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2011 Google Algorithm Changes

We all know that Google changes it’s algorithms a lot within a year, but 2011 is by far a year with the most significant changes rolled out by Google. There’s been a trend of more personalized and social driven algorithm changes made by Google in 2011.

See the below chart of Google Algorithm changes made in 2011, courtesy of HigherVisibility

Top Google Algorithm Changes of 2011 by HigherVisibility


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Some SEO Fun!

For all those SEOs with a few minutes to kill, try this cool SEO Crossword puzzle to test your knowledge :-)

SEO Crossword Puzzle


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Digital as an ‘add on’

Can it be said that digital is simply an ‘add on’ to a strategy or are brands looking at digital in the completely wrong way?

With any new media there is always concern and uneasiness regarding its use, but the growth of digital has now surpassed this child-like stage, where more brands are now choosing to allocate a larger percentage of their budgets towards the use of digital media over the use of traditional media than ever before. According to the Digital Media and Marketing Association “The outlook for the South African digital publishing industry is positive with excellent results being recorded in the first quarter of 2010.”

It can therefore no longer be said that digital is an ‘add on’ to a brand strategy due to its rapid growth over the last few years. Digital should be seen as a viable platform; just like that of television and newspapers and just like with any other platform the selection for a brand will ultimately depend on the overall objectives determined within the strategy. A brand should thus always utilise a media neutral approach.

If digital does however work for the brand there are various advantages of its use. Digital can be updated and changed whenever necessary, unlike that of traditional media, so if there is an issue with a website for example, it can be fixed almost immediately. Secondly, the concept of instant links back to the world of digital and directly correlates with the ideals of the new consumer who ultimately thrives on instant gratification.  Digital media is also much more measurable in terms of reporting, as information is more freely available and through Google analytics for example information is collected and organised almost immediately.

There are many other digital tools for tracking and measuring data and many can be utilised free of charge, making it a lower cost medium in terms of measuring. Lastly, digital is more focused on Return on Investment (ROI), however it is vital to ensure what the set criteria is in order to achieve that success. According to Ahmed and Tunnah, who are both involved in large corporate digital endeavours “If you don’t have clear criteria for success and a way to measure your progress against them, there’s no way you can be deemed to succeed.”


Digital should no longer be seen as an ‘add on’ to a strategy, because it has gone through a rapid growth over the last few years.  It should however be viewed as a platform, whereby it is selected so as to achieve specific objectives. A brand should never just push digital to fit into a specific message, as this will simply result in wasted time and limited results. Digital offers many advantages over the use of traditional media and therefore if it is determined that digital media is relevant in achieving the objectives, the desired goals must be identified so as to measure the brands overall success.                                                                   




  How does your brand operate?

Have you used digital as an ‘add on’?

Are you operating in a media neutral way?

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Media Buying in a Modern Economy

Are traditional platforms dying and is digital taking over? Where is the money going? Which media channels are the best to invest in?

The answer is simple: Be available on the platforms that consumers want you to be available on. These days, that is just about everywhere.

When it comes to digital platforms, Yvonne Johnston recons that the consumer is making the choice to interact: “They are not just there, they choose to follow through and click on your banner”. Gordon Muller warns against this view by adding that consumers do not choose to see your banner or PPC advertisement, it is just there. They choose only when they click on that banner or start a conversation with you on Twitter, for example. So the ultimate goal would be to get that engagement from them and you can only do this if you understand their head space, explains Johnston. Digital platforms, specifically social media, provide marketers with the opportunity to understand this headspace better. We can see what consumers think about brands, and if it is negative, we can interact with them and attempt to change their mind and according to Johnston there is no better brand ambassador than a person that used to be negative about the brand and then changed their opinion.

This power of digital and social media has led to an increase of media spend going towards these platforms and ultimately a decrease on spend going towards above the line (ATL) media, says Jennifer Grace. She further stated that there is value in digital and this is proven by the statistics, but still digital should not be chosen over ATL media but instead be integrated. Donald Liphoko adds that this is why ATL is used to tell consumers where the conversation is; we use ATL to drive consumers to digital. He continues to say that digital is seen as more accountable than traditional media, although we do not know what the true value of a like or tweet is. Marketers are also still wary of using digital as the brand risk is high – “consumers can say what they want online”

In reality, consumers are already saying what they want online, whether your brand is listening and responding or not. Brands cannot afford not to be available on digital platforms if this is where their audience is and although there is risk involved, this can be managed and monitored. Grace also mentioned that although marketers are still wary of digital media, digital media also sees ATL as a threat, but instead should be tapping into it and integrating more. Muller agrees by stating that “We didn’t create TV agencies when we were first introduced to TV as a medium, so why do we have digital agencies? Digital should be integrated.”

Although integration seems to be the ideal, a member of the audience pointed out that “Digital is usually only used as afterthought, but actually requires upfront planning. In reality digital gets 2% of the planning but causes 120% of the headache, so most of the time it’s just cut out.” Muller added that although this is true it is similar to the example of your neighbour relieving himself on your lawn every morning – “It’s not your fault, but it is your problem.” He then continued to explain that the only way around this is through forward planning and not viewing ATL and digital as two separate campaigns.

In conclusion, there are three things to remember:

  • The campaign allows you to communicate what you want to, but remember that the audience is always looking – you should be where they are looking and when they are looking.
  • Be relevant, topical and funny – keep up with the times, change according to the audience and resonate with those who are looking to participate.
  • Remember that every media decision should be logically explainable – the issue is no longer about where to communicate, but about how to communicate.


This is a summary of the information shared at the Journal of Marketing breakfast debate.

The panellists were:

  • Jennifer Grace: Head of Media at Native
  • Gordon Muller: GSM Quadrant
  • Donald Liphoko: Director at The MediaShop
  • Yvonne Johnston: Head of Marketing at the SABC

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LinkedIn New Company Status Update Feature

LinkedIn has introduced a new feature for companies to be able to engage directly with their followers and potential customers. Now this will encourage more interaction online from corporates and companies are able to update their status on their company page and share with their network.

How it works:

  1. You post a status update to share information which could be anything from announcements, product releases, promotions, or just news articles straight from your Company Overview page.
  2. Your status update is then posted directly to each of your followers’ homepages where they can comment, like or share your update with their entire network. (Companies will need to be very active and provide interesting and relevant updates to their followers to really reap the full benefits of this feature.)
  3. You can also monitor engagement metrics of your posts to see what type of posts best work for your business goals and through this analysis you could optimize your conversations.

This feature could generate lucrative leads to companies that use it smartly and also acquire a loyal clientele.

You can learn more on how to set up your company page effectively to best benefit from this feature by studying the How-To Guide, for all the do’s and don’ts.

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MC Hammer to launch a Search Engine

Okay, yes I know… I also thought this was a hoax. But I actually did more research on it and came across the below video in which MC Hammer is interviewed by O’reilly Media at the Web 2.0 Summit 2011. I was quite amazed by the “Can’t Touch This” star’s knowledge of tech and his different thinking around search.

His search engine called WireDoo will offer more filtered and targeted search results, which will return not only your query results but also related content to your query which he refers to as “deep and relationship search”.

The search engine market is a very hard one to crack with the giant Google, Yahoo! and Bing.You can watch the below video for more insight on this new upcoming search engine and check out the site here (not launched yet, just a login page and weird logo), and you can judge for yourself. I wonder what the search button will be called… “it’s hammer time”? LOL

MC Hammer interviewed at Web 2.0 Summit 2011

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JOM Breakfast – Design and Packaging

We attended the the JOM (Journal of Marketing) Breakfast Debate this morning (07:30 am – 09:00 am GMT +2) at the MichelAngelo in Sandton, hosted by Jeremy Maggs (@maggsonmedia), presented by Future Group and sponsored by Sappi and  ABSA bank, marketing debates supported by Remata. The focal subject of the event was Design and Packaging.

We had a great line-up of panelists to address us on Design and Packaging from various industries that are very influencial in the entire process. The panelists were as following: Gareth PearsonCEO and Shareholder at BMI Reasearch, Andrew HumanCEO of The Loeries Awards, Adam Botha Creative Director of Switch Branding and Design, Mariette Du PlessisPartner at Adams & Adams, and Karen SavilleClient Service Director at Y&R (Johannesbburg).

Jeremy Maggs opened the discussion by sharing a few consumer behavior studies done which reveal that 70% of purchase decisions by the consumer are made in-store hence the importance of outstanding packaging which gives the consumer a different experience in their “mood of purchase moment”.

Gareth Pearson then took over taking us further into detail of “Consumer Insight” by adding how consumers are looking for value and convenience as the main factors influencing their purchase decision. And with the “Green” movement, now consumers are also environment conscious which affects the packaging of products.

The recycling process has quite a huge impact on logistics therefore added costs to the manufacturing of packages. Even though the Green movement has slowed down over the years, government regulations are being discussed to be put in place and the packaging industry will self-regulate through the Waste Management Bill.

Also social media has an impact on packaging, one example being the QR  codes on Doritos pack which pack design and product testing were done resulting from the impact of Waste Management Bill. But regardless of some of the limitations that affect design of packaging, we still come up on top for creativity and innovation in the world with the 2009 World Star Awards being testimony to that as South Africa won 9 awards, Japan 7, Norway 2 and Singapore 1. We must not downplay how creative we are.

Andrew Human then filled us in on how new and innovative packages create a different experience for the consumer. The Loeries Awards focus on the following quality of packaging trends: innovation and relevance to brand and audience. He then shared a few winning examples like, packaging by Bushmills and Cabriere.

It appeared that the most package conscious manufacturers are the Alcohol and Perfume industries. Well it has been researched and discovered that Alcohol and perfume purchases are highly driven by their packaging. Consumers almost exclusively purchase based on the packaging, which affects the pricing of the product.

Another example of great packaging is the Café Royale Tequila packaging – great innovation where South America meets Italy was the theme of the design.

Adam Botha talks sustainability of packaging design, the impact of CPA and the challenge to be creative taking all those parameters into consideration. As packaging is the final point of contact before the consumer makes a decision to purchase, it’s important for your product to stand out driven by creativity as the consumer notices what’s different.

A few techniques you can use is illustration to create a hand crafted, sustainable look. This can also help to curb the new rules of the CPA as The new CPA legislation is challenging creative minds to stay within the boundaries therefore limiting designers from being more innovative.

Karen Saville from Y&R shares with us their Pick ‘n Pay on Nicol project with us and all the design elements that went into the project including their target of their entire concept and how they brought that innovation to life with the help of the contractors they worked with. PnP brought global best practice, briefed architects and went away from the box format.

Y&R focused on making the store a sensory and comfortable experience for the visitors by being involved in every detail of the store. They used iconography rather than wording to achieve a more pleasant and interactive in-store experience for consumers which will make them spend more time in the store and make more purchases there.

Thyme on Nicol restaurant is seamlessly intergrated into PnP on Nicol whereas Good Food Studio is sexier and focused on ingredients. “the more pleasant and interactive you make your in-store experience, the more time people will spend in your store.” ~ Karen Saville.

With all the creativity and innovation needed in the design of your packaging, the companies who succeed at this face a lot of copy cats of competing products using the same theme of their creative to try to steal the loyal consumer purchases made based on the winning packaging.

Therefore it’s very important to register your creative to avoid such, as most companies do not register their creative which would cost them way less than a legal lawsuit against copy cats would cost them. Product creative counterfeiting is the biggest growing industry in the world!!!, and that’s where legal firms such as Adams & Adams come in.

Mariette du Plessis educated us on the legal and regulations side of the whole matter at hand. Any packaging can be protected if it can be graphically presented. She used the Jack Daniels packaging as an example of a very distinctive and subjective design. The Coke bottle is also a great example of trade marking.

Words like “pure” and “natural” cannot be used on packaging. “Original” can only be used if you are the first to launch such a product in that category.  Due to the CPA we need to design packaging to be more transparent and give the right and full information for the consumer. The package must not just only say “green” but the brand must be able to support by giving more information.


Packaging design is a highly influencing factor in consumer purchase, therefore for product manufacturers, design innovation must be an informed business decision. Not just the design, but also the green and organic factors are now being considered by consumers in packaging.

Innovation in packaging is determined by budget as packaging can cost up to 45% of the overall product cost. Design registration is very important to protect your creative design from copy cats.

Insights for the day: Be interactive, responsible, sustainable, innovative and creative.

Social Media marketing and management of this event was done by saidWot and Virtuosa.

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Why is the App socially Appealling?

After reading an interesting press release by Gartner a market research firm, it has been noted that by 2013 the mobile phone will have overtaken the use of personal computers (PCs) worldwide for accessing the web, with over 1.8 billion smartphones and browser-enhanced cell phones in use. This is an astonishing prediction which will influence the ways in which brands communicate with consumers on a daily basis. Mobile apps have therefore gained in importance as consumers spend more time on their phones, making it clear that mobile phones have more power for the brand than ever before.

Interesting mobile facts for South Africa:

  • 57 percent of South Africa only access the web through their mobile phone
  • In South Africa cell phone banking is used by 28 percent of the total population whilst only 16 percent of the population utilise Internet banking
  • In South Africa 65 percent of all smartphone owners use apps to improve their lives
  • On average a user spends 9% more time using mobile apps over the use of the Internet
  • Games and social networking apps combined are equal to 79 percent of consumers overall app usage time

The Mobile App
The trendy word in mobile today is the App. As consumers move into the notion of the super consumer, many feel the need to be in control of everything they see, view and interact with. Applications have thus gained a greater importance with apps for almost everything from fun apps (which may have no real use, like the infamous broken screen app) to business related apps which improve overall mobile operations speed and performance.

Mobile apps are creating more possibilities for the mobile phone, and brands like for example; LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter have taken advantage of this trend, by creating their own personalized apps. Mobile apps assist in brand integration and allow the consumer to stay connected whether it is off-line, online or though mobile and many brands will start developing apps as a way of communicating with consumers.

What is hAPPening in South Africa?
Vodacom has recently decided to create the brands own app store with over 140000 applications.  ”We think that this will drive the growth and innovation within an already thriving local South African mobile ecosystem,  ” they said.

MTN seems to have picked up on this new development and has announced that their own app store is “currently in the works,” with an apparent launch in less than six months time.

This trend has not only risen within mobile networks, as 5FM has created an app for BlackBerry which allows users to listen and stay connected to 5FM where ever they go, and FNB have launched both FNBConnect (used to locate ATM’s and has some of the VASP functionality) and the first South African integrated mobile banking application.

The growth of apps in South Africa and worldwide, continues to be on the increase and why not take advantage of it? Smartphones and browser-enhanced cell phones keep consumers connected 24/7 and it seems only obvious that to stay connected with the consumer is to talk to them where they already are.

Apps allow for greater consumer-brand interaction and consumers like to download different apps that make their lives easier. Apps may assist brands to break through endless ad clutter and to connect directly with their target markets. Who would have thought that smartphones and browser-enhanced cell phones would surpass the capabilities of the computer, but it seems that targeting of consumers on smartphone apps is the smart choice for brands today.

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The Loeries celebrates South Africa’s creatives


Cape Town became Loerie Town when the creative industry descended upon the Mother City for The 33rd Annual Loerie Awards, celebrating the best of South Africa’s communication work and providing delegates the opportunity to let their hair down after a year of hard work.


Loeries CEO, Andrew Human, is set on altering the perception of the festival from being seen as a weekend of partying and excess, to one that recognises the hard work of the creative industry and which is taken seriously by the rest of the country. There’s little doubt that the Loerie Awards should be taken seriously. Human feels that great brand communication benefits everyone, and the fact that every Apex Award winner this year was a Loeries winner in 2010 proves that good advertising is effective advertising. The Loeries recognises this and pushes the industry to produce even better, more effective work for clients.


Of course, it would be no fun if the Festival Weekend was all business and no pleasure. This year, the awards ceremonies offered a cult appeal with the inclusion of Riaan Cruywagen and David Hasselhoff as the masters of ceremonies. These ‘retro’ icons fitted in well with the juxtaposition of the use of the old style logo with the more modern slogan, ‘Don’t Hate, Create’, especially with Cruywagen adopting this ‘street’ lingo while dressed in his trademark grey suit.


It was also this kind of ‘out there’ thinking that resulted in this year’s Loerie winners walking away with the much-coveted statues. The Grand Prix-winning work showed just how creative South Africa’s creative industry can be, pulling off anything from a live activation silent marching band for VW’s Golf 6 (Ogilvy Cape Town), to the interactive ‘Flo Browser’ tool relying solely on user gestures for Musica (HelloComputer) and the hard-hitting ‘New Friends’ radio ad for Mercedes (Net#work BBDO). Interesting that the big winners were those who took a chance with riskier ideas, the likes of which we are used to seeing internationally.


Human is of the opinion that South Africa can compete internationally, especially in the medium of radio. He feels that we have untapped potential to succeed because our industry is much smaller than its overseas counterparts, meaning there is scope to gain a lot of experience rather than being pigeon-holed into one speciality.

Talking about being pigeon-holed, there was much discussion over the weekend about next year’s location for the festival, now that its three-year stint in Cape Town is over. However, the resounding opinion among delegates was that Cape Town remains the most relevant host, not least because of its chances of being named World Design Capital 2014. Cape Town mayor, Patricia De Lille, stated, “We will try to keep [them here] for at least the next three years.”


Considering that the 2011 Loeries are being touted as the best ever, perhaps that will become a reality. Regardless of where the festival is held, however, it’s something the organisers and the creative industry can be proud of.



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Facebook changes… again!

Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who is currently worth $17.5 billion (just in case you weren’t aware), has recently added a few changes to Facebook. So before you start panicking and calling your children or grandkids for help, here are a few things you should know, just to help you out!

First of all let’s look at your newsfeed.

This has been made more efficient by removing both Top Stories (which showed the most popular topics) and Most Recent (which placed news in chronological order). The newsfeed now puts up one stream of all the stories relevant to the time they were posted, and according to Facebook “News Feed will act more like your own personal newspaper. You won’t have to worry about missing important stuff.”

Facebook has increased the character limit for status update s from 420 to an impressive 5,000 meaning that brands now have the chance to say more than ever before. There are also bigger pictures in your newsfeed and you can mark stories as top stories meaning that Facebook will automatically put similar stories at the top of your newsfeed.

What is the ‘Ticker?’

Ticker allows the user to link up with friends in real-time whereby you can see immediate updates and join in conversations at any time as the news feed seems to lag in terms of immediacy. The ticker has now created the ability for you to ‘listen in’ on conversations that were meant to be private with people you may not even know (i.e. friends of friends).

What are Smart Lists?


Smart Lists allow the user to create lists based on certain aspects of an individual’s profile for example your family, school, university and so on. Once an individual in the list updates their profile or posts a comment, the list will indicate the total number of new posts by that group of people.

What about my privacy?

It is important to note that through the addition of the ticker, it is now easier for people  to view pretty much everything you post, like or add. You can limit this by changing your privacy settings to “friends only” or “custom” lists. These settings can be accessed either through the privacy setting in the top right corner of your post or at the top right corner of your page. Remember that with the new Facebook, everything you do will be shared immediately to your newsfeed so be careful when authorising various apps, and make sure you understand and are aware of your privacy settings.

According to an article by Alexandra Reid “If you’re friends with a prospect on Facebook, what you’re watching, reading and listening to, and even what locations you check into, can impact their perception of you professionally and damage business relationships.”

An important aspect you should however take note of is secure browsing. According to Carl “By default, Facebook sends your access credentials in the clear, with no encryption whatsoever. Switching to HTTPS is important because a browser extension called Firesheep has made it especially easy for anyone sharing your open wireless network—at cafe or conference, for example—to sniff your credentials and freely access your account.”

In order to change this, it is important to go to your account settings, select the security setting and enable the secure browsing option.

What should brands be aware of?

With Facebook’s new social plugin it is now possible to drive additional traffic to your site. The social plugin is installed on the businesses website and must then be permitted access by a Facebook member. Each time a user visits the businesses website a notification (stating that the page has been read) can be returned back to Facebook whereby a post will be shared on the users’ wall, and newsfeed. This facility is available to developers via Open Graph

A new button referred to as the ‘Subscribe Button’ could also assist in benefitting brands and their engagement with consumers (followers). The subscribe button allows the individual to subscribe to updates by public figures of the brand, who can share posts for the individuals who have subscribed. Additionally the brand can subscribe to regular influential visitors assisting in mutual relations. The subscribe button shares similar resemblance to the follow button on Twitter and works in a similar way.

The Ticker can be used to a brands adavntage as long as a brand has a cohesive strategy whereby updates are placed thoughtfully and interaction with consumers is relevant. Brands need to create relevant, consistent and interesting stories so as to keep the user interested and willing to engage regularly with the brand.


According to SodaHead a public opinion forum, 86% of users are against the Facebook changes with many saying that Facebook is overloading the user with too much information from both the Newsfeed and Ticker, being compared to a kind of Twitter feed, but it’s important to remember that “We are its product, not its customers,” says Andrew Brown editor of Cif belief, with its customers actually being the advertisers.

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