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Bridget Miller

Bridget Miller

Traditional market research has many benefits, but as we know there are drawbacks. For health care market research in particular, bringing all participants to a singular place can sometimes present a physical challenge as respondents might be ill or have limited mobility. In addition, physicians and other health care professionals often have hectic schedules that make it difficult for them to appear in person.

That’s where virtual reality (VR) could offer a huge leap forward. Imagine your respondents never needing to leave the comfort of their own home or office, as VR becomes the standard of the future. But can it really replace face-to-face health care market research?

Exploring the possibilities

We may be fast approaching the point where VR affords researchers the same tone of voice, facial cues and body language opportunities as being physically in front of the respondent. That’s because even though VR has been around for a good while now, recent technological advances, and the innovative approach of some of the world’s biggest tech companies, means it’s now more effective and accessible than ever.

Take Google Cardboard for example. This simple viewer turns a smartphone into a VR headset using just one piece of cardboard folded to enclose the device. It’s easy to use, and a relatively cheap option for researchers. You could buy and send it to health care market research respondents, or respondents can easily download the template and make their own. As it becomes more widely accepted and accessible VR could be a part of everyday life. (Find out more about Google Cardboard here.)

Other big companies are continuing to explore the possibilities of VR. Facebook recently paid $2 billion for VR developer Oculus, while HTC Vive combines a VR headset and laser guidance to allow people to have a truly interactive experience. Sony is soon to launch its PlayStation VR to enhance its gaming, and Microsoft HoloLens is set to change the face of personal computing by offering the world’s first see-through holographic computer viewed using smart-glass headsets. These devices could offer a whole world of potential and opportunity for future market research.

Imagine the possibilities for health care market research, not just from a virtual reality perspective but from augmented reality and live streaming as well. Researchers have the potential to watch a patient and doctor consultation live, or could even view a surgeon using the latest devices first-hand.

Oculus Rift is a headset that makes you feel like you’re actually in the room, the doctor’s office or anywhere else you might want your respondents to be, while Oculus Gear VR turns Samsung smartphones into VR headsets. Like Oculus, Microsoft HoloLens also has a huge range of possibilities when applied to market research. All these headsets have applications that will transform how we interact with the world, in entertainment, on the Internet, playing games or simply carrying out everyday tasks. So it’s not a huge leap to imagine a time when it’s possible to get great market research insight and data the same way.

Computer-simulated environments could have advantages over focus groups, concept tests and other laboratory approaches, as consumers can test and respond to an unlimited number of products, or set up and alter tests at the touch of a button. You can even create an environment with a realistic level of variety of similar products and use eye-tracking and motion monitoring to measure every aspect of a respondent’s interaction with them. All these possibilities may in time be adaptable to offer respondents fully immersive 3D virtual testing equipment that allows health care market researchers to recreate the atmosphere of anything from a hospital to a focus group room – quickly and inexpensively.

Virtual doctor visits

In health care, VR’s greatest potential surely lies in how it could affect doctor-patient interactions. Health care professionals have already been embracing alternatives to in-person visits for some time, whether it’s 24-hour nurse lines, e-mail consultations or live video chats with physicians. VR technology could be even more effective than those options in providing patients with a realistic way of conferring with their doctors.

The benefits of this kind of VR consultation would be numerous. People who feel ill wouldn’t be forced to leave the house to see a doctor. They wouldn’t have to expose others to anything contagious that they might have. People on medications that might compromise their motor skills wouldn’t be trying to get behind the wheel to visit the doctor. Doctors and nurses could have more flexibility in their schedules.

Of course, before we get ahead of ourselves, we have to remember the limitations of VR. To what extent can a physician examine a patient using it? It will have to be determined exactly what kinds of check-ups a doctor can manage through VR and what symptoms can be accurately detected virtually. When in doubt, it will always be best to do an in-person exam. However, for follow-ups or common illnesses with an easy diagnosis, the virtual visit to the doctor could be something commonplace in the very near future.

So it’s all good?

We need to be wary of thinking virtual reality is without disadvantages. There are issues that need to be addressed in order for it to produce clear, relevant research. For example, how do you get a respondent to behave naturally and give honest, unbiased answers when they’re using a device that could leave them disorientated, or even a little frightened? It might possibly produce physical effects, such as a heightened heart rate or faster breathing that could adversely affect their answers. This is especially concerning in health care market research, where you may already be dealing with participants who have pressing health concerns.

Furthermore, we have to understand that it’s not a natural environment likely to produce real-life responses. Respondents also need to be trained to use the technology correctly. Can VR ever really replicate the subtleties of eye contact and other visual cues available when sitting face-to-face? Will a potentially vulnerable patient feel the same ease as they would in the physical presence of a warm, caring human being?

All in all, the onset of more advanced, next-generation VR is an exciting prospect and one that could revolutionize the way to carry out our work in health care market research. We’ll just have to keep an eye on how and when the technology matches our ambition – and avoid any pitfalls it may bring.

Source:  http://researchindustryvoices.com/2016/05/10/the-future-of-virtual-reality-and-health-care-market-research/

The search giant won't say exactly how many trillions of queries it processes, other than it's now two or more. It last claimed 1.2 trillion in 2012.

How many searches per year happen on Google? After nearly four years, the company has finally released an updated figure today of “trillions” per year. How many trillions, exactly, Google wouldn’t say. Consider two trillion the starting point.

At least 2 trillion and less than a quadrillion

Google did confirm to Search Engine Land that because it said it handles “trillions” of searches per year worldwide, the figure could be safely assumed to be two trillion or above. After all, you can’t do trillions of searches — plural — unless it’s two or more.

But is it more than two trillion? Google could be doing five trillion searches per year. Or 10 trillion. Or 100 trillion. Or presumably up to 999 trillion, because if it were 1,000 trillion, you’d expect Google would announce that it does a quadrillion searches per year (Yes, that’s the name for 1,000 trillion — I had to look it up!).

Google’s searches per year, over time

The actual trillions figure is probably close to the single or low double-digits. This assumption comes from what Google has claimed in the past. To understand that, let’s go through the history of what Google itself has said it handles in terms of searches per year.

An important note here: All the numbers below are those that Google itself claimed, not those from third parties. Also important: it’s easy to find sites claiming to show a year-by-year progression based on Google’s own figures on how Google’s searches have increased over time. Those claims aren’t valid, as Google has often skipped self-reporting searches, as you’ll see below.

1999: one billion per year (based on three million searches per day in August 1999, as reported by John Battelle in his great book, The Search. The figures, I’m fairly certain, came directly from Google, which was more open back then when needing to prove its growth story)

2000: 14 billion (based on 18 million searches per day for the first half of 2000 and 60 million for the second half, from figures reported by Battelle. It’s not a perfect estimate, but it’s the best I can figure)
2001–2003: 55 billion+ (based on reports by Google for its Zeitgeist in 2001, 2002 and 2003)
2004–2008: 73 billion (based on Google saying it was doing 200 million searches per day in 2004. After that, it said only “billions” in Google Zeitgeist for 2005 and 2007, with nothing said for 2006 or 2008)
2009: 365 billion+ (A Google blog post in 2009 said Google was doing more than one billion searches per day, then silence for 2010 and 2011)

2012–2015: 1.2 trillion (based on a 100-billion-per-month figure Google released during a special press briefing on search in 2012. Google repeated this figure in 2015, when expressing it as three billion searches per day)

2016: two trillion+ (based on this story that you’re reading now!)
The difficulty in estimating beyond 2 trillion
As you can see, Google’s claiming to do at least roughly double the searches in 2016 that it did in 2012. That seems reasonable to believe. But could it be doing more?

The best way I know to estimate is to repeat what I’ve done before. You look at what comScore, a third-party ratings service, reported Google handling in 2012. You then compare that to 2016, to get comScore’s growth rate for Google. Then, that rate can be applied to Google’s own figures.

This is not perfect for several reasons. First, comScore only measures searches in the United States, not worldwide. Globally, growth might be much different. Second, comScore only measures desktop searches, missing the more than half of searches now happening on mobile with Google. Finally, comScore ultimately is an educated guess at what Google’s really processing. Only Google knows for sure.

With those caveats in mind, comScore’s most recent estimates put Google at handling 10.4 billion searches last month. Comparing that to three years ago, comScore put Google at 11.4 billion searches per month. Uh oh! That’s a nine-percent decline. This rate applied to Google’s latest figures would suggest that Google should have dipped down to about one trillion searches, not risen up to two trillion or more.

Back to those caveats. Again, comScore only measures desktop search activity, which has been dropping consistently since 2013, as people turn to mobile devices. This means comScore’s entirely missing the growth story in search, making any estimates off its figures fairly useless.

The bottom line: Without Google itself providing more details, assuming two trillion or more searches per year is the safest bet, for those who want to cite an actual figure rather than say “trillions.”

Those who cite figures also often like to cite them per month, day, or even to the second. If you go with two trillion per year with Google, then the breakdown is like this, in rounded figures:

Searches per second: 63,000
Searches per minute: 3.8 million
Searches per hour: 228 million
Searches per day: 5.5 billion
Searches per month: 167 billion
Searches per year: 2 trillion

Again, a caveat. Read all those figures with “at least” in mind. Google’s doing at least two trillion searches, it says, but it could be more. That similarly means it’s doing at least 63,000 searches per second, but maybe more, at least 5.5 billion searches per month, but maybe more, and so on.

Source:  http://searchengineland.com/google-now-handles-2-999-trillion-searches-per-year-250247

As we continue to shift towards audience-centric marketing, columnist Christi Olson of Bing notes that we can create more effective remarketing campaigns by asking the right questions about our searchers.

Search as we know it is changing, with keywords and match types giving way to a more audience-powered approach. It’s a transition that has been slowly coming, but now that remarketing and remarketing lists for search ads (RLSA) are available on Bing and Google, search marketers can no longer afford to ignore audience-based buying.

In the new search world order, searching for searchers will increasingly be a part of every successful marketer’s integrated search strategy.

Welcome to the new world of search

In the early days of search, keywords and match types were the main levers search advertisers used to find customers. Keywords allowed us to reach the consumers who were searching for our products and services, while match types allowed the query-to-keyword relationship to be more or less relevant, a kind of volume and relevance throttle.

Today, audiences enable advertisers to target the right message to the right person — at potentially the right time — in a way that keywords cannot. Keywords can give you intent and interest levels, but search is now on the cusp of something greater: the ability to create campaigns to specifically meet customers, wherever they are.

Just as exciting, we can use audiences to help us stop wasting digital marketing spend… and those audiences don’t have to be limited to users who have engaged with us from a search standpoint.
Could all search campaigns be remarketing campaigns?

I’ve been noodling on the idea for a while that all campaigns are remarketing campaigns. You might disagree with me, especially since Bing only allows a -90-percent bid modifier. But… a -90-percent bid modifier is still fairly close to creating an exclusion or a negative campaign.

Why is this important? It gives you the ability to segment your customers, adjust your bid strategy to reduce acquisition costs and adjust your messaging based on the audience segment.

Consider this scenario:

In the paid search brand campaigns I managed, I noticed that over time, my CPAs were steadily increasing. Using analytics to investigate, I found that there were a lot of return visitors on our brand keywords. I was paying to re-engage existing customers who were lazy and clicking on my paid search ads to navigate to the site or get a specific offer/deal instead of navigating through organic links or going directly to the website.

This, in conjunction with more competition bidding on my brand keywords, was causing my CPCs and my CPA to increase. My goal was to decrease my CPA and CPC and target net new customers to increase our overall awareness.

I decided to segment the brand campaign into two groups:

Engaged Visitors. Site visitors from the last 30 days who didn’t bounce right away, purchasers, visitors who touched other high-cost channels.

Net-new or Low Engagement Visitors. Visitors who haven’t been to the site in more than 30 days, visitors who bounced within x seconds in the last 30 days and people who haven’t been to my site.

Each group had different bid strategies and messaging.

With the Engaged Visitor segment, I reduced my bids, allowing my ads to go into a lower position, knowing that I ranked well organically. I also adjusted my messaging to our existing customers to not promote discounts/sales.

For the Net-new and Low Engagement Visitors, I did the inverse, increasing bids to make sure I was in prominent positioning with value-based customer messaging.

Making these adjustments, I was able to decrease my CPA for existing customers. And by focusing less on discount or promotional messaging to existing customers, I wasn’t paying to reacquire them every time they wanted to make a transaction. Instead, I could focus on building a new customer base that had a higher lifetime value to my client’s business.

Asking the right questions

I was able to use remarketing because I started to think more strategically about how I was targeting different customer segments.

Think about what other questions you can ask to segment out consumers and what you might do differently in terms of bidding, targeted keywords (head vs. tail) and the overall messaging (ad copy, ad extensions) and user experience. Learn to ask the right questions so you can develop remarketing strategies that align to your business goals.

Ask questions like:

  1.     Would you create different user experience for new vs. existing customers?
  2.     Has a customer been to your website previously?
  3.     Have they engaged through other high-cost channels?
  4.     Have they engaged multiple times across multiple marketing channels?

If you are strategic and smart about the questions you ask, you might change your perspective about how you use audiences and RLSA to make your search campaigns more effective.
Be customer-obsessed

There are a million ways to segment your search campaigns based on audiences — and they all lead to better experiences for your customers. But by using audiences to segment users and create custom messaging and experiences for specific audiences, you will dramatically increase the scale and size of your search marketing campaigns.

Of course, there is a cost associated with managing this; but in most cases, changing your bid strategies or re-attracting and engaging with consumers who are more likely to convert will lead to both campaign spend savings and higher-value relationships with your customers.

Mind blown? It’s because you’re searching for an audience that is using keywords, not just keywords themselves. The new world of search means putting the customer (audience) first and trying to create a great user experience specifically for them.

Source:  http://searchengineland.com/searching-for-searchers-audiences-are-the-new-keywords-247757

How many times have you hit that publish button, not 100% sure about your content and if it’s really worthwhile? A feeling that becomes more definite as weeks pass and you get fed up with waiting for your post to pick up traffic and results?

Whatever the case, there are things you should be doing before you hit the publish button to make sure you’re putting great content out there. Some of these to-do’s are for SEO purposes, others for readability, and yet others for the sake of organization.

That’s why you need a checklist.

I’ve seen too many publishers brain dump into their blog platform of choice and hit “Publish” with absolutely no strategy in mind. Then they don’t get traffic. No tweets. No comments. No results.

A 15-Point Surefire Checklist to Make Sure You’re Publishing Worthwhile Content
So you avoid the above no-results content scenarios, here’s my 15-point checklist to make sure you’re publishing great content. Ready? Let’s dive in!

I. Evaluation

I’ll start with a key section: making sure your post is worth someone’s time. If it’s boring, who’s going to bother? Your posts need to have a reason for existing. Get more specific with the following questions.

1. Are People Looking for the Things You’re Writing About?

This is probably the most important question to consider when sitting down to write or handing over a content brief. It just takes a little keyword research with the likes of The Google Keyword Tool or even Google itself.

What you need to look out for when conducting your search is a decent monthly search volume along with sites you reckon you can outrank.

2. Will People Get a “Take-Away” From Your Post?

It’s great to post an opinion, make someone laugh or just give a little food for thought. But it’s a completely different story to really HELP someone. The best way to do this is to give them a “take away”.

Let the reader go away from your post with something to do. Give an action item. Teach them something. Create that “AHA” moment.

3. What’s Unique About Your Post?

It’s useless just paraphrasing what others have already said. Your post needs to stand out.

Perhaps it’s a little more in-depth than usual, or it has videos where people in your market wouldn’t normally use videos.

II. Search Optimization

Let’s get a little more specific about SEO.

4. Fine-Tune Your Headlines

If you want to work the main keyword phrase into your header, that’s great, but you also want to come up with a catchy headline that reels readers in. “How To” headlines tend to work really well, as do list posts.

Check out these tips from Hubspot for writing catchy headlines.

5. Clean Up The Slug

“Slug” is a strange little word. It’s the phrase that goes into a URL of a post.

For example, in WordPress, the slug goes right beneath the headline. By default, the platform dumps every word in your headline into the slug, but that can pretty cluttered.

Instead, you want the slug to just contain that important keyword phrase, which will help with your SEO.

6. Your Keyword Phrase Should be Within the Content

Once you have the keyword phrase in your header and slug, you need to put it in the body of your post. The key here is don’t over-use it; just use it naturally as you write.

7. Are You Using Sub-Headers?

Sub-headlines in a post are very important. They serve two main functions:

They are important for SEO purposes. The post headline should be in H1 tags, and your sub-headers are normally H2 and H3 tags. Search spiders place importance on the text in those sub-headlines to help rank your post.
Sub-headlines break up the flow of your post. You don’t want the reader to see one massive block of uninterrupted text, do you?

Just like your main headline, your sub-headlines should contain words that help spiders rank the keyword phrase and entice your readers to get stuck in.

III. Structure and Formatting

People don’t come along and read a post just because you decided to write one. Your posts need to promise some sort of pay-off for reading it and it needs to be formatted so that it’s not overwhelming.

8. Short Paragraphs

Not using long paragraphs is paramount – as is NEVER justifying text right or left.

Using long paragraphs and justified text can almost guarantee most of your readers will take one look at the post and back off without so much as reading the first sentence. This is because:

It just looks like hard work to read
They can’t scan sub-headers and short sentence to see if there is a pay-off for them.

9. Post Scans can Tell a Story

Let’s face it, readers either a) don’t have time to read your whole post content or b) have the attention span of a goldfish. (Those can tie into each other, too.) So you need to ensure they can scan your post to get an idea of what it’s about. Don’t ever be conceited enough to think they’re really going to care about reading every single word. Most won’t.

You can increase scan-friendliness like this:

Use lists and bullet points where applicable
Be strategic about putting certain phrase in bold or italics. Use this tactic to emphasize an idea or something attention-grabbing.

10. Using Imagery Strategically

The main reason we put images in posts is to get people to want to READ the post. It’s a good idea to use images that communicate an emotion and pique curiosity. You could also use images that communicate a promise.

There’s an SEO perspective to using images, too. Get your image to work for your rankings by:

Renaming the image’s filename to the keyword phrase
Setting the title of the image to the keyword phrase
Setting the ALT text to your keyword phrase
It’s always a good idea to caption images. Sometimes, we pick images that don’t get our ideas across the way we want them to. So including a caption helps with SEO and ensures better clarity.

11. Internal Links to Relevant, Previous Posts

Take a quick look over your post and see if any phrases seem relevant to a past post you published. If so, hyperlink that phrase to that post. This also helps with your SEO and your internal visitor flow.

The post doesn’t need to be overrun with internal links, just 2 or 3 per post. If you really don’t have any phrases that fit the bill, don’t stress about it.

12. External Links to Relevant Posts or Sites

Linking outside of your post is a good idea, too. Be sure to link to authority sites and original sources.

13. Defining Meta-Data

You need to be able to define the meta tags of the content. While it’s still a contentious debate as to whether these things matter like the used to, the description is still relevant. That’s the description that’s going to appear in the Google search results, just beneath the headline.

So, you want to make sure the meta description is relevant from your keyword’s perspective and contains an enticing promise that will attract people to click and read the post if it comes up in their searches.

14. Defining the Excerpt

WordPress, for instance, will auto-fill the excerpt with text from the post by default. But it only has a certain character limit, so that excerpt may not make sense.

There’s a way around this. This you manually define the excerpt and put whatever you want into it. All you need to do is manually copy/paste part of the post into the excerpt – easy! Just make sure that excerpt is going to pull people into to read your post.

Maybe you could end it off with a cliff-hanger?

15. Where’s That “Call To Action?”

Every single post needs to leave readers with an action step. What do you want them to do next?

Each and every post is really a form of marketing, both for the blog and for your brand. Just like any good promotional piece, you need to give your readers something to do.

Common CTAs include:

Ask them to subscribe to the list
Ask them to comment on your post
Tell them where they can find more information
Ask them to share your post of their social media channels
CTAs are usually found at the tail-end of a post.

When are You Publishing Your Next Piece?

These 15 simple points can help ensure you have great content before hitting “Publish”.

By the way, you’re getting a fresh set of eyes to proofread your piece before it goes live, right?

And you’re using Copyscape to make sure every post is unique, right? If not—check it out here. It costs a measly 5 cents to run a premium search and make sure that piece you’re about to post doesn’t have any duplicate hits anywhere on the web. This is a huge part of my content team’s daily workload: our editors run every single piece of content we write through the 5-cent Copyscape search.

Source:  https://www.searchenginejournal.com/15-point-checklist-make-sure-youre-publishing-worthwhile-content/160465/

Voice search is growing, and Google is investing heavily in products that utilize this technology. Contributor Joe Youngblood discusses these products and their implications for marketers.

What started with Siri in 2010 is quickly leading to an age where consumers engage with the internet using only their voices, in much the way Captain Picard engaged with the computer on the USS Enterprise.

Google’s foray into voice search has been calculated and planned for years, according to Google CEO Sundar Pichai. It currently appears to be based on a closed system owned and overseen by Google, not on an open system like the trillions of websites that populate the internet are built on (i.e., HTML). I predicted this eventuality more than two years ago, after the Nest acquisition.

These are the problems and challenges brought by Google’s new assistant that marketers and SEOs alike need to be aware of.

Google I/O 2016 announcement

On May 18, 2016, Google announced Google Home, a speaker that houses the new Google assistant (Yes, it’s Google assistant with a lower-case a, not Google Assistant) platform and that resembles the Amazon Echo. The Home device seeks to help users complete tasks in the real world, leveraging Google assistant, which is designed to allow for two-way conversations with people and to actually accomplish tasks like booking reservations, when possible. Pichai said this is like building each user their “own individual Google.”

Consumer adoption of voice search itself started off sluggish, with 85 percent of iOS users saying they did not use Siri in 2013. However, this technology has gained traction in recent years as teens and adults alike began to see past the novelty and embrace the utility of Voice Search’s ability to offer quick answers to questions and directions. By 2014, Google had taken an extreme interest in voice search and released an infographic showing a large percentage of teens and adults felt that voice search was the future.

Today, voice search is bigger than ever. During the Google I/O keynote, Pichai announced that 20 percent of all queries on Google’s mobile app and Android devices are voice searches — and this number is growing.

Voice search problems

1. No data

The biggest problem with Voice Search is that we currently have no way of tracking it, gauging its impact on sales/conversions or understanding how it impacts organic traffic from Google. While there are rumors that Google will provide us with Voice Search/Conversational Search/Google assistant data in Search Console, there is as of yet no method of obtaining such data or gauging the effectiveness of efforts to optimize Voice Search.

Perhaps this will change and become more transparent by the time Google launches the Home device in the fall of this year. However, when this happens, it most likely will not be perfect or open data that can be easily picked up and recognized by third-party applications such as Adobe Analytics.

2. Lack of control

While Google’s goal with Google assistant is to help users complete real-world tasks while simply talking to Google, that may not mesh well with every business model. Already, Google is taking content from publishers and using it in voice search to provide answers without allowing control over the display and usage of that copyrighted content (except to opt out of Google completely).

Marketers have been okay with this so far, as it virtually guarantees them a top spot in Google for the question asked, leading to more traffic in the short term; however, with the growth of voice search and the possibility that it is replacing standard search, this could lead to a reduction of traffic to websites. To publishers who currently rely on advertising to survive, that poses a large risk to revenues.

During the announcement of Google Home, the video showed a young child asking about the number of stars in our galaxy. This answer was provided by Space.com, which Google happily told the child, who then proceeded to ask another question. At scale, this process slows page view growth or decreases page views — and therefore is most likely decreasing advertising impressions.

If your organic traffic is currently coming from offering stats or facts that are fairly unique and Google decides to give that answer via voice, then there’s a good chance that with the growth of voice search, you’ll lose website visits, which could likely bring down conversions/sales.

3. Bad branding

Two years ago, I asked Google a question about an NFL player’s stats. The answer Google gave me was originally written by Rotowire and published by ESPN. When it cited the source, Google called the website “Esss-Pen.com” instead of “E-S-P-N.”

With conversational search and answers, Google may have issues saying certain brand names out loud and correctly, especially if that brand name is an acronym or a made-up word. (Note: At last check, Google says “ESPN” correctly now.)

Google has not yet announced a solution to this, such as allowing an app or website to provide a phonetically correct pronunciation of the brand name. They might think their machine learning will figure it out from other conversations users have with Google, or perhaps they just aren’t too concerned about it.

End-to-end issues

One example Sundar gave was wanting to get movie tickets for you and your family. He used an example of engaging the Google assistant in a conversation that resulted in Google purchasing four tickets to “The Jungle Book” and providing the user with a purchase code. Another example was driving in an Android Auto-powered car and asking Google to help you get curry; in this conversation, Google understands somehow that you want take-out and orders your food from an unnamed restaurant, alerting you when it’s ready.

To me, it appears that Google assistant will accomplish its goal of having a two-way conversation and helping users complete real-world tasks by leveraging three sources: Google’s information and machine learning resources, information from other websites and third-party apps. That leaves many questions for marketers:

Will Google require that apps process orders via Android Pay/Google Wallet in order to be included?
How will Google assistant handle competing apps? For example, if I ask it to hail me a car, will it ask me if I want Uber or Lyft, or will it just pick one on its own? What if I have Curb or Truck installed?

This could also mean Google will cut out aggregation and listing websites such as Yelp. Further, it could mean complications for e-commerce providers like Amazon unless they agree to use Google’s system or, if required, pay Google to process the orders made via Google assistant.

VoiceXML, voice-powered browsing & The W3C

Using your voice to navigate information has been a dream for decades, and in 1999, a group of tech companies gathered to create a way for humans to talk to computers called VoiceXML. VoiceXML is now overseen by The W3C, the world’s governing organization of standards for the World Wide Web, which is still updating the protocols, along with what it calls Speech Interface Framework that includes other standards.

VoiceXML was designed to work with Natural Language Processing and to empower voice browsers to retrieve information and read it back. You likely interact with voice browsers powered by VoiceXML on a weekly basis by talking to/yelling at automated phone assistants your bank, utility, travel or phone company uses.


captain picard meme google voice w3c


While VoiceXML 2.1 or 3.0 is far from perfect for voice search, it does show that we have a long history of preparing for voice as a user input type. That and the fact that it is an open standard published by the W3C makes me wonder why Google did not work with the W3C to make a standard for voice interfaces using XML or HTML5 that could execute commands on websites and instead are choosing to use what appears to be a closed system that likely requires Google being more deeply involved in a third-party app.

Voice Search and Google assistant are exciting technologies that promise to make searching at home a more immersive and useful experience; however, they come with challenges we as marketers must be ready to face and find solutions to.

Source:  http://searchengineland.com/marketers-need-know-google-assistant-google-home-250112

Google has announced a conversation-based tool to control smartphones, smartwatches and other devices.

Google Assistant can be used to find information, play media and carry out tasks - such as booking cinema tickets - via a back-and-forth chat between the user and the software.
The firm also announced a voice-activated device with a built-in speaker called Google Home to deliver the tech to living rooms.

It will compete with Amazon's Echo.
Amazon launched its own dialogue-based smart home device in 2014, which is powered by the firm's proprietary virtual assistant Alexa.

Google's chief executive Sundar Pichai credited Amazon with pioneering the idea.
His announcement was made at the start of the firm's IO developers' conference in California.
"Google's new Assistant is its attempt to bring together a set of disparate efforts that have lacked a coherent brand," commented Jan Dawson from Jackdaw Research.
"Referring to the combined functions of Google Now, OK Google, and other elements has been tough in the past, because there wasn't a single name for this functionality.

"This should help Google compete more effectively both with Amazon's Echo device but also with better-branded personal assistants like Siri, Cortana, and Alexa."
Google Assistant can link into third-party services including Ticketmaster, Spotify, Uber and Whatsapp. But Alexa already works with many more.

"Amazon should take note of Google Home given Google's search and artificial intelligence capability, but Alexa has an early lead in third-party integration," noted Geoff Blaber from the CCS Insight consultancy.

Chat app


Google Assistant also plays a role in a new chat app called Allo, in which it can make suggestions based on what the user is talking about with their friends.
One executive demonstrated the AI tool proposing a restaurant to visit when two users discussed wanting to eat Italian food.

Allo's other unusual feature is that it can provide replies on a user's behalf.
This includes commenting on pictures sent by friends, thanks to its use of image recognition algorithms.
The company said the suggestions should improve the more people use the app.


A partner video chat app called Duo was also unveiled. A distinguishing feature is a live view of the caller, which is shown on the recipient's screen before they decide whether or not to answer.

Virtual reality

In the past, Google IO has provided a first look at the next version of smartphone operating system Android.
But this year many details about Android N were released weeks ahead of the event.

Google IO

However, there were new details about a forthcoming virtual reality feature called Daydream.
It introduces a dedicated VR app store and provides a set of specifications that devices must meet in order to provide a lag time of less than 20 milliseconds between movements of the user's body and on-screen responses.
Daydream also includes a reference design for a VR headset mount - into which a variety of smartphones could be fitted - and a controller - a handheld device featuring a trackpad and two buttons.
Google is not making either, but hopes that manufacturers will put the designs into production.
"One of the worst things about Samsung's Gear VR [headset] is the control system - Daydream looks much better," said Mr Dawson.

Google VR controller

The firm also announced an upgrade to its smartwatch operating system Android Wear.
It now supports "standalone" apps, meaning the software can go online via wi-fi or a watch's own 3G/4G connection, rather than having to link up via a smartphone.
This should make apps run faster and addresses a problem that had also plagued apps on the original version of Apple's rival Watch OS.

In addition, the updated Android Wear provides ways to reply to messages beyond speaking into the device's microphone.

Users will able to:

select from a choice of "smart reply" suggestions
draw letters on the screen that then get converted into text
type in words via a small keyboard
How practical this will be is unclear, particularly as an on-stage demo went wrong.

Google Wear 2.0

"Android Wear 2.0 is a reset for Google's wearables platform," said Mr Blaber.

"Having learned lessons from the first generation, Google and partners will hope 2.0 will kick start wearables adoption and usage."

Analysis: Dave Lee, North America technology reporter

Google emojis

Very impressive, Google, but it feels like you're a little behind.

Facebook already has a smart chat app. Amazon already has a cool assistant you can talk to in the kitchen.
And Oculus and Samsung have the Gear VR, a smartphone-powered headset.

So, the task for Google is both straightforward and enormous. Do all that, just better than everyone else.
Google's head-start in smart messaging is that its algorithm is by far and away the smartest.
And unlike Samsung's VR headset that needs a Galaxy phone, Google's Daydream mount is designed to work with a range of handsets.

The biggest cheer, mind you, wasn't for any of the new products.
Instead, it was news of a fresh range of emoji depicting female professionals that drew delight from the audience here.

Instant apps

Google rounded off IO's first event of the week with a look at a feature that could shake up one of Android's key principles.
Rather than making users install an additional app each time they want to access a new service, the firm wants to make it possible to quickly download just the code needed to carry out a specific task.
"We are evolving Android apps to run instantly without installation," explained Google executive Ellie Powers.
"We call this Android Instant Apps.
"As a developer... you'll modularise your app and Google Play will download only the parts that are needed on the fly."

Examples given included a parking meter app that automatically presents its payment interface when a motorist leaves their car at a stand, and a news app that streams its videos when a user clicks a link.

Android Instant Apps demonstration

The idea echoes the Scopes found in Ubuntu's smartphone OS and Microsoft's App-V facility, which both aim to provide access to third-party services without making users download full apps.
Analysts had mixed feelings about the proposition.

"Android Instant Apps [are the] first real signs of the post-app era," tweeted Gartner's Brian Blau.
But Creative Strategies' Carolina Milanesi wrote: "Is it like a smart preview that will get me to install the apps I don't have?"
And Moor Insights' Patrick Moorhead added: "When I think about Android Instant Apps, why is the first thing I think of security panic?"

Source:  http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-36326627

Purchases on Google testing continues, Product Listing Ads are getting access to more inventory and brick-and-mortar retailers running local inventory ads see some new features. These are among the announcements from Google at Shoptalk in Las Vegas on Monday.


Product Listing Ads in image search

Ads in Google image search first started appearing in the fourth quarter of last year. First noticed by Merkle, the ads are officially launching Monday. On mobile, they display in a carousel format above the organic images. Image search is considered part of the Google Search Network. If your Shopping campaign is opted in to Search partners, Product Listing Ads (PLAs) will automatically be eligible to show in image search results.





Store pickup promotion in Local Inventory Ads

Retailers using Local Inventory Ads (LIAs) can now include a “store pickup” link for shoppers who want to buy online and pick up their orders in store. The option appears on the local product landing page hosted by Google after a user clicks on an LIA.


Inventory search from local Knowledge Panel

Also new for advertisers running local inventory ads, users will be able to click a “Search items at this store” link in the retailer’s local Knowledge Panel to see whether particular items are in stock at their local stores.




Update on Purchases on Google

There isn’t any news here other than to say the pilot is still alive. Google launched the test for Purchases on Google — the “buy button” feature that allows users to buy products right from a product listing ad on their phones through a commerce experience hosted by Google — last July. Google said on Monday that Ralph Lauren, Ugg, Staples and others are continuing to test Purchases on Google


Faisal Masud, EVP of Global E-Commerce at Staples, says 95 percent of Staples products are now included in Purchases on Google.


John Kalinich, senior vice president, global digital commerce at Deckers Brands, told Google that UGG is seeing a nearly 50-percent increase in conversion rates with Purchases on Google and a 25-percent lower cost per conversion compared to mobile PLAs.


Source:  http://searchengineland.com/google-shopping-image-search-local-inventory-buy-button-249647





Google launched Gboard, its keyboard app for iOS, on Thursday, and it is currently sitting in the top spot in the App Store’s chart of free apps. Among other things, Gboard brings Google search into any app with the press of the “G” icon. This, of course, could also mean bringing Google search ads to any app.

For example, one can easily envision AdWords search ads extending into these results in the Twitter app for [restaurants near me]. However, a Google Spokesperson tells Search Engine Land, “We have no current plans around ads in Gboard.”



gboard search results in twitter


“Current plans” leaves a lot of ambiguity, of course. Currently this week? Currently this month or year? It’s nearly impossible to imagine a scenario in which Google would not be looking at this as an eventual ad vehicle. The big argument Google has faced in the age of mobile and the rise of native in-stream ads is that apps are where users spend their time, not browsers, leaving Google out in the cold. But Gboard brilliantly puts Google anywhere users are spending time on their phones — and yes, that includes Facebook.


google search results in facebook



Or imagine quickly searching Google from within the Amazon app to see if you can find a better deal. That experience doesn’t quite pay off now, because Gboard just brings up links to retail sites. But it might, if product ads were enabled.


gboard search results amazon



If Google can can build a critical user base for Gboard, it could have a dramatic impact on search behavior and give Google the monetization answer it’s been looking for on mobile. We’ll have to wait to see how long “current” lasts.


Designed for advanced, hard core search marketers, Search Engine Land's SMX Advanced returns to Seattle, WA June 22-23! Join other search marketing pros in taking expert tactics, tips and techniques to the next level! The agenda is jam-packed with ROI-boosting tactics that you'll bring back and implement immediately. Register by May 21 to lock in low rates.



Wednesday, 11 May 2016 06:53

The Five Basic Methods of Market Research

While there are many ways to perform market research, most businesses use one or more of five basic methods: surveys, focus groups, personal interviews, observation, and field trials. The type of data you need and how much money you’re willing to spend will determine which techniques you choose for your business.


1. Surveys



With concise and straightforward questionnaires, you can analyze a sample group that represents your target market. The larger the sample, the more reliable your results will be.

In-person surveys are one-on-one interviews typically conducted in high-traffic locations such as shopping malls. They allow you to present people with samples of products, packaging, or advertising and gather immediate feedback. In-person surveys can generate response rates of more than 90 percent, but they are costly. With the time and labor involved, the tab for an in-person survey can run as high as $100 per interview.


Telephone surveys are less expensive than in-person surveys, but costlier than mail. However, due to consumer resistance to relentless telemarketing, convincing people to participate in phone surveys has grown increasingly difficult. Telephone surveys generally yield response rates of 50 to 60 percent.
Mail surveys are a relatively inexpensive way to reach a broad audience. They’re much cheaper than in-person and phone surveys, but they only generate response rates of 3 percent to 15 percent. Despite the low return, mail surveys remain a cost-effective choice for small businesses.

Online surveys usually generate unpredictable response rates and unreliable data, because you have no control over the pool of respondents. But an online survey is a simple, inexpensive way to collect anecdotal evidence and gather customer opinions and preferences.

2. Focus groups

In focus groups, a moderator uses a scripted series of questions or topics to lead a discussion among a group of people. These sessions take place at neutral locations, usually at facilities with videotaping equipment and an observation room with one-way mirrors. A focus group usually lasts one to two hours, and it takes at least three groups to get balanced results.


3. Personal interviews 

Like focus groups, personal interviews include unstructured, open-ended questions. They usually last for about an hour and are typically recorded.

Focus groups and personal interviews provide more subjective data than surveys. The results are not statistically reliable, which means that they usually don’t represent a large enough segment of the population. Nevertheless, focus groups and interviews yield valuable insights into customer attitudes and are excellent ways to uncover issues related to new products or service development.


4. Observation

Individual responses to surveys and focus groups are sometimes at odds with people’s actual behavior. When you observe consumers in action by videotaping them in stores, at work, or at home, you can observe how they buy or use a product. This gives you a more accurate picture of customers’ usage habits and shopping patterns.


5. Field trials

Placing a new product in selected stores to test customer response under real-life selling conditions can help you make product modifications, adjust prices, or improve packaging. Small business owners should try to establish rapport with local store owners and Web sites that can help them test their products.


Source: https://www.allbusiness.com/the-five-basic-methods-of-market-research-1287-1.html



Wednesday, 23 December 2015 07:16

Career planning: So you want to be a researcher

Written By :Markus Jakobsson

This is written with the goal to help students and junior researchers, and is the type of advice I give students and junior colleagues when I coach them. Of course, not everybody works the same way. This might be good advice for some, but maybe not for you. I would be happy to get feedback on this page to make it more helpful — please contact me if you have thoughts on it.

I will talk about goals, failure, forgetting, formulating questions, heroes, and communicating insights. Then a few blurbs about finding things … an advisor, your specialty, an internship, a job. And finally, a word about CVs.

1. Understand your goals. Why are you doing research?

Are you aiming for a career in academia? Do you want to work in a large company? Do you want to join or help found a small company? Is it plainly because you enjoy it? Because you want to get rich? Or because that’s what is expected of you? This is the most important questions to answer.

If you want a career in academia, you need to learn what makes a professor successful. As a professor, you need many skills. You need to be able to communicate — to teach and advise. You need to be able to apply for funding, which requires good ideas, and understanding of how to pitch them, and a lot of patience. Most universities will evaluate you on how many articles you publish (and where), how much funding you attract, and how respected you are among your peers. Life in academia has a lot of freedom, but that comes with a lot of responsibilities. Please do not choose a career in academia because you want long summer vacations — you will be very disappointed. A professor always works. That said, you will be your own boss. (At least after you have tenure…)

Do you want a job in a large company? Do internships in large companies, and learn what it is like. (Continue reading for advice on how to get good internships.) Companies are applied. Even companies focusing on research. This is because companies are driven by a need to make profit. Profit will mean job security for its employees, a chance for an annual bonus, and protection against tough times. You get profit by being relevant to your customers. That means to build and sell products, generate intellectual property, and stay ahead of the competitors. How is this relevant to you as a researcher? You need to understand the needs of the market. You need to understand a bit about the business aspect, too. A wonderful invention is useless to a company if there is nobody who wants it, or if it is impossible to detect that a company uses it — without having bought a license.

To join or start a small company, you need a lot of nerve. Most companies fail. In a small company, everybody puts in a tremendous effort. Everybody needs many skills. The CTO may have to double as a CFO, the CEO as cleaning staff, and the programmers as sales reps. Be ready to wear many hats, and do not expect immediate success. Life is much less predictable in a small company than in a larger company — for good and bad. As a researcher, that means you cannot afford just doing research, and you need very applied skills.

Are you doing research just because you like it? That is a great reason, and it will help you be successful. But you probably still need to think about what career path you want to be on.

And finally, what about if you are doing research because you want to be rich or your mom always said you are so smart? Chances are that you will struggle a lot. Is this really what you want to do?

2. Dare to fail. (Otherwise you cannot succeed.)

Research is about finding new insights. You cannot do that without taking risks. You need to dare to fail. Most senior researchers would be able to write a book about failing. Document your failures. What did you try, and why, and what went wrong? Next time, you will avoid that path.

Of course, you do not want to only fail. My trick to avoid that is to hedge my bets. I am involved in 4-5 projects at any time. Half or so fail, and I start new ones in their place. If you do not like the distraction of many concurrent projects, you may be able to do the same in a sequential manner, but I feel that having several semi-latent projects allows me to work on one when I get nowhere on another, and this makes the lack of progress feels less frustrating. It also lets me forget what I was doing on the one where I got nowhere, and when I return to it a bit later, I have a fresh approach.

Also, hedge your bets by selecting some very risky projects and some less so. How can you tell what is risky or not? That is sometimes difficult, but experience will tell you, and the general progress in the related areas, too.

It is difficult to give up on something you have spent so much time on, but sometimes you have to cut your losses and move on. Among the foremost skills of a seasoned researcher is the ability to know when that limit has been reached. If you dare to fail in the first place, you will get plenty of practice with this.

3. Dare to forget.

This is counterintuitive, because society emphasizes that knowledge is important, and knowledge means to remember. On one hand, you may avoid reinventing the wheel if you know what has already been done, but on the other hand, being too aware of what others do will restrict your thinking. You will, quite naturally, think like they do. That means that you will have the same field of vision, and will not be able to tread new territory.

Once I have established what problem I am trying to solve (more on that below), I spend a few days ignoring what others have done and sketch solution ideas. Not surprising, most are pretty worthless, others coincide with what others have already done. I round up a few candidate approaches. Then, I look a bit at the related work. What do they achieve? (I pay less attention to how they get there than what they achieve at this point.) Do any of my solutions offer opportunities that other solutions seem not to have? If yes, then that’s a good place to focus on. When I have a pretty decent solution — but still nothing solid written up, since that takes a lot of time and effort — I compare with the related work. Both what they achieve and what they do. By not doing this careful review of the related work until this far into the project, I sure waste a lot of time by reinventing the wheel, time after time, but I also manage to see things in new ways.

The same goes with your own work. If you keep thinking in the same tracks, that will stymie your efforts. Take a break from a vexing problem, forget what you really did, and return to it with a new approach. (If you are anything like me, forgetting is as natural as it is useful … but of course, it comes with the curse of always having to ask your spouse where your keys might be.) Again, you will lose time, but you will also see new angles.

4. Have passion, create beauty.

Have passion. You never will create anything of lasting beauty without passion. You think “beauty” is not a word that applies to what you do? Then do something else.

5. Spend more time on the questions than on the answers.

This is a common mistake among junior researchers: To quickly pick a problem, and then spend all too much time finding answers to that very problem, not seeing how full the world is of other more pertinent problems.

I am not exaggerating when I say that more than half of the contribution is to identify exactly what the problem is, and to formulate it in a way that allows you to start finding the answers. It sounds natural that you cannot find the answer without first knowing the question, right? But if you select the wrong question, then the answer is pointless.

What is important? Why? Who cares? Or who should care? What is done today? What cannot be done? Why?

Pick a belief for a moment. “In five years, all handsets will be as fast as current desktops, but bandwidth will not grow”; “Essentially all devices will be vulnerable to malware infection in a few years, and most will become corrupted at some point”; “Governments and carriers will track their citizens and users by using cell station location information”, “People are more vulnerable to fraud when they are multi-tasking.” Whether this assumption is realistic or not, what are the consequences? What can be done to address this problem?

6. Who are your heroes? (It matters.)

We all need heroes. These are the people we wish we were more like. Pick your heroes. Spell out to yourself why they are special, and what they did to become like that. You will see that circumstances play a certain role, and dedication. Their backgrounds, the way they seem to approach problems. Listen to the way they explain things in talks. Be inspired.

(And also look at the persons behind the achievements when you get a chance to talk with your heroes. If they are nice and humble, please remember that when you are somebody else’s hero. If they act like conceited jerks, avoid being like that.)

Some of your heroes may be alive, and some of those may also be approachable and willing to give you advice. Don’t be shy. For them, talking with you may be an opportunity to enjoy helping somebody they once were like. But, when contacting your hero — by email or in person — please keep in mind that it is really annoying to get what feels like a generic message asking for an internship, and you probably will get fewer responses (if any) if that is how you reach out to your heroes.

When contacting a hero of yours, you may only get one shot. Work on your pitch. What do you have, what do you want, what are you asking for? Imagine that you are the recipient of this email. Would you have taken the time to formulate a thoughtful answer?

7. Work on your communication skills. (Or everything else is pointless.)

Most papers submitted to conferences are poorly written. It is hard to understand the claimed contributions, and the papers get rejected more often than not. Most presentations are not as amazing as they could be with a little bit more practice. The audience sometimes starts thinking of what’s for dinner, and people get less interested in coming to the speaker’s next talk.

Very few people succeed as researchers without having to communicate. That is both to listen and speak, and both about reading what others have done and do a good job explaining in writing what your results are.

It is not silly to take a public speaking class, and it is good to take a class on how to become a better writer. And it really helps seeing how others could have improved, and think of whether you make the same mistakes. So instead of tuning out during that boooring presentation, think (constructively) about how you would have done it. When reading a horrible conference submission, think about how it should be written. (If you tell the authors in a kind way, I’m sure they will appreciate it!)

Don’t kid yourself. Most of us can improve our communication skills.

Learn to adjust your pitch to your audience. You should be able to speak to technical audiences and non-technical audiences about your work, and why it matters to them. Mis-reading the audience means that you waste everyone’s time (your own included).

Learn to self-promote (responsibly). People will only reach out to you if they’ve heard of you. Make sure all your research papers are publicly accessible, in an easy to locate place, and not behind a paywall. Make sure you have a home page, which preferably shows up in the first few Google results for your name. Own your own domain name. If and when someone decides to Google you, you want to know what they are going to find, and make sure it says things that are truthful, and positive.

8. Finding stuff — an advisor, your specialty, an internship, a job.

If you are looking for a PhD advisor, what should you look for? In my view, it is not crucial that the person does exactly the kind of research you want to do. It is more important to find somebody who could become interested in what you want to do, and who has the general competence to guide that kind of work. It is important that you like — or at least can tolerate — your advisor. There will be times when the relationship is tough (especially when you think you are ready to graduate and your advisor does not), so it is best to start off with somebody whom you feel you do not mind. Should you pick the full professor who has 20 students, or the junior faculty member without a record, and with only one student? Well … my bets would be on the junior faculty member. After all, you will get much more time to talk with this person. Before you commit to working with somebody, try it out. Work on a small project. (You would not marry somebody without dating him/her first, would you? Then why commit years of your life to working for one particular advisor without first having “dated”?) And talk to other students — some who like the fellow you are considering, others who do not. You will spend a lot of time working with your advisor. This is an important choice. And it goes both ways. You will “interview” candidate advisors … they will “interview” you.

Now, one more think about potential advisors. Their reputation matters. Look at some recent publication of your prospective advisors. Look up the conference or journal venues, and then look up how prestigious they are. If your advisor only publishes in low-to-medium quality venues, that is not so good. If he or she only publishes with the same two or three people, that is also not so good, as it suggests a small (work) social network. You want an advisor everybody knows (and admires). Then, look at whether he or she is ever first author. That is good. Look at whether he or she is listed after somebody whose name suggests that they should be listed later. That means your prospective advisor did not do a big share of the work, which is also not so good. Or, phrased positively: Does he/she publish a lot, in prestigious venues, with lots of different people, many of which are big shots? (That is good.) Now, read one or two of the papers. Were they exciting?

What is your specialty? When you graduate, you should be able to write down three or four words or short phrases that describe you and mostly nobody else. These words may change over time. When I graduated, I might have described myself as “payments, privacy, revokable”. Now, I might instead say “phishing, mobile malware, user experiments”. It is your goal to guide your research in a direction that allows you to find these words. Think of it like this: if your description is the same as hundreds of others out there, you will have a much tougher time getting what you want than if you are unique (and do good and relevant work.) Finding this specialty is not automatic or trivial, but it helps to keep in mind what would be a meaningful target.

How about finding an internship? Number one is to impress people. If your advisor and his/her colleagues think you are pretty amazing, they will tell their colleagues, and one of them will have a position. If you write a beautiful paper and do an amazing job presenting your results — whether at a poster session, a standard conference talk, or in a colloquium — somebody will think “wow”, and that somebody may be the first step towards an internship. Use your contacts, too. Who do you know that have had good internship experiences? Who do they know?

Another good thing to remember is that there is lots of competition for internships. Having proven yourself already will help you. Many people in research organizations are willing to collaborate with junior researchers by email, maybe writing a paper or two together. What better way is there to impress them? There is a large up-front cost to you — months and months of hard work — but it might take you a step closer to that internship. Or job.

And finding a job is very much like finding an internship. Yes, jobs are really like internships, but longer. And with the minor difference that they might require you to have had an internship already.

9. A few words about your CV.

Don’t pad it. If you list all your publications, and then you add three papers that are just manuscripts, that feels like a padded CV to whoever reads it. If you list memberships in irrelevant organizations, or obvious organizations, that’s the same. Don’t do it. Padding reeks of desperation and deceit, and nobody likes that.

Avoid being generic. Describe succinctly what you want, but do not simply say “an interesting job with the opportunities to work hard to solve important problems”. Everybody wants that. What are your core skills, what makes you special, how does this matter to whoever reads your CV?

Focus. Be succinct. Most people lose attention pretty quickly if they are not intrigued. You do not want that. Make your CV well structured, concise, informative, appealing. Look at CV of others, not just your peers. What makes the CVs appealing? (Hint: it is not a fancy font.)

Remember that references matter. A lot. Include a list of who your references are. If the person who reads your CV happens to know one of them, that’s a good start. But this should matter to you long before you are applying for a position. You should track down people you would want to be your references — some day — and convince them to work with you. Then, you should impress them. Then you’ll be in good shape later on.

10. What matters to be selected?

Whether you are looking for a PhD position, an advisor, a summer internship or a job, you may ask yourself: what matters?

If you are a student, you may be under the very reasonable illusion that your grades matter. After all, grades have been the main metrics of success all through your education. Most of the time, though, grades mean nothing. I mean it. In fact, if you are in a PhD program, many profs will be slightly annoyed, and say that if you keep getting straight As, then you are clearly not prioritizing your time very well: you should be focusing on your research instead!

So what matters?

For several years, I only selected trouble-makers. What do I mean? People who would get stoned, rob banks, and beat up their dates? Of course not. But students who had been found cheating in interesting ways; students who were about to be expelled for having done bizarre but harmless things; and students whom other faculty members thought were nuts — but who were still responsible and brilliant. Exactly! But why? Simply speaking, I do not want yay-sayers. I want to work with people with a personality; with beliefs (even if crooked); and with passion. That, in my view, is what is needed in research. Not people who will do what they are told. Question authority and thrive.

And of course, I would also make sure that the students either were brilliant programmers, mathematicians, social engineering geniuses, or veritable fountains of ideas (including bad ones, of course).

Another thing that matters to me is obsession. The person who thinks about research before going to bed, hoping a new insight will come to him or her in a dream; the person who will look at anything through the lens of the question he or she is trying to address. This is not to say that I want to hire workaholics. Most of the work product generated by workaholics is not really worth much. Which takes me to…

How much is too much?

Now, some final words before I let you go. Imagine a seven-hour work day. You spend three hours, say, doing administrative stuff and reading things that turn out not to be so useful. The remaining four hours: learning and thinking. Now imagine a eleven-hour work day. You still spend three hours with the administrative portion — you are left with eight hours learning and thinking. That is twice as much as for the seven-hour work day. Now, imagine a 19 hour work day. Sixteen hours of learning and thinking! You have just doubled your productive hours again.

Well, maybe not.

It may serve you well to constantly obsess about things (which gives you up towards 19 hours a day of in-the-back-of-your-mind processing), but you sure cannot be productive with a pen in your hand or a keyboard in front of you for nineteen hours a day. (At least, I cannot.) Take a break. Enjoy life. Come back rested.

Source : http://www.markus-jakobsson.com/advice-for-students-and-junior-researcher

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