Most Influential Brands in Canada
Steven Levy of Ipsos Reid crowned the Most Influential Brand in Canada as the result of the 2nd annual study based on an online survey of 5000 Canadians as part of ICA’s fifth annual FFWD Advertising & Marketing Week in Toronto. It made one thing obvious, that the biggest ad spend does not equate to the most influence and for a brand to be influential it has to connect with their audience and get them to buy into the brand’s promise.
Brands have meaning and personality, people identify with, relate to, and define themselves by them. Ipsos Reid crafted their study around 5 pillars reflecting this belief. Some, like Walmart and Visa spent their way onto the Top 10 with Presencethrough ad spend and size, while others, like Tim Hortons and CBC, leveraged cultural factors to rank well on Corporate Citizenship and Trustworthiness but the Top 5 was populated by tech giants YouTube, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft driving their rankings with Engagement and being Leading edge. In 3rd Apple scored a 281, 2nd place Microsoft a 308 but dominating with a 417? Google.
Google has a strangle hold on Trust, Leading Edge and Engagement. Google’s influence is ultimately driven by innovation. They build trust by making our lives easier while letting advertisers foot the bill (top 25 advertisers are spending more than $150 million each with Google). Their Presence and Engagement is a reflection of our choice to make them ubiquitous in our lives. Something as simple and cheap as an endearing commemoration of the death of the Penny provides a strong personal identification and the value of a huge ad spend.
Trust also plays a large role in their influence; trust that Google is company of today and tomorrow. Whether or not consumers understand that Google fundamentally shaped the online advertising industry, they do understand that they are innovative and lead their competitors, shaping the way companies organize information online and how individuals search for and find that information.
Innovation doesn’t rest. Even as Google topped $50 Billion revenue in 2012, Levy pointed out that 97% of that revenue comes from online ads. Google at 65%, has the lion’s share of unique searches but still faces numerous challenges including; patent battles, wearable smart devices with small displays such as Pebble, regulatory issues in Europe, censorship in China, a Microsoft offering that Bill Gates in an AMA on February 11th claimed, “Seriously Bing is the better product at this point” and the next disruptive technology. Google does not struggle with the innovators dilemma (Project Glass) but how will it remain leading edge with its cash cow?
Google Now, a feature of Android, reduces the time, nuisance and the number of searches done by predicting what you need (weather, traffic, sports, reviews, locations) by understanding your habits through experience.
The reason for and point of Google+ is not about connecting people, sharing and collecting information like traditional social media, it is about providing the most personalized and relevant search results (and ads). While it seems like a wasteland right now, the importance of Google local, maps, reviews and search results and their integration into Google+ make it a must for brands, small businesses, writers, events as well as Google Hangouts for meetings.
The Future of SEO
Google+ represents a key turning point for the search industry. Search results are determined as much by the depth and intimacy of your online relationships, as by the sites with the most links. In the human world, a deep and quality relationship usually involves people spending time together, hanging out, talking, exchanging opinions and sharing experiences. When these things are done online they produce social signals that Google looks for when assessing the depth of a relationship, in order to serve you personalized search results. In this social environment they aren’t measuring trust by authority, but rather, by intimacy.
Google is increasingly using social signals and ‘brand sentiment’ in their algorithm. First page listings and predictive results will be determined by successful integration of social SEO with all efforts by brands; fundamentally altering entire organizations approach to sales, marketing, PR, customer service, branding and product development.
The Last Word
The State of Google’s Union of Products? Better than Obama’s.
SEO personalizes and amplifies. Instead of diving, it’s a cannon ball on a hot summer day. Use the power of social signals and avoid having your SEO efforts look like thisGerman guy jumping into a pool (language warning at the 20 second mark).