A few years ago, the Internet experienced a video revolution. As broadband access expanded and more people began uploading content, video became an expected resource for consumers. Businesses could get more mileage out of television commercials and engage users by linking to video reviews of its products.
A year ago, we saw evidence of small and medium-sized business increasing budgets for video content – to be used both on their homepages and in advertisements. In 2009, 19% of businesses polled were using video (up from 5% in 2008) and I’m willing to bet that number will be much higher in the 2010 report that should come out later this month.
Now, as technology has become more affordable and increasingly mobile, we’re able to experience virtually anything online. As such, local search engines are evolving into master content synthesizers to meet the needs of consumers and advertisers alike – offering video and photos, local advertising deals, user reviews, QR codes, maps and directions, etc.
Consumer expectations of local search engines have never been higher. Users want to see photo and video reviews of a company’s products, read what other people have to say, and even take a virtual tour of your store or restaurant before they visit.
The same is true of small- and medium-sized business owners looking to find a competitive advantage. Local search engines are offering more dynamic content than ever before to users and it’s up to search marketers to help business owners feed that content.
It’s interesting to see how video content has changed since the advent of YouTube. Instead of traditional video advertising, we’re seeing new technology that lets users look around your business from their own home. Soon, we’ll be able to find virtual creations of almost any environment online – and those virtual tours are being integrated with current deals and other advertising promotions to drive traffic to your business.
Recently, a company called EveryScape partnered with Bing and YP to offer digital advertisers a new local search solution – virtual tours. For example, YP360 will let a user step inside a restaurant in Baltimore while they’re still on the train. They can choose a place and even set a reservation, all within the same application on their phone.
Google Earth has gone indoors and local search engines are responsible for bringing this detailed and vivid content to users while keeping it simple and accessible. And the business case for offering this new content to users and advertisers alike is clear as local advertising is expected to grow to $16.1 billion this year, up from $13.7 billion in 2010.
Even more, mobile phone advertising spending is expected to be more than a billion dollars in 2011, up 48% from 2010. Local search engines like YP and Yelp! are seeing over 20 million visitors a month, many of them accessing via mobile phones.
This is a great opportunity for local search engines and advertisers to embrace this new technology and get ahead of the pack. Effective local advertising goes beyond building a social networking presence and listing in directories – you have to make sure your content is engaging. In the online world, the savviest local search marketers who use this technology well will have the most successful campaigns.
I recommend that any business owner or local search marketer read up on the latest digital advertising solutions and consider offering your customers virtual tours of your products or store. To set your business apart, you need to stay current with the best that local search has to offer.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.
Related Topics: Locals Only
Ryan Gavin and Dean Hachamovitch, Marketing Guy and Engineer, respectively, for Internet Explorer, have announced that the final build and release of Internet Explorer 9 will indeed be at the party they’re throwing at South by Southwest in Texas on March 14th, 2011. They’ve decided to first announce this to their very favorite community at Channel9, a bunch of developers who are in love with the internet platform, and they’ve spoken here in a video at length what the browser will be able to do.
This browser has been in production for approximately a year, and now they’re going to release it, thanking profusely the community of developers who have stepped up to help them in making this a platform that has a chance at competing with the rest of the powerhouse browsers out in the market today. As you know, Internet Explorer
Hachamovitch will be doing a keynote at MIX 10 as well, showing off how the platform is rolling out, as a sort of “look what we did in a year” sort of thing. These two fellas sitting on the couch are super excited about this rollout and after saying what they came to say, they made sure to prompt Channel9 for what they call an “uncomfortable question.” What Channel9 decided to ask about was HTML5, to which they reply “WE’RE FOR IT!”
Of course the developer community knows this already, so the question is pressed, beyond what HTML5 can do for the everyday user, what does IE9 offer the fringe users who want features that not everyone will use? Hachamovitch replies with a sort of well, we DO do that, we’ve implemented things like Navigation Timing which “got 0% usage on the web,” he then going on to say that they’ve added items that don’t just come from developers who request things, they’ve essentially come up with elements that they and people at Yahoo, Google, and etc have spoken about behind the scenes, bringing these “fringe” features into IE9 at launch.
Essentially what they’re speaking about in this video and what will be coming with Internet Explorer 9 is depth as well as quality implementation of features. We’re hoping for the best!
Source: Detroit Red Wings' Todd Bertuzzi won't face further league discipline for hit on Ryan Johnson of Chicago Blackhawks
Red Wings forward Todd Bertuzzi won't face any further league discipline after his elbowing penalty and game misconduct against Chicago Blackhawks forward Ryan Johnson, a source told ESPN.com Tuesday morning.
Each of the employees of Tokyo Electric Power Co. and other workers engaged in containing damage at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is given 30 survival food crackers and a 180 milliliter pack of vegetable juice for ...
Read our PlayStation 3 news of PS3 Jailbreak: Hotz strikes back.
With few surprises, techies were underwhelmed with Apple’s iPad 2 announcement, but I’m confident that consumers will be thrilled with the product. Apple already had a massive lead in the consumer tablet market it created, and these “underwhelming” upgrades should keep the company comfortably ahead. Apple has given competitors an opening by sticking to 3G, and it did not further pressure them with a lower entry price point or higher-resolution display. However, Apple has three critical advantages.
1. Brand: When consumers are thinking about tablets, they say they are buying an “iPad,” not a “tablet.” The iPad was already the category and volume leader, and the iPad 2 builds on that. In this respect, Apple actually benefits from the crowd of new tablets hitting the market. If there were only one or two strong competitors, consumers would be able to weigh the pros and cons of each offering, but with dozens and dozens of options hitting the market over the next few months, decision paralysis can set in and many consumers will throw up their hands and make the “safe” choice: the iPad.
2. iTunes: The iPad is still the only tablet on the market with a huge digital marketplace for movies, TV shows, and music. Some competitors are taking steps in this direction (e.g., Samsung’s Hub), but iTunes remains a significant competitive advantage.
3. App Store: If all you want to do is browse the Web and check e-mail, any tablet will probably suffice. However, Apple has an enormous lead in purpose-built apps. The Android ecosystem is strong and app availability should improve significantly over time, but the iPad 2 is considerably more versatile than any of its competitors right now, and it appears unlikely to lose its lead any time in the near future.
So if you are competing with Apple, what should you do? Rather than copying Apple’s products, copy its old advertising tag line and Think Different.
Apple’s brand is focused on creative types (or those who aspire to be), which is why it spends so much effort creating things like GarageBand. Competitors should target IT managers, knowledge workers, outdoorsy people, or some other group and build software and hardware combinations better suited to those use cases. Of course, this will take imagination and the ability to tie hardware, software, and services together to build unique experiences. There are some companies thinking outside the box (HTC and RIM have clearly differentiated products on their roadmaps), but for the vendors who are trying to out-Apple Apple… good luck. Here are some pointers, you’re going to need them:
• Based on Apple’s financials, it is clear that the iPad with WiFi is Apple’s volume product and 3G versions are merely gravy. Why is the competition only targeting the gravy?
• iTunes remains a significant competitive advantage for Apple – I cannot easily explain to novices how to get a movie onto the XOOM. Rivals need an “iTunes” of their own, but having one just achieves parity with Apple, so partnering is an acceptable approach. However, half measures are not enough; digital media stores must include movies (including rentals) and TV shows and music. If multiple partners are used, the tablet vendor still needs to provide a common interface and single account/billing relationship.
• Nintendo has a significant base of game developers targeting the 3DS; if you cannot muster equivalent resources (for gaming, media playback, or some other use), adding 3D to your tablet is just a gimmick.
• Apple’s rivals can compete on 4G, higher-resolution displays, or a lower price. Even speed is a potential differentiator from a technical perspective; NVIDIA has quad-core processors sampling this month, so rivals could build even faster tablets for this holiday season. However, I must still caution vendors that all of these factors are irrelevant if consumers do not want your product.
Apple advertises its products as magical. They’re at the intersection of “technology and the liberal arts,” Steve Jobs said today. Something that moves your heart, not just your lust for technology. Will consumers still buy that in 2011?
The big picture question of the day is whether Apple has done it again. With the original iPad, Apple crushed its rivals, taking more than 90 percent of the tablet market in 2010 and selling more than 15 million units. Jobs predicted today that 2011 will be the year of the iPad 2. Based on what I have seen today, I think he’s mostly, but not entirely, right.
Competitors will discover that Apple has a lot of inherent financial advantages, including being a low-cost leader. That may not sound intuitive, but I believe it has to be true. It is selling so much volume of its products that it can get discounts on parts and manufacturing services that no one else can get.
When it sells its products in stores, it also doesn’t have to give away 20 percent of the margin to a retailer. That is a huge financial advantage. Carriers are also willing to subsidize the costs of Apple products in a way that they won’t with other tablet vendors. All of these things may explain why the Motorola Xoom, a very cool product, is selling for $800 while Apple has priced its new devices at $499 to $829, (and dropped the price of the old iPad to $399). Apple has also left very little room for rivals here, since it has signed up both AT&T and Verizon. Perhaps there is room for rivals to sell $199 machines, but users probably aren’t going to like them.
Those are reasons why any cool Apple mobile product could beat other rivals. But Apple has also done some smart things with the iPad 2. It has created another rev of its microprocessor, the A5, which has two cores, or computing brains. And it has nine times faster graphics than its old A4 chip. Since Apple designs this chip itself, it doesn’t have to give away much margin to a chip design firm. It only has to give a small margin to a chip manufacturer such as Samsung to make the chips.
Apple has also custom-designed the A5 to run Apple applications on a device with a 10-hour battery life. Apple should have an edge there, as it won’t sell the A5 to rivals. But if this is an advantage, it isn’t likely to last long, as Nvidia is being very aggressive with a new quad-core chip that it could sell to any Android rivals.
The design of the iPad 2 is where Apple has more advantages. The iPad 2 will have faster web-browsing with a new version of Safari. It has two cameras that will inspire a lot of video and photo-related apps. The availability of the Mac applications — iMovie, Garage Band, and Photo Booth — on the iPad 2 will make a lot of users happy. More interesting features will come with new releases of the iOS, or Apple’s operating system in the fairly near future.
There are some users who won’t like the restrictions of Apple’s ecosystem. If they want universal serial bus (USB) and SD card ports, they are out of luck. Apple didn’t change the resolution of its screen either, leaving it at 1024 x 768. Competitors could add these options and put emphasis on them as selling points. (Critics are disappointed that Apple did not improve the display, but that’s a big cost issue others have too).
Apple has also made great improvements in the feel of the product. It’s 33 percent thinner, 2 ounces lighter, and it has a wonderful new screen cover that doubles as a stand for the device. (It wakes up the device when you peel it back and it has micro-fibers that clean the screen when the cover is on).
Now here is why Jobs is not entirely right. Apple has come up with a stunning machine at prices that the competitors will have a hard time beating. But it is almost inevitable that Android-based tablets will gain market share on Apple.
So far, I don’t see the Android machine that will beat the iPad 2. But the potential is there, given ingredients such as Android 3.0, Nvidia Tegra 2 chips and other fast microprocessors, and 4G LTE. The latter is the main weakness in Apple’s armor.
LTE is fast, with a minimum speed on Verizon at around 12 megabits a second and actual speeds running much higher than that now. Getting access to 4G LTE is as big a benefit as having access to lots of cool apps, from my point of view. Right now, the timing of the still-young LTE technology means that Apple cannot yet put it into its mass-produced, lowest-cost tablet computers.
If LTE costs come down sometime soon, then Apple can launch a new version of the iPad to incorporate the technology. But it’s not a simple upgrade, as it means that the hardware of the machine — including the radio chip — has to change. And for now, LTE chips are larger than their 3G equivalents, so the heat dissipation and product size are affected. In other words, LTE can force Apple to redesign the iPad.
Apple can do that. But Android tablet makers might be able to move faster than Apple directly into the 4G LTE tablet market. If they do that, then they will have found a scenario where they could steal a march on Apple. Apple is not likely to let that gap last for a long time, but it might be enough for Apple to lose some share this year.
Apple’s leadership position in this market will be hard to beat, but the collective weight and reach of Android rivals could erode it. And here’s a sobering thought: If Apple eventually winds up with only 30 percent of the tablet market, it could still be No. 1, and its place as the largest technology company in the world will not be at risk.
Check out Apple’s overview video on the iPad 2 and Jobs’ comments on technology and the liberal arts below.
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Preview of Final Result
- PT Sans Bold – FontSquirrel
- Free App Icons for Developers – WebAppers
Open Photoshop and create a new document that is 1200 x 1200 pixels, 72 dpi, and RGB Color. Fill the layer with white. (Ctrl+Backspace or Delete)
Now create a rectangle for the header and fill it with a white-grey color, then use the colors on the image for the “Gradient Overlay”. Our search and logo will eventually be part of the header.
Create a new rectangle above the previous one, with attributes as shown below. The following drop shadow effect creates a look of a 1 pixel stroke which does increase the look of that simple bar. Note: this step creates a horizontal line.
Now add the “Gradient Overlay” layer style with the hex codes indicated.
Add a white 1 pixel stroke. The following stroke of 1 pixel will divide the grey shadow effect. It’ll eventually work as a divider.
Make one more rectangle in the middle-right zone, and fill it with white and add a 1 px stroke as indicated – it will be our search box.
One more rectangle should be created and filled with blue. Set the inner shadow as indicated below, this will be our search button. This blue works great in combination with grey, white and light-grey. Blue will be the major contrasting color we use as we work through this template.
Add the Gradient Overlay details to the button with the details from image.
Add a 1 px stroke to the button with the color indicated. Take a look at the first and the final result of the button so you can see the difference all these details made.
Now add this drop shadow effect for the text placed in the search box, using PT Sans Bold. This will be the final step in creating your search button. You may want to try other fonts, but the PT Sans Bold is really good for this small button.
Make another fill under the header section, this will be the navigation area. Here we will place the navigation links of our template.
Write your navigation links using a dark-grey color, then add a white “drop shadow” effect. The effect used for the navigation links is the same used for the search button.
With 1px vertical line, make divisions between each links. The lines should be black and will really increase the beauty of the navigation area.
Over the home section, make a fill with the blue and then add a Gradient Overlay style as indicated.
Copy the Home link, this time color it white and add a drop shadow effect.
Create a big, grey zone under the navigation, it should be about 30% of the layout. This will be the background for the featured area.
Now create a big, white rectangle and add some shadow with the details shown. A big stock image, a big headline and some text with another great button will be added.
Add a any dummy image you want to that featured area. Be sure it covers more than 80% of the area. The one I chose is from a stock website.
Add some text to it, use the PT SANS Bold font and make the font big.
The remaining area should be filled with grey, in it we’ll place some text. This is really a secondary area which describes the image, the services, the company itself, or whatever you’d like.
Place some blue-colored text which will be the title of the information below. Use the details in the image for Drop Shadow style.
Add some dummy text. This could be some important information or whatever you’d like.
Create another grey area under the featured zone, where we will add some text and icons later. Add the details as stated on the image. Mostly, the icons will promote the services offered by the company behind the website.
Continue by adding a Gradient Overlay style for the last rectangle we have created in the anterior steps.
Now we are adding titles and icons, as well as some divisions. The icons can be found in the resource list at the beginning of the tutorial. Be sure to choose your icons and text thoughtfully.
At the border of both zones, create a small circle and fill it with dark brown color. Add some inner shadow as stated on the image.
Continue by adding a drop shadow layer style. It is another small detail, but it really makes that button zone minimalistic, nice-looking and well designed.
To finish, add a Gradient Overlay effect.
By using the Custom Shape Tool (U), create an arrow in both circles. Now add the details shown on the screenshot.
Continue by adding some Color Overlay for the arrow. It should also be a blue color because otherwise, it will not fit the contrast and the colors used on the whole template.
Add a video screenshot in the free space and place a title for it. For this template, I have used a simple screenshot of a YouTube widget.
Add the text “Product Highlights” and “Case Studies.” Let the text under the “Product Highlights” be links so you could showcase some friends’ websites or resources you admire/promote.
Finish it by creating another form for e-mails, place all kind of other information, and whatever you’d like.
Don’t forget to make a relevant/small footer for our template. If you have paid attention, you should know how to create the same effect as below.
All done! If you have questions or suggestions, feel free to drop a comment. I hope you enjoyed this whole tutorial!
The major legislative item on the agenda in the Senate this week will be The Small Business Reauthorization Act (S. 493). Republicans plan to use this bill as a platform to promote critical pieces of legislation through the process of non-germane amendments to the bill. Here are some vital amendments that will be debated and voted on throughout the week:
- Senator Mitch McConnell is offering an amendment (S. AMDT 183) to prohibit the EPA from promulgating any regulations on greenhouse gas emissions. There is perhaps no force that is more destructive to our prosperity, consumer freedom of choice, and job creation than onerous cap and trade schemes. There are many red state Democrats who are up for reelection in 2012 and will be hard pressed to go on record as supporting policies that are an imprecation to the interests of their states. Make sure to call Senators Claire McCaskill, Joe Manchin, Ben Nelson, Bill Nelson, and Jon Tester in particular.
- Senator David Vitter is offering an amendment (S.AMDT. 178) forcing the federal government to sell off unused and underused property. This is a serious issue. The federal government owns over half of the land in some western states and has been using it to stifle energy development. Selling unused federal lands would also serve as a prudent means of generating revenue without raising taxes.
- Senator Rand Paul is using the SBA bill as a platform to offer his signature budget bill (S.AMDT 199) which would slash $200 billion in spending for fiscal 2011. Paul’s plan slashes funding by 50% to the Departments of Energy, Education, and HUD. This amendment represents real limited government and budget austerity and will separate the men among the boys in the ranks of the Republican Conference.
- Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison is forcing a vote (S. AMDT 197) to delay the implementation of ObamaCare until a final resolution is reached in pending lawsuits. Unlike other bills that are designed to merely ameliorate ObamaCare, this amendment would completely halt it during the ensuing legal battles.
- Senator Tom Coburn has filed an amendment (S.AMDT.184) to force federal agencies to compile comprehensive lists of all of their programs
Make sure that all of your Republican senators are on record supporting these amendments, especially Rand Paul’s budget proposal. Also, let’s see which faux moderate Democrats will commit to supporting anyone of these commonsense initiatives. Needless to say, I didn’t waste time calling my senators; Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin!
All the Yankee news you need. ... News links: Feliciano, Romulo, Chavez and the Canseco twins. Mar 2011 by Travis G - 51 comments. Around SB Nation. Mark Trumbo the new Mike Napoli, People making predictions. Halolinks. ...
Clues to events at crippled plant found in traces of radiation reaching Pacific Northwest.