Reader survey: calling all mobile marketing technology firms, agencies & service providers

We’re inviting all mobile marketing technology companies, service providers and agencies to be a part of our inaugural Mobile Marketing Reader Survey.

Covering 23 categories, all of the winners will be voted for exclusively by the 850,000 monthly readers across ClickZ and Search Engine Watch.

In the first of a new series of Content Takeovers for 2017 this survey will reward technology vendors and agencies that are at the cutting edge of delivering solutions, services, content and technology to help marketers target, report, convert, retain, engage and interact with their customers on a mobile device. Note, this is not the best use of a technology or best campaign, but rather the technology or service itself.

With worldwide mobile internet usage officially surpassing desktop for the first time last week and with the number of vendors and agencies at an all-time high, this is an opportunity for you to step into the limelight and gain the ultimate accolade of being voted the best in your field by your customers, our readers.

Here’s how the survey works:
Simply specify which categories you would like to be considered for (takes under 5 minutes)
We pool all of the submissions together, all entries will be added to the survey as long as they are relevant
We invite our readers (brand or client side only) to vote on December 5th for the winner in each category
The winners are published in an exclusive report on February 6th

The deadline for submissions is Friday, December 2nd.

The categories:

Data

Best CRM or Data Management Platform
Best Mobile Engagement Platform
Best Mobile-first Marketing Automation Platform

Agencies

Best Overall Mobile Agency
Best Mobile Agency (SMB)
Best Mobile Search Agency

Analytics

Best Mobile Analytics Platform/Provider
Best App Analytics Platform

Attribution

Best Cross Device Attribution Platform

Apps

Best App Developer

Augmented Reality

Best AR App or Solution (Delivery/Technology)
Best AR Content Creation Agency/Firm (Content

Virtual Reality

Best VR App or Solution (Delivery/Technology)
Best VR Content Creation Agency/Firm (Content)

Location

Best Location Data Provider
Best Location-based Services (LBS) or Proximity Based Technology

Display

Best Mobile Ad Network
Best Supply Side Platform (SSP) /Exchange
Best Demand Side Platform (DSP)

Content

Best Mobile Content Creation Firm/Agency

M-Commerce

Best Mobile Billing or Payments Provider

Call Technology

Best Mobile Click to Call Technology

⋆ Overall ⋆

Most Innovative Mobile Marketing Technology/Solution
Can’t see a category relevant to you?

You can suggest a new one by clicking here and skipping to the final section (page 17) of the survey.

Rules

For a list of voting rules please click here. For information on sponsorship opportunities or if you have any questions about the survey or process please contact sam.lawson@clickz.com.

​How young marketers can impact digital strategies

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There is a changing approach in marketing strategy as millennials become part of small to medium sized businesses and we begin to notice how they differ from baby boomers.

Magisto surveyed 500 US-based small and medium sized businesses to examine their digital and mobile marketing strategies and here are some interesting insights.

Focusing on digital media

Digital media seem to be more important for younger adults and the stats indicate that they transfer their interest into business. According to Magisto, millenials spend 58% of their marketing budget on digital media, compared to baby boomers who only spend 14% of their budget on it.

In fact, it’s not just about digital media, but also about mobile, as 41% of millennials spend their marketing budget on mobile media, and it’s not a surprise judging by the latest trends in mobile marketing.

Social media for brand awareness

Social media is not just an additional aspect of marketing anymore but rather an integral part of a marketing strategy. 44% of brand awareness derives from social media ads, with just 13% coming from print ads and 5% from TV ads.

Younger marketers understand the importance of social media in branding, with 68% of millennials relying on social media ads for brand awareness, comparing to only 27% of baby boomers.

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Social media is not just about awareness, it may also be an important part of revenue generation, with younger marketers being stronger advocates of this perception.

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Focusing on video

Video content has seen an impressive growth the past year, and younger marketers are significantly aware of it. 88% of millennials use or plan to use video for digital advertising, while baby boomers are not equally embracing the latest trends in video marketing.

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Video is leading to new creative opportunities for branded content and despite the closer gap this time, millennials are still more interested in embracing them, going up to 4x more chances than baby boomers to consider new video ad ideas.

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Are businesses testing video content?

It seems that not all small to medium sized businesses are ready to embrace video content and there is again an age gap for this willingness of experimenting with it. Only 8% of baby boomers who affect the marketing decisions of a business are testing video content, while 47% of millennials are eager to do so.

The main reasonthat they are not experimenting with video content is the cost, while the technical difficulties and the lack of time are also important factors for them.

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Takeaway

If we had to summarize the results, here’s what we could keep:

  • There is an increasing interest on digital-first strategy and it’s starting to gain an increasing importance on the marketing spend
  • Social media is gaining a gradual integration to the customer journey, from awareness to purchase.
  • Video marketing keeps growing, but not all marketers are ready to test it yet
  • Younger marketers are more willing to test with video content
  • Cost and lack of time are the main factors that keep marketers away from video content

For more information, check out Magisto’s research.

Guide to 301 redirects and canonical tags

Intersecting crossing street-car tracks.

When you need to redirect a website or individual webpage to a different location, there are a number of different tactics you can employ.

Each comes with their benefits and their problems, but if implemented correctly with best practice in mind, you shouldn’t need to worry too much.

In this guide we’ll be focusing on 301 redirects, 302 redirects and canonical tag options, discussing what each one does, how you can overcome duplicate content issues and how to implement each without affecting your existing search visibility.

Some of the advice has been sourced from an earlier article published on SEW written by Brad Miller, with updated guidance from Moz, Google and our own contributors.

What is a redirect?

A redirect will simply send a user from the URL they originally requested to a different webpage. This works for both visitors and search engines.

Why would you use a redirect?

According to Hubspot, there are three main reasons why you would use a redirect.

1) To associate common web conventions with one URL to maximize domain authority

So if there are multiple versions of your domain name (for instance http://www.example.com and plain old example.com) there’s a chance you’ll encounter duplicate content issues. By setting up a permanent redirect (a 301 redirect) from one version of your site to your preferred version, search engines will know the correct domain to index.

2) To rebrand or rename a website with a different URL

You’ll want to set up a permanent redirect if your website name changes.

3) To direct traffic to a website from other URLs owned by the same organization

Occasionally brands may purchase website URLs that are variations on their existing brands in order to secure them. These URLs can be redirected to the proper brand domain.

There are countless other reasons why you’d set up a redirect, and it can just be for an individual webpage rather than a whole domain.

What is a 301 redirect?

As mentioned earlier, a 301 redirect is a permanent redirect. It basically tells users and search engines, “That information now resides somewhere else.”

Benefits of 301 redirect

According to our own guide to response codes written by Aimee Jarboe…

A 301 response is ideal for correcting visitors who come to the wrong version of your domain, like non-www redirecting to www. This code should also be used when you update and move content within your site.

In terms of SEO, a link from a 301 redirected page shouldn’t lose any ranking power compared to a link from a non-301 redirected page.

There was a previously held assumption that there would be a loss of PageRank (around 15%) but this is no longer the case. As reported by Moz in August 2016:

  • In February, Google’s John Mueller announced that no PageRank is lost for 301 or 302 redirects from HTTP to HTTPS.
  • Google’s Gary Illyes stated that Google doesn’t care which redirection method you use, be it 301, 302, or 307. Google will figure it out and they all pass PageRank.
  • Gary Illyes also announced on that any 300 redirects no longer lose PageRank at all.

Problems with 301 redirect

Redirects can cause problems when the new location isn’t relevant to the old location This can be seen as a misuse of the function and is therefore a common spam indicator, and may result in a manual penalty.

Especially if you buy multiple irrelevant websites and point them all at your site.

Moz also states the following to keep in mind:

  • PageRank only forms a small part of the ranking factors used by Google
  • Try and keep every element on the page the same, except of course for the URL
  • Migrating a site to HTTPS is less likely to lose PageRank then before, but there are many others issues that can affect crawling and indexing, so do be careful.

What is a 302 redirect?

Also taken from Aimee Jarboe’s guide to response codes, this is a temporary redirect that acknowledge the user’s request and says, “I found the information you want, but it’s somewhere different at the moment.”

Google’s John Mueller has stated that Google does not penalize for 302 redirects, and the index will eventually treat a 302 as a 301 if it remains long enough.

However do be wary (as with any method of redirection) when implementing 302. Moz has stated that although it has seen 302s eventually pass PageRank, this only happens after considerable time has passed. “In contrast to 301s that pass link signals fairly quickly, we don’t yet know how 302s are handled in this manner.”

What is a canonical tag?

The rel=”canonical” tag can be added to the HTML of any webpage. It basically tells search engines that, when there are multiple versions of the same webpage content, to only index a specific version.

When would I use a canonical tag?

For content syndication, which is the tactical republishing of an article on another third-party website. This particularly useful if you’re a smaller publisher or an up-and-coming writer who wants a larger audience.

The canonical tag on the republished article should link back to the original article and tell search engines to only index that version.

canonical tag

You should also use a canonical tag if you have duplicate content on your site. To use an example from Brad Miller…

If you have two (or more) pages both listing the same series of products. One lists them alphabetically and the other by price. They contain the same content, but have different URLs.

If you were to leave both pages alone, Google would index both, but pick which one it believes is the most relevant and could filter the page you actually want to be appearing in search results pages.

By placing rel=”canonical” on the alphabetical page telling the search engines that the price page is your preferred choice, you avoid all these issues.

What’s the difference between a 301 redirect and a canonical tag?

With a canonical tag, all versions of a piece of content are available for anyone to see, but they aren’t indexed. Nor do canonical tags pass any ranking boost to the original article.

With a 301 redirect, the original page will no longer exist (in a manner of speaking) and any link authority will be passed on.

The rel=”canonical” attribute is often incorrectly used as a 301 substitute. Rather than physically sending users to a more recent or relevant page, rel=”canonical” is a signal that’s purely for the benefit of the search engines.

Problems with canonical tags

As Brad Miller states…

Though most search engines state that they pay close attention to rel=”canonical”, they aren’t obliged to follow them. This means that you may still see your duplicate pages occasionally being shown ahead of your preferred page in some SERPs.

The canonical tag is also commonly misused. Unless a page contains a considerable chunk of duplicate content, the rel=”canonical” tag probably shouldn’t be used.

Another misuse occurs with multiple, related pages. If you’ve written a long blog post but decided to break it up into five pages, you may be tempted to include a rel=”canonical” tag pointing back to the first page of the series.

However using rel=”canonical” tells the search engine that the content on each of the pages is almost identical and that you want it to always show the first page in search results. This will effectively stop pages 2-5 from ever being shown, even if they carry a high level of relevance and authority for that specific search.

Insurers starting to get to grips with online conversion and complex forms

Insurers went online a long time ago, but one of the major challenges has been creating an online experience that can handle the relatively complex insurance “form-filling” process.

Many insurers have managed to drive consumers online, but a major problem has been the drop-off by consumers as they grapple with the online journey. Several insurers have now deployed sophisticated analytics packages to help them understand online user behaviour and exactly where the challenges are.

We at Fospha are trying to solve this problem. Our clients, a number of large insurers, have used the Fospha toolset to much more accurately track exactly how users behave on different parts of the online journey, and where the “problem points” are that cause users to give up their application.

Changes can then be rapidly made to improve those experience, and other “problem points” identified that continuously and further improve the online journey. In fact, our clients have reported 20% improvements in conversion, and we recently published a case study covering what one client had managed to do.

Download the case study here.

Fospha CEO Jonathan Attwood has over 20 years’ experience working with a number of major retail businesses in both the UK and in Silicon Valley in the US.

Jonathan was in charge of Fospha’s acquisition of iJento earlier this year in March and has since streamlined the company focus towards customer journey optimisation by analysing client’s forms and funnels.

How Google Symptom Search will affect the healthcare industry

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Google’s Symptom Search is revolutionizing the patient path to treatment, and doctors should embrace this development as an opportunity to provide better care, rather than as a threat to their credibility.

This past week, I was catching up with a friend who told me about a recent life-or-death situation he found himself in.

He had just undergone foot surgery to take care of bone spurs – a pretty standard procedure that offers little cause for concern. After returning home, he found himself experiencing calf pain, yet being the type to grin and bear it, he just decided to ignore it. But soon enough his pain became too intense for even him to hide and his wife grew increasingly concerned.

She decided to join her husband for his post-op appointment with the doctor, assuming he would downplay the severity of his pain. Just as she expected, my friend acted as if nothing was wrong, and the doctor unsurprisingly sent him on his way.

Luckily, she had the wherewithal to whip out her phone and do a Google search on calf pain after foot surgery before they left the office. Her search resulted in multiple possibilities: foot pain, bunion, Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), blood clot, and embolism.

After filtering through the options Google presented, she determined that a blood clot could be a major risk to her husband, so she dragged him back into the exam room and asked the doctor if DVT (the technical term for a blood clot in a vein typically found in the leg) was a possibility. With a roll of his eyes, he agreed to give the leg another look.

After further examination, the doctor sent my friend to the hospital for a more in-depth evaluation, and what do you know? Scans revealed a blood clot in his leg.

Given a few more days without treatment, my friend could have easily had larger concerns than calf pain or bone spurs. He was running the risk of losing the leg or even his life.

Thankfully, his wife’s intuition and the resources available while performing a search on Google saved him from a potentially harrowing affair. Once we knew he was going to be alright, my interest immediately turned to her experience with the search process – after all, I’m in digital marketing.

Google Symptom Search and the patient path to treatment

Google’s decision to roll out symptom search comes as a direct response to key changes that have occurred in the patient path to treatment over the past decade or so.

symptom-search

Recent data shows that 43% of consumers rely on the internet as their go-to resource for health-related information – far more than the 14% of people who claim they first turn to doctors. What’s more, the volume of online health queries is rising at a rate of roughly 7% per year.

However, the massive amount of unfiltered, unsubstantiated information available – thanks to sites like WebMD and a growing number of online forums – have made the search for accurate medical advice incredibly difficult. As a result, patients are more likely to stumble across alarmist diagnoses or, conversely, overlook a serious condition.

Symptom search represents a big step forward in the fight against misinformation in the digital patient path to treatment. Currently available only on mobile, the feature allows users to enter just a few symptoms, yielding a short, vetted list of related conditions, possible causes, and treatments.

It’s designed to avoid alarmist diagnoses while focusing on the most likely causes of your condition.

According to Google’s blog, it intends to help users “quickly get to the point where [they] can do more in-depth research on the web or talk to a health professional.”

GOOGLE SYMPTOM SEARCH

With more and more patients going online to conduct their own research at the first sign of illness or injury, a streamlined, accurate service like Symptom Search is a welcome addition to a previously convoluted patient journey.

Consumer-driven disruption in healthcare

Of course, symptom search isn’t the only development to emerge out of this shift in the “balance of power.” Digital optimization and on-demand services have become a baseline expectation for consumers in all aspects of day-to-day life (think Uber, Seamless, even Tinder). As a result, the healthcare industry has found itself with little to no say in the matter.

Back in the 1930s, nearly 40% of doctor visits were at-home, but by the early 1980s, the practice had effectively vanished.

Today, the massive proliferation of one-touch, on-demand smartphone services are forcing doctors to bring back the personalized approach – or risk losing patients to others who are more flexible and willing to embrace this trend.

As a result, we’ve seen the emergence of the “Uber-ization” of medical appointments. Companies like Heal, Dispatch, Pager, and MedZed have already been making waves with app-enabled house and in-office calls.

Similarly, remote patient monitoring technologies and startups have taken off in recent years – for example, BeWell Connect, a subsidiary of Viseomed, is using cutting-edge technologies in order to improve the quality of life for patients with conditions that require ongoing monitoring from a physician or specialist.

Its wide range of devices, from thermometers to blood sugar meters to health and fitness trackers, are all connected and managed through a single, intuitive app.

This provides seamless access to vital health information for the entire family, helping patients and caregivers stay one step ahead of health-related issues without having to take on the often untenable cost and time burden of regular in-office visits.

Personal opinions and political leanings aside, recent legislation has also reflected this trend towards a consumer-centric healthcare industry. For example, portions of the Affordable Care Act, such as price transparency requirements and the institution of an online, open-access marketplace, come as a direct response to consumer demand for increased personal control. (See also the federal government’s $30 billion dollar push for electronic health records in 2009).

Here’s a brief glimpse at some of the key markets in which this consumer-driven disruption has already had a demonstrable impact:

  • Consumers have overwhelmingly embraced the wearables and connected devices market, purchasing these products by the millions to improve their overall health and well-being. The wearables market grew to $12.6 billion in 2015, and is predicted to hit $95.3 billion within the next five years.
  • The remote care and patient monitoring technologies markets are booming. Today, 84% of 18-34-year-olds would prefer a mobile-mediated consultation to an office visit, and there will be 3 million remotely-monitored patients by 2019. Moreover, the remote monitoring tech market is expected to reach $20.9 billion by the end of this year.
  • Demand for increased efficiency and price transparency has prompted a surge of venture capital investment into disruptive digital health and biotech startups. Funding topped $16 billion last year, up 34% from 2014.
  • 95% of consumers demand online access to health records, says Accenture, driving cloud adoption and making software a “core competency” for medical companies. In fact, 82% of small practices in urban areas have already switched over to cloud-based EHR systems. What’s more, the widespread interconnection of medical devices could save healthcare $30 billion annually.

Embracing change

Importantly, this apparent shift in the “healthcare power structure,” and the tools that have emerged as a result (i.e., Symptom Search) will never fully negate a medical professional’s expertise or authority, nor are they designed to.

However, as my friend’s story shows, digital technologies and services can be an invaluable preliminary resource for today’s increasingly “active” patients.

Moreover, the canon of medical science is simply too expansive for any one doctor to maintain an encyclopaedic knowledge of every last condition. As such, doctors shouldn’t resist these changes – rather, they should approach them with open arms, recognizing that such developments can actually help improve the accuracy of diagnoses and enhance the overall level of care.

One proponent of this idea, Dr. Bobby Ghaheri, recently published a post on his Facebook account outlining a conversation he had with a patient who had conducted his own research online and actually taught him a lesson.

As he tells it, the two of them share a rare condition, and his patient was the first to inform him about cutting-edge research on the topic. As Dr. Ghaheri declares:

“No longer will parents and patients just accept with blind faith everything said by their doctor (nor should they). If mutual cooperation to optimize a patient’s health isn’t embraced, I truly feel like the doctor is failing. We as a medical profession need to suck it up, swallow our egos, and start striving to learn more, regardless of the source of that information.”

I fully agree with Dr. Ghaheri here: technology shouldn’t be viewed as a threat to a doctor’s credibility or an insult to their expertise. So listen to what your patients have to say – worst-case scenario, you correct their misinformation. Best case, you just might save someone’s life.

Jonathan Catley is the Director of Sales & Marketing at MD Connect and a contributor to SEW.

How marketing leaders can create a digital mindset in their organisations

So you want to be a marketing organisation that’s truly digital?

While your company’s leadership may have a solid idea of what they want for the business in terms of digital transformation, in order to achieve it, they need to get every level of the organisation working towards that goal.

The way to do that, says independent digital consultant Kate Hamer, is to create a ‘digital mindset’ throughout your organisation. It’s one thing to know that you need to use digital tools, and another to understand the value of digital in all areas of marketing.

In a webinar for Squared Online, the digital marketing leadership course developed with Google, Hamer gave her expert insight into how marketers can go about creating a digital mindset in their own organisation. Here are just a few of her tips.

Start with what the consumer wants

It’s important to inspire people around the business as to the benefits of using digital channels, but make sure your consumer is front and centre of this approach. No matter how up-and-coming it makes you feel, it’s not going to be worth using a trendy new social network or platform if it’s not where your consumer is.

“For me, if you are a consumer-centric business and you’re really starting with what the consumer wants or needs, then you can’t go far wrong,” said Hamer. Thinking about the consumer first will give you the best possible starting point for your digital strategy.

Give your brand a distinctive voice online

In a related point, Hamer highlighted that nowadays, brands are truly in conversation with their consumers in a way that they haven’t been before. Online outlets like social media and even search, to an extent, are making this kind of exchange possible.

But how many brands have really created the distinctive online voice that they need to communicate with consumers? According to the Talent Revolution Survey 2015, a landmark survey of digital change and best practice within the marketing industry, only 35% of marketers agreed that they had succeeded in creating a consistent social media voice for their brand.

“You need to be able to talk more about your brand,” said Hamer. Part of that engagement is about looking for the opportunities that arise and being creative with them.

Hamer used the example of Richard Osman’s World Cup of Chocolate, which gave rise to a storm of consumer engagement on social media when it took place in late 2015 and early 2016, as chocolate lovers frantically tweeted their favourite chocolate brands. Yet not one chocolate brand was seen taking part.

“That was a real missed opportunity, because it wouldn’t have been elbowing your way into a conversation where you weren’t invited – chocolate brands were being tweeted by their consumers, and that could have been a really nice way to get involved.

“Those kinds of things are really where marketing can do some fun, creative stuff.”

Allocate spend on digital media

Another way to make sure digital is a clear priority for your business is to allocate spend to it. It can even be an arbitrary amount, said Hamer – just as long as you have some real financial commitment to your digital goal.

“Sometimes, businesses have to allocate an arbitrary amount of spend on digital media to try and push the agenda and make people focus on it,” Hamer explained.

Having part of the budget set aside for digital media then allows businesses to move towards a “truly agnostic” approach to digital planning. “Where you’re looking at ‘Who is my consumer? Where are they?’ and then investing in the right channels, be they online or offline, to communicate with people,” said Hamer.

Don’t wall off digital teams

When businesses need to focus on something, they often create a separate team that can dedicate itself to the project; but in doing this, it’s important not to wall off digital teams from the rest of the business.

While you do need digitally focused staff to advise on a project, Hamer emphasised, marketers themselves need to be digital experts in order to survive. Digital isn’t just an extra skill set or an additional channel any more; it’s the new reality of marketing.

“If [your marketers] are doing campaigns and then handing off to a digital team and letting them focus on the digital bits, they’re eventually going to become extinct anyway,” said Hamer.

Other areas of the businesses need to support marketers in this, said Hamer, from legal and finance to IT. The Talent Revolution Survey found that only 20% of marketers agreed that support functions of the business like these were able to support them in digital.

“It’s all well and good upskilling marketers on all the great channels you can use, but if they’re coming back into the business and wanting to do retargeting of people who’ve been on their website and Legal aren’t knowledgeable about cookie policies and what that means for your terms and conditions, then it’s not going to work so well.”

Click here to watch the full digital marketing transformation webinar, with expert advice from digital consultant Kate Hamer and Director of Google Digital Academy Shuvo Saha.

Eight content marketing trends to think about in 2017

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It’s time to plan the year ahead, so how about starting with a look at the content marketing trends that will make 2017 easier and more effective?

Content marketing is an integral part of a digital marketing strategy, and as it grows even more popular in 2016, it’s time to maximise its effectiveness in 2017 and examine all the new possibilities that may be useful for your brand.

Next year closer than you think, so here are our suggestions on the biggest trends in content marketing.

Creating a documented content marketing strategy

According to CMI and its B2B content marketing report for 2017, only 37% of B2B marketers have a documented content marketing strategy, while 41% of them have a strategy in mind, but it’s not documented.

Moreover, 17% of them don’t currently have a content marketing strategy, but they are planning to set one in the next 12 months.

It can be very useful to document your content marketing strategy, as it allows you to have a clear overview of your goals and your efforts. This allows your business to maintain its focus on the most relevant actions, without any distractions from “shiny” new trends that may not be useful for its particular case.

Producing more content

There is an increasing need for new content and marketers seem to understand that they have to produce more of it to keep up with the growing content consumption.

70% of B2B marketers plan to create more content in 2017 compared to 2016, while 25% of them will maintain the same amount of content.

It may be a trend in 2017 to find more content, but this doesn’t mean that quantity will overtake quality. It’s important to produce more content, but always keep it aligned with your marketing goals and the ROI it will bring.

Source: CMI

Influencer marketing

Influencer marketing has turned into a popular trend during 2016, with brands seeking for the best advocates for their products. It’s not just about the number of followers an influencer has, but also about the relevance for the target audience.

Thus, we are expecting a further growth in influencer marketing, but more in a contextualised way that benefits both the brand and the celebrity influencer.

The concept of the celebrity is also shifting, as brands don’t have to chase singers, or actors anymore to seal an effective collaboration, as internet stars turn out to be equally popular, bringing a new generation of influencers from all kinds of backgrounds.

Personalisation

As marketers seek for relevance in their content marketing strategy, personalisation becomes crucial, narrowing down the audience to increase the effectiveness of a campaign.

Content is not created anymore to reach a broad audience, but rather a specific target group, as this may be more useful for a brand trying to stand out from its competitors. This brings the need to examine all the segmentation strategies that will give a marketer the advantage to filter the customers in the most effective way.

This trend is not expected to disappear anytime soon, on the contrary, 2017 will probably ask for even more personalised content, depending on the needs of the particular audience on each occasion.

Increasing effectiveness

Content marketing is becoming more challenging, as it is becoming more purpose-driven. It’s not just about creating content, it’s about finding the link between value and ROI.

As content marketing will mature, marketers will be expected to come up with new ways to measure its effectiveness. There is already a changing trend year-by-year on their expectations from content marketing and its effectiveness and as we understand how content marketing works, we’ll be able to go deeper into the secret formula to make a strategy effective.

Image: CMI

Video content

Video content isn’t new, but its explosive growth in 2016 raises the competition for 2017, with publishers already examining the numerous ways to include videos in their content marketing strategy.

Social media has significantly affected the rising trend of video content, with Facebook putting an emphasis on live videos lately, while it already highlights video content on users’ news feeds. According to Mark Zuckerberg, live videos have seen a 4x increase use since May.

Moreover, Snapchat introduced us to the idea of vertical videos, another trend that marketers were happy to embrace, as it looked more appealing on mobile screens, favouring completion rates for their advertised content. (It even introduced Spectacles, its own glasses with an integrated camera, which still counts as a new content opportunity.)

Video seems to be a great way to repurpose content and it’s interesting to experiment with it, and we believe that more brands will do so during 2017.

Ephemeral content

Content is not always destined to be evergreen and 2016 was the year that Snapchat taught us how ephemeral content can be engaging, even if it only lasts for 24 hours. Facebook found the idea appealing enough to try it out on Messenger and more platforms might be tempted to experiment with it.

Brands were initially cautious regarding this trend and how it can be part of their content marketing strategy, but as Snapchat pointed out in several case studies, the engagement can be higher, tapping into users’ FOMO (fear of missing out), which works well for many campaigns.

VR and AI

Augmented and virtual reality content is not a trend for the future, but rather an interesting way brands can take customers to the future with the right use of technology.

The success of Pokemon Go in 2016 indicates how users are ready to embrace new technology, which means that you should plan and measure the effectiveness of the new types of content.

Google is focusing on artificial intelligence lately, which might serve as a good indicator on what to expect on the future from more companies.

Even if VR and AI don’t turn into the norm in 2017, it is still useful to examine the possibilities they may offer for your business, beating the competitors in the most impressive way.

Takeaway: what to expect in 2017

2016 brought many changes in content marketing, most of them pushing it towards a more mature phase and thus raising the bar for 2017.

If your brand is already investing in a content marketing strategy, then 2017 will be the year that you should investigate all the new ways to maintain your strategy’s relevance, depending on the latest trends and your audience.

If your brand is now ready to create a content marketing strategy, then it’s a good opportunity to examine the trends that have more chance to affect us next year and examine which ones might be useful to stand out with your content.

In both cases, content marketing will be important in 2017, which means that we’re all gearing up towards a more productive year, full of new plans and metrics that will helps us meet our goals.

Facebook is bringing its Audience Network to television

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By some estimates, Google and Facebook are capturing upwards of 80% of every new dollar spent on digital advertising.

But with the pool of dollars spent on television ads still being slightly greater than the pool of dollars spent on digital ads, it’s no surprise that both companies are trying to find ways to tap into television ad budgets.

This week, Facebook’s efforts in this area will enter a new frontier, as the world’s largest social network will begin delivering video ads to consumers using over-the-top TV devices like Apple TV and Roku.

As Recode, which broke the news of Facebook’s initiative, observed, the company’s effort could bring a new level of targeting to ads in this space.

“That’s because Facebook can use the same targeting data that powers the rest of its advertising network to the set-top boxes, even though those apps aren’t directly connected to Facebook.”

Facebook’s connected TV ads will be delivered through the company’s Audience Network, which was launched in 2014 as “a new way for advertisers to extend their campaigns beyond Facebook and into other mobile apps.”

In effect, Audience Network is Facebook’s version of Google AdSense, and it’s an increasingly important asset for Facebook as it addresses ad load challenges that could become a real problem in 2017.

Facebook has partnered with A+E and Tubi TV to deliver ads in their apps. Initially, it won’t sell inventory to marketers. Instead, it will serve up house ads for Facebook services or nonprofits it works with.

To target ads, Facebook will use the IP addresses of connected TV devices to identify the Facebook accounts that are likely associated with those devices.

Success is not guaranteed

While Facebook’s targeting capabilities will obviously be attractive to marketers and content owners alike, it remains to be seen whether the company’s efforts to stake out a position in the market for over-the-top TV devices will be successful.

As AdAge points out, Facebook shuttered LiveRail, the video ad exchange it purchased for half a billion dollars two years ago. And Facebook will almost certainly find itself competing with the makers of the over-the-top TV devices themselves, such as Apple.

So while Facebook’s Audience Network seems like it has the makings of a contender in the space, the battle over television ad budgets will be hard fought.

This is how Google will present the results of the 2016 US election…

election-video

By presenting an animated gif of everybody screaming and crying?

By turning off its search engine (and by extension the entire internet) so everyone can just be with their loved ones and not think about the world post 9th November?

Or by just hosting some classic re-runs of The Simpsons (circa 91 – 98) in order to keep everyone’s blood pressure at a healthy, non-panic attack triggering level.

Close…

Google will in fact be presenting the results of the US election in a real-time count built right into the first search results page.

You’ll also be able to see detailed updates and results of the Presidential, Senatorial, Congressional, Gubernatorial races as well as state-level referenda and ballot propositions.

And these results will be available in 30 languages around the world.

Google even made this fancy Gif in order to show you how the results will look in real-time.

Also note Google’s ‘very careful’ bi-partisan results in the above Gif. Which is false of course – deep down we all know Google would vote for Kodos.

Google has been providing searchers with more in-dpeth information on voter registration, the voting process, how to vote, who’s on the ballot and how to find local polling place over the past few months.

Since the introduction of these tools, there’s been a 233% increase in traffic for “how to vote” compared with 2012. In addition to “how to vote,” Americans are also actively searching for “where to vote” particularly in battleground states such as Ohio and Florida.

where to vote

Google also revealed that over the past few weeks viewers spent over 20 million hours watching presidential debate live streams on YouTube and that tonight from 7pm ET YouTube will be live streaming election results coverage from more news organizations than ever before, including NBC, PBS, MTV, Bloomberg, Telemundo and The Young Turks.

Now get out there and do your democratic duty. And then at least you’ll have the right to complain tomorrow.

Case Study: A Penguin 4.0 Recovery

We’ve had time for the dust to settle after the Real-Time Penguin update was released. It’s now been more than 4 weeks since the update was implemented, and close to a month since Google announced the end of the launch. The question in everyone’s mind now is – what can we learn from this update? How should we proceed now that Penguin is integrated into the algorithm?

In this article, we’ll delve into an analysis of results pages to determine what can be inferred from this latest update. Unfortunately, we are not at liberty to disclose the site, but we are free to discuss the details and process that we followed to achieve this recovery.

Out of Antarctica

Many have complained that there have been few recoveries from Penguin 4.0. I think it’s important to analyze those sites that recovered so we can identify what works and what will continue to work now that Penguin 4.0 is real time.

Let’s start by looking at the organic traffic patterns according to SEMrush:

As you can see, this is an obvious case of a Penguin recovery. Traffic doubled when Penguin 4.0 was released, and thousands of long tail terms increased in the rankings.

The Penalty

What caused this site to receive a Penguin penalty to begin with? This client came to us after engaging in the typical Pre-Penguin linking schemas. They had engaged in article submissions, profile spam, comment spam, web 2.0 spam, and other such links.

At the time of the penalty, the site lost between 40-60% of organic traffic.

The Strategy – Cleaning Out

We started with a link audit, where we mapped their backlinks by patterns. We looked at all of their anchor text backlinks, and disavowed them all.

Next, we looked at sites that fit the typical Pre-Penguin patterns, including article directories, forums, and web 2.0 sites. We disavowed every last one of them.

We didn’t stop there. We looked at every single backlink to look for low quality sites, scrapers, and any other site that wasn’t of value to Google. All of those were disavowed as well.

The Strategy – Building Up

Knowing that many of the links that had previously supported the site’s rankings had been disavowed, we proceeded to earn high quality links.

Our strategy was not to “build links” like many other companies were doing. Instead, we pursued campaign based digital PR with blogger, media, and press outreach. We focused on quarterly campaigns with high level content creation featuring unique stories and research.

One of the campaigns constituted of a survey of over 50,000 participants to explore an industry specific question that hadn’t been previously explored. The findings were visualized with infographics, ebooks, and other digital assets. The results included coverage in Huffington Post, the Telegraph, USA Today, and LA Times, amongst many others.

The campaigns were complemented by reaching out to bloggers and influencers, and sharing the findings of our study. Instead of offering compensation, bloggers and influencers were compelled by the fact that the study was unique and the data not found elsewhere.

Going Forward: What Should Site Owners Do?

If you still have a Penguin 4.0 penalty, there is hope! Now that Penguin is real-time, you do not have to wait months or years for Google to run an update and to see the results of your work. You can now count on seeing recoveries sooner if you go through the effort of cleaning out your link profile and earning quality links.

If you do not have a Penguin penalty, then you can start building links a little more aggressively. Google announced that the negative links will no longer result in penalties. Instead, the links will simply not count – positive or negative. So if the links are negative, they will not boost your rankings, but will not cause terrible traffic loses like they used to.

BEWARE.

Manual evaluation of links and manual penalties will likely increase. With all of the disavow data Google has sufficient data to apply AI spam filters, which will likely alert human spam raters who will review and apply manual penalties. DO NOT BUILD SPAM LINKS. Recovering from manual penalties is infinitely harder than recovering from Penguin – especially now.

What Real Time Penguin means is that you can be a bit more aggressive, without fear of accidentally tripping algorithmic penalties that cause a loss of site wide traffic. And if you DO build a few low quality links along the way, you do not need to fear as much as you would’ve in the past.