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Thursday, October 16, 2003

Yahoo Integrates Product Search into New Search Tab

Perform a search on Yahoo now, and you'll see a new "Products" tab, which compares product prices if your search relates to something that can be bought or sold (you can tell it's new, because there's a tag hanging off the tab that says "new!", see?)

For example, search on "dvd" and you'll see normal search results; but, clicking on the Products tab will bring back shopping-related results, and allow you to customize your price comparison criteria. Nicely done, Yahoo!

I don't know how often I'll use this feature, but it's smart to make these kinds of "searchable" activities accessible from the main search page, a tactic that Google pioneered and needs to continue to develop or it could find itself eclipsed by Yahoo.

Posted by Cory
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AOL Awakens from Years of Slumber

America Online has gone from super lethargic to super aggressive this week. CNET reports that AOL is set to relaunch the Netscape brand in early 2004 as a discount ISP charging in the neighborhood of 10 bucks a month, with fewer features, as compared to AOL's $23.90 monthly fee for premium content and ads out the wazoo.

This is a smart move, and way overdue. You'd think they would have done something to stanch the bleeding of their core dial-up subscriber base a long time ago, but no. AOL has also launched a media blitz to promote their new 9.0 online service, which has a host of new features that are probably mere iterations of previous features (a common practice with software providers these days; it's all about how well you market small changes to existing features, isn't it?). That little yellow IM guy they use in their ads is cute, but I'm still not ditching my cable modem for the wonders of the AOL Gated Community!

Posted by Cory
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Wednesday, October 15, 2003

New Traffick Article: Google Alert Shows the Power of Google's Web API Program

One of the first applications of Google's Web API with universal appeal was Google Alert, which tracks searches automatically and e-mails you when Google's search results change for those terms. That's a great timesaver and a new way of researching information on the Web.

Posted by Cory
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Sunday, October 12, 2003

Approach to Ad-Tracking Sets Google Apart

Not only is Google's AdWords program superior to Overture's in many ways, but Google's new conversion tracker unveiled last week puts them on an even higher plane.

Once again, Overture "got there first," but they fumbled the ball by charging for their Conversion Counter. That caught many observers, including yours truly, by surprise. You'd think that Overture would want to make this feature available to as many advertisers as possible, with the theory being that once advertisers know where their bucks are coming from, they're more likely to spend more bucks on PPC ads.

Well, I guess that theory was wrong, because although Conversion Counter is free for a limited time, you'll have to pony up 50 bucks a month to keep using it after the grace period ends. Hmm, that's 600 bucks a year for something that really should be a free, value-added service. But no.

And, once again, Google "got it right" by offering their conversion tracking feature free. I'm sure there was a mad rush of advertisers logging in to get their hands dirty with this delightful data. I sure did. Of course, it will takes some time to actually see the results of conversion tracking; but after enough data is accumulated, thousands of advertisers will finally learn which ads are generating the best clicks.

I've thought quite a lot about this information the past few days, and have ruminated on what this information will mean for the PPC engines. Yes, it will show us which keywords are generating the conversions and enable users to spend money more wisely. But, from the PPC engines' standpoint, will these features actually encourage advertisers to spend more money? I'm not so sure.

As it is now, most advertisers are blindly throwing money at any and all related search phrases. But, when advertisers know exactly which terms generate the clicks, will they scale back all others and focus instead on those that generate the most clicks? Only time will tell, of course, and it will be interesting to see what the PPC community decides.

Posted by Cory
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