Drew Rattray : Design vs. Functionality
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March 2009

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The Brand Bubble

March 26, 2009

Welcome to the last day of my adventure at SES 2009.  I'm fairly exhausted, getting up at 5:30 AM to make the trains and going to bed at 2 AM because I'm trying not to get too far behind on my responsibilities at TMC. I'm looking forward to my nap on the train back home tonight.


This morning began with a keynote by John Gerzema, Chief Insights Officer, Young & Rubicam Group, and author of The Brand Bubble: The looming Crisis in Brand Value and How to Avoid It.  Everyone who grabbed the bag of throwaways at registration also received this book on Tuesday morning.  I wasn't lugging mine around all week, so I'll just have to deal without getting it signed.


To download the presentation, go to http://www.thebrandbubble.com/blog.  It's actually very well put together and does a good job of displaying all of his points.


The beginning of the keynote really focused on driving the point home that we are in a recession.  I could have done with out it.  I read about it every day,  I'm surrounded with it.  In fact on the train this morning I'm pretty sure that I noticed the front page of the New York Times had a picture of the new Hoovervilles (Tent Cities) popping up in California.  A lot of scary facts and graphs that all had downward trends, a video sob story about a janitor who can't find any other employment, but used to be an executive at a Fortune 500 company.  Thanks, we all know we could be on the street tomorrow.  There's no need to remind us.


The rest of his presentation really focused on how the consumer is getting back to the basics and is looking for brands that they can trust.  By trust he means that these brands are transparent, have integrity, offer savings, and promote a long lasting product.  Every purchase is becoming an investment for the long term.  Prove that you're their man... I mean brand.


With the consumer going back to the basics, the brands need to follow suit.

Facebook Workshop: Harnessing the Social Graph

March 25, 2009

This was actually one of the more disappointing tracks from this week at SES 2009 so far.  I don't mean to complain about Facebook any more than I already have on my blog, but for a company that is being regarded as one of the hottest marketing tools today... this just felt unprofessional and for the most part worthless to anyone that was already familiar with the social platform.


Kasey Galang, Product Marketing Manager and Rebecca Sawyer, Online Sales Operations Manager at Facebook spent 30 minutes trying to guide us through the social graph and provide tips and tricks for leveraging and optimizing our advertising on Facebook.

Kasey isn't much of a public speaker, and the lack of fresh information coupled with her monotone and very unenthusiastic voice really got this track off to a slow start.  Rebecca was a bit more captivating but she followed up with information that I felt was mostly common sense.  The question and answer session was comical.  After each question the two girls would whisper to each as if they were contestants preparing an answer for the old Double Dare show. After each little secret session, one of them (usually Kasey) would pop back up to the microphone with an answer that revolved around the phrase, "Nothing I can report on today".

Discover the Power of Linking: Link Building Basics

March 25, 2009

My first track of day 2 at SES 2009 NYC is another fundamentals session.  These sessions may seem a little basic to developers, but they are some of the most valuable to attend if you aren't missing out on something else in the same time slot. As in anything in life, you can't be the best, or even succeed for that matter, if you can't execute the basics of your practice.  This track was another reassurance that the strategies I have been using also work for the "experts" in the field (there's that word again). The art of SEO consists of a lot of trial and error, and it's nice to know people you respect in your field are using the same strategies.

The track was moderated by Chris Boggs, Director, SEO, Rosetta.  The speaker panel consisted of Kristjan Mar Hauksson, Dir. Search & Online Comm./ Managing Partner, Nordic eMarketing; Debra Mastaler, President, Alliance-Link; Sharad Verma, Senior Product Manager, Yahoo! Search Technology; Sasi Parthasarathy, Program Manager, Live Search, Microsoft; Ankur Choksi, Director, Search Technology, Ask.com; Peter van der Graaf, Advanced Search Specialist, Netsociety.

Landing Page Testing and Tuning

March 24, 2009

This was another valuable track I had the pleasure of attending today at Search Engine Strategies Conference and Expo 2009 New York.  It was a solo presentation by Tim Ash, President, SiteTuners, and author of Landing Page Optimization: The Definitive Guide to Testing & Tuning for Conversions.  Tim is an exceptional speaker, and kept the audience involved throughout the track.  He even went to the lengths of handing out $20's for correct answers to questions he asked the audience (after the first $20 was handed out, everyone was very eager to stay involved).   I also had the pleasure of speaking with Tim after the session at the Google booth and received a complimentary signed copy of his book.

Tim's introductory lesson in tuning your site is that your web visitiors should influence the design of your site. 

SEO: Where to Next?

March 24, 2009

As I go through my 3 days at the Search Engine Strategies Conference and Expo 2009 New York, I figure I'll blog an in depth overview of a few of the tracks I attend.  Again, if you want up-to-the-minute updates on everything I attend, follow my tweets.

"SEO: Where to Next?" was a great warm up track to get everything rolling for me at this conference.   The track was a basic overview and panel discussion on where to get started with SEO, and the basics of what does and does not work. The discussion was moderated by Jeff Ferguson, SES Advisory Board, Director of Online Marketing, Napster.

Search Engine Strategies Conference and Expo 2009 New York kicks off with twitter

March 24, 2009

I've been so busy recently with the daily grind at TMC that I completely forgot to mention that I will be attending the Search Engine Strategies Conference and Expo 2009 in New York City Tuesday through Thursday this week. In preparation for the conference, I joined twitter yesterday to better understand their Tuesday Keynote by Guy Kawasaki, the author of Reality Check.  As a secondary goal I was going to tweet during each track I attended so that my colleagues at TMC and the rest of the world could keep up with up-to-the-minute notes.  Yeah I know...

Pandora Available For BlackBerry, But Not The Storm

March 19, 2009

New iPod Shuffle Might Just Be Too Small

March 13, 2009

Apple has been following a trend of going smaller and sleeker with their designs, and continue to push the envelope with the introduction of the new iPod Shuffle this week.  Even though it now has 4GB of memory (1,000 songs), it's about half the volume of the last version...which was already just slightly bigger than a quarter.  The unit now basically looks like a stick of Orbit gum in an aluminum wrapper with a headphone jack and a clip.  It still has no screen.  It also has no controls on the unit itself other than the on/off switch, there's no room.  Instead, they moved them to the wire of the custom Apple headphones.

New features include something called VoiceOver, where for the first time on an iPod Shuffle you can identify what or who you are listening to from a soothing male voice that comes directly from the iPod.

Yes...your iPod can now talk to you.

Personally, I'm not sold on this feature.  I make the playlists that load onto my old Shuffle, so I know it's music that I enjoy and can already identify on my own.  The name of the iPod is the "Shuffle", so you can conclude pretty quickly that its entire purpose is to randomly shuffle through what you loaded into it.  The whole thing just seems unnecessary.  It's a weak attempt at trying to give some kind of playlist control, without a display, to a unit that really doesn't require it.

Anyways, I'm harping on a feature that in my eyes (or ears) doesn't really matter.

What's the biggest reason for me not upgrading my old iPod Shuffle?  The controls being moved to the earbuds.  Currently, in order for this new iPod to work, you MUST use the custom Apple earbuds for this iPod.  It's the only way to get it to work, because they are the only ones with the controls.  Apple has said it is working with headphone makers to develop compatible earphones for the shuffle, but nothing else is on the market so far.  I don't know about most people, but Apple earbuds destroy my ears, and the quality isn't anything to brag about.  I'm in pain by the 3rd or 4th song, and want them out immediately.  I'm pretty particular about sound quality and comfort and have invested in Bose Tri-Port In-Ear Headphones for my mobile listening pleasure.  CNET doesn't give them the greatest review, but I think the sound from them is amazing and they are probably the most comfortable headphones I have ever used. 

I'm not very keen on the idea of replacing my favorite headphones (which cost more than the new $80 shuffle to begin with) with something sub-par just because Apple decided smaller is better. 

What Happens To My Facebook When I Die?

March 4, 2009

I've been pretty sick recently, and while thrashing in bed with fever, my mind tends to race across questions people normally don't ask.  During one such evening this week, my thoughts touched on the fact that there must be a decent percentage of real estate on Facebook... that is dead.  Come to think of it, that number is ever increasing.

I know Facebook is still young in the grand scheme of life, and right now the number of living users greatly outweighs the dead ones, but what about the future?