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Saturday, April 05, 2003

Only You Can Save Smiley

Yahoo has crafted a pretty clever way to market its Yahoo Messenger Enterprise Edition. Saying that many companies have banned IM due to security concerns, a Yahoo ad exhorts ex-corporate IMers to submit the company name, and Yahoo will "contact" the appropriate IT folks at the company (anonymously of course) to explain the benefits of the new Enterprise Edition.

Their tagline: "Save Smiley" (referring to the classic IM icon of a smiling face)

Posted by Cory
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Friday, April 04, 2003

Yahoo Ready to Make a Move?

It's nice to see that they listened to those who said (albeit two whole years ago) "hey Yahoo, why not go for the gusto and raise some money with a bond issue while interest rates are at historic lows"?

Yahoo has just floated a $750 million bond issue. What next, a merger with Time Warner? Or just Earthlink?

Posted by Andrew
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Thursday, April 03, 2003

Part Three of Search Engine Blog's PPC Roundtable

The finale of a fine three-part series of interviews with pay-per-click industry experts -- including our Andrew Goodman -- can be found here.

Posted by Cory
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Google Ads to Show Up on

Nearly three years ago, I wrote an article about's progress, wondering whether publishers were beginning to partner with GoTo's paid search in order to "shore up weak balance sheets."

Maybe that's not the most delicate way of putting it, but in any case, Amazon's new deal with Google has the potential to add a nice jolt of incremental ad revenue to's very busy site. Who knows, this might even be enough to keep Amazon profitable amidst an increasingly stubborn recession.

The economics of paid search are compelling, as has been borne out by Yahoo's fiscal resurgence in the past year. Amazon is in a low-margin, high volume business, which has prevented it from breaking away from break-even territory. Ebay, by contrast, is a low-touch business that takes a piece of commercial transactions but doesn't actually have any inventory. Low costs, fat profits.

Advertising revenues generated by keyword-based advertising are an extremely high-margin proposition for Amazon. You take all those page views that are already happening on a daily basis, and monetize them... with no need to ship anything or incur any cost whatsoever (other than sending Google its revenue share).

For Amazon, it's a no-brainer. 99.5% of the time, consumers may not find any of the text ads relevant to their needs. But so long as they click every so often, Google and Amazon collect dollars from advertisers.

Is this the most significant example to come along of an e-commerce company trying to supplement its own sales with an advertising model? I'd be interested to hear what others think. The only other (failed) example that I can recall was Remember their splashy IPO, and their bold differentiator - the claim that they would "lose money on every sale" but still turn a profit because they'd be selling so much banner space on the site? That failed, obviously... but then again, is no, and banners were never as effective as small keyword-targeted text ads seem to be.

Posted by Andrew
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Why Gator Ain't Dying Anytime Soon

Forbes has paid writers who can tell you why...

Posted by Cory
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Wednesday, April 02, 2003

Permission Not Granted

To the corporate spamming weasels at Bell Mobility, my mobile phone service: please go back and read Permission Marketing. Very slowly.

For some reason, they decided that I could be opted into a regular mailing of "exclusive Internet offers." In other words, to the same scamming weasels who once charged me $541 in one month (early generation "mobile browser" that wouldn't shut off properly) and refused to send me a refund feel that it's perfectly OK to send me spam under the guise of "exclusive online offers:"

"Dear ANDREW GOODMAN," [wow... I'm impressed... that all-caps greeting felt so... right somehow. They must really care!]

"Thank you for being a Bell Mobility valued customer." [You'd better bloody value me. Your roaming charges are atrocious!]

"We appreciate your business and would like to offer you exclusive online offers!" [Now that's logical. You love me so you're spamming me?]

"Chance to win a Beetle when you purchase Bell Mobility cellphone accessories online!" [That's nice. I'm still waiting for my refund. Now get out of my inbox before I switch over to Telus.]

"Hurry, these exclusive offers are available for a limited time only!" [Say... that's the line I used on Tori Amos when I proposed marriage back in '97. I'm still waiting to hear back.]

"To unsubscribe, please click here." [Done. Why do I get the feeling I haven't heard the last of this? I've unsubscribed from the BellZinc small business newsletter six times, and it just keeps coming.]

Posted by Andrew
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More on MSN's Search Space Incursion

CNET: Report: Microsoft eyes paid search
Vaporware, I say, simply vaporware...

Posted by Cory
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Specter of Microsoft expansion looms over web search space

Overture's stock took another hit today as Wall Street caught wind of MSN Search's plan to triple its staff and increase the pace of research and product development. This news was widely known internally; Traffick caught wind of it last week from a source close to MSN.

Investors are betting that Microsoft's initiative might foreshadow an end to their partnership with Overture to serve sponsored search results. Even if this isn't the case, this certainly reduces Overture's negotiating power over future revenue shares.

Other possible implications of an expanded presence for MSN Search:

  • Reduced likelihood that MSN will renew with Inktomi after the current contract is up;
  • A possible shift in MSN's relationship with LookSmart;
  • On the other hand, MSN could easily acquire LookSmart for their technology, customer list, and editorial staff;
  • For a change, a fairly serious competitive threat to Google;
  • This may be a strong indicator of Microsoft's resolve to defeat AOL in the mainstream consumer ISP market;
  • As with any Microsoft initiative, concerns will no doubt be raised in future about privacy issues, anticompetitive practices, etc.

Posted by Andrew
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Good Recap of Google's Recent Ad Adds

MediaPost: Content Targeting Google-Style

One thing that I think many people overestimate is the value of Google -- and Overture for that matter -- signing these exclusive deals with content sites like CBS SportsLine. I'd be interested in finding out how many people use these sites to search the general Web for information. I'm guessing it's not a high percentage.

Which reminds me of the superiority of AdWords: You can "turn off" your ads so they won't appear on their partner sites. Say you're targeting a techie audience... well, you certainly wouldn't want to display your text ads on AOL!

Posted by Cory
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Tuesday, April 01, 2003

AOL in Dire Straits

AOL is scrambling to keep the ship from sinking. They may have to restate $400 million in earnings from 2002, their subscriber base actually declined last year, and now they're rushing to try to keep subscribers who are demanding broadband access from jumping ship.

CNET: AOL touts new broadband pacts

I'll give them some credit, though. I think it was a wise decision to move some of AOL Time Warner's print mags behind the AOL "firewall" as a way to protect and capitalize on their content assets. To me, it seems very silly for any print publisher to give away the entire contents of their magazines free online. I'm glad that some of them do (Fast Company, Wired, St. Louis Post-Dispatch), but I sure don't get the reasoning behind it

If nothing else, they should charge a nominal access fee to read the content online as a way to recoup their costs. It take a surprising amount of money to run a content site (so start donating to the charitable fund today by visiting our sponsors down the left side of the page! :)

Posted by Cory
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Other than the war in Iraq, SARS, and this snow, it's shaping up to be a great day

With all this going on, perhaps we can forgive Google for not updating this page.

Posted by Andrew
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Monday, March 31, 2003

Google Alert is the Best Thing Ever

It's better than sliced bread ever dreamt of being. It's better than a happy wife. It's better than Google itself. OK, I guess it couldn't possibly be cooler than Google itself, but, well... read on!

Google Alert is a free tool based on Google's open-source Web API that lets you tap into Google's index from your own custom, Net-connected apps. This particular implementation is super cool, although I bet only web marketing professionals or webmasters will be interested in it.

Here's what it does: you register with Google Alert, then register with Google, Inc. to receive "permission" to use the Google API (who knows what kinds of rights that Google grants itself with your innovations in its terms of service, but that's another story). Then, you can create up to 5 searches, and up to 100 automated queries per day, to be notified of changes in the Google search index for a specific search term.

For example, say you're in the wine business. You can set up a search to monitor the search results at Google on a regular basis to find out if competitors are leapfrogging you; or if you're just a consumer, you can find a new online wine store that's gaining lots of buzz.

Whatever the case may be, I'm sure there are countless innovative ways to use a tool like this, and I hope we see more things like this that help automate the laborious and boring task of monitoring your site's ranking in Google.

Posted by Cory
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Convoluted Solutions Won't Can Spam

Jesse Berst wannabe David Coursey raves about Mailblocks, another new anti-spam tool that uses the "challenge and response" type method to filter spam:

"IN ORDER to be authorized and have the message delivered, you must follow a link from the Mailblocks response over to a Web site. There, you'll be presented with a graphic image in which a series of numbers appear. You'll be asked to type those numbers into a box on the page. Doing this correctly makes you an authorized sender and your message, as well as any future messages, will go through. "

Uhh, methinks my old granny ain't gonna jump through these hoops just to send my wife a recipe. These convoluted methods are powerful, but their power comes at the price of ease of adoption. Sorry, David, but the only real way to kill spam is a simple one -- collaborative filtering tools like Cloudmark.

Mailblocks may be powerful, but Cloudmark is (and probably always will be) free for the end user.

Posted by Cory
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Sunday, March 30, 2003

If you're remotely involved in search engine marketing, you've no doubt seen "keyword-rich" domain names separated by hyphens like my example above ranking highly in search engines for very desirable phrases. Well, I've been thinking that now that Google seems to be stepping up its battle against spammers, I hope they tweak the algorithm to disallow domains over a certain number of characters.

I'll leave it up to the Ph.D.'s in Mountain View to determine the appropriate cut-off number, but suffice it to say that one of the spider-based engines will initiate the moratorium on domains like this, and on that day, I will drink a few glasses of wine in celebration.

Posted by Cory
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