This is the fourth episode of our brand new weekly show, ‘This Week In Organic’, the weekly show that debates the ramifications of the latest SEO and content marketing news.
In this episode, among other things we talk about whether ‘right to be forgotten’ should be forgotten, whether native advertising an acceptable form of traffic generation and whether or not Google should be scared of Apple’s foray into app content search. Our host, David Bain is joined by Grant Whiteside from Ambergreen Internet Marketing, Oren Greenberg from Kurve and Jonny Ross from Jonny Ross Consulting.
DAVID BAIN: Should ‘right to be forgotten’ be forgotten? Is native advertising an acceptable form of traffic generation? And should Google be scared of Apple’s foray into app content search? All that and more in This Week in Organic, Episode Number Four.
Broadcasting live from London, welcome to This Week in Organic, the weekly show that debates the ramifications of the latest SEO and content marketing news. Sign up to watch the next show live at www.thisweekinorganic.com.
Hello and welcome. I’m David Bain and each week I’ll be joined by some knowledgeable, opinionated folks to discuss the latest happenings in anything that impacts organic traffic. As for you, dear viewer, get involved too – we’d love to hear your opinion too. So just use the hashtag #TWIO on Twitter, and if you’re watching live, your thoughts will magically appear in the chat box to my left-hand side.
So let’s find out more about today’s guests, where they’re from and what’s caught their attention this week. So starting off with Jonny.
JONNY ROSS: Hello. Hi everyone. Jonny Ross from Jonny Ross Consultancy based up in Leeds in the UK. And I think this week the thing that’s caught my attention is video and how Twitter are looking at auto-playing video as you scroll down timelines, and also how everything is moving to https and is that good or bad, so looking forward to chatting about that.
DAVID BAIN: Interesting stuff. Okay, thanks Jonny. And moving onto Oren.
OREN GREENBERG: I’m Oren. I’m the managing director or Kurve, a digital marketing agency based in East London. That’s quite curious around Apple versus Google and the app search that’s going on now and the Apple/Google words discussing that up there. And then also some of the native advertising that’s going on. That’s quite interesting as well, some of the input that’s come about from people in the UK and some of their feelings around native and their annoyance with it.
DAVID BAIN: Lots to talk about there. Let’s hear from Grant.
GRANT WHITESIDE: Hi, my name’s Grant Whiteside from Ambergreen. They’re based up in Edinburgh. We’re a full-service digital marketing agency, opened in 2001. What’s interesting is https stuff, watching on Reddit, and a lot of people moving to that secure space. And again yeah, the Apple iOS 9, there is app war and some of the potential stuff that’s going on with that as well, yeah. There’s been lots of interesting stuff that have happened this week.
DAVID BAIN: Great. Well you mentioned https and Reddit there, so let’s start off with that. So Reddit is moving to https and Wikipedia are adopting https and Matt Cutts also tweeted, ‘Good time to see if you can go https’ too. But is it a good time for every site to go https? So Grant, let’s start off with yourself. What’s your opinion on that one?
GRANT WHITESIDE: Eventually it makes sense that everybody will actually go that way. Obviously over the past few years we’ve seen different types of website move to https faster than others, so people in the finance industry and some of the gambling sites such as casino, they’ve moved and seen fantastic results. People have moved into that space and seen better organic search engine results, especially for some of the types of websites where you’ve got a smaller number of pages to engage with. So if you only have one sign-up page on a finance website, these pages have been very successful and most of those people picked https. Possibly less so for sports websites that have lots and lots of pages. And also travel and retail I don’t think quite have to go there yet with them, but for the small amount of sectors that use https and have used it for their own gain, we’ve seen some great search engine positioning changes.
DAVID BAIN: Okay. Oren, you’ve recently relaunched the Kurve website. Did you consider going https with that or was that not really in your thought process?
OREN GREENBERG: I don’t think it’s really as prominent for a services-based websites. I think there was this debate around https and security because we’re using house phone and content and I think it just integrates a bit nicer. I think there is obviously a ranking improvement in the Google algorithm but I think even Matt Cutts kind of claimed that the time had been stuck August 2014, he said that it’s going to help ranking but it’s still a minimum factor.
But when you’re thinking about if you’re operating in a competitive space, as an agency and for some of our clients, really any competitive advantage that can help you get ranking, that’s going to be a very tangible result in terms of revenue and profitability, right? So I think if it’s competitive sector and your ranking’s important, you want to go https. I also think that when you think about ecommerce websites or when there’s a transactional element to the website, then https probably helps your conversion rate optimisation. I think it makes users feel more secure. So I think there’s a perception. If progressively more websites get onto https, and you’re not https it’s, ‘Well why is this website not secure?’ It hampers the credibility of the website. So I think it’s really important to think about how users are going to perceive this change as well if a lot of the websites are going to start migrating to this way of operating.
DAVID BAIN: Yeah, that’s a good point. And there’s different types of https as well and different browser support of that, and it’ll be interesting to see how browsers change how they actually display the fact that a website is https and to what degree and how users, as you say, interpret that as well.
But also what we’re seeing at the moment is that the search results are showing more https, but is that because Google are more likely to use that as a ranking factor or is that simply because more sites are moving towards that? Because you’ve got Wikipedia that have gone there fairly recently and you’ve had a fairly big flux in the search results in the past couple of days as well, and it’s quite hard to pinpoint if a mass of sites suddenly goes to https if that’s the reason behind that sudden increase in https results or if it’s more to do with Google. So that’s more of a data scientist question, I reckon, but Jonny, have you got many clients that are using https and what’s you opinion in terms of the move towards that?
JONNY ROSS: Yeah, I have to agree with what Oren said. There is a move and the majority of my clients are very much focused on organic results and how to get a competitive edge in Google, and with Google making it very clear that it is a signal, however strong it is, it suggests that over a period of time that’s only going to increase. So to have that competitive edge, the sooner that you get on board with it the better, I think.
And then I think the other side of the coin, again it links to what Oren was talking about with regard to trust and conversion rate. I think there’s a generational thing, that I think there will be a certain generation that just expect a padlock next to a website and if they don’t see that then there could be some kind of question over it.
I was very sceptical when Google first introduced this, especially seeing that they sell SLL certificates.[laughter]
OREN GREENBERG: Like everything else that they sell.
JONNY ROSS: I was really sceptical. Putting that aside, they do want a better web, don’t they? They want a more secure web.
GRANT WHITESIDE: Yeah, they do.
OREN GREENBERG: Well there is a not provided in GA benefit as well to think about.
JONNY ROSS: Yes, yes, yes. Absolutely. And so I think it’s the right move and I think that whether you’re transactional or not, I think that for the cost of it – because it’s not expensive to get an SLL certificate – it’s really not expensive to get it installed, and so really there are no downsides and there are only potential benefits.
DAVID BAIN: It used to be that it was perceived as being a little bit of a negative, that https could slow down the site slightly. Is that a concern at all now or is that not a valid concern anymore?
GRANT WHITESIDE: To be honest, I think that the biggest problem will be that if everyone goes https, you’re going to see more watched migrations than ever before because a lot of websites are going to start changing website addresses around, things like that as well. So there will be a time about when you do these things. Lots of people are also looking at the domains and other areas and thinking, ‘Will I go for the gtld? At what point are we going to do this transition to maybe a generic top-level menu and also do the https thing as well?’ But they’ve just moved as well, haven’t they? Or they’re right in the process of doing this, so all the pages are going to be secure as well. So it will become the norm. And as I say, last year the first people we saw major changes in ranking was pretty much casino, bingo, finance, places that need that secure area. It will become the norm, I’m sure, like everybody else. Whether it has to be is entirely personal.
DAVID BAIN: I mentioned at the top of the show that Matt Cutts has obviously tweeted recently about it and trying to encourage people to move that way, but as a response to that tweet a few people were saying, ‘Look, if I change my url as you mention, Grant, that’s probably going to make it difficult to actually maintain the results that I’ve got in search engines and it’s probably going to have a negative impact for a period of time. Not a predictable period of time either.’ Can you foresee a time where changing from http to https won’t impact existing organic search results?
JONNY ROSS: I’m not sure it impacts right now. I think as long as you do it correctly and as long as you are very conscious and aware of 301 pages and the way you change your setting in Google Webmaster Tools. As long as you follow the right steps, I don’t believe there’s any impact whatsoever. I think there’s a major risk. I think there’s a massive risk and I think just like changing a domain name, I think if it’s not done correctly – and unfortunately a lot of agencies don’t do it correctly – I think there is a major risk. But if done correctly, I don’t believe there’s any risk whatsoever.
DAVID BAIN: Yeah.
OREN GREENBERG: I think it’s a cost benefit analysis that needs to be done. How costly is it to actually make this transition in terms of the service security certificate, buying it, doing 301 redirects, getting your developer to recode the pages, making sure it’s all working smoothly, versus is search engine ranking particularly important to your business? ‘Cause not every website’s dependent on organic search. If it’s a B2B website, it’s much more difficult. So I think it would be not to make a gut decision, ‘https is a trend. I have to do it ‘cause Google’s doing it, Wikipedia’s doing it, everyone else is doing it.’ I think it’s, ‘Is it cost-effective for me as a business to do it and does the benefit outweigh the cost?’ There needs to be more consideration. Because what can go wrong, as Jonny very aptly said, can be catastrophic for a website. So you need to weight it up and look into it more thoroughly and shooting from the hip.
DAVID BAIN: But if you’re, say, an agency or a consultancy and you don’t actually sell things on your website, that’s perhaps something you can weigh up. But surely if you’re a transactional website, loads of webpages, an ecommerce website, does that not mean that at some point in the future you’re going to have to move to https, so you’re probably better off planning it in the soon coming future, rather than leaving it too long?
OREN GREENBERG: You should have already been on https if you have that website.[laughter]
You’re a bit behind the times, I think. Because the most serious businesses now that are transactional, they’re going to be https.
JONNY ROSS: I think Oren’s right but I think at the same time there’s hundreds of thousands of small to medium-sized ecommerce sites that just are not at all. Because they’re using third party gateways, they don’t believe they need to. But at the same time, if you look at the blue chips and the well-known brands, they’ve be absolutely behind the times if they weren’t, but I think there is a massive segment that just have never considered it.
DAVID BAIN: We’ve got Stephanie Katcher on Twitter tweeting about our conversation on https there, so thanks for that, Stephanie. So if you’re on Twitter, use the hashtag #TWIO and maybe give you a shout-out in the show. But let’s move onto the second topic.
So Apple’s iOS 9. When a user performs a search, Apple will be able to find content within the apps that a user installs and pull that content to the device search results. So potentially a massive move to keep users within the Apple ecosystem, perhaps. So should Google be scared? What about you, Grant? Should Google be scared with that?
GRANT WHITESIDE: Quietly, yes. They should. For a number of reasons. And it’s more about that whole browser app war that’s been sitting on the backburner for quite a little while, and the sheer fact that you’ve probably got iOS ad war and iOS mobile blocker that’s slowly but surely beginning to control some of the revenues that when adverts are getting shown, obviously the more people that use native apps, means to say that they have far more control over what they can show and what they can’t at that moment in time.
And let’s face it – Apple haven’t had the penetration it should have within the search market compared to the size of the device market that they have, so the sheer fact that they’ve actually got something that is searchable within apps just shows you where we are with Apple optimisation. We’re still literally at the very, very beginning of it and more and more will be done with this. And this is just like deep site search, so it’s going to be deep app search, and we’ve just scratched the surface of this. I’m sure Google will get on-board but they should be wary of what’s going on at this moment in time.
DAVID BAIN: So Jonny, Microsoft were the software kings in the ‘80s and ‘90s and no one thought their empire would be toppled, but I guess not keeping an eye on the internet had a dramatic impact on their business. Have Google made a play into the app field a little bit too slowly compared with Apple? Should they be concerned about how Apple are performing in terms of integrating search into their app store or their iPhone devices?
JONNY ROSS: You could say the same for Google trying to integrate into social media. They’ve not managed to achieve that either, have they?
I don’t know about this one. I think yes, I think Google have a major issue. There’s more and more push away from Google with different browsers and different phones. But I don’t think there’s that big a concern because I think depending on what you’re searching for on a phone, if you’re on an iPhone then I think there’s still that instinct to go to use Google. And I don’t know what the market share is but even with regard to Apple Maps, I think there’s still an instinct for people to want to use Google Maps more than Apple Maps. I don’t know if there’s some stats on there.
This isn’t a big area for me because I don’t do a lot of app work at all, but my gut reaction is that in answer to your question, yes they are too late and the same is said for social media, but at the same time I think people love Google and will continue to go to Google for search, and I can’t imagine using Apple search and getting some of the results that I want. Because we’ve not got apps for everything. We’ve got apps that help us do things but not necessarily for searching things across the web.
DAVID BAIN: So Oren, you’ve got a background in SEO and content marketing. Do you see yourself moving towards offering app content optimisation services? Or is that something that isn’t likely to be a common service?
OREN GREENBERG: I think what’s interesting is that the question fundamentally is looking at how users use mobile devices with search. So if you think about it, if you actually look at some of the data, it’s quite interesting that Google, they released their paper on their Path to Purchase, and you find that on the path to purchase, when people actually evaluate to buy something on a mobile device, 48% of them actually start on Google search. Only about 20% of them start on the apps.
Now even though you’re saying Google’s still very dominant there, it’s very probably that that 20% is going to grow once it can integrate to the apps. But if you look at app usage, that’s quite interesting because the app usage on mobile phone, 89% of mobile phones are actually using apps. Browsing websites on mobile is quite minimal, so therefore searching is a much smaller need when people are interacting with a mobile phone.
But what people are using on their phone is really interesting. It’s mostly going to be games, it’s mostly going to be social. So what people are engaging with, and therefore what they’re going to be searching for, is going to be different when they’re thinking about using Google and searching on a search engine versus when they’re going to b searching for content in a particular application.
Now I think as there’s more content that’s pushed out, if the apps are really clever and they’re very usable and the user experience will be superior on these apps compared to using a search engine, then actually I think it can be a really big concern, because already app usage is so large.
So I think it’s still not quite there yet because users aren’t really engaging…they just don’t engage transactionally in the same way.
Also if you look at conversion rates on mobile, conversion rates on shopping on mobile, it’s far lower than when they’re using a tablet or when they’re using a laptop. So people’s intent is different, the way they engage with the search is different, they way they use apps is different and the way they perceive search is different. So it’s not really a like-for-like comparison. But I think there is still strong usage and I think it is a risk for Google, yeah.
DAVID BAIN: So Oren, I can see your iPhone headphones there, but Jonny and Grant, are you both iPhone users as well?
GRANT WHITESIDE: I was going to say, with Facebook, 73% of all the revenues come from mobile phone usage and the vast amount of that comes through their app, not through a website. So there’s a classic example of how people just use the Facebook app on their mobile phone, normally as they talk and that’s the predominant way of how they actually engage with Facebook.
We’re just really starting to scratch the surface of how we actually use mobile phones and ecommerce, just in the same way that if I go back to how we used search engines and desktops fifteen or sixteen years ago, I think a lot can and will change in that period of time, matched to the fact that where Facebook actually makes its money from, as in that device, a mobile phone, the vast majority of that coming through an app could be a model that Google should be aware of, that people don’t necessarily have to use Microsoft to engage with this in the first place. And as long as we’ve got native apps growing in size and magnitude, then they should be worried, yes. I’m sure they’ll do something about it.
DAVID BAIN: I’m sure they will. Watch this space, yeah.
JONNY ROSS: Does anyone know the stats on, just as an example, something like Apple Maps and Google Maps on the iPhone?
DAVID BAIN: I don’t know that specifically. We were talking about that last week, actually, in This Week in Organic last week. We were talking about the fact that we all had iPhones but we all used Google Maps.
JONNY ROSS: Of course.
DAVID BAIN: Exactly. So as far as I’m aware, the vast majority of people use Google Maps.
JONNY ROSS: Or is it potentially like us saying we never click a pay-per-click advert?[laughter]
GRANT WHITESIDE: Only for you, Jonny. We only click your ads!
JONNY ROSS: Because supposedly, every single person, when you ask then, never clicks a pay-per-click advert. But anyway…
DAVID BAIN: Okay. Well have any of you clicked an advert on Twitter?
GRANT WHITESIDE: No. No.
JONNY ROSS: Um. I possibly have.
OREN GREENBERG: But it’s native so we don’t know, you know?
DAVID BAIN: Well Twitter have announced that they’re going to auto-play native Vine annotated videos and I’ve already read an article in The Telegraph entitled ‘How to turn off Twitter’s annoying new auto-play feature’. But is video auto-play good for user experience or an annoying, unwanted distraction? Is anyone concerned that their whole Twitter experience will die slowly over the next twelve months, two years maybe or can they actually keep the current experience and also incorporate video as well? What are your thoughts, Oren, on that one?
OREN GREENBERG: It’s very interesting because if you think about how Twitter developed, when Twitter first came out I didn’t believe it was going to take off. I was one of those who made that fatal mistake. And the short form and speed of it is really what lends to its usability. It’s very quick information, it’s very rapid, it’s short, it’s very digestible. But suddenly when you start introducing auto-play, it starts to get cloggy.
Also for the users, think about their data allowance. Not everyone is on an unlimited plan. Think about connectivity. Sometimes they’re not in such a good area to connect. I can see it as being a sloggy, cumbersome experiences. It seems like it’s a Silicone Valley thought, where everyone in Silicone Valley is super-connected in fibre optic. I think in reality, when you think about mobile usage, people are moving around and engaging with it, I see it as kind of cumbersome, I see it as quite difficult. But I see that video can have higher engagement because we are visual creatures. I think it will increase and I think commercially in terms of businesses, it will be a viable, effective form of marketing that can’t be ignored. I think the form of video for Twitter will be different from the form of video on other channels. So it will create its own ecosystem and own specialists that will have its own air because it’s undeniable how active Twitter is in terms of its user base.
DAVID BAIN: It’s also interesting that Twitter are only doing native Vine animated GIFs at the moment because a lot of YouTube videos are shared on Twitter. But if they started auto-playing, perhaps that might drive people towards YouTube, so perhaps it could be a way of growing Twitter’s native video player. But of course by about 2020, about 55% of web use is reckoned to be video. So video’s going to be a massive place. But is there really a place on Twitter for video? What are your thoughts on that, Jonny?
JONNY ROSS: Well, interesting stat you just gave, ‘cause Cisco are saying that by 2017 that 80% of internet traffic’s going to be video. Video, I think, is really important. I think everyone ultimately engages in video far more than images or text but I think at the same time, video tends to be people’s Achilles’s Heel because there are a lot of people that don’t like being on camera, there are a lot of people that put a lot of barriers in place with regards to the quality of the video and so therefore think that they can only do video if they’re spending a lot of money on the quality of it.
I think that the move by Twitter is the right move. I very much like looking at people, watching what people do and how people use things, and even if I’m just on the train or a bus or I’m just in a social circle, and I’m looking and constantly, the majority of people are looking at video, whether it be on YouTube, whether it be Facebook. I’ve got friends that are constantly scrolling down Facebook and all they’re doing is watching video after video after video. And so I think it’s the right move. I think that it’s possibly a bit too late for Twitter because recently I’ve heard people saying that they’re bored of Twitter. And so I think that I’m quite pro it, really. And I think more and more businesses need to start doing video. Especially when you’ve got the likes of app like…even Google Hangouts is live video conference. We’ve also got things like Periscope and Meerkat, where you can very easily and quickly stream live video, and there’s massive uses for that, not just for business and fun, but there’s all sorts of different uses. So yeah, I’m quite passionate about video.
DAVID BAIN: And what about you, Grant? Because I notice that you tweet from your @ambergreen_says Twitter handle. So you don’t, as far as I’m aware, tweet from your own personal name.
GRANT WHITESIDE: No I don’t, no.
DAVID BAIN: So do you not like Twitter that much?
GRANT WHITESIDE: I don’t use it in the slightest unless it’s for work. I’ve done all sorts of things over the years. A long time ago I did do some stuff for Twitter, not when it was an advertising platform, and I got lots of people to follow me and I turned it into a soap opera and sort of realised at that point there that you could make up any nonsense and people will actually follow you. So for my own personal use I put it to bed and I only ever use it just sporadically.
But as far as video goes, it’s ever-present, it’s a ubiquitous format, it’s not going to go away and it’s not going to go away because it works and it generates all sorts of revenues for companies.
DAVID BAIN: So the fact that Twitter are obviously launching or have launched Periscope, their video app, might that not tempt you back to Twitter?
GRANT WHITESIDE: Maybe. Maybe yes, maybe no, but we’re also at the point where we might actually get to the point – this almost goes back to the conversation we had beforehand – we might even get to the point where people are willing to pay a premium not to see video ads.
DAVID BAIN: Mm.
GRANT WHITESIDE: Why not? In the exact same way when Spotify came out. ‘This is brilliant!’ then all of a sudden there’s just advert after advert after advert and all you wanted to do was either go and subscribe to it or go and join up or something, pay your monies so you don’t have to hear all those adverts. We could actually get to this point where there are so many video feeds and so much video adverts coming through that you might actually pay a premium just not to see them.
DAVID BAIN: I reckon it comes back to the discussion that we were having last week which was about how Twitter are actually monetising their offering and perhaps they’re not doing so well at the moment and they’re struggling with that a little bit.
GRANT WHITESIDE: Yeah, that’s true. Yeah, they probably are, to a certain extent. And it’s interesting to see what’s going to happen. I can imagine if you are that Twitter start who has millions of followers, the fact of being able to use video is just going to be even more effective for you as a communication tool.
DAVID BAIN: Yeah. It depends on your personality, whether you latch onto the social network or the communication style that you’re most comfortable with individually, I guess.
GRANT WHITESIDE: I’d go along with that.
DAVID BAIN: Okay, well coming up we’re going to be talking about Google Trends, ‘right to be forgotten’ and native ads.
But first of all we’ve got a few shout-outs. So when you sign up to watch This Week in Organic live, you’re encouraged to socially share the show and in return, we give you a shout-out, so shout-outs this week to Stephanie from www.wishexpress.com, Fred from www.paulahackstudios.com and Fred from www.coloradotech.edu. So I’m not sure if it’s the same Fred but Fred, Fred, Stephanie, thank you so much for the social shares – much appreciated.
But moving onto the next topic, which is with Google Trends, you can now analyse which stories have broken in the last hour and how popular they are in terms of Google search volume. Well why are Google doing this and what benefit could this have for businesses? So Grant, do you use Google Trends on a regular basis?
GRANT WHITESIDE: Yes. Yes I do. And I love what they’ve done there because it’s better than before. Why they’ve done is probably because it’s more relevant to the people that actually use that service. I’m so impressed. Obviously if you were a journalist or something like that and you wanted to look for any up-to-date news, it’s a nice way of doing it. It’s a nice format for being able to find out who’s talking about what and where as well. And I can imagine it’ll get better as Google now manages to reach other areas. So I can imagine the time very shortly we’ll be able to actually look at these trends and from Edinburgh to Birmingham to London and possibly some sort of local option on this as well.
Great for journalists, great for researchers, keeps you up-to-date and makes good news more relevant than it has been for a long time as well. I actually really like it.
DAVID BAIN: So Oren, Google have a high-end analytic service. Can you see the Google Trends service also offering a high-end service that’s paid for or is there any other reason behind them wanting to do this?
OREN GREENBERG: That’s a very creative question. I just happened to talk to a digital marketing manager yesterday and he said that the CMO was using Google Trends to convince the board to spend more money on TV advertising, and I think it’s so interesting that we’re using Google Trends every day as marketeers but when you think about an over £10million marketing budget that was signed off because this guy pulled some stuff off Google trends. So it has some massive potential and I think you’ve hit something on the head there, David, with your question.
I think obviously the granularity of the data and the support that you get from Google at the enterprise level solution for GA, I think you can potentially integrate deeper insights from Google Trends and I think they do have, if you think about it, one of the most robust tools for market research available. I mean, if you look at the Google Keyword Tool for AdWords, even though I think everyone who’s used it can agree that’s it a bit funky with its data, people would be willing to pay a premium for the data if it was accurate. And I think that Google Trends integrating that is very valuable.
I think the real-time, however, I think is very interesting. I think that when you think about the site speed algorithm update, when you think about mobile usage, when you think about how you’ve got this auto-fill with the search in Google as well now, and thinking about specific updates that come into it, speed is really critical to the user, and I think that Google’s update is much more focused on providing better data and I think that’s why Google is such an exceptional company. It’s because even though they’re a commercial animal, their focus on the user is always paramount and that’s always the centre of the business. I think this is really about the user but I think the commercial opportunities will be a symptom of that innovation. Yeah, I think it’s fantastic. I think it’s great that they did it.
I think for businesses it’s interesting to think about and to see how businesses are going to capitalise on it and I think if you can get a real-time insight on a trend, you have a real opportunity to do something in marketing which is immediate. You know, if you’re quick to respond to a trend that’s arising and you’re on top of that and it’s very pertinent to you, you could do something innovative and interesting and I’m very interested to see what kind of innovation or creativity businesses leverage to use this platform to help them grow.
DAVID BAIN: So Jonny, would you pay money for an enhanced version of Google Trends?
JONNY ROSS: Well, is that what this about, though? They’ve not announced that they’re monetising it, have they?
DAVID BAIN: No, they haven’t. I’m just throwing possibilities into the mix.
JONNY ROSS: I think that all data is very valuable. I’m not sure how I see, for example, SMEs using that data. I think it’s for big budgets but I think with big budgets it’s extremely valuable. I think that this has sort of turned on its head a bit really because they announced recently that with regard to Analytics, they’re wanting to try and integrate offline advertising and the effect that has inside on website and integrate that with Analytics. So for example, TV advertising, like you were talking about, Oren, if there was an advert on telly and then suddenly that drives a tonne of people to do a Google search, drives traffic to a website, Google are quite keen – which is surprising – to show that data in Google Analytics. And I think Google Trends is to try to get across the fact that they are working with real-time data and that’s going to be very much available in Google Analytics. So I think that’s where this project has come from.
But then at the same time I think it does give massive advantages to companies with money, with budget, to be able to jump on things and to be able to do things. And I think it’s an interesting space and I guess the answer to your question is yes, if it was appropriate for my company, I’d absolutely be paying for that data.
DAVID BAIN: Mm. I mean, one thing I was thinking is it gives content producers an excellent tool to actually research what’s being discussed at the moment, just in the last few moments, and then take a different angle on that content and leverage what’s being discussed at the moment and hopefully ride that wave in social media and drive more people back to their content.
JONNY ROSS: But to be able to do that, though, you’ve got to have the time and the resource, and so depending on the size of the business as to whether you can jump onto that or not.
DAVID BAIN: Do you agree, Oren? Do you think that small businesses can leverage it or do you think it’s more advantageous for larger businesses?
OREN GREENBERG: Mm. I think it is definitely more advantageous for larger businesses in terms of the value of the data. I think because really if you think about having statistically significant enough data, that’s only going to be pertinent to trends that are quite big, and obviously small businesses have a much harder time making noise in the marketplace, regardless of whether or not a trend is popular. So if it’s really pertinent to their business, especially if they’re a niche business, it’s going to be very hard for them to do anything meaningful with that.
But that’s not to say that they can’t. Just as a random example off the top of my head, even if it’s a business informing its customers of a trend that’s relevant to that business, that has already added value to that customer. It’s shown the customers that that business is interested and is aware of what’s going on and they are digitally savvy. And I think the crux of it is how digitally savvy is the business and creative with its ability to leverage that data?
And that was my point before. I’m very curious to see how people more creative than I come up with really great ideas to leverage it, and I’m sure there isn’t a shortage of possibilities with it. And I never believe that resource is a limitation. I believe that resource is always an excuse for lack of creativity. However, when you don’t have a marketing budget, it’s very easy to say that. It depends on your prior experience.
I think with Google Trends they can leverage it and it doesn’t take a lot of time to do, but they have to have the dedicated focus and effort and time to do it, and in that sense they could claim that they don’t have the resources, they don’t have the time. But really I’d say they probably don’t have the skill, the competence, the insight or the incentive. They’re not passionate enough about engaging with it to leverage it.
DAVID BAIN: So Grant, you seem quite happy about the fact that obviously this tool had been enhanced quite significantly. Does that mean that you’re more likely to use it to assist your clients in the future?
GRANT WHITESIDE: Absolutely. I’ve got one or two clients that are in the publishing industry and I think you need to be encouraged with trying to get people into using Google News. I was pointing that out to them, that when you use Google News correctly, it’s a zero sum game. Somebody has to be at the top of those results. Somebody will get that Google one box. It’ll sit there in the results. And I was looking at the algorithm today about who was coming up, what major publishers were coming up on the results and were coming up within the real-time results and those trends, and to me it is great to see that…obviously someone has to win in that space. Again, only one publisher gets to win in that space. So that might encourage some of the major publisher, like The Daily Mail and The Daily Record and Johnson Press et cetera to actually get third in the Google News space, not by the fact that they’re now on Google News, but they’re now on Google Trends, they’re now on Google Trends through Twitter. They’re also going to be in the main box for Google result. And as they are nothing more than advertising platforms, these publishers, it also means to say that they become of the best programmatic places to put your adverts because it’s real-time and people are there are the top of the results and they’re showing a potentially large audience where to click.
So from all points of view I think it’s a good way of encouraging publishers to get into that space. It used to be difficult to understand the algorithms but now its the programmatic choice for advertisers to advertise on there.
DAVID BAIN: Perhaps, yeah, come back and advertise on the network a little bit more.
GRANT WHITESIDE: Yeah, exactly. Someone’s got to win. There’s only one winner and that’s basically each one of these trends that’s coming up. Now if I was The Daily Mail, I’d want to be in that space.
DAVID BAIN: Okay, well let’s move onto our next topic. So that’s Russia looks like it’s going to passing its own ‘right to be forgotten’ law, going much further than the EU did last year. So is ‘right to be forgotten’ the right thing to do or does it set a dangerous precedent? Jonny, what are your thoughts on that one there?
JONNY ROSS: I get asked this all the time really, especially with reputation management in Google and brand protection et cetera, and I just think that it just opens a can of worms when you are trying to get content removed and I think it can just start igniting more stories. And so I’m just at a bit of a loss with the whole thing, really. I fundamentally don’t agree with it, I think.
DAVID BAIN: What are you saying? You fundamentally don’t agree with what the EU did? Or Russia? They’ve obviously taken it a step further and are saying that if anyone requests for a particular piece of content not to be found, without giving any links at all, for that content to be removed, no matter where it actually happens to be. So that’s obviously a completely different ballgame, really.
JONNY ROSS: Just describe that again. Sorry.
DAVID BAIN: Well the European Union, the way that the law was implemented was that if someone requests that a particular piece of content – so a link to a piece of content, a specific url – was to be removed, then they can request that url to be removed. The proposal in Russia, as far as I understand, is for people to actually request that a story or a piece of content to be removed from search results, but that piece of content, they don’t necessarily have to give a link to where that piece of content resides. It’s on about that content, that information not being found in search engines.
JONNY ROSS: Okay.
OREN GREENBERG: Also that with public figures, so the one in the non-EU is that they…in the EU you can’t remove data on public figures but I think in Yandex you certainly can which is very good for dictators but not so good for the average user. ‘Oh, I’m looking up a dictator in Wikipedia. He’s not there anymore. That’s odd.’ You know?[laughter]
Which in Russia – sorry to all the Russians listening – isn’t that far-fetched, to be honest.
DAVID BAIN: Grant, what’s you opinion on the existing EU legislation? Is that fair and reasonable to be able to request for a specific url not to effectively exist in a search engine?
GRANT WHITESIDE: Romantically speaking, yes. But only romantically speaking because you can’t have it both ways. I did like the idea of the ‘right to be forgotten’ and for all the correct reasons for that, but unfortunately when people start putting their own different spin on this, like what Russia’s trying to do and what France has tried to do, I think they’re taking it a little bit far. Because where do we end up with this Russian thing? There’s so many things that happen in Russia that they don’t get to talk about, they don’t get to express themselves, whether it’s about Ukraine, whether it’s about the Crimea, whether it’s about homosexuality, whether it’s about bribery. There’s a whole lot of things that the Russian media have a real struggle with at this moment in time.
So romantically speaking, it’s a brilliant idea, the sheer fact that you could take something and remove it off the internet, but unfortunately, for political reasons, people are going to use this for their own game, and you can’t have it both ways. So if that’s the way it’s going then the ‘right to be forgotten’ should be forgotten.
DAVID BAIN: In relation to that, France now wants people to target French citizens worldwide and alter their search results based on ‘right to be forgotten’ in the European Union. So is this going too far as well?
GRANT WHITESIDE: Absolutely. It’s so French-style, you know? And I love the idea of, ‘When in France you behave like the French.’ You are French. That’s great. But as soon as you go beyond the borders of France, don’t tell us what to do. It’s not your country anymore.
DAVID BAIN: What are your thoughts on that one, Oren?
OREN GREENBERG: About the French? They make really great wine and cheese![laughter]
I think it’s not unlike the French government to pull something there. I think the problem here is there isn’t really…the people who are making the decisions, they don’t understand the technical complexity of how data works. It’s not possible to remove Charles Darwin because that guy happens to be called Charles Darwin and then you’ve removed all the information on Wikipedia that’s to do with Charles Darwin because you didn’t provide specific links to it. I think that there’s a fundamental misunderstanding of how linguistics works, natural language processing. And because they don’t understand the technical nuances, it’s very easy for them to make these laws, because they’re worried about privacy pissing off the public. And I think both what Russia’s doing is ludicrous. It’s gone way beyond what the EU have done. And I think the French is just…I have no idea what’s going on. No comment!
DAVID BAIN: I was reading a post on Yandex today, and Yandex is obviously a big search engine in Russia, and they were just laying out their thoughts on it, and it was nice that they were doing that but I don’t think it’s going to make too much difference, honestly.
OREN GREENBERG: Well it can’t because what are they going to do? They’re just a business. Think about it. If you’re a business and you’re Yandex, no matter how profitable search engines can be, if they had to implement this sort of unrealistic algorithmic chance, they’d literally go bust. The amount of resource-intensive it is to start removing a sixteen-year old’s spammy blog post about their sports teacher because they didn’t like him, they’d be inundated with these ridiculous requests that they’re not viable. And I think that was part of Yandex’s formal reply as well.
I mean, I think there is a need, obviously, for this. I just think it needs to be qualitative and evaluated on probably a case-by-case basis on evidence needs to be provided and an explanation. It’s just the way that it’s done, rather than whether it’s the right or wrong thing to do. And I think it’s in the details.
DAVID BAIN: Politicians in general struggle to keep up with technology, with what’s happening online. Can anyone ever see a stage in the future where politicians actually get what’s happening and can leverage most things that are happening online to their advantage or do you think they’re generally going to be way behind and just not understanding anything forever?
JONNY ROSS: If you ran for Mayor of London there David, I’d vote for you!
DAVID BAIN: I don’t know if I’d get in with this accent!
GRANT WHITESIDE: Isn’t it true, though, that all politicians are always going to things for their own game? And it’s up to you whether you want to believe them or not. Me personally, nah! I’ve never voted for a politician if I didn’t like his teeth. So what Yandex are coming up with in Russia and in France, there’s an element of sincerity about what they’re trying to do but we all know that this is political engineering and nothing else really, at the end of the day.
DAVID BAIN: Well let’s move onto the final topic of discussion. So a third of people in the UK and over 40% of people in the United States claim to feel misled by native advertising. We all remember a couple of years ago newspaper sites getting into trouble with Google for adding ‘Do follow’ and paid links to articles, but now we’re starting to see paid brand mentions and sponsored content appear all over the place. So is native advertising an acceptable form of traffic generation or is that not something that will continue as a trend? Oren, do you want to start off with your thoughts on that one?
OREN GREENBERG: Yeah. I think it’s really interesting to see this innovation with the content marketing, the very big popular trend now, and obviously just the commercialisation, monetisation of content and content distribution and how much focus that’s had from everyone, from small businesses to large businesses online. And I think native, it was a predictable outcome in terms of an attempt to monetise content. We used to buy our newspapers; now everything’s free. And I think users have become complacent about the commercial realities of how costly it is to actually get that data, get that information, be a credible source of information. It’s expensive to maintain the salaries, the overhead. And I think it’s natural that these websites opted for a, you could say disingenuous way to monetise their content more effectively. And I think everyone, including marketeers, are overwhelmed by the amount of advertising on website now. It’s just literally you’re not sure what the content is anymore, what the advertising is.
So what I’m saying is it’s an inevitable leap. So therefore what’s the solution? In my mind, the solution is the quality and the relevance of the content, and if there is an exceptional effort put into making the content relevant to the property that it’s on, pertinent to the user type and it’s executed effectively, I think consumers won’t mind because it will be a seamless experience for them, the brands will be happy because the engagement will be increased, and in return will do that. I think like everything in marketing, it’s about effort and creativity and not trying to do volume and bulk but really trying to focus more on quality.
So I think that’s where it’s heading and I think it is interesting. It does allow lots of creative opportunities for users and businesses to engage. I think it’s just still in its early days as to how that’s going to develop and evolve.
DAVID BAIN: Yeah. I’m getting a couple of messages to say that a couple of people are struggling to hear Oren, for some reason. I’m not sure why that is, but I can hear you fine, so perhaps you’re a little far from your microphone, Oren, I’m not sure.
JONNY ROSS: It’s his accent!
DAVID BAIN: Maybe, maybe!
GRANT WHITESIDE: Apple headphones!
OREN GREENBERG: Yeah, very good!
DAVID BAIN: Jonny, what are your thoughts on native advertising?
JONNY ROSS: I think that we haven’t got a choice. I think that we don’t get things for free and I think that advertising does pay for a lot of the web, really. And I think that what Oren’s point is, is that the more relevant it is and the more streamlined it is, then the better, so I think there are improvements to be made.
But then at the same time, I hear the stats. What is it, a third of people in the UK and a quarter of people in the US? I think that there are still a large proportion that really know what’s an advert and what’s a sponsored link and know the difference and I think that will grow over time and just like we fast-forward the adverts on TV, we scroll very quickly past a native advert. So I think we will become savvy to these things and I guess that’s why we’re seeing more of it. I think that it’s annoying but at the same time I think we’ve just got to accept that it pays for the web.
DAVID BAIN: Mm. I don’t have a major problem with hearing things like, ‘This programme is brought to you by…’ because you know that’s an advert, basically. You can argue that there are more evil types of advertising. I mean, things like in films you’ve obviously got product positioning in there as well, and that is as native as you can get really because it’s not obvious to the watchers there that that product’s necessarily paid to get position.
JONNY ROSS: It’s a fair point and it’s actually really annoying on certain TV programmes, I do agree with that. But I’m the type of person that can spot it, and I guess because I spot it I then am annoyed with it. I don’t think we’re going to get rid of it, though.
GRANT WHITESIDE: Of course not.
DAVID BAIN: Grant, are you a product positioning spotter?
GRANT WHITESIDE: Maybe a little bit. Native…well what can I say? The more native it is, the more deceptive it is, at the same time. So it is actually blending in, in the first place. Publishers have got to go with it, haven’t they? It’s all about taking that premium inventory and trying to make the most of every time that somebody goes to that page, to be able to show them a relevant advert in the first place.
And where we are with programmatic advertising compared with where we are with native advertising holds true. Technologies come together. Theoretically, in about two or three years’ time, we might actually have quite a personalised experience that actually should be able to show us the correct native advertising that’s programmatically personalised to me. But we are not there yet or nothing like it. We’re still seeing completely irrelevant adverts. And a few for the publishers, when they have a lovely piece of content and their integrity is entirely questioned by a blunt piece of advertising that sits right at the top of the page. Somebody clicks through, it’s disingenuous, it’s got nothing to do with the original article in the first place. So a lot can be fixed in that space. But publishers, as Jonny said earlier on, someone’s got to pay for the web and the vast majority of advertising space is not actually used at this moment in time.
So I’m a firm believer of programmatic and native getting a bit better, and also publishers take a little bit more integrity as well, about saying, ‘Well what sort of adverts should I be able to use?’ And our technology that we use from data management platforms from the publishers’ side, sale site platforms, it’s all still in its infancy and I think we’ve got along way to go. Give it two or three years’ time, we should be able to hopefully provide adverts for people where they don’t feel as cheated as they do at this moment in time. And I totally agree with the statistics that we’re seeing at this moment in time. It comes across as irrelevant, intrusive, just the wrong stuff at the wrong time. But we’re in a fledgling industry and I’m sure it will get consistently better as the technology learns to personalise the experience a little bit more.
They’ll never get it right because we share devices with each other. You know, that stuff where me and somebody else on the family are on Amazon and all of a sudden you see all sorts of suggestive things that have nothing to do with you and it was actually your son or your wife that was looking at them! You’re always going to have problems that way but native is here to stay, and the reason why it’s here to stay is because we have to pay for stuff and it’s the perfect way of doing it. It’s just a bit blunt around the edges at this moment in time. You remember search engines we used to see with really terrible adverts and you’d think, ‘Why on earth is that there?’ Eventually, in time, advertisers will realise that they can’t afford to have rubbish adverts and will eventually realise that that was a total waste of time.
DAVID BAIN: Well eventually the audience will vote with their feet as well.
GRANT WHITESIDE: Exactly, exactly that. And as I say, we’ve only just started with programmatic and personalised together, and that’s got a long, long way to go to actually personalise that experience so we start seeing the correct leads of adverts for us personally, rather than something that just seems totally irrelevant to the page.
DAVID BAIN: Okay, great stuff. That takes us to the end of this week’s show. So just about time for a single take-away from everyone, so everyone can have a think about maybe one thing that they reckon the audience should take away from what’s been discussed today, and also some sharing of details where the audience can find out more about you as individuals. So starting off with Jonny.
JONNY ROSS: Yeah, sure. So I would suggest that if you have a website you should start using https and getting an SSL certificate. And also if you have a website, you’ll need to really start considering video and how you’re going to integrate that into your business. I’m Jonny Ross, www.jonnyross.com, and my Twitter handle is @jrconsultancy. Very happy to take any questions after the Hangout. Thank you.
DAVID BAIN: Great stuff. Now I’m not sure which Oren to talk to here, because I’ve got two Orens that have joined us!
OREN GREENBERG: My iPhone went all wonky – sorry. Can you hear me?
DAVID BAIN: Yes, absolutely. Well hopefully everyone else can hear you. If you can possibly give one take-away and where our audience can find out more about you.
OREN GREENBERG: I think to find out more about me, just check our website, www.kurve.co.uk. I think my one tip is don’t move to Russia![laughter]
Or if you do, don’t take an iPhone with you. Hmm. One tip. I think have a play with Google Trends. See if you can come up with a creative, innovative idea of how to use it and then email [me and let me know. I’d love to know.
DAVID BAIN: Sounds great. Okay, and last but not least, Grant.
GRANT WHITESIDE: How to get in contact with us. Go to ambergreeninternetmarketing.com or my Twitter handle @ambergreen_says. That’s a good way to get in contact with us as well. A take-away for today would be about the https. I think it’s inevitable that more and more will go that way and I’m going to ask you to please think about your website as it currently stands and if you’re going to migrate the whole thing across, some people do it well and some people will kill off your business by trying to do it for you, so be really, really careful about who you deal with.
Oh yeah, and keep away from Russia as well. And if you are going to do something over there, keep it quiet!
DAVID BAIN: Thank you! I’m David Bain, Head of Growth at www.authoritas.com and you catch me interviewing online marketing gurus over at www.digitalmarketingradio.com. So if you’re watching this show as a recording, remember to watch the next show live. You can take part in that #TWIO discussion. A few people have been tweeting live. It’d be great to actually have you tweeting next time as well, so head over to www.thisweekinorganic.com and sign up to watch the next show in real-time. But for those who are watching live, thank you for participating and remember to continue sharing your thoughts using the hashtag #TWIO on Twitter. Until next time, have a fabulous weekend and thank you all for joining us. Adios. Thank you for being part of it.
Working as Content Marketing Director for Authoritas since March 2015, David also hosts our own weekly show – “This Week In Organic”, commonly referred to as #TWiO.