Mar 1 2011

Google says happy St Davids Day

Google’s little tribute to Wales on the 1st March 2011…

One of my favourite things about St David’s Day is that winter is pretty much over. Lambs, daffs, tree buds, driving home from work in daylight.

Only a few short months until summer. Yeah!

BTW – check this out, our latest St David’s Day interactive quiz for

Feb 8 2011

Google celebrates Jules Verne birthday

Today, (8th February 2011) Google are celebrating the 183rd birthday of French author, Jules Verne, with a neat little interactive piece.

Apr 14 2010

New agency respect for Google on display

Google has had a vote of confidence from the UK digital media industry after being the most broadly improved platform in the IPA’s latest media owner survey.

Read the full story at the NMA website.

Sep 25 2009

Google Chrome Frame

This week, Google announced an early version of a plugin for Internet Explorer, which allows it to use modern web technologies such as HTML5, CSS3, SVG, Canvas, and more.

More and more web applications (including many from Google, such as Google Docs, Gmail, and MobileMe from Apple), either require these technologies, or make extensive use of JavaScript. As such, fast JavaScript support has recently become something of a game of cat and mouse between the top browser vendors, constantly leapfrogging one another to be ‘the fastest’. Internet Explorer, whilst receiving a big upgrade with version 8, is still some way behind Firefox, Safari, Opera, and Google Chrome when it comes to these features.

Google are soon to be launching their much-touted Google Wave service: a combination between e-mail, instant messaging, wikis, and social networking. Wave’s interface is very JavaScript-heavy, and requires features of HTML5. At present, this means that Internet Explorer users will be unable to use Wave. And even if Microsoft implemented the necessary features in the next version of IE, there are still around 40% of internet users on versions 6 and 7 of IE with no clear intention to upgrade any time soon (or, for many corporate users, they’re not even allowed to upgrade). It’s a big problem for Google if their ‘next generation of email’ isn’t able to be used by 60% of internet users.

Enter Google Chrome Frame

Chrome Frame is a plugin for Internet Explorer versions 6, 7, and 8 – much like Flash or a PDF reader – which seamlessly allows Internet Explorer to use Google Chrome’s web technology support and fast JavaScript engine. Web developers simply need to add an HTML tag to their webpages, which will tell Internet Explorer to switch to using Chrome’s rendering engine for that site.

This is a fantastic solution to the issues outlined above for a number of reasons:

  • For starters, the installation is a breeze – no more difficult than installing Flash, which most users have probably done without even noticing it.
  • Other than the installation, there’s nothing for the end-user to do. Most websites will continue using Internet Explorer the same way they always have. If a site needs to use Chrome Frame, it all happens magically in the background, and is completely transparent to the user.
  • There’s no need for IE users to have to install or learn an entire new browser. Again, they just keep using IE just as they did before.
  • Finally, because the use of Chrome Frame is completely opt-in on a site-by-site basis, it doesn’t change everything and ‘break the internet’. Viewing sites that require new technologies is as simple as installing a plugin for your browser.

Initial tests by Computerworld have shown IE8 using Chrome Frame to be nearly 10 times faster than usual when processing JavaScript.

For more on Google Chrome Frame, take a look at this brilliant article from Jim Ray:

Jun 8 2009

Google Wave

Google recently announced Google Wave – “a personal communication and collaboration tool”. It’s quite hard to describe but is, in a way, a combination between e-mail, instant messaging, wikis, and social networking.

Google Wave Screenshot

A ‘wave’ is a real-time collaborative conversation – it looks a bit like an e-mail, with participants (instead of recipients), and threaded conversations. However, anything can be edited at any time – you can re-write things you’ve already posted, and you can also reply to other people’s comments in-line (i.e. you can write a comment in the middle of someone else’s message). And because it’s all real-time, if multiple people are looking at the wave at once, they’ll see your changes as you type. Waves can also display images, maps, and much more. And did I mention that you can rewind and re-play conversations so you can see what changes happened when?

As I said, it’s rather difficult to explain. Andy Ihnatko of the Chigaco Sun-Times summarizes this fact quite nicely:

“I imagine that there are as many pitfalls to defining and explaining Wave as Westinghouse and Edison found when trying explaining the concept of the electrical grid to the masses. You plug a light bulb into the socket and the crowd oohs and aahs and assumes that Electricity is all about illumination; it’s a marvelous way of producing light without the open flames or soot of candles and oil lamps. Technically that’s true, but it misses the point.”

Wave has the potential to take off big-time. Google are hoping it becomes the ‘next generation of e-mail’. As such, they’re open-sourcing the whole thing, so that anybody can develop for Wave, and anybody can run their own Wave server (and any Wave server can interoperate with any other Wave server) – just like e-mail. We’ll be able to see whether Wave matches the hype when it launches to the public at the end of this year.

For another overview of Wave, take a look at Google’s introductory blog post: You can also see Wave in action, in this video of Google’s Wave Developer Preview event, where it was unveiled:

Interesting times ahead!

May 1 2009

Microsoft’s Live Search no.1 search term?

Microsoft’s Live Search no.1 search term is “Google”.

No.2 is “Yahoo”. Ha!

More here.

Big, big bucks

Google is also now the most valuable brand in the known universe, worth exactly $100,039,000,000.

How was this astronomical valuation ascertained?

“The dollar value of each brand in the ranking is the sum of all future earnings that brand is forecast to generate, discounted to a present day value.”

Apr 27 2009

Google does Morse Code

To celebrate the birthday of Samuel Morse.

Apr 23 2009

Google Launch ‘Similar Images’ and Colour Search

Google have rolled out two new useful additions to their image search.

The first allows you to search for pictures featuring a particular colour. Simply perform a search as normal, and then choose a colour from the dropdown colours menu:

For example, if you do a search for tulips, you can narrow it down to display just yellow ones, or just red ones. In fact, you can even combine two colours by fiddling the URL of the search yourself. Colour search adds a parameter to the URL of the form: imgcolor=red. By adding a comma and then another colour, you can search for a combination – for example, pictures of tulips with yellow and blue in them: imgcolor=yellow,blue!
The second update is Google Similar Images. This lets you see similar images to a particular image in your search results. So perhaps you search for London:

And you see a picture of Tower Bridge that you like. If you click the ‘similar images’ link beneath it, you’ll get back a page of… similar images!

Mar 19 2009

Google Street View Comes to Swansea

Google Street View has been around for a while, and now it’s finally come to Swansea! Street View allows you to take a virtual walk around cities across the world – for example, check out Big Ben, the Colosseum in Rome, Cardiff Castle, or even S8080 headquarters:

View Larger Map

If you haven’t used Street View before, check out Google’s Street View page, and the Street View introductory video (below).

Mar 18 2009

Split testing

Split testing in email marketing

Split testing is an essential tool when we are running digital marketing campaigns for clients. Banners, PPC, email marketing and landing pages are all tested ruthlessly – everything from send times to subtle changes in subject lines – a couple of percent can make quite a difference in CTR if you are mailing 10K recipients or achieving 30K Adwords impressions.

The secret is, don’t stop there. Split your winning subject line again, refining the copy and trigger words even further. Over time, these tests will have a measurable impact on your open/render rates and your CTR.

Split testing webpages

Don’t stop at your emarketing either. Your homepage could probably do with a bit of a workout.

Google have posted an interesting article giving some tips for webpage design in their The Power Of Measurement series. They did some split testing on their Picasa homepage with some surprising results.







Version A






Version B

Google give a few design tips too…

Now, you might be asking yourself, “With so many different aspects of my website to test, how do I know where to begin?” Here are four design tips to pay attention to:

  • Tip #1: Pass the 8 second test. At first glance, a visitor should understand the purpose of your website within a few seconds. People are busy and have limited attention spans — you want to keep them from hitting the dreaded back button.
  • Tip #2: Tell them what’s in it for them. Create clear and tangible benefits (e.g., “Save more! Make extra money! Look better with our product!”).
  • Tip #3: Use compelling images. Try product images instead of generic stock photos, icons with blocks of text, and buttons instead of links. Keep in mind that a low-quality, irrelevant image can kill your site’s credibility.
  • Tip #4: Close the sale. Help your visitors take the next step. Make that step clear and easy to reach; don’t make them hunt for it. Action words like “buy now” may work better than “add to cart,” for instance.

The bottom line, sites or marketing – don’t guess – test.

Mar 2 2009

Happy birthday Dr Seuss

The best Google header EVER!

Feb 10 2009

Google Earth’s ocean

Google Earth 5 now lets you explore the oceans too…

With ocean in Google Earth, you can:

Dive beneath the surface and visit the deepest part of the ocean, the Mariana Trench

Explore the ocean floor with top marine experts including National Geographic and BBC

Learn about ocean observations, climate change and endangered species

Discover new places including surf, diving and travel hotspots as well as shipwrecks

You can check out the HD version on YouTube

Jan 28 2009

Happy birthdays

Google wishes Jackson Pollock a happy birthday.