Ep 64: SMB more successful with content, Google I/O dreams big but puts in stake around Local, Multisearch & Lens + Near Me

SMB more successful with content, typical looks at SMBS often undercounts total ad spend, Google I/O dreams big for hardware but puts in stake around Local, Multisearch & Lens + Near Me

Ep 64: SMB more successful with content, Google I/O dreams big but puts in stake around Local, Multisearch & Lens + Near Me
Photo by Girl with red hat / Unsplash

Part 1 Video start 0:13 - SMB more successful with content, typical looks at SMBS often undercounts total

Part 2 Video start 8:07 - Google I/O Grand Visions for HW and a Local push

Part 3 Video start 15:26 - Multisearch & Lens + Near Me

Reference Articles:

  1. Homegrown Content: Local Firms Are Publishing More And Boosting Their Spend
  2. Google 'Ambient Search'
  3. Local Visual Search Center Stage at Google I/O

Transcript Ep 64:

Greg: And we're back for Episode 64 of the Near Memo with Mike, David and Greg talking about local, social, commerce. And everything in between. And this is the week of Google IO. So we've got a lot of stuff to talk about. There, there was a hundred Google had a blog post that, that recap there hundred and it's from Google IO.

Um, so we're not gonna talk about all 100, but we're going to talk about some of the stuff that. Uh, but first, before we get into that David is going to talk about a pretty interesting survey that Burrell associates did that we're unable to find, but was written up in MediaPost.

David: Yeah, Burrell partnered, well, I think Facebook actually commissioned Burrell to do this, this study. Um, it was from the NetApp branded content project. So I assume that that's a Facebook initiative. Um, and basically was, was the big takeaways were that local companies who do content marketing are more profitable than those who do not.

Um, so trying to get more people to do this Immediate post reports that the study caution, it was correlation, not causation. Of course, if you're making more money, you have more budget to invest in these kinds of content plays. You know, there were some interesting things around, you know, which, what percentage of content producers also by SEO, that was basically 50% and only a quarter 26% of non content producers by SEO.

One has to wonder what the SEOs are optimizing if there is no content to optimize, but that sort of. Title I title tags of your home page, I guess which is only a business card. Um, at any rate there, they also get into other things that local businesses are purchasing, including social media management, et cetera.

And it's just really interesting. We had a series of conversations internally this week just around sort of all the revenue forecast for SAS companies and in particular for, for advertising revenues, you know, we've, we've highlighted in previous Near Memos, the Google and Facebook and Yelp earnings report, which are all sort of advertising driven.

And this report, you know, in addition to a couple of these interesting. Specific percentage data points really struck me that there's just a whole mass of dollars that small businesses, local businesses are spending on marketing that typically just don't get included when you're talking about size of market, right?

Or share of wallet or whatever, whatever numbers you want to use, whatever metrics you want. And so it just, it just strikes me that, you know, if you think about, if I think about the clients that I work with typically, or has historically worked with on the small business front, you know, they're spending, they're spending plenty of money on things like a website and an email marketing program and my SEO consulting services and potentially a social social media management you know, manager, freelancer photographers, video production, all kinds of things that are.

You know, marketing driven that are not advertising. And I just think that it seems like a consistent theme regardless of the size of business that sort of these, these forecasts are really geared around how much money are small businesses spending on advertising. And in fact, that's probably just the tip of the iceberg.

If you consider their expenditures on both marketing and advertising related stuff.

Greg: Yeah, I think that's totally, totally the case is that there's a much larger spend going to non-advertising digital marketing broadly defined than, than advertising. Advertising is easier to track. They're more third parties tracking it.

You know, you have to do direct research to get visibility on that from the small business, Stan. You know, one of the problems I had with the survey, which is not discussed in the, in the media. Well, it's not a problem with the surveys, the problem with the media post article, they don't talk about, they don't define the audience at all.

It's just small businesses. They don't talk about the segmentation and with, with Burrell surveys in particular, I know this because I know. How they conduct their surveys. They tend to get larger, small businesses that are more serious marketers than the very small businesses where, where the volume of the market is.

This is not to discredit the finding. In any way, but it's, it's it, you need to have some sort of visibility on who you're talking about, what segments you're talking about. The Breeden stuff I think is good, because it does give you that segmentation very small, medium, and sort of larger small businesses.

Mike: I wish that typically is such a small sample. I wonder how good this segmentation.

Greg: Well, that's, that's the problem is that they're only dealing with 500 S and B's and then they're slicing it three ways. And so you get a hundred and 107 in each category. So. You know, that's, that's a methodological issue, but, but we don't know, you know, people just use this term very loosely.

And when you don't know, in many cases who you're talking about, but, but that's not to discredit the finding of this tip of the iceberg marketing, spend that as you suggested. I said all you want it to say isn't

David: there? That's all I wanted to say on Google IO. Yeah. So, you

Greg: know, well, one final comment on that.

One of the things that tends to be true in these situations, and you, you said this is that the people that are doing content marketing that are having better results are probably going to be more sophisticated marketers. They understand the idea of content marketing and the benefits of content marketing.

And so they're already doing other things. That make them more successful. So this is, this is the challenge. Was this kind of correlation study, even though it's interesting, nonetheless. Yeah, but not, not so sure. My, well,

Mike: I, I didn't read this study, so I have very little,

Greg: well, neither did I, but we can infer a lot from

Mike: the road.

I mean, my experience and GatherUp was we, you know, we ran a whole business around content. Our whole marketing and advertising plan was content. Speaking at conferences and getting other people to mention us at conferences. That was everything we spent, not one penny on advertising or a PPC or anything.

Hundred percent of it was around the content.

David: And I'll wrap up the segment by saying Andy Crestodina from orbit media came out with a retrospective this week on their 15 year content marketing strategy. And they were in the same boat and still are in the same boat. They don't spend a nickel on ads and Andy has driven tens of thousands of subscribers, and he says millions or 10 million tens of millions in business through content marketing alone.

So it's certainly proved that the content marketing does work as a channel and, and is largely unmeasured by a lot of these, a lot of these sort of ad spend oriented research products.

Mike: And when it does work as a channel, it makes SEO an outcome. that is not an objective. I mean, you end up getting a lot of traffic and I think the same thing's happening at Near Media. I'm seeing now we're a year and something in, and we are now getting as much traffic from search as we're getting from email and direct visits. And we don't optimize the articles particularly consciously, not at all, not at all.

And yet we're, we're still driving, you know, our top three generators of traffic, one of them is search. And I think that that to me is more interesting. How do you get that sort of marketing flywheel going without twiddling title tag? Y

Greg: Okay. So Back to Google IO. Now a ton of announcements, a lot of interesting stuff, a lot of stuff to be skeptical about.

Michael let you lead off and we'll see where it takes us

Mike: quick summary. First 11 minutes were all about local, which you wrote about yesterday. And I really think deserves a deep dive. The, the rest of the first part. And the second part was about their grand vision of this integrated ambient hardware, software computing, which is largely everything looks like an apple replay to me of stuff that apple is already doing.

Uh, of integrating hardware and software and, and a lot of hardware. The other surprising thing was a lot of the hardware is vaporware, right? It's the watch is not till the fall and the, the tablet that they're going to make. And their name is not till 2023. And who knows when the glasses are, which. Ties in very tightly, to some extent for them, they are the only company that really can compete with apple.

And yet they have consistently failed to do so on hardware and it, but I think their local approach gives them a path through that so that even if they don't succeed on our. They can still be successful. And I think the locals and stuff that you covered just in that I would love you to well, let's see.

Greg: Yeah. Okay. So just real quickly a

Mike: good

Greg: segue. That was good. All right. So, so very quickly got into job. Oh, you can tap. You can have it. We'll switch places. Uh,

Mike: I'm only good at it once about once every three months. All

Greg: right. So. So they talked about three, they talked about three things really to two and a half things.

Uh Sundar Pichai, the Google CEO led off with translation, sort of a translation announcement. They're adding more languages, but then they went into they went into, um immersive view on Google maps, which is a really interesting combination of Google street view and Google earth and aerial images.

Kind of knit together using computer vision and AI to, to create a kind of video game, like experience of urban environments. And they're overlaying data on top of that. So you know, you can. It's kind of, in some ways it's like the apple fly over tours of cities. If you're familiar with that, although much more detailed, it seems like, and that immersive view will be available, you know, on any smartphone.

It's not a, it's not a dedicated app. I think it's just, I don't remember whether it was through the Google maps app. I don't think it's a web web. Uh, product, I think it's, I think you'll have to have the Google app or the Google maps.

Mike: Interesting. Uh, observation, mine about the stitching, particularly interior stores stitching.

Yes. We're able to put together stills to create a virtual experience and it really, it says, well, what does that mean about the whole project around their 360 virtual tours they've been working on for years and have never, it's never really taken off. It

Greg: means it goes down the toilet.

Mike: It means that that's.

Image tags. Right? Nobody's doing it. They're going to have to come up with another way if they want it. And it really puts photo photography at the center as opposed to virtual photography at the center businesses need to do now and in the future.

Greg: Well, do you, do you remember, years ago? I could not remember the name of this and I didn't spend the time to look it up.

Um, Microsoft had a product like this in, in, in its mapping, you know, it's, it's, it's it's street view equivalent, where they were taking

David: view. I

Greg: think. Burt, maybe anyway, they were doing similar stitching with, with, with static images. And it was pretty, pretty cool, but that was, that was years ago. And I think they've walked away from it.

The, the, the, the interior tour that they, that they showed in the demo was like a drones, drones, IBW as though they flew some sort of little drones through, through a restaurant or a similar environment. And. Um, it was pretty interesting and it suggests that they can just piggyback on any set of images that are uploaded for a space.

You know, I guess the question is which images do they choose choose? You know, see some of the pieces you've written Mike about all the crappy images that people upload. Um, but that's pretty compelling, I think to have the exterior and the interior stuff that can be done at scale through. The existing information that they have data that they have.

I don't know how much it's going to be used, but it's very dead. That's a

David: critical question. Yeah. So this, I was just going to comment that a lot of these announcements and this, the, in particular, the sort of stitch to. Bird's eye view, whatever. Uh, they strike me as like, there's this like hive mind thing happening in Silicon valley right now that oh, everybody needs an answer to the metaverse like we need what's our metaverse strategy.

And this felt to me, like, you know, Google's sort of response to whatever that sort of zeitgeisty is. And I just, I feel like while technically very impressive and. In certain use cases might be interesting. I just don't see it as a, an everyday type of use case. And it just feels like relative to the things that they could be working on, like what a, what a massive waste of resources, to be honest.


Greg: well, it's like, it's like a Google earth, right? Google earth was a fantastic, impressive thing. And I don't think anybody uses it. Yeah. But I think

David: we'll use it. People use it as, as sort of a, a hobby you might, you might check in on, you know, calibrate. There's probably maybe some very, really hard for users and then other people might use it once a year.

Right. for such a small part of society. When you have this massive platform that you

Greg: could be, right. I mean, Mike, you were going to say something.

Mike: Then one of the things that struck me is that there are verticals like the hotel vertical, where virtual tours are absolutely essential real estate.

Absolutely essential, probably cert you know, plastic surgery places probably pretty helpful. But beyond that, I agree. It's like, who cares what the virtual tour looks like? And it's.

Greg: Yeah. So, so I was looking last night, there's a house in my neighborhood that recently sold and I was my wife and I had wanted to go into it and just check it out.

But it's all very quickly. And. We, we couldn't do that. So I looked it up on Zillow and they had an interior tour and the thing was really fantastic. I have not been you know, I'm not in the market for house. And so I haven't been on Zillow very much in the last few years. And it was, it was a street view, like experience of the interior, but it was really, really well done.

You could walk through every inch of that house and completely manipulate matter.

David: Then putting those together, but that may, that

Greg: may well be, be one of their, one of their products, but it was, it was great. And so absolutely useful for people in this kind of situation. But but Google earth is a much more of a nice to have, not must have fun hobbyists kind of thing.

Interestingly however long I said it was a decade ago in the article yesterday, but it was. A little bit less than that. John hinky, who's now at Niantic labs, who's doing the AR platform stuff and Pokemon go used to be the head of Google, local and maps. And he was talking about, you know, Google earth as a metaverse platform a decade ago, and you know, or as a gaming platform and at the time, and being did some similar stuff at the time it was a really cool idea.

Nobody ever executed. You know, maybe that maybe Google should have. Um, but this is just, this is not a mainstream. Product, I don't think, but

Mike: unlike the stuff that they announced, the hardware, this stuff, which probably is not mainstream, I think what could be and might be in very well. It seems to be moving in a direction is lens.

Both research and mom and possibly that extending into their glass world, built on the knowledge graph of products and locations and all the stuff they're doing with the knowledge graph and layer of visual search interface. On top of that, it's not really VR per se, but it is a very compelling and they said 8 billion searches a month in lens or something, some big number they mentioned.

Although big numbers are hard to understand in context because. It may be a big number or sound like a big number and they don't show us what the real numbers are and it compares to. But Len seems to me, when you do what they say they're going to do, which is products near me, which. It's clearly coming because they, if you take a picture right now of a business, they bring up the ratings and they might bring up the menu for the restaurant.

If you take a picture in lens of a product, they'll bring up the ability to buy that. I did try before this was even announced. I did try aspirin near me or ibuprofen near me to see if it did anything. It didn't with multi search, but that's what this announcement is about. And I think that's very real.

Assuming that you can get users to change the way they think about searching. It's a very real local tool that could have a big impact.

Greg: Yeah. I mean, I think, I think it's it multi search near me is really interesting. Multi-serve is, has been, I mean, it was only announced a couple of months ago, you know, kind of an interesting,

Mike: less than a month ago.


Greg: So, so, well, lens. I was going to talk about lens actually. Not. Lens has been a kind of interesting tool, you know? Oh, what's that flower. What's that plant, you know, it's, it's something that people sort of have played with and experimented with, but not really, it's not really a mainstream search vehicle, but when you combine that with the near me capability, I think suddenly that does become pretty compelling, assuming.

Say that there's the data behind it. Right. So if I can, if I see a product in the world that I'm interested in and can find that near me, that's pretty cool. Or the, or the example was the, the plumbing the faucet piece that with the retractable faucet that he was looking for near me, there's a lot of use cases.

Mike: They usually would be show me the faucet near me and the person who can install.

Greg: Right. Well, that's another

Mike: piece. Yeah, no, no, no. That would be the search for me. If I don't want to go out through all three different searches, I want this piece, this product, this person can be there.

Greg: Right. So that's go ahead.

Like you,

David: you, you sort of guests that I'm a little skeptical of this feature as well, which I am not nearly as skeptical as the sort of metaphor. Virtual tour thing. Um, I do think this would be very useful in certain industries. Like home services is a good example. If you see a tile pattern that you like, you want to know, you want to take a photo of that at a restaurant and have the tiles shipped to your house from whatever.

Vendor. That makes a lot of sense to me, but there's still, so there's so many business types where they're just, they don't lend themselves necessarily to a visual search. Uh, as a, as a natural mechanism, like lawyers, I'm not going to take a photo of a car accident and say, I need to hire a lawyer.

Right. Or like attorneys. Yeah, right. There's all there all kinds of, of businesses that are just not as image or visual driven. On the flip side, there are certain industries where images are wildly important and obviously the one that they're using in their sort of launch blog post is around food.

Absolutely. If I, you know, had a great meal somewhere and I want to know, you know, where to get more like it, like I'm taking a photo that's that makes a lot of sense. So.

Greg: Uh, I think it's a compliment obviously, to, to what else they're doing. Um, you know, it's not designed to replace traditional search, but I think it, it, it can, as you say, it can be very useful in certain circumstances.

I mean, I might be in somebody's house and see a lamp, or I might, you know, somebody might see some. Shoes on the street or something. Hey, why are you taking pictures of my

David: get punched and possibly reported to the

Greg: authorities? Um, the, the other thing that they, that they talked about was the, the scene exploration which is sort of an awkward term.

I, I called it scene Explorer, but I think scene exploration good at Brandon, Greg,

David: how could, how could they, how could they come up with something that's so hard to understand?

Greg: Well, this, this is, this is something that very much remains to be seen, but what they showed is you know, a store display with chocolate bars where you could hold the camera.

This is not, this is not taking a static image and then searching on that image. It's hold it's the live camera. And then it's a kind of AR display of information about the, you know, which you could have supplement you know, nut-free or. Um, so they're, they're showing all these chocolate bars with, with overlays of information ratings and other things.

I think that that's very interesting, but you know, I'm very cautious to be too bullish on it because Google so often, you know, pre announced those things and then. Doesn't really deliver or there's some sort of awkwardness about the experience. So if you could, for example, go into you mean like

Mike: duplex being, setting up appointments for you at a restaurant and everybody never using it for that purpose.


Greg: perhaps, but, but say you're in a, in a, in a retail store, you know, when people want two kinds of information, you know, when they're using mobile devices in retail stores, they want two kinds of information. They want to know. Quality ratings and they want to compare prices. If you could just hold your camera over products, you know, it's not taking a picture and then uploading a picture and then doing a search it's, you're just holding the camera over the product and you could get that kind of information quickly.

That would be quite interesting. You could go product, product, product, product, product, and just get a lot of information very quickly. Now that's a technical feat that Google would have to accomplish in the back end, but they seem to be capable of it. We'll see.

Mike: Just one thing about all of these, this effort around the lens and products and local is it, it does speak and image, understanding.

It does speak to one their strengths and to their competitive situation. You know, they are the only company beyond apple that might be able to pull off integrated hardware, but in local, they're the only company that could pull off this visual search. It becomes, as they said more than just a niche thing, they're the ones in a position to do it.

And it would give them a competitive advantage in local product search beyond that would be hard for people to compete with.

Greg: Well, there's nobody, there's nobody that can compete with it. Right.

Mike: And, but it does require apple hardware and regular Android hardware for it to get any kind of scale. Right.

Because again, their hardware. 2.3, 1% of the United States, it's nothing. Right? So they, the question is will, will users adapt these new metaphors as a broad based thing? Or it will be a niche way of interacting with the local world

Greg: if it works and it's easy to use and it, and there's a lot of data behind it, people will use it.

I mean, um you know live view, Which they're now making, you know, I thought live view is just like walking directions, but really what it is is it's like their whole street view dataset and other, and positioning and all of that. And then they're now making that available to third-party developers.

That was one of their announcements, but live view really sucked for a long time. I don't use it. I mean, you, you, that was the situation where you, you move the, move, the phone around to get get your, to get nauseous, to get your position. And then, and then, right. And then, and, and then after you throw up, you can start, you can start walking in, whatever, you know, it's, it'll, it'll be sort of step-by-step, it gives you an AR overlay on the map.

And so it can direct you. And it just, in so many instances, It just didn't know it couldn't get it. Couldn't get a sense of where you were when I, when I tried to use it and it was just, it just didn't work. It just was not good. Now maybe it's dramatically improved, but th there are a lot of things that Google does that are like that.

Mike: Yeah. You wonder that technique of rolling it out early and iterating turns people off, you know?

David: Well, certainly did with respect to.

Greg: Yeah. It took them years to recover from that.

David: They're still paying for it. I think

Mike: so. Yes. And yeah, Google does it with every product and these products need broad adaption and, and people aren't aren't that tolerant of it now.

Greg: Well, and go, and Google is somewhat impatient, right? They put things out in the market sometimes without much support or marketing effort behind them or, or education. And then if they don't see immediate adoption or relatively quick adoption there,

David: meanwhile, they were perfectly happy to invest tens of billions of dollars into Google plus, which was a disaster from the beginning.

Greg: So, yep. And it turns out they didn't even really need to need to have that.

David: So, I don't know. I'm just, I think that this function is you know, it's, it probably did its job. Cause I do feel like a lot of people are talking about these things in the Twitter sphere. Um, so I think from a branding exercise, it was probably very successful, but I, again, I don't, I didn't see anything here that was That was on the order of a new iPhone or an apple watch or something.

That's like a real game changer that is going to stick

Greg: with us. Well, the, the, the one, the one thing I would say was the demonstration of the AR glasses, which appears to be another instance of vaporware. And for those that didn't see it the, the demo that they showed was a simultaneous translation language translation.

Uh, where you had two people speaking different languages and the translation was happening inside the glasses, and you were seeing a display of what the other person was saying. And I thought that that was a very, very impressive demo, which means nothing because a couple of years ago at IO, they did a demo of simultaneous translation using an earpiece and it was supposed to be, the person was speaking.

And then you were hearing the immediate translation in their ear. And then that turned out just to be a kind of. Pure controlled demo, but the, but the AR glasses I thought were, were really cool and really interesting and a very practical sort of use case. Although Mike, you were disputing that before our, our, our session began here.

When do you need

David: to talk to people at this? Not an everyday use case.

Mike: Absolutely. It's

David: yeah. You're, you're traveling once a year to a country where you don't speak the language if you're very lucky. And so it just doesn't affect that many.

Greg: Well, there, there are, there are people that interact in, in multi-lingual communities that are maybe not entirely fluent in those languages and it might, it might be, it might be also a language teaching tool, which could be quite interesting as well.

We can

Mike: devalue, I could imagine lens moving men lens and search moving over to the glass. So it wouldn't be just translation, but it would be local shopping. Right. You know, that's also an interesting interface to me, but again, it's like, is it broad enough? Will it succeed mean will they give it a chance to.


Greg: the PR the problem with any, I mean, I agree with you, Mike. That's very interesting to, to think about multi-serve and, and, and local in, in AR glasses scenario. But the problem is always the form factor, the glasses. Are you going to wear the goofy glasses or even something that looks semi normal?

Are you just going to take your glasses off on and off with, you know, we all wear glasses. How are, you know, it's, it's, it's problematic. I mean, is that a, is that a clip on somehow, but then what is the, where's the brain, you know, it's, it's

Mike: my hope is infinitely adjusting lenses that know what I'm looking at, know what my prescription is at that distance.


Greg: I mean, Maybe

David: a bionic eye replacement,

Mike: but you know, no, no, I already, I already did that. I have two new, two new lenses that actually, despite my still current need for reading glasses, which will never go away, my distance eyesight has gotten dramatically better. And I can now ride my mountain bike with abandoned and I no longer confused the shadows with the stumps.

That's a good thing. Right? It's like, I can see what to avoid, what not to. So. I don't need

Greg: glasses for that. On that, on that happy note, we will adjourn for the day and see you next week as always subscribe to our newsletter and give us any feedback that you feel inclined to do.