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Beware of shiny objects: CES boasts innovations that lack mass appeal

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“Whoa” is the first word that you noticed in this year’s CES promos and on attendee badges.

And, if you are similar to me, it’s the first word that you utter across all show floors and exhibit halls in Vegas.

Like when you see a “smart” bathroom promising to test your urine (that’s actually dumb). Or when you come upon signage proclaiming a “robot revolution” (that one is my official hype winner in what was, as always, an extremely competitive category).

I’m no anthropologist but some of my best learnings come from taxi drivers on the way to and from the conference.

This year, on the road in from the airport, a middle-aged gentleman at the wheel scoffed at the need for voice-activated devices all throughout his home.

“I’ve got that on my phone with Google,” he said. “Anything I need to know, I can get it already.”

For the fourth year in a row, I asked the so-called Average Joe and Joanne whether they have interest in a “smart” refrigerator that could tell them when they are low on milk or beer, and even save a return trip to the market for an otherwise forgotten item.

The answer is always “no” with privacy being the main inhibitor.

So, I guess the urine-screening toilet isn’t making it into their houses – or yours or mine – anytime soon.

Just what was shown at CES that could have mass appeal?

Those products that had a personal touch.

For instance, the smartest watch is the one that is intelligent about you, not everyone else. Casio brought a meaningful group of apps to a previously released watch that now caters to individual taste.

For instance, Fishbrain is supposedly the world’s largest community-based fishing app, producing local fishing forecasts and the best spots to catch that big one. However, I haven’t fished since I caught a muskie 27 years ago (luck, not app), so the Pro Trek Android Wear model had to offer me something else. Choices are now in the categories of skiing, surfing, golfing, swimming, and hiking. That works for me.

And all the apps are included with purchase of the watch.

Elsewhere, there were apps that solved some of life’s challenges – cooling a house in summer before you arrive home, for example. New? Not so much. Appealing to folks like my cab driver? Definitely. Those apps have become more intuitive and valuable.

But for all of the products that sought to address a need, there were thousands of others that left me scratching my head.

Atop that list were the self-driving concept cars from Ford and Toyota that touted pizza delivery as an effective use case. Will the cost go down for the consumer? Will the human-less car put more pepperoni on the pie? Is there a cost-savings for the pizza companies?

If the answers to all of those questions are no, please tell me why someone would be willing to go outside in the snow and darkness, in pajamas and slippers, to use an unfamiliar keypad to unlock a pizza that costs the same or more and makes the consumer work more for it.

Customers won't pay more for a pizza just because it comes in an innovative way. If a carrier pigeon could get it there hot and quickly and cheaper, they’d happily say, “the heck with self-driving cars.”

And about those robots everywhere? For what?

My wife doesn’t want a lawn mowing robot. She’ll quickly tell you that she married one.

The lesson of it all?

Beware of shiny objects. Know that the 180,000 who attended CES almost surely misrepresent your customers and prospects.

Build upon what you know. Definitely make bets on innovation or you will be left behind. But don’t wager the house.

Much of what we saw were early-adopter models at best, ones that caused a ripple on Twitter but are not destined to do the same on Main Street. Or in taxis where the real deciders of product success or not make their livings and spend their money judiciously.

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Google releases AMP Stories v1.0 with new features, including an ads beta for DFP users

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Examples of Google AMP Story ads.

Following on the introduction of AMP Stories for publishers in February, the AMP team has announced several updates to AMP Stories, including monetization capabilities. Version 1.0 of AMP Stories is now available to all developers, no whitelisting needed.

AMP stories are standalone compilations of pages with AMP and HTML layers of elements such as media, analytics, text and more. In the vein of Snapchat and Instagram stories, AMP stories provide publishers with rich media storytelling options designed for the mobile web (though AMP Stories also works on desktop).

There is a new beta available to publishers using DoubleClick for Publishers (soon to be called Google Ad Manager) to serve ads within AMP stories. Publishers interested in the beta can let the AMP team know via Github (registration required). Below is an example of a Google Home ad showing within a story. You’ll notice there is a “Shop Now” call-to-action button in the ad. (As much as Google touts that AMP is open-source, opening this beta exclusively to users of its own ad-serving tech is more fodder for critics who say Google favors its own products, is not-so-subtly taking ownership of AMP and is pushing AMP to be the mobile web standard.)

New metadata attributes are used to show previews of stories across the AMP Stories ecosystem, such as preview links in the bookend (last page) of related stories. A list of required and optional metadata attributes can be found here. Additionally, there are new bookend capabilities that make it possible to include call-to-action links, text box and portrait and landscape-oriented cards.

Google AMP Stories Lead Engineer Jon Newmuis wrote in a blog post last week announcing the release of AMP Stories v1.0 that thousands of AMP stories have been created by publishers since February. Future AMP Stories efforts in development include paywalls, responsive scaling and additional clickable elements. Newmuis posted a mockup of how the paywall functionality might work on Github, shown below. Paywall and subscription functionality is already supported in standard AMP-enabled pages.

[This article originally appeared on Search Engine Land.]

The post Google releases AMP Stories v1.0 with new features, including an ads beta for DFP users appeared first on Marketing Land.

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Content Marketing

Content manager checklist: 10 things to do before you hit publish

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Back in the days when print journalism ruled, major publishers had huge teams of fact-checkers and editors poring over every article before it went to press.

With the move to online publishing, those responsibilities have increasingly fallen on the shoulders of the content manager — a hybrid editor/strategist/project manager role with a bit of search engine optimization (SEO) thrown in.

I’m a content manager. It’s my responsibility to make sure every piece of content I create for my clients is stellar — for their goals, their leads and their customers.

But one man’s “stellar” is another man’s drivel. When we marketing types talk about “high-quality content,” we mean content that:

  • Engages, informs, entertains.
  • Is optimized for search.
  • Delivers what it promises.
  • Uses reputable, authoritative sources.
  • Has a great headline.
  • Is free from error, jargon and clichés.
  • Is easily scannable.
  • Inspires action.

Google rewards high-quality content, which is one of the greatest benefits of following these best practices.

Here are 10 ways (plus one bonus tip) to perfect your content before you press that “publish” button.

1. Optimize for keyword search

The goal of your content should always be to provide something of value to your readers so trust in your brand increases. This means when they’re ready to purchase, your brand will be top of mind.

To get content seen, it must be optimized for keywords people are searching for. Wolfgang Digital’s 2016 study of 87 million website sessions of e-commerce brands found 43 percent of traffic comes from organic Google search:

Use keyword research to discover popular terms and long-tail phrases that can inspire content. Make sure those terms are placed relevantly in header tags and throughout the content but don’t keyword-stuff. As long as the terms are used naturally and relevantly, you’ll be fine.

2. Break up content

While the debate on human attention span rages on, there’s no doubt the amount of content we have access to is larger than ever. According to the “2018 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends-North America” reports by Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, 91 percent of B2B marketers and 86 percent of B2C marketers use content marketing.


That’s a ton of content, in addition to the more than 1 billion hours of YouTube videos watched daily, plus social media posts on Facebook, Instagram and other channels.

With so much content to choose from, breaking up content to make it more visually appealing helps capture and keep user attention, since online readers are apt to scan content. Use subheads, numbered or bulleted lists and short paragraphs to make your content scannable. These techniques fall in line with Google’s own Developer Documentation Style Guide.

3. Make sure the headline is searchable and clickable

Unlike intentionally vague titles of great novels that offer mystery and intrigue to readers, writing headlines for the web is an art requiring the perfect blend of searchability and click-worthiness.

You want to craft headlines that include a keyword or two you want to rank for, but it also needs to be compelling enough to grab clicks.

Since the general consensus is that headlines longer than 65 or 70 characters will get cut off by search engines, make sure your keyword appears early in the headline. Such limited space means you should favor straightforwardness over getting cutesy — though there’s still room to be creative in what you write.

4. Add a CTA

Adding a strong call to action (CTA) to every web page and blog post is essential.

What is a CTA?

  • It tells the consumer the best next step to take.
  • It guides the user in the right direction.
  • It is helpful and relevant to the user’s pain points.

Make sure the call to action you use on your blog post corresponds with the content and where the user is on the buyer journey. You wouldn’t want to add a “Buy Now” button to a top-of-funnel informational piece, but a free consultation offer or a white paper download might make sense.

5. Add internal and external links

Linking within content is essential to elevate the user experience. There are external links and internal links. When using either type, the link should be relevant and helpful so that they enhance your search engine optimization process and provide value to the consumer.

  • External links. These links point to other websites besides the domain the content is on. External links are beneficial because they build credibility when you’re linking to a (credible, authoritative) source. They can also be instrumental in creating partnerships with other publishers when they notice your content is linking to them. They can help to make your content more authoritative.
  • Internal links. These are links to content within the domain the content is on. Using internal links helps Google understand your website structure. They provide a better experience for the user, who can discover more information related to the content topic. They also can help nurture leads, since you’re providing additional relevant and helpful content.

Make sure your links open to new tabs. This way, your content is still open for the user, and they won’t have to go back and forth within a single window to consume content. You can also help to increase time on page and decrease bounce rate from your site, which can affect search rankings.

6. Evaluate anchor text

Anchor text is the clickable text part of the link you see on either an external or internal link. When the text is highlighted within the copy, the user gets a better idea of the content they’ll see when they click. Some types of anchor text include:

  • Exact match. This is a hyperlinked phrase which plainly states what the website is about.
  • Partial match. One or two keywords hyperlinked describe what the website is about.
  • Branded. This hyperlink is the name of the company.
  • Generic or nonbranded. Generally known as “click here” type anchors.

Anchor text that relates to the content the link is pointing to is best for search engine signals. Be mindful of using outbound anchor text that contains a keyword you want to rank for that depletes your link equity.

For example, if you run a pet store, don’t link out to another pet store site using the words “best pet store” in the anchor. A generic keyword would be more appropriate to use as anchor text in this case.

7. Link to credible sources

There is a lot of content out there, more than most people have time to read. Developing entertaining and educational content increases the chances of it being clicked, read and shared.

If you need to link to sources to support your content, link to reputable, well-known sources within an industry and the primary source of the information.

When you’re citing another source, include the name of the source, as well as a link. Links break, and pages go offline, so citing the name of the primary source helps keep your article credible.

8. Add images and give credit

Adding images to content is another great way to break it up and make it more visually appealing to users. Images are also important for search engine optimization. Google image search is the second-most used search platform after Google.com, accounting for more than one-quarter of US searches. By optimizing the images you feature in content with descriptive headlines, descriptions and tags, you can increase your chances of being seen in more image searches.

In February 2018, Google removed the “View Image” button in image search results, which means users have to click over to the website the image is on to see it in full context. This is great news for publishers, as Search Engine Land reports there was an average of a 37 percent increase in clicks from image searches throughout 58 websites since the change.

9. Make content shareable

Social sharing buttons are a form of a CTA for users who are on social media. Seeing the recognizable icons for Facebook, Twitter and social networks sends a signal to users to share. As your content gets shared on social media, you reap benefits, including:

Depending on your content management platform, you may easily have the ability to turn on a social sharing button feature. For platforms like WordPress, there is an array of free social sharing plugins you can add to your layout, which makes social buttons automatically appear on each piece of content.

Other options for sharing on social include:

  • Create your own CTA graphics for social sharing.
  • Write out a call to action within a post to join a discussion about it on your Facebook page.
  • Insert “click to tweet” links in a post which enable users to share tidbits from it in just a few clicks

When you can continue the conversation about a piece of content on a social network, engagement for the piece organically increases.

10. Create a great meta description

A compelling meta description is important for every piece of content. With Google’s emphasis on quality and relevance for search results, follow meta description best practices like:

  • Use keywords, but don’t repeat them or overuse them.
  • Use long-tail phrases that give more context to the content.
  • Write enticing descriptions that encourage users to click.
  • Avoid using the same meta description for multiple web pages

It used to be a best practice to cap meta descriptions at 160 characters; then, in late 2017, Google bumped that up to 320 characters, and now it looks like we’re back down to the 160 range again. Make sure whatever you’re writing is relevant, helpful and valuable, just like the content itself.

Bonus tip: Proofread your copy

Well-written, error-free content says a lot about your brand and shows you care about quality.

Plus it makes content managers like me a little crazy when we see such obvious mistakes in content. Don’t drive us batty. Proofread your content!

The post Content manager checklist: 10 things to do before you hit publish appeared first on Marketing Land.

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Meet The Drum DADI Awards 2018 judges: M&C Saatchi, Dare, Karmarama, GSK, 360i Europe and AKQA

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The Drum DADI Awards are on a mission to share the best practices, companies and people in our industry with our readers to help them make better decisions. Our best in class judges will help us do just that.

The deadline has passed but there is still time for you to enter. Contact Laura Gregson for an extension.

Following are six of our stellar list of agency based judges:

Chris Brown, global head of digital, M&C Saatchi

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Brown leads M&C Saatchi's digital team developing strategy and activity across a portfolio of international clients, including Virgin, PepsiCo, Dixons Carphone and Alphabet.

He spent ten years in-house at Dixons Carphone Group as head of content, social media and digital experience. Brown has led teams across insight, brand, content, social media, SEO, testing, web development and strategy and has overseen digital transformation projects across multiple clients. His focus is on making wonderful experiences for consumers that make measurable impacts for businesses.

Melissa Ditson, executive creative director, 360i Europe

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Ditson joined 360i Europe in 2017 to head up creative for brands like Lidl, TSB, Burger King and Norwegian.

Previously, Ditson has lead creative teams and agencies in New York, having launched award winning campaigns to raise awareness about girls education for Michelle Obama’s Let Girls Learn, worked on US-wide music platforms for brands like American Express with Jay Z, and Budweiser, and redefined brand experiences online for GE, P&G, and (RED).

James Chorley, group creative director, AKQA

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Chorley is the group creative director at AKQA and has over a decade of experience across brand strategy and marketing campaigns as well as products and services including mobile applications, wearables and games.

He has created a variety of products including mobile applications, digital services, games and wearables for global brands including Nike, BBC, TAG Heuer and Xbox.

On the awards, he said: “The Drum’s DADI awards recognise and reward the best companies and individuals and I’m delighted to sit on the panel this year. I’m looking forward to seeing entries with a compelling story, and data that shows meaningful impact on businesses and their customers.”

Sandra McDill, global digital media, GSK

Sandra McDill

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McDill recently joined GSK as global digital media strategy director having spent 14 years working across the digital marketing industry. Starting in performance marketing across affiliates, search, programmatic and social, she has worked in global roles both technology and agency side including global vice president for Tagman, managing partner at Dentsu Aegis agency iProspect and most recently as chief marketing officer at Convertr, a SaaS media technology platform.

Michael Olaye, chief executive officer, Dare

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Olaye is the chief executive officer of Dare, a digital creative agency with hub offices in London, Bristol and New York.

He leads the inside ideas group’s tech vision, responsible for its technical collaboration, industry thought leadership and advanced technology incubations. He has been named one of The Drum’s 100 most influential people in UK digital, and one of Creativepool’s top 100 influencers.

"I have always felt the DADI awards is one of the best in the industry," he said about the awards. "Showing a true understanding of the digital landscape, the people and the great work we all do. I am honoured to have the chance to judge what I no doubt know will be great entries from some fantastic agencies. I am really looking forward to it. "

Hannah Matthews, managing partner, Karmarama

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Matthews joined Karmarama in 2004, seeing the agency grow exponentially over the years and became part of Accenture Interactive at the end of 2016. She has worked with clients including Diageo, Molson Coors, Amstel, MTV and Unibet during this time as well as heading up new business and marketing for the agency.

As well as a founding member and former President of Bloom, Matthews is an active member of WACL, now sitting on the WACL executive committee running gatherings for rising female talent in the industry.

Talking about the DADI Awards, she said: "I’m thrilled to be part of the judging panel for the DADIS. As one of the longest running awards in the digital space they’ve become renowned for shining a light on some of the most progressive digital work which is a really making a difference, which we can all learn from and which raises the bar for best practice across the industry."

Check out our panel of judges for The Drum DADI Awards. The entry deadline has passed but you can still enter by applying for an extension. Please contact Laura Gregson for more details.

These awards are in association with UKFast and sponsored by Shazam.

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