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August 2009

the big bing experiment: my week without google

Bing The Project

For the past seven days I went on a strict Google diet, using Bing for all of my searches.  With the insight that much of our reliance on Google Search comes from deeply ingrained learned behavior, I thought I could shift my perception of what search should look like by forcing myself to use only Bing for one week.

What I Liked

  1. Bing's homepage is stunning, and it feels great to be invited to search.  However, I also found that I rarely visited the domain as I generally used the search box in my browser (which I set to Bing).
  2. Bing encourages the user to think and consider, rather than click.  As an extremely fast clicker, this was like taking a calming breath before taking an action.
    • Rather than offering thumbnails, Bing displays previews when you hover over the right side of the link.  However, I found that it was faster to click in and out of a page than it was to mouse over and read the pop-up box.
  3. Live Maps is a visually stunning product.  However, it doesn't have integrated public transportation in NYC, and much like Bing, it requires that you click to change functionality.  If you want directions, you can't put ADDRESS 1 to ADDRESS 2 into the search bar.
  4. It was refreshing to have some warm tones in my search results.
  5. Bing search results were generally pretty good, at times somewhat better than Google, at times not on par with Google.

What Could Use Some Fixing

  1. Bing is a very literal "decision engine".  Unlike Google, Bing doesn't yet recognize that you are searching for, say, a map or a phone number.  Where Google will  bring you straight to Google Maps, Microsoft requires a manual click to get to Live Maps.  This was my biggest issue.
  2. Bing is not as easy to speed through.  When I needed information fast, it didn't feel as easy to speed through as Google.  This may be due to the color scheme.
  3. Bing is not iPhone easy.  Yes, I cheated and used Google and Google Maps on my iPhone, but I wasn't going to start typing in a URL to search when there is a search box in the browser.
  4. I didn't see any integration between Bing and my Microsoft Desktop Search.  Google does this, and it makes my life easier.

What I Learned About Myself

  1. I am addicted to habit.
  2. The choice of color in design is very important.  When I search in a rush, the warm colors make the experience feel like it took longer.
  3. I felt comfortable typing Google into my browser as a URL (muscle memory?).  I almost never typed in
  4. I am a very lazy searcher.  I don't want to click more than once. 
  5. I rarely search for discovery and I don't search for the experience of the search engine.  I'm not sure that I search for decisions.  I search to get to what I want or where I want to be.  Search isn't about searching, it's about getting.

What Will I Do From Here?

I'm not sure.  The first time I used Google this morning, it felt like a sigh of relief.  It was familiar.  But I also found myself amazed at how often I am clicking onto the next two results pages, and how dry Google Maps looks (though the search is more intuitive).  I'm really not sure where I will land.

But what was most interesting to me, was what I learned about myself.  I strongly encourage you all take to this journey.  Try it out for a week.  Give Bing some time.  Seriously think about the product, and what this means to your web user experience.  And please, share your findings.

What Does This Mean For Bing?

Bing is investing quite a bit in marketing this product.  If I am any indication, their steepest battle is going to be changing user expectations and behavior.  


Kudos to my colleague Jason Crawford for naming this post.


the moment

They say digital has made us more impatient, I say it has made us more selective.

They say digital has made us less real, I say it has made humanity more real than ever before.

The say digital is cats playing piano, I say it is about stories and connections.

They say digital is narcissism, I say digital is rediscovering humanity.

They say digital is about escaping the moment, I say it is about extending it.

geo - why it matters to users and marketers

 Twitter will soon have a location based functionality. Here's my take.

The User Side

This is the age of T.M.I. (too much information).  With information overload, LBS (location based services) will be only used in the long run when they provide greater utility than interruption.  To be frank, I don't care where you are or who is near me, 90% of the time.  The exception is at casual events like sports game and conferences, where half the fun is running into people.

The Business Side

However, there are two HUGE components of the LBS game that have gone largely ignored in the coverage of this story: advertising and business intel.

LBS provides another layer for ad targeting.  It will be a while before systems are optimized to make these inputs operation, viable and a sound investment, but I'm confident we will see early solutions soon.

The third layer, business intelligence, is a game-changer.  One of the toughest challenges marketers face in monitoring the conversation online, is the inability to properly segment the conversation by age, gender, author ID, sentiment and location.  Location is a core component to marketers of all shapes and sizes.  Location data overlays can become revenue generators for anyone who owns them, particularly in the social intel space.

Consider: if Best Buy (not a client) sees a spike in negativity, but is able to identify that most of it is coming from 3 general areas, they can address issues in those individual locations.  If the Hyatt (not a client) identifies complements about room amenities, and can narrow them all to one location, they can reward the staff and guests.  If the NY Times can identify that people are more likely to retweet their content while in transit, they can adjust their comms strategy accordingly.  Or if CNN were able to identify that the iReporter was truly on the scene, they could prevent false reports during disasters (kudos to John Czwartacki aka @cz for sharing this goodie from Jeff Jarvis).

LBS data will soon be a commodity, one that is traded and purchased by researchers, vendors and marketers.

This is not a pipe dream.  Check out the tweet from Radian6's Marcel LeBrun below.


creativity unboxed : art & copy

Creativity Up until very recently, agency creatives had a defined box to work in.  They had a palate and colors.  30 seconds, full color bleed, we knew the tools in our arsenal.

However, in social there are no limits, there is no set palate or canvas.  There is a conversation, a back and forth.  The canvas has moved from a flat picture with borders to a three-dimensional interaction that shifts with time and trends. We are discovering colors we never knew.

Strong creative will always help tell a strong story.  The creative of the past was about a known and familiar medium, an understood interaction, an understood value exchange.  We knew what to expect, how people interacted and what would drive success. 

Creativity moving forward will be more challenging and more capable than ever before.  Creativity will define not just the message or the image, but the two way interaction design, the co-messaging strategy.  Creatives will get closer to planners, media, marketing and analytics. Successful creatives will need to come closer to the table to be successful.  Great creatives however, will know when to leave the boardroom and think freely.

Looking forward to seeing the documentary from the trailer below.

ART & COPY: Movie Trailer - Click here for funny video clips

is this a revolution of an evolution? (it matters!)

Those of us living in the social fishbowl think we are the future.  And we may be right.

Is digital/social a paradigm shift, a fundamental change, or an evolutionary step in marketing as a discipline?  The practical implications of this debate are huge, most notably among them: Should I rebuild my marketing infrastructure from scratch, adjust my current infrastructure, or challenge my agencies to adapt their efforts?

The basic question is, with rapid and forceful change, how deep does change need to go?  How deep should it go? 

Consider the video below.

Coming back down to reality, there are a few things we need to remember. 

  1. The future is approaching fast, and if you don't plan for it today you will get run-over by it tomorrow.
  2. TV isn't dead.  Neither is print or radio.  You're job as a marketer is not just to build for tomorrow, but to make money today.
  3. The numbers you see in this video and at conferences are misleading: audience doesn't equal engagement.
  4. The market doesn't sit still while brands plan to reinvent.  Most corporations cannot stop and turn on a dime while staying competitive/viable.
  5. Your consumer's behavior is shifting away from most of what you have traditionally relied upon.  If you don't adapt your outlook on marketing and especially communications, you risk your continued relevance.

does Facebook need/warrant its own browser?

Browsers were once our gateways to portals. 

Browsers then became our windows to the web. 

Browsers are now the biggest possible windows through which we access our digital lives.

As we have transitioned from a web of access to a web of content and connections, it is only natural for the browser to adapt as well.  And with Facebook Connect enabled on virtually every site we visit anyway, wouldn't it be natural for a browser to feature Facebook at its core?  Not really.


To be fair, RockMelt is a phenomenal concept with some very strong supporting characters.  However, I'm not sure that Facebook warrants a browser of its own.  I love to connect with friends as much as the next guy.  And between my Hootlet,, Share This, and dozen or so other browser add-ons, my browser is already a social portal. I'm just not sure that Facebook is strong enough on it's own to warrant a change in our surfing window - the browser.

Sure, I'd love to bring my social life with me across most of what I do.  And it would be great for my browser to integrate all of my social IDs into it's very fabric and design.  I just don't know that (A) Facebook is the social network that I care most about, and (B) that this warrants it's own browser.

Facebook chat can probably stand it's own on as a desktop application similar to AIM.  As could a future Facebook email solution.  As could an "upload to Facebook" micro-program.  But I just don't know that I care to do my banking, view my video, blog, tweet, chat, research or order lunch in a Facebook environment.  Facebook is good for a lot, but it's not yet my everything, nor should it be.

That being said, a browser with embedded social push and pull functionality, a FriendFeed-esque browser add-on, could be VERY interesting.

agency intrapreneurs and lemonade

Life in an agency is unlike life in any other environment.  It's an odd mix of creativity and conformity, individuality, teamwork and  collaboration, reaching for the sky while catching the low hanging fruit, unlimited freethinking and political tightrope walking, celebrating your life as an individual while demanding longer hours as your life progresses. 

I for one, enjoy being in the mix, challenging the status quo while building the future of this industry in flux from within.  Every engagement is new, we truly are doing what has never been done on a startlingly regular basis.  But for more entrenched agency people, this shift is far more than a wave to ride, it is a threat to everything they have built.  And the results aren't always pretty.

Life in an agency has it's advantages as disadvantages.  While you're with an agency, you get drawn in, striving for more, better, faster.  But with the depressing news that is the economy, it's refreshing to hear and see how people are thriving in post-agency lives.  (video below)

I'm not sure where or when this documentary will be released, but I can't wait to see it.