Google is a mirror on society..very scary search suggestions

Marco Bertozzi:12.05.2010


Have you had a good look at the search suggestions on Google? Well I thought I would do 5 searches to see what comes up and see what the populus is searching for day to day, holy shit its worrying! Here was what I typed in..

Where do I…
How do I…
Who do I..
When do I..
What do I..

Only when I had done this did I realise that if the suggestions reflect what people are searching for then we are in trouble! So what did I learn? Well first of all we worry about a few key things in life..our Blackberrys and iPhones, sex, tax, life in general and Facebook.

There are a myriad of people out there with some fundamental life decisions to be made. Now I am all for starting with a broad search but I particularly like these two; ‘Where do I begin’ and ‘What do I want to do with my life’ fantastic questions! These people have focus issues and or are high as kites and probably sitting in student digs somewhere looking for a short cut. You might think they are in trouble but there is a group of people who have some of the worst issues imaginable.. ‘Where do I find Chuck Norris’ now thats not your average question but seemingly one many are getting their heads around. Politics in the last few weeks has been a hot topic so I would not be surprised if Nick Clegg was one of many searchers against ‘who do I vote for?’ or perhaps Gordon was a number of those asking ‘who do I inform when I move house?’

Life, sex and babies comes up a lot as you might imagine. The second or third suggestion down when you search ‘What do I’ is repeatable for this blog, take a look yourself, it’s not your average question!

There are whole life stages covered in there too. Some of the top suggestions in response to those questions above included:

1. What do I get my girlfriend for Valentine
2. When do I ovulate
3. How do I know if I am pregnant
4. When do I have my first scan
5. When do I stop paying child maintenance
6. When do I retire

People are clearly turning to the web for the big questions, I imagine they start big and work their way through to the important detail questions such as the oft searched ‘where do the Inuits live!’ Christ it goes on and on, weird and wonderful questions that Google is shining back at us…

The state of Facebook is now very much revealed by these searches with most of the ‘How do I‘ search suggestions being around FB. Mainly ‘how do I close my account’ Much has been made of the FB situation, interesting to see how that goes but I think Google is reflecting a little of the sentiment of the population at the moment.

Finally and probably the best reflection of society is the ‘Who do I’ section. A true reflection of our obsession with celebrity with ‘who do I look like’ how is Google going to tell you that? Where does it start? Such a weird question and I think expecting more of Google than one should do, probably easier to answer the question ‘where do I begin!’ Which celebrity do I look like? Who do I share my birthday with? It seems a constant need to associate with celebrity, it’s a sign of the times I am afraid.

So what do I conclude? I conclude that the world’s population has gone mad! What else can I take out of it? Probably best not to dig too deep!

This is the most exciting time in digital media since search

Marco Bertozzi 13.04.2010

Today I had three meetings on the trot and each of them came from different fields – Media owner (portal), Media network / technology company and Search. Each of them had a different angle but the one thing they and indeed we had in common was that we all felt the world was changing and noone had the complete answer.

It’s exciting and anyone you talk to seems to be thinking the same, the display market does not know which way to turn, media network, DSP, Ad exchange, media agency, search company? It’s all up for grabs, so much so I think that specialist companies in the ad exchange market may have become too specific as they could invent themselves over and over and may need to.

All of this leads to an enormous amount of bullshit. Unbelievable amount of hot air, duplication of technical services, who does data best, its a minefield and unless you really get around a bit and ask a lot of questions you could be caught out by some dodgy companies and people. Spend time looking into those who approach you claiming to be experienced, specialists etc there is still more hot air than delivery in the market.

It is a great place to be right now but beware, while there is limited regulation and everyone proposing new and exciting business models you could get caught out..a lot of sensible advise and analysis can be found at www.exchangewire.com and www.adexchanger.com

How would you come across online if I searched for you?

It just struck me as I did a bit of research on some people, you can tell a lot about a person as to whether or not they are on Youtube.

Most people worry about keeping their Linkedin profile up to date, a good CV, perhaps they Tweet a bit and blog a bit but actually one of the most powerful mediums is that of video. In my research of some senior media players it has been fascinating to see who either a) cares or b) has time to create their online CVs with a professional Youtube appearance ranking top in my mind.

What a Youtube performance allows is for someone you have not met to come to life, you may learn a little about their character, approach and beliefs. That is useful and powerful stuff when you are about to be interviewed by them. Perhaps its superficial to judge someone on that basis but I think it says a lot about them as people. It usually means they are not afraid to put their thoughts out there, often in positions of influence hence why they are presenting at conferences etc (most likely video scenarios) and therefore likely to be well connected.

There is much talk about your online persona, is the CV almost irrelevant now, is it more about your online presence, your content that appears if someone searches for you, how many followers you have and so on, I believe probably more and more. Put yourself in the shoes of a candidate you have to interview and search for your name, how do you come across? What would you think of you? All employers are turning to the web to research people, I think its time to check out your own online CV.

So if you are presenting soon at a conference, get yourself recorded!

Eurostar shows the impact of both Twitter and Real Time search

Marco Bertozzi: 20.12.09
Only the other week I was writing about how Real Time search would impact a brand. I talked about the fact that real time negative PR would be presented on the first page of Google listings would make life difficult both for the company and for any attempts to carry out a PPC campaign alongside it.

Well Eurostar have done a brilliant job of bringing that to life for us over the last few days. Lets face it Eurostar has had a nightmare. Trains that are sensitive to the cold, people stranded, holidays and Christmas ruined, kids with no food, blacked out trains over night, it could not get any worse..or could it?

Yes it could if the company had no communications strategy in place, right from people on the ground to Twitter moderators or websites being updated frequently, they have broken every rule going, especially in the first day or so.

Twitter is filled to the brim with negative comments and no one has been in place to respond to them which just fuels the fire, how difficult is it? Answer a couple of questions, make an announcement or two. There is no excuse for how poor they have been. They do seem to have no paid for listings against the search term Eurostar tickets so someone remembered to pull all their advertising! Even here though, was there an opportunity to have put some notices of some sort? As it is a few random companies are wasting their budgets against paid for listings for the words Eurostar.

Real time search, SEO and PPC just got complicated!

Marco Bertozzi 13.12.09
Well lets start with what Google says about its new search results, here is a video summing up the possibilities:

The summary of that provides these services:

• Ability to filter real-time results to only show updates from particular sources, such as Twitter, Friendfeed and others on new “Latest results” page;

• Latest results and new search options optimized for iPhone and Android devices “when you need them on the go, be it a quick glance at changing information like ski conditions or opening night chatter about a new movie — right when you’re in line to buy tickets”;

• “Hot topics” on Google Trends will now show most common topics being published to web in real-time.

SO what does that mean for advertisers and individuals?

There are two ways of looking at Real Time search. One is from the individual’s perspective and the other from an agency/advertiser’s.

An individual really just had the power put into their hands, an unbelievable position of prominence on the world’s most viewed ad placement. If you are unhappy you can make your point immediately. If you are raging at the latest piece of news, if a mouse just ran across your hotel room, whatever happens to you, you tweet or FB and its up and visible to all. It’s unbelievable, really.

Those tweeters and bloggers are now in a position to generate massive traffic for their sites or profiles, this will be the best thing ever for egomaniacs. It will of course also be amazingly useful. You are in a traffic jam and need to know what the hold up is, how is the weather in Balham right now, its all there, it will be so useful day-to-day. Of course its all there at the moment if you search on Twitter but I think this move will bring that knowledge to a far wider audience.

Part 2 however is much harder. If you are an advertiser and happily investing in PPC campaigns when suddenly your ad is now alongside someone who is destroying your brand or service, then you are going to have to come up with an active strategy. Areas such as Hotels, restaurants etc may have a nightmare if people do Tweet negatively about them while they are trying to buy ads encouraging them to book.

As an advertiser this will mean you have to consider a few actions;

1. Redouble your efforts to make sure your brand advertising is clear, eye-catching and able to draw people away before they start to soak up all the real-time results below which may not all be positive.

2. Advertisers will now be fighting over the top slots more fiercely so be prepared to invest further into the PPC budgets. You will not want your text ad half way down the page while some FF or Twitter updates are above you giving you what for!

3. If the reports are correct that only 26% of the top 500 superbrands seriously invest in Twitter then perhaps this move will spark them into action as they will need to have their own content in the real-time results as well as those of the users / customers / consumers. Thats probably a good thing as it will make more advertisers deal with social media, something that so many are still behind on.

Search systems which may only optimise a few times a day are also going to appear slow in comparision to these kind of results, at the moment as people monitor their search ROI it may be optimised infrequently, this will need to be accelerated. Bad real-time feeds may be ruining your PPC and you should know about it and react. It will make search a lot more labour intensive as if it needed to be anymore complicated.

So what do I think overall. Great for the individual, very useful, very informative. For the advertiser, well its going to need a lot more work and thought both in SEO, PPC and social strategies.

Thank the lord, Google homepage now fades in.

Marco Bertozzi: 08.12.09
Bing is out there telling the world that they are reinventing search and we must all Bing. I can’t put my finger on it but the ads somehow dont seem right to me, is it because I am used to finding a search engine without being told about it? I guess Ask did a lot of advertising, but then I never used that site either.

But thats not why I am writing, Bing actually does do some very interesting things and I think has moved things on a bit, so it seems a little irrelevant that Google is now touting its fading in homepage, it made me think when I first saw it that they were having problems loading the page! I dont see it, even from a design perspective it fades in as soon as you do anything which is normally immediately, not sure how many people sit back and admire the page for too long, so what’s the point? I want to see some major improvements at Google that really create some buzz, maybe real time search will do that, although I will be interested to see how much babble that pulls up.

That said, can I ever see myself defaulting to Bing, not really, thats one habit that I would need rehab to get over.