News

December 7, 2011

Bing-Yahoo European Search Ad Integration Starts in 2012

Bing and Yahoo are now preparing to integrate their search ad functionality in several European countries. Starting in Q2 of 2012, Yahoo advertisers in the UK, Ireland, and France will turn to the Microsoft adCenter.
Yahoo and Microsoft announced that "The European roll out is scheduled to begin with the UK, Ireland and France in the second quarter of 2012." However, many European advertisers will be able to use Microsoft adCenter for Yahoo advertising much earlier; Microsoft indicated that most European partners would be able to make the transition in early 2012.
The transition of the search ads is part of the search engine partnership between Yahoo and Microsoft (known as the Search Alliance). That partnership has handed Bing the search back-end and organic search results for almost every region where Yahoo does business. The two companies have been splitting the cost of the transition, and Bing receives 12 percent of the revenue from searches it powers.

As Microsoft and Yahoo continue to combine forces, both companies will see greater benefit; as Bing powers more searches, Microsoft will get more of Yahoo's revenue, and Yahoo will be able to shut down additional divisions. Simultaneously, the cost of transition – a notably top-heavy spending process – will be lifted from both technology companies. Yahoo will cut costs even further with the transition of search ads, which enables Yahoo to close that sector of their existing business.
Perhaps most importantly, though, Yahoo and Microsoft will offer greater appeal to advertisers. Currently, Bing-Yahoo serve about 30 percent of U.S. searches but less than 10 percent of European searches. While often negligible on their own in the European market, the ability to advertise on both engines simultaneously will offer substantially more incentive to European advertisers.

Facebook Advertising Market Share May Surge Past Microsoft, Yahoo in 2012

New reports have been released which reveal that even though Google dominates over the online advertising market, Facebook is coming out as a promising contestant and is likely to give some tough time to Google in near future.
According to a market report released by ZenithOptimedia Facebook doubled its online advertisement market share from 1.4 per cent in 2009 to 3.1 per cent in 2010.
In fact, between 2006 and 2010, Facebook has grown the most among all the major online advertising companies including Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and AOL. Facebook's market share grew from 0.2 per cent in 2006 to 3.1 per cent in 2010.

Google increased its online advertising market dominance from 41.9 per cent in 2009 to 44.1 per cent in 2010. The company has made a series of acquisitions recently, which will allow it to diversify its advertising offerings and provide better services to customers.
Microsoft, Yahoo and AOL continue to struggle against Google with market shares of 4 per cent, 8.9 per cent and 1.5 per cent respectively reports Reuters.
Facebook, which has more than 800 million users, offers a unique form of advertising to marketers and allows companies to interact with their potential and existing customers by creating customised profile pages and display ads.
The social networking giant is expected to overtake Microsoft in the online advertising market by the end of this year and blow past Yahoo before the end of 2012.

 

November 25, 2011

Nokia vs. Bing Maps, Zune: the U.S. problem

Nokia is set to make a big splash in the US, with a big presence at CES in Las Vegas in January, and a US launch expected soon after (if not right from CES). We’re expecting at least some new phones, a big marketing push, and a strong push by Nokia to get US mobile operators on board (Nokia has historically been much bigger worldwide than it has in the US).

As we’ve seen in the worldwide launch of Nokia Windows Phones, the Finnish company has plans to compete not only with shiny new hardware, but with an impressive portfolio of mobile applications. Nokia Maps, Nokia Drive, and Nokia Music are all integral parts of the Nokia Windows Phone experience, and the Nokia marketing effort as it sets out to define itself as “the first real Windows Phone” maker.

For most of the world, where Bing Maps and Zune are woefully underpowered or even non-existent, a stronger Nokia offering is a great boon, and Nokia Maps, through its acquisition of Navteq (in 2007, for $8.1 billion), offers a complete and compelling map service for mobile devices, including offline map support (now available for Nokia Maps on Windows Phone and reportedly coming soon to Nokia Drive, making it possible to use the mobile navigation service even without an internet connection).

But in the US, it’s a slightly different story. To the consternation of many of our international readers, it’s well known that Bing Maps and Zune have focused their efforts mainly in the US, offering features and levels of detail unavailable elsewhere. So what happens when Nokia launches in the US? Does Nokia directly compete with Bing Maps? Does the not-yet launched US Nokia Music site go live in competition with Zune?

Back in May, Search Engine Land speculated that Bing Maps was slated to be not only powered, but replaced by Nokia Maps, basing the assumptions on talks over lunch with “a person with close connections to Nokia”. Author Greg Sterling first points out some vague but quite interesting tidbits from the initial announcement of the Microsoft/Nokia partnership:
"Nokia Maps will be a core part of Microsoft’s mapping services. For example, Maps would be integrated with Microsoft’s Bing search engine and adCenter advertising platform to form a unique local search and advertising experience".

Sterling goes on to report on more of the assumptions by his lunch partner:
"However my lunch companion argued unequivocally that Nokia Maps would effectively replace almost everything that Microsoft had developed over the past several years in terms of the Bing Maps infrastructure. This was shocking because Microsoft has invested hundreds of millions of dollars (if not billions) in creating a viable competitor to Google Maps. Most recently the company has been promoting its roll out of new hi-resolution aerial imagery on a global basis.
I said I couldn’t believe Microsoft would agree to swap in Navteq for the guts of its own system. Yet my lunch guest argued that Microsoft’s role would mostly center on the Bing Maps UI — ironically not unlike Yahoo’s relationship to Microsoft search results — everything else would be powered by Nokia
".

Since then, we’ve had a chance to see the international launch of Nokia Windows Phones, and their heavy reliance on Nokia-specific apps like Maps and Music to differentiate their phones. So what will happen in less than two months when Nokia arrives in the US with Windows Phones? As Sterling points out, Microsoft has spent millions (if not billions) of dollars on mapping technologies, trying to differentiate their product while licensing (at no small cost, we’re sure) Nokia’s Navteq mapping technologies.

Zune is in somewhat the same predicament. If Nokia launches a US Music product (which their website is promising is “coming soon”), it will have to be in direct competition (or some sort of unannounced as yet collaboration) with Zune. Will Microsoft get out of the expensive maps and music businesses, and let Nokia take over? Will it go into direct competition with Nokia, the company it is betting on to save its Windows Phone business? Or will, as we’ve unfortunately seen before from Microsoft, will there be a muddled and poorly played story that will leave both Microsoft and Nokia in some sort of map and music limbo? What do you think will happen?

Bing And Yahoo Advertisers Get New Tools

Microsoft is talking about some new features it has for adCenter.
Over the last two weeks, adCenter has released its latest round of pre-holiday features, all delivering on advertisers’ wish lists of improving campaign performance, increasing volume, and simplifying processes to help save time” a spokesperson tells WebProNews.

Features include a redesigned web user interface, an upgrade to the adCenter Desktop, and the release of several performance reporting tools.
Microsoft outlines each of these.

The interface:

The desktop:

Tools:

For those of you who aren’t advertising with adCenter, remember that these things apply to Bing and Yahoo advertisers

 

November 3, 2011

Google's AdWords Introduces New Location Targeting

The location targeting interface for AdWords just got a makeover. Google announced that the changes include an easier way to find locations, and a new column that tells the reach (number of users) of Google properties. The location target limits have also been increased from 300 to 10,000, and a new Polygon targeting migration tool has been added.

As Google says, We've connected the location targeting feature within AdWords to Google Maps. This will allow us to provide more information about locations, make relevant location suggestions, and improve the level of accuracy of our location targeting. Today we're announcing the first of these changes: a makeover to the location targeting interface within AdWords. The new Location Targeting Tool will make it easier to discover and obtain more detail on potential target locations.

Discovering Locations Made Easy
The advertisers can now get helpful search suggestions, when they go to the Campaign Settings tab and key in the broad area they are thinking of targeting. The suggestions will include the city, state and nearby or similar locations of the area you have keyed.

For a more detailed look, you can now view locations via a map and also lets you view the boundaries of multiple locations that you've selected. See the image for a better understanding.

Know Your Audience Reach
The new interface has reach numbers to help advertisers know the number of audience within your selected target. These numbers are calculated on the basis of users seen on Google properties. Google further elaborates, Additionally, we will use the 'Limited reach' label to indicate locations where we may not be able to associate users with a selected location based on their devices' Internet Protocol (IP) address. In these instances, we will primarily be using user intent data rather than device location data to target these locations.

Advertisers opting for proximity targeting will get to see 'Locations within this target', and this will let them know the areas covered by their radius.

Other features include the increased location target limits from 300 to 10,000 locations (plus 500 additional proximity targets) per campaign.

Polygon targeting migration:
Google has added as 'feature removal planned' badge for existing polygon targets, and the search engine recommends the 'Target a radius' feature to advertisers. This will allow them to choose and add locations within the radius target.

 

October 27, 2011

Google AdWords Express Now Available in UK, Germany

Google announced that AdWords Express will now be available to all UK and Germany advertisers. Google released AdWords Express in late July as a way to help local businesses get more traffic to their websites and Places pages.
AdWords express helps searching customers to find your website or Google Places listing. You provide basic information to Google such as business information, ad text, monthly budget and you're good to go.
After doing the initial setup, Google will manage the campaign for you so you. You don't have to really do anything after that. AdWords will target and figure out which searches your ad should be showing on much like their new Dynamic Search Ads program that they launched last week.
The whole process to set up AdWords Express took me around 5-10 minutes. Depending on how long it takes you to come up with ad text, and if your Google Places account it set up, it could take you a bit longer.
One nice thing about Google Express is it will give you an estimated monthly budget. This is based on local competition, estimated clicks, and how much they think they can get out of you! You will only pay when a person clicks on your ad.
When potential customers search for your business or Places account, the ads will appear in the Ads section above or to the right of Google’s organic search results. You will see this in Google Maps with a blue pin rather than the red pins non-AdWords advertisers receive on your desktop. You will see your typical business information but may also include a number of your reviews to your Google Places page.
This is another reason why you should be asking customers to review and give your business a good rating! It will help you out with Google ranking your business as well.
In using AdWords Express for a couple clients I have found that most of the time this is a good thing. Although using AdWords you'll get placed higher in results as you see in our breakdown of AdWords Express. Sure, you will pay for a bunch of clicks that you're ranking organically for already but it's not a bad thing to have yourself twice on a page. You will almost always get the click over your competitors if you're two of the 10 listings on the front page.
This is a step in the right direction for Google to help local businesses have an easy to use system where they can get local traffic. Now available in the UK and Germany, local business should have an easy way to get more traffic without spending a lot of time learning AdWords.

Firefox readies Bing edition to scare Google

It's contract negotiation season once again

The Mozilla Foundation appears to be reminding Google of what the future could bring, launching a customised version of the popular Firefox browser that changes the default search engine to Microsoft's Bing.
The launch of Firefox with Bing, created in partnership with Microsoft, comes as Mozilla's contract with Google comes up for renewal.
The contract is of vital importance to the Mozilla Foundation: the Foundation's 2010 financial report indicates that 98 per cent of all its revenue comes directly from its agreement to make Google's search engine the default service in Firefox.
With that contract coming up for renewal, the Foundation is clearly issuing a warning to Google: sign on the dotted line, or watch as our users switch over to Bing.

"Today we’re teaming with Mozilla to release Firefox with Bing, a version of the popular Web browser that includes default search settings for Bing. Now Firefox users who are Bing enthusiasts can use Firefox with Bing to use the Web the way they want without having to take extra steps to navigate or customize their settings to Bing," Microsoft's Tor Steiner says of the deal.
"Firefox with Bing offers the latest version of Firefox with Bing set as your home page and the default setting in the search box and AwesomeBar - where you can also type in queries as well as Web addresses."

For those who already have Firefox installed, there's a Bing Search for Firefox Add-on that makes the same changes in existing copies.
The release comes two years after prominent Mozilla Foundation member Asa Dotzler raised concerns over Google's advertising activities, suggesting that Firefox users who valued their privacy should switch over to Bing.
There's no current indication that the Foundation intends to replace Google with Bing in the 'standard' Firefox version, but the fact that a 'Firefox with Bing' edition is waiting in the wings is clearly a warning shot across Google's bow.

Firefox with Bing is available from the Microsoft-owned official site.

 

October 25, 2011

Why Google would want Yahoo: A few opportunities could make it worth the effort

Summary: Google is reportedly in early talks about a bid for Yahoo. Can these opportunities make the likelihood of regulatory scrutiny worth it?

That “person familiar with the matter” is talking to the Wall Street Journal again - and this time, that person is whispering tales of early-stage discussions between Google and some potential partners to make a bid for Yahoo.
Now, before anyone starts hollering “antitrust” in a building filled with government regulators, remember that there’s still no formal proposal yet and it’s very possible that Google might not pursue a bid at all. Instead, it seems like we’re at the stage where the key players are just scribbling out their lists of pros and cons about a possible deal.
Imagine the advertising possibilities, what with those hundreds of millions of faithful Yahoos who check in several times a day. But consider the sort of scrutiny that the deal would experience. Are the growth possibilities or the potential dollars-and-cents for the long run worth the efforts of defending the deal to regulators?
Maybe. If I were scribbling some thinking points on a Google bid for Yahoo, here’s what some of those random thoughts might look like:

Search: Google walked away from a search advertising deal with Yahoo once before - almost three years ago - after the Department of Justice said it would file an antitrust lawsuit against it. They went big, pared down and still couldn’t shake the feds - and so they walked. A year later, Microsoft inked a 10-year search deal with Yahoo. Certainly, regulators will be interested in search and how a Yahoo-Google-Microsoft love triangle impacts it. In terms of Google taking out a search competitor in Yahoo, that feels like less of an issue. Yahoo hasn’t been a search powerhouse for years and Carol Bartz, before she was shown the door, had been pushing the “Don’t compare us to Google” message at every opportunity.

Content: The other half of the We’re-not-Google mantra was a “We’re a media company” message that Yahoo backed with partnerships and acquisitions. Going after the likes of AOL, Yahoo stepped up its game in original content - not just YouTube style snippets that Bartz was fond of - but also original news. Remember that news has always driven advertising and Yahoo has millions of eyeballs visiting the site daily. Bartz wanted to make sure that the content they see - both news and advertising - on login and logoff pages, as well as other strategic locations, kept them on the site as long as possible. That’s counter to the Google experience that most people have - where they find what they were looking for and then click away to another site.


Advertising: Speaking of advertising, it’s always been funny to me that most observers still refer to Google as a search engine when, in fact, Google is an advertising company. Sure, search drives advertising. But Google execs have been saying for years that Google makes money when people spend time on the Web because that’s where they’re exposed to the advertising. Yahoo’s advertising strategy has struggled to compete against a giant like Google, but there’s still some value there. In fact, regulators should probably spend more time looking at how a deal might change the advertising business - and industries that are tied to it - rather than focusing their energies on the search issue.

Brand Loyalty: You really can’t downplay the significance of the value of the Yahoo brand and the power that comes with hundreds of millions of daily visitors, many of whose loyalty goes beyond what other Web companies experience. (Between email, finance and news, I’ve already visited a dozen or more Yahoo pages today - all before lunch.)In part, that “stickiness” is due to the company’s long-standing presence on the Internet. It was one of the first to offer Web-based email - and, as such, signed up people before Google could. Still, it’s kept the offerings fresh and relevant in a changing landscape for communicating with others and sharing information.


Other opportunities: The first thing that popped into my head when I thought about Google getting its paws all over those content relationships that Yahoo has established was how it could impact the efforts around Google TV. Like Apple TV, Google TV is still a work-in-progress. I’ve long said that I’m a fan of the concept - making both broadcast content and Internet content searchable for a more customized TV watching experience - but Google had a tough time getting the content providers on board. With Yahoo’s content offerings, Google TV - and Google News, as well - could get a boost in inventory. Now, if only they could work on that technology.

Some might argue that the time is right for Google to make a bid for Yahoo. The competitive landscape has changed, the technology has evolved, the global economy is in a different state and the political climate in Washington has shifted since the last time the mutterings of a Google-Yahoo deal were heard. Others might argue that the many tentacles of both businesses could prompt a long review of the deal while regulators sift through it all.
I wouldn’t be quick to place any bets on a deal happening - but it’s good that Google is at least exploring the possibilities. Yahoo has been through a lot in recent years and while it’s future might not appear to be so rosy, there’s a lot of life left in the company. And if Google (or Microsoft) could get their hands on it - or key pieces of it - the landscape in the tech industry could have some interesting twists and turns on the road ahead.

 

October 20, 2011

Yahoo Climbs as Profit Beats Estimates on Internet-Ad Demand

Yahoo! Inc., the Web portal that is exploring strategic options, rose after demand for advertising helped third-quarter profit exceed analysts’ estimates.
Profit before some costs was 21 cents a share, the company said in a statement yesterday. That beat the 17-cent average projection of analysts, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Sales, excluding revenue passed on to partner sites, fell 4.6 percent to $1.07 billion, matching the average estimate.
Yahoo, which has been grappling with rising competition from Google Inc. (GOOG) and Facebook Inc. for users and advertisers, benefited in the recent period from growing demand for online ads, even as it fired Chief Executive Officer Carol Bartz and embarked on a review of its strategy. The board is exploring a “full range” of options for the company, interim CEO Tim Morse said on a call with analysts yesterday.
“The company didn’t fall apart,” said Jordan Rohan, an analyst at Stifel Nicolaus & Co. in New York. “Almost by definition that was greater than expected.”
Yahoo rose 3 percent to $15.94 at the close in New York. The stock has dropped 4.1 percent this year.

Growth Outside U.S.
Net income attributable to the company fell 26 percent to $293.3 million, or 23 cents a share, from $396.1 million, or 29 cents, a year earlier, Sunnyvale, California-based Yahoo said.
Growth outside the U.S. bolstered revenue. In Asia, revenue excluding sales passed to partners surged 20 percent to $221.6 million. Sales in the Americas region dropped 12 percent to $753.7 million.
Fourth-quarter revenue, excluding sales passed to partner sites, will be $1.13 billion to $1.24 billion. Analysts had estimated $1.21 billion, according to Bloomberg data.
U.S. online ad spending is expected to grow 20 percent this year to $31.3 billion, according to EMarketer Inc. Yahoo’s share of display ads, including banners, will be 13.1 percent this year in the U.S., down from 14.4 percent last year, estimates EMarketer. Facebook’s share will climb to 16.3 percent, up from 12.2 percent.
Display ad revenue, excluding sales passed to partners, was $449 million in the third quarter, little changed from $448 million a year earlier. Display sales rose 4.9 percent in the second quarter.

Microsoft Accord
The company also said it recently agreed to extend a revenue per search agreement with Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) in the U.S. and Canada through 2013. The accord had been set to run out in the first quarter of next year.
Bartz, who had aimed to stem market-share losses, left the company amid mounting investor frustration over failed turnaround efforts. Morse, who had served as chief financial officer, said yesterday the company is making progress and is focused on moving forward.
“They hit a single here -- it’s great, but it’s a single,” said Brett Harriss, an analyst at Gabelli & Co. in Rye, New York. “We’re waiting for either a CEO to come in and give us a vision of what Yahoo could be, or we’re looking for the sale of the entire company.”

Potential Bidders
Yahoo has drawn an increasingly crowded field of potential bidders for the company. KKR & Co. and Blackstone Group LP are among the private-equity firms considering possible bids for Yahoo, according to people with knowledge of the matter last week.
In addition, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., a Chinese e- commerce company whose biggest shareholder is Yahoo, has discussed a plan with Silver Lake and Russia’s Digital Sky Technologies to make a joint bid, people familiar with the matter have said. Another group that is interested in a possible offer includes Providence Equity Partners Inc. and former News Corp. executive Peter Chernin, people said.
“The board is actively looking at the full range of options available to return the company to a path of robust growth and industry-leading innovation,” Morse said on the call yesterday. “The board also has said that when it has something to announce, it will do so. That will take time.”

Advertising Report: Google Dings Bing, Facebook Arrives, Tablets Rule Mobile

As search spending continued to rise in the just-ended third quarter, Google regained market share lost during the last couple of quarters to Microsoft’s Bing search engine, according to a new report to be released Tuesday morning by Efficient Frontier, which manages about $1 billion in search, display, and social advertising for agencies and advertisers.
At the same time, says Efficient Frontier, Facebook is becoming a major marketing vehicle for advertisers. And tablets, out just a year or so, already have captured 77% of mobile advertising spending among retail advertisers.
Highlights from the report, which comes amid other signs that online advertising is weathering the current economic troubles:
* Search ad spending rose 20% in the U.S., thanks to increases in ad budgets in retail and finance. But return on investment fell because advertisers decided to go for market share over higher returns.

Search Spending and Return on Investment

* Google regained market share for the first time since the Yahoo-Bing alliance began last year. As search spend rises and advertisers look to buy ads in volume, Google has won back market share because it simply has more inventory to sell–despite Yahoo/Bing’s higher return on investment. This jibes with a recent report from digital marketing firm IgnitionOne as well.

Search Market Share

* Facebook ad prices rose 54% (in cost per click) from the second to the third quarter alone. Why? More advertisers are crowding in, and competition is rising. They’ll continue to rise, at a somewhat more moderate 30% to 40%, in the fourth quarter.

* Ad spending on Facebook rose 25% from the second quarter. Again, more advertisers wanting more fans.

* Tablets captured 77% of retail mobile ad spending in September. So much for ads on smartphones.

* U.S. search ad spending will rise 15% in the fourth quarter. Mobile will be up to 10% of that.

 

October 17, 2011

Microsoft Bing and Yahoo spreading malware links

Flash Player searches bringing up malicious advertising
Searching for Flash Player on Bing and Yahoo can lead to rogue pages distributing a hard-to-remove rootkit, according to security researchers from antivirus vendor GFI Software.
The problem resides with the so-called sponsored results, the advertisements displayed at the top of search results for particular keywords. These look slightly different from the organic results normally returned by Bing's algorithm, but close enough for users to frequently click on them.
In the new attack observed by GFI Software, a sponsored result shown when searching for "Adobe Flash" linked to a page called "Download Flash Player" under the GetAdobeFlash.com domain.

However, according to Alex Eckelberry, vice president and general manager of the security software division at GFI, clicking on the link redirected users to a rogue page that was advertising Flash Player 10 but distributed a dangerous rootkit instead.
"In this case, we're talking Sirefef (ZeroAccess aka Max++), probably the nastiest piece of malware circulating on the 'net right now," said Eckelberry. "Sirefef kills any attempt to remove it, and is nearly impossible to clean (short of booting onto a rescue disk and performing cleanup actions, or reformatting)," he added.
However, the problem is not limited to this particular threat, because this isn't the first time that Bing's sponsored results have been poisoned in this manner. In September, GFI's researchers reported a similar attack, which targeted keywords for several popular programs, including Firefox, Skype and uTorrent.
"Microsoft needs to get a handle on ad placements on Bing," Eckelberry stressed, pointing out that this also affects Yahoo since it uses the same engine. According to September statistics from comScore, the two web search services have a combined market share of nearly 30 percent.
Google used to have similar problems, with cybercriminals regularly tricking its sales team into accepting rogue ads. However, the company is now much more vigilant and such attacks are extremely rare.

It's obvious that attackers have moved to Bing in search of new victims after Google became a difficult target. Fortunately, the attacks detected so far have mainly relied on social engineering to infect users. However, that might not be the case for long.
"If the user is asked to download a file from a potentially suspicious website then they can likely escape unharmed, but if the rogue sites are serving up exploits and drive-by installs then things could become a lot more problematic," warned GFI senior threat researcher Christopher Boyd. His advice for users is to download programs from their respective developer's website by typing the URL directly rather than searching for it online.

 

October 7, 2011

Google AdWords Adds Mobile Page Call Tracking

Google AdWords users will now be able to track the success of their campaigns in driving calls from mobile devices. The new code introduced by Google allows advertisers to get analytic data for calls placed from a mobile page.

How the On-Site Tracking Works
Google advertisers can place a JavaScript code on their site that allows tracking of targeted calling behavior. The advertiser's site has to be a mobile-accessible page that allows users to place a call by clicking on a specific field.
Once the code has been added, AdWords will display analytic data on the success of each keyword, ad group, and campaign as it relates to generating calls.

As stated by John Sutton, VP of Online Marketing at Red Ventures (a company that participated in the beta program for this feature), the ability to track calls both accesses important user behavior data and opens advanced controls (such as cost-per-acquisition bidding strategies or conversion optimization).
Google has already done data tracking on calls, but only within the confines of the "click-to-call" ad extension. This new tracking is distinct, covering actions on the advertiser's web page, and the tracked customer actions don't cost the advertiser anything extra.


Setting Up Call Tracking
Adding call tracking to your site is a two-step process. You simply:

  • Get the necessary code:
    • In your AdWords account, Navigate to Reporting and Tools > Conversions > +New conversion.
    • Add the name of the campaign and select "Call" for the "Conversion location." Then hit "Save and continue."
    • Fill out the "Conversion category" and "Conversion value" fields with the best information available, then choose "I make changes to the code."
    • A new window will open and provide you with the necessary code snippet. Save this for your records.

  • Plug the code in:
    • Copy the code generated in the segment above.
    • Paste the code into the HTML of the targeted landing page. The script will need to be placed in the page element (link, image, etc.) that results in a call.
    • AdWords will automatically recognize the code and start tracking information.

Especially given the rise in mobile technology, and predictions that the majority of U.S. cell phone owners will be wielding a smartphone by the end of 2012, call optimization of this type is likely to become more valuable in the months to come.

 

September 29, 2011

Kindle Fire won't kill the iPad... but it will kill more retailers

It's to the blogosphere's credit that relatively few pundits are calling Amazon.com's just-announced Kindle Fire tablet, part of a family of tablets and readers, an "iPad killer." But just by raising the question, they're missing the real victim. That would be other retailers.

I haven't yet tried any of Amazon's tablets, and Kindle Fire in particular won't go on sale until Nov. 21. So I don't know if it will sell by the millions, as Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos kept insisting today. But I suspect it will. So by Christmas or so, suddenly millions of people could hold in their hands a device that makes it even easier to buy on Amazon.com than it already was. Indeed, they'll get a free month of Amazon Prime, which lets people not only get stuff they order in two days, but also lets them watch thousands of movies and TV shows.
Oh yes, and buy e-books and music that appear almost instantly on their device. That, in fact, is where the Kindle Fire could hurt Apple in its role as a music, video, and e-book retailer with the iTunes Store.
Already, Amazon has disrupted retailing by offering both convenience and low prices. Anyone who uses Amazon regularly, as I do, always checks Amazon before buying almost anything. The Kindle Fire will remove whatever vestiges of friction remain from that see-it-buy-it process.


What's more, it seems that tablet owners are more inclined to click the buy button than those on personal computers. It's just so easy, and right from the comfort of your couch - or in your car outside Best Buy or Barnes & Noble.

No doubt people who haven't yet bought an iPad because of its hefty $499 price tag will give the $199 Kindle Fire a go. It seems priced to be a great holiday gift. But don't worry about Apple's future. Worry, instead, about which stores and chains will follow Borders to the grave thanks to how much easier it will be to buy on Amazon.com using Kindle Fire.
The impact of Kindle Fire, and whatever new models come down the road, could extend the disruption beyond retailers to advertising, too. Already, Amazon has eschewed most conventional advertising, preferring, as Bezos often says, to skip the shouting about products and spend that energy on making them better and cheaper. (Indeed, Amazon has long been vacuuming up some ad revenues by letting other marketers and merchants advertise on its site. Now, it has even made partly ad-supported Kindles the default devices; you'll have to pay extra to avoid seeing ads.)


Even search advertising, Amazon's main ad vehicle, could take a hit. Once Amazon has millions of Kindle Fire users plugged into their one-click buying system anytime and anywhere, will it need to buy as many search keywords to get them there? In essence, Amazon is crunching the entire retail chain into a cheap device that eventually will probably reside in every room of the house, and your purse, and your car.

How To Choose Between Google AdWords And Facebook Ads

It doesn't require a whole lot of highfalutin' analysis to identify a key reason behind Facebook's recent changes: Increasing the site's appeal to advertisers. Facebook is a business, after all. Research firm eMarketer recently estimated the company will take in more than $4.2 billion worldwide in 2011. The bulk of that--$3.8 billion--is advertising revenue, and it's no secret that smaller businesses collectively comprise the big sales whale. That's true, too, for one of Facebook's chief competitors: Google pursues a similar target with its AdWords platform, which likewise continues to evolve.

So is one a better fit than the other for small businesses? "They're very similar but different advertising paradigms," said Larry Kim, CTO of online marketing firm WordStream, in an interview.

The Disclaimers
There's absolutely no rule that says you can't advertise on both sites--or neither, for that matter. Nor are they the only games in town. There are indeed other options, including Microsoft's Bing-Yahoo platform and industry-specific channels. But both AdWords and Facebook Ads warrant at least a look simply by virtue of audience size. Google still dominates the search game with nearly two-thirds market share, according to Experian HitWise. Facebook, meanwhile, is The Social Network--it seems just a matter of time before they announce 1 billion accounts.

How They're Similar
Both Google's and Facebook's advertising platforms share some fundamental things in common--that massive potential audience, for one. Kim, who toils daily in the world of clicks and conversions, points out that both are primarily pay-per-click (PPC) advertising channels, even though both offer other advertising options. Likewise, the basic systems for each are largely self-service for smaller advertisers. Kim also points out that both offer free marketing tools, such as Facebook Pages and Google Places, that don't require an ad buy. Another similarity--the opportunity to run campaigns targeting very specific market segments--ultimately leads into the differences between the two platforms.

Advertising Intent
The fundamental question to ask when comparing Google AdWords and Facebook Ads: What is your goal for the campaign? Your answer will go a long way to determining which channel is a better fit. The reason is fairly straightforward: the Web audience doesn't search Google and check their Facebook Profile--excuse me, Timeline--in the same way.
"SMBs really have to figure out what they are trying to sell and to who," Kim said. "Is it branding, or are you trying to sell something very specific?"
Kim said that because a Facebook session tends to last much longer than the typical Google search, the former be a better match for building brand awareness or getting a specific message across. That's even more true if that message is intended for a very specific audience, such as a university alumni group or people that like True Blood. Such specific, people-oriented messages would be more difficult to do with AdWords, Kim said, though not impossible.

But Kim notes that Facebook isn't strong in pure Web searches; Google has the clear advantage there, and as a result could be the better fit for driving actual clicks and conversions around specific products. It comes down to intent: Whereas Facebook users might just be checking up on their friends or posting vacation photos, Google searchers typically have a much more specific goal.
"If you're trying to sell wireless headphones or something like this, it would be very difficult to target that level of granular intent on Facebook, whereas you could just buy the keyword on Google," Kim said

Facebook's lower click-through rates--which Kim said can be as much as 1,000 times lower than comparable Google campaigns--make their ads more like traditional display ads, just with much, much better audience targeting. Put another way: Facebook Ads could be better at building a brand or delivering a marketing message over a longer period of time, but Google offers a clearer opportunity to capture consumers that are itching to buy now. "[Google users] are trying to find exactly what they're looking for, so that leads to high click-through rates and high conversion rates, because they have a pain or some question that they're trying to resolve when they're doing that search," Kim said. "[Advertisers] are capturing that intent right at the right time."

Ease Of Use
Kim wouldn't describe either platform as easy for do-it-yourselfers: "They're both quite challenging," he said. But Facebook could have a slight edge over AdWords because so many people have personal accounts and therefore are generally familiar with the user interface. (Those that use AdWords for fun are a lonely bunch.) Google recently launched AdWords Express to appeal to SMBs with the time or interest in navigating the complexities of the flagship platform.

"Facebook might actually be easier," Kim said. "The reason is because Google has just such tremendous depth and breadth of features and functions. Every week there's a new AdWords feature or function that you need to learn about."
Kim added that the SMBs he works with tend to be "overwhelmed" by AdWords. In either case, he points out that effective campaigns--regardless of channel--require SMB marketers to move seamlessly between different roles such as creative director, business analyst, media buyer, and the like--all while running their actual day-to-day operations.

Audience Granularity
While Facebook's recently announced updates don't directly change its advertising platform, Kim said they're likely to make that granularity, well, more granular. More data on what people eat, watch, read, and buy could lead to more targeted advertising opportunities.
"I think that will trickle down to the advertising platform to provide greater granularity in terms of the ability to segment their audience and present different types of ads and offers to users," Kim said. "Facebook will have more data."
Google, too, is all about granularity--it's just that it just remains more keyword-driven. And though keywords remain the lifeblood of advertising on Google, it's not like AdWords doesn't provide other means of targeting an audience--all those features and functions Kim mentioned have to do something, right? Geo-targeting and language specification are two basic ones.

Coming Attractions
Beyond the immediate AdWords ecosystem, Kim said Google has been offering more demographic-based advertising options via its Google Display Network. Specifically, Kim said there's more emphasis and interest around retargeting--sometimes called behavioral marketing or remarketing--which involves showing ads to users based on their past Web activity. Kim said that has particularly powerful implications for Google (and its advertisers) because those ads can follow their intended audience through the company's vast network of partner sites. (Facebook Ads, on the other hand, only show up within Facebook.) In the past, those ads were based on the content of the Web page. Now, they can be based on the user's past behavior.
"It targets audiences--so it's starting to sound a little like Facebook," Kim said. "It's kind of a shift in Google's targeting strategies."
Audience-driven (rather than keyword-based) ads on Google are almost certain to increase via another channel, too: Google+. As the young social site matures, expect additional advertising opportunities as a result. For the time being, though, Facebook still has the edge on audience accuracy.
"On Facebook, you actually specify what school you went to and what you like, whereas on Google they're trying to infer it based on your surfing behavior," Kim said. "However, now that they have Google+, they're going to have the same ability to target your interests and memberships just how Facebook does."

 

September 23, 2011

Google Ad Rate for Microsoft Said to Be Investigated by U.S.

U.S. antitrust enforcers are investigating whether Google Inc. illegally increased advertising rates 50-fold for rival Microsoft Corp., according to a person familiar with the matter.
The Federal Trade Commission is probing the increase, along with other allegations against Google related to advertising, as a result of complaints from Microsoft, according to the person, who wasn’t authorized to publicly comment. The complaints are being examined as part of a larger antitrust probe into Google that began earlier this year, the person said.
If true, the Microsoft allegations could be used to help the FTC build a case showing that Google abused its power as the owner of the world’s most popular search engine, violating the Sherman Act and other antitrust laws, said Andre Barlow, an antitrust lawyer at Doyle, Barlow & Mazard PLLC in Washington.
“A lot of this conduct, when put together with a firm with market power, could be viewed as a violation of antitrust laws”, said Barlow, who hasn’t been briefed on the investigation and doesn’t represent those involved.
When investigating the ad complaint, the FTC will consider the motives for the accusations by Microsoft, the world’s largest software maker and one of Google’s biggest competitors, said Barlow.

Ad Rates
Adam Kovacevich, a spokesman for Mountain View, California- based Google, said that while company officials didn’t know the details of Microsoft’s allegations about ads, rates are usually determined in part by how closely related an ad is to a user’s search.
“One of the reasons our ad system works so well is that it is built on showing relevant ads to consumers”, Kovacevich said.
Jack Evans, a spokesman for Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft, confirmed the company had made advertising complaints against Google and declined to discuss specifics.
Google “shouldn’t be permitted to pursue practices that restrict others from innovating and offering competitive alternatives”, Evans said. “That’s what it’s doing now.”
Google fell $7.43 cents, or 1.4 percent, to $539.20 on the Nasdaq Stock Market. Microsoft fell 99 cents, or 3.7 percent, to $25.99.

Senate Hearing
Cecelia Prewett, an FTC spokeswoman, declined to comment on her agency’s investigation.
Lawmakers and competitors criticized Google at a U.S. Senate Judiciary antitrust subcommittee hearing today, saying the company favors its own services in search results over rivals. Google Chairman Eric Schmidt defended the company’s actions as helping consumers.
Microsoft first complained in September 2007 that Google drastically raised the rate for an ad for Windows Live, a predecessor to Microsoft’s Bing search engine, one of the main rivals to Google’s Internet search, according to the person familiar with the matter.
The cost increased to $5 per mouse click from 10 cents a click for placing a Windows Live ad next to search results for the word “hotmail,” Microsoft’s e-mail product, according to the person.

Low-Quality Website
Google told Microsoft at the time that the rate increased because users who clicked on the ad were directed to a low- quality website, according to the person. The site was the home page for Windows Live, whose services included Hotmail, Microsoft said.
Microsoft’s complaint about the ad rate increase is similar to those raised by MyTriggers.com and Foundem, price-comparison sites that are Google competitors, in an Ohio court case and a European Union complaint respectively.
Judge John P. Bessey in Columbus last month dismissed the MyTriggers case. Bessey later allowed MyTriggers to submit an amended complaint. Google has denied it unfairly singled out Foundem or MyTriggers in raising their ad rates.
The Microsoft complaint highlights the growing battle among Microsoft, Google and other search-engine companies for control of the fast-expanding, $40 billion U.S. online advertising market, said Eric Goldman, director of the High Tech Law Institute at Santa Clara University in California.
“Who wouldn’t like a piece of that action?” he said in an interview. “There are going to be illegitimate complaints, and with an organization as large and as complicated as Google, there may be some legitimate complaints.”

Other Complaints
The other Microsoft advertising complaints under investigation by the FTC include an accusation that Google pressured advertisers to enter into contracts that make it difficult to also advertise with Yahoo! Inc. or on Bing, the person said.
Also under review is Microsoft’s assertion that Google created technological hurdles to block advertisers from comparing the number of times potential customers click on the ads they run on Google versus those on competing sites, the person said.

Kovacevich, the Google spokesman, rejected the Microsoft complaints.
“We never forbid advertisers from advertising on other platforms,” he said. “We place no restrictions on advertisers transferring their own ad campaign data to other platforms.”

Broader Investigation
The FTC is investigating the broader issue of whether Google is abusing its dominance in online search. Google disclosed on June 24 that the FTC has begun a review of its business practices and said it would work with the agency to answer questions about its services.
Microsoft was among several companies recently subpoenaed by the FTC in the investigation, said Evans, the company spokesman. He declined to name the other companies or elaborate on the subpoena’s contents.
Last month, the agency began sending civil investigative demands, which are similar to subpoenas, to technology companies.
The FTC is examining whether Google unfairly ranks search results to favor its own businesses and is using its control of the Android mobile operating system to discourage smart-phone makers from using rivals’ applications and services, the person said.
Inquiries about Google’s advertising practices are a theme running through the FTC investigation, the person said.
Advertising made up $28.2 billion, or 96 percent, of Google’s $29.3 billion in annual revenue last year, according to company filings with the government.

Advertising Key
“Without advertising,” Google and its rivals “don’t exist,” said Karsten Weide, a media and entertainment analyst for market researcher IDC in San Mateo, California.
Google took 59 percent of the U.S. online search advertising revenue in the second quarter of this year compared with second-place Microsoft at 9 percent and Yahoo at 7 percent, according to a report by IDC this week.
Evans disputed those figures, citing a July report from IgnitionOne Inc., a New York-based online marketing company, that said Google had 81 percent of U.S. search advertising revenue in the second quarter. Yahoo and Microsoft, which have a search engine partnership, had a combined 19 percent share, according to the IgnitionOne report.
Several companies that advertise on Google’s search results declined to comment on its advertising practices. Those declining to comment were Mark Siegel, a spokesman for AT&T Inc., Jessica Sutera, a spokeswoman for Monster Worldwide Inc., Christine Bock, a spokeswoman for Vonage Holdings Corp. and David Frink, a spokesman for Dell Inc.

 

September 1, 2011

Can AOL and Yahoo Come Back to Life?

When Web companies stumble, as Yahoo and AOL have, they almost never recover

Shortly after the news broke that Yahoo! (YHOO) had ousted Chief Executive Carol Bartz on Sept. 6, Tim Armstrong’s phone began ringing. According to people with knowledge of the calls who were not authorized to speak on the record, the AOL (AOL) CEO spoke several times that day with bankers who wanted to reopen talks begun in 2010 about merging the two companies under Armstrong’s leadership. The logic: By combining the companies’ content and audience, the former Google (GOOG) executive could extract better ad rates and build a more profitable business.

It’s a terrific idea—if you’re Armstrong or a fee-seeking investment banker. But the idea of merging these struggling Internet icons has become a tech-industry punchline. (“Two dogs don’t make a right,” cracked TechCrunch’s Erick Schonfeld.) It’s unlikely that any kind of McKinsey-style synergies will help reanimate AOL or Yahoo. They’ve joined the ranks of the Web’s walking dead—not yet in the ground, but hearts barely beating—alongside other former stars such as Myspace, Digg, and RealNetworks (RNWKD). “It’s very hard to see either of those companies becoming sustainable growth companies again,” says Mark Mahaney, a leading Internet stock analyst with Citigroup (C). AOL and Yahoo declined to comment.

Reinvigorating a Web giant is harder than, say, reviving a drug-store chain because of the peculiar economics of the technology world, where the path to greatness is built on network effects. Apple (AAPL) became the most valuable company in the world by understanding that when people buy iPods, they’re more likely to buy music from iTunes—and then iPhones, iPads, and anything else the Cupertino, Calif., company dreams up. Google mints money because googling has become an everyday occurrence for billions of people, and they’re less likely to switch search vendors once they sign up for Gmail and start sharing YouTube videos. Facebook, too, has become an unavoidable online common where 750 million people go to hang out with their friends. All made massive investments in uncertain but innovative technologies, winning hordes of new customers while raising the entry cost for rivals to match them.

By comparison, Yahoo and AOL have tried to live by Old Media rules while masquerading as New Media powerhouses. They have been and continue to be successful at building audiences: Yahoo alone receives nearly 700 million monthly visitors. They have young users attractive to advertisers, with 43 percent of their traffic coming from people younger than 34, according to ComScore (SCOR). But unlike Google or Facebook, Yahoo and AOL earn revenues the old-fashioned way—by employing rafts of reporters and maintaining costly ad sales teams to make sure the articles and deals keep flowing. It’s a model with lots of competition. “Switching costs are pretty low for [visitors to] both of these companies,” says Citigroup’s Mahaney. “There’s no real way for them to lock in customers.”

As a result, Yahoo and AOL have to spend a lot just to keep pace, and they lack the profits to pay the table stakes of playing with the Internet’s premier companies. AOL has lost $800 million since its spinoff from Time Warner (TWX). Yahoo cranked out $1.2 billion in cash from operations last year, but that’s in part due to Bartz’s aggressive cost-cutting. Meanwhile, Google was able to spend $4 billion on capital investments in 2010. Same goes for Microsoft (MSFT) ($2.4 billion), Apple ($2 billion), and Amazon.com (AMZN) ($979 million).

With less of a cash cushion, it’s hard to focus on new markets. Yahoo had no notable product launches during Bartz’s 32-month reign, a period when new social-networking services and mobile apps were revolutionizing how the Internet is used. In 2009 she outsourced Yahoo’s search engine to Microsoft’s Bing. Yahoo’s biggest whiff may be in the mobile market. Its iPhone app for Fantasy Football—a key franchise for the company—gets a dismal one-star rating despite years of development. A giant in display ads, Yahoo has done next to nothing in the mobile advertising market that’s expected to grow from $416 million in 2009 to $2.5 billion in 2014, according to eMarketer. “We couldn’t get Yahoo to call us back!” says Greg Woock, the CEO of Pinger, which makes mobile apps that offer free texting and phone calls. Woock had hoped Yahoo would want to serve ads through Pinger’s apps, but “they’re nowhere in mobile,” he says.

 

September 15, 2011

Facebook "Social Ads" Are For Real

Facebook’s grand experiment to make advertising more social–and it hopes more effective–is an experiment no more. The company’s two kinds of social ads are now running on the majority of Facebook page views, according to Gokul Rajaram, product director for Facebook Ads.
Those ads include both “social ads,” which are messages from a marketer such as “John and three of your other friends like M&Ms,” and “sponsored stories,” in which marketers don’t create their own message but simply pay for natural Facebook posts mentioning the brand to be distributed to the poster’s friends.
The revelation that these ads are shown so widely is a sign that marketers are finding these newfangled ad formats to be effective. It’s also an indication that Facebook’s big bet on these ads could be paying off. That’s key if Facebook is to fulfill huge expectations underlying its $80 billion-plus private valuation and its initial public offering, now expected to be in late 2012 (if not earlier).
In an interview today at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco, Rajaram, a former Google ad executive whose subsequent startup Chai Labs was acquired by Facebook in late 2010, said the social ads produce 68% higher brand recall than than other kinds of Facebook display ads. They also make it about four times as likely that people will buy a product from the brand, he said. “For ads to work well, they should be told through the prism of your friends,” he said. “The more natural the ads look, the more successful they will be.”

Of course, there are still plenty of standard display ads running on Facebook. Anecdotally, in fact, it looks like they still constitute the majority of ads on Facebook pages, though Rajaram declined to reveal what percentage of Facebook ads are social. After all, by most accounts, these ads are very cheap and used by companies such as daily-deal services and local businesses to elicit a direct response such as a purchase.
Many people have speculated that Facebook would start an ad network like Google’s AdSense. But Rajaram, who ran AdSense at Google, said Facebook has no plans to do that in the near term.
Rajaram also said the viral nature of how messages and ads alike spread on Facebook isn’t just the “lottery ticket” that TechCrunch editor Erick Schonfeld suggested they were. “The best social ad campaigns have a strong organic component to them,” he said. “You need to figure out who are the people who will take the message and broadcast it to their friends, and then give them the tools to do that.”
M&Ms, for instance, launched chocolate-covered pretzels last year, giving out 40,000 samples to fans and also allowing those fans to give samples to friends–some 80,000 additional samples. “It’s turning your fans into loyalists that will tell their friends about the brand and the products,” said Rajaram.

 

September 14, 2011

Google Slips in Search Share Again... Maybe

Google keeps losing market share to Microsoft’s Bing bit by bit – but probably not enough to matter. According to market researcher comScore, “explicit core searches” on Google, which means those people typed in vs. more passive contextual searches, fell in August by 0.3 percentage points to 64.8%, its lowest share since August 2009. Meanwhile, Bing’s share rose 0.3 points, to 16.3%, and Bing-powered Yahoo’s rose 0.2 points to 14.7%.
The comScore reports follows a similar one last week from Experian Hitwise, which reported a similar decline for Google and gain for the combined Bing and Yahoo.

What’s it all mean? Not much, really. Citi analyst Mark Mahaney notes that Google made some gains after introducing its Instant search queries, which puts up results as you type in queries, last September, but those gains have lessened over time.

What’s more, if you throw in mobile searches, which comScore doesn’t track, it’s quite possible Google isn’t losing at all. Google’s mobile searches are rising rapidly, by many accounts. Nonetheless, Google’s share fell 60 cents today, to $529.52, on a mildly up day for the overall market.

 

September 11, 2011

Bartz resigns from Yahoo's board

FORMER YAHOO CEO Carol Bartz has resigned from the company's board of directors following her abrupt dismissal as CEO last week.
Bartz's reign as Yahoo CEO ended with her getting sacked over the phone last week, though she was still on the firm's board of directors. Bartz then gave an interview to Fortune in which she called Yahoo's board "doofuses" and claimed that it had "f**ked me over".
After she had made such blunt comments about the board it was no surprise that on 9 September Bartz resigned from Yahoo's board of directors.
Bartz took the helm of Yahoo following founder Jerry Yang's departure from the post. His exit had a similar sense of theatre following Yang's repeated attempts to rebuff Microsoft's bid to buy the company. In the end both Yang and Bartz lost the confidence of the board and were fired.

While Yahoo failed to make a dent in Google's search engine market share during Bartz's reign, blaming her alone is perhaps a little simplistic. Yahoo has been on a downward spiral for many years and its plans to change its focus to become a content provider seem to have stalled.
Since Yahoo signed a deal with Microsoft to have Bing power its search results, Yahoo focused its attention to selling advertising, though it seems to have missed out on the fast growing mobile ad market, where Apple and Google are battling for customer allegience and revenues.
Bartz's comments about Yahoo's board of directors have to be taken with a pinch of salt, under the circumstances, but the episode doesn't paint either Bartz or Yahoo's board in a particularly flattering light.

 

August 29, 2011

Is Google the New Goldman?

Last week, Google agreed to pay nine figures for illegally showing ads of online pharmacies that operate outside of U.S. jurisdiction.
Some of the pharmacies were selling counterfeit drugs from outside North America. Others were fake entities set up by the government to find cracks in Google’s ad systems. And cracks, they found…
Still, what’s a $500 million fine when your market cap sits north of $167 billion?
That’s what Google executives might think when they cut a check to the government this week.
And it won’t be the first time they’ve forked big money over to regulators, either. The ad giant has paid millions to U.S. and European regulators over the past decade for a variety of infractions. And just this year, the company paid fines for patent infringement and breaches of privacy.
This all begs a larger question: Will enormous fines deter corporations like Google from engaging in risky behavior?
Even before this fine, I began thinking that Google was fast becoming the Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS) of the tech world. Both companies have strong ties to the regulatory bodies in charge of monitoring them. Goldman has a revolving door leading to the U.S. Treasury. And Google is so close to the FCC that agency head Julius Genachowski is wearing the company’s varsity jacket. (For example, Google heavily influenced the FCC’s push for “net neutrality” – which bars Internet providers such as AT&T from controlling Google search traffic.)
Also, both companies appeared to have built fines into their business model.
During the 1990s Dotcom Bubble, Goldman faced a series of complaints about “laddering” – their scheme that let big-money players in early on IPOs. Then there’s the more recent $550-million settlement with the SEC over a fraud case involving dicey mortgage derivatives. After Goldman made billions of dollars in profits, the company paid what’s little more than a traffic ticket in the end. Oh… yeah… and Goldman promised to “conduct a sweeping review of business standards.”
If the market environment encourages a firm to take a speeding ticket now and then, why not sell a risky product, lawyer up, collect bundles of cash, and then play dumb when they’re caught? A slap on the wrist and a change in bureaucrats later, and they can find a new market to exploit…
But this pharmaceutical investigation and fine appears different on the surface. The $500-million fine represents more than 20 percent of Google’s net profits from the first quarter of this year. It also signals that the U.S. government and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) aren’t waiting around to find out what happens when a group of customers end up purchasing counterfeit Xanax or Viagra.
Now, there are many valid arguments on why cross-border drug restrictions should or should not exist. But this event is an entirely different animal…
Google banned the drug ads for these companies in 2003, but lifted the ban a year later, despite repeated warnings from the FDA. Then Google went a step further by providing advice to these foreign companies on how to optimize their search terms and improve their websites’ ad programs. Not only had Google drawn considerable attention to themselves by lifting the ban (when Yahoo! and Microsoft didn’t), but they also encouraged the illegal advertising of these products despite the FDA’s repeated warnings.
And the government finally said enough was enough. For years, there was a lack of transparency in a number of corporate practices (and government, too). From Wall Street to Main Street, we’re still discovering things from the financial crisis that we probably didn’t want to know. Goldman Sachs is now facing a serious investigation, one that personally threatens the CEO.
In the Gulf of Mexico, Exxon’s engaged in a fight with the government after their leases for a massive oil field expired in 2008. If they poke too hard, it could open up discussions about some of their practices should the battle go to court…
And right now, the S&P is under investigation over its faulty ratings practices during the housing bubble. Of course, this investigation has nothing to do with the $1-trillion loss U.S. stockholders faced after the company’s recent downgrade of American debt.
So if you’re an investor in a company subject to heavy regulation or potential fines, it’s important to pay attention to the legal developments. It could be a very long year in corporate America if the current administration begins to dig deeper, particularly if someone’s looking for a bad guy with the election approaching.

 

August 14, 2011

Yahoo-Microsoft search alliance is backfiring, according to analyst

When Microsoft and Yahoo partnered in a search alliance just over 2 years ago, there were some naysayers, but there was also some optimism. The companies hoped that it would put them in a better position against Google.
Bing began powering Yahoo Search, Yahoo became the exclusive search advertising provider for Bing, and Microsoft’s adCenter began operating the self-service advertising division for both companies. Although the combined companies make up almost 30 percent of search market share, both Yahoo and Bing reported declining revenues in their recent earnings reports.

Is the Yahoo-Microsoft Search Alliance falling through?

In a recent interview with Mark Ballard, the Senior Analyst at the Rimm-Kaufman Group, he told us that the partnership was backfiring on the companies. He said that it was hurting Yahoo more than Microsoft but that both companies were struggling.
Before the Alliance, Yahoo was much more liberal in how it matched ads to search queries. Ballard told us that it previously brought in around 60 percent of broad matched traffic and that it only brings in around 40 percent of broad matched traffic now that Bing is powering it.

“It really seems that Bing’s not doing a great job at figuring out which ads to show for certain queries… there are so many queries out there and we can only have so many keywords in our account that we rely upon the engines to do some smart matching,” he said.
Yahoo has definitely felt the heat from these results and, in its April earnings report, openly blamed Microsoft for its struggles. While Ballard believes some of the fault lies with Microsoft, he also pointed out that Yahoo should have considered this type of outcome before it agreed to an Alliance.
Microsoft has also been blasted for its failure to bring about significant improvements through the partnership. Reuters analyst Robert Cyran even suggested that Microsoft sell Bing and indicated that Facebook or Apple could do more with the search engine.

“Even though their revenues are growing, they’re still bleeding money on Bing,” said Ballard. “I think Microsoft probably is willing to take a loss on Bing because they see it as part of a larger strategy. Whether or not that larger strategy makes sense – I guess that’s for the C-level folks at Microsoft to decide.”
In a post he wrote on this topic, he pointed out that Bing could pull in more revenue by bringing on more search partners. This, however, would not be good for advertisers, since partner traffic is usually very poor quality.
Ballard believes that Bing needs to make technological changes and open their broad match to make it smarter. In addition, he told us that Bing needed to invest in ad innovations that are more appealing to users, which would deliver higher click-through-rates for advertisers. For example, Google has enhanced its ad formats in ways that go beyond the normal text ad.
He would also like to see Bing add more real estate for ads on Bing.com. If the search engine makes these adjustments, Ballard thinks both Yahoo and Bing would see a noticeable difference.

“We’re rooting for Bing and Yahoo,” he said. “They have the traffic, and we’d like to take advantage of it.”
Can Yahoo and Microsoft turn their Search Alliance around and on the right track?

 

August 12, 2011

Bing ad serves malware to would-be Google Chrome switchers

The criminal gangs that specialize in malware love search engines, because they represent an ideal vector for getting Windows users to click on links that lead to potentially dangerous Trojans. The latest attack targets ads, and the social engineering is frighteningly good.

The same gang is responsible for a wave of new ads that lead to malware. See Bing ad leads to more malware; new Mac Trojan in the wild.

Can you trust your favorite search engine? Don’t answer too quickly.
Earlier this year, Google was under siege by a gang of Russian criminals. The bad guys hijacked search results (especially for images) and used scripts to redirect Windows and Mac users to sites that tried to scare them into installing fake antivirus software.
Google eventually cleaned up the mess, and Russian authorities helped their cause immensely by arresting the ringleader.

But that doesn’t mean it’s safe to relax yet. This week I’m watching a new wave of attacks that are using web advertising and social engineering to deliver Windows-based malware. The payload looks like legitimate software, but it’s actually a malicious downloader .
Today’s example is from Bing, which may have a fraction of Google’s search traffic but still has attracted the attention of cybercriminals.
Earlier today I visited Bing and searched for google chrome. The results were accompanied by a handful of ads in prominent positions at the top and along the right side. Nothing unusual about that, except for two nearly identical ads that appeared side-by-side at the top of the list. Here’s what they looked like (I’ve obscured the URL names to make the test tougher).

 

August 10, 2011

Search Engine Market Share (August 2011)

Global
Google 85.72%
Yahoo 6.42%
Baidu 3.67%
Bing 2.14%
Ask.com 0.56%
Other 0.49%
United States
Google 84.58%
Yahoo 8.13%
Bing 5.38%
Ask.com 0.79%
Other 1.12%

 

The above data is measured against global website traffic reported by seoMoz, Compete, Nielson-Net and Alexa.

 

 

August 1, 2011

Yahoo Microsoft Search Alliance To Launch in Europe This Week

Yahoo issued an update today indicating that its “Search Alliance” with Microsoft will get underway in Europe as soon as August 3rd. That goes for Yahoo UK, France, Germany, Spain and Italy.

It won’t be a full-on transition to the way it is in the states, at least at first. Yahoo will switch to Bing results for organic search results only. Yahoo says advertisers should continue to manage their Yahoo Search Marketing accounts as usual, and that it will provide ample notice before the paid search transition in each respective market.

“Search ad inventory from Yahoo!, Microsoft, and their respective partners will be combined into a new, unified search marketplace, giving advertisers of all sizes access to a combined audience of 607 million unique searchers worldwide,” the Search Alliance explains on its UK site. “In the UK and France, Yahoo! and Microsoft will combine their existing marketplaces. In other markets throughout Europe, Asia and Latin America, this transition will be seamless as Microsoft is already an existing Yahoo! partner, drawing from the Yahoo! marketplace.”

“We have adjusted the planned timing of the paid search transition for the UK, France, and Ireland,” it says. “Yahoo! advertisers with accounts in the UK and France will not transition to adCenter in 2011. Advertisers should continue to manage and optimise their campaigns on Yahoo! Search Marketing and Microsoft Advertising adCenter separately. We will provide advertisers with updated timing information well in advance of when transition activities begin, with further details to help them plan and prepare.”

For the time being, Yahoo is advising businesses to compare organic search rankings on Yahoo Search and Bing for keywords to help determine the potential impact on traffic and sales, and then to decide if they’d like to modify their paid campaigns. They’re also telling businesses to review the Bing webmaster tools and optimize for the Bing crawler.

 

July 30, 2011

The Most Expensive Keywords in Google AdWords

Those little text ads you see next to most of your search results? They make up a large chunk of advertising on Google, which is responsible for 97 percent of the search giant's revenue over the past year. The company is making about $3 billion every month from advertising. And that number continues to climb as more and more people realize that they want to own certain terms.

This new infographic from WordStream looks at the top 20 categories -- combined, they account for about 70 percent of Google's ad revenues -- where companies continue to bid against each other for ownership. To advertise against "insurance," for example, now costs more than $54 for a single visitor. That's what an advertiser pays Google each time that someone clicks on one of their ads.

 

Infographics are always a bit of a hodgepodge of statistics culled from a variety of sources. Here, we sort through the clutter and pull out some of our favorite facts and figures:

 

 

July 19, 2011

How Much Does Google Make On Paid-Search Keywords?

Ever wonder about the most searched-on and expensive Google AdWords keywords? Google generated about $32.2 billion during the past year in total advertising revenue, and about 97% comes from advertising on Google sites. WordStream founder Larry Kim has served up a list of the keywords and industries where Google makes its money and provides advice on what search marketers can do to ease the pain.

The volume on these keywords enables Google to bring in the bucks and not just generate clicks -- although those clicks can get expensive, especially when winning the top bid for popular keywords and phrases. Kim said Google can make up to $50 per click. WordStream's research factors in the estimated search volume and cost per click (CPC) per keyword or phrase.

Insurance at $54.91 for the top CPC takes the No. 1 spot in Kim's list for the most expensive keywords in Google AdWords advertising. The top sample search queries include "auto insurance price quotes" and "ca automobile insurance." Loans take the No. 2 spot at $44.28 for phases such as "consolidate graduate study loans" or "fixed home equity home rates."

Mortgage comes in at No. 3 with keywords such as "refinanced second mortgages" and "remortgage with bad credit." Attorney follows at No. 4; Credit, No. 5; Lawyer, No. 6; Donate, No. 7; Degree, No. 8; Hosting, No. 9; and Claim, No. 10.

These are all areas where there's no monopoly and they are not strongly branded. These high-priced words and phrases are related to things people need, but don't know where to find, Kim said. For example -- needing an attorney after an accident, but not knowing who to call. "At first 'cord blood' ranking high didn't make sense to me," he said. "Then I looked into it and found the keywords related to stem cell research."

Cord Blood at $27.80 per click comes in at No. 20 on Kim's Top 20 list. Two of the frequently searched phrases include "cordblood bank" and "store umbilical cord blood."

There's a high cost for harvesting the stem cells for the cord blood. People want to save the blood in the event that the cells are needed in the future to heal a disease they might not know they have. There's an ongoing fee to store the blood indefinitely.

So, what can marketers do to get the most from online paid-search budgets?

  1. Be picky and precise: Focus on specific keyword phrases. Marketers selling life insurance or in a particular location should leverage related modifiers. Use keyword-match options, phrase matches and exact matches to help Google serve up ads to the correct searchers.
  2. Leverage negative keywords: Exclude certain terms that are not relevant to the specific business. For example, marketers that do not sell motorcycle insurance should take advantage of negative keyword tools to find and eliminate the words and phrases Google might match to the keywords. Each click costs marketers money, so it's important to optimize budgets by eliminating wasted clicks.
  3. Watch pricing and landing page optimization: The average conversion rate for most keywords on AdWords is roughly 2%. But Kim notes that landing pages convert between 20% and 30%. Testing becomes the key to landing page optimization to determine how people respond.

 

June 20, 2011

Worldwide mobile advertising revenue to double in 2011

Search and maps to deliver highest opportunity, while video/audio ads to grow fastest through 2015

Worldwide mobile advertising revenue is forecast to double in 2011 to $3.3bn from $1.6bn generated in 2010, according to IT research firm Gartner.
The research firm's report Forecast: Mobile Advertising, Worldwide, 2008-2015 revealed that worldwide revenue will reach $20.6bn by 2015, but not all types of mobile advertising will generate the same opportunity.
Highest revenue opportunity will be delivered by search and maps, while fastest growth will be seen in video/audio ads through 2015.

Gartner research director Stephanie Baghdassarian said mobile advertising is now recognised as an opportunity for brands, advertisers and publishers to engage consumers in a targeted and contextual manner, improving returns.
"For that reason, mobile advertising budgets are set to increase tremendously across the various categories and regions, growing from 0.5% of the total advertising budget in 2010 to over 4% in 2015," Baghdassarian said.

Gartner research vice president Andrew Frank said as the adoption of smartphones and media tablets extends to more consumers, the audience for mobile advertising will increase and become easier to segment and target, driving the growth of mobile advertising spend for brands and advertisers.
"Brand marketers who want to include mobile in their advertising initiatives should not delay their trials, and should have their budgets in place now to take advantage of mass consumer adoption of smartphones and media tablets," Frank said.

Gartner said that maximum growth in mobile advertising budgets will be experienced in North America and Western Europe, representing 28% and 25%, respectively, of the global market by 2015, with Asia/Pacific and Japan to remain the leading market throughout the forecast period.

Asia/Pacific and Japan is forecast to account for 49.2% of mobile advertising in 2011, and 33.6% of the global market in 2015.
"Mobile search, which includes paid positioning on maps and various forms of augmented reality, all of which can be informed by location, will spearhead mobile ad spending," Baghdassarian said.
"Mobile display, which includes both standard Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) banner formats and nonstandard rich media and interactive formats, will continue to be closely divided between in-app and mobile Web (in-browser) placements, reflecting consumer usage."

Frank said that this double growth doesn't mean, by any stretch, that the experience delivered by mobile advertising will reach its optimum point in that time frame.
"We expect that targeting and contextualization, especially in social sites and applications, will carry on improving throughout the forecast period and beyond."

Facebook number one

Facebook is the number one seller of display advertising in the US according to research by eMarketer. It's expected to generate $2.19 billion in US display advertising revenue this year.
Facebook was in the top pack for a while, but this is the first time that it's going to take in more than either Google or Yahoo. This is due to both growth at Facebook and declines at Yahoo, which was previously number one.

Even more interesting (and a great bullish sign for Facebook and the internet generally), eMarketer says that agencies aren't taking from their display budget to increase their Facebook spend, but from non internet advertising, including TV. Agencies aren't "shifting from offline to online" but "shifting from offline to Facebook", mainly to drive people to sign up for brands' Facebook pages.
We've been waiting for years for around $40 billion to switch from newspaper and TV advertising to the internet to make it commensurate with time spend, and it seems Facebook is the big driver of that, although it's a much bigger opportunity.

Add to that Facebook Credits and Facebook's next billion-dollar opportunity, commerce, and it seems pretty sure that Facebook's revenue and profits are sharply up and to the right.

 

May 31, 2011

Twitter Buys Online Ad Company

Twitter, which has made generating ad revenue one of its priorities, has acquired AdGrok, a company whose software is designed to simplify the creation and management of campaigns using Google's AdWords search advertising service.

As of Tuesday AdGrok has stopped accepting new customers. It will shut down its AdWords management business and wipe out its servers by June 30, focusing entirely on enhancing Twitter's online advertising technology.
"On June 30th, we will also unlink all customers from the AdGrok Google accounts and securely delete our databases. Performance data and campaign structures from AdGrok customers will not be shared with Twitter," the company wrote in a blog post.

Based in San Francisco, AdGrok was founded last year and was backed financially by early-stage investment company Y Combinator.
The AdGrok technology will likely find its way into Twitter's Promoted Tweets ad service, which is similar in concept to Google's AdWords. Promoted Tweets are Twitter posts crafted for advertising that appear in Twitter search results when they contain a search query keyword. Advertisers pay Twitter for Promoted Tweets when end users perform a specific action as a result of the post, such as clicking on it, re-tweeting it, replying to it or labeling it as a "favorite."

Twitter has made other acquisitions intended to boost its advertising technology, including the purchase last year of Smallthought Systems, maker of the Trendly cloud-hosted Web analytics application. Marketers make heavy use of analytics software to evaluate the efficacy of online advertising campaigns and make adjustments accordingly.
Having become the preferred microblogging vehicle for individuals, celebrities and businesses, Twitter in the past year has been trying to boost its revenue and create a self-sustaining business that is in proportion to the tool's popularity.

 

May 11, 2011

What the Microsoft-Skype deal means for Skype users

In a giant deal to buy Internet phone company Skype, Microsoft finally got what it has long sought: a consumer brand so powerful that it's a verb.
Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer has tried to turn its search brand Bing into a verb, like Google, but it hasn't caught on. Investors have turned up their noses at Microsoft's stock because the company has had a hard time romancing consumers who want iPads and Facebook, even though it makes billions of dollars selling software to businesses.
For the price of $8.5 billion, Microsoft now has that consumer brand.

"The Skype brand has become a verb, nearly synonymous with video and voice communications," Ballmer said Tuesday at a news conference in San Francisco.
The acquisition, the largest in Microsoft's history, will net Microsoft more than 170 million monthly Skype customers who use the service to stay in touch with friends in different countries, see their grandchildren grow up via video calls and send text messages, all free or at a fraction of the cost of landline and wireless calls.

Skype is one of the few companies that actually has lived up to the Web's promise of bringing people closer together. Many users now wonder how long the free ride will continue or, more bluntly, whether Microsoft will screw it up.
While Microsoft offers many free services, such as Bing and Hotmail, it also has a history of buying companies that never live up to the initial promise.
Asked specifically whether Skype would remain free, Microsoft said it is not commenting on how the product or features will change.
The acquisition signals Microsoft is stepping up its game and aggressively going after consumers with mobile phones, tablets and cloud computing.
"At Microsoft, we see enormous opportunity that brings together what people want — data, voice, video, IM [instant messaging], all on a single screen — whether it's a smartphone, a PC, a slate or the TV," Ballmer said. "Microsoft and Skype together will define this future and what it really, really looks like."
The company sees a future where Skype will connect the home, office and in between via Xbox, Windows, Office and Windows Phones.
Michael Cusumano, a professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management who just wrote about Microsoft in his book "Staying Power," said he was worried that the company had lost its edge.
"We used to use the phrase they would 'go for jugular,' " he said.
Over the past 10 years, he added, "They seem to be just a little bit too slow in reacting to things. ... Buying Skype is the kind of aggressive move I had hoped they would make."

The acquisition surpasses the $6 billion Microsoft spent in 2007 on aQuantive, a Seattle online advertising company.
Microsoft offered to buy Yahoo for $44.6 billion in 2008, but talks fell apart and the two companies now have a search partnership.
One reason for Skype's popularity is that it's used in a wide range of platforms, including Macs, iPhones, Android phones, BlackBerrys, televisions and Blu-ray players. Microsoft indicated it will continue to support Skype software built for competitors.
"Our vision is that products and services that Skype users know and love today will simply grow and be enhanced," Ballmer said."Part of that commitment is to continue investing and supporting Skype on non-Microsoft client platforms."
Observers say the deal makes strategic, rather than technological, sense for Microsoft.
Several Microsoft products do what Skype does — Windows Live Messenger instant-messaging software; Lync, its unified communication software for businesses; and the Xbox Live video-game network.

Microsoft plans to integrate Skype with those services, as well as its email-related offerings Outlook and Hotmail. Analysts see potential in building Bing into Skype applications and to selling online advertising on Skype.
Microsoft has a checkered history with acquisitions of companies with strong consumer success, such as mobile-device maker Danger, which made the Sidekick, a smartphone especially popular with teenagers.
The fruit of that merger, the Kin phone, emerged last year, only to be pulled from the market two months later.
And Microsoft had difficulty integrating aQuantive into its sprawling organization, eventually selling the most profitable piece, Razorfish, for $530 million, a fraction of the $6 billion Microsoft paid for the parent.
Skype, started in 2003, is still a fresh-faced tech darling that gives most of its software and services away, growing mostly by word-of-mouth and viral marketing.

The vast majority of people use Skype for its free service to make voice and video calls to other Skype users. The company makes money from SkypeOut, a subscription or prepaid service used to place calls from a Skype application to landline or mobile phones.
Only 6 percent, or 8.8 million, of Skype's 145 million users in December paid for services, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The company recently added the ability to sell advertising on Skype software, but the filing says it is uncertain how much revenue it will see from ad sales.

In 2010, Skype lost $7 million on $860 million in sales. In 2009, which included 11 months when it operated as an eBay subsidiary, Skype lost $369 million on $719 million in sales.
Skype CEO Tony Bates calls it a member of the "100-100 club."
"We have over 100 million users who use us each and every month, 170 [million] at last count," he said. "But we also have a very, very engaged user base. Our user base on average uses 100 minutes per user, per month."
Bates will become president of a new Skype division at Microsoft and report directly to Ballmer.
Now based in Luxembourg, Skype was bought by eBay in October 2005.

An investor group bought the company from eBay for $2.7 billion in November 2009.
The company had been planning an initial public offering when Microsoft made an unsolicited offer.
With the sale, Skype's value has more than tripled in 18 months, prompting some people to question whether Microsoft overpaid.
"Strategically makes sense. Not sure about the price tag," said Sid Parakh, analyst at McAdams Wright Ragen in Seattle.
Yun Kim, an analyst at Gleacher & Co., was less concerned about price.
"I don't think it's necessarily the valuation that matters because they [Microsoft] have a lot of cash and financial resources," Kim said. "It's more important they make the right strategic move to continue to migrate their solution from the PC era to the post-PC era."
Microsoft is seeking regulatory approval for the deal from U.S. and European regulators, and hopes the merger will close by the end of the year.

 

May 10, 2011

Google's advertising system under US investigation

Google's advertising system is being investigated by the US Justice Department, the company has revealed.

The internet search giant added that it had put aside $500m (£306m) to settle any potential charges.
The investigation is looking at how Google's automated advertising system treats some unnamed advertisers.
A separate study is continuing to be carried out by the European Commission. Google's advertising revenues hit $8.3bn in the first quarter of 2011.

Accusations

Google revealed the Justice Department investigation in a regulatory filing to the US financial watchdog, the Securities and Exchange Commission.
It said that as a result of putting aside the $500m, its net profit for the first three months of this year would be less than first reported in April, falling to $1.8bn from $2.3bn.
Google said in a statement: "Although we cannot predict the ultimate outcome of this matter, we believe it will not have a material adverse effect on our business, consolidated financial position, results of operations, or cash flows."
The Justice Department has yet to comment.
The European Commission's continuing anti-competition investigation into Google was launched in November of last year.
It was started after Google's search engine rivals complained that the firm had abused its dominant position.
Among a number of accusations, rivals including Microsoft's Bing have accused Google of manipulating its search results to promote its own services, and discourage firms from advertising with other search engines.
It is not yet known whether the US Justice Department's investigations concern accusations of anti-competition practices, or if they follow a complaint from a rival of Google.

 

April 26, 2011

Google AdWords Instant Previews Could Save You Some Money

Google has launched Instant Previews on AdWords ads.

You may recall when Google launched Instant Previews for search results. These let the user click the little magnifying glass to get a visual preview of what the site will look like before they click on the result itself. The whole thing really made it clear that having an attractive design could only benefit you in the Google user interface.

Now the same thing applies to your ads’ landing pages.

“Now, we’re bringing the same benefit to ads with Instant Previews for Ads,” writes Google’s Dan Friedman on the Inside AdWords blog. “Starting today [last night, actually], the Instant Previews icon will appear next to ads on Google.com allowing users to preview the ad’s landing page. With Instant Previews, your customers are able to quickly preview a page to see if its content matches what they’re searching for.”

“By allowing potential customers to preview your site before they arrive, Instant Previews helps you get even more highly-qualified traffic to your site,” he adds. “Even better, Instant Preview clicks are free of charge — you’re only charged if a user clicks through to your actual landing page.”
Landing pages are obviously very important to the conversion process, so if you didn’t have an effective landing page to begin with, you weren’t going to have much luck in your search marketing. The Instant Previews should only serve to emphasize that very fact.
I would like to see some data from Google on how often people actually click for instant previews. Personally, I rarely do. It’s just an extra step. I can just as easily see the page by clicking on the result once I get there (and I don’t know how up-to-date the preview actually is). I can’t speak for the average user though. I’m sure some people are clicking on them.
If you’re an advertiser, and you don’t like the idea of the instant previews, there’s not a whole lot you can do it about it. It’s not an optional feature. It’s just how it is now. ” Instant Previews are an integral part of the AdWords search and ads experience for users and advertisers,” Google says.
In case you’re wondering, Google will not charge you if someone clicks a preview, so that’s certainly a positive. It could actually save you some money in the long run.
The previews do not affect quality score in any way. That said, Google does say it will respect robots.txt if you’ve explicitly excluded AdsBot-Google. “However, this will have significant impact on your Quality Score as we’ll no longer be able to assess your landing page quality,” the company says.
“The nosnippet’ tag relates only to organic web search,” Google adds. “We’ll continue to show Instant Previews on ads even if the nosnippet tag is present on the ad’s landing page.”
The feature is already rolling out in the U.S. Google says it will roll it out internationally over the coming weeks.

 

April 19, 2011

Yahoo to keep users' search records for 18 months... up from just 90 days

Yahoo has announced plans to extend how long it holds user search records from 90 days to 18 months. The move is expected to provoke a backlash from privacy groups who fear a creeping 'Big Brother' approach from the internet giant. Yahoo claimed a changing 'competitive landscape' over the past three years had forced the decision.

Customers will be notified of the new rules in the next six weeks and they will come into operation in July. Raw search logs can include information like IP addresses, Internet provider, page views, ad clicks or web sites visited.

Such data, which is used to target online advertising, is kept for 90 days by Yahoo before it strips out numerical internet addresses, altering small tracking files known as 'cookies' and deleting other potential personally identifiable information.

Anne Toth, Yahoo's chief trust officer, wrote in a blog post: 'We will be closely examining what the right policy and time frame should be for other log file data'. 'In announcing this change, we have gone back to the drawing board to ensure that our policies will support the innovative products we want to deliver for our consumers.'
But there have been concerns from privacy groups as to how this data is used.

In August 2008, Congress asked providers like Verizon, AT&T, Time Warner, Comcast, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Google to provide information about how they collect and store information about web users' Internet activity.
At the time, many companies preserved the anonymity of the customers' data after 18 months.
In September 2008, Google announced that it would reduce that time to nine months. Yahoo followed suit in December by cutting it from 13 months to three months.
But now Yahoo has claimed that the way it and other companies offer services online 'has changed dramatically.'
Toth said: 'Over the past several years it's clear that the Internet has changed, our business has changed, and the competitive landscape has changed,'
In recent months, the concept of having a "do not track" option in the browser has grown. The feature allows users to opt-out of having their activity tracked online for advertising purposes.
Mozilla included the option in its Firefox 4 browser, and Microsoft, Google, and Apple are all experimenting with their own versions of do not track.'
Toth said Friday that it is in 'active in discussions' on how to integrate browser-based tools into existing privacy models.
Jeff Chester , an online campaigner for privacy with the Center for Digital Democracy, described the Yahoo move as 'digital desperation.'
He added: 'This is a digital flip-flop by Yahoo. It can't compete with Facebook, Google or Microsoft because it has nothing left to sell. So it is giving advertisers a long look at the data so it won't go into a financial tailspin and investors don't lose confidence. This is simply to boost revenues'.

 

April 18, 2011

Ad Position Preference is No More

With the news that Google are in the process of retiring their ad positioning preference within Google AdWords, what does this really mean for advertisers? Almost immediately Google recommend turning off the ad positioning preference to be able to better manage your campaigns – As of May 2011 Google will be disabling the tool completely and already Advertisers cannot enable this feature on new or current campaigns where Ad Positioning was switched off. Therefore bear this in mind if you are turning yours off.
With the introduction of automated rules, Ad Position Preference is no longer required, or so Google say.

Where would you prefer to be positioned?

Most advertisers assume positioning 1-3 within sponsored ads area is the place to be, and normally I would agree with this statement. But I would like to add that positioning and the best place does depend entirely on the campaign, business and history data that has been collected.
For those who are not familiar with a very handy tool within Google Analytics, you can find out at what position your AdWords have been performing the best for you. Please note the following will only work if you have your AdWords and Analytics accounts linked – to find out more about how to link the two, visit the AdWords Help center.

In Analytics you can view under ‘Traffic Sources’ and then ‘AdWords’ a report called ‘Keyword Positions’. In this report you are able to select a timeframe to view the top performing AdWords keywords by a variety of statistics, and review that particular performance in relation to where the ad was positioned at the time.

 

 

So if you are only interested in showing your ad in a particular position I would highly recommend reviewing the statistics to back up this belief. Then use automated rules to set a similar rule for your Ad Position preference as before.

 

April 11, 2011

Google Rolls Out Its Panda Update Internationally And Begins Incorporating Searcher Blocking Data

Late February, Google launched a substantial algorithm change (known as “Farmer” or “Panda”) aimed at identifying low-quality pages and sites. These are pages (often seen on so-called “content farms”) with text that is relevant for a query, but may not provide the best user experience. (Google calls it a “high quality sites algorithm”.) Today, Google has rolled this change out to all English language queries and made a few minor updates (with an estimated impact to 2% of U.S. queries).

Live for All English Queries
The original algorithm update impacted only U.S. queries. As of today, this change is live for all English queries worldwide. This includes both English speaking countries (such as searches on google.co.uk, and google.com.au) and English queries in non-English countries (for instance, for a searcher using google.fr who’s chosen English-language results).
In the United States, the initial launch impacted nearly 12% of queries, so it stands to reason that the impact may be similar for English-speaking searchers across the world.

Incorporating Searcher Data About Blocked Sites
Google has always used a number of signals in determining relevant search results. Some of these are on the pages themselves (such as the text on a page), some are on other sites (such as anchor text in links to a page), and some are based on user behavior (for instance, Google gathers data about how long pages take to load by using toolbar data from users who access those pages).
In recent months, Google has launched two ways for searchers to block particular sites from their search results. The first was a Chrome extension. More recently, Google has launched a block link directly in the search results that appears once a searcher has clicked from the results to a site and then return to the search results.
When Panda launched initially, Google said that they didn’t use data about what sites searchers were blocking as a signal in the algorithm, but they did use the data as validation that the algorithm change was on target. They found an 84% overlap in sites that were negatively impacted by Panda and sites that users had blocked with the Chrome extension.
Now, they are using data about what searchers have blocked in “high confidence situations”. Google tells me this is a secondary, rather than primary factor. If the site fits the overall pattern that this algorithm targets, searcher blocking behavior may be used as confirmation

Impact Seen To a Wider Variety of Sites
In the initial launch, large sites were primarily affected. This makes sense as larger sites, with more pages, traffic, and links, have more signals available. With the latest update, smaller sites may see an impact. Amit Singhal, in charge of search quality at Google, notes in the blog post, “this change also goes deeper into the “long tail” of low-quality websites to return higher-quality results where the algorithm might not have been able to make an assessment before”.

Amit Singhal said:
“We’re focused on showing users the highest quality, most relevant pages on the web. We’re cautious not to roll out changes until we’re confident that they improve the user experience, while at the same time helping the broader web ecosystem. We incorporate new signals into our algorithm only after extensive testing, once we’ve concluded that they improve quality for our users.”

What To Do If Your Site Is Impacted
When this change was launched in the United States, site owners who were impacted were vocal in their unhappiness and Google opened a thread in the Google webmaster central discussion forum so site owners could provide feedback to Google. In the latest post, they said:

“Based on our testing, we’ve found the algorithm is very accurate at detecting site quality. If you believe your site is high-quality and has been impacted by this change, we encourage you to evaluate the different aspects of your site extensively. Google’s quality guidelines provide helpful information about how to improve your site. As sites change, our algorithmic rankings will update to reflect that. In addition, you’re welcome to post in our Webmaster Help Forums. While we aren’t making any manual exceptions, we will consider this feedback as we continue to refine our algorithms.”

Take an objective look at the user experience of the site:

Use these findings to target improvements to your site that will enhance the overall user experience (which should also benefit overall engagement, loyalty, and conversion).

 

April 5, 2011

Microsoft sues Google for ‘search biasing’

In an ironic twist of fate, dominant software maker Microsoft is accusing Internet giant Google of biasing search results on its Internet search engine Google.com in the European Union.
Microsoft has been charged in the past in Europe for allegedly using its large size to stifle competition. This time, it’s the turn of the Redmond, Washington-based tech firm to accuse a competitor of monopolistic practices.
Microsoft is struggling to gain market share in Europe despite incorporating tools from the formerly Norwegian headquartered FAST into its Bing search engine, and putting in at least $1 billion of both development and advertising investment.
Mike Davis, an analyst for research firm Ovum, said it is not far-fetched that Google has been “skewing" its search results, given that 97 percent of its income is derived from Internet advertising.
“And of course this raises the questions ‘don’t you do it too?’ and ‘have you been copying your rival’s search results?’ commented Davis, referring to Google’s accusation that Microsoft’s Bing search engine merely replicated Google.com’s search results.
The Ovum analyst said that Internet search cannot be “agnostic and unbiased" since those who provide Internet search engines derive their revenues from the advertisers.
“The total value of Internet advertising is huge, and this is a territory that both Google and Microsoft need to dominate. Irrespective of the eventual EC (European Commission) adjudication, this war will continue for a long time yet," Davis said.

 

February 23, 2011

Bing & Yahoo Align With Google’s Trademark Rules For Search Ads

Bring on the trademarked keywords in the U.S. and Canada, says Microsoft AdCenter. A policy change, which takes effect March 3, means ads appearing on Bing and Yahoo will soon able to be triggered by trademarked keywords, though only authorized users can include trademarks in the text of their ads. The shift brings Microsoft AdCenter in line with Google’s policies on such matters.
“We want to make it easier for you to manage your search advertising campaigns,” said an e-mail sent by Microsoft to advertisers. “By aligning the adCenter trademark policy with the current industry standard, we hope to help simplify your marketing efforts across the various online advertising programs.”

Microsoft declined to discuss the change more fully.
The use of trademarks in search ad campaigns, either as keywords or as ad text, has been a controversial topic since the dawn of search marketing. Though Google is still fighting lawsuits on the subject, the company seems to feel confident that trademarks can legally be used in keyword targeting in the U.S. Google has changed its trademark policies over time, and now, Microsoft has followed Google’s lead, simplifying matters a bit for search marketers.

 

February 3, 2011

Google Adwords Extended Advert Headlines
Longer headlines for select ads on Google

On February 3, 2011, Google announced a new beta test on AdWords ads. Some selected text ads will be showing a longer headline. Google claims that their internal testing has found that the longer headlines increase click-through rates not only on the ads themselves, but the ads surrounding them. Only ads that appear to have a complete sentence in description line 1 are eligible for the headline extensions. If you’re one of the lucky winners that gets an ad upgrade, your description line 1 will be moved up to the headline, separated by a hyphen from the original headline. Description line 2 and the display URL will appear as normal.

Google’s announcement:
Google says it is We’re continually testing variations of our search results page to optimize performance for both you and our users. Similarly, you’re probably always trying to find ways to maximize each line of your ad to get your message across to users. To help, we’ll soon be making a change to certain ads that will allow you to display more information where it’s most likely to be noticed--in the headline.
Starting today and over the next few days, we’re changing the placement of the first description line for certain ads that appear above the search results on Google. For some ads where each line appears to be a distinct sentence and ends in the proper punctuation, description line 1 will be moved to the headline and separated by a hyphen. As a result, some top placement ads will have longer headlines. Here’s an example:

Before:

After:

We’ve found that the change results in higher clickthrough rates for ads that are shown with the longer headline, as well as other top ads that appear beside them. It also creates a better experience for users by highlighting more information in the ad.
While only some ads will be shown with the longer headline, you can increase your chances by ensuring that each line of your ad appears to be a distinct sentence and ends in the proper punctuation (e.g., a period or a question mark). Since this is a global change, punctuation will vary by country.

 

February 1, 2011

Google Finds No Friend In Facebook As Social Surpasses Search

Google, which competes with Yahoo, Microsoft, AOL and New York Times Company in the online advertising market, has another major threat in the making in Facebook. Although Google’s revenues are much higher than the estimated revenues for Facebook, Facebook’s fast growth in the online advertising world could be a threat to Google in the long term. Google has a large set of users, but these are spread across Google Search, Gmail, Android and Google TV.

 

We believe that if Google can understand its users’ interest and preferences better by stitching their information across different platforms to build a profile, it could provide better targeted ads to its users.

It will then bring about higher ad user engagement levels, which will in turn improve Google RPS (Revenue per 1,000 searches).

RPS is a critical parameter for Google and its improvement could provide some lift to the $632 Trefis price estimate for Google stock, which is close to the current market price.

 

The Threat From Facebook
According to Hitwise, Facebook became the most visited site in the U.S. for the first time surpassing Google and Yahoo. What could Google do in this situation? As mentioned above, Google could improve its users ads engagement in order to compensate for the loss of user visits to Facebook. Google could track the user’s Google Search history to understand their interests and preferences. It could also leverage the growing Android user base, Gmail’s growing popularity and the potential that Google TV possesses.
If Google can successfully tap the users’ information on these different platforms, it could certainly bring about better targeted ads. Targeted ads helps increase the click through rates of the ads, which help the advertiser in realizing higher conversion rates. Google’s RPS could certainly benefit from that. The RPS has declined from a peak of $23.50 per 1,000 searches in 2008 to an estimated $14.70 per 1,000 searches in 2010, and we expect it to continue to decline to around $9.50 by the end of Trefis forecast period.
If Google can stop further RPS declines, and if it is able to maintain it at 2010 levels of $14.70 throughout the Trefis forecast period, there could be an upside of 35% to our estimate for Google stock.

 

January 31, 2011

Consumers Expect Mobile Ads to Inform

Providing information and relevance are top qualities

With mobile advertising on the upswing, marketers must remember that many consumers are still less than thrilled about ads on this very personal device. Catering to their preferences for ad formats and features could help the mobile audience warm up to the usefulness of the channel.
According to a survey from Yahoo! and The Nielsen Company, being informative was the most important quality of mobile ads for a wide variety of products and services. Relevancy was a relatively close second in most categories.
By comparison, respondents cared relatively little about the graphical and multimedia elements of the ads. This contrasts with research on iPad advertising, which has shown that tablet users pay more attention to and feel more engaged with interactive ads with striking colors.
Focusing on information and relevance might be a smart move for marketers looking to advertise on mobile without alienating their audience. An Advertising Age survey conducted by Ipsos Observer found that mobile ads were most likely to be disliked by internet users, at 63%. Just 15% of respondents liked them. Mobile ads were over 50% more likely to cause negative feelings than website ads.

In addition to information and relevance, placement and format have shown an effect on mobile users’ attitudes toward ads. According to the InsightExpress “Digital Consumer Portrait,” published in 2010, the heaviest mobile users generally did not find mobile banners annoying, while full-page ads were seen less favorably.
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Bing Deal With Yahoo Isn't Paying Off For Microsoft So Far

Microsoft's distribution deal with Yahoo to make Bing the default search engine looks like a bad deal for Microsoft so far.
Here's what Microsoft said in its 10-Q statement for the last quarter of 2010 (Microsoft's Q2'11), which the company released this afternoon. During the quarter, compared with one year ago:
Online advertising revenue grew $117 million or 23% to $632 million, reflecting continued growth in Bing, offset in part by decreased third party advertising revenue....Cost of revenue grew $110 million driven by costs associated with the Yahoo! search agreement.
Research and development -- including salaries of Bing staffers -- isn't included in cost of revenue.
So in other words, for every extra dollar Microsoft spent on customer acquisition, it got about $1.06 in new advertising revenue.
Cost of revenue includes other deals as well, and the Yahoo deal didn't really kick in until the end of October -- almost a month into the quarter. But then again, Microsoft has a lot of other sources of online advertising revenue, and none of them are growing fast enough to offset the traffic acquisition costs.
In the long run, Microsoft hopes that the combined market share of Bing and Yahoo will get more advertisers into the system, increasing cost-per-click. The extra data for all those new Yahoo users should also help Microsoft target its ads more effectively.
Then again, Microsoft may not care how much Bing costs now, as long as it keeps the pressure on Google.

 

January 28, 2011

Google Improves AdWords Preview Tool For Mobile Users

After recent updates to URL's and negative keyword management, there is even more good news this week for Google AdWord users. Google has improved its AdWord Preview Tool so that mobile users can see how their ads will appear on different devices " iPhone, Android, etc. Google has introduced changes to the tool that they hope will help marketers optimize mobile ads searches.
In order to preview their ad, advertisers must be signed into their account which also allows them to see integrated keyword diagnosis results. By setting a specific location for the preview, users can now see how your ads will look to a user in New York even if they are located in San Francisco. Advertisers can also view and analyze their ad visibility on multiple devices without having to borrow all of your friends' phones!
Google's Gordon Zhu announced the news on the Inside AdWords blog, including:
In addition to displaying the ads for that search, the Preview Tool now specifically confirms whether your ad is showing and links to the relevant campaign and ad group. If your ad isn't showing, the Preview Tool will tell you why, helping you understand if you need to adjust your bids, location targeting, daily budget, or optimize your account.
The preview tool will also be very handy for advertisers who want to target their mobile ad campaign to an area other than their current physical location. By entering latitude and longitude information in the Ad Preview Tool, users can promptly verify if their ads are displaying their business address to mobile users properly within a specific geographical location. I have to admit, this is pretty neat!
You can explore these new features by finding the Ad Preview Tool under the Reporting and Tools tab in your AdWords account or by navigating directly to www.google.com/adpreview.

Times Herald Media, Yahoo! launch local ad partnership

Times Herald Media today launched a local advertising relationship with Yahoo! that brings together its brands, media sales expertise and website audiences with Yahoo!'s online audience targeting capabilities and display advertising expertise.
Times Herald Media, which is owned by the Gannett Corp., will offer Yahoo! digital inventory as part of it local advertising solutions. As a result, local advertisers will benefit from an expanded digital reach and enhanced audience targeting capabilities based on geography, user demographics and interests.
Because Yahoo! sites reach 8 out of 10 U.S. Internet users 18 and older, the new relationship will increase Times Herald Media's total digital audience reach within the St. Clair County market.
"We are very excited about our new partnership with Yahoo!," said Lorinda Driscoll, general manager and advertising director for Times Herald Media. "By adding Yahoo!'s sophisticated audience targeting, it allows Times Herald Media to continue providing our advertisers the right solution, for the right audience, at the right time."
"Local advertising continues to be an important area of focus for us, and Yahoo! is committed to helping local businesses reach high quality target audiences," said Lem Lloyd, vice president channel sales, Yahoo! Americas. "This relationship significantly expands our local offerings and gives advertisers the technology and scale they need to reach their consumers online."
In addition to the daily newspaper and its website, thetimesherald.com, Times Herald Media also publishes the Blue Water Shopper and a variety of other specialty publications and magazines.

 

January 27, 2011

Twitter Argues Definition Self-Serve Ad Platform

Google spoiled marketers. The Mountain View, Calif.-tech company gave online marketing agencies and companies a self-serve ad platform to create pay per click (PPC) ads. Microsoft and Yahoo did their fare share, too, spoiling smaller companies with the opportunity to jump into the self-serve fray.
Display advertising platforms followed, as Google decided to make buying display ads as easy as buying search. Then along came Facebook with a hybrid search and display ad model and platform that made them as simple to buy as paid search.
Online marketers crave self-service ad platforms, so much so that Twitter has begun work to build one, too. The company introduced a platform late last year, which some advertisers have been beta testing.
Some say the platform is self-serve.

Kathleen Colan, director of marketing and content at Mongoose Metrics, defines "self-serve" as a platform that doesn't require "the evolvement of an account executive or tech exec." She confirms the initial setup requires an account rep, but not for each campaign. She has been using the platform since Nov. 1 with success. "It's simple and easy, a self-service type model," she says.
In a blog post, Colan explains the results from 14 Promoted Tweet campaigns that ran Nov. 1, through the end of December. In those 14 campaigns there were been between five and 20 rotating tweets. The campaigns in total drew 961,000 tweet impressions; 18,000 clicks; 220 retweets; 168 replies; 126 conversions at a cost of $2,067. Not wanting to split hairs with definitions, she admits finding success through what she describes, basically, as a self-serve model.
Twitter spokesman Matt Graves claims the platform is not self-serve because an account rep must set up the account. Clix Marketing Founder David Szetela calls it self-serve, insisting marketers only need the rep to set up accounts and gain access to the platform. Once access is gained to the platform, Szetela's marketing experts can build ads from tweets -- and they call it the self-service model for social marketing that marketers want.
Graves says Twitter defines "self-serve" as a platform that doesn't require a marketing company to work with an in-house sales rep. Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and other marketing exec and companies might define "self-serve" differently -- could be a matter of semantics. Graves says the offering is part of the Promoted Products suite announced late last year. The initial setup requires a sales rep, but using the platform to initiate each Promoted Tweets does not.
Define self-serve as you will, but social marketing needs a self-serve model to succeed. Earlier this week research firm eMarketer published estimates that put Twitter revenue this year at $150 million, more than three times the $45 million earned last year. The firm also estimates that Twitter revenue could reach $250 million in 2012.
Debra Aho Williamson, eMarketer principal analyst, told MediaPost earlier this week that Twitter will make many changes in the coming year. "Self-service models are not only for small or local businesses," she says. "You also see marketers at very large businesses such as media buyers at Razorfish buying ads on Facebook. They use Facebook branded advertising sold through the direct sales team, but also through the self-serve system."
The self-serve system opens up to a much wider array of advertisers such as companies involved in performance advertisers who buy lots of impressions on bulk. Aho Williamson says they are good at fine-tuning keywords and targeting because they have done it on Google for years and likely Facebook for a couple of years. Now they will have another avenue on Twitter.
Not yet, Graves says. He asserts the "self-serve" platform won't be released until later this year. I can't wait to see what the next phase looks like.

 

January 26, 2011

Can Bing Catch Google? Microsoft Spends Millions on ESPN, Jay-Z Partnerships

Microsoft is reportedly spending about $100 million marketing Bing, the only formidable competitor to Google left in the search-engine game. Loads of that cash is heading toward the myriad "search overload" commercials you've likely seen. The company also invested tons in a generous cashback rewards program. It launched innovative advertising partnerships with Jay-Z and the Sundance Film Festival. And on Monday, Microsoft announced that it's teaming with ESPN for a feature football series leading up to the Super Bowl.
What kind of return is Microsoft seeing on its investment? Are the millions of marketing dollars having an impact on Bing's success?

According to reports, Bing's market share has been steadily growing. Experian Hitwise says Bing's searches increased 5% last month, with Bing-powered searches now accounting for nearly 26% of the market (that's counting Yahoo, which uses Bing's tech; comScore has the two combined totals at 28%). Year-over-year growth rate in December was 49.4%, according to Barclays, compared with just 20.6% for Google.
"Our marketing campaigns are designed to market parts of Bing, such as Bing Entertainment at Sundance, or our football campaign, which highlights a lot of our sports features," says Lisa Gurry, director of Bing. "We're seeing increased perception and advocacy, which is driving our market share."
Microsoft has made sports marketing a major focus of its campaign. According to comScore, which tracks Internet usage of 50 million-plus football fans, Bing's traffic from these fans has shot up 17% in recent months. Comparatively, Google's share rose 2%. Average daily visitors and total page views during this time also increased 14% and 13%, respectively.
"We did a similar program for the World Cup called 'I Scored A Goal,'" says ESPN rep Amy Phillips. "That soccer campaign helped boost Bing awareness by 18%, and positioned the brand as the "decision engine." "Bing liked the idea of original content, and ESPN began conceptualizing an NFL-themed version," continues Phillips. "Bing liked the concept and we began production with an eye for defining 'decisive moments' in [quarterbacks'] careers."
"It's a massive lift," says Gurry, of Bing's growing market share. She adds that the Jay-Z Decoded campaign pushed "intent-of-use" buzz--which tracks future consumer habits--by 15 points.
Still, while Microsoft has been touting its gains, it's not clear whether they come at the expense of Google. ComScore shows that even though Microsoft's explicit core search jumped 0.2% in December, Google managed to grow by 0.4%. What's more, Bing-powered search engines such as Yahoo had declines for the month. Experian's data indicates Google's market share dropped just 1% over the period, but still dominates the market at close to 70%.

Will Bing and Microsoft continue to narrow the gap? If Microsoft can't, even with support from Jay-Z, ESPN, and $100 million, perhaps no one can.

Yahoo Hopes to Share Google's Good News

Or so Yahoo had better hope. The company faces plenty of long-term challenges, notably the twin threat posed by Google and Facebook. But if Google's recent results are anything to go by, Yahoo might get a dose of good news when it reports fourth-quarter results Tuesday.
Google, in discussing its own earnings, noted a surge in spending for online display advertising, which includes graphical and video ads—Yahoo's bread-and-butter business.
"You're seeing a recovery in online growth rates, be it retail or advertising, that are getting back to prerecession levels," says Citigroup Internet analyst Mark Mahaney. "It's hard to see why Yahoo wouldn't benefit."
Yahoo also may be on the verge of seeing higher search-ad prices for its vast network, says Marianne Wolk, an analyst at Susquehanna Financial Group. That is likely one of the benefits Yahoo should reap from using Microsoft's Bing search engine for its own search results. The combination of Yahoo's search-advertising business—which has long been a financial drag—with Microsoft's could further help results.

 

That said, investors aren't likely to get too excited. Yahoo remains under pressure on several fronts. Google's share of the $12 billion, U.S. search-advertising market increased to 78.6% in 2010 from 74%, according to consulting firm Efficient Frontier. That occurred as the Yahoo-Bing transition took place, leading Yahoo to lose share, although Efficient Frontier expects it to gain ground back in 2011.

In the market for U.S. display ads, Yahoo's share slipped to 16.2% in 2010 from 16.5% the year before, according to research firm eMarketer. Yet Google's share jumped to 13.4%, from 4.7%; Facebook's rose to 13.6% from 7.3%.
One possible bright spot is the potential to unlock value in Yahoo's Asian assets, which include a roughly 40% stake in Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding. Susquehanna's Ms. Wolk expects a public offering of Taobao.com, Alibaba's retail site, could result in a value to Yahoo of about $18 a share, more than Yahoo trades for today.
But even with greater financial firepower, Yahoo would still have to prove itself in its core businesses. And when it comes to finding the right strategy there, Yahoo is still searching.

 

 

January 25, 2011

Facebook: The Advertising Network?

 

Facebook will have to tread carefully as it taps advertising opportunities across its network. "Mark Zuckerberg has always been adamant that the user experience for Facebook had to come first, and monetization second," said Carl D. Howe, director of anywhere consumer research for the Yankee Group. "Should Facebook ramp up its advertising emphasis, that would imply to me that he's changed his mind."

 

Facebook is ready to flex its advertising muscles. On Monday, Facebook's business director, Dan Rose, addressed attendees of the DLD media conference in Munich, speaking of the success of social games on Facebook from developers like Zynga and opportunities to expand its advertising to its 500 million-plus users, according to media reports.
Touting the efficiency of Facebook's platform for companies like Zynga, Rose reportedly told conference attendees that the tendency for games to become increasingly social represents an opportunity -- but that music, video and other categories were also fertile ground.
The Internet is transforming from and information orientation to a social orientation, Rose reportedly said, where the wisdom of friends would become more important than the wisdom of the crowd.

Goldman Sachs $1B Investment
This conference was held only days after Friday's closing of the US$1 billion Goldman Sachs private placement investment in Facebook.
Together with a joint investment of $500 million made by Goldman and Russian company Digital Sky, the latest transaction places Facebook's value at $50 billion. Goldman originally offered $1.5 billion of the class A common stock to wealthy U.S. Investors. Facebook later capped the amount at $1 billion.
Goldman restricted the offer to overseas investors, fearing heavy media coverage in the U.S. might compromise the offering. The bank wanted to ensure compliance with Securities and Exchange Commission guidelines.
The investments, along with Facebook's intensification of its advertising plans, could make the social network a bigger competitor for Internet advertising giants Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) and Yahoo (Nasdaq: YHOO).

Facebook Growing Up
The new opportunities could also be the catalyst for a change in Facebook's corporate culture.
"Mark Zuckerberg has always been adamant that the user experience for Facebook had to come first, and monetization second," Carl D. Howe, director of anywhere consumer research for the Yankee Group, told the E-Commerce Times. "Should Facebook ramp up its advertising emphasis, that would imply to me that he's changed his mind."
Facebook will need to avoid flooding its pages with ads; junky ads helped bury Myspace.
"The challenge for Facebook will be whether it can monetize advertising in a way that is useful instead of intrusive," said Howe. "So far, Google really is the only company that's done that successfully and commercially in the online world. It will be Facebook's job to prove that they are as thoughtful and business-savvy as Google. Because Facebook is privately held, we just can't tell whether they've successfully threaded that needle yet or not."

We They Were Coming
Since it has entered the big guys' turf, Facebook will need to pump up its advertising game in order to compete.
"This was almost as inevitable as the sun rising in the east and setting in the west," Laura DiDio, principal analyst at ITIC, told the E-Commerce Times. "They're not doing this just to have people play 'FarmVille.' The thing about Facebook is this is coming just at the time we heard Twitter's advertising could go over a $100 million this year, which is three times what it was last year. If Twitter is doing it, Google is doing it, and Yahoo is doing it, it's inevitable that Facebook is going to do it. Zuckerberg is not going to be outflanked by the other wunderkinds."
Still, Facebook will have to be careful when boosting advertising on the site.
"As more people move to social media, even television viewership is down," said DiDio. "They're being supplanted by these online social sites. And they're all selling ads, even the dating sites. The only surprise would have been if Facebook wasn't selling ads. What will be interesting is how they will police their ads. They don't want to get into a situation like Craigslist."
Privacy and safety of user information continue to be issues when it comes to Facebook.
"A lot of people will cash in on this and make money," said DiDio. "We're already seeing a bunch of companies that have created social network advertising using Facebook. What's risky is the privacy thing. How much of our information are they going to share?"

 

January 24, 2011

Google Says Search Quality Improved With New Spam Detection

Matt Cutts, a Google engineer working on search quality, wrote at the Google Blog that Google has recently released a new spam detection classifier to help prevent “spammy on-page content” from ranking highly in the Google search index. None of this comes as a surprise, Matt told us Google would be stepping up their search quality efforts in 2011.
The new classifier was introduced based on Google seeing a “slight uptick of spam in recent months,” said Cutts. Matt Cutts did say that spam compared to five-years ago is at rates “less than half” as of now, but in the recent months, there has been a slight increase in spam impacting Google’s results.
The redesigned document-level classifier will specifically make it harder for on-page spam to impact Google’s search index. Matt Cutts explained, “the new classifier is better at detecting spam on individual web pages, e.g., repeated spammy words—the sort of phrases you tend to see in junky, automated, self-promoting blog comments.” In addition, Google also has “radically improved” their methods of detecting hacked sites and they are “evaluating multiple changes that should help drive spam levels even lower, including one change that primarily affects sites that copy others’ content and sites with low levels of original content,” said Cutts.
In addition, Matt said Google will pay even more attention to “content farms,” which are sites that have low-quality content. Google introduced, what SEOs named, May Day update, which was Google’s first stab at low-quality content sites. So be prepared, if you are a site that aggregates content and repurposes it, you might be hit by whatever Google releases in 2011. Matt Cutts and Google vows to take “even stronger action on content farms and sites that consist primarily of spammy or low-quality content.”

Facebook ad customer is bad business from Bing

According to a post at Google Buzz by Google's Matt Cutts, one of the largest advertisers on the Facebook social ne tworking website is a stinky Microsoft affliliate scam.
Cutts, who is head of Google's anti-spam team, was digging into a Facebook advertiser that goes by the name of Make-my-baby.com and found that it has murky roots in, or at least very strong ties to, Microsoft's Bing.
Cutts was responding to an article in Advertising Age that suggested Facebook was muscling in on Google's ad business. Facebook, it seems, is earning $1.86 billion in worldwide advertising revenues a year, which is big business in anyone's book.
Perhaps rankled by this, or just interested in its findings, he investigated the firm that is the third biggest advertiser on the website, and found that its apparent aim is to stop people from using homepages that aren't Microsoft's Bing.
"Visiting make-my-baby.com instantly prompts you to install a browser plugin," he wrote. "The 'terms and conditions' link takes you to http://mmb.bingstart.com/terms/ which has phrases like 'If Chrome ("CR") is installed on your PC we may change the default setting of your home page on CR to Bingstart.com.'
Cutts suggested that people were installing the plug-in, which he added, hid the information about changing home pages in its small print.
"If make-my-baby.com is Facebook's 3rd biggest advertiser," he mused, "I wonder how many people are installing this software without reading the fine print that says 'Installing the toolbar includes managing the browser default search settings and setting your homepage to bing.com' ? Perhaps worse still, the toolbar looks particularly difficult to uninstall."
Make-my-baby.com, which sounds like a primal howl of UK urban teenagers, does not appear to be the only application that wants to change user browser preferences and home pages, and Cutts was able to find a handful more, including those offering IQ tests. Which is something that seems rather innapropriate to pitch at social networkers.
Make-my-baby.com is in third place in the ad spend rankings at Facebook behind the similarly unknown firms AT&T and Match.com.

 

January 21, 2011

Automate Your AdWords Management with Automated Rules

With recent articles covering Google AdWords Campaign Experiments (ACE) and Conversion Funnels, I've been writing about new features available to advertisers in Google AdWords lately. Keeping with this theme, let's thoroughly explore a powerful new feature in AdWords: Automated Rules.
Automated Rules lets you schedule automatic adjustments to your AdWords account based on criteria that you specify. You can set automated rules at a few levels within your campaign:

This new feature is extremely powerful because it can automate your campaign optimization, which will save you time and improve your campaign's results.
However, with great power comes great responsibility (as they say in the Spider-Man comics) and increased opportunity to make mistakes and hinder your performance. If not set up properly, you won't get the most out of the new feature -- or worse.
Therefore, we will focus first on campaign level changes in this article (follow up articles will review other ways to use automated rules). Here's a screenshot of where you can find Automated Rules in the AdWords interface:

 

Here's a screenshot of the rule creation screen within AdWords. You have three campaign level automated rule options available:


Change Daily Budget

This rule will automatically increase or decrease your daily campaign budgets. When a campaign hits the criteria that you establish as your rule, action will be taken to adjust your daily budget.

Pause Campaigns

This rule will automatically pause your campaigns. When the performance of your campaign hits the criteria of your rule, automated action will take place.

Enable Campaigns

This rule tells AdWords to active a campaign when it hits a certain criteria. This is rule slightly convoluted because if a campaign is paused, hence needing to be enabled automatically, how will it accumulate the stats required to take action? This rule is more useful when used in conjuncture with other rules.

A Few More Tips on Automated Rules

These are just a few examples of what you can do with each of these campaign level rules.
Whenever you're setting automated rules you should hit the "Preview campaigns bellow." This will provide a preview of the actions that would take place right now if you activate this rule.
Always preview the changes to make sure everything is set up correctly and the right changes are being made.
Also, you can choose your e-mail notification preferences at the bottom of the rule creation screen. Automated e-mails can and should be generated every time one of your rules alters your account. The last thing you need is an automated rule that is set up incorrectly making erroneous changes to your AdWords account.
These campaign level rules are best suited for lowering and increasing your daily budgets, and pausing campaigns that may be underperforming. In my next article, we'll review how to set up rules at the other levels of your account.

 

January 20, 2011

Yahoo loses market share as Microsoft, Google gain

Google and Microsoft took a bigger share of the US search-engine market last month, while Yahoo lost ground, according to ComScore, a market research company that provides data to many of the large internet businesses.
Google's share rose to 66.6 per cent in December from 66.2 per cent in November, while Microsoft grew to 12 per cent from 11.8 per cent, according to ComScore in Reston, Virginia.
Yahoo dropped to 16 per cent from 16.4 per cent.
Google, which depends on search advertising for most of its revenue, is working to maintain dominance as its biggest rivals team up.
Yahoo is farming out its search functions to Microsoft's Bing, with the two companies splitting revenue.
The US search-ad market generated $12.4 billion (Dh45.54 billion) last year, up 16 per cent from 2009, according to eMarketer in New York.
Microsoft, in Redmond, Washington, fell 36 cents to $28.19 yesterday on the Nasdaq Stock Market.
Google, in Mountain View, California, dropped 18 cents to $616.69, while Yahoo, in Sunnyvale, California, rose 10 cents to $16.75.

 

January 19, 2011

To Bing, or not to Bing? That is the search marketers’ question

Ever since the phrase “to Google” became a well-known verb, it was clear which website had become the dominating force in the search engine market.
Lacking their own entries in the Oxford English Dictionary, Yahoo and Bing joined forces in 2009 to form a search alliance in a bid to usurp Google from its number one spot.
Combined, the two companies now own nearly 30% of the North American search market - Google is at 67% - and all Yahoo searches in the territory are powered by Bing.
UK Yahoo users will notice little difference when the change comes into effect here in the summer, but with the introduction of Microsoft’s AdCenter to power advertising for both sites, advertisers will have one less headache when it comes to search marketing.

Microsoft estimates advertisers spend between 10% to 20% less time in terms of campaign management on the new single platform, with the added value of reaching both sites’ audiences in one hit.
AdCenter also has a unique capability beyond the Google offer: advertisers can target by demographic. A pizza brand advertiser can not only target users on a Wednesday night in Liverpool, but can now add “males” “between 25 and 35” to their listing - a perfect combination for peckish Reds fans on a Champions’ League match night.
The Google catch-up strategy also involves the evolution of Bing’s mobile search offer.
Microsoft Advertising’s EMEA marketing lead Cedric Chambaz says: “People use their phones to search in a different way than when they are at their desks, so localisation is critical. We need to handle local and mobile as one experience and soon we will see brand new types of opportunities to advertise.”
Innovative localisation options mean new advertisers may also flock to the mobile search market - but also to its competitors, like Google which launched its Google Places with Hotpot local recommendation app last week.
Small independent businesses, such as butchers or hairdressers, which may have found web space and digital marketing models expensive and ineffective, may seize the opportunity to attract the new generation of mobile searchers who need instant local results on-the-move.
Bing UK’s head of search Alex Payne says there is also a strong social component to Microsoft’s search strategy, centred around its partnership with Facebook, announced in October last year, which brings data about “likes” and profile searches to Bing.

"Bing’s main objective this year is to use its Yahoo and Facebook alliances to accelerate its gain on Google’s monopoly market share"

He says: “The wisdom of the crowd will increasingly start to come through in search results as people begin to place a lot of trust and value in the groups they connect with, from ratings on films to recommending restaurants.”
Chambaz adds: “Relevancy in search used to be based on page rank but web consumption is far more personal now.”

This impacts marketers who “are yet to realise the full potential” of the integration between social and search. Currently many IT departments who work on SEO and communications departments who handle the blogs and social media are not working together.

 

Chambaz says: “One objective of 2011 is to ensure brands get better at connecting their search and social media strategies.”

But Bing’s main objective this year is to use its Yahoo and Facebook alliances to accelerate its gain on Google’s monopoly market share.
Payne says: “Whilst I’d love us to overtake Google in 2011, that’s not a goal we would achieve yet, but increasingly you’ll see the search engine market become a clear two-horse race between us and our number one competitor.”
“I see ourselves as the clear UK number two by the end of the year.”
Currently the Bing/Yahoo alliance holds 7.6% of the UK search engine market share compared to Google’s 89.1% supremacy, according to November 2010 comScore statistics.
It is unclear what market share percentage Bing feels it needs to gain in order to become a “clear number two”, but at a whopping 81% behind Google, the company will need to make up a substantial amount of distance to ensure 2011 is the year “to Bing” earns its place in the dictionary.

 
Total searches
(millions) Nov. 2010
Market share
November 2010
Google
4,430
89.1%
Bing
195
3.9%
Yahoo
184
3.7%
Ask
104
2.1%
Aol
25
0.5%

Top 5 search sites in the UK - Source: comScore

Google Related PPC Ads in AdWords

More search marketers are reporting seeing PPC ad grouping by segments and categories for certain search queries. Google began testing this new layout for general and brand terms in Google AdWords that showed "Related to [search term]" last June, and it seems it has rolled out more broadly in the last few days.
At the time, Google said: "We're always experimenting with new features and tools to help users find information online. We're currently testing a feature on English language versions of the Google search results page in which additional advertisements for related queries or refinements of the user's original query may appear. This beta experiment provides users with a diverse set of relevant ads, and offers advertisers with relevant broad match keywords another opportunity to reach their target audience."

Here's what it looks like:

What's this new layout mean for marketers? Certainly increased competition and higher CPCs are a possibility.
Melissa Mackey of Fluency Media said this may be an attempt by Google to curb the "broad match gone wild" syndrome, while still displaying the same number of ads.
"If I'm bidding on 'sensitive teeth,' I don't want my ads showing for searches for 'root canal' and vice versa," Mackey said. "However, if I'm bidding on 'root canal,' and a search for 'sensitive teeth' displays my ad under a heading 'Related to root canal,' then maybe that's not so bad for me as an advertiser. Labeling the ads with the phrase, which is likely the keyword the advertiser is bidding on, helps clarify what may otherwise seem like confusing ads to the searcher."

 

 

January 18, 2011

Report: Bing-Yahoo Missed Opportunity For Marketers, Search Spend To Rise

Marketers increased the amount spent on U.S. search campaigns between October and December 2010 -- especially retailers -- compared with the year-ago quarter. Spend rose 35.5% overall and 36.6% in retail, according to the SearchIgnite Q4 2010 U.S. Search Market Report released Tuesday.
Paid-search spend bounced back in 2010, making the line on the graph decline slightly in Q3, but climbed like a hockey stick during the final quarter. Marketers increased spend by 18.5% last year.
Compared with the prior year, findings also point to a 20.6% year-on-year increase in clicks for Q4 2010, a 2.3% increase in impressions, and a 17.9% increase in click-through rates (CTRs). Metrics in Q4 show positive results with a 20.6% year-on-year increase in clicks, a 2.3% increase in impressions, and a 17.9% increase in CTRs.
Economic uncertainty in 2009 stopped marketers from opening budgets and planning ahead. Uncertainty regarding how consumers would spend kept wallets closed. That changed in 2010, and experts believe it will begin to get "substantially" better in 2011. Retailers will spend more as consumers buy more.

 

"We're seeing strong sentiment among clients for the potential in 2011," says SearchIgnite CEO Roger Barnette. "I think it could become a very positive year across the board."
The price of keywords fluctuated depending on the search engine. In Q4 overall, the CPC on Google rose 9%, whereas combined Yahoo and Bing came in flat. Demand for a word or a phrase drives up the price of keywords or terms. Using branded keywords can sometimes help marketers control costs. Brand owners will typically pay the least for their branded terms. One of several reasons this holds true is because consumers are three times more likely to click and convert on the terms, so Google makes its money more easily.
So American Express would pay less for the same term than their competition. That's why it's important for marketers to bid on their own branded terms, Barnette explains. It may seem obvious, but if someone is searching on Google typing on a marketers' brand term they are typically ready to buy. If the marketer isn't bidding on its company's branded terms than they are missing an opportunity.

 

No surprise that Google's share of U.S. paid-search advertising continues to grow, ending Q4 at 82.6%. The combined Bing and Yahoo market share fell to 17.4%. Barnette believes it's still too early to tell whether the Bing-Yahoo relationship will work. Using war terms, he says Internet marketers were in the "throes of battle in late October" because campaigns picked up and strategies can change quickly.
Marketers should view the Bing-Yahoo integration as a new opportunity, but few seem to take advantage. Barnette says they should develop and test new creative pieces and ad copy, analyze conversion rates and look for the ad copy combination that delivers the best conversion rate.
Do everything companies have been doing in Google AdWords for years, but now it's time to start from the beginning on Bing and Yahoo. "You do it because it's new, though you don't know how things will work out," he says. "It's a missed opportunity."

 

 

January 17, 2011

Yahoo search share down, while Bing gains again

Yahoo's 16 percent share was down from 16.4 percent in November, which was actually down from 16.5 percent from October.
Meanwhile, Microsoft's aggressive Bing search service rose from 11.5 percent in October to 11.8 percent in November to 12 percent in December.
And big guns Google more than regained a small loss from October (66.3 percent) to November (66.2 percent) in December, with a 66.6 percent share.
Yahoo's decline in explicit core search--which ComScore noted "excludes contextually driven searches that do not reflect specific user intent to interact with the search results"--is, of course, a key metric to watch at the company, which needs to improve its revenue growth.

Here are some lovely tables to peruse:

 

 

January 14, 2011

Google, Microsoft Add U.S. Search-Engine Market Share

Google Inc. and Microsoft Corp. took a bigger share of the U.S. search-engine market last month, while Yahoo! Inc. lost ground, according to ComScore Inc.
Google’s share rose to 66.6 percent in December from 66.2 percent in November, while Microsoft grew to 12 percent from 11.8 percent, according to Reston, Virginia-based ComScore. Yahoo! Inc. dropped to 16 percent from 16.4 percent.
Google, which depends on search advertising for most of its revenue, is working to maintain dominance as its biggest rivals team up. Yahoo is farming out its search functions to Microsoft’s Bing, with the two companies splitting revenue. The U.S. search-ad market generated $12.4 billion last year, up 16 percent from 2009, according to EMarketer Inc. in New York.
Microsoft, based in Redmond, Washington, fell 36 cents to $28.19 today on the Nasdaq Stock Market. Google, based in Mountain View, California, dropped 18 cents to $616.69, while Yahoo, based in Sunnyvale, California, rose 10 cents to $16.75.

 

January 11, 2011

WordStream releases AdWords campaign management tools

Search keyword optimization startup WordStream Inc. has released a new suite of tools to manage Google AdWords paid-search campaigns.
The company’s optimization solution, WordStream for PPC, has been augmented with Campaign Builder and Ad Group Builder. The company said the new tools help suggest new paid-search campaigns and ad groups to target, in order to identify untapped areas of opportunity.
Last year, WordStream raised $6 million in a second round of funding in underwriting led by Egan-Managed Capital and Sigma Partners. The company has raised a total of $10 million in venture capital to date.

Bing-Yahoo Search Alliance Blamed For Local.com Missed Profits

The advertising industry may have witnessed the first of several casualties as a result of Bing's deal to power the backend of Yahoo's search engine and paid search ads. It doesn't appear to be a permanent wound, but one that could have a lasting influence on smaller search sites.
Local.com, an Irvine, Calif.-based search site that powers more than 100,000 local Web sites, said last week it would miss fourth-quarter earnings, blaming the Bing-Yahoo integration for earning less revenue per click. The company now expects an adjusted fourth-quarter profit of 19 cents per share in the fourth quarter on revenue of $19.9 million, down from its previous forecast of 20 cents to 21 cents of profit and revenue ranging between $22 million and $23 million.

Company execs admit it could take several more months for Local.com to adapt to the Bing-Yahoo integration. This is not totally unexpected and out of the blue.
In a blog post published Dec. 7, The Search Agents' Frank Lee points to the impact the Microsoft-Yahoo search alliance would have on advertiser performance in December by comparing the performance for several weeks. The agency reviewed performance for the last three weeks separately managed by Yahoo search marketing and Microsoft adCenter, from Sept. 20 and Oct. 10, to first three weeks after the full transition to adCenter, between Nov. 1 and Nov. 21. The agency removed this transition of a phased migration of accounts from the analysis between Oct. 11 and 27.
During this time, the research shows impressions and clicks declined, while CPCs spiked since the integration. The Search Agents also notes conversion rates improved, but click-through rates and cost came in relatively flat. And, due to lower impressions and rise in cost per clicks (CPCs), the cost per acquisition (CPA) increased by 8% and conversions dropped by 10%.
In September, GroupM Search warned advertisers could see a CPC increase up to 78% above Bing CPCs as a surge of competitors move to one platform with the Yahoo and Microsoft Search Alliance transition.
The study, at the time of its release, suggests once the market settles, GroupM expects advertisers to see a 13% increase in CPCs for unbranded keywords and a 23% increase for branded keywords above today's prices on Bing.
As for Local.com, the company will diversify services. Friday it announced the acquisition of iTwango LLC, a technology platform that allows shoppers to group buy daily deals from local businesses, for an undisclosed amount. And in December 2010, Local.com appointed Ken Cragun chief financial officer, who served as the company's interim CFO since October.

 

January 10, 2011

Greenlight reveals its top 10 predictions for natural and paid search in 2011

With Google's Instant Preview here to stay, leading search marketing specialist and technology firm Greenlight, has 2011 pegged as "web design year". Greenlight predicts Google and Bing will offer app search before the year is out, competition between the two to hot up and duplication filters to get even tougher as the search engines take more drastic measures to limit the amount of resource they spend on less valuable content. For paid search, Greenlight predicts 2011 will be the year display marketing starts to mirror much of what is search in practice. It expects there to be huge growth in the contextual based pay-per-click (PPC) model - pulling away from the search engine domain to advertisers such as eBay or Amazon and the Yahoo! "Rich ads in Search" proposition to take off, prompting Google to counter with a more appealing model.

Yahoo! reaches out to Disney for connected TV

Reports from the Wall St Journal are suggesting that the Walt Disney Company is involved in negotiations with Yahoo! to make its content available on the search giant’s connected TV offering.
At the recent CES, Yahoo! revealed a major play in the TV area launching the Yahoo! Connected TV platform whereby it will show content from ABC, CBS, HSN, and Showtime for a pilot program in the first half of 2011, and where it will also work with Ford, Mattel and Microsoft to deliver interactivity with TV advertising.
Explaining the strategy for the push into the TV arena, Ron Jacoby, vice president, Yahoo! Connected TV said: “Our collaboration with leaders in television and brand advertising, combined with the innovative technologies we’re pioneering, signals the beginning of a new era of highly personalised, Internet-enhanced television.”
The WSJ reports that any proposed deal with Disney would propel Yahoo! into a broader battle to use the Internet to bring premium content to digital TVs, and seen as clearly throwing down the gauntlet to cable TV and satellite TV operators.

How Google Adsense and Google Adwords Killed the Newspaper

It is no secret that the demise of the written word has been a slow and painful one. Magazines are seeing subscriptions drop dramatically and newspapers are shutting down after giving it a good college try. Sure, the internet makes it easier to get your news and entertainment fluff you might find in a magazine, but is it really the internet’s fault?
Newspapers make more money from advertisers than they do subscribers and Google Adwords in combination with Google Adsense has taken most of that advertising money away from the newspapers. Good for them, it’s a fair market and newspapers are moving to the internet and making plenty of money from Google Adsense and Google Adwords. What’s next though, will Google Adwords crush television advertising?
It is already happening. Television advertising sales are in decline as many companies are reworking their budget to be more heavy on the internet and less on television. Will Google Adwords and Google Adsense eventually control all advertising? Perhaps, right now it appears they are in the lead for becoming the king of advertising revenue.

 

January 7, 2011

Paid-Search Budgets Going Overseas (And To Facebook)

Google Instant, Baidu's growth in China, and the integration of Bing and Yahoo in the U.S. drove brands to spend more on paid-search advertising in 2010 among Covario's clients -- but most will spend even more in 2011, according to Craig Macdonald, CMO of the San Diego-based search marketing agency.

Macdonald says in 2010, Covario's multinational clients like IBM and Lenovo spent 68.3% of global advertising paid-search budgets in the Americas, about 22.7% went to EMEA, and 9% went to APAC and Japan. Google Instant, Baidu's growth in China, and the integration of Bing and Yahoo in the U.S. drove brands to spend more on paid-search advertising in 2010 among Covario's clients -- but most will spend even more in 2011, according to Craig Macdonald, CMO of the San Diego-based search marketing agency. Google Instant, Baidu's growth in China, and the integration of Bing and Yahoo in the U.S. drove brands to spend more on paid-search advertising in 2010 among Covario's clients -- but most will spend even more in 2011, according to Craig Macdonald, CMO of the San Diego-based search marketing agency.
Macdonald says in 2010, Covario's multinational clients like IBM and Lenovo spent 68.3% of global advertising paid-search budgets in the Americas, about 22.7% went to EMEA, and 9% went to APAC and Japan.
Similar to growth in emerging markets for financial investment in stocks, search engines overseas also experienced growth last year. Baidu of China grew 211% in 2010 compared with 2009, according to Macdonald. In 2011, he expects regional spend to change based on growth rates per region. Covario is advising customers to spend 60% of their budget in the Americas, 25% in APAC, and 15% in EMEA.
Covario has issued its latest Global Search Spending Analysis report suggesting that the company's paid-search ad clients in high-tech and consumer electronics -- representing about $350 million in paid-search spend -- increased nearly 27% in 2010, compared with the prior year. In aggregate, the group spent less in Q4, down from about 8% in Q3, ending in September. Most of the budget went to earlier quarters in those years. The quarterly growth rate between Q2 and Q3 came in 'unexpectedly high" -- between 30% and 40% --and continued through Q4, but nowhere near that rate.

Macdonald recommends that clients need to spend more this year on paid search -- in fact, between 15% and 20% more for 2011, compared with last year. Although it may seem like a pitch to make more money, he says the increase, on average, is necessary for clients to maintain market share in the global high-tech and consumer electronics sector. "The percentage is based on growth rates in the market and aggregating what our clients are saying," he says. "Companies believe if they don't keep pace with competitors they could lose market share."

The majority of that budget increase will go to engines overseas. Most incremental spending in EMEA will go to Google, and in China, Baidu. In China, Covario's clients spend about 80% on Baidu and the remainder on Google. About 50% of the increased budget spend in the Japanese market will go toward Yahoo.
"Incremental money being spend in the Americas is meeting decreasing marginal returns, and that's not true overseas," Macdonald says. "The U.S. is becoming more saturated."
No surprise that in the United States, Google continued to dominate paid-search marketing in 2010, with 78% global market share and 18% spending growth compared with the prior year. Marketers, however, did invest more in paid search on Yahoo -- which rose 34%, while global spending on Bing increased 84% compared with the prior year.
Macdonald cites Baidu's control of the Chinese search market and Google's 96% market share in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) for a slight decline in Google's overall market share.
Covario clients also plan to spend more than $1 million on Facebook in 2011. Macdonald says companies will allocate between 10% and 20% of their paid-search budget on Facebook advertising.
The report recommends that advertisers should expect CPCs in 2011 to come in at around $0.75-0.80 per click. The company also believes that CPCs will decline in the second half of the year when Google Instant, Baidu, and Bing-Yahoo are finalized and short-term overrides are eliminated from the majority of global advertising programs. Click-through rates (CTRs) are mixed for the major platforms globally. Google is increasing due to the impact of Google Instant, yet Bing-Yahoo CTRs are down slightly from Q3'10.
This spend-more-in-2011 on paid search and Facebook strategy will work for other multinational companies in automotive, consumer packaged goods (CPG), and pharmaceutical, Macdonald says.

Macdonald says in 2010, Covario's multinational clients like IBM and Lenovo spent 68.3% of global advertising paid-search budgets in the Americas, about 22.7% went to EMEA, and 9% went to APAC and Japan.
Similar to growth in emerging markets for financial investment in stocks, search engines overseas also experienced growth last year. Baidu of China grew 211% in 2010 compared with 2009, according to Macdonald. In 2011, he expects regional spend to change based on growth rates per region. Covario is advising customers to spend 60% of their budget in the Americas, 25% in APAC, and 15% in EMEA.
Covario has issued its latest Global Search Spending Analysis report suggesting that the company's paid-search ad clients in high-tech and consumer electronics -- representing about $350 million in paid-search spend -- increased nearly 27% in 2010, compared with the prior year. In aggregate, the group spent less in Q4, down from about 8% in Q3, ending in September. Most of the budget went to earlier quarters in those years. The quarterly growth rate between Q2 and Q3 came in 'unexpectedly high" -- between 30% and 40% --and continued through Q4, but nowhere near that rate.
Macdonald recommends that clients need to spend more this year on paid search -- in fact, between 15% and 20% more for 2011, compared with last year. Although it may seem like a pitch to make more money, he says the increase, on average, is necessary for clients to maintain market share in the global high-tech and consumer electronics sector. "The percentage is based on growth rates in the market and aggregating what our clients are saying," he says. "Companies believe if they don't keep pace with competitors they could lose market share."
The majority of that budget increase will go to engines overseas. Most incremental spending in EMEA will go to Google, and in China, Baidu. In China, Covario's clients spend about 80% on Baidu and the remainder on Google. About 50% of the increased budget spend in the Japanese market will go toward Yahoo.
"Incremental money being spend in the Americas is meeting decreasing marginal returns, and that's not true overseas," Macdonald says. "The U.S. is becoming more saturated."

No surprise that in the United States, Google continued to dominate paid-search marketing in 2010, with 78% global market share and 18% spending growth compared with the prior year. Marketers, however, did invest more in paid search on Yahoo -- which rose 34%, while global spending on Bing increased 84% compared with the prior year.
Macdonald cites Baidu's control of the Chinese search market and Google's 96% market share in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) for a slight decline in Google's overall market share.
Covario clients also plan to spend more than $1 million on Facebook in 2011. Macdonald says companies will allocate between 10% and 20% of their paid-search budget on Facebook advertising.
The report recommends that advertisers should expect CPCs in 2011 to come in at around $0.75-0.80 per click. The company also believes that CPCs will decline in the second half of the year when Google Instant, Baidu, and Bing-Yahoo are finalized and short-term overrides are eliminated from the majority of global advertising programs. Click-through rates (CTRs) are mixed for the major platforms globally. Google is increasing due to the impact of Google Instant, yet Bing-Yahoo CTRs are down slightly from Q3'10.
This spend-more-in-2011 on paid search and Facebook strategy will work for other multinational companies in automotive, consumer packaged goods (CPG), and pharmaceutical, Macdonald says.

Similar to growth in emerging markets for financial investment in stocks, search engines overseas also experienced growth last year. Baidu of China grew 211% in 2010 compared with 2009, according to Macdonald. In 2011, he expects regional spend to change based on growth rates per region. Covario is advising customers to spend 60% of their budget in the Americas, 25% in APAC, and 15% in EMEA.
Covario has issued its latest Global Search Spending Analysis report suggesting that the company's paid-search ad clients in high-tech and consumer electronics -- representing about $350 million in paid-search spend -- increased nearly 27% in 2010, compared with the prior year. In aggregate, the group spent less in Q4, down from about 8% in Q3, ending in September. Most of the budget went to earlier quarters in those years. The quarterly growth rate between Q2 and Q3 came in 'unexpectedly high" -- between 30% and 40% --and continued through Q4, but nowhere near that rate.
Macdonald recommends that clients need to spend more this year on paid search -- in fact, between 15% and 20% more for 2011, compared with last year. Although it may seem like a pitch to make more money, he says the increase, on average, is necessary for clients to maintain market share in the global high-tech and consumer electronics sector. "The percentage is based on growth rates in the market and aggregating what our clients are saying," he says. "Companies believe if they don't keep pace with competitors they could lose market share."
The majority of that budget increase will go to engines overseas. Most incremental spending in EMEA will go to Google, and in China, Baidu. In China, Covario's clients spend about 80% on Baidu and the remainder on Google. About 50% of the increased budget spend in the Japanese market will go toward Yahoo.
"Incremental money being spend in the Americas is meeting decreasing marginal returns, and that's not true overseas," Macdonald says. "The U.S. is becoming more saturated."
No surprise that in the United States, Google continued to dominate paid-search marketing in 2010, with 78% global market share and 18% spending growth compared with the prior year. Marketers, however, did invest more in paid search on Yahoo -- which rose 34%, while global spending on Bing increased 84% compared with the prior year.
Macdonald cites Baidu's control of the Chinese search market and Google's 96% market share in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) for a slight decline in Google's overall market share.
Covario clients also plan to spend more than $1 million on Facebook in 2011. Macdonald says companies will allocate between 10% and 20% of their paid-search budget on Facebook advertising.
The report recommends that advertisers should expect CPCs in 2011 to come in at around $0.75-0.80 per click. The company also believes that CPCs will decline in the second half of the year when Google Instant, Baidu, and Bing-Yahoo are finalized and short-term overrides are eliminated from the majority of global advertising programs. Click-through rates (CTRs) are mixed for the major platforms globally. Google is increasing due to the impact of Google Instant, yet Bing-Yahoo CTRs are down slightly from Q3'10.
This spend-more-in-2011 on paid search and Facebook strategy will work for other multinational companies in automotive, consumer packaged goods (CPG), and pharmaceutical, Macdonald says.

Offermatic muscles into the group-buying bonanza with virtual coupons

New group-buying company Offermatic introduced an expanded automatic rebate platform today as it seeks to distinguish itself in what is rapidly becoming a crowded playing field for online shopping.
The company, which came out of stealth mode last month, bills itself as a “Groupon/Mint.com/Blippy hybrid” that doesn’t share user information publicly.
Groupon and other group-buying competitors sign members up to receive deeply discounted offers from local merchants looking to grab new customers and hip reputations online. Mint.com, acquired last year by Intuit, helps users track their finances online, while Blippy allows users to show recent credit-card purchases to friends.
But Offermatic says it uses a new model that improves conversion rates of return customers by 10 to 100 times over existing methods for merchants by linking “virtual coupons” directly to consumers’ credit cards.
The announcements it made today include:

Offermatic enables online targeting of offline purchases – where 94 percent of all commerce happens – bringing the hyper-targeting of Google Adwords to real world commerce.
The company said its new tools will keep it competitive in the increasingly crowded group-buying space as it tries to tempt new members into using technology that makes redeeming offers easier.

“We introduced some elements of game mechanics to the platform that give members the opportunity to use their points to level up to even higher savings levels,” Faisal Qureshi, founder and CEO of Offermatic told me.
“With our expanded platform, better deals, and new merchants, Offermatic becomes significantly more competitive.”

The company is currently funded by private angel investors, with seed funding by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Bessemer Venture Partners.

Yahoo working with CBS, HSN for ads

Yahoo Inc. is looking to get in on the interactive advertising market in ties with CBS Corp. and the home-shopping retailer HSN Inc., Bloomberg reports.
Yahoo (NASDAQ: YHOO) is working with the companies to add interactive features on sets that have its Connected TV software.
Yahoo started promoting its Web software for TVs in 2009. It is competing with companies including Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) and Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) for the living room Internet market.
Yahoo's new features allow viewers to click on buttons to learn more about actors or programs, or buy items seen on shows.

The features were unveiled yesterday at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas

2011 the Year Ahead Search

Whether Google can continue its stranglehold on the UK search market is a question that will dominate the next 12 months in the search sector, with two factors potentially affecting its fate.
The first is Yahoo and Microsoft's combined search platform, known as the Search Alliance. This sees Microsoft's AdCenter power Yahoo's paid search listings, with Yahoo's advertising sales teams handling premium inventory for both itself and Bing.
The two companies have been bedfellows almost since Carol Bartz joined as Yahoo CEO at the start of 2009, but their proposal only received the green light from the European Union and Federal Trade Commission in spring last year (nma.co.uk 15 February 2010).

Both say the combined offering will provide advertisers with a viable alternative to Google, with increased eyeballs and a more innovative front end. Yahoo, especially, says allowing Microsoft to populate its paid results gives it the time to be more pragmatic with its results pages.
The Search Alliance began rolling out to US advertisers in the autumn of 2010, with the UK and Europe set to follow in the first few months of this year.
Google will also be embroiled in an anti-trust investigation led by the European Commission (nma.co.uk 30 November 2010). It faces multiple accusations, not least that it manipulates its results to penalise its rivals. Although Google vehemently denies all charges, the EC's investigation is an unwelcome distraction.

2011 will also see new opportunities for the search sector. The IPTV market is set to receive a huge boost with the launches of YouView and Google TV, and already search agencies are looking at how search advertising could potentially reach consumers as they watch TV.
The agency market remains healthy, with search spend remaining consistently strong, according to the most recent IPA Bellwether report. Mobile, social and now TV are all on search agencies' radars, and a prosperous 2011 should follow.

Mobile is a large focus area for Google. We see the mobile internet quickly becoming mainstream, given that about a third of UK consumers are already regularly accessing the internet on their phones and web-enabled smartphones now make up 20% of the 3bn mobile devices worldwide.
More of us are buying via mobile, and when people upgrade to smartphones they search 30 times more and access sites and apps several times a day. The quest for information on mobile is often linked to location and urgent needs, presenting opportunities for businesses to help people find what they want, fast.

As Google's primary product, search is something we're constantly developing to be faster and more intuitive.

This year Google Instant has saved users up to four seconds on each search, and Hot Pot has brought reputable venue reviews to phones.
Mobile search traffic volumes, meanwhile, have increased by 247% over the past year. We can expect to see more search features and innovation that enhance the mobile search experience, such as voice enhancement. Users will find locations, services and products by speaking into their phone as one of the most specialised and fastest ways to search. One in four searches on Android smartphones in the US are voice searches.

Overall there'll be more and faster change. The web is being updated more frequently by more people with more text, images and videos. It's estimated that by 2012, 90% of data will be video. People are sharing, swapping and rating at a scale that has never been seen before. We can't speculate on what the next big thing is - it's hard enough to grasp the pace of the current big things like mobile, video and social.

Kevin Kyer EMEA director of search, Yahoo:
The search market is still in its infancy. Amazing as it seems, people don't yet fully understand the power of search. As a result, brands don't realise how much they could achieve if they fully engage with it. I hope a few developments in the market this year will start to change that.
First, brands will increase their entire online engagement. We're already starting to see this with luxury brands, which have traditionally been cautious about digital advertising. Most people associate this shift with display, but it'll also impact on search because over the next year we'll see search ads with richer, more informative content. This will help brands grab attention in a way traditional search results haven't. I know this is something big- name brands are interested in. Second, the user experience of search will evolve. Almost since search began, the process has been to enter text and receive a list of text results. Just as search ads will become richer, so videos, pictures, games and social media will become more influential in search results.

Yahoo is entering a pioneering partnership with Microsoft that will be introduced in the UK in 2011. We wanted to make a move like this to allow us to concentrate on ensuring that Yahoo Search is much more engaging, creative and intuitive, and allows our users to search the web and find the information or content they need in ways that are most convenient. Rich, engaging, consumer-focused, brand- friendly. Search will come of age in 2011.

 

January 5, 2011

Three Tips for Maximizing Sales with Google AdWords

Google AdWords has been around for more than 10 years, but it remains a mystery to many online business owners.
AdWords offers pay-per-click advertising and site-targeted advertising for text, banner, and rich-media ads. For many users, the results can be more measurable and economical than other forms of advertising, according to Perry Marshall, co-author of Ultimate Guide to Google AdWords (Entrepreneur Press, 2006) and owner of Chicago-based consulting firm Perry S. Marshall & Associates. Marshall will be talking about Google AdWords at Entrepreneur's 2011 Growth Conference Jan. 20 in Atlanta.
[Read More...]

'Anti-Google Alliance' to Launch Program that Rivals Local Biz Tags

Local advertising provider and New York start-up Yext is teaming up with local sites such as Yelp, AOL’s MapQuest, Yahoo and Citysearch in what is being characterized as an “anti-Google alliance,” according to media reports.
The rivals are looking to launch a program that targets local ads from businesses, similar to Google Tags, a free business listing with Google Places that enables users to find local businesses more easily. At $25-a-month, the tech behemoth allows businesses to link their Google search results with features such as restaurant menus and coupons.
The Yext participants will offer a $99-a-month service allowing businesses to add a marketing message, including promotions, to their phone-and-addresses information, which typically appear during a normal search. The difference is that tags through Yext’s program will appear on a dozen local websites, as opposed to just one in Google’s case, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The move is in response to Google’s recent yet rapid expansion in the local ads business. Google recently launched its tag program and attempted with little success earlier this month to acquire Groupon, one of the leading local ad sites. The leading search engine continues to bolster that portion of its sales, and has hired a slew of sales representatives charged with doing just that.
Other smaller sites that rival with Google are looking to grab a piece of the market before Google, in typical Google-fashion, takes off in the market.
According to the Journal, citing research from Borrell Associates, local businesses are expected to spend about $13.6 billion on online ads this year. The number could be as high as $16 billion next year.

 

January 4, 2011

Marketers, migrate to Bing now: Yahoo adCenter transition tool will close January 5

Back in September, Brafton reported that Yahoo encouraged marketers to begin transitioning their search marketing accounts to the Microsoft adCenter. Now, Yahoo has announced immediate migration is necessary for brands that have not yet moved their accounts to Microsoft.
Bing has been powering Yahoo organic and paid searches for months, and marketers were told they should have migrated their accounts by mid-October to maximize holiday campaigns. Still, Yahoo says a small number of partners have not yet moved their accounts to the Microsoft adCenter.
Yahoo explains that the transition tool in Yahoo Search Marketing accounts will be permanently removed tomorrow, January 5. After that, accounts will need to be moved manually.

Marketers can check their accounts' adCenter tab to determine whether or not they have successfully migrated accounts. Those who have not yet moved their data will see a “Get Started” button, while those who have will find this button is no longer available.
Brands with campaigns for Microsoft and Yahoo may consider this transition a hassle, but advertising on these sites likely pays off. As Brafton reported, data shows that Bing and Yahoo are gaining search ground.

Why Facebook is worth $50 billion

A $500 million investment deal with Goldman Sachs and a Russian investor, first reported by The New York Times on Sunday, has given Facebook a new-year valuation of $50 billion -- more than companies such as AOL and Time Warner.
[Read More...]

Facebook Poses Serious Threat to Google
New analysis claims search giant's traffic, revenue dominance in trouble

Facebook poses a serious threat to Google’s Web traffic and revenue dominance. And Google needs to respond by aggressively targeting the mobile search ad market. This is according to a report issued on Monday (Jan. 3) by J.P. Morgan analyst Imran Khan.

Khan noted Google’s continued prowess in monetizing online searches; the company handles 66 percent of search queries in the U.S. and generates 36 percent of all U.S. online ad revenue.

Facebook — which just received a massive $500 million cash infusion from Goldman Sachs — reached 70 percent of the U.S. Internet audience in 2010, up from 48 percent in 2009, per the report. Google’s U.S. reach climbed from 79 percent to 81 percent over the same time period.

But Google’s prominence as a traffic source is waning. According to Khan’s report, in 2009 Google accounted for 20 percent of Amazon.com’s traffic. Last year that number dipped to 19.6 percent.

Yet over the same period of time, the percentage of Amazon traffic coming from Facebook jumped from 1.8 percent to 7.7 percent. A similar pattern occurred for The New York Times’ Web site and eBay. Overall in 2010, Khan noted, “We think that Facebook is becoming the tollbooth of the Web, [and] Facebook Connect is the new discovery engine.”

So what should Google do to fight back? Attack mobile search, a place where no clear leader exists and Google has underperformed to date. Per the report, 15 percent of Google’s search traffic comes from mobile, yet just 3 percent of its revenue is derived from mobile searches. Meanwhile, there are 233 million mobile phone users in the U.S., according to the report, and just 18 percent of those are smartphones—a category that is growing rapidly. Smartphone users are three times as likely to browse the Web via their phones, according to comScore.
“We’re bullish on [Google’s] ad growth…but it will be very hard for them to grow fast in this market [as in recent years],” said Khan. “Mobile could offset some of their challenges.”
Display will also provide Google with a boost in 2011, predicted Khan. In fact, the analyst sees display advertising growing 13 percent this year, at the same rate as search.
While the display ad space has suffered from a prolonged inventory glut over the past several years, which has placed downward pressure on CPMs, “we think we’ve turned the corner,” said Khan. Why? Advertisers are gravitating to more brand sponsorships and more data-driven targeted ads.
Overall, J.P. Morgan forecasts that advertisers will spend $18.7 billion on search ads in 2011 and $10.2 billion on display ads. One company that has to worry about threats to its search and display business: Yahoo, which faces “tremendous risk” in 2011, said Khan.
Besides social and mobile, Khan identified the TV marketplace as an area facing tremendous change in 2011—particularly as consumers embrace more direct means of accessing premium content—or as Khan termed it “over the top” video consumption, with Netflix being the prime example.
Instead of fighting the trend, Khan urged content producers and distributors to partner with the Netflixes of the world, or launch competing services, because consumers are increasingly disloyal to the current cable model. J.P. Morgan found in its research that nearly a quarter of pay TV subscribers would consider cord cutting.
Another trend to watch for in 2011 is the mergers and acquisitions market for digital. Per Khan, Microsoft and Apple alone have $150 billion in cash that could be used for acquisitions.
Lastly, Khan pointed to local online advertising as a sector to watch this year. While overall local advertising represents a healthy $82 billion market, just 15 percent of those dollars went to the Web, according to Veronis Suhler Stevenson.

 

December 20, 2010

Google’s Shared Spaces May Provide a New Way to Collaborate

While Google Wave is on the road to either a shut down or a merge with another Google product line, its technology has certainly contributed to the company in valuable ways. It seems that the Wave technologies, as well as feedback received from the unsuccessful project, are being applied to other, related sites or services. One of these is of special note: It’s a Google Labs project called “Shared Space,” and it may give us an inkling of where the Wave technology will be going once the site is retired.
The introduction of Shared Spaces was one of the more quiet releases from Google, slipping quietly amongst the other experimental projects on the Google Labs website. However, a report from Mashable called our attention to it, and the site itself provides some additional details.

The introduction of Shared Spaces was one of the more quiet releases from Google, slipping quietly amongst the other experimental projects on the Google Labs website. However, a report from Mashable called our attention to it, and the site itself provides some additional details.

Will Delicious Survive?

When information was leaked from a Yahoo! employee that indicated that Delicious would be getting the ax in the near future, the social bookmarking community cried out against the move. Yahoo has been quick to make a statement denying an imminent shutdown, but even then, there are different opinions on whether Delicious will survive.
According to a post from the Delicious blog, Yahoo’s intention with Delicious are fairly clear. Their statement was very clear that “No, we are not shutting down Delicious.” They do acknowledge that it was among the projects that don’t contribute toward Yahoo’s strategic aims, however, and that it would be better placed with another company “where it can be resourced to the level where it can be competitive.”

Google Seeds Miso Music

In the mobile war of Google’s Android versus Apple’s iOS devices, the applications are often the ammunition. At first glance, then, it’s surprising to see that Google has been a big investor in a company releasing an app for the iPhone and iPad — but not Android systems. The company is Miso Media, and their Miso Music application received about $600,000 in seed funds from Google and other contributors.
According to a report from Mashable, Google was just one of several groups funding the iOS app maker. Miso has successfully generated a lot of buzz about its upcoming application, Miso Music, which resembles Guitar Hero — only with real instrument fingering.

 

November 17, 2010

Yahoo Tackles Geo-Location with 'Local Offers'

Yahoo jumped into the location-based services arena on Tuesday with the launch of Yahoo Local Offers, a local search app available on the Yahoo search results page.
The company also unveiled the first phase of its integration with Zynga, added more Twitter capabilities, and released an updated Yahoo Messenger beta with social features.
Yahoo is partnering with more than a dozen companies for the launch of Local Offers, including Groupon, LivingSocial, Gilt City, BloomSpot, BuyWithMe, DealOn, Zozi, CrowdSavings, Lifebooker, FreshGuide, Scoop St, Goldstar, HomeRun, Tippr, Coupons.com, and Valpak. When users search for something being offered by these retailers, Yahoo will display local deals, coupons, and other offers, including a "deal of the day."
Local Offers is currently in limited beta in the U.S. only.

 

"The local landscape is exploding with new sources of content and advertising, and consumers want these experiences personalized just for them. Yahoo is taking the complexity out of finding the great local deals that are most relevant to their interests and needs," Matt Idema, vice president of Yahoo Local, said in a statement. "With more than 180 million unique visitors1 to Yahoo!'s sites in the U.S., we are uniquely positioned to deliver our local-offer partners the massive scale and targeting needed to reach engaged audiences, grow their businesses, and drive foot traffic to local merchants."
Google made a similar announcement this week, adding local product search results to the desktop with partners like Williams-Sonoma, Office Depot, and Guitar Center.
Yahoo also announced local "quick apps," which will launch later this week. They include a new Yahoo Sketch-a-Search for connected devices, including PCs, iPhones, and the iPad. The feature lets you draw a circle or shape around the area in which you want to search on a map. There will also be the option to compare local restaurants and make reservations on OpenTable via the Yahoo search results page.
For gaming fans, Yahoo has started the first phase of its integration with Zynga. Users will now be able to launch, play, and share Zynga games like Mafia Wars and FishVille on Yahoo Messenger, Yahoo Games, My Yahoo, Yahoo Toolbar, and Yahoo Pulse. The roll-out is part of a five-year deal the two companies announced in May.
Yahoo Messenger also got an upgrade with a new beta release. It incorporates gaming, allows users to incorporate all their social networks, and connect IM sessions across mutiple devices.
Yahoo users can also now share Twitter update on the Yahoo homepage, on Yahoo Messenger, Yahoo Mail, and Yahoo Pulse.
Tuesday's announcements were part of the Web 2.0 conference in San Francisco. Yahoo chief executive Carol Bartz made an appearance there yesterday afternoon, during which she defended her company, and acknowledged that Yahoo is just one of many destinations the average Web user will hit.
"People don't go to Google or Yahoo, they go to Google and Yahoo," Bartz said.
Also this week, Yahoo announced its Yahoo Contributor Network, which is inviting users to produce content for Yahoo Web properties and earn money for doing so. On Tuesday, Yahoo also launched Yahoo Clues, a site that lets people examine Yahoo Search trends.

 

November 02, 2010

The Bing-Facebook Partnership’s Features Roll Out Today

This morning on Bing’s Search Blog Group Program Manager, Paul Yiu, posted that they have successfully and completely deployed the new social features they have created in partnership with Facebook. According to Yiu, the teams on both ends have done a few things in order to appease user feedback: showing users’ Facebook profile information in Bing searches and allowing users under the age of 18 to have their profile information appear in public search results.
Bing says of the former feature that as long as you have opted into sharing information with your friends inside Facebook already, that same information will appear in public searches conducted by your friends – whether you have chosen for it to appear there or not. And with the latter, both Bing and Facebook received comments from unsatisfied users about the inability to view search results for those friends that are under 18. Originally Bing decided to allow show those users that were over 18 years old in the public search results, even though Facebook allows members as young as 13 years old to join the social network.
With these changes made to the new social layer of the search engine, Bing (as well as Facebook) hopes that searchers will find their experience more favorable, as well as more personal and social.

Google’s “Related Searches” Now Include Brands, Types, and Stores in Results


Over the past few months Google has been testing out 3 new categories in “related searches”: brands, stores, and types. Search Engine Roundtable tried out the new feature using the terms “diamonds” and “cameras”, while I performed queries using the key words “laptops” and “smartphones”. Both searches displayed the new “related searches” refinements and gave me a list of popular brands, types and places where I could purchase the items.


 

 

October 14, 2010

Could AOL be in Talks with Private Equity Firms to Buy Yahoo?

Rumors abound that AOL and several other private equity firms are in talks to buy Yahoo. Though the details of the deal are complex and limited, it has been said that in order for it to happen there will, most likely, be a sale of Yahoo’s stake in Alibaba. Moreover, Yahoo has yet to be contacted about said deal and has a much larger market capitalization at $20.56 billion compared to AOL’s $2.86 billion.
Various scenarios have been speculated ranging from AOL and Yahoo combining its operations to China’s Alibaba Group buying back the approximate 40% stake that Yahoo currently owns. Whether one or none of these things actually happens, the mere mention of buy out or merger could cause some ripples in both Yahoo and AOL’s pools, so to speak.

 

October 13, 2010

The Bing-Facebook Partnership – the Continued Socialization of Search

In the wake of the Bing-Facebook press event, major announcements have been made by the companies; some that will be going into effect almost immediately and some that will start to happen in the coming weeks and months. The idea behind this search and social networking partnership is to make searching more social and more personal. The two groups want to make it about more than conducting a query, getting your answer and leaving the site, they want to turn it into a whole experience. I am sure Bing is hoping that with this partnership more traffic will come to their search engine and that it will raise their share in search.
Two of the features that will be coming out shortly are “enhancing results with Facebook Likes” and “Facebook Profile search”. For the former, the way Bing sees it users are more likely to trust the opinions of their friends, family and colleagues than just random reviewers out there in the interweb. With the new feature, when you perform certain queries, results will appear at the top of the page that tell you which of your friends “liked” that particular response. The hope there is that since you are receiving a more “personal” result, you will return to Bing for your search needs.
During the press event it was stated that 4% of all search queries are “related to finding people”. With the second feature, Bing and Facebook are making it easier for users to find exactly who they are looking for. With the inclusion of your current social graph, the intended result is that when you search for someone you will find the correct person’s Facebook profile by the utilization of shared networks and friends. Also with the new Facebook Profile Results you have the option to view mutual friends, add the person as a friend or message them – all without having to leave the results page.
Users, obviously, have the option to NOT participate in the enhanced Bing results and “disable” it or learn more about it before proceeding. In addition to that privacy measure, users will only see information of people already in their network, information that is already public, and everything you search for will remain private. The goal with all of this is to bring some of Facebook’s hundreds of millions of users over to Bing and for Facebook users to become more involved in their profiles so that search results will become more personalized over time.

 

August 17, 2010

Google Launches Enhanced CPC

Google released their latest addition to the bidding features family - Enhanced CPC.
It's been in beta since March, but Enhanced CPC officially launched yesterday, August 16th.
The premise of the tool, much like Conversion Optimizer, is to "boost your ROI with an easy to use, automated bidding tool." Enhanced CPC will automatically adjust your max CPC bid based on the likelihood your ad will convert.

 

June 16, 2010

Starbucks' Free Wi-Fi: Bring on the Loafers, Lazies, and Loiterers PC World - Jeff Bertolucci
So, Starbucks plans to offer free wireless Internet at all of its US stores starting July 1. It's a friendly gesture, ...
Video: Starbucks Offers Free Wi-Fi to All Customers Starting July 1 2010 Santa Barbara Arts TV
Starbucks to serve up free wireless Internet access for all Los Angeles Times
Corporate Watch Wall Street Journal
BusinessWeek
The Web flexes its muscle (again)
MarketWatch - Jon Friedman -
The Wall Street Journal pointed out that the Internet is prepared to overtake newspapers as the second-largest US medium by ...
Internet Is Set to Overtake Newspapers in Ad Revenue Wall Street Journal (blog)
Canada back on digital bandwagon Vancouver Sun
Advertising Spending Will Grow, Report Says, But Not Until 2011 New York Times (blog)
USA Today - Channel News Asia

At Webby Awards, the Stars Hail the 'Net -- in Five Short Words
FOXNews - Courtney Friel
And to keep things as brief and dynamic as the Internet itself, all the acceptance speeches are held to five words or less. On the red carpet leading into ...
Roger Ebert, Chatroulette honored at Webby Awards CNN
Webbys highlight convergence of digital culture, comedy CNET
Webby Award names Ebert person of year Chicago Sun-Times
Wall Street Journal (blog) - Entertainment Weekly
T-Mobile rolls out faster wireless Internet in LA and 24 other cities

Google Adwords Sitelinks

  • Google Adwords (sitelinks) has extended the use of sitelinks by lowering the internal standard or threshold for which sitelinks will appear.
  • Google Adwords (sitelinks) now uses one line where possible rather than 2 lines for sitelinks.
  • Google Adwords (sitelinks) will only display 3 links where Adwords decides that to go for 4 links will run into a bit of a second line.

 

May 19th, 2010

New Match Type for Google’s Canada and UK AdWords Interfaces - Broad match modifier

New Match Type for Google’s Canada and UK AdWords Interfaces

Google just unveiled a new broad match modifier for Adwords advertisers in the United Kingdom and Canada. Right now the new keyword match type is in Beta. This new modified broad match type opens up a sea of opportunity for advertisers ads appearing to searchers. The modified broad words have more control than a broad match keyword. The keywords are modified by simply adding a plus sign in front of the keyword that you would like to remain static.
This feature can be either dangerous to an advertiser or beneficial. Carefully choosing what keywords to place the plus sign on is extremely important. Each word that has the plus sign in front of it must appear in a users search query. If keywords do not have the plus sign in front of it, many variations of the keyword can appear.
By turning a broad keyword to the modified broad match, you will notice a slight decline in impressions and clicks. If you add the modifier to campaigns with mostly phrase and exact match types, you will theoretically notice an increase in clicks and impressions

 

May 14, 2010

Google, Microsoft trade more blows over Docs, Office 2010

The war of words between Microsoft and Google over Office 2010 and its entry into online, cloud-based applications is heating up again as the companies again took shots at each other.

1Google and China

Chief Executive Officer Eric Schmidt said matters related to his business in China are “stable” two months after the company shut its site there amid a standoff with the government over censorship. “We maintain our business relationships and our engineering centers in China".

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Verizon CEO: 'We're Working With Google on a Tablet'

Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam says that his company is working
closely with Google on a tablet computer.

The tablet will be based on the Android operating system.

 

Test favors HTC Droid

Dallas Morning News - Victor Godinez
The HTC Droid Incredible is his new favorite smart phone.
This is simply the fastest, sleekest, most capable and stylish phone on the market today.

Yahoo Search Gains On Google

Yahoo gained nearly a percentage point on Google in April in comScore's analysis of online searching in the United States.

 

May 12, 2010

Mobile ads

Currently it looks as if the US FTC (Federal Trade Commission) anti-trust division will not OK the purchase of AdMob (agreed last November) for $750 million. However as of May 12, the FTC has extended its review of Google's proposed purchase of AdMob by two weeks, as the federal agency will use the time to gauge the impact of Apple's iAd mobile advertising platform. See article.

Microsoft adCenter Desktop Tool

New version now available. Greatly improved.
But match type on keyword is still (erroneously in our view) is an attribute and active or pause can only apply to all match levels.

Yahoo Desktop Tool – March 2010

Probably the best of the bunch – better than Adwords Editor, at least at first sight.

 

May 14, 2010

Google Launches Adwords Remarketing

This new AdWords’ feature lets you embed a code in your website that will trigger your AdWords ad to show related ads to a potential customer after leaving your site without doing conversion action, provided that the user visits an0ther Google site after leaving your site.
[Read more...]

 

Sept 18, 2009

Google Launches the DoubleClick Ad Exchange

Finally after acquiring Double Click for a whooping $3.1 billion, Google will now try to regain what they’ve invested in the company. The Official Google Blog has just announced the launch of the Double Click Ad Exchange – a real-time marketplace to buy and sell display advertising.

 

May 06, 2009

Google Launches AdSense Ad Planner Publisher Center

Inside AdSense Blog has just announced that Publisher Center is now integrated with Google Ad Planner. Actually 3 of Google’s Official Blog, Inside AdSense, Inside AdWords and Google Analytics Blog are announcing this new feature. This is so because interested readers of these three blogs will be affected by the new feature.Essentially, this new feature will help AdSense publishers increase the visibility of their sites to potential advertisers. And an integral part of the integration is the fact that AdSense publisher can opt to integrate their site’s Google Analytics to the Google Ad Planner Publisher Center. This would give potential advertisers and agencies identify sites to run their ad campaigns on based on site page views and unique visitors.

 

April 28, 2009

Google Launches Site for Advertisers

Google has just launched a new site called Google for Advertisers. The site provides useful information about Google’s various marketing solutions. Online advertisers can explore and discover Google marketing tools that could best suit their needs and advertising goals.