11th Sep2010

Of Search and Social

by Dorothy

This morning (and now about a day ago because I sat on posting this), I came across this RWW article that got me thinking about certain things.

Americans spent more time socializing on Facebook than searching with Google for the first time in August, and Yahoo edged out the search giant in monthly traffic, according to new data from marketing research firm comScore.

Information is being created at an amazing speed. The folks over at Youtube quip that “every minute, 24 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube.” But correspondingly, human capacity to process, comprehend and store this cannot possibly mirror this exponential growth. This capacity remains the same, and hopefully all that talk about how the internet is making us stupid is not true.

So what interests me about the RWW article was the intricacies of the nature of interactions on each site/platform as well.

Say Google really delivers the quick and streamlined search results (even before you finish typing..Google Instant anyone?). How does this affect their ad revenue model if it’s working so well and a user skips off(albeit happily) in the few seconds of interaction?

 

When I grow up, I want to be just like (you)?

With Facebook…

– Trying to be Yahoo with the newly rolled out Facebook Answers, which doesn’t seem to have the superior targeting engine that Facebook ads seems to have… because none of the questions have been particularly compelling enough to click on. Not sticky. It is also seemingly mostly perpetuated by USA centric discussions so the lack of local probably is another factor as well.

– Trying to be Foursquare with Facebook Places that nobody in this parts can access without a VPN (seriously..), which I would say has greatly affected my experience naturally.

I’m still logging into Facebook daily though.

I don’t use the Yahoo portal much honestly but their mail interface really works for me over Gmail. I suppose new ways to present old stats will always surface and I suppose part of this is that it’s interesting to have a sexy title that any other company could challenge and (gasp) beat Google at its game. In perspective, it’s really all about how you define “beat” as well. It depends on your purpose. Am I going to stop returning to Google because they can quickly direct me away (incidentally to exactly where I want to go)? No.

Here’s another perspective on the overall picture, since the Comscore data seems to focus largely on the USA  – Google still ranks tops on sites like Alexa, and there are whole lot of other related properties like Youtube, Blogger and etc so collectively it will be interesting to see how each entity fares. If Twitter would not fail whale so often, I wonder if they would move up as well. 

At any rate, I just came across this post here that claims people spend more time on Facebook than on Google‘s sites combined. You will notice I use the word “claims” because I still think everything is too subjective nowadays until there is a unified way to look at things across the board, one site’s claim is only as sound as you make it to be.

 

(Search)

On an aside, Search was one of the topics that happned to be discussed when Mel Carson from Microsoft Advertising came down from the UK. Had a nice cozy chat this week with a couple of other practitioners together with Mel…and interesting that he highlighted his background in SEM.

Search is important and I figure it shapes the way you learn, because in essence, you dictate what your perception on the topic is. Like the case of BP (something that was brought up a couple of weeks back in another setting, so I just wanted to hear opinions on this), and I’m still on the fence about how ethical, or “right” it is for brands to spend on search to have control over the results. And case in point- BP and the oil spill disaster.

During the conversation, Mel shared that it was something like 57 thousand to later 3.6 million that BP spent on Google Adwords. Which is an astonishing jump if you think about it. The stats are also up at this post from Adage.

BP’s increase underscores how important Google has become for reputation management, and in the battle for public opinion. In the wake of the spill, Google was a natural first stop for people seeking information, and BP bought up dozens of keywords associated with the disaster such as “oil spill,” “leak,” “top kill” and “live feed” as it vied for clicks with news stories, images of oiled wildlife and plaintiff attorneys trolling for clients.

“Google has become the remote control for the world; it’s the first stop, not TV,” said Will Margiloff, CEO of Innovation Interactive, a unit of Denstu. “More than any other media, that messaging is requested; people are seeking BP’s answers out as opposed to waiting to be told.”

Clearly there are implications for PR, Crisis and Reputation Management, since this is just another arsenal that can be utilized. Not one of the more discussed strategies, since most people are typically more focused on the tangible responses (Did the CEO apologize? Did they have a press release?..etc). It’s pretty much impossible to try and control social media (people are going to share what they want to anyway), but the public can’t read what they can’t find if you’re going to manipulate search results that way. So at least some of the traffic can be redirected that way.

And just to document the thoughts from another conversation, I think Greenpeace are actually one of the world’s most successful creative agencies or filmmakers or storytellers if you think about it. If I ran an agency I would be hiring someone like their creatives for projects. It is exceedingly difficult to defeat a machine powered by passion. Some of the content they produce, or the way they can mobilize the masses is just nothing short of amazing compared to some of the other “official” creative advertising.

The mind is an interesting thing. Sometimes just starting to think about a single topic can lead onto so much more. Short of titling all future blog posts “random thoughts of the day (date)” etc I haven’t quite found a way to address this when trying to consolidate certain thoughts.

This has been a good week of conversations, I seriously hope this continues!


Other previous Search/Social related posts

Social Media Sticky Behaviors – Google & Facebook

Search Portals v.s Social Networking Sites – A Fight for the Advertising Dollar (& our eyeballs)

21st Feb2010

Social Media Sticky Behaviors – Google & Facebook

by Dorothy

One of the great things about digital is that it really helps to crystallize certain behaviors. This means visible, predictive intelligence online. One of the most sticky platforms still remains the ubiquitous Facebook, while Google is practically synonymous with search. While they both started off as very distinct entities, it seems that FB has evolved enough to actually start moving into the Search space.

Games

Ever contemplate disabling or deactivating your Facebook account? You know what is top of mind of users when they worry aloud in the FAQ section of FB about losing their data from Farmville (or any other FB game, really!). This, instead of losing all their friends and contacts. This was a few months ago, when Farmville concerns were right at the top of the discussion topics.

It will be interesting when the games and virtual goods segment in FB grows. The question then is how this will translate in markets like South Korea, where there is an entire virtual economy flourishing. It is also a market where other global players such as Myspace, Youtube and even Google have either had to bow out or simply be content with a smaller pie of the market share. Will FB finally have enough clout to go against the likes of Cyworld?

Another question is what happens when (and if?) app revenues surpass that of Facebook?

Zynga (creator of Farmville, Mafia Wars and etc) which has 230 million monthly active users was reported to have revenues of $200 million in 2009. The WSJ says Facebook revenues could hit $710 million in 2010, so there’s still some distance between the two figures. Still, if a fair percentage of return visits are due to the addictive FB games, it remains to be seen if the gap will narrow.

Facebook: Your One stop Internet Destination

You’ve seen the stats. Early 2009, Zuckerberg quipped the most overused quotable line about how “If Facebook were a country, it would be the eighth most populated in the world, just ahead of Japan, Russia and Nigeria.”

Then, he was talking about 150 million people. It is now 2010. Techcrunch reports that Facebook now has something along the lines of about 350 million registered users, with over 175 million of them logging in daily.

That’s a whole lot of visits, a whole lot of eyeballs, a whole lot of power.

Enough power to simply change the FB layout AGAIN without word or warning. I hated it, but have since gotten used to it, since there wasn’t anything much I could really do about it (deja vu?). Everyone seems to have gotten used to the fact that we are all experimental guinea pigs, sigh and get on with our lives. And we  still keep going back to the site.

And now, FB has its sights on Google, who apparently has 800 million visitors.

“According to Web measurement firm Compete Inc., Facebook has passed search-engine giant Google to become the top source for traffic to major portals like Yahoo and MSN, and is among the leaders for other types of sites.” – Source: SF Gate

You can also read more about how FB could kill Google here. The gist is that FB and Google are complementary for now (since FB is leading all those eyeballs to Google), at least, until unique visits for FB surpass that of Google. Microsoft last cut a (non exclusive)deal with FB in the last quarter of 2009 to include real time search results from status updates, but it remains unclear where FB may run with the search pie.

What are these sites to you?

Interestingly, at least for now, Google seems to resonate more with users in terms of the serious stuff – maps, translators, finance info, useful software like chrome/earth.. versus more of a slant towards entertainment and games on Facebook.

Many people still use the Google search bar as a place to type in URLs like Facebook.com (for reasons I can never fathom.. why they can’t type it directly into the actual URL bar is beyond me).

These results below do feature a bit on the importance of mobile as well – with the mobile related and FB lite mentions.

I’m still curious as to how all this will play out and how people will respond to all/any of these changes online… What will keep people coming back for repeat visits?  Also,  with all the talk on privacy and merging of identities on various platforms,  something to explore in future posts!

05th Sep2009

Behind the Great Firewall of China…

by Dorothy

I’ve spent the last week or so being intermittently barred from all of my usual haunts online, but it has been interesting so far.

The plane ride to China was within a bearable threshold, unlike the grueling 24 hour journeys to the USA.  I am entertained by the H1N1 cartoon they’ve created, the animated characters looking like a Chinese New Year food product advertisement rather than a warning about the disease that has affected people worldwide.

I survive the taxi journey from the airport during which the driver weaves in and out of trucks the size of Optimus Prime. Privately, I suspect he fancies himself as auditioning for 2 Fast 2 Furious, because he drives like (well, a taxi driver…) he is behind the wheel of a Forumula 1 Vehicle.

IMAG0067The next morning, I am having breakfast in the hotel, and something is having my foot for breakfast. I later spot the culprit – a lone Hangzhou mosquito hovering around and having eaten it’s fill, finds its business elsewhere. My foot bears the only trace of its presence. The breakfast area plays Christmas saxophone songs and I think of snow. End of the week, I realize that that same CD basically plays everyday, at any of the eating haunts, and repeatedly from morning to night.

Despite the revolving doors at the entrance which usually hint to me of freezing cold weather, it has been pretty much “like Singapore” and not “hotter than Singapore” as I had been forewarned. Maybe I have some sort of luck with the weather right now, because it has apparently been raining in Singapore since I left. Perhaps then, my perception of this place is somewhat different from the rest, because talking to the locals gets me the information that this is an uncharacteristically cool bout of Summer weather we are experiencing.

The office here is seriously swanky, with a pantry area that looks like a cafe, LCD screens mounted on the ceiling and kick ass conferencing equipment. I love the happy colours, and the chinese logo is a nice touch on the introductory wall that greets everyone who steps in.

Till then, Facebook, Twitter, Plurk, Youtube, Blogger are amongst the sites that I’ve been unable to access in certain places….

unfamiliar

Facebook reassures me that they “take my privacy seriously” with their investigation that I really am who I am, since I’ve not  logged in from this location before. I wonder if this happens only in China, because I didn’t get the same screen in the USA.

More on the great firewall of China (and Iran for that matter) here and some other interesting insights on the other parts of China.

Because, I can imagine from the sheer size of this country, there are many Chinas within the whole, and what I’m seeing is barely scratching the surface of what it is like in all the other cities and provinces.

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30th Jun2009

Ad:Tech Singapore Thoughts: #3 Blogger’s Session with Scott Goodstein

by Dorothy

I suppose I could wax lyrical about the amazingly well received digital campaign that backed President Obama during the US elections, but I’m sure everyone has already read many articles about that. Maybe lesser known to the general public, is the man and his team behind the digital campaign – Scott Goodstein, whom we got to meet!

scottgoodstein

Strategy, Strategy

One of the things that stuck to me was how Scott detailed that they didn’t roll out onto 50 sites at once. That is also why I like parts of this post about 3 common social media mistakes and the “shiny new object” syndrome.

It’s true. Just because the tools/sites are out there, doesn’t mean you have to use all of them at once or all of them, ever. He was also about figuring out what metrics made sense for each of the
channels, and using those to measure ROI, instead of sticking to the
traditional definitions of success.

… make certain that the social media strategy is right for your
particular company, not because everyone else is doing it. One size
doesn’t fit all.

He mentioned how the team figured out that when rolling out a Youtube video, the critical point was really in the first 24 hours. Once a video made Top video of the Day, it was more likely to ride on a wave of viewership.

“You don’t stop doing radio because you can’t tell which radio ad got you the sale.”
It was also interesting that Scott didn’t quite seem to focus on the distinction between the traditional and new media. Again, at the end of the day, the focus was on delivering a consistent, strong message across the various networks- SMS, email, websites and the lot. It wasn’t quite the struggle between “Should we channel our funds to traditional print ads or a digital campaign?“. “Good old fashioned online stores work too”, quipped Scott, on their Tshirts sold on Myspace.

Other takeaway snippets:

  • The message + messenger are key

This paragraph highlights this nicely.

and for the multi-channel, hyper-connected, user-generated,
co-created, always-on world we now live in — a world where the good
gets what it deserves and so does the bad? What if we stopped getting
all hot and heavy over the latest new media success stories
du jour,
and starting realizing that the real triumph of, say, the Obama
campaign was the product and the story, not the channel used for
storytelling?

  • Customer service is now two-way communication
  • Every organization must set online goals
  • Be willing to experiment
  • Engage your audience.


I hadn’t realized that Scott had come out of the music industry, having experienced and watched young artists trying to find a new tool (Myspace) to sell their records. He shared how he had been watching the trends through young artists, and trying to figure out how to tap into this.

Well, he must have done something right!

grp_goodstein

Credit goes to Bernard for the group pic, and shoutout to Anubha from Upstream Asia for the invite to this session!

More Link Love: Some other posts on the Goodstein Bloggers’ Session….

Bernard, ShalabhMohan, Saurabh , Daniel

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24th May2009

Web 2.0 & Gen Y: The Other Side of the Story

by Dorothy


Frankly, I’m fatigued by all this hype about Web2.0, and how it is being touted as being the ‘cure’ to everything except cancer. Coupled together with its initial links with the irreverence of Gen Y, I believe we are seeing trends of a different sort right now.

In a couple of weeks, I will be speaking at youth panel at Ad:Tech, moderated by the very awesome Graham Perkins. We talked about how it would be interesting if we could carry on a conversation without using some words like Facebook, Gen Y, Social Media, and how everyone and their pet cat is on Twitter. Would this little alternative game of Taboo be even possible, the way people are throwing these terms around lately?

Seriously, at the heart of it all, is communication, good old word of mouth, but through a new medium – the digital channel. It is less about trying to pigeon hole all this as merely a fad or something for “youths”, which is the natural inclination.

I am partially convinced that ironically, most of what we believe we perceive of this digital movement is shaped by the traditional media, dying or not.

A couple of ‘myths’ that are becoming old…

#1. “No one watches TV, anymore.”

But what would you define as TV? The last I checked, a little site called YouTube was garnering a healthy number of hits (though not making much money), as so was Hulu.com (last year they were touted to surpass Youtube in profits in 2009). I wish I wouldn’t encounter so much of the US copyright restrictions where TV viewing oneline is concerned. Nevertheless, looks like the lucky folks over in the UK will get some of the action from Hulu and UK TV shows on Youtube soon.

What they really mean is the weakening popularity of sitting in front of the classical definition of a TV then …and the old channels, but most of us are watching shows and content off our mobile devices, off our laptop and computer screens, and then some. In other words, people are still watching, just on alternative screens, and in fact, for longer hours since mobile allows considerable freedom.

Nielsen Wire reports that Americans Watching More TV Than Ever; Web and Mobile Video Up too.


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