Sunday, December 21, 2008

Was Google-Yahoo Ad Pact Move By Google To Sabotage Yahoo?

Comments on the possible reason Google backed out of an acquisition of Ringside Networks this year started me thinking about a deeper evil motivation behind the Yahoo Google ad partnership and Google's back down from it earlier this month.

Could Google have made the effort to start the process just to stop Microsoft's acquisition of Yahoo? Did they jump out of the partnership, not to avoid the possibility of a legal battle, but because they had achieved what they wanted?

Let's go back to the Ringside scenario. "There are two dominant Social API's - the Facebook API and the OpenSocial API. The Ringside Social Application Server implements both API's so that a website or application can run their social application anywhere on the web. Additionally, the Ringside Server provides a way for websites to build their own friend networks that also integrate into the large Social Networks like MySpace, Orkut, hi5 and other OpenSocial-based Social Networks," as their website explains.

Google was interested in this application as it would have enabled them to compete with MySpace and Facebook. But they were fast also developing their own.

When Google approached Ringside they were about to get second round VC capital, which they turned down as they possibly were about to be acquired by Google. When Google stepped away from the offer the company ended up folding, unable to get funding they had turned down. Subsequently the company folded.

Interesting story in and of itself. Now let's think of this in terms of Yahoo.

Earlier this year, Microsoft made an earnest bid to acquire Yahoo and given Yahoo's financial situation they may have been forced to sell if they had not started the ad partnership with Google. Everyone watched the move and many started the cries of monopoly, but was this Google's distraction - the part of a masterful preconceived move to cripple Yahoo and deny Microsoft the chance to jump up to a real contender in the space?

I know it all sounds like a conspiracy theory but one that has some merit. Microsoft has pretty much given up on Yahoo and to a large extent the push to challenge Google in the search arena.

Jerry was made to look inept and will step down as Yahoo CEO. But, they did offer to fight the Sherman Act challenge - one I think could have been won. The partnership was not restricting advertisers access to Yahoo and the price at both are bid based so raising them would have been up to the actual advertisers not the company.

As Ringside CEO Bob Bickel details in his blog:

We were ready for our Series A round of funding, and in late May we received a number of term sheet offers from the very best VC firms. As we were about to finalize our funding, one of the biggest non-evil Internet companies asked if we would have interest in being acquired instead. After a lot of thought and debate, we decided that the larger company would enable us to get our technology to market sooner and with more impact.

The story sounds almost too good to be true. And it was. After dragging out the process for most of the summer, the non-evil company decided that they really did not want to acquire the company after all. Recommendation: always beware of wolves dressed as Grandma, they may be more like Microsoft than they admit.

Maybe he should have said the "no evil company" dislikes Microsoft more than they admit. We know Larry and Sergey are smart - but are they "evil geniuses"?

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Well Looks Like SEOktoberfest For Me

How could anyone possibly pass up the chance to wear lederhosen and drink with some of the great SEMs at the Oktoberfest in Munich? And with Marcus aka Mediaadonis as one of the organizers I know there will be a lot of fun.

The cast of attendees is a who's who of our industry and I look forward to getting them drunk and learning their secrets... well that will remain to be seen.

Also me looking like this could ruin my career... well maybe not!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

SEMPO Guide To Rome: Massimo Burgio

My recent travels had me in Rome for a few days with my kids and beyond the tourist stuff I did - funny being one of those guys I see in NYC riding the tourist buses but I now know they really are handy for visitors.

Wanting to see some of the real Rome I had contacted that ever popular Italian online marketer Massimo. He gladly offered to show us some local color. We met him in Travestere at the fountain at the piazza St. Marie - hope I got that close Massimo.

Now my kids are 16 and 13 and have traveled a bit and both were studying Italian, so this was a bonus 4 days on the way to Australia. My daughter loved the ancient ruins and churches, my 13 y-o son was mostly bored - no fights anymore at the Colosseum may have been a reason. So the side trip to an authentic neighborhood with a local would make for an interesting distraction.

I could not have asked for a better evening. We set out near his office and everywhere we stopped people knew and loved him. He gave the city the best spin and had my kids entertained with his stories. The daughter had some wine and water - as many Italians her age do at meals and we talked about the world that lay ahead for them.

After stops for aperitif and appetizers and then a great long dinner we walked a while and got them back to the hotel to get some sleep. Massimo and I had other plans.

He showed me his local - and by the greetings of so many old friends who see him about as much as those of us who do the search conference circuit - he is a loved character that everyone wanted to hear about his latest exploits. So we spent a couple of hours where he would not let me pay for a drink (after he bought dinner), introduced me to stunning and friendly models and all sorts of creative Romans.

Then the late night tour of the city began. On to his motorcyle, we went whipping through the mostly abandoned cobblestone streets and saw a side of Rome few tourists would be able to find on maps.

His love of the city showed and he knew all the cool places to see the city. Three spots with interior views of the Colosseum - little cul de sacs where the locals hung out. He even showed me an amazing sight at the Maltese Embassy (hope I got the right country Massimo) - but in this out of the way place with huge walls you walk up to a particular set of doors and there is a large peephole about the size of a silver dollar. You look in to the building and even though it was after midnight and dark, you had a view of Vatican - apparently the building is headquarters of the Knights of Malta - hidden away in Aventine hills where the richest houses in Rome are.

The midnight ride was a blast - cutting through restricted areas at the speed of sound - okay maybe a little slower but not much - hitting sharp turns and coming out on some great views of this fabulous city.

Massimo I had a blast and I will forever associate Rome with that great evening. See you at the next conference or maybe Burning Man. My kids will be talking about the conversations for quite a while.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

My 12 Year Old Could Teach Yahoo and Microsoft About Fair Play

I am in Cooperstown this week watching my 12 year-old son play in the Hall of Fame Baseball Tournament. His team is 7-0 and on their way later today to play in the championship game - go Green Dogs.

I have been more proud of his sportsmanship and sense of fair play, than I am of his athletic accomplishments. Maybe the executives over at Microsoft and Yahoo could hire him to instill a sense of maturity.

As a stockholder I have lost confidence in Jerry's kids, but the actions of Microsoft and Carl Icahn have not thrilled me either. This is big business and most investors expect a level of professionalism from the companies we invest in and from the people who control them.

One of the teams in my son's tournament have displayed unsportsmanlike conduct and not just the kids but the coaches and parents. What chance do the children have if they see the adults behaving that way. My son's team has been upbeat, supportive of one another and are enjoying their days in the sun. When an opposing player got injured and taken away in an ambulance they were concerned and made sure to find out how he was doing at the end of the day.

Regardless of how the Yahoo/Microsoft deal plays out, I think both parties have lost perspective. What type of example are you showing your employees and investors?

Obviously this isn't the kids playing field - but maybe it should be!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Google Really Is The Borg

The idea that Google will soon be in a position to substantially control what happens on the internet is not a fantasy. Given their collection of data, the advertisers and product sellers, the publishers and readers, are all ultimately under the influence of Google opinion.

Given their search reach, what they determine to be worth reading is soon the common view. People use the references to link to and lift those sites in the other search engines' results. While they may show differences the top 100 across most engines have a deep similarity.

We face the possibility that Google is Big Brother and in Orwellian fashion Google determines what is news speak.

The recent launch of the Google Affiliate Network possibly shows a little too much of that manipulation.

They tell Publishers:

Google Affiliate Network can help you discover new advertiser referral programs and generate more revenue.

Easy to use

Save time with an intuitive user interface, fast-loading pages, and creative trafficking tools.

Tracking and reporting

Track conversions and member IDs for loyalty marketing. Schedule and save reports.
Automated payments

Receive electronic payments, consolidated across advertisers, twice a month. Choose from a variety of commission structures.
Support and development

Contact our experts for technical support or to help you find new revenue opportunities.

Publisher recognition

Earn AffiliateVIP status and enjoy exclusive marketing opportunities and greater visibility in the network.

Hold out that carrot and people will jump through hoops - remember when they were selling Gmail accounts on EBay.

And to Advertisers they promise filtering and success:

With Google Affiliate Network, you can manage a custom affiliate marketing program and attract publishers to grow your affiliate channel.

Affiliate marketing expertise

Consult with our affiliate marketing specialists on planning and distribution, account optimization, and technical issues.

Network depth and breadth

Choose from a wide variety of high-quality publishers based on detailed profiles and metrics.

Tracking and reporting

Track conversions, evaluate performance, and optimize your program with actionable data.

Network quality

Work only with qualified publishers who are continually screened, reviewed, and advised by our quality team.

Performance-based pricing

Rest assured that cost-per-action pricing means our interests are aligned with yours.

Will they lower AdSense income to push the affiliate advertising? Well they are supposed to be optimizing both sides.... but basically you put your companies in their hands. Fair exchange is no robbery - or this should be a win-win situation are cliches I expect to hear. But remember these are the guys who thought the Adwords minimum bids were a benefit to everyone - funny I seem to have helped finance all the work because I never saw a low CPC during that period.

Google seems ready to constantly be battling the government. Hey their lawyers are well trained by now.

To quote another Orwellian work: "All animals are created equal, but some are more equal than others" and I guess Google gets to make that determination.

Just a heads up.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

If You Give A Mozz A Sandwich

I am hoping people are familiar with that classic "If You Give A Mouse A Cookie" - if not it is a children's classic.

The recent post over at SEOMoz about XSS security was informative - well worth the sandwiches sent as payment by Search Engine Watch for the heads up.

So the story goes...

If you give a Mozz a sandwich he (or she) will probably want champagne to go with it.

Then after a bottle or two or three - they will most probably need to go to the bathroom.

When they get to the bathroom, they will probably notice that their eyes are bloodshot and want some Visine.

While they are waiting for you to get them the Visine, they will probably come up with some funny ideas for linkbait.

"Search Marketers With The Most Bloodshot Eyes At Conferences" will be created and deployed as another excellent blog entry.

People will get annoyed at their inebriation being plastered on the web, and a huge discourse will ensue on the Mozz blog. Sides will be drawn, links to the action will occur, but that just means more comments.

So when the traffic dies down and all the social networking is done they will be hungry and want more sandwiches.

Now if you happen to be used as the next reference - whatever you do - Do Not Give The Mozz A sandwich.... because......

Hope you guys liked the sandwiches Matt McGowan sent you last week. And Rebecca, Rand, Scott and Jane (figuring the order of who gets mad first)... I was joking and could not pass up the story... and I did not title it "If You Give A Moz A Cocktail" - that will be the sequel!

Darren I know you did not share in the sandwiches, but will buy you a drink when I see you at next conference.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

TechSet Coming To NYC

Watch out New York City the TechSet is crashing Internet Week. Stephanie Agresta just let me know that her band of mischief makers will be attending various events.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Mahalo Daily VJ Finalists Rated

Okay Jason Calacanis is promoting Mahalo Daily and giving people input Idol style where you can vote for the finalists. All attractive women so not too hard watching - though no blondes some may be bottle brunettes.

My vote from bottom to top are below.

Brazilian Fight Dancing does not cut it - needed more experienced fight dances moves - not articulate VJ.

This one thinks the MMA guys are articulate and then the video shows them as to the contrary, unless compared to her.

Not too bad but slow and a little boring.

Interview a bit weak, some questions are silly.

Great smile, confident interviewer and action holds attention.

good interview and well mixed video - holds attention to end.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Who To Vote For?

Okay not necessarily the usual topic of my posts but it is something that will impact it, in my opinion.

I like John McCain - he gave for his country in a very direct manner. You have to respect that... but he echoes Bush way too much and the president is one person who scares me.

Obama I hope is the right call. He should stop the bleeding caused by Bush economics... in all walks of life I cannot understand how people would vote for a party that takes from most of their pockets. The Democrats spends most of the money on its people in the broad sense, Republicans tend to have a smaller number they call its people.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Sunday is 4/20, Ultimate 420 Lists

Got to love the effort put into the EveryThing 420 post by the guys at Best of the Web. No doubt stoners through the world will be reading this on Sunday.

Rob you are the man... I now know who to come to for rolling out massive content.

Rebecca Lieb Leaves ClickZ

ClickZ has some big shoes to fill this week, with the announcement that Rebecca Lieb is leaving as Editor-in-Chief.

Having worked with her over the past couple of years, I know she will be missed.

No doubt we will see her in some other influential role in our industry and at the various conferences. Where ever she lands someone is gaining a great asset.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Rename SMX: The Danny, Rand and Matt Show

I have heard disturbing rumors that Danny Sullivan is trying to get Google to change the Google Dance from SES San Jose to an SMX event, guess an alternative one for SMX is not on the agenda and the conference battle is down to who has the best parties.

Danny recruited me to the SEW forums when they first started and the community was less of a battlefield. And through a series of attritions - or should I say SMX acquisitions - I became the editor. Elisabeth Osmeloski was the first and by far the best person to have the role.

Our industry used to be a friendly and open space where industry leaders gladly shared information with everyone. Now it seems these people are being limited to what conference they can speak at.

I would like to know Danny if you have told people they can only speak at one or the other of the events. Never seemed to be the case but have heard that this is now being told to speakers.

SEOMoz who I have always considered friends have become partners of sorts with SMX - I noted the whole family spoke at one recent event - father, mother, brother, Rand and other Mozzers. Guess the late night champagne drinking after the SES conference sessions are over.

And Matt Cutts... if you spent more time at SMX events you would be hard pressed getting anything done at Google. I definitely thought SES New York was going to have your cat speak at the search engine for pets sessions but maybe you were told it was not allowed.

Add the addition of Vanessa Fox to the SEL/SMX team and I guess you could call the California offices 'Little Google'.

Hopefully I am wrong about all this and the speakers that once were free to speak at any and all events will be back at other events soon.

As a newly started online marketing agency I know the need to attend the major conferences to get yourself out there and to build contacts with the various vendors - but have been told am 'persona non grata' at SMX... now what could I possibly have done to merit that decision?

Monday, March 3, 2008

Yahoo Search Assist And Other Search Suggestions

I have been watching Yahoo's Search Assist and it seems to be getting smarter. So obviously it has some record of what I am searching for during a session (I hope they have not cookied me) and using that to improve their suggestions.

Funny I remember having this conversation with a friend maybe 5 or 6 years ago.

We were discussing how search could become more intuitive. The example my friend used was Albert Einstein. If you want a bio then a straight search would generally list a wikipedia entry or something similar. But what if you wanted his formulas or theories... a search assist to offer deeper suggestions would be appreciated. This is done to a degree by IGoogle and now by Yahoo Search Assist.

But what if you were looking for your local plumber Albert Einstein - now he would be buried amid the millions of pages of the famed scientist.So a more detailed search would be needed and ultimately he would be found. The use of these search histories would help, as would Google Bookmarks.

Christopher Noll from PC World recently wrote a great article
on plugins that help improve your browser...

The push to build the browser into a search assistant seems to be an area that is getting a lot of attention right now.... something to keep an eye on.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Hottest Geeks? What About Hottest SEMs!

Okay there is a competition for the hottest geeks, with some stellar entries... IJustine is my favorite.... cute and a great sense of the absurd - would make a great exwife.

And what do we have in the search space???

sexy danny sullivan
Neil Patel Is hot

Monday, January 28, 2008

Who Really Could Buy Yahoo And Succeed

The New York Post wrote an article about companies interested in buying Yahoo! now that it is below $24 a share. But I think the writer, while well versed in who could be interested does not know the space well enough to see who really will or could buy it and succeed.

AOL - well that is just a joke. They are having a hard enough time keeping their own efforts afloat and buying Yahoo would just add to their problems.

Yahoo needs someone to take charge and realize that the company is not in competition with Google for search share. What has been the main strength of the company has been its communities - Yahoo Groups and all variations of that, as well as their solid content areas. Monetize those through banner/sponsorship and other media and grab search as an adjunct to that. The searches would become more specific and conversions would go back to the days when Yahoo led the field.

The Post's list was: AOL, AT&T, CBS, Comcast, Microsoft, Viacom and News Corp.

At&T - come on they have a hard enough time getting their services working properly... I hate the dropped ads commercials because instead of dropping they turn a lot of my conversations in to "hear every third word" gibberish.

CBS - well they have the money but they would bring the traditional media model to Yahoo and create what Seth Godin calls "A Meatball Sundae." Their online efforts are okay but reflect an old media style that if applied to Yahoo would just hasten its demise.

Comcast, Viacom - jumping to the web to offset dropping offline numbers - as investor I would say pass.

Okay the two real contenders are left: News Corp - another Aussie's multinational oligarchy - hey Rupert you buy Yahoo and people will start to see you as a James Bond bad guy - but if you do I can be bought for advise!!!

And finally Microsoft - this is the real company that could do something with all that Yahoo has and could be. Of all the potential buyers Microsoft actually knows the space the best and could combine their own success models in Finance and other content verticals to further improve visitor numbers and confidence. With Yahoo's search numbers combined to their own, Bill will be closer to the Google share of the market and then possibly be able to compete with Larry and Sergey for the space and help us all.

The only other dark horse would have to be a company from Asia.... Baidu and Alibaba come to mind.

So Jerry if you want to mention this article and its ideas in your quarterly earnings report feel free. Good Luck tomorrow.

Monday, January 21, 2008

You Sphinn Me Right Round Baby

John Andrews has been a successful internet marketer for quite some time. A little under the radar (which I am sure he will smile about if he reads this) until recently, but is well known by many experienced long-term netters.

There have been recent controversies - but anyone that reads his blog knows he offers great advise about so many things that most people keep to themselves.

Right now he is shooting for a record number of Sphinns for an article he wrote half a year ago. Clever and I wish I had thought about it first... maybe not quite kosher but hey just the creativity is worth a blind eye by the SEL crew.

He has given us ideas on how to use social media and for that matter all online media.

John I liked your suggestions on Sphinning for Links and know the soon to be long standing record for the effort for 300 will be successful. Someone has to be the King of "Sphinnbait".

Monday, January 7, 2008

Is Organic Search Still Number One For Google?

I have a hard time believing Google's main priority is its flag ship product - organic search. With the constant playing it now does; pushing sites up and down on what appear to be whims - we know that is not the case but the reasons at times seem lame.

For example, this latest #6 drop which has older sites that do not have any recently added inbound links dropped about 6 positions. I can understand that top references should be adding links constantly and thus no recent inbound links would suggest these once authoritative sites have lost their edge. But is it not possible that they have saturated their space and people do not link to them anymore as they have already or know everyone else has.

When a newbie finds a site from one link and then see it on a lot of other sites they visit, they are not going to link to it as they see it as the industry standard that everyone knows. They would look for some more obscure but interesting site to link to so it shows they have done some work in the space and am contributing maybe not the best site but one of interest that many have not seen (or so they may think).

What I do see Google spending a lot of time on is changing AdWords to improve their income. Grabbing up other companies in the overall online world. Analytics - hey here is another market we can dominate by giving away the product until everyone is gone; wifi - we have money lets buy the spectrum to monopolize the growing popularity....

The list goes on and on of new ventures Google is working. And to make sure the gloss does not fall from the rose they have spin doctors at every step.

Matt I love you - know you are intelligent, witty and a cat lover - but you are the King of Spin - note I did not spell that Sphinn.....

Michael Gray was on to something at that infamous Paid Links Are Evil panel - people seem to allow the front runners to set the rules... this is true of business as well as politics.

Google is not the FCC - but maybe the FCC should pay a little more attention to what Google is doing. When the Hunt brothers tried to monopolize the silver industry last century the government stepped in. Antitrust has been a hurdle for Bill Gates' expansion of Microsoft - yet no one said anything about Google's actions in the analytics space - and the DoubleClick deal got approved with no real pain.

Guess when the company is popular in this era of mass communication many people are intimidated to say anything against them as the public backlash could be huge.

Stop playing with YouTube, stop buying up more industries, stop trying to save the world and go back to what it was that got all this money and power... good leading edge organic search.