Year: 2012

Back to Field Notes

I’m insanely excited to be using Field Notes again.

I switch back and forth between Moleskines and Field Notes notebooks, but I’ve definitely missed the feel and experience of a good ad useful notebook lately since being away from Field Notes.

Sure, there are digital ways to capture todos and tasks and thoughts and notes, but ever since my time in the basement of an art gallery, I’ve realized the need for a good notebook.

Feels like an old friend is back.

Social TV Rating from Nielsen and Twitter

Fascinating on many levels but especially the notion of analytics and real-time engagement (something performance marketers have acknowledged for a while but larger brands are slowly realizing):

Nielsen and Twitter Establish Social TV Rating: “Nielsen, a leading global provider of information and insights into what consumers watch and buy, and Twitter today announced an exclusive multi-year agreement to create the ‘Nielsen Twitter TV Rating’ for the US market. Under this agreement, Nielsen and Twitter will deliver a syndicated-standard metric around the reach of the TV conversation on Twitter, slated for commercial availability at the start of the fall 2013 TV season.”

Yahoo’s “New” Ad Format

I’ve got a long long history dealing with co-registrations and lead generation going back to the halcyon days before 2003 when email marketing was all the rage (still should be) and FreeSlide was just a twinkle in our performance marketing eyes.

I’m not a defender of the admittedly very tacky and mostly illegal tactics that many “marketers” employed to get iPod-wanting visitors with a zip code and an email address zipping down registration paths towards free Gevalia coffee pots or Netflix DVD’s, but the registration path become an essential part of performance marketing during this “wild west” (as we called it) period.

So, it’s interesting to see Yahoo roll out a new Cost Per Lead (CPL in the industry lingo) ad format in its search results that looks strikingly familiar…

Yahoo Intros Cost-Per-Lead Search Ads, First New Format Under Marissa Mayer: “The new ad format, which can collect information like demographics, email addresses or phone numbers, is called Cost Per Lead for Search. It’s clearly marked as ‘Ad from’ with the advertiser’s name following.”

Reminiscing About What the Web Was

From 2008:

The vanishing personal site – Jeffrey Zeldman: “Our personal sites, once our primary points of online presence, are becoming sock drawers for displaced first-person content. We are witnessing the disappearance of the all-in-one, carefully designed personal site containing professional information, links, and brief bursts of frequently updated content to which others respond via comments.”

From this week in 2012:

The Web We Lost – Anil Dash: “The tech industry and its press have treated the rise of billion-scale social networks and ubiquitous smartphone apps as an unadulterated win for regular people, a triumph of usability and empowerment. They seldom talk about what we’ve lost along the way in this transition, and I find that younger folks may not even know how the web used to be.”

We’ve lost a great deal indeed.

Lots to ponder between these last four years and these two complimentary bookends on the handing over of our namespaces and personal sites to venture capital funds, eager stock buyers and corporate silos.

And yes, I miss Technorati as well.

The Hobbit’s Bad Review

One of the best reviews I’ve read in a long while…

‘The Hobbit – An Unexpected Journey,’ by Peter Jackson – “Over all, though, the shiny hyper-reality robs Middle-earth of some of its misty, archaic atmosphere, turning it into a gaudy high-definition tourist attraction. But of course it will soon be overrun with eager travelers, many of whom are likely to find the journey less of an adventure than they had expected.”

Maybe we should stick with this one:

The Hobbit : The Original Unedited 1977 Animated Classic

Google Maps App and Mobile Discovery

Smart piece that highlights some of the reasons we love the new Google Maps app on iOS and why it spells out the future of the (mobile) web…

Why Google Just Made iPhone King: Ads | Wired Business | “Google’s willingness to ship iOS apps could look smarter as time goes on. The company trounces Apple when it comes to all things cloud, not just maps and e-mail; its social network, search engine, and highly optimized data centers could give its iOS apps an even bigger edge in the coming years.”

Discovery means you’ll be able to “map” what your friends are liking, sharing and discovering themselves in an effortless and responsible manner. As we continue to kick the tires on the social web, we’re excited to see where this next discovery phase takes us.

Poor Gorgosaurus

Sad tale of a gorgosaurus that has, fortunately, been fossilized to preserve an amazing CSI-esque amount of data:

Who knew that brain tumors could show up in the fossil record and be responsible for a scary dino having two broken legs and a busted shoulder?

Gotta love science.

Square and Disruption

Square Gift Cards from Square on Vimeo.

We make no secret of our love for Square and the ability to democratize transactions to the point of making our on-the-go clients very very happy. We even gave them out as stocking stuffers to clients.

We couldn’t be more excited about Square’s new gift card functionality that will surely make a few of the great folks we work with happy as well (especially during the holiday season):

Square Introduces Gift Cards: The Slow Death Of Physical Credit Cards And Cash Continues | TechCrunch: “Today, payment service Square has introduced a new way to send gift cards, through its Square Wallet app. You can now go through all of the businesses that use Square to process payments, pick the right one for your friend or family member, and then purchase them a gift card of in amount of your choosing.”

It can only be a matter of time before Square gets acquired by Apple (I think). It’s an obvious partnership and makes sense given how disruptive Square is becoming to local payment industries.

New in WordPress 3.5

We’re super excited about the upcoming release of WordPress 3.5 as we use the insanely flexible and competent WordPress content management platform for our own blog as well as a a number of client sites (especially in the affiliate and performance marketing world).

MediaTemple, who we use for hosting this site and can’t recommend enough to others who need server hosting, has put together a great post about the new features of WordPress…

(mt) Media Temple » Weblog » Blog Archive » What’s New in WordPress 3.5: “WordPress 3.5 is set to be released this Monday, December 10! What can you expect from the new upgrade? In this article, we will cover the basics of the new default theme, Twenty Twelve, the new Media Manager, and some lesser known but very useful features that will be a part of 3.5.”

We’ll post our experiences with 3.5 next week after we’ve had a few days to kick the tires.

WordPress A/B Testing with Simple Page Tester

Shawn Collins points out a nifty WordPress plugin for split A/B testing on affiliate sites or any landing page that requires optimization…

A/B Testing: “For the uninitiated, split or A/B testing is a process where you serve up different versions of your page to different visitors to determine which is more effective.

I’ve tried various ways in WordPress and found they were largely a hassle, until I came across the Simple Page Tester plugin.”

I’ve tested Simple Page Tester with a paid search campaign as well as a Facebook Ads campaign linking out to a micro-site lead generation page and it definitely does the trick.

Facebook Marketing and Why EdgeRank Matters

Fantastic post from Copyblogger on where we stand (as of Dec 2012 since Facebook is constantly changing things up) on Facebook and its paid marketing platform…

The State of Facebook: What’s Working Now | Copyblogger: “Facebook constantly changes. Not all of those changes work the way they’re supposed to. And the user experience may not be the same from page to page.

Everyone’s audience is different, and responds to different types of content. So watch your own statistics, try different things, and track your results. The magic formula is creating the good content and engaging updates that your audience craves.”

In all of our work with Facebook and various marketing campaigns, the one rule we keep trying to communicate to our clients is that Facebook alone is not a silver bullet to more conversions, signups, sales or engagement. Real success is tied to a customized program with clear goals (we call this “discovery marketing” when tied to SEO, paid search and perhaps an email newsletter).

Facebook uses an in-house formula called EdgeRank to figure out how to display posts (sponsored and organic) on users’ timelines. This is an insanely important algorithm much like Google’s constantly evolving PageRank equation that it uses to serve up search results and many other facets of its umbrella service.

EdgeRank, however, is a visible equation. Unlike PageRank, we know exactly plays into Facebook’s algorithm. And it ain’t pretty for most folks.

The reason so many business owners and marketing DIY’ers fail at Facebook Ads (or don’t have the wherewithal to climb the learning curve) is the affinity score (represented by Ue above).

What is affinity exactly? That depends on the context of course. Here, affinity refers to how often a person interacts or engages (shares, likes, clicks, etc) your content in the past. That affinity score determines the rest of the equation. Affinity determines the next steps of weight and time decay in the setup.

How do you raise your affinity score to increase engagement?

Short answer is you don’t.

You start with compelling content geared at the right audiences and find the right balance of visual content, audio content, text content and ad buying decisions.

It’s a little moneyball, a little algebra and a lot of sticktoitiveness.

However, like all social media marketing, it’s doable.

And it’s exciting and organic.

And that’s what we do. Our goal is to buy wins.

150% Increase in Google Search Traffic

Scott Jangro lays out the somewhat complicated steps to achieve Google Authorship on your posts in a nice post (click for details)…

How to Get 150% Increase in Google Search Traffic: “Whether you do this the hard way (on your own) or the easy way (with Shareist), when you get it right, you’re rewarded with this email confirming your status in Google Authorship, and your face in SERPs, drawing attention to your pages. Sweet.”

Yes, it’s well worth your time to do this.

Questions? We’ll help!

Benefit of Syncing Business Google Plus and and Local Pages

In doing some research for a client, I came across this piece and I couldn’t agree more:

Syncing Your Google Plus and +Local Pages: Plusses and Minuses | Mihmorandum: “Having gone through the process, the benefits of the extended descriptions and links you can add to a sync’ed +Local page, and the early-adopter ability to promote ONE single Plus presence for your business seem pretty substantial.”

We’ve helped a few clients verify their address with the snail mail postcard-from-Google method and it’s been painless every time with nice benefits in search engine results.

So, if you’re in need of having your physical address linked to a high ranking result in your serp’s, we highly recommend going through the process.

GMail 2.0 and The Decision to Leave iOS?

We’re big fans of Google Apps for Enterprise and use the service for our email, docs, calendaring, telephony (via Google Voice’s integration with Sprint), analytics, feed reading and even backups with Google Drive.

So, we were excited to hear about the new GMail app for our main computing devices these days, the iPhone:

The Gmail app for iPhone and iPad: version 2.0 | Official Gmail Blog: “Six months ago, our team set out to completely rebuild the Gmail app for iPhone and iPad to give you you a faster, sleeker, and easier experience on iOS. The result? Version 2.0. With version 2.0 of the app, you’ll get a totally new look and feel, plus a bunch of improvements like profile pictures in messages, numerous new animations from swivels to transitions and infinite scrolling in the message lists.”

Between the new GMail app and the revised Google search app with its nifty and better-than-Siri response time and quality, we’ve had many internal conversations about whether it’s time to think about Android as a platform.

The iPhone and iPad make for great “Google” computers when paired with the stream of quality apps coming out of Mountain View. Mission critical apps such as Google Analytics are available to us via third party iOS apps like Analytics Pro. Our enduring reliance on RSS for alerts, status messages and a news stream is satiated with Google Reader’s plug into the Reeder app.

However, are we missing anything as a company by not being on the newest flavor of Android? While it’s getting mixed reviews, the Nexus 4 and its installation of 4.2 Jelly Bean looks pretty interesting.

While we go back and forth with this almost-religious decision, we’re constantly developing new apps for both iOS and Android (as well as the open web with HTML 5) and noticing new things popping up in both that point to exciting futures for developers and users on both platforms.

At the moment, in comparison to Android (and I hate to admit it), iOS (especially critical apps like Mail) seems… stale and even clunky.

So… what to do?

Analytics, APIs and Mobiles

We’ve been experimenting with Keen’s API-as-analytics platform (simply drop some code into your existing code) on a few of the apps we’re building for clients and have been mightily impressed so far…

Keen IO – Analytics APIs: “So many of the devices we use everyday are internet connected and could certainly benefit from great user analytics. And we want to be a part of it all. But, in the short-term, we’re spending our time on where we think we can make the biggest impact – mobile. We’ve got SDKs for iOS, Android, JavaScript, and Ruby ready for you today. Python and Windows Mobile are in the queue and coming soon.”

If you’re doing anything with iOS or Android (we haven’t ventured in Windows Mobile development), we can’t recommend poking around Keen enough. It’s not for everyone and doesn’t offer all the options of a custom solution, but definitely does the job if you need to tackle larger windmills in your app development.

Should You Develop iOS or Android Apps?

The short answer is yes, but the long answer is more complicated depending on your audience and where/how you need to be discovered…

iOS Devices Have Been Dominating Mobile Web Traffic For The Past 6 Months [Report] | Cult of Mac: “Android technically sells more smartphones than Apple, but iOS devices continue to dominate mobile web traffic. Chitika Insights has been tracking web traffic on the top mobile platforms, and iOS commands 67% of usage and Android only 33%.”

We generally start clients with iOS and web apps but don’t shy away from Android if the market is there.

Top 2012 Yahoo Searches Across Categories

From a meme point of view, this is fascinating data…

2012 Yahoo Year In Review: Over 500 Top Searches In Over 50 Categories: “Below are some of the most interesting categories overall, and I’ve highlighted items in Yahoo purple that may be of particular interest to tech / Internet geeks and have also linked to relevant stories on Search Engine Land /Marketing Land about some personalities mentioned below, and for topics such as SOPA and Facebook’s IPO.”

While “Top 10” lists by themselves are static noise, lists such as these in aggregate are a goldmine.

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