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Posts Tagged ‘google+’

The coming of app search and what it means for banks

Saturday, January 10th, 2015

(by Francis Groves, Senior Analyst)

So far, it has been taken for granted that mobile apps cannot be searched effectively  by Internet search engines. App use and Internet use are still different activities, often complementary but not seamless. For ordinary lay-people using the Internet and mobile apps this characteristic unsearchability of apps is hidden in plain sight. It’s been taken for granted up until recently but things look as if they are about to change.

According to the New York Times (6th January, 2015) the race to develop app search tools is on, with major players such as Facebook and, not surprisingly, Google looking at ways to crack the problem of creating a generation of apps that are searchable in the same way that websites are searchable. There are also a number of start-ups, such as Quixey (who already have an app to search apps on a single device) and Branch Metrics, who are trying to develop the winning technology. The particular advance Branch Metrics have achieved is the ability of one app user to share in-app information over the Internet in such a way that their friend/contact can be directed to the appropriate app store page to download the app and access the app service for themselves. For the time being, searching across apps with an equivalent to Google Search is a challenge still waiting to be overcome.

Talk of searchable apps not only seems mind-boggling but calls into question our understanding of what mobile apps are. Up until now they’ve been tools to help us but now how should we view them.

The advent of searchable apps will also raise a whole range of questions relating to the use of mobile apps in financial services. For those financial service companies that have seen the wisdom of branching out into mobile apps, they have combined a few key advantages that could begin to be undermined by the arrival of app searching. Firstly, the confidentiality of one’s personal banking app suits the bank customer just fine. Like your wallet, no one is supposed to be poking around in your banking app except you. Just like a wallet, the contents of your banking app are probably terribly boring, pretty predictable and intensely personal and private. So, if apps become searchable, we’re going to have to become used to distinguishing between the new searchable apps and the ones that stay as private and secure as they were before (you hope). Could apps in general lose some of their attraction if some of them lose that dedicated-to-me quality? Users may not like having to identify and remember which apps are the new sociable (or leaky, depending on your point of view) apps and which are the safe ones.

And doesn’t the possibility of a universal app search mechanism ultimately mean that even apps that are currently equipped with robust security - as financial service providers’ apps should be - are going to become less secure in the end? At the very least, banks are going to have to shout louder to clients about their personal app security.

We’re not sure if 2015 will see a real breakthrough in app searchability - the existence of rival technologies may severely restrict the effectiveness of any one app search engines - but we certainly think that this is something that the finance industry should be on the look-out for.

Happy New Year.

 

GooglePlus: the stepchild of private banks’ social media

Monday, December 2nd, 2013

In our recently published report on social media for wealth management, our analysts included Google+ in their evaluation of wealth managers’ activities on the ‘big 5′ of social media platforms. Launched in June 2011, Google+ not only caught up with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube but even reached the second place in user activity after overtaking Twitter, by the mid of 2013. With 34% of all Internet users being present on Google+, only Facebook with 46% is still capable of defending its first position.

Given these developments the findings of our analysts are somewhat striking since the overall performance of the 30 evaluated private banks on Google+ is in clear contrast to its increasing importance. On average only 22% offer a Google+ presence. While the consensus still seems to be that being present on the other social media platforms is important, Google+ will gain influence rapidly. Why?

- Because the trend clearly depicts it: after 88 days Google+ had 50 million users. Facebook reached that after 3 years.

- Because it belongs to Google: presences on Google+ definitely have an advantage on Google Search results.

- Because it’s different: information is posted in real-time, without being limited to either space or channel. It gives a more professional impression than Facebook and has more interactive features than LinkedIn.

- Because of selectivity: information can be spread to the right persons through segmenting posts by ‘circles’ (note: Facebook has introduced a similar feature).

- Because of YouTube: Google’s other big social network YouTube, the most important social video platform, is strongly linked to Google+ - moreover, a Google+ account now even is required to sign in for YouTube.

- Because of smart features: Hangouts can be used not only for private chats but also for webinars, directly being posted on YouTube, or conference calls with up to 10 participants.

What is the take away for wealth managers’ social media strategy? Google+ must not be underrated. As the stepchild of social media is growing up, it should be taken seriously - underestimating its influence might carry the danger of lagging behind in the competition for the eyeballs of your clients and prospective clients.

 

Should banks be present on Google+?

Friday, January 20th, 2012

Google+ was launched 7 months ago in June 2011. On January 19 it was reported that G+ has surpassed a user base of 90 million and may reach 400 million by the end of 2012. However, these are not necessarily active users (as the 900 million reported users of FB). MPB analysts are working right now on a new analysis of social media & banking (to be published end of March 2012). The preliminary results on Google+ show that most banks have a presence there - but usually without any or with very little content. It can be described as “wait-and-see-strategy” or simply to put a placeholder on the network.

Over the last 2 months G+ has gained a lot of traction and there seems also some clear support from Google’s search services for the network. I guess that G+ as a networking platform is still technically a bit confusing (may be a consequence of the different terminology like “circles”, “hangout” etc.) but is essentially offering a similar platform as Facebook. Some innovations like “hangouts” and the search function seem even better than on FB. Yet - despite some heated discussion among tech geeks - this is not really important. What seems crucial is the point that Google potentially has the market power and leverage to push G+ to become a FB rival. The key here is the search services of Google and some existing services which - in combination with a new viable network platform - can potentially become very successful. Yes, Google Buzz was a disappointment - but probably a necessary stepping stone to the technically much more mature G+.

What does this mean for banks and other financial service providers? They should probably have a presence on G+ and also spend some resources on filling this presence with content & life. Not necessarily too much yet - as it remains to be seen what will happen to G+ over the next 12 months but don’t underestimate the marketing power of a 800 pound gorilla. If G+ can keep its speed one will have to take it seriously very soon. It will be fascinating to watch how and where G+ and FB will try to get a competitive advantage and how the will try to differentiate themselves from each other. Make sure to follow our research when our new report will come out in March with more analysis about Google+, other social media trends and how banks can profit.

 
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