It seems now that Microsoft's entered the search fray, the stock "pizza palo alto" example the other guys always used to give examples of local searches has been replaced by the equally eye-glazing sample query "pizza redmond."
Apparently, if you want to look for something that interests you, rather than the search engine folks, you'll have to use your own imagination. They're clearly more interested in filling their own stomachs.
Thursday, February 10, 2005
At the risk of being taken down by a posse of sloshed media buyers next time I'm in New York...
What is it with AdBUMB lately? No newsletters forever, then I start getting one every other day.
In the past two weeks, AdBUMB has:
I think Cory's right... the 90's are back!
Wednesday, February 09, 2005
With money once again flowing into internet startups, and M&A activity in overdrive, it's starting to seem like the good old 1990s again.
I can't remember the last time so much activity was happening in the web space. Every day there seems to be another new startup touting a new twist on RSS, blogs or search technology that promises to (once again!) revolutionize the web. Every other day an established company is buying out a young stud while expanding their empire.
About once week a major portal introduces a cool new feature like Google's unbelievable map service this week. Every quarter or so, an internet-based company releases startling record revenues.
Search engine marketing is maturing. Best practices are being established in all aspects of e-business, which will help bring more companies into the fold, furthering the network effect of adoption. A majority of internet users now connect through high-speed connections that promise to fulfill the potential of voice over IP, online video and many other long-awaited technologies.
So, in honor of the internet's resurgence, here's a proud middle finger to the chumps at F'd Company and all the business mags who said it would never happen.
The internet is now the center of the business and entertainment world. Get used to it!
Tuesday, February 08, 2005
Google Maps is another step towards local search dominance for Google.
I've always been a fan of Yahoo! Maps and Mapquest. So the high praise for Google's new offering seems particularly significant coming from Yahoo's Jeremy Zawodny.
The experience of using Google Maps just feels that much smoother and faster. To move your point of view west, for example, you'd need to wait for the page to reload if you were using Yahoo Maps. On Google Maps, you just slide smoothly over.
And yes, they do Canada. My first search was for "1266 Queen Street West, Toronto." I ascertained that this location is a five-minute drive from my home. Walking down to the streetcar and riding it across Queen... well, that might be more like 20 mins. Interesting to ponder why these mapping programs have an "automotive" bias even within big cities... as if I'm not biased enough that way as it is! Here's hoping Google has someone working on the Top Ten Ways to Promote Alternative Fuels and Public Transit on Google Maps.
Some discussion on WebmasterWorld (spurred by Bob Tedeschi's article in the New York Times) speculates on what Google's really up to in becoming a domain registrar.
Here's an idea: when they say they're doing it to improve search results, why not just take them at their word?
Roughly, I would argue that this is probably the type of thing that is a continuation of the ongoing post-Florida attempt to improve search quality (and pump up ad revenues) by (a) privileging "informational" resources over commercial pages; (b) on highly commercial queries, attempting to distinguish, in various ways, "reputable commercial" from "spammy commercial."
One obvious way to check up is to attempt to match physical domain name addresses with physical addresses listed on a website. Google could also look at the length of tenure of a domain.
On the other hand, its DomainSense operation (assuming there still is such an operation within Google, after Google acquired Applied Semantics) could benefit from an effort to begin registering expired domains to serve PPC links on them. (This kind of "junk revenue seeking" got a bit of ink recently when Marchex acquired a large domain name bank.)
It definitely does seem like there are a half-dozen reasons Google might want to become a domain registrar other than actually selling domain names.
Eventually, of course, they could also set their sights on Yahoo and begin selling domain names to complement GMail, Blogger, etc. But I tend to agree with GoDaddy CEO Bob Parsons -- domain registration and web hosting companies have nothing to fear in the near term.
Tedeschi's article will not impress savvy Google watchers in one respect: it asserts Google has no phone support at all! Not only is there live support for advertisers at a well-known 866 number, but now advertisers (even small ones) have been assigned specific contact persons, to whom they're automatically directed if they phone the number and enter their account number. That being said, surely Google is too smart to deworseify from the high-margin biz they're in now into the thin-margin hosting game.
Monday, February 07, 2005
There has been some muted discussion of the drawbacks of choosing Overture's or Gooogle's own conversion tracking software to track paid search campaigns as opposed to using a third-party tracker. Some can't imagine that there could be any disadvantage to letting the engines see your ROI data. After all, don't they have privacy policies?
Searching on the topic, I turned up a post from last month on Reprise Media's weblog. Josh, Peter, et al. note that Shopping.com was seemingly able to glean the worth of different classes of clicks from advertisers who had chosen to use Shopping.com's own ROI tracking tool. Lo and behold, they came along and imposed new minimum bids in the areas that they've deemed more lucrative (thus replacing real market demand with "oughta be" market demand). For the advertisers who were enjoying the healthy ROI in some of the overlooked areas, it must have caused an immediate financial hit.
The word from Reprise is unequivocal: Wake Up, People.
There are plenty of ways to track your conversions. Install a tool that doesn't send your back-end data back to the same guys who are selling you the traffic.
Sunday, February 06, 2005
News broke over the weekend that Ask.com has purchased Bloglines for an undisclosed amount. Most Traffick readers probably have never heard of Bloglines, an online RSS newsfeed aggregator, but it is said to be the most popular service of the sort.
Because of the relative anonymity surrounding Bloglines and the meteoric rise of blogging, it isn't clear yet what it means for search engines and blogging. I think it's way too early to speculate on the deal's direct implications, but here are some pretty safe assumptions about the this intersection of search engines, blogs and RSS technology, which are making for an interesting 2005.
1. Search engines are getting off the bench and taking charge. For years, blogging was a neat little hobby for geeks that formed its own clique of niche players. Then Google bought Blogger in 2003, and blogging gained more credibility.
The business model has yet to be proved for sure, but blogs offer what search engines like: content and lots of fresh content. Everyone knows Google bought Blogger in 2003 for its direct conduit to online publishing, as well as the vast real estate offered by blogs, which is perfect for content-targeted text ads. Microsoft in late 2004 launched its own blog platform called MSN Spaces. Yahoo is said to have an interest in TypePad, another leading blog platform. Some people say Google will buy Technorati, Daypop and Feedster. And now Ask buys an aggregator.
2. We ain't seen nothin' yet. The "Ask-iquisition" of Bloglines will accelerate search engine interest in blogs and RSS. More big deals like this will follow. The pace of acquisitions will be driven equally by real opportunities and synergies between blog companies and search companies, and by good old-fashioned me-tooism. In fact, the Bloglines deal may indicate pre-emptive me-tooism by Ask.com. Or, maybe we're seeing the first of many aggressive moves by Ask to dominate the blogosphere.
3. RSS search feeds are coming fast. MSN is leading the way in the integration of RSS search results feeds, and Google is sure to follow, provided they can live with the constant pinging of its servers by RSS readers. MSN isn't heavily promoting RSS search feeds yet, probably for this reason.
4. Internet marketing splinters even more. By this time next year, RSS marketing and blog marketing will be two of the hottest trends, right up there with search engine marketing. In fact all of this will meld together. We're seeing the next-generation online content platform forming before our eyes.
As always, stay tuned for more!