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We ate entirely too much Sbarro.

Hey, it was a quick meal fix in a pinch and there was so much at CES to view / listen to / play / swipe / poke / drool over, that a microwaved pizza slice was often the best option. The three-to-five minutes that it took to inhale a triangular piece of mediocrity was ample time to reflect on the handful of key themes that kept popping up across the miles of exhibitor floorspace, conference track events and flashy keynote speeches. Back at the office, I managed to gather my tomato-sauce-stained notes and expand on the most prominent dynamics from this year's CES.

The Year of the ________?

In most years at CES, there is typically one product or category that grabs all the media attention and consumer buzz. Last year tablets were the big craze. But there doesn't appear to be a clear winner this year. Some may argue that the emergence of Intel's Ultrabook category won that right with a dizzying number of models released from leading brands, while others may contest that OLED TVs were the next must-have. Aside from those two examples, there weren't really any 'game-changers'?. Maybe it wasn't a product or category at all but a trend known as the 'ecosystem'?'?¦

Owning the Ecosystem

If we had a nickel for every time the word 'ecosystem'? was uttered, we'd have a big ol' bag of nickels. But what does this new buzzword mean? Simply put, the ecosystem is the synergy created by a single provider that can offer users hardware (devices), software (an operating system), content for those devices (music, e-books, games, apps, etc.), and an online marketplace to purchase content ' all working together seamlessly. Apple has this structure in place now ' you can download a book from iTunes, read it on your iPhone on the train home from work bookmark your spot when your stop arrives, then resume reading from that point on your iPad while reading from the couch when you get home. Because it took Apple years to build and integrate this model seamlessly, they're in the leadership position and competitors are scrambling to catch up.

In most cases, one single company does not have the necessary resources in place to handle an across-the-board solution so they have naturally turned to strategic partnerships or acquisitions to fill-in the gaps. Last year the industry saw these building blocks being put into place. In February, Nokia and Microsoft announced a strategic alliance where that mobile cog helps Microsoft build out their own ecosystem. In April, Dish acquired Blockbuster's assets from bankruptcy auction, giving them more content firepower against a slew of competitors in DirecTV, cable networks and Netflix. Finally in October, Sony bought out Ericsson (you'll see the 'Sony Ericsson'? brand phased out in favor of 'Sony Mobile'? in the next few months) in a move that gave Sony complete control of the device end and allows for future integration opportunities with PlayStation 3 and content from the PlayStation Network.

To best understand the marketing implications of this ' first marketers must understand how consumers engage with these devices. Long gone are the days when a consumer sat in front of a TV with undivided attention. Today, that consumer could very well be using multiple devices at the same time. It is the responsibility of the agency/advertiser to understand the best way to reach the audience across multiple screens through a comprehensive brand experience. The benefit of these ecosystems is the ability to provide an integrated, one-stop solution across all touchpoints completely customizable to the assets (physical or digital) available. However, the downside is the device fragmentation, where consumers have multiple devices but not from the same manufacturer / ecosystem ' then that synergy and compatibility is lost.

Convergence on Convenience

In this ecosystem model, the ability to move from device to device with similar entertainment content is the ideal experience. There is a similar dynamic of interoperability through a 'connected'? home where various 'smart'? devices, appliances and systems work together for a more functional, efficient and cost-friendly residence. Imagine being able to get a text from your fridge to remind you to pick up more eggs because it knows that you're running low and you're close to the grocery store. Or maybe your bathroom shower mirror is voice controlled with the ability to give you today's weather and top news stories as you get ready for work.

These experiences are getting closer to reality and as they do the ability to enhance existing behaviors will come with it as well. For example ' your fridge then sends you a coupon on premium free-range eggs (because it syncs with your search/browsing history and recognizes that you're a foodie with a golden heart). Or your bathroom shower mirror gives you headlines from the New York Times that you can bookmark and sync to your phone to read on your drive in ' all included with a single NYT subscription.

Such emerging communication channels and opportunities may be a few years off. Fragmentation issues will still remain and there needs to be sufficient consumer demand for market viability but it's interesting to think about how a truly connected home might affect our day to day lives.

3DTV Today and Beyond

3DTVs aren't going anywhere. There's still a battle between active glasses (battery-powered, with a lens shutter) and passive glasses (polarized lenses like the kind you get at the movies). There were only a few autostereoscopic or 'glasses-free'? models on the exhibition floor ' mostly in some beta form from the big CE brands or offered by smaller specialty companies. In past years, the adoption of 3DTV was a 'chicken vs. egg'? scenario ' content was scarce so consumers didn't want to spend for the extra capability that they would use minimally and content creators and distributors didn't want to front the cost against a small universe of capable TVs. This was the same growth pattern that HDTV went through about a decade ago. But now, with most new higher-end sets featuring 3D capability (at a marginal cost), there is less consumer trepidation, especially when considering dedicated 3D television channels (ESPN3D, 3Net, etc.) and an ever-increasing slate of 3D movies released each month. All of this points toward consumers becoming more comfortable with 3D engagements.

That doesn't necessarily mean that the format will lose the luster of its impact entirely ' it just needs to be approached with caution. While it's easy to fall into the trap of creating gimmicky content (i.e. a soccer ball flying out of the TV), the approach should be the same as any other advertising medium where the focus is on the message and communication to your target audience first, not the effects. Designers don't say 'holy crap, we HAVE GOT to put a lens flare on this'? then build a concept using that as a starting point. Once that message is crafted, a few ideas to potentially explore are applications that can show size and scale (i.e. various classes of pickup trucks), precise details (i.e. industrial design of a sleek new handset), or use to provide depth to a scene / environment (i.e. panoramic shot of a tourist destination).

What's Next?

It'll be interesting to see these dynamics shape up over the next twelve months. It's highly unlikely that a game-changing product pops up this year. Any announcements from Apple (traditionally absent at CES) can shake things up as well. Who knows if any of the industry's leading brands will be able to gain traction on Apple's ecosystem, but it's certainly an uphill battle. Smart appliances could become more widely adopted as consumers become increasingly tech savvy leading the way for further growth in that category in coming years. 3DTVs and content will continue to grow but by the end of the year will it remain a fun novelty or will it become a serious way to enjoy the home television experience?

As for next year's CES, making predictions for what we'll see is always a crapshoot. I'm guessing 3D-capable mobile devices. And hoverboards.

Over the next few weeks, we'll be reporting back on a cross section of our time at CES ' everything from industry trends to brilliant new products to mind-blowing apps. Stay tuned.

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In our continuing series of examining Google Search Trends to gain insights into the top keywords queried in the USA, we present our findings for October 2022. Every day, we capture the top three keyword phrases in terms of search volume as reported by Google Trends (US Only). Each term has an estimated query volume attached to it, which we also record. The number scale tops out at 10,000,000+ with a lower limit of 200,000+ (sometimes 100,000+). After the conclusion of the month, we look at the phrases we collected along with their volumes to get an understanding of what drove queries for the month. Harvesting Search Queries in October 2022 Autumn 2022 is in full effect across the USA last month and we followed along, recording the top queried keyword phrases each day. Looking at our collection, we see interest in Halloween entertainment options, dreams of big lottery wins, and concerns about tech companies.  With the MLB playoffs, College and Pro Football games, and the NBA season starting up again, we collected a large number of keyword phrases related to sports. Lastly, the two events that best captured the moment in time that was October 2022: McDonalds introduced Happy Meals for adults and a gamer revealed his face. People showed their quest for knowledge of both these things via Google search and the AMP Agency team was there to witness it. The Day of The Dead Doodle We almost got through the whole month without seeing a keyword phrase queried more than 10 million times within a day.  On the last day of October, Google changed its logo and we got our top phrase of the month by query volume: Day of the Dead - 10/31/2022 - 10,000,000+ queries Clicks on the logo sent people to the results page for “Day of the Dead” as a celebration of a holiday  widely observed in Mexico. October 2022 Entertainment Options Thursday the 13th was the day to learn more about the films and TV shows that were made for frights. Halloween Ends - 10/13/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries The Watcher - 10/13/2022 - 500,000+ queries Michael Myers is back for another installment of the Halloween movie series and home ownership is made scarier when letters arrive in the mail in the Netflix show, The Watcher. Yes, even scarier than the utility bills. Swifties were excited about a new album and Heidi Klum dressed as a worm. Taylor Swift - 10/20/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries Heidi Klum - 10/31/2022 - 500,000+ queries Taylor Swift’s Midnights album was released on the 21st and Heidi Klum hosted her first Halloween party since 2019 and was dressed extremely realistically as a human-sized worm. It’s another great sign that things are getting back to a post-pandemic reality.  Powerball Fever In October, they kept drawing numbers and they kept finding no winners. With no winners, the jackpot kept getting larger and so did the search interest. Powerball - 10/25/2022 - 500,000+ queries Powerball - 10/27/2022 - 500,000+ queries Powerball - 10/29/2022 - 2,000,000+ queries There’s definitely a correlation to the size of the jackpot and the number of queries.  When there is a chance to win a billion dollars (or close to it, after taxes), “Powerball” makes the daily top 3 in Google Trends. Two Big Reveals The gaming YouTuber Dream decided to reveal his face after years of concealing it and McDonalds released a Happy Meal made for adults that feature collectables from the streetwear brand, Cactus Plant Flea Market: Dream face - 10/1/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries Cactus Plant Flea Market - 10/3/2022 - 1,000,00+ queries Dream’s face reveal was a big deal.  According to People.com, the video where he showed his face for the first time on YouTube generated over 21.9 million views and 2.5 million likes in less than a day.  Happy Meals for Adults launched with figurines designed in collaboration with CPFM and clearly people were excited to learn more about them. Politics Here and Across The Pond In the US, debates between candidates running for Senate seats drove people to search. Warnock, Walker debate - 10/14/2022 - 200,000+ queries Fetterman - 10/25/2022 - 500,000+ queries We safely predict we’ll see more query volume for keyword phrases related to the midterm elections next month. Stay tuned. Search interest in UK politics continued in October with the appointment of a new Prime Minister. U.K. Prime Minister - 10/19/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries Rishi Sunak - 10/23/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries After Liz Truss stepped down from the post, Rishi Sunak officially became the incumbent Prime Minister on October 25th, 2022. October 2022 Tech News There were three notable queries related to tech companies from our collection last month: Amazon Prime Day - 10/10/2022 - 200,000+ queries Meta stock - 10/26/2022 - 500,000+ queries Elon Musk - 10/26/2022 - 500,000+ queries There was another Amazon Prime Day in October 2022 although the search interest related to this one wasn’t as large as the one that occurred during the summer: Maybe one Prime Day per year is enough?   The other two tech-related keyword phrases were a bit more gloomy as Meta released its third quarter earnings on the 26th, which caused the stock of Facebook’s parent company to fall sharply. On the same day, Elon Musk finalized his purchase of Twitter. What will the future hold for either of these properties?  Whatever happens, people will be searching for answers. The Collegiate Gridiron Roundup Sports-related queries took up the majority of our collection from October 2022.  Here are the top college football keyword phrases: Georgia football - 10/1/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries Alabama football - 10/8/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries Tennessee football - 10/8/2022 - 200,000+ queries Texas Longhorns football - 10/8/2022 - 200,000+ queries Alabama football - 10/15/2022 - 2,000,000+ queries Clemson football - 10/22/2022 - 500,000+ queries Since these keyword phrases were all queried on Saturdays, the intent behind them is most definitely game related.  Just The Top NFL Queries If Saturdays are for college football, then Sundays are for the NFL.  And Mondays.  And Thursdays. Dallas Cowboys - 10/2/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries Chiefs - 10/2/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries Vikings - 10/2/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries 49ers - 10/3/2022 - 2,000,000+ queries Tom Brady - 10/4/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries Broncos - 10/6/2022 - 2,000,000+ queries Packers - 10/9/2022 - 2,000,000+ queries Bengals - 10/9/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries Bears - 10/13/2022 - 2,000,000+ queries Cowboys - 10/16/2022 - 2,000,000+ queries Broncos - 10/17/2022 - 2,000,000+ queries Christian McCaffrey - 10/20/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries Saints - 10/20/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries Dallas Cowboys - 10/23/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries Steelers - 10/23/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries Patriots - 10/24/2022 - 2,000,000+ queries Tampa Bay Buccaneers - 10/27/2022 - 2,000,000+ queries Tom Brady - 10/27/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries Buffalo Bills - 10/30/2022 - 2,000,000+ queries Eagles - 10/30/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries Vikings - 10/30/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries There were more NFL related queries collected last month but we’re only publishing the phrases that were queried more than a million times during a 24 hour period.  This list is long enough! Major League Baseball Is Still Interesting The MLB playoff got a lot of attention from what was reported in Google Trends Aaron Judge - 10/4/2022 - 500,000+ queries Mets - 10/7/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries Phillies - 10/7/2022 - 500,000+ queries Astros - 10/11/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries Dodgers - 10/11/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries Phillies - 10/14/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries Yankees - 10/15/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries Yankees - 10/16/2022 - 2,000,000+ queries Phillies - 10/18/2022 - 2,000,000+ queries Padres vs Phillies - 10/21/2022 - 500,000+ queries World Series - 10/28/2022 - 2,000,000+ queries Astros - 10/31/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries The eventual winner of the World Series will be revealed in our next report - no spoilers! A New NBA Season The 2022-23 season kicked off in October. Before the games started, Draymond Green made headlines for getting into a fight with one of his teammates: Draymond Green - 10/5/2022 - 500,000+ queries Draymond Green - 10/7/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries The rest of the NBA-related queries had more to do with games than individual players. NBA - 10/18/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries Lakers - 10/18/2022 - 500,000+ queries Suns - 10/19/2022 - 200,000+ queries Lakers - 10/21/2022 - 500,000+ queries The volume of NBA queries will pick up in March 2023 and will continue increasing in interest until the Finals in June. Is European Soccer’s Popularity Apparent To You? Finally, Keywords related to European football matches continue to appear in the top 3 of Google’s daily trends.  Here’s the full list of phrases. Man City vs Man United - 10/1/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries Man City vs Copenhagen - 10/5/2022 - 200,000+ queries Chelsea vs Milan - 10/5/2022 - 200,000+ queries Arsenal vs Liverpool - 10/9/2022 - 500,000+ queries Barcelona vs Inter - 10/12/2022 - 500,000+ queries Rangers vs Liverpool - 10/12/2022 - 200,000+ queries Real Madrid vs Barcelona - 10/15/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries Manchester United - 10/19/2022 - 200,000+ queries Chelsea vs Man United - 10/22/2022 - 500,000+ queries The popularity of this non-American sport is quite apparent in search trends. The team at AMP Agency wonders when there will be more domestic coverage of these games.  Perhaps soon is likely the answer. Thanks for reading. If you liked this article, we utilize search trends data for all of our clients and we invite you to learn more about our SEO services.

One of our mantras here at AMP is “Question Everything” - we’re practiced at examining our deeply held assumptions and asking - is there a better way? Still, in 2019, even with a relatively flexible work environment, we assumed that “work” meant the 9-5 in-office grind. We never stopped to ask ourselves… “why? And is this really the best model?” Then 2020 and the Covid-19 pandemic hit, and out of necessity we realized there could be a different way to work. Sometimes it takes this level of disruption to jolt us out of our most deeply held assumptions.  But the jolt was effective. As other companies assumed a “return to normal” and continuously planned and pushed back office re-opening dates, AMP exited our four national office location leases. Instead of rushing back to “normal” we wanted to ask ourselves: was the old normal actually working for us anyway? And - what could a better way look like?  For us it was a design question, and the brief was to redesign the way we work. Like any design question, there were a wealth of exciting possibilities and major challenges to overcome. And we needed to start with the humans at the center. What did our clients need from us, and what did our employees need to deliver their best work to them?  The answer was not the status quo. Our people told us loud and clear that they did not want to head back into the office full time. Our employees, our clients, and loads of new research were telling us the benefits of the flexibility of remote work (No commuting! Better work/life integration! Higher productivity!). And as our pandemic-induced remote state chugged along, we also discovered some more surprising insights:   Virtual environments can make collaboration better Before 2020, workers were wasting an average of  9 minutes per meeting just setting up tech - that’s 30% of a half hour meeting, wasted. 40% of workers were wasting up to 30 minutes just searching for an open conference room. Conference calls with a mix of remote and in-person attendees left the people dialing in outside of the office at a disadvantage. At AMP, we were facing these types of pain points all the time, collaborating across four offices with clients all over the country. In this model, the tools meant to help us communicate like we were in person were actually making us feel farther away.  But something interesting happened when suddenly everyone was remote. Conference calls died out in favor of video, and these remote meetings acted as a great equalizer. We could all clearly see each other’s faces, no matter where we were zooming in from. Disembodied voices we’d been working across offices with for years became - perhaps paradoxically - more tangible humans. We met their kids, their pets, their roommates. Clients who we previously talked to on the phone and saw in person every few months became regular face-to-face virtual collaborators.  This new type of collaboration unlocked huge benefits. Employees felt more connected to their coworkers in other locations, and the work was thriving. Our client satisfaction metrics went up year over year. We took on global clients and expanded our teams outside of the US. Our business saw growth amidst a period of economic uncertainty. We saw that elements of remote work would be good for our people, our clients, and our business.     Virtual environments have higher intensity Our creativity and collaboration had been unlocked, but we also found the zoom fatigue was real. In the pre-pandemic days, we assumed burnout was directly related to long hours. But a look at our employee’s time-tracking told us that may no longer be the case - even employees not working overtime were feeling the fatigue. It turns out that without those built-in breaks chatting while troubleshooting tech and making coffee in the office kitchen, people’s days working remotely aren’t just more productive, they’re more intensive. With all remote all the time, a 40 hour workweek can start to feel like 50.  If the future of work had remote elements, our new model would need mechanisms in place to prevent burnout.    Career and life phase inform employee needs When the pandemic abated and parents were better able to get reliable school and childcare, AMP parents often preferred remote work. They could have breakfast with their kids without fear of missing the commuter rail. They could pop out to pick up a sick kid without sacrificing hours of their work day. Many, in the middle of their careers, had already built the skills and confidence that could transfer to a new environment. They were thriving in the remote workplace.  But employees at the beginning of their careers were disoriented. They were missing out on the mentorship and guidance you get from observing and interacting with more seasoned co-workers day-to-day, not to mention the camaraderie that comes from early office friendships.  We discovered that people were living in a multitude of personal situations that demanded different work environments in order to thrive.  We needed a model that could provide options for multiple ways of working depending on what employees needed to grow and do their best work.   Our Innovative Approach to Work: AMP Anywhere With these insights, we set out to design a new model based on radical flexibility. We concepted and pressure tested multiple models. And here’s what we’ve launched: a working model we call AMP Anywhere with three core tenets: You can work from anywhere, including from home or in an office – whatever works best for you. Compensation does not depend on or change based on where you live. Even if you’re not near an office location, you’ll have opportunities to collaborate in person on an ongoing basis. Two years after we exited our office leases, our workforce spans across 30+ markets internationally, and we’re reopening smaller flexible spaces in places with high employee concentration -  Boston and New York. This month we rolled out extensive guidelines for communication norms, travel policies, and collaboration opportunities built for a positive, equitable employee experience no matter how you work best, including deep-work focused “Flex Fridays” and events for AMPers to connect in-person with their co-workers across the globe.  Up next: Prototype. Test. Iterate.  We’re not done. We believe this is what the future of work looks like. But we also know that there will be a whole new set of assumptions we develop that we’ll need to break down. Unlike our old working model, the future of work is not static. It’s pliable. It’s evolving. As AMPers, we have a commitment to Question Everything. That means a commitment to continually innovate and improve around the ways we work to make our lives and work truly sing.    Welcome to the future of work. This is our first prototype.  – Greer Pearce, SVP, Brand & Innovation

What is Google’s new update? Google has rolled a new change in the way they present their search results on mobile devices for brand keyword queries. The engine is now prioritizing the site name for brand name queries of a company instead of the contents of the home page’s title tag. For example, before this change, a query of the company name, “rover”, would show the contents of home page’s title tag in Google’s mobile search results: With this change, a query of “rover” on mobile now presents a result with the site name in search results along with the favicon and URL: Currently, site names are available for mobile Google Search results in English, French, Japanese, and German, with more languages to follow in the coming months.   Why is Google using only site names?  Google strives to make it easier for users to find the specific website that is associated with the brand name they are searching for. By using only site names in search results, Google believes it becomes a lot easier to find the specific brand being searched.  These types of keywords are seen as being navigational in nature; that is, a keyword that has the intent of getting a person to the brand’s home page.  This update does not affect results for non-branded or expanded branded keyword queries.  Keeping the company Rover as our example, If one were to search “dog walking” or “rover dog walking”, the title tag’s content will appear as the link text for the home page: How Can You Optimize Your Home Page? Because of this change, AMP Agency recommends brands to add their desired website name using structured data on their site’s home page so it appears properly in Google mobile search results. Specifically, we recommend the use of WebSite schema markup on the home page as depicted in the example below: This implementation allows Google to recognize the “name” property as the site name of the website and provide accurate results on result pages.    The use of structured data is also beneficial for websites with alternate names, like acronyms and shortened names. The Website schema markup allows for these variations to be added to the home page as well.   How can Google understand your site name? Beyond Website schema markup, Google Search does use a number of other sources to determine the site name for a search result including on-page, off-page, and meta data information.   With the addition of schema markup, brands should ensure the headings (H1, H2, etc.), Title Tag, and Open Graph Protocol meta data (og:site_name) are optimized for the same site name.  Keeping up with Google changes are just a part of our SEO Services. Contact us for more information about how we can best position your site for search.