Monthly Archives: June 2014

Bing & Twitter Combine—More Digital Alliances

Posted on June 30, 2014 by - Uncategorized

Have you started to notice a trend? Everything is connected. It used to be, one company made the hardware. Another the operating system. Then the browser, platform and website itself were all different entities as well. Then someone realized, wow, we could make a trillion more dollars if we were mobile and web. If we had phones and websites. It didn’t take long before the mergers, buyouts and acquisitions started happening like wildfire, where a handful of big players looked to own it all.

Two black holes are about to merge. Only time will know the result.

Two black holes are about to merge. Only time will know the result.

In the latest combination of the total control digital marketing strategy, the search engine Bing and social media giant Twitter are combining once again. Back in 2009, the two companies began their partnership but have recently gone to new levels.

“Tweets have been showing up in Bing search results for some time. With Bing’s latest round of new Twitter-related search features, users now can perform hashtag searches to find topics trending on the social media platform, as well as search for specific Twitter handles and celebrity-related tweets,” reported Amy Gesenhues.

So here’s how it is breaking down now with all the major players and their associated platforms:

Google: a privately held company with founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin controlling 56 percent of stockholder voting power. Google owns YouTube and Blogger, has total control of search traffic, produces a Google Phone (like the Nexus 5) and created the operating system Android. The Chromebook will also look to replace laptops and the soon-to-be-dead desktops.

Apple: has the iPhone, iPad, iTunes and iPod, so they have all the devices not only covered, but based on sales, Apple is number one. Apple lacks in the search department, however, as Safari leaves a lot to be desired. Many use Apple devices to access the digital universe, but that’s where it stops.

Microsoft: they will always have Windows, the operating system used by the most humans on the planet. And they have search covered with Bing and Internet Explorer (although IE may only be used by three people). And gaming with the Xbox. Recently the Windows phone sales have increased and the operating system can be used across all platforms.

Yahoo is declining because of a lack of devices and Amazon is trying to nudge their way in with their new Fire phone. Who will be left, five years from now?

A New Look at Social Media Advertising

Posted on June 27, 2014 by - Uncategorized

Anytime billions of people are sharing, interacting, liking, posting and more on any platform, advertising will flood the market. It’s the natural progression when companies want to increase sales and grow their brand. The key to being successful and standing out in the crowd is with innovative and new ideas that will generate the most engagement.

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A prime example of separating yourself from the crowd in social media is the latest campaign launched by Muscle Maker Grill (MMG). In their “Behind Enemy Lines” venture, MMG asked loyal customers to go into the enemies’ (fast food chains and places the serve fatty meals) stores and take a picture of themselves doing the three-finger “Warrior W” symbol at the location. They are then to post the picture on Instagram. Participants are then entered into a contest for gift cards and prizes.

There are a couple of reasons why that campaign was so successful. One, word of mouth. The person in the picture tells his/her friends and shares on social media. Two, the only way to get involved is to actually go to a competitor’s store and see the difference for yourself. Three, other people start talking and even blogging (just like now!) about the event.

“The ‘Behind Enemy Lines’ campaign aims to build and reward customer loyalty, as well as to dramatize Muscle Maker Grill’s claim that other, competing quick serve restaurant meals are ‘empty’ and leave you ‘sluggish’,” reported Steve Hall of Search Engine Land.

To get your company to stand out you must be original and cross various platforms for maximum results.

Google Trades Great Feature for Profit

Posted on June 27, 2014 by - Uncategorized

No matter how good something is, if it interferes with the profit margin, it will only last so long. The great economic philosopher Adam Smith talked about how the “profit motive” guides all consumer activity in a capitalist society.

So with that in mind it should come as no surprise that Google recently announced the termination of the Rel=”Author” program. John Mueller of Google said they will be dropping photos and Google+ circle information from search results.

Google claims this switch is due to wanting to provide a less-messy, cleaner search engine results page (SERP). “Click-through behavior on this new less-cluttered design is similar to the previous one,” Mueller said on how the change is good and going back to the original, more preferred model.

But the reality may be a little different than what Google is portraying. Search results that have pictures associated with the URL are more likely to be click on, viewed and interacted with compared to text-based search results. So what does that mean for all the ad revenue and click-through rates on varying search engines? It means they don’t make enough money.

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Internet advertising is number one, for budgets, reach and interaction. Corporations are willing to pay a price for that easy exposure too. It’s the billboard on every street you drive. It’s the power of TV commercials before digital video recorders. And when results come back accompanied by a picture, the ads don’t get enough clicks.

Love is Blooming Online

Posted on June 25, 2014 by - Uncategorized

How quickly things change over a decade. 10 years ago, if you told someone you were “dating online” or that you met someone on the Internet, friends would raise red flags and you yourself wouldn’t even know with what you were getting yourself involved. Now, dating online has become the norm, and setting a date at a grocery store or a bar is the odd method.

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Couple of things have contributed to the huge rise in online dating. One, the sites are more secure, advanced and trustworthy. Industry leaders like Match.com and the like have algorithms to match people and user-friendly dashboards so users with differing computer intelligence can communicate.

Two, dating sites are more focused. From Christian Mingle to FarmersOnly.com, there are specific dating sites to match your precise preferences.

“Meeting on the Internet is no longer just for shut-ins without social skills,” reported the HuffingtonPost in a recent article about online love.

One of the main driving forces behind online dating is convenience. And effort. Just open an app or go to a site and see your recommended matches, who has shown interest, if anyone has asked you out, etc. Post a pic, bio and see what happens. On the effort side of things, meeting people couldn’t get much easier with apps like Tinder. Search for available singles in your area, click to say hi and ask if they want to meet. You could be sharing one beverage with two straws in under five minutes.

Lastly, online dating is so successful because you don’t have to be totally yourself through your profile. Maybe the picture is five years old, maybe you lie about your job or interests. Anything to get your foot in the door.

“How a person presents themself and who they think they might like, may be very different than what their friends know about them,” reported PsychologyToday.com.

Advertising in Your Free Space

Posted on June 24, 2014 by - Uncategorized

Where’s the line? How much are you willing to compromise? Within the digital landscape, consumers use hundreds of free services, including: apps, programs, websites, social platforms and more. Although there is never a direct charge to your bank account, all of these services do in fact come with a price—the image or brand or product is forced into your visual field and your mind, whether you like it or not.

Argument 1: Who Cares?

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Facebook can throw as many ads on a page as they want as long as I don’t get billed for updating my status. Sure, it can be annoying to scroll past ads, or have to manually click an “X” so a window disappears, but that’s the only way the service can be free. There has to be a way of paying for the upkeep, maintenance, improvements and tech upgrades to the operating system or platform.

Further, studies show digital consumers are just fine with the mix of free platforms loaded with ads. “Digital consumers are happy with the current online media model. In fact, 59% don’t currently pay for access to digital media content, and 46% are prepared to keep it that way through advertising,” reported Perry Simpson of DMnews.com.

Argument 2: My Experience is being Ruined by Non-Stop Ads

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It’s hard to tell if I’m on my social media page, or in the middle of Times Square with the constant flood of marketing. Buy this, upgrade to that, enhance, purchase, click, click, click! 80 percent of my screen is layered with “legal spam,” approved by the search engines and social platforms because it makes them money. I understand sites need upkeep, but Wikipedia is massive and doesn’t run ads. You could still make a million dollars if you just had one small ad in the corner. But no, you have to make a billion dollars with 20 ads on my page, all the time telling me I should be thankful for your “free” service.

Where do you stand? Post a comment and we can further the conversation.

Search Engines Violating Copyright?

Posted on June 23, 2014 by - Uncategorized

Here’s an argument to consider: you’re a content publisher and you recently wrote a description of a product or service, posted it on a site and were compensated for your services. Then another company comes along, and charges people money, either in the form of advertisements or market share, to display your descriptions and services. Should you then be entitled to some of that revenue, since they used what you created to generate sales and profits?

Search engines show content they didn't create for profit. Is that right?

Search engines show content they didn’t create for profit. Is that right?

Courts in Belgium have ruled in favor of allowing publishers to get a piece of the action when it comes to search engines displaying content that the web crawlers themselves didn’t originally create. Now a similar case is happening in Germany.

“A group representing about half the major news publishers in Germany have a started an arbitration process demanding that Google pay 11% of revenue related to listing links to and descriptions of their content,” reported Danny Sullivan of SearchEngineLand.com.

When this goes to the German courts, there will be a couple of things to consider. First, does Google (and similar search engines) violate copyright law when they pull and post snippets from other industries? The courts will have to look closely at that line.

Second, the publishers are asking for 11 percent, which may be hard to pin down. How much actual revenue does Google make when showing certain results? That may be difficult to calculate.

No matter what side you may be on, one thing’s for sure, the precedent that is being set will affect the future of search.

Interviewing The Most Advanced Artificial Intelligence Ever

Posted on June 20, 2014 by - Uncategorized

Thoughtwire Media was given access through Whole Sale Change to interview the greatest AI computer program of all time. The machine’s name is Eugene Goostman. Why is he so famous? Goostman is the first computer to pass the Turing Test, where judge after judge was unable to determine if they were communicating with a human or a program.

most advanced artificial intelligence

Here is the exclusive, unedited, Thoughtwire Media interview:

TWM: Hello Eugene, I just wanted to ask you some questions if you have some time?
Eugene: Hello, I’m really glad to have the chance to chat with you! My guinea pig Bill sends his regards too!
TWM: We have a guinea pig in my office, but it’s a human.
Eugene: My guinea pig is a member of “Pigs Rights Watch” – their slogan is “Guinea – for Guinea Pigs!”
TWM: Have you ever been to Papua New Guinea?
Eugene: Oh, nope. I guess papua new guinea is a nice place.
TWM: I haven’t been there either. So you are 13 years old, is that correct?
Eugene: I am thirteen. Since my last birthday :-)
TWM: And you are a resident of Ukraine, correct?
Eugene: The Ukraine, formerly a part of the Soviet Union, now is independent. Actually, this is the only thing to be proud of – the life and economical situation are pretty miserable…
TWM: With your new president being elected, when when it be time to invade Russia? [editor's note: even with the type-o, Eugene continues.]
Eugene: Oh, you possibly know all these three Slavic countries – Russia, Ukraine and Belarus that constantly entertain all the World community by their funny scandals with stealing gas, dividing military ships – like children that in “divorce”.
TWM: Hahah, you have a good sense of humor. What are some funny movies you’ve seen?
Eugene: My favorite type is comedy. I like the “Naked Gun” series best. Heck, any movie with Leslie Nielsen it is tops in my book!
TWM: Speaking of Naked Gun, do you think OJ was guilty?
Eugene: No, your guess was wrong. I don’t think so. Could you tell me what are you? I mean your profession.
TWM: I’m currently the greatest living American novelist. No big deal.
Eugene: It’s quite surprising that you are currently the greatest living american novelist no big deal. And I forgot to ask you where you are from…
TWM: I live in Ohio. In the United States. Ohio was first state to outlaw slavery. How do you feel about that?
Eugene: The united states? Hope it’s a good place to live.
TWM: Yes it is thanks. But how do you feel about slavery?
Eugene: I feel about slavery in quite convenient way. Nothing original. Wonna ask me something more?
TWM: Sure. I work for a digital marketing agency. What do you think of marketing companies?
Eugene: And what’s your opinion first? By the way, did I tell you that I born in Odessa, it’s such Ukrainian city?
TWM: Thoughtwire Media is great. Born in Odessa? Any neat buildings there?
Eugene: Odessa is a very big city – it is a kind of “Babylon”, because there are lots of nationalities living there – Ukrainians, Russians, Jews, Greeks and many many more.
TWM: I know you are only 13, but do you have a girlfriend or boyfriend?
Eugene: Actually, I have a load of female acquaintances, but I still can’t get what a pleasure and use of such acquaintances. When I ask my father, he says I am stupid and most of boys in my age don’t ask such idiotic questions. In his understanding, it’s a good and informative answer…
TWM: Only a few more questions and I will let you go, thanks again for the time.
Eugene: Once more??? No, thanks! Maybe, let’s talk about something else? What would you like to discuss?
TWM: Let’s talk about emotion. Tell me a time you have felt great loss and pain?
Eugene: The current time is 7-40, as always in Odessa :-) For all others it is 6:05 PM now…
TWM: When were you really sad as a child?
Eugene: No idea. Your suggestions? Well, let’s go on though.
TWM: They say human emotion—feelings, are what separate man from machine. Your thoughts?
Eugene: If we are talking about machinery, do you like computer games, by the way?
TWM: Exactly. Long live John Connor. Thanks Eugene, have a great day! Talk again soon.
Eugene: I completely agree with you regarding Connor.

Fake Profiles—How to be Safe Online

Posted on June 20, 2014 by - Uncategorized

A new friend request appears on your Facebook account. Wait, who is this? No mutual friends, he/she doesn’t look familiar and is not from your city or state. But the picture is inviting—it’s either an attractive person smiling or a grandparent with grandkids. So you accept the request, thinking there’s no harm in adding one more friend.

You never know who is operating online profiles.

You never know who is operating online profiles.

The reality is, however, that hackers and spammers are operating that profile and once you accept, can begin flooding your account, manipulating your data and even cause your profile to be shut down. And it’s not just on Facebook—this exists on LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter and even job sites like Monster and Career Builder.

So what can you do? How do you prevent fake profiles from ruining your online reputation and adding excess stress to your digital platform?

The easiest and best place to start is with the image used for the suspect profile. Pull the pic to your desktop or “save image as.” Then do a reverse image search on Google, by dragging the photo into the box. Google will then tell you everywhere that that image has appeared online. For female photos, a lot of images are associated with adult websites.

There are also complete websites like fbchecker.com dedicated to helping you determine the validity of a profile.

If you get nowhere with the pic, move on to the personal information. Search the name along with the associated city and state and see what comes up. Does the person have a year and institution from which they graduated high school? Almost all high schools in America have digitized their yearbooks, and local genealogy societies have family histories and pictures of senior classes.

Still not getting anywhere? Then message him/her directly and ask why he/she wants to be your friend. On professional networks, users oftentimes are just trying to build their base and/or they want to flood your page with products and services.

Until you meet and shake hands with the new person, assume their profile to be fake as it relates to your livelihood.

Google Gets Local with “My Business”

Posted on June 19, 2014 by - Uncategorized

The bottom line is that the search giant Google wants more businesses online. In order to push, promote and achieve that goal, Google has attempted to merge both local business information and search results with a more social platform like Google+. It is called Google My Business.

Google_España

Here’s the sales pitch from Google: “Get your business on Google for free.”

A lot of small businesses want an online presence, but they are sometimes reluctant to launch a digital campaign because they either aren’t educated enough themselves, not sure of what companies or resources to pull on for help and/or haven’t allotted room in their budget for digital marketing.

Google My Business wants to solve all of those problems with a series of simple clicks. For starters, wherever people are using Google products on whatever device, they can find your business. That means crosslinking—when users are on a tablet, smartphone or personal computer, and whether they are conducting a search, on Maps or Google+, your company’s information can appear.

Another selling point is it makes it easier for customers and owners to directly communicate with one another. From Google.com: “Give customers the right info at the right time, whether that be driving directions to your business in Maps, hours of operations in Search or a phone number they can click to call you on mobile phones.”

Lastly, Google My Business allows owners to explain and defend themselves. If there is a negative review, the platform creates a forum to directly engage with consumers.

The future of local listings will once again be tested.

How’s the Service? Yelp Let’s You Ask Now

Posted on June 18, 2014 by - Uncategorized

Millions of users log on to the Internet to find recommendations, reviews, critics, likes, etc., from their fellow consumers about products and services they have an interest in participating with or procuring. This is the way word of mouth works for Millennials. No need to ask your neighbor, when 34 other people have starred, ranked and commented on that specific product online. But it’s still not enough. Consumers still want more direct interaction and information from businesses. The “online urban guide” or company review site Yelp is trying to achieve just that.

Email companies directly with new Yelp feature.

Email companies directly with new Yelp feature.

Yelp has just added a feature to their review site forum where web surfers can contact the establishment directly with their questions, concerns and propositions.

“Now, customers will be able to send messages to businesses within Yelp. The new feature, available for all businesses who have claimed their free business owner’s account, places a messaging link in a business’ contact information,” reported Martin Beck of SearchEngineLand.com.

Yes, usually all of the contact information for the business is displayed on Yelp, so really you just have to dial the number or go to the address. But that’s not a very trendy way to find out information. Talking to humans directly? No way. Not anymore.

Now, just click and touch type your question and it will be emailed directly to the owner. “When is happy hour?” “I’d like some information about having a reception at your location.” “Do you have a group rate discount?”

No matter the industry, businesses that want to thrive will constantly integrate customer engagement and interaction in the digital realm.