Friday, February 18, 2011

Update to Google Social Search

We received news this morning that Google have expanded their Social Search networking platform, so thought to share the news with you with the above video which explains what it is all about. It is very exciting indeed and something that we have been preparing for, for some time now.

The big factor in all this, is that Google have said that it will prioritising pages in the search results that have been shared and recommended by your network. To summarise it completely simply think "Personalised results". Note you will only get these results if you have added your connections to Google (Google Settings page) and logged into your Google Account.

There is an official post here at the Official Google Blog, a statement we like from Google is "As always, we want to help you find the most relevant answers among the billions of interconnected pages on the web".

We are making shareability and the management of connections a priority for a number of our clients right now, if you would like to talk to the Flashlight Team about managing your connections, then give the fully trained in Social Media Sales team a call and we can set up a meeting.

In the meantime the Flashlight Team would like to leave you with our new marketing phrase "Content and Connections are King".

Author: Sarah Griffiths

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

eBay Fashion and Augmented Reality

We talked about augmented reality briefly with our Geek Video of the month, and here it is again! EBay has had huge success with its mobile e-commerce and now they’re trying their luck with something new; the release of their Augmented Reality upgrade to the eBay Fashion App last month.

The app is broken down into two main components; the ‘See it now’, as shown above, allows the user to take a photo of themselves, resize different styles of sunglasses to their face and then track the movement of their head, rendering the sunglasses appropriately.

For clothing, the ‘Outfit Builder’ allows users to designate favourite pieces of clothing and save them to their virtual closet. Using a photo of themselves the users can then mix and match clothing over the top of their photo as they please. Once the outfit is created, it can then be saved and shared amongst friends via email.

EBay is by no means the first large company to put together an augmented reality app; when it comes to clothing JCPenny and H&M have both had their respective apps on the market since late 2010. However eBay's venture into the market of augmented reality is one of the most technical so far, using the more conventional approach of real time streaming and rendering.

So what advantage does an app such as this offer the company? When it comes to clothing, one of the huge drawbacks of online shopping is the inability to see how the clothes look on you; and augmented reality could be just the ticket to solve that. Of course, there’s still quite a few kinks to iron out first and augmented reality will never truly replicate going to a shop yourself and physically handling goods.

For the moment, it remains to be seen whether eBay’s venture into augmented reality really hits off, or becomes just a passing gimmick. Nonetheless, given the exponential increase in the capabilities of the average phone and an ever growing uptake in the popularity of the smartphone, I don't think it's too unlikely that we'll be seeing more and more of these augmented reality mobile apps and this makes the Flashlight team at Rocktime extremely excited.

Author: Alice Cheetham

Thursday, February 10, 2011

AdWords Trademark UK policy

We were recently contacted by a client with regards to bidding on a competitor's brand name.
Sharing the information supplied here, as may be of use to you, our readers.

In May 2008, Google stated that keywords that were disabled as a result of a trademark complaint and investigation will no longer be restricted in the UK and Ireland. Google stated that they will no longer review a term corresponding to the trademarked term as a keyword trigger. However, they stated that they will continue to perform a limited courtesy investigation of complaints regarding ad text purported to be in violation of a trademark.

The official post from Google is here: see regions where Google investigate ad text only – UK is on the list.

What this means:

The New policy launched in 2008 suggests that competitors can now ‘hijack’ your brand term keywords and collect a proportion of your brand traffic. Advertisers can also bid on their own brand term and because they will have a higher “quality score” (their page is more related to term) then it is likely that the advertiser will generally be at the top (paid) spot. (Feel free to talk to Rocktime more about Quality scoring – it basically equates to making your page relevant to a key term).

There is some dispute that even though Google permit this activity (as do Yahoo & MSN Adcentre) you may still be breaking the trademark law and this will lay with the person purchasing the adword, not the person selling it (i.e. Google).

Months after the update, Hitwise ran a report on the impact on search traffic and found that the “New Policy” increased brand bidding on brand terms by 22% amongst the UKs top brands but this was essentially just to defend the threat. They found that brand hijacking was limited.

Google will allow brands to bid on a competitors name as long as they do not mention the key term / brand term in their advert, (which would be misleading for the customer).

We noted a few affiliate comparison sites using brand names and using the term in their ads (this may or may not be with agreement with the brand). Should it not be in agreement with the brand then the brand seeing their trademark name displayed in an advert can put in a complaint about using the trademarked term, however they can’t complain about bidding on the keyword term (As mentioned above Google permit this).

Should you feel that you have grounds for complaint then you may contact Google here: Once Google has put on notice of the infringing listing, then they (Google) will be legally obligated to remove this listing (in a timely manner).

As “brand key phrase” bidding is allowed, the brand using the term may invite the other to bid on their “own key-phrase”. In theory the hijacked brand could contact a lawyer and progress this, however before this stage you could remove the keyword as an out of court “Gentleman’s agreement”.


In summary, as long as you don’t mention a trademark name in an adwords advert, then you can bid on the term. We would advice that you fairly use the trademark (if the term is trademarked!) with your search marketing and imagine impact it would have on your business if your competitor placed a bid on your trademark !! The Flashlight SEM team at Rocktime help a number of brands with management of their Paid Search Accounts across a number of search engines. Should you require assistance in Pay Per Click Management feel free to get in touch.

Author: Sarah Griffiths

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Geek Video of the month

Here at Rocktime we do like mobile apps and here's a pretty innovative one! On holiday abroad and your linguistic skills not quite up to scratch? Bust out your iPhone and let Word Lens take a look at it!

Word Lens by Quest Visual works by looking up translations from its built in dictionary and then using augmented reality to translate in real time on the screen, without the need for an internet connection.
Released in late 2010, Word Lens is still pretty young and currently there's only Spanish and English dictionaries and a few kinks that still need sorting out but maybe at some point we'll be seeing additional languages and possibly a port to Android!

Author: Alice Cheetham

Friday, February 04, 2011

Facebook Deals Launches in (UK)

We all know that Facebook is a master at ‘targeting’, be it by relationship, birthday or keyword and has built connection targeting tools like Fans, Applications, Groups and Events. It’s fair to say that Facebook is now set to dominate targeting by location.

I was encouraged to hear on Monday 31 January 2011 of the announcement that 'Facebook Deals' had launched in the UK, and thought to blog my opinion, as this year I will be very much focused on our 'Local Geo Targeted Search Campaigns'. I will seek to explain to you what this launch could mean for your business and why you should consider aligning Facebook Deals into your integrated marketing plans. Firstly I’ll provide a little introduction on what Facebook Deals is.

What is Facebook Deals?
Facebook deals is an App that lets local businesses interact with Facebook users using Facebook Places, to check in to their physical shop or venue. The Facebook user is rewarded with incentivised promotions, discounts, loyalty schemes and offers when they visit the retailer. As you can probably imagine, the benefits for repeat purchases, customer engagement and brand loyalty are vast.

In summary, if you (as a user) have a Facebook Profile and have allowed access to the Facebook Places Application, then you can start to find out more about Facebook Deals in your area/close to your location.

You will just need to look out for a little yellow or green icon when you check into venues using Facebook Places, then click on the deal and claim it. Simple!
The Facebook blog says:
You'll see a few different types of Deals: individual deals for a discount, free merchandise or other reward; friend deals where you and your friends claim an offer together; loyalty deals for being a frequent visitor to a place; and charity deals where businesses pledge to donate to a cause when you check in.

If you are a business, then you may be interested to know that 50% of merchants who used Facebook Deals (in the US from Nov 2010 to start of year) have decided to renew their offers, and with millions of people using the service, we can only imagine that this has generated a positive ROI.

I will share some key points below.

Facebook deals for local businesses
Facebook Deals has been developed as a marketing tool to not only lure customers but to repay them by for spreading the word about your business when they check in. As such, Facebook Deals needs to be treated like any aspect of an integrated marketing strategy. The actual time to physically create the deal has been nicely simplified by the clever developers at Facebook.

Other Geo Location Targeted Apps
There are already other competitors in this geolocation market, most notably FourSquare which makes a shopping experience in to a reward-based mobile game. It’s all about rewarding the customer and building a stronger brand loyalty. Naturally, not all Facebook users will take up these offers but as our experience of the internet is increasingly defined by what our friends are logging, sharing and posting, then Facebook will be able to translate that experience into the real world.

Progressive move from places to deals

Last year, we wrote about Facebook introducing Facebook Places a Facebook mobile application, which allows ‘out and about Facebook users’, with their smartphone, to let their network of friends know, in real time, about the locations they are visiting, and check their friends into those locations too. For businesses and brands that have a physical location it makes sense to target Facebook users that have a Facebook Place and offer them a deal if they come into the shop and participate in a promotion.

Once geolocation service; Facebook Places, was established, it was a logical progression to then start offering deals. These deals will become increasingly more personalised and competitive, especially when small, local businesses recognise the benefits of being found more easily, locally online and encouraging their customers to share information about themselves, in exchange for deals.

This is the real strength behind Facebook Deals; where a brand is able to really get to the core of what their customers are looking for in terms of service, interaction with the brand via social networks, relevant offers and preferred technologies. At the same time, customers that check in to the retailer have already allowed the brand full access to a wealth of personal information, directly from their Facebook profile i.e. gender, age, aspects of their social graph and shared information, which under other circumstances shoppers can be reluctant to divulge.

Facebook Deals allows retailers to get friendlier with their customers and allows the customers to share not just the pleasure of the purchased product but the whole shopping experience and with more than just the person sitting next to them. Geolocation targeting is here to stay!

Once the retailers have got their customer relations teams crunching the data on visits, successful campaigns, analytics and demographics you can be sure that the customers will be ‘rewarded’ with yet more tempting and targeted deals. Customers can expect much more than just a free cup of coffee. How about 20% off a Mazda MX for starters. Whatever the deal, retailers will now be very carefully considering Facebook Deals as part of their Integrated Marketing Plans and Mobile Strategy.

Some retailers ‘in’ on the launch include Argos, Benetton and Debenhams. Both Argos and Benetton are offering charity donations in return for checkins by customers”

There is some great advice here on how deals work for business:

Find out more about Facebook Places
For additional options: a few articles that we have bookmarked on 'Facebook Deals launching in the UK' are listed below, we particularly like the comments made by Andrew Grill from London Calling, where he talks about 'Foursquare Fatique' and what it means for the just launched Facebook Deals service in the UK.

You can also read more about Facebook Deals on the Wall Blog What does Facebook Deals mean for brands?

Facebook deals Goes Live in Europe blog from Mashable;

Facebook Deals – adding the ‘what’ to the where and who on InternetRetailing.

The Flashlight Team would be very happy to talk to you further about how you can integrate Facebook into your marketing plans, we look forward to hearing from you.

Author: Fiona Anderson