Month: February 2020

Some interesting places to visit next

Coconut Trees against a blue sky
Photo by Firos nv on Unsplash

Happy Friday! In case you are wondering where to go to next, these couple of articles might just help you decide!

Tripadvisor’s Trending Destinations – Kochi (or Cochin) in the state of Kerala in Southern India tops the list of Trending Destinations on Tripadvisor. I might be a bit biased as my family comes from a place a few kilometres away from Kochi, but it (and the state of Kerala as a whole) is an incredibly scenic place with amazing food and culture.

Intrepid Travel’s Not Hot List – For the more adventurous traveler, there are some not so well-known places on this list that might be worth exploring.

So where are you off to next?

What’s Your Visual Marketing Strategy?

high angle photo of person holding film strip in front of a laptop
Photo by cottonbro on

I was having a discussion around Digital Advertising with a client of mine recently. We were debating on what kind of Google Ad to run for her ecommerce business when she made a comment, “Sanjay, who reads a text ad these days? Someone I know only looks ate the Image results while doing a Google Search.” We ended up deciding to launch a Google Shopping Ad. But the comment stayed with me.

A bit of research made it clear to me that what my client was saying was not just a single person’s opinion, but reflective of broader trends in the digital space. Many of us, I am sure, are regular users of the leading visual based social network, Instagram. And, of course, there is streaming video.

Digital marketers who started their careers over a decade ago are likely to be biased towards Search marketing. We have seen the significant and out-sized impact it made on many consumer businesses. Having seen those kind of results, when we tried Display and Video advertising, we came across a few challenges:

  • Display and Video could not deliver the same kind of results that Search could, simply because we were able to target users with very high intent to take a specific action.
  • Ad Creation was significantly more complex than Search text ads due to the requirements of multiple, high quality image and video content.
  • Performance measurement was a challenge. Most users who see a Display and Video Ad are unlikely to click on the Ad and perform the desired action. Yes, we had View through conversion tracking, but there was always a question mark on what was the true impact of seeing the ad on the purchase behaviour.

But, over the past few years, large advertising media players have invested significant efforts in addressing all of the above issues.

Targeting – There are now powerful ways to target users for visual advertising. These include, in addition to demographic targeting, the ability to target users based on their interests and online behaviours, across both a brand’s own website and other websites or apps.

YouTube Targeting Options

‘Responsive’ ads – Advertisers no longer require to have a team of graphic designers to create ads. As long as you have the basic assets ready, you can use the various automated ad creation systems now available to create a vast number of different creatives across multiple sizes. Even an average smartphone user can create very good video ads these days, as we can see on Instagram stories and other similar sites.

Responsive Display Ads
Example of Responsive Display Ads being auto-adjusted for mobile and desktop views. Courtesy Google

Advanced Measurement Tactics – Smart marketers are able to leverage the multiple data signals available to them across the spectrum of digital channels to have more detailed insights into the impact their visual advertisement is having. In addition, many media agencies are also able to provide ‘lift’ metrics soon after the campaign ends.

If you would like to learn more about how to develop a Visual Marketing strategy, then you might find the following articles helpful:

How To Create A Visual Marketing Strategy

The Beginner’s Guide to Creating Visual Content Marketing Strategy

How to Plan Your Visual Content Marketing Strategy

On Remote Working

woman sitting on sofa while looking at phone with laptop on lap
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

While I have mostly worked with digital native organisations, it is interesting, looking back, that remote working was not really a big thing in most of these organisations. Sure, you could work remotely if required, but very few people actually took it up, preferring to work from the office most of the time.

My first real exposure to formal remote working policies was, interestingly enough, when I started working for a very ‘traditional’ business. They had quite progressive rules for employees who, for whatever reason, had to work from home.

I have been ‘remotely working’, in a fashion, over the the past 18 months or so since I decided to embark on my independent gig. I have learnt a few things along the way:

I find it very challenging to work from home full time. I am just not able to shake off the fact that I am actually sitting at home, and hence get easily and regularly distracted. Not to mention that, in India, there’s a steady stream of people ringing your doorbell through the day, which can be a nuisance when you are in the midst of some work that requires concentration.

I like the discipline of having a routine of ‘going to work’. Related to the previous point, I realise that I prefer to have some sort of demarcation between ‘work space’ and ‘relaxation space’. Which is why I decided to invest in a desk at a co-working space.

I like to be surrounded by other ‘workers’. It gives me the sense of belonging to a community, After all, we are social animals.

The reason for this post is a State of Remote Work 2020 report that I came across recently. It contains some interesting insights into remote work. I personally found it surprising that only 7% of the remote workers surveyed (3,500) are working out of a co-working space. It was also disappointing to read that 80% of the organisations that the respondents work for don’t pay for monthly expenses associated with remote work.

As the ‘gig economy‘ continues to grow, organisations will have to increasingly design frameworks that balance the desire for some employees to work remotely with other considerations that might necessitate employees to work out of common offices. Clearly, the technologies of today are much better at enabling connectivity between employees who are spatially distributed. But I also believe that there are issues with team and culture building, informal networks, etc that still need to be debated and resolved.

What are your views on remote working? Please let me know by commenting on this article.


Some recent SEO Developments

Photo by Merakist on Unsplash

I have written a few times previously on the importance of SEO in your Digital Marketing Strategy. Here are a few recent developments in the field of Search Engine Optimisation that I wanted to highlight:

Technical SEO and Page Speed – Google continues to put more emphasis on how quickly your page loads, especially on mobile. They have recently introduced a Speed Report within Google Search Console that shows how fast your pages perform in real world usage. Two key metrics in this report are First Contentful Paint (FCP) and First Input Delay (FID). 

First Contentful Paint (FCP) is the time from when the user requests the URL until the browser renders the first visible element in the URL.

First Input Delay (FID) is the time from when a user first interacts with your page (when they clicked a link, tapped on a button, and so on) to the time when the browser responds to that interaction.

This article has more details on these two terms.

Why Schema Markup is a Pivotal SEO Strategy For 2020 – Schema Markups have been around for a while, but it just does not seem to have gained the attention that other elements of SEO have. I believe, though, that this will change. The rise of Voice Search and other Machine Learning / AI led developments will lead to structured content will become increasingly important. This podcast does a great job of talking about these Scheme Markup topics. Interesting insight for me was that one can use Structured Data within Google Analytics .

What is SEO Content? How to Write Content that Ranks – Ok, there is nothing new here. But I like the comprehensiveness of this article that can be your single reference source when you are figuring out your next piece of content.

E-commerce category pages outperform product detail pages in SERPs – If you are an e-commerce merchant, chances are that you do not spend too much time worrying about SEO for category pages, choosing to focus on product pages instead. Recent research seems to indicate that you might want to relook at this and that category page optimization could be a valuable area to prioritize to boost your organic search rankings and traffic.

Changes in ‘nofollow’ links – This has been a topic of discussion in the SEO world ever since Google announced, back in September 2019, that it was making some changes to the way it treats ‘nofollow’ links. This detailed article will help you understand everything about what’s changing. And in case you are looking for a primer on ‘nofollow’ links, you can refer to one of my earlier posts on SEO and ‘nofollow’ links.





Monday Reads – 24/02

Weird mural of Man riding robot
Photo by Paweł Czerwiński on Unsplash

A mix of topics in this week’s selection covering the state of Asian corporates, how to work through an ‘off’ day, tips to write better and one of the most thought-provoking and inspiring articles I have read in a while.

Corporate Asia: A Capital Paradox – A detailed look at the state of Corporate Asia. It does not, unfortunately, paint a very pretty picture. “…capital-intensive Asian companies are not necessarily generating economic profit; this may not be sustainable in the long-term.” Looking forward to reading more in this series from McKinsey & Company.

Sloggy Days – When You Don’t Want To Do Anything – Most of us, I am sure, would have gone through days in our lives when we just do not feel like doing anything. It happened to me last week after a relatively hectic weekend of traveling and work. Rather than fight through it, I just decided to take the afternoon off and have a nap. It really helped. I accept that I am lucky in that I possibly have far more control over my daily schedule than a typical ’employee’. In case you are going through one of such days, you might find this article helpful.

Turning a Passion into a Profession – I have also enjoyed writing. And for the past 18 months or so that I have been maintaining this blog, I have given myself liberty to express myself on topics that catch my fancy. I do not consider myself a very good writer, but my belief is that you can only get better with practice. Please read this article if you would like to explore the creative side of your personality, or indeed have a desire to get better at something. And while on the topic of writing, you might also want to check out this video on ‘3 Ways to Write Better‘.

Stay Weird – A powerful article on the tendency of most corporates to demand conformity from their employees, leading to group think and the killing of individuality. The solution – Stay Weird. In this day and age of ‘diversity hiring’, the real need of the hour is for corporates to celebrate the diversity of thought within their ranks., thereby enabling employees to bring their ‘best selves’ to work every single day (except maybe when they are having a ‘sloggy day’ :-)).