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Category Archives: Technology Press Releases

Paid search and PPC: a super accessible beginner’s guide

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Presenting a guide purely for the individual just entering the crazy world of search marketing.

This will hopefully touch on all the various elements you might hear uttered in the same breath as paid search, taking in such puzzling acronyms as PPC, CPM, CPC, SERP plus a few other made-up ones that I’ll throw in just for fun.

First of all though, let’s answer the most obvious question…

What is paid search?

On a search engine results page (SERP), you can pay for your website to appear in specific sections of the results. These paid-for ads normally appear at the top of a SERP, to the right-hand side, or within a separate ‘Shopping’ section.

Here’s the Google SERP for the term ‘confetti cannon’ and you can see how ads dominate the page…


You may also notice that the ads look increasingly like naturally occuring results that aren’t paid for (organic results), they’re simply labelled with a little yellow ‘Ads’ symbol.

Previously, paid results were defined by a beige box, presumably this was removed as searchers were getting used to ignoring the coloured listings in the same way nobody pays attention to banner ads anymore.


It’s not just Google that offers an ad service, but also Bing and Yahoo too…



Google’s offering is called AdWords. Bing and Yahoo share networks through their own paid search tools, Bing Ads and Yahoo Gemini. There has been an agreement between Google and Yahoo to serve Google results on the Yahoo SERPs, but this is subject to review by the United State Department of Justice, but let’s not get bogged down in that right now. 

Why is paid search important?

Google makes the majority of its revenue from advertising. Whether that’s through the paid-for AdWords results on SERPs, or display advertising throughout its AdSense network or pre-roll ads on YouTube, advertising is what keeps Google thundering along. 

Of the $17.3bn it made in Q1 2015, $15.5bn was from advertising sales, rather than say driverless cars or Google Glass. Then again, that still leaves $1.8bn in revenue from other products, so it’s nothing to be cynical about.

Basically this all means that paid ads on SERPs are going to be part of your search experience for the long-haul, and they’re probably only going to dominate search results even more in the future and become even less transparent, as search engines figure out ways to drive revenue while keeping on the right side of transparency.

But don’t lose heart, you can use paid search to your advantage, especially if your site is new and struggling to achieve any presence on the SERPs with your current search engine optimisation (SEO) strategy.

And you don’t necessarily need to spend a small fortune to do so, as long as you carry out some thorough keyword research and employ some imaginative tactics, paid search can be an effective revenue stream for even the smallest niche website.

Heck, you don’t even need to be a business. I can just run a paid search campaign right now for the term ‘Christopher Ratcliff’ and anyone who searches for me will be served with an advert that I wrote myself saying “editor, writer, strong yet tender companion” with a link to a few online reviews from Peeple. Watch the traffic pour in!

What is Google AdWords?

It’s important to talk more about AdWords just because it is so popular, and in doing so I can explain a few more terms used in paid search.

The basic principle of AdWords (and indeed all other paid search tools) is as follows: 

  • Picks some terms that a searcher might use on Google
  • Create an advert that will appear on the SERP based on those search terms


As you can see above, the search term remains in bold. You will also notice that there are three different companies serving an advert for the same search term.

How does Google AdWords decide which adverts to serve?

Chances are you won’t be the only company wanting to serve ads based on your chosen search term. More often than not you’ll probably be jostling with Amazon for position.

If you want to appear in this space, you’ll have to bid against other companies. The amount you spend will depend on how much you’re willing to pay Google AdWords every time a searcher clicks on your ad. The more you pay-per-click (PPC) the more likely your ad will appear in the search results. 

But it’s not just how much you spend that is taken into account, Google also uses a metric know as a ‘quality score’. This looks at how relevant your ad is to the searcher, how many clicks your ad has received previously (click-through rate – CTR) and how relevant your landing page is. You need to link to a specific landing page that fulfils the promise of your advert, rather than just a generic homepage.

So if your term is ‘cheap confetti cannons’ you better lead them directly to some discount party-starters otherwise you won’t have a chance of being successful.


Bear in mind that even if your maximum bid is less than a rival company’s bid, you still may appear above their ad if your quality score is better.

You pay Google AdWords each time your ad is clicked. The price you’re willing to pay for each click is called cost-per-click (CPC). There’s also a less common option called cost-per-impression (CPM) where you pay the search engine for every 1,000 times your ad appears on the SERP. The user doesn’t have to click-through. This option may be better for brand awareness, rather than driving revenue.

Do I have to use paid search?

Nope. You can still rank highly in SERPs through various organic, unpaid means depending on the focus of your website. A thorough and disciplined on-page SEO strategy (good internal linking, fast loading pages, logical and clear navigation, the use of Sitemaps) coupled with quality content and a great user experience can still help you rank highly in SERPs, for no cost whatsoever beyond your own time and energy.

However if you’re struggling to get higher than the top few organic results, paid search can give you immediate access to the lofty world at the top of a SERP. 

Many marketers will recommend that to truly master search marketing, you should be doing paid search as well as SEO, depending on the keywords you’re not ranking for. Many businesses will do both, even if it has the top organic result just to completely dominate the SERP and push the competition further down the page.

Which is exactly what I intend to do to a certain San Francisco based architect once my ad has been approved…

CounterBomber technology combats suicide attacks

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CounterBomber can help protect cities from terrorists by revealing their concealed suicide explosive vests.

Deployed by security forces around the globe, the CounterBomber system can automatically detect suicide vests and other person-borne threats at a distance that allows law enforcement and the military to intervene.

Made by Rapiscan, CounterBomber was on show at the Milipol 2015 exhibition in Paris last week.

Related: Milipol Paris 2015 in pictures

With this tech, terrorists carrying threats can be quickly detected before they gain access to places with a high density of people – places like stadiums and concert venues such as those targeted by terrorists in the recent Paris attacks. It could also be used to protect people in transport hubs such as airports, subways and train stations.

By detecting a terrorist with a suicide vest early, the technology gives forces the opportunity to try to stop the perpetrator before people are harmed.

In addition to hidden explosives, Rapiscan says the technolgy can also detect other threats that have been concealed like handguns and rifles.

Related: Beretta shows off new battle rifle                    

The U.S. government has tested CounterBomber for suicide vest detection and tested it against both men and women hiding explosives.

The specific test results are classified secret. The technology has been deployed by the U.S. military and other all over the world, according to Rapiscan.

How does it work?

Easily transportable and quickly assembled, the system weighs about 250 pounds.

Related: Why France’s Rafale fighter jet is a key weapon against ISIS

CounterBomber can be configured to automatically assess for threats – without the need for an operator interpreting data. Designed to be intuitive, users require very little training.

To quickly assess approaching people and identify whether they are concealing any threats, the tech harnesses state-of-the-art radar signal processing and video tracking tech.

According to Rapiscan, the detection time to identify an approaching threat is within 3 to 5 seconds.

Scanning and searching for threats is done safely, according to Rapiscan. The technology employs a video-steered radar sensor. While some screening technology has fueled privacy concerns, CounterBomber does not involve imaging, according to the manufacturer.

In environments such as a stadium, CounterBomber can help accelerate the process of fans being screened as they enter the site while improving safety and security.

In addition to protecting civilians, automatic detection means reducing risk to security personnel and frees them up to focus on other tasks to ensure security.

Ballet dancer turned defense specialist Allison Barrie has traveled around the world covering the military, terrorism, weapons advancements and life on the front line. You can reach her at wargames@foxnews.com or follow her on Twitter @Allison_Barrie.

Seven of the most interesting SEM stories and stats of the week

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Welcome to our weekly round-up of all the latest news and research from around the world of search marketing and beyond.

This week: improvements to Google Maps, Search Console and Yahoo, as well as news on the success of this year’s Singles Day.

You can use Google Maps offline now

You just have to remember to download the specific area to your phone before you embark on your spirit quest/drive to see your parents.

According to Google, roughly 60% of the world is without internet today, therefore you need a way to navigate these wildernesses without the need for Wi-Fi, 4G, 3G or… God forbid… buying an actual map. 

You can download an area by searching for a city, county or country, and tapping “Download” on the resulting place sheet, or by going to “Offline Areas” in the Google Maps menu and tapping on the “+” button. Once downloaded, Google Maps will move into offline mode automatically when it recognizes you’re in a location with spotty service or no connectivity at all.

It’s a wonder that we can still tie our own shoe laces anymore.

Singles Day: US paid search stats

I’ll republish the opening statement of the press release here, so you can read between the VERY WIDE lines yourselves…

“AdGooroo published new data examining paid search advertising on ‘Singles Day,’ the Chinese shopping holiday said to be the world’s biggest shopping day of the year, finding it’s unlikely to overtake the American owned high-profile commercial holidays in search spend anytime soon.”

There may be some confirmation bias here but these are the major stats from the research…

  • Total spend on Singles Day keywords by all advertisers totalled just $2,600 in October 2015, none coming from retail advertisers
  • However, spend figures will undoubtedly increase in November, with retailers such as Newegg and Bonton entering the field.
  • Black Friday and Cyber Monday remain top. ‘Black Friday deals’, ‘Cyber Monday’ and ‘cyber Monday deals’ generated more than $1.5m in paid search spend in October.

Next week, a study on how little is spent on Thanksgiving related paid search  in the UK.

Singles Day: Alibaba beats its own record

As reported by Alizila, Alibaba, the Chinese ecommerce Goliath that strikes fear into the heart of all western ecommerce Goliaths reducing them to a bunch of scaredy-pants Davids, beat last year’s record of $9.3bn in just 14 hours.

In the 24 hours of Alibaba’s ‘Global Shopping Festival’, it managed $14.3bn in sales, making it the biggest online spending day of all time, across any market.


Now to finish reading the rest of my David and Goliath storybook.

Elle uses beacons to drive 500,000 retail store visits

In big news for multichannel/beacon/retail/push-notification fans (give me a whoop-whoop!), Elle successfully trialled a program called Shop Now, in which editors pick products available in the ShopAdvisor and RetailMeNot apps and then if any of the apps’ users are within a mile of a partnered store, they’ll receive a push notification. If they open the notification and visit the store, they’ll receive another push notification with a discount.

As reported by DigiDay, the push open rate was 15 times higher than the mobile advertising average of 0.8, while in-store visit rates were 100 times higher. This translated to 500,000 in-store visits in five weeks.

Or looking at it another way, these are 500,000 times people forgot to/didn’t know how turn off push notifications.

Attitude replaces age for targeting consumers

A study by Network Research of 1,500 UK consumers looked at how people relate to some of the UK’s most popular brands based on rational and emotional attitudes. This reveals an alternative view on the traditional target demographics that merely deal with age and gender *cough* millennials *cough*

Some examples of the research include:

It’s not just people aged over 65 who are worried about personal security (89.7%), those aged 25 to 34 have similar concerns (83.4%).

Having children is a big factor in the likelihood of recommending a brand. For MS, 64.7% of those with children are likely to recommend the retailer versus 35.6% without.


Yahoo launches a refreshed look for US desktop Firefox users

Yahoo has improved its header and brought image and video results front and centre to its search engine. Now, when you search with Yahoo for famous people and movies, you’ll see a strip of related videos and images across the top of the page. 

Results will include:

  • Latest movie information with IMDB.
  • Check movie times and purchase tickets with Fandango.
  • Click to listen or purchase music from iTunes.
  • Enjoy photos and reviews from Yelp and Trip Advisor.
  • Get up to date stats from Yahoo Sports.
  • See Flickr images, including your own personal Flickr photos when you’re signed in, when you do an image search. 

So just to reiterate, you can only see these if you’re in the US. And on a desktop. And using Firefox. And have held the door open for someone in the last seven days.

Google Search Console to rank blocked resources by severity

In a statement published on Google+, Google Webmaster Trends analyst John Mueller (who still uses Google+ anymore? Oh right yeah, people at Google) said that Search Console now shows the estimated severity of blocked resources with the Fetch Render tool. This is useful because “embedded content (like images, scripts, CSS files, etc) sometimes plays a big role in how Google’s able to render index a page for search.”

You can access the Blocked Resources report here, and to check an individual page, you can use the Fetch and Render tool.


Paris Attacks: European Demand For Security Technology Will Likely Increase …

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Following the grisly citywide attack in Paris that left 129 dead and 352 injured on Friday night, the demand for high-tech state security products will likely increase in the coming months. Many of these new products — from facial recognition technology to combat drones — will be on display this week in Paris at Milipol, Europe’s largest national security event that attracts thousands of security companies and police officials each year.  

The event comes at an emotional, if not opportune time, for the exhibitors. Demand for security products typically rises after any major terrorist attack, which will bring this event — and many of the products up for sale — into sharp focus. 

“The threat level a city faces is a key driver of technology expenditure,” the event organizers said in a recent statement. “There is a strong correlation between threat as it is perceived and investment.”

The global demand for private security services grew nearly 8 percent in 2015, reaching $244 billion in spending by 2016, according to Freedonia, a market research group. Freedonia acknowledges that terrorism threats have a direct effect on the health of the security market. “In general, demand for security services is driven by rising urbanization, the real and perceived risks of crime and terrorism, belief that public safety measures are insufficient, and growth of a middle class with assets to protect and the means to pay for supplementary security measures,” the group noted a recent report.

Businesses that provide security-related tech products have seen surges in business following major terrorist attacks in the past. For instance, after the 2008 Mumbai terror attack at a luxury hotel, sales of security technology gadgets boomed. “Sophisticated security-related electronics are expected to flood the domestic market after the Mumbai terror attacks,” one local news report noted at the time, citing a 30 percent increase in sales. 

Milipol itself is a four-day affair. It is both a showcase for new security equipment and technologies, as well as a forum for discussion on how new technology can help police prevent and solve crime and terrorism. This year, about 1,000 companies will be presenting police officials with a range of new anti-terror products, including facial recognition technology, WiFi-enabled sniper rifles and high-tech surveillance camera systems. 

The conference, which operates out of a massive exhibition center near Charles De Gaulle airport, will also feature several panels and discussion groups among police officials. The main focus of the lectures happens to be centered around “counterterrorism” and “safe cities.”

On Saturday morning, the conference organizers announced that the conference will continue as planned, despite added security measures. “Following the tragic events in Paris, Milipol and its organizers are putting in place increased security measures (bag checks, entry controls and security personnel) and are working with the law enforcement authorities to optimize security at the event.”

How retailers can use how-to guides for content marketing

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How-to guides, buyer’s guides and instructional videos can be an effective content marketing tactic for online retailers. 

In this post I’ll look at some examples from ecommerce sites and show how effective they can be. 

What are how-to guides? 

In this context I mean content on retail websites which offers useful advice for visitors. 

This may be help with product selection, advice on finding the right fit for clothing, or practical advice on how to fix something. 

This content works on-site as it addresses possible customer problems, where solving them may mean more sales. 

Off-site, this kind of useful content can attract visitors to you site through search. If you’re addressing common issues and concerns, then your potential customers may well be searching for solutions. 

Why should retailers produce how-to guides? 

There are a number of reasons… 

  • This content helps to target long tail search terms. There are lots of them out there, just find the ones that match your product or service. 
  • They attract users with intent. Searches with phrases like ‘how do I fix a leaky faucet’ obviously indicate that the searcher has an intent to solve the problem, and may also indicate an intent to purchase the tools needed to complete the task. 
  • It’s valuable evergreen content. This content is worth the investment as it works over a long period of time, providing a useful resource for visitors and a consistent source of traffic from search and other channels. 
  • It helps visitors. If you can help them solve a problem, then it generates a positive feeling towards the brand. Even if they don’t make a purchase now, customers will remember this. 
  • This content sets you up as an expert. If brands can show their expertise in an area, it increases the customer’s trust in the brand and products. 
  • It can be shareable. Useful content like video or written guides are likely to be shared around, increasing the reach of the content. 
  • Video content can increase search visibility. Video results stand out in the SERPs and can help to give you the edge over other results. 
  • It can drive sales. If a customer wants to buy jeans but isn’t sure about sizing, a well-written guide can solve this issue and nudge them towards a purchase. 

Examples of great how-to content:

Repair Clinic

Repair Clinic has made a real effort to create useful content related to its products. 

Its business is all about selling spare parts, so creating content which deals with common appliance problems is perfect. 

What’s impressive here is the attention to detail. For example, it has incorporated common problems related to products in its navigation. 

This is useful for customers, and it helps the retailer to target the search terms people are likely to use. 


This extends to Repair Clinic’s onsite search. While many sites only serve up results for products, Repair Clinic shows common problems and video results. 

If Repair Clinic is as smart as it appears to be, it will also be using its site search data to learn and improve the results suggested and terminology it uses. 


Its ‘problem solving’ pages provide useful help for visitors and lead customers to product pages for the parts needed to solve visitors’ issues.


So what does this mean for SEO? Well, try entering some of the common problems into Google, and Repair Clinic’s results are invariably in the first few positions. 

Here are the results for ‘pressure washer leaks water’ for example: 



This retailer has a dedicated advice centre, dealing with similar issues to those of Repair Clinic.

Its focus on video guides has paid off in terms of search results: 


It also gives the brand a presence on YouTube, where it has amassed more than 25m views of its videos. 

It doesn’t sell too hard, and concentrates on providing useful advice, but the links are there for viewers that need parts. It also helps to establish the brand as a go-to place for such advice. 


Home Depot

DIY is another obvious area for this kind of content, and Home Depot provides a good example of how this can work. 

A search around weatherproofing windows generally brings up publishers, blogs and DIY advice sites. 

However, Home Depot has managed to rank here thanks to the content it has produced to help solve this problem. 


This leads to this page with some handy tips on weatherproofing, as well as a list of tools and materials which are needed for the task. Of course, these can be bought on Home Depot. 


It also, like Repair Clinic uses autocomplete on its site search and serves up buyers guides and other advice for searchers: 



Now for an example from a less obvious sector. Nordstrom has a suit fitting guide, providing some useful advice.


The beauty of this content is that, in being useful, it also helps customers to find a product that suits them (no pun intended).

It therefore helps to drive sales, and also ensures that, if customers can find the best fit, then returns are minimised.


It also works in the SERPs:


In summary

Helpful and advisory content is a great way to help customers and achieve search goals at the same time. 

It takes some expertise and an investment in staff and resources to produce it, but it can pay off in a big way. 

For shoppers, especially those looking for more technical products like spare parts and DIY equipment, this content often exists elsewhere, on blogs and publishers’ sites.

So, rather than having customers find these resources elsewhere, it makes a lot of sense to provide them on-site where you can provide links to related products. 

The SEO value may well be worth it alone. This content helps sites like eSpares capture a lot of long tail traffic which is highly relevant to their products and services. 

Google wants to test secret airborne technology at New Mexico’s ‘spaceport …

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Larry PageDavid Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty ImagesAlphabet CEO Larry Page

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Google plans to test secret airborne communications technology at the New Mexico “spaceport” facility where space tourism and exploration companies Virgin Galactic and SpaceX have set up shop, as well as an Indian reservation in Oregon.

Google wants to test a radio technology that involves aircraft hovering 25,000 feet in the air and several terrestrial stations located at Spaceport America, a facility funded by the state of New Mexico that hopes to be the center of the nascent space tourism industry, according to recently filed documents with the Federal Communications Commission.

Google also requested authority to test the technology at an Indian reservation in Warm Springs, Oregon, and in Pescadero, California, according to the documents.  The filings were submitted in the summer, before Google restructured into the Alphabet holding company, which creates independent companies out of various Google groups.

The filings represent the latest evidence of Google and parent-company Alphabet’s expanding efforts to take to the skies, as it looks to blanket the globe with its web services. The company is working on several air and space-based projects, including Loon, which uses air balloons to beam internet access down to earth, Project Titan, which uses drones to deliver internet access and Project Wing, which involves drones delivering packages.

Data communications via an aircraft

Much of the filings are redacted, and they do not specify which project Google or Alphabet plans to test at Spaceport America and the other locations. Nor do they specify whether the aircraft will be manned or unmanned. But Google provides an interesting description of the tests. 

Google’s statement that it is not testing “flight-related activities” would seem to rule out the Project Wing tests detailed earlier this year by The Guardian, in which Google was reported to be testing whether cell phones can provide air-traffic control for low-flying drones.

The application also states that the aircraft will fly at maximum altitude of 25,000 feet, which is below the 60,000 to 90,000 feet that Loon balloons fly at. 

A Google project called Titan, which is developing solar-powered drones intended to fly at 65,000 feet, was initially based in Moriarty, New Mexico, but recently announced it is moving its operations to California. 

A casino and a spaceport

Google’s application to the FCC lists Frank McLoughlin, an engineering director at Google whose LinkedIn profile says he was previously an aviation engineer at Garmin International, and Paul Husted, a Google hardware engineer who previously developed wireless communications chips at Qualcomm. 

Google said in the filings that it expected to conduct the tests from August 31 of this year until February 27, 2016. The application for an experimental license says Google intends to “expeditiously test radios in a way that is likely to contribute to the development, extension, expansion, or utilization of the radio art.”

Spaceport AmericaAFP PHOTO/Mark RALSTONSpaceport America

Spaceport America describes itself on its website as “the world’s first purpose-built, commercial spaceport designed with the needs of the commercial, space business in mind.”

The facility includes “basic operational infrastructure such as an airfield, launch pads, terminal/hangar facility, emergency response capabilities, utilities and roadways” and is capable of accommodating both “vertical and horizontal takeoff space launch vehicles.” The facility’s anchor tenant is Virgin Galactic. 

According to the coordinates on the FCC application, the facilities at which Google will conduct tests with the aircraft in Oregon include a casino and resort located in the Warm Springs Indian reservation and several cell phone towers in the area.  

We’ve reached out to both Spaceport America and to Google for comment and will update this story if we hear more. 

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Consumer search behaviour: stats and trends

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Here’s the skinny on all that’s happening right now in search behaviour.

Yesterday I was lucky enough to attend 7thingsmedia’s Consumer Search Behaviour event at the Electric Cinema in Shoreditch, London.

Why lucky? Well for me, it was a great little cinema with comfy armchairs and you get your own side-table with a little standard-lamp. Swish!

And of course because I also came away with a handful of very interesting stats and trends on consumer search behaviour trends, delivered by Google UK’s Head of Performance Biren Kalaria, as well as 7thingsmedia’s own Senior Search Account Manager Gerald Murphy and Chief Digital Officer Sandra McDill.


You will already be fully aware that 50% of all search is done via mobile, but perhaps the most surprising thing about this stat is that it relates to high-end smartphones only, not tablets. I always assumed this stat was based on the hoary old term ‘mobile devices’, but apparently not.

Also in 10 markets, including the US and Japan, the percentage of mobile searches over the last 12 months has become higher than desktop.


There’s been a shift in the way we use search, moving from asking questions like “what is” or “who is” to instead asking “how to” or “why?” These are far more nebulous, ambiguous terms that we have confidence in asking because we assume search engines are just that good.

So for instance, instead of asking “who is Adam Sandler?” we’re now asking “how to escape Adam Sandler if we make eye contact with him” or “why is Adam Sandler still allowed to make movies?”


Perhaps no search engine is that good.

No-one goes online now, we’re always connected, and therefore searches have become more exploratory. As Google has evidently been aware of in its development of RankBrain, which handles ambiguous or unique questions that have never been submitted to Google before.

Local search

‘Near me’ searches have grown 34 times since 2011, and as you would expect, 80% of these are on mobile.

In terms of your own PPC campaigns, you’ll really want to pay attention to geo-targeting as 50% of consumers who do a local search on mobile will visit the store on the same day.

Local search has basically democratised the SERPs, small businesses no longer have to worry about big brands taking away search traffic because they can now use local intent (time of day, location, device) to serve far more useful and relevant PPC ads to people on the move.

Search is more conversational

The use of voice search has more than doubled in the past year, particularly among younger people. Longer queries are possible when you no longer having to be careful what you type with your clumsy, large fingers as you walk down the street bumping into things.


Income, health and education

When it comes to income, health or education, these factors have no bearing on how they use search. People with a higher income may spend more time engaging with different connected devices, but they won’t type something into Google differently to someone who isn’t sat at home wearing a top hat and a monocle.



When it comes to age, people between 18-60 all use search in the same manner. However if you’re over 60, you may spend double the amount of time on a SERP (all of an extra four seconds).

Younger people who have grown-up only knowing the digital world (or millennials as no-one should call them) aren’t necessarily savvier than other digital users, in fact if anything they’re lazier and less likely to understand the complexity behind search.

They’re more likely to create longer search strings, because they don’t have the experience of using search engines as older people have.


Location is increasingly important, as we mentioned earlier, however where someone is actually from, doesn’t necessarily have any bearing on how they use search. People from Wales don’t use it any differently from people in Scotland.


Gender does have some bearing on how we use search, men tend to spend more time on SERPs, they’re also 5.4 times more likely to inspect lower ranked results and click on more pages.

Women don’t tend to scroll around, they’re more likely to fixate on positions 2 and 3, have more browser tabs open, use more devices at one time and browse sites for longer.

For more on these trends, check out the SlideShare.

Take from this research what you will, obviously nothing above should be taken as the absolute truth and anything can change at the drop of a top hat.

It’s most important to get back to the ‘old fashioned’ pre-digital idea of thinking of your visitors/customers/consumers/users as… yep… individual human beings each with their own needs and preferences, who you know the name of and who you can serve in a genuine, personalised manner.

Gene drive workshop shows technology’s promise, or peril, remains far off

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The idea sounds appealingly simple: Quickly spread a gene through a population of animals in order to prevent it from transmitting disease, or, more directly, to kill a destructive species such as an agricultural pest. But a workshop hosted yesterday by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NAS) in Washington, D.C., made abundantly clear that a lot of uncertainty—scientific and regulatory—still exists for the so-called gene-drive technology at the heart of such concepts. And as result, field applications of gene drives are “still years off,” says Austin Burt, a population geneticist at Imperial College London who spoke at the meeting.

Over the past 3 years, a technology called CRISPR-Cas9 has revolutionized scientists’ ability to make precise changes in the DNA of a wide range of organisms. By being cheap, relatively easy to use, and effective in almost every species tested, this genome editing method is putting another technology, called gene drive, within reach for many organisms. Because gene drive shifts biases inheritance to favor certain versions of genes, a genetic alteration introduced into a few members of a population spreads rapidly throughout the entire population. If that alteration inhibits reproduction or survival in some way, gene drive can drive that population extinct in theory. In other uses, a desired trait could be driven through a population.

Last year, Harvard University biologists proposed CRISPR-Cas9 gene drive systems be used in conservation to get rid of invasive species or to improve the genetic makeup of endangered ones. A few scientists immediately called for increased regulation of this technology because, once released, a gene drive could be hard to stop or reverse. And in July, geneticists showed that one gene drive system was almost 100% effective in spreading a mutated pigmentation gene through a population of lab fruit flies, fueling fears about the power of gene drive.

NAS formed a committee to evaluate the technology, and yesterday hosted the second of four informational workshops in preparation of a report about the science, ethics, and governance of gene drive research. Researchers debated whether existing regulatory and ethical frameworks are sufficient to guide the development of this technology, and reported that much more needs to be learned about the ecological effects of gene drive, the specificity of gene drive targets, and the ability of researchers to effectively spread a genetic change through a population, or a species. “It’s pretty clear we know so little about these systems,” says Zach Adelman, a molecular geneticist at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg.  But given the early stage of gene drives, NAS should have time to sort this all out, Burt says.

Burt and others also noted a number of reasons why gene drives may not be as useful, or scary, as some think:

  • Gene drive works only in sexually reproducing species, and the genetic change spreads further with each successive generation. So changing or eliminating a population is practical only if the species has a short generation time—like Drosophila, or mosquitos. With many vertebrates, it would take decades for an introduced gene mutation or trait to spread wide enough to make a difference.
  • It has not yet been demonstrated that a CRISPR-Cas9 gene-driven change persists across many generations. The paper where gene drive was so effective only reported on one generation. For mosquitos, in which researchers want to knock out populations near people or introduce a parasite-resistant gene, modeling efforts indicate that drive would have to persist 20 generations to spread completely, Burt says.
  • There are few, if any, organisms so well characterized, say biologists, that they can predict the ecological effect of a gene-driven change or a disappearing population. We will “have the ability not just to change the genome but [also] to change the balance of species in a community,” says Allison Snow, a plant biologist from Ohio State University, Columbus. “There’s a lot of potential for ignorance, human error, or intent to cause harm.”
  • Before gene drive can be applied to wild populations instead of well-characterized laboratory ones, the CRISPR-Cas9 genome–editing technology needs to become even more precise. As Shengdar Tsai, a CRISPR researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, pointed out, his team’s analysis of the method in human cells uncovered about two dozen so-called off-target effects—places where the DNA not meant to be changed was. The sites identified confirm that the sites affected by CRISPR-Cas9 can be difficult to predict.
  • Instead of using gene drive to make malaria-carrying mosquitos extinct, a less ecologically worrisome strategy would be to change the insect’s genome so it would not transmit the malaria parasite to humans. But researchers don’t know enough about the mosquito immune system to target a specific gene for this type of gene drive yet, Burt says.
  • An effective “fail-safe” strategy that would cause gene drive to peter out after a specified number of generations or because researchers decide they needed to stop a gene’s spread still needs to be developed. One of the more promising ones—to undo the genetic change with another gene drive effort—may still be problematic if it’s gene drive itself that goes awry.
  • Hybridization between closely related animal species needs to be better understood before gene drives are unleashed. Successful mating between two species results in so-called gene flow, which could allow a gene-driven mutation to hop into an unintended species. This could be useful for malaria control—a gene drive given to one parasite-carrying mosquito species could spread it to the other seven that carry the human pathogen. But in other scenarios, a species-hopping gene drive could lead to the demise of the wrong species. At the meeting, Nora Besansky, a malaria researcher at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana reported that the avalanche of whole-genome data is suggesting that hybridization between animal species, though not as common as in plants, occurs much more often than expected.
  • Although some researchers argue that current regulations, such as those regarding recombinant DNA, and institutional review boards are sufficient for overseeing gene drive efforts, others call gene drive fundamentally different, if only because the point of gene drive is to have a mutation spread. Political boundaries may be breached. “There is no international governance yet,” says David Wirth, who studies international treaties related to biotechnology at Boston College. “It’s useful to have harmonized standards.”
  • As researchers from Thailand, Africa, and Guatemala pointed out during the meeting, getting local people to embrace gene-drive control strategies takes a lot of legwork and time. There have already been fierce “It’s not as cut and dry that once we get the technology, it will be used,” says Todd Kuiken, who follows gene drive at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, a think tank in Washington, D.C.

 In December, NAS will convene a summit on another CRISPR-Cas9–enabled technology: editing human embryos. With that technology, the work is already being done—a Chinese team engineered human embryos and several teams in the United Kingdom want to, for example—so the summit in a sense will be an effort to rein in a horse that’s already out of the gate.  That’s not yet the case with gene drive. For that reason, NAS’s scrutiny “is certainly coming at the right time,” Kuiken says.

Fulcrum Technologies Presenting at The Canadian Wireless Show 2015

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Fulcrum Technologies’ Brian Hodges to present Asset Lifecycle Management (ALM) solutions at the Canadian Wireless Show, 2015.

SEATTLE, WA. — October28, 2015 — Today Fulcrum Technologies, makers of the CATS Asset Lifecycle Management (ALM) software, announced their participation as a key speaker at the Canadian Wireless Show 2015 in Toronto on October28th. Fulcrum Technologies’ Marketing Director Brian Hodges will be presenting CATS Asset Lifecycle Management best practices, which let Communication Service Providers (CSPs) get visibility, gain insight, and take control of their new, existing, and stranded assets.

According to a 2015 TeleManagement Forum survey, asset managers reported an average asset accuracy rate of only 74%.  With 350 billion dollars spent every year on critical network infrastructure globally, this leaves 91 billion dollars in Capex that could have been prevented.  Fulcrum’s goal is to reclaim as much of that 91 billion dollars as possible for Communication Service Providers around the world with powerful, flexible, intelligent Asset Lifecycle Management.

Hodges is definitely one who loves ALM, as well as the impact it makes in the communication service providers Fulcrum helps.  “We make asset gods – the organizational rock stars who put CATS ALM in place and save their company millions or billions of dollars.  If you single-handedly save your enterprise a billion dollars in Capex in today’s competitive market… believe me, you will stand out from the crowd.”

A great vehicle for facilitating ALM discussions, the Canadian Wireless Show brings together wireless and telecommunications professionals that include tech experts, trend analysts, hardware manufacturers, service providers, decision makers, buyers, carriers, retailers and industry executives.

The event is held annually and takes place at the Toronto Congress Centre located minutes away from the Toronto International Airport in Toronto on October 28th and 29th, 2015. The event features over 30 sectors of the wireless and mobile industry with over 120 exhibitors and 2000+ attendees over 2 days.

To find out how you can get visibility, gain insight, and take control of your assets today, please visit www.Fulcrum.net.

Fulcrum is the leading provider of Asset Lifecycle Management solutions for Communication Service Providers, including wireless and wire-line telecom carriers and Internet and cable providers. Fulcrum’s CATS software allows companies to track the status of their infrastructure assets in real-time while automatically synchronizing with other back-office systems. CATS enhances operational efficiencies, regulatory compliance, and profitability by improving capital equipment utilization, rationalizing spares allocation, and streamlining return and repair processes. Fulcrum (www.Fulcrum.net) is used by 3 of the 4 largest telecom providers in North America and has recently been selected by one of the world’s largest providers in APAC.

SEM stats: 20+ of the most interesting from this week

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Welcome to our weekly round-up of statistics from the world of search and slightly beyond.

I believe last week I mentioned rather pessimistically that I may struggle to top 10 stats a week. I’m happy to say that I was wrong. Here are more than 20 of the little rascals…

Google has revealed a bumper load of holiday shopping stats, including:

Micro-moments are replacing marathons

Rather than relying on day-long shopping marathons during Black Friday weekend, shoppers are now turning to their mobile phones throughout the day, all season long. More than half (54%) of holiday shoppers say that they plan to shop on their smartphones in spare moments throughout the day.

Big shopping days are becoming smaller

Last year, Google saw steady consumer shopping interest all season long, with fewer pronounced spikes on traditional shopping days.


While shoppers now spend 7% less time in each mobile session, smartphone’s share of online shopping purchases has gone up 64% over the last year, and 30% of all online shopping purchases now happen on mobile phones.

Shopping research starts earlier

The research also found that 61% of shoppers will have already started researching their purchases before Thanksgiving weekend, up 17% from last year.

Mobile influencing more purchases than ever before

Shopping-related searches on mobile have grown more than 120% year over year and are fast approaching those on desktop.

More than half (52%) of shoppers plan to use a smartphone for holiday shopping this year before they visit a store, and a huge 82% of smartphone users will consult their phone while in a store. This is an increase of 37% from last year.

Mobile is becoming the preferred purchase device for multi-device shoppers

According a new report from Criterio, four in 10 transactions now involve multiple devices. 

Cross-device purchasers are 20% more likely to complete the transaction on their mobile device than the average user.

Google’s bounce-back growth attributed to increased mobile optimization

Merkel has released a Q3 2015 Digital Marketing Report covering the biggest names in search. Let’s break it down company by company…


  • Google US paid search spending rose 18% year-over-year in Q3 2015, up from 12% growth the previous quarter. 
  • Click growth improved to 13%, following a 1% decline in Q2 2015.  
  • Google’s recent update to begin showing three text ads instead of just two has helped drive phone click growth from 56% year-over-year in Q2 to 106% year-over-year in Q3. 
  • Phone PLA clicks were up 166% in Q3.
  • Google’s share of organic search visits has risen by nearly two points since hitting a low point in Q1.

Yahoo Gemini

  • Yahoo continues to migrate search ad traffic to Gemini, with the platform producing nearly a quarter of combined Bing and Yahoo clicks in Q3. However, Gemini traffic appears to be largely cannibalistic of Bing Ads traffic
  • Combined click growth across Bing Ads and Yahoo Gemini peaked in Q1 at 38% year-over-year following Yahoo’s deal to become the default search provider for Firefox
  • In Q3, click growth had fallen to just 7%. 


  • Bing Ads’ US paid search spending growth slowed from 27% year over year in Q2, to 13% Y/Y in Q3
  • Spending on Bing Ads and Yahoo Gemini combined was up 20% Y/Y.

Other juicy search stats from the research

These are filed under miscellaneous.

  • Organic search visits increased 2% overall in Q3, down from 11% growth in Q2. Desktop visits fell 5% Y/Y, tablet visits fell 8% and phone visits rose 20%.
  • Organic search click-through rates on non-brand phone queries fell 14% in the two months after Google began showing a third text ad above the organic results more frequently on phone searches.
  • Phones produced 27% of paid search clicks in Q3, up from 20% a year earlier. 
  • Tablet click share fell to 16%, from 18% a year earlier. Phones and tablets combined for 32% of search spending.
  • iOS devices produced 28% of paid search clicks in Q3, up from 27% in Q2. Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and Edge browsers combined for 19% of clicks, down from 22% in Q2.

Mobile reaches 5% of total media spending in Russia

eMarketer estimates that this year, advertisers in Russia will spend $430m on mobile internet ads, or 19% of all digital ad spending. 

Mobile will quickly come to account for even more of the digital market, and by 2019 most digital ad spending will occur on mobile channels.

Smartphones overtake laptop PCs in Germany

For the first time, smartphone penetration in Germany overtook that of laptops according to Deloitte

75% of internet users said they had access to an advanced handset in their household, compared with 72% who had a laptop. Tablets ranked third, with 45% of respondents saying they had one at home.

That’s your lot for this week. Now go take an extended lunch break. Just say that I said it was okay.

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