IP Digital Marketing 2011: Industry Ups & Downs

We put some questions to members of staff at Intelligent Positioning to get a gauge on what has had the biggest impact on the online marketing industry this year – for better or worse. So our Head of Dev, Head of SEO, CTO, Head of Social Media and COO give their thoughts.

Best Online Campaign of the year?

Andrew Mabbott: Best online campaign of the year? Didn’t notice any. Good start.

social media london riots 2011

Daniel Titterton: Nationwide social media shaming of those caught on camera looting, fighting,bullying and stealing during the London riots. Exposes how accessible social media has become in the way it was used to coordinate a riot with a collection of users who were not bright enough to understand the self incriminating evidence they were creating.

Sam Silverwood-Cope: Wikileaks – a coordinated effort between Julian Assange and the liberal-leaning newspapers of the world. I loved it. It was political gossip and intrigue at its finest, supplied in a beautifully searchable database on the Guardian, something no other British newspaper could’ve handled. I especially liked hearing about Sarkozy being a grumpy old so-and-so with his staff continually trying to avoid outbursts.

Jon Earnshaw: I haven’t got a favourite campaign so here’s my take on the worst. Not wishing to single any individual agencies out, as most of the larger ones are at it, but this year I have seen dozens of organic search campaigns built almost entirely upon the acquisition of barely relevant links pointing to poor quality content. With Google slowly beginning to realise that its organic results are increasingly being polluted with what are effectively ‘paid for’ positions; when it penalises the sites (not the agencies) and cleans up its results the only ones who will benefit are Google as people switch to PPC for position and the agencies who have their clients money in the bank. At least Dick Turpin wore a mask!

Andy Francos: Can I say one of my own? Intelligent Positioning have helped Commercial Acceptances to achieve an 80% increase in organic traffic from 2010 to 2011, a great achievement.

Best new website or redesign or the year?

AM: Can’t think of any new sites except one that we’ve built. Maybe 2011 wasn’t a year of innovation, or perhaps new sites just don’t happen the way they used to before the web became so dominated by the big players.

DT: BBC home page – in beta for most of the year and now fully live. It performs well from tablets to pc and provides fully accessible in- depth content. Very brave of the BBC to try something quite different, the reward is it’s a better interactive experience than all the competitors.

SSC: Rarely do I say “Wow” when I see a new big-corp broadcasting site. But the new BBC Radio 1 site – WOW. It’s phenomenal and miles better than the BBC homepage (Dan and Jon?). There is updated content going up on the main banner every few minutes, with huge amounts of links to social media, recent tunes and additional content based on what you just heard on the Radio. All sites will now strive to be as good as this. You must take a look.

JE: Can I say best update? In which case it’s the new BBC home

AF: In terms of style, I love the classical redesign of the BBC website. I also love the new Twitter interface and from an SEO perspective – it has to be www.seroundtable.com; but then that’s not really new in 2011 is it?!

new radio1 site

Who’s winning Facebook or Google?

AM: Facebook is definitely winning in the area where Facebook and Google are actually competing. Google is throwing everything at creating a social network and it hasn’t worked. Facebook has 850 million people who think it’s their friend and Arab revolutionaries holding placards bearing its brand-name. But Google will win eventually – Google owns searchfacebook logo (still the entry point to the web for most people) and plenty else we can’t live without, giving them the platform to keep pushing their ideas until something sticks.

DT: Google, way ahead. But risks doing too many things sub (it’s own high) standard. Facebook keeps it simple, but is still a linear media model.

SSC: In terms of trust, neither. In terms of arrogance, it’s a close race. Both companies infuriate, but continue to dominate. Both have fantastic, free, but hugely flawed analytics packages. Both launch new features continuously that put sites like Yahoo and Bing to shame. But you can pay either company £10,000s and still not get a salutary email from a human being. Which one would I leave first? Facebook, which has made more mistakes this year. I love Chrome so I will say Google wins by a nose. BTW, Bebo and Yahoo are not winning.

JE: I hate to say this but Google is losing out in terms of the quality of its results. Too little focus on its organic search roots and getting it’s algorithm right. Too much focus on building new things that are too complex, don’t work or there is no actual need for.

AF: At social sharing, interaction and dependence – Facebook, but for everything else Google. Both companies have mass privacy issues, something that was inevitable considering the personalisation route that we are heading towards. Google’s decision to launch its own social networking platform speaks volumes, along with the failed Google Buzz, as Page, Brin and Schmidt aim to tap in to the needs and requirements of the 2011 user. Although I am a Google Plus user, the platform is miles away from being a serious contender to Facebook in terms of key metrics and unique users. Yes, Google have attempted to integrate Google Plus within their navigation (and even pushed it so much to include a massive blue arrow pointing to the option) and you can now “+1” search results – but I can’t see users jumping the Facebook ship just yet.

Best new product in the market (hardware or software)?


AM: Majestic SEO for doing one thing and doing it better than everyone else. Also being there at the right time as Yahoo gave up on site explorer.

DT: Knight’s Corner one teraflops chip – one trillion calculations per second. Hello A.I.

SC: I’m not an Apple geek, but the updated Ipad2 has impacted upon the media industry like no other product. Then, as a knock-on from that, those media-types have created websites, apps and even whole pay models that are based on the hardware’s offerings, screen-size and usability. I even told my grandma to get one.

JE: Without question – iPad 2, closely followed by Kindle

AF: IPad 2 – can’t live without it.

Dead as a dodo?

AM: Flash. No matter how much Steve Jobs didn’t like Adobe, Flash’s incumbent status, platform neutrality and developer community allowed it to muddle on as the de facto language of the interactive web – until Adobe announced it would no longer produce a player for Mobile OSs. IE6 finally (pretty much) stopped being used outside China, Nokia killed Symbian by opting for Windows. Firefox started losing ground to Chrome (and has nothing to sustain it).

DT: Flash – Still great for my children’s maths games and Moshi Monsters, but even my children are getting frustrated that it does not work on the iPad.

SSC: Digg. Those nice people at Digg used to deliver millions of hits to major sites. Then they changed everything and their users obviously didn’t like change. Stumbleupon (with your new logo and branding) watch out. Second place Yahoo – with site explorer now gone, I doubt I will visit them ever again. Third place, and this may come back to bite me,yahoo Google+.

JE: Yahoo

AF: HMV’s online strategy. At the end of the 20th century it was the place to go for music, DVDs and the rest – now, it has fallen so far behind the likes of Amazon, Play and EBay – it looks like there is no way back. I’d also put Yahoo! in there as well.

Alive and kicking?

AM: Android continues to grab market share and the Ice Cream Sandwich release unifying the phone and tablet versions sets the stage for more growth next year.

DT: Email marketing – While Social Media claimed to pinch the email marketing domain, mobile devices and user set-ups are still built around email clients. This helped somewhat by Groupon reminding people why email marketing can be quite exciting.

SSC: The Blogosphere as a media outlet. You can get your product in front of the same amount of potential customers, more easily and cost effectively than the old fashioned mediagoogle android icecream companies. We love bloggers.

JE: Apple, even with the sad loss of SJ

AF: Twitter. I love it and as a massive football enthusiast, it is great to see so many old school press journalists – who once looked down on digital – using Twitter for interaction, comment and promotion. I always thought that Google would make a move for Twitter, especially considering their philosophy on speed of results over the past few years.

Buzz word of the year?

AM: HTML5 – everyone’s talking about it, even if they don’t know what it is. Ditto Cloud Computing. Geolocation is everywhere. QR codes are mainstream. People talk a lot about privacy.

DT: Three letters. R.O.I. Things are going to get harder so R.O.I. will remain in the spotlight. If you don’t know what it means to you at the various levels then get reading and thinking.

SSC: Social Media / strategy/ campaign/ training/ events. I get more emails about social media than I do from fake Rolex sellers. It’s becoming a little spammy, but still hugely important, if explained appropriately. Second place “Content Strategy”.

JE: Connected Online Ecosystems – and we started that one!

AF: Surely, it HAS to be Google Panda?! ‘Panda proof your website’ became a common phrase in the SEO community, although I have to admit I was a little frustrated by some of the “advice” given out. There is no doubt that people are trying to help others but advice like “Just get rid of your low quality content” is simply like saying “just get more links” or “earn more money”. Obviously a company or individual doesn’t want to give free advice, but if it is worthless, why say it in the first place? It reminds me a bit of Matt Cutt’s comments on keyword rich domains and stating that Facebook, Twitter and YouTube – all of which do not have keywords within their domains – gets a lot of traffic and you should try and build something like that. Thanks for that, glad you’re here.

Biggest mistake of 2011?

AM: Google’s Chromebook for futility. It’s a netbook with the browser as the Operating System – in other words it can do anything anyone can already do with Chrome on a PC, but it can’t do anything else. Who is it for? Secondly, the EU cookie law for fundamentally challenging the way we use the Web without proposing any viable alternative.

DT: Big brands consolidating agency services – in tough times businesses need niche experts, not margin accumulators.

SSC: Facebook for changing too much too quickly and not listening to concerns about privacy of their 800 million users. Facebook will continue to grow in the emerging markets, but the established, rich markets such as the US and Europe are beginning to switch off. Was 2011 the point of decline? Probably not as we wait to hear more about their $100 billion flotation.

JE: Anyone putting PPC in front of a solid organic search strategy.

AF: Well – looking at it from an SEO point of view – I don’t think Google or Microsoft came off very well following the accusations that Microsoft were copying Google’s search results. ‘Bing sting’ as it was coined was an embarrassment for Microsoft as they’d spent a small fortune trying to position Bing as an alternative to Google, a decision engine. Commercials, Yahoo! integration – all trying to help Bing gain market share on Google.

What are we going to hear a lot about in 2012?


AM: IPv6 – 2012 is surely going to be the year we’ll finally have to face up to the fact that we’ve run out of IP addresses. SSL – more sites will follow Google and Facebook in pushing people toward encrypted browsing (with all the implications that brings for analytics). Maybe @font-face will finally go mainstream and we’ll see more sites using typefaces other than Arial next year. Plain old Web apps will make a comeback to displace platform-specific applications as people realise it’s cheaper to make one version of something than four. Mobile user experience will come under more scrutiny as platforms mature and conventions are established.

DT: Content strategies and content delivery. Those without relevant, engaging, timely content will be digging deep into pockets for old school media.

SSC: Obviously the Ipad3, Iphone5 etc. Facebook share price. Yahoo buy-out. Google messing with their search results. Firefox decline. Social Media.

JE: Google cleaning up its results with the search public finally realising the natural search results are not actually that natural but are in fact in many cases paid for indirectly through link acquisition.

AF: For me, I am going to keep a very close eye on Netflix and Google TV (due to my work with blinkbox) when launched in the UK. Netflix will no doubt a massive competitor in the movie streaming sector, so it will be a challenge – but a welcome one!

We want your thoughts…

Leave your comments below, we’d love to see what your response would be to the questions.