April brought about many exciting developments in the world of mobile and digital communications. Indeed, a common theme that could be seen across various areas of the communications industry is the increasing need for official company portals and proactive communications channels to combat brand reputation issues and misinformation.
Last month marked the launch of a new Top Level Domain (TLD), .SUCKS, which joins existing alternative TLDs like .PORN and .XXX. On the investor relations front, many public companies have had internal discussions about the value of preemptively purchasing their corporate .SUCKS domain—not for active use, but simply to avoid a potential brand reputation crisis or public gaffe should ownership fall into the wrong hands.
Similarly, when it comes to an organization’s most important audience – its employees – we also saw many large corporations and organizations having to address negative press and public commentary related to events such as pending mergers and acquisitions, labor disputes, and backfiring marketing and public relations campaigns.
What do both of these have to do with each other? They signal a need for unified and controlled communications to both internal and external audiences. How convenient
While technology solutions have long been under the auspices of IT, this no longer need be the case. With this issue of Mobile Mindshare, we hope you will agree that given the opportunity mobile presents, it’s time for us as communications professionals to control our destiny when it comes to selecting the tools we need to be successful in our work.
Founder and CEO, APPrise Mobile
In April, theEMPLOYEEapp teamed up with the Employee Communications Section of the Public Relations Society of America for a Twitter chat to discuss ways to effectively implement a communications strategy and boost engagement in a workforce that is constantly on the go. Cyndy Trivella, with 15 years of experience in HR, Marketing and Communications hosted the chat and was joined by dozens of communications professionals who shared their expertise and thoughts on different ways organizations are communicating with employees. Participants also asked questions that guided the conversation and which often focused on common internal/employee communications challenges and struggles.
By the end of the chat, the consensus was clear: communicators agreed that mobile presents a unique opportunity to proactively engage a workforce that is spread across different time zones and, in many cases, is no longer confined to a desk. Several participants brought up the benefit of native mobile apps, particularly in terms of the value of features like push notifications and the ability to download content for offline viewing and listening as well as note taking. ; This functionality was also viewed as particularly beneficial for crisis and emergency communications. Mobile has the potential to be a game changer for employee engagement and corporate communications, and those organizations that have embraced mobile as an employee engagement channel are already seeing the benefits in their workforce.
Who Will Survive Mobilegeddon?
On April 21st, Google began rolling out a new, mobile-friendly algorithm update. Known in search circles as “mobilegeddon,” the update is designed to benefit websites that have invested in a mobile-friendly user experience. Going into the rollout, it was anticipated that up to 40% of Fortune 500 websites could expect to see a decrease in SEO and search rank as a result. It is likely that a more significant impact will be felt by local and small businesses that don’t have the resources necessary to optimize their website for mobile device screens.
In the ramp up to the algorithm update, Google’s #MobileMadness swept the globe in the form of a campaign intended to help prepare webmasters for the mobile search ranking change. Offering presentations, Q&A’s, tips and how-to’s, and culminating in a 30-day challenge to go mobile-friendly, the campaign helped clarify some of the questions surrounding the intended update…but many “what if’s” and “how’s” remained as Mobilegeddon loomed.
When April 21st hit, many webmasters set alerts to review their daily progress on both desktop and mobile and waited with bated breath. The results were a bit slow out of the gate with many speculating that perhaps this was much ado about nothing in spite of Google’s claims that this update would have greater impact on organic rankings than either Panda or Penguin (previous changes to the algorithm), with a projected estimate of “more than 12% of mobile search queries” expected to be affected.
As the days and weeks passed, major websites including Reddit, NBC Sports, Bloomberg Business and Vogue saw a negative impact in their mobile search, since not all of their web pages were considered mobile-optimized. There were also signs that the update was impacting the U.S. market first, with other countries expected to see similar results in the near future.
Bottom line: If you’ve seen a decline in mobile search traffic, there’s still time to update your site in compliance with Google’s mobile-friendly guidelines—and, as this update refreshes on a frequent basis, you should see a positive impact in your SEO relatively soon after the updates are in place. Additionally, as this is a “singular-level” algorithm update (meaning it impacts on a page-by-page basis), you should only see declines in results for those pages that have not migrated to a mobile-friendly platform.
Should Publicly Traded Companies Be More Like Taylor Swift?
Last month, Taylor Swift made a lot of news by buying two websites – TaylorSwift.Porn and Taylor-Swift.Porn. The widely held and safest assumption is that she has no intention of expanding her entrepreneurial empire with these websites, but instead, to protect her brand in the age of a rapidly expanding Internet.
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the body that oversees web addresses, began launching almost 1,400 new Internet suffixes, called Top Level Domains (TLDs). These new domains are intended to better organize the Internet, allowing for a more customized and targeted search experience.
For public companies, online reputation management is essential as it may impact valuation, stock performance and investor sentiment. It would be understandable for a public company to be overwhelmed by this recent domain rollout. It’s an arduous task for a company to take the necessary time, effort and money it takes to figure out how, when, and which TLDs to register their companies’ marks in. Although there are free resources, like the Domain Check Tool, to help navigate the new TLD launches and domain name information, many brand managers are forgoing the opportunity to buy their associated corporate names and trademarks as domain names in these new TLDs.
Instead, companies and brand managers are choosing to wait until a domain name is registered by a third party and, if the name is in a relevant or detrimental TLD, only then will the owner pursue the name through ICANN’s dispute resolution process; either the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) or the Uniform Rapid Suspension (URS). However, both the UDRP and the URS are more expensive than a typical Sunrise registration. The filing fees alone for either a URS or a UDRP are $500 to $3,000, depending on the process, panel size, complexity, etc.
This reactive strategy has inherent risks because neither the URS nor the UDRP are foolproof plans. Even globally recognized companies like Del Monte have recently lost UDRP actions and as a result, are not in control over key domain names. In both the UDRP and the URS, the trademark owner must convince the panel the domain name is confusingly similar to its trademark, the domain owner has no legitimate interest in the domain name and the domain name is being used in bad faith. It should be noted both parody and legitimate criticism of the company are valid defenses which may result in the company not obtaining its name. As the Del Monte example reveals, not all trademark owners obtain their desired domain names, even if they directly match their marks.
ICANN’s new TLD program is halfway through its rollout and popular new TLDs like .app, .web, .porn, .buy and .sucks are launching this year. Publicly traded companies may want to evaluate their online brand and reputation management strategies to ensure consistency and control over their marks and names throughout these new TLDs.
Stuart Lawley is Chairman and CEO of ICM Registry and has developed and successfully managed a number of U.S. and UK businesses in office technology and the Internet. In 2011, ICM Registry launched .XXX becoming one of the first entities to release a new top level domain.
It seems like every day something new and mobile-focused hits the market. April was no exception. Mobile innovation is happening faster than anything that has preceded it, and for good reason: today people are using their mobile devices more than their PCs.
Here are a few developments that caught our eye:
Google is partnering with Sprint and T-Mobile to launch Project Fi, disrupting how mobile carriers will operate in the future. According to Wired, “The company says that the service will simplify how people pay for cellular access, and that it will help phones bridge the gaps between traditional cellular networks and the Wi-Fi networks available inside so many homes and businesses.” While today, the service is limited to people with the Nexus 6, ultimately the next stage in their roll-out will be to connect people (and their devices) with the strongest network wherever they are to ensure they always have mobile internet access.
It seems that recently the Apple Watch has been dominating the headlines. And, finally they are starting to ship. Many posit that Apple Watch will set the standard for wearables and will succeed where the likes of Google Glass failed. Some pundits are still not sure why we need a computer on our wrist. No matter where you stand on the argument, Apple Watch is moving us closer to a true internet of things (IoT) and we should expect to see more and more brands and developers reimagine apps for this new medium.
Yahoo! ups its Mobile Ad and Video Game
Yahoo has unveiled new native video ad products. According to MediaDailyNews, “Yahoo’s research shows that consumers who download an app after watching a trailer use the apps 40% more often and 20% longer each time compared with regular display install ads.” What does this mean? Video still reigns supreme and we can expect more mobile ads to incorporate video in the future. It also means that companies using mobile to communicate need to place more emphasis on dynamic content like video.