Is it a coincidence Audience and Audio both begin with the same four letters?
Can you have the full attention of an audience without first being heard?
Now playing on a screen near you – The Attention Wars.
Some time ago I wrote a piece characterizing Microsoft’s offer to buy Yahoo as their attempt at reinforcing and fortifying the habits of computer users to remain on Microsoft owned property.
Not because Microsoft needed Yahoo for additional desktop market share but because Microsoft needed Yahoo’s search audience share and still does.
Microsoft doesn’t want to lose any more attention, audience or keystrokes to their now main strategic rival and desktop franchise threat – Google.
I also thought Microsoft’s offer was dubious at best – offering just enough money to get everybody’s attention including half Yahoo’s board of directors – but not enough in the end to cause Co-Founder Yang to surrender his baby.
The whole act was really a masterstroke on Microsoft’s behalf.
Because as we all now know, Yang was excommunicated for not agreeing to sell while Microsoft also got to add the latest chapter to their Embrace, Extend and Extinguish playbook.
Anyway – as the web has matured every large internet property has become visitor retention focused – ie., motivated to retain what audience and attention they have.
Hence, the recent introductions of new web homepages for each of the three largest internet audience properties – Google, Yahoo and Microsoft.
In case you hadn’t noticed, each property has recently introduced a more sticky homepage.
Google has introduced their “fading” home page.
No links are shown on the page until a user mouses over the links.
The Google home page links “fade in” only after a cursor moves onto the page.
This may not seem like much of a change, but over the course of a day and with it 100s of millions of users – the amount of additional time spent collectively by visitors on the Google home page will increase.
Bing’s Home Page Picture
Even before Bing became Bing, Microsoft had added an eye catching image to their homepage with several pop up boxes throughout the image to capture and retain searchers attention.
I am not sure what direct branding effect this will have on the Bing brand, but it will definitely increase awareness and recall for each of the images featured on their home page.
Yahoo My Favorites
Yahoo moved “My Favorites” to their home page’s left rail in the hopes of both increasing their users attention and keystrokes.
I suspect Yahoo’s efforts will achieve both.
Expect to see every media company with a screen presence whether on the world wide web, television or mobile phone going to ever greater lengths to try and capture the growing more elusive with each passing day audience’s attention.
Steve Rubel SVP, Director of Insights, Edelman Digital shared his thoughts about the future of public relations at the recent 140 Characters Conference in New York.
Some of Rubel’s interesting takeaways (paraphrased)
The future of PR – instead of companies talking through the media to reach consumers, individuals will be talking to individuals about companies.
According to Nielsen – the average American visits 111 domains a month and views 2,500 web pages.
Public Relations is in the Attention Business
People need to hear something 3 to 5 times from multiple sources before they trust it.
No social network has had staying power of more than five years. They all go through boom and bust cycles. Twitter is peaking or may have already peaked.
Rubel summarizes his recommendations by suggesting businesses adopt a Digital Embassy strategy – a communications strategy that employs a digital native to advocate on behalf of the company wherever the social network may be located.
iGoogle has added a new batch of custom themes for iGoogle user’s called “Themes for Causes”.
There are 25 different iGoogle Themes for Causes available at this time.
Some of the more popular iGoogle Themes for Causes are those from the World Wildlife Federation, Alliance for Climate Protection, the Rainforest Action Network and Clean Air-Cool Planet.
Surely there will be more Cause related themes added to the list of iGoogle theme options as other causes become aware of the branding opportunity iGoogle offers cause related brands to further reach and connect with their respective audiences.
From today’s Wall Street Journal:
“While listening hours are declining, most people still listen to an average of 18.5 hours a week, according to Arbitron Inc. Based on the price of reaching each listener, radio generally offers its audience “at the lowest [cost] of any major media,” says David Field, chief executive of Entercom.”
Not sure about Radio reaching its listeners and audience at the lowest cost of any “major media” – Mr. Field.
Haven’t the internet and search advertising become “major media” yet?
I guess media isn’t major until those in the “major media” say it is.
There is a relatively new – possibly major media – called internet search offered by a company called Google which connects its audience with advertisers for as low as .05 a piece.
Radio may indeed reach its audience for less but by what standard does radio define and measure its connection with its audience?
In search advertising the audience isn’t counted and considered reached until the advertiser’s advertisement is clicked.
Radio advertising measures audience reach and then its connection of advertiser to listener how – instead by listeners clicking their radios on?
Isn’t anything less than authenticated and measured advertisement – disconnected advertising?
Which radio station can I buy a radio ad on to reach a targeted audience of 10 listeners for $.50 or even 100 listeners for $5.00?
Depending on your definition, radio may indeed offer its audience at the lowest cost of any major media – but at what price?
Let’s look at two areas where search will play a role in winning new audience and their keystrokes: Local and Mobile search.
Here are how Microsoft, Yahoo and Google web property’s search are performing today.
Its been reported nearly 50% of searches are local in nature. Let’s see how Microsoft’s Live handles a local brand search for Verizon Wireless in New York, NY.
Live is able to locate Verizon Wireless stores in New York and provides five viewing options: Road, Aerial, Hybrid, Bird’s Eye and Traffic. Are their results relevant? Yes. Could we make our way to Verizon Wireless store or reach them by phone with the information Live provides? Yes.
With the Bird’s Eye view we may even be able to see what our destination looks like. Pretty cool.
Microsoft (US) Brand Search: Verizon Wireless New York, NY
Microsoft Live Verizon Wireless NY Road Map
Microsoft Live Verizon Wireless NY Hybrid Map
Microsoft Live Verizon Wireless NY Bird’s Eye Map
Microsoft Live Verizon Wireless NY Traffic Map
How does Live perform outside the United States? A search for HSBC in London yields similar results. This particular brand search result is for a location near Trafalgar Square. If you aren’t going to be able to stop by a bank branch in London today, you can still take in the sights.
Microsoft (UK) Brand Search: HSBC London, England
Microsoft HSBC London UK Bird’s Eye Map
Now let’s try the same searches in Yahoo. Yahoo offers similar results. The look and feel isn’t too much different from those we received from Microsoft.
Initially though, I had difficulty locating the results I was hoping to find. Eventually I did find them – must have been my error.
Our options for connecting with one of the stores include: Getting directions, Save for later, Send to phone and Write a review.
Yahoo (US) Brand Search: Verizon Wireless, New York, NY
Yahoo Verizon Wireless NY “Find a Business”
Yahoo Verizon Wireless New York
I can get the same type of UK map results from Yahoo however; I have to pull Yahoo’s UK web property up to get London results whereas with Microsoft I was able to get results from their US site.
Yahoo (UK) Brand Search: HSBC London, England
Yahoo HSBC UK Brand US Search
Yahoo HSBC UK London UK Search
Now, let’s run searches for the same terms in Google. Like Microsoft, Google returns five types of views albeit under different button terms: Map, Street, Traffic, Satellite and Terrain Views.
The look and feel of Google’s views seem more visually pleasing than both the Microsoft and Yahoo products, however my appraisal is subjective.
Microsoft’s search and map features seem to be evenly matched with Googles’ and beyond those of Yahoo’s. Microsoft’s “Bird’s Eye” view does appear to ahead of its counterpart – Google’s satellite view.
Google (US) Brand Search: Verizon Wireless New York, NY
Google Verizon Wireless NY Map View
Google Verizon Wireless NY Street View
Google Verizon Wireless Traffic View
Google Verizon Wireless NY Satellite View
Google Verizon Wireless Terrain View
Google offers only three viewing options in the UK at this time compared to Microsoft’s five, yet I can fetch the results from Google’s US property unlike with Yahoo.
Google (UK) Brand Search: HSBC, London England
Google US HSBC Brand Search London UK Map View
Overall Microsoft, Google and Yahoo each offer their version of both business and brand rich search results.
From what I can tell, businesses and brands have yet to scratch the surface so to speak when it comes to reaching their potential customers in this new geographically rich and fertile target marketing environment.