Are Google’s New Search Practices Relevant?


As part of our ongoing exploration of the recent changes to Twitter, Facebook and Google, we asked Zemoga’s Head of Research Russ Ward for his take on Google’s new search practices, Here’s what he had to say:

Well it is no surprise that Google has created a great deal of discussion over its new “Search plus Your World” functionality within Google +.

The chatter all over the web includes concerns over privacy rights, security and the reactions by Twitter and how it may work with Facebook. Quite frankly everyone seems to be reticulating the same news and speculation, but how much of a leap into a new world of search do these new personalized search features afford.

So lets step back and look at what this new Personal Results button really does. From Google + a search will simply yield the usual keyword based search result – so no new functionality there.

Then, by clicking on the Personal Result button a new set of results are added based on the keyword relevance of your search to keyword data indexed within the information Google knows is within your personal data either in Circles or other public data Google has matched to you. The paper clip example Google is using shows this relevance and the simple result.

In real terms this is simply an automated advanced search with results you have most likely seen before.  While being personal in nature and clever that it relates keywords to you personally, there is no real innovation here and no real ground breaking improvement to provide useful information.

But it’s what is not happening here that makes this function less useful? By default as Google is NOT scraping Twitter, Facebook or other third party social network, therefore the content presented is naturally biased by Google’s search algorithm and whatever is held in the users Circles account. It is from a search relevance perspective that this means that the Personal Results function can only provide limited results.

To put this to the test – I ran a search of my own (as a matter of disclosure I do not have any content in Google Circles) and my search results do not change in any way. This is the case with or without the Personal Results button active and occurs no matter what I search for.

The take away here is that there does not seem to be any real technological or search advantage here. Until Google gets access to other social media platforms in which you participate there is nothing more to be said because it is IRRELEVANT.


Biz Stone Clears Things Up For Us

by Sven Larsen (@svenplarsen)

Given our recent posts about Twitter and Google policy changes, it seemed only fair that we point you to MediaBistro’s coverage of Biz Stone’s clarification of Twitter censorship policies.

While it’s good to know that Twitter is retaining it’s commitment to free speech, it does point out the increasing grey zone between local law and the global nature of the net. From last year’s Wikileaks controversy to SOPA and its sister legislation, it’s increasingly unclear how governments can actually control digital content (and whether they should be trying in the first place).

Is it time to kick this up to a higher level? Should the UN or the World Court be tackling issues like this? Because despite Biz’s good natured explanation, recent discussions online have highlighted just how easy it is for corporations to arbitrarily change the rules of the net.

How do we build communications platforms that aren’t dependent on the goodwill of their inventors to maintain their openness?


Is the Net a Red State?


By Sven Larsen (@svenplarsen)

Is the net inherently Republican?

Most of my digital brethren (at least here in New York) would react violently to that concept but the events of this past week seem to validate the idea. Even if we’re talking more about Ron Paul’s Libertarian version of Republicanism than the usual version on offer.

Like most people in our industry I was happy to see the demise of SOPA and PIPA last week, pieces of legislation that were both overreaching and indicative of lawmakers lack of understanding of the digital space. And I was impressed by how the web community came together quickly and united in it protest of the legislation.

But then I got the news about Google’s new privacy policy. And Facebook’s continuing imposition of their Timeline feature. And worst of all Twitter’s announcement about censoring tweets. I’m sorry, “localized censorship” (as if censorship was acceptable as long as it didn’t happen here in the good old USA).

And while we united as one great digital community to fight off Washington, we seem to accept this behavior if it’s coming from one of our own.


Why is it acceptable for private companies to be cavalier with our personal information. Or impose features and products on us without giving us any choice in the matter? Or banning us from expressing an opinion if we happen to live in the wrong country?

Are we as a digital community saying that we don’t want government regulating Internet content, we should just let business and the free market decide how important issues are handled?

That sure sounds like Republicanism to me.

There’s nothing wrong with Republicanism. It’s a view held by a large majority of people in this country. But it’s definitely a radical change from the way the web community used to think and act. And no one seems to be drawing much attention to that.

What do you think? Is the Internet now a red state? And where are the digital democrats?


DJ’s Personal Lessons From a Decade of Digital

By Sven Larsen (@svenplarsen)

As we noted in our last post, Zemoga has been around for a better part of a decade. We’ve learned a lot as a company in that time. And our beloved CEO, DJ Edgerton has learned a number of individual lessons. So in the spirit of Friday Fun he thought he would tell you a little bit more about the knowledge he’s picked up over the last few years:

How to Eat a Fish in One Bite


How to Accept an Award Gracefully


How to Party Like a Rockstar


How to "Nail a Guy"


How Not to Take Any Bull


How to Look Dignified After All That

Check out our photostream on Flickr to see more fun photos of DJ and the rest of the Zemoga team


Lessons From a Decade of Digital

By Sven Larsen (@svenplarsen)

Remember 2004?

Bush was re-elected, the EU expanded and the world of digital was very different.

I’m musing about this because Zemoga just quietly celebrated a milestone. The anniversary of our incorporation on January 14th, 2004. While that date is our official birthday, DJ, Alejo and a stalwart team of young digital adventurers were working on projects for a couple of years before that. So it’s no stretch to say that Zemoga has expereinced a decade of digital.

Back then, our primary work was building websites, simple games and banner ads (and almost all of this work was done in Flash). No Facebook apps, no mobile sites, no augmented reality or location based projects. And the iPad and iPhone were still gleams in Steve Jobs’ eye. In those days, offering a wallpaper or a screensaver as a value added item was seen as forward thinking marketing. Our world has definitely changed.

Indulging in nostalgia can be fun but it also teaches us (or at least me) an important lesson. While our company and our industry prides itself on staying on top of the latest technology and anticipating future trends, our vision extends only so far. The pace of innovation is so fast these days that if we can predict what’s coming a year or 18 months from now, then we’re way ahead of the game. Figuring out the state of digital ten years from now? Forget about it.

With that in mind, our challenge as digital solutions providers is to keep our projects as open and flexible as possible. To not be too reliant on one platform or programming language, especially if it’s relatively new and unproven (How’s your MySpace page these days? Enjoying that HP tablet?). Apple, Google and Facebook are king right now but a decade ago we were talking about Microsoft, Yahoo and AOL. As one of our SoDA colleagues recently noted, the trick is to design for “people not platforms” and too make sure that your digital offerings acknowledge trends and fashion without being subservient to them. And when the world changes, project architecture and content needs to change with it.

It’s not just a recipe for an enduring digital offering but an enduring company.

I wonder what Zemoga will be working on ten years from now?


Social Media Week (New York) is Coming!

By Sven Larsen (@ Sven Larsen)

We’ve written so much about Social Media Week – Bogota on this blog that we would be remiss in not mentioning that the original version of the event is about to happen in our other hometown, New York City. Toby Daniels and team have put together what looks like their best event yet. Just check out some of these keynote speakers:

Alec Ross, Senior Advisor for Innovation of Office of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
Alex Bogusky, Co-Founder of Crispin Porter + Bogusky and founder of Common (we’re looking forward to seeing Alex again after meeting him at the pSFK/Al Gore event)
David Eastman, CEO of JWT North America
Don Tapscott, author of Wikinomics
Doug Rushkoff (who wrote one of our favorite books of the last couple of years, Life 2.0)
Elisa Camahort Page, COO and Co-Founder of BlogHer, Inc.
Jay Walker, Chairman and Curator of TEDMED
Reid Hoffman, Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of LinkedIn
Scott Belsky, CEO and Co-Founder of Behance

and that’s only a partial list of the Keynote Speakers!

You can find the full event schedule for New York here. And don’t be surprised if you see a bunch of familiar faces at these events as well. There’s nothing the Zemoga team loves more than hearing from the best and brightest minds in the worlds of social and digital media so we’re already filling up our calendars with the events we want to attend.

See you there!


Why SOPA Won’t Work

We were going to write a post about why we’re opposed to SOPA and PIPA (despite being in the intellectual property business ourselves). But then we found out that the brilliant Clay Shirky had recorded a video on the subject for TED. Clay argues the case much more eloquently than we ever could so pleae take a moment to watch the video (and then contact your local representative if you agree with us and Mr. Shirky).

Why SOPA is a Bad Idea


Why Aren’t We Talking About H-Commerce?


By Sven Larsen

Ed. Note: Sven originally wrote this post for our sister blog, Pixels & Pills but given the ubiquitous nature of the healthcare debate, we thought it would be of interest to the general digital community. Let us know your thoughts.

These days everyone is familiar with e-commerce. And our more social media savvy readers are probably all clued up on f-commerce (that’s Facebook commerce folks). I’ve even heard Google’s Adwords and Adsense business referred to as g-commerce. But what about the next letter in the alphabet. How come no one is talking about h-commerce?

Make no mistake; healthcare commerce online is big business (A Forrester research report projects 2012 Healthcare spending online will reach $8.7 billion). And the traffic for online health retailers is pretty impressive, too., a pioneer in the space nets 4.66 million unique users a month (and a not too shabby $416 mm a year in annual sales). But their traffic pales next to more traditional drug retailers like CVS (6.37 mm uniques per month) and Walgreen’s (10.6 mm uniques per month). And then, of course, there is the 800-pound gorilla of health info online, Web MD with a whopping 16 million unique visitors per month (to put that number in comparison, the New York Times website average 17 mm uniques per month). It’s clear that Americans are more than comfortable obtaining health information online and they’re also comfortable with online purchasing of the drugs and other healthcare products they need. So why aren’t we doing a better job of selling those products to them?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not advocating digital snake oil sales or anything similarly distasteful (or anything that might get anyone in trouble with the FDA). In fact, quite the opposite. As an industry, it’s a real black eye for us that most people associate online drug information with spam e-mails offering cheap Viagra and that most of the discussion of drug sales online revolve around things like obtaining cheap Canadian pharmaceuticals. No wonder the Pharma industry has such a bad reputation with many consumers. While drug manufacturers have sat in their ivory towers doing their best to ignore conversations with consumers, the digital space has been ceded to shady characters who have no interest in preserving brand integrity or serving patient’s needs.

Yes, we’re bound by strict regulatory requirements that preclude us using some of the traditional methods that other consumer marketers use to tout the features and benefits of their products. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t find new and better ways to educate consumers about their health and help them maintain positive lifestyles. Or even just make their lives a little easier.

Consider the plight of a young mother who has just relocated with her family to a city where she doesn’t know anyone. She needs to find a GP she can trust for her family. She needs to find a pharmacist she can trust as well. Maybe one of her children has special needs and she needs to find a local support group. Maybe she just needs to know where that 24-hour drugstore is located. Perhaps she has a prescription that has run out and no one to authorize a refill. What does she do now?

She probably looks at Yelp or one of the many sites that publish HCP reviews. She may type the name of a national drugstore chain into a search engine and find a store at random. And she will spend a lot of time online looking for resources to help her and her family. Not a problem, right? We all know young moms have nothing but time on their hands.

How much better would it be if she were able to go to a one stop portal that contained tons of information about the healthcare resources available in her community? A site that listed HCPs, local specialists, pharmacists and patient support groups. A site that also provided links to educational resources online and e-commerce partners who could help with issues of supply and cost. A site sponsored by one (or several) Pharma companies that provided a real service to the community and a positive representation of our industry online. And, not for nothing, a site that increased compliance and by extension benefitted both the patient and the Pharma company.

The above, is just one example, of ways we can interact with and benefit the end consumer, without violating FDA guidelines. I’m sure our readers could come up with numerous other ideas. The key here is to once again step outside the narrow confines of our traditional industry thinking and to learn from other players in the market. A good start would be for Pharma companies to become more active in the general conversations about online marketing and retailing that take place at sites like INTERNET RETAILER andSHOP.ORG. Ultimately, the end consumer for Pharma is a consumer and we need to realize that despite all the rules that bind us, the purchase funnel for our products is no different than any other.

What do you think? Is this the year we finally start talking about h-commerce?