It's probably because I'm just finishing a book (The Stuff of Thought) by famed linguist and cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker, but grammar has been on my mind more than usual lately. And in particular, I was fascinated by how we use Google in our language. Google, of course, has been "genericided" - the fate that falls on brands that lose their status as a protected brand name and become a generic term in our vocabulary. This causes much chagrin with Google's legal and marketing team. What is more interesting however is the way we've taken Google into our lexicon.
As loyal readers know -- and much to the chagrin of at least one fellow columnist -- I've devoted a lot of time and word-count this year documenting what I've learned from Google. In August I wrote "Everything I Need to Know About Marketing, I Learned From Google." In it, I shared ten simple but elegant lessons Google taught the marketing world along with examples of companies that were putting these concepts into play. Today, I'd like to broaden the filter even more and share the top ten things I learned from Google this year.
A quick scan through the archives of the Google Event Logos -- those cute sketches that have appeared on the Google homepage over the years -- shows two interesting trends. First, the Logos (aka Doodles) are far more high-quality than they have been in the past. Second -- and I think far more significantly -- there were far more brands incorporated into the logos in 2009 than ever before. I don't think that's a coincidence. I think that Google is preparing us for display ads on the Google homepage -- perhaps as early as 2010.
Over two-thirds of consumers take advantage of post-holiday sales, making these critical days in December and January a great time to clear out your remaining winter inventory and expose new buyers to your brand for the very first time. The best way to keep the sales rolling after the holidays is to use paid search to drive consumers to your site; in other words, make it easy for people to find your bargains.
You're going the get the inevitable recap and prediction columns as the days of 2009 dwindle. I've been spending a lot of time lately thinking about the shift in marketing. It seems to me that there are three fundamental drivers of this shift. I'm going to spend today talking a little bit more about them, as I believe these are the bearing points we have to pay attention to.
It's been nothing short of a roller-coaster ride due to this year's recession, but search has had a big year in a number of ways. A major engine folded, Bing emerged as a real contender for increased market share, and real-time social search moved forward at a quick pace. These were among the stories that I spent the most time covering and analyzing this year, so here are some links to those columns in 2009, along with some additional thoughts.
Let's be honest: Bing hasn't been all that exciting. It launched, it gained some traction, it made a deal with Yahoo -- and it stalled. Yes, November search share for the so-called "decision engine" rose, but it was a case of Peter paying Paul; the increase came straight from Yahoo.
Bing's iPhone app doesn't work. It's being sued for copyright infringement. The name lends itself more to comedic fodder than to search inspiration. And it'snot even popular enough to be on Firefox's list of search engines.
But there is one area at which Bing ...
As the year winds down and we all begin to log-off for holiday celebrations on this, the shortest day of the year, the big news of the moment was first, Google's move to acquire Yelp, the hyper-local business location and review service -- and now, the squashing of that deal, according to recent reports. It's an apt way to wrap up a year dominated by the Great Recession and Big Changes on the Web. 2009 will go down in history as the year the Web got hyper-local.
As I revisit this year and think ahead to 2010, I find myself fixated on the advertising catchphases of 2009. These phases give me clues on how to avoid slow, small steps in 2010, making it the year to be aggressive, take the reins and deliver on our terms as an industry -- a year to release the hounds and wage war against what went wrong in 2009.
I've stated before in this column that "It's a Wonderful Life" is perhaps my favorite holiday movie. Yesterday, as I was having lunch, I had my own George Bailey moment. I had a chance to see what my life might have been like had I not made the decision to go into search 14 years ago. I was thumbing through the local newspaper (yes, I still do that on occasion) and the lead story in the business section caught my eye. The title was: "Ad Agencies adjusting to the new economy."