Google to Show Tweets in Search Results (again!)

On February 4th, 2015, reported that “in the first half of the year” Google search results will show Tweets in real time. The two parties have agreed to a deal that will give Google access to the Twitter “Firehose” – a streaming database that allows Google to quickly access and index Tweets without creating bandwidth implications. This deal is similar in concept to an agreement the two companies once shared from 2009-2011.

Multiple sources cite Twitter CEO Dick Costolo and CFO Anthony Noto as being aggressive in trying to create new opportunities to increase revenue and to engage non-registered Twitter visitors more actively.  Twitter’s biggest challenge in the last year has been demonstrating significant user growth, which has created long term concerns about its potential to grow revenue. In November of 2014, Twitter “made search pages more friendly to engines”, which reportedly increased logged-out user traffic tenfold, from 7.5 million visits to 75 million visits.  The next step was to then figure out how to capitalize on and monetize this traffic.

This partnership represents a true convergence across digital channels. Having been working at a performance marketing agency, I have long seen the synergies between paid media (eg. search engine marketing) and owned media (eg. social media). This partnership will make Google more “real time” in its ability to provide information, and make Twitter more discoverable and impactful outside of its own walls.

How This Change Affects Search Results

1.ClassIt is unlikely that Tweets will fully invade search results on all queries, pushing static websites to lower positions. Google is skilled at ranking content accurately on its own scale of merit, awarding higher positions to more valuable, helpful, informative, education and inspiring content. Individual, real-time Tweets will have to outrank all other media to earn high ranking positions in Google search results which, given Google’s algorithm for standard search results requiring longer-term metrics and standing, is unlikely.

What is more probable is that real time Tweets will rank in competition with Google news results and other universal search results, similar to how Google treated real time search results as part of its standard search engine results page (SERP) in its previous incarnation.

How This Change Affects Social Media

According to reports, when people who are either not signed up for Twitter or logged out of their accounts click on the Tweet results from Google, they will be taken to a logout page where they will be served ads, along with a choice to sign up or sign in.  This could significantly increase Twitter’s user base but the challenge will be to keep these people on the platform as long term users. Although nothing further is known at this time about what the advertising options will look like and when they will be available, this will likely be very appealing to advertisers looking to extend reach on Twitter.  It should also appease investors concerned about Twitter’s financial future as it opens up new monetization possibilities.

For advertisers, this move will drive opportunities for brand discovery in closer to real time, as its likely when people are searching Google for news on hot topics they will see relevant tweets from brands as well as individuals.   This could lead to greater awareness of and engagement with these brands.  However, it can also lead to risk if negative tweets about a brand surface in search results, and it is unclear if the algorithm to select tweets could solve for this.

How This Change Affects Organic Search

2.ClassWhile Firehose access will expose a wider range of Twitter content to Google, due to Twitter’s short-form nature and nofollow linking on Twitter it is unlikely that Twitter will become a strong, direct weapon in aiding your website to rank. Much like Knowledge Graph results and Instant Answers, it could mean less visibility for traditional search results and fewer clicks for even top-ranked sites.

On the flipside, it would give marketers further visibility for news topics and hashtag trends, by giving even more prominence to Twitter activity.

Even though Twitter itself cannot pass value to a site, the more often a piece of content is seen and consumed, the greater the chance that your content will ultimately be shared on blogs, forums, websites and other properties that can pass value.

However Google ranks Tweets, they will probably trump natural search results in only a small percentage of queries initially, with growth over time, perhaps into more static queries. Location of the searcher, authority of the Twitter username, relevance of the Tweet to the search query and freshness of the Tweet will probably earn top positions.

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You Can’t Afford To Ignore Customer Lifetime Value

While many service-oriented businesses have embraced quantitative based methods of identifying and focusing on their most profitable customers the potential of squandering this powerful data brings its own risks. The proliferation of customer loyalty programs in recent years seems to support this, but too often this results in what amounts to a glorified rebate for the consumer. A more thoughtful and creative application of marketing to these customers creates the potential to create more satisfied and passionate repeat customers.

When a loyalty program simply consists of converting a percentage of revenue generated into “points”, a company risks having what could be a more personal relationship with the customer turn into a strictly transactional one. When the relationship with the customer has been changed in this way, a competitor that is willing to undercut the rebate offered can take customers away that no longer feel they are being taken care of.

A demonstrative example of this occurring would be in both the Hospitality industry in addition to Casino Gaming. Many hotels have very similar loyalty programs, that amount to rebating the consumer between 1 and 5 percent of their total spend based on frequency of travel. While a family that goes on vacation once per year may not care about signing up, business travelers that make up the bulk of revenue during slower times of the year do not dare miss out on the chance to earn “free” travel and hotel stays for personal use. But paradoxically, if every major chain is offering a similar rebate to customers then absent external factors the customer will not have a strong loyalty to any brand, and simply go for who is giving him or her the best offer at any given time.

This effect is even more pronounced in Casino Gaming where the actual product being offered is so difficult to differentiate. While Gary Loveman had recieved attention in Academia on the subject of Customer Lifetime Value having co-authored the paper “Putting the Service Profit Chain To Work”, as CEO of Caesars Entertainment he was widely criticized within the industry for an over-reliance on using CLV for decision making. In a nutshell, under his tenure he determined with extensive statistical analysis that the most profitable customers for the firm were not high-rollers lighting tens of thousands of dollars on fire at the blackjack tables, but rather retired women with disposable income that visited on a regular basis. Targeting these customers worked extremely well in the short term, but when the recession hit the type of middle class consumer that was the companies bread-and-butter exceptionally hard, Caesars Entertainment lacked the ability to be nimble and replace these lost customers. (There were additional structural problems with the company that had to do with a overpriced leveraged buyout, but for purposes of discussion we only care about marketing issues in this context) This is not to say that offering a points reward program is at all a bad thing, but rather that if all the participants in a market have similar reward offerings, firms will struggle to differentiate themselves.

If just a small fraction of the marketing budget for such efforts were redirected into more creative uses that directly engage the consumer, the potential exists to generate repeat business that will inflate Customer Lifetime Value while at the same time create customers that are more willing to evangelize for the company. Perhaps it takes the form of offering a personalized phone call when doing research, or for exclusive promotional events that reinforces the relationship as being more than just a company giving the customer a discount. There is a reason that Customer Lifetime Value is so important, namely that it acknowledges the massive advantages in getting repeat business vs. needing to spend money to acquire a new customer. When a relationship is this important, nothing can be left to chance and it must be taken seriously, but how a company chooses to develop it is the centerpiece of a holistic marketing plan.

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The Loss of Personal Privacy in a New Mobile World Order.

With the development of the internet and its spread into the fabric of society from the late 1990’s and well into the 2000’s, industries have experienced a fundamental shift in how to do business.  Companies have had to adapt their business model’s to expand from brick and mortar store fronts to include online storefronts.  Enhancing this addition to the market place is the consumer’s ability to access the internet from a mobile phone, which has provided an entirely new sphere for companies to market their products and services.

On the other side of the coin, consumers have the ability to purchase goods and services as well as compare and review products with feedback and insight, from thousands of fellow consumers, all from the palm of their hand.  Consumers are also offered a social aspect to their activities with the multitude of social networks providing users the ability to let others know where they are and what they are doing. The entire consumer process has become quicker, easier, faster and more social!

There is a price that must be paid, however, for all the enjoyment and efficiency obtained from this new mobile world order.  The price is the consumer’s personal privacy including not only personal information such as date of birth, place of residence and social affiliations but also personal preferences such as the type of shoes one likes to buy, what brands one has shown interest in and which stores, whether brick and mortar or online, one prefers to take their business to.  The trail a consumer leaves, whether it be online shopping or not, is tracked, stored and sold for profit by social media outlets to marketers and advertisers.

The Marketing industry has entered a completely new arena in the burgeoning technologically mobile world in which new marketing techniques, such as viral, social and inbound, leverage upon an immense amount of data collected, sorted and applied within a minute of a certain consumer activity, yay algorithms.  Furthermore, location based marketing has taken niche marketing to a whole new level by utilizing the exact location of a consumer, relative to a seller location, based on the consumer’s mobile phone.  Companies creating technologies promoting location based marketing, have provided retail companies and restaurants with the technology to send specific ads or deals directly to the consumer’s phone related to the product/service they are providing if said consumer is within a certain proximity to their store.  Basically, the companies know where you are and what you are doing!

If a consumer utilizes the GPS on his or her phone, he or she will be sure to get “random” ads and deals via their mobile phone whenever in a shopping area whether they want it or not.  Consumers who don’t care to be bombarded with pop-up adds to the right of their email account screen showing the latest camping gear just because they recently went on the LL Bean website to find a pair of gloves for their fourth grader do not have the option of a “do-not-call” list to be added on to.  Every time a consumer goes window shopping online, marketing companies get his or her personal information and start the process of barraging the consumer with more of what they were looking for, whether the consumer want it or not.

With the advent of the mobile market place(s), is the consumer truly better off or just an easier target? Do I want online outlets such as Wayfair and Amazon to have the ability to continue to impinge on my online space even after completing a transaction with them?  Not really because I’ve fulfilled whatever need it was that I required fulfilling.  Do I care for Banana Republic or Dick’s Sporting Goods to send a promo of their best deals via a cross bar at the bottom of my iPhone screen just because I am in the vicinity of their store, not really because it is getting in the way of me finishing my Plants vs Zombies II game and also, to be honest, I find it somewhat disturbing that companies know my specific location.  The new mobile world order has created a lot of benefits for both consumers and producers alike. Is it worth the price of the consumer’s privacy? I am not so sure.

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Single Use Manufacturing, A Green Engineer’s Worst Nightmare

It’s been dubbed “The future of biotechnology”. Single use systems allow biotechnology companies to make something in a pre-sterilized plastic assembly.  These systems, only used once, are then thrown away. Sounds simple, right? You don’t have to clean it before or after use, and your worry for cross product or bacterial contamination is greatly reduced.  Industry leaders have ran the numbers and started adopting these technologies because of up-front cost savings, but the marketers didn’t tell us about one major problem: what to do with all the used pieces that are now waste.

In the last twelve months, I’ve learned more about plastics, polymers, and purity than I have ever cared to know. I’ve listened to every vendor sales and marketer explain why we should use their products over the competition, and only recently have they started to differentiate themselves based on how to dispose of their products.

We’ve seen the effects greenwashing of a product can do: sales are boosted, company approval ratings jump, and customer satisfaction increases. Additionally, the companies purchasing the products can market themselves as more sustainable and socially aware.

Why haven’t we seen more advertisements about this?

Is it because the programs are so costly, they don’t think people will opt into them?

Are they advertising to the wrong decision makers? 

Could it be that these engineering vendors haven’t hired the right marketing people?   

Some recycling programs do exist!

EMD Recycles(Image:

One of the few programs out there is by EMD Millipore, and allows the recycling of water purification cartridges.   However, this is only a very small percentage of the plastics and single use pieces used in a typical facility.

My point is, I know that recycling programs for the biotech industry are out there.  Why haven’t I, a decision maker in who’s products we use, seen marketing for them?

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This Thursday’s NFL Game is Terrible…but I’m Still Going to Watch

When the Tennessee Titans kick-off against the Jacksonville Jaguars for this week’s edition of Thursday Night Football, I’ll be tuning in along with millions of other professional football fans.  The game will arguably be one of the least compelling match-ups of the weekend.  It will be featuring two teams that have failed to experience recent success and are also from two cities that I don’t have a connection to.  I won’t be watching to find out who is going to win…oh no, it’s something of much greater personal importance than that. I’ll be watching to find out how my fantasy football team is performing, with the hope that my team takes a step towards ending a decade long championship drought in my primary fantasy football league.  

As the popularity of fantasy sports has grown, the major American Professional sports leagues have embraced them and are actively using fantasy as a promotional tool to grow their leagues and generate increased revenue. There is essentially a “fantasy” version of every sport, but the NFL has likely benefited the most.  Some reports estimate that of the 15 billion dollars spent on fantasy sports, 11 billion of that amount was related to fantasy football.  The majority of the money doesn’t directly go to the NFL, but the large dollar amount directed towards fantasy football is indicative of the interest and mind-share that fantasy generates for the league.  

Most of my attention towards fantasy sports is spent on managing a team in my primary fantasy football league. My friends and I established this league while attending Virginia Tech all the way back in 2002.  Back then we were a relatively small 7 team league full of

My 2006 fantasy football team, which owns the distinction of being my worst team of all-time. My #1 draft pick Carnell "Cadillac" Williams was more like a Geo Storm during the '06 season.

My 2006 fantasy football team, which owns the distinction of being the worst team I’ve ever managed. My #1 draft pick Carnell “Cadillac” Williams was more like a Geo Storm during the ’06 season.

“sports nerds”. Now the makeup of our league is a bit more mixed, with the core being the same group of us original nerds, along with a group of 5 additional new comers that are a bit more casual.  For the new comers, our league is their or second or third “side league”.  Part of the reason that I participate in my primary league is to stay in touch with old friends that I’m unable to compete in physical sports anymore because 1.) we’re all grossly out of shape and 2.) most of us live in different regions of the US.  I treat my primary league with the care that anyone would if they were in a long term relationship that they valued. My team is carefully managed and I’m always thinking of ways that can improve my team’s chances of winning a championship.  I’m optimistic about the world when my team wins and dislike everything about the world when my team loses.  Through the years I’ve also joined a few “side leagues” and participated as a more casual participant, but ultimately I found them to be disruptive as any mistress might be towards the stability of a long-term relationship.

Recently, a new category of fantasy sports known as Daily Fantasy Sports, or DFS, has taken hold. Daily Fantasy Sports involve selecting a team that you select for just one day, and then simply discard and walk away once the day’s games conclude.  As a result, DFS leagues don’t require a large time commitment or much team management.  If being in my primary fantasy football league feels like the equivalent of long-term relationship, then DFS would be a no strings attached one-night stand.  This is the fastest growing format, with two companies, Draft Kings and Fan Duel, currently owning the largest market-share. While I participate in my primary league for the intrinsic rewards associated with ruining the days (or weeks) of my best friends, DFS leagues are typically played with strangers that will never interact.  Playing DFS can be very exciting while watching the games play out, but like most one-night stands, there is a very good chance that you will be full of regret when you wake up the next day.  In fact, only the top 1.3 percent of DFS players will win money over the course of a football season.  We all know that the odds are stacked against us but we still play.  Currently 29 of the NFL’s 32 teams have promotional agreements with one of the two major DFS company’s.

The NFL knows we love fantasy and have fully taken advantage by not only partnering with Daily Fantasy Sports companies, but also by launching compliments to fantasy football such as the NFL Redzone Channel. The Redzone channel, which only airs content from 12:30 PM – 8:00 PM on Sundays during the NFL’s regular season, shows “every touchdown and every celebration” of the day’s games.  Some of my favorite Sunday afternoons have been spent following my fantasy team while listening to NFL Redzone host Scott Hanson guide us through all of the major events of the day as they happen.  For this privilege, I pay my cable provider an additional $5.00 a month (about 8% of my cable bill) to have access to NFL Redzone during the football season. My cable bill is high enough as it is, yet I still pay more because I feel need to watch “my players” performances in real-time.  

Occasionally I’ll feel guilty about the amount of time and effort that I spend managing my fake football team, but then I daydream about how good it’s going to feel when I finally hoist that imaginary trophy.  Kudos to the NFL and other sports leagues for realizing the monetary value associated with demolishing the spirits of your best friends.

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Are Millennials Changing the Face of Marketing?


Millennials are those who were born between approximately 1980 and 2004.  Most millennials are at the beginning or middle stages of the major milestones of life- jobs, houses, marriages, and kids-but are doing these significantly later later in life. The way they approach their purchasing power is very different from previous generations.  They will delay spending on ‘typical’ major life items, and tend to spend more on experiences and travel.  They are consistently looking for convenience over These spending habits have changed the way some companies are choosing to market their products.


Millennials are the largest and most diverse population in the United States.  They make up approximately 1/3 of the population.  Therefore, not choosing to market to this group, is leaving out a huge potential of sales.  It is also avoiding a group whose purchasing power will soon be a majority of the economy.


There are several companies who have been coined with successfully marketing to this new generation.  ZipCar, Spotify, and AirBnB have all been shown successful marketing to millennials.  These companies emphasize a sharing mentality that has proved successful among this population.  They also are convenient- millennials do not need to pick up a phone to use these services, they can easily do them online or through an app.  Millennials are used to having items immediately at their disposal.  They are the first generation to grow up using technology, and therefore, are used to immediate services.  Products or services that require a phone call or extra work will continue to lose to convenience and strong IT platforms, that allow these customers to access what they want quickly.  2614344601_b5443af912_n

Other companies will need to follow similar formats to these successful examples. Millennials, more and more, are purchasing products online.  Millennials also spend the majority of their time online-therefore, marketing for these groups should start online.



Millennials’ purchases are influenced differently than generations passed.  Typical outbound marketing techniques, are easily ignored by millennials.  This group has grown-up learning how to put up pop-up blockers and get on do not call lists.  Traditional cold-calling methods are less effective than ever before on this population.

In-bound marketing techniques, that demonstrate the product’s use have shown to be extremely effective.  Some examples include the Ford Fiesta Movement and Clinique.  Clinique has a YouTube channel where consumers can see videos on how to apply different products, and how they work on different skin tones.  Consumers can get an idea of how to use the product, and trust the product more than when someone comes and stops them at a Macys.  In the comfort of their own home, they can see products in use and make their own purchasing decisions, without the pressure they are used to from typical outbound marketing techniques.

Millennials are also drawn to marketing techniques that address their interests and cares. For example, Whole Foods doesn’t just provide groceries.  They share articles about the importance of where food is coming from.

They post recipes with their food.  They demonstrate with videos on how to cook these meals.  They allow customers to share experiences and post different comments.  Whole foods is not just marketing their groceries, but the experience their food provides.  Millennials are about experiences and in order to successfully market to them- a focus on the experience is necessary.  Millennials trend towards brands like Whole Foods who are focused on the experience-even if it comes at a greater cost.

While millennials are affecting how companies market their products, they are not changing the true face of marketing.  Marketing still has the ultimate goal of sales and profits.  Marketing still needs to bring customers in through getting the product name out and urging customers to buy-in to their products and services.  Therefore, while companies must adapt to target the millennials-their primary goals are still the same.

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I have no favorite airline out the airlines not named Jet Blue

I have no favorite airline out of the airlines not named JetBlue

Early on in my life travel was positioned in my mind as a nuisance. The transportation portion of moving from one place to another was an anxious and frustrating activity for me. It didn’t matter if my destination was exciting or what the mode of transportation was; I rarely had a positive outlook on an activity that most find exciting. My first two stops in the working world did not lack beautiful travel destinations. I made frequent winter trips to sunny San Diego while working in snowy northern Vermont, and have spent much of my time since moving to Boston split between Italy, Germany, Switzerland, and the UK. For a long time the frustrations of flying and renting a car cast a negative light on what most would desire from their first jobs after college.

Siena, Italy. My favorite travel for work destination.

Sienna, Italy. My favorite travel for work destination.

As with anything, repetition makes things more habit and less chore, and I’ve begun to take greater pleasure in my trips and the opportunities that they provide. With that being said, I have never been able to shake the notion that the airlines significantly lag behind the rest of the travel industry in how they operate. While other areas seem to have taken large steps forward in the last five years, I still find myself regularly disappointed with the same old procedures of airlines. On one of my more recent trips I’ve started to think about these perceptions in the context of value delivery and market channels. The car rental space has its flaws but there are leaders pulling the industry forward with improved methods for delivering their service (Enterprise). I am a frequent and loyal customer of Enterprise for both personal and business use. I have an appreciation for Enterprise’s small but common improvements of how they communicate with me and deliver their service.

As I sat on the runway for three and a half hours at Logan on a plane that never took-off, I began to rack my brain for a sustained noticeable change in how any of the airlines deliver value to their customers. I could really only come up with one, and it’s a stretch to attribute the improvement to the airlines themselves. There has been a noticeable and much appreciated enhancement to security and document control checks at most airports. I now rarely even budget time for these activities. This was again highlighted to me as I exited France less than 48 hours after the attacks in Paris. The atmosphere and some of the procedures were different but I was through security in an impressive amount of time.

The odd part about the lack of progress in value delivery is that the market channel for airlines seemingly has very little complexity. In the fading days of travel agents, for most transactions, the producer (airlines) delivers directly to the customer. The minor exception is when a travel website is used an intermediary. I call websites such as a minor exception because they usually function more as a marketplace rather than distributor acting on behalf of a company. I would argue that the real delivery of value occurs after a trip is ticketed. The simplicity of the market channel should be an asset used to sustainably enact improvements that influence future choices that the customer will make when choosing an airline. Changes in customer service and brand messaging should be easier to proliferate through a channel when there are few layers. As air travel choices become less price dependent for consumers there will be a shift to competing on quality. This is a clear focus of airlines through branding and marketing but neither of those things can influence my perception once I have engaged in transactions with a specific airline that ended with a sour taste. You can see a shift in focus from competing on price to customer experience in some regionally focused airlines such as JetBlue. Unfortunately for consumers and Gronk, JetBlue still has relatively limited service routes.

As mostly a business traveler, I am not price sensitive. I generally pick my airline based on the arrival and departure times. In most cases the convenience of one airline’s itinerary versus another is only marginal. Going on three hours listening to the mechanics work on the engine, I realized how curious it was that I have no favorite major airline. I can’t think of one other service or product that I regularly purchase that this is the case which led me to a minor marketing revelation:

No amount of marketing or branding is able to overcome poor value delivery systems.

Maybe the major airlines will always bare some resemblance to the commodities world and continue to have margins among the worst of any industry. Hopefully they will eventually have a sincere shift in focus from price competition to quality of service.

It just seems odd that they wouldn’t take notice of the new kids on the block (JetBlue, Southwest….).

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