A lot has happened in 2010, and we’ll be looking at some of the year’s best tech and social media developments in the coming weeks. But first, here is look back at the entire year that was through the eyes of Google.
(Yes, there are some shameless plugs for Google’s products, but it’s a great video).
This morning a new search engine called Blekko officially launched it site. Their goal is to provide users with a clean search experience, one that has worthwhile results but not the spam. While it’s a noble idea the end result for Blekko will almost certainly be disappointing, as many search engines have tried to uproot Google (remember Cuil?) and failed.
Let’s look at the facts: Google overwhelming owns the search engine market share. The two search engines that can actually be compared with Google are Yahoo and Bing (owned by Microsoft). Is some small, awkwardly named site like Blekko really going to come in and unseat Google? It’s doubtful. In fact, if you want to argue who the next big search engine will be, take a look towards Facebook and Twitter. Both social networks have a lot of data that is very relevant to many people – and both sites are already filled with users.
However, regardless of the search success that other companies can (and will) have, unseating Google is simply not going to happen, and here are three reasons why:
1. Search should be easy: When people use search engines they are looking for information they need. They don’t want it to take up a lot of time, they just want to find what they’re looking for. When it comes to searching, familiarity is key. If you’re comfortable with the site you’re using and know how to use it, finding a result will be faster if you’re using that site. Google has a lot of users that are really comfortable with their site.
2. Gmail: When getting someone’s personal email address these days, it’s usually a surprise if they don’t have Gmail. With so many people already on Google for their email, using Google for search is a natural extension (as referenced in reason #1, it’s all about familiarity).
3. Because you can ‘Google’ it: When you’re taking with friends and can’t figure out the answer to something does anyone say “I’ll Yahoo it or Bing it?” Exactly. “I’ll Google it” is a common expression, so common that it’s in the dictionary. Google has become part of our language and is recognized globally. When it’s that automatic it’s going to be reall difficult for things to change.
This is a guest post by Anne Potts, Senior Vice President, Racepoint Group.
The mid-term elections give us a chance to take a hard look at the health of our democracy and the direction of public discourse. The consolidation of the journalistic voice brought about by media mergers and failures under the weight of an unsustainable economic model is unacceptable. It inexorably weakens our democracy.
Leave it to Google to see the chance to make change with a $5M gift to the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, a nonprofit organization focused on “advancing journalism in the digital age.” In partnership with the Knight Foundation’s News Challenge, Google’s $5M will fund projects that meet the “challenge” by addressing the critical success factors of a new approach, like expanding access to news and generating community involvement, use of mobile technologies, helping people understand the source for the news they read, and creating new economic models to sustain a journalistic enterprise.
Bringing this much Google juice to their work will be a true accelerator and will hopefully blaze a trail for a new and powerful Fourth Estate. Focusing American innovation on our media and its critical role in our Democracy – thanks, Google and Knight. We’ll be watching for the outcomes of your efforts.
Early this week Universal Pictures invited RaceTalk to attend a private screening of the documentary “Catfish.” Given our extensive coverage of social media, and particularly Facebook, the studio felt we were the perfect viewers.
The film follows a young, New York City based photographer, Yaniv “Nev” Shulman as he forms relationships with a family in Michigan. After seeing one of Nev’s photographs in the New York Sun, this Michigan family sends him a painting of his photograph, done by their eight year old daughter Abby.
Nev winds up “friending” Abby’s mother, father, sister, brother and more via Facebook and communicates with them regularly. Over the coming months they share countless emails, Facebook messages, phone calls, photos, videos, song recordings, and of course, more paintings. Eventually, Nev begins to form a romantic bond with Abby’s older sister Megan. He talks to her every day on the phone, via text, email and she sends photos and recordings of her singing songs she wrote for him.
One evening Nev discovers via the power of Google and YouTube, that Megan has been sending music recordings that are in fact stolen from an artist named Amy Karney. When he confronts her about it, she becomes frazzled and overly emotional. From this conversation on, things with Megan and the entire family begin to unravel. In an attempt to get some closure on what now feels like a mountain of lies, Nev and the two film makers (his older brother Ariel and their friend Henry) decide to drive to Ipsheming, Michigan to meet the family in person and uncover the truth.
Without spoiling the ending, because if you are an active user of Facebook you must see this movie, I will say that “Catfish” caused me to rethink my personal approach to Facebook. As a PR professional, we counsel our clients on the use of social media and the real-time web, and encourage them to share, share often, and share with complete transparency. We position social media as an easy, low cost way to reach your target audience on the websites and applications they are already using. Personally, we do the same. We use our Facebook profiles to share photos, videos, articles we enjoy, blog posts we write and more. Facebook has become so ubiquitous; we behave this way without question.
In David Kirkpatrick’s book “The Facebook Effect” he chronicles the early days of Facebook when a user was required to have a college, .edu email address to join. Mark Zuckerberg felt the university email address provided a level of authenticity that you are who you say you are. Once Facebook was opened broadly, and that requirement disappeared, you could use any email address to sign up, even a fake one.
“Catfish” demonstrates that the internet and in this case Facebook, allows users to not only share content, but to also steal content; to poach photos, videos, music and more and re-purpose it for their own use. The current explosion of content on the internet and social networks provides users with the ability to pluck content off the web and create an entire identity with stolen information.
Nev is still an active user of Facebook. His experiences have not diminished his use of the network. However, “Catfish” will force you to re-think the way you use Facebook and exactly how open you want to be with your personal information and the people you allow into your network. This film is a haunting, brutally real look at the power of social media.
Yesterday Google announced that the company would end development for Google Wave, basically putting an end to the product that we were told would change communication as we know it. It was positioned as email 2.0, a combination of Gmail, Twitter, Facebook and everything else that we love about the world of communication. Only – it would be magical. We could move conversations, bring people in and out – and if you ever had a chocolate craving, it would send you a Snickers bar right through your computer screen.
When Google Wave was launched, it lacked some very important details. Most importantly, it didn’t offer anything useful. There was not a specific use people could latch onto, and the the way it was rolled out did not allow people to have large groups of users they could easily communicate with. It also appeared so different that it came across as complex and unnatural to use.
Hopefully Google will learn from this mistake, especially as it continues to develop social products such as Google Buzz and GoogleMe, in their attempts to overtake Facebook.
In a recent blog post, Socialnomics author Erik Qualman shared updated figures on Twitter’s presence in the online search game. Twitter has officially edged out Yahoo! and Bing in number of monthly searches. See graphic below:
At the Aspen Ideas Festival, Twitter founder Biz Stone shared that Twitter now has over 800 million search queries per day, which is a 33% increase from the last time he shared search figures in April (2010).
On his blog, Qualman writes, “We have indicated all along that Twitter & Facebook would be bigger search competition for Google than Yahoo and Bing. The fact that this is coming to fruition so soon is astounding. Social search and social commerce are becoming reality and it’s a great thing to see. Keep in mind we haven’t even mention YouTube and its social search activity.”
To the people who say social media is a fad, or that these sites are unimportant for business I say, think again. Consumers are searching for your products and services on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube and if you are not there, they will find another provider.
Infographics are quickly becoming a media and public relations industry buzz word / topic. Why you ask? Two major reasons. As corporations continue to shift into their role as media companies and content curators, they’re realizing the opportunity to package interesting data to the media and consumers in new ways. More importantly, media organizations and editors are now focusing on finding new ways to engage their readership. Infographics happen to solve both of these problems by packaging data in a way that makes it both engaging and easy to read.
A few weeks ago I sat down with Sam Whitmore of Sam Whitmore’s Media Survey for Racepoint Group’s video newsletter to discuss how brands and agencies can leverage infographics and why they’re becoming the “new slide shows” for media outlets desperate for engaging content. While Sam cautioned that infographics aren’t B-roll (most media outlets like to play a role in building them), he did pass along some interesting insight into how PR practitioners and marketers can leverage the media’s interest in this new category of content.
For more insight on infographics, along with the latest news and trends in marketing, PR and communications in the technology space subscribe to Racepoint’s “The Point: Tech Edition.
As the de facto aggregator and home of what is news in the digital age, Google News plays an integral role in publicly determining the biggest news of the day, hour and minute. For publicists, marketers and brands, it’s also a public viewing area for observing and measuring brand mentions, message penetration, etc. For most stories, a Google News’ alert is the first sign that a piece has gone live.
Those alerts and the homepage layout got a little more personal today, with Google launching “News for You.” News for You allows you to filter and dictate the stream of news headlines you see, based on your interests. Think of it as your Facebook stream and the ability Facebook gives you to tailor the “status updates” and posts you receive from friends. To improve the personalization of the news stream Google is providing an “Edit personalization” box, which allows you to specify your interest in different news categories — Business, Health, Entertainment, Sci-Tech, etc.
In addition to those personalization features, Google is also adding functionality today to share story clusters with other people via email, Buzz, Google Reader, Facebook and Twitter. These news clusters are common around big news and of course product launches, and gives you the ability to quickly see different headlines and views on the same story (like techmeme). After a few years of copying and pasting these news clusters in sharing with colleagues and clients, the addition is music to my ears. To do so today, you can simply select the drop-down menu marked by an arrow on the top-right of each story cluster.
Today Google has added a new homepage feature – allowing users to chose or upload their own background images for the home page. Users were already able to pick their own themes for Gmail, iGoogle and other Google platforms, but now the main page will be customized as well.
Here is a look at how users will be greeted:
Here is one of Google’s background options:
And my customized home page with a background image of Bryce Canyon in Utah.
For years now, start-ups and technology disruptors have been trying to change the television viewing experience. Mark Cuban was hypothesizing about the death of channels, with the introduction of Internet TV in the United States in 2005. However, other than a lot of visions and aspirations the market hasn’t really caught on. Change you see, doesn’t really apply to the television industry. After the “Golden Days” of television that saw a man walk on the moon the industry has been set in decades of stodginess with little or no change — innovation shifting to bigger and better things, with all eyes eventually falling on the Internet.
However, with the introduction of Google TV today, which joins the likes of Apple, AT&T and Microsoft in trying to champion Internet Protocol Television(IPTV), there may finally be enough momentum to trigger the Internet to TV avalanche. An avalanche that some analysts believe will lead to million global IPTV subscribers by 2013.
The innovation desperately needed in the television industry is replication of the Internet innovation in search and discovery that has occurred over the last decade. And, there’s probably no better company to replicate that than Google. With more video content and channels available than ever before before, watching and searching for video content between siloed channels, cable and satellite operators just doesn’t make sense. It’s a closed structure that would be like searching and enjoying the Internet without, well, Google.
Of course the introduction of this type of technology on pre-boxed televisions from Sony and others could also mean the holy grail of television advertising, which Google is really interested in. Advertisers have been seeking and gaining access to millions of consumers shifting to the Web to enjoy video content and technologies including personalization and speech-to-text solutions have enabled them to target these consumers with targeted advertorial better than they ever could through televisions. If “Googling” goes to the tube, these technologies and Google’s own AdWords’ system will be right behind it.