Monday, November 25, 2002
From the Duh! Department
It appears that AOL might soon begin featuring Time Warner content exclusively on AOL. That means you freeloaders soon won't be able to access articles from Entertainment Weekly, People, and other Time Warner mags unless you have an AOL account. This move was supposed to have happened not long after the companies' merger, but it never got done for some reason. Read more about it on MSNBC.
The motivation comes as a result of the sagging revenue of AOL, and company execs think this content strategy may give AOL the boost it desperately needs. Makes sense, at least. I don't read those mags online, anyway, and as much as I dislike AOL, I'm all in favor of anything that will help stabilize the fortunes of online publishing.
Friday, November 22, 2002
This Forbes writer must have been drunk when he made this false dichotomy between Overture and Google. See if you can pick out the stupid bits in this short article: Overture is a "search company" (not really); Overture is better than Google because it's in the advertising business (now we're getting somewhere, but, ah, can you say 'Google AdWords Select booted Overture off AOL Search'?); Overture signed a great deal with Yahoo Japan (uh, so did Google).
So, basically, Google has all the things going for it that the reporter says are great about Overture, and plus they have the runaway world-leading search engine technology that generates unheard-of levels traffic that Google can and does sell advertising on without having to share revenues with a portal partner.
You get the feeling that when Google finally does trade on NASDAQ, the financial press' and Wall Street analysts' heads will explode when they get to see the first couple of quarters of ad revenues. "Uh, so tell us again, how does this search thing make money? Cuz that Overture is a shopping deal you know, and that's all about money... and we really like money... money is great... and y'see, these nerds never.... What? Google makes HOW MUCH?? I told you, honey, I TOLD YOU we should have encouraged the boy to finish that computer science degree instead of dropping out to play arena football..."
Tuesday, November 19, 2002
LOL @ AOL
Too many people are putting stock in the traffic rankings and user reviews at Alexa these days, it seems. The reality is, Alexa's traffic rankings are wildly inaccurate, and they tend to favor busy message boards with no business model. If you see a site out there with tons of posts and a pleading "DONATE!" logo at the top, chances are, Alexa thinks it's great.
The user reviews are unreliable, too. Because there are so few of them (many sites in the top 5,000 have no review at all), they can be manipulated by people working for the sites in question (if you really wanted to waste your time doing that). By any objective measure, sites like Slashdot are "must reads" for their loyalists, and companies like Yahoo are wildly popular with real users. But Alexa's random reviewers typically give big sites like these an average of say three out of five stars, while crummy sites you've never heard of get five. (One of the common complaints about Slashdot is that it's "biased." Actually, many of the user criticisms revolve around bias. The site you're on now, Traffick.com, was accused of being "overbiased" [sic] and having a "vendetta against certain companies." No, I'm not on any kind of vendetta, I do this because it's fun and informative, and I calls 'em as I sees 'em. Problem?)
All that being said, you have to laugh at the treatment AOL gets by the random Alexa reviewers. Of the 90+ available reviews, the first thirty are almost all negative, with nearly all assigning AOL.com one star out of five. One poster asked, "can I submit negative five stars?" After reading the first 20 of these (no doubt underbiased) comments, I burst out laughing, thankful that most of the planet agrees with my vendetta-driven overbiased opinion that AOL sucks.
See for yourself: The Alexa people have spoken: AOL, you are the weakest link. Goodbye!
Must... get... oxygen...
I was about to blog something about MyWay's relaunch, but I got bored before I came to the end of the
Thursday, November 14, 2002
It's gettin' better all the time...
Don't you just get the feeling that the dot-com shakeout is finally forcing web-based companies to get their acts together?
One of the biggest headaches in the Net world used to be dealing with the dreaded Network Solutions. After being acquired by Verisign, it seems that the good old registrar of domain names has finally got it right. You can now log in with a user name and password and manage your old domain names registered under the old regime of complicated forms, NIC handles and so on. Jolly good.
Wednesday, November 13, 2002
First Kurt, Now This
A-propos of nothing, it seems that Courtney Love's dog recently died from choking on her discarded breast implants. There's a recording we'd all love to play backwards.
Monday, November 11, 2002
ClickZ Executrix Ed. at it Again
She's on her high horse again. Fresh from her summarily-rebuked, Gator-defending email to the online-ad-industry-enfant-terribles-du-jour, AdBumb, Rebecca Lieb opines (and I paraphrase slightly out of context) that if Coke, Nestle, P&G, and other "allegedly unethical companies" had a hard time finding places to advertise, "there probably wouldn't be society as we know it."
While I'm on the subject of Lieb's column, there is a factual error in it. She refers to "Google's list of allegedly unethical companies." That list is in fact an Open Directory category overseen by one Robin Lionheart with input from subcategory editors like Bruce Richardson. Rebecca, if you mean to dispute the viewpoints of these self-appointed Masters of Ontology, look out! You don't know who you're up against! (From Lionheart's bio: "I bought a PlayStation video game console just to be able to play Bust A Move: Dance & Rhythm Action.")
These Kings of Kapricious Kategorization have managed to maintain subcategories for Yahoo's alleged lack of ethics while leaving AOL out entirely. DO NOT CROSS THESE PEOPLE.
I agree with Overture's bid hiding, Cory
The larger point - Overture's many self-serving rule changes are beginning to grate on loyalists' nerves - is well taken. An increasingly-creative Match Driver, monthly minimums, questionable affiliate traffic... where does it end. Still, irritation for me does not add up to complete exasperation. Overture has improved many aspects of their interface and reporting.
I'm not against the practice of hiding bid amounts to the general public. Google has done this from the beginning. Large visible bids are just an invitation to click fraud, and will tend to distract the customer, as well.
Overture competitors *can* see one another's bids if they simply enter the Overture interface and, as you say, type in the security code when they go to "see all bids." This makes it difficult to look at bids, but far from impossible.
In my view, this turns this ad medium into one that looks more dignified to the general public. On TV, you might hear "brought to you by" - but they don't literally tell you the amount paid for the 15-second spot for Pledge shown during "Everybody Loves Raymond."
Sorry to throw cold water on a good rant...
Friday, November 08, 2002
Overture's going Overboard
First, they made us enter a 4-digit code every time we log in to manage our listings. Now, they're making us enter another 4-digit code to see other advertisers' maximum bids! Of course, they say that it will benefit advertisers by reducing server load from automated scripts querying Overture's database or some such crap, but I wonder if they're really telling the truth.
I'm surprised that no one has written about the motivations behind this change yet (what do you think, Andrew?). It seems to me that there has to be some other motive working behind the scenes that relates to Overture making more money. Remember, folks, that Overture is a Big, Profitable Company now, and their goal is to increase the average cost per click of their listings (last time I heard, it was about 35 cents), so anytime they make a change, it is likely motivated by their mission of increasing profitability.
Dont' get me wrong; as a publicly traded company, I know they have to keep increasing profits or suffer the consequences, but these 4-digit codes are really grating on my nerves. It is almost becoming too cumbersome to manage one's listings. Who knows what they'll come up with next to "improve" their service.
Monday, November 04, 2002
Hurry into AltaVista's Discount Warehouse Blowout Clearance Event! (rerun)
For those stumbling into the Traffick Weblog from Search Engine Watch's mention of the AltaVista issues, the following is what I wrote on September 27, since it got shunted deep into the archives of this blog before we got the permanent link feature turned on. (Thanks to Danny for his intriguing update.)
Ever since they invented a story about 100,000 ISP subscribers to a UK Internet service that didn’t exist, we’ve suspected AltaVista weren’t straight shooters. Hey, we’re prepared to forgive and forget, but subsequent gaffes used up just about any goodwill this formerly-respected search index had left.
In recent months, I’ve received many unsolicited sales pitches from AltaVista sales reps, most of them wanting me to buy advertising for low, low prices.
A recent exchange blew my mind again, and I thought I’d seen it all from this company. A salesperson cold-contacted me to inquire if I would be interested in reselling AltaVista Express Inclusion and Trusted Feed to “my clients.” The bait on the hook was the claim (in an email entitled “A Great AltaVista Reseller Opportunity”) that if a corporate client signs up for trusted feed, not only do their pages get spidered and included in the index (guaranteed), but that Trusted Feed clients “get indexed much higher.”
Wait a minute, I thought. Other paid inclusion services, such as FAST’s and Inktomi’s, do not guarantee high rankings – just inclusion and regular respidering. Everyone in the search engine world (including the colleagues I shared this episode with) assumed AltaVista was the same.
So I challenged the sales rep on this point. He then sent me an email with the text of AltaVista’s corporate info on paid inclusion – the same stuff you can see on their web site. It says nothing about guaranteeing high rankings to Trusted Feed participants. So I gave the rep an opportunity to distance himself from his claim of higher indexing. I believe my exact words were: “Are you now distancing yourself from this claim?”
He wasn’t. His next point was even more specific: “all of your clients will be indexed on the first three pages.”
If this is true, then AltaVista is telling the public and the press one thing, and search engine optimization consultants and corporate advertisers another thing. If not, then why does AltaVista employ sales reps to make inaccurate claims about the purpose of Trusted Feed?
I have a feeling this is all going to come out in the wash soon. AltaVista needs to make a public statement on this, and it needs to be true. If they intend to deny it (which seems likely), they can’t keep on selling Trusted Feed to large advertisers using higher indexing as bait. Someone is going to find out, put two and two together, and rat on them. So what’s the real story, AV?
Postscript: AltaVista made a public statement that claimed they had no policy of indexing trusted feed sites higher. This public statement doesn't ring true at all. I subsequently received email from an ex-employee that basically said that these types of issues (how to sell Trusted Feed by promising higher indexing) were openly discussed in the company, and that he was canned for raising a stink about it. Something still stinks.
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