Google Adds Handwriting Recognition to Search

Google has just released a new feature that falls into the “cooler than it is practical” category of updates. It’s called Handwrite, and it’s the ability to search Google simply by writing on your mobile phone or tablet screen.

When I saw this, my first thought was, ‘wow, we’re moving backwards.’ Think about it. We developed voice recognition to get the hands out of the process. Driving? No problem, just tell Google what you want. Carpel Tunnel? No handwork involved. Easy.

But Google insists that there are times when voice activation and even keyboard use is impractical.

“Say you’re standing on a busy street corner, in a bumpy taxi ride, talking with a friend, or sitting on the couch with your tablet.”

Twitter Goes Hollywood and Gives You a Chance to Relive the Past

Twitter has also been on a “new and improved” rampage over the last few months and it looks like there’s even more in store. Yesterday, I wrote about how Twitter is pushing to become more of a news maker and less of a news aggregator with their Olympic hub site and interactive content.

Now, I see that Twitter is talking to Hollywood producers about producing video content for the blurby network. As crazy as that sounds, we’ve already seen a Twitter account turn into a TV series, so why bring the TV series to Twitter?

This week on Law & Order: Special Tweeting Unit, the team investigates a series of death hoax Tweets in #justinbieberisnotdead

Foursquare Adds Another Option for Marketers: Promoted Updates

Oh Foursquare, you’re making me dizzy with all these new changes and options! Last week it was the Local Update, this week it’s the Promoted Update.

What’s the difference? Dollars.

The Foursquare Local Update option is a way to communicate with your fans via short posts that appear on their wall, kind of like that other social media network. These posts are free to send but they only go out to people who have checked-in to your location.

Promoted Updates go out to any user in your area who might be interested in what you have to offer. For example, if I search for lunch venues in Laguna Beach, I might see a Promoted Update from a new cafe I’ve never tried. So, basically it’s Adwords for Foursquare, which is pretty neat.

Why Twitter’s Olympic Coverage is Good For All Marketers

Later this week, a huge portion of the world’s population will be tuning in to watch the Olympics on TV, on the internet, and on their mobile devices. Riding high on this media wave is Twitter, the official digital communication partner for NBC’s coverage.

In the past, we’ve seen Twitter streams integrated into sites for events such as The Super Bowl and we’ve seen Twitter rise to the top as the source of information during a natural disaster. This time, though, Twitter isn’t just reporting the news, they’re actually becoming a part of the experience.

The Twitter hub at NBCOlympics.com is like nothing we’ve seen before. Here’s a partial screenshot. The full site is so big and so deep, I’d need at least ten shots to cover it all.

Banner Ads Give Way to Rich Media as Mobile Monetization Continues to Climb

A year ago, it was social media marketing that was growing and changing right before our hours. Now that the dust has settled somewhat, it’s mobile’s turn.

The State of Mobile Advertising report from Opera shows big changes in a short period of time as advertisers learn to take advantage of the mobile landscape.

Opera cataloged the ad types on their network comparing January of this year to June. Take a look:

In six short months, expandable banner ads decreased by half and video more than doubled. The big news is in HTML5 Rich Media ads, which are slowly taking over mobile advertising. These are the ads that feature video, slideshows, music, and interactive elements. This is good because interactivity equals engagement and that equals more time spent with your brand.

In Grocery Stores We Trust. . . Facebook, Not So Much

I’d start this post by saying that people don’t trust Facebook, but that wouldn’t really be new news, would it?

How about this? People trust grocery stores more than they trust Facebook with their personal data. To quote Larry the Cable Guy, “now that’s funny, right there.”

This revelation comes from a poll conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of Placecast. Placecast is in the location-based, mobile messaging market, so they’ve got a little stake in the outcome of this report, but nothing to be suspicious about.

Here’s how it shakes out. Placecast has been doing a series of studies under the umbrella of The Alert Shopper. Their goal is to find out how shoppers feel about different kinds of marketing. In this, their third time out, they asked folks to think about their privacy as it relates to personal data for promotional purposes.

Parents List Free Shipping As Biggest Incentive in Online Back-to-School Shopping

The secret to back-to-school sales success? Free shipping.

PriceGrabber just released more data from their yearly Back-To-School Shopping Forecast. Last month we learned that parents are going to start shopping sooner and nearly half said they expect to spend more than last year.

If you want some of that money to flow through your online store, here’s the line-up of incentives shoppers are looking for:

 

As you can see, sales are also a big incentive to buy, but almost every store on land and on the web is going to offer some kind of back-to-school sale, so it’s tough to stand out. Free shipping, on the other hand, is a rarity.