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Tuesday, September 30, 2003
 
Amazon.com Enters Search Arena
Amazon has now entered the growing Product Comparison Search Genre. Following last week"s launch by Yahoo! of their new service, Amazon subsidiary A9 is being staffed up to produce a competitive product. This technology will be licensed to third parties which is in line with their e-commerce service offerings; however it will put the product at odds with the Amazon site itself as licensees will effectively be competitors.
Monday, September 29, 2003
 
Will Google buy Sprinks?
A rumor has been started by the NY times following insider news that Google became interested in buying an ad listing service after Yahoo made a move for Overture. Sprinks, which does contextual targeting by area of interest rather than keyword parsing is touted as being the ideal partner.
Thursday, September 25, 2003
 
Overture and Google staking claims in Local Search Territory
Google recently launched a demo of it's localized search tool, where users can get info for a specific zip-code; Overture already launched a demo of it's local search tool in August on AltaVista. I also know that Ask Jeeves has plans for localized search too. This is shaping up to be the next battleground for Search. IAR reports on how the the products from Overture and Google shape up, and it seems that Overture are going to be first to market with a consumer product as well as an advertising program (Overture is currently running some tests with advertising clients in their current demo). I wonder whether any of the Search Engines will team up with Infospace, who have been providing local search services for years. The company recently relaunched as a directory and will certainly get lots of exposure when local search becomes the next big thing.
 
Google courting Friendster?
Google owns a blogging platform, they own a great search platform and they also own a shopping comparison tool. All 3 of these are scalable businesses with a scope for successful growth. Now all they need is a dating service. Rumor has it that Google may soon be purchasing Friendster.com, the successful personal networking site. It is also a free service, which fits perfectly into Googles free internet tools ethos (Blogger tools became free after Google bought them). Of course the companies are denying it, although Silicon Valley insiders think it makes sense: "If you look at what Google's doing and what they've bought, it consists of a lot of highly scalable technologies where people are linked together and connecting. Google has huge usage, but it doesn't know a lot about its users. Blogger and Friendster both have huge horizontal usage and deeper relationships with their users than Google. If I were Google, I would definitely want to buy Friendster." , said one Valley VC.
Wednesday, September 24, 2003
 
Marketing Karma
An ezine for ethical marketers in the UK has been launched this week. With the topic of spam high on the digital agenda, the new online magazine is dedicated to improving online marketing ethics. One of the founders, Robin Houghton says, "We unmask the cowboy tactics, analyse the trends and highlight the news -- the interesting stuff, that is...Our aim is to break the myth that in order to succeed on the internet a business needs to resort to tricks and cons."

There are many cowboys in internet marketing and they frequently make a bad name for newcomers to this unique marketing channel. This ezine may, however, further tarnish the bad name as it will make popular the wrong doings on the internet and blow it out of proportion thus making traditional marketers steer clear of the internet.
Tuesday, September 23, 2003
 
Overture ousts Google in Canada
Overture has ousted Google as the provider of PPC results for Sympatico, the largest portal and ISP in Canada. This is a significant win for Overture as they were able to oust Google for non-paid results too. With the acquisition of FAST and Alta Vista, they are now able to offer these services. In the past it was easy to use Google for paid search as well as non-paid search as they were the only realistic option that could supply both. Overture has now demonstrated that they can go head to head into negotiations with as strong a hand as Google.
 
Yahoo to launch product-comparison service
Yahoo is expected to launch a price comparison service today, after nearly five months in testing. The move highlights the strong affinity to shopping that search engine users have. C|Net reports that "as many as 40 percent of surfers look for information on products or services while using a general search engine". However the specialist comparison services such as Dealtime or Kelkoo are getting referral fees via a CPC model. Yahoo is an objective search engine, and already has a shopping channel - there may be some conflicts here if it displays lower prices than in it's own channel or only displays results for paying customers. I suspect this may be handled similarly to Google's Froogle site, in that the product is only soft launched and left to run in the background so tweaks can be made and a business model developed while the product-comparison genre of websites is still in its relative infancy.
 
Once You Pop, Orbitz, You Can't Stop
You either love 'em or hate 'em, but you gotta admit those Orbitz pop-unders have been really successful for the online Travel Agency. emarketer.com published an interview with the Creative Director of Orbitz's agency, Mark Rattin. 75% of US surfers find pop-unders to be "very annoying" Ad Formats. Despite this the Orbitz ads are much loved by users, and have a knock-on viral marketing value as they are referred to friends on viewing. What is interesting here is that Orbitz turned to pop-unders to reduce costs; fortunately they got such great creative that they have turned this format into a niche for them which costs a lot less money than flash layer ads on home pages while in turn generating just as much buzz.
Monday, September 22, 2003
 
UK moving from a buyers market to a sellers market
newmediazero reports that CPMs are rising over the next quarter, even for the biggest buyers. This demonstrates a strenghtening of the UK internet advertising market, and "is the first time that across-the-board rises have been forecast".
 
FindWhat stalls on Espotting deal
Findwhat is wishes to renegotiate the terms of their merger with Espotting, after reviewing the London based PPC firm's historical and forecasted finances. FindWhat believe the purchase price is too high, and this could result in the deal falling through: "It is possible that mutually agreeable terms will not be reached and that the merger may not be consummated.", the company said in a statement. Maybe FindWhat is trying to find a way out of the deal to get into bed with Yahoo instead?
 
AOL Appeals to Advertisers with 9.0 Launch
During AOL's launch party for AOL 9.0, it was announced that the "new AOL 9.0 Friendly to Advertisers. Apparently the new version of AOL will be 99 percent media compliant and 100 percent IAB compliant by year's end making the adoption of ad units created for other media easy to implement on AOL. This of course refers to AOL's enthusiastic adoption of the IAB Universal Ad Package, which AOL sponsored alongside MSN, Yahoo and C|Net.
 
Yahoo sees sponsored search business doubling
Yahoo! have forecasted the their sponsored search revenue will more than double by 2006, increasing from $2 billion today to $5 billion. Big numbers indeed, especially when you consider that Jupiter predicts the paid search market to be just $4.8 billion in 2008, and Piper Jafray estimates it at $7 billion by 2008. So this forecast predicts well over 100% market share - I wonder what % Google will take?
Wednesday, September 17, 2003
 
Ask Jeeves takes a hit from analysts
It looks as though the bubble may be bursting for Ask Jeeves, who revealed in their Q2 earnings report that nearly half of Ask Jeeves' revenue came from a paid placement partnership with Google. Short sellers are now buying the stock, which is normally a sure sign that their value will decrease. They are also struggling to gain traffic: "Ask Jeeves is continuing to struggle to get traffic. The perception is that Ask Jeeves is for Internet newbies and Ask Jeeves needs to get rid of that image," said Gary Stein, an analyst with Jupiter Research. The saving grace for Ask Jeeves is their Teoma technology, this is considered by many to be a Google-beater in its methodology, however it has nowhere near the capacity of Google and only indexes around 500M pages, compared to Google's 3.5 billion. Teoma and the Ask Jeeves' friendly interface are assets that Google would like to own, and apparently they have a stake in Ask Jeeves. Ask Jeeves are possibly too rich to be bought out right now, but they really need to do something to improve their growth.

http://money.cnn.com/2003/09/16/technology/techinvestor/lamonica/
 
Ford: Is traffic enough?
Much ado has been made in the internet marketing press over the recent Ford F-150 truck campaign that ran on the homepages of the big portals recently. However the celebrated success is in the traffic delivered to Ford's website. Adverblog asks the question: Is traffic enough?, and I think she does have a good point - this campaign should be evaluated on leads generated through the site, not just the performance of the clicks.
Tuesday, September 16, 2003
 
VeriSign Eyes Valuable 'Junk' Traffic
VeriSign, registrar of all .com and .net web domains, is planning on realizing at least $100M a year in revenue through its new Site Finder service. In a similar manner to MSN and AOL, VeriSign will display a search page to users who mistype urls ending in .com or .net. The search page will apparently be a paid for search listings powered by Overture and Inktomi. Although MSN and AOL will not be hurt too much in their bottom line, it could dramatically decrease search traffic (MSN tracks their site not found page as part of MSN Search traffic, and a major dip was experienced when Nielsen//Netratings temporarily removed this traffic from their numbers).
 
Ask Jeeves sold ads on porn sites
A News story broke this week that major publishers were shocked to find their ads on ABCSearch.com, a site with lots of adult content. One aspect of this story was pointed out to me by Andy Beal that I had not noticed. Apparently Advertising.com is having a major spat with Ask Jeeves, who placed their advertising on said site. The ads were sold in a Run Of Network rotation; however, "We were relying on Ask Jeeves to protect us," said Gar Richlin, chief operating officer at Advertising.com. "We're not doing any [further] business with Ask Jeeves at this point in time as a result of this."

Ask Jeeves has now stopped selling ads on ABCSearch.com. Knee jerk reaction?
Monday, September 15, 2003
 
Making Sense of AdSense... Et Al.
In order to make life easier for internet marketing bods everywhere, Kevin Lee has written an article to explain the differences between the different Contextual Ad programs. The three majors are all weighed up: Google's AdSense, Overture's Content Match and Sprinks' ContentSprinks (Sprinks is owned by Primedia). Kevin leans towards Google, and it is interesting to learn that in his tests the quality of referrals from AdSense compared to Adwords is not very different even though the CTR may be smaller.

Elsewhere on the web there is talk again about how Adsense measures up to Adwords. Personally I find this one a no-brainer - its fairly obvious that Adwords are more targeted and they capture the user when he/she is more likely to be sidetracked or diverted. Ads within content always find it difficult to vie for user's attention. What would be more interesting is a comparison of contextual ads vs. the ads served by bucket shops such as advertising.com or dealgroupmedia. This would provide a much better means for determining how best to monetize unsold inventory or low value real estate for publishers.
 
Is Overture Overextending Itself in Europe?
Jim Hedger at ISEDB.com asks the question: Is Overture Overextending Itself in Europe?. Overture can make a lot of revenue in the EU, but due to the many cultural niches costs can be much higher than the US market. Thankfully their new owners ( Yahoo!) are well established and that should provide a strong backbone for growth. However, Google is very strong in Europe in terms of consumer usage and is a very successful internet marketing platform. This early mover advantage could be too hard to beat.
 
Majority of EU list owners have illegal lists
New EU legislation comes into effect on Monday which will make it no longer legal to run opt-out email marketing strategies, or force the use of cookies in such marketing programmes. A recent survey shows that 63% of IT companies are using email lists that will be illegal when the directive on privacy and electronic communications becomes law on October 31.
Thursday, September 11, 2003
 
Introduction to the Open Directory Project
A useful article from Chris Sherman explains why one should get listed in ODP if you want to do some serious SEO work on your site.
 
Will Yahoo turn to Looksmart model for their new search engine?
Andy Beal reports that Yahoo is surveying to determine which search placement model suits them best. The excerpts from the survey are well worth reading. Judging this in context by their recent testing of Inktomi they are clearly making sure the next move is well thought out; perhaps a reflection that planning was not so great in the past? I recently asked someone that works for Ask Jeeves (another "spike, dip then second wind" moving stock) what makes them want to bang their head on the wall? The answer was that the old school could never make their mind up on how to move forward, given the mistakes made in the past. Could this be another good reason for Google to end up as kings of Search, or even of the dotcom world?
 
Internet Impacts More Spending Offline than Online
New research from Dieringer shows that Internet Advertising drives about half of the resulting revenues via online sales, and another half via the harder-to-track offline variety. This valuable study also shows that offline attitudes to brands are strongly influenced by online promotions.
 
Lets get Upfront about Upfronts
Cory Treffiletti asks the question: Will Online Ever Adopt An Upfront Season?
He feels it makes sense for advertisers, "as it locks in premium inventory and ensures their presence in the areas they most covet."

Us Europeans always see articles from the US media discussing the need (or not) for an Internet Upfront, so I am not sure if this is not just a pipe-dream. I was quite sceptical reading this article; even more so when you consider that in order to have a long term media plan you need long term account mgrs - which you just don’t get right now in the interactive agencies. Most seem to view the internet as a springboard into a better job in one of the “serious” media, or companies suddenly stop using the net to concentrate on trusted media. In my experience with offline media agencies, they view the Internet as a remnant buy at best.
Maybe it is different on the other side of the pond, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it isn’t.
Tuesday, September 09, 2003
 
AIM Ideas Gone Viral
Looking for some fact to back up your gut feeling of Viral Marketing? Here is an interesting case study and critique from Seana Mulcahy on the much argued merits of viral marketing online. Its a great piece to use to help explain Viral Marketing to the "Internet-marketing-oblivious".

As I come from a media publisher background, viral marketing is a something I am reluctant to embrace; it is delivered by users not media so how can publishers get a piece of this pie? Lycos UK has a viral showcase, that serious marketers must pay to have their viral creative included. I wonder how much money is garnered from this as the hosting costs for Lycos must be huge?
 
DON'T CALL YOURSELF A PERMISSION MARKETER WHEN YOU ARE A DIRECT MARKETER
S.F. Allen has published a great summary on Permission Marketing: How Can Permission Marketing Work For You? It uses graphs to demonstrate the upside in comparison to Direct Marketing and does a good job in showing how much more successful it is in the longer term.
 
Yahoo! to buy FindWhat?
As reported on briefing.com, the latest rumour on Wall Street is that Yahoo! may acquire FindWhat.
A rumour is just a rumour, but there could well be something going on there: espotting.com was acquired by FindWhat recently and they have a strong relationship with Yahoo! Europe where they provide Overture style results for Yahoo!.
Monday, September 08, 2003
 
Hotbot lives again
Lycos Europe announced that they have revamped their Hotbot search engine. The Hotbot engine was once the darling of the European internet, as it was a good alternative to Alta Vista in the pre-boom days if you were looking for European sites. Lycos Europe is clearly trying to put an emphasis on Search, although it is confusing to have three brands in one portal search function. Will one/two of these be eventually spun off?
Thursday, September 04, 2003
 
Ford Uses Movie Spoof to Promote SportKa
Steve Hall comments on a very interesting viral marketing campaign from Ford. I was sent the video clip for the ad where the car whacks a bird away this morning. I was thinking about all the times birds leave a little present on my own car and thought "what a cool feature" - imagine how disappointed I was to see that it was just a spoof. Oh well, maybe I will just buy a boat-car instead.
 
Google to give conversion tracking for Free
Over at Traffick.com, there is talk that Adwords may soon offer advertisers free Conversion Tracking.
 
Patently crazy
Yoomedia, a British iTV Games Company is claiming it owns the use of SMS in TV shows and is going to crack down on other companies using it. Yoomedia is filing a patent claim that covers 'synchronised interaction between mobile devices and TV', despite it being a method used for years by other companies, including the producers of the world famous "Who wants to be a Millionaire" TV show. In the UK show, viewers could submit answers to a competition question via text messaging on their mobile phone.

Hmmm... it seems that the way to make money these days is to patent a method that is well established but not patented. If Yoomedia, and 24/7 Real Media can do this, maybe I should get a patent on blogging?
Wednesday, September 03, 2003
 
Top UK internet Brands
Revolution magazine published yesterday the results of their recent survey on which web brands have the most strength in the UK market. Friends Reunited, a british take on Classmates.com came out top. This is hardly a suprise as this site has enjoyed some of the strongest growth ever mainly through word of mouth promotion.
What is interesting is that Yahoo! and AOL rank just 12th and 17th respectively. This is by no means a reflection of weakening in the US based brands as Google, eBay and Ask Jeeves occupy positions 5-7, and Amazon is number 3. what is remarkable to Noo Meeja is that the rankings do not neccesarily reflect the traffic of the sites, for example Ask Jeeves has lower traffic levels than MSN or Yahoo, yet is placed much higher in the minds of consumers.
Tuesday, September 02, 2003
 
728 * 90 ROCK!
This was the considered opinion of "West of Willamette" on webmastwerworld.com forum about Click-Through Rates with the new ad sizes offered by Google for it's AdSense program. Overall the opinon is positive although it is clearly early days. Time will tell, but I have a feeling the performance will improve and this will help increase the usage of the new larger formats.

related: Google AdSense to support new IAB standard ads
 
Overture takes T-Online to court
T-Online is denying claims that Overture issued a court injunction against the German ISP's move to take Overture from its Search Listings. T-Online claims that Overture is technically a competitor because it is now owned by Yahoo. If Yahoo is a competitor, then why have they announced a new co-op for a Broadband service?
Monday, September 01, 2003
 
Broadcast Ad Standard
Claire Murphy writes a commentary on the growing trend for using TV ads in the UK-based Internet media. The demand to do this has always been there - it's easy for most people to understand; however with 56k modems it just doesn't work. Claire argues that in a world where Broadband is reaching critical mass (2.3m of the 11.75m homes with internet access), the time is right to start looking at making this a standard product. It is expected that the UK IAB or a general concensus from the industry will push forward a new broadcast ad as one of just 5 standard ad formats for the web.
 
Can You Search without Search Engines?
UCmore (http://www.ucmore.com) is a browser toolbar which claims that it helps people search the net without the use of search engines.

How?

UCmore categorizes the web and recommends similar sites to the ones that you are surfing on by analyzing the content of the page with UCmore's database of categorized links (in 30 languages).

Think of it as a cross between Google AdSense, the Open Directory Project, and a crazy Internet tour
guide- suggesting other sites that have similar content to the one that you may be visiting. Definitely an interesting tool worth keeping your eyes on.


This is a guest Post from Loren Baker, editor of The Search Engine Journal and BlogSearchEngine.com


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