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Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Google Rolls Out New ROI Tracker for AdWords Clients

Google is releasing a new service which will help its advertisers track the performance of their ads, following the lead of competitors Overture and FindWhat.

Key points about the new service:

- It's free

- The reporting is set up to easily track four types of on-site action: sales, subscriptions, leads, and clickpaths

- You won't be able to track other kinds of ads (non-Google) with the tool

- Google will require participating advertisers to place a small Google graphic on their site, which will link to further information for the user concerned about privacy issues

- A custom version allows site owners to send values back to Google indicating dollar amounts for sales of different products, allowing ROI to be calculated on a per-click basis

It looks like the new tool is reasonably full-featured and handy, offering the ability to monitor conversion behavior within the Adwords interface. But it won't be the right solution for everyone, especially those who don't want a(nother?) instance of Google branding on their website, and those who track multiple types of online advertising. Like their competition, Google's tracking initiative looks more like a goodwill gesture to say "go ahead and track -- we want you to maximize your advertising performance," and not a full-scale entry into the metrics business.

Posted by Andrew
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Tuesday, October 07, 2003

LookSmart Looks toward an Uncertain Future

Well, shoot. Just as I was starting to figure out how to get ranked highly in MSN using LookSmart, Microsoft goes and pulls the plug on LookSmart as of Jan. 15, 2004.

This move is disastrous for LookSmart, no matter how positive of a spin its CEO, Jason Kellerman, puts on it. If they don't land another big deal soon, they will likely have massive layoffs, or will have to be bought out by another portal or search engine. But, it's unclear who would want to merge with them, due to the recent consolidation in the search engine business.

Many SEO experts had wished nothing but ill will toward LookSmart when they abandoned their directory model last year for a hybrid PPC one, including me. But, for some reason I have a soft spot for LookSmart, and hope they're able to weather the storm and somehow survive. This kind of puts a damper on their enthusiastic announcement about their new, new PPC model, eh?

Posted by Cory
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Monday, October 06, 2003

Google Has Fun; Alarmists Sound Alarms

Google has revealed that it is tracking the number of searches performed by a subset of users, and displaying the number on the Google home page.

Predictably, alarmists think this is Big Brother at it again. But, I hardly think of Google as Big Brother. If Google is doing this, you can bet it's for some good reason. In the New York Times article linked above, Marissa Mayer explains that this is an experiment to show people how often they use Google.

No doubt Google is doing this to gauge reaction for some other purpose, like, maybe power users are asked to pay a small fee to use Google, or something of that nature, in exchange for more advanced features. But, no one knows what their goal is yet, and they're not divulging anything at this point. Still, many searchers are eager to see further innovation by search engines, and perhaps this is a precursor to some cool new feature. Even if it's just for fun, you can bet that Google isn't doing this as part of some Patriot Act regulation!

Posted by Cory
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Frustrated Web Developer in Search of Industrial-Strength Bookmark Manager

I don't know about you, but the built-in bookmark manager offered by Internet Explorer is absolutely horrid. It's nearly impossible to rearrange favorites, add new favorites and edit categories due to its inherent limitations. It's very disappointing that Microsoft seems to be signaling the end of new development on IE, beyond minor updates or bug fixes.

Internet Explorer 6.0 is at least two years old now, and the overall feature set of Microsoft's browser technology hasn't changed much since version 4.0, which came out four years ago! I want a new IE, and I want real innovation. Microsoft seems to think there is no innovation left in browser technology. But that's baloney. Just look at the new features offered in recent versions of Netscape (another dead browser now) and Opera. Features like cookie managers, password-filling, more robust navigation, advanced settings and such are examples of innovations that IE doesn't offer. Why is this?!

I would actually pay -- yes pay! -- for a new version of IE. As a web developer, when more than 90% of users browse with IE, I don't have any other choice but to use what they use. Plus the one feature that IE has that others don't -- the ability to remember what you typed in online forms -- is invaluable from a development standpoint. Just imagine trying to test and debug a gigantic online form without a quick way to populate text fields! This ability is provided by online form managers like RoboForm, but it's not quite the same. Google's new Toolbar also provides similar functionality, but it's very limited when compared to RoboForm.

I don't actually use IE, however. I have adopted NetCaptor as my browser of choice. NetCaptor is one of those multi-browser apps that uses the IE shell but give it a much better interface and feature set, such as a built-in pop-up killer, ad blocker, quick search and more. But, the favorites manager is the same as that of IE. Sigh.

So, if I can't have a new IE, I'll just have to keep searching for utilities that can do the job. Which is probably for the best anyway. I'd rather give my money to someone who needs it than to simply fill the coffers of the world's largest corporation. Spread the wealth, baby.

Posted by Cory
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Sunday, October 05, 2003

SEO Gone Wild

Got this when searching Google for "antique roll-top desks in st. louis": Free Incest Pictures.

I don't know what this company is doing, but it's working quite well... in a very bad way. C'mon, Google, isn't it time to purge the triple-dash domains?

Posted by Cory
| | Permalink

 

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