Sunday, April 27, 2008

Facebook and Slide gets political: Free Tibet

I'm not checking Facebook nearly as often as I used to. Today I noticed I'd been sent by a political SuperPoke. I'm a little surprised that Slide has gone in this direction.

Time will tell whether this is a wise choice or not. Tibet's a more complex situation than TV reports do full justice too. Annoying China is not a good strategy if you wish to expand into APAC either.

On the other hand, this shows how powerful social networks can be harnessed to promote a positive and peaceful message. I think it's far better to use Facebook to bring attention to the problems in Tibet than trying to disrupt the Olympics is.

Saturday, April 26, 2008 bad currency

I know the Pound is annoyingly strong against the Dollar right now... but look what happened when I tried to renew my subscription today in Pounds (a valid option from's own dropdown menu).

This is a problem that can haunt some start ups. I'm surprised to see suffering.

Multi-currency is a digital marketing element that is big in Europe but a non-issue in the States. It's one of the biggest adjustments American or Canadian search marketers need to make when they come to practise anywhere in Europe.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The NMA Marketing Services Guide

The NMA have released their marketing services guide for 2008. The list charts the largest search agencies in the land. Once again The Search Works tops the list - congratulations guys. We came third.

The NMA list is a bit of a vanity exercise. The size of an agency is their total turnover - and this includes pass through revenue. Pass through revenue includes the money that simply comes in from clients and goes out to Google (or Yahoo or MSN).

In the US you'd never include pass through revenue as a meaningful measurement metric.

As a result PPC agencies (The Search Works) have a much higher turnover because the're passing client money on to Google. As I glance down the list and spy the likes of iCrossing (8th), Propellernet (15th), Tamar (18th), Neutralize (28th) or Site Visiblity (34th) I think to myself… wait a minute, these guys all have significant influence in the UK search marketing scene. I'm just naming a few too as there are other agencies in the list who "move the needle" in my opinion.

I should note too that the NMA points out that Efficient Frontier and Site Visibility exclude search spend from their figures and I respect that.

Here's the challenge. Is there a better metric? Up here in the North the media magazine The Drum had a go. First they required agencies to get enough recommendations from clients to qualify in the first place. Then they looked at revenue divided by staff - so an agency that made £10m a year with 50 staff was doing better than an agency that made £10m a year with 100 staff.

There's a problem with that too. What about those agencies who outsource? Do you count the outsourced staff (are they cheaper?) and how do you do it? If the £10m agency with 50 staff outsource to 150 people as well then perhaps they're not so good.

Perhaps profit is a better metric? After all; you can have a huge turnover (especially if you include pass through revenue) but do you manage to keep any of it? I've seen rival agencies drop their knickers when it comes to prices just to win a contract. I doubt they make a profit.

Agencies aren't going to share their profit figures though. The only time you get to peak at them is when the agency goes on the market and you're large enough to buy them. Even then it's pretty dull reading.

I think a much better way to 'measure' agencies is simply to talk to them. Meet the staff. Visit the office. Go listen to them speak at SMX or SES. Do you like what you hear?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Google blocking Yahoo Pipes - again (again)

We've been here before but Google seems to be blocking Yahoo Pipes again.

Here's the catch. I think Google likes Yahoo Pipes. Google's even demonstrated how Yahoo Pipes can be used. When I pointed out that Feedburner was blocking Pipes I even had MC pop over to the blog to make sure everything was okay.

So I don't think Google intends to block Yahoo Pipes. I think Google constantly fights off RSS scrapers and sometimes Yahoo Pipes gets caught in the crossfire. The screen grab above shows how it's the blogsearch results that are being blocked.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Am I a Sphinn troll now?

Have I gone too far? I just desphunn a sphinn that had gone hot. The sphinn in question is Could Mixx Be the Next Digg?

So why was I such a bastard as to desphinn that? We've had countless sphinns about Mixx already. The write up the sphinn posted to was thorough but it didn't add anything new. This wasn't breaking news.

The great thing about Sphinn is that the wisdom of the crowd rules. In this case I think the crowd got it wrong... but Sphinn's robust enough not to let grumps like me spoil things.

I need to go back and look at my micro-Sphinn pipe. It's been silent. It could have been silent for two reasons; none of the Sphinners I shortlisted are sphinning the same submissions (and what does that tell you?) or my sample set isn't large enough.

Setting up the micro-Sphinn was just a quick idea and something I did in Dublin Airport after Search Marketing World! Was it a good idea after all?

I don't want to create a clique of Sphinn elite (I'm very much against cliques). I do want to extract a little bit more from Sphinn though.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Doing the FriendFeed thang

This is the Twhirl effect. As Twhirl will soon support FriendFeed... I thought it's about time I did too.

So, this morning, it took just a few minutes to set up

The Marketing and Communications department lurvs it when I do that sort of thing
Dear Marcoms; I've created a bigmouthmedia FriendsFeed. Don't worry about it. It'll take care of itself. Oh... you might get some friend emails. Don't worry about this other.

Once again I note that all these efforts to cope with the "decentralised self" work around the single person concept and not that of a company. The very word "friend" is a human concept and rather emotive too. It doesn't seem to suit corporations at all.

MSN flying high, Google and Yahoo doing equally badly

Ah. A chart that shows MSN kicking Google into touch. How often do you see that?

The chart, of course, comes from Facebook's newly launched Lexicon. It's great fun to play with.

MSN likely does this well because Facebookers will be inviting each other to chat on 'MSN' - meaning Live Messenger.

Here's a chart that was used to try and stoke the heated console debates we're prone to!

Finaly's first comment was, "Can you get UK specific data?". Sadly not. Not yet.

It's a shame because if you could drill into geographies then you'd have a great tool for predicting retail buzz. Which toys are going to be the big sellers at Christmas? Facebook's Lexicon could tell you. I fear it's a little bit of a blunt instrument for the retail vertical now. It should work for travel (to an extent, at least for hotel room prices) and any international topic.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


I've had the Outbrain stars on my blog and vote option on my feedflare for a while. I like the ease of use and I like the anonymous feedback.

I recently got on to the beta to add the Outbrain recommendations widget. You can see the most popular stories (by rating) have been added to the top right of the blog.

I'd encourage you to start rating my blog posts. Why? Outbrain learns what you like and starts to make recommendations for you. Think of it as a personalised and content sensitive widget version of Google News.

There's a catch; it needs enough data before it can start to make recommendations. Does anyone know of any other search related Outbrain blogs? I'm inclined to start reading them so I can start building up my Outbrain profile.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The toughest SEO challenge yet?

The whiz kids over at bigmouthmedia Sweden have created a fiendishly challenging puzzle!

If you're good at mind challenges then pop over to the bigmouthGame.

The concept is simple enough; slide the blocks around so you can get the large bigmouthmedia block to the red base at the bottom of the rectangle.

Most people give up around the 50 moves mark...

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Isabell Wagner speaking at SMX Munich

I've uploaded this and a whole bunch of new photographs to our Flickr account.

We've snow in Norway, SMX in Munich, SES in New York, a Marathon in Paris, Ad:Tech in Paris and a party in Milan!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Google's countrty faux pas

I think this is fairly well documented but Google's "Did you mean..." suggestion can really commit some clangers. This screen grab was sent to me by an annoyed Austrain bigmouth!

My personal 'grrr' at Google is when they personalise my results but insist on telling me that they've 'personaliZed' my results. No Google, no. If you personalise my results then you spell in British English.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

My voting policy


Now that I force myself to post to this blog now and then. Now that I'm on LinkedIn, Twitter and other social sites I'm finding myself in contact with you lot more often.

This is a good thing.

One thing that I've noticed is that I get asked to vote for things rather a lot; mainly on Sphinn but also on other sites.


Here's my policy; Feel free to ask me to vote for something. I'll go to the site, review the latest submissions and vote for all of the ones there I like. I may or may not end up voting for you as I won't vote for anything I don't think deserves a vote. By asking me to vote for something you are, in effect, reminding me to go check in on the site and engage with it.

How does that sound?

Friday, April 04, 2008

A bigmouthmedia video

Have just discovered this video...

A Lativian blog called it bigmouthmedia and Freddy Mercury so it triggered Google alerts. The inspiration may be from...


And yes. Now that you've finished running in terror - we did do the last two!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Building your own micro-Sphinn with Yahoo Pipes

I announced to Twitter that I want Sphinn to let me know when people I trusted had started to sphinn a post. Seconds later; oh wait... I think each user has a sphinns RSS and I love Yahoo Pipes.

And so I present the Yahoo Pipe for Micro Sphinn (beta 0.1) which outputs sphinn posts when two or more of the following have voted for the same story.

Danny Sullivan, Rusty Brick, Susan, Patrick Altoft, Philipp Lenssen, Vanessa Fox, Chris Winfield, Bill Slawski, Lisa Barone, SEO Honolulu, Lyndon, Loren Baker, Viper Chill, Chris Cathcart, Sebastian, David Wallace, Spostare Duro, Kevin Heisler, Rach, Mel C and Jeff Quipp

I'll put my hands up and admit - this needs work. I actually probably need to submit more Sphinn users in order to get the "wisdom of the crowds" to work. I can off set this by increasing the 2 or more limit to 3 or more or higher. If you'd like to be added then leave me a comment with your Sphinn URL.

I've also published this Pipe so feel free to subscribe to it or clone and modify!