Smoke Signals

September 15th, 2011

Welcome to the Tribal DDB weekly Smoke Signals trend report, news from the frontier of digital marketing. We’ve scoured the net to bring you the hottest stories in the digital, media, and marketing space. Have any thoughts on any of these stories? We want to hear what you think!

Click here for the PDF version of this weekly report.

In this issue:
Google Expands Its Menu
Taking Guesswork out of Twitter Performance

Google Expands Its Menu

Google strengthened its local offering by acquiring Zagat on September 8 and adding the restaurant review giant’s services to its plethora of other offerings.  This recent deal clearly shows where Google’s strategy is headed. Google is no longer just in the business of aggregating content from other sites, but rather it strives to collect data and then make assessments based on the input it receives.

Zagat collects user opinions about restaurants, aggregates them and creates a valuable dataset that it can turn around and sell to others. Google intends to make Zagat the cornerstone of its local offering, adding another layer of sophistication and value to Google Place pages and all other Google location services. Given Google’s other recent product unveilings such as Google Offers, the purchase of Zagat seems like a great tool to position Google to compete with some of today’s daily deal businesses such as Groupon and Living Social.

Implications: As people increasingly access the Internet from their mobile devices as opposed to from their desktop computers, there is a greater need to provide search results and offers that are relevant to where a person is at any given time. Most experts agree that the local mobile advertising market is still relatively untapped with Google having a distinct early advantage. About 60 percent of ad revenue on mobile devices comes from search, and Google commands about 90 percent of that market. With this recent purchase, Google can become the uncontested go-to place online for local information by coupling its already strong location services with trustworthy reviews and the potential to delight consumers with relevant and timely deals, causing a serious threat to Yelp, Facebook Place Pages, and OpenTable.

Taking Guesswork out of Twitter Performance

Measuring social media has been one of the ultimate marketing challenges over the past few years. For the most part, due to Facebook’s stringent privacy rules and lack of appropriate web analytics tools, measurement has been unavailable or inconsistent at best.

To make matters a little easier, Twitter announced the release of a Web Analytics tool that will provide some clarity to website owners and publishers that rely on the social network for information distribution. The tool is meant to provide reporting on the performance and effectiveness of Twitter integrations for website owners. Based on information that has been released so far, this initiative will help provide metrics around 3 key areas: How much of the publisher’s content is being shared on Twitter, how much traffic Twitter is sending to the business and how well Tweet Buttons are performing.

The tool is free and currently in beta. A small group of users will gain access to it this week, and Twitter will roll it out to all website owners in a few weeks.

Implications: The more than three million web sites using the Twitter button suggest that Twitter is a central content distribution channel. Thus, it is very important that site owners and publishers have access to metrics that can take some of the guesswork out of interpreting Twitter use. This tool is expected to provide useful data to better understand how much influence a company’s content has on Twitter, to what extent people are sharing the content as well as the ROI in terms of site traffic, and how to effectively optimize Twitter usage.

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