Everything I Know about Marketing I learned from Google

SIMply Search and Social

June 22, 2012 by Aaron Goldman

Last week, I pulled out all the analogies in the book (hey, there’s another one!) to describe search and social marketing at the SIM Partners SIMposium at the (too legit) Wit Hotel in Chicago.

Below is my presentation and below that is my (too legit) rap…


Thank Goodness so Many Things Rhyme with Facebook…

November 17, 2011 by Aaron Goldman

Otherwise this Q&A would’ve gone D&O (down and out)…


Rocking Out in Boulder

September 24, 2011 by Aaron Goldman

Yesterday, I made the trek to Boulder to speak at the inaugural PivotGuild event. The Boulder Digital Arts center was packed… and dark!

My presentation topic was Why Social Media Matters to Your Business but rather than tell people what they already know (It matters because everyone’s doing it!) I addressed that in 1 slide with a link to an AdAge column that features 50 Social Media Stats to Kickstart Your Slide Deck.

Then I got into my revised topic: MAKING Social Media Matter to Your Business. I used the 20 Googley Lessons in my book as a framework and shared successful examples (and some not so much) of social media initiatives that reflected each one. I only got thru the first 10 in my 40 minute talk. As usual, I strayed from the script and improvised. No rapping this time though. Boulder struck me as more of a rock town.

Here are the slides…

Many thanks to Alyson Miller and Don Greenfield at PivotGuild (pictured with me below) for organizing a great event and inviting me to present. Boulder’s got a great creative, digital, and entrepreneurial community and Pivot Guild is positioned nicely at the intersection.

Among the many interesting folks I met in Boulder was Russell McDougal who is a punny photographer and amazing acronymizer. He has a product called Isle of View (I Love You, get it?) that turns words into acronyms. He also has an iphone app that lets you put in your name (he has 4k total in his database) and get a custom output. He can also do them quickly on the spot. Here’s mine.

A.A.R.O.N. – Awakening Awareness Reveals Ongoing Nourishment
G.O.L.D.M.A.N. – Google Offers Life’s Directions – Manifest Answers Now

And here’s a custom card Russell whipped up for me…

Until next time, Boulder (and there will be a next time!) keep it real and keep it googley!

Update Sept. 26, 2011: Another one of the cool cats (check that, Kats) I met at this event was Brett Greene from Hip Chameleon. Here’s a quick video we ripped after my talk. Brett asked me to pick the one (just one!) great nugget from my book. I told him that’s like asking which of my children I love best! Finally I settled on one (nugget, that is, not kid!)…


Getting Social at SES

August 18, 2011 by Aaron Goldman

Here’s the presentation I gave at SES San Francisco this week about automating Facebook ads. Sorry no rap video accompaniment. All footage of my rapping at the SearchBash and singing before my Theater Presentation (Oh Say Can You Tweet…)  has been sequestered. You can scroll down for some pics from the conference, though.

All good at the Kenshoo booth.

Poppin’ off at the DataPop happy hour.


Bringing the Heat in Chi-town

July 26, 2011 by Aaron Goldman

Below is the presentation I gave today at the Online Marketing Sumit (OMS) in Chicago.

In it, I use my patent-pending “Heat-o-Meter” to describe the hotness of various companies, channels, and trends in digital marketing, including:

Companies: Facebook, Groupon, Apple, Google, LinkedIn,  Twitter, Microsoft, Yahoo

Channels: Social, Mobile, Local, Video, Search, Display

Trends: Automation, Integration, Attribution

The deck has 70 slides packed with stats and the last section has some Kenshoo case studies for context on how advertisers are capitalizing on these hot trends. So warm up your fingers are start clicking!

As is becoming habit, I rapped the Q&A portion but only had time for one topic. No video has surfaced (yet) so here’s an audio clip from Brent Payne aka the Bald SEO.


Nonplussed by Google+ (Update: I’m getting Plussed!)

June 30, 2011 by Aaron Goldman

This week Google introduced its sharing (not to be confused with “social”) network, Google+.

Here are some initial thoughts and observations. Will add more as I dig in further.

1. I’m just as conflicted over the name as I was with Google +1. On one hand, it’s short and I get it. On the other it’s a nightmare to toggle between + and “plus.”

2. They key to social (and sharing) is scale. The more people in the network, the more valuable the network. Google has a lot of people. Now it just needs to connect them. Google+ should help.

3.Advertising opportunities in and around Google+ will likely be less about new units or formats but rather advanced targeting. This is another way for advertisers to more finitely target and reach the folks most likely to be interested in their message. Whether that message appears on Google+ or another Google owned, operated, or connected property is TBD.

4. On Google+ are Friends, Family, and Acquaintances. I’m surprised Business or Work is not a standard classification. Would help Google compete with LinkedIn just as much as Facebook and Twitter.

5. As a user, I love the circles concept. It’s intuitive and the fact that Google+ is new allows me to start fresh by categorizing my connections and sharing only the appropriate stuff with the appropriate peeps. Wish I could have done this on Facebook from day 1. As it stands, I end up sharing less on FB because I don’t want to bother my personal friends and family with work-related stuff and don’t always want my industry colleagues to see my personal stuff.

6. I’m surprised that the search box isn’t more prominent on Google+. In fact, I don’t see one at all. Goes against my premise in Chapter 5: Be Where Your Audience Is. They must be counting on people using their toolbars and browser defaults to Google things. Sure seems like a missed opportunity though, especially given how many search queries originate in Facebook. (See update from July 2 below.)

7. The privacy police will be watching closely any little screwup will fetch headlines.

Update July 1, 2011:

8. Been thinking more about why Google rolled out a sharing network rather than a social network. Now actually seems pretty obvious to me. Contrary to #6 above (which I do expect to be remedied in short order) this IS about improving Google’s bread and butter product and monetization engine — Search.

Every share that happens within Google+ gives a critical signal to Google of the value and context for a specific digital asset – website, video, image, etc. It also allows Google+ to see who the real influencers are on the web based on number of shares and +1s. Pretty soon Google will no longer need to rely on links created by webmasters as its primary method of determining quality and authority for search rankings.

More on this line of thinking:

Like vs. Link and the Future of Web Ranking

Why Google Needs a Social Network

Why Google Me

9. Yes, I’m happy the name of this project is Google+ and not Google Me so I can keep on wearing my shirts with no fear or trademark violation. No, I have no plans to create Plus Me shirts. :)

Update July 2, 2011:

10. Regarding point #6 above, perhaps I was a bit hasty in saying that Google isn’t “being where its audience is.” While I still think incorporating a search box into the Google+ UX is a no-brainer, Google has brought its new sharing network to where its audience by integrating it into the nav bar atop Google.com, Gmail, and other Google properties and framing it in a block box to really stand out. See screenshot below. I find myself constantly coming back to Google+ because of the not-so-subtle reminder of its existence and the fact that notifications appear there as well.

Update July 13, 2011:

Today I published a column in MediaPost’s Search Insider titled, “Google+ Adds Up.” In it I outlined 10 key takeaways from Google+ to date including some of the observations posted here.

Update July 14, 2011:

Yesterday I was asked what impact I thought G+ would have on LinkedIn. In composing my thoughts, I stumbled upon a key insight from Google’s foray into search that very likely may have dictated its (most recent) approach to social. Read on…

I don’t think G+ will eat away at LinkedIn. People use LinkedIn to connect, not share. G+ is for sharing. That’s why it will hurt Twitter. Twitter sole purpose is sharing and the experience/UI is not very intuitive (especially when it comes to controlled sharing).

Same reason I don’t think G+ will eat at Facebook. While sharing is the #1 activity on Facebook, it’s use as a full social network is broader and includes that connecting aspect of LinkedIn. It’s about making new relationships as much as sharing with current ones.

Google dominated search because it had the luxury of not being first mover. It saw what Yahoo and Alta Vista and others did and took the key functionality and made it better. Rather than a portal with a bunch of links and content, it just stripped out the search.

Same now for social. Google had luxury of seeing FB, Twitter, LI, etc. And now it realizes sharing is the most vital aspect of social networking. So it’s stripped that out and built a whole experience around just that.


SMOC Keynote and Rap: Social Media Advertising vs. Search Engine Marketing

May 24, 2011 by Aaron Goldman

Today I kicked off Day 2 of the Social Media Optimization Conference (SMOC) with a keynote presentation and, of course, a rap.

I had originally intended to introduce the acronym SAM (Social Advertising Marketing) but switched to SMA (Social Media Advertising) to keep in line with the theme of SMO (Social Media Optimization). While SAM certainly has a better ring to it, SMA seemed a better contextual fit.

Speaking of context, seeing as how SMOC was in San Francisco, I likened social media to marketing “without a net” and drew upon the Grateful Dead as my influence for the improvisational rap that followed my presentation.

Here are the slides I ripped through. Below that is a video of the last 5 minutes of the keynote and a 90 second social media rap. And after that is the rapping Q&A session in which I coined the new buzzword “dinterest” (digital interest) after not being able to think of anything that rhymed with interest. Could’ve used some “Help on the Way…”

Keynote and Rap:


Check check, check check it out…
This one goes out to my peeps at SMOC.
I go by the name of Tha Lyrical G.
They also call me the PPC MC,
But today I’m just here socially.
You see.
I came to give these trends another look.
Social Media, ya call it Facebook.
I think their ad model’s gonna catch on,
And I’m gonna rock the mic til the breaka break of dawn.
Now don’t just sit there and be bitter.
You’ll make money someday too, Twitter.
And while y’alls tweetin’, use hashtag SMOC.
And if you’re online, won’t you please Like Me.


Like Me. C’mon.
Like Me. C’mon.
You Like Me Now.
How Ya Like Me Now?
Ya Like Me.
Ya Really Like Me.

I can keep goin’,
I can keep flowin’.
But these rhymes, they just keep knowin’ that,
Social Media, you operate without a net.
What you’re gonna give is what you’re gonna get.
So, take some money, put it into ads.
Next thing ya know, it’s more than a fad.
Facebook’s makin’ that real cash money,
And I’m gonna take it out cuz it’s sweet as honey.
A shout out to all my peeps at Kenshoo,
They’re sittin’ over there and they’re wearin’ blue.
And I just came to do this one thing here,
So let me make it very very clear,
That I’ve got nothing else to say to thee,
But, yo, shout out… SMOC.

Update May 26:

Here are some action pics from Mediabistro. The last one is with Day 2 host Todd Tweedy, who served as a great hype man to get the 9am crowd into and even did a little beat boxing.

All flickr photos copyright mediabistro


Zeroing in on Google +1

April 7, 2011 by Aaron Goldman

In yesterday’s MediaPost Search Insider column (+10 and -10 for Google +1), I shared 10 things I love and 10 things I hate about Google +1. It just so happens that the lists contained the same 10 things. Behold the definition of a love/hate relationship!


How LivingSocial Bought 1 Million New Subscribers: Analyzing the Economics of Today’s Amazon Gift Card Deal

January 19, 2011 by Aaron Goldman

It’s 8:05pm est and today’s deal on LivingSocial just passed 1 million sales. In case you’ve been living under a rock, the deal was a $20 Amazon gift card for $10. And in case you’ve been living under a really big rock, LivingSocial is a Groupon-esque deal-of-the-day company.

Like a million other deal-seekers, I bought mine but what caught my eye was this disclaimer…

Unlike the deals I’m used to seeing from Groupon and the like, the brand promoted in this deal (Amazon) was apparently not involved. From what I can gather, LivingSocial just bought a bunch of Amazon gift cards through an affiliate and sold them for half the value. Maybe there was some sort of discount for bulk purchase, but it’s possible LivingSocial paid as much as $10 million to acquire 1 million new customers.

To be sure, not all of these people who bought this deal are first-time LivingSocial customers but the last reported subscriber-count for LivingSocial was 10 million, so this promotion could have bumped LivingSocial’s list by over 10%.

Add in all the great PR LivingSocial has received from this deal and this could rank as one of the best awareness and acquisition campaigns any company has run in a long time. Forgetting about the free media impressions and just looking at the sales metrics, LivingSocial’s cost per acquisition here was $10. That’s $10 for a customer that has now given permission to LivingSocial to send a deal of the day every day until he or she unsubscribes. (I wonder if LivingSocial’s unsubscribe experience is as memorable as Groupon’s per chapter 19 of the book?)

It’s difficult to quantify lifetime value of a new customer for LivingSocial, unless you work at LivingSocial, but it’s easy to surmise that the figure is above $10. If LivingSocial’s deal terms and margins are similar to Groupon’s, we’re looking at 50% of the spread between what customers pay and merchant’s value. It’s likely LivingSocial will make back that $10 acquisition cost and then some the very next time a subscriber makes a purchase.

And who knows what the impact all this PR and the 1 million subscriber adds will have on LivingSocial’s valuation but one can easily see  it climbing much higher than an incremental $10 million as a result of today’s deal.

Now, I could be very wrong about all this. Amazon could have sanctioned this deal. After all, it is an investor in LivingSocial. And/or Amazon could have sold the gift cards to LivingSocial at a bigger discount or done some back-end revenue-share  making the acquisition costs for LivingSocial much lower or potentially even driving this deal into stand-alone profitability. It would make sense for Amazon. I’m sure many of the one million buyers will never end up using the gift card and, those that do, may spend much more than $20 with their purchase. Not to mention all the branding and PR mentions that Amazon has gotten out of this deal.

Regardless of how the deal went down, this seems to be a true win-win for LivingSocial and Amazon. And it’s a testament to the power of the deal-a-day business. Surely, LivingSocial and Groupon are more than “just coupon websites.” And it’s easy to see why these companies matter and why Google is so eager to get into this business.

It’s now 9:29pm est and another 80,000 sales have been made. And there’s still another 10 1/2 hours left in the promotion.

Update Jan. 20: So much for lifetime value. LivingSocial just sent out the instructions for redeeming the gift card at 12:04am est, officially not making good on its promise yesterday to notify me “tomorrow” with that information. Apparently, I’m not the only one who was eagerly awaiting my gift card as the LivingSocial site seems to have crashed completely. Not a good first experience. Might need to update the title of this post to “How LivingSocial Lost 1 Million New Subscribers.”


Crystal Ballin’

December 29, 2010 by Aaron Goldman

Over the past week, I’ve been busy “Future-Proofing.” Below are links and lists from bylines I’ve written sharing my expectations for the coming year. We’ll see how things shake out but the one thing I’m certain of is that 2011′s gonna be Googley!

Ten Search Marketing Hot Spots To Watch In 2011
1. Local
2. Social ads
3. The social graph
4. Mobile
5. Attribution
7. Display
8. Video
9. Search
10. Apps

10 Crazy 2011 SEM Predictions
1. Facebook will create its own search engine
2. Apple will create its own search engine
3. Groupon will create its own search engine
4. EBay will create its own search engine
5. Google will fall below 60% U.S. search query market share
6. Google will buy TiVo
8. Comcast will buy Yahoo
9. Adobe will buy AOL
10. You will buy my book

Image Source: iStockPhoto (actually paid for)

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