To Share or Not to Share: How Gamification is Swaying the Modern Consumer’s Loyalty

Although 94% of C-suite leaders consider customers’ data to be of paramount importance, privacy continues to be a hot-button issue. Data privacy practices have come under increased scrutiny with the passing of regulations such as the General Data Protection Regulation, aimed at protecting individuals from the misuse and exploitation of personal information. Even as consumers continue to debate the tradeoff between convenience and control, one thing is clear—they are craving a more intuitive and personalized experience. How, then, can companies reconcile the differences and walk the tightrope as they acquire a 360-degree view of their audience?

Gamification is one path forward.

Visual Search Moves Beyond Experimentation and Into Prime Time

After years of experimentation and broad discussions about how visual search would someday take hold, it’s clear that the future has arrived. Visual search has moved into the mainstream, and companies like Pinterest, Instagram, and even Google are paving the way for consumers to engage more deeply with the products they find online.

As visual search moves into the mainstream, questions are intensifying over what impact the medium will have on SEO and traditional search metrics.

Who’s Winning the Reviews Race? How Do We Define Winning?

In their latest Street Fight conversation, Mike Blumenthal and David Mihm examine the state of the local reviews space and assess the reasons for Google’s dominance. “For me, the question of the future is whether Google’s behaviors will impact the remaining vertical sites over the next 10 years,” Mike writes.

To Understand the Tech Industry’s Responsibilities, We Must Think Differently About Humanity

These questions would be preludes to less abstract ones that will seem more familiar to the creatures of Silicon Valley. Is Facebook responsible if people use WhatsApp and Messenger to spread false news and incite genocide? Is that just the fault of (heinous) people being (heinous) people or should the platforms be held accountable? As for privacy and data collection, what rights do people have to safeguard their information from the communications platforms they use? What does data scraped from Google search or Amazon’s facial recognition technology have to do with our identities? Can data be human?

How to Survive the Coming Data Privacy Tsunami

Just as we have gotten used to the idea that the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a fact of life and have made modifications in our data collection procedures, the Brazil General Data Protection Law (LGDP), the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), and waves of proposed new data privacy laws are swirling in the calm preceding a privacy tsunami heading our way. All these privacy regulations share a number of commonalities, and by addressing them now, you will be on high ground as the waves begin to pound.

As GDPR’s One-Year Anniversary Approaches, Where Are We Now?

One year in, it’s clear that the full impact of GDPR still hasn’t been felt. The regulation is structured in a way that puts less pressure on large companies than smaller businesses, and that’s something that regulators will have to continue sorting out. But the changes Europe’s law portends are undeniable: Privacy legislation is coming to the United States, and the data collection practices that made many Silicon Valley pioneers rich will never be quite so unbridled again.

5 Visual Marketing Platforms for Brands

Amazon, Alibaba, and eBay are just a few online retailers with new visual search tools, and social media platforms like Snapchat are letting users take pictures of items to buy on Amazon and Pinterest. By using enterprise-level visual marketing platforms, brands can capitalize on their visibility across the web and drive more revenue from the images and other content their customers are creating.

Here are five visual marketing platforms that brands are using right now.

Does Influencer Marketing Have a Transparency Problem?

Although the average share of budgets spent on influencer marketing is just 10%, that figure is growing as visual platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and Pinterest see explosive growth.

The problem? Brands are often focusing on misleading vanity metrics in an attempt to justify those investments. For example, many marketers track follower counts as a primary indicator for determining brand and influencer partnerships. Growing evidence shows that follower counts do not equate to true impressions or reach data, giving brands a false sense of how their campaigns are performing.

At I/O, Google Offers a New Vision for Local Search

The notion of “helping you get things done,” emphasized by Sundar Pichai in his I/O keynote, provides a through-line for many of the event’s announcements. It struck me watching the presentations how thoroughly Google has become a consumer electronics company, a marketer of devices where search is more a central feature than a standalone product. Google, in other words, has become thoroughly dedicated to marketing its famous search capabilities in the context of devices that help you perform daily tasks. In the process, it is transforming local search and how we relate to the world with electronic devices.

Visual Search and Local: A Match Made in Mountain View

Though visual search challengers such as Snapchat and Pinterest could shine in niche use cases such as fashion items, Google will rule as the best all-around utility for visual search. It has the deepest tech stack, and the substance (knowledge graph) to be useful beyond just a flashy novelty for identifying things visually.

The name of the game now is to get users to adopt it. Google Lens won’t be a silver bullet and will shine in a few areas where Google is directing users, such as pets and flowers. But it will really shine in product search, which happens to be where monetization will eventually come into the picture.

Beyond SEO: How to Reframe the Local Marketing Conversation

“I am looking for a language framework that helps business understand that the idea of ranking only makes sense in the context of not just getting more customers but also keeping them. While businesses might want a floodgate of leads, there are many things that they could be doing that would be cost-effective and productive,” Mike Blumenthal tells David Mihm in their latest Street Fight discussion.

6 Influencer Marketing Platforms for Brands

As some of the most visual social channels, Instagram, Snapchat, and Pinterest have become important tools for brand marketers. These are also the channels most likely to be used by so-called “influencers,” the social media stars who frequently partner with brands to promote products to their online followers. Influencer marketing has become a big business, with 31% of retailers now working with brand advocates to become influencers and 28% using paid celebrity influencers to spread the word about their products and services.

Here are six popular influencer marketing platforms being used by retailers and brands right now.

Retailers Use Visual Channels to Attract Last-Minute Mother’s Day Shoppers

Spending on Mother’s Day is expected to reach $25 billion this year, with consumers flocking to department stores and florists in search of the perfect gifts for Mom. The bulk of that spending will happen in the next few days, as foot traffic data from the location platform GroundTruth reveals that Americans tend to wait until the very last minute to shop for Mother’s Day gifts.

What are retailers around the country doing to prepare for the onslaught of last-minute shoppers? More than ever before, retailers are leaning on visual marketing opportunities to drive last-minute sales.

Report: Websites and GMB Profiles Both Essential for Local Businesses

A whopping 64% of respondents indicated relying on Google My Business to find contact information for local business, suggesting it’s an indispensable platform. Yet consumers still trust local business websites most of all, and only 8% say they never consult a business’ website when making shopping decisions.

Will Google Ask Businesses to Pay for Listings?

Google recently sent surveys to a number of Google My Business (GMB) users, asking a range of questions about their local marketing activities and their level of interest in certain paid features within GMB. The survey suggests that Google is at least thinking about a paid version of the GMB feature set. For the local search industry, a paid GMB product offered to businesses of all types could be quite disruptive, especially if it ended up gradually degrading the value of organic listings.

May Focus: Visualizing Local

Street Fight is rolling into May with the theme, Visualizing Local: a look at how marketers are using visual content to boost visibility, presence, and conversions. This includes everything from images in search results and local listings to utilizing increasingly popular social media like Instagram Stories.

Brand Building Beyond Reviews: Is the Local Marketing Ecosystem Ready?

“I think it makes more sense for a small business to buy ‘brand building’ that includes some community events and link building than for that same business to buy SEO,” Mike Blumenthal tells David Mihm. Find out what tech tools can build a local brand and why David disagrees partly with Mike’s suggestion.

Lead Gen Spam: Bad for the Consumer, Bad for Business, and Bad for the Local Ecosystem

Blumenthal to Mihm, on lead gen spam: The real issue for me is that Google Maps is really like a public utility, and Google is not doing enough to protect the consumers of that product. There is significant harm in the deception of the consumer, the blocking out of legitimate businesses, and the possibility that the consumer public will lose trust in the whole, creaky house of cards.

Things Not Strings: Google’s New Hotel Profiles Exemplify Its Approach to Entities

Google’s Knowledge Graph ambitions are expanding to include obviating heavy reliance on secondary sources like Wikipedia and being able instead to classify and cross-reference information as a native, self-sustaining activity on web pages themselves. That’s what makes a recent patent filing different from the evidence of the Knowledge Graph we’ve already seen in the wild.

While this more ambitious way of surfacing information about entities is not yet standard, in researching Google’s new interface for hotels, I think I’m seeing evidence of a real-world example.

3 Revenue Growth Opportunities for SMB Marketing and Ad Agencies

While SMB digital marketing spend has seen a steady rise, SMBs are being more conservative about the agencies and vendors with which they partner. In the transparency era, consolidating spend with a select group of trusted agency partners that offer multiple core services is now the norm.

For agencies that cater to SMB brands, these trends have created opportunities and challenges. There is money to be had, but only organizations that differentiate themselves from the competition and can deliver clear ROI will benefit. So how can SMB agencies show their value to brands and ensure revenue growth? There are three opportunity areas, in particular, that can help.