Archive for the ‘Google’ Category

Church Launches World’s Largest Chalk Painting ‘Skyvertisement’

Saturday, April 19th, 2014

I’ve mentioned before how my church, Fellowship Church, has leveraged their position directly in the landing path zone near DFW Airport to promote themselves through the use of a huge logo painted directly on their roof — a form of ‘Roofvertising‘, as it were. They’ve now done yet another type of “Skyvertising” by painting a huge chalk portrait of Jesus on the church parking lot:

Fellowship Church's Chalk Portrait of Jesus

Fellowship’s Chalk portrait of Jesus. The chalk portrait coincides with the week leading up to Easter holiday weekend, and the chalk painting is a form of skyvertising. Aerial Photo Credit: WFAA

While this is clearly more of a novelty and a PR ploy to remind people that this is Easter weekend (many people only attend church twice per year — Easter Weekend and Christmas services), roofvertising and skyvertising are actually serious forms of marketing that can often reach a great many people who are exposed to the promotions when they fly over them or see them when browsing through satellite imagery and aerial photos in Google Maps, Bing Maps, Mapquest, and other mapping applications. KFC’s “Space Ad” — an image of their iconic “Colonel” mascot/logo built at large scale out in the desert of Nevada — was probably the most famous example of this type of marketing.

Fellowship’s chalk portrait of Jesus certainly allowed them to abruptly stand out from the crowd of other churches all vying for attendees this weekend. Many churches do little more to promote themselves at Easter than to hang a large banner outside. (more…)

Google Local Is Now A Train Wreck

Friday, November 30th, 2012

Mike Blumenthal posted earlier this week that Google Local is now a veritable train wreck, and I don’t think his statement is hyperbole.

Google Plus Local Page Business Problems

For some time now, Google Local (originally just referred to as “Google Maps”, then called “Google Local”, then called “Google Places”) has had some problems in how it handles how local businesses can manage their own data. All local data providers struggle with the process of how to verify whether someone has the right to change a business’s information — and Google’s phone call / post card verification process is no exception. So, it’s had that problem from the beginning, although it doesn’t seem to’ve gotten any smoother in the meantime.

Then there’s the changing nomenclature — they just don’t keep consistently using the same brandnames and terminology to refer to the data display, versus the interfaces that businesses use to manage their own data. Google Local Business Center became Google Places — where you could login to manage your Google Place Pages (your business profile pages that would appear in Google).

Now, along comes Google+ (aka “Google Plus”). Which has personal profiles for people to use in interacting socially, and then they allowed companies to set up profile pages for businesses — “Brand Pages”. Then the real sh*t hit the fan when they then smashed Google Places into Google Plus, and started referring to THOSE as “Google Plus Local” or “Google+ Local” pages.

But, what of those companies that had set up “Brand Pages” already?!?  The advent of Google+ Local pages essentially (more…)

Google’s Dracula Logo

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

I can’t resist mentioning Google’s Dracula themed logo today celebrating the 165th birthday of Bram Stoker!

Google Dracula Vampires Logo

Google Logo - Bram Stoker Customized Search Results Page

Sponsored search results associated with Google's Bram Stoker logo. (Click to enlarge.)

The logo presents scenes from Stoker’s Dracula uber-famous vampire book, done up in a woodcut-illustration style very reminiscent of the illustrations of Aubrey Beardsley, from the same time period. Dracula was published in 1897.

What may be more significant for search marketers, however, is the special search results page the logo is linked-to, which features Bram Stoker-related books, the Sponsored “shop for” sidebar box and the Wikipedia entry highlights box, along with the usual Universal Search items peppered through the search results listings: news search, author-tagged posts, video and image search results.

This logo and associated search results treatment seems to be specifically designed to help propel featured sponsor ad clicks, as well as to promote Google’s robust search results features.

It calls to question — will Google continue to specifically try to monetize their future Google Doodle logos in a similar fashion?

Google+ Local Pages Delurk At Last

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

Well, just as previously rumored and predicted by many of us, Google+ has finally incorporated special treatment pages for local businesses.

Check out Google’s main page about the service. Google’s VP of Product Management, Marissa Mayer, helped promote the new features by going on CBS This Morning, where they referred to it as “a location-based social media search engine available on desktops and mobile devices”, which sounds borderline hyped, if accurate.

Here’s the video:

One interesting element which we couldn’t foresee was how Google would launch this with such a heavy tie-in with ratings from Zagats which they bought not long ago. As the official Google Blog post relates, one of the main aspects of the tie-in with Google Plus is how they’re intending this to push more “recommendations and reviews from people you know and trust”. (more…)

New Google Offices Open in Frisco, North Dallas Area

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012
Playroom at Google offices in Dallas area, 2007

Playroom at Google offices in Dallas area, 2007

The Dallas Business Journal reports that Google opened a new office in Frisco for around 50 employees in March.

The DBJ writer states that this is Google’s “first office in North Texas”, which is unfortunately incorrect. Google Audio, their radio ads project, had earlier opened offices back in 2007 next to the facility I worked at in Coppell, as I reported on Natural Search Blog, and as Search Engine Land mentioned.

Google also previously had an office in Dallas, as Bill Hartzer has mentioned, and I recall that they had previously had an office in Irving which was devoted to PPC ad optimization specialists.

In fact, Google has opened and closed offices with such frequency here in the DFW Area over the past handful of years that one now can’t help but wonder if they’re really serious, or is this to be an extenuation of the schizophrenic office-opening exercises they seem intent upon doing?

Here’s the office location:


View Google's Dallas Area Offices in a larger map

(more…)

Google’s Geology Logo

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

I thought the Google logo commemorating the birthday of Nicolas Steno, popularly known as “The Father of Geology”, was a particularly effective logo treatment:

Google Nicolas Steno Geology logo

The 3-D letters which are made to communicate the concept of cut-away views of earth sections to show layers of rock and sediment were effortless-seeming in their execution. This is a really great example of typography and graphic art — it’s very nearly an infographic — and, it does all this without losing the recognizability of the Google name (which some of their special logos have done).

Very cool!

New Google Maps Ads Bad For All Constituents: Consumers, Businesses & Advertisers

Monday, November 21st, 2011

Google Maps has introduced “bubble ads” which feature an advertiser in the info bubble/tooltip that appears above pinpointed locations in the map interface. Mike Blumenthal points these out with a “rogue’s gallery” of inappropriate ad placements. I believe these must be the “big changes” alluded-to in Google insider rumors I reported upon a few weeks ago.

It’s not hard to find instances of ads which arguably should not be allowed to be displayed smack along with a business’s listings. Here’s one I just grabbed showing an ad below a local doctor’s listing — the ad urges consumers and potential patients to “Check for disciplinary action”, and has parsed the doctor’s name into the ad itself — casting an implicit aspersion upon the doctor, and potentially damaging the doctor’s conversion rate if the advertiser’s site has some sort of negative information about the doctor:

Bad Ad Placements in Google Maps

As Mike points out in his post, there are many cases of inappropriate ads showing up with these — and, it’s hard for me to find a whole lot of cases where an ad might be considered “appropriate” from the perspective of businesses “graced” with oddball ads. I can see where such ads would make sense for some landmarks and other non-business places, but for business listings themselves, such ads are at best distracting and at worst they are actually damaging to businesses’ referral rates.

From the perspective of small businesses, the new ads are far worse than having nearby competitors appearing on their profile Place Pages — these ads are visible at a higher level in the consumer research cycle, and interfere with the potential for users to move any deeper in clicking through to read more details about the business’s information. The related listings showing and ads which have been displayed on Place Pages are shown lower on the page and are not as prominent in the cycle as consumers seek provider information.

One has to wonder how Google can keep a straight face in claiming that the advertising side of the house is separated by a “firewall” from the search engineering side at this point!

One also wonders how Google intends to spin this to local businesses — it feels very extortionary — “you’d better advertise on your own listing, or we’ll let someone else take it hostage!”

This appears to be yet another of many instances where Google does a poor job in designing the online user-experience due to an obstinate refusal to do any sort of user experience testing or focus group testing for local business owners — which are one of the major constituent audiences which makes use of Google Maps. Not only does this new ad presentation *not* improve or avoid detracting from the user experience, it damages how Google is perceived in the eyes of millions of small businesses.

How is it helpful to Google Places to make local businesses feel downright hostile to your company?

The Occupy Protesters Google-Bombed Maps

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

The Atlantic Wire reported that Occupy Oakland protesters managed to get the name of Frank H. Ogawa Plaza to be changed in Google Maps to “Oscar Grant Plaza” — the name they dubbed it in remembrance of a man killed by BART police on New Years in 2009.

After media began noticing the unofficial name appearing in Google Maps, Google apparently corrected the error. I just did the search, and the plaza is showing the official name within the map, although you can see from the tooltip that some user had been encouraging people to post ratings under the protesters’ nickname for the place:

Oscar Grant Plaza in Google Maps

A Google spokesperson admitted that the name came from user-submitted edits, and that it shouldn’t have been approved, but should have been allowed as a “search reference”. I’ll translate: Google should not have pasted the name on the map as an official place-name, but should have allowed it to be added to their synonym database so that people searching on the name could easily find the location it refers to. As you can see from my screen-grab, it is now functioning as a search reference.

Concerningly, this incident supports what I have been saying, along with others, that Google Maps is particularly prone to Google-bombing from user-submitted content (“UGC”) edits. As I illustrated recently from Mike Blumenthal’s experiment to flag Google HQ as closed, some types of edits can result in businesses getting their listings defaced with false claims that they’re no longer open, and in even worse cases business Place Pages could get forced to rank for obnoxious terms, and labeled with descriptive terms that sabotage business referrals.

I could argue that it’s actually improper for the plaza to be made to rank for the unofficial name in this place, under the condition of a purposeful Google-bombing exploit. I can also argue that it’s useful and helpful for users to be able to search for places under their common nicknames and alternative spellings. But, I bend more towards this being an inappropriate association in this case. The edits were a type of vandalism intended to hijack place-names in maps in order to convey a political message represented by what was probably a relative minority (assuming the Occupy Oakland protest was a part of the nationwide protest movements sparked by Occupy Wall Street, it’s hard to fathom what a police killing in 2009 has to do with the outrage against corporate corruption and economic problems, other than perhaps some desire to kick up the drama a notch or to appeal to a subset of protesters who desire to associate themselves with a sort of iconic martyrdom).

Considering how there are relatively few checks and balances in place, it’s really not surprising that a mob of people can hijack a place name in Google Maps and change it to communicate their political message. This sort of thing is happening on a much smaller scale to hundreds and thousands of businesses which are unfairly harmed by similarly applied user edits.

While it’s great that consumers have a greater voice in this Business 2.0 age, I think some more balance needs to be brought back to “The Force” by way of limiting the easy manipulation of Google Places and it’s vulnerability to such exploits.

Google’s Jack-O’-Lantern Logo Celebrating Halloween

Monday, October 31st, 2011

Google’s Jack-O’-Lantern logo celebrating Halloween this year is particularly cool:

Google's Jack-O-Lantern Logo for Halloween

It combines two-dimensional logo design, sculpting, and performance art, since it is a video showing the Google team sketching their designs on the jumbo-sized pumpkins, carving them, hanging out with each other, and then the jackolanterns are lit as dusk is falling, until you ultimately see only the carved letters glowing with flickering candlelight in the dark of night.

Not only is the logo fun, but it perfectly encapsulates the experiential nature of the traditional pumpkin-carving experience, and a bit of the feel of Halloween festivals here in America. The extra-large pumpkins are set on bales of hay in the central courtyard of what appers to be the Googleplex (Google’s headquarters cluster of buildings) in Mountain View, California.

I like that they designed this variation of their logo while still including the basic nature of the letters, so it’s still readable as the word while also capturing the spirit of Halloween.

Will Google Use Spelling & Grammar As Ranking Factors?

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

Google’s Webmaster Help video by @MattCutts about spelling and grammar is quite interesting:

In it, Matt answers the question of whether spelling/grammer matter to them when they evaluate a site’s quality for ranking purposes.

I wrote about this exact thing in “Google Penalty For Low-Quality Writing?” over a year ago, and some commenters thought the concept of Google analyzing text to detect bad grammar and misspelling was too farfetched to believe possible. However, I’ve read some of the books on corpus linguistics, and it has seemed to me that it’s well within the realm of possibility.

Fast-forward to now, and Matt has essentially stated that some within Google have done some work on (more…)