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Thursday, March 20, 2003

LookSmart Makes Welcome Changes to PPC Account Policy

Despite Jill Whalen's protestations against using Looksmart, I now do recommend that clients use them because they are really the only way to get listed high in sponsored links for MSN, one of the top portals for search referrals. Their account management system has always seemed confusing and rigid, and I'm glad to hear today that they've made the following changes to their system:

* Assign your own tracking URLs to your LookSmart listings.
* Configure personalized campaign reports and export them to Excel and PDF.
* Take advantage of reduced fees: Add new listings for $29 and update your existing listings for just $19.
[ these fees formerly were $49 each -- just to add new listings or update existing listings; talk about highway robbery! ]
* Organize your listings into multiple campaigns and accounts for advanced control and flexibility.

So, if you manage a LookSmart PPC account, your life should be slightly easier now...

Posted by Cory
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Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Google Keeps a Goin'

Not a day goes by that Google doesn't make headlines somewhere. A recent sampling:

How Google Grows...and Grows...and Grows
Fast Company

"Its performance is the envy of executives and engineers around the world ... For techno-evangelists, Google is a marvel of Web brilliance ... For Wall Street, it may be the IPO that changes everything (again). But Google is also a case study in savvy management -- a company filled with cutting-edge ideas, rigorous accountability, and relentless attention to detail. Here's a search for the growth secrets of one of the world's most exciting young companies -- a company from which every company can learn."

Agog over Google
National Post

"Tired of Google? To paraphrase Samuel Johnson on London, those who are tired of Google are tired of life."

Google Builds World's Largest Advertising and Search Monetization Program
Google Press Release

"Google today announced its online advertising program comprising more than 100,000 advertisers worldwide is the largest and fastest growing in the industry.... Launched one year ago, Google's partner network provides advertisers with exposure across many of the largest websites in the world. Current partners include AOL, Ask Jeeves, Netscape, Earthlink, Compuserve, AT&T, BizRate, DealTime, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Yahoo! JAPAN, Libero, NEC Biglobe, NIFTY and BT Openworld."

Posted by Cory
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Business Week Schools the Suits on Net Marketing

BW Online's article "Search Engines Are Picking Up Steam" provides a decent recap of how pay-per-click search engine advertising, along with vast improvements in search tech, are reviving the maligned industry. It's nothing really new to those in the know, but here are some interesting highlights:

"Advertisers say that search-related ads, whether overt or camouflaged, attract far more interest than regular scattershot Internet ads. Why so? They give people what they're already looking for."

...

"Search advertising is also cheap. At an average of 35 cents a click, paid search undercuts the $1-per-lead average for Yellow Pages ads. The money is split between the portal, which generates the traffic, and its search-advertising provider. When a user clicks a search-related ad on Yahoo, for example, Overture keeps 14 cents and sends 21 cents to Yahoo. Pete Howard, vice-president for marketing at Staples.com, says the return on search-engine marketing "outpaces everything in print or online."

...

"In the early days of the Net, pundits thought surfers would scoff at mixing advertising with search results. Instead, they're seeing shoppers and advertisers in sync because up to 35% of searches are for products or services."


After reading the article, you can't help but being struck by the tremendous upside of search engine marketing and search tech in general. Watch this space!

Now, how are you, dear reader, going to start cashing in on this trend? Why, with Andrew's report on Google AdWords, that's how!

Posted by Cory
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Monday, March 17, 2003

Financial Content Mavens Speak Out on Yahoo! Platinum

CBS Marketwatch is touting the fact that it's "the first provider of business and financial market news to Yahoo! Platinum," a $9.95-a-month subscription service launched today.

I asked Bill Martin, co-publisher of financial advisory newsletter FindProfit.com, and Marc Stockman, a former marketing exec with TheStreet.com and now President of Connectiv Media, an email newsletter marketing consultancy, whether CBS Marketwatch premium content would on its own induce anyone to sign up for Yahoo's new Platinum service. They thought not.

Martin's response:

"It's a nice press release for both parties, but that's all. I am skeptical that:

"1) MarketWatch produces enough in the way of "actionable" content that investors would be willing to pay for. Don't get me wrong, MarketWatch is a great site, but investors go there for fast news and tools -- not actionable insights.

"2) Investors want their actionable investment commentary/advice delivered in a multimedia format.

"3) Yahoo! Platinum's sweet spot will be in finance. Seems to me that users would be more willing to pay for sports and entertainment content, and I bet that Yahoo! will position the product and its marketing budget appropriately."

Stockman's reply:

"MKTW's content by itself will not induce many, if any, people to buy either the basic or premium service -- people pay for financial advice, not financial news, which is a commodity. I don't see how that's any different than Yahoo!'s previous efforts in the financial new area (FinanceVision), that failed. I do, however, think that the other entertainment-oriented content will see some demand, as evidenced by RealNetwork's success in garnering 900,000 or so subscribers.

"Yahoo!'s strategy this time around makes a lot more sense in that they are minimizing their own programming costs and maximizing their chances of acceptance by leveraging existing content brands with proven demand -- that's the key difference this go around. Moreover, Yahoo! doesn't need to get an enormous sell-through rate to make this a success -- if they convert only 1% of their registered user base (which I think is well over 200 million), that would be 2 million subscribers, which I would assume would be more than enough to make this a success.

"Finally, Yahoo! has established that they can sell subscriptions given that they have already garnered over 2 million paid subscribers to their various paid services. The ultimate streaming product might not look exactly as it does today, but I have no doubt that all of the major portals will offer something like this in the near future."

Posted by Andrew
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The Usual Howe Street Shenanigans: Suite101.com Hits Oil Slick

Suite101.com, formerly a web content company, is now an oil and gas exploration company. Remember when reverse takeovers went in the other direction - when mining and resource exploration companies became dot coms by lending their dormant publicly-traded shells to some brave young web site? I guess "speculative dot com investors" are getting scarcer these days. And we can always use more oil!

Posted by Andrew
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And for a glowing review of the pioneering 1st ed. of the book, check out this review, by none other than Google's Matt Cutts.


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