The click fraud legend grows, and my clients couldn't be happier.
All of a sudden, our competitors are paying closer attention to the traffic they're bidding on. Some are being deterred from participating in the auction at all. Lo and behold, the relentless increase in PPC costs begins to reverse itself, and once "impossible" campaigns become profitable.
No question about it. This job is a headache a day. Junky clicks are the scourge of the PPC game. But I don't know of any marketing venue today that hands you guaranteed ROI on a platter. Google AdWords isn't a nice safe Volvo. If you roll down a hill in it, you may not walk out of there unscathed. It's more like a modified Pinto hurtling down an icy road. Only skilled operators need apply.
Worst-case scenario for Google: the 50% of advertisers who are not currently placing enough importance on ROI tracking begin to do so, and Google's revenue growth is impacted to the point where their stock is cut in half. That would put it back to the IPO price.
Unfortunately, we'll probably still be having this conversation a year from now because of how dependent Google has become on its AdSense (content targeting) program. Reporters (and no-nonsense marketing specialists like Godin) know when they are onto a real story. I can't see that story getting any quieter until Google acknowledges that they built the content program too quickly, and takes steps to pare it back. Trust me, if the only publishers who are participating in the program are owned by media companies of decent size, there will be no equity for any proverbial or real "armies of Indian clickers."
Unscrupulous small publishers in jurisdictions with extradition treaties to the US might want to consider this disincentive to defrauding Google and their advertisers, too: how about jail?
Run, don't walk, to check out Mike Grehan's interview with Apostolos Gerasoulis, the chief scientist for Ask Jeeves (and founder of Teoma, the search engine company acquired by Jeeves), and Jim Lanzone, Senior VP, Search Properties.
The biggest highlight may have been Lanzone proferring a generous invitation to Mike to join them at White Castle. But a close second is Dr. Gerasoulis stirring up some minor controversy speculating on the extent to which Google results are an actual implementation of PageRank (not much, or at all).
If you read closely you'll catch the part where the savvy scientist completely sidesteps a question about Microsoft's entry into the market. He does so by flattering Mike and the community of search engine optimisation professionals. (Works on me every time, too.)
For the industry veteran, there are a whole bunch of other substantive comments from all three participants, including a reasoned rejection of the type of XML-feed paid inclusion that Yahoo currently offers.
Thursday, February 24, 2005
Jeremy Zawodny and seventeen others are now cheering for Google to release a calendar function. (You read vague speculation on that topic here way back last May.)
A couple of things I noticed:
- These folks really care about calendars!
- Life is so different nowadays. I wonder what Norm from Cheers would have done with a really good calendar. Every day the entry would have been "5 p.m., leave work for Cheers." This could have been a shared entry just in case others wanted to know where they could find him. Woody could have whipped out his PDA as Norm entered following a brief stop for donuts, and quipped: "I see you're ten minutes late, Mr. Peterson." "The usual, Woody." Then Woody would have queried Mr. Peterson's file on his PDA to discover that Mr. Peterson prefers draft beer.
- There has been a flurry of posts on the subject because someone's calendar-oriented site was getting hammered by a bot from Google. This led him to believe that Google's up to something calendar-related. But elsewhere, there have been recent "I wish Google had a calendar" posts completely unrelated to the 'bot story. Perhaps this truly means it's an idea whose time has come. Personally, in keeping with the comment we made last May in this space, I wouldn't look at this piecemeal, as "what will Google do for their next trick." Likely there really is an integrated plan at Google -- call it the portal plan if you will. So of course they will need to have a calendar eventually to go along with the email. This is just a matter of time.
- Some posters are concerned that Google's history so far with groupware has been weak. Indeed it has. Google Groups is out there but being upgraded very slowly. The concern with a Google calendar -- as vital as this is to one's work life -- is that it would be in beta for the new "Larry Page approved" maximum beta period of five years. So then you'd have to decide when it was safe to go in the water, since beta doesn't really mean beta. Maybe after a year or so?
- Meanwhile, the release of Mitch Kapor's "Chandler," an "open-source PIM," has been postponed until 2006.
- Is there some reason Zawodny won't even entertain the idea that Yahoo's calendar could satisfy his needs? Or is he sandbagging? Is Yahoo just hoping to goad Google into rushing a bad product to market? :)
Tuesday, February 22, 2005
Some nice gent named Neil from XULPlanet.com does yeoman's work and provides a list of "101 things that the Mozilla browser can do that IE cannot."
After IE 7.0 is released this summer, the feature set discrepancy will certainly tighten up between the two browsers. But in the end, I wager that we'll still have a list of "88 things" that Firefox can do that IE cannot!
Monday, February 21, 2005
From the "what took them so long" department, leading makers of web analytics software have joined together to form the Web Analytics Association, a group dedicated to standardizing and promoting this utterly important and often overlooked aspect of internet marketing.
"One of the main goals of the association is to go ahead and bring what is a small and fragmented industry to more awareness of the value of Web analytics and measurement," said Bryan Eisenberg, co-founder of consulting firm Future Now, who is the WAA's first chairman.As I wrote over two years ago, this is something that has been needed for a long time. We're still in the dark ages when it comes to understanding what really happens on our websites.
Smart companies like ClickTracks are helping pave the way to analytics enlightenment, but we have a long way to go. As is always the case when competitors agree on standards, a rising tide will surely lift all boats.