There’s No Content Like No Content

I'm annoyed to see Google’s use of  a Rembrandt self-portrait across their logo today, on the 470th anniversary of his death.    

I live a short way from Kenwood House in London, home to one of Rembrandt’s greatest late paintings. In this painting, the sad sack stares us down, brushes bunched in his fist; a confection of in-your-face paint strokes which brag about being the difference between what things are and what they mean. In the background, a map of blank hemispheres asks us if an empty hunt for money and the new is worth a spit without knowing the truth about yourself. Looking in a mirror is a nasty business. You never know who’ll stare back.


What Every Brand Should Know About Facebook’s Graph Search

Yesterday Facebook announced its biggest innovation since the News Feed in 2006. It is finally taking search seriously, launching Graph Search

What Google is to the web, Graph Search is to your social network on Facebook. Graph Search, which will appear on the top of every Facebook page, enables people to find information through the filter of their friends in relation to four pillars—people, places, photos and interests. With Graph Search, people type in what they’re looking to find, not just by name but also by category or simple phrase.


Bridging the Gap Between Digital, Mobile and In-Store Experiences

This post originally appeared in our January '13 issue of “Live Report from the Future of Marketing,” our monthly Post-Advertising newsletter. Subscribe for free here.

In the mid-’90s I was a teenager just entering high school. I loved computers, and the emergence of the Internet simply astounded me. I would spend hours on Prodigy, then AOL, chatting away and browsing every corner of the emerging web.   

My big prediction was that there would come a day when we’d go to the mall online. We’d walk a character through the mall, entering shops where we could buy real items. Turns out it wasn’t that bold a prediction, as I wasn’t far off.

Today e-commerce has become a formidable challenger to brick-and-mortar stores, which rely on customers getting dressed (it’s harder than you think), leaving their houses, driving to the store, finding parking and dealing with store employees who are too eager or absent to be of any assistance, only to realize the item is out of stock. But in the early days of the web, it wasn’t clear that anyone would ever buy anything online. Who would you be buying from? How would you pay, and would it be safe? Did you need that item now, or could you wait six to 10 days for shipping? Why buy online when you could get everything at the mall (or so you thought) in one day? What if the items didn’t fit? What if they never arrived?


YouTube’s Original Channels: One Giant Leap for Brandkind

Back in South East England, rolling through the mists of time (well, the late ’70s...), to when my main mode of transport was a space hopper and Pong was the ultimate in console gaming, I was taken to the cinema by my parents every week. Back then, local adverts were played between the B and A movies as part of the show: ‘Wedding dresses...’, ‘The sharpest suits...’, ‘The best chicken tikka in town... only 50 yards from this theatre’, they would announce with pride. Here’s a relatively high-production value advert for Cobb Gate Fish Bar, in case you are unfamiliar with the format.

Will Facebook Exist in 2020?

Will Facebook Exist in 2020?

I have a bet with a friend who works in finance. He believes that Facebook will not exist in seven years. I, a marketer, couldn’t disagree more. It reminded me of when, in 1995, astronomer Clifford Stoll claimed that the Internet was “grossly overpromoted" and would ultimately be looked on as a fad. (He has since acknowledged his mistake.) More from Clifford later.

It’s difficult to define what “existence” even means in today’s digital age, when social technologies are imagined, developed, funded, adopted and acquired by a media conglomerate (often Facebook) in a matter of months, not years. Myspace is technically still in existence (I had to test it in my browser as I wrote this, just to be sure), but it’s far from relevant anymore in the social sphere. If Facebook goes the same route, I’ll concede defeat. 

But I don’t expect to be in that situation come 2020. Though Wall Street is panicking about the stock price, which has shrunk by nearly half, Facebook is a game-changing technology, and technologies like that don’t just fade away in less than a decade. As we do the automobile, we can’t image what we ever did or would do without it. It’s a technology that we seemingly never saw coming (as opposed to a smartphone or tablet, which were arguably natural evolutions in product innovation), and technologies like that are special. 

So if I’m so confident about the future of Facebook, where do I think it’s going? What do I think it will look like in seven to 10 years? As technology is moving so quickly, it would be futile for me to speculate on exactly what Facebook may be at that time, but here are four that opportunities could help sustain the platform.


What Panda, Penguin and Social Media Really Mean for Brands

With additional reporting from Cyrus Karimi, Director of Audience Generation at Story Worldwide

An article recently published on Fast Company has caused a bit of a stir in the content marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) communities. Written by Veronica Fielding, CEO of Digital Brand Expressions, it explains how the recent Panda and Penguin Google algorithm updates mean that social engagement rather than search engine trickery yields top results.

While her heart is in the right place (encouraging active, useful social engagement by brands), neither the algorithm updates nor Fielding’s interpretation of them reveals a direct correlation between social activity and SEO relevance. Though extremely important for an effective content marketing strategy, simply interacting with your fans on Facebook, sharing relevant tweets, and uploading useful videos won’t (in and of itself) boost your brand website’s SEO ranking.

Let’s take a look at what Panda, Penguin and social media really mean for brands.


Post-Advertising Survival Guide Vol 5: Introduction to Social Media

Social media has emerged on the marketing landscape and quickly helped redefine how brands market to today’s always-connected consumer. Tools like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Instagram have created two-way avenues of communication and media sharing between brands and their audiences. The possibilities seem endless, and many brands that have yet to embrace these tools are peering down off the edge of the diving board, ready to make a big splash. But it’s not that easy.


Trendsetters or Castaways? 3 Unusual Places to Find Agency Websites

Innovative and stunning websites are one of the hallmarks of a great digital agency. With beautiful imagery, succinct case studies and a dash of fun, an agency can impress potential clients and entice the best workers. Lately we’ve seen a few companies really push the envelope with their websites—namely, convert their websites to social-media profiles. But is the Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest platform appropriate to the task of serving as an agency’s hub? More important, will this growing trend spread to brands—eliminating the website as we know it?


Content Marketing is NOT the Hot New Trend

The term content marketing is one of the hottest buzzwords in marketing lately. It didn’t appear in Google searches before late 2007 (see graph below), but now it’s stormed onto the scene helping turn brands into publishers. Several blogs are dedicated to the method (this being one of them), and the Content Marketing World conference attracted hundreds of marketers this summer.


Is Google’s Social Search the New Normal?

Additional reporting by Story's Director of Audience Generation Cyrus Karimi.

In early December, Google updated their search algorithm to provide each user with personalized results—the information Google deemed most relevant to the specific user. The news garnered little chatter in the social media realm. According to Danny Sullivan at Search Engine Land, less than 50 news articles and blog posts were written about in its initial week (and only 290 to date).

Earlier this month Google made another important change, updating their search algorithm to include personalized search results specifically pulled from Google+ activity, naming the new results “Google Personalized Results.” Once again the news spread through social circles and landed on a few of blogs, but compared to the hoopla surrounding SOPA, Facebook Timeline, and emerging technologies like Pinterest, its effect was more of a ripple than a tidal wave and has many users and news outlets slamming the change.

However, love it or hate it, these changes may be the new "normal" for search, forever.