Archive for the ‘Digital Advertising’ Category

Westside firms with names like Omelet, Ignited and Blitz are pushing clients beyond TV and print ads and onto websites, smartphones and tablets.

Old notions of advertising are being scrambled on the Westside, inside boutique agencies with names like Blitz, Ignited and Omelet.The hot shops are pushing big-brand clients beyond the familiar confines of radio, television, magazines and newspapers and onto the Internet, smartphones, game consoles and tablets.

With more than 42% of the country’s TV homes equipped with digital video recorders, which allow users to fast-forward through commercials, and some younger viewers leaving TV altogether, advertisers are rushing to build Internet infrastructures, create Web videos and funnel content to social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

It’s a boom-time business. Ten years ago, companies spent an estimated $6 billion advertising their products and services online, according to eMarketer, which tracks advertising dollars. This year, that number is expected to reach $39.5 billion. Within five years, it could top $60 billion.

It’s not that advertisers are abandoning TV. Last year they spent $68 billion on television commercials, and in two weeks last month they placed orders for $9.1 billion worth of prime-time network spots. But marketers recognize that affluent and younger consumers are as likely to be found glued to their cellphones or the Internet as the TV screen.

L.A. agencies have been in the vanguard of the ad evolution. The region already boasts such prominent creative shops as TBWA\Chiat\Day, RPA and Deutsch LA. Upstarts have taken root in the same narrow band west of the San Diego Freeway, drawn by the proximity to the beach and the nearness of major entertainment hubs, music labels, video game makers and an increasing number of Internet firms, includingGoogle Inc.andYahoo Inc., which have opened outposts in the newly minted Silicon Beach.

At the end of a crowded cul-de-sac in Culver City, more than a dozen young workers cluster around common tables in a warehouse. A makeshift sign on the door reads: Omelet.

“We were at this diner in the Marina, eating omelets, and thought why not?” company co-founder Ryan Fey said. “We didn’t want to take ourselves too seriously.”

“And you’ve got to break some eggs to make an omelet,” co-founder Steven Amato added.

Omelet’s founders met a decade ago while working at Los Angeles’ leading ad agency TBWA\Chiat\Day, just as the Internet was becoming a viable vehicle for advertising. Amato, 39, was a former playwright turned ad copywriter from Connecticut. Fey, 36, was an Ohio native who started his career as a page for “Late Night With David Letterman,” then worked as a music writer for Spin magazine before joining a large ad agency in New York.

Over months of breakfasts at Nichols diner in Marina del Rey, they plotted how to create their own “storytelling” firm built for the Internet age. The pair and a third co-founder, Shervin Samari, each chipped in $200, which covered one month of office rent.

The agency opened in 2004 and quickly made a splash with silly spoofs created for Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. “Mascot Roommate,” featuring a man in an oversized iced-coffee costume, notched more than 1 million views and spawned sequels, including one so effective that CNN’s Headline News aired it as the real thing and wondered on the air whether the coffee chain would fire the out-of-control mascot.

This year Omelet is on track to triple its 2011 revenue of $23 million. The firm, which has about 45 full-time employees — only two over the age of 40 — has created ads for AT&T Inc., Harley-Davidson Inc., HBO, Microsoft Corp.and NBCUniversal. It designed Internet advertising campaigns and television spots for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Earlier this year it won a large account withWal-Mart Stores Inc.’s corporate headquarters.

Omelet has company. El Segundo-based Ignited exploded onto the scene 13 years ago.

The digital agency now boasts 120 employees and has annual billings of nearly $140 million. The firm, which specializes in Internet display ads, occupies a 55,000-square-foot warehouse that previously hosted a short-lived Internet incubator set up by former basketball star Shaquille O’Neal. Its clients include NBCUniversal,Sony Corp.and Zico coconut water.

“The dollars are clearly shifting this way,” said Eric Johnson, Ignited’s founder and president.

A former top executive at the video game company Activision, Johnson recognized more than a decade ago that young people — particularly young male gamers — were consuming much of their media through nontraditional channels. He figured that eventually mainstream audiences would become heavy Internet users and that established ad agencies would be slow to respond. He was right.

“There has been a fundamental shift in behavior that is shaking the underpinnings of the whole media and marketing industry,” Johnson said. “Everything needs to be digitally connected.”

One of Ignited’s first clients was theU.S. Army, which needed a new way to inspire potential recruits. In 2001, Johnson’s firm helped create “America’s Army,” an Internet video game that turned the adrenaline rush of simulated combat into a recruitment tool.

The game was downloaded 12 million times, Johnson said. “It was a watershed marketing experience.”

Now the challenge is to stand out amid the clutter. Sixty years ago, consumers were exposed to about 100 brand impressions a day.

“Today, the average person sees between 1,500 and 2,000 brand impressions a day: company logos, commercials and billboards,” Johnson said.

The digital revolution has created a bounty of business for another Westside agency — Blitz Digital Studios, which sits above the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica.

Google,Nike Inc., Naked Juice Co., Microsoft,Walt Disney Co.andWarner Bros.Entertainment have commissioned Blitz to customize visually rich Internet campaigns full of motion and interactive elements. One campaign for Hilton Hotels attracted more than 1 million viewers and prompted more than 50,000 people to send Hilton e-cards.

Blitz also created an “augmented reality music video” to promote a new album from singer-songwriter John Mayer. The 3-D video resembled a children’s pop-up book, with Mayer morphing into a guitar-playing, computer-animated character in a video game world.

Blitz currently is working on a digital application for the Irish rock band U2.

“Digital today, in almost every way, is woven into the fabric of how we communicate with others,” said Ivan Todorov, chief executive of Blitz. “Brands and savvy marketers recognize that they need a digital presence.”

The 10-year-old Blitz has been on a hiring binge, snapping up prominent executives from established ad agencies to round out its roster of more than 100 online ad experts. Revenue last year exceeded $16 million.

Last fall, when Whole Foods Market Inc. wanted to find ways to engage customers by sharing stories of the artisans and farmers who supply food for the chain, it turned to the Gen-X crew at Omelet.

“They were cool, not all L.A. flashy,” said Andi Dowda, Whole Foods’ regional marketing coordinator. “They didn’t come in wearing suits telling me what I should do; they listened and tried hard to understand our business goals.”

The result was a series of mini-documentaries for Whole Foods’ in-store monitors, Facebook page and website. The Omelet team interviewed organic turkey growers in Sanger, Calif., and oyster farmers in Morro Bay, Calif.

“We haven’t put a lot of adverting dollars behind these, but they have real appeal,” Dowda said. “And younger people are much more drawn to these online stories than they would be for a TV commercial.”

Online video has become the fastest growing piece of the overall Internet advertising pie. Ten years ago, advertisers spent $48 million creating online videos, according to eMarketer. By 2009, the expenditure had swelled to $1 billion and is expected to top $3 billion this year.

Now Omelet is expanding beyond the Internet. This spring it launched Omelet to Go, which designs and stages live marketing events.

HBO hired the firm to generate a presidential-like motorcade, complete with actors posing as Secret Service agents, to promote the launch of the cable network’s new series”Veep.”

“These worlds are slamming together faster than anyone realized that they would and the shift is undeniable,” Omelet’s Fey said. “But convergence is done. Brands are online, they are in mobile. Now it’s all how you develop technology and apply it.”

meg.james@latimes.com

Originally published by Meg James, in Los Angeles Times, on July 8, 2012

Internet advertising will account for almost half of the UK ad market by the end of 2016, according to a report from Pricewaterhouse Coopers.

Online: internet advertising set to dominate market
Online: internet advertising set to dominate market

The report published today predicts internet advertising will be the only segment of the UK media and entertainment market that will grow by double figures in the next five years.

UK internet advertising was worth £4.96bn in 2011 and PwC predicts this will grow by 12% every year until 2016 to £8.75bn.

The entire UK ad market is estimated to have been worth £14.3bn in 2011 and according to the PwC forecasts it will grow by 4.7% each year until 2016 when it will be worth £18.0bn.

Internet advertising’s share of total UK ad spend will grow from 35.0% in 2011 to 48.6% in 2016 at the expense of a number of traditional media, especially newspapers.

PwC forecasts the TV ad market (including broadcast, online and mobile together) will grow by 2.2% every year from £3.7bn in 2011 to £4.1bn in 2016.

Despite the expected expansion of connected TV and on-demand services broadcast ad revenue will continue to dominate the TV advertising sector, although its share of total TV advertising will decline from 97.3% to 95.1%.

Newspaper advertising is estimated to have been worth £2.72bn in 2011 (of which £2.5bn was print and £217m was online). PwC estimates this will fall to £2.61bn in 2016 (of which £2.3bn will be print and £313m will be online).

To put the newspaper figures into context, PwC estimates newspaper advertising was worth £4.3bn in 2007.

Follow Maisie McCabe on Twitter @MaisieMcCabe

Originally published by Maisie McCabe, 12 June 2012, 8:39am in MediaWeek.

It’s not enough to call social media a “trend.” It’s a full-fledged cultural phenomenon, and more business owners are jumping on the bandwagon each and every day.

It’s not surprising, considering the fast-paced and often confusing nature of the industry, that myths and misinformation are prominent. Below are seven of the most common–and the most damaging:

1. “My customers are not active in social media.” Nielsen estimates that social media sites and blogs reach 80% of all active U.S. internet users. Social media isn’t limited to certain demographics. Your customers are out there–it’s up to you to figure out where.

2. “Facebook is the only social media site we need.” Facebook is an ideal platform for reaching consumers. LinkedIn, on the other hand, offers easy access to business owners and professionals. Twitter continues to explode in popularity, currently growing at a rate of 11 accounts per second. LinkedIn, Tumblr, Instagram, and Pinterest all have a valuable role to play as well. Don’t limit yourself to a single social media channel.

3. “I can’t have a significant impact if I don’t have thousands of followers.” While a large audience is certainly desirable, pursue quality over quantity. A hundred Twitter followers or Facebook fans that belong to your target market are better than 10,000 who don’t. Seek to build relationships and provide value to your market; the numbers will take care of themselves.

4. “Pinterest is a passing fad… so I don’t need to establish a presence.” Actually, Pinterest is the fastest growing social network of all time–ignore it at your peril! (Here’s how to get started.)

5. “Social media is great for B2C sales… but not B2B.” LinkedIn is an incredible platform for selling to businesses. Create a profile, get involved in targeted groups and participate in discussions relevant to your industry.

6. “Our customers talk about us on social media without us–we don’t need to create conversation.” Customers who act as brand ambassadors are incredibly valuable, but if you fail to control the conversation, you are leaving the fate of your business in the hands of others. You need a presence in order to respond to criticism and consistently broadcast your brand.

7. “I don’t need a social media strategy.” Many business owners consider social media platforms to be fun and even engaging, but not worthy of a long-term strategy and a system for executing it. But in order to be effective on social media, you must be consistent. And without a systemized approach to social media, it’s impossible for a busy small busy owner to maintain a consistent presence.

[Image: Flickr user Gabe Gross]

Originally published by expert blogger JOHN SOUZA | 04-20-2012 in Fast Company

An SEO Playbook For 2012

Posted: December 9, 2011 by FMstereo in Market Trends, News, SEO
2012 SEO Playbook
Search Engine Optimization is growing up. I am not ready to say the Wild West SEO days are completely eradicated, but in 2011 good search engine optimization is less about trickery and more about engaging content and audience development than ever before.Over the years, quality optimizers have become more prone to avoid technical tricks like using CSS image replacement to inject keyword text or controlling the flow of PageRank by hiding links from search engines.

Search engines keep getting better at crawling and indexing. If you are unwilling to burn your website or risk your career, you follow the search engines’ terms of service.

During 2011 the conservative attitude toward code crossed chasm to apply to content. For years, websites churned-out poorly written, generic articles in the name of long-tail keyword optimization. It worked so well some people turned crappy content into startups.

Now, thanks to Panda, Google’s site-wide penalty for having too much low quality content, people are asking why anyone would put pages on a website that no one wants to read, share or link to? Without taking potshots at the past, most of those articles look juvenile and antiquated.

Made in Japan went from signifying cheap to marvelous. Made for the Web is growing-up too. It is this evolution which guides my SEO highlights for 2012. I separate things to keep in mind by code, design and content.

Code – Keep It Simple

While Google likes to tell us they are very good at crawling and understanding imperfect code, I prefer to assume search engines are dumb and help them every way I can. Simple code is honest code. It’s also easy to parse and analyze. Just because you can AJAX-up a page with accordions and fly-outs does not mean you should. The more code on a page, the more things that can go wrong from spider access to browser compatibility.

Follow standards and get as close to validated markup as reasonably possible. Make it easy for search engines to spider your site. Validating HTML and CSS does not automagically raise your rankings, but it will prevent crawl errors.

At the same time, don’t insist on validation since some perfectly good code will never validate. Follow search engine recommendations to Make AJAXXML  and Other Code Crawl able.

Make your CSS class and ID names obvious, especially for section div tags. Again, Google tells us they have gotten good at identifying headers, sidebars and footers. Part of that is almost assuredly knowing the most common div names.

  • Make it easy on Google and Bing by naming your header div header.
  • Name the CSS ID of your right sidebar div right-sidebar.

Why would you name a CSS Class xbr_001 when you can name it navigation? At the very least, it will make life a lot easier on your SEO team. They have enough work without the need to translate ambiguous naming structures.

Reserve h# tags for outlining principal content. I am amazed at the number of big brand websites that still use h# tags for font design. Tell your designers that h1, h2, h3, h4, h5 and h6 are off-limits and reserved for content writers and editors.

The only exception to this should be if your content management system uses h1 tags to create a proper headline. Embargo h# tags out of your headers, navigation, sidebars and footers too. They don’t belong there.

Web Design – Less Navigation Is More

Look at the Zen like efficiency of any Apple product. Steve Jobs was ruthless about eliminating the unnecessary and achieving clean Bauhaus efficiency.

By contrast, too many websites, especially enterprise sites, try to be all things to all people. Their administrators or managers fear they might miss out on a conversion for lack of a link.

Websites should have clean vertical internal linking. Every page should not link to every page. You do not need a site-wide menu three levels deep. As long as people feel that they are progressing toward their goal or the useful information they seek, they will click on two, three or four links to get there.

Look at your website analytics. Which pages receive the fewest visits? Are any in your navigation? If no one uses a link, why does it to be there?

A website’s most widely visited pages tend to be close to the homepage. Review your categories and sub-categories. Can you eliminate whole categories by merging or reassigning content? For example, does the management team need its own category or can you move it into the About section?

This is not just about eliminating distraction. It is a way to increase the internal flow of authority (PageRank, link juice, etc.) to SEO hub pages.

Content – Engagement & Agility

Emphasize Community and Conversation. If your business depends on the Internet and you have the budget to hire one more person, consider employing a community evangelist. High rankings require authority. Authority comes from off-site links and, to an extent, brand mentions.

Earning enough links to make a dent in your SEO requires a continuous stream of link worthy content combined with forging and fostering relationships with people who create links or influence lots of others through online conversation. This requires a large commitment of time to work with writers and designers and to network. Even when decentralized, this rarely works without a strong empowered leader.

Get out of the sales funnel. The people you want to buy your products or services are not going to blog about your company or mention it on Twitter. More likely, they are peers.

A good exercise to undertake is ask each employee, if they could pick one professional conference to attend, what would it be? Then look for the session speakers on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. Find which ones are active online and gauge their influence. Are people in your company qualified to write authoritatively about these topics or speak at conferences?

This is how to find content topics for the post-Panda Web, things people want to converse about and link to. For example, if you have a cutting-edge API team, an API development blog could be the key to higher domain authority.

Understand Social Technographics. It will help you to find influencers and create content that people will want to link to and talk about.

Social Technographics

Embrace Agility

Realign your content generation and approval process so you can create near-daily web content and, if necessary, respond publically to something within an hour.

With Query Deserves Freshness, trending topics, news search  and simply because of how social media conversations come and go, agility is important for getting noticed and getting links.

Update Your Content

If your website has older articles that read like Wikipedia or a hardcover World Book Encyclopedia, swap out old content for new. In the future, Panda will not get leaner, it will get meaner. If you have reason to worry, start fixing it now. Do not wait and hope Panda will not see your low quality content. I want to be very clear here:

  • If you have decent quality content that provides real value, keep it whether it is SEO optimized or not. Yes, get to work optimizing older content doing things like selecting hub pages, optimizing text and cross-linking. But do not delete your old content.
  • If you have content that seems overtly advertorial, is cheesy or reads robotic because it is so stuffed with keywords, begin the process of writing one-for-one replacements and update your old content over time. For the old-time SEOs out there, this brings new meaning to a page a day.
  • If you have been hit by Panda already, I suggest removing your poor quality content, set-up 301 redirects to salvage the link authority, then begin rebuilding with high quality, link worthy content. Panda is a site-wide penalty. It is not going to go away until the offending content is removed or replaced.

Those are my 2012 SEO playbook highlights. In the past, content creation and link building were too separated. We had writers covering every long-tail key phrase possible while, in another room, link ninjas emailed and telephoned soliciting for individual links.

That model is becoming less and less sustainable. The Web is too big. Too many people contribute content. Social media offers an entirely new world of context. Today, SEO means finding an audience you can connect with, become a part of the community, give them insanely awesome content and reciprocate. This is the new SEO arms race.

Originally posted on Dec 8, 2011 at 1:24pm ET by  in Search Engine Land.

How Apple’s Siri Could Destroy Local SEO

Posted: November 17, 2011 by FMstereo in Apple, iPhone, Market Trends, SEO
How Apple's Siri Could Destroy Local SEO

Have you met Siri yet? If not, it’s worth taking the time to learn more about the iPhone 4S’s digital ambassador, as she could represent the future direction of local search engine optimization.

On the surface, Siri — the voice recognition app that allows iPhone users to control their cell phones verbally — seems like a cool party trick, sending text messages from your spoken instructions, checking the weather and setting up calendar reminders. But does this added functionality really mean the end of traditional local SEO as some experts are predicting?

In some ways, yes. The real impact of Siri isn’t just that she acts like a personal assistant. The potentially huge ramifications for local SEO come from the depth of information Siri is able to access and the range of actions she can perform.

For example, Siri can call you a cab after a night on the town by automatically processing information about local cab companies in response to the query, “Call me a cab.” Automating the search process means you never look up “cab companies in your area” in the search engines, avoiding the traditional search engine results pages and pay-per-click advertisements entirely, therefore limiting their importance and influence.

Little is known about how exactly Siri collects and processes information, although it’s reasonable to assume that the program is drawing on well-cultivated public data sources, including Google Places, Yelp and similar sites. If Siri is eventually able to pull information from third party apps — as many predict she will be — she could effectively eliminate traffic to some traditional websites. As an example, automatically checking people in to Facebook places eliminates the need to visit those places’ websites.

And when you take into consideration that the iPhone 4S has become the company’s best-selling iPhone in just a few short weeks, due in large part to the innovative Siri technology, local business owners should take note of this trend and invest time in optimizing their sites for mobile discovery.

Here’s what you need to do to make your business website as accessible as possible to Siri and related voice recognition tools:

Optimize your website for mobile. This isn’t new advice, as the rules for mobile SEO — and the idea of local SEO in general — have been around for years. But as some sources estimate that 30 percent of all searches could include a local component by 2015, it’s more important than ever to make local SEO a priority for your business.

In addition to thinking about how consumers access your website while on the go, consider whether or not Siri can access important information about your business as well. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Add a mobile site template. Having users land on a mobile version of your website willmake them much happier, and it isn’t difficult to do, as mobile-ready themes already exist for publishing platforms including WordPress, Joomla and Drupal.
  • Enhance your local SEO. Prominently feature your physical address, local phone number and operating hours on the home page of your site for maximum local SEO benefits.
  • Remove data obstructions. Yes, Flash graphics and Javascript are already “no-no’s” when it comes to mobile optimization, but also consider how easily Siri can access the information on your site. Burying pertinent information in PDFs and sub-pages could put your site at a disadvantage.

Enhance your digital presence. It’s no longer enough to simply set up profiles on Facebook and Twitter and call it a day. Instead, establish a profile on any of the following directories and review sites and encourage customers to rate your business there for maximum exposure.

• Foursquare
• Savings.com
• Retailmenot
• Judy’s Book
• Citysearch
• Superpages
• Yellow Pages

To determine which of these options are the best fit for your business, do a quick search to see which business sites in your geographic area and industry are ranking well in Google and create profiles on whichever of the following sites they’re using.

Implement microdata. If you’re savvy in the ways of SEO or have an IT manager who is you’ll want to consider adding “schema tags” to your website. Schema tags allow your site to incorporate relevant microdata — local business, address, telephone and open hours, for example — that could help Siri and the search engines process important information about your site more quickly.

While Siri on her own doesn’t necessarily spell the end of local SEO it’s worth taking note of the popularity this mobile data management system has gained in a relatively short period of time. As Siri evolves and other operating systems adopt similar technology, the businesses that benefit most will be those that best understand how their customers interact in a mobile environment and optimize their sites to engage them.

Originally published by: AJ Kumar on 17th November 2011, in Entrepreneur.

Where Should You Post Your Social Media Status?

Posted: November 3, 2011 by FMstereo in Social Media

Twitter Releases Web Analytics Tool

Posted: September 13, 2011 by FMstereo in Data Analysis, News, Social Media, Tech

How much traffic does your website receive from Twitter? Twitter Web Analytics, a new tool announced Tuesday, should help provide some clarity to website owners who rely on the information network for content distribution.
Twitter Web Analytics is intended to give website owners more data on the effectiveness of their Twitter integrations. It’s powered by BackType, the social analytics company that Twitter acquired in July.

Twitter Web Analytics, explains BackType founder and new Twitter platform staffer Christopher Golda, will help publishers and website owners understand three key things: How much of their content is being shared on Twitter, how much traffic Twitter is sending their way and how well Tweet Buttons are performing.

The tool is free and currently in beta. A small group of partners will gain access to Twitter Web Analytics this week, and Twitter will roll it out to all website owners in a few weeks. An API will also be released for developers.

 

 Originally published on September 13, 2011 by Jennifer Van Grove in Mashable.

Google is testing a variation on AdWords display that has the URLs shown above the two lines of description, but under the headline. Representatives from the search giant would only say that they’re always experimenting with different ways of displaying information, but multiple members of Search Engine Land editorial team saw the experiment on Google.com for a variety of search terms.

The AdWords display test is, in some cases at least, being shown along with an experimental display for organic results that we reported on in May. That result format also places the URL just under the title, or headline, and above the snippets of text.

Originally published in Search Engine Land on Jul 19, 2011 at 4:31pm ET by 

5 Truly Creative Uses Of Social Media

Posted: June 7, 2011 by FMstereo in Social Media

The biggest news in the world of social media over the last few weeks has been the IPO of LinkedIn, the upcoming Groupon IPO, and the slew of floatations these two are likely to herald. And, of course, underpinning all of this has been the simple question of whether the valuations these companies are receiving mean that we are in a bubble.

Whilst I’m in no way qualified to answer that (though I tend to agree with the analysis by multi-media consultancy Broadsight that all of this activity suggest that we definitely are in a bubble), what I can say is that nearly all of these companies rely on marketing, if not direct advertising dollars, for their business models.

This worries me because at present all of them seem to be enabling, if not actively encouraging, incredibly uncreative communication strategies. As a colleague of mine, who had his doubts about social, once said to me, “Are there any great social marketing campaigns that don’t rely on bribing the user”. And, when you think about it, there aren’t that many.

Groupon is built on bribing, or buying, your customer’s attention (with all the dangers that brings of investing in acquisition with absolutely no guarantee of retention), whilst many other ‘famous’ campaigns are built on similar models: vouchers, competitions, etc…

If Facebook, Twitter and the like really want to meet their valuations they need to win TV budgets, and that means that agencies and marketers need to get much better at using social platforms and technologies to build lasting relationships with consumers, without resorting to financial rewards, and start creating truly innovative strategies.

So, rather than just rant about this, I thought it would be useful to give examples of brands that are doing exactly that, in the (almost certainly vein) hope that this might encourage others to do the same.

5 Examples Of Excellent Social Media Campaigns

1. Intel – Museum of Me

This was the campaign that made me decide to write this post. A stunningly simple mechanic (pulling data from people’s social graphs using Facebook’s API is hardly original).

But done in a truly beautiful way, that actually made me stop what I was doing and give my full attention to what was unfolding in front of me. And, in doing all of this, it subtly, but very definitely, hammers home the overarching brand message. This should win awards. Lots of them.

2. First Direct – Live

Marketers often dismiss social, saying that it only works for cool brands, ones where people will want to get involved. So it would be impossible to use it for, say, a bank, right? Well, First Direct, to highlight the fact that unlike most other UK banks, were trusted by their customers, used social technology to surface consumer opinion, and then published it, on their own site, and broadcast it, in offline marketing. Again, an old tricks (it’s what movie studios have always done) but given an innovative twist, that won awards, and hit business targets.

3. Heineken – Star Player

Sponsoring major sporting events is an expensive business, yet so many brands go no further than slapping their logos on the bilboards and the ads around the games. Heineken went one better, and created an app that not only appeals to the target audience (football/soccer fans), but is truly engaging and, creates and facilitates live conversations.

4. Metropolitan Police – Choose A Different Ending

If you can’t use social for boring sectors, surely it can’t make a serious point? Well, the (London) Metropolitan Police proved otherwise with this interactive video narrative that allows youngsters to see the dangers of carrying a knife through a ‘choose your own adventure’ style YouTube platform. Gripping, engaging and perfect for the target audience. Truly creative, and true social work.

5. Burberry – Art Of The Trench

Another industry that has, for the most part, steered clear of social, and indeed digital in general, is the luxury sector. But fashion brand Burberry decided to grasp it with both hands, and the result was the highly successful Art Of The Trench, which has been followed with the world’s first 3D livecast of a catwalk show, with real-time Facebook & Twitter commenting.

It actually took me a while to come up with these, as so many, admittedly creative uses of social, rely on giving something physical back to consumers, whether in the forms of discounts or competition prizes.

So, help me out. Help me prove my colleague wrong. Help us prove that social media can be used creatively, without recourse to competitions, vouchers and give-aways, by giving your own examples in the comments.

* Heineken & First Direct are both Mindshare clients, though Mindshare was not involved in the creation of the Star Player app. I have tried to use non-US examples on purpose, to prove that great work does exist outside of America.

Originally published on Jun 7, 2011 at 9:30am ET by Ciarán Norris in Search Engine Land.

button

As expected, Google is now offering +1 buttons that can be placed on any web page via a short code snippet. The code/button is supported in 44 languages, but +1 activity continues to show only on English-language search results on Google.com. (Google says it’s working to expand +1 worldwide.)

Webmasters can use Google’s self-serve code generator to customize the size and language of the button, along with a few other advanced options.

plus-one-code-generator

There’s more about the advanced options here, and be sure to read the FAQs at the bottom where you’ll learn, among other things, that Google recommends using the +1 button in conjunction with the “rel=canonical” tag.

Postscript, 12:00 pm PST: If you’re trying to install the button on your site, it may only show up if you and your visitors are logged in to your Google accounts. Google tells us this is temporary and due to the fact that the button is still being rolled out. In a “matter of hours,” the buttons should be visible to all, whether logged in or not.

The button looks and acts, of course, much like the existing social buttons that you see regularly on all kinds of websites — but make no mistake that this is Google’s most direct attempt yet to compete with Facebook’s nearly ubiquitous “Like” button, which has practically become the default way we share content online. Google has repeatedly said that it would like access to Facebook’s data to improve search results, but the two sides have been unable to work out anything along those lines.

Analytics For +1 Users?

Google has previously shown screenshots of what a +1 dashboard will look like in Google Webmaster Tools:

But there’s no mention on any of Google’s blog posts about this feature, and my own Webmaster Tools account has nothing new related to +1.

+1 Button & SEO Impact

When +1 launched in March on Google’s organic and paid listings, Google said it would look at +1 click data “as a potential signal to improve search quality.”

A new +1 button FAQ explains this in more detail:
Content recommended by friends and acquaintances is often more relevant than content from strangers. For example, a movie review from an expert is useful, but a movie review from a friend who shares your tastes can be even better. Because of this, +1′s from friends and contacts can be a useful signal to Google when determining the relevance of your page to a user’s query. This is just one of many signals Google may use to determine a page’s relevance and ranking, and we’re constantly tweaking and improving our algorithm to improve overall search quality. For +1′s, as with any new ranking signal, we’ll be starting carefully and learning how those signals affect search quality.
That FAQ page also explains another SEO impact: The +1 button might get a page crawled or re-crawled:
Once you add the button, Google may crawl or recrawl the page, and store the page title and other content, in response to a +1 button impression or click.

Where Does +1 Activity Show Up Online?

The +1 activity of your network (as Google defines it) shows up visually in Google’s search results and that will now include when your network clicks on the new +1 button on websites, not just when they “+1″ a Google search result.

If you allow it in your Google Account settings, your +1 activity may also show up on websites that use the +1 button — very similar to how you see messaging on web pages that “John Doe liked this on Facebook.” This Google Account page shows how it looks and lets you choose to share your +1 activity or not.

plus-one-other-sites

Your +1 activity — both in Google’s search results and on websites using the new button — will also show up on your Google profile if you choose to allow it.

We’ll be testing and using the +1 button ourselves, and asking Google questions about it — and the analytics feature — so stay tuned for more in the near future.

Originally published on Jun 1, 2011 at 1:41pm ET by Matt McGee in Search Engine Land.