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The Ultimate Guide to Communication

The key to any relationship is communication.

This includes romantic relationships, of course, but it also applies to friendships, coworker relationships, manager-team relationships, and even brand-customer relationships.

Any scenario that requires you to convince, inform, entertain, or engage with another involves communication.

The topic of communication is quite broad, right? I mean, it encompasses an entire college major at most universities. But we won’t be covering everything about communication in this guide.

Below, you’ll be reading about communication as it applies to the workplace and to your customers — two pretty important topics, right? We’ll also be sharing ways to improve your communication and learn how your colleagues and customers communicate, too.

Keep reading to get started, or use the chapter links below to jump around.

In simpler terms, communication is said to be the “creation and exchange of meaning.” Communication is also a process … a series of actions. It’s not a single phenomenon, and it varies based on method, channel, and person.

As a partner, friend, coworker, boss, and brand, you have a responsibility to learn how to best communicate. Let’s talk about how to communicate effectively.

How to Communicate Effectively

Not all communication is good communication. In fact, not communicating at all is better (in some circumstances) than communicating poorly.

Not adhering to effective communication practices can exacerbate or worsen a communicative environment, break trust, and make messages harder to receive.

Effective Communication Skills

Effective communication isn’t just speaking clearly and honestly. It also involves creating a safe, comfortable space for communication — even if you’re not the one talking. Employ these effective communication skills to give and receive information successfully.

1. Listening Actively

Effective communication is less about talking and more about listening. Active listening isn’t just hearing what the other person has to say; it also involves understanding their emotions and point-of-view.

The goal of effective communication is to empathize and understand the person or party with whom you’re communicating. Here’s how:

  • Focus on the other person. Don’t look at your phone, look around the room, or begin speaking to someone else. You can’t pick up on voice inflection or nonverbal cues if you’re not paying attention.
  • Show interest in what the other person is saying by nodding your head or saying “yes.”
  • Try not to judge or assume as the other person speaks. We talk more about these barriers in the next section.
  • Ask questions and provide reinforcing feedback, such as “What I’m hearing is…” or “Is this what you mean?”

When you practice active, engaged listening, you becoming fully in-sync with what the other person is saying and feeling. That’s the point of effective communication.

2. Asserting Yourself

Being assertive means considering your thoughts, opinions, and feelings and communicating them in a clear, respectful way. It doesn’t mean being demeaning or aggressive. (We talk more about the different communication styles in the next section.)

Asserting yourself can help you stay clear on your own goals while empathizing with others. Here’s how:

  • Get clear on your own values and opinions before you engage with someone else so that you don’t get confused or change your mind to make a conversation easier.
  • Positively express negative thoughts or opinions. Try to avoid outright anger or demeaning language or attitudes.
  • Be comfortable enough to say “no” or “I don’t agree.”

Although effective communication is about understanding the other person, it doesn’t mean we should forget about our own perspectives.

3. Minimizing Stress and Communication Barriers

Whether you’re speaking or listening, minimizing stress in communication helps create a healthy, effective environment. Here’s how:

  • Stall or pause to collect your thoughts. This can help you avoid outbursts or speaking before you think … and saying something you might regret.
  • Make one point at a time so that you or the other person don’t get confused or overwhelmed.
  • Don’t interrupt or make unnecessary comments or noises while the other person is speaking.
  • Try to stay objective and upbeat as you speak and listen. Keep the mood and tempo of the conversation elevated.

It’s also important to recognize and remove any communication barriers like the ones we describe below. Anyone with a perceived “upper hand” in a relationship — like managers, executives, or parents — should especially keep these in mind.

Common Barriers to Communication

Here are a handful of common communication barriers that may be hindering communication in your relationships. I’ve also included an example of how these might apply in the workplace.

Language/Cultural Communication Barriers

Language or cultural barriers occur when two parties don’t speak the same language or perhaps have different understandings of the same language.

Example: An international intern is shirking his duties to coworkers. The team lead gives feedback by saying “You’re passing the buck.” The intern doesn’t understand the jargon. He isn’t sure how to improve in his role and continues making his mistake, further frustrating the team and team lead.

Today’s workplace environments are more diverse than ever, meaning collaboration happens among all kinds of cultures. The best way to remove cultural or language barriers is by choosing common, clear phrases that are universally understood. If you’re speaking with someone who speaks a different language, try to use a translator or a verified translation tool.

Psychological / Attitudinal Communication Barriers

Psychological barriers happen when one or both parties carry cultural assumptions or are restricted by emotional hurdles or taboos. They also happen when there’s a lack of trust, attention, or empathy.

Example: A female employee is returning from maternity leave and needs a place to pump breast milk. In her previous job, her male manager wasn’t accommodating to her needs as a new mother, so when she approaches her current male superior with her request, she’s defensive and nervous … thus creating a tense, tough conversation.

In this specific case, if the male superior was aware of her previous experience, he’d be able to inject more empathy and patience to make the employee more comfortable. Otherwise he might be uncomfortable with her defensiveness. While the female employee can’t help her previous experience, she could try to approach the new manager without any assumptions.

Everyone’s mind is different, as is their upbringing. When it comes to psychological and attitudinal barriers, the responsibility falls on both parties to set aside expectations and prejudices and prioritize empathy, patience, and understanding.

Physical Communication Barriers

Physical barriers refer to anything that physically stands in the way of clear communication. These barriers typically exist through email, social media, text, or phone communication (anything that isn’t face-to-face) or when hearing or speaking handicaps are present.

Example: A remote employee is awaiting important feedback on a new project. His superior replies, via email, in a way that could be construed as cold or harsh — even though she was quite happy with the results. The remote employee assumes she’s unhappy with the project and loses confidence in his ideas and progress.

In today’s world, digital and text-based communication is very common, especially with remote work.

Receivers can avoid these barriers by not assuming the meaning behind a message or by simply asking for clarification. Also, senders can make their messages easier to receive by adding clarifying punctuation or words when communicating nonverbally.

Lastly, always be aware of personal handicaps with which others might be dealing.

The Four Communication Styles

Personality tests, like DiSC and Myers-Briggs, help others better understand your needs, strengths, and weaknesses.

The same goes for communication styles. Understanding the different styles below gives you a better understanding of how and why others communicate the way they do.

Passive Communication Style

Passive communicators act indifferent and often yield to others. On the outside, they may seem meek, quiet, or flexible. They likely aren’t good at saying “no” or dealing with conflict, but they’re easy to get along with as they typically “go with the flow.”

Phrases you might hear from passive communicators are:

  • “It doesn’t matter to me.”
  • “This isn’t worth fighting over. Let’s just keep the peace.”

Aggressive Communication Style

Where passive communicators are meek and quiet, aggressive communicators are loud, brash, criticizing, and physically aggressive. Their communication style reverberates through their behavior, volume, and wording. Aggressive communicators issue commands, interrupt, and often talk down to people.

Phrases you might hear from aggressive communicators are:

  • “You’re wrong.”
  • “This is your fault. Fix it.”

Passive-Aggressive Communication Style

The passive-aggressive style displays a mixture of both. On the surface, this type of communicator might seem passive, but they probably harbor an aggressive side underneath. Behaviorally, they might seem agitated and display facial expressions or nonverbal cues that don’t match what they’re saying.

Phrases you might hear from passive-aggressive communicators are:

  • “Whatever, but don’t blame me if the team doesn’t agree.”
  • “That’s fine.” (and then proceeds to do the opposite)

Assertive Communication Style

Assertive communicators are said to follow the most effective and healthiest communication style. These communicators can express their own needs, opinions, and commands while also considering the needs and opinions of others. They typically communicate to reach a compromise or win-win situation, and will often employ “I” statements to take ownership of feelings while still expressing a need or desire.

Phrases you might hear from assertive communicators are:

  • “I respect your opinion, but I disagree and here’s why …”
  • “I feel frustrated when you miss deadlines.

Understanding your own communication style, as well as your team’s and colleagues’, can be helpful when conversations get tough. It can also alert you to ways in which you can improve your own communication skills and challenge others to do the same.

The Four Types of Communication

Communication isn’t limited to face-to-face speaking conversation; it applies to any exchange of information. Below, we walk through the four main types of communication and how you might see them in the workplace.

Verbal Communication

This type of communication is exactly what it sounds like: verbal conversation that includes sounds, words, and language. Verbal communication is said to be the most effective way to express emotions, feelings, opinions, and needs. If used correctly, words can help you be very straightforward and concise while leaving little room for question or assumption.

There are four types of verbal communication.

  • Intrapersonal, which is when we communicate to ourselves through our thoughts or out loud.
  • Interpersonal, which is when we communicate one-on-one with someone else.
  • Small group, which is when two or more people are involved. Team meetings, small presentations, and press conferences are examples of small group communication.
  • Public, which is when one person communicates to a large group. Public speeches, company-wide meetings, and TV commercials are examples of public communication.

Nonverbal Communication

Nonverbal communication happens when messages are sent and received without words. It typically applies to body language, tone of voice, inflection, facial responses, and other gestures.

It also includes creative or aesthetic means of communication such as dance, painting, and pottery. (Note: Nonverbal isn’t the same as visual, which is explained below.)

Some examples of nonverbal communication include:

  • Making eye contact (or lack thereof)
  • Shaking hands
  • Crossing or uncrossing legs
  • Folding or unfolding arms
  • Fidgeting
  • Hugging
  • Moving eyebrows
  • Smiling or frowning

Written Communication

Written communication is any message sent through written words or text. This form unique because, unlike verbal or nonverbal communication, written communication can be edited and changed before messages are sent.

Written communication also encompasses components of visual communication when sent through electronic means, such as phones or computers.

Examples of written communication include memos, emails, letters, reports, articles or blog posts (like this one!), social media posts, and print advertising.

Visual Communication

Visual communications involves sending and receiving a message with the help of visual aids. While visual communication encompasses some written communication, it mostly refers to symbols, images, and video.

Movies, TV shows, video, and plays are all visual communication as receivers need to watch them to receive their messages. Icons and emojis are also considered visual communication. The most common form of visual communication, though, is the internet, which sends us messages using a combination of text, colors, images, symbols, and design.

Communication in Business

Whether you know it or not, you’re communicating right now by reading this guide. You’re the recipient of this message that I’ve written and transmitted via blog post.

Communication happens all around us, and it’s especially important in business. Not only are we communicating non-stop with colleagues and teammates, but through marketing, advertising, sales, and support efforts, we’re also sending and receiving messages with our customers and consumers.

Communication in the Workplace

This section is about internal communication, meaning communication that happens within the workplace. This communication can refer to conversations with your boss, project collaborations with teammates, or perhaps reading your company’s internal wiki to learn about another team’s updates.

Regardless, here are some tips on communication in the workplace.

Communication as a Manager

As a manager or team lead, you’re dealing with a lot, right? Not only do you have your own responsibilities, but you also have to oversee and organize those of your team.

One of the hardest parts of managing can be figuring out how to systematize and catalog important communications happening within and around your team.

Building an internal communications strategy can help you manage this. Here’s how.

1. Assign a communication medium for specific types of communication.

It’s hard to speak up at work. People aren’t always sure who to trust. They also aren’t sure which information will stay private, and which information will come with consequences if shared.

This is where it’s up to you, as a manager, to create a safe, healthy environment for effective communication. One way to do that is to “assign” specific media or channels for specific types of communication.

For example, constructive criticism or feedback should take place in-person and privately. Instead of sending random emails or criticizing employees during team-wide meetings, consider scheduling one-on-one feedback sessions every quarter. This reassures your employees that hard conversations will remain private, and it also builds trust by showing your employees that you respect them enough to speak in-person.

Here are some other types of communication that might need their own medium or channel.

  • Praise
  • Collaboration or Project Updates
  • Strategies or Processes for Cross-Team Collaboration
  • Concerns or Questions
  • Important Business Updates

2. Encourage your team (and other teams) to adhere to these processes.

Once you define these communication processes, write them down and share them with your team. Encourage your team — and other teams — to adhere to the processes in respect of themselves and their colleagues.

Where appropriate, record your communication. This creates a record for others to reference and makes it easier to review and improve your processes … which is the next step.

3. Review every six months to see how you can improve.

Twice a year or so, survey your team and colleagues to make sure your internal communications strategy is working for everyone. Carve out time to receive feedback from your own employees. Remember, communication is a two-way street.

Communication Across Generations and Cultures

Whether you’re a brand new employee or a CEO, it’s crucial to understand that we all communicate differently. In the beginning of this guide, we reviewed some common communication barriers, namely cultural barriers.

The vast diversity of today’s workplaces (something to be celebrated!) means that people of all backgrounds, upbringings, and ages are collaborating. It also means that workplaces will have a myriad of communication styles and preferences.

Here’s how to prepare and stay aware of those differences.

  • Educate yourself on how others communicate. Based on our upbringings and education, we all prefer to receive praise, feedback, and instruction in different ways. Take the time to ask your employees and colleagues how you can best communicate with them.
  • Define communication as it applies to each culture. What does silence mean to each employee? How do they prefer to collaborate? What does disagreement look like? How do they like to receive praise? Start the discussion and foster an open environment within your team and company. Stay diligent and work to meet everyone’s preferences.

Communication to the Consumer

This section is about external communication, which refers to communication that your business has with consumers and customers. This communication includes marketing and advertising efforts, sales pitches, support conversations, and any public relations and crisis communications.

When it comes to any communication you have with the consumer, it’s wise to have a strategy to keep your business functions aligned and keep brand communication strong. Whether your posting on social media, publishing a press release, or building a new marketing campaign, all communication to the consumer — whether words, images, or video — should be consistent in tone, personality, and overall branding.

Over to You

Communication really is the key to any relationship. It may be a broad, vague topic, but it’s still able to be mastered in the workplace. Prioritizing communication among your team and company can help resolve conflict, strengthen collaboration, clarify strengths, and prepare you to do the same with your customers and clients.

The Future for Casino Software Development Is a Roulette in Your Own Living Room

There are perhaps four software companies at the forefront of casino gaming technology in Europe, some of which have managed to transform how mobile users play and interact with online casinos. Who are they and what should we expect next?

The list below shows some of the main software developers designing and operating online casino games. There is a high expectation that the next generation of casino software will soon be released by them.


Playtech has been going for almost 20 years, operating in the online bingo, slots and casino arena where it has developed over 600 games. It has licenses with multiple US entertainment companies like HBO, MGM, Marvel and Universal and is listed on the London Stock Exchange.


NetEnt processes over 21 billion gaming transactions every year and serves over 100 online casinos. It won the 2015 EGR awards for slot Provider of the Year and is listed on the Nordic Nasdaq.


Novomatic turned over nearly 4 billion euros in 2015, which isn’t surprising when you consider it has over 28,000 employees. It specialises in slots, card and electronic table games. It is the biggest casino software supplier in Europe.


Evolution has become one of the leaders in online poker and roulette software. It is one of the newest and fastest-growing software developers in the online casino sphere and it continues to develop and grow.

An Augmented Reality for Online Casi

The popularity of online casinos has so far matched and probably exceeded the appetites of the bricks and mortar casinos. Amongst the most popular online casino games is the offering of classics like roulette, mahjong and blackjack just like you’d find at William Hill’s table games. The reason why these remain the most popular casino games to play is primarily because they are easy to learn and fun to play; one offering a player the chance to test their skill and the other offering random, but rich potential on the spin of the table.

Currently, online gambling in the UK generates over £3 billion annually and this figure is only going to grow further as online gambling becomes more mainstream and furthers its growth and appeal. Meanwhile Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality have become huge in the technical sector and a major landscape changer. It doesn’t take long to recall the effects that Pokemon Go had on the public’s imagination to see where this technology can go. It was quickly followed up by the BBC’s Civilisations App to reproduce works of art that came alive right in front of you. So how long will it be before online casinos start developing and releasing their own AR roulette table in your own living room?

There are already virtual zones being set up in Las Vegas casinos.

The answer to that is not long. The hardware technology is already here with Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear VR, HTC Vive and Playstation VR becoming more affordable and available. The software for casinos is getting more closely aligned with reality already with slicker graphics and a more realistic ‘casino’ experience. Add in the technical might of the big casino software developers and we should prepare for some nights in where home casino parties with a full array of tables, games and slots might well be coming soon.

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Cheetah Mobile Vice President Keynotes Microsoft Tech Summit 2018 in Shanghai

MEDIA ANNOUNCEMENT: As a proud partner of Microsoft, Cheetah Mobile, a leading mobile internet company with a strong global vision, was honored to participate in Microsoft Shanghai Tech Summit where its vice president Li Liang gave a keynote speech about Cheetah Mobile’s focus on promoting digital transformation through AI-powered products and services.

Commenting on the news Li stated, “I am honored to have spoken at this prestigious event and look forward to Cheetah Mobile’s continued relationship with Microsoft to develop products that solve real-life pain points and increase efficiency for people and businesses.”

Cheetah Mobile and Microsoft have been working together since 2017, when it integrated Microsoft’s intelligent voice assistant Cortana into its popular launcher app, CM Launcher. Cortana not only allows CM Launcher users to easily control the app with voice commands, they can also use voice commands to make voice calls, read the news, create and manage events, set reminders and perform web searches, all without leaving the app.

Microsoft and Cheetah Mobile expanded their partnership in July 2018 with the release of Cheetah Translator, a portable translation device developed using text-to-speech and translation technology from Microsoft Research Asia (MSRA) and OrionStar, a Cheetah Mobile-invested AI company. The device is light-weight and easy-to use, while providing accurate and reliable translation, making it the perfect accessory for travelers. Cheetah Translator operates on OrionStar’s self-developed Orion Voice OS, the number one smart voice OS in China, with a 30% market share. Orion Voice OS currently powers smart speakers from Xiaomi, Midea and Ximalaya, as well as Cheetah Mobile’s entire line of robotics products and smart devices.

Unlike similar translation devices that feature two or more buttons, Cheetah Translator’s one-button design reduces the number of operations required of users. Whether it is selecting the language, translating or changing volume, it can all be done with one button. In fact, the translation engine provided by Microsoft and OrionStar automatically detects which language is being spoken and translates accordingly without the need to manually switch between languages. It currently supports Chinese, English, Korean and Japanese, with more languages to be added soon.

Li continued, “The major advantage that Cheetah Mobile has in AI products is its combination of user thinking, product thinking and AI technologies. By focusing on users’ needs in specific scenarios, Cheetah Mobile uses the most suitable technology to solve those needs, and Cheetah Translator is the embodiment of this goal. There are no borders between machines and people anymore. Cheetah Mobile’s goal is to provide users with AI products that are truly intelligent and truly useful.”

Microsoft Shanghai Tech Summit was held at the Shanghai World Expo Center from October 24 to 27, 2018. The Summit brings together Microsoft‘s top global technology experts, famous domestic entrepreneurs, industry leaders, entrepreneurial pioneers and technology enthusiasts gather together to discuss hot topics, share the latest & most cutting-edge gains, the most competitive strategies and techniques, as well as industry solutions under digital transformation, to jointly improve business productivity and predict the development trend of the industry.

About Cheetah Mobile Inc.

Cheetah Mobile is a leading mobile Internet company with strong global vision. It has attracted hundreds of millions of monthly active users through its mobile utility products such as Clean Master and Cheetah Keyboard, casual games such as Piano Tiles 2, and live streaming product The Company provides its advertising customers, which include direct advertisers and mobile advertising networks through which advertisers place their advertisements, with direct access to highly targeted mobile users and global promotional channels. The Company also provides value-added services to its mobile application users through the sale of in-app virtual items on selected mobile products and games. Cheetah Mobile is committed to leveraging its cutting-edge artificial intelligence technologies to power its products and make the world smarter. It has been listed on the New York Stock Exchange since May 2014.

About OrionStar

OrionStar is an AI company in China that is controlled by Fu Sheng, CEO and chairman of Cheetah Mobile. The company was established in September 2016 by a group of technology industry leaders and product specialists from Silicon Valley, Japan, Taiwan, Beijing, and Shenzhen. OrionStar has developed a complete robotics technology chain, including a voice-controlled operating system, Orion Voice OS, visual recognition technology, indoor mapping and navigation system, and a back-end robotics platform, Orion OS. OrionStar is committed to using AI technology to develop the next generation of ground-breaking technology products and free people from the burden of overly complicated tasks, make homes more intelligent and create a better world through technology.

For more information about Cheetah Mobile and its products, please visit

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The Voice Search Barometer: Where Do Users Stand? [New Data]

At this week’s annual Samsung Developer Conference, there was one technology that arguably stole the spotlight: Voice.

Samsung is making a somewhat apparent push to power more devices — from smartphones to smart speakers to home appliances — with its own voice assistant, Bixby.

It got us thinking: Where do users stand on voice assistants, anyway? How widespread is this technology’s use? And as Samsung keeps its audience waiting for its own smart speaker, the Galaxy Home, how enthusiastic are consumers about these digital assistive devices?

We ran some surveys to answer these questions, and with the help of new data from Zazzle, drew some conclusions on the current sentiment toward voice.

How Many People Plan to Buy a Smart Speaker?

We asked 831 people across the U.S., UK, and Canada: Do you plan to buy a smart speaker?

Most respondents — about 43% — indicated that they do not plan to buy a smart speaker.

It’s interesting to note, however, that while a smart percentage, the second-highest number of respondents indicated that they plan to buy one within the next six months.

That could align with more of the top contenders in the voice assistant market continuing to release newer models of their smart speakers, with improved functionalities and additional features (such as video).

The Value of Voice Assistants and Smart Speakers Remains Ambiguous

For many consumers, the purpose and tangible use cases of  voice assistants (and the smart speakers they power) remain unclear. When we asked 818 users across the U.S., UK, and Canada, “If you do not own a smart speaker, why not?” we found that most people simply don’t see the benefits of having one.

If you do not own a smart speaker, why not_

These findings align with two other sets of data.

The first is data from Zazzle, where out of “thousands of social media users” in the UK, 35% said that they don’t believe they would ever actually use such voice assistant devices as smart speakers.

The-State-of-Voice-Search-2018-Zazzle-MediaSource: Zazzle

The second is an additional survey we ran among 481 people across the U.S. and Canada, where 21% of respondents said that they don’t completely understand what voice assistants do.

Do you plan to buy a smart speaker_ (1)

The Outlook

The findings above point to some possible key indications about the outlook for voice assistants and the devices they power.

First, it seems that many users are unclear about the value of voice assistants, or what they do — a finding that’s suggested by the number of survey respondents who, if they didn’t say that their understanding of voice is muddled, said that they want to learn more about the technology before investing in it.

It is possible that some users do not assign the formal terminology of “voice assistants” to the technology with which they might be on a first-name basis; for example, Siri, Alexa, or “Okay, Google.” That’s suggested by Zazzle’s finding that 68% of users acknowledged the convenience of a voice assistant, saying that they were able to find information quicker by using this technology over typing out a query.

The-State-of-Voice-Search-2018-Zazzle-Media(2)Source: Zazzle

That finding is supported by our own findings that about a quarter of users who do use voice assistants do so to answer questions.

Which of the following describes the way you use your voice assistant -- like Alexa, Google Assistant, or Siri -- the most_ (1)

To repeat our earlier point: More top contenders in the voice assistant market continuing to release newer models of their smart speakers, with improved functionalities and additional features. As the technology improves and scales, it could become more widespread and accessible to consumers, broadening the value and use cases.

And as it does, points out HubSpot’s head of SEO Victor Pan, so do the different platforms where customers can be reached.

“Pay attention to when your customers start to adopt,” Pan says — such as voice. “The point of marketing is to be where your customers are.”

The Ultimate Guide to TV Ads

Just do it.

Think different.

Breakfast of champions.

Where’s the beef?

Got milk?

Taste the rainbow.

The six phrases above feature no more than three words. But I’d bet you could tell me which brand each phrase belongs to.

The above slogans aren’t only popular quotes from advertisements, they’re also defining phrases for brands. They inspire case studies, jokes, and Halloween costumes. They’re pillars of our advertising society … and they all came from TV.

Author Ray Bradbury once said, “The average TV commercial of 60 seconds has 120 half-second clips in it or one-third of a second. We bombard people with sensation. That substitutes for thinking.”

It doesn’t take long for consumers to feel, for them to sense something. That’s why these slogans — and many others — aren’t more than a few words.

And that’s why TV commercials, despite their evolution over the last 60 years, are still one of the most effective — albeit most fleeting — marketing strategies.

The following guide will acquaint you with the TV advertising industry and equip you with the tools needed to run your own TV ad. Keep reading to learn more, or use the chapter links below to jump ahead.

History of TV Advertising

TV advertising has changed drastically since 1941 when the first commercial for Bulova Watch Company aired. The ten-second ad cost less than $10 to create and was seen by 4,000 people on WNBT, a local channel in New York. It was aired during a baseball game — the Brooklyn Dodgers vs. the Philadelphia Phillies.

Since then, TV ads have seen drastic changes, both in content and culture. Here’s a brief overview of the history of TV ads.

TV Ads in the 1950s: Sponsored Programs

TV took a break during WWII. But after the war, over a third of US households owned a TV. Companies took advantage of the boost in viewership with sponsored programs, which is when a brand pays for shows to exclusively showcase their products or air their commercials.

Wonder Bread and Cheerios were presented during shows like Howdy Doody and The Lone Ranger. Some companies were even part of program names, like The Colgate Comedy Hour and Texaco Star Theater.

TV Ads in the 1960s: Rules and Regulations

Advertising was everywhere, but it was hardly regulated. Sponsored programs put a lot of creative power in the hands of brands, and programs and networks were resigned to follow suit.

It wasn’t until NBC’s Sylvester “Pat” Weaver introduced what was known as the “Magazine Concept” for TV commercials. Advertisers could purchase time blocks (around one to two minutes) during which their advertisement would air, and multiple brands could advertise during one program … much like in a magazine. In turn, programs and networks gained back creative control, and TV advertising morphed into how we know it today.

This change diversified advertisements and forced brands to become more creative in order to stand out. TV ads became more entertaining, viewers looked forward to commercial breaks, and networks had no problem selling ad space. In 1961, the Committee of Advertising Practice was formed.

The 60s also saw a rise in jingles, a short slogan sung during an ad. Brands like Slinky, Rice-a-Roni, and Dr. Pepper advertised with short, memorable songs.

TV Ads in the 1970s: Defining Audiences

TV advertising in the 1970s was all about recognizing, experimenting with, and regulating audiences. Some brands were bold, such as Winston Cigarettes using the G-rated Flintstones characters to promote their products. Other brands were subtle, like when Gilbey’s Gin hid the word “sex” in its ads. (The latter was a print campaign, but plenty other brands applied this to TV.)

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) outlawed subliminal messaging in 1974 as deceptive advertising. As for the bolder brands, they soon learned that targeting their messages to the right audience was the better, more profitable practice. Tootsie Roll used animated characters like Mr. Owl to advertise to kids. Folgers featured a married, suburban couple to promote their coffee. Bounty targeted restaurateurs and food lovers with their microwave-specific towels.

In turn, companies that advertised to the right audiences and on the right channels had a stronger, more memorable message. 

TV Ads in the 1980s and 1990s: Super Bowl and Storytelling

The 1980s introduced one of the biggest annual phenomena in TV advertising: the Super Bowl. Because so many people tune in for the game, the four-hour window has become one of the most exciting (and expensive) times for commercials. In 2016, advertisers had to pay $5 million for a 30-second spot during Super Bowl 50.

In 1979, Coca-Cola aired one of the most memorable Super Bowl ads to date. Hey Kid, Catch! featured Mean Joe Greene, a defensive lineman for the Pittsburgh Steelers, taking a Coke from a boy and tossing him his jersey in exchange.

It was impactful for a couple reasons: one, it was aired soon after the Civil Rights Movement, and featuring Greene was a major step towards equality and diversity in advertising; two, it didn’t promise anything special. It was simply an injured ballplayer downing a tasty drink that improved his mood. That was enough for Coca-Cola, though, as the ad improved the company’s brand awareness and partnership with the Steelers.

The 80s and 90s were also all about storytelling in advertisements. Apple’s “1984” TV ad introducing their new Macintosh remains one of the most popular TV ads and introduced the slogan “Think Different,” which the brand still uses to this day.

Lots of other companies followed this storytelling model, too. Eggo Waffles featured a little boy with a big invention, Super Soaker empowered two teens to crash a pool party, and McDonald’s told the tale of a little girl at her piano recital.

The 90s also saw the introduction of popular actors and celebrities as spokespeople in TV ads, such as Brad Pitt in a Levi Jeans ad. This paved the way for brand endorsements.

In 1999, TiVO came on the scene and changed TV advertising forever.

TV Ads in the 2000s:

With the introduction of TiVO and DVRs, consumers became accustomed to skipping over TV ads. Companies and brands fought to create more creative advertisements to counteract this, but that didn’t always help.

Product placement was also revived. Friends mentioned Pottery Barn and Oreo, Sex and the City featured Apple’s MacBook, and The Office highlights Staples as Dunder-Mifflin’s biggest competitor.

Today, streaming TV is advertising’s biggest competitor. We’ll talk more about TV ads in 2018 below.

Pros and Cons of TV Ads

Like any marketing method, there are benefits and drawbacks to TV ads. You should ultimately base your decision on your own resources and advertising goals, but these factors are important to consider, too.

Pros of TV Ads

TV ads provide a multi-sensory ad experience. Viewers hear, see, and read your advertisement, meaning they digest the information (and the feelings it provokes) in many different ways.

TV ads have a wide reach. TV as a medium also has deep penetration. These terms basically mean lots of people see TV ads … but we explain reach and penetration in the following section.

TV ads are impactful. They reach your audience when they’re attentive and focused.

TV ads allow your brand to establish a brand identity and expand your brand awareness. They give you a chance to be creative and attach a personality to your company or product.

Cons of TV Ads

TV ads are expensive, more expensive than any other marketing medium. Networks charge for airtime, and hiring writers, actors, producers, and editors can add up, too.

TV ads are hard to change. Unlike display ads, social media posts, or even print ads, you can’t hop in and change a TV ad without shooting a new ad or at least contacting the network. If you do choose to change anything, it’ll cost you more money.

TV ads are avoidable. Although your audience is attentive and focused while watching TV, they might choose to skip over or ignore the commercials. Also, with technology like DVR and streaming on Netflix and Hulu, TV ads can be entirely eliminated if a viewer so chooses.

TV ads can’t be targeted like other marketing channels. You can, however, choose to run your ad on channels and during day-parts that reach your audience. If you sell products for stay-at-home moms, you might run your ad during the day; if you’re advertising a service for working parents, you might run it during nighttime programs.

TV Advertising Terms

Like any niche industry, TV advertising has its own slew of terms, some of which you’re probably unfamiliar. Below you’ll find some common terms used in TV advertising and campaigns.


Reach is the number of individual people who watch a program during a specific time period.


Penetration is the number of households who own a TV or subscribe to cable.


Frequency is the number of TV ads placed within a time period that viewers will see.


Share is the percentage of households or people who are viewing a TV ad at a specific time.

Coverage Map

A coverage map (or just coverage) represents the percentage of households or people receiving a particular broadcast signal within a geographic area.


Impressions represent the number of households or people who will potentially see a TV ad.


Rating is a percentage of total households who own TVs who are tuned into a program at a specific time. One percent of the population within a coverage area is equal to one point.


A day-part is a set time period within which TV stations sell and segment their programs and ads. Most stations sell their time slots based on rating and day-part. The default day-parts (in EST) are:

  • Early Morning — 5:00 to 9:00 am
  • Daytime — 9:00 am to 3:00 pm
  • Early Fringe — 3:00 to 5:00 pm
  • Early News — 5:00 to 7:00 pm
  • Prime Access — 7:00 to 8:00 pm
  • Prime — 8:00 to 11:00 pm (Mon thru Sat) and 7:00 to 11:00 pm (Sunday)
  • Late News — 11:00 to 11:30 pm
  • Late Fringe — 11:30 to 2:00 am
  • Overnight — 2:00 to 5:00 am


Sweeps refers to a time period (in February, May, July, and November) during which rating surveys are sent to local marketing to measure viewership.

TV sweeps determine station ratings, which is why stations usually run their best programming during the first few weeks of each sweeps quarter.

Gross Rating Points (GRP)

Gross Rating Points represent the measurement of impressions as related to the number of targeted people in a campaign, without regard to repeated impressions. The formula is GRP = Rating x Frequency.

For example, if a TV program has a rating of eight and an ad was run during four episodes, the ad campaign would have a GRP of 8 x 4 = 32.

Run-Of-Schedule (ROS)

A run-of-schedule campaign is when advertisers and agencies will pay for ads to run during any day-part and any show. Most ROS campaigns run overnight as these slots are rarely “sold out.”

Cost Per Thousand (CPM)

The cost per thousand is the cost to reach 1,000 people with a TV ad. CPM is a commonly-used measure of ad efficiency.

Everything You Need to Know About TV Ads

Placing an advertisement on TV might not be for every business. It’s certainly a costly commitment that requires a variety of resources. But if you’re interested in how to run a TV ad for your company, we’ve covered the basics in this section.

Positioning Your TV Ad

The first step to creating and running a TV ad or ad campaign is positioning. Here are a few questions to ask.

  • Who is my target audience?
  • What TV channels do they watch and when?
  • What TV shows on those channels do they watch?

Consider these questions before you move forward in the process. These answers will guide other decisions you might make for your TV ad.

Paying for a TV Ad

Next, let’s talk about money. TV ads are expensive — we all know that.

But there isn’t one set cost for TV ads. Many factors play into the price, including channel, day-part, length of the TV ad, and how much it costs to produce the ad.

The price also changes based on what kind of network on which you want to advertise.

Advertising on Local TV

Local networks are specific to your location. They typically air on low-numbered channels (like 3 or 10) and feature local news, events, and more. Local brick-and-mortar businesses who target audiences in a specific geographic area will find it most cost-effective to advertise on local networks.

The cost of a local TV spot varies but is typically between $200 and $1500 per 30-second ad.

Broadcast / Cable TV Ad

Broadcast and cable TV aren’t synonymous. Broadcast television includes channels like ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX (considered Primary Networks), and typically have local affiliates in each city. (Chicago’s ABC affiliate is WLS.)

Cable television includes channels like The CW, USA, Discovery Channel, ESPN, and HGTV. Both networks require consumers to pay to access.

Cable TV spots are tricky. Not everyone pays for cable (fewer now with TV streaming), but cable channels are more niched than others. This means that your audience will be targeted, albeit smaller than on other channels.

The cost of cable TV ads vary greatly depending on the popularity of programs and day-part. AMC’s The Walking Dead averaged $400,000 per 30-second spot … but that’s probably because it was the most expensive program on cable TV. The season five premiere drew over 17 million viewers.

Broadcast TV spot can either be extremely expensive or pretty reasonable, depending on the program or event. For example, the cost of a 30-second spot during The Big Bang Theory on CBS in 2015 was $344,827. On the other hand, companies paid $1.55 million for a 30-second spot during the 2015 NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship Tournament … also on CBS.

Estimating the Cost of Your TV Ad

Like I said above, TV ad costs vary. But with a little math and an understanding of the terms we defined above, you can roughly estimate what your ad might cost.

  1. Figure out how many people watch the program during which your ad might air. You can ask the network for Nielsen data to help with your research. Here are the broadcast TV networks in your area.
  2. Estimate the CPM of your intended program. The network probably won’t supplement this information, but you can estimate it by dividing the cost of one TV ad by the total viewership — data they should provide. As for the 2018/2019 season, the average CPM for national broadcast networks is $31.97.
  3. Determine how many spots you’d like to run during your campaign.

Let’s say you wanted to run 12 spots during a six-week window on your local ABC affiliate during the evening news segment (the Prime Access day-part). The segment is watched by 45,000 people on average, and the CPM is $18.00. Here’s how you’d estimate the price of the ad campaign.

Estimated TV Ad Cost = (# of spots) (# of viewers in thousands) (CPM) = (12) x (45) x (18) = $9,720

Notice that this doesn’t include the cost of creating the ad itself. We’ll dive into this next.

Creating a TV Ad

Producing a competitive, creative TV spot isn’t an easy feat. But what makes it possible is a thorough planning process (like with any advertising or marketing campaign).

The following section is full of questions that’ll help you brainstorm and plan out your TV ad. Don’t skip ahead as previous questions might inspire other answers.

1. What might stand in the way of your TV ad?

By this question we mean: Why would your ad not be successful? Just because TV advertising isn’t the promotional powerhouse it once was doesn’t mean it can’t still be effective.

As a marketer, you just have to be aware of and plan around the initial roadblocks.

The first, most obvious roadblock is DVR, TiVO, and other TV technologies. While you can’t control how people choose to watch TV, you can prepare yourself — and your budget — to not reach the viewership numbers for which you’d hoped. Instead of projecting a specific number, try shooting for a goal range.

Secondly, people get distracted. We’re humans. We have the attention span of a goldfish … which is kind of sad if you think about it. (Op, already forgotten!) Anyway, we get distracted easily, which means you as a marketer need to come up with funnier, more creative ways to keep viewers attentive. Do so, and we might watch through the commercial breaks.

Lastly, advertising burnout is a real thing. Consumers are bombarded with thousands of advertisements throughout their day … how can you make your TV spot not like the others? Try borrowing from those 80s and 90s ad producers and tell a story in your ad. Better yet, focus on features and benefits, not tacky sales tactics.

Don’t let these roadblocks dissuade you. TV spots can still be effective; we’re just equipping you to build the most effective TV ad strategy possible.

2. How long do you have for your TV ad?

At this point, you should know which networks and programs during which your TV ad will air. But how long is the commercial you’re paying for? How long do you have to grab attention and share your call-to-action? Keep this length in mind as you plan your spot.

Don’t be tempted to go over time, even just by a few seconds. It’s not worth it — your ad will be cut and your brand will look unprofessional.

3. What’s the big idea or purpose of your TV ad?

When planning your spot, start small: What’s the big idea of your TV ad? TV ads give you a handful of seconds to convince, inform, entertain, impact, or humor your audience. Jot down the purpose of your ad, or at least what you’d like your audience to take away.

Advertising your new product? Announcing a new location? Introducing a brand partnership? Simply trying to get your name out there? Whatever it is, jot it down. Next, consider how you want your big idea to make your audience feel. The emotion your TV ad provokes will be just as (if not more) memorable than the message it sends.

Focusing on your ad’s big idea and emotional experience will make it impactful for your audience. TV advertising is an expensive, competitive field. You can’t afford (literally) not to stand out.

Every idea needs something that’ll make it pop! How are you going to do that with your spot?

4. What will viewers hear during your TV ad?

TV ads are multi-sensory experiences. That means viewers should understand what your ad is about whether they’re watching it or listening to it from the other room.

Video scriptwriting is much different than any other type of writing. Scripts need to be informative, entertaining and convincing while remaining short and snappy. 

Whether your script is what your characters will say to each other or represents what a narrator might read, commercials give you a limited time frame to get your objective across. Start with your big idea (as defined above) and work from there. Remember the emotional experience you want to convey, and weave that into your writing.

Now, read your script out loud. Role-play with a teammate. Trim any excess content you don’t need. We also recommend writing scripts in Google Docs for easy collaboration with other team members.

Lastly, consider what music you want in your commercial, if any.

5. What will consumers see in your TV ad?

TV ads are so effective because they’re so entertaining … and because the best ones keep viewers around after their program has stopped for a commercial break. Your ad doesn’t have to be synonymous to a TV show, but it should be similarly engaging and visually stimulating.

What or who you include in your spot will depend on your big idea and your target audience. If you’re promoting a new product or business location, you’ll definitely need to show those images or video at some point.

Plenty of great TV ads have been made with gorgeous visuals alone (like Apple’s “Shot on iPhone” commercial), but featuring people can help your viewers relate to your brand. Better yet, if viewers see people similar to them in your spot, they might be able to visualize themselves using your product or service, too. So, if you choose to use people in your TV ad, try using actors that fall into your target audience.

6. How will you create your TV ad?

This question depends on your resources, but hiring a production company should be considered by businesses of all sizes and budgets. If you want to your TV to look professional, you need professionals to create it.

If you simply can’t afford a production company, it’s possible to produce your commercial in-house. Gather scriptwriters, videographers, actors, and designers to get the job done, or consider hiring out a freelancer or specialized contractor to help out.

7. What’s the CTA in your TV ad?

The CTA in your TV ad is similar to your big idea, but it should be much more specific. Is your ad introducing a new product? What do you want your audience to do once they see your ad?

Surely not simply think, “Huh. Neat product.”

No, you want them to take action. Do you want them to buy the product? Visit the product landing page? Share the product on social media? Enter a contest to win the product? Whatever you want your audience to do, include clear directions (both audibly and visibly) for your viewers to follow.

8. How will customers engage with your TV ad? How will you measure this engagement?

The last step in planning your ad is figuring out how your viewers will become visitors, leads, and customers — and how you will track this. Consider how you’ll equip your audience to engage with your TV ad and further research your product, service, or brand.

One way to engage your audience and measure your campaign effect is by providing a vanity URL, which is a simple URL customized for your ad. Short URLs work best because they’re easy to share, use, and remember, especially for offline marketing like TV ads. You can get a vanity URL on sites like Hover and GoDaddy or can just be a page added to your main URL.

For example, if McDonald’s was advertising a new milkshake, they might create a vanity URL for their TV ad campaign like It’s easy to remember for viewers and easy to track for marketers.

You can also create a phone number specific to your TV ad campaign. 1-800 numbers are trackable — that’s why you see so many on TV ads. Software like CallRail can help you do this. This option is less popular now, though, as the internet has become such a popular research and engagement tool.

Keep an eye on marketing and sales metrics during the span of your TV ad campaign. While you can’t pinpoint direct leads or customers from your campaign in this way, you can at least track a general peak (or valley) effect from your TV ads. Keep an eye on other reasons for increased or decreased sales, such as other marketing efforts or specific seasons.

Lastly, set up a filter to track social mentions, press mentions, and general online chatter about your brand or commercial. Consider giving your commercial a specific title and hashtag to make it easier for your audience to talk about it. Don’t forget to upload your TV ad to YouTube and Vimeo to give your viewers a chance to rewatch and share it on social.

TV Advertising in 2018

In 2014, Netflix’s CPO announced that we were entering an era of “no more commercials.” While the TV advertising landscape has certainly changed, commercials are still alive and well in today’s marketing environment — four years later.

But he did have a point. Netflix and other streaming services have altered how we view and create commercials. While Netflix itself won’t be adding commercials (except for other Netflix shows), streaming services like Hulu and Sling TV show commercials before and between their programs.

Running ads on Hulu are less expensive than on their co-owner NBC, but they’re still pricier than network TV.

The difference with services like Hulu? Consumers have to watch the commercials … unless they invest in a more expensive streaming plan.

If you’re interested, here’s how to reach the streaming-only audiences with Hulu commercials and Sling TV commercials.

Over to You

A lot of work goes into creating that sensation we’ve called the 30-second TV ad. Is it worth it? If you put in the research, target the right audience, and measure your campaign, it certainly can be. The same goes with marketing on any other media. TV advertising may be new to you, but it’s certainly not out of reach. Take a look at your local networks and dip your toe into the world of TV ads.

The Sports Spike: Why Mobile Advertisers Need to Go Broader Around the Big Games

The following is a guest contributed post from Gareth Noonan, General Manager, Americas at Smaato.

When it comes to major sporting events like the Super Bowl and World Cup, inventory in sports apps is a hot commodity — and rightfully so. These apps represent an excellent way to reach engaged sports fans at contextually relevant moments. But if you’re an advertiser looking to make the most of these big-game moments, you should also think more broadly about your mobile in-app strategy.

During flagship sporting events in the first half of this year, sports apps’ mobile ad spending and eCPMs saw significant spikes, according to Smaato platform data. The Super Bowl in the U.S. is a prime example of this trend. As consumers turned to their mobile devices on game day, both ad spending and eCPMs spiked more than 120 percent above the monthly average. And that makes sense, given the continued popularity of the Super Bowl as a mega-viewing event. More than 100 million U.S. viewers watched the game in 2018, representing more than 30 percent of the entire country. Among these viewers, over 2 million streamed the game via mobile, desktop, or CTV.

Regarding mobile ad spend and eCPMs, we saw a similar — and, in fact, more pronounced — trend around this year’s FIFA World Cup, especially in Latin America. Sports fans’ enthusiasm in this region piqued advertiser interest, causing sports app ad spending to increase 289 percent and eCPMs to increase 46 percent in the first two weeks of the World Cup alone.

Major sporting events are an ideal time for advertisers to reach engaged users. Even while watching the game on TV, sports fans are often using their phones to check stats and interact with the game in various ways. But they do a lot more than that. According to Statista, second-screen activities while watching sports on TV in the U.S. include using social networks, sharing with friends, and reading emails. Notably, from an in-app advertising perspective, they also include the following activities:

  • 40% read the news while watching sports
  • 40% play games
  • 31% search for products to buy

This broader app usage while watching sports represents an excellent opportunity for advertisers looking to build a more-comprehensive mobile strategy around major sporting events. News apps, gaming apps, and shopping apps all offer strategic advertising inventory during such events, but without the dramatically higher eCPMs seen in sports apps around these time frames.

The key to leveraging these apps as a part of a broader strategy is to align a brand’s messaging and offers with the audience’s second-screen behaviors during sporting events. For example, offers for franchised sports apparel within a shopping app might resonate particularly well around game time, while a pre-halftime pizza delivery discount within a gaming app might be particularly appealing to a user who has the big game on in the background.

Sporting events like the Super Bowl and World Cup represent important shared experiences among audiences, but that doesn’t mean individual activity ceases on viewers’ small screens. The best game-day mobile strategy enables an advertiser to find the right audiences in a relevant way in both the obvious and less-obvious places.

Author bio:

Gareth oversees all of Smaato’s sales and operational activities in the Americas region, leading the region’s account management and business development teams to drive revenue growth and ensure the highest level of client satisfaction.

Gareth has over ten years of experience in mobile and desktop video advertising technology and M&A. As the General Manager of Video for blinkx (now RhythmOne), Gareth built a consistent Top 5 comScore video property and also participated in M&A on five deals totaling over $100M in value. This helped position RhythmOne as a true cross-screen leader in the video space. Gareth has also served in several consulting and advisory roles, spanning established mobile exchanges and publisher networks to seed-stage and funded start-ups.

Gareth holds a degree in Business and Economics from Trinity College, Dublin

The post The Sports Spike: Why Mobile Advertisers Need to Go Broader Around the Big Games appeared first on Mobile Marketing Watch.

Is Amazon Really Gaining on Google's Search Traffic? [New Data]

There’s been some speculation that Amazon might be creeping into Google’s (search) territory.

In some ways, that’s at least partially true. Amazon has showed some promise of potentially overtaking Google’s paid ads business, and its market share of product searches (54%) outnumbers that of Google’s (46%). 

But not all search is created equal. We dug a little deeper into the numbers, looking at a recent report and running our own surveys to see how people search for different types of information.

The Info-Seeking Market Share

While it may be true that Amazon is gaining on Google’s share of product-specific searches, when it comes to general information searches, Google still reins supreme. 

According to a recent report from SparkToro, Google’s domination in the area of general search traffic is quite significant, with 90% of web searches taking place on its site. That includes not only the primary Google search bar, but also, queries taking place on its Images and Maps products.

Source: SparkToro

To see how that information might uphold among a census-style audience, we asked 860 people across the U.S., UK, and Canada: Which resource do you most commonly use when searching for information online?

Which resource do you most commonly use when searching for information online_

Data collected with Lucid

Our results lined up with SparkToro’s, with 82.7% of respondents indicating that Google is their primary resource for finding information online.

When including respondents who chose “Google Maps” or “Google Images,” that number increases to 84.7%.

The Product-Seeking Market Share

Here’s where things start to get interested. As we previously mentioned, studies show that over half of all product searches take place on Amazon. And, according to our own previous data, people are more likely to buy something based on an ad they saw on Amazon, versus an ad they saw on Google.

However, when we asked 827 people across the U.S., UK, and Canada — Which resource do you most commonly use when searching for products online? — the results looked a bit different.

Which resource do you most commonly use when searching for products online_

Data collected with Lucid

Here, only 10% of respondents said they use Amazon as the primary resource for searching for products.

A few things could explain that — namely, it’s possible that survey participants use Google as the primary source of information to seek information like the “best” products in a certain category.

As Andrea Leigh of Ideoclick, a company that works with manufacturers to optimize online sales, explained at Code Commerce in September — Amazon is most effective when it comes to specific, niche product searches. Think: queries like, “Probiotics for children.” That could one source, for instance, of the aforementioned 54% figure.

So, Does Amazon Stand a Chance?

When it comes to general searches, it could be quite some time before Amazon can see eye-to-eye with Google’s traffic. As Rand Fishkin, author of the SparkToro study put it, “Google [has] a near-monopoly” of web searches. 

But that doesn’t mean Amazon should be completely discounted, for a number of reasons — a major consideration being voice search. In 2017, for instance, eMarketer found that 70.6% of smart speaker users owned an Amazon Echo, versus the 23.8% who used a Google Home.

However, we don’t know if those uses pertained to information-seeking or product-buying — and other studies have shown that even if it’s not used by as many people, Google’s Assistant (the voice assistant that powers the Google Home smart speaker) answers questions correctly 17% more of the time than Amazon’s Alexa. 

Another key question to ask when looking at this data: Does Amazon actually view Google as a threat? And, is its primary goal or concern to reign supreme in the world of web searches?

“If you view search as a pie, sure, Amazon doesn’t have a huge piece of it,” says Keith Anderson, SVP of Strategy & Insight at Profitero, an eCommerce performance analytics platform. “Amazon isn’t particularly threatened by Google as a search engine [and] has a different business model that has different incentives.”

So, for Amazon, product search could remain the name of the (winning) game — especially when it comes to understanding the intent behind those searches.

“What Amazon is building really quickly is an ad network and targeting capability at the intersection of ads, and the ability to buy really seamlessly,” Anderson explains. “Because they have so much information about buyer intent and buyer behavior, they can build a level of targeting that’s very hard for Google to match.”

In other words, he says — for now — there’s no need for Amazon “to try to out-Google Google.”

Best Casino Games for Console Players

If you’re a seasoned console player, be it Xbox, PlayStation, Switch or PC, chances are you’ll have a certain style of game that you prefer above all others. Maybe you’re a fan of real-time, online multiplayer games with a strong competitive edge. Perhaps your thing is adrenaline-fuelled racing games or complex puzzle-solving mysteries.

Maybe it’s lengthy cinematic games, rich in depth and dialogue, or perhaps you prefer more luck-based games, where victory is based on the roll of a dice, the spin of a wheel or the pull of a lever. The games we play shape our preferences as much as our preferences determine what kind of games we gravitate towards. If you’re looking to make the more lucrative switch over to online casino games, you’ll want to be playing games of a similar nature to those you already enjoy on a console.

If you choose wisely, you’ll be able to get maximum enjoyment out of your casino gaming experience, and you’ll likely be more skilled at playing, meaning there will be a lot more money in it for you. With that in mind, here’s your guide to the best casino games for console players of all stripes. 

Video Poker

Video poker has been around since at least the ’70s and is probably the closest thing to a classic console experience you can find in the world of casinos. You’re likely to recognize a game of video poker as soon as you see it, given the popularity of the genre with gamers and non-gamers alike. The setup looks and feels a lot like a classic NES game, complete with 8-bit graphics and chiptune music.

As well as the classic arcade feel, the reason real money video poker remains so popular is that you tend to get much better odds compared to other RNG-based online games. This is especially true with iconic variations of the game such as Deuces Wild.

Themed Slot Games

If you’re the type of person who loves console games for their themes, then slot machines might be the way forward for you. If you’re loyal to game franchises such as Call of Duty or The Elder Scrolls, you’re likely to be a big fan of the visuals, music, and atmosphere these highly immersive games provide. These are often the things the keep us flocking back to our most beloved game series time and time again. The very same thing is often true with themed slot games.

If the game series that you most enjoy is something like Civilization, there are slot games which use the same themes to recreate the things you love about it. The same is true if you prefer the Game of Thrones video game series, the Assassin’s Creed series, or just about any other iconic game franchise. There are themed slot games for every preference, often with full musical scores, complex visuals, and themed jackpot prizes that will feel just like you’re playing your favorite Xbox game, the only difference being that you’ll be playing for real money this time.

Live Blackjack

Many online casinos specialize in live games with real people, making these the perfect option for those who most enjoy competitive online gaming with other players. If your current game of choice is an online multiplayer like Fortnite or Black Ops 3, then chances are the main attraction for you is the opportunity to show your skills and play against real people from anywhere in the world.

Live blackjack is a relatively recent innovation that allows you to do just this, for real money. You can set up a profile, connect with another player and a real-life blackjack dealer, and play your best hand in the race to win the jackpot. If you’re one of those gamers who most enjoys the social as well as the competitive aspects of console gaming, then live blackjack is most definitely the right game for you. 

Classic Shoot ‘Em Up Games

Yup you heard right. In some casinos these days, you don’t even have to make any kind of transition from console gaming in order to enjoy all of the benefits of the casino. Some casinos have started to adapt arcade-style shooter games into real-money games that allow you to place bets and win big if you manage to win the game and shoot as many bad guys as you can.

The games on offer are strongly reminiscent of shooter classics such as Time Crisis and DOOM, all with the added bonus of being able to win hundreds or even thousands of dollars if your marksmanship is up to scratch. Unfortunately, you’ll have to make the trip to Atlantic City to play these, but chances are they’ll become a lot more common in the future.

There’s a type of casino game out there for every style of player, no matter where your loyalties lie. Just make sure you pick the right one in order to make the most of your video gaming skills and win some real money.

The post Best Casino Games for Console Players appeared first on Mobile Marketing Watch.

What 4 of HubSpot’s Recruiters, Hiring Managers, & Executives Say About Being a “Jack of All Trades”

When Karla Cook, the current Editor of HubSpot’s Marketing Blog, first joined the team as a staff writer in July 2016, she realized she had more in common with most of her new teammates than she originally thought.

As a rhetoric major at Bates College, a liberal arts school in Maine, Karla spent more time analyzing political speeches and honing her debate skills than studying marketing methodologies. She had also just spent the last year and a half working as a Support Engineer at HubSpot and was working her way through a masters degree in Corporate Communications. 

In other words, she was what most corporate folks would call, a “jack of all trades”. But, as a pleasant surprise to her, so were many of her teammates at HubSpot.

On the Blog Team, five of the seven total members were liberal arts graduates with majors spanning from theatre, communications, psychology, government, and international relations. Most of the bloggers didn’t begin their careers in marketing either. Grant writing, admissions, business analysis, production, and journalism sparked most of the team’s journey into the working world.

A year after Karla joined the team, Cobloom (a SaaS growth marketing agency) released a research report about the SaaS blogs who attract the most organic search traffic in the world. HubSpot’s blog was ranked number one. 

With a team full of generalists who never studied or specialized in marketing, they still generated three times more organic traffic than Google’s own blog. So is the old saying that a jack of all trades is a master of none actually true? And why is there so much suffocating pressure put on college students to specialize in only one discipline?

As jobs become more specialized in today’s workforce, it seems logical to hone a specific skill set, especially during school.

But only learning the skills that match the exact requirements of a job today might not prepare you for your job tomorrow.

According to a study conducted by researchers from LinkedIn and the World Economics Forum, majoring in specialized subjects like marketing, finance, IT, and computer science don’t teach students the necessary skills to adapt to sudden industry changes and other fields of work, whereas broad majors like literature, history, political science, and economics do.

Mark Cuban, a billionaire investor, has also called liberal arts majors free thinkers who can quickly adapt to the rapid evolution of most industries nowadays.

Marketing is one of the ever-evolving industries that Cuban says liberal arts majors thrive in. Fifteen years ago, content marketing didn’t even exist. But, today, it’s the top hiring area in the creative job market, with 25% of executives planning to grow their team this year.

Meghan Keaney Anderson, a Vice President of Marketing at HubSpot, believes content marketing’s swift evolution will continue to accelerate. And the only way to keep up is by being adaptable.

“The world changes incredibly quickly in our industry. What is today a central skill, channel, or strategy may not be tomorrow. We need people who are adaptable and, more than that, who are fascinated by change and have a mental framework and curiosity to learn new approaches,” she says. “I’ve found that liberal arts majors in particular have a great disposition for that kind of work — critical thinking, diverse interests, and a strong inclination to understand new areas.”

Keaney Anderson suggests there may be some essential content marketing skills today that will be rendered superfluous in the future. There could even be roles sprouting up that don’t even exist right now. This isn’t intimidating to liberal arts majors or jack of all trades, though. They’ve learned how to learn and feel comfortable grasping new skills and concepts.

But one skill the industry will always need and marketers constantly need to keep honing is storytelling — neuroscience proves that it’s the best way to capture people’s attention, bake information into their memories, and forge close, personal bonds. We’re programmed to pay our undivided attention to a great story — that’ll never change.

For a story to be compelling, though, it needs good writing behind it. But writing well in the marketing world doesn’t mean scribbling the most flowery and poetic prose possible. It means logically presenting or dissecting an argument in a clear, concise, and compelling way.

According to Emma Brudner, HubSpot’s Director of both the Blog and Community Teams, diversifying your education or skillset will arm you with the critical thinking abilities needed to write well.

“Liberal arts teaches students to not only write, but also to think critically. David McCullough, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, once said ‘Writing is thinking. To write well is to think clearly.’ I love this quote and I think about it a lot when hiring writers.” she says. “For the type of writing my team does, being able to organize thoughts and information clearly is imperative — even more important in my experience than the specific knowledge a more specialized degree, like marketing or advertising, might instill.”

While Brudner speaks to the importance of sharpening your critical thinking skills to write compelling content, developing your creativity is just as crucial for marketing success. According to neuroscience, it’s what drives innovation.

Creativity happens when you mash seemingly unrelated concepts together to form a new idea. Neuroscientists call this synaptic play, and the more incongruent the concepts are, the more synapses occur in your brain.

Studying a variety of disciplines or working in different fields supplies you with a bank of diverse knowledge and experiences to pull from to make these creative connections. And Kipp Bodnar, HubSpot’s Chief Marketing Officer, believes a brain full of diverse inputs will lead to much more inventive ideas.

“Connecting the dots is where so much of the success in marketing comes from. When you have a marketer who has done various aspects of marketing, they are able to understand how everything works together, which helps them accomplish much more than if their focus was isolated to only one deep discipline.”

Bodnar is describing something called cognitive diversity, where having a lot of different inputs in your head lets you connect dots that have never been connected before, giving you an entirely different perspective on things. This not only enables you to be more creative, but it also allows you to challenge the status quo and push your team to do better work.

Liberal arts majors and jack of all trades tend to have more cognitive diversity than their specialized peers, which is a huge reason why Sara DeBrule, the International Marketing Recruiting Team Lead at HubSpot, believes a jack of all trades can be a vital asset to any type of team.

“For a team where the majority of people are specialized, the case for hiring someone who is a jack of all trades is that they have enough perspective on the different types of marketing that they can test the assumptions of a team, push a team to operate in a more cross functional capacity, and round out the overall experience,” she says. “Jack of all trades can also be crucial for an early stage company where it’s an all hands on deck effort and people need to leverage disparate skill sets on a daily basis and context switch.”

The Jack of All Trades Can Be a Master of All

When I was a freshman in college, skeptically studying economics at a liberal arts school, I spent countless hours scouring the internet for every article that weighed the pros and cons of a general and specialized education. Every liberal arts critic said I was going to lag behind my specialized peers at work. Every proponent said I was going to propel past them.

So after hours on the phone with my dad and getting his blessing to transfer to a school where I could major in finance, I decided to go with my gut. I took a chance on the arts. And it’s the best decision I’ve ever made.

My liberal arts education taught me how to learn, think critically, and, most importantly, write. And those skills got me a job at HubSpot. If I had taken the other route, who knows what I’d be doing. Odd are, I’d be wearing a suit to work everyday and crunching numbers in a spreadsheet, not knowing what I’d do with my career if an algorithm started doing my job better than I could.

Speak Human: 8 Conversation Marketing Hacks, Game-Changers

The following is a guest contributed post by By Merilee Kern, MBA.

Nobody starts out automatically caring about your products or services. They care about how you can make a difference in their lives.  No matter the context, all relationships begin with a “handshake moment,” whether literally or figuratively—those first few introductory moments that reveal a great deal about the character of the person standing before you. Why should company interactions with current and prospective customers or clients be any different?

Sure, “content marketing” has been a crucial ingredient impelling the evolution of traditional marketing into today’s more personalized approach, bridging the gap between cookie-cutter TV, radio, and print mass marketing to highly customized digital and social media-driven communications. Even so, today’s more personalized digital communications have plenty of challenges, all too often falling on “deaf ears” and “blind eyes” amid a marketplace becoming highly desensitized to the glut of advertising and marketing messages its exposed to any given hour of any given day…year in and year out.

So, how can brands can make and maintain meaningful connections and create a lifetime value with customers in ways that’ll set them apart in a “noisy,” increasingly jaded and discriminating marketplace? How can businesses tell an authentic story so as to foster maximized marketplace engagement and breed brand loyalty?  According to Kevin Lund, author of the new book, Conversation Marketing: How to be Relevant and Engage Your Customer by Speaking Human,” the proverbial key to the Kingdom is for companies, no matter their size and scope, to simply “speak human.”

In this new book  Lund, who’s CEO of T3 Custom—itself a content marketing firm helping brands learn to “speak human” and supercharge ROI reportedly by as much as16-times, provides an in-depth analysis of what’s required to succeed in today’s modern marketing era, which he’s aptly coined the “Conversation Age.” Specifically, he details key principles critical for driving the more evolved conversation marketing approach, which can help companies amplify results on multiple fronts.

According to Lund, “Those who are wildly successful at conversation marketing understand the strategy is not simply about propagating online content and sharing through social media accounts. Rather, it’s a disciplined approach to communicating with a target audience in a way that tells a simple, human story that will educate, inform, entertain and, most importantly, compel customers in a way that fully captures mind–and-market share through messaging that truly resonates. Companies must stop talking ‘at’ their customers and, instead, connect with them by simply speaking human. And, it’s far beyond that initial ‘handshake moment—it’s through a constant stream of congenial engagements with each individual consumer, or the marketplace at large, based on trust and performance.”

Think it’s complicated to be an adept conversation marketer and speak human to your constituents? Think again! Below are eight of Lund’s tactical strategies from the new book that can help companies large and small become more engaging and relevant with customers, and the marketplace at large:

1. Earn Attention

To gain attention in today’s crowded marketplace, it’s prudent to do the opposite of what most everyone else is doing. That means don’t deliver clichéd, boring content that’s written for robots—search engines or otherwise—and for generic consumption. It’s unsustainable for you and your brand as well as frustratingly futile for the audience you’re trying to reach. Instead, speak human by engaging your audience with eye-level language in order to gain their attention and set your brand apart. Learn to use language that educates and entertains the audience.

Earning attention starts with asking yourself what you and your company are passionate about and conveying that genuinely in that all-important “handshake moment” of first contact—online or otherwise. Assume you’re meeting the person on the other side of the screen for the first time. Think of what you can say that’s new, memorable, a standout, and jargon-free. Also, understand and adapt to your audience. You wouldn’t talk the same way to an aging Baby Boomer as you would to a teenager.

2. Tell a Story

How do you hold someone’s attention long enough to break down a topic and engender his or her trust, but also in a way that’s unforgettable and leaves that person feeling more knowledgeable than before? The answer lies in good storytelling.

Good conversations are filled with good stories and anecdotes. But be mindful that the hero of the story isn’t your company or its products, but rather how your product or service will have a positive impact in your customers’ lives. If you can elicit an emotional response, you’re onto something.  Some standout companies have figured this out. Apple’s story, for example, isn’t about devices. It’s about innovation and how our lives are being changed for the better with Apple technology in them. Learn how to make your story short, to the point, and easy to share online.

3. Stay Humble

Being humble begins with letting go of ego—that instinctual part of the psyche that screams for a marketer to make too much noise about products or services and brag about themselves. Sigmund Freud developed a psychoanalytic theory of personality he coined the “id,” and marketers often tap into their own ids by telling the world how great their company and its products are, and how great a potential customer will be for buying them. The id operates based on the pleasure principle, which demands immediate gratification of needs.

In conversation marketing, speaking human dictates that your customer’s needs, not your own, are top priority. Your audience wants to know what you can do for them, and that means stop talking about yourself and drop the megaphone. Instead, embrace a different approach that thoughtfully and humbly explains why you do what you do and why it can make a difference in someone’s life instead of focusing on your bottom line. Stop beating them over the heads with the fabulous features and benefits of your products. Instead, tell stories that inspire and resonate with their own life experiences.

4. Pick Your Party

Equally important to the “how” of your conversation is the “where.” It should all fit seamlessly together and feel natural and organic in that moment.  Part of learning how to talk to your audience and engage them in any form of conversation is deciding where to talk to them in the first place.

This means doing the footwork to learn where your potential customers gather, and meeting them on their own ground. Where do your potential customers hang out on social media? What are they saying, and what challenges are they discussing that you can compellingly weigh-in on? Easily available research tools can help you join the right conversation at the right time and in the right place with consistency.

5. Be Relevant (on a Molecular Level)

True listening is about far more than hearing words. It’s also about fully understanding the message and concepts being imparted—whether they’re needs, wants, desires, or even complaints. Being relevant means making sure you’re talking about topics that are of sure interest to your audience, and that’s often achieved by addressing their pain points. Before a marketer can aptly communicate and speak to such pain points, however, he or she must first hear what the prospect, customer or marketplace has to say. It can be dangerous, expensive and ultimately futile for companies to presume to inherently know what should be said in conversation marketing.

6. Start the Conversation 

How do you gain audience attention in a way that prevents you from just being part of the noise? It’s no longer a question of whether you should insert yourself into the world of content marketing. It’s a matter of when you’re going to start talking, what you’re going to say, and how you’re going to say it. One good approach is to base that initial conversation on your unique value proposition for the given audience.

It’s important to always remember that your target audience doesn’t care about you. They care what you can do for them. If you’ve done your research, you’ll be familiar with their pain points and better prepared to offer answers that address their needs. Don’t be a “me-too” marketer who dishes out the same information as everyone else. Instead, develop a unique angle with a thought-provoking headline that sparks attention—even better if it disrupts conventional thinking. In addition, know your topic inside out before communicating, and make sure any other people handling your communications are experts in the field. You don’t want to risk sounding trite or inaccurate.

7.  Stop Talking

Unlike a monologue, a conversation is a two-way endeavor. Knowing when to stop talking is as important as knowing what to say and when to say it. It’s the only way to truly get a sense of what your audience (or your potential customer) is thinking in reaction to what you’ve offered, and whether to stay the course in your strategy or tweak it on-the-fly. Once you hear preliminary reaction, you can respond to questions and concerns before moving ahead or otherwise course-correct as needed. Also bear in mind that what your audience isn’t saying can be just as impactful as what they do convey.

Once your message is out, take a step back and “read the room.” That could mean monitoring online response to your blog post or using various tools to learn which of your resources are drawing attention. Are people engaged? Are they adding to the conversation? What should you do if the feedback is bad? Don’t consider a negative response or lack of response necessarily a failure. Instead, see it as an opportunity to adjust, make changes, and perhaps find ways to better meet your audience’s needs.

8. Ditch the Checklist

Before every takeoff, airline crews verbally work through an extensive checklist. There’s a detailed set of tasks to cover before the plane can even push back from the gate. However, in an ebb and flow conversation marketing context, this adherence to a certain protocol can pose limitations. Indeed, one problem with simply sticking to a checklist is that a content marketing strategy will never evolve with the times or differentiate itself in any way from what everyone else is doing.

Successful marketers endeavor to open new horizons. They take a step back and ask bigger questions about themselves and their companies’ ultimate goals, as well as what sort of new challenges their audience or customers might face over time–how to aptly adjust when needed.

Lund also suggests finding sources of inspiration. “Explore some of the successful content marketing plans that showed passion, ditched the tired old language, zeroed in on what customers needed, and started a real conversation with the market,” he urges. “Then scrutinize your own strategy and see where it might be lacking, so that you can continually refine your own checklist.”

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A Glimpse at the Future of Brick and Mortar

For nearly 25 years, Amazon has worked to define and evolve the concept of online commerce. And as if that wasn’t enough, Amazon Go is beginning to redefine how we think of the traditional in-store shopping experience, too. But at what cost?

The Go Shopping Experience

Amazon Go, a new convenience store concept which provides a unique shopping experience, first opened in the company headquarters in Seattle, WA. What makes these stores so distinct? They are completely cashier-less. Using a simple mobile app, customers scan a personalized barcode when entering the store, and then are able to grab what they want from a variety of sandwiches, snacks, and groceries, and then simply walk out of the store without stopping to pay at a cash register. All of this becomes possible through a series of cameras and sensors that Amazon has developed that detect what a shopper takes off the shelves, and then automatically charges their account and emails them a receipt when they leave the store.

Amazon’s plan is to have about 10 locations open by the end of 2018, about 50 locations in major cities in 2019, and as many as 3,000 total locations open by 2021. This expansion, which would make Amazon Go one of the largest convenience chains in the United States, has the potential to threaten the business of brands like 7-Eleven, Speedway, and other quick-service eateries.

But even with this digital expansion, brick and mortar stores are still an important part of the consumer experience, and Amazon isn’t the only brand making the “Go” experience happen. Zippin opened their first cashier-less convenience store in San Francisco, and a few other key players have opened up stores across China and South Korea as well. Perhaps the most important question to ask in the wake of these openings is just how brick and mortar locations are expected to keep up with the steady flow of data and customer profiles Amazon and others will build through these stores, bringing the personalized experience that Amazon shoppers have enjoyed for years into the physical world at a wider scale than ever before.

Go Stores Keep Going

Adding to the angst for traditional brick and mortar retailers is the fact that tech innovations in these stores does not stop at the convenience of grabbing what you need and walking out. Soon, the software that powers Amazon’s Go stores will be sophisticated enough to get to know each customer’s individual preferences, and make recommendations based on those purchases next time, building customer profiles that are even more important than ever.

Imagine being notified by your grocery store when your favorite brand of cheese comes on sale, or having a special sauce recommended to you the moment you pick up your steak at the butcher’s counter – these types of hyper-personal connections will soon be possible between businesses and consumers. Zippin is already developing technology that will guide customers to any item in stock.

Going Beyond Simply Cashier-Less Smart Stores

And theoretically, just because Go stores are cashier-less, doesn’t mean they don’t have any employees. It just means their employees spend more time making deeper customer connections – recommending products or helping to find merchandise, supporting an even better customer experience.

So, what does this mean for brands who thrive in the typical brick and mortar space?

With companies like Amazon opening up a new way to experience offline purchases, in a way that uses data to make every interaction smarter, existing brick and mortar retailers may be wondering how best to cement themselves in their customer’s routine, and ensure they don’t lose business. The answer is in compounding on years of quality customer experiences that online brands are just now learning to build in the real world.

The most important thing to offer your customers, outside the value of your products, is an experience that stays with them – in a good way. Luckily for most businesses, there are many ways to do this outside of dropping $1 million dollars on the hardware alone needed to open a store with Amazon Go machine vision and facial recognition.

Draw on Existing Technology

Technology adoption will continue to be a major factor in satisfying customer expectations and increasing loyalty. Things like self-order kiosks and dynamic digital signage will distinguish brands who are forward thinking from the pack, and there are a few simple things you can do today to stay ahead of the curve and at the forefront of your customer’s minds.

Harness your data – Every transaction is an opportunity to create another. When you start collecting detailed customer records, it opens the doors to countless insights that will help your brand discover new selling opportunities, and make your customers feel like VIPs.

Focus on speed of service – This doesn’t mean changing your traditional menu items. Instead, offer quicker alternatives for on-the-go customers, and add more online ordering and delivery services for ease of consumption.

Be mobile friendly – Customers want timely, content-rich experiences from brands, and SMS is a cost-effective way to reach them with personalized offers. Target your customers based on buying patterns, time of day, or even seasonal trends by sending a message directly to the phone in their pocket.

No matter what route you take, early adapters will have the advantage. Ready to learn more about creating more intelligent and personalized marketing campaigns? Mobivity can help get you there. Schedule your personal call today!

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7 Ways You Can Use Google Trends to Bolster Your SEO Efforts

If you bought a fidget spinner last year, you could attract and hold people’s attention better than a Livestrong bracelet could in the mid-2000’s. But if you bought one today, you’d be a cliche. People would most likely give you a harsh glare and mentally patronize you for being “so 2017”.

In digital media, this is exactly how your audience feels when you spit out articles about fading trends. If the story isn’t juicy anymore, they won’t care to read it. Plus, they’ll probably categorize you in the same group as their dad — outdated and embarrassing.

Fortunately, marketers have access to a powerful tool that can solve this problem. It’s called Google Trends. And along with providing you current trends to freshen up your content, it can help you rank for more keywords and boost your organic traffic.

Since a query’s search popularity is a relative measurement, it’ll change when the query’s search volume or the total number of Google searches changes.

7 Ways You Can Use Google Trends to Bolster Your SEO Efforts

1. Create and optimize content for seasonal trends.

Seasonal trends are some of the most reliable and consistent topics to cover. They provide a deep bank of articles you can write about each year.

To take advantage of the surge of searches certain keywords will attract, you can create new content or optimize existing content about these topics when their popularity peaks.

But how do you know exactly when your query’s popularity will peak and avoid missing out on a surplus of searches?

If you run a baseball blog, for instance, you know baseball fans treat Opening Day as a sacred holiday. And after plugging the keyword “Opening Day” into Google Trends, you’ll see that its search popularity peaked during the week of March 25 – 31, the week of Opening Day.

With these insights, you’ll know which specific week you should publish Opening Day content.

But if you dive deeper into the Google Trends data and set your time frame as Opening Day week, you’ll see the keyword’s popularity doesn’t peak until March 29, the exact day of Opening Day.

Now, to garner as much organic traffic as possible, you know you should publish your Opening Day content on Opening Day, instead of a few days before or after.

2. Find trending topics to cover.

Covering current events keeps your audience informed. And the more knowledgable your audience is, the better they can do their jobs. They’ll also start relying on you more for their fix of timely stories.

To find trending topics, use Google Trend’s trending search tool. It’ll show you which queries people have searched for the most during the last 24 hours. You can also filter theses stories by category, like Business, Entertainment, Health, Sci/Tech, Sports, and Top Stories.

Since there will be a lot of stories about trending topics, though, you shouldn’t just take the same angle as everyone else. You won’t be able to stand out from the crowd. So try taking a contrarian view on a topic you know most of your competitors will cover with the same point-of-view. Your unique and refreshing spin will attract more of your audience’s attention and earn their clicks.

3. Make sure popularity spikes aren’t skewing a keyword’s search volume.

The problem with monthly search volume is that it calculates the average amount of times people search for a keyword every month. This can be problematic because outliers in data can heavily skew averages.

For instance, in 1985, the average starting salary for a geography major at the University of North Carolina was well over $100,000. Even today, that’d be one of the best starting salaries for any major.

But here’s the thing — Michael Jordan, a geography major at UNC, left the university in 1984 to sign a $1 million per year contract with the Chicago Bulls. If you take Jordan out of the equation in 1985, the average starting salary for geography majors at UNC was actually around $25,000.

Popularity spikes can impact a keyword’s monthly search volume just like Michael Jordan’s lucrative contract affected the average starting salary of a geography major at UNC.

Rebecca Black, for example, who is notorious for uploading one of the most disliked music videos in the history of YouTube, Friday, has a monthly search volume of 1,900.

But if you examine the search popularity of the keyword “Rebecca Black” in Google Trends, you’ll see that a huge popularity spike in early June has actually skewed the keyword’s monthly search volume. The current amount of people searching for Rebecca Black each month is probably much lower than 1,900.

In June of 2018, Rebecca Black competed on Fox’s The Four: Battle for Stardom. After keeping a low profile for seven years, her unexpected appearance on a nationally syndicated show, hosted by musical superstars like Fergie, P-Diddy, Meghan Trainor, and DJ Khaled, naturally prompted the explosion of searches for her name during this short time frame.

But after her elimination, the search popularity for the keyword “Rebecca Black” dropped back down to normal.

Keywords with high monthly searches are more realistic and valuable if their search popularity trend is steady or increasing. With this in mind, if you want to write an article about the current whereabouts of infamous one-hit wonders, Rebecca Black might not be your best subject.

4. Gauge the demand for your product or services in specific regions, cities, and metropolitan areas.

Your product or service won’t appeal to everyone, but if you can target the people whose living situation makes it more of a necessity, you’ll be able to spend your time and resources more efficiently.

For example, if you sell outerwear, checking the popularity of the keyword “winter jackets” in a specific region, city, and metropolitan area over a certain period of time will help you understand which audiences you should target.

And after finding the locations where your keyword is most popular, you can run Google AdWords campaigns in each location or optimize keywords in your content for each audience during times of high demand.

5. Pinpoint the root cause of a dip in organic traffic.

Sometimes, if one of your blog post’s organic traffic drops, it’s not always your content’s fault. The keyword it’s ranking for could’ve lost popularity amongst your audience. To accurately determine what’s causing your post’s organic traffic to slide, Google Trends can paint a clear picture for you.

By plugging the top keywords your post ranks for into Google Trends and checking its popularity trend over time, you’ll know whether you need to update your post or whether your audience lost interest in the keywords.

For instance, if the post’s top keywords’ popularity is steady or increasing, you need to update your post with fresher and more comprehensive information. If the keywords’ popularity is decreasing, your audience lost interest in the overarching topic. In that case, there’s not much you can do to boost your post’s organic traffic.

To learn more about salvaging your Google rankings before it’s too late, check out this blog post written by one of HubSpot’s senior SEO specialists, Aja Frost.

6. Find new, relevant long-tail keywords.

With its related queries feature, Google Trends is not only a keyword research tool but also a tool for developing your entire content strategy. After plugging in your keyword, Google Trends will display the top 20 trending related queries and the 25 most popular related queries.

You can then plug these related keywords into an SEO software, like Ahrefs or SEMrush, to check their keyword difficulty, search volume, and find even more related keywords. Ultimately, this process will help you cover trending and popular topics that can attract a ton of organic traffic.

Trending Related Queries for “Storytelling”

Most Popular Related Queries for “Storytelling”

7. Determine if a topic lends itself better to video.

If a keyword’s popularity on web search dips, it doesn’t necessarily mean you need to scrap it from your entire content mix. A keyword that loses popularity on web search can actually gain popularity on YouTube search.

For instance, if you look at the Google Trends graph for “content marketing”, you’ll see its popularity on Google search has waned over the past year.

But if you plug “content marketing” into Google Trends for YouTube search, you’ll see that its popularity has climbed over the past year.

Only looking at the Google Trends graph for web search might make you think the keyword “content marketing” lost popularity in general, but its popularity just moved from Google to YouTube. In other words, “Content marketing” is still a valuable topic to cover. You should just make a video series about it, instead of writing articles about the topic.

How Ready Is Your Mobile Channel for the 2018 Holiday Shopping Season?

By Rafael Lourenco, EVP, ClearSale.

Now’s the time to make sure your store’s mobile experience and checkout are ready for the holidays. Shopify reports that more than half of all Thanksgiving 2017 e-commerce orders came from mobile devices, but cart abandonment is still higher on mobile than desktop. And CNP fraud attempts tend to increase during the holidays. How can you make your mobile site welcoming to holiday shoppers, but not fraudsters? Three key areas to focus on now are how quickly your store’s pages load, how convenient your mobile checkout process is, and how well your fraud program can handle holiday sales peaks.

Speed up your store’s page load times

In today’s m-commerce environment, simply having a responsive website is no longer enough. Mobile users expect the sites they visit to load almost immediately and they’re quick to abandon sites that don’t. Think with Google found that 40% of shoppers will leave a site that takes more than three seconds to load on their phones and nearly 80% won’t shop again with a store that provides a poor mobile experience. And that’s on a typical day.

On a peak sales day, like Black Friday, even major retailers face site slowdowns or even crashes due to heavy traffic. So now is the time to review your site’s performance, load times, and capacity to not only keep visitors from leaving before your pages load, but also to prevent crashes from sending customers to your competitors. To do this, you’ll need to talk with your IT team and your hosting service about how you can speed up your site and stay online even when a crowd of customers is visiting your store.

To get a quick snapshot of your store’s mobile page speed, Think with Google offers a Speed Scorecard and Impact Calculator. You can use the scorecard to compare your site speed to your competitors and you can see how small improvements in speed can yield more sales.

Reduce mobile cart abandonment

More people turn to their phones when it’s time to buy than ever before, which is why m-commerce is projected to have a CAGR of 24% between now and 2023. Despite this trend, the cart abandonment rate hovers around 75%, in part because many consumers give up when it’s time to check out. Review your shopping and checkout processes now to ensure they’re as friction-free as possible for mobile users.

Mobile shoppers tend to shy away from data entry on small screens whenever possible, and many are accustomed to 1-Click checkout on Amazon, which requires no data entry at all. To keep these shoppers from leaving your site and making their purchases from a competitor with a more convenient checkout process, eliminate customer registration requirements and focus on the must-have data—billing, shipping, and payment information.

Avoid holiday fraudsters and fraud-related bottlenecks

Retail e-commerce fraud is still rising, according to the 2018 LexisNexis True Cost of Fraud report, and the cost of fraud is higher for digital and physical goods sold through the mobile channel than for other retail channels. The report found that each dollar of m-commerce fraud costs digital-goods merchants $3.29 on average, compared to $2.78 per dollar of fraud for physical goods and $2.54 for retailers without a mobile channel.

Meanwhile, false declines ranged from 18% to 28% of orders, with digital goods retailers at the higher end of the range. These rejections of good orders are costly over the long-term, because many falsely declined customers won’t return. These facts are concerning year-round, but holiday sales peaks can make false declines increase if merchants don’t have enough capacity to manually review flagged orders. Overwhelmed retailers may be forced to choose between slower order screening, more completed fraud, or more false positives.

Take a look at your historical fraud rates by channel, including peak-season rates, to see how often your mobile channel has been targeted compared to your other channels. It’s also wise to review your false decline rates to see if they’ve spiked during past holiday seasons. If your mobile channel has been heavily targeted by fraudsters or has had more false declines or completed fraud during previous sales peaks, it’s time to upgrade your fraud prevention program and consider outsourcing your manual fraud review. Having outside experts take on this task during sales peaks can keep order decisions on pace while preventing fraud and reducing false declines.

By making your store easy to use on mobile devices, keeping your checkout process simple, and bolstering your peak-season fraud protection program, you can engage the growing number of consumers who prefer to shop on mobile, during the holidays and beyond. You’ll also be in a better position to fight fraud and keep your good customers year-round.


Rafael Lourenco is Executive Vice President at ClearSale, a Card-Not-Present fraud prevention operation that protects e-commerce merchants against chargebacks. The company’s flagship product, Total Guaranteed Protection, is an end-to-end outsourced fraud detection solution for online retailers. Follow on twitter at @ClearSaleUS or visit

The post How Ready Is Your Mobile Channel for the 2018 Holiday Shopping Season? appeared first on Mobile Marketing Watch.

"The Robin Hood of Algorithms": Why LinkedIn's New Feed Could Be a Game Changer for Marketers

LinkedIn announced today that it plans to overhaul its feed ranking system to help more creators get better engagement on the content they share.

The changes were spurred when the professional networking site discovered that the top 1% of content creators — also known as “power users,” or perhaps influencers — were receiving the vast majority of engagement with their posts.

Meanwhile, the remaining 98%, the site says, was “receiving less [engagement] than ever.”

Here’s how that skew in engagement happened — and how LinkedIn has changed its algorithm to address the problem.

Why LinkedIn Changed Its Feed Ranking Algorithm

Year over year, LinkedIn has experienced noticeable growth in overal engagement with posts appearing in its feed — an average increase of over 50%, the company says. 

Much of the time, that engagement results in a post going viral — that is, LinkedIn members engage with certain posts to the point where the content earns “tens of millions” of likes, comments, and reshares.

On the surface, that seems like a positive development. But, LinkedIn says, there was a problem: The engagement was not evenly distributed, and the site was “in danger of creating an economy where all the gains in viral actions accrued to the top 1% power users.”

Typically, the most popular posts on any social network tend to gain more visibility, which is what was happening to content shared by top influencers.

Emerging brands and content creators, meanwhile, were actually receiving less and less engagement on their posts.

Source: LinkedIn

Besides the obvious issue of this uneven distribution of causing the “richest” content creators on the site — the influencers who already have a large following — to become “richer,” the lack of engagement with the remaining 98% of followers was actually discouraging them from posting again in the future.

That only exacerbated the virality gap, as less content-sharing altogether from the bottom 98% would lead to more eyes on posts from top influencers.

So, LinkedIn formulated a solution.

Why Linkedin’s New Algorithm Could Be a Game-Changer for Marketers

The changes to LinkedIn’s new ranking criteria is multi-fold.

Prior to this overhaul, the feed would prioritize posts according to how likely a given viewer was to engage with it — to like, comment on, or reshare it. That model also took into account the given viewer’s network, and how likely it was to respond to this content in kind.

What was missing was how likely the creator or poster of that content was to “appreciate” the engagement. To put that discrepancy into context, LinkedIn’s Bonnie Barrilleaux and Dylan Wang — who authored the company’s announcement — explain that for major influencers within “the top 1% of creators, one more like or comment from an unknown follower may not mean much.”

For smaller or emerging content creators, however, these likes and comments go a long away. According to Barrilleaux and Wang’s findings, creators who receive 10 or more likes on their content are 17% more likely to post again in the following week. 

That’s why the feed algorithm has been modified to include signals that indicate how much value the creator will place on viewer feedback received on a post. 

“The effect is that we are redistributing a little bit of the attention in the system from the power users to the other creators, so that no one is left behind,” write Barrilleaux and Wang. “This helps ensure that the ‘small’ creators who create high-quality posts can reach out to the community that cares about them.”


Source: LinkedIn

Additionally, LinkedIn’s algorithm changes appear to be moving in a similar direction as that of Facebook, when the social media giant overhauled its News Feed to prioritize content from family and friends over that from Pages.

We’ve already covered the three pillars that LinkedIn’s new model takes into account when ranking creator content:

  1. How likely a viewer is to engage with a creator’s post
  2. How much that viewer’s network will want to see it
  3. How much the original creator will appreciate the first 10 likes of that post

But there could be a fourth, according to the figure below — which is whether or not the content creator is within the viewer’s network. 


Source: LinkedIn

It’s also possible that these moves from LinkedIn could serve as a subtle nod to the drop in Business Page engagement and reach experienced by brands on Facebook — for some, a decline of 50%. 

LinkedIn’s algorithm change — especially within the context of boosting engagement for smaller, emerging content creators — does spark the question: Is this the company’s way of giving smaller brands and figures a chance to shine on another network, where it may have lost reach on another one?

Perhaps. But more than that, says HubSpot CMO Kipp Bodnar, LinkedIn is also responding to a growing user demand for a relevant, personalized experience.

“LinkedIn’s core job is to great a valuable experience for all users. Once a news feed becomes dominated by a small subset of users, then it starts to become less valuable to the broader community,” Bodnar explains. “The company is trying to deliver more value through more personalization.”

So, what kind of impact will this have on the bigger influencers — the top 1% of content creators on LinkedIn?

According to Barrilleaux and Wang, it won’t be much, pointing back to the overall growth in engagement received by all posts in LinkedIn’s feed.

“Taking 8% of the likes away from the top 0.1% still leaves them better off than they were a year ago,” they write. “These changes just help ensure that the rising tide is lifting all the boats in a fair and equitable fashion.”

But should this trend continue, LinkedIn could move further in the direction of Facebook, and re-allocate a growing amount of post engagement from top creators to emerging ones.

“This might not be a huge impact on top creators today but I think that over time they will continue to push in this direction,” says Bodnar. “The audience for posts from top creators could continue to decrease.”

LinkedIn says it will continue to observe and optimize its algorithm as these changes take effect.

19 of the Best Examples of Mobile Website Design

Now more than ever, businesses are focusing on creating delightful mobile website experiences.

After all, Google has been heavily favoring mobile-friendly websites since 2015 when it updated its ranking algorithm in April 2015, and then started indexing mobile sites in March 2018.

And that’s crucial, seeing as there have been more Google search queries on smartphones than on desktop computers and tablets for over a year now.

Going forward, Google will only continue to raise the bar for what it considers to be mobile-friendly (including page load time) and reflect that in its algorithm updates. So if you haven’t been focusing on improving your mobile experience, you’d better prioritize it now, or your search ranking could really suffer. Additionally, HubSpot Research found that half of US consumers are going online on their phones more than on their computers or tablets.

To help inspire any mobile website design changes you’ll be making, here’s a list of 19 companies who really nailed their mobile web experience.

1. Shutterfly

Shutterfly is an online service that allows users to create photo books, personalized cards and stationary, and more. Because more and more people are taking photos and then accessing them using their smartphones, Shutterfly recognized the need to create a great mobile experience for their customers — and they delivered.

Shutterfly accomplishes two key goals on their mobile website:

  • It’s easy for users to find out information about their offerings.
  • They’re selling that information by way of beautiful imagery.

When you arrive on their mobile site, you’ll see Shutterfly’s latest promotion front and center, as well as a large finger-sized sign-in button for returning members — neither of which overpower the user experience.


Scroll down, and users will see large buttons that make it easy for users to quickly select which type of product they’re interested in. Once users click through to one of those options, they’re greeted with large photos showcasing what Shutterfly is capable of for easy browsing.


2. Google Maps

Everyone has their favorite map or directions application. Mine is Google Maps, which I use whether I’m walking, driving, biking, or taking public transportation. What’s special about their mobile website is that it’s virtually indistinguishable from their downloadable mobile app.

The screenshots below are taken of their mobile website, but if you’re familiar at all with the app, you’ll notice they look exactly the same. Not only is the appearance identical, but the mobile website has the speed and functionality of the app.



3. Typeform

Typeform is a Barcelona-based tech company with one simple mission: to “make forms awesome.” Their desktop website is really beautifully designed, greeting visitors with succinct copy, high-definition videos, relevant animations, and other, more complex design components.

But for mobile users, they recognized that complex design components like video and animations could significantly affect page load time, among other difficulties. That’s why they actually removed many of them — which decluttered the site and simplified the overall mobile experience. The mobile website is a simpler version of their desktop website, and it’s still beautifully designed.


Take note of the large buttons on their menu page — perfect for tapping with your finger on a mobile screen.


4. Etsy

Etsy is an ecommerce website where people can buy and sell vintage or handmade items. Most buyers who visit Etsy’s website are there to do one of two things: Either they’re searching for a specific item, or they’re browsing items in categories that interest them.

The mobile website caters to both types of visitors from the very beginning. When you first go to their mobile website, you’re greeted with an option to search for specific items, shops, or categories.


Immediately below the search bar are thumbnail images of trending items that showcase some of the most popular things you can buy on Etsy. Mobile users can view these trending items in a collage format, and the images are big enough for them to easily tap with their finger.


5. Adrian Zumbrunnen

This is the personal website of Adrian Zumbrunnen, a UX designer, writer, and speaker. When you visit his website, you’ll notice right away there’s something very unique about it: It’s a conversational website.

It almost looks like a text message conversation you’d normally have on your phone — including the ellipsis to show he’s “typing.” Users are given two response options at the end of every exchange, so it’s kind of like a “choose-your-own-adventure” experience.

While the mobile and desktop experience are very similar, the desktop website feels like it was made primarily for mobile — which could be the direction sites will go in the future.


And if you’d prefer not to engage in the conversation-like exchange, you can simply scroll down for details.


6. Elf on the Shelf

Elf on the Shelf is, relatively speaking, a fairly new Christmas tradition based on a children’s book. If you’re unfamiliar, the basic premise is this: The book tells the story of Santa’s scout elves, who are sent by Santa to watch over children in their homes all over the world and report back to Santa.

Along with the book, parents can purchase an elf figurine, which they’ll subtly place somewhere in their house where their kids can see it. Every night leading up to Christmas, parents move the elf to a different location around their house to “prove” to their kids that the scout elves are real and always looking over them.

When you first arrive on Elf on the Shelf’s website, you’ll see there are actually numerous types of Elf on the Shelf products you can purchase. But instead of forcing users to scroll through each product individually, the web designers package each product into a large, enticing tile describing the goal of each buyer’s journey, with the featured item displayed on the front.

You’re not buying your own elf or pup — you’re adopting it. It’s a truly empowering experience on such a small screen.


7. BuzzFeed

BuzzFeed is a news company known for it’s viral content and popular quizzes. It also happens to be one of my favorite sources of entertainment during my commute to and from work.

And where do you think I’m checking BuzzFeed during my commute? You guessed it: on my phone. BuzzFeed knows that a lot of their visitors are visiting their site on mobile, so they’ve taken great care to create a smooth experience for their on-the-go readers.

When you arrive at BuzzFeed’s mobile website, the first thing you’ll see is some of their most popular pieces of content displayed in a simple, collage-like format using large images that are easy to tap with your finger.


For users interested in specific categories, there’s a clickable menu in the top left-hand corner of the screen that lists out all the post categories.


8. Evernote

Evernote is an application that allows you to store notes, images, and web articles and then access them across all your devices. Because users tend to download the app or access the website on multiple devices including desktop computer, smartphone, and tablets, it’s essential that Evernote get the mobile experience right.

If you look at Evernote’s homepage on your desktop computer, you’ll notice how clean the design is. The value statements are short and to-the-point, and the graphics add to the brand’s positioning but don’t clutter the page.


When you look at Evernote’s mobile website, you can see they’ve kept their color palate and general brand style entirely intact. The company’s mobile website is clean, simple, and doesn’t detract at all from the value of the app. Evernote’s conversion path is obvious from the centered call-to-action: “Sign up for free.”


9. Huffington Post

The Huffington Post is a well-known news outlet that reports from everything from politics and current events to entertainment and technology. What makes their mobile website unique is that they actually alter their headlines slightly for mobile users so their content is more easily scannable.

If you compare the desktop versus mobile websites, you’ll notice that the mobile website has fewer words on the homepage. The headlines are shorter and much more digestible — perfect for someone skimming or reading on a small screen.


As with BuzzFeed, you’ll find a clickable menu in the top left-hand corner of the screen listing out all the post categories.


10. Express

Express is a clothing store that caters to young men and women. Because their audience often comes to their website to browse clothing, it’s important for their website to include big, clear images of their clothing — especially on mobile devices, when users will need to tap items on the screen with their fingers to click through for purchase information.

Express takes their mobile experience a step further than most online retail sites. If you slide your finger from left to right across an image showing a piece of clothing, the image will change so you can see the clothing in a different view. In other words, users don’t have to load another page to see multiple pictures of the same article of clothing.

Look at the image on the top right in the following two images to see how it changes when you swipe to one side:


11. Nationwide Insurance

Nationwide Insurance provides insurance and financial services. You might think a financial company would have a really complicated website, but on mobile, Nationwide Insurance nails down the simple user experience.

When you arrive on Nationwide’s mobile site, you’ll see two tabs at the top allowing you to identify as one of two types of users right away to customize your experience: Personal or Business. Or, alternatively, you can “Find an Agent” or “Find an financial advisor” to learn more information about their services.

Although limiting the experience to these two options excludes Nationwide’s more in-depth features, it makes for a much easier experience for visitors using small screens. This is a great technique to lead potential customers in the right direction if they’re not yet account-holders and are visiting the website for the first time.


12. Squaredot

Squaredot is an agency based in Dublin, Ireland that helps marketers build out their inbound marketing strategies. Their mobile website is colorful, simple, and makes for easy navigating.

What sticks out to me most is the visually pleasing color combinations and three-dimensional texture to their homepage — as well as the large clickable dots at the center of each section you can scroll to.


These dots are animated call-to-action buttons, and the tapping the ones below the home screen will produce a pop-out page with more information on Squaredot’s approach to marketing.


13. Zappos

Zappos is an online vendor for shoes and clothing known for their stellar customer service. Their top priority on mobile is to help users search easily for the items they’re looking for on their website, so they’ve put a large search bar at both the top and bottom of their mobile website to make it super easy for them.

This is what the top of their mobile site looks like:


14. ABC

ABC is a television broadcasting company known for popular shows like “The Bachelorette,” “The Rookie,” and “General Hospital.” Users visiting ABC’s desktop website are greeted with these options and more. View the network’s television schedule, check out the most recent Emmy winners, watch some of your favorite television shows, or even look at entertainment news relating to those shows.

But because nearly every household today is a multi-screen household, ABC knows its experience on a mobile device should be both simple and ready for viewing.

When you visit the ABC website on a mobile device, you’ll see a dark background for a theatre-like experience with tiles for each program you might want to stream. Users can scan through these options and click into any show they want based on genre, alphabetical order, what’s popular, and similar categories you’d also find on your TV’s streaming platform.


15. Lean Labs

Lean Labs is a marketing agency that creates engaging, responsive, and high-conversion web solutions. (They were also featured on ABC’s hit TV series Shark Tank.) The folks over there do a great job of providing a smooth experience for their mobile users, especially with regard to their design techniques and the emphasis they place on their “10x formula” — which is apparent to visitors within seconds of landing on their mobile site.

Notice how Lean Labs’s mobile website uses scale, contrast, and typeface to distinguish certain elements of their page. You can even see the subtle photo of a mountain set to the website’s background, eliciting the heights your brand can reach as a Lean Labs customer.


And, as explained above, their core “10x” formula is clearly visible and broken down into easy steps for mobile users scrolling through the homepage, with relevant icons to match.

Lean Labs mobile website with circular CTAs to learn about 10x formula

16. SAP

SAP is an enterprise software company that manages business operations and customer relations. The business enhances its mobile experience by condensing information, specifically into one important video case study, playable from the homepage on a mobile device.


SAP also combines some of their calls-to-action into sliders, whereas their desktop website has these CTAs laid out horizontally. This helps keep things simple so mobile users aren’t overwhelmed with a lot of information at once, and it also ensures none of the CTAs are too small to read.

SAP mobile website with call-to-action sliders

17. KISSmetrics

KISSmetrics provides analytics software for businesses. On their homepage, there’s a lot of information explaining what the software does along with a testimonial.

But their mobile site is displayed a little differently: On a mobile device, the information on their site is shown in a list with alternative dark and light modules. This makes it easy for users to skim the page without getting lost in text.


They’ve also made the text and fields on their forms large and easy to read:

KISSmetrics mobile website with large form fields for users to sign in

18. idig Marketing

idig Marketing is a development and communications provider. Their mobile website is laid out similarly to their desktop website, but I especially liked how they incorporated the interactive heart icons into their blog posts so users can “Like” their posts.

This mimics the “Like” heart icon in Instagram and Twitter, which is easily recognizable for mobile users familiar with those platforms.


19. IndiaMART

IndiaMART is the largest online B2B marketplace in India, and its simple category-based mobile store makes it one of the best mobile websites we’ve ever seen in the ecommerce industry.

The company’s mobile homepage puts the search bar right at the top so you can always retreat to a custom search if browsing no longer suffices to find the item you’re looking for.

But, IndiaMART makes it easy to peruse its digital aisles by sorting each item by item type, and then sub-types within each item type — a smart design move to encourage users to explore your site further. Under “Apparel & Garments,” for example, you have easily clickable tiles to check out more specific categories of clothings, such as menswear, women’s dresses, and even suits, sarees, and similar garb native to India.


Underneath IndiaMART’s browsing tiles, the company has its own trending section specifically for merchandise people are paying most attention to — similar to a trending list of news on a social media platform. Each trending category has a mobile-friendly call-to-action button allowing users to get price quotes for the product they’re interested in.


Want more information on how to optimize your business for mobile devices? Download the free kit on mobile marketing below.

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New Details Have Emerged on the Facebook Data Attack. Here's What You Need to Know.

Facebook today released new information regarding a data attack that compromised the personal data of 30 million users.

First reported on September 28 — approximately three days after the full issue was allegedly first discovered — a vulnerability in Facebook’s “View As” feature allowed hackers to gain unauthorized access to private account information for personal user accounts.

It was originally estimated that 50 million users were impacted. That number has now been lowered to 30 million.

Here’s the latest on the issue from Facebook, and how marketers should be prepared for what comes next.

The Latest Information From Facebook on the Data Attack

There were two key items in the update from Facebook today:

  1. The number of people affected: Facebook estimates that 30 millions accounts had their private data compromised, which is fewer than the original figure of 50 million.
  2. The nature of the personal data obtained by hackers.

Of the 30 million users affected by the incident, 15 million of them had two sets of information compromised: their names and their contact details. Information within the latter includes user phone numbers, email addresses, or both, depending on what each user disclosed on their profiles.

For another 14 million users, hackers gained those same two sets of information, as well as a plethora of personal details. These include:

  • Username
  • Gender
  • Locale/language
  • Relationship status
  • Religion
  • Hometown
  • Self-reported current city
  • Birthdate
  • Device types used to access Facebook
  • Education
  • Work
  • The last 10 places they checked into or were tagged in
  • Website
  • People or Pages they follow
  • Their 15 most recent searches

Users can see whether or not they were affected by the security issue here.

New York Times tech reporter Mike Isaac was one of the millions impacted back the attack, and shared the details of what affected users might see on Twitter.

Users who were likely not impacted might see this message on the aforementioned link:

Facebook said today that the FBI is investigating the attack — the latter has reportedly requested that the company not publicly discuss who might be behind it.

What Marketers and Businesses Should Know

Perhaps most troubling about the information revealed today is the nature of information scraped by hackers — particularly user search and location history.

This is far from the first time Facebook has dealt with high-profile security issues. Over the past two years, the site has been repeatedly weaponized by foreign actors in coordinated misinformation campaigns. The personal data of 87 million of its users was improperly harvested by an app developer. 

Could this latest data attack be the last straw for users?

While 60% of the users we surveyed when news of it first broke said that the breach has not caused them to stop using Facebook, or delete their accounts — these latest details might change their minds.

That number could remain steady, and we plan to measure it as news of these details continues to reach the public. But in the meantime, marketers might want to re-examine what their plans and strategies could look like with a drop in their Facebook audiences. 

According to earlier reports, Facebook Business Page engagement has dropped by an average of 50% over the past year. Combined with these latest events, some businesses might reevaluate how they use the site.

This is a developing story that we will update as more details emerge.

Using Agility as an Excuse for Indecisiveness

The following is a guest contributed post from Alani Setalsingh, a Mobile Strategist and Business Analyst at Propelics.

Agile is one of the biggest buzzwords in business today. Companies are either starting to utilize Agile methodology as a means to run their businesses or are beginning to explore how to properly “be Agile.” Agile methodology helps business groups show progress and results more quickly and effectively than in the past. Although many companies confidently claim to be Agile, after review it becomes clear that not only are they not properly implementing Agile, but in fact they are using this methodology as a way to justify indecisiveness. Companies need to understand that if a business process is working well, then the entire business may not require adjustment. Many successful companies don’t use Agile yet will continue to be successful-even when compared to Agile businesses.

Agile is often described as “a process based on iterative development, where requirements and solutions evolve through collaboration between self-organizing cross-functional teams. Agile methods or Agile processes generally promote a disciplined project management process that encourages frequent inspection and adaptation, a leadership philosophy that encourages teamwork, self-organization and accountability, a set of engineering best practices intended to allow for rapid delivery of high-quality software, and a business approach that aligns development with customer needs and company goals.” 

Agile methodology is a great option if implemented properly. But oftentimes it can lead to longer development cycles and out of scope project specifications that only complicate tasks. It’s not enough for a company to simply decide to use Agile. They must also invest in training their employees to properly understand the benefits. Companies must also be willing to try new tools, invest in training and implementation, and take the time to give the methodology a chance by starting small (versus altering the entire company). That’s not to say these companies have no chance of success once they’ve given Agile a chance and failed, but there are necessary steps and points to keep in mind if being effectively Agile is the end goal.

Though this is only a start, the following points will certainly help companies better utilize all the advantages of an Agile methodology:

Firstly, companies must be willing to try new tools specifically designed to facilitate a more Agile approach. Tools like JIRA exist to better help companies plan their projects and more effectively track things like releases, sprints, bugs and tasks.

Secondly, companies must be willing to train employees on Agile and ensure they know how to implement the lessons they have learned. Without training, people will create their own versions of agility. Sometimes these may work, but more frequently they will be time consuming and costly for the overall business.

Lastly, it is of utmost importance not to give up after your first failed agile project. Process changes take time for people to accept and fully utilize. Rather than giving up, learn from the mistakes made and work to limit these issues in the future. Granted, this is a lot easier said than done. But with the right mindset, many businesses can reap huge benefits and rewards from going Agile.


Alani Setalsingh is a Mobile Strategist and Business Analyst at Propelics. Alani earned his MBA from Suffolk University and has guided numerous Fortune 500 Companies on their internal mobile apps programs. Alani helps clients redefine their business processes to support a fertile and robust mobile environment. He is most passionate about Healthcare Mobility and all the myriad benefits it can bring to patients and caregivers alike.

The post Using Agility as an Excuse for Indecisiveness appeared first on Mobile Marketing Watch.

What is the Most Effective Tool in Mobile Marketing?

Back in the old days of marketing, there was really only a limited way of doing things. Having a website that advertised your products and services was enough to direct potential customers to you. But, as the way consumers moved about online changed – and the way digital channels opened up – there became a multitude of ways to attract customers and to try to get customers onto your website. As we tended towards mobile for how we consumed online sites, to the way online content was optimized, to the increase in social media marketing alongside our traditional marketing efforts all affected change in marketing. But, is content as important as social engagement and even responsive mobile sites? Which tactics and strategies should businesses be focusing on to attract the right audiences?

How Useful are Responsive Mobile Sites?

Responsive mobile sites should be the cornerstone of any good marketing strategy. While a solid desktop website can be professional, studies show that the number of visits on mobile between 2016 to 2017 rose from 57 per cent to 63 per cent, the mobile bounce rate dropped from 52 per cent to 47 per cent, and time spent on websites from a mobile grew from 40 per cent to 49 per cent. Responsive mobile sites not only give credibility to a business, but unresponsive sites are the fastest way to turn off potential customers. Responsive mobile sites differ from a mobile-friendly site, which simply means it looks good on mobile. Responsive mobile sites create a seamless experience for mobile users, that they would generally expect on a desktop. Easy navigation and a customer journey focused map of the site means that customers can be directed where you want them to go while also fulfilling the reason they came onto your site. The user focused environment created by the responsive website will also aid the business in its SEO efforts for optimizing the website. SEO in recent years has become crucial in how a business drums up customers. Not only is the end product of the website important, but the breadcrumbs left for customers to find the website also plays a large part in how successful it is.

How Useful is On-Site Content?

Content is one of the biggest marketing buzzwords of recent years, so it stands to reason that there is some importance to it. On-site content not only further shows a customer what your brand is about and what your key marketing messages are, but it also helps position you as an expert in your field through the blog. Infographics and blog posts can be used as references for customers and other likeminded businesses. The more you know about a topic, especially one you purport to be helping a customer with, the more likely they are to choose your business over a competitor. For example, chocolate spread brand Nutella have a segment of their website dedicated to recipes using Nutella as a key ingredient. Wink Bingo offer information on bingo terminology, how to play various styles of bingo, and other tidbits of information on their blog. Construction game brand Lego have a variety of videos on their site showing how the finished models look and how they can be used. Clothing retailer Topshop has a section of their website devoted to articles and blogs about style trends and what people should be wearing. Companies can use their on-site content for SEO purposes too, ensuring keywords that would be searched for are delivered in a way that adds meaning for the customer.

How Useful is Social Engagement?

One of the biggest coups for marketing has been social media. Social media allows marketing messages to be sent out cheaply with a potentially hugely-wide reach. With many different platforms – from Instagram for personal trainers, to Pinterest for wedding planners – businesses can ensure they are showcasing their products and services, sharing their on-site content through posts that deliver meaning and drive engagement. Social engagement can even take on a life of its own if a post goes viral or is linked up with an influencer who can help drive further engagement for the brand. Social engagement can also involve a paid element and entire campaigns can be developed with an objective in mind. These can work effectively to ensure the messages are delivered to consumers, goals are achieved, and the money spent on doing so is far less than what may have been done through more traditional methods of marketing such as print advertisements, billboards, or TV spots.

Should There Be a Holistic Approach to Marketing?

While each approach has its strengths, the only true way to ensure a strong marketing strategy is to implement all aspects. Responsive mobile websites work in tandem with referrals from social media. 61 per cent of people in the United States view social media from their mobile phone, meaning that’s where they are likely to see the link to your website. Complete the customer journey by directing them from the social media with a clever and engaging strategy to the responsive website. If both are engaging and working well enough, they should create a positive business profile in the mind of the customer. This can be furthered through the use of useful and informative content. Good uses of text and graphics, not to mention video, can ensure that any doubts potential customers may have are obliterated and they choose your business to complete their transaction.

When it comes to marketing, there is no single fix solution for a good strategy. While a responsive mobile site – and desktop site – customers get a taste for your business and your professionalism and ability to fulfill their needs. With on-site content, you can position yourself as an expert in your field and provide valuable information to keep the customer happy. With social media marketing you can disseminate your marketing messages further and wider and for little cost. Ultimately, applying all three strategies at once is the best way to create a solid and effective marketing plan.

The post What is the Most Effective Tool in Mobile Marketing? appeared first on Mobile Marketing Watch.

MWCA Wrap Up: How One Brand Drove 60% Higher Click Rates with RCS

The Mobile World Congress Americas (MWCA) event was another great success this year, with over 22,000 attendees coming out to see the newest cutting-edge technology. For us, perhaps the most exciting new technology is RCS (Rich Communication Services). The world’s first hologram conducted by Verizon was pretty cool too, but comes second to RCS for us because it didn’t quite meet our Star Wars expectations.

For those new to RCS, let’s back up. RCS is a term for rich business-to-consumer messages which, unlike SMS, are not limited to just plain text. RCS allows brands to send interactive and engaging messages to their customers, bringing a variety of experiences directly into the users’ messaging application. It hosts conversational features that were historically confined to apps, like rich media, custom branding, and allowing users to find the nearest store location or even place an order without ever leaving the messaging app.

At MWCA, our partner Subway was one of the 20 brands that demonstrated how they are successfully interacting with their customers via RCS. Carissa Ganelli, Chief Digital Officer for Subway took the stage to give the audience her perspective on the evolution of messaging, and the success Subway has seen while using RCS. Already an advocate for using SMS to increase customer loyalty, Carissa is excited about the evolution of SMS with RCS. RCS will finally give Subway the tools to practice fundamental marketing strategies with rich content in the form of images and vides of delicious subs, and simple user flows which make it easy to order and reorder food. To help this evolution to come to fruition quickly, Carissa spoke directly to the carriers like Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T, asking them to begin the process of onboarding RCS with their subscribers.

To further demonstrate the impact RCS is having on her business, Carissa shared the key highlights of the latest Subway RCS campaign on Sprint. Subway RCS subscribers had a 60% higher click rate, and 146% higher intent to purchase than SMS subscribers. Overall, the test group performed three times higher than the results she presented at the MMA CEO & CMO Summit, from the campaign Subway did with Mobivity in February of 2018.

RCS Subscribers Had a 146% Higher Intent to Purchase Than SMS Subscribers

As for us, we’re busy supporting the growing RCS ecosystem by helping to deploy the messaging service globally. Mobivity is working with Google who has now officially partnered with Samsung for additional device and carrier reach. You may remember our prediction that messaging will eventually topple apps as one of the main ways brands will communicate with their customers – and we think that time is drawing nearer!

If your brand is ready to get started with RCS and be at the forefront of business messaging innovation, Mobivity can help get you there. Learn more – schedule your personal call today!

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How Rewarded Video Ads Can Drive In-Game Purchases

The following is a guest contributed post by Fernando Saiz, CMO at Tappx.

The rewarded video ad format is adored by the mobile gaming and advertising worlds. We now finally have an ad format that satisfies the needs of advertisers, publishers and gaming audiences. Rewarded video ads provide gamers with a reward for watching the entire length of a video ad. In the mobile gaming world, this format works extremely well in mobile games. For developers, rewarded video ads offer the potential to increase in-app purchases and lengthen play session times, therefore increasing loyalty and retention. Also, they provide advertisers with advantages that stimulates higher ROI and engagement levels. Finally, many users express greater amenability for watching rewarded video ads over any other ad format.

Can rewarded video ads help drive in-game purchases?

Imagine if you’re playing a game, and you’ve just finished an end-of-level boss with a life remaining. Following this level, you watch a rewarded video ad and you’re then given an extra life. This method of non-disruptive advertising gives players the chance to extend play time, without hassle or interruption to game play. Extending the amount of time spent in a game is perhaps the single most important way players become more invested in games, thus building loyalty. This then translates to increased gaming session times and retention. As players invest more time and energy into their games, this leads to greater levels of excitement, therefore increasing the probability that they will conduct in-game purchases. Also, developers can receive a higher CPM for rewarded video ads than static ads. In addition to earning more, developers benefit from displaying ad formats that positively contribute to the overall user satisfaction within a game.

Facebook commissioned mobile games research has reported that mobile gamers are a staggering 18% more likely to conduct an in-app purchase when served a rewarded video ad, versus non-choice based advertising. See the May 2017 report here.

The key point is to build the right rewards, and to then decide when are the optimum moments to serve rewarded video ads, and balance the timing for delivery of ads during gaming sessions. The main objective is to provide gamers with a taste of all the benefits of a game, whilst earning a remnant revenue. Don’t let these ads eat into your main source of revenue, so be considerate about your content and it’s delivery times.

Constantly review your metrics and decide whether or not to deploy rewarded video ads. What’s the conversion rate from player to paid player? What’s your ARPDAU? Or what are the valuable items that remain unsold and should be promoted? Rewarded video ads can serve as a research A/B machine for testing new features and getting acceptance from your current ones.

How do Rewarded Ads benefit the Advertiser?

The key thing for advertisers to note is that users choose to engage with rewarded video ads. Therefore, the user is engaged with the video and is incentivised to complete watching the video ads. What’s more, the video is guaranteed high viewability. The developers also have the incentive to place as many rewarded video ads as is practical, such as between game levels or during loading screens. This provides the potential for repeat ads within the game, thus promoting brand recall. Some of the key benefits which rewarded video ads offer advertisers include high viewability, engagement, and completion rates, as well as increased brand recall.

Why are users excited about rewarded video ads?

In one survey done, almost 80% of gamers expressed interest for watching rewarded video ads in exchange for in-app benefits. For mobile gamers, these benefits could be in the form of in-app virtual money, extended gameplay life or other in-game assets. All of these examples enhance the quality of the user gaming experiences, which makes gamers increasingly happy. In the best case scenarios, rewarded video ads can deliver rewards that extend the user’s play-time, which benefits both the gamer and the developer.

Secondly, rewarded video ads work best when they give the user the option to engage with them. This way, the user feels that they themselves have made the decision to exchange their time for watching an ad for a reward. Game apps which provide the option to pay or watch ads receive a 10-15% boost in user reviews.

The proportion of mobile users that does conduct in-app purchases is relatively quite small, so it’s advisable to deploy rewarded video ads to convince users about the benefits and value of additional (paid) game features. A comprehensive survey conducted by Facebook reported that 71% of mobile gamers prefer to ‘pay’ for in-game content by watching video ads. The same survey reported that almost half of US gamers prefer rewarded video ad over any other ad format. This all clearly shows that rewarded video ads are hugely popular and effective, as they expose players to paid in-app features, they assist in increasing retention, LTV and more importantly, revenues.

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