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Marketers in Motion Podcast: Episode 2 – Social Media’s Next Era

February 7, 2019 Leave a comment

The social media landscape today bears little resemblance to the one many marketers are still operating in. Organic reach is dead, but in its place, we have the best tools for targeting and attribution ever devised (and growing smarter every day). Free yourself from worrying about “frequency” and “best times to post,” and learn where you should be spending your energy. To extract the full measure of benefit from social media today, legacy “owned” channels like one’s website and email marketing have renewed importance as valuable data points to feed the self-optimizing machines of PPC advertising. Listen here…

Digital Strategies to Maximize the Value of Events as a B2B Brand

August 14, 2018 Leave a comment

Even though digital communication is causing conferences and trade shows to shift their focus, gathering like-minded people together will always be an important activity – especially for B2B companies. Read more…

How Russian Election Meddling Makes Metadata More Important for Digital Marketing

May 16, 2018 Leave a comment

Metadata has always been an important – if underappreciated – part of good web design. The term refers to the lines of code written into web pages (anything from product listings to photo galleries to blog posts) that offer instructions to search engines and other platforms about how to understand, categorize, and describe the content on the page. Read more…

Preparing Your Brand for a Biometric Marketing Future

November 15, 2017 Leave a comment

In the very near future, it’s likely biometric marketing will be used to improve decisions about these three things. How do we prepare for this tech? Read more…

Are You Paying the Gold Price or the Iron Price for Social Media Marketing?

July 26, 2017 Leave a comment

The new season of everyone’s favorite fantasy political thriller is underway, and Game of Thrones has something to teach us about social media marketing: the days of organic reach are over and every brand needs to embrace some form of ad spend to be effective. Read more…

An Updated Guide to Handling Negative Facebook Reviews and Comments

January 3, 2017 Leave a comment

In the past couple of years since we first wrote about handling negative Facebook reviews and comments, a number of things have changed (for the better). One thing that hasn’t changed is the level of angst negative reviews cause brands: that post continues to be one of our most-viewed every year.

Fortunately, brands have more control over reviews and comments on their Facebook pages now. Here’s a helpful guide on how to handle negativity: Read more…

Why SourceFed is Wrong About Google and Hillary Clinton

June 10, 2016 Leave a comment

Digital publisher SourceFed is levying a pretty serious allegation at Google – namely that the search giant is consciously manipulating Google Instant search results to favor Hillary Clinton in her campaign for the Democratic nomination.

You can watch their explanation video, featuring SourceFed Host/Writer Matt Lieberman here. Update (2/2/17): Perhaps as an admission of fault (and worried about being labeled “fake news”), SourceFed has finally hidden the video on their YouTube account:

sourcefedvideo

It’s entirely possible that there’s manipulation of the election process via social media … however this video is in no way evidence of any conscious manipulation. Identifying that sort of pattern as an end user is extraordinarily difficult (which is the scary part) – and is certainly not achievable by a few people searching from a handful of devices in a Los Angeles office. Hopefully SourceFed relied on more than that – but thus far they’ve published none of their methodology. Other media outlets are now fact-checking SourceFed.

Update: Matt Cutts has weighed in and debunked the claims. The short answer is that Google doesn’t show pejorative results in Google Instant results for anyone (not just Hillary Clinton).

Here’s the problem: in order to make this claim, they would need verification from the same experiment replicated on hundreds of different computers (also browsers, devices, and time periods).

They would also need to standardize their measures, which would be nearly impossible because so many people use Google services and have individually-tailored instant search results delivered to them based on what Google knows about them through their Gmail content, YouTube comments and preferences, etc. Essentially they would need access to a random sample of hundreds (if not thousands) of users’ Google accounts to conduct searches from.

You can test this now if you’re signed into Google: search for “hillary clinton cri” and see what shows up. If Google is consciously manipulating the results, one would expect the same favorable treatment of Clinton to show up for every user (despite their individually-tailored preferences) – and yet this is not the case. My results differ:

mysearchofhillaryclintoncri

Even if a user isn’t signed in, Google (and Yahoo, Bing, Ask, etc.) still know a great deal about the user and make recommendations based on that information. For example, they know:

  • the user’s IP address (thusly location and ISP)
  • what time of day it is
  • the browser and version they’re using
  • whether they’re connecting via desktop or mobile.
  • what the user’s keystrokes were (including capitalization of proper names and how long it took to strike each key)

Even the information Google CAN’T get is a signal that Google uses to tailor searches to the user. That’s actually what we see in the SourceFed video – a Chrome browser with no user signed in:

Did Google Manipulate Search for Hillary    YouTube

Still with me? There’s more. Any results originally achieved are now going to be affected by the fact that SourceFed is influencing the results by encouraging people to test out their hypothesis (Observer Effect). Thousands of people are typing in “hillary clinton cri” and waiting (yet another signal to Google).

These are just SOME of the problems any researcher would need to overcome in order to detect this sort of bias as an end user.

The point SourceFed raises is legitimate – our digital media giants could be manipulating what we see for nefarious effect and we likely wouldn’t know about it until after the fact (if at all). However, what they’ve done is not evidence of such activity.

Update: After being rebutted by Google and SEO experts everywhere, SourceFed is doubling down on their lazy research and insisting they’re “comedians” so they get a pass on the requirement for rigorous research methodology in this response video. They admit to problems in their analysis, but claim they’re ‘ just asking questions, man’ – and they’ve left up the original video. What is particularly galling, however, is that they continue to promote the original [seriously-flawed] video – even as recently as today where it remains a pinned tweet on Twitter and a reshared post on Facebook mere minutes before this update was posted:


So “sorrynotsorry,” I guess. It’s kind of disturbing that SourceFed is owned by Discovery Communications and they tolerate this level of journalistic malpractice.