Online Reputation Management Blog

Secure Search Engine Sees Significant Growth

Google vs. Facebook: Who Will Come Out on Top in the Mobile Ad Market?

"Search" button
While Google still reigns supreme on the search engine market, the gap is closing. Still a small company, search engine DuckDuckGo tripled its growth at the end of 2014, receiving approximately seven million direct search queries daily.

But what makes DuckDuckGo special? Founded in 2008, DuckDuckGo promises not to track users – and it keeps that promise by not storing search histories, computer or location information. It also keeps users’ search queries from other websites. These are all things other search engines do to increase advertising.

According to DuckDuckGo’s daily usage statistics, the end of 2014 marked two full years of dramatic growth. While there was steady growth in the beginning of 2014, usage rose exponentially toward the end of the year. The first eight months of 2014 saw a steady monthly increase of 3.5%. Then, from September to December, monthly growth rose to 10.2% – almost triple the usage.

What caused the sudden growth spurt? In September, Apple added DuckDuckGo as a search option that users could select in the Safari browser, though Google remains the default option. Later, in November, DuckDuckGo was added to Mozilla’s Firefox browser as well. Unsurprisingly, there don’t seem to be any plans to add DuckDuckGo to Google Chrome in the foreseeable future.

“DuckDuckGo has significantly increased its user base from both integrations,” CEO Gabriel Weinberg told Quartz. “Though the exact amount is unclear since we don’t track people.”

While the Mozilla and Apple distribution certainly helped DuckDuckGo become more popular, the company’s largest growth to date followed revelations of mass government surveillance in June of 2013. Because DuckDuckGo does not collect any information that could be used to identify users or their search habits, many people felt that it was an obvious choice to make the switch from other search engines.

DuckDuckGo has a long way to go before it rivals Google, but if their usage continues to grow at this rate, eventually they will get there.

smartphone with social media bubbles (like, tweet, friend, share
The mobile advertising market is fiercely competitive, with Google and Facebook both vying for the attention of consumers. While Google is currently winning the mobile advertising battle, it seems that Facebook may be winning the war.

According to a report published at The Information by senior tech Amir Efrati, Google is at risk of losing precious mobile advertising to Facebook.

Google generates more than twice as much revenue as Facebook in regards to mobile advertising — thanks to search — however, in terms of graphical and video ads viewed on mobile devices, Facebook comes out on top, generating three times as much revenue than Google. In fact, Google’s share of these ads is decreasing.

The inability to track the efficacy of ads across various mobile devices seems to be Google’s greatest hurdle, meaning it’s difficult for Google to prove a sale was made due to a user seeing on its mobile advertisements.

On the other hand, Facebook’s mobile advertising platform seems to be more comprehensive, since it is able to determine if a user views an app on Facebook’s mobile ad and purchases that product on their laptop because of it. Facebook uses cookies — indicators that link a user’s web browser to their smartphone — to gather data about its users.

This is unsurprisingly, considering an estimated 50% of mobile phone owners use their smartphone as their primary internet source.

While Google also collects cookies, it fails to distribute them across its ad products. Data from Google’s search engine isn’t combined with data from Google DoubleClick, which is used to track Google’s ads on non-Google sites. On top of that, Google also has no way of determining whether or not a user has purchased the product they’re already seeing an ad for.

Google seems to be leery of getting flack for using the information they collect on users. The company’s own employees have said that limited ad tracking is a direct result of concerns with government regulations. Though the choice to not integrate Google’s ad products may have been made by its executive some time ago, the exact reasons have not been made clear.

Fake Reviews Online – Don’t Believe the Hype

According to a recent study, 83% of consumers say online reviews influence their perception of a company.  Positive reviews are critical for doctors, lawyers, small business owners, accountants, consultants, investment professionals, contractors, restaurants and travel and hospitality companies.  Many consumers depend on peer reviews to offer an honest assessment of a business.  However, many businesses seem to be getting their good reviews the old fashioned way — by cheating.

According to Gartner Inc. as organizations are scrambling “…to garner more positive reviews than their competitors… Many marketers have turned to paying for positive reviews with cash, coupons and promotions, including additional hits on YouTube videos.”

Paying for reviews may be more costly than you think.  Aside from the ethical implications and potential public relations fallout, the Federal Trade Commission is becoming more aggressive punishing companies who pay for reviews without adequate disclosure.   Gartner reports that “…organizations that opt to pay for phony reviews… have faced both public condemnation as well as monetary fines.”  In 2009, the Federal Trade Commission held that paying for positive reviews without disclosing that the reviewer had been compensated equates to deceptive advertising.

Social sites such as Yelp have also been cracking down on companies that post false reviews by putting a customer “beware” label on their sites.  Taking cues from this new-found practice of exposing websites that practice “fake reviews” Gartner says that some marketers have taken to policing the web in attempts to make their own companies look more honest and ethical.  “Organizations engaging in social media can help to promote trust by openly embracing both positive and negative reviews and leveraging negative reviews as a way to encourage customers with positive product or service experiences to share them on review sites as well,” says Gartner analyst Jenny Sussin.

While many are decrying this recent trend toward “paid” reviews, the practice is not going away anytime soon, in fact, it may be increasing.  Gartner says phony reviews will comprise 10 to 15 percent of all reviews by 2014.  Analysts also predict that “…increased media attention on fake social media ratings and reviews will result in at least two Fortune 500 brands facing litigation from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over the next two years.”

As an online reputation management company, Reputation Rhino is frequently asked to help improve customer reviews on popular sites like Yelp, Google+ and other popular review sites.  The first step is diagnosing the problem.  Is there a widespread culture of poor customer service or inferior products or are we dealing with a small percentage of disgruntled customers or clients?  If the answer is the former, there is not much a reputation management company can really do.  If the latter, an online reputation management firm can help develop an effective and efficient process for obtaining customer reviews and promoting those reviews to the review sites that are likely to have the most impact on the business.  It is usually far better to have dozens of positive customer reviews and testimonials across dozens of review sites than to rely solely on a single review site.

Free Google Business Tools You Need to Know

How important is Google for your business?  Let me count the ways.  Google led the U.S. search market in November with 67 percent market share, followed by Microsoft with 16.2 percent and Yahoo! with 12.1 percent.  I wanted to highlight a few free tools Google offers that can help your business grow online.

Find Out What People are Saying About Your Business

Google Alerts are email notifications sent to you when Google discovers new results across the real-time Web, such as web pages, newspaper articles, or blogs — that match a specific search term.  You can use Google Alerts to monitor anything on the Internet.  You can use Google Alerts to monitor what is being said online about your company or your competitors, track industry trends and developments, follow online mentions of your brand or key executives.  Google Alerts is a great tool for online reputation management. [Read more…]