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Google Offers – A New Digital Marketing Feature

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The much anticipated ‘Offers’ initiative of Google was launched on March 10th 2011. Google Offers is a new digital marketing feature which enables hair salons, restaurants and other local businesses, to display discounts and other special offers to prospective customers.

This announcement was made by Google in their blog, just before ‘South By Southwest Interactive (SXSWi) 2011’ kicked off in Austin, Texas. SXSWi is a set of film, interactive and music festivals, as well as conferences, which have been held every spring, since 1987. It is attended by thousands of people who visit Austin from all over the country, and presents a great opportunity for the Mountain-view California based company to test the effectiveness of their ‘Google Offers’ product.

If the search giant had launched their digital marketing product while SXSWi was underway, there might have been a lot of confusion with businesses trying to hop on to the Offers bandwagon, before their competitors. Considering the huge amount of sales generated during SXSWi, it is not surprising to learn that the first 60 businesses to use Google Offers as part of their digital marketing strategy are based in Austin, Texas.

For instance, Bird’s Barbershop is offering a discount of $3 for men and $5 for women, on all haircuts at three of their locations. Also Austin Land and Cattle, which offers the most delicious steaks and seafood in the city, is rewarding check-ins with free food. Their digital marketing offer states that customers who purchase two beverages, can choose from a free burger, pork sandwich, or frito pie.

People using Android phones have been able to check-in to Google Offers using Google Latitude since the beginning of February 2011. Google Latitude is a service that enables users to view the location of their friends on a map, and display their own position. Since then, the digital marketing media has been looking forward to Google Offers, which is considered to be promising because of its geo-social nature. In fact, most digital marketing experts say that Offers is more similar to the ‘Specials’ platform of Foursquare, than to daily deal websites like Groupon and LivingSocial.

Meanwhile, it has been reported that Facebook is also developing a new digital marketing feature that will allow companies to offer discounts to users. A bit like Groupon.com, this feature is expected to be a part of Facebook’s ‘Deals’ channel. Some of the cities in which it will be launched are San Francisco, San Diego, Dallas and Atlanta. Currently, the sales department of the social networking giant is working very closely with local companies to ensure the success of this digital marketing product.

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Google’s War On Content Farms To Benefit Digital Marketing Companies

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In February 2011, Google announced that they had updated their search algorithm to purge ‘low quality’ content from showing up on their search result pages. Most digital marketing specialists believe that this ‘low quality’ content includes content farms.

Content farms are basically companies that hire large numbers of mostly freelance writers, who generate massive amounts of textual content, stuffed with SEO keywords. This content is designed to fox search engine algorithms into giving them high ranks, for certain high-value digital marketing keywords. Usually written by authors who have little or no knowledge about the fields on which they report, this content typically contains many inconsistencies, grammar and punctuation errors.

The main goal of content farms is to generate revenue from digital marketing advertisements displayed on their web pages. The basic idea is to get high rankings on Google, and attract a large numbers of viewers, who would click on the advertisements displayed on a page, generating huge amounts of revenue.

According to a statement by Google, this change of algorithm is expected to affect approximately 12 percent of its search results. This could be a huge amount considering the immense number of websites crawled by the search engine spider. In the past few years, the number of poor quality digital marketing websites has grown substantially, which is why it was important to make changes to the algorithm. Before finalizing the changes, Google has spent a lot of time fine-tuning the algorithm, for which they also considered feedback received through an extension added to their Chrome browser.

Google’s campaign against websites offering spam content is not a new thing. Since 2006-07, Google has made regular changes to its algorithm to penalize websites that did not contain content that they promised. The main complaint against such websites was that they copy-pasted content from authentic sources, and passed off the content as their own. Usually, this content was based on trending topics, so that the website could collect a huge amount of visitors, and generate revenues through digital marketing ads.

This action of Google comes after criticism from the digital marketing media that the results currently being shown by its search engine, are not as good as before. Also, many people have been praising their competitor Bing’s search results.

Though some digital marketing websites that display original content have been hit by this change, more than 90 percent of sites that have been removed by Google are spam websites. It is easy to understand why Google made this move. When you consider the situation from the viewpoint of a searcher, there is nothing worse than clicking on a link and finding identical content which you have already read, or a list of links pointing to other websites

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Bing Deals – A New Digital Marketing Avenue

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In March 2011, Microsoft announced that their search engine ‘Bing’ would soon be offering a ‘Deals’ service on the same lines as Google Offers, Facebook Deals and Yahoo Local Offers.

. Google Offers is a digital marketing service that makes it easy for businesses to attract customers, by posting special offers, across different Google channels. If a company wishes to create a discount, they just need to sign-in to Google Places, click on the ‘Offers’ tab, and fill in details about their digital marketing offer.

. Facebook Deals allows local companies to post information about special offers, which people can view and use through their desktops and mobile phones.

. Yahoo Local Offers is a service that pulls together discounts from various deal aggregating partners, such as Groupon, LivingSocial and Coupons.com.

With Google Bing, users in the United States will have access to more than 200,000 special offers, at 14,000 locations across the nation. These offers are mostly placed by companies as part of their digital marketing strategies. Just like Yahoo Local Offer, Bing’s digital marketing service will also act like a deal aggregator, providing discounts from partners like Groupon and LivingSocial, in its search results.

Instead of creating its own deal program like Google or Groupon, Microsoft has partnered with a service provider called The Dealmap, for Bing Deals. The Dealmap is a leading US based digital marketing website that helps users find and share local deals from all over the country. Andy Chu, the director of product management at Bing Mobile has said that the main mission of Bing is to help consumers “cut through the clutter” on the Internet, and make decisions in a quicker manner.

Bing Deals can be accessed by people living in the United States on their personal computers, as well as through their smartphones, using the iPhone and Android browsers. However, people using Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 operating system will not be able to access Bing Deals, because it does not work on HTML5 software. After the US market, Microsoft is expected to launch Bing Deals in various other countries, before it is launched in the United Kingdom.

Bing Deals allows users to search for discounts and special offers, either by location or by category. If a person accesses Bing Deals through a mobile phone, they will also be able to search for deals according to geolocation. People who like a particular deal, can either save it, or share it with a contact through email.

The increasing number of social commerce websites means additional avenues for conducting digital marketing activities. It is vital for digital marketing professionals to ensure visibility of the brands they are promoting on Bing Deals, to garner higher revenues for their clients.

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Online Video – The Future Of Digital Marketing

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Some of the leading digital marketing experts have predicted that online video and television are set to become more central to the way users use the Internet. The popularity of various video sharing websites like YouTube, together with the growth of online TV promoted by leading television channels and publications, has led to the development of a new digital marketing avenue through which advertisers can generate sales.

According to Cisco, a leading information technology and networking giant, online video is expected to strongly dominate the web in the future. In June 2010, they had published a white paper called the Cisco Visual Networking Index. This whitepaper predicted that in about four years, different kinds of online video would generate more than 91 percent of worldwide Internet traffic. This video includes content from video sharing websites, as well as video-on-demand and television streaming. In fact, Cisco expects Internet video, by itself, to account for around 57 percent of global consumer traffic.

This white paper presents a strong challenge for digital marketing experts. If they do not become proficient in creating video-related digital marketing campaigns, they will miss out on a whole range of lucrative opportunities. With a whopping amount of traffic for online videos expected to pour in over the next few years, no digital marketing company can afford to ignore such a huge number of visitors, which could potentially convert into massive sales. Hence, it is important that digital marketing professionals develop skills in creating good video advertisements that will captivate viewers, and encourage them to take the desired action.

Another thing which digital marketing professionals need to consider is the device used by a user while viewing an online video. Today, the devices used by users to view online videos have also undergone a change. Instead of desktop computers and laptops, consumers are now using smartphones, tablets, and platforms like Google TV and Apple TV. Google TV is a software platform that can be accessed on Logitech set-top boxes and Sony televisions. It allows people to watch television, rent movies, as well as surf the web and watch online videos at the same time. Apple TV is a competitor of Google TV.

According to a survey by Harris Interactive, a leading US-based digital marketing research agency, customers are displaying a significant amount of enthusiasm for Google TV and Apple TV. While around 51 percent of people polled were excited about Apple TV, around 45 percent of people were excited about Google TV. This is attributed to the fact that these platforms allow users to browse the Internet through their television screens, which generally offer a larger and clearer picture than desktops.

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