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Join us in this exciting podcast episode as we dive deep into the world of SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages) with the one and only “Brand SERP guy” himself, Jason Barnard! ๐Ÿš€

Discover Jason’s incredible journey from being a traveling musician, internet marketing pioneer and SERP marketer extraordinaire. ๐ŸŒ๐ŸŽถ

Explore how social media transformed the landscape of digital marketing and what it means for brands in the era of user-generated content. ๐Ÿ“ฑ๐Ÿ’ผ

Unearth the power of naming and branding, and the challenges of avoiding international name blunders. Bite the wax tadpole, anyone? ๐Ÿ˜„๐Ÿฅค

Learn about Kalicube, Jason’s groundbreaking venture, and how it aims to teach Google to use data more effectively for brands. ๐Ÿ“ˆ๐Ÿ“Š

Join us in a discussion about the future of Google, augmented reality, and how businesses will need to adapt to the changing digital landscape. ๐ŸŒ๐Ÿ•ถ๏ธ

Discover the exciting world of punk folk music, and get a taste of Jason’s musical journey. ๐ŸŽถ๐ŸŽธ

And as a bonus, listen in to a few of Jason’s tracks as we wrap up this fantastic conversation! ๐ŸŽต๐ŸŽค

Don’t miss out on this captivating podcast episode, and stay tuned for more insights into the world of brand SERPs in the future! ๐ŸŽง๐Ÿ“ฃ

๐Ÿ”— Check out Jason’s book on brand SERPs and more in the links below! ๐Ÿ‘‡
https://kalicube.com/solutions/free-downloadable-guides/
https://kalicube.com/solutions/books/fundamentals-of-brand-serps-for-business/

Here is some music !
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A4sGYXSfLLI
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ufgY7ChZMts
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tkmra28qoew
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jkj0wIwOQ7I
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bCtVor1_Qrg

And most recently:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hicFqQfD3i0

#Podcast #SERP #Marketing #Branding #DigitalMarketing #Innovation #Google #Music #PunkFolk #JasonBarnard

Narrator [00:00:01]: Come chat with Nicholas. He’ll listen to you, then he’ll laugh and then he’ll cry with you. It’s all in a safe space for you to speak your tune. Oh, come and chat with Nich.

Nicholas Kuhne [00:00:14]: Hello, everyone. Today we’ve got Jason Barnard with us and he is the Brand SERP Guy. For those who don’t know what SERP is, it’s the Search Engine Results Page. So that’s a more technical term, but something we, digital marketers, know quite a lot about. So, Jason, great to have you on here and maybe to start, where on earth are you in the world?

Jason Barnard [00:00:39]: Oh, thank you for having me, Nicholas. I’m in the South of France at the moment, near Montpellier, near Nรฎmes, living the high life with great food, great wine and music.

Nicholas Kuhne [00:00:51]: Ok, well, you can see the sun’s slowly starting to go down now in Oslo. But I am a bit envious of the wine in your part of the world. Today, we’re gonna chat about, as I mentioned, SERP because it’s in your title. So let’s talk a bit about that. But you’ve had quite a storied career from being obviously a marketing man, but also being on a kids show, being a traveling musician, traveling around the world and being sort of an itinerant marketer, if I can put it that way. So maybe let’s talk about how you got into marketing and maybe just a brief backstory on you.

Jason Barnard [00:01:38]: Right, yeah, lovely question. I mean, I actually did a Degree in Economics in Liverpool and I was a musician even back then. And I played the Cavern Club, which was a moment of great glory, although it doesn’t make me a better musician. It was just fun to say I played the Cavern Club where the Beatles started out. Moved to Paris and became a musician there, playing the double bass, contrabass. For anybody who doesn’t necessarily know what a double bass is in America, I think they call it a bull fiddle. And then moved on to make cartoons for kids. And you mentioned earlier on, Mauritius.

Jason Barnard [00:02:18]: We moved to Mauritius and then back to France, where I became marketer. I then went fully digital nomad and traveled around the world twice. And so, as you can see, from the moment I left home in Leeds, in the North of England, through Liverpool, Paris, Mauritius, back to France, South of France, around the world twice. Back to South of France again. I’ve never really settled down, I’ve never really stopped moving and I’ve never had a proper nine-to-five job.

Nicholas Kuhne [00:02:51]: So I think in the type of career that you’re in, obviously, with music you can travel around. But when it comes to marketing, how has that changed for you in, let’s say, since 2010? Well, since social media really started picking up, when did you really pick up on social media and how did that change the way that you saw marketing or applied yourself to marketing?

Jason Barnard [00:03:14]: Right. Well, I actually started in marketing with the cartoon and that was in 1998. And what happened is my ex wife and I created a cartoon for kids called Boowa and Kwala. And we couldn’t get any of the record companies, any of the publishers, any of the TV companies interested in our super duper Boowa and Kwala idea. And it was a blue dog and a yellow koala. And so we built a website using Flash, which is an animation software and basically built kids games online. And it was like a CD ROM, but online and for free. And we marketed it by dominating Google.

Jason Barnard [00:03:58]: So that’s why I’ve come into the Google space with the Search Engine Results Page. But also marketing it by putting the characters into the places where the kids or the parents would see them, which is schools, libraries and other resources of kids entertainment and kids educational content. And that I stopped doing that in 2008. And so I kind of missed the social media aspect from that perspective and just focused on Google and being in schools and libraries and in the places where the kids and the parents were looking.

Nicholas Kuhne [00:04:36]: So I saw in the notes that you had sort of a couple of hundred million views on your site. So I mean, that must have, in those days, that was quite something.

Jason Barnard [00:04:48]: The numbers were stunning and I actually just talked about it. Well, I was talking to a few people about scaling and we went from zero to 1-billion page views in under ten years. And we were living in Mauritius where there are no qualified web developers or web server managers. So I had to learn to do it myself. So I was sitting on a tropical island with a blue dog and a yellow koala. Our address was between the sea and the post office, Mauritius. And I had to manage a billion page views, 5 million kids every single month for a year, each one staying on the site for an average of 20 minutes and looking at 20 pages.

Nicholas Kuhne [00:05:37]: And using Flash, which, thank heavens, we no longer have to deal with, I guess.

Jason Barnard [00:05:41]: I would disagree. I loved Flash. If you’re building a website for kids where you’re building games, Flash is the best thing in the entire universe.

Nicholas Kuhne [00:05:50]: Okay.

Jason Barnard [00:05:51]: So in one particular circumstance, I think I’m probably the only person who still likes it. But I thought it was brilliant and it gave me a career and it gave me a hugely successful career and a website of games for kids, so I can only love Flash.

Nicholas Kuhne [00:06:09]: Yeah, well, I mean, they just unceremoniously yanked it from the web, so thats what quite… I’m sure that’s a story in itself. Now, you spoke about focusing on Google or using Google in the early days. How has your experience with Google changed over the last 15 or 15 or so years? We’ve now got GA4 coming out. Well, it’s out already and everyone’s had to move over from universal analytics. You’re obviously quite strong in the Google, in the Google side. How has your experience with Google changed from the early days to now?

Jason Barnard [00:06:47]: Well, I’ve kind of grown with Google. Google launched in 1998 as a company and we launched our first kids games online three months later.

Nicholas Kuhne [00:06:59]: Wow.

Jason Barnard [00:06:59]: So I started with Google and I’ve seen Google grow. I’ve seen Google evolve. I’ve seen Google change. And it’s been hugely interesting because what I’ve seen is that they have created the technology over the years, step by step, to be able to do what they initially wanted to do anyway. And one of those things which I find hugely interesting is build a machine-readable encyclopedia with every fact on earth. And they’re obviously not there now, but they started with the idea and they just had to build the technology to be able to do it. And now they have the technology and they’re in the process of doing it. And what that means, from my perspective, is my job has become a billion times more interesting because when Google was stupid, let’s say, 15 years ago, it was just about counting words and counting links.

Jason Barnard [00:07:56]: Now it’s about educating a machine, which is what we do at Kalicube. We educate Google so that our information, factual information, gets into its machine-readable encyclopedia. And if you look at an encyclopedia, you think, okay, Wikipedia, big, 50 million articles. Google’s Knowledge Graph widgets is its machine readable encyclopedia contains at least 1,500 billion facts. So it’s absolutely off the charts and it’s getting bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger, and we’re here to educate it.

Nicholas Kuhne [00:08:30]: And I guess that’s why Google isn’t particularly perturbed by ChatGPT, because it’s all running off Google information anyway, or information that’s typically being gleaned off Google. Now, you mentioned Kalicube. Why don’t we go into a little bit of the background of Kalicube and how that came about and what the name stands for as well?

Jason Barnard [00:08:53]: All right, yeah, the name, it’s delightful. I started it with a friend of mine who’s now left the company. But we discussed this for a long time, and then there’s a whole debate about do we pick a name that describes what we do, or do we pick a unique name that nobody else is using? And it’s a huge decision to make at the start of a company. We’ve actually got a couple of articles about it, where I discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each. And so we chose to find a name that nobody else was using. And the other additional problem was that we’re in France, so it needed to work in French and in English and Kalicube. K-A-L-I-C-U-B-E. Kali- quality Cube- solid.

Jason Barnard [00:09:41]: So from my perspective, Kalicube represents solid quality. And then our logo is a falcon, a multicolored falcon. And from that perspective, then it means very varied and soaring into the sky with glorious results. And it’s all in my mind. Nobody else sees this.

Nicholas Kuhne [00:10:06]: Well, I mean, that’s the job of the brand professionals, is to make sure they take those key points that you mentioned there and educate, first of all, your internal audience, your staff and your customers, and then the rest of the world. So that’s very exciting. I love the naming process, coming from the branding background. And working at Interbrand and Wunderbrand and a couple of other agencies, we’ve created a lot of names. And at Interbrand in particular, I think the game company Wii. A whole raft of different companies have come out of these branding agencies with millions of dollars sometimes spent on coming up with the right name. And as you mentioned, making sure that the name doesn’t mean something else in another language, like that disastrous Coca Cola, you know, translation in China, which I think meant to bite the wax tadpole, which is always a hilarious one when they transliterated it. So, yeah, very interesting process there.

Nicholas Kuhne [00:11:12]: So in Kalicube, you talk about teaching Google to be better or to use your data better. Let’s go into that in a little bit more detail.

Jason Barnard [00:11:24]: Right. Yeah. Google wants to understand the world, and so we can look at it as a small child who just doesn’t understand. And that’s what Boowa and Kwala was all about. It was a blue dog and a yellow koala, where the yellow koala just didn’t understand the world. The yellow koala wasn’t stupid. It just needed to learn and it needed somebody kind to explain it, and that was Boowa. So for me, Google is Kwala and Kalicube is Boowa. This is my new idea that I’ve just come up with, and Boowa is guiding Google to understand the world or the small corner of the world that Kalicube occupies or our clients occupy.

Jason Barnard [00:12:04]: So what we will do is say to a client, well, what is your brand? What is your marketing? Who are your audience? What we’re gonna do is educate Google about that so it understands. So the blue dog then takes your information and provides it to the yellow koala in a way the yellow koala can understand. And that means the yellow koala, Google. Sorry, I’m getting confusing now. But Google, the child who is a yellow koala, in this particular scenario, can then explain your brand in your words, and you maintain your brand narrative, even though somebody’s talking to Google and somebody called Teodora Petkova mentioned to me the other day, something I find hugely interesting is we must never forget that we are humans talking to other humans. But all of these social media platforms and Google are simply intermediaries. And what we need to do is make sure that we’re talking to the human on the other side through this intermediary. And the intermediary is actually projecting our voice, our brand narrative.

Jason Barnard [00:13:06]: And that’s hugely difficult to do. That’s what we do at Kalicube, and I absolutely love it. And since she said that was literally two weeks ago, it’s changed my perception of what we’re doing. We’re basically making sure that the filter that Google represents between us and the people on the other side we’re trying to talk to doesn’t filter out the things that are important to us and to our audience. And that it represents us fairly honestly and with our brand narrative and our brand voice.

Nicholas Kuhne [00:13:31]: Yeah, and brand narrative and brand voice can get lost with all of this user-generated content that’s out there as well. I think a lot of businesses are starting to rely more and more on people sharing content, et cetera, but then you lose control over the message, and we can’t really put that genie back in the bottle, necessarily. One of the things I’ve seen changed in Google, and I think one of the big changes that we’re gonna see in the next couple of years is augmented reality, where I know their goggles and their glasses were a bit of a failure, but I do feel that that’s going to make a resurgence. I think virtual reality and you know the meta universe is gonna have a tough time, but augmented reality in terms of using the Google lens, using voice more, we’re gonna find more and more people not having to go onto Google to find out websites. They’re going to be using their goggles, they’re going to be using their devices or using it in real time, moving their phone about in the world. What are your thoughts on that? Do you think that is the next sort of logical step? And do websites need to change, and how we, you know, ending up on a search page? It might not be landing up on a search page anymore on a desktop, but again, how do we get ourselves in front of people’s eyeballs in this new AR age?

Jason Barnard [00:15:08]: Yeah, I understand. Great question. From that perspective, we’re looking at search generative experience on Google, which is rolling out in the US and will be rolled out in the rest of the year, rest of the world probably by the end of the year. And that’s the start. Is that what Google then does is it takes its search results and it takes its knowledge of the world and its machine-readable encyclopedia and it presents its interpretation of that information. So the machine is now interpreting what we’re providing. And so you mentioned websites, and I think that’s hugely important. We have to change our perspective of websites because the website is, in this particular scenario, merely a way for us to communicate to Google and the other machines what it is we offer, to whom, why we’re credible, and when we can be useful, when we have a solution for them. At which point, the website needs to exist because we need to feed these machines algorithms, Google goggles and so on and so forth.

Jason Barnard [00:16:06]: And then we need to understand that they will send the user, and remember, it’s their user. It might be our audience, but it’s their user. They will send that user to our website when the website is useful to the user, when they’re ready to convert. So the funnel is going to become detached from your website, but your website needs to exist because you need to explain the funnel to these machines so that they can reproduce the funnel in all of these different environments that you mentioned earlier on. I think it’s hugely interesting. And some people are saying, I’ll just stop my website and say, no, you have to educate the machines, because if you don’t tell them what your funnel is, they can’t bring people down the funnel to your website.

Nicholas Kuhne [00:16:51]: Yeah, well, I was having a chat yesterday with a very interesting person, and we were talking about Pinterest, Instagram and companies like that, where it’s not new, but you can see a photograph you like of a sweater, glasses, et cetera. And directly from that image, you can click through and buy that product directly. So to your point, websites are more going to be more like databases, dynamic databases than a set website that somebody goes and trawls on. In terms of most businesses, nobody really cares about your business. They only care about a solution or a product or a service that is going to deliver value for them or solve a problem. So I think this movement away from having just standard websites where you’re hoping people are going to come onto it, towards going and putting your product where people are and where they’re most likely to buy it, is very interesting. And that’s where SERP is going to change, I guess, over the next couple of years.

Jason Barnard [00:18:06]: Yeah, it’s gonna hugely change. But that doesn’t mean to say we can’t use it. What we do at Kalicube, I’ve built Kalicube Pro, which is a SaaS platform that analyzes Google’s search results to understand your brand, its position in the market and your audience. And then designs for you the digital strategy that will allow you to stand where the audience is looking, wherever it is online. So we can actually delightfully use Google to understand our own digital ecosystem, our own digital strategy, and use Google’s results to improve that.

Nicholas Kuhne [00:18:41]: Yeah, well, I’m a big Google fan. I used, I’ve had iPhones, on a Mac right now, but I use Chrome, I use Gmail, I use all of the platforms that they have and obviously I use Google Ads, I use their business manager. Basically any service that Google has, I know it’s going to work. So there are lots of naysayers saying that Google might go down the tubes with AI and ChatGPT, but to your point, they are the biggest knowledge repository in the world. Where do we think all these AI bots and that are getting their data from? And even ChatGPT? When you ask something and it summarizes a point, it’s had to trawl through however many websites, you know, on Google to generate a summary. And I think if your brand story is the strongest brand story, your story will be the main story that comes out on Bing or on ChatGPT. And I think that’s a powerful story.

Jason Barnard [00:19:46]: That’s beautifully said and that’s what we’re trying to advocate, is you need to be a brand, you need to be understood as a brand. Your brand story needs to be clear to these machines and your brand story needs to be strong, which is your point. And as soon as that happens, they will tell the world about you.

Nicholas Kuhne [00:20:03]: Yeah.

Jason Barnard [00:20:04]: So we have to focus on brand, not website. Google and all of these other machines want to know who is behind the website, which company, which brand, which person. So it’s all about brand and that’s where we’re going, which is wonderful for you and I, because that’s exactly where we’re sitting.

Nicholas Kuhne [00:20:20]: Yeah. I’m very excited about the next iteration of Google and the next iteration of search, because its all, I think if one looks at Google and the other platforms, their goal is to give the customer the best possible outcome or what they’re looking for. And we, as marketers, need to help brands make sure that our products are out in front of them. Yeah, I want to go back a little bit to the digital nomad side. COVID changed, I think, a lot of people’s perceptions on work and where not having to work in an office, being stuck at home, not having engagement with people face to face. Being a digital nomad for you, do you think you missed out on having a work environment? Or what are the pros and cons of being not a one-man band, but being your own boss and being able to travel around the world? Maybe look at some of the positives and negatives for that. For folks who are thinking, let me give up being a salary person and sitting on a desk, I’m going to go and travel the world like Jason.

Jason Barnard [00:21:32]: Well, I think there are two different scenarios, one of which is sitting at home, working from home. The disadvantage is you’re quite isolated and you can often have difficulties motivating yourself. You get distracted by the washing up or cleaning the bathroom or whatever it might be. Not a problem I’ve ever had. And so when you’re new to it, I think a lot of people end up having to structure a lot of things. And I think, COVID being locked up in your house, working from home was a huge struggle for a lot of people. Then there’s being a digital nomad, which is not having a home at all, having your laptop under your arm, traveling around the world. And I did that for a couple of years, and then COVID hit and I had to stop.

Jason Barnard [00:22:19]: And the problem there is you meet a lot of people. But what I found is I didn’t share any of my experience with anybody. And that’s my regret, is that I thought, I’ll go around the world. It’d be really exciting. I went around the world twice, and it was really cool. Met lots of people, did lots of things, but I don’t have anybody I shared it with. And I think sharing experience is a huge part of being a human being. So I would suggest that being a digital nomad and traveling off around the world on your own, you run that risk.

Nicholas Kuhne [00:22:51]: Now, on a slightly more positive note, going back to your music. So let’s talk about was it a punk rock band?

Jason Barnard [00:23:00]: It was punk folk. And so folk music played with a punk energy and punk style. So I played the double bass, which is an acoustic instrument. And we played for example a version of the Ace of Spades by Motorhead with a violin, a mandolin, double bass and drums. And it sounds huge and you wouldn’t believe that it was just these acoustic instruments. And we were a folk band. No hurdy-gurdies, no. We had an accordion, we had a penny whistle, we had guitars, we had a trumpet at one point.

Jason Barnard [00:23:38]: And it was lovely because what we had was a lot of energy. And we would take standard folk songs from America, from Eastern Europe and then we would also take some songs like Motorhead songs and then we wrote some of our own. And it was all about energy and it was all about punk attitude. And it lasted ten years and it was absolutely wonderful. And we made a living. We made a very bad living.

Jason Barnard [00:24:05]: We didn’t make much money but we were traveling around Europe playing gigs for anything from one old man and his dog to 500 people or 1000 people sometimes. Sorry, we never attracted 1000 people. We did play festivals where there were up to multiple thousands of people. We played one in Brittany. I remember it was a huge huge tent and I don’t know how many people there were. Several, three or four thousand. And then when we played gigs, when we were the headlining band it was maximum 500 people.

Jason Barnard [00:24:44]: So we were a tiny bit famous. But not famous enough to actually make a long term career, unfortunately.

Nicholas Kuhne [00:24:50]: Well, perhaps with social media and TikTok and Soundcloud, it might be time for a resurgence of punk folk. I’m guaranteed after this going to listen to it. So what I’d like you to do is share some links with me if the music is available anywhere because I’m sure folks be captivated by folk. And I’m a big folk music fan so I’m definitely going to check that out. But I’m just sad there’s no hurdy-gurdy. But I will take the accordion and the double bass. I also played the double bass at school. Not very well but yeah, a big fan.

Jason Barnard [00:25:29]: Well, I hope we haven’t ruined folk music for you. When you watch it you’ll think oh no, that’s not folk.

Nicholas Kuhne [00:25:35]: I take it if there are any photos, there’ll be a bit more hair on your head, Jason.

Jason Barnard [00:25:40]: No, exactly. I had a little Tintin quiff but I was still bald.

Nicholas Kuhne [00:25:47]: Great, well normally, you know, I’d love to sign off with that piece of music of yours in the background. So maybe I’ll sneakily try and do that if Google doesn’t hit me for copyright infringement, but maybe we’ll do that to end of this chat.

Jason Barnard [00:26:03]: Yeah, no, brilliant. I’ll send you the video links. And some people did some really good videos of us. There’s some really kind of small bars with very bad sound, with somebody filming with a terrible camera in the 1990s. And then another one where it was a TV station in the East of France who recorded the whole thing with multiple cameras. And it looks so cool.

Nicholas Kuhne [00:26:28]: Brilliant.

Jason Barnard [00:26:29]: And I’m so proud of it and I’m so glad they did that because it gives me the memory of how it felt to do that. And there’s no, honestly, no better feeling in the world other than perhaps having a child.

Nicholas Kuhne [00:26:41]: Yeah. Well, on that point, I’m just going to remind everyone to check out Jason’s book on Brand SERPs. I gonna put that link. Yeah, I can see it there. I gonna put some links up and hopefully next time we can go through the ten tips and tricks on Brand SERPs to go into more detail. But this is really just to get to know you and hear a bit of your story. And thanks for spending time with us.

Jason Barnard [00:27:11]: It was absolutely delightful. Thank you for inviting me and thank you for the delightful conversation, Nicholas.

Nicholas Kuhne [00:27:16]: No problem. Cheers.

Narrator [00:27:18]: Come chat with Nicholas. He’ll listen to you, then he’ll laugh and then he’ll cry with you. It’s all in a safe space for you to speak your tune. Oh, come and chat with Nich.

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