Tag Archive | "Future"

Yum CEO: Driverless Cars, Robots Making Pizzas, This is All In Our Future

Yum Brands which owns Taco Bell, KFC, Pizza Hut and other restaurant brands are at the forefront of technological innovation. Yum also isn’t afraid to experiment with seemingly outlandish ideas either such as their announcement of the Toyota Tundra Pie Pro which makes pizza on the go.

Yum Brands CEO Greg Creed recently discussed Yum’s use of technology:

We Love Our Relationship with Grubhub

“We love our relationship with Grubhub, it’s a great partnership,” says Yum Brands CEO Greg Creed. “By the end of the year in the U.S., we’ll have about 2,000 KFC’s and probably close to 4,000 Taco Bell’s delivering. In the stores that are already delivering we’re getting check increases and incremental sales that are coming from it, so we’re very excited about this partnership. We think it obviously bodes well for the future sales growth for both KFC and for Taco Bell in the U.S.”

Driverless Cars and Robots Making Pizzas is Our Future

Pizza Hut has partnered with Toyota to develop a zero-emission Tundra PIE Pro, a mobile pizza factory with the ability to deliver oven-hot pizza wherever it goes. The full-size pizza-making truck was introduced at Toyota’s 2018 Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show presentation.

“I love our partnership with Toyota,” added Creed. “This is really about technology, this is about robotics, this is about what the future is envisioning. Driverless cars, robots making pizzas, this is all in our future. Is it in our future next week? No, but is it in our foreseeable future, absolutely. Everything that we can do to make the brands more relevant, make them easier to access and more distinctive, that’s what will lead to continued success, not just for Pizza Hut but also at KFC and at Taco Bell.”

Pizza Hut Partners with Toyota on the Tundra PIE Pro

Pizza Hut has partnered with Toyota to develop the one-of-a-kind, zero-emission Tundra PIE Pro, a mobile pizza factory with the ability to deliver oven-hot pizza wherever it goes. The full-size pizza-making truck was introduced at Toyota’s 2018 Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show presentation.

“Nothing tastes better than a fresh Pizza Hut pizza straight out of the oven,” said Marianne Radley, Chief Brand Officer, Pizza Hut. “The Tundra PIE Pro brings to life our passion for innovation not just on our menu but in digital and delivery in order to provide the best possible customer experience.”

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Why We’re Doubling Down on the Future of SEO – Moz + STAT

Posted by Dr-Pete

Search is changing. As a 200-person search marketing software company, this isn’t just a pithy intro – it’s a daily threat to our survival. Being an organic search marketer can be frustrating when even a search like “What is SEO?” returns something like this…

…or this…

…or even this…

So, why don’t we just give up on search marketing altogether? If I had to pick just one answer, it’s this – because search still drives the lion’s share of targeted, relevant traffic to business websites (and Google drives the vast majority of that traffic, at least in the US, Canada, Australia, and Western Europe).

We have to do everything better

The answer isn’t to give up – it’s to recognize all of this new complexity, study it, and do our jobs better. Earlier this year, for example, we embarked on a study to understand how SERP features impact click-through rates (CTR). It turns out to be a difficult problem, but even the initial insights of the data were useful (and a bit startling). For example, here’s the average organic (SERPs with no features) curve from that study…

Various studies show the starting point at various places, but the shape itself is consistent and familiar. We know, though, that reducing everything to one average ignores a lot. Here’s a dramatic example. Let’s compare the organic curve to the curve for SERPs with expanded sitelinks (which are highly correlated with dominant and/or branded intent)…

Results with sitelinks in the #1 position have a massive 80% average CTR, with a steep drop to #2. These two curves represent two wildly different animals. Now, let’s look at SERPs with Knowledge Cards (AKA “answer boxes” – Knowledge Graph entities with no organic link)…

The CTR in the #1 organic position drops to almost 1/3 of the organic-only curve, with corresponding drops throughout all positions. Organic opportunity on these SERPs is severely limited.

Opportunity isn’t disappearing, but it is evolving. We have to do better. This is why Moz has teamed up with STAT, and why we’re doubling down on search. We recognize the complexity of SERP analytics in 2018, but we also truly believe that there’s real opportunity for those willing to do the hard work and build better tools.

Doubling down on RANKINGS

It hurts a bit to admit, but there’s been more than once in the past couple of years where a client outgrew Moz for rank tracking. When they did, we had one thing to say to those clients: “We’ll miss you, and you should talk to STAT Search Analytics.” STAT has been a market leader in daily rank tracking, and they take that job very seriously, with true enterprise-scale capabilities and reporting.

For the past couple of years, STAT’s team has also been a generous source of knowledge, and even as competitors our engineering teams have shared intel on Google’s latest changes. As of now, all brakes are off, and we’re going to dive deep into each other’s brains (figuratively, of course – I only take mad science so far) to find out what each team does best. We’re going to work to combine the best of STAT’s daily tracking technology with Moz’s proprietary metrics (such as Keyword Difficulty) to chart the future of rank tracking.

We’ll also be working together to redefine what “ranking” means, in an organic sense. There are multiple SERP features, from Featured Snippets to Video Carousels to People Also Ask boxes that represent significant organic opportunity. STAT and Moz both have a long history of researching these opportunities and recognize the importance of reflecting them in our products.

Doubling down on RESEARCH

One area Moz has excelled at, showcased in the launch and evolution of Keyword Explorer, is keyword research. We’ll be working hard to put that knowledge to work for STAT customers even as we evolve Moz’s own toolsets. We’re already doing work to better understand keyword intent and how it impacts keyword research – beyond semantically related keywords, how do you find the best keywords with local intent or targeted at the appropriate part of the sales funnel? In an age of answer engines, how do you find the best questions to target? Together, we hope to answer these questions in our products.

In August, we literally doubled our keyword corpus in Keyword Explorer to supercharge your keyword research. You can now tap into suggestions from 160 million keywords across the US, Canada, UK, and Australia.

Beyond keywords, Moz and STAT have both been market leaders in original industry research, and we’ll be stronger together. We’re going to have access to more data and more in-house experts, and we’ll be putting that data to work for the search industry.

Doubling down on RESULTS

Finally, we recognize that SERP analytics are much more than just a number from 1–50. You need to understand how results drive clicks, traffic, and revenue. You need to understand your competitive landscape. You need to understand the entire ecosystem of keywords, links, and on-page SEO, and how those work together. By combining STAT’s enterprise-level analytics with Moz’s keyword research, link graph, and technical SEO tools (including both Site Crawl and On-demand Crawl), we’re going to bring you the tools you need to demonstrate and drive bottom-line results.

In the short-term, we’re going to be listening and learning from each other, and hopefully from you (both our community and our customers). What’s missing in your search marketing workflow today? What data do you love in Moz or STAT that’s missing from the other side? How can we help you do your job better? Let us know in the comments.

If you’d like to be notified of future developments, join our Moz+STAT Search Analytics mailing list (sign-up at bottom of page) to find out about news and offers as we roll them out.

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The Future of Connection on Facebook: How Stories May Change the Marketing Game

How Facebook Stories Will Change Social Media Marketing

How Facebook Stories Will Change Social Media Marketing

“You have part of my attention – you have the minimum amount.”

This scathing remark, delivered by actor Jesse Eisenberg while portraying Mark Zuckerberg amidst a heated deposition in the 2010 film The Social Network, has a certain pertinence today with regards to the company Zuckerberg founded back in 2004.

As Facebook’s news feed algorithm becomes increasingly restricting for brands and publishers, many of us are finding it difficult to capture even the minimum amount of our audience’s attention on the platform.

The search for elusive reach on the world’s largest social media channel has led some marketers to explore Facebook Groups as a way to stay visible with users. But it appears the more critical frontier may be Facebook Stories, a feature that is rapidly on the rise and — according to the company’s own top execs — represents the future of connection on Facebook.

[bctt tweet="#FacebookStories — according to the company’s own top execs — represents the future of connection on #Facebook. #SocialMediaMarketing" username="toprank"]

A Primer on Facebook Stories

The Social Network, referenced earlier, is a biographical drama depicting the inception of Facebook and the power struggles that took place. The film was extremely well received, earning eight Oscar nominations and winning three: Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Original Score, and Best Film Editing.

Certain people portrayed in the movie have criticized its inaccuracies (it wasn’t exactly kind to Mr. Zuckerberg, as the opening quote in this post illustrates), and writer Aaron Sorkin doesn’t deny playing loose with the facts.

“I don’t want my fidelity to be to the truth,” he told New York Magazine. “I want it to be to storytelling.”

A reputed screenwriter, Sorkin understands the power of stories, which have an ability to hook and captivate audiences in a way few other styles of communication can hope to match. This dynamic is undoubtedly driving the growth of “Stories” — series of images and videos played in succession, perfectly suited for mobile screens — across all social media platforms.

This chart via Block Party’s report, Beyond the News Feed: Why Stories Are Becoming the New Face of Social Media, visualizes the unmistakable trend well:

Facebook Stories Usage Trend

Interestingly, Snapchat — which largely sparked the popularity of this format when its “My Story” feature launched in 2014 — has remained stagnant while other players have gained fast traction. You can definitely count Facebook among them.

Originally rolled out on mobile in 2017, Facebook Stories made their way to desktop earlier this year and the feature now boasts 150 million daily active users. Like the versions on Instagram and Snapchat, this content is ephemeral — Facebook Stories and all of their comments disappear after 24 hours. But the convention itself is here to stay.

“We expect Stories are on track to overtake posts in feeds as the most common way that people share across all social apps,” said Zuckerberg (the real one, not the Eisenberg character) during a fourth-quarter earnings conference call.

This sentiment is shared by Facebook’s Chief Product Officer, Chris Cox, who laid out a more specific and imminent timeline at the company’s annual conference in early May:

The increase in the Stories format is on a path to surpass feeds as the primary way people share things with their friends sometime next year.

Needless to say, this is a story marketers need to be tracking.

The Other Side of the Story

Okay, so we know that Stories are quickly becoming a mainstream method for sharing content on social media, and we know that Facebook is making a firm commitment to the format. What does all this mean to us as marketers?

Add to Your Facebook Story

This is definitely a tool that companies can use, if they are so inclined. You have the ability to post them from your brand page, and (at least for now) it may increase your content’s odds of getting noticed. Relatively speaking, this feature isn’t being used all that much, and Facebook’s clear emphasis on growing it means that Stories are carving prime real estate above the news feed.

Some view this as the next great social media marketing opportunity on the platform. Earlier this year, Bud Torcom wrote in a piece at Forbes that Facebook Stories are “like California’s mines and creeks before the 1849 gold rush.” He sees this format transforming campaigns through experimentation, experiential marketing, influencer integration, and visual pizzazz.

Michelle Cyca sees similar potential, as she wrote on the HootSuite blog, calling Stories “a way to reconnect with users who aren’t seeing your content in their Newsfeed the same way” and calling out examples of campaigns that drove lifts in awareness by incorporating the tactic.

The idea of added organic reach is enticing (if fleeting, knowing that the onset of ads will turn this — like all Facebook marketing initiatives — into a pay-to-play space), but what really intrigues me about Stories is the almost infinite grounds for creativity.

Facebook Stories Examples Facebook Stories Examples from ModCloth and Mashable.

It’s a very cool method for visual storytelling. It’s a low-barrier entry point for social video (no one is expecting premium production quality on these). And it presents an accessible avenue for toying with emerging technologies — most notably, augmented reality, which is being strongly integrated into Facebook Stories in another step down the road Snapchat has paved.

[bctt tweet="The idea of added organic reach is enticing, but what really intrigues me about #FacebookStories is the almost infinite grounds for creativity. - @NickNelsonMN #SocialMediaMarketing" username="toprank"]

Where Does the Story Go Next?

“You don’t even know what the thing is yet. How big it can get, how far it can go. This is no time to take your chips down.”

This advice — delivered to Eisenberg’s Zuckerberg by Justin Timberlake’s Sean Parker in The Social Network — referred to Zuck’s budding Facebook venture, but could just as easily apply to any social media marketer eyeing Stories as a way to connect with their audience.

The downside is minimal. What have you got to lose? A little time and effort, perhaps. The possible benefits are extensive however. These include:

  • Prioritized placement on user feeds
  • Engaging bite-sized video content
  • Powerful visual storytelling for brands
  • Ability to experiment with new content styles and emerging tech like AR
  • Gaining familiarity with a format that could well represent the future of social marketing

More than anything, though, Facebook Stories are intriguing because they offer a real chance to capture part of a user’s attention — maybe even more than the minimum amount.

[bctt tweet="#FacebookStories are intriguing because they offer a real chance to capture part of a user’s attention — maybe even more than the minimum amount. - @NickNelsonMN #SocialMediaMarketing" username="toprank"]

And since brands generally aren’t tapping into this functionality as of yet, early adopters can jump ahead of the curve and beat their competition to the punch. If there’s one primary takeaway from Facebook’s story (as reflected in The Social Network), it’s the tremendous business value in being first. Just ask the Winklevoss twins.

At TopRank Marketing, we’re all about helping companies tell their stories through a wide variety of digital channels and tactics. Give us a shout if you’d like to hear more.

What are you thoughts on the future of Facebook stories? Tell us in the comments section below.

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Web Personalization: The Future of Digital Marketing and Sales Is Now

In the beginning, the business website was a mere brochure. Low value, low shareability, low findability. Around 2005, a big shift happened thanks to content. Cutting-edge business websites became educational resources with valuable content that ranked well in search engines and benefited from the sharing functionality of emerging social media. Soon, “cutting edge” became the
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Zero-Result SERPs: Welcome to the Future We Should’ve Known Was Coming

Posted by Dr-Pete

On Wednesday, Google launched a large-scale experiment, removing organic results from a small set of searches with definitive answers such as this one for “What time is it in Seattle?”:

These SERPs display a Knowledge Card with a “Show all results” button and no additional organic results or SERP features. Danny Sullivan wrote on Twitter that this is currently limited to a small set of answers, including calculators, unit conversions, and some time/date queries. Here’s another one, converting yesterday’s MozCast temperature (“108 degrees in celsius”):

At first glance, this is a startling development, but it shouldn’t be entirely surprising. So, let’s get to the hard questions — is this a sign of things to come, and how quickly do we need to adapt?

For today, don’t panic

First off, preliminary data suggests that these really are isolated cases. Across the 10,000 searches that MozCast tracks daily, one search (0.01%) currently displays zero results: “1 gigabit to gigabyte.” This change is not impacting most high-volume, competitive queries or even the vast majority of results with Knowledge Cards.

Second, we have to face the reality that Knowledge Cards, even paired with organic results, already dramatically impact search user behavior. Thanks to Russ Jones, we’ve pulled some data from an internal CTR study we’re currently working on at Moz. In that study, SERPs with 10 blue links have a roughly 79% organic click-through rate (overall). Add just a Knowledge Card, with no other features, and that drops to 25%. That’s a 68% drop-off, a loss of over two-thirds of organic clicks. Google has tested this change and likely found that showing organic links on these particular searches provided very little additional value.

This isn’t new (part 1)

I’m going to argue that this change is one that we in the industry should’ve seen coming, and I’m going to do it in two parts. First, we know that Knowledge Cards and other answers (including Featured Snippets) power SERPs on devices where screen size is at a minimum or non-existent.

Take for example, a search for “Where was Stephen Hawking born?” Even though the answer is definitive (there is one factual answer to this question), Google displays a rich Knowledge Card plus a full set of organic SERPs. On mobile, though, that Knowledge Card dominates results. Here’s a full-screen image:

The Knowledge Card extends below the fold and dominates the mobile screen. This assumes I see the SERP at all. Even as I was typing the question, Google tried to give me the answer…

If the basic information is all I need, and if I trust Google as a source for that information, why would I need to even click at this point?

On mobile, I at least have the option to peruse organic results. On Google Home, if I ask the same question (“Where was Stephen Hawking born?”), I get no SERP at all, just the answer:

“Stephen Hawking was born in Oxford, United Kingdom.”

Obviously, this is born of necessity on a voice-only device like Google Home, but we get a similarly truncated result with voice searches through Google Assistant. This is the same answer on my phone (the same phone as the previous screenshots), but using voice search instead of text search…

Google’s push toward voice UI and mobile-first design means that these considerations sometimes move back up the chain of devices. If the answer is enough for voice and mobile, maybe it’s enough for desktop.

This isn’t new (part 2)

Over the past couple of years, I’ve talked a lot about how SERPs have expanded well beyond 10 blue links. What we talk about less is the flip-side, that SERPs are also shrinking. Adding SERP features is, in some cases, a zero-sum game, at the cost of organic results.

Each of the following features take up one organic position:

  • Full site-links (each row)
  • Image results
  • Top Stories
  • In-depth articles (3 articles = 1 organic)
  • Tweets (carousel)
  • Tweets (single)

Across the 10,000 SERPs in our data set, over half (51%) had less than 10 traditional organic results. While very-low counts are rare, over one-fourth of page-one SERPs fell into the range of 5–8 organic results.

While the zero-result SERP is certainly a new and extreme case, the removal of organic results in favor of other features has been happening (and expanding) for quite some time now. SERPs with as few as 3–4 page-one organic results have been appearing in the wild for well over a year.

In some cases, you might not even realize that a result isn’t organic. Consider, for example, the following set of results on desktop. Can you spot the In-depth Articles?

On desktop results, there are no visual markers separating In-depth Articles from organic results, even though these results are powered by two different aspects of the algorithm. From the source code markers, we can see that the answer is #2–#5, three results which displace one organic result:

Another example is Twitter results. You’ve probably seen the Twitter carousel, which is a visually distinct format with three tweets, but have you seen a result like this one (on a search for “cranberry”)?

At first glance, it looks organic (except for the Twitter icon), but this result is a vertical result pulled directly from the Twitter data feed. It is not subject to traditional organic optimization and ranking factors.

All of this is to say that organic real estate has been shrinking for quite a while, giving way to vertical results, Knowledge Graph results, and other rich features. Google will continue to experiment, and we can expect that some SERPs will continue to shrink. Where the data suggests that one answer is enough, we may only see one answer, at the cost of organic results.

Search intent vs. opportunity

It’s easy to let our imaginations run wild, but we have to consider intent. The vast majority of searches are never going to have one definitive answer, and some queries aren’t even questions, in the traditional sense.

From an SEO and content standpoint, I think we have to expand our idea of informational search intent (vs. transactional or navigational, using the classic model). Some questions are factual, and can be answered by the ever-expanding Knowledge Graph. As of today, a search like “When is Pi Day?” still shows organic results, but the Knowledge Card gives us a definitive answer…

Here, organic opportunity is very limited. Think of this as a “closed informational” search.

On the other hand, open-ended questions still rely very much on a variety of answers, even when Google tries to choose one of those answers. Consider the search “What is the best pie?”, which returns the following Featured Snippet (a hybrid of organic result and answer box)…

No one answer will ever suffice for this question. Even the author of this post had the decency to say “Go ahead and let me have it in the comments,” knowing the disagreement would soon flow like cherry filling.

Think of these searches as “open informational” searches. Even if we have to compete for the Featured Snippet (especially on voice results), there will be organic/SEO opportunity here for the foreseeable future.

Ultimately, we have to adapt, and we have to get smarter about the searchers we target. Where Google can answer a question, they will try to answer that question, and if organic results add no measurable value (regardless of whether you agree with how Google measures value), they will continue to shrink.

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SearchCap: Google Fred confirmation, mobile-first index status & future of search

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web.

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Programmatic Delivery: The Future of Content Marketing and Promotion?

Posted by SimonPenson

Content promotion is hard. Disparate audiences and an ever-growing proliferation of channels to reach them through has made the life of a content marketer incredibly tough.

What would you say, however, if there was a single solution to reaching EXACTLY the right people at exactly the right time, across any and every channel in real time?

It may sound like a pie-in-the-sky opportunity but the reality is such an option is actually very, very close. In fact, for some it already exists.

That option is ‘programmatic.’

Although still in its infancy from a content perspective, the technology and methodology behind it offers massive potential for the world of content marketing, and even SEO.

So, what is programmatic?

For those not fluent in the often complex and seemingly inaccessible world of programmatic and its associated buzzwords and acronyms, let’s go back to the basics for a second.

Programmatic is a term used to describe the buying of advertising using software and algorithms.

It’s something that is currently lighting up the world of advertising as it takes out the ponderous and inefficient human element, allowing advertisers to reach the right people when they are in exactly the right place.

We can see below just how fast the uptake is expected to grow over the next couple of years:

There’s no escaping its grasp, so we ought to find out how it works, right?

In the simplest terms here’s what it looks like.

At one end of the ‘system’ you have what is called a Demand-Side Platform: a place where all advertisers queue up and share what kinds of people they want to reach.

On the other side we have the Supply-Side Platform: an inventory library where media owners, publishers, and so on tell the ‘machine’ what they have available to sell.

So far, so simple!

In the center lies the Ad Exchange, into which those publishers pour their available impressions and buyers use the tech in the Demand-Side Platforms to pick what they want to buy. This is usually done via an interface that allows you to target based on anything from demographics to recent purchase behavior and interests, and even intent.

The process of buying and selling then happens REALLY fast, in the time it takes to load the page(s) being bid on. During that split second, an auction takes place, with the highest bid winning the right to show inventory in that spot.

This is called Real-Time Bidding and is what many rightly believe is the future of programmatic and advertising in general. The platform we use to ‘play’ in this space is called Cadreon, but there are a plethora of different routes to market, either directly as a client or via an agency solution.

Before we move on and talk about why this matters to marketers, it’s worth mentioning that there is another version of programmatic known as Advanced Programmatic (or Programmatic Direct), where larger agencies pre-buy inventory at scale in order to obtain discounted pricing for buying in bulk or to secure premium and in-demand inventory. They can then use that ‘space’ as they wish, deploying it via the same system to take advantages of the audience targeting opportunity.

To get a more detailed overview of programmatic, we’ve created this free guide as part of a ‘beginners guide pack’:

So this is for advertising, right?

By now you may well be thinking that I’ve lost my mind and gone all ‘advertising’ on you. But this is entirely the point.

The world sees this as a pure-play advertising opportunity, but the reality could be quite different.

Yes, it reinvents advertising. But if you think about those adverts as simply ‘holes in the Internet,’ then we can begin to bring content into the conversation.

Holes in the Internet

At risk of stating the obvious, advertising creative is not ‘content.’ At its worst it shouts to gain our attention, and at best it still tries too hard to connect directly to a brand, or direct response opportunity.

Imagine, then, if we used those spaces to highlight an amazing piece of review content, like this fantastic ‘Which Macbook Should I Buy?’ guide by Wirecutter. Using programmatic, we could target that at people that have visited a retail store that stocks Apple within the last two weeks and have also been to the Apple site.

Another example: a great video review like this by a prominent UK automotive media brand of the best sports car to buy to someone that has just test-driven an Audi R8.

The opportunities are endless.

Native advertising

Some might say this is the natural extension of the currently rudimentary opportunities presented by the ‘native advertising’ world through platforms such as Outbrain and Taboola.

This is, however, like comparing use of the Google Display network for ad creative distribution with using real-time programmatic: a walled garden restricted to just Google publisher websites versus a programmatic play that could reach out to almost every site on the web and across some really exciting other areas like TV, radio, and out-of-home, to boot. We’ll come to how they fit in shortly.

While native advertising helps us position the opportunity in our heads (using space traditionally seen as for adverts for content), it is important to understand how much more powerful programmatic reach is.

There is one really interesting player starting to make waves in this space, and that is a Florida-based company called Triple Lift.

The model offered allows brands to buy native inventory using programmatic tech, offering advertisers a way into those ‘walled garden’ spots within content areas. This is grade-A real estate for content marketers as we look to blend the line between advertising and content further.

Interestingly, however, and probably due to the tech only being sold into advertisers as opposed to content marketers, the examples show ad-based creative as opposed to engaging content. Below, however, we can see how an article looks placed through the platform on Digg:

Adding in other channels

While traditional digital advertising is either based on keyword targeting (Adwords, for example) or is more audience-focused but limited to a single network or small pot of ‘networks’ (see Google Display Network or Facebook Audience Network), the best programmatic platforms reach much, much further.

Any good system will give you options across the following, for example:

  • Doubleclick Bid Manager for access to the Google stack
  • Amazon
  • Tube Mogul for video solutions across the web, including Facebook and Instagram
  • AOL, including Microsoft and Yahoo properties
  • Private large site marketplaces such as Pubmatic and Rubicon Project, proving access to the likes of Time Warner, Zoopla, and The Times
  • Radio channels
  • Out-of-home inventory – digital billboards, etc.
  • TV advertising

There are then a number of intermediaries whose job it is to specialize in connecting media opportunities together such as Drawbridge and Tapad for cross-device targeting. A quick overview guide of the players in the ecosystem can be seen below and should be explored as part of any strategy:

The benefit of this whole-of-market approach was summed up brilliantly in an article for Marketing Week by Jonathan McCauley-Oliver, the online sales manager at National Rail Enquiries in the UK.

They use programmatic to ensure that ads against the millions of page impressions its website receives each month are served smoothly and to their target audiences.

He explained:

“If I go to a marketer and say that I can deliver your message to the one person who is likely to buy your product, that is worth a lot. If I can do that in five seconds to 8 million users, they’ll bite my hand off. This one-to-one relationship is afforded by these advancements in technology.”

Imagine this as a central tool in your content distribution arsenal…

How could this work in the wild?

With a ‘full stack’ of Supply-Side options at your disposal, the world looks very, very exciting, especially when you start to think about how you can follow and interact with your audience, almost irrespective of where you are.

The process starts with an understanding of where your audience can be found elsewhere on the web. We can use a number of tools and platforms that you may already be well aware of as part of the wider audience understanding work you do across marketing to do this.

Audience understanding

Before you start any campaign, you MUST have a clear idea of where your target consumers are. To do this, I follow a basic process:

1. At Zazzle we have access to a great tool called Global Web Index. It’s something I’ve written and spoken about several times recently, as it’s becoming a core cog in the overall strategic wheel. In this process we use it to tell us which channels our audience uses regularly, such as in the example below.

Here we see three similar brands compared to the UK average (purple). It is clearly telling us that they use search and consumer review sites. This provides validation that our targeting will work.

2. Next, we want to get more granular. To do this, we start with Comscore and Hitwise, a leading supplier of audience insight data. From within it we can extract information on everything from which sites our audiences go to before and after ours, as well as a broader view of interests and visit behavior. You can see below an example of what an upstream report looks like for the BBC website in the UK:

Using these two tools, you can quickly build up an accurate picture of where your audience is hanging out, either by analyzing your own site or those of your competitors or industry leaders.

For those that can’t stretch to such enterprise tools, Alexa and Similarweb can give you similar information, albeit from smaller data sets.

3. We can also layer over a multitude of other data here. These are usually segmented into the following pots:

In reality, you would rarely need to worry about individual data providers. However, many of the programmatic platforms aggregate this into their systems to give you a one-stop solution to target correctly (we talk about example platforms a little later).

Creative

In creating this guide we are assuming that you already have the process of creating the right kind of content nailed. I’ve written previously about how to design content strategies and campaigns to maximize impact if there are any question marks over your approach, but the beauty of this delivery mechanism is that it’s just as effective for articles and guides as it is for major campaigns.

To understand what I mean, let’s look at a couple of theoretical examples and how that could play out:


Example 1: Video review content for a person buying a sports car

Imagine the scene: You’ve been thinking about buying a new car for several months and finally, after several attempts, you’ve got a weekend free to test out that car of your dreams.

On Saturday you test three rival brand options and go away more confused than ever, as the car you thought you wanted wasn’t the best to drive.

That night, as you ponder that decision, those brands want to be front-of-mind. The smartest of the three has deployed a programmatic ad content strategy. By collating geo-location data alongside information from its own test drive database and by looking at Google searches, YouTube viewership, etc, the brand can work out which cars are in the frame.

This presents a unique opportunity.

Rather than deliver a display banner, all the data within the setup could provide us the opportunity to deliver a richer content experience. If we know that a user lives in Brighton, currently drives a sports car that is 3 years old, and has been researching new cars, we could tailor his brand experience accordingly (e.g. content could provide local Brighton dealerships, knowing user already has sports car and lease could be expiring soon).

Or, even smarter than that, it could serve up a YouTube-hosted video favorably comparing their car with that of the rivals.

A call-to-action could then take that person to the brand site and onto a dynamically personalized page that presents the strongest argument for buying their car.

I don’t know about you, but I would be pretty impressed by that experience.


Example 2: A person buying a laptop

It’s a similar story for businesses in the retail sector. Let’s say you run an ecommerce business and want to help add value at the critical point of the purchase funnel: when a potential customer is making their final decision on which product to buy.

This could play out in any purchase process, but for the sake of this second example, let’s imagine it is for laptops.

The decision is down to the last two options (Macbook Air and the Surface Pro). We know this as search behavior has included reading reviews and looking at comparisons.

Imagine if we could place our own review slap-bang into the middle of that process, in real time. As they trawl the Internet for info, our in-depth comparison review follows them. The likelihood of interaction is huge and we can even include dynamic call-to-action creative within it, offering a personalized discount or incentive to ‘buy now’ and from our site.


So how do I get involved?

By this point, you should be thinking about how you may go about adding to your 2017 strategy but wondering where on earth to start.

The choices, as explained earlier in the piece, are still relatively limited simply due to the relative immaturity of the market and tech. Things are changing fast, however.

If your budgets are larger, then chances are you’re already using the approach as part of your paid media mix. In this situation, the challenge is to reimagine the strategy with greater emphasis on content as opposed to commercial ad messaging. Think of it as softening the message and attempting to add value more. Talk to your agency or team and challenge them to test it.

I’ll almost guarantee they’re not thinking about the distribution method as a platform for anything other than advertising message, so make it your mission to push them and help them understand that it may be more powerful as a delivery mechanism for value-adding articles, videos, and interactive assets.

This switch in thinking represents a huge opportunity for those that are willing and able to try it first, and the good news is there are a number of easy-to-use tools out there allowing you to give it a go.

Programmatic for smaller business

If, like the majority, you are in charge of smaller budgets and don’t have the ability to onboard a global network agency with in-house proprietary tech like Cadreon, don’t think you’re out of luck. There is an ever-growing pack of platforms designed specifically for this market.

A personal favorite is Admedo, an easy-to-use system for those with little or no programmatic experience. With its own DSP (Demand-Side Platform), you can customize to your heart’s content. We have seen some brilliant results from it.

Others worth considering include:

  • Zypmedia – Great for local advertising campaign work and for businesses where geo-location is critical.
  • Pocketmath – Another great option for the small business owner wanting full control of targeting, creative, and delivery.
  • Brandzooka – A good choice for those looking to focus campaigns on video creative.

Next steps

So, fancy giving programmatic a go? If you do, spend ten minutes reading our Simple Guide to Programmatic, available for free by clicking the button below. You can also download our Programmatic Planning Template to help make the planning process as easy as possible. Good luck!

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!


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The Future of Social Media Marketing: Experts Share Social Media Predictions for 2017

class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-21578" src="http://in4marketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/20eb9__2017-social-media-marketing-predictions.jpg" alt="2017-social-media-marketing-predictions" width="600" height="350" srcset="http://in4marketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/20eb9__2017-social-media-marketing-predictions.jpg 600w, http://www.toprankblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2017-social-media-marketing-predictions-300x175.jpg 300w" sizes="(max-width: 600px) 100vw, 600px" />

style="font-weight: 400;">Social media platforms enable people from around the world looking to connect and build personal and professional relationships. Earlier this year studies found that there are currently over 2 billion active social media users.

style="font-weight: 400;">If you consider the sheer number of people interacting on social networks, it seems like a no-brainer that both B2C and B2B brands should be spending time engaging with their audience, where they’re spending time. But finding a way to not only reach, but connect with audiences on social networks has become increasingly difficult.

style="font-weight: 400;">Just a couple years ago, brands were able to build audiences on platforms like Facebook and get in front of the vast majority of their followers without investing in social advertising. These days, the average brand on Facebook will only reach 1-2% of their audience without boosting posts. Need proof? The amount spent on social advertising has increased by href="https://cmosurvey.org/" target="_blank"> style="font-weight: 400;">234% in the past seven years style="font-weight: 400;">. Ouch!

style="font-weight: 400;">To help ease the pain, we went straight to the source and tapped into the brilliant minds of marketers from brands like LinkedIn, Social Media Examiner, Social Media Today, BMC and our own team at TopRank Marketing to gain insights into their social media marketing predictions for 2017.

style="font-weight: 400;">Experts Share Their Top Predictions for 2017

Mike Stelzner

class="alignnone size-full wp-image-21573" src="http://in4marketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/20eb9__Mike-Stelzner-2017-Prediction.jpg" alt="mike-stelzner-2017-prediction" width="200" height="250" />

style="font-weight: 400;">CEO/Founder, Social Media Examiner />
href="https://twitter.com/Mike_Stelzner" target="_blank"> style="font-weight: 400;">@Mike_Stelzner

/>

Information toll stations must be paid for by the those who create content. @Mike_Stelzner /> href='https://twitter.com/intent/tweet?text=Information%20toll%20stations%20must%20be%20paid%20for%20by%20the%20those%20who%20create%20content.%20%40Mike_Stelzner&via=toprank&related=toprank&url=http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=21572' target='_blank' class='bctt-ctt-btn'>Click To Tweet />
/>

style="font-weight: 400;">2017 Prediction: Content Creators Become Endangered Species

style="font-weight: 400;">Algorithms, bots, artificial intelligence and people working for very big companies will destroy the business models of people who produce content by disrupting the free flow of information.

style="font-weight: 400;">Before the Internet, the power brokers of information were a few media companies that controlled the newspapers, magazines, radio stations and television. The Internet busted through those barriers and allowed anyone to produce anything for any audience. Information flowed and content mediums like blogs and podcasts flourished.

style="font-weight: 400;">The Internet was the great system of disintermediation, eliminating the middleman and allowing a free flow of information.

style="font-weight: 400;">But, in the very near future, this information flow will be filtered and measured and censored in the name of “reducing clutter” and revealing “only what’s important.”

style="font-weight: 400;">Facebook will decide what you see. Google will serve up only that content that complies with its rules and are housed on its servers. Email solutions like Gmail and Yahoo will tighten their own algorithms so even reaching the inbox is at risk.

style="font-weight: 400;">The information distribution highway will have toll stations that must be paid for by the those who create content.

style="font-weight: 400;">If you want your content seen, you’ll need to house it inside the companies that control the toll stations. Google, Facebook, LinkedIn and more will incentivize content creators to not link to off-site content. These large businesses will become the equivalent of the 1990s America Online–a type of “Hotel California,” where you can enter but never leave.

style="font-weight: 400;">Traffic to websites will decline and blogs will shut down. Gone will be the days of information flow and true information freedom. The future will only be more controlled, more filtered and less open.

style="font-weight: 400;">But, born from this filtered, computer curated world, will come something new. Some young person in a spare bedroom will invent the next big idea that frees information once again. The pendulum will start swinging back and content creators will experience a new creative renaissance.

style="font-weight: 400;">Are you ready for the change?

Carlos Gil

class="alignnone size-full wp-image-21574" src="http://in4marketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/20eb9__Carlos-Gil-2017-Prediction.jpg" alt="carlos-gil-2017-prediction" width="200" height="250" />

style="font-weight: 400;">Senior Manager – Social Media, BMC />
href="https://twitter.com/carlosgil83" target="_blank"> style="font-weight: 400;">@carlosgil83

/>

Undoubtedly, live video content will continue to take over newsfeeds. @carlosgil83 /> href='https://twitter.com/intent/tweet?text=Undoubtedly%2C%20live%20video%20content%20will%20continue%20to%20take%20over%20newsfeeds.%20%40carlosgil83&via=toprank&related=toprank&url=http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=21572' target='_blank' class='bctt-ctt-btn'>Click To Tweet />
/>

style="font-weight: 400;">The biggest challenge marketers will face in 2017 is the same that they seemingly face year over year which is keeping up with the innovation around emerging marketing channels and technologies, such as Snapchat, Facebook Live, and AR/VR, while still maintaining an active presence on the traditional platforms used by the masses (i.e. print, social, digital, etc.). Undoubtedly, live video content will continue to take over newsfeeds with Facebook flexing its muscle as the go-to platform for marketers meanwhile Snapchat, and its looming IPO, will result in Snapchat attracting more brands as advertisers to their platform.

Caitlin Burgess

class="alignnone size-full wp-image-21575" src="http://in4marketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/20eb9__Caitlin-Burgess-2017-Prediction.jpg" alt="caitlin-burgess-2017-prediction" width="200" height="250" />

style="font-weight: 400;">Content Marketing Lead, TopRank Marketing />
href="https://twitter.com/caitlinmburgess" target="_blank"> style="font-weight: 400;">@CaitlinMBurgess

/>

One opportunity in the coming year will be for brands to focus on user experience. @CaitlinMBurgess /> href='https://twitter.com/intent/tweet?text=One%20opportunity%20in%20the%20coming%20year%20will%20be%20for%20brands%20to%20focus%20on%20user%20experience.%20%40CaitlinMBurgess&via=toprank&related=toprank&url=http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=21572' target='_blank' class='bctt-ctt-btn'>Click To Tweet />
/>

style="font-weight: 400;">The social media landscape is in a constant state of change, but the one thing that will probably never change is the reason people use social in the first place: to feel and style="font-weight: 400;">be style="font-weight: 400;"> connected.

style="font-weight: 400;">As a result, I think that one of the greatest opportunities in the coming year and beyond will be for brands to focus on user experience by creating a unique, entertaining and engaging style="font-weight: 400;">destination style="font-weight: 400;"> for their audiences.

style="font-weight: 400;">Think about it. Social media platforms are constantly tweaking their formats and algorithms to provide users with the best possible content and experience, making it more difficult for brands and marketers to get organic visibility. Plus, nearly every brand is on social media, competing for the top spots. But what if your pages were able to offer such an awesome, relevant experience that would entice people to navigate on their own to see what the latest discussion, video or tip was?

style="font-weight: 400;">All that said, I think to create a destination, one important focus will need to be on href="http://www.toprankblog.com/2016/10/7-helpful-hacks-successful-social-media-community-management/"> style="font-weight: 400;">social media community management style="font-weight: 400;">, not just traditional social media marketing. From native video and long-form content to actively encouraging and participating in discussions, you need to ask yourself why anyone would visit your pages in the first place. Do you have a niche expertise or offering? Do you provide great entertainment? What is it that could set you apart? How can your social content connect? Then combine all that with data and insights to begin building a strategy to get people there, participating and coming back.

Megan Golden

class="alignnone size-full wp-image-21577" src="http://in4marketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/20eb9__Megan-Golden-2017-Prediction.jpg" alt="megan-golden-2017-prediction" width="200" height="250" />

style="font-weight: 400;">Senior Content Marketing Manager, LinkedIn Marketing Solutions />
href="https://twitter.com/Goldmegs" target="_blank"> style="font-weight: 400;">@Goldmegs

/>

content marketers are going to strive to become even more empathetic in their content topics. @Goldmegs /> href='https://twitter.com/intent/tweet?text=content%20marketers%20are%20going%20to%20strive%20to%20become%20even%20more%20empathetic%20in%20their%20content%20topics.%20%40Goldmegs&via=toprank&related=toprank&url=http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=21572' target='_blank' class='bctt-ctt-btn'>Click To Tweet />
/>

style="font-weight: 400;">Empathy in a World Divided

style="font-weight: 400;">From Brexit to the American election, 2016 has been an eye-opening year and a divisive one for many around the globe. A chasm has come to the surface in a way that really no one can deny. It’s a divided world. As a result, my prediction (and personal hope) for 2017 is that social media and content marketers are going to strive to become even more empathetic in their content topics. I hope we’re also going to be committed to creating content that is humanizing with the innate ability to understand and share the feelings of others.

Andrew Hutchinson

class="alignnone size-full wp-image-21576" src="http://in4marketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/20eb9__Andrew-Hutchinson-2017-Prediction.jpg" alt="andrew-hutchinson-2017-prediction" width="200" height="250" />

style="font-weight: 400;">Content & Social Media Manager, Social Media Today />
href="https://twitter.com/adhutchinson" target="_blank"> style="font-weight: 400;">@adhutchinson

style="font-weight: 400;">
/>

The biggest shift in social media marketing is (and will be) focus. @adhutchinson /> href='https://twitter.com/intent/tweet?text=The%20biggest%20shift%20in%20social%20media%20marketing%20is%20%28and%20will%20be%29%20focus.%20%40adhutchinson&via=toprank&related=toprank&url=http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=21572' target='_blank' class='bctt-ctt-btn'>Click To Tweet />
/> />
style="font-weight: 400;"> />
style="font-weight: 400;">For years, traditional marketing has aimed for broadcast, to reach as many people as possible, as often as possible. And that makes sense – brand association is a powerful device, and higher exposure leads to better cognitive connection in the consumer. But at the same time, the new age of social media, fuelled by the masses of online data, has opened the door to whole new approaches, methods of connection that no one is fully across yet, given it’s so new. style="font-weight: 400;"> />
style="font-weight: 400;"> />
style="font-weight: 400;">Because of this, I’d expect to see increased focus on both niche communities and better online and offline data connection in 2017. style="font-weight: 400;"> />
style="font-weight: 400;"> />
style="font-weight: 400;">On the first, personalization is growing, more and more brands are learning how to be more effective with content that’s targeted to individual users based on who they are, what they do and what they’re interested in, among many other traits. In times past, this was impossible, but such data is now freely available, and the more brands are using this more focused approach, the more the expectation for others to follow suit increases in step. Because of this, you can expect to see more brands segmenting and focusing their content and marketing efforts in order to appeal to more specific audiences and use-cases. style="font-weight: 400;"> />
style="font-weight: 400;"> />
style="font-weight: 400;">On the second, social ROI has long been the thing that critics fall back on, that you can’t connect a ‘Like’ to a cash money result. But you can, and more and more systems and processes are being developed for just that. Facebook, for example, has been evolving its Conversion Lift metrics which correlate online ads and offline sales, incorporating data from the businesses POS system. With the evolution of beacons, geofencing and other tracking technologies, it’s going to become easier for more businesses to directly link their on and offline efforts, enabling them to outline definitive ROI trails.

style="font-weight: 400;">Create A Content Destination & Engage Your Audience

style="font-weight: 400;">Phew! If we take a look at just the last few months, there have been tremendous advances made in social technology, and the way that users interact with social networks. Imagine what all of 2017 will hold!

style="font-weight: 400;">Creating an impact on social comes down to a few very simple ideas which include finding ways to uncover how your social audience interacts (and do that) and developing a destination that they will want to come back to again and again (like blogs have traditionally done) so that you don’t have to rely only on advertising to drive eyeballs to your content.

style="font-weight: 400;">Disclosure: LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client.

/>

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Battleground Mobile: Why (& How) to Prepare for the Future

Posted by EricEnge

[Estimated read time: 12 minutes]

The world of mobile continues to explode. Major players like Google, Facebook, and Apple are investing massively in efforts to establish themselves as the dominant player in the new markets that are emerging as a result. These companies are betting in a big way on continuing changes in mobile usage and in user expectations for mobile devices, and that means you should be, too. It means you need to have a mobile-first mentality.

The investments by these companies are happening at many different levels. For example, Google has already made mobile friendliness a ranking factor, and intends to increase the strength of that signal in May 2016. But there’s much more to this story, so let’s dig in!

Continuing rise of mobile devices

Sure, you’ve heard it before, but the growth of installed mobile devices is probably happening even faster than you think:

According to this data, PCs, tablets, and smartphones will only be about 25% of the installed Internet-enabled devices by 2020. Just a few years ago, these represented two-thirds of the installed Internet devices. In the biz world, this is what we call a “disruptive change.”

Many of the new device types will probably have a fairly passive role in our lives (such as smart refrigerators, smart thermostats, and other Internet of Things devices). By this, I mean that I don’t expect them to become devices that we interact with heavily.

However, many classes of these devices will be ones that we’ll interact with substantially, such as smart TVs, Internet media devices, and wearables.

Here’s a recast view of that same chart focusing on just this class of devices:

Looking at this new chart, we see that PCs and tablets — the devices that have a fairly substantial keyboard available — still make up only about 40% of the installed devices.

Rise of voice search

So how will we interact with those devices? The primary way of doing that will be via voice.

In the recent keynote event I did with Gary Illyes, he indicated that the number of voice searches Google received in 2015 was double that of 2014, so they’re definitely seeing a steep rise in voice search volume.

The recent interview that Danny Sullivan did with Amit Singhal underscored this. The now-retired Head of Search Quality at Google (he retired as of February 29, 2016) spent a year living primarily on mobile phones. One of the interesting exchanges in the interview:

Danny Sullivan: Do you tend to type more or do you voice-search more?
Amit Singhal: I’m swiping and voice-searching far more than letter-typing.

At another point in the interview he also says: “I realized … that on mobile devices, that I wanted to act more.” This notion is backed up by something Gary Illyes said in our recent keynote event: “We get, I think, 30 times as many action queries by voice as by typing.”

This emergence of voice search is a big deal. As Singhal noted above, this leads to much more voice search, and voice queries use natural language queries far more than typed searches. This appears to be one of the major reasons behind Google developing and launching its RankBrain algorithm.

Who’s winning the mobile wars so far?

Recently, I watched a great video of a presentation by Chartbeat’s Tony Haile. In this video he shows some interesting data on content consumption, as well as the mobile market. One of the more fascinating charts is this one showing that Facebook utterly dominates consumption of major news events:

Note that this particular chart is for one single story on The Atlantic, entitled “What ISIS Really Wants,” but it’s a compelling chart just the same. In addition, Facebook has 678 million users (47% of all their users) that access their platform solely from mobile devices, and 934 million of their 1.44 billion users (65%) access Facebook from a mobile device every day.

Taking this a step further, you can see how Facebook’s dominance here plays out on a minute-by-minute basis, using (once again) the ISIS news story as an example:

In this view, you see Google leading the early surge, but once Facebook spikes, its volume quickly overwhelms that of Google. So in this view, it looks like Facebook is dominating major news cycles. In contrast, Google owns the lulls in the news cycles:

Another interesting note from the Haile presentation is that overall mobile traffic share is continuing to grow, and is pushing towards 60% and higher of all traffic. However, he notes that this is “not because it’s killing desktop, it’s because it’s outgrowing it.”

Haile also points out that there are 5 types of things that you can do with content. These are:

  1. Create
  2. Host
  3. Curate
  4. Distribute
  5. Monetize

Facebook has historically been used to curate and distribute content. With their new Facebook Instant Articles initiative, they are now taking on the hosting and monetization of content. I’ll discuss that more below.

So does this mean that Facebook is the runaway winner in mobile? No, as the charts above focused on the major news cycles, but nonetheless, it shows that Facebook has some strong advantages over Google that you might not have expected.

Mobile apps

Another thing that many underestimate is the growing importance of the apps market. comScore’s September 2015 Mobile App Report provides some compelling data to help you increase your understanding of where apps fit into the overall market.

First, let’s took at the share that apps represent of all digital media time:

Per this chart, usage in all 3 segments is growing (including desktop), but the growth of time in apps is happening at a far greater rate than any other segment. In addition, time spent on apps exceeds that of time on desktop and the mobile web together. Note that not all app time is on smartphones, as usage in tablets have high app usage as well, but smartphone app usage by itself represents 44% of all digital media time spent:

I gotta tell you, seeing that 44% number was a “wow” moment for me. Facebook and Google have both recognized the importance of this growing usage pattern. You can see this in the following chart of the top 25 installed apps by user count:

The top 6 apps, as well as 8 of the top 9 apps, are all provided by either Facebook or Google. Ever wonder why Google keeps Google Plus around? Might have something to do with that app coming in at position 18 among the most-installed apps. This makes G+ a huge potential source of data for Google.

Facebook has the clear lead here too, though, as it’s the number-one installed app, and it’s considered the number one app for 48% of those that have it installed:

One of the big problems with Apps for most publishers is even after you get installed is driving ongoing usage. According to Google, “only one quarter of installed apps are used daily while one quarter are are left completely unused.”

One method that Google offers to help app publishers is app indexing. This will enable content within apps to show up in search results for related queries:

Google currently has 50 billion links within apps indexed, and “25% of searches on Android return deep links to apps for signed-in users. In addition to driving re-engagement, app indexing on Android will also surface install buttons for users who do not yet have your app installed. Since 1 in 4 apps are already being discovered through search, app indexing is a simple and free method for acquiring new users.” Here are some examples of app install buttons showing up in the SERPs:

As shown here, the query that led to this showing up in the SERP was the name of the business, Priceza. However, Google’s Mariya Moeva provided me with other examples of “app seeking queries” that might bring up such an install button:

  1. restaurant finder
  2. grocery shopping list
  3. breaking news app

The benefits of app indexing should be obvious, but Google shares many case studies here. One of these from AliExpress showed an 80–90% increase in search impressions, and a 30–40% increase for searches on Android for users that had the app installed.

This leads to bringing users back to your app, and this offers compelling value as app engaged users tend to be more loyal, place higher dollar value orders, and order more frequently. Part of the upside in terms of visibility results from the fact that app indexing is used by Google as a ranking signal, though the scope of that boost isn’t clear.

Driving initial installs, and then getting help to get users back to your app seems like a good thing!

Speed, speed, and more speed

You’ve heard this, too: that speed is paramount. But you might still have no idea how important. You may well have seen data like this:

Or you may have seen data from some of the Akamai travel site performance study that showed:

  1. Three second rule: 57 percent of online shoppers will wait three seconds or less before abandoning a site
  2. 65% of 18–24 year olds expect a site to load in two seconds or less

It would be tempting to look at all this data and then start setting specific goals as to how fast you need to be, but I want to discourage you from thinking about it that way. Instead, I’m going to give you a different goal:

Be faster than your competition

In today’s hyper-connected world, the real issue is that any time you offer some subpar aspect to what you do, the competitive alternative is only a click or two away. Understanding the implications of that, and applying it in all your online thinking is one of the most important things you can do.

Don’t just focus on being faster than they are today either, but make yourself faster than they will be in 6 months or a year from now.

For some basic help you can check your pages out in Google’s Page Speed Insights tool. However, both Facebook and Google offer initiatives for dramatically speeding up your web pages, and that’s what I’ll explore next.

Facebook Instant Articles

Facebook Instant Articles officially launched on May 12th, 2015. The idea behind the program is to dramatically speed up performance of content on mobile devices. When the program initially launched, it was available only to some publishers, such as the NY Times, the Washington Post, Buzzfeed, Business Insider, NBC News, and Mic.

The benefits that the program offers is near-instant loading of content on mobile devices, and the opportunity to get Facebook to sell your ad space for you (though you can still sell it yourself if you want to). If Facebook sells the ads for you, the split has been reported at 70% to you and 30% kept by Facebook, though that does not appear to be a hard-and-fast number.

Instant Articles come with some neat visualization features too, such as rapid scrolling, zooming capabilities, and the ability to connect to maps functionality.

However, the platform is a proprietary one, with Facebook hosting the content. This will be scary to some. To try and ease those concerns, Facebook does enable publishers to sell their own ads if they prefer, without any need to pay Facebook a cut, or to include their own analytics on the Instant Articles.

As of April 12, 2016, this program will be opened up to all publishers. According to Peter Kafka of re/code: “When I asked reps there if that included one-person operations — that is, someone typing their own stuff on a Tumblr page or Medium page or whatever — they said yes, with a tiny bit of hesitation.”

Accelerated Mobile Pages

In October of 2015, Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) were announced. Like Facebook Instant Articles, its goal is to load pages on mobile devices instantly. One of the fundamental differences about AMP is that it’s an ope source project, with participants such as:

  1. Google
  2. Pinterest
  3. Twitter
  4. WordPress
  5. The Guardian

AMP relies on two basic principles to make it operate faster:

  1. The permitted HTML is very limited, with the basic goal being that all code is already pre-rendered to minimize need for server accesses when rendering a page.
  2. The pages can be cached by third parties. For example, Google already has the caching infrastructure in place, but companies such as Pinterest and Twitter can set up their own if they choose.

To make this work, you are only allowed to use fairly limited CSS, and the AMP-supplied JavaScript library. You can more or less forget about AJAX, or forms, for example.

There are also some hoops you need to jump through to implement analytics on these pages, run your ads, and deal with unsupported functionality, but workarounds do exist. For example, according to Paul Shapiro at SMX West, iframes are “the holy grail of unsupported functionality” for AMP:

Also, to implement analytics, you’ll need to use special tags. Paul Shapiro recommends the PageFrog plugin to help with that for both AMP and Facebook Instant Articles:

Expect the AMP platform to evolve rapidly, as there are many interested parties working on this and many of the current shortcomings will get better over time.

Developing an action plan

The cumulative weight of all these changes represents a significant disruptive event. These are the times when businesses can rapidly accelerate their growth, or lose the opportunity and get stuck playing catch-up. I’m pretty sure which of those two scenarios I prefer. The first steps, really, are to understand what are the specific opportunities for connecting with your customers over mobile, and prioritizing among them.

You should have a basic mobile-friendly site, as that’s already a ranking factor. But, your thought process needs to go deeper than that. For example, start understanding what type of mobile experience your customers want to be having. I’d urge you to put significant creative thinking into this question, as the best mobile experience might involve approaches that are quite different from what you do on your current website.

The strategic shift you need to make is to make your business mobile-first. Any time you think about adding something to your website, for example, stop coming up with the desktop design first and relying on responsive web design to handle mobile for you. Start thinking about your mobile experience first, and then consider the desktop variation second.

As you engage in that thought process, be willing to incorporate some of the specific elements I’ve discussed within this article. Here’s a summary of those items, and how they might fit in:

  1. Should you build an app? Yes, if you believe you can put enough value into an app to generate installs and bring users back to use it on an ongoing basis.
    • While I did not discuss this in this article, make sure to perform App Store Optimization to help generate more installs as well.
    • Implement Google’s app indexing. This may help you generate more installs, and should also help bring people back to your app on a regular basis
  2. Should you implement Facebook Instant Articles? I’m a big fan of trying this out for your article-level content. It can’t hurt to have it load instantly within Facebook, particularly if you do any level of Facebook promotion. We’re planning to test it here at STC and see what it does for us.
  3. Should you implement AMP? I’m in the same camp on this one: you should try this, and we’re testing it here at STC.

As for the impact of natural language (voice) search, this just increases the emphasis on the quality of your content and your focus on natural language in that content, instead of obsessing over tweaking the content for search engines.

This list really just itemizes the tactical opportunities for you, and the biggest point is that you need to start operating from a mobile-first mindset at all levels in your online business efforts.

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Introducing The Digital CMO: Corporate Marketing for Those Who Live in the Future

what's coming in corporate content marketing

It was somewhere in the middle of a conversation with Brian Clark at one of Content Marketing World’s parties when it all became clear to me:

While Rainmaker.FM has tremendous educational and inspirational assets for entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, and most general marketers, there’s no podcast that caters to the corporate marketer.

That’s not just true on Rainmaker.FM. In general, there isn’t a lot of blogging and podcasting in the corporate marketing space — whether that’s because of a gag order from the legal department or the time it takes to wrangle multiple agencies and channels.

But corporate marketers need help too.

Corporate content marketing strategies that work

In my day job, I run Speakeasy, a content marketing, social media, and promotions agency. Every day I talk with corporate marketers whose challenges and opportunities multiply with every new technique and channel available to them.

Whether it’s programmatic advertising; synthesizing content, SEO, and conversion; attribution modeling; or just getting all seven of their specialist agencies marching in the same general direction — today’s corporate marketer needs a lot of information and doesn’t necessarily have time to seek it out or consume it.

The corner office, or even the cube with a little window, can be a lonely place.

Engage with top corporate marketers

thedigitalcmoOn The Digital CMO we’re going to make it a little less lonely by helping you engage with top corporate marketers in a wide variety of B2C and B2B companies.

We’ll celebrate their wins, learn from their struggles, and learn the strategies that are working today.

Each week, we’ll start with a lightning-round review of hot news and topics in brand marketing for the week. Then we’ll settle in for a candid chat with our featured guest, who will be a senior-level corporate marketer.

We’ll be frank, informative, and challenging.

Get your ticket to the boardroom

Whether you’re a CMO or an executive-in-training, you won’t want to miss a single episode of The Digital CMO.

Subscribe to The Digital CMO on iTunes now

P.S. Want to nominate someone to appear as a guest on the show (even if that’s you)? Click here.

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