Tag: Google

Welcome To The Centralised Web

Digital Strategy11 Comments

The number of industry stats that get published every week is truly remarkable, but two in particular released in the last few weeks really made me sit up and take notice:

  • Smartphone and tablet sales are continuing to grow as PC sales decline [1]
  • Google and Facebook account for over 70% of mobile advertising revenue [2]

As a long-time citizen of the web, I fell in love with the Internet precisely because unlike the traditional media that it would go on to fundamentally disrupt, it grew from the premise that it is open and decentralised. Anyone could access the network and establish a presence.

It struck me then, that those two stats – particularly when taken together – are a clear signal that things are not like what they once were. While the web is still vast, expansive and continuing to grow, for many users their entire online experience revolves around just two web properties: Facebook and Google.

Facebook users check the smartphone app an average of 14 times a day, while Google handles over 4 billion search queries a day. Not being on Facebook can be seen as either a badge of honour, or being horribly out of the loop (but mostly the latter). I’ve long contended that as we continue to share more and more of our digital selves on Facebook, the gravitational pull of Zuckberg’s network will grow exponentially making it increasingly harder to leave. While in the case of Google, we have simply outsourced our memory while simultaneously gaining access to the entirety of our digitised knowledge.

Add to this the impending demise of Google Reader (and by extension RSS which gave us the ability to consume what we want, where we wanted), the pervasiveness of Android devices (750 million and counting) and the recent launch of Facebook Home, there will soon be no escaping either of these two online behemoths anytime you’re connected – which is already close to ‘always’, especially with Google Glass on the way.

Why the aforementioned mobile ad spend is important is that where the dollars are spent is where innovation and content will follow. Publishers and developers who still primarily look to ad-supported as their monetisation strategy will by default seek to develop closer and closer ties with the networks that control the ad dollars.

The unavoidable truth is that in a post-PC world, Facebook and Google will command our attention more than ever. When two companies have effectively become our gateway to the rest of the Internet, we run the serious risk as marketers of turning it into something bland and derivative as we rinse, recycle and repeat ideas we’ve seen work elsewhere in order to get a higher search rankings, likes, +1’s or shares.

Let’s hope we don’t.

i-will-follow-the-rules

 

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Is Social Media Squishing The Adoption Lifecycle?

Digital Strategy, Marketing, Social Media7 Comments

Last month, it was reported that Google+ had racked up over 25 million users making it the fastest growing website in history. This prompted some – including some tech and social media royalty – to suggest Facebook and Twitter’s time was up and the future was all Google+. But at a time when some signs suggest we are suffering from social media fatigue, did Google read the zeitgeist and launch the next evolution of social networks or was their timing just incredibly fortunate?

We’re more connected now

The hype on launch was deafening. If you worked and lived in social media, everyone was talking about it particularly when heavy hitters like Chris Brogan and Robert Scoble jumped on and declared it the way forward. The figure often used here is the length of time it took Facebook (3 years) and Twitter (30 months) to reach 25 million users but what most forget in that comparison is that the acceleration in growth correlates with an increase in connectedness.

It can’t be understated how important this was in driving such rapid growth, the fact that we are more connected than ever before means that it is easier than ever to seed an idea provided it is compelling enough to your audience. In the case of Google+, the number of people actively playing in, not just on, social media for work and play gave it a ready made audience.

Adoption is getting faster

The diffusion of innovation has now changed. Instead of a normal distribution, the front of the curve where the innovators and early adopters live is getting squished as we adopt innovation faster than ever before. Before Google+, it was the iPad that smashed all records for consumer electronics adoption in a market that previously didn’t exist.

Social media is driving this by empowering consumers and changing their behaviour to become active participants in media and technology. Every blog, tweet, check-in and status update can cause innovation to be diffused not only faster, but to the right people who can amplify and seed it further.

Technology Adoption Lifecycle

A 'Normal' Technology Adoption Lifecycle

Hat-tip Martin Read for the inspiration for this post from his tweet several months ago (alas, I couldn’t find the link).

 

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How To Avoid Creating A Monster

Digital Strategy, Social Media2 Comments

There’s a great quote from Jurassic Park that I’m constantly reminded of. Right after all hell breaks loose and dinosaurs have taken over the theme park, Jeff Goldblum’s character confronts Richard Attenborough’s and says “your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.”

Probably should've thought this one through...

Every time when brainstorming, planning or generally creating, I try to reflect on those words to keep things in perspective.

Our natural inclination when designing anything whether it be a new website, campaign or Facebook page, is to cram into it as many shiny new things as possible. You will no doubt be familiar with the incessant tinkering and growing functionality that occurs without a tight scope and good leadership. When you work in marketing or advertising, it’s easy to get excited about what’s new because we all want to push the envelope and stand out from the pack. The danger comes when we push things that little bit too far and  we bolt on more features then necessary that it stops making sense to the consumer and becomes a confusing mess. The secret then is to keep it simple and focused on what matters to our customers.

  • Google destroyed Yahoo, Alta Vista and all the other search engines because it did what it did really well and put user needs front and centre. You type in a keyword, hit search and get back pages of relevant results. No muss, no fuss.
  • The best mobile apps aren’t the ones that try and do everything but are focused on a particular utilitarian task. They don’t try to cram in a whole load of features that might not get used and focus on the cherry on top.

But you knew that already.

The reason why I was inspired to right this post is because of a great book – actually, more like a manifesto – I read by Steve Pressfield, author of The Legend of Bagger Vance and The War of Art. Entitled Do The Work, it addresses the challenge artists face about overcoming internal resistance, putting your head down and getting to work. One of the techniques he suggests to stay focused is to think like a screenwriter or playwright and boil your project down to three acts:  a beginning, a middle and an end. Act One, Act Two, Act Three.

For example, this is how Pressfield explains Facebook in three acts:

  1. A digital commons, upon which anyone who wishes may establish, free, his or her own personal “page.”
  2. Each page owner determines who is permitted access to his or her page.
  3. Thus creating a worldwide community of “friends” who can interact with other “friends” and communicate or share virtually anything they want.

Everything in-between is filler; the tactics undertaken to get from 1-2-3.

Next time you sit down to develop your idea, first try and explain it in three sentences. Having this fundamental understanding of the what and the why could mean the difference between setting yourself up for failure and delivering a successful project in-scope and on-budget.

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