The Alphabet According to Google Canada 2010 Edition

December 31, 2010

Last year I did a quick look at what Google suggested you search for for each letter of the alphabet (see below for an example). With Google Instant having been rolled out this is turning into an important battle ground for SEO – not only do you need to own you own name and related terms but you need to own your own letter.

Google Instant - A is for Air Canada

I’ve put the 2010 results side by side so we can see the change over time – as always, the trend is more interesting than the result.

Letter 2010 2009
a air canada air canada
b best buy best buy
c canadian tire canadian tire
d dictionary dictionary
e ebay ebay
f facebook facebook
g gmail gmail
h hotmail hotmail
i ikea ikea
j job bank job bank
k kijiji kijiji
l london drugs Lotto 6/49
m MSN Mapquest
o Oilers OSAP
p Plenty of Fish – online dating Plenty of Fish
q quotes quotes
r RBC Rogers
s Shaw Scotiabank
t TELUS TD Canada Trust
u utube (!) UFC
v Visions Electronics Via Rail
w Westjet Weather Network
x xbox XE – Currency Exchange
y YouTube YouTube
z Zellers Zellers

So what do Canadians like?

  • Shopping (8); Electronics specifically (2)
  • Social (4); Video specifically (2)
  • Email (3)
  • Travel (2)
  • Hockey (2)

I wonder if my location is something to do with the results? I’m in Calgary for 2010 and I was in Edmonton if memory serves me correctly for the 2009 edition.

Mary Meeker Web2 2010 Presentation – 10 Questions for Internet Executives

November 22, 2010

I’m a big fan of data and of trends so I am a big Mary Meeker fan.

Here’s her 7th annual talk at the Web2 conference, followed by her slides. She’s asking 10 questions of Internet executives but she may as well be talking about marketers and business people in general. Fascinating stuff.

Fun Friday – The Boss Button

March 19, 2010

A trend I’ve noticed on a few sites is the”Boss Button” – a button you can click on when browsing a Web site and disguise your screen as something productive. Not that I would ever need to do such a thing…but many brands out there have quirky personalities and this could be just the thing to enhance the user experience.

CBS Sports has apparently done this for years and this year had Scott Adams design one for the March Madness NCAA Basketball video streaming app:

Dilbert Boss Button

The popular football forum on also has one:

Football 365 Forum Boss Button

(click to enlarge)

I love this sort of idea…are there any other sites where you’ve seen this?

My former colleague and gracious host Paul Borge points us to the boss button:

Skybet Boss Button

Facebook’s Business Strategy

February 19, 2010

image A few weeks ago, I was brainstorming some social media ideas with a colleague who winced a little when I mentioned a feature rich Facebook page. When I asked why, it was clear that they were under the impression that developing on the Facebook platform meant paying a princely sum to Facebook for the privilege.

In fact, Facebook’s business strategy is far more simple than that.

People think Google’s strategy is complex as well, when in fact you can boil it down to a short paragraph: to encourage users to flood the Web with content, making good content hard to find unless you use the best search engine in the market (hint, it rhymes with bugle). Once everyone is using your engine to find content, businesses who want to appear prominently on that search engine will pay handsomely for that ability. The brilliance of this is that Google doesn’t limit itself to the enterprise, large companies with massive budgets, in fact Google makes it easy for everyone to buy its ads – no creative, no agency fees, just good copy and a credit card.

Facebook’s strategy is very similar.

Facebook provides the audience and compelling tools (fan pages) to reach that audience. Anyone with a Facebook account can start a fan page and grow an audience – some do so with huge success. Everyday you read about a group or page with tens of thousands of members – the Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament is a classic example with more than 200,000 fans…and there are many more. com.motion’s monitoring and measurement partner, Sysomos, has a great study on the numbers behind Facebook pages.

This is exactly what Facebook wants you to think!

Facebook lulls you in with promises of a huge audience to have a relationship with and great insights into that relationship! Facebook even provides the platform to heavily customize your fans’ experience (through the Facebook Mark-up Language) free of charge! All you need is a good developer and some imagination.

So you have your Facebook fan page. You have your mousetrap all set up with a steel spring but you’re not getting the results you want – you only have a few hundred fans despite all this money and time you’ve invested in development and content. And those fans are the agency, the client and their networks. Just like Google, the answer is advertising. In order for the average fan page to grow, you need advertising dollars

Therein lies the rub. You could create a viral sensation like Vin Diesel or any of the other top Facebook pages but in reality you’ll need to spend big and, more importantly, keep spending both time and ad dollars on the platform in order to create the same feeling of momentum. Facebook thrives on its viral-ity but in order to achieve true viral-ness, you need to break out of your collective networks and the easiest way to do this is by attracting people you have no connection with. The easiest way to do that? Advertising.

Facebook’s strategy is to build a huge user base (check!), attract big brands (check) and provide the platform for buying meaningful engagement with that user base (check). Everything else, like Facebook Connect, Beacon, Titan and mobile, just feeds into this strategy.

The new newsworthy

February 2, 2010

When I was starting out in PR, a lot of the discussions our team had with clients was what “newsworthy” or not. Was this new RFID reader newsworthy? What about this new wifi standard? Business Intelligence dashboard?

Or, how can we put the right context around this product to make it newsworthy? Chocolate fashion shows, national canonball championships etc etc.

But the world is changing. More and more I’m speaking to my clients about the need to create content to fuel the direct interaction with the audience. In an era dominated by shortform content and instant interaction, the sort of content which works doesn’t have to be newsworthy, it just has to be “huh-worthy”. Your goal in creating content is to ellicit a reaction. Within Facebook, for example, you’re looking for the end user to just click “like” or make a short comment – thus sharing the content throughout their network.

In the real Web, your content doesn’t have to change the world, it just has to inspire the reader to share it – via email, their blog, Twitter or myriad tools which allow social sharing.

Your news doesn’t have to be newsworthy but it does need to be huh-worthy. That doesn’t mean it can be any less remarkable though.

Stumbling block for email marketing

January 15, 2010

If e-mail marketing was a stock, I would hedge it. As I told Marketing Mag:

While its effectiveness will continue to decline in 2010, it will still provide one of the highest ROIs of any marketing channel. That said, I believe it will be incrementally harder to persuade consumers to sign up for e-mail campaigns. E-mail will also need to be integrated into other marketing channels such as social media. We need to figure out how the content we create is truly distributed and how many times our targets see our messages.

Further to this, one of the main reasons I am less keen on e-mail marketing is the growth and proliferation of smart phones, or mobile devices. On the BlackBerry in particular, e-mail marketers and, more importantly, vendors such as ThinData and Lyris (formerly EmailLabs) need to solve is the usability issue of a smart phone receiving an html-heavy email, as I did today:


I love the Bulldog Reporter’s “Daily Dog” email but this delivery to my BlackBerry makes the great content almost unusable – especially at 7:12 am!

If this basic user experience issue can be solved, we can move on to solving the email overload issue – the real issue facing e-mail marketing.

Five Internet Communications Activities to Integrate into your 2010 Marketing Plan

January 13, 2010

The always thought provoking ClickZ has a listing of five projects online marketers may want to consider. The list is below, with some additions from myself 😉

Portable applications. An application doesn’t have to be on a mobile device, it just has to allow users to interact with your brand off your Web site – Facebook, Web site or blog and mobile are all channels to consider the pros and cons of.

Reskin your site. Use the Ed Lee elevator theory and change a few things.

Optimize your site. It’s vital you continue to make small tweaks to your most important pages and test the results. Consider asking the com.motion team to undertake a usability audit.

Be creative with promotions. But remember to track the customers who take advantage of them, once they enter your CRM system. For more on that, be sure to read Kevin Hillstrom’s Mine That Data blog. He’ll help you work out whether the customers you’ve acquired through promotions actually help or hinder your overall profitability.

Use the resources you have to their fullest creative capacity. As we all will!

BONUS: Conduct a brand health audit. You’d be surprised to see just how reasonable even the most sophisticated online brand health audit can be, and the insight you can derive from it, especially compared with Nielsen and Millward Brown research. Again, not to sound like too much of a shill, but the com.motion team is waiting to help you with this.

The Alphabet According to Google Canada

November 5, 2009

Here’s what Google Canada suggests when you type in each letter of the alphabet.

A – Air Canada (example below)


B – Best Buy

C – Canadian Tire

D – (guess the Canucks can’t spell, eh!)

E – ebay

F – Facebook

G – Gmail

H – Hotmail

I – Ikea

J – Job bank

K – Kijiji

L – Lotto 649

M – Mapquest

N – NHL (of course)


P – Plenty of Fish

Q – quotes

R – Rogers

S – Scotiabank

T – TD Canada Trust (honestly, i thought this would be the ubiquitous Tim Hortons – disclosure, com.motion and Veritas work with Timothy’s Coffees of the World)


V – Via Rail

W – Weather Network

X – XE (the currency exchange Web site)

Y – YouTube

Z – Zellers

I find this interesting on a couple of fronts.

First there is a bunch of “cancon” in there (Canadian specific sites or queries) which gives me confidence Google is customizing my experience.

Secondly, while as a snapshot this is exercise is fun but ultimately useless, if we can start to track these over time it will be a fascinating anthropological ethnographical study to see what search queries drop in and out of the suggestions.

Finally, the search results for the letter is not the same as the suggestion. Make of that what you will.

Internet Statistics from Google Stats Stats Stats

September 9, 2009

One of the most popular items on this blog is an old post about Internet statistics as related to online advertising. However, I am sure people are looking for more up to date stats than from January 2008 so I present Google’s curated collection of Internet statistics.

You can choose from the following categories and sub-categories:

  • Macro Economic Trends
    • Rest of the World
    • UK
  • Technology
    • Broadband
    • Devices
    • Mobile
    • Speed
  • Consumer Trends
    • Community
    • Entertainment
    • Information
    • eCommerce
  • Media Consumption
    • Changes in Media Usage
    • Demographic Usage
    • Media Consumption Stats
    • Media Multi-tasking
    • Personalised Media Experiences
  • Media Landscape
    • All Media
    • Online

While the site is hosted off of the (another triumph for Britain vs. the rest of the world!) there are global statistics and research. I particularly like the “random statistic” button, which retains Google’s sense of playfulness in a sea of data.

For instance, did you know that:

YouTube Ad Impressions multiply the impact of TV- lifting recall and attribution up to 15% higher than TV alone. Motorola (with Mindshare) and GM, partnered with YouTube, December 2008

Clearly Google owns YouTube and Mindshare is a media buying agency (who we work with on integrated accounts here at Veritas/com.motion) so there is a…small conflict of interests but it is pretty interesting none-the-less. I also found this factoid fascinating:

People aged 12-24 (in the UK presumably) are notching up 23 cumulative hours a day, engaged in up to five activities simultaneously. NMA, April 2009

I would love to see Google link to the primary research so us users could do a bit of a deeper dive and analysis of the data before accepting the conclusions on face value but it is still interesting stuff to use, especially when planning a campaign or convincing a client that online and/or social media represents the best bang for their buck. Check it out and bookmark it yourself.

Hat tip for this little tool goes to Steve Rubel.

PS my curiousity always loves seeing the popular tags on delicious used to bookmark pages. Tags used for the Google Internet Statistics library are (so far): statistics google data trends research demographics planning future

Seven Words The Internet Should Live By

July 30, 2009








Thanks to Internet pioneer and venture capitalist, Fred Wilson, for crystalizing everything we believe the Internet (and communications) should be, in just seven words.

UPDATE – I took a few minutes to expand on these thoughts over on the com.motion blog. Seven Words The Internet Should Live By.

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