My Last (Digital Marketing) Blog

What a year… I’m going to graduate soon, I learned how to ski, and my professor showed me how google+ can be useful. It’s a lot to take in, but I’ll manage. But in all seriousness this blog is me talking about the best ~ $1100 I’ve spent. I took a digital marketing class taught by Mark Staton at Western Washington not knowing what to expect. I had took his intro to marketing class last year and thoroughly enjoyed it.

But how much could I get from this? Is this going to turn me into one of those young 20-something social media dorks that everyone at the office hates? I am a casual Facebook user and only know the basic ins and outs of twitter to just get by. I would say about a third of the way into the course I was hooked. It’s so much more than keeping tabs on tweens’ spending habits and their inability to cope with life in the 21st century. No, in essence digital marketing is the newfound ability of assigning a number on your marketing efforts. It has completely reshaped the scope of this field, instead of launching a TV ad or newspaper ad with an unclear source of attribution, we focus on a much more concrete form of measurement that delivers real ROI.

Having a large online presence attracts attention not only in form of traffic, but also your organic search results on popular search engines like Google or Bing. Since I have started my blog and my twitter account my name merits a 3rd result on Google search, suck it Joshua Henderson from Wisconsin!

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I won’t reiterate everything I learned in class because I advise you to take it but there are some key points that stuck with me. If the creed of real estate is “location, location, location” digital marketing is “content, content, content”.  Content attracts users, eventually fans, and google. Having something worthy of reading or a piece that informs your customers.

And what is all this reliance on computers for digital marketing if we’re not to learn how computers themselves work? The beauty of digital marketing lies in its accessibility. We spent a week discussing the importance of learning coding using the popular website codeacademy.com. I didn’t realize how soon I would use these techniques when I was assigned to design a website in my management information systems class. I learned how to code with HTML and soon was able to design a personal website through MyWeb. The feeling you get when you’re able to manipulate a computer in the exact way you want it is incredibly rewarding. Seeing your website come to life, with your name on it is very surreal. This is where the future is headed. Instead of schlepping around your resume and putting it on a stack of others the size of phone book, there is a much more effective means of getting recognized. Build a website, get registered on LinkedIn, these methods get you recognized while simultaneously displaying a competence working with computers.

Here’s a link to my website http://myweb.students.wwu.edu/henrikj/MIS320/joshuahenrikson.html

 

(At the risk of sounding too sappy) Thank you Mark for not only teaching this very practical/informative class. But for steering me towards a marketing major in general. After taking this course, it’s hard to believe that digital marketing doesn’t encompass the majority of 380… Now all that’s left is to score an internship and pass that freakin’ google analytics exam!

 

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The People’s War, Xbox or Playstation?

I am now at the point in my digital marketing class where we discuss the future of gaming and their marketing strategies. Where do I go with this? Should I delve into political realm of violence in video games, and whether there is any evidence to substantiate a correlation? As I am writing this my brother, a Caucasian 14 year old 4.0 student, is maiming a bicyclist in his yellow Prius blasting Gimme More by Brittney Spears thanks to Grand Theft Auto and a light public school homework load. He is able to Skype his friends via the Xbox One Kinect and coordinate a bank heist and craft a successful getaway to enjoy their video game spoils on virtual reality luxury goods. Helluva’ time were living in. My prompt is the Sony PlayStation, I am more familiar with Microsoft’s Xbox but I will try to keep Sony pertinent to the discussion.

In terms of Sony’s marketing, I have to get something off my chest. Bring back Kevin Butler. The charismatic blonde fellow who was to Sony as Isaiah Mustafa is to Old Spice. Those “Dear PlayStation” ads never seem to get old and effectively highlight a feature with the PlayStation. His short time with Sony was ended on a breach of contract when he signed on for a Bridgestone commercial promoting a contest to win a Nintendo Wii. I always found those commercials entertaining, even getting excited when I heard that iconic PlayStation bloomp sound (I apologize if my use of onomatopoeia fails to illicit the image) Anyways I digress..

Kevin-Butler-Mind-Blown

 

PlayStation has recently released its entry into the new generations of consoles, the PS4. Looking at the new generation of gaming consoles, in comparison to older iterations, it is clear these companies are trying to establish a stronger presence in your living room. Sony isn’t just competing with Microsoft and Nintendo, they are fighting a plethora of entertainment streaming devices. They want to replace that Roku, Amazon Fire TV, chrome-cast or whatever it may be. PlayStation has a unique features integrated into its controller that make the controller into a social media access point. With a tap of a button, you can share a short clip of your exact gaming experience and post it to Facebook within seconds. No longer will you suffer from the “Did you see that!” moment only to turn around and realize you’re by yourself playing video games. So go ahead, post that baby next to your trip to Zion Valley with your Fiancé.

Gaming has been going through a resurgence lately. Not only through consoles and PC gaming, but mobile app gaming has found a way to reach a broad spectrum consumers just looking to kill time.  The “console wars” are finding themselves in the media ranging from South Park to Forbes. This is a multi-billion dollar industry that spans many gaps from the casual to the professional.

console wars

Speaking of professional. YouTube (you might have heard of it) is close to a deal acquiring a gaming streaming service called Twitch. This is a popular platform for professional gamers/ popular YouTube personalities to broadcast their plays. For those of you who have barely even dabbled with Angry Birds, Twitch has been coined as “the ESPN of gaming”. Oh yes. Escape the clutches of monotony that is real life, put the controller down, sit back and watch someone else raid castles. I jest, but there is truly a significant part of the YouTube community devoted to this kind of content.

Sony has released details on its project Morpheus, similar to the Oculus Rift, a virtual reality headset that projects video games in 3D. This is creating a lot of interest not only in the gaming community, but to many other industries as well. For example, using virtual reality to overcome ailments such as PTSD, phobias or integrating it with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy could be a real practical solution. One of the big hurdles with current virtual reality technology is its cost and the bulkiness. What do I mean by that? Picture an arcade Dance Dance Revolution pad combined with a treadmill. Now throw on 1 lb headset that overhangs from your face. While promising, we still have a ways to go before we see a practical virtual reality application in our own homes.

Want to Get Rid of Your Money Faster?

Continuing our discussion with mobile marketing, let’s turn our attention to mobile payment, QR codes, and bitcoin. You have a couple options when it comes to mobile transactions. There’s google wallet, LevelUp, and Square. All of them trying to find a replacement for your wallet

jetsonsGoogle Wallet obviously has the name recognition, but is it practical? We you can find a google wallet terminal it works quite nicely. You press your android device to a terminal and receive an automated receipt. Unfortunately they are only available in certain android devices with a specific near-field communications chip. Google Wallets problem is its virtually non-existent presence. It doesn’t work outside the U.S, and even finding a place to use it in the U.S can be challenging.

Pay With Square is a free app available at both the iTunes and Google store and can be used in hundreds of locations through-out the country. It’s already a little more ubiquitous than google wallet (do I smell an inevitable Google buyout?) Set-up involves basic personal info and uploading credit card information. During the transaction, the cashier can see your name and a picture of your mug to verify who you are. The Cashier can either accept or reject the transaction if said picture doesn’t match up.

LevelUp is similar to Square in terms of its presence, but it works a little differently. Instead it displays a QR code on your phone, which allows to cashier to process the transaction. The QR code acts as a scan-able credit card number for the merchant. In interesting point of difference, for the business side, LevelUp doesn’t charge vendors a processing transaction fee. They advertise promotions for the merchants

So… is it going to take off? It’s hard to say. On the one hand I would love a more streamlined transaction between customer and cashier. Wouldn’t it be nice to do away with all of those rewards points cards, those archaic coffee-stand punch cards, or even gift cards? All of those cards can transform a nice form-fitting leather wallet into the dreaded George Costanza wallet. I have two gift cards with less than $5 to Best Buy, what the hell does that get me? It gets me a discounted copy of a Sleepless in Seattle DVD and 3 minutes more in the checkout line. No thanks.

It has a couple of things going against it however. Besides the privacy issues that are so prevalent in today’s society, money dissipating from your account through thin air is a tough sell on the American people right now. The other holdup is companies making tons of money off of you forgetting your Lowe’s gift card from gammy. If you get a $100 gift card, are you going to spend that exact amount of money? No, you’ll probably ditch it after the first or second purchase. An electronic customer tab would cut into these profits.

You have heard a lot about Bitcoin recently, so what is it? In essence, it is virtual currency that has gained recent popularity from both its online and offline practicality. What makes it particularly unique is it’s a form of currency that isn’t backed by any government. Its appeal stems from that fact that it is decentralized and not linked to any banks. It isn’t controlled by any shady politicians, or subject to human aspect of greed and manipulation. It travels through a medium of binary and data encrypted protocols.

bitcoinThe other major plus is its simplicity to wire money from one account to another. You can purchase Bitcoin with a credit card. Bitcoin is transferred to your personal account and you can start sending or receiving payments while eliminating the middle-man and/or associated fees.

The Evolution of the Peripatetic Consumer

As I sit in the atrium looking at the subway line most students are locked into their phones in some sort of awkward tacit agreement, where zoning out into your social media realm is more important than engaging in your real-life surroundings. God forbid someone catches you outside of this bandwagon effect and lead them to believe that you have no internet friends. Here’s my PSA before I move on to bigger and better things… look up people. Picture the guy looking down at his phone in line at the bank. Take away that hunk of plastic and transistors and all you have is a schlubby guy in his mid-40’s exposing his goatee and double chin staring at the brown carpeting. It’s not very flattering, so be uncomfortable and don’t give into that reaction.

douche

fellas, don’t be this guy

Okay, now let me tell you about the effectiveness of mobile marketing and its future in advertising.

Mobile Marketing is a promising, albeit complex medium of advertising that allows companies to easier means of branding, lead-generation and retention purposes. The advent of smartphone technology, has given marketers a clearer picture of their segmented market. Combining big-data with data tracking techniques, we can identify our customer and their habits and preferences. This creates a much more relevant/controlled environment for the consumer, and the extra effort is realized in long-term ROI.

However, we have to keep in mind that the consumer also has more control of the content they want to see. What they react to depends on what they are doing and where they currently are. Mobile is changing how we interpret media, and how we consume products and services (point of scale). But there is growing evidence that consumers respond more negatively to these ads than through traditional means, like TV ads.

Personal anecdote, does it drive you nuts when you open up a website on your phone and accidentally click on a banner ad? They know you want to scroll as soon as it opens up. So they programmed that asinine ad to jump in and take the bullet between your thumb and the website you wanted. You frantically tap the ‘X’… but it’s too late.

Here’s the plan to successful mobile marketing and creating a positive experience. First off, put aside all of the tech software and tricks and start mapping out the user experience. Find out what your target market is doing with their phones. Optimizing the UI to a tablet or a phone can mean the difference between a purchase or a browsing session. Nobody like turning their index finger into a URL sniper hoping they hit the right link. We can do better.

If you have read any digital marketing blogs either from me or my colleagues you know what’s coming next. Content. This isn’t a 30 second TV spot that you can throw together and have it nationally syndicated. It takes time and planning to create something new that will entice users to use your service. Companies are finding new and innovative ways to reach their customers through their mobile devices and increasing their spending efforts.

Location coupled with direct targeting is a powerful combo that can deliver big results. Promoting deals and specials relevant to the user’s location is very attractive. Techniques like geo-tagging, location services, and push notifications allow companies to sell more personal ads that benefit both sides. Effective targeted-ads become much more relevant at the local level.Remember that specificity is indicator of intent. Keep these ideas in mind and you can have your customers hooked on your mobile platform.

slamdunk

Charlie Makin from the guardian put it best, “Key to success is consideration of the device, location and mindset, as well as the message” (2014, The Guardian)

Life after Moore’s Law

While we are still navigating the virgin waters of the technology age, it seems we are still only scratching the surface in terms of the capabilities of computing power. We are now stumbling on a powerful subset of the technology age, which is colloquially known as the information age. I keep wondering to myself (and aloud to you) if these ‘ages’ are any different. Why do we distinguish these two human landmarks if big data essentially falls under the technology cloud? I believe, along with credible analysts in the tech industry, that we are approaching the end of Moore’s law. Moore’s law states that computer hardware, including the number of transistors on integrated circuits, doubles every 18 months. While this linear model has remained accurate since the 1970’s, many industry analysts predict that the growth will start to slow in the next few years. We are now approaching a time where the physical parameters of computer chips are being tested, where creating transistors smaller than 7-nanometers thick is not physically or economically feasible.

Bob Cowell, director of the Microsystems Technology Office at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency stated in a recent interview with CNET (2013, Brooke Crothers);

“They are right, there are very serious challenges looming, but then, the silicon industry has beaten back such challenges in the past. This gives a lot of people false confidence that we can do it again. My attitude is, maybe we can, maybe we can’t, but physics isn’t the only challenge. That was my point in focusing on economics, to remind the field that we have to succeed at the physics AND the economics or we will have failed, and Moore’s Law will have ended”

Intel component scientists also said that it’s not clear what technology will be used beyond 7 nanometers.

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…Yeah read that again

 

 

That’s why I think it’s important to distinguish the difference between the `tech age’ and the `information age’, computational advancement implies faster, more powerful chips. The problem is that most people don’t need that much computational power in their everyday lives. Nobody needs the latest i7 processor/GTX Titan graphics card/ with 750 GB solid state drive to…run excel.

Take computer operating systems for example. An OS is designed as a collection of software that manages computer hardware in order to run applications. Looking at windows DOS (Disk Operating System) you can see how arduous it was to access a site on the internet. Flash forward to the evolution of the OS where web browsing is like an app like any other. You don’t need to type the exact URL, just input some keywords or that one line of that song you remember. You don’t need to know any systematic processes, you just open the app where you are guided through a series of steps till you reach the desired goal. My point being information is encompassing the tech age.

bigdata

So what does that mean for the future? The ability to analyze and interpret data, data mining,  as well as programming are going to be a much more high in demand skill. Companies are utilizing big data in a lot of interesting (and maybe a little frightening) ways. In a broad sense, this data is used to predict consumer behavior and spot business trends to establish a bridge between the consumer and the business.

UPS is using big data to track their packages in their outbound logistics program. UPS tracks 16 million packages and has approximately 8.8 million customers. They generate almost 40 million requests on their packages from customers per day. What you may not know, is that UPS keeps extensive track of their truck fleet so they can monitor speed, direction, brake and drive-train performance. In doing this UPS is able to reinforce better driving habits both through fuel savings and implementing more efficient routes. It has saved the company millions and they plan to use data analytics in their aircraft fleet to improve cost efficiency.

 

Conventionally speaking, big data can be difficult to manage considering one is working with terabytes if not petabytes of information.  Facing that much amount of data can be daunting where at a certain point, the need for MIS restructuring will become essential. As a small business today, that need may not addressing. But look for advanced DBMS to become cheaper and more accessible to small businesses. Imagine small-businesses keeping tabs on customers at the same caliber as amazon. The ability to store User ID and basic information is fairly standard and prevalent, but being able to directly target your customers in a much more efficient way.

Big Data and SQL

SQL (Structured Query Language) is a programming language used to perform search queries in a database. This includes running tasks like selecting records sorting them by date or updating existing records with certain criteria. If computer technology were a body, data is the brain and SQL is the nervous system. Everything is driven by data, every website and every piece of software. Databases can have hundreds or even thousands of tables. Usually the data is interrelated in some way, some records match more criteria than others.

Learning SQL can be very beneficial if you works in sales or some sort of database management position. Even a basic understanding is better than none as we enter the age of “big data”. For example if you had a database on customer/sales information, you can perform tasks that can give you a competitive edge. Simple things like how much revenue you’re generating in a given day or tracking your inventory letting you manage your inventory more effectively. Another huge plus is Data Mining. Data mining is an intelligence tools that are used to turn information (data) into actionable knowledge. It is statistical analysis through the use of technical tools to query and sort through gigabytes, even terabytes of data, looking for patterns. You can look at clients that have purchased certain items in one day, and be able to link them to external factors. If you have a product that has complimentary items, you can inform your sales force to remind them that they might need it.

sql-injection

 

On top of that, learning SQL as a marketer shows that you can simplify the database management process. Instead of waiting for IT to send someone down to pick through relevant information, you simply eliminate the middle man and start your own database management through the marketing division.

So, the relationship between user and database lies in the ability to create effective search queries which are designed through SQL. SQL sorts through data categorized in fields that are in tables and finds the data based on the contents in fields. The 4 main operations within SQL are Creating, Reading, Updating, and Deleting or “CRUD” coined by learncodethehardway.org (Zed A. Shaw, 2010). You can create data by putting them in tables, read data in the form of a query, update fields of information in an existing table, and delete data.

There are plenty of opportunities for someone who can employ SQL skills and one company looking for these kinds of people is Barnes & Noble. Barnes & Noble is reaching out via LinkedIn, for prospective employees who can utilize data systems to add success of direct marketing campaigns and loyalty campaigns. This includes database management, understanding of SQL, marketing analytics, and teamwork/leadership skills are strong qualifications and worthy of applicant consideration. As you can see, the days of slapping a degree on your resume and handing it to the frizzy haired HR lady named Jan are over. Companies are looking for individuals with a variety of skills pertinent to the job. In this job post alone, they are looking for business majors, comp. science majors, statisticians… it’s all fair game. Most of these skills can be found online and offer some sort of accreditation, it’s just a matter of setting the time aside and adding to your digital marketing skill set.

Who knows maybe your really gifted at database management and Structured Query Language. its do-able, and pretty soon you’ll be a whiz at it.

computers-yeah

The Butterfly Effect of Digital Marketing

Ab testing is the pinnacle of digital marketing nitpicking. In essence, you are taking the smallest details of your website and testing them for customer traffic/retention. The slightest changes on your site can mean the difference between a sign-up or swift stroke of the back-button.

Here’s how it works. There are two versions of your website that you want to test, hence A/B. Test A is your control, unusually the current website setup. Test B is experimental design where you introduce a change in order to illicit a positive response. If the new design performs better than the old one, obviously you would adopt the new one.

To keep the experiment unbiased, you should randomly distribute users to different versions of the site. However, if you are manipulating a core mechanic of the site it is best to subjugate new users to the test site and returning users to the original site. Remember that we are dealing with what may seem like subtle changes, but can AB testing can carry some unintended consequences if done improperly.

 

AB testing A great example of A/B testing is the Obama 2008 campaign website. The original website features, at the time, presidential candidate Barack Obama addressing his constituents with the call-to-action button labeled as “sign-up”. The new tested site features a family picture of Obama with his wife and daughter with the call-to-action changed to “learn more”. Human photos double conversion rates according to a blog from carsonified.com. A/B testing shows putting human photos on a website increases conversion rates, by some estimates double. This picture association appeals to the pathos level of persuasion and is scientifically backed up. This slight change booted the conversion rate by almost 300%.

But not all tests are success stories. In fact, you may find that the treatment can have a drastically negative effect. Microsoft Office’s help feature offered users to rate their experience through a sequential two-stage response process. They were asked whether the article was helpful (yes/no) and why (short-response). Microsoft support tested the effectiveness of the current design by introducing a test function that introduced the 5-star rating system. They found, through extensive A/B testing, that the previous model had a much larger response rate and the validity of the reviews was more accurate. They found that the 5-star system only attracted passionately discontented users that rated harshly simply because the article wasn’t pertinent to their issue. By having a two-stage process, users were able to include a synopsis of their problem, thereby adding keywords were they could be directed to a more helpful article or office forum.

So, as you can see, it can go both ways. A test site can bring a higher conversion rate and create a better user experience, or it can be a failed learning experience. Either way, you will never know the true potential website without AB testing and its ability to measure traffic and conversion rates.

Before you set out to do your A/B Testing you should always have a goal as to what you want to accomplish. A/B testing is a way of gauging visitors’ reception to the UI (User Interface) there are factors that range from sales, conversion rate, bounce rate, and site enrollment can all be tested. Different methods call for different measuring tools. Google has an online AB testing tool called Google Website Optimizer that provides users software to start analyzing their sites effectiveness.

obama AB

 

Consider the following image. Which version do you prefer? Does the one on the left make you feel like you are  giving up too much information right off the bat?

//You Think you Have Computer Troubles?

I wish I could say it was like visiting an old friend, but that would imply some sort of idyllic relationship where two people learn and grow from each other. No, this relationship was more of a soul-crushing experience where every ounce of my patience and will is tested with each passing day. Staying up late at night, losing sleep, wondering if this will ever work or if it’s even worth pursuing.

I’m talking about computer programming of course.

Someone’s sick interpretation of electronically written whack-a-mole where solving one problem sprouts 5 more with seemingly no end in sight. So why did I Keep going with it? Taking this C++ course at Western Washington University wasn’t part of my required course list. I was certainly taking a risk enrolling what is often referred to as “a GPA killer”. At the end of the quarter, I ended up with a C+ and I was ecstatic. It was one of the most challenging courses I have taken in my academic career, and I gained a new respect for those self-ascribed techies in Silicon Valley.

It was a real learning experience, creating something in front of your own eyes and watching it compile to create a desired output. That is what kept me going throughout the course. Knowing that, traversing the hell between learning a new language and implementing calculus, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. A return message, “compilation successful, no errors”. It’s a beautiful little sentence that feels incredibly liberating, if not unreal. After all the trials and tribulations getting a successful run leaves you dubious. You compile the code several more times and realize, that perhaps, the computer gods have decided to cast a light on your coffee stained desktop and that wireless mouse that you just threw across the room.

jessie pinkman

 

I don’t need to tell you the value in telling machines what to do and coding software. It ranges from writing software for Apple or Google developing the latest programs that make our lives just a little bit easier, to getting a  goofy-looking pixelated bird through a series of pipes. What makes it particularly exciting is how accessible computer programming has become. Virtually anyone can learn coding, and how to design an app for their business. Everyone who has a computer can learn how to manipulate their device rather than be an idle bystander. Computer programmers are some of the highest paid graduates coming out of college these days. If you’re hired by any of the tech giants, you can receive great benefits, a comfortable work atmosphere,  and work at the epicenter of cool and emerging new technologies.

A computer programmer approaches problems in a much more analytical way, as opposed to the much more conventional way of solving a problem looking for a concrete answer. In order to understand coding, you have to put yourself in the computers “mind-set”. When the computer compiles code, it takes every character and every line literally (that’s where the frustrations stem from). That’s why computer language was created in the first place, English is too ambiguous and inexact. Computer languages provide a much more concrete and measurable medium of language between machine and user. Coders create a set of instructions for the computer to calculate by creating algorithms. Within these algorithms coders SHOULD leave comments because it makes it A LOT easier to follow the process. I can’t overstate the importance of meaningful comments. If this is a career path you’re interested in you will likely be sharing and building off of other people’s code in a team setting.

I revisited some painful memories through http://www.codeacademy.com and started the Python tutorial series. It is a free interactive tutorial on computer programming and offers very useful teaching techniques on PHP, Javascript, HTML, Ruby and others.

 

Python I     Python II

Craigslist and Cookies

What are the forms of media that you grab you? There are all kinds of interactive websites that take the user on a journey to inform and entertain in hopes that they will leave a lasting impression. Anything that holds your attention for more than a couple of seconds and makes you feel welcome. When you’re doing online car shopping, chances are you gravitate towards to sites that provide you with interactive info (virtual tours, build my___, feature touch points) instead of cut and dry slide shows. Take Craigslist for instance. My brother does photography as a hobby and is able to create these beautiful and dynamic shots of whatever subject he comes across…and the kid can make a 5 year old Oreck vacuum look like brand new.

 

huel

 

Why the hell do people still post things on craigslist without pictures? Is it apathy, or overconfidence in their writing skills? Even worse, if they do provide a picture it’s in a dark room and I count how many pixels there are on one hand!

 

We have discussed the importance of content media and how that can boost your SEO. This is an example of earned media, gaining publicity through promotional means rather than advertising. There are two other forms of media; owned and paid media. Paid media, at its most basic sense, is advertising that is bought and positioned by the marketer. This has always been traditionally TV, Newspaper, and Radio. While these advertising mediums are still common and in many ways still effective, they might not be as accessible or as prevalent as they once were.

 

Paid marketing is shifting away from being the end-all be all form of marketing and taking a much more supplementary role. Paid media is becoming the middle man between owned and earned, where it directs users to owned and creates earned. Instead of relying on traditional forms of media, look for businesses to focus their efforts on paid search, sponsorships, and video ads. Companies may plan on integrating more compelling forms of storytelling, branded content and relying on user interaction through visual cues.

 

So how do these companies manage their online advertising presence? Current trends point to a digital marketing technique called “programmatic buying”. The major component of programmatic buying is Real-time-bidding (RTB) which refers to the means by which ad inventory is purchased and sold through online auctioning.  It’s a relatively new term that encompasses online advertising mediums that are aggregated, booked, analyzed, and optimized through software interfaces. It includes RTB but also Google display Network and Facebook ads.

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Alright…okay. Sorry, let me back up, according to Peter Naylor at NBCUniversal, “Programmatic is a catchall term that many people are using to categorize everything from behavioral and intent-based targeting to real-time bidding and exchange-based buying of inventory” think of it as stock market for online advertising where you purchase and validate your presence. Programmatic buying also refers to the use of data tracking software to dictate ad targeting and optimization decisions. This is the evolution of paid marketing; Shifting away from a linear outbound marketing dynamic where tracking results is a crapshoot to a much more efficient system were workflow and performance can be measured. Programmatic- buying implies a non-human experience when in fact it’s just the opposite. Its power to generate ROI comes from macro optimization by a  paid media analyst who control these operations.

 

There are a plethora of contingency factors that digital marketers face in the near future. Consumers are using a host of devices that need optimized clients, all whilst generating data. Programmatic buying is aiming to make sense of this vast fragmented online landscape. It provides a control panel where analysts can develop an optimized cross-platform strategy to find out how to best reach consumers. This is being able to find out what people like and being able to assign a number to it. Everyone wins.

Google… prove me wrong

As we round the corner in our discussion of social media, we have to acknowledge the elephant in the room. Google+ stands idly by while Facebook takes all of the social media glory, but will it dethrone the aging giant? Or will it fizzle out and be buried next to Myspace in the social media graveyard? Google+ offers a lot of unique functions and features that would be very enticing for new users. It offers a much more intimate and tailored experience than what Facebook offers. Merely having a google+ account for your business can boost your SEO efforts in search rankings. It’s a very underutilized tool that will give you more visibility within local search queries, so take advantage of it. The biggest sell that Google+ offers, to me at least, is the ability to control who sees what I post and what posts are able to make to my home page. Whereas Facebook is steadily becoming the white pages of the internet. A bloated carcass burning in an effigy of likes and whiny 1st world problem comments. Facebook’s recent acquisition of virtual reality start-up Oculus Rift has many users wondering where the future of social media is heading.

 

futurama-fb

 

There’s a little bit of a learning curve to Google+, but its features aren’t anything out of the ordinary and are worth learning how to use. The content sharing aspect takes the form of “+1” system. This is the Facebook equivalent of like. People can determine how popular your business is by how many +1’s your receive on your page. This in conjunction with google authorship can provide a boost to your sites search rankings. Google authorship allows you to link content that you publish on a certain URL to your google+ account. This allows Google to recognize quality content coming from your G+ account and boost your Author Rank.

Google hangouts is a creative way to integrate online video calls. It feels similar to Skype, but it integrates your contacts and relationships in a much more fluid way. For example, sending a message to a friend you might see a stopwatch/clock appear next to their name. After a while I discovered that he was idle on his account and appeared inactive after a certain amount of time. It’s the automated AFK (Away From Keyboard) we never knew we needed, and it makes the user experience that much better. Google+ Communities is an efficient way to create/participate in focused groups and promote them in a non-intrusive way. You can invite people (with the conveniently named “invite” button) to your group and let them join in the conversation either publicly or privately.

So why does it fall short for everyday users and their personal lives? Google+ has the wonderful opportunity to decimate Facebook with mobile users.  Anybody who has the Facebook app for their iPad on their android device knows it’s a more of a hassle than its worth. Google+ is aiming to integrate more and more with Google’s other services. I wouldn’t be surprised to see “+” symbols on google docs and g-drive in  the near future.

The problem lies in Google’s forceful approach that makes users create hollow accounts just to access their services. If you try to comment on a video on YouTube, you will be told to sign-in or create a g+ account. If you decide that you don’t want to create an account, you will receive a seemingly passive-aggressive prompt, “Alright, we’ll ask you again later” Uhh…no thanks. I just wanted to express my discontent for disguising Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna give You up” with a How-to-Video.

Another problem I for see is the Gmail and g+ integration. Before, emails from companies and spam would be filtered in the promotions tab of your Gmail account. Your personal tab would remain relatively pure with mail you wanted to see. With google+, communities and other social groups that you aren’t familiar with will be able to find their way into your precious Primary tab. These forceful social media integrations pose not only a problem to Google, but to the industry as a whole. Privacy is becoming more sought after, and people may simply drop these great services if they feel the personal cost is too great.