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EDU is ripe for disruption – SXSW – EDU 2012

The Education industry had a major presence at SXSW Interactive 2012. There were folks from the traditional schools, various technology providers, book publishers, and of course students.

The major themes from the show point to a potential tectonic shift in the fundamentals of how to deliver knowledge, how to measure knowledge and what today’s definition of knowledge is.

All of this was rooted in the following problems with Education these days:

  1. Education is too expensive, especially at the higher education levels
  2. Learning materials are outdated before they are printed
  3. School budgets are being cut
  4. Manufacturing jobs are expected to decline and the need for knowledge workers continues to expand
  5. New technologies allow for different types of engagement, does the concept of testing book knowledge still work?
  6. Attention spans of kids these days is becoming shorter
  7. Interest levels in key areas like Math and Science have been suffering especially in minorities and women
  8. Class sizes in the K-12 sector are too big, and many kids are slipping through the system
There is no doubt that Education has some issues. Did the SXSW 2012 conference fix any of those issues? Not at all. But it was highly effective in putting attention on the issues. I also think there are some exciting technology platforms which are helping reduce the cost and scale issues.

EDU has 3 Macro Level Issues:

  1. Cost
  2. Scale
  3. Jobs
Ultimately any form of education is intended to prepare you for a job or way to generate value for the economy. Some may argue against this but the reality is that we need to train people to keep our economy strong.
From a cost perspective, some of the most interesting models revolved around just flat out free courses.
  • Udacity.com – Spawned from the Stanford AI course, this follows the MOOC methodology and offers a certification at the end.
  • KhanAcademy.org  – this has become the darling of the industry especially within the math community. Delivering high quality lectures about complex topics.
  • MITx – MIT has been putting its courses online for a few years now, but more recently they re-focused and are now allowing for certification under these free courses.
From a scale perspective, there are a few approaches out there that were highlighted during SXSW.
  • Udemy.com – an online learning platform which allows regular people to teach others. You can either charge or host free courses. The courses can be broken up into chapters, you can host slides, videos and lecture notes in one place. You also get to see what other students are taking the class.
  • SkillShare.com – this site is focusing on local real life gatherings to teach any topic. For instance if you are Photography pro, you can find a class in Austin teaching you about digital flash photography. The course is taught in a local bar, church, outside, and for a fee usually. It is a great way to learn new things and usually focuses on passion topics. Consider this the Pinterest.com of education.
  • Virginia Tech’s – PlaidAvenger.com – Prof. Boyer teaches a physical class of 3000 students. He uses tools such as Twitter, Facebook and SpreeCast.com to interact with his students and assess them.
From a job perspective, there weren’t any platforms which allowed you to verify what you have learned. My guess is that most employers will take years to change their job requirements of “bachelor degree required” and realize that many students will not have degrees.
  • This is a major opportunity for anyone interested in building a verification system that employers will use. Consider this a Klout score for a highly dynamic education which may be drawn upon from a variety of sources.

What does this all mean for the For-Profit EDU sector and the future of the US Economy?

For the for-profit schools, there are some great opportunities to buy into these platforms. Why? Because they are amazing lead gen vehicles. People are already self identifying that they are life long learners and willing to commit to a schedule. These are key factors in creating high LTV students for schools.
Schools don’t want to give away free classes all the time. Why not let these sites help students get more accustomed to online learning and then sell them on your brand rather than jumping over the hurdle of teaching them about online learning?

The other benefit of these platforms versus the current online classes is that they help create long term communities based on interests. These platforms are built around social so they automatically pull from the social graph and help find new connections based on real world interests. As an on online student if I know more about the other people in my class, the more likely I am able to draw support from them. It is also a good way of learning when you can start to argue a point of view on a topic, which increases your critical thinking skills and knowledge retention.

From a technology perspective, these new platforms highlight that the new device formats are enabling much richer learning experiences. You can have a shared workspace while video chatting with other students on a iPad  these days. Why are our schools focusing on an one way old format of video lectures? The key is not just being social, but it is about convergence. How can we leverage video, the social graph, and instant communication to create higher knowledge retention and much higher levels of engagement. The focus must shift from learning to pass a test to learning because you are truly interested in a subject.

Another major point of the new technology platforms is that the courses are asynchronous. They allow people to learn when they have time. Most people drop out of school because they have a major life event which reduces their free time. Why not be able to pay for a course and learn it for a period of 2-3 years? Why can’t the online schools be more flexible for the reality of life?  Loyalty and brand in the Education space will be built upon not only the quality of education but it will also be based on the “realness” of the education. Does the school realize I might have a kid this year? Does the school realize I might lose my job this year? Does the school teach me what I really need to know for my dream job?

From a cost perspective, I think schools will start to offer a la carte degrees. The requirements of liberal arts classes in an economics degree are what upset people these days. You have to $50k a year to learn stuff you have no interest in. How about I spend $30k and learn exactly what I want and need? Online schools are capable of shifting resources from an operational perspective much faster than a traditional school. Why not take advantage of this “curated approach” to learning and create more students that stay in school.

The US economy has much to gain from these platforms. It will enable thousands to learn new skills necessary for non-manufacturing jobs. The learning platforms also preserve older trade skills which are quickly being lost, for instance how to make jelly at home.

None of these new platforms will drive major long term growth for the economy unless employers accept them as valid learning systems.  The term “life-experience credits” will be increasingly important. From a financial point of view, these new learning systems delivering value at scale and in a cost effective format will help reduce our dependence on student loans and allow for greater expendable income at a younger age. Imagine how many more 20 year olds may purchase long term assets instead of servicing their loan payment?  From a macro economic point of view will drive significant increases in wealth and lead to greater stability in the economy.

I think EDU is being targeted for a disruption, especially under the current Democratic administration. Will this top down approach yield a true revolution in EDU? It is too soon to tell, but November 2012 will be a good time to check in again….

Education at SXSW 2012

SXSW Interactive 2012 is quickly wrapping up and it was an exciting show to say the least. The amount of information being shared and created was just tremendous.

There were some clear themes in the show that revolved around education, healthcare, curating social, mobile and government reform.

Given the rather upbeat tone in the economy these days, not much was said about flow of cash since it is assumed that the money is there and flowing.

Education specifically exhibited some extremely strong undertones of things changing very soon. The overall themes within education revolved around the following topics:

  1. Education is too expensive.
  2. Current schools and curriculums are not flexible enough to incorporate new technologies.
  3. Retention of information seems to be a new metric rather than focusing on the brand of the school. However the metric itself is measured in pro0longed engagement rather than a letter grade.
  4. Scale is a huge issue. How can you teach more people and keep costs manageable?
  5. With scale, the paradigm of one to many shifts to many to many teaching. The group itself starts to teach itself and automatically clusters at scale.
  6. Non-traditional learning tools may revamp the education system.

When observing the different tracks at SXSW, it is clear that the traditional schools are eager to change but do not know where to go. Sites like skillshare.com, udactiy.com, udemy.com and khanacademy.org are leading the way. They are creating new communities of people that want to learn and teach without the need to earn a degree or certification.

A very interesting talk by the Plaid Avenger Prof. John Boyer of Virginia Tech emphasized that you can create engagement and knowledge retention even with classes of 3000 people. He creates environments for the students and allows them to develop them around current political topics. From his lecture you can easily see that his methods are un-orthodox but highly effective for some students. It allows the millenials to engage in technology that they know well and integrate learning into their daily routine rather than setting aside time to read an out of date book.

I personally see Prof. Boyer’s as a hybrid model which is a way for traditional schools to incorporate new ideas but it may have long term scale issues. Will his model have any effect on the for-profit sector? Probably not, he is still dealing with the traditional learner who is able to get into a school like Virginia Tech to begin with.

From the various discussions it is also clear that technologies like the iPad are being heavily integrated into the K-12 space. Book content for these devices is available but doesn’t take full advantage of the capabilities of the device. Many people in the audience also felt that just taping lectures and putting them online was not sufficient. Without the interactivity the concept of online delivery is faulted.

Is there a clear guide to online delivery? Not yet. I think the reason that people don’t understand what they want to deliver online is rooted in the fact that they are not sure if their core metrics around institution quality are still valid.

Is a person’s measure of knowledge based on his or her grades or his or her ability to digest a topic and effectively argue for or against it? Lastly, how does all this relate back to the brand? I don’t get a feeling that the Harvards of the world want everyone to be a Harvard alumni.

Even though the masses think that college is too expensive, there will always be a population that is willing and able to pay for a premium brand. The larger debate is that does everyone need or want a higher education? Without a clear consensus on this you will not see any major government reform in the near future for this sector.

One thing that was not really covered at SXSW was how employers will deal with all these new education platforms. If you were hiring a fresh college grad that only took classes with 3k people in them, would you be concerned about the quality of their education? If a person took relevant clases on a site like SkillShare.com how would you asses their knowledge within organization?

In the next 12 months, I strongly recommend trying out sites like SkillShare.com and Udemy.com. The educating sector is ripe for a massive restructuring.

Rep. Speier and Sen. Carper attack GI BIll Benefits

On February 15, 2012, Rep. Speier (D-California), and Sen. Carper (D-Delaware) introduced a bill that would rework how GI BIll benefits would be counted under the 90/10 rules within the for-profit sector.

The 90/10 rule was meant to limit for-profit schools from getting all of their income from the Federal government in the form of Title IV loans. The unfortunate outcome was that some schools signed on a lot of students who didn’t do well academically and dropped out. Since they took federal student loans they were not able to default on the loan and became saddled with debt and no degree.

The 90/10 rule was aimed at making sure the for-profit sector would raise academic standards and become less reliant on federal student loans. One of the ways to help that 90/10 ratio was to bring on more military students with GI Bill benefits.

With this new bill by Rep. Speier and Sen. Carper, the GI Bill Benefits would be lumped in with the Federal student loan amounts. This has some unfortunate side effects for the education industry and for the the schools themselves.

  1. The for-profit growth rates will be further cut due to a loss of a very strong audience. This will negatively affect the stock prices for the publicly traded schools long term.
  2. The veterans themselves may not be accepted to certain schools depending on their financial situation. This limits the veteran’s educational choices. Online education is a great path for military members since their curriculum can be delivered anywhere. The curriculum is also flexible for members who are on active duty or have to go for deployment. Veterans need these options.
  3. GI Bill benefits are earned through military service. They do not have to be paid back and are not considered to be “loans.” Lumping them into the loan category is misleading. Are they federal funds? Yes, but we gained valuable protection for our country from these individuals. We owe it to them to give them as many educational choices as possible.

If you oppose this bill, please write to your local representative or senator. If you want to contact Rep. Speier directly, you can call her at (202) 225-3531. You can contact Sen. Carper at 202-224-2441.

Apple’s billions – Buy Everyone an Education!

As everyone knows, Apple made $46.63 billion dollars in 14 weeks.

They also mentioned they had close to $97.6 billion dollars in cash on hand.

These figures by themselves are quite staggering. A recent article on the airspace.net estimated what you could do with $46 billion in cash.

One of the things that caught my eye was that you could buy every 18 year old in America a 2 year degree.

Take a moment to think about that.

What if everyone 18 year old in the US was educated. Yes, this would be a socialist idea, but imagine the amount of wealth that would be created by that many more educated people in the US.

There are major pluses and minuses with this idea.

If everyone was educated, there would be too many people refusing to do blue-collar labor. There are simply not enough white collar jobs at the moment to support that many new graduates within 2 years.

The military would suffer since many recruits wouldn’t need the GI Bill benefits.

The value of a degree would essentially go down since everyone would have one. Only a bachelor degree or master degree would create distinction.

However, on the positive side:

1) Student loans would be massively reduced, pumping billions in to the economy from expendable income.

2) Shortages in key industries like teaching and nursing would be solved.

3) It would force a whole new way of learning. – Let me explain.

From an operational point of view, there is no way to absorb that many new students in to the educational system. Schools, and technology companies would have to team up to create one of the greatest revolutions known to man. The ability to deliver high quality learning and testing to a mass audience at an extremely low cost.

I think models like the MOOC would rise rapidly and new online learning platforms would arise. I also think things like iBooks2 will explode. Systems like Knewton.com would also become mainstream.

Older traditional schools would grasp at straws for “elite” students but will soon realize their curriculum needs to evolve also.

Could Apple reasonably go 14 weeks with no revenue? In theory yes, but in reality no. Could a series of billionaires team up to donate this much money and revolutionize the world? Yes.

Who would reasonably push back against this? First the unions, then the traditional schools and even the govt saying it is socialist.

How can the masses make this work? Push the idea through critical mass. If we cut out just 6.7% of the US military budget to fund a project like this we might put our youth on track to find a cure for cancer, and solve global warming. Education is key. Help support it by imagining new ways to deliver everyone in our country an education.

 

 

Note – I do not advocate cutting the US military budget. It is just an example of scale.

 

Google+ Your World + Online Advertising

If you are in the online advertising industry you will want to read this.

And when I say online advertising, I mean if you have any work involving SEO, SEM, SMM, YouTube, Facebook, Bing etc… The recent change by Google really impacts alot of us.

If you want to skip the examples and find out what you should do as an advertiser click here.

If you want to skip to the summary click here.

What did Google just change?

Google integrated social results from their Google+ network into regular search results on Google.com for people signed in. This is not your usual algorithm update. This doesn’t really change how they rank you but what else they might show before an old school SEO ranking.

What did this change really do?

If you are signed in, it has changed the whole meaning of SEO. Google’s concept of a ultra deep index is quickly being destroyed. They are trying to give you one page which has versions based on who you are associated with. Here is a quick example of Google + world in action.  As you can see in the video – the results from Google+ are not well organized at all. I think I would be frustrated by the random organization for certain searches. I could see this working well for seeing what videos your friends are watching. Eg – That Rebecca Black video…

Here is what has changed from what I can observe. Note Google is rolling out the features over the next few days, so things may continue to change.

Top things that changed:

1) Ads on branded terms have been reduced in many instances. Many product ads now showcase pictures. If you search for Ipod. you will get a graphic like this in your search results.

2) Mentions of terms by friends in your Google Circles can change page 1 results completely. Google+/Circle results now show like a news feed.

3) It looks like the right column is now widened significantly. You will now see maps on the right and youtube links.

4) Generic terms like “insurance” “online education” don’t seem to be affected just yet. This is partially because many lead gen players have not created Google+ pages with their brand name or key terms.

5) The Google mobile search results are different too since most mobile users are signed in. (Screenshots on AbsoluteVariety.com)

6) Twitter results are no longer part of the index.

7) The number of search ads shown when you are signed in may be greatly reduced due to all the new types of content being shown in the search results.

8) CTRs of text based search ads may drop since there are so many images / different types of content on a search page now. Text ads easily get lost.

9) Search ads can be interactive now. See the REI example on AbsoluteVariety.com. This looks like a feature isolated to products that can be reviewed on Google Products.

10) Being on Page 2 of Google now is completely useless.

I did a few sample searches signed in on Google. Here are the videos:

H&M – considered to be one of the largest brand pages on Google+. This is a good example of a brand that is interacting with people on Google+ but doesn’t offer them a way to purchase anything.

Ford – Another large brand on Google+ now has its organic results greatly modified. Ads are pushed down on the page and a Map/Google+ pages are more prominent.

Here is a quick example of how the new Google+ results show up on an Android phone. As you can see there are still some bugs to be worked out with Google+ and how they have constructed their URLs. This is for the same search term “ford.”

Next up is an example of a local school listing for Grand Canyon University Phoenix. They have registered a place location, listed a phone number and have reviews. It seems like they do not have a Google+ page yet though.  Key takeaway from this video is to list an inbound lead gen phone number on your Google Places page along with a regular phone number if possible. Keep in mind not everyone wants to be sold something if they are calling a school…

 

What should I do if I am advertising online?

1) Set up a Google+ Brand page – Tutorial is here 
Official business sign up for Google+ is here 
key with building a Brand page is to make your profile as complete as possible. Pictures, Videos, Tags, Descriptions, Locations etc. All must be filled in.

Note – Vanity URLs in Google do not exist yet.

Consider this page on Google “social insurance” just in case Google + starts taking off and people start using both Facebook and Google+ regularly.

2) Ask people to +1 your page or posts. Make sure you +1 your own content when it is published.

3) Audit your search accounts. You may need to implement a more aggressive search strategy to stay in the top 3 spots. Also check impression volume over the next week or so.

4) Start using Google+ regularly to get familiar with the interface.

5) Talk to your Google rep. Ask them to be part of any beta product they offer.

6) Physical campuses should be listed in Google Places and rated if possible. EG – Search for your school brand in your city or where a campus might be. Examples on AbsoluteVariety.com.

7) Find universal connectors to help distribute your brand. Celebrities are a great way to do this. They have massive followings. You want to be friends with the popular kid. Welcome back to 8th grade….

8) Make sure all of your ALT tags on images and videos are updated with brand oriented keywords.

9) Fact remains – Facebook dominates the social space. Take the Google+ talk with a grain of salt. I suspect that people still spend more time on Facebook than they do on Google. From a cost benefit point of view, Facebook is still a better use of resources. However, plan for the future, especially mobile since Android is growing rapidly.

10) Create content that is truly shareable and high quality. Make sure to ask people to share the content at the end of each article/video/form etc.

11) Stay tuned, I am sure as the weeks go by there will be more info on how this change affects all of us.

12) Last but not least – always include a link or CTA in each post. Check out this example from H&M.

Summary

 
I think Google has made a good attempt at changing what search means. The reality is that the old model didn’t make sense anymore. People don’t want 2 billion results. They want to know what their friends are doing and know what the general public thinks of a topic first.

However, I think this change blocks out key data from sites like Facebook, Twitter, and other “authority” sites which heavily skews the results which you see. If none of your friends are on Google+ this has virtually no effect on you. You are not getting any of the benefits.  This does not give you a realistic view on what the world thinks since not everyone is on Google+.

If you are a company running paid search campaigns, your CTRs will start change simply because your ads are not as prominent and may not be verified by a friend in your circle.

The other downside of this change is that if the search ads are so heavily compressed or moved down on the page, Google’s revenues will start to move in the wrong direction. I suspect that this change will not go away but it will be iterated upon. There will be new ad units and new cost per click models based on the results presented.

The other part of this equation is that in the next few years, people will be doing more voice searches via technologies like Siri. This move towards voice will also require a massive change in terms of UI for Google. I think Google is moving much faster with their new leadership but without the critical mass in Google+ alot of this new strategy could work against them.

Keep an eye on the following in the next 6 months:

1) Voice search

2) TV search

3) Facebook potentially revamping their search engine.

4) True growth of the Google+ user base.

5) Ipad 3 & Apple TV.

All have major implications on Google.

 

 

SkillShare – Why Brands clutter the value prop

SkillShare was named one of 6 startups to watch in 2012 by Mashable. Mashable is notorious for making lists but one site on there interested me quite a bit.

SkillShare is like a mashup of KhanAcademy and meetup.com. It intends to help teach people a variety of skills in local live settings by “experts.”  The interesting thing is that the experts are not vetted in any way, but I could see this model becoming huge. People are hungry to learn, especially things they are passionate about.

But what happens if you needed to learn something for your job like advanced excel functions. Lets say there is a course on SkillShare in your city. You take the course, learn the material and master it. Now how do you prove this to your employer or potential employer?

Skillshare will spread like wildfire since it has a large social component which I think will mimic Spotify. EG – it is always posting to your Facebook profile saying what courses are following, subscribed to and will allow you to invite friends.

The manifesto on the skillshare site takes direct aim at the higher education market saying it is broken because it costs too much and just gives them a piece of paper.  They never seem to answer how skillshare can help you get a job in a more efficient manner than a college degree.

I am digressing from my main point, people love these simple models of learning. The value of learning a tangible and/or passionately oriented skill is apparently more valuable than getting a formal degree to many. Maybe I should revise that statement. I don’t think anyone would discount the value of a Harvard degree, but people may not see as much value in a for profit education degree. Why is that?

I think it is partially due to the fact that people falsely associate an image to a brand which they have no experience with. Their brand impressions are usually derived from popular media and friend circles. How many of us have actually compared a course at Harvard versus a course at a school like University of Phoenix? We have no basis for our judgement. However, when we get something that is unbranded and immediately delivered like a SkillShare course we find satisfaction much quicker.

In the case of SkillShare the lack of a brand teaching you something apparently helps the people choose courses just based on convenience and level of interest. I can see in the near future people opening “channels” on SkillShare and trying to develop a brand. This might be the wrong way to go. Keeping things generic allows people to judge quality just based on the content, not the teacher, not the tests, not the alumni network. And most importantly the judgement comes from personal experience.

It will be interesting to see how SkillShare evolves, but let this be a reminder that providing high quality services and products is more important than any social strategy or branding statement.

Consumer Finance Protection Bureau

On January 6th, President Obama nominated Richard Cordray as the director of the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau. The CFPB was created after 2008 under the Dodd – Frank act which is supposed to help consumers avoid another large financial crisis like in 2008.

The CFPB had largely been ineffective since that time since it didn’t have a director. With this nomination, it gives this organization much more structure and a definitive set of industries to target.

Richard Cordray has mentioned he intends to go after the mortgage industry and payday loan industry. One their website – consumerfinance.gov you can also see that they are targeting student loans.

What does all of this mean for the online marketing industry?

The first potential outcome is that this agency starts to go after advertisers who use email, display, search, etc. You may see a few companies go out of business for false advertising. EG – Saying you can get a mortgage at X percentage. This statement might be true, but without the proper disclosures of saying “available to those with tier 1 credit,” a company is implying that anyone is eligible for the mortgage.

This clearly applies to Education also. Companies who stating that you can get a high paying career if you get a degree might be under the attack from this bureau.

I can potentially see mortgage advertisers and payday loan advertisers have to add significant disclaimers to their ads which inherently ruin the click through rates. If you take a look at the pharma industry, they barely advertise since there are so many regulations around what they can and cannot say.

Personally I think mortgage and payday will continue to buy media aggressively but they may have to pay more to the affiliates and media sources to make their offers work.

Will the affiliates continue to run these offers?

Yes. There will always be affiliates who are willing to take the risk. There are also larger affiliates who are well insured and have implemented safety control procedures to stay in the vertical. If I was an advertiser,  I would be asking more questions to my affiliates/vendors about what sort of controls they have in place and if they understand the Dodd – Frank act to begin with.

Here is a link to a laymen’s version of the Dodd-Frank act. 

Here is the full act in Government speak.

What should I do if I am an affiliate?

If you are an affiliate who is in the mortgage space or payday loan space you should check with your lawyer to see if you have adequate Errors and Ommissions liability coverage.  If you need a suggestion of a person who can get you E&O insurance, please email me directly.

You should also check all your contracts to see how advertising liability may flow back to you and what jurisdiction the contract is written in.

Conversation Driven Companies

I was watching a video on Pepsi’s “mission control” system which helps monitor the entire ecosystem of people talking about Pepsi products, especially Gatorade.

Their head of Global had some important insights into how they monitored the data and what they did with the data. The one insight that really stood out to me was that he was trying to re-invent the way the company thought about the consumer and integrate it into every division of the company. He is essentially injecting a new corporate culture into the system.

Also this week there was a prominent article about how the CEO of Atos is trying to become a zero email company by 2013.

Both of these large companies are ushering in a new phase of how we do business. In many cases it is just returning to good old business where you have real conversations with your customer one on one. It comes down to delivering a quality product, focusing on the relationship and not focusing on building archaic processes for the sake of documentation.

In the long run I think this will hopefully make business not only move faster but also enhance our basic people relationship skills.

Most companies will not be able to implement anything near what Pepsi has done in terms of monitoring the thousands of conversations that are happening at any point in time. Most companies won’t be able to get off their dependency of email.

Reality is that you don’t need to shift everything at once, but it makes sense to start integrating the consumer into your daily life at work.

Question yourself, does this process, task or product directly benefit the consumer? Is it really what they want? If you don’t know the answer to those questions, go ask the consumer directly. All of us are eager to give our opinions…

Responsive Web Design for Lead Generation

If you have reviewed your Google Analytics account lately you will notice that a large portion of your users are now accessing your campaigns via mobile devices such as phones and tablets.

If you have been in the lead generation industry for a while, your pages are most likely not coded correctly to render well on these devices.  Imagine if 30-40% of your visitors are not seeing your webpages the way they were originally designed.

What would that do to your conversion rate?

You know your media prices are going up, your compliance costs are going up, and all of a sudden your conversion rates are dropping. Margin is being crushed because he overall market is changing how they consume data.

Time to invest some time in learning Responsive Web Design.

Responsive web is essentially a CSS sheet on steroids. It plans for a variety of devices and platforms so your actual site renders in a very user friendly way every time.

Do you need to consider all browsers and devices? No. Start by looking at your Google Analytics data to see how your current users are coming in. Prioritize those first.

Some good examples of responsive web design can be found here. 

As you can see from these examples, this is for basic web information. It alters placement of navigation, sizes of images etc. However, in many lead generation situations this is not optimal.

Being in online marketing we need to do more testing with actual consumers about how a resized form may convert.

For instance – take a look at this form – 

The form on the left is a screenshot from a 13 inch laptop screen using Safari and the pic on the right is the same page on an Android phone using Chome.

The page resizes to the phone screen but all the text resizes at the same rate. Much of it is too small to read without zooming.

In a better case scenario, the drop down menu would be much larger on the phone screen, text larger and the call to action button larger. I would also recommend testing the page on an actual Android device for both right and left hand users. The placement of the button for a right thumb could help conversion dramatically.

I would also get rid of the orange bar and potentially rework how the large number “1” is displayed. The goal is to make the page as light weight as possible so it loads fast on a slower mobile connection.

Lastly I would rework the BBB and Verisign logos to be more influential on the mobile page. With such little copy and virtually no branding you want to assure the user their info is safe.

Key takeaways –

1) Look at your visitor data for each campaign to see what type of devices your users most commonly using.

2) Test pages on real devices to see how they look and feel. Optimize for the thumb as the main input, not a mouse.

3) Augment your CSS to detect and serve pages according to the device or OS.

 

Why Won’t TV Die?

A certain group of people have been making the move to cut off their cable TV subscriptions since they feel they can get all their relevant content online.

This may be true in some cases.

However, if you think of how the interent is structured and created, one very important thing has not really taken root yet.

Group Creativity.

We have social, we have communication up the wazoo but we don’t have a really good way of creating high quality entertainment together. TV which has been around for decades is the result of high quality programming which is put together but a professional team. It involves scores of people from writers, sound editors, camera crew, producers etc.

All of those resources are available online but being virtually connected has not really allowed us to work on a project with a unified vision together.

One of the reasons this hasn’t happened is because the internet doesn’t really have a hierarchy or titles. People are all the same and no one is able to take a lead and direct others. There is no producer nor director.

Something like #Occupy Wall Street will continue to be a nuisance untile a leader with a unified message appears. That will focus the attention, creativity and power of that group in one place. Call it laser theory. Once the energy is concentrated it can be used to impact others. Without the concentration the energy is still there but it has less of an impact and essentially goes wasted in the system.

I am looking forward to the day when an online platform helps establish a real team, with real deadlines, a singular mission, and a high quality end product. That is when we will see the internet kill of TV. Until then, I think TV is around for the long haul. The quality is just unsurpassed by anything else online at the moment.

Imagine if there was a Google of only original content? Soon hopefully.