Saw your AdWords ad on Google. Simple, to the point. Excellent.
Your landing page? Way better than I would have expected. It's a three step process explaining "how to open an account." Not messing around! I love it.
Unfortunately you might want to tell the agency that set it up that they're taking us all to the French-language landing page. Minor detail, but probably only 1% of the people who see your English ad want a French landing page.
Thursday, March 17, 2005
... when they decided to run those flights from Toronto to Chicago, Toronto to Miami, Toronto to Charlotte, Toronto to Dallas, Toronto to New York...
If white-collar business types are going to be treated like common criminals, then maybe you should just ground the damn planes! We'll drive down, and just tell Customs we're going for a plate of wings.
Blogging expert Eric Wright isn't the only one who has been interrogated by US Customs in the little room at Pearson Airport.
Happened to me shortly before a one-hour flight to Chicago to speak at Nielsen Norman User Experience. I got the guy right out of a movie, screaming at me that he didn't like the way I was answering the questions.
Now apparently, under NAFTA, there are strict rules if you're going to the U.S. to any kind of paid speaking gig. Unless you are uniquely qualified to do so. By uniquely qualified, this means you must have written a book or something. Or, you must have a signed letter from the conference organizers. Or... you must have appropriate professional qualifications. When you read over the chart, it appears that to give a speech on marketing, "appropriate professional qualifications" are a Bachelor's degree in... any subject. Hooray, I'm actually overqualified!
To prove this, under the strict letter of the law, you need to bring a photocopy of your transcripts to the airport. (I'm not making this up!) Has anyone ever done this? I strongly doubt it.
Unlike Wright, I eventually got handed a NAFTA pamphlet and was allowed to board my one-hour flight to Chicago.
At one point, I thought I had it licked. U.S. customs agents like eye contact. Don't like mumbling. They like it when you smile a bit. So, don't look down, smile like a movie star, and be confident. Also, lie and say you're not being compensated for speaking. Last month, this methodology worked perfectly. Not that it needed to, since I'm a law-abiding citizen. I marched happily forward after getting the nod from the agent. Then got pulled aside for a random suitcase search!
As for Wright, maybe the agent wasn't as dumb as he seemed. I'm guessing Wright's mother phoned ahead. I mean, she's right. The agent's right. Wright's wrong. You can't make a living from blogging. You must be lying.
Wednesday, March 16, 2005
MSN Search will reportedly fold behavioral targeting into the mix of its new sponsored listings program, based on personal information provided by, for example, users of Hotmail. Because this is a slippery slope with no clear demarcation between the evil side and the good side (after all, the information is kept "confidential," right?) I suspect that Yahoo and Google will soon follow suit in some way. They didn't collect all that personalized information for nothing. The Ad:Tech crowd will be thrilled.
Not taking the opportunity to do this type of thing, though -- looking at an opportunity and rejecting it out of concern for the user's privacy -- would offer Google a great way of further distinguishing themselves from Microsoft. If they were smart, they'd sit tight on this trend.
Tuesday, March 15, 2005
Today Google has announced the launch of the Google Local Business Center. It provides local businesses with the opportunity to update information like hours, wi-fi availability, etc.
In savvy circles, interest in local search has been percolating for some time, but for the most part, analysts have been sceptical. Google casually mentioned that Local is already one of their biggest draws. All it took was to put a tab for it on the home page. This was greeted by a yawning press.
Allowing businesses to directly work with Google on their local listings has major implications.
(1) The gloves are off, as predicted in an issue of Page Zero Advisor not so long ago. Partnerships with yellow pages listings companies will eventually be phased out as Google forges direct listing relationships by the heapful. I believe now as I have believed for some time now that the supposed advantages of traditional directories -- big sales forces -- are minor in the face of business' desire to have a direct listing (and billing) relationship with the top search engine.
(2) This is really Directory 2.0, isn't it? Yahoo invented the darn thing, then began charging for it, but it made sense to some businesses, and not to others. It was decontextualized and not that useful to users. It definitely had limited appeal to "offline" businesses. Anyway, the more useful it becomes, the more critical mass this will develop. Businesses will clamor to list because users are making heavy use of the directory.
(3) We'll be interested to watch how listings are ranked, and how Google phases in new enhanced listing options.
(4) This is the reintroduction of metadata into the web listings game. Will businesses lie? How will they be supervised? Will "GLO" firms pop up? (Google Local Optimization.) Will they all be "ethical"?
Local search is racing ahead - at Google, and in other places. Most consumers are unaware just yet as to how useful this is all going to be... but they're finding out fast. As my research colleague Mark Shawera and I argued in the first draft of a white paper we didn't have time to release because the space keeps moving so fast... savvy information aggregators like Google and Yahoo are going direct to businesses and are going to have no trouble taking a big chunk of business away from the crusty old yellow pages companies. Traditional directory companies are in big, big trouble.
To get started with Google Local Business Center, go here. Currently this is available only in the U.S.
Goldman Sachs makes a good point: if and when MSN comes out with its own paid search advertising program to repatriate revenues on sponsored listings near search results, it might not be an auction lest it infringe Overture's patents. Google's penalty for infringing (or should I say being accused of infringing, since the settlement is not an admission of guilt), in the form of a settlement which handed IPO shares to Yahoo!, was several hundred million dollars. Microsoft probably wouldn't get off that lightly. Then again, isn't FindWhat still running an auction?
Back to flat-rate CPM search ads? Won't that be fun.