All over the world, kids are out there kicking soccer balls, shooting hoops, maybe even hitting a golf ball. Most won't ever make a dime from the pursuit. What they earn is the thrill of doing better, when they try -- in a structured way -- to do their best. It's a great feeling when they do have that good game, and someone actually says "great game today." Makes them feel like Tiger Woods for a day, or at least a moment.
Matt Cutts is a low-key guy, so he's probably not going to want me to mention this. But he reviewed Winning Results with Google AdWords today on his blog.
The story goes something like this: in August, the publisher and I put together a list of reviewers in fairly standard fashion. Interested journalists, industry experts, etc.
A little while later, I decided to send a few out purely on my own. One of those was to Googler Extraordinaire Matt "Jagger" Cutts.
There was zero response or mention, so I just assumed that this is the sort of thing Matt "doesn't do." I was so right!
Today, he published a positive review out of the blue. And went on at some length about his ethical dilemma in accepting a "gift" of the book! (He bought his own copy on Amazon to make it right.)
You know that feeling you get when you get a compliment that is semi-sincere, or an endorsement from one of those people Godin refers to as "promiscuous sneezers"? It feels OK, but nothing special.
When a true skeptic, a guy who has worked in the AdWords team as a engineer in the past, and now has nothing to do with the ad side, overcomes his fear of "gifts" and posts a really positive comment, it means a lot more. In fact, that review (in my mind and gut) is the most positive one to date, and that's after eight long months in print. Matt, I'll be having Sprite with my pho for lunch today, to celebrate.
Thursday, May 11, 2006
Google's released Google Co-Op, a means for putting together vertical search engines. And there's some element of tagging in here too, as Danny reports. Danny and Barry spent some time playing around with it, and are sounding confused -- I haven't the time, so I'm 10x more confused than they...
Next best thing to being at Google's Press Day:
Matt Cutts, huge post on Google Press Day 2006
Danny Sullivan, My Big Fat 2006 Google Press Day Roundup
Exhilarating release in Google Labs: Google Trends. This is moving towards being an answer to MSN adCenter's demographic keyword research. I did a car-related query and it paid immediate, fun dividends:
Clicking on the "regions" tab I discovered that Canadians (comparatively speaking) love the subcompact Toyota Echo. BMW 335i is a brand new product for fall, so the tiny blue blip shows searches just beginning a couple of weeks ago.
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
It's come to my attention that some might misread the tone of this blog as "sarcastic."
We're not sarcastic -- we're Canadian.
OK, Cory isn't Canadian. He's from Missouri. The "Show Me" state.
So, I'm Canadian, and a bit sarcastic. Tell you something you didn't know.
I'm also rather passionate about the facts, and letting customers (the marketplace) speak loud and clear. I'm re-reading Jim Collins' now-classic Good to Great. What we know, from this great work, is that great companies let the facts -- as dictated by market conditions -- speak loud and clear. Cheerleading and happy thoughts have often been the downfall of the "comparison" (merely good) companies. Needless to say, facts can be uncomfortable.
It's been said the job of any newspaper is to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable. Who the "afflicted" are is anyone's guess in this world, but as we consult directly with advertisers, you can assume it's them I'm comforting when I'm writing things that afflict the comfortable.
On top of everything else, I was working on a PhD in Stalinist poetry before I got this gig, so...
That last bit wasn't true.
Now back to making money hand over fist.
Monday, May 08, 2006
If you're a Yahoo Search Marketing advertiser, you've seen the email by now outlining the New Sponsored Search. The features are interesting, but the most important piece of info for advertisers, pundits, and Wall Street alike is the launch date: "Fall."
Practically speaking, then, you're stuck with the old platform for another 6-7 months. Don't let your campaign lie fallow waiting all that time while competitors pick up leads. It's possible to make the old system work.
Let's turn to some comments on the new features.
Fixing the awful control panel: well, yeah, we knew that would be at the top of the list. Seeing what you're supposed to see, quickly... it's just tablestakes isn't it?
Fast ad activation: that's an interesting twist (AdWords-like). It contrasts with the "order" system of the new MSN adCenter, which has "Overture-like" editorial approval. We'll see if the Yahoo human infrastructure deals well with the new automation -- I would expect it to help them in their jobs.
Ad testing: always one of the most awesomest features of AdWords. We can't wait.
Geotargeting: will affect a significant percentage of advertisers.
Comparisons with competitors; "quality index"; this one is murky, and not sure whether I like it. Being benchmarked against competitors largely based on CTR is certainly to the advantage of the search engines, but you worry that advertisers will be given bad advice on how to "improve" their campaigns. Even with lower CTR's hurting position on the page, it is possible that a higher ROI might result. As usual, the advertisers who track best, will do best. Wonder if they've got dynamic keyword insertion lurking in the wings, too?
Yahoo plans to offer a blog, and regular articles giving you the "inside scoop" from staff on how to best take advantage of the system. Kudos. As always we'll be here (and there) with the "outside scoop" (unbiased, third party advice) -- which is always sorely needed.
Broad takeaway: it looks like a me-too product, but a much better one, so it's going to be well received.
Broader takeaway: that Yahoo is creating a new product with such a distinct flavor, and getting buy-in from its team, adds momentum to the #2 player and seems to put pressure on MSN, the #3. In spite of adCenter's many cool features, the emergence of a new Yahoo system reinforces the fact that MSN will be playing catchup.
The real battle, in any case, is for search market share -- if all three platforms are reasonably robust. Distribution (reach) and quality of reach (mostly search) has always been the main driver of online advertisers' time and money decisions. There's a bit of an opening for MSN on the content targeting and general ad serving front, obviously, as Y and G haven't particularly distinguished themselves in those areas. Certainly there is room for a different approach.
I had been wondering if Yahoo and MSN might try to team up to be Google Killers... but now it looks like the cultures of these organizations are different enough, and both are confident enough, that it is at least a couple of years before either admits they need help. Similarly, Ask.com is still in its optimistic Diller's-Here phase, so in spite of the logic of it being snatched up by one of the three leaders, that's probably not in the cards for awhile yet either.
Which means: reps from all these companies will be trying to convince advertisers to buy direct from them, which will mean a lot of noise and unfortunately extra effort from marketers. Even Ask, as a fourth player, cannot be ignored as an ad buy because a direct buy with them is placed in premium positions (Google ads are placed at the bottom of the page). But as 1-2% of many advertisers' volume, many will indeed ignore it.
Sunday, May 07, 2006
If you're in marketing and advertising, do you ever feel a bit creeped out by a big brand you're doing work for? How about a "superstar" in the biz who appears willing to shill for just about any product going? Do you ever find a place to draw the line? It's a tough one, living in a material world.
At the very least, I think you can safely mute your enthusiasm for certain products and the people who promote them.
Here's an interesting resource: the list of known and suspected carcinogens. In some parts of the world, products containing known carcinogens must be banned, and strongly suspected carcinogens must be labeled. In other jurisdictions, the regulatory bodies say: "hey, no problem!"
Now let's say you're at a talk, and well-paid big-brand manager gets up and says "I'd really like to thank the people at Mustard Gas for all their wonderful support. It's such a kick-ass product and they're really great people. Just wanted to get in a quick plug here, they've come up with a new version called Power Mustard Gas -- for really tough Gassing problems, it's got 50% more power!..."
You're allowed to roll your eyes at that person. You're allowed to walk away from promoting Mustard Gas, and make less money as a result. Your mom will cheer.