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Saturday, June 28, 2003

Google Toolbar has Gaggle of New Features

Sadly, my browser of choice, NetCaptor, is incompatible with the Google Toolbar (actually, it's vice versa). But, the Google Toolbar 2.0 beta is loaded with cool new features that make other programs practically irrelevant, including:

* A pop-up window blocker
* A form filling feature
* A "BlogThis" feature to enable quick blogging of URLs with Google's newly acquired Blogger tool (which Traffick has been using for years)
* A brand-new options panel for even easier management of the plethora of features offered by the toolbar.

Eventually, the Google Toolbar will be so advanced, it'll practically be its own web browser. I've predicted this before, and I still believe that one day Google will launch its own web browser and take the search/browser wars to Microsoft's own back yard.

You don't think the big G is going to take Microsoft's assault on them lying down, do ya?

Posted by Cory
| | Permalink

 

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Overture Content Match: Incremental Change at Best

Overture has announced a program called Content Match that will place advertisers' keyword-targeted ads next to closely-matching content pages ("such as articles"). The program is being piloted on MSN, and advertisers are automatically opted in.

Content matching really isn't new for Overture. They've been doing this for some time, particularly with their partner Yahoo. (Our colleague Ed Kohler noticed his own ad coming up rather curiously near some search results on Yahoo's Launch.com music service.)

The most promising aspect of Content Match is a sign that Overture is going to let advertisers opt out of forms of traffic they don't want - functionality in which they've shown nary a glimmer of interest in the past. Here's what they say:

"Turning Content Match On and Off

"You can turn Content Match "On" or "Off" at any time on your Account Summary page.

"When an advertiser turns off Content Match, the next highest bidder on a specific keyword will move into the higher display position, but will not pay a higher click charge.
Turning off Content Match will not affect your traditional paid search listings.
You can turn Content Match back on at any time and start getting more traffic. "

Here's the problem: when you go to that part of the Overture interface, the indicator that Content Match is "on" is not currently being displayed. Thus there is no way to turn it off. Maybe that feature will be up tomorrow, but it seems irresponsible to roll out a new feature without the opt-out already in place.

One can't help but be curious why Google and Overture are making so much noise about content-targeted or contextual advertising when their bread and butter is search? Recall that Google announced earlier this week a content targeting partnership with Mapquest, a wholly-owned subsidiary of AOL (a company Google already has a major partnership with to serve search results and Google AdWords).

We know that many advertisers want more traffic from their existing accounts, but the focus on this sideline seems exaggerated of late. My hypothesis is that these dueling announcements are more for the benefit of distribution partners or potential partners (especially the big portals) than they are for the benefit of advertisers. It's a case of "look at what we can do... look, we can match ads to content and help you drive revenue" and "oh yeah, well we can do that too... look at us!"

As always, advertisers are advised to investigate ROI tracking technologies that are sophisticated enough to distinguish between content matching and regular PPC traffic. Don't take any claims about traffic quality at face value: track your conversions.

Posted by Andrew
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Monday, June 23, 2003

New Traffick Article:

For those keeping score:

Second Annual Online Infinite Regression Awards.

What this country really needs is a good $9.99 back-scratcher, and of course more Dave-Barry-wannabe humorists.

Posted by Andrew
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You Will Listen to My Every Command

It was only a matter of time. Just received this note from a colleague:

"Andrew,

"I now know the brainwashing is complete. Today, I was writing a
proposal to a client and I spelled the word "traffic" as "traffick" in the
proposal.

" ;-) "

But really, that's nothing. You should see the steamy letter just sent to us by Kylie Minogue:

"So many of you have sent me birthday wishes for my 35th on May 28th. I thank you all for remembering and for all the kind words. I like to draw my birthday out for as long as possible so this really helped!"

(OK, that was actually from her website, but it's pretty personal if you ask us.)

After rambling on aimlessly about her studio session and meeting an eight-year-old girl who admires her limo and tries on her high heels, Kylie concludes the letter with:

"Bye x"

Phew, is it getting hot in here or what?

Posted by Andrew
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How to Pay $5 a Click Without Even Trying

In search engine marketing, data wins. Many small businesses already know that paid inclusion in indexes like Inktomi, FAST, and Ask Jeeves/Teoma is overhyped, because the interfaces for these services give them accurate data about how little traffic they're generating.

I won't deny that inclusion *can* work well - especially for bigger retailers with a large catalog - but I suspect that for many small businesses, paid inclusion flops more often than not. I just checked a couple of the pages I included in Inktomi and Ask Jeeves - each received a total of six clicks in the past year. Hardly worth the trouble.

On the other hand, the two URL's listed in Inktomi for this site, traffick.com, received a total of 3,000 clicks. A good deal no matter how you slice it. But it proves the point. These are content pages. Search engines prefer content pages, it seems. These pages also do well in Google.

It's not a scientific study or anything, but until I see paid inclusion services giving me and my clients the kind of control (and/or solid numbers) we get from keyword-targeted pay-per-click advertising, I'm not going to change my mind on the issue.

I'm just glad Google never went to paid inclusion. I believe the model is fraught with problems, including the possibility that larger retailers can buy their way into an unspoken "higher priority category" than the other ordinary businesses who take the trouble to submit.

If and when Yahoo and Inktomi team together on a paid inclusion program, it will be impossible to ignore. But what kinds of games will be played with it? Will the ordinary business get to play on a level playing field, or will bulk inclusion rule the day (and distort the accuracy of search results)?

Posted by Andrew
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Sunday, June 22, 2003

Saints be Praised... the MSN Messenger 6 Beta is Here

Finally, upgrade-starved instant messaging folks are able to satisfy their urge to download the latest and greatest. Yes, MSN Messenger 6 beta version is out. Celebrate good times, come on!

Get it here

I'm not sure why I care about this, but for some reason, I do. I like new versions. I like new functionality, even if I don't need it. Somehow MSN suckered me into downloading the version 6 beta with the promise of new emoticons. New emoticons! I mean, come on!

The only reason I use Messenger is so my wife can bug me while I'm at the office. And she bugs me so frequently, that it's nice to have new emoticons with which to convey my emotions, thus saving me precious keystrokes that I can better use for clients.

Now I get to twiddle my thumbs while I wait for the full version to be released. *Pause*. Hmm, I guess I'll have to check out the "official" White House website while I wait to be enlightened by the fearless leader of the free world!

Posted by Cory
| | Permalink

 

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Speaking Engagement

See Andrew Goodman speak at ClickZ Live New York

Need Solid Advice?        

Google AdWords book


Andrew's book, Winning Results With Google AdWords, (McGraw-Hill, 2nd ed.), is still helping tens of thousands of advertisers cut through the noise and set a solid course for campaign ROI.

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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