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Google giornalismo

E’ Google il miglior giornalista 2013? La rete supera la fantasia, e la stampa

Google giornalismo

Hal Varian, Chief Economist di Google, ha ritirato il premio “E’ Giornalismo” 2013.

“Uno stimolo a cercare una strada che accomuni le esigenze dei nuovi mezzi di comunicazione a quelle del giornalismo più autentico”.

Con questa motivazione  la giuria del premio “È giornalismo” 2013 ha conferito il riconoscimento a Hal Varian, Chief Economist di Google, qualche giorno prima del 15esimo compleanno del motore di ricerca e qualche giorno dopo l’avvio del nuovo ambizioso algoritmo Hummingbird che nei prossimi mesi darà non poco filo da torcere agli esperti di SEO, ancora alle prese con le alchimie di Penguin.

Internet significa democrazia? McLuhan sosteneva che il medium fosse il messaggio. Ora il medium è anche l’autore.
Google – e più in generale la rete – a quanto pare ha portato democrazia nell’informazione, concretizzando un principio costituzionale valido in Italia (e in tante altre cosiddette ‘democrazie’), ma occorre cautela prima di attribuire un’accezione positiva al termine democrazia, soprattutto in riferimento a variabili chiave del giornalismo come la qualità, l’attendibilità e l’imparzialità della notizia.

Chi cerca qualità nell’informazione non la può trovare in un sistema dell’informazione che è il prodotto di una democrazia mistificata alla base attraverso l’informazione stessa.

Io la vedo così: il sistema nel suo complesso è un’iterazione i cui frutti saranno sempre artificialmente alterati in assenza di meccanismi di controllo qualitativo scevri da strutture legali (vedasi l’anacronistico ordine corporativo dei giornalisti) o economiche (vedasi i capitali investiti per dirottare lettori presso le proprie testate).

informazione

Notizie = Informazione – Comunicazione. (Fortunatamente) le fonti di informazione  appaiono sempre più il frutto della partecipazione collettiva di un crescente numero di lettori e autori, con sempre minori mediazioni se non dovute all’autorità della fonte (determinata da algoritmi e trucchi per aggirarli, piuttosto che da saccenti commentatori). I neologismi nati in rete (un tempo si sarebbe detto blogosfera ma oggi appare riduttivo, quasi desueto) vengono vulgarizzati nel giro di pochi tweet. Quelli nati sulla carta rischiano di rimanere lì. Non sono più i tempi del darsi all’ippica di Starace o dei goleador di Brera. La rete tra reti (letteralmente, internet), soprattutto grazie all’amplificazione data dalle piattaforme social, ormai integrate pressoché ovunque, è divenuta un marasma nel quale comunicazione e informazione, buone o cattive che siano, si mescolano inevitabilmente. Questo post non è una notizia (e mai potrebbe avere la pretesa di esserlo), ma un commento, eppure una volta indicizzato da un aggregatore, tanto più se postato su una testata giornalistica, appare come una notizia.

In rete siamo tutti giornalisti. Soprattutto fra blogger che si occupano di attualità, vale sempre più il detto: “siamo tutti giornalisti!”, ma in tale campo i veri professionisti continueranno a distinguersi da mediocri e troll iscritti all’ordine solo grazie alla qualità dei loro coraggiosi e difficili approfondimenti, inchieste, dossier (e non dossieraggi, sia chiaro). A mio modesto vedere, i giornalisti professionisti potrebbero essere definiti degli abili (e rapidi) storici contemporanei e gli storici contemporanei a loro volta potrebbero anche essere definiti abili e rapidi geografi umani.

notizieDistinguere l’informazione dal resto spetta al lettore. Anche grazie all’amplificazione di aggregatori customizzabili (come il defunto Google Reader) o precustomizzati (come il sempreverde Google News) i cui contenuti variano a seconda delle scelte pregresse dell’utente – i cookies hanno eroso spazio vitale agli analisti di mercato – quel che resta al di fuori delle poche, valenti “notizie” sulla stampa è costituito da comunicati, opinioni, chiacchericcio, mistificazioni, dossieraggi, vanità, fuffa, gossip e affini, e pubblicità anche velata da content marketing (=markette). Pur essendo stilosi e riportando in calce la firma di un giornalista professionista, che sia sopravvalutato o, come spesso accade, sottopagato (= manovalanza intellettuale), tali tipologie di contenuti non dovrebbero avere alcuna dignità di essere definite giornalismo, neppure dilettante. Eppure compaiono regolarmente, in massa, fra le notizie, oscurando la qualità sempre più difficile da digerire da parte di un’utenza drogata dal sensazionalismo e in cerca di una fruizione caratterizzata da rapidità, superficialità, customizzazione e  lotta  contro una pubblicità sempre più invadente e noiosa.

Sequenzialità vs. caos. Quello che oggi, nell’ambito dell’informazione, probabilmente spaventa di più, è il venir meno della regia palese (vera o verosimile che sia) che un tempo selezionava e/o produceva e ordinava sequenzialmente le informazioni trasformandole in notizie. In assenza di tale guida, le notizie appaiono spurie, degradate a informazioni, mistificate, ripetute, ridondanti, passate di mano, riprese, cancellate. non ci sono più direzioni chiare, ma confuse, in seguito alla sovrapposizione di più regie temporanee, con gradi di autorità estremamente variabili anche in breve tempo (il real-time marketing applicato all’informazione che in casi di fail può causare più danni economici in un giorno di una cattiva gestione operata per anni, vedasi il caso #boicottabarilla ad esempio).

caosForse, in questo caos, diventeremo pazzi (cit. Andrea Aufieri, grande amico e ottimo giornalista, dal cui commento Facebook è partito lo spunto per questo post), ma prima di internet credo che ci fosse stata eccessiva ingenuità nel riporre fiducia in fonti di informazione gravemente alterate da regie palesi, il più delle volte agli ordini di poteri neppure troppo occulti. In Italia stampa di chiesa e/o di partito, Rai politicizzata e berlusconismo insegnano, ma molti continuano a fingere di non aver appreso la lezione.

Subdomain

Tidy up your subdomain and multidomain web metrics with Google Tag Manager

Subdomain

SITUATION Let’s suppose that you have two sites to track, a main site and its subdomain

  • www.mysite.xyz
  • thirdlevel.mysite.xyz (for example it can be a specific product minisite or an ecommerce platform, a campaign landing page, etc.)

OBJECTIVE You want to monitor both all visits under one main Google Analytics profile (now called view) and also each single site separately. So you are planning to have at least three GA views.

PROCEDURE A standard way to distinguish pages after multidomain tracking can be made through a view where the hostname is added to the URI: this way pages will be distinguished by their hostname (normally absent on GA) as follows:

  • www.mysite.xyz/index.php
  • thirdlevel.mysite.xyz/index.php
  • etc…

Here is an alternative approach through Google Tag Manager:

1. Create a GTM container for the whole web property

2. On the container create two different GATC tags, each bringing data to the same GA property ID (UA-xxxxxxxxx-x). You can call GATC-main and GATC-third-level (you can use spaces if you like)

3. Mind the Rules! Each GATC tag need to have a Rule that activate it only when the visitor is on the relative site. For example, GATC-third-level tag will have the following rule:

GTM Rule

The Rule fire the tag only when the visitor is on the thirdlevel domain

4. Now just one more step – the most important – add a virtual page to GATC-third-level:

4.1 Before doing that create a Macro called path (or any other name) to collect URL / Path

GTM URL Path Macro

Add a URL Path Macro on GTM

4.2 Then add it to the Virtual Page Path

GA virtual page path gtm

Collect subdomain metrics under a virtual folder on GA through GTM

PLEASE NOTE – If you don’t follow this step, your pageviews will merge together when having the same name (e.g. index.php pageviews from the main domain will be summed up to index.php pageviews from the subdomain). You can still create separate profiles (views) for each site using a filter that distinguish traffic to the hostname (e.g. mysite vs thirdlevel.mysite) but you will not be able to have the whole view under one profile (mysite + thirdlevel.mysite but differentiated with a virtual folder).

5. change the Rule TO GATC-main tag in order to activate it only when the visitor is on your main domain (not the third-level); no need to add Virtual Page Path to GATC-main tag.

6. Now let’s move from Tag Manager to Analytics and add two more Views to your web property. The default view will collect all metrics (main domain and third-level) whilst two more will be for each site separately.

6.1 You just have to create a new view, e.g. “Main site only” and Filter out all visits that starts with subfolder “/yoursiteonthirdlevel/”

6.2 For the other view “Third-level only” instead the FIlter has to include only subfolder starting with “/yoursiteonthirdlevel/” as shown above:

filter-subdomain

Apply a filter to your subdomain GA View

Done!

PROCEDURE FOR MULTIDOMAIN TRACKING The same procedure is valid also for multidomain tracking

  • mysite1.xyz
  • mysite2.xyz
  • subdomain.myxite2.xyz
  • etc.

CROSSDOMAIN Don’t forget to add also crossdomain tracking following the procedure suggested by Google to let cookies move across all your funnel. If you don’t take this step, you will not be able to measure campaign performance attributing value to each digital marketing channel. Good luck!

Google Databoard

The continuing r-evolution of Google services/tools and its benefits for the marketing industry: Think Insights & Databoard

Google Databoard

Marketing paid services are struggling against the fact that Google offers the same tools at no cost. From analytical tools to tag management, from videoconferences to market researches, Google is offering to business a wide range of fundamental marketing (and web marketing) tools and services that improve day by day.

For example, Google Tag Manager has been launched silently in October 2012 and “is now (July 2013) serving twice the amount of traffic it was in April 2013”. At the same time, Google is planning to standardise one of GTM’s core features, the Data Layer, through a specific “Customer Experience Digital Data Community” Group born on the W3C site (source: Analytics Blog).

Whilst Google is closing down many services (among the others Wave, Buzz, Reader, Latitude) or reshaping functions and integrating tools – for example website optimizer integrated into Google Analytics, GA Conversions Goals can be imported into Adwords, Adwords remarketing lists can be done through GA and G+ gaining centrality on all aspects, from being considered a top SEO ranking factor to pushing communication through Hangouts – it keeps on launching new services whose strengths are: cool, free, easy, accessible.

A recent site that worth a visit, mostly by marketers and communicators, is Think Insights, a collection of market research for many industries. Among cool examples here’s a Japan-based English language school whose classroom are made through Google Hangouts.

It includes also the Databoard, that “lets you explore insights from Google research studies, share them with others, and create your own custom infographics”. Unfortunately at the moment data are available only for the US.

Through Databoard, as an example, I’ve made for you an infographic showing key facts about use of smartphones in the US (2013). It’s time for you to build your own infographic!

 

 

ALtavista UI

July 2013: goodbye Altavista and Google Reader

ALtavista UI

One of the first Altavista UI.

After 14 years, starting from 8th July, the search engine Altavista will be redirected to its current owner Yahoo!.

Altavista used to be the top search engine in many countries until Google took over in 2001.

SE market nowadays is a restricted oligopoly in comparison with the peak of variety between 90s and 2000s but, inside the few ruling brands (Google, Yahoo!, Bing) social media users can gain an important influence for site rankings, based on reputation (something that doesn’t necessarily mean popularity: Panda rulez).

How many people use Google as entry point for other services like Wikipedia, Tripadvisor, Hotels or Bookings.com or your best recipe’s portal? Search engines have been loosing power on many fields but they still work as an entry point: they became a browser rather than a service (and Google Chrome was a great intuition on that sense… it’s weird to think of a Chrome user setting up Bing as standard search engine).

In the same month, another well known and quite popular service, this time in the Google family, closed down: Google Reader. Apparently it wasn’t as much profitable as Google expected but, IMHO, its closure is a move by Google towards big publishers that want to impose their paid channels rather than letting users choice their best blogs.
Google has launched Currents, an app to subscribe and read popular newspapers/magazines (webzine sounds too old nowadays that press became online-based). Other services, similar to Google Reader, are chasing the empty arena, starting from Feedly that took the highest share of users.

Someone still defending printed press risks to jump to a digital stage where feed readers are obsolete.

To find out more about destiny of old search engines read this interesting post by Dennis Sullivan on Search Engine Watch.

Apple iOS7 Home Screen

Does the iPhone battery last less than 2 hours with iOS 7?

In this video a guy is presenting the new iOS 7 whose beta has been released by Apple on 10 June 2013.

I find quite relevant the fact that when the video started, its iPhone 5 battery level was 63% and at the end, after just 10 minutes, it was already 55%. It means 8 percentage points in about 10 minutes which make 48% – let’s say almost 50% – in one hour.

Does it mean that with iOS 7 the battery last only about two hours? Ok, the guy might have an old battery, not fully efficient, but such data are quite scary considering that during the short preso no video have been recorded, no phone calls have been made, no games have been played.

Apple iOS7 Home Screen

Apple iOS7 Home Screen

Facebook Pages, get more likes for free

Facebook business pages: how to bypass paid advertising to get more likes and engagement

Facebook Pages, get more likes for free

This post is for business that own an ecommerce site, a Facebook page and possibly other channels. Nothing unethical or forbidden: it’s just a soft trick to get more likes and engagement avoiding paid advertising.

Steps

  1. set up a voucher code (e.g. a 20% discount) for certain or (better) all products on your ecommerce platform
  2. invite your visitors to Like your Facebook page and send a private message with a standard sentence (to avoid confusion with other private messages)
  3. answer them sending the voucher code

Alternatives: make the voucher viral

If you want to be viral instead of sending the voucher code in text use a dedicated landing page on your site, where potential customers can find out the code and also share with their friend a message that replicate the above procedure (Like the page, send a message….)

Alternatives: other promotions instead of vouchers

If you don’t have anything to sell, why not running a similar campaign to send an ebook or a voucher for another company? Many companies already run similar campaigns to get user personal data, but at some point I think that a Facebook like worth more than personal data when they can be unreliable (e.g. unsubscribe after receiving the ebook or using a secondary email opened only to avoid spam), whilst usually a person don’t unlike a page after receiving its ‘present’.

Promote the initiative with a CPC campaign outside Facebook

So far promotional efforts have been free (ok the voucher can be considered a cost, but it comes after a conversion after all). If you have some budget to spend, why not using a CPC campaign outside Facebook? For example, the same landing page can be associated to an AdWords campaign and get three opportunities instead of one.

Usually a CPC campaign is linked to a landing page with some offer. This way it is linked to a landing page that contains

  1. a bunch of products that are ready to be sold
  2. an invite to Like your Facebook page and send a message to receive a voucher (engage)
  3. an invite to share this opportunity with friends, immediately and even after receiving the voucher

And what about getting personal data? 

And what about other personal details like email, city, etc? Well, they will be needed later any way, to activate/benefit the voucher.

Track the voucher!

Don’t use a standard voucher but differentiate depending on what’s the path to get to it. To assign some criteria you can use the standard sentence that users has to send you through a FB Page private message in order to get their voucher:

  1. invite posted on site, blog, social media etc. OR CPC ads – each invite can have a standard sentence depending on criteria you want to track (mostly source/medium)
  2. user to Like FB page
  3. user to send private message using a standard sentence taken in stage 1
  4. Facebook page manager replies sending a textual voucher code or a link to specific landing page with more content and voucher code related to standard sentence

 

Google Tag Manager

Event Tracking Automation for Google Tag Manager: downloads, outbound links, email, podcasts

Update: with GTM v2 many things changed. You can have a look at a comprehensive article by Simo Ahava on how to setup event tracking on Google Tag Manager.


Google Tag Manager

Are you using Google Tag Manager? Great. There’s a way to automate the process of attributing GA Events to ALL your outbound links, downloads, email addresses, even podcasts and phone numbers with no effort, no further scripting needed on your code.

Here I will explain how to do it. A huge credit goes to Ryan @ Blastam that not long ago has written this interesting article with guidelines to automate the process on Google Analytics.

Step 0: GTM IN PLACE + JQUERY!

Open a GTM account and install the code immediately after the opening <body> tag of your website (just in case…)

Be sure to have jQuery JavaScript library working on your site (most CMS already have it, check HTML if you are not sure, it does not have to be the last version).

If jQuery is not installed… don’t worry, we can still do it (see Step 3).

 

Step 1: RULES

Create the general All Pages rule if not already present

url matches RegEx .*

Create another rule that I call Activate Outbound

event equals outbound

Add a rule to tell when GTM has to flash a Tag

Add a rule to tell when GTM has to flash a Tag

Step 2: MACROS

Create the following three  JavaScript Variable:

Name: CategoryGlobal Variable Name: cat
Name: Action; Global Variable Name: act
Name: Label; Global Variable Name: lab

Step 3: TAGS

Create two tags, one for the event tracking and another one for the magic script

Event tracking will be as follow:

GA Event Tracking on Google Tag Manager

GA Event Tracking on Google Tag Manager

(remember to add your GA account code)

The Firing Rule will be Activate Outbound (the one set in Step 1)

Now let’s add the following Script on a new Custom HTML Tag

ONLY if the jQuery library is not on loaded on your site add the following line BEFORE the main code:

<script src=”//code.jquery.com/jquery-1.7.2.js”></script>

If jQuery was already present on your pages then ignore the above code and proceed just adding what follows:

<script type="text/javascript">
if (typeof jQuery != 'undefined') {
 jQuery(document).ready(function($) {
 var filetypes = /.(zip|exe|dmg|pdf|doc.*|xls.*|ppt.*|mp3|txt|rar|wma|mov|avi|wmv|flv|wav)$/i;
 var baseHref = '';
 if (jQuery('base').attr('href') != undefined) baseHref = jQuery('base').attr('href');

 jQuery('a').on('click', function(event) {
 var el = jQuery(this);
 var track = true;
 var href = (typeof(el.attr('href')) != 'undefined' ) ? el.attr('href') :"";
 var isThisDomain = href.match(document.domain.split('.').reverse()[1] + '.' + document.domain.split('.').reverse()[0]);
 if (!href.match(/^javascript:/i)) {
 var elEv = []; elEv.value=0, elEv.non_i=false;
 if (href.match(/^mailto:/i)) {
 cat = "email";
 act = "click";
 lab = href.replace(/^mailto:/i, '');
 elEv.loc = href;
 }
 else if (href.match(filetypes)) {
 var extension = (/[.]/.exec(href)) ? /[^.]+$/.exec(href) : undefined;
 cat = "download";
 act = "click-" + extension[0];
 lab = href.replace(/ /g,"-");
 elEv.loc = baseHref + href;
 }
 else if (href.match(/^https?:/i) && !isThisDomain) {
 cat = "outbound";
 act = "click";
 lab = href.replace(/^https?:///i, '');
 elEv.non_i = true;
 elEv.loc = href;
 }
 else if (href.match(/^tel:/i)) {
 cat = "telephone";
 act = "click";
 lab = href.replace(/^tel:/i, '');
 elEv.loc = href;
 }
 else track = false;

 if (track) {
 dataLayer.push({'event':'trackoutbound'});

 if ( el.attr('target') == undefined || el.attr('target').toLowerCase() != '_blank') {
 setTimeout(function() { location.href = elEv.loc; }, 400);
 return false;
 }
 }
 }
 });
 });
}
</script>
 

Step 4: SAVE AND PUBLISH!

Always save after each step taken and at the end Save a new container version and Publish – you can even preview and debug it to check if all tags are firing on the right place (or after the right event).

Is it working?

To check the implementation just go on your website, click on an external link or email or pdf download and at the same time on another browser window check your Google Analytics Real-Time reports on the Events section. You should see, after a few seconds, your event correctly appearing. Later, Events will be properly recorded also under GA Content section and you can create any kind of report/advanced segment/goal with them.

 

Monitor real-time events on GA

Monitor real-time events on GA

Important: to make it work you need jQuery library to be loaded before the above mentioned scripts. So if you don’t have it, download, load on your server and call in the header section. Or you can still avoid this implementation and manually tag each single link/download the old way.

A note: you can change name of variables, rules, tags and macro, but consider to adapt the whole implementation accordingly.

Why it is useful

For example you can measure how many downloads of a pdf enrolment form or clicks to an external website that does not have multi-domain tracking.

The good point of such implementation is that you don’t need to hardcode anything on your pages/posts: it magically does the job for you. It’s been tested on WordPress but it should work on all CMS.

Find out more about GTM…

Update: October 2013

New system to automate tracking all links and form buttons through GTM has been launched. In my view it’s a bit more complex than the above solution, and it needs more work to distinguish between different elements (e.g. a pdf from an outbound link), but it’s the new standard. Detailed post by Lunametrics here or by Justin Cutroni here.

Import Google Analytics conversion goals into AdWords

Google Analytics conversion goals now available on AdWords

Import Google Analytics conversion goals into AdWords

Google Analytics conversion goals now available on AdWords

In a post published on 29 April 2013, Google announced that

Starting in mid June, you’ll be able to import your Google Analytics goals into AdWords shortly after they’re configured. As usual, data for those goals will be available about two days later.

Google suggests that it’s better to track Goals through Analytics rather than AdWords for the following reasons:

Google Analytics Conversion Goals

AdWords Conversion Tracking

  • More complex, but provides more information about where your clicks are coming from.
  • Ideal if you’re interested in the entire flow of customers through your site, not just conversions.
  • Can include conversions from non-AdWords sources, so it’s a great comparison tool.
  • Less complex, but provides less information about where your clicks are coming from.
  • Ideal if you’re interested only in conversions.
  • Tracks conversions only from AdWords sources.

GA Goals will still be uniquely manageable from GA Admin. There can be discrepancies between the two, as Google explains here together with everything needed to let GA goals appear under your AdWords campaigns conversions list.

You can use both, they will not interfere each other so no need to change configuration.

Florence: digital training for political activists and protesters

digital-activism
A former prison a centre will be the base of a learning centre for human-right activists coming from critical countries, the BBC announced on 22 May.
Students will learn how to run successful digital campaigns, looking at examples taken from the Arab Spring (mainly Facebook and Twitter).
No many doubts that Western soft power leads such operations. Westernisation is the at the core of strategies born to cascade policies and views of the world in areas considered highly critical and not easily accessible by some branches of Western capitalism.

It’s still questionable how influent can be a twitter-revolution in countries with a very high digital divide…

New screen for GA Goals set up

New Conversion Goal setup interface on Google Analytics

Many people do not set up Goals on their Analytics account. That’s a shame, because despite not having an website, Goals help them to 1) deep dive into the most challenging side of the analytics world (where the magic rule is learning by doing) and 2) learn more about a website, in a consistent way.

To track Goal , some users limit their efforts to placing the tracking coming from their ads platform. Not bad, but not even comprehensive as it could be setting up GA Goals.

Google Analytics has just refreshed its Conversion Goals setup screen adding some standardised categories that are self-explanatory about what Goals are: good move for newbies.

New screen for GA Goals set up

GA brings more clarity around Goals

After choosing the type of Goal in Step 1 (e.g. create an account or make a payment or whatever you like, see figure 1 above) you might be surprised to find the following four standard categories in Step 2. Nothing magic then, the new interface has just been designed to assist users in creating new Goals.

Describe your Goal...

Describe your Goal…

Finally, on Step 3, you setup your Goal details. For example, if you have chosen Play a video in Step 1, you will end up in events (you need to configure your media player properly in order to send events data to GA).

Set up a Goal corresponding to an event

Set up a Goal corresponding to an event

Look carefully at the last row before the buttons: Verify this Goal. That is a very useful tool to check if something is worth (or is wrong). If your Goal bring 0 despite you expect something you might go back and check something – usually you need to adjust URL’s or Event variables. Pay attention when using RegEx and always test before being sure that everything is ok.

Now, I’d like to express a critique to this new approach. As you all know, GA allows 5 Goals for each of the 4 Goal Sets that make up to 20 Goals in the free GA (well, the premium version doesn’t have any limit but that’s another story).Unfortunately it is not possible anymore to assign Goals to particular Goal Sets as it used to be before the change. Goals are assigned sequentially, making very difficult – or impossible in some cases – to group them in Sets depending on their nature.

If you are tracking transactions (completed), remember to opt for E-commerce tracking – if possible. To setup Ecommerce tracking you need to add some variables just on the page where the transaction is confirmed (usually a thank-you page). It’s fundamental to have a unique ID for each transaction, that might contain one or more products. Some values are optional, others are compulsory. If you are managing Google Analytics Tracking Conversion (GATC) through Google Tag Manager, then you need to use data-layers instead (and the code slightly changes).

Finally, if for some reasons you cannot setup you can still add just Goal value to the transaction page. Just avoid to add both Goal values and Ecommerce revenue or you might end up in doubling your revenues… unfortunately only on GA!