Flip your media plan to understand what the hell you're doing

There was this guy who taught us tennis once and he was really good at hitting backhands. Will Starling is his name and he’s all about backhands. 

His theory is that a backhand is a more natural stroke than a forehand, (that’s if you hit the big bottom to top Roger Federer single hander and not the Agassi lycra bike pants in my shorts double hander)  it’s just habit that everyone walks on to a tennis court and hits forehands. Over time, you will get better at forehands just because you’ve hit more of them. My backhand is way better than my forehand because Will Starling used to make us hit backhands first and hit lots of them. 

When you think about or sketch up a media plan you probably do the same thing: TV, print, radio, outdoor….oh and then some digital. Over the years, you’ve probably got used to thinking and working this way so it’s not surprising that you feel more comfortable and proficient working with this type of plan. 

Trad media is the forehand of the media plan and digital is the backhand that everyone walks around and thinks they aren’t good at. 

The way to get better is to start with ‘digital’ and get more experience and practice. Split the generic ‘digital’ out a bit more and it will make more sense to you. For example if you look at the research below you can see they have split out online, search, directories and general advertising (online display, email marketing, integrated site content and online video). 

Of the main segments of the online advertising sector - online classifieds, search, directories, and general advertising (online display, email marketing, integrated site content and online video), search advertising grew 23% in 2013, online general advertising 12%, online classifieds 11% and online directories just 4%. Harpur adds, "From 2013 to 2018, the search market is expected to continue to outperform the other three major segments (online classifieds, online general and online directories), growing at a CAGR of 16%, its proportion of the total online search and directories market increasing from 83% in 2013 to 91% in 2018."

The fastest growing segments in the Australian online advertising market are mobile and online video and both segments are expected to outperform the market significantly over the next five years. Mobile advertising grew very strongly in 2013, driven by high consumer adoption of smartphones and tablets, as well as growing media agency acceptance of mobile channels. It is forecast to grow at a CAGR of 39% between 2013 and 2018 and video advertising is forecast to grow at 31%. By that time advertising served on tablets is predicted to account for 70% of overall mobile advertising expenditure, whilst adverts served on smartphones are predicted to account for 30%.Frost & Sullivan's report, The Australian Online Advertising Market: Year End Review and Market Outlook,

Marketers often have different agencies (or a combination of in-house and agency) working on different parts so you get four or five schedules and never see the complete picture with everything integrated. For your own understanding, pull the numbers out and put them into one spreadsheet so you can see the total activity and spend at a media mix level. Yes- media mix is still important. 

Christmas activity stops on 3 Dec uh oh

Just chunky big numbers, you don’t need all the placements and everything. If you think you don't have time for that just think about how much time you spent making sure the Christmas Creative was 'Christmassy' enough. Exactly. 

You’ll also notice you have overlap. The social media agency is serving display ads on Facebook that isn’t in your online display budget. The Creative you are using on taste.com.au can also be used on Twitter and Facebook. Why are you getting two versions developed? The more you fiddle around with your numbers you’ll start to find better ways of doing things and get more confident to ask questions and not just say yes to all the agency recommendations. Ban yourself from Creative fluffing around and editing and focus on the media and what it’s doing. 

More backhands and less forehands and you'll find digital a lot easier and more natural for you. 

Faces and names matter for your Google search results

Updated March 14 2014: Matt Cutts confirms there is a type of author rank in use at Google

I've just been flicking back and forward to the search live blog: Google’s Amit Singhal At SMX West 2014 and just noticed something that I need to update and you might find useful. 

In the update part - in November 2012 I wrote that Twitter will help your search rankings. It did then and it doesn't now so just be aware of that (this Hootsuite -Game of Thrones infographic provides the best explanation-oops only took me a year to update). 

In the hmmm that's interesting part, we can see more humanising of content and search requests (is that a word?) to natural language and voice recognition, voice activated search in Google Now and all that cool mobile stuff. 

Figuring out who the author of content is important for establishing relevance and authority so even more reason to get your people online and contributing quality content with their own names and beautiful smiley faces. Even fugly frowny faces will suffice. Who says something online matters and creates opportunities for agile brands to take ownership of conversations by putting their clever humans out the front on topics. For example, I've recently watched Bill Cunningham New York and it's really great and you should watch it. While journalists around the world are wringing their hands about the demise of the print industry and the great injustices of centralised newsrooms, 80 year old Bill is still the voice, or eye, of authority on fashion. One scene from the movie showed him trying to get into a Paris fashion show and a girl on the door checking him for credentials and generally not bothering with the old fella in the shabby blue coat. A designer swooped out to grab Bill and said to the girl in French 'this is the most important person in the world'.  Bill Cunningham at the New York times is an author and authority on fashion and what he says, especially on topics like hats and shoes, matters more than what other people say. Just to be clear that there is no author rank at the moment but you can sort of see the problem that Google is trying to solve. 

Amit Singhal explains to Danny Sullivan:

DS: Google was built on an analysis of links. Seems like the rules are more complicated now about what gets counted. Do links still work as a ranking signal?

AS: Links are clearly an important signal about the importance of your content. They’re still very valuable. At the end of the day, we take a holistic look at the value of your site. We’re looking to build algorithms that give users what they want.

DS: Let’s talk about social signals. You’re not using any social signals from Twitter or Facebook, right? If something gets a lot of tweets, it doesn’t matter?

AS: That’s right, we’re not using those right now. We don’t have access to the Twitter data, so you can imagine how hard it would be to build a system that relies on those signals.

DS: You do have access to Google+, but you’re not using that for impacting the unpersonalized results?

AS: Right. We think about it from a user’s perspective. They’re looking for high quality content generated by reputed people. We have the authorship program that allows that to happen. They’re also looking for content from people they know, and we have the personalized results for that.

DS: Why don’t you use more signals from Google+?

AS: We have found that use of social signals in personalized mode is far more positive than using in non-personal results?

DS: Are there other things you would look at to determine a page’s relevance?

AS: (points at Danny) What do you find valuable as a user. We look at it as a human problem. What is relevance? What is high quality? And you figure out what signals produce relevant and high-quality signals.

DS: On authorship, there is no author rank, but could that become a signal?

AS: Possibly it could.

How to deal with misinformation in the age of the Google news desk

The first global media event I worked on was a big one. I was called in as a contractor and, to be honest, I had no idea what I was doing. 

I was posted on the night shift from 10pm-6am and I would sit and teach myself how to use the fancy new media monitoring software and type up the media call logs the managers had scribbled on Post Its. Nothing really happened and nobody called. 

At 6am, I would then do a handover to the main media person who would get hammered with phone calls from media and government officlas for the next 12 hours from 6am to 6pm. She eventually walked off the job due to stress and I was put in the big seat. 

As the media event hit week eight, the misinformation was getting worse and there was a lot of criticism about 'no communication' from the Ministry.

We had to keep pointing journalists to the weekly update figures.  I was getting small waves of calls throughout the day, with each journalist asking exactly the same questions. I would try to slow them down while I fumbled for my weekly numbers print out and asked them how their day was going. They all seemed to be starting or finishing a shift and monitoring the story for handovers. 

"Yeah we've seen those, you put those out last Friday, why are you stonewalling us? What else is going on?" they would ask and start digging around other news sources. 

Week nine and we had a big conference call with all the government officials and some of the best spin doctors in the land. The first thing agreed was that we were to continue the weekly updates to the media. 

"I don't know about other regions but I need them daily," I said. 

"The pattern is following the radio rosters and when they are doing their handovers. If we make it clear for them, then the correct information will get out and reported. All the other journalists are then Googling the correct figures and information, and we are pushing down the false stuff. A week is too long and they are rehashing incorrect reports. We need to flood them with correct data for a while. Even if it's just restating the same thing. Put a daily report on the website and we look more assertive. Email a daily situation update to the media then we know it's accurate. Put big date stamps on everything. Make it look live and current."

The conference line went dead apart from a few clicks from the mute buttons. 

"We will continue with the weekly reports", said the government Minister. 

Can Twitter help my Google search rankings?

Updated 12 March 2014: simple answer is now 'no' --find out why

The simple answer is 'yes'. 

A help forum comment from Google representative John Mueller explains:

Rest assured, Googlebot doesn't just count words on a page or in an article, even short articles can be very useful & compelling to users.

For example, we also crawl and index tweets, which are at most 140 characters long. That said, if you have users who love your site and engage with it regularly, allowing them to share comments on your articles is also a great way to bring additional information onto the page. Sometimes a short article can trigger a longer discussion -- and sometimes users are looking for discussions like that in search.

That said, one recommendation that I'd like to add is to make sure that your content is really unique (not just rewritten, autogenerated, etc) and of high-quality. to bring additional information onto the page. Sometimes a short article can trigger a longer discussion -- and sometimes users are looking for discussions like that in search. 


Also, John Mueller has an awesome avi on Google+ and you should go and look at it :)

The SEO death march? Matt Cutts' warning on Google Penguin

I wrote the other day about how changes to the Google search engine 'Penguin' will change you SEO and content marketing strategy. 

Further comments from Google's head of search spam Matt Cutts should have the entire SEO industry and online marketers on high alert:

"You don't want the next Penguin update". 

Barry Schwartz summarised his murmurings from a conference yesterday:

"He even added the next few updates will be "jarring and jolting" for webmasters and SEOs.

"I've never seen a warning like this before from Google. It makes it sound like the Penguin update will be felt by many many more SEOs. Our initial poll said about 65% of SEOs were hurt by Penguin - why so many more than Panda which was 40%? Well, this is aim more at SEO techniques despite what Google wants to say otherwise."

Matt Cutts is known for openly dismissing any efforts to 'game' Google search and any warnings should be taken seriously. 

Is this the end of SEO as we know it?

How Google Penguin may change the way you distribute press releases

Changes to the Google algorithm "Penguin" mean you may need to change the way you distribute press releases. 

Google is always coming up with new ways to improve search and prevent people gaming search rankings with keywords and link stuffing. 

So if you (or your PR/SEO) agency are sending out press releases with links back to your site that fill directory type sites, you may be actually damaging your site's page rank. 

Many agencies have big email lists of supposed "newswire directories" that they are sending SEO optimised copy to such as press releases or infographics. They'll tell you "we sent your press release to 50 business wires". 

Maybe they did but if they are sending to sites like this, it will actually damage your rank. 

Get the lists off your agency now and check the quality of the content and anywhere else you have referral links. 

If they look spammy, kill the link backs and stop sending to them. One proposed solution is here. 

SEO experts have blosomed in the last few years so keep an eye on them and question their tactics. PR agencies often don't keep abreast of changes and will be advising you on old strategy. 

Find out more on the offical Google blog.