Managing Brands In A New Digital World

Digital Industry

I was recently watching a video about online brand management and one statement sums up the challenge of brand management in the digital landscape;

A brand is not what a company says it is, it is what Google says it is!

So whilst we all scramble for the top position in Google, the other 9 results on the first page can make or break your brand.  And why?  Because web 2.0 has changed our challenge as marketers forever.  The power of the information dissemination has shifted from companies who were seen as “experts” in a particular field to the users who can create, comment, review and share opinions to whomever and wherever they wish.  The social media phenomenon that has taken hold – social bookmarking, micro-blogging, social networking and blogging, all provide consumers with the forum to share information, contribute ideas and influence attitudes and beliefs with their online networks.

So what does this mean for marketers?  Well it depends how you look at it?  In one sense, your marketing resources may now be in abundance with online authorities spreading the good word. In addition the intelligence gained to improve the customer experience is enormous.

BUT can all brands benefit or be affected by the changes in the brand management game?  That depends on if people consider everyday items worth taking about.  For me toilet paper just isn’t that important!

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2009 Digital Predictions

Digital Trends 2009

Digital Marketing Lab have been canvassing the web to bring you the hot digital predictions for 2009.

The Australian interactive media association has predicted that Australian businesses will spend $17.9B online in 2009.  The economic downturn is having a very positive effect on the industry as companies strive to find more cost effective marketing channels.  In addition as online now represents 1 in every 4 dollars earned the impact of online is hard to ignore.

So where will some of this spend go?  Some of the latest Australian trends are detailed below;

 Going Mobile

Q3 2009 marks the introduction of the Google Android phone to the Australian market.  In addition since its launch in July 2008, the iPhone has sold close to 200,000 iPhones (although this qty has not been confirmed by the manufacturer.).  It looks as though the mobile pitch is hotting up – and for those looking to get first mover advantage in mobile marketing, 2009 could be the year to get serious about mobile.

More Advanced SEO Techniques

Australian companies have caught up with the SEO phenomenon however as more and more companies optimise their site content and conduct external link building activities the fight for the top position rages.  In 2009, the best of the best will look beyond the basics, to leverage and integrate social media, blogging and SEO to gain competitive advantage.

Niche Social MediaMicro-Blogging Takes Hold

There seems to be considerable debate about the impact that Twitter and other micro-blogging applications have had over the past year.  In September, Hitwise released intelligence showing a 518% increase year on year in the number of aussie’s tweeting.  In 2009, businesses will start to more effectively utilise this tool and the intelligence that Twitter can provide.

The Rise Of Niche Social Networks

The astronomical growth of Facebook, My Space and Bebo might hit maturity over the next 12 months in Australia with the introduction of niche social network sites.  With introduction of Ning globally and Rapport in Australia companies and online communities now have access to create their own social websites and social networks.  The take up of this trend in Australia may be a bit too premature to call, but none the less its one to watch over the coming year.

Why not add to this discussion, by sharing your insight into Australian digital in 09.

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Google’s Search Wiki – Power To The people

Google Search Wiki

In late November, Google yet again surprised us with its latest edition to its search engine. As social media has empowered the people, so to has Google with its “Search Wiki”.  Search Wiki allows users who are signed in, to make comments regarding search results, as well as rate search results and add URLs. This is just one of the latest ways that Google is allowing users to personalise their search experience.

So what does this mean for all of us Search Engine Marketers?  As yet the data collected by Google does not have any impact upon search results.  I would not however rule out that the future may see Google add this variable to its already complex algorithm to deliver more relevant results.

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Searchscape – The Latest Innovations in Search?

Online Search Marketing

Whilst Google has a stronghold on the Australian search market and many of the most important global markets, the fight for the search market is definitely not over and innovation continues.

So just what are the latest changes from Google & its competitors?

Wolfram Alpha

A new competitor is set to enter the search arena and it seems there is something special about this new entrant as it has many of the search geeks talking – me included. It is however important to note that Wolfram Alpha is not positioning itself as a search engine but as a knowledge engine.

Whilst many are talking about how the site may provide stiff competition, by trialling the site it is obvious that Wolfram Alpha does differ from Google and thus it may not be a replacement for Google search. Why? The site as it stands is not useful when searching for products and services and conducting research to make purchase decisions. Its purpose and strength is its ability for users to ask factual questions and for the system to compute and return the answers.

The search database is still largely undeveloped, however as it gathers pace it could be a likely alternative to source for key facts and figures that a user usually spend hours searching for on Google.

Microsoft Kumo Search

Microsoft has failed in its attempts to win any sizable market share from Google. In Australia, the Ninemsn platform retains 3 – 4% of the search market which is higher than Yahoo, however still not a sizeable portion of the market. In their upcoming launch of the new Microsoft Kumo search engine (in the next few weeks) the new Microsoft offering is expected to include integration of its semantic search functionality gained through their acquisition of Powerset in 2008.

From the sneak preview it is obvious Microsoft is also placing more importance on blended result. The rise of rich content will continue to see search engines place significant emphasis on blended results thus it is important that site owners/managers look to adopt and optimise rich content.

Google’s New Search Functions

Google has introduced several new search functions to improve the users search experience. The new search options include graphical search and social content filters. Whilst some of the advancements should greatly assist users to refine their search, (and one that was largely missing from the search arena) the question is how many will use these features as the filter options are not easily identifiable on the search results page.

Of particular importance Google has also introduced the rich snippets function;
Rich snippets allows webmasters to enhance their search listing from a standard listing by including information such as ratings, reviews, price range etc. The data is not automatically included by Google, webmasters must add additional mark-up’s to their pages to assist Google to access this data and display it when necessary. Refer to Google’s webmaster instructions for more information

Whilst search may seem to have lost the limelight to social media, innovation obviously continues and there are many exciting developments on the way. Over the coming weeks I will detail the latest search trends and what will emerge from the Next Generation search engines to provide you with an idea of where search is heading.

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