The Curious Case of Katie Couric

One of the most difficult things to do is revive a dead brand, but I have to give Yahoo credit for doing everything they can to make it happen. I recall the days that Yahoo was the champion of the search space and “the” place to go for online news. They were the success story coming in and pulling away the market share from AOL in the early days of the online revolution. Somewhere along the way, Google came in and with little advertising or fanfare blew away Yahoo into an afterthought.

Yahoo went through some very lean times and made a bold move in bringing Google royalty, Marissa Mayer, on board to turn the company around. Yahoo also added the purchase of Tumblr to stay current and find a way to stay with the pack in regards to innovation. But, have any of these changes and innovations actually helped increase market share or, more importantly, boost interest in their advertising product? Not in my eyes.

Rankings and advertising on Yahoo are seen as a secondary channel compared to Google. Google continues to be the place for people to go to find things, and I always view Google advertising as having more “proactive” consumers…people who do searches with the intent of making a purchase. Yahoo’s belief is you come in for the news with Katie Couric and you stay for ads – but will it work? Likely not, but hats off to Yahoo for trying; with big salaries like Mayer and Couric and billion dollar purchases like Tumblr, the reality is Yahoo has likely positioned itself for a horrific and epic fall.

There will be a day someone will knock Google off its perch and gain the market share in the search space but that company won’t be Yahoo.

Katie Couric Image

Will Yahoo! Adding Katie Couric revitalize their brand?
Photo Courtesy of the Washington Post

Hummingbird…Friend or Foe?

The industry is abuzz once again related to an update by Google. Unlike it’s more nasty and mean spirited predecessors, the Hummingbird update is less of a concern and more of an enhancement. Driven by the evolving nature in which web users actually engage the Google search engine, the new algorithm will provide more insight in to what has long been called “Conversational Search”. Focused on the undeniable migration of search being done more and more by mobile devices, Hummingbird will provide mobile users with a more useful return of results.

So, what does this all mean for your business and your rankings? In my eyes, the update enables companies that don’t have great visibility around branded terms to actually begin to see more benefit from conversational based search queries. I feel the update begins to level the playing field and that the fight for prime natural search real estate has expanded once again.

Make no mistake, any update has winners and losers but in this scenario, the losers are those that haven’t begun to evolve with the changing of web users in general. Web users are more experienced now….more savvy. They don’t enter generic terms to the degree they once did, they want more specifics…they want more focused results. As usual, Google continues to move in the right direction and for the most part, we can all consider this Hummingbird, relatively friendly!

Nov. 19th: Kenneth Wisnefski on

Kenneth Wisnefski on FOX Business

On Nov. 19th, Ken Wisnefski contributed an article to in which he discussed mobile devices and their integral role in the Holiday shopping season this year.

In the article, Ken states, “The market has remained strong throughout this year and is expected to skyrocket in the fourth quarter of this year with the debut of a new generation of tablet PCs.”

To read the full article on, click here.

Will Google’s Impending FTC Fine Impact the Search Engine’s Future?

In early 2012, the Wall Street Journal reported that Google was exploiting little-known functionality within Apple’s Safari browser which allowed the search engine to install cookies even with Safari’s privacy settings set to disallow them.  Google was quick to respond to the accusations with a company spokesman issuing the following statement to WSJ in response to their article:

“The Journal mischaracterizes what happened and why. We used known Safari functionality to provide features that signed-in Google users had enabled.   It’s important to stress that these advertising cookies do not collect personal information.”

Despite Google’s claim, however, the Federal Trade Commission launched an investigation in order to determine what, if any, privacy and security policies had been violated in the situation.  On Friday, US District Judge Susan Illston ruled that Google will have to pay a $22.5 million fine assessed by the FTC after their investigation concluded that the search engine had violated user privacy on Safari-enabled devices.

Although the fine is the largest ever issued by the FTC, Google is likely to be minimally affected by the loss.  In fact, the Associated Press has reported that Google generates that same amount in income every four hours.  While Google may not be monetarily impacted by the fine, the company will now have to change how it collects data from opt-out users going forward.

Now, one of Google’s greatest challenges will be developing cookies that allow ads to be targeted without sacrificing user privacy or consider utilizing other ad delivery techniques.  Google’s financial future is definitely not in jeopardy due to the fine, but major re-strategizing is essential if the company intends to avoid more major future fines.

What are your thoughts on the FTC investigation of Google?  Let me know!  Reach me via email at or on Twitter: @KenWisnefski.

Apple’s iOS is the New Battleground for the War of Mapping Software

Google Maps on iOS 6Since Apple first announced plans to develop its own proprietary mapping application earlier this year, Google Maps supporters were skeptical of Apple’s ability to design a more accurate and effective global mapping solution.  Following the release of the iOS 6 mobile operating system in September, many Apple users expressed frustration with the new Maps application.  Within a matter of days, the backlash was evident in the press, as well.  Numerous technology review sites, blogs and even tech and business news outlets were discussing Apple Maps and its lackluster user experience.

Just one week after the software’s release, Apple’s CEO Tim Cook responded to the criticisms directed toward the Maps application with a public apology on  In the statement by Cook, he states:

“At Apple, we strive to make world-class products that deliver the best experience possible to our customers.  With the launch of our new Maps last week, we fell short on this commitment.  We are extremely sorry for the frustration this has caused our customers and we are doing everything we can to make Maps better.”

The apology letter also acknowledges alternatives to Apple Maps, including top competitor, Google:

“While we’re improving Maps, you can try alternatives by downloading map apps from the App Store like Bing, MapQuest and Waze, or use Google or Nokia maps by going to their websites and creating an icon on your home screen to their web app.”

Although Google’s mobile Web application is available on iOS 6, Apple lacked Google Maps software developed specifically for the new mobile operating system.   Recently, however, the overwhelming outcry for a Google alternative on iOS 6 has inspired the company (which currently dominates the online mapping software market in the U.S.) to create a Google Maps app for iOS 6-enabled Apple devices.

A representative from Google spoke to the Wall Street  Journal regarding the upcoming application:

“We believe Google Maps are the most comprehensive, accurate and easy-to-use maps in the world.  Our goal is to make Google Maps available to everyone who wants to use it, regardless of device, browser, or operating system.”

With the extremely popular Google Maps poised to make its imminent debut in the App Store, Apple is now facing a possibly substantial loss of market share.  Going forward, Apple’s mobile development team must strive to build a high-quality mapping solution with a strong focus on improved accuracy.

As Google begins its move toward iOS 6, mobile Web users will ultimately determine the fate of both Apple and Google’s mapping software and play an instrumental role in the overall future of the digital mapping industry.

I’d like to hear your thoughts on Google and Apple’s mapping software.  Direct your tweets on the topic to @KenWisnefski and I’ll address them on Monday in my next blog post here on

What’s In A Name?

This weekend, I read a blog post by our own Todd Bailey in which he discusses Scott Van Nuzer’s recent photo opportunity with President Obama at his pizzeria in Florida.  After reading Todd’s blog (and subsequently, watching the the video which accompanied the post), I decided to research the topic a bit further and surprisingly found that according to Google’s suggested search… Scott Van Nuzer doesn’t exist.

Where in the World is Scott Van Nuzer?
Google Instant, a feature that was designed to supplement suggested search, (A.K.A. autocomplete) has been around for a while now and has actually proven to be fairly accurate and effective at predicting queries as users enter them.  However, the term “Scott Van Nuzer” offered no Google Instant results.  Instead, the search engine recommended the term “Scott Van Duzer”, which yielded a plethora of relevant results from legitimate, authoritative sites including news outlets and popular blogs.

Digging a bit deeper, I found that “Scott Van Nuzer” also provides results from sources such as ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo! and New York Magazine.  The pages and articles found within the SERPs for both terms are clearly referring to the same individual, but obviously, only one name can be correct.

Van Nuzer vs. Van Duzer
As far as Google is concerned; the pizzeria owner question is in fact Scott Van Duzer, although many other sites refer to him differently.  The nomenclatural nightmare seems to stem from his restaurant’s Yelp profile.  In various comments that appeared on the page following the “bearhug” incident, several commenters referred to the Big Apple Pizza owner as “Van Nuzer” and many news and media outlets followed suit.  Google’s algorithm was able to sort out the confusion in the SERPs, but other small businesses may not be so lucky.

The Butterfly Effect
A simple grammatical error could have significantly affected Scott Van Duzer and his business’ online visibility following a publicity stunt which should have actually helped his brand gain awareness on the Web.  Such issues validate the usefulness of digital brand management and should serve as a reminder to business owners that it is absolutely critical to carefully monitor their company’s presence online.

Virtually every company can benefit from incorporating brand management techniques into their marketing initiatives; online and offline.  If Scott Van Duzer’s story has taught business owners anything, it should be the importance of both their name and brand and how these terms are being presented throughout the Web.