Danny sums up industry reaction to Google's homepage 'fusion' initiative. He neglected to add "... and Andrew Goodman took off early for the Victoria Day long weekend." Since I don't blog and drive, or blog and golf, my reaction is still in beta.
Probably, though, the appropriate reaction to the opportunity to spend a sunny Saturday setting up a personalized home page to replace a perfectly-functioning My Yahoo page, when I could be planting the garden with Mom & Dad, would be to focus on the plants.
A micro-comment might be that Google's unique approach to RSS (within GMail but presumably also in the fusion environment as well) will add yet another way that people can read content via feeds, thus speeding adoption. Choosing an RSS reader is getting to be a full-time job. For some reason, I now have several on the go, including the Firefox browser. But ultimately I expect to just use My Yahoo.
That in itself is a topic and a trend that is worthy of a separate full-length treatment. RSS is great, but could it be heading for the same disastrous clutter-fest as email, where advertisers and spammers crowd out what was once a good thing?
I'm also working hard on some updates on the contextual advertising game and the web analytics space. Or is it hardly working?
Thursday, May 19, 2005
It's a sign of the times. Bryan and Jeffrey Eisenberg's new book, Call to Action, is showing at #40 on Amazon under "books," and rising.
I recently read the book and found it so fresh and useful, I managed to slip a bit of its advice into my chapter on increasing conversion rates just before my own book went to press. Call to Action is loaded with insights such as "shopping cart abandonment isn't the real problem."
More than anything they've written previously, this book lays out the foundations of the Eisenbergs' approach to persuasion scenarios. These are original, agenda-setting ideas that put the online marketing challenge in perspective, not just a pile of loosely-organized facts and figures.
Those of us who seek credible and actionable information on web metrics have few guides to look to. The Eisenbergs are part of a rare and very small group of analytics pioneers. (That list includes Jim Sterne.)
Beginners will find it a bit dense, but for anyone who bills themselves as a "web marketing professional," Call to Action is a must.
The last time I was this excited was when Google Hacks made it onto a bestseller list. ;)
Wednesday, May 18, 2005
via SearchEngineGuide, I notice the following pro-Ballmer commentary snipped from a poster on WebmasterWorld:
Let's not forget that Microsoft also has the budget to severley [sic] damage Google in the advertising realm. They will take a loss for years to kill a company like Google. Don't be surprised if they go in and offer companies like AOL and Ask Jeeves to use their PPC products and provide them rates that Google couldn't fathom. They can go out and offer publishers ridiculous rates to steal them from Google.
OK, let's take the search referral market share numbers from the previous post and add AOL's + Ask's numbers (total, about 3.5%) to MSN's.
The new numbers would be:
Somebody's crystal ball is cracked.
Here at Traffick we've been using ClickTracks Optimizer to analyze our site traffic. It's a pleasing, intuitive experience to use ClickTracks. (If you're scoring at home, ClickTracks Optimizer is the mid-priced product. If you're shopping for analytics, take care to get the version that's right for your needs. Buying Pro when you really need Analyzer might be a bit like taking home a cute little kitten and finding out you owned a panther. Or vice-versa.)
The various metrics services have been giving us regular search referral market share updates lately, and I've been offering regular updates. Some say Yahoo is coming on strong; others (like Netratings) have them well back of Google.
Anyway, the rough count of "percentage of search queries referred" for this site in April -- taking into account that there may be a few ways of interpreting some referrals -- is as follows:
AOL, Ask Jeeves: both under 2%
A bunch of others: between 0.2% and 1.0%.
We rarely pay for any kind of sponsored links referring traffic to this particular site, so those numbers are for organic search only.
People keep telling me they're keeping a close eye on MSN, because "Microsoft doesn't like to lose." I'm still awaiting the evidence. As we can see from the above, another apparent behemoth -- AOL -- lost badly. It's fallen off a cliff.
One interesting trend is the increase in what we believe might be regular readership via RSS feeds. I suspect the analytics services need to buckle down and offer a better breakdown of those kinds of visitors. What if someone has syndicated this blog on their Firefox browser? Would that show up merely as a direct navigation similar to visiting via a bookmark? Probably.
Your mileage may vary.
Monday, May 16, 2005
Seth points to some mind-boggling mastery of minutiae over at eBay, on why they redesigned the eBay Stores logo.
The closest thing I can recall along these lines was Ask Jeeves' press release on an upcoming advertising strategy that included the heart-wrenching decision to "downplay the butler imagery." Presumably reporters would talk about this, and people would think they were a more serious search engine company. (When I asked questions about search in that interview, I was referred to the talking points in the release, the ones about the exciting new strategy developed by the ad agency.)
Seth is relatively lucky, in that he can say these things without directly offending clients (readers and other colleagues, maybe, but not clients, since he doesn't apparently do consulting).
Once you've got the hang of observing this type of "insider, Beltway mentality" inside the cosy confines of companies, it can be fascinating to watch.
My good friends at Client X (they appear to account for about 40% of the traffic to this blog, so hey guys, if you recognize yourselves, it's nothing personal!) have a diverse range of indispensable products, plenty of energy and new ideas, and a profitable growing business in a tough industry sector. If they fall victim to groupthink, think how many less-spunky companies must be susceptible. The example I'm thinking of is the last six times I've called or visited someone from the company, religiously they each asked if I "knew division X was now upstairs?"
Upstairs, downstairs, hanging from your ankles... at a certain point, everyone's got desks and chairs and computers and customers. Internal corporate chatter just ain't that interesting to outsiders and particularly customers. We can't remind ourselves often enough of this. After all, it could be a symptom of something bigger, like completely misreading your market because the engineering department developed something cool that everyone "should want."
I'm guilty, too. My company has finally got the keys to our new office at 119 Spadina Ave. I've been telling anyone within earshot about this, but if it reaches the point of them becoming visibly nauseous on hearing this yet again, I'll stop.