • Over half of tablet users spend more than an hour per day on their tablet
  • The primary place of tablet usage is in the home

Early adopters of the tablet platform are taking advantage of these new devices to consume more media, perhaps even more so than through the PC. This is the beginning of a trend we can’t ignore as tablets increase, new apps are created for media and advertising delivery, and tablet users become more savvy media consumers. What we anticipate to be a rapidly growing platform will provide us as marketers the opportunity of more communication channels and more communication challenges to directly reach willing consumers better, faster and smarter. Are you up for it?

Bing Results Become More Socially Driven

in Advertising, Search Engine Marketing, Social Media No Comments

Search results on Bing are about to become more socially influenced.  The struggle to maintain search share in the US and globally, against a rival the size of Google certainly keeps the MSN search engine on its toes.  Leveraging its partnership with Facebook gives Bing a leg up in many ways, and starting early this week, Bing searchers will begin seeing results which are influenced to some degree by what their Facebook friends “like” or “share”.

Bing results influenced by Facebook "Likes"

In a Bing Community blog post Monday, Yusuf Mehdi, Corporate VP at Microsoft commented that “today, search remains largely driven by facts and links…Research tells us that 90% of people seek advice from family and friends as part of the decision making process. This ‘Friend Effect’ is apparent in most of our decisions…”, but “…historically, search hasn’t incorporated this ‘Friend Effect’.”  Looking to change this apparent flaw in search results, Bing will begin “including personalized search results based on the opinions of friends”, simply by having users first sign into their Facebook accounts.  Tapping into the larger, “Collective IQ” will also help shape search results when “friends don’t have the right expertise or you’re not sure what you’re looking for. Search is better when it’s not just based in math and algorithms, but also infused with the opinions of people.”

Bing results influenced by Facebook friend locations

Research Tackles New Print Delivery Platforms

in Mobile, Technology No Comments

TargetCast is very pleased to know that two highly regarded research companies, GFK/MRI and Affinity/Vista, have taken on the daunting task of measuring magazine and advertising effectiveness based on Tablet readership.  While current Tablet owners are few in number every projection we see estimates an explosive growth in this category including competition to the current leader the iPad. 

Unlike traditional readership of hard copy editions of publications, where we have decades of past history, the new technologies available for print editorial availability pose significant challenges for the research companies.  It requires innovation and new ideas to meet these challenges. Measuring tablet and even Internet readership requires a start from scratch approach to capture the dynamic aspect of this technology in not only the editorial content available but the myriad of new advertising units and designs that are just around the corner.  The metrics used to describe this phenomenon must fit and blend with our current appreciation of a magazine reader.  Yes, they can provide new metrics but at the same time it is important to recognize that the industry needs to be able to evaluate all media using a common language.

We encourage this innovation and are firmly behind those publications that are willing to develop the best use of all the new technologies for their own brands as well as for our Clients.  We know that not all innovation will be successful but to stand still in the face of these changes is not a winning proposition for the publishers or our clients. 

We say bravo to the innovators and keep the innovation coming.

Mobile video rising, but TV is alive and well

in Mobile, Television, Video No Comments

Recent app releases from Time Warner Cable and Cablevision allowing subscribers to watch live and VOD television content directly on their iPads are getting a lot of attention lately. Questions linger about what will happen when viewers begin to switch from the small static screen to the smaller mobile screen.

Using video consumption on mobile phones as a comparison point, these concerns can certainly be somewhat justified. According to a recent Nielsen study, more people are watching video on mobile phones than ever before: nearly 25 million people had done so by the end of 2010. And they’re watching more too. In Q4 2009, people watched an average of 3 hours and 37 minutes of video on their phones per month. One year later, that number rose nearly 20% to 4 hours and 20 minutes.

These are impressive statistics for a technology that is still in its infancy. But there is no need to panic about losing the traditional TV audience. In that same quarter of 2010, people were still finding time to watch over 150 hours of television each month. That’s over 37x more time people were spending with the established media format than video on their comparatively brand new smartphones.

We can’t tell for sure what the future of video consumption will look like. We do know that it is only beginning to find new homes outside of the actual TV screen, but this additional consumption is just that: additional. People are not abandoning their television sets in favor of portable devices, but rather consuming their media in more places. The same eyes in different places should be very beneficial for advertisers as this means more channels through which to expose viewers to messages. Now is the time to start thinking outside the (TV) box.

Instant Preview for Ads – Some Thoughts

in Search Engine Marketing, Uncategorized No Comments

Google Instant Preview for Ads

It has been two weeks since Google announced it would expand Instant Preview, initially launched in November 2010 for organic search listings, to paid search ads as well.  Just doing a quick search for Instant Preview for Ads generated over 3,600 results (now plus one!)  For the unaware, IPfA presents a magnifying glass icon adjacent to the headline of a paid search ad, and upon click and subsequent mouse-over, gives users the opportunity to preview an ad’s landing page.  Searchers are able to quickly review the content of the potential landing page to see if it is relevant to their search prior to clicking.

Google asserts, and I would have to agree in theory, that this tactic will send even more qualified traffic to customer sites since users have the ability to pre-screen the result.  However, is it a stretch to assume the average searcher may not be aware of this icon’s utility?

While results, reviews and opinions continue to accumulate, some initial feedback seems focused on the SEO quality of the pending landing page.  Is there enough informative text on the displayed landing page?  Like a supermarket product label, is the displayed landing page eye-catching enough?

This new feature is a good one in many ways.  Among other reasons, it continues to push the “relevancy” proposition that Google espouses.  Advertisers must continue to make their destination pages more relevant, now not just because of the punishment of a wilting quality score, but because of a user’s ability to choose relevancy before clicking.  That being said, it would be interesting to see the relationship between icon “previews” and actual clicks.  Could that be a new metric?

Google Search Volume Around the Globe – A Visual

in Search Engine Marketing, Technology, Uncategorized No Comments

Google recently launched Search Globe, a visual account of daily searches around the world using a new technology only available for certain JavaScript-enabled browsers, like Chrome.  Search Globe visualizes searches from one day, and shows the language of the majority of queries in an area in different colors.  Due to internet availability and world economies, some areas are more densely lit than others.

Search Globe is made possible by a new browser technology, WebGL, which is a cross-platform, royalty-free web standard that works with your computer’s hardware to produce fast graphics in 3D.

You can see other cool WebGL demos here.

Doodle 4 Google

in Creativity, Uncategorized No Comments

All over the US, kids from Kindergarten to 12th grade are participating in the contest Doodle 4 Google. These talented youngsters are redesigning Google’s homepage logo to encompass the theme “What I’d Like to do someday…”

One lucky artist will win a $15,000 college scholarship, along with a $25,000 grant for their current school.

My favorite, “Jungle Art” was designed by 9 year-old Katie Stephenson from Stilwell, Oklahoma. Be sure to vote, your last chance is May 13,2011.

What is the internet anyway?

in Just for fun, Online, Technology No Comments


Above is an outtake from 1994 of NBC’s “Today” show which reveals some confusion as to what the “internet” actually is.  We have come a long way since then. Don’t be too hard on them though, folks. Today we are so reliant on the internet to obtain information. We are quick to Google things that we aren’t familiar with. How could they figure out what the internet is without the internet?

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