Blockchain and travel – two words that invoke a lot of feelings on their own, but mostly confusion when combined. While blockchain may sound overly technical and complex (because, well, it is), we promise that its potential benefits to the travel industry are phenomenal.
When you think of travel companies, you may think that their content is the most important part of the package. While it's a huge part of the marketing mix, the logistical side is just as crucial, and this is where blockchain can make its mark.
Blockchain is a rather misunderstood protocol born of the crypto-currency age. It was originally designed for Bitcoin and Bitcoin transactions, but boasts extra security, boosted efficiency and reliability. It can create palpable, real-time results, such as faster and easier data access and cost reductions for businesses and customers. Therefore it's unsurprising that this nifty system is already making waves in a variety of sectors, from finance to enterprise.
Experts are saying that blockchain has the potential to transform the entire travel industry. As avid travellers, we're keeping our fingers crossed for its success – here’s why…
Blockchain is a system of decentralised storage that works by storing data on blocks that sit within a chain. This is network speak, of course – we're not talking about physical chains or blocks cluttering up server rooms. The idea of decentralising data means it is on a wider network that's easily accessed by all agents. It's more secure than local data, as is less likely to come under cyber-attack or data loss via accidental deletion. Blockchain can harvest a wealth of benefits from business to business, improving customer interactions as well as efficiency.
The travel industry is a very data rich sector with information shared in high volumes between a huge number of businesses, services and agents. This begins with the travel advisor, and goes onto the airline, hotel, car hire and even car parking and transfers, as well as credit-card companies and banks. There is data provided to and produced by nearly every single purchase or enquiry of a traveller's journey.
For the most part, this data is centralised meaning that information such as traveller names and passport numbers have to be passed physically from agent to agent. This obviously leaves a lot of room for error, this system is also more likely to experience a cyber-attack. With blockchain, all of this information would be stored on a network which is accessible to all of the appropriate agents, meaning the information is made available immediately when required.
Blockchain goes beyond the initial booking processes described above. When implemented correctly, it provides the foundation for more efficient systems across the entirety of the travel sector. The benefits are realised by both travellers and businesses. a great example of blockchain in the travel industry is the snappily-named Known Traveller Digital Identity prototype which is currently being tested in several countries. It allows customers to supply all of their ID information digitally, hugely speeding up passenger verification and cutting down wait times for security checks at airports. The full digitalisation of IDs and visas would see a massive boost in efficiency in these areas.
Also inside the airport, the world of baggage handling could be reinvented. If blockchain was implemented in a baggage handling system, luggage could be tracked instantaneously without needing to contact other airlines and handlers for tracking information, minimising luggage loss.
For frequent travellers, hotel reward points could become available from the moment they are earned, as opposed to waiting days for the hotel and reward networks to sync up.
The beginning of spring has echoed themes of change and progress throughout the digital sphere. From search engine updates to GDPR preparations, here are some of April’s biggest headlines from SEO, content marketing and digital PR.
Mutters of a Google algorithm update have been heard throughout the search and marketing industry this month, and on April 16th we finally got the news we’d been waiting for. Announcing the news via Twitter, Google identified the change as a ‘broad core algorithm update’, the likes of which systematically take place at several points throughout the year. Even so, businesses across the globe have been eager to discover exactly what the update means for them.
The general consensus from Google is that these updates are an integral part of their work. While some users are expected to experience slight drops or gains in visibility during this time, the search engine is keen to reiterate that there is very little sites can do in order to prepare for such updates – aside, of course, from continuing to produce a steady stream of quality content.
“Changes to our systems are benefiting pages that were previously under-rewarded”, Google SearchLiaison confirmed in a series of tweets last month. “There’s no ‘fix’ for pages that may perform less well, other than to remain focused on building great content.” More so than ever, it seems that investing in a solid content strategy is vital to securing and maintaining sought-after SERP positions.
If your inbox has been flooded with emails alluding to websites’ updated terms of service this month, you’re not alone. As we ease ever-closer to next month’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) launch, brands and social media giants have been scurrying to inform users of ‘important updates’ and secure their continued custom long after the GDPR laws are put in place on May 25th.
Perhaps the biggest change will be the regulation that customers will need to actively opt-in to their data being shared, as opposed to the opt-out system that many market leaders have favoured in the past. As a result, the influx of ‘opt-in’ emails and notifications witnessed over the past few weeks is only expected to grow. For many, however, the introduction of the GDPR brings about serious concerns around the future for businesses and marketing agencies on a worldwide scale.
“The world of digital marketing is increasingly reliant on collecting personal data for ad targeting, and this could severely impact their capacity to do so” highlights the Digital Marketing Institute. Even so, there’s little scope to argue that the regulations are anything but relevant, useful and necessary – particularly in light of recent data protection scandals from the likes of Facebook and Uber. “It’s important that business managers and digital leaders not only abide… but incorporate policies internally that support and sustain the same principles”, the Digital Marketing Institute concludes.
A new study from Stone Temple Marketing has unveiled Google Assistant as the ‘smartest’ personal assistant, beating the likes of Alexa, Cortana Invoke and Siri. Results may vary depending on your platform, however, as Google Assistant accessed on a smartphone proved slightly more accurate than the same programme operated on Google Home devices.
While Alexa proved one of the lesser able to deliver full and accurate responses, it took some consolidation in being named the most improved assistant when compared with results of a similar 2017 study. 12 months ago, Alexa attempted answers on just 19.8% of queries – rising to 53% this year. Perhaps surprisingly, it was Apple’s personal assistant, Siri, which proved least competent in both attempting answers (40.7%) and ensuring those answers were full and correct (80%).
The study was conducted on a small sample of devices, with 4,952 individual queries being proposed to each assistant. While the results are far from comprehensive, there are many valuable takeaways from the study – including an insight into the rapid pace at which personal assistants are developing and improving in reliability.
The next couple of months look set to bring a great deal of change within the marketing, search and content sectors. For more information and advice on staying up to date with emerging trends, get in touch with WooContent today.
A changing market – a new study suggests that the number of people viewing video content is dramatically increasing, opening doorways for new media and advertising opportunities.
As smart phones, portable tablets and public wi-fi networks become more and more commonplace, and large desktop computers and laptops are considered bulky and unappealing, video and media companies, online advertisers and SEO agencies have to be aware of the medium that their content is being translated. With screen sizes changing and rapid developments in entertainment technology, tracing the trends has never been so important.
Ooyala captures 3.5 billion analytics events each day in order to follow these shifts. Having ingested and transcoded over 100 million minutes of video in 2014, Ooyala is now continuing the process in 2015.
According to its recent study, the Q1 2015 Global Video Index, 42% of all online video views are watched on mobile devices. Of these mobile devices, smartphones outranked tablets four to one, with mobile devices making up 34% of all online video plays. This statistic is unsurprising, due to the popularity and accessibility of the smartphone, however the trend pushes upwards.
Since Q1 2014, video plays on mobile devices have doubled with a 100% increase, and over the last two years they have beyond tripled, with a 367% increase. In this year alone, they have increased by 24% from January, and with it the potential market, advertising space and customer attention.
Yet the audience itself ought to be considered. Broadcaster content was played on mobile devices 53% of the time, with PCs making up the other 47%, a major shift in distribution, the scales tipping in favour of mobile devices, a number most likely influenced by younger viewers. From this consensus, it could be argued that mobile advertisements on broadcaster videos would be sensibly aimed at Millenials, yet the study shows that advertisements are less likely to be completed on mobile devices, as opposed to PCs.
Only 79% of advertisements that began to play on a mobile were completed, compared to 89% of those that started on a PC, and publishers saw a similar trend. However, the large volume of mobile devices, and the growing favour towards smartphones, would help combat any loss in mobile advertising.
The report also investigated the power of personalised advertising, with personalised content recommendations providing 50% of total viewed content for consumers. As this demand for mobile content increases, so does the need for marketers and businesses to build comprehensive video and product marketing plans.
Very little has captured the attention of the SEO community in recent years like Google’s Panda and Penguin updates.
Beneath the cute monikers lie algorithm changes that have shaken up the industry, and put webmasters and SEOs that have failed to add value to the internet.
The Panda class of updates, with its steady stream of minor updates following its original launch in February 2011, was introduced to down-rank websites which offered a poor user experience and made use of link farms and low quality content. The Penguin update, on the other hand, primarily targets websites which use black hat techniques such as link bombing, keyword stuffing and article spinning to name but a few.
The Penguin update has only affected 3% of all search results but its effects are difficult to recover from, and while Panda’s numerous later iterations have hardly been felt, Google have warned of a “jarring and jolting” new Penguin release.
So what techniques has Penguin penalised?
In the past, webmasters used a technique called keyword stuffing to increase rankings in search engine results. This practice involves stuffing a huge amount of keywords into website content to appear relevant to the crawlers that index websites.
This practice has changed over time as search engine algorithms have become more complex but is still, to this day, part of the black-hat approach to SEO. The Penguin update has heavily focused on punishing websites using this method. The only real way of undoing this is by going back over your website and removing any cases of keyword stuffing.
Meta data stuffing
Webmasters often optimise article titles and meta data descriptions for search engines. Penguin intends to rule out this kind of behaviour as the focus is on promoting white hat techniques that make for a better user experience. It was, at one time, extremely easy to manipulate SERPs by stuffing keywords in meta data tags to appear more relevant.
Despite not being designed to specifically target duplicate or spun copy, webmasters using this technique will see their sites penalised for plagiarising or spinning content. The onus is on brands to treat their websites as they would any other form of content marketing, producing engaging content that will interest readers, provide quality information and promote brand.
Links from suspicious websites:
Buying large amounts of links from low quality websites was once the most common method used to increase search engine rankings. Google have been working tirelessly to penalise websites who still practice this and the Penguin update is no exception. The best websites are the ones that have links from high ranking websites which are relevant. Google can now see which websites are gaining links from irrelevant sources and will penalise them for doing so.
Smartphones have changed the way people use the internet and, with the uptake of smartphones now making waves in developing markets, the mobile browsing revolution shows little sign of abating.
A recent Google survey demonstrated that 9 out of 10 mobile searches result in an action (e.g. purchasing products or visiting businesses), so making sure your website is well optimised for mobile search can be critical to your fortunes online.
Mobile searches account for almost 25% of all searches on the internet, and marketing companies have been doubling their mobile budgets year on year. For the most part, optimisation is the same as it is for regular sites – content, keywords and links – but there are some nuances you should bear in mind when looking to tap this important market.
Because mobile phone searches are done primarily on small keyboards, the search terms tend to be 25% shorter than those carried out on a desktop. That means that keyword selection must be adapted if you want to compete. Google’s keyword tool allows you to filter mobile searches for you to adequately target keywords.
Before you begin optimising for mobile, it’s worth checking how much of your traffic actually comes from mobile devices. This will vary greatly on the type of business you are as well as where you’re located. Use Google Analytics to have a look at your mobile traffic – looking at how users interact with your site and whether this interaction converts into sales.
Mobile site design
A few years ago, if you wanted to fully engage with mobile users, you would have to design specific mobile sites. With the proliferation of smartphone technology, this is no longer required as smartphones are more than capable of viewing websites in full.
As screens get bigger and processing speeds get faster this trend looks set to continue, but consider whether yours would benefit from a different layout to make browsing easier. Sites with significant e-commerce aspects are particularly likely to benefit. For some websites, the best option may be to develop an application for users to interact with your site directly.
Mobile users interact with websites differently to regular PC users, which mean you should optimise mobile content for this purpose. You want to give users access to the information they need in a simple, direct fashion, and make it easy for them to purchase products.
Mobile content works similarly to regular content marketing strategies: understanding your users, identifying correct keywords and providing interesting and useful copy. Go about it in a planned, switched-on manner and you can open up your site to a significant section of browsers who are ready, willing and able to engage with your brand, use your site and buy your products.