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The Top SEO Platforms: Forrester Wave Report

112987077Forrester, the large marketing technology analysis organization, has released two of three of its Forrester Wave reports related to search marketing. I wrote about the first one yesterday in Forrester Rates The Top Large Search Marketing Agencies, which offered an assessment of large, full service (meaning agencies that offer both organic SEO and PPC) and agencies who serve large clients of $1 billion or more in revenue.

Today, a look at the second report, covering what Forrester describes as SEO "platforms" – the relatively new set of tools that has emerged over the past few years to help SEOs automate and bring more efficiency to a broad range of search optimization tasks that previously were a manual chore.

Forrester's overall assessment is that SEO platforms are useful, but don't provide the breadth offered by PPC automation tools. This isn't surprising – even though search marketers have been practicing optimization long before paid search optimization tools emerged, paid search, at least to some extent, is a far less complex process and more suited to automation. Organic search, by contrast, is more difficult, due to inherent differences in how search engines look at each type of marketing. Rather than the essentially "paying for position" option that's available to paid search advertisers (it's more complicated than that, but let's take this as the basic assumption), organic SEOs must have a deep understanding of how results are determined, and to complicate things, must also understand factors that affect rankings such as personalization, authorship, structured markup and more.

That's why SEO tools, or "platforms" as Forrester calls them, have emerged. These platforms promise to automate tasks that take time and a lot of knowledge for people to perform. The benefits are obvious: Well-performing organic content will continue to perform well, and the people responsible for maintaining websites don't have to agonize over keeping up with the algorithmic changes search engines continually make to improve the user experience and combat irrelevant or black-hat content.

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Nielsen and Twitter Establish Social TV Rating

112987077NEW YORK & SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nielsen, a leading global provider of information and insights into what consumers watch and buy, and Twitter today announced an exclusive multi-year agreement to create the "Nielsen Twitter TV Rating" for the US market. Under this agreement, Nielsen and Twitter will deliver a syndicated-standard metric around the reach of the TV conversation on Twitter, slated for commercial availability at the start of the fall 2013 TV season.

"The Nielsen Twitter TV Rating is a significant step forward for the industry, particularly as programmers develop increasingly captivating live TV and new second-screen experiences, and advertisers create integrated ad campaigns that combine paid and earned media," said Steve Hasker, President, Global Media Products and Advertiser Solutions at Nielsen. "As a media measurement leader we recognize that Twitter is the preeminent source of real-time television engagement data."

"Combining the instant feedback of Twitter with Nielsen ratings will benefit us, program producers, and our advertising partners."

"Our users love the shared experience of watching television while engaging with other viewers and show talent. Twitter has become the world's digital water cooler, where conversations about TV happen in real time. Nielsen is who the networks rely on to give better content to viewers and clearer results to marketers," said Chloe Sladden, Twitter's vice president of media. "This effort reflects Nielsen's foresight into the evolving nature of the TV viewing experience, and we're looking forward to collaborating with Twitter ecosystem partners on this metric to help broadcasters and advertisers create truly social TV experiences."

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National Geographic Turns Off Instagram Over New Terms

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The backlash over announced changes to Instagram's terms of service has led National Geographic to suspend its posting activity on the photo-sharing app.

The Facebook-owned app ignited a storm of protest with the announcement earlier this week that it was claiming perpetual rights to sell users' photographs without payment or notification. Under the new policy, Facebook claimed the perpetual right to license all public Instagram photos to companies or any other organization, including for advertising purposes, effectively transforming the Web site into the world's largest stock photo agency.

National Geographic, a magazine long respected for presenting high-quality photographs that are both artistic and journalistic, made the announcement today on its Instagram account. "We are very concerned with the direction of the proposed new terms of service and if they remain as presented we may close our account," the post reads.

Recent comments by Instagram suggest such action may not be necessary. The app maker apologized to its users today, saying it will "remove" language from its legal terms that would have let it sell users' photos or use them in advertisements.

In a blog post this afternoon, Chief Executive Kevin Systrom said it's "our mistake that this language is confusing" and that the company is "working on updated language."

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Predictions for the Upcoming Year in Video

predictions for the upcoming year in video

2013 video forecast: Where content leads, the money will follow.

To get a sense of where online video is heading next year, take a look back at the summer Olympics.

By streaming the summer games only to its cable subscribers, NBC gave us a preview of where video is headed in the next few years. The best, most sought-after content will continue to move behind authentication walls where consumers must subscribe and pay to enjoy it. And not to go overboard with the whole Olympics metaphor, but the changes coming will be distance events, not sprints -- and the big broadcasters are already way out in front.

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So what can users expect from online video in the coming year?

Consumers who already log in to stream the content they love can expect to do more of it. Premium content produced by TV heavy-hitters like CBS, NBC, and Viacom will increasingly be accessible only with a login. Even if your favorite show is free now, it may not remain that way as these top vendors consolidate their power and inventory behind subscription-only access. You'll have more to watch, but you'll pay more for it, too.

Cord cutters, on the other hand, will continue to have access to fringe content but can expect to be increasingly blocked from the most popular programming.

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An Email Marketers' Ultimate Wish List

an email marketers ultimate wishlist

I recently went through the daunting task of consolidating my email addresses down from many to just one personal email account. Now, foolishly, when I started this effort -- yes, I'll admit it -- I was rather naïve about just how taxing it would be to just merely go through the motions of updating my credentials in multiple places. Mid-way through the effort, I found myself laughing out of annoyance, but the act didn't strike me as very funny. This got me to thinking: What other things could make email better as a channel?

If email were a physical entity and could selfishly ask for anything -- jotted down as a Christmas wish list -- what would that list contain?

A robust preference center

I'll try my best to speak in terms aside from my knowledge here. A preference center of any kind seems reasonable and basic enough, right? I've come across two types of these -- those that do the bare minimum and those that hit all the marks and set the bar high in terms of what a robust preference center should be doing. Marketing departments should make sure that any existing preference center effort is performing to its highest capability and running as efficiently as expected. So what if it takes more (from your technology department) to do more than just capture email addresses? Put forth more effort and try to hit on some or (dare I say it) all of the following:

  • Cadence
  • Communication type
  • Creative samples
  • Mobile offerings (SMS and cadence) 

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