Oh Yes, I like Hot Pot. Tastes Good…

HotPot, yes, it sounds like a tasty dish I had for lunch one cold December day. Alas it is actually a new social platform introduced by Google making your opinions, and those of your friends the basis for local search results.

Imagine my surprise when while watching hulu, not at work of course, The ubiquitous  ad that interrupts my television enjoyment is for Google HotPot. Now, it’s been years since I can remember actually seeing a Google ad not on Adowrds, so this must be good. So how does it work? Well, first you’ll need a Google Places account. Then the fun can begin.

Google puts it like this: “Every time you rate a place on Google, we get a better understanding of your likes and dislikes…  Once we can discern your tastes, you’ll start to see recommendations in your search results of places chosen specially for you, with explanations of why you might like them.” That’s not all. Go ahead and add your friends to your Google places account.” When you add them as friends in Google Places, you’ll see their recommendations when you search for places on Google.”

What will this mean for your Local search effort? It means that now more than ever reviews, good reviews, are tantamount to having a successful local search model.  It also means ORM (online reputation management) is even more important and even one bad review can completely derail your relevancy for local search.

More information on Hot Pot can be found HERE.

Is Google Limiting the Amount of Money They Stand to Make?

I read an interesting Ad Age article, “Google Offers Ad Opt-out Feature for Chrome Web Browser,” where Edmund Lee explains how Google’s Chrome web browser is now offering a special software for Internet users. This software enables Internet users to protect their privacy from online advertisers and data companies being able to track the user’s online activity.

This is no new news when it comes to the Mozilla Firefox and Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browsers, which have already implemented similar software to help “protect” Internet users from being tracked by companies. Edmund continues by discussing that Google’s “opt-out extension will retain the user’s preferences on which advertisers can and cannot track their behavior.” Most notably, this software is compatible with AboutAds.info, which is the advertising and marketing industry’s self-regulatory program. This program was created to enable online consumers to gain more control over internet-based advertising (i.e. customized ads that are based on the user’s behavior online).

On Google’s site, the following is posted regarding this new development – “We recognize that some users are uncomfortable with the personalization of ads that they see on the web.” The site continues with a disclaimer that once this software of “Keep My Opt-Outs” is installed, user’s “experience of online ads will change: You may see the same ads repeatedly, or see ads that are less relevant to you. … It also may result in less profitable ads for your favorite websites.”

I found it ironic that Google’s web browser is moving forward with software that will restrict Google’s ability to gain insight into consumer’s online activity. Do you think that this “opt-out” software is something that will actually protect online consumers’ privacy?

In an Instant World

Make breakfast easier with instant pancakes! Clean your bathtub quicker with instant sanitizer! Get over that headache with instant relief! And now, decrease your time searching with instant Google!

In a society that increasingly glorifies and capitalizes on the public’s laziness and torpor, ‘instant’ has become a necessary descriptor for the success of countless goods and services. When computers became prolific, all were happy to forego the burdens of the pen in favor of the seamless keyboard. But it is not enough; it MUST be faster! Unfortunately the insipid human tentacles can only move so fast, but mother Google always knew it would come to this. So for the sake of our penchant for inertia, Google now provides instant results so that searchers can complete the hunt much more rapidly. In essence, type less to get more. Never before have people been so brazenly rewarded for lack of thoroughness. I wonder if this could have larger implications for the future of nonverbal communication and the ‘written’ word, as language might start to evolve in concomitance with our dire need for efficiency. That is probably an issue outside of my realm of expertise, but I suppose I can comment on the implications for SEM.

Google instant caused a lot of chatter when first announced, and since its implementation, it has looked like much ado about nothing. So it appears that search marketers can breathe easy, at least until the next Google Blog update pops up in their inbox. But as this insightful article points out, there are less conspicuous opportunities that Google Instant has created, such as the potential for purchasing incomplete keywords. Since this technology more or less encourages curtailed search terms, there might be promise in buying your desired keyword’s leading syllables. These unfinished terms cost next to nothing and have little competition, for now at least. For example, when the incomplete term ‘elec’ is Google Instantfied, ads are generated for ‘election results.’ But Google, I was trying to find an electrician! You know nothing about me! Alas, Gary the electrician can get the upper hand on his competitors by buying this incomplete term and revealing himself sooner; and Google and I can continue our dysfunctional relationship for the time being.

Despite garnering so much attention and worry, Google Instant was probably just a geeky gimmick to create a little buzz and keep the monolith at the top of the search world. As search engine marketers, we must be malleable and adapt to Google’s caprices. Furthermore, we must use our internet savvy to find the subtleties that affect our practice. Google Instant definitely feeds on laziness, but I believe that laziness is just a wrongfully derogatory word for efficiency.

– Kenneth Hurta

Coca-Cola: 275,000 miles, 186 countries and 365 days

I read an interesting Adage.com article, “Coca-Cola Wraps Largest Social Media Project Ever,” where Natalie Zmuda describes the massive efforts of the Expedition 206 with Coca-Cola’s “happiness ambassadors” major worldwide expedition. To be exact, these three “ambassadors” traveled more than 275,000 miles, 186 countries over 365 days to complete Coca-Cola’s social media project.

The ambassadors were provided with video cameras, smartphones, and other gadgets to complete their quest in countries where Coca-Cola is marketed and sold. This expedition was essentially in “search for happiness.” The journey was covered by the Expedition206.com Website, along with many social media platforms including Twitter, YouTube and Facebook and made a whopping 650 million media impressions, not to mention interacting with billions of people worldwide.

The global efforts were managed primarily by an Atlanta team, but required much efforts from other teams. Many of these markets were introduced into the social media and digital realms for the first time. Furthermore, the program had to stress the significance of being “locally relevant” to different markets around the globe.

This was quite a feat in my opinion, even for a major corporation like Coca-Cola! To read more about this social media journey, visit https://adage.com/.

Furthermore, I think this shows that now more than ever it is important to engage and interact with people, instead of sending them a message. But, the tricky part is figuring out what consumers feel is worthy of their time and attention.

What do y’all think?

Facebook worth $50B today, $36.2B Three Months Ago

News surfaced today that Goldman Sachs and a previously unnamed investor (Digital Sky Technologies – also an investor in Groupon) invested $500 million in Facebook.  This puts the worth of Facebook at $50 billion!  Three months ago the value was only $36.2B.

To put this all in perspective Google’s Market Cap was $193.26B today and Yahoo’s Market cap for the day was $21.83B. Microsoft’s Market Cap is $239B today, but keep in mind MSFT owns the world.

For now, what this means for Facebook is really a legal battle and possible sanctions by the Securities and Exchange Commission for some creative investment vehicles possibly being offered by Goldman Sachs for investment in Facebook.  For Google what this means is a formidable opponent in the land of search – with enough money and enough friends to possibly deal Google a sizable blow to its advertising bottom line.

Watch and learn more here – https://www.youtube.com/user/PBSNewsHour#p/u/3/KHLSf3qMCSk