Tag Archives: Google

Perception is Reality. But Whose Reality?

Tuesdays With Coleman

You’ve heard the saying, “Perception is reality.” Taken at face value, it’s not accurate. Perception can become a person’s reality.  Explained by Dr. Jim Taylor in Psychology Today, “Perception has a potent influence on how we look at reality.” Taken one step further, “Our perceptions influence how we focus on, process, remember, interpret, understand, synthesize, decide about, and act on reality.”

So, we know perceptions are important. But what happens when your perceptions are not the same as those of your consumer? You make decisions–important, impactful decisions–that influence the strategic direction of your brand based on your perceptions and not the perceptions of the people that really matter.

There’s a legendary Silicon Valley story from the first dot-com boom of the late 90s. In its telling, in 1997 when Yahoo! and Excite ruled the search engine roost, Larry Page and Sergey Brin met with the leaders of Excite to show them the potential of their new search engine. As the story goes, Page and Brin demonstrated their new product by typing in the word “Internet.” While Excite’s search was filled with non-relevant pages with the word “internet” stuffed into them, the other search included webpages that explained how to use browsers. According to the tale, Excite CEO George Bell saw the other results as too good. If users found results that quickly, they wouldn’t spend as much time on the Excite interface.

Excite was given the opportunity to purchase Google for one million dollars and turned it down.

Here’s the important part to remember. Excite didn’t turn down Google because Google had an inferior product. Excite turned down Google because of their perception that it wouldn’t benefit their business.

Remember Ask Jeeves?

In 2005, InterActiveCorp bought Ask Jeeves for $1.85 billion.

Ask Jeeves was all about perception. It had a great name that easily explained the function. It had a butler for a mascot. You could tell your friends, “I asked Jeeves about bikes and it recommended the best one for me!”

In theory that last part was true, except for the fact that Jeeves was great for a marketing campaign but not great for search results. Today, the relabeled Ask.com has only 2% of the search market and you likely tell your friends you Googled that bike and got some pretty outstanding recommendations.

Ask Jeeves was purchased for $1.85 billion in 2005. Its branding was stronger than its functionality.

Excite turned down Google at a ridiculously cheap price and InterActiveCorp bought Ask Jeeves at an overly inflated price not due to functionality, but rather because of their perceptions.

These two examples additionally validate the importance of which quadrant your brand occupies in the Coleman Insights Brand-Content MatrixSM.

In 1997, Google (which, up to the point of the Excite meeting had been known as BackRub) had great content but a weak (unknown and undeveloped) brand. Therefore, it was undervalued. In 2005, Ask Jeeves had a strong brand so it was overvalued. But because it had poor content, Ask Jeeves fizzled quickly while a company that spent a decade building a strong brand and developing great content (wonder who that could be?) dominated the market.

Brand Content Matrix

Brands should aim to be in the upper right quadrant of the Brand-Content Matrix.

Now, put this into practice with your own brands. You may think you know what your consumers really think of your brand, and you may be correct about some of those perceptions. But there are two important things to consider. First, no matter how brilliant a strategist you may be, everyone falls into the Inside Thinking trap. Because you are too close to your brand, it is very difficult to view it from the perspective of your consumer. Second, can you think of a time in recent memory (or perhaps, ever) in which consumer behavior has changed so rapidly over the course of a few months? The altering of behavior that we have experienced recently has surely impacted your brand in ways both expected and unexpected.

A “wait and see” attitude is not unusual and completely understandable during times of turbulence and economic uncertainty. But we hearken back to Taylor’s quote on perception–“Our perceptions influence how we focus on, process, remember, interpret, understand, synthesize, decide about, and act on reality.” How can your brand align itself with how it is perceived? One way is by conducting perceptual research. We can surmise that brands that invest in perceptual research, particularly during a time when perceptions may be actively changing more rapidly than normal, will have the upper hand versus brands that do not.

Google My Radio Station

Tuesdays With Coleman

When it comes to building, managing, and protecting their brand identities, radio stations rightfully tend to focus on the most important thing—the on-air product. The reputation management services help one manage and get a peek into how many stations are represented in the digital space indicates some areas of opportunity, both in brand management and Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

One easy step stations can take is to simply search for variations of the station name in Google. Use the street name, call letters, and city.  Is the station represented the way it should be?

The title tag is the headline that grabs the attention of the user. Does the title tag show the correct name and the message you want to send? For example, does the title tag indicate your station plays rock music…when you’re a talk station?

A meta description is the text underneath the title tag that follows each search listing. Are you populating this with key features you want the user to remember (music, personalities, contesting), or are you allowing Google to populate this for you?

There are character limits for both the title tag and meta descriptions. Google generally displays the first 50-60 characters of the title tag, and they increased the meta description limit to 300 characters in December, 2017. Exceed the character limit, and you could fall victim to the dreaded “…” before the end of the sentence.

Title tag and meta description Google

There are free tools available like the Title Tag Preview Tool on Moz.com.  The Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress is one of a number of tools that can help you easily navigate character limits, see previews on search engines, and assist with keyword optimization.

Is your station utilizing Google My Business (GMB)?

Google My Business

If not, you may be at the mercy of what Google shows in that expanded box to the right of the search results. Here, Google often pulls information from Wikipedia (which, as you know, is always correct) and Google Images – which can (and often does) show old station logos. These can include old positioning statements or even pre-format flip station names. Setting up a Google My Business account allows you to control that content, and can help you organically improve your SEO (read: free!). Radio stations have some distinct advantages that can be used to their advantage in GMB.

  • Images. Google likes when businesses upload lots of photos to their GMB page to “personalize” the company. Many businesses struggle with this. “How many photos can we upload of our boring office?”  Radio stations can give listeners a virtual behind-the-scenes tour.  How many pictures do you have of the lobby, studios, concerts, and remotes? How about highlighting pictures of important artists at the station or backstage standing in front of the logo?

These photos can be a great digital “teaser” to get more visitors to your landing page and can help your SEO efforts. 360 degree tours has even become a business in and of itself.

  • Reviews. When a listener utilizes Google Maps for directions to your station, they’ll see reviews from other listeners. How about encouraging listeners to write a review when you see them picking up a prize or when they stop by a remote?

Here’s an example of a florist in Raleigh, NC that is utilizing GMB. Notice how they’ve got reviews and photos to grab your attention, as well as business information. The box on the right is the length of about nine search listings. Many radio stations, without a proper GMB listing, get a brief description of about three or four listings.

Google My Business

Microsoft also has a free product available, called “Bing Places for Business”.   Here you can also set up a free account to better optimize your search results on Bing.

Radio stations are local businesses with large numbers of customers who utilize their product. If other local businesses are successfully using Google My Business, radio stations should as well.

We encourage our client stations to follow the tenets of the Image Pyramid – and to take great care that their brand is represented properly.

There’s no reason why that this shouldn’t be extended to all branding in the digital space.

Smart Branding in the Age of Smart Speakers

Tuesdays With ColemanAccording to a recent study from the Pew Research Center, many Americans get their news from social media. Breaking it down further, where is this “news” coming from? Friends’ posts and tweets? Articles? Alerts on the Facebook sidebar? It’s likely a combination of all three. The true sources of that news–brands like The New York Times, CNN, The Wall Street Journal, etc.—aren’t always getting credit for providing the news. In the same vein, many people will catch a popular show on Netflix or Hulu; they’re not always registering that the show they enjoy ran first on ABC or Syfy or some publicly-funded Norwegian broadcast network. To the consumer, it’s just content, and the source is where they find it. Brands that provide content increasingly struggle to cut through the noise and make themselves stand out.


In the traditional model, radio shouldn’t have that problem. Listeners tune in directly to a station. They might go to a station’s specific website or app that streams content similar to what one might hear over the air. Therefore, the listening experience is the same as it is on broadcast radio—promos and all.

And now comes the smart speaker.

Amazon Echo Dot smart speaker

The recently released NPR and Edison Research Smart Audio Report says that one in six Americans now owns a smart speaker. As I watch this and other new forms of audio technology spring up around us every day, I’m reminded that we have to keep promoting lest we end up as lost as one of the news sources on Twitter. While we can surmise that many people with smart speakers will ask Alexa or Google to “play Foxy 107.1”, it’s not a far stretch to imagine more people who are likely to order their smart speakers to simply “play New Jack Swing” or “launch [app from a large entertainment company].” In a few years, when we ask listeners where they get their music, we want listeners to still be able to tell us the station or broadcaster, not “my smart speaker”.

So how do audio content providers effectively cut through? When a station loses its foothold in a market—when awareness is down or the audience associates the station with a format or branding that’s long been replaced—we often advise our clients to go back to the Coleman Insights Image PyramidSM.

Coleman Insights Image Pyramid

The Pyramid starts with a well-established base music, talk or news position. Once a station has effectively communicated its base position, it can build its way up the Pyramid by growing or strengthening its images. (“Images”, in this context, are phrases and concepts that people associate with your station. These can range from, “the Classic Rock station” to “the station that rocks too hard for my taste” to “the station that has the best contests and giveaways.”) Things like sponsoring events and contests, advertising intelligently and running promos are some of the tools we recommend to make our client stations top of mind in their respective markets. Even when listeners actively choose what they want to listen to, it’s important to remind them what you are and why they’ve tuned in.

In this age of constantly growing multi-platform listening, don’t forget to keep pushing those images. Evaluate how many times per hour you’re communicating your base position. Remind them what they’re listening to and what the brand stands for. Ensure your personalities have a clear understanding of how to reinforce the position and how often. Well-communicated and produced promos can complement the listening experience. It’s wonderful when your station is available to listeners at the press of a button, the swipe of a finger across a screen or a voice command in a living room, but don’t forget to remind people who you are and why they’re there with you.