Google vs Australia: How much power does Google have over search?

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Internet search engine giant Google is currently battling multiple court cases, including an antitrust case in the US. The latest is with the Australian government, with Google recently threatening to pull its search service out of the country.

This has raised questions about just how powerful Google is. Can it really dictate government legislation? And what are the alternatives to search engine most of us use dozens of times a day?

How powerful is Google?

Google has a 91% share of the worldwide search engine market as of 2021. That number is higher in Australia, between 90-95%.

Google has collected and organised more information than any other company or organisation in human history, is often the default search engine installed on smart phones and laptops, and can deindex any site it decides has violated its terms.

Suffice to say: Google is very powerful. If it is removed from Australia, it could have significant impact on how its citizens access and navigate the internet.

Why has Google threatened to remove its search engine from Australia?

New legislation is being debated by the Australian government which would force the company to pay all news companies in its search results. Unsurprisingly, Google isn’t thrilled about this development.

This legislation would require Google to enter into negotiations with news media to decide how much to pay to access and display their content in Google’s search engine, with the cost going to arbitration if a figure is not mutually agreed upon.

Google has claimed the cost would be too great, and it threatening to pull its service from Australian users. Google Australia made A$134 million in profit in 2019, so paying expensive fees for big news sites would likely have a significant impact on Google’s bottom line.

Prior to this case, Google has made around 450 deals with news companies around the world to access their content, and has said that a different model could be more cost effective for them than the one being proposed by the Australian government.

This boils down to the fact that in private negotiations with individual news companies, Google will have the upper hand: deals will be made on their terms, for significantly less than they’d have to pay under Government mandated law.

The reason Google is fighting tooth and nail to ensure this law doesn’t happen is because it would set a precedent for other governments to do the same, which would really eat into those profits they don’t pay tax on.

As well as the financial element, Google is also making the argument that unrestricted linking between sites is fundamental to how search operates. That point is directly undercut by their own business model, with anyone able to bid for ads at the top of Google’s search results.

So, could Google really stop serving search results to Australia?

Could Google really leave Australia?

Google has done similar things before, having pulled out China in 2010. Google also threatened to leave Germany when the German government introduced an ancillary copyright law back in 2013. The EU has also been looking at tightening regulations around Google’s influence on the web, so the company certainly has a precedent for doing this, and for ensuring it uses its power to dissuade other nations from bringing in similar legislation.

If Google is removed from Australia, that would mean the 19 million people who use it every month would no longer have access to the world’s most popular (and arguably most effective) search engine. It would also probably put more than a few Australian SEOs out of a job, who would be the real victims here.

Google has already admitted to ‘experimenting’ with removing certain results from Australian searches. It is, of course, a private company, and as such does not have to operate anywhere that doesn’t make financial sense for it to. Google could leave Australia.

This would set a worrying precedent, as Google plays a fundamental role in how the internet works. In a way, it’s the foundation for how we access information in the modern age.

Google has a lot of power, and it’s clear the giant is willing to use it to get its way.

What would this mean for Google’s reputation?

If Google does leave Australia it will have a huge impact on how they are perceived globally. Such a blatantly punitive move would require some heavy-duty PR to shift focus, and would also severely undercut their message of caring about an open internet for everyone.

What does the Australia case tell us about Google’s power over the search market?

When a private company can attempt to bully a country into changing their laws, it’s a pretty big sign that maybe these guys have too much power.

There’s an argument to be made that the internet was made to share information freely with no one platform having an advantage over any other, that introducing a law which alters the balance of who can and can’t access the news is fundamentally undemocratic, and that things should stay as they are.

Of course, the reality is that this idealised version of the internet never really existed. To the average person, Google is the internet. An independent news site that gets deindexed by Google may as well give up, because no one is going to find their content unless they go to the source.

At a time when the ability to access the news is more important than ever, Google arguably have a responsibility to shoulder the cost to ensure that news organisations remain viable, and that the public have easy access to finding their sites and articles.

We’ll continue to write about how this could impact the digital marketing and SEO industries as this story develops.

  • Jack Terry,
    Copywriter

Ripple Energy announced as winner of Eulogy’s Elevator 2021 Competition

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We’re proud to announce that Ripple Energy is the winner of our Elevator 2021accelerator competition.

Now in its second year, Elevator is an annual competition enabling early-stage ventures to pitch for pro bono communications support, designed to move them from start-up to scale-up, whilst accelerating solutions to some of humanity’s greatest challenges.

What was Eulogy’s Elevator Competition:

The competition focus for 2021 was on early-stage technology companies spearheading the green economy and contributing to the ‘build back greener’ UK Government initiative.

Ripple Energy, a clean energy ownership platform enabling homes and businesses to part-own large-scale wind and solar farms to supply them with clean, low-cost electricity for the long term, impressed the judges with its innovative and disruptive model. It receives consultancy services to the equivalent of £30,000 over a six-month period, to help reach its growth goals.

Sarah Merrick, CEO, Ripple Energy, said: “We want the world to know about Ripple and with Eulogy’s help we can make it happen. We’re absolutely thrilled to have won the Elevator 2021 competition.”

The remaining four finalists, Furthr, Bide, ECODISCO and EcoTech Visions, each receive Eulogy’s bespoke Clarity service, a strategic consultancy workshop, which helps businesses identify a communications roadmap to growth.

  • Furthr: Its mission is to make the act of saving the planet wholly relatable and engaging through the creation of a monthly carbon offset subscription service tracking individuals’ carbon offset in relatable terms.
  • Bide: Through its innovate manufacturing platform, bide produces environmentally sound consumer services with the goal of simplifying the process of converting daily life into more sustainable behaviours.
  • ECODISCO: A sustainable nightlife consultancy, ECODISCO is motivated to support the long-term resilience of the nightlife economy by encouraging bars, clubs and venues to transition to sustainable and resilient habits.
  • EcoTech Visions: A B2B e-commerce platform for buyers and sellers to ethically source products and last mile delivery.

This year’s judging panel featured a diverse spectrum of the technology and communications industry, including

Will Miller, Marketing Director at Tech Nation

Will Thompson, Chief Strategy Officer at Forbes Ignite

Maja Pawinska Sims, Associate Editor, EMEA at Provoke Media

Lis Field, CEO of Eulogy

Adrian Brady, Chairman of Eulogy

Susie Dullard, Director of Purpose & Social Impact at Eulogy

James Steward, Director of Technology at Eulogy

Maja Pawinska Sims, Associate Editor EMEA at PRvoke Media said: “It was great to be part of the Elevator 2021 judging panel – Ripple Energy and the runners up in the competition have great initiatives and bright futures. Our industry plays a key role in supporting the growth of young businesses into the stars of tomorrow, and the power of communications support can make all the difference for early ventures.”

Will Miller, Marketing Director, Tech Nation, comments: “Tech Nation has a strong commitment to supporting ambitious entrepreneurs driving environmental and sustainable change. All of this year’s Elevator finalists were impressive and I look forward to seeing each one drive impact in the years to come, particularly at a time when green solutions are so critical to our future.”

Will Thompson, Chief Strategy Officer, Forbes Ignite, adds: “Eulogy’s Elevator competition is a great initiative, and it was an honour to meet the amazing finalists, all of which demonstrated remarkable ingenuity and promise. I am lucky enough to meet many disruptive companies as part of our social innovation work at Forbes Ignite and I can see the entrepreneurs behind these companies making a real difference in the world. I congratulate them all and look forward to supporting the winner through our community.”

Elisabeth Field, CEO, Eulogy, said; “We saw a huge level of talent and innovative thinking from this years’ Elevator applicants. At a time in which the climate crisis is front and centre, it was inspiring to hear from these five businesses who are all striving to make a real and impactful change on the world. As a business, we’re looking forward to working with Ripple Energy and supporting the finalists in their bid to drive positive change for a greener future.”

The competition forms part of the agency’s wider commitment to supporting green technology, social innovation and cause-led business and builds on its existing work with the likes of Roche, Headspace, In2scienceUK and Virgin Media Business.

To find out more about this year’s winner, Ripple Energy, see here.

  • Lee Johnston,
    Designer

Eulogy appoints Creative Lead & Consumer Director

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  • Annabel Wilkinson,
    TBC
    Taking Eulogy from his kitchen table to London’s creative heart. Adrian’s been behind the wheel the whole way.
  • Adrian Brady,
    Founder
    Taking Eulogy from his kitchen table to London’s creative heart, Adrian’s been behind the wheel the whole way.

Why You Need To Do Research Into Influencers Before Using Them In A Campaign

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Historians of the future will likely have a bookmark permanently settled in the pages recounting July 2018’s Trump-Putin Summit in Helsinki.

Speculations abound over what was said during the two presidents’ one-on-one meeting, which was followed by a joint press conference in which Trump appeared to accept Vladimir Putin’s denial of election meddling—despite claims to the contrary by US intelligence services.

And how was this met by senior members of the Republican Party?

In the most appropriate manner, of course, and with the use of all the right words. Long-standing GOP heavyweight John McCain and House Speaker Paul Ryan issued swift condemnations of the president’s remarks.

“Today’s press conference in Helsinki was one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory”, said John McCain, as he accused Trump of “naivety, egotism, false equivalence and a sympathy for autocrats”. Paul Ryan took the occasion to remind the president that “Russia is not an ally”, and that he should be focused on “putting an end to its vile attacks on our democracy”.

None of this is surprising. McCain may have astounded the world by selecting Sarah Palin as running mate for his 2008 president campaign, and Ryan, it is true, has a rather curious fixation on the works of Ayn Rand and the radical self-interest her Objectivist movement encourages.

Yet there is little to suggest that either has ever strayed significantly from the norms of American foreign policy – particularly towards Russia, or for the matter, North Korea.

One of the most revealing elements of this whole episode, though, is that such rebukes of the president’s conduct no longer seem to matter to the party base. An Axiom/Survey Monkey poll found that 76% of Republicans approved of Trump’s handling of the Russian president.

If this seems normal, imagine what the American public’s response might have been if President Obama had acted in this way. Similar condemnation would have come from the likes of McCain and Ryan, of course, but this would have simply reflected the wider sentiment among the electorate.

Even Obama’s attempt at jump-starting diplomatic relations with Iran was considered a form of appeasement towards an enemy. One can only wonder what the reaction would have been if he had ignored his own intelligence service’s directions when dealing with Russia, long seen by the US as its chief antagonist even in the post-Soviet Union international order.

This is what’s particularly salient about the election of Donald Trump: it has literally changed how we talk about things. More importantly, it has revealed just how fragile the norms of public discourse truly are.

We can see how deep the impact is by observing similar shifts in public discourse that extend beyond the sphere of diplomatic relations between nations or deeply embedded assumptions about world order. To take a seemingly trivial example, reflect on the controversy generated in the lead-up to Sacha Baron Cohen’s new television series, ‘Who is America?’.

Even before the first episode aired, public figures duped into accepting an interview with the comedian pre-empted the broadcast to announce deep ethical concerns over the manner in which he had done so. Sarah Palin was the first, alleging that Baron Cohen had disguised himself as a disabled US veteran to secure her interview. On Facebook, she expressed moral outrage:

“Mock politicians and innocent public personalities all you want, if that lets you sleep at night, but HOW DARE YOU mock those who have fought and served our country. Truly sick.”

Her remarks made a global media splash, with practically every major news outlet in the US and UK covering the story. But none of it resonated with the public in either country. There were no social media mobs of the sort we have seen in recent years, attempting to hound a public figure out of a job for having said or done something it regards as being untoward.

Why?

Because in 2015, the current occupant of the White House uttered these words about Senator John McCain, who was subjected to severe torture as a prisoner of war in the Vietnam War:

“He’s not a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured? I like people who weren’t captured.”

So, when Sarah Palin, who threw her weight behind Donald Trump’s campaign in 2016, laments the ‘mockery’ of US veterans by a comedian, it just doesn’t carry the same sting that it would have a few years ago. It registers as hypocrisy in the minds of some, while to others, it clearly doesn’t matter enough – they still supported Trump.

True, there is benefit in dismantling some of the most brazen hypocrisies in American political discourse. And yes, ending the phoney reverence politicians render unto veterans, many of whom fall into destitution on their return from combat, could be a sign of change that is both needed and healthy.

But it depends on the circumstances in which that happens. It’s hard to see how a breakdown in civility, or the strengthening of relations with autocrats, is a way to inject moral clarity into how we interact with each other or relate to world events.

It’s not that the norms of public discourse simply broke down this July. The events of last month shone a light on its altered face. Is the change permanent?

No.

If anything, the lesson here is that these norms, on echelons that vary from international relations to light entertainment, can be upended much faster than they are ever established. On a bright note, it means that real change is possible and can sweep through a culture and society in a short amount of time. But it is a stark reminder of how hard we have to work to preserve what we value.

  • Adrian Brady,
    Founder
    Taking Eulogy from his kitchen table to London’s creative heart, Adrian’s been behind the wheel the whole way.
  • Annabel Wilkinson,
    TBC
    Taking Eulogy from his kitchen table to London’s creative heart. Adrian’s been behind the wheel the whole way.

Which channels are best for engaging with Gen Z? Stats, tips, and research

Generation Z encompasses anyone born between 1996-2012, a group that is of increasing interest to brands. They represent 35% of the world population, and require more sophisticated marketing than previous generations.

In many ways gen Z will dictate marketing trends for years to come. They’re responsible for vast amounts of the culture that will be formed – both online and offline – they’re vocal about what they want, and their demands have a real-world impact on how brands market themselves.

How to market to Gen Z:

A safe and simple advertising campaign won’t be enough to get their attention, and we’ve seen big brands fail to strike a chord with this new generation.

More and more brands are trying to be seen and liked by members of gen Z. With gen Z spending more time online than any previous generation, it should be easy for brands to get engagement, yet with marketing campaigns spending millions entirely to cater to gen Z, why are brands going to so much trouble?

Is marketing to gen Z worth it? We think so.

We’ve compiled some of most important stats for any brand looking to market to gen Z, and included some tips on how best to engage them on social.

Why brands are trying to engage gen Z:

Gen Z has bigger spending power than you might think

Worldwide, gen Z has an estimated $143bn spending power.

When the global economy begins to rebound post-pandemic, gen Z will be at the forefront of many marketers’ minds.

They engage with branded content

Gen Z live on social, and follow the brands that they care about. While branded or sponsored content might have been strange to older users when it first arrived on our social channels, it’s a part of everyday life for gen Z.

They aren’t shy about engaging with branded content, sharing it, and even talking to brands directly. This can really help brands be seen, and grow their social following.

They’re loyal to brands that deliver consistently

Brands that put quality first are more likely to find success with gen Z. Consistent style, tone, and overall approach in the content they put out will be received better than a scattergun approach.

Facebook found that 60% of gen Z surveyed wish they could communicate with more businesses via direct messaging. Brands that go the extra mile to create a personalised relationship where their gen Z audience feel like what they want matters will reap the rewards of a loyal customer base.

How brands can engage gen Z through content and social:

Campaign Monitor found that gen Z’s favourite way of interacting with brands was through social media. 85% are on Youtube, 72% are on Instagram, and 69% are on Snapchat. If you want to market to this audience, you need to be too.

A third of gen Z questioned in the survey reported buying something after seeing it on social media once in the past month, so it’s clear that it has a real impact beyond just engagement: gen Z are making purchase decisions based on what they see on social.

But how do you make sure your social content stands out?

Use quick videos

Gen Z watch twice as many videos on mobile than any other age group. Video is the most engaged with form of content for a reason: it gets the messages across quickly.

Generation Z has an attention span of around 8 seconds on average, so your video can’t afford any long introductions. Hook the audience first, and then follow with something of substance.

Show your brand values up front

As with millennials, gen Z want brands to be making the world a better place. 90% of gen z expect brands to help with environmental and societal issues, so if you’re not making a positive impact, you should start thinking about how you brand can start making a difference. Your social media channels should show what your brand is doing, not just what you’re talking about.

Over 70% of gen Z say they want ads to have more diversity. But this goes beyond advertising: if your business is made up of one demographic, with only one point of view, gen Z will leave you in the past.

Have a unique tone of voice

Later, an Instagram marketing platform, found that the more unique a brand is, the better it performs with gen Z. All brands claim to have a tone of voice, but most play it safe with their comms, their style, and their social media presence. For certain demographics, this is boring. Gen Z want to see something exciting, something different, something that has impact.

Old school marketers are often afraid of taking bold creative leaps, as it may not play well with a wide audience. But time and time again, gen Z rewards creative campaigns with attention, shares, and purchases.

Brand collaborations that would never have made it through a brainstorm ten years ago are now some of the most successful and memorable campaigns of recent years, such as the KFC X Crocs. Did some people think those shoes were ugly? Yes. Were they right? Absolutely. But those ugly crocs sold out.

The reason these shoes did so well was because they were weird, because they were different, something no one ever thought a major brand would come out with. That’s why they were a hit with gen Z.

Which channels should you use to engage with gen Z?

Tik Tok

We’ve talked about Youtube and Instagram, but the fastest climbing social channel for gen Z is Tik Tok. Up until recently around 70% of the app’s user base was made up of gen Z.

Tik Tok’s exploded in popularity during lockdown. It has now been downloaded over 2.6 billion times. In Q1 of 2020, the app was downloaded 315 million times, the best quarter for any app of all time.

In fact, around 21% of gen Z feel they’re spending too much time on Tik Tok. Keeping up with the latest jokes and trends can feel like a full-time job, and brands would be well to pay attention to the wider eco-system in the app.

Out of Home

While many marketers might focus solely on social activity to attract gen Z, out of home advertising can help support any campaign, especially one focused on social purpose. Big bold adverts in famous locations can make an impact and ensure your brand’s values are known by your target audience.

Digital advertising

It goes without saying that anyone trying to reach gen Z should invest in digital advertising. Whether they’re on Google, Facebook, or Youtube, ads can provide a big return for relatively little investment.

Tailoring your ads to cater to and target gen Z will help ensure you’re getting in front of the right people. Luckily it’s easier than ever to customise your ads and who they appear for.

But it’s important to make sure your ads are to the taste of your target audience. 63% of gen Z prefer real people to celebrities when it comes to advertisements.

If your marketing lands with gen Z it can make a big difference to how your brand performs online.

Read more of our marketing tips and predictions here.

What could a new internet be like?

Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, is looking to reboot the internet. His new start up, Inrupt, plans to use open-source software to create a single sign-on system, where personal data is stored in pods, instead of being captured and sold by corporations.

He’s highly critical of companies like Google and Facebook, who essentially act as surveillance platforms with social features.

User control is the main focus of his new project: you would be in charge of your data, able to access it, understand it, and control what happens to it.

He’s already got the BBC and the NHS signed up, so we might soon see more institutions joining the father of the internet’s ‘do-over.’

While turning it off and on again is a tried and tested solution to most tech problems, the internet poses a more difficult conundrum. Is it bad? Does it actually need fixing?

The internet has revolutionised virtually every aspect of human life. It has changed the way we work, the way we communicate, how we access information, and even how we relate to and understand each other.

It has brought millions of people together, helped draw attention to charity drives, given virtually unlimited access to information, created highly engaged communities of fans, introduced people to new movies, songs, and art, and has even been a place for many people to find love.

The internet is also a reflection of the worst things that happen in humanity – fraud, bullying, child abuse, sexism, racism, and let’s not forget it was directly responsible for electing a fascist to the White House so, something has to change.

What the Internet was supposed to be like vs what it is now

When the internet was first launched in the late 80’s, it was envisioned as an egalitarian tool for sharing of information. With no central management or organisation, users would naturally gravitate to content that resonated with them, or that was shared across their network.

This was of course years before the concept of Facebook, but even at the very beginning of the internet it was designed to be a social tool.

When what we know think of as ‘the web’ was invented, it was designed by a small handful of people for what we would think of now as a very specific set of uses. If you didn’t want to read scientific papers, talk about Star Trek, or email, there basically wasn’t anything on the internet for you to actually do.

Compared to the internet today, with livestreaming, online dating, Youtube, news, entire worlds and communities created for online games, social media sites, influencers, virtual personalities, algorithms, virtual reality, and every TV show, movie, song, and book every made, the internet was pretty boring when it started.

Given the possibilities, it was always going to happen that the internet would become more than it’s creator ever imagined.

However, not all change has been positive. As we’ve seen over the last four years (and arguably for considerably longer depending where you went), the internet has become a key area in politics, the battleground for culture wars, and is now the fastest way for people to become extremists.

If we could remake the internet, knowing all that we do now, about how important data is and how it can be abused, about how people gather, interact, and communicate online, and how much power the internet came to have over our lives, what would we do differently?

What a rebooted internet should be like according to Eulogy

Content would be moderated, with clear terms of use and strict enforcement

The biggest change I’d make to the internet would be to moderate content and ban people who violate the terms of use.

Sites like Facebook, Youtube, and Twitter have allowed extreme, hateful, and untrue content to be hosted and shared, and wildly promoted through their algorithms. Because the content is so divisive and incendiary, it gets huge amounts of engagement, and is then boosted higher in feeds and recommendations.

If you go on Youtube you’re only ever about four clicks away from the start of the far-right pipeline: a Jordan Peterson video leads to a Ben Shapiro video which leads to a Charlie Kirk video, who personally paid for busloads of terrorists to visit Capitol Hill. Even if you stop watching, just having clicked on these videos warps your recommended videos until there’s nothing left but hatred and comedians trying to stay relevant.

These sites are finally starting to take action against content like Qanon, but in my opinion it’s far too late. They’ve profited from creating environments where this type of content can flourish, and actively encouraged individuals to find each other, forming groups that have gone on to do real harm, and even kill people. Now that it’s taken root, it isn’t going to go away.

People are getting banned from Twitter, and crying out that their free speech is under attack, but it isn’t. They can say whatever they want, they just can’t say it there, because what they’re saying is terrible.

I would’ve been banning people from day one. Of course, it’s difficult to actually moderate and enforce content on sites like this, but the alternative is what got us to where we are today.

– Jack Terry, Content Manager

Brands could truly put their customers first by giving them control over their data

Brands have always adapted to new technology, but a rebooted internet could give brands an opportunity to change their approach to digital marketing.

Personalisation has been revolutionary for brands, being able to create carefully curated experiences for their audiences. However, this should not be to the detriment of those audiences’ privacy.

Cross-platform sharing of data obviously has its place, when conducted sensitively, providing useful information and offers. A new internet could be an opportunity to ensure the consumer is put first in this equation.

We need to find a new balance that doesn’t put the advertiser first and instead respects the consumer. By taking this approach, brands can begin to regain the trust of consumers.

– James Steward, Technology Director

Power and control could be decentralised, instead of reflecting existing power structures

The ownership, access, and distribution of our personal data has become of increasing concern with the huge growth and dominance of a small few in technology, who now wield significant power that can have a real impact on how our society functions.

What I find interesting is that this has come as a surprise to anyone. The world’s wealth and land is owned by less than 1% of the global population. The internet has simply begun to reflect the same social structures and distribution of wealth, political control and distribution of information.

Tim Berners-Lee is saddened by the reflection in the mirror and perhaps he should be. Maybe we all should be. But is the answer to create a new mirror? It won’t change who it is reflecting.

A new internet could be a fantastic chance for things to change in a real and meaningful way. But without major changes to who controls the flow of data, things aren’t likely to get better.

– Sara Beirne, Head of Media, Insight and Planning

Only time will tell if Berners-Lee will succeed in redoing the internet. If he does, it might be the most important technological development since its creation, and could have a huge impact on the way the world works – for the better. But only if we rethink how we use the internet, and commit to upholding the original ideals that shaped its creation.

Read more about developments in the world of tech and media on Eulogy’s blog.

CES 2021: Consumer tech trends

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Key takeaways from Kathryn Venediger, Tech Senior Account Executive

CES 2021 was a little different. Replacing the January rush to Las Vegas was an all-virtual affair. As with all aspects of life right now, Covid-19 dictated where a proportion of brand and media focus was directed. Clean tech and health tech were therefore well represented at the show’s many online unveilings.

Here’s a selection of our top picks and what they mean for the year(s) ahead.

Consumer Tech trends for 2021:

Gaming will continue to grow in popularity

Gaming is mainstream. It’s not, as some may report, the next big thing. Gaming has been a big thing for decades.

However, gaming isn’t mainstream when it comes to our homes. Avid gamers may have a powerful PC setup, but for the majority of console gamers the PS5 or Xbox Series X are an extension of an existing entertainment setup. Razer showed us with their Project Brooklyn concept how far a standalone gaming setup can go.

With its full ergonomic construction, immersive rollout screen, dynamic lighting and haptic modules, the Project Brooklyn seems to us like the arcade machine of the future. A fully standalone space that’s ruthlessly dedicated to gaming. We can expect to see gaming given more prominence in homes as tailored and optimised solutions like this come to the fore.

Clean tech will thrive post-Covid

‘Clean tech’ was one of the big stories of CES 2021, which comes as no surprise at all of course. A key question remains: just how much will the obsession with cleanliness continue post-crisis?

That question depends on the things changing in the near future. Regardless, the Motrex smartphone sanitization pod feels future-proof. It fits into a car’s cupholder, and both charges and sanitizes your device. Whilst phones may not carry Covid-19 in years to come, they will continue to harbour germs. The University of Arizona calculated that devices carry ten times more bacteria than most toilet seats, so I’ll be buying this as soon as I can.

Masks will get smarter

With medical masks acting as one of the most crucial deterrents of Covid-19, it is little wonder the tech industry has looked to enhance the trusty N95.

In addition to its impressive new gaming setup, Razer is making moves in the health-tech sector, with its Project Hazel prototype. Self-proclaimed to be the “world’s smartest mask”, we would struggle to disagree.

Razer’s surgical N95-grade face is not only made from recycled materials but also uses a replaceable and rechargeable disc-type ventilator, reducing the need for disposable masks entirely. It’s also transparent, in order to benefit those who rely heavily on visual cues for communication.

Even better, it comes with a built-in microphone and amplifier, therefore reducing the ‘mask muffle’ and its charging case disinfects the mask using ultraviolet light to kill bacteria. As mask-tech goes, this is one of the most forward-thinking examples we’ve seen, and there’s certainly the market for it.

Educational technology will empower teachers around the world

Where Brexit looks to limit us with the loss of the popular Erasmus scheme, tech steps up with an opportunity for learning without borders. Schools and universities have adapted during the pandemic, but the majority of them have been making do with tools like Zoom that were ultimately designed for the world of work rather than schooling.

Step forward Engageli. What it lacks in succinct naming is made up for through features that prioritise teachers in classrooms over CEOs in boardrooms. The features focus on ensuring class engagement, helping teachers by tracking participation and alertness. Breakout sessions take Zoom’s feature to the next-level with the ability to synchronize videos across groups and the creation of polls and quizzes to drive further interactivity from students.

And what could all this mean in the long term? Potentially that could be a more engaging way to learn remotely with the world’s best universities. Or a way to spread the world’s best teaching talent to a wider range of schoolchildren that may normally be receiving a substandard education.

Emotional support animals get intelligent

We all know the emotional strain that the pandemic has had on much of the population, leaving many of us craving the companion of a cuddly pet.

Far from Boston Dynamics’ Humanoid robots, Vanguard Industries presents Moflin. This little AI pet robot may look a lot like a boom mic with eyes, but it’s actually equipped with a unique algorithm and built-in sensors. This provides it with ever-evolving “emotional capabilities” and the ability to learn and interact with people as a normal pet would. It’ll even make little noises and twitch in its wireless charging “nest”.

Moflin is an example of how AI is expanding into new parts our lives and could well set the precedent for a new branch of the wellbeing market. And, for city dwellers, this could be the future alternative to a loyal pet without breaching any landlords’ contracts. A support animal without the vet bills? Sign me up!

GoodMaps makes good progress

In addition to a plethora of entertainment and Covid-focussed tech and gadgets, CES 2021 also reflected the increasing focus to accessible and inclusive tech.

Despite most outdoor and public spaces being well documented through Google Maps, indoor spaces have been largely ignored. Until now.

The GoodMaps Explore app intends to solve the issue of navigation of indoor environments for an often overlooked demographic when it comes to day-to-day tech. Using the app, those with visual impairments will be able hear a snapshot of their current location and direction, just with a shake of the phone.

Nominated for the CES Innovation Awards, GoodMaps Explore is a great start in transforming accessible and independent travel for everyone, visually impaired or not.

Rollable phones

Finally, it wouldn’t be a CES roundup without mentioning the latest announcement from the mobile industry.

Just as the world is beginning to warm to the notion of foldable phones, we’re hit with the aptly named LG Rollable. Feature-wise, little is actually known about the device other than that it will extend to create a small tablet and could be launched this year.

That’s it. That’s all we know. So, do we think that rollables are going to be the next foldable smartphone? Possibly.

Samsung has already had great success with 88% of the global foldable smartphone share in 2020 thanks to its Galaxy Z Flip and Galaxy Z Fold 2. This shows that there is certainly appetite for novel smartphone designs, especially when it is said to increase productivity thanks to being both a phone and tablet in one. However, for most of us, spending £1400 on a phone is just not realistic, no matter how cool we think we would look whipping one out in public.

The rollable phone rounds out our top picks from the first ever virtual CES.

2021 is predictably unique in terms of the huge number of health-tech and smart home gadgets, but it is nonetheless exciting to witness epic progress being made across sectors. We’ll stay tuned through the year as these trends take shape and concepts and prototypes turn into fully fledged products and services.

Are you at a tech brand with a big 2021 lined up? Eulogy is ready to help develop your communications approach, helping new and established brands cut through at a time busy with innovation. Get in touch with James Steward, who heads up our tech division: [email protected]

  • Kathryn Venediger,
    TBC

2021 marketing predictions: trends, tips, and advice

Written by

If you’re thinking that try to make predictions for marketing after the year we’ve had is a little ambitious, you’d be right. We saw how much things could change in so little time.

However, whilst we’ve been faced with challenges and change like never before, it’s still important to take a step back and review the current climate and consider what might come next.

If anything, 2020 gave us a new perspective, which in turn has meant that brands have been able rethink and reshape their strategies – with short term pivots becoming longer team routes for business.

At Eulogy, we’ve spoken to leads across the team to get their take on what the coming year will bring in the world of marketing.

Marketing and comms predictions for 2021:

Tech brands will focus on building reputations

James Steward, Director, Technology

If there’s one thing the tech industry, particularly Big Tech, has learned of late, it’s the importance of reputation. For years it’s faced criticism from policy makers over its ever-tightening grip on our rights and our data.

2020 was a gamechanger. As tech became a lifeline for so many, it was able to finally demonstrate its true value, and change the narrative around what tech meant, and what it could for us.

Those tech companies that have become inherent lifelines, from communications to e-commerce platforms, are acutely aware of their new responsibility.

2021 is the year to build on this new paradigm – a huge opportunity to continue to the put its strength to good use and further cement its relevance and reputation amongst the public, businesses, and society as a whole.

Meanwhile, as the repercussions of the pandemic continue to rip through our lives, another looming catastrophe grows ever stronger – the climate crisis.

With the Government’s pledge to introduce a new green industrial revolution and “build back greener”, technology players in this field have a unique chance to demonstrate the profound value of their solutions – in tackling the biggest threat to humanity and helping to get our beleaguered economy back on track.

With tech one of the only real solutions to this crisis, the industry becomes increasingly more fundamental by the day.

This opportunity must not be squandered. 2021 is the year to get your message right and be heard for how you’re making a real impact on the world.

Content Marketing should focus on content experiences

Richard Ware, Director & Content Lead

Arguably, the role of content has become more value-focused for brands and businesses over the last year, and this will continue. Integrating with search strategies, working harder along the purchase funnel, and helping audiences navigate uncertainty will only grow in importance.

But also, brands should remember content should be giving us joy too. 2020 pressed fast-forward on established trends in digital content, and we will see even more growth across video, audio, online editorial, and virtual experiences.

But what interests me most is how content will play a crucial role in helping us to re-connect. Remember people? In person? What a concept!

We’ve had a year of doom scrolling, hours lost to TikTok, and widespread Zoom fatigue.

While we’ve been avidly gorging on screen-based content, we’ve been missing out on seeing family and friends, going to festivals and on holiday, experiencing culture. As health risks abate and our collective confidence grows, content strategies will take us away from our screens, and out into the real world again. These content experiences should give us the assurance, information and inspiration needed to take the first steps outside again.

Whether virtual or physical, content in 2021 will ultimately need to be effective. It will need to be valuable and relevant to the audience, with the right channel for delivery, and the tone, visual style, and format to make it worth engaging with. It will need to drive action, and the right action, to justify investment.

Brands will continue to innovate on social

Sara Beirne, Director, Media Insights and Planning

Businesses in 2020 had no choice but to adapt to operate online and incorporate e-commerce and social models, which sped up digital transformation for many sectors.

Since many e-commerce platforms moved to provide smaller businesses with affordable ways to move online, this could diversify consumer choice in the longer term.

It has however also highlighted the issue of discoverability, as many brands are relying on the same big tech platforms in terms of search and social to access online customers.

This offers an opportunity for new platforms and channels providing diversity in digital marketing and we may also see brands continue to innovate ways to reach customers in an increasingly crowded space.

Consumer communications will focus on wellness

Beth Hunt, Account Director, Consumer

No one has been untouched by the events of 2020. It’s been a year (and a bit) of lockdowns, separation from loved ones, isolation, and stress. Top that off with soaring unemployment, sector challenges, a stretched NHS, and uncertainty about what the future holds, you can understand why mental health is near the top of the news agenda for publications.

Whilst we enter 2021 with optimism about the future, the need for support for consumers’ mental wellbeing is immediate, and brands will step up to help address this.

We’re likely to see brands increasingly establishing partnerships with charities, funding for more mental health services, and creating moments for consumers that offer an escape from the stress of everyday life, whilst enabling them to reconnect to the world around them.

At the same time, brands will need to address the very real issues consumers face, to help create more meaningful connections with their names and products. 2021 is the year of the customer and putting their needs first. Demonstrating authenticity, purpose, and accountability has never been so important for brands that want to thrive.

Influencer marketing will focus on authentic collaborations

Ed Tan, Account Manager, and Influencer

Influencer marketing’s been through a lot in the past year with a massive push on diversity across all industries, and a continuing drive for ‘authenticity’ in imagery and captions. As with many things that are propelled via social, we often see these swing rapidly from one end of the spectrum to the other.

Don’t get me wrong, diversity and authenticity will remain hugely important for this year and for years to come, but the way in which it’s approached and shown on our feeds will become more thoughtful, targeted, and impactful as brands grapple with how best to approach this.

Added to this, micro-influencers have come to the fore throughout lockdown, seeking out lesser-known brand collaborations as a basis for quality content.

2021 will be an interesting time to see if again here, brands blindly engage with them in an attempt to be ‘first in’ or will create genuinely interesting campaigns and relationships that will lead to great content.

Creative campaigns will go local

Kevan Barber, Creative Lead

We’re all desperate to get out there and explore further afield once again, but for many of us lockdowns have given us an appreciation of our localities.

Already we’ve seen initiatives such as My City Unlocked by Hyundai and hyperlocal Nike Unite shops, including one in Scotland’s East Kilbride, with local culture and preferences influencing everything from store design to products stocked and local sponsorship programmes.

This can seem daunting, how can a brand with its HQ and team in London really engage a community in a place like Wigan, Doncaster, or East Kilbride? On the one hand the technology is there, we have ways of targeting specific locations from globally relevant and easily consumable platforms.

However, this must be combined with the local know how and that has to come through collaboration and knowing when a task needs local insight and influence. Expect to see brands get it right and wrong in 2021. The most successful brands being those that execute campaigns with local not only at the core of the idea, but the execution of it too.

AI will start working in design

Lee Johnston, Designer

My prediction for design trends will be – that we won’t make them, but AI algorithms will. I’ve been harking on about the succession of human made content to perfectly indistinguishable AI made content since 2011 when I wrote my dissertation on how to take over a town using graphic design and the technology that is evolving in the sector.

Software is making people more and more able to do things that only very highly skilled people could do five years ago, in a simple button click and anyone can change the sky or cut-out a person from a photo perfectly and put them into a TikTok filter.

I believe graphic design will boil down to the layout (if that) and idea of a project more than actual production. For future projects, the design portion of a project will be given to a new team, none of whom are trained in design, but more in output and production, short turn around projects on the cheap.

One thing is for certain, if this year is anything like the last, we’ll see plenty of change, innovation, and gambles in marketing and comms in the months ahead.

Read more of our predictions for creativity in 2021 here.

  • Jack Terry,
    Copywriter

Post-Post-Truth: The future of media and disinformation after Trump

Four years of the Trump presidency gave rise to the term ‘post-truth’, due to the President’s constant exaggerations, obfuscations, and outright lies. When questioned on these, no admission of fault was ever made by the administration, who would deny any version of events not espoused by the President. Even after lies, conspiracies, and attempted bribes, it took an armed insurrection encouraged by the President for Republicans to turn on him.

Sadly, the extent to which his narratives have been peddled by supporters, sycophants, and true believers may mean that we’re not done with Trumpism even after he’s swiftly removed from the White House.

The infamous ‘alternative facts’ he offered, while ridiculed by the media, have been widely believed by Trump’s loyal base of supporters, and have managed to confuse or convert surprisingly large numbers to share in his worldview, or if not that, then whatever thing may have caught Trump’s attention on that particular day.

Journalists have been undermined, belittled, slandered, and attacked, all labelled as ‘enemies of the people’ by the President himself, while conspiracy theorists, grifters, and racist bloggers have been promoted, gaining thousands or millions of followers. This has led to a dangerous level of disinformation being shared on social media, much of which is absorbed and taken to be true before anything can be done to challenge it.

With Biden incoming as the next President and Trump being impeached, it’s tempting to believe this era of fake news and disinformation is over.

Sadly, it is not.

Disinformation has been shown to be incredibly successful at driving large-scale change, and bad actors are not going to stop using it to sow dissent, undermine faith in institutions, or to win political power. It works. They know it works. And it’s very hard to stop.

So, what can the media do to curb disinformation? First, they must look at what it is, how it works, and why it is so widely believed.

What is the difference between disinformation and misinformation?

While misinformation is merely a factually incorrect statement, disinformation is far more insidious, actively and deliberately sowing false information, usually for a specific purpose.

Disinformation has a context, but even when the media points out disinformation for what it is, this often only adds to the carefully-constructed narrative of a hostile media landscape trying to protect itself and the status quo, and that of course any challenge to that gets branded as lies or disinformation.

It’s a no-win scenario that we have been grappling with for years. But why do people believe it?

Why do people believe disinformation?

Disinformation has flourished online thanks to be shared by people’s extended network of friends and family on social media. If someone you know and trust shares a post that seems to ‘expose’ fraud, you’re more likely to believe it because of the connection you have with the person who shared it.

Beyond that, often the disinformation itself is designed to elicit an emotive response, which is more likely to be accepted as fact, as long as that anger is already in line with your worldview.

The following quote from Brian E. Weeks neatly summarises why disinformation is so often designed to make people angry, and why that anger reinforces belief:

‘Angry individuals are more likely to process information — including false information — in a way that is consistent with their existing political attitudes or beliefs, leaving them more susceptible to believing misinformation that is damaging to political opponents. Given that much of the political misinformation in circulation during the 2020 election was designed to elicit anger, it is unsurprising that so much misinformation was taken as true.’

Of course, individual pieces of disinformation aren’t always believed. But when they form part of a larger narrative, one that broadly conforms to what people already believe, they’re far more likely to accept it and assimilate it into their worldview. It then becomes cemented into how they view the world, as this quote from Saif Shahin expands upon:

‘Believing in and acting upon a piece of (dis)information, therefore, has little to do with truth and lies, right and wrong. Instead, it is closely related to people’s partisan identities and has become a form of identity performance — a ritual of who you are and where you belong in the increasingly fragmented body politic. But identities are always constructed in opposition to an “other”: distrust of and antipathy toward the “other” is fundamental to the conception of the “self.” That is the reason why so much of disinformation is accusatory of the “other” side […].’

We’ve seen this played out at scale over the last four years. Political factionalism has turned every single issue into a signifier, one that denotes which side you’re on. While the broader culture wars have always been raging, it’s now been co-opted into political discourse to such an extent that almost every issue seems to have wider significance attached to it, even something as simple as wearing a mask to try to stop the rampant progression of a deadly disease.

This means publications or groups that win followers through content and disinformation on one topic are then more likely to convert those followers to follow and care about other topics, because everything is part of the political spectrum. It’s why people who believe Trump’s lies about immigration are more likely to end up believing in chemtrails or Qanon, or won’t get a vaccine because they believe it contains a microchip the deep state will use to control them. This all has a real-world impact, and it’s why we can’t risk letting disinformation spread.

It’s clear that fighting disinformation will be an uphill battle. But it’s one we can’t afford to give up on.

How important is the fight against disinformation?

With Trump out of the picture, only time will tell if the Republicans move away from the ‘post-truth’ rhetoric that was emblematic of his speeches and approach to politics, or, having seen how successful candidates can be when they ignore the truth, lean in to the disinformation and blatant lies that enabled them to win power in 2016.

Don’t forget that more people voted for Trump in this election than any other Republican candidate in history, in large part thank to disinformation and lies. What he does works, so it seems unlikely they’ll completely abandon the techniques that have earned such a loyal (in some cases fanatical) following. Even with his back against the wall following the insurrection at Capitol Hill, some Republicans are still defending him, and continuing the narrative that the election was stolen.

If they decide to continue as they have, social media and news sites have an obligation to fight disinformation however they can – because we’ve seen the damage it can do.

So, what can the media do to fight back?

How social media companies and news sites can fight disinformation

Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter have recently tried to tackle disinformation by tagging posts that may contain disinformation, or making people click on links before sharing them. However, this isn’t likely to make much of an impact, as the content is still widely accessible and shareable, ensuring it will spread.

Thankfully, they have since gone further, banning accounts that spread extreme content.

However even tech giants must tread carefully, as new messaging apps like Parler can spring up overnight to provide alternative spaces for discussion entirely geared around conspiracy, which only makes the spread of disinformation more rampant. We’ll likely see copycat apps being developed in the future, with their own terms of use that allow or even encourage this kind of behaviour.

Small changes in how we use the internet could have a big impact on how we think about news in general. Sites like Facebook and Twitter should encourage users to read articles, check sources, and think critically about who stands to gain from you reading or sharing that article.

Banning and removing bad actors who create or share disinformation is another option. While this may draw cries of censorship from those who believe the fake news, stopping disinformation at the source means it can’t reach people who may be easy to convert.

Biden has pledged to bring high-speed broadband and 5G to every American, but if nothing is done to protect new internet users from malicious and misleading content, that may end up doing more harm than good.

Social media’s role in spreading disinformation

Of course, we can’t forget that social media played a huge role in the rise of disinformation, not just through making it easier than ever for users to share misleading content, but by the very design of the sites themselves.

Social media content is run through an algorithm with the sole purpose of driving engagement. Content which is emotive, divisive, or inflammatory will always garner more views, likes, comments, and shares, whether that’s through people agreeing with the content or arguing against it. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube serve billions of people with billions of pieces of content, all creating a tapestry of what they think a given users will want to see and click on next.

Someone who spends a lot of time online can quickly get sucked into a never-ending stream of content thanks to recommended videos, groups, and livestreams, which are all engineered to keep users engaged and on the platform. This is how communities get started, entirely based around a single idea, which soon spiral out into connected beliefs which begin to form ideologies.

There’s an argument to be made that social media cannot stop the spread of disinformation because it’s part of their business model. That’s why Twitter and Facebook waited until the last possible moment to remove Trump, and start deleting Qanon accounts. Conspiracy theorists are some of their best users. They live on the platform, they post regularly, and they use virtually all of their features.

Once the algorithm starts serving you disinformation it is very hard to stop, because it is chasing your engagement. Most users have no real understanding of this, and that all social platforms, including many news websites, are personalised to their browsing habits. Contrary to what many pundits believe, this doesn’t create an echo chamber. It creates an alternate reality for the user.

Social media’s purpose is to take individual thoughts, opinions, beliefs, ideas, and messages and share at scale. Tagging content as disinformation won’t stop those ideas from being shared. Radical action is needed, and it is unlikely to come from the very people who got us into this mess in the first place.

Disinformation has already done damage to our politics, our economy, and our culture. It’s resulted in people taking risks with their health, even leading to death. It led to an armed uprising against the US government, which, if successful, would have resulted in politicians’ executions being livestreamed on the same sites which enabled this in the first place.

It can encourage violence, embolden racists, and tear apart families. Stamping it out is the first step towards returning to a shared reality, instead of the strange and polarized world we find ourselves in now.

Recent events have shown social media companies that the power they wield could determine the future of the world’s democratic systems. All eyes are on what they do next, as well as the transition of power from Trump to Biden, and what happens to Trump and QAnon over the coming days, weeks, and months.

To change the speed and scale at which disinformation flourishes, social media companies have to look at how they operate, and decide how to change for the better. This is not going to be a quick fix, but in the last few weeks we’ve already seen progress. Let’s hope it continues.

Eulogy wins global leader in data science

Global data science consultancy Ekimetrics has appointed independent PR and comms agency Eulogy to support its UK marketing strategy and growth plans.

Eulogy will be working closely with the London Ekimetrics team as it builds out its UK presence, delivering digital marketing services to leverage opportunities during the current uncertainty, while also aiding its longer-term growth strategy.

Ekimetrics is a pioneering data science consultancy, enabling companies to build powerful data and analytics capabilities to drive marketing and business performance. Recently named a strong performer in the 2020 Forrester Wave report for its marketing measurement and optimisation solutions, Ekimetrics helps brands unlock unique audience and market insights to drive efficiencies and return on investment.

With five global offices, 280+ data science consultants and projects in 50+ countries, Ekimetrics’ data and analytics capabilities span multiple industries including automotive, luxury, FMCG and retail.

Eulogy has been brought on board to develop and deliver Ekimetrics’ UK marketing strategy, to broaden awareness of the brand and support its client expansion plans, activated through a series of campaigns targeted at critical growth sectors for the business.

Matt Andrew, UK MD, Ekimetrics, said: “Eulogy has a strong understanding of our market, alongside the results-driven mindset to realise what we need to achieve in the UK. I’m looking forward to working with the very fun and talented team at Eulogy as they help us navigate the challenges ahead. It’s a difficult time for many businesses, but with their expertise I am sure we will see growth for our business.”

Phil Borge-Slavnich, MD, Eulogy, adds: “Our job is to creatively articulate the value Ekimetrics brings to those businesses looking to better understand and engage with their audiences through this COVID-19 crisis and beyond.  They’re a super smart bunch of people, and we’re chuffed to be working with them.”

As businesses re-evaluate their communications strategies amidst the current uncertainty, Eulogy has released its latest tech trends report, revealing how tech businesses can manage change and protect their reputation, with fresh insight into the COVID-19 climate from tech industry leaders across the globe, including MIT Tech Review, MINI UK and Tech Nation.