Tech’s subtle ways of showing Pride month support

Pride Month (LGBT Pride Month) is celebrated each year in the month of June to honor the 1969 Stonewall riots in Manhattan. This year I happened to more closely watch the strong support from Tech industry and the San Francisco gay parade.

It’s nice to see how Tech industry comes out and demonstrates their support in different ways. The biggest being the June last sunday parade with a huge outburst of thousands of employees from Google, Facebook, EA .. celebrated to support equal rights for everyone.

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It’s nice to notice some other subtle ways tech/ internet has been proactive in showing their love.

Here are some of ways I noticed (no doubt there are many many more):

  1. Brown-bags / talks within companies to educate employees or share experiences
  2. Yelp updated it’s logo in the mobile app:

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  3. Apple giving it’s employees color bands:

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  4. SurveyMonkey hosting talks and giving away stickers:

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  5. hoisting flags inside/ outside buildings:

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  6. Pure Storage updating it’s logo on LinkedIn:

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  7. Google’s customized Pride search page:

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  8. Airbnb’s commercial/ short-film for

 

Google Knowledge Graph search, results with a delay

Google Knowledge Graph, the next generation contextual search, is very useful and the results make users very efficient. Minimizing the number of clicks to reach the information they are seeking.

Example:

If you search for “nba”, without going to any search results and looking for information; Google Knowledge Graph very nicely gives the most relevant information right on the search result page.

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This is awesome!!

But, I recently discovered that there can be a substantial off-set in the Knowledge Graph results. Google should probably avoid showing these results unless it’s confident of them being atleast near real-time. The information can otherwise be misleading and one may think he has the latest information.

Example:

I was looking for scores for Roland Garros 2015 and happened to google it. Here is my results:

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When I checked the same on French Open website, I found that the results I saw had a very substantial offset. Almost >1 hours.

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This could be misleading and should be avoided unless the results are more accurate.

Google ads on Google!!

It’s interesting to note that Google Flights is showing ‘sponsored’ ads on Google. Advertising with sponsored links is not as trivial. They say it’s for products not services. I wonder how they call Flights as a product; and if they do – a lot of stuff can be a product. Please read my next post for details on what _idea_ I am talking about!!

Anyways, coming back to the point – Google Flights sponsored ads is great! It looks into users current location and gives a smart real looking ad-banner which which lets you reach payment page of the vendor in 5 clicks. Its pretty great.

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Gmail Inbox Tabs and the panic among Email Marketers

Gmail rolled out a new tab inbox this late May which has created some noise among the email marketers. It is interesting to see how much of a bigger impact it can have, specially on the small businesses and non-profits which heavily rely on direct email marketing. There is a lot of research being put in Email marketing and it would be interesting to analyse if Gmail Tabs have a significant impact or the panic is just some smoke from nowhere.

Gmail Tabs Overview
Gmail now classifies messages into following optional categories: Primary, Promotion, Social, Updates and Forums. This enables having user read similar messages at once and focus on messages based on priority or the way user organized. The feature is all customizeable and is available in all major Gmail clients like iOS, android. Here is a sample screenshot:

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What’s the Panic?

Marketers speculate that this feature will have a significant impact on the Open Rates. Many promotions from small businesses, non-profits and all those Living Social and Groupon emails rely a lot on the direct email marketing; and Gmail stands among top email services with 425 million active users globally (as of Dec 2012). Hence we know, if the speculation is true, this panic alram is a big concern for such businesses and their marketing strategy.

But such features lead to something called a Malkovich Bias. The user response to the change in email products has always been something unpredictable and any change takes a while for users to adapt.

Stats and Analysis

The change in open rates varies based on season, time and weeks. Hence one needs a bigger time frame to make any convincing deductions. A study from Rocket Science Group, LLC (source: here) says the click-through rate has declined for past three weeks from 13% to 12%. Which is significant but not convincing. Here is another study from MailChimp:
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The impact can be currently accepted as a change and the decrease in open rates and clicks could be an outcome of change but not the product.

Another good point to consider in this analysis which points that the amount of Gmail opens from the Gmail is only 19%. And Gmail accounts for about 4% of total email opens and only 41% of those support Gmail tabs. Considering the same, we can’t say if Tabs is the reason for the decline in open rates.

Thoughts and Implications

For the User: A user always prefers to filter and organize his emails based on relevance. The new Gmail does this automatically. So that’s a sign of a great product design. If a user is missing the attractive Groupon deals which used to catch his attention in the middle of office hours, he should just drag-drop the same and Gmail will do the rest.

For the Marketers: It will be difficult for a promotion email to stand out in the hoard of email in the promotion tab. And it was quite easier to chime in the middle of the day in between other personal emails. But the sweet part to the same is that – now user checks out the Promotion Tab with the required mindset and there will be higher click-though rate for relevant emails.

– Experts have deduced that it’s bit too early to press the panic alarm. But statistics make it important for marketers to keep an eye on the impact and their marketing strategy

– There is a lot of analysis which is done to find the days and times at which the promotion emails should be sent to a user. This can even be personalized based user history and behavior. A rework would be required in these areas.

– Personalized recommendations play an important role in the open and click-through rate. The algorithm might need a rework based on the user mindset and times a user checkout the Promotion Tab.

– The Email content and relevance becomes more important now to be able to stand out among other Promotion Emails.

What Marketers can be done now

– Make users read their email and ask them to drag their email from Promotions to Primary Tab

– Ask users to customize the inbox for their emails

– Make users to “STAR” mark their emails – this will automatically move the email to Primary Tab

– Convince users to deactivate promotions tab

– Since a high percentage of Promotions emails would be read in trains from home to work or at night  before sleep – their timings can be revisited based on the product and user

#references: 1, 2, 3

The new Google Maps has some great features

The new Google Maps looks pretty great. With other new features, the idea of showing public transit options as a grid with time and schedule scaling is amazing. It should be very useful in cities like NYC which run through public transport.

Other notable feature is the smart search for places — Restaurants, Bars — and the result size displays the relevance. I suspect this feature to shake up Yelp! to some extent. The live traffic, improved street view, satellite view are other noteworthy features.

Here are some screenshots:

new google maps new google maps transit view new google maps traffic view new google maps places view