Category Archives: J.C. Penney

New, improved Google Social Search squeezes out SEO

This is Google. And this is your friend Matt, above, jumping into the third result on the Google page.

Google has made a rather radical change to its search results, sprinkling its “Social Search” listings — which show your friends’ tweets, blog posts etc. about a topic — throughout your Google search results page. Before, such social results appeared only at the bottom of the page. The move signals that Google recognizes many consumers now use social media as much as search fields to get recommendations on topics of interest.

This tweak creates massive challenges for the organic Search Engine Optimization crowd, of course, because the inclusion of more social results limits the visual inventory for other organic search listings. A search for “Obama Daily Show” on Google, for instance, returns 9 total organic results on page 1, with only 6 visible in the initial window. If 2 or 3 of those results are now friends commenting about the show, SEO inventory has diminished by 33%.

Google has never seemed fond of the SEO ploys of marketers who try to game its system (J.C. Penney was just spanked harshly for alleged black-hat SEO tactics), likely because any off-topic victories for marketers diminish the overall quality of search results, making Google less useful and pushing away consumer usage. Now, Google is shrinking the space for SEO games-players to play in.

Ben Kunz is vice president of strategic planning at Mediassociates, an advertising media planning and buying agency, and co-founder of its digital trading desk eEffective.

Roll over, Rick: Razorfish patents way to track viral success

Sure, Rick Astley’s Never Gonna Give You Up has turned into an online phenomena, viewed more than 12 million times. But how did it get there?

Razorfish has launched a new patented slice of code that can track the exact paths things take when they go viral online. Think of it as a GPS tracking system for your message, monitoring movement online from generation 1 to 2 to 35 and mapping the key social influencers within the web most helpful in distribution. For example, the recent JC Penney doghouse ad sent a jewelry promo via video to millions of guys who usually buy stupid presents for their wives or girlfriends. It was funny. We got it from our father-in-law and laughed. But how does JC Penney know how important we are in the chain or how many friends we sent it to ourselves?

The Razorfish Incrementing Action Tag solves this by tracing a family tree for every person beneath you, just like your future children, who downloads and passes along your communication gene. The tag uses an anonymous cookie on the computer and does not capture user personal information; but marketers can pinpoint clusters of behavior inside the viral dissemination — you know, the cool kid in Des Moines who at contact level 4 suddenly made your message reach 10 million people.

Based on this knowledge, you can then fire your marketing director, hire the cool kid from Iowa, and use him to advertise in the future for free. Or something like that. Anyway, Razorfish, nicely done.

The truth about sexual obsession

About six years ago we got on a plane bound from Washington, D.C., to New York and settled in to a blue US Airways seat next to a consulting buddy. Our friend, Ed, tapped us on the elbow. “Look at that,” he said. We moved our eyes up slowly, a bit embarrassed that Ed was checking out a blonde, and then we realized the blonde he was checking was U.S. talk show host Katie Couric.

Katie looked pretty good. At least the back of her head did, which is all we caught as she slid into a front-row airline seat. Her hair had some sort of multifaceted, shimmering gleam, as if a dozen hair stylists had worked different layers of gold through it all at once.

Katie’s hair looked expensive.

She moved on to the evening news, where great ratings didn’t happen, and as the years passed we realized (a) we would never date Katie, because we were already married, and (b) a huge latent sexism exists in society if Katie couldn’t pull good ratings because the American public judges her on hair color and not smart journalism skills. In the end, guys on planes admired young hair, and people eating dinner wanted TV news from old men.

If the fact that we’re calling her “Katie” bothers you, congrats, you’re feeling the deep-rooted emotion of sexual response on some level — an innate characteristic that humans all spend time trying to repress, or trying to stimulate, all while denying we are animals at heart. This thought occurs after a week in which national advertisers like J.C. Penney and Heinz caught flack for running/repudiating ads that showed teenagers stripping for sex and men kissing over kitchen counters. The sex-in-advertising thing that causes so much reaction is rooted in our hormonal foundation. To fight sexual prejudice — the pre-judging of people based on their biological features — is to battle a million years of evolution. Humans didn’t survive without mating, so looking for mates is in our blood.

Today a friend we made on Twitter wrote,

“My sis just said that the hiring person for a job she applied to was concerned that the size of her breasts would be a ‘distraction.’ Srsly.”

Whoa. We re-read it, and thought the appropriate response is to feel concerned for her sister. But of course, we also wondered about her sister’s appearance.

And finally, we thought –- how clever. That writer on Twitter just boosted her own ratings by stimulating a response.

Photo: Fatman. (Hey, it’s just a peach.)