Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Do you live in the 'Bot-infested Badlands' ?

News Corp announced last week revenues of $2.18bn for the last 3 months of 2017. But aside from the 3% year-on-year improvement, the biggest headline grabbing phrase was reserved for CEO Robert Thomson describing the dysfunctional digital environment as "The bot-infested badlands".

This is clearly him positioning his brands as the quality online publishers and the opposite of the digital locations that are "hardly a safe space for advertisers, whose brands are being tainted by association with the extreme, the violent and the repulsive".


Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The Four Technical Pillars of Digital Transformation

There's no doubting that the path to successful Digital Transformation involves changes to: people (e.g.skills), processes, products (e.g. the creation or improvement of customer facing software) and proposition. The temptation is therefore to assume the technology will just "sort itself out" without an investment in thought, effort and finances. 

So what technology is now supporting the transformation to digital?

Here's my top 4:

The move to cloud
The use of online cloud-based services such as Amazon (AWS) and Microsoft (Azure) means that issues such as the hosting and the scaling of digital platforms becomes an on-demand Operational Expenditure (Opex) rather than a Capital Expenditure (CapEx) cost. With this high cost barrier now radically changed (as we create a shift from one column to the other on the Finance Department's spreadsheet), this means that demand and growth of online services are easier to deal with.

The digitisation of services
The conversion of the physical into software has been happening for some while. We've had digital media players and MP3 collections for many years now and you only have to look at how many of our daily tools are on our mobile devices, including: cameras, credit cards, health meters, maps, messengers and travel tickets. Now, with increased processing capability everywhere, what else can now move from being tangible to tap-able?

The creation and use of APIs
Organisations increasingly want simpler user interfaces that present and collate functionality and content from multiple systems behind the scenes. Your users don't care if your systems are having to pull together multiple source of data to present their online information in the way they want it, if you don't they will get frustrated (and consequently look to go elsewhere). Building Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) for each software system  enables this flexibility by providing the means for others to remotely invoke your applications functionality in a system-to-system way.

The adoption of DevOps
As the speed and complexity of digital delivery increases, companies realise they must integrate software development and IT operations. DevOps is the newer approach to this, where continual deployment becomes the norm and the ability of your tech team evolves form just being able to create stable code, to also deploying this code to a stable managed (typically cloud) environment.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Stop thinking Digital Transformation is just a bolt-on


The next person I hear who states that "we are using online as just another retail / communications channel" or something similar is:
1. either getting a piece of my mind
2. a clip around the ear

You don't "just do digital" by bolting it onto your tired and outdated business processes that your company probably inherited from the 1950s. 

Yes digital is set of technology driven  business changes that you either implement or you more than likely fall behind. But just hiring a decent technology team to add something to your current ways of working just isn't going to cut it!

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Murdoch upset with Facebook again

The billionaire publisher is once more annoyed at Facebook for making money promoting newspapers' content.
So unsurprisingly he demands even more money.


“If Facebook wants to recognize ‘trusted’ publishers then it should pay those publishers a carriage fee similar to the model adopted by cable companies,” 

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Mobile Page Speed, SEO and AMP

You may have heard about it, but Google announced yesterday that:
"starting in July 2018, page speed will be a ranking factor for mobile searches."

So how does this affect Mobile Search Engine Optimisation?
Well... Firstly don't panic. Website speed is already a ranking signal for desktop search and following yesterday's announcement this signal will now come into effect for mobile sites in July.
So even though Google is almost certainly tracking page speed already, it will not have an effect in the SERPs until later this year, so you do have 6 months to make changes to your site.

How does this affect AMP?
The Accelerated Mobile Pages Project (AMP) is an open-source initiative to improve the performance of web content on mobile devices. They are useful lightweight versions of your web pages that are hosted elsewhere (not on your own website) for speed, which in-turn improves their changes of being downloaded and read. However there is no direct link (yet) between Google's mobile organic rankings and AMP, plus there is no organic site penalty for not having it.
But even though the two things are separate, they can work together to get more website traffic and therefore conversions. This is because AMP can have their content displayed in a carousel at the top of the Search Engine Results SERPs. And therefore, even without PPC AdWords appearing, both AMP and organic search ranking of pages can push your content to the top of the search results in your mobile browser.
Note: We are also seeing the content/layout and even the appearance of this carousel change in the SERPS over time and location, so its display there should not be guaranteed.

What can I do about it?
Therefore we recommend to all clients and the wider online community that:

  • Site owners minimise all page weight wherever possible (e.g. reduce the use of scrips and keep images to the lowest size possible - one client website has a strict policy that no image must be greater than 200k)
  • AMP is considered a technology on websites that have content that does not dynamically change all the time (e.g. it is not advisable for eCommerce or fast-moving information sites).
  • If you are in doubt... ask your SEO consultant.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Amazon own brands due to grow in 2018

Most people think that Amazon is just an online store for other companies and their products. Starting from humble eCommerce beginnings just selling books, the modern day retail behemoth now sells nearly everything from fresh produce through to antique furniture.

But most people don't realise that Amazon also currently owns about 45 brands and gets around 15% of its private-label sales come from them. For a breakdown of these see my earlier post: Amazon's own brands

And 2018 looks to be the year that Amazon truly evolves from a marketplace that just sells other brands, into a fully-fledged super retailer that owns the entire retail supply chain.

For more detail on this, take a look at the recent report from One Click Retail:

Whatever next? 
How about Amazon buys Costco, the $83 Billion global retailer who has its own Kirkland brand sold predominantly across its stores?

Monday, January 1, 2018

Quiz : Which Facebook person are you?

A. Look I’m travelling somewhere for work
B. Oh no its Monday again – here’s a picture of a Minion and a passive aggressive comment
C. Here’s me on my boat, bike, etc during the middle of the day

A. Look I’m travelling back from somewhere for work
B. Here's a bloody boring news article about something depressing
C. Pictures of me in a foreign country doing nice stuff

A. Here’s a link back to something I was doing 3 years ago when it was a weekend and a comment like "oh my, I wish i was doing that now..."
B. Image of kittens or babies or just anything better that my damn life right now!
C. I'm out at some event on Wednesday evening. That's late on WEDNESDAY people!

A. Here’s an article about alcohol, I may have a drink tonight if I didn't have to get up at 5am tomorrow
B. 3 burgers + 1 fries = £30, how much is a milk shake? (or is that 2 fries now I've looked at what everyone else has answered?)
C. Interesting anecdote about someone I once worked with (but don't any more because I don’t have to work)

A. A picture of a gin bottle
B. "Hurrah, it's sodding Friday people!!!"
C. I'm walking the dog at 5:30am and telling everyone that life is great

A: "Ahhhh...  hangover. But I need to go out and enjoy myself..."
B.  Nothing, apart from a picture linked to your Instagram account and a photo of some food.
C. A quote from someone spiritual & poignant on Sunday afternoon.

Mainly A's
You don't yet own your house, your car or even possibly the clothes you have to work in. The weekend is for resting and drinking. but you still have to go back to work on Monday and do the whole thing again. Your favourite colour is purple... maybe.

Mainly B's
Get a grip snowflake. Stop living your life on Social Media and spend it in the real world.
But if you don't forward this message on to 100 people in 10 minutes then some puppies will die.
Your star sign is Pisces or something...

Mainly C's
You're enjoying life and you've probably got a rich daddy, sugar daddy or a final salary pension whilst they were still giving those out. You probably never do these quizzes and the rest of us secretly dislike you.