Friday, April 28, 2006

How To Beat Google

Okay everyone says there is always the possibility for something to come out of the blue and knock of the industry leader. Hey, Google did it back in the day.

But the relevancy factor is at the stage where it is going to rely on some type of personalization to make that next move. Human nature is such that this hurdle may be the one that stops someone from toppling Google from the top spot. Though the growth of China and other population exploding nations could be some type of impact factor in the search future.

I was talking to someone from Ask the other day and was trying to convince them to switch to a CPA (cost per acquisition) model. True it would involve reshaping their methods.... have a team that tests the CPA offers - counter offers etc. There would also be a need for a third party processing system so that the search engine was not losing the traffic when sites try and hijack the traffic, but ultimately it would open the market to many people who don't fully know how to work search.

Another way to steal a little thunder from Google - and listen Microsoft and Ask - is to offer agency commissions. They are available in Europe and Asia - give the agencies the ability to expense the process out better and they will push and convince those Fortune 500 companies that think search is a mionor play.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Nielsen NetRatings Don't Know Search

ClickZ just posted an article about the latest Nielsen/NetRatings numbers for ad placements and top sponsored links.

The only problem is it looks like no-one look at the results before launching them to the world. They are so obviously wrong that it shows that Nielsen was not using anyone with any type of search knowledge.

They list the top three search terms by impression for the top 25 traffic getters - well those are the parameters outlined how accurate who is on the list has to be considered in light of the rest of the posted results.

Number one obviously EBay - biggest PPC advertiser out there. But does anyone really think the top three terms for them are Ebay, craigslist and gmail? I swung on this thinking that they do advertise for every word - so maybe those are the top searches for the period.... but then as you go deeper - Yahoo!'s top 3 sponsored search terms: 1)ups 2)ride,on,toys 3)zip+codes.

It gets better and more embarassing:
ShopZilla's number three is pictures+of+women+with+bruised+faces
Microsoft's number two is Google Earth - of all the things MSN advertises for in PPC last on the list but is another company driving sponsored traffic for that pays for the term "pictures of women with bruised faces" - and if it was just pictures of women on broad match the specific would not have shown up. Or were there just that many people searching for that term to find the Duke woman?
But the capper is EWoss's third top search term - revolver grips.

ClickZ should have examined the report before running it - just to help an old pal out. Nielsen needs a search person to doublecheck that the data was collected properly to avoid this type of result.

Google Using Pontiac to Test TV Ad Impact on Search

Okay, by now if you live in the United States you would have had to have seen those Pontiac ads that say "Google Pontiac" with the full screen of the Google search page.

I had always thought those ads were co-op advertsing, but apparently not!

Pontiac is paying and was happy to be able to use Google's cache for this ad - as well as be part of a very innovative test of the impact of television on search.

Obviously the Call To Action is 'Search for Pontiac'. Google - who does not share info with the Department of Justice - is analysing their log files and developing data on response numbers. The ad is running everywhere and by using time of ad run in various markets they can see what television stations provide the best responses, what times, and the list is endless.

Google is a huge winner in all this. Someone is paying for the research and Google makes money on the deal too. Pontiac pays for the tv spots, and when you do the search they have also got the number one PPC ad. On top of that, Google also gets to see what lift TV ads give to search.

Hopefully the results of this test will eventually be made public. I would like to commend Pontiac and Google for testing groundbreaking relationships between the web and other media.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

New Google Business Model: Licensing Access to Trademarked Terms in AdWords

A thread over at Search Engine Watch has given me an idea for a new business. Licensing usage of trademarked terms in Google AdWords.

Sounds a little bizarre but recent actions and decisions over at AdWords suggests it could be the next big thing. Move over PPC arbitragers, the trademarked terms licensers are here.

As silly as this sounds I think it would work. Right now according to the thread Google has classified "drive" as a trademarked term. I'm thinking this was an overzealous novice that gave it that status and it will quickly be changed back, but the concept is intriguing.

If you can forecast terms that will increase in common usage or help them get there - you can set up a website and trademark the term and have a valuable asset.

Anyone who holds the trademark can allow people to use the term in Google AdWords. That being the case why not get a monthly fee for the ability to use the term. Put it in the copy of the ad and your CTR increases, increased CTR lowers the cost of your CPC - so conceivably you could make the money back.

If you are restricted from using it at all and it has to be there for qualifying the traffic it is a very valuable commodity.

Okay guys the race is on - who is going to be in on this new goldrush?

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Defining "Do No Evil"

Using "Do No Evil" as a company mantra had to be one of the smartest PR acts of the dotcom era. Google started out with such a warm and comfy (like a 'Fluffy Bunny') feel.

The viral marketing for Google spread and their rapid growth pushed them to the top of the search industry. All was rosy at Googleplex.

New technology was been created by staff during the 'mandated' personal development time and Google added more patents to its growing pile. They acquired other companies and added satellite imaging, social networking, image editing, blogging and much more.

But slowly a deeper set of actions developed initially under the radar. Forget the censorship in China and other actions, after all they were guarding the user information in the United States.

But the purchase of Urchin start a definite conflict with the company mantra. Who should no evil be done to? Not the world in general - just ask the Chinese - or Urchin competitors unable to beat Google bids in PPC. When the analytics industry compalined about the PPC bidding problem Google quickly dropped the 'ever-present' ads and just started giving away the analytics tool.

Then there is the roll out of Google Base. Watch out Craigslist you were getting too much like Google with your word of mouth popularity growth.

Now they offer airline ticket sales, car sales and much more.

Given the popularity of search in relation to overall internet use and that search is the starting point for many actions, Google is using this to grab more ancillary businesses. But hey they are just putting things at the searchers finger tips - making the ordering of anything online quicker and easier. And shielding themselves behind the 'we are helping internet users' excuse, they continue to go after more areas of online business and in some cases offline business too.

The fallacy of this helping others excuse is that they are quickly putting companies in jeopardy of bankruptcy. Sadly yet realistically, Google could be moving in to cause the next dot bubble burst.

When these other businesses go under and push people to unemployment, less and less people will have the time or ability or desire to search for things to buy - job searches will go up so watch out for Google buying a job engine to compliment Base - but eventually PPC ads will be less in demand and then Google starts to lose ground.

Once Google starts to shake the speed of negative viral marketing will outpace the positive.

The grasping hand of Google acquisition and hardcore 'take no prisoners' business approach should be added to the Wikipedia explanation of "Do No Evil". While Larry - "Hear No Evil" - and Sergei - "See No Evil" - must be the monkeys the new Ask campaign is eluding to.......

Google Is Backdoor Portal

Okay forget about the speculation of when Google will launch its portal. They already have it. Those subtle links to News, Local, Froogle etc. are just their way of using the minimalist portal approach.

They have all the elements in place. They are just pioneering a new look portal. The search portal.

The addition of the stock prices, currency conversion, airline ticket/car/etc sales widgets at the start of organic results reenforces this. They will not roll out a web page filled with various content - well not unless you want to personalise one and "hey presto" you can make one any way you want - just like the other portals offer.

Google is using its dominance in search to get internet users to rethink the way they perceive and use the web.

Why bother with MSN, Yahoo etc. when you can find everything you want in Google and it will be specifically tailored to what you want at that particular moment.

What am I interested in this visit? Every visit is unique - started in motion by the search term - delivered in to those specifications.

Want news related information click the news tab; want to buy something related to the search you can try Froogle or Base; want something near you click Local; need directions click Maps; want pictures try Images; want to talk to others about it try Groups; want to chat about it go to Talk....

Google does not have to roll out a portal it already has one.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

More MSN Changes To Come

Okay they are moving fast. I received another email this morning:

Broad Match Changes
We have received feedback from advertisers like you on the adCenter broad match filter. To act upon this feedback, we are now allowing for broader matching of search terms. For example:
o Before Change: If you were bidding on ‘jeans’ using the broad match type filter, and someone searched for ‘blue jeans’, the ad would only show up if the word ‘blue’ appeared the title and/or description of the listing.
o After Change: If you were bidding on ‘jeans’ using the broad match type filter, and someone searched for ‘blue jeans’, the ad would show up.

You can expect to see an increase in impressions and clicks for keywords using the broad match filter. Please do not mistake the increase for fraudulent clicks. We are confident that the change in our broad matching will have a positive long-term impact to your search campaigns. However, please be prepared to adjust your budgets for campaigns using the broad match filter.

The broad match change will begin this week.

Upcoming adCenter Upgrade
The new release contains many features you have been asking for! Highlights include:
· You can now choose to receive Marketing Communications from adCenter through the adCenter Member Communications tool in Account Management.
· The Compressed Invoicing feature is now defaulted and will reduce the number of pages generated for invoices.
· With the Bulk Keyword Upload Tool, you can copy and paste keywords (instead of entering each one manually) to significantly reduce the time needed to set up a campaign through the UI.
· Estimate your bids through our improved price estimation tool to help reach position 1 in ad ranking. Also, each keyword bid is editable and shown in a grid for easy viewing of the entire campaign.
· Insert text dynamically into the ad title or ad text (formerly known as parameters).

Ads will run as usual during the upgrade
The release will happen within the next two weeks, and we will contact you 48 hours in advance with the exact date and time of the upgrade, as you will be unable to access adCenter for the afternoon on the day of the upgrade. Your keywords and ads will continue to run and be tracked during this time period; you will just be unable to access adCenter to make changes.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

MSN Making Changes to AdCenter

I received this information in an email from the MSN AdCenter people.

A new release is scheduled for 4/18/06 to help make your adCenter experience easier. Once again, adCenter client feedback helped drive these changes, which include:

Keywords: You’ll be able to copy and paste a list of keywords instead of typing them manually.
Parameters: The parameter naming convention will be changed so as to be more intuitive. {param1} will be labeled Destination URL, and params 2 and 3 will be labeled Dynamic Text.
Billing Statements: View your billing statement as a PDF file for easier download and printing.
Hear from Us, or Not: Go to your settings page to opt-in or –out to receive adCenter marketing materials.

Please note that MSN adCenter will be unavailable during this update on the afternoon of April 18. This should not affect your existing data or campaigns, which will remain live during this time. However, you won’t be able to access your account or its features while we update adCenter, so we encourage you to make any needed immediate changes to your account beforehand.

Monday, April 10, 2006

PayPal Doing Pay By Phone

Well PayPal is joining up with MTV, Bravo and others to offer customers the ability to purchase items using your cell phone. According to an Adotas article, the EBay company has just announced the roll out.

Funny they have had this all over Europe for years now. But banking and credit card companies held off the roll out in the US. Guess PayPal worked things out.