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Highlights brought to you by Search Lately at SMG this week include: -

Preparing For Cookie Consent Google Simplify Consent Forms Cross Channel Marketing Google Changes the Equation for Average Search Ranking Position Global Surge in Smartphone Usage

Browse last week’s Search Lately for more details and the initial reaction from industry experts on recent hot topics.

Preparing For Cookie Consent – 1st February 2012 "Personal data is the currency of the digital market, and like any currency it needs stability and trust. We want to eliminate distrust and to enhance opportunities for business, and protection for individuals." - Viviane Reding, E.U. Justice Commissioner Cookies play an integral part in the modern day world of online marketing as millions of pounds are spent utilising these in order to ensure a customer’s experience is relevant and user friendly. These same cookies are also essential for effective website optimization, analytics and attribution models. It is for this reason that brands should be aware of the implications the EU privacy directive will bring, when it arrives in May 2012. Once this law is enforced, websites that plan to store user information will be required to give a transparent justification of data storage and obtain consumer "consent" for this data. A shift away from an “opt out” system to an explicit “opt in” approach will be enforced, with talks of penalties for companies that do not comply with this new directive. The degree of consent deemed satisfactory to comply with this law, will depend on the level of intrusive action involved, and is very much up to the interpretation of each website owner. The challenge posed for marketers is to find a solution that will express the clarity of cookie usage required, whilst extending the offer of consent for data access that does not actively hamper the user experience. An essential stage in preparation for this EU directive should involve a thorough cookie audit accompanied by the provision of a clear breakdown of cookie usage. Marketers will then need to find an effective system to convey this message and re-educate the audience about how cookies are being used, thus also highlighting the implications and benefits of this cookie as a result. The World Federation of Advertisers are determined to fight for advertisers around the globe and are reported to be ready to respond to this directive with an online advertising icon in June this year.

This is not the first time a problem like this has surfaced online, as the launch of ecommerce in 1990s cultivated a similar concern with the requirement to effectively communicate to customers that a sale had "not yet" been completed. Virtual shopping baskets were later to be created to solve this issue by acting as an indicator to customers that a purchase had “not yet” been made. Customers intuitively develop an awareness that this shopping basket system meant that they were still free to continue shopping until they had actually proceeded to the "virtual" checkout. While there may be short term confusion and panic among advertisers, the long term effects of this directive should not be exaggerated. The industry will adapt and consumer trust should be enhanced through more transparent and open data storage awareness. – Kevin Ting Read more:

Google Simplify Consent Forms – 30th January 2012 Google have recently announced the unification of over 60 privacy policies across their Google product offering, in an attempt to simplify the consent issues. Personal data storage and consent requirements are very much in the limelight this year, with the EU privacy directive arriving in May 2012. Google seem to be looking to do all they can in preparation for this, by simplifying privacy policies and raising their transparency over the use of personal data storage across all Google products. Another key benefit that this privacy policy unification may bring is the development of cross device attribution as more and more people are using the same Google profile on their Android phone, Android tablet and also desktop computers. A single privacy policy across all devices and websites governed by Google will remove certain barriers and allow for cross platform attribution and tracking to be enabled, solving one of the biggest challenges within this industry. – Kevin Ting Read more:

Cross Channel Marketing – 30th January 2012 While Google look to be working on cross device attribution, this year should see advertisers becoming a lot smarter in the way they go about marketing campaigns. Everincreasing competition brings fresh challenges to advertisers, and it will be down to the individual brand to find a way to combat this and stay one step ahead of the competition. As competition increases it is only the strongest and the most adaptable to market influences that will survive. Cross channel marketing will be key in the future of advertising as it will be essential that advertisers understand how online and offline activity affects one another. It will also be essential to have a concrete understanding of the role traditional media still has to play in an ever digitalising world. Advertisers that can capitalise on the benefits of different media channels and use these inter connections to the greatest effect, will rule supreme in the future of advertising. – Kevin Ting Read more:

Google country censorship for blogs – 31st January 2012 Users will now be redirected to blogs from if they are searching from the UK. Going forward, blogspot servers will be detecting your IP address and redirecting you to country-code top level domain or ccTLD. If this function is supported in your country, you’ll be redirected to the relevant domain (i.e. if you are reading from Australia). Whilst no visible changes will be seen to start with on the blogs, this shows us that Google is definitely continuing to move more into localization and giving visitors’ data from their country. Localization is likely to continue to play a bigger role within Google and they have already shown they think it’s important by this move as well as the importance of Google Places. This is also going to work towards limiting the impact of censored content across the web. Google claim this will allow freedom of expression while allowing the flexibility to abide by local law - but is placing censorship really encouraging freedom of expression? – Jimisha Lakhani Read more:

Google Changes the Equation for Average Search Ranking Position – 27th January 2012 The Google Analytics blog announced that Google Webmaster Tools was changing the way in which it works out the average search ranking position. The former equation worked as follows: if your URL ranked at position 3, 6 and 12 your average would add all these results together (21) and divide by the total number of results (3) giving an average of 7. The article explains that the new equation will work as follows: Google adds just the top 2 values (3 and 6), but still divides the outcome by 3 to get an average ranking position of 3. The article does not clarify what is meant by ‘top positions’, does this just include 1st page positions? How will the average ranking position be calculated when there are for example, 123 keywords with positions ranging from position 1 to position 54? – Hannah Struve Read more:

Global Surge in Smartphone Usage – 27th January 2012 The newest research from Google revealed that Consumers are clearly shifting from feature phones to smartphones. This trend was evident in all countries, with the UK showing the largest increase in smartphone usage from 30% to 45% of the total population.

This study was fielded amongst the total population in the US, UK, Germany, France and Japan. Phase 1 of the research was conducted in January and February 2011, and Phase 2 in September and October 2011.

Some of the key findings of this new research include:   

Consumers are increasingly using their smartphones for Internet access. Over half of smartphone users in the UK access the mobile Internet daily. Smartphone owners are continuing to get online on their computers. Across all five countries approximately 75% of smartphone owners said they continued to use their computer to access the Internet daily. Consumers are embracing tablets as the fourth screen. Tablet usage increased across all five countries with the highest penetration amongst the total population in the US at 11%. The rate of tablet usage is even higher amongst smartphone owners - hitting 17% in the US, 11% in Japan and 10% in the UK. - Blair Liu

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Publisher Kevin Ting

Contributors Blair Liu Hannah Struve Jimisha Lakhani

Search Lately: Issue 28  

The world of search is such a fast paced environment in which it is vitally important to stay on top of the latest developments and stay ahe...