Monday, July 21, 2008

New Facebook and Double Serving

New Facebook looks like it'll have an ad wobble to over come. The note of caution is that we're just in the beta or very early release so it's not surprising that Facebook still has some wrinkles to iron. Look at this:

The new Facebook doubles the graphic ad slots. We go from one ad on the left to two ads on the right. You can see that Facebook is double serving me the same dating ad. I'd be pretty annnoyed if I was the advertiser - especially if I end up paying for two impressions. If I'm only paying for one impression then Facebook just cut their ad revenue by %50. Oops!

Facebook always targets dating ads at me. Clearly it thinks digital marketing men in their 30s should be hot chicks. I agree.

Facebook sent out the following email to advertisers to explain the new ad system.


Thanks for advertising with Facebook. You may have already heard
that Facebook is about to get a new look aimed at making user
profiles simpler and more relevant. You can read more overall about
the new design here,
but let's also take a deeper look into what the new design means for you.

While the content on the site will remain the same, the new design
will shift the placement of ads on the site. Advertisers won't need
to make any changes to the ads they already have created in order
for them to appear on the new site design. The look of the ads will
remain the same, but they will be located in a different part of the page.

The most basic change that you'll notice is that ads will now appear
on the right side of Facebook pages instead of on the left. The new
placement integrates the ads into the new site design in a meaningful
way. As many as two ads may show at one time on any given page.

In addition to these changes, you will also see a new ad on the home
page. This new ad is located just to the right of the News Feed, and
will initially run a limited set of advertisers. As this space continues
to evolve and improve, we'll provide more details.

If you have questions about your advertising or how it might be affected
by the new design, please visit the Help Center at
or contact our team using the form located here:

As always, we welcome any feedback you might have to help us make
our advertising products as effective and useful as possible.

Enjoy the new design!

The Facebook Ads Team

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

BBC's iPlayer goes up to 11

The phrase up to eleven is famous in the right pop culture circles.

You know how amps have a volume dial that goes up to ten? These ones go to eleven.

What else goes to 11? Why, the BBC's iPlayer volume too!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Google China's Captcha Calculator

Google will block searches if their systems detect something is up. "Up" is often an infected computer that has a virus trying to looking for email addresses or bbs vulnerabilities via Google searches.

Increasingly, though, "up" might also be companies that naturally do an awful lot of Google searches by hand and rather than block these people outright Google challenges them with a captcha so they can prove they're not a virus.

... but what about in China? You ever seen a Chinese character captcha? Just how would that work?

Pretty cool, huh? The captcha is numeric and there's a lovely calculator-esq type pad to use.

Google recommends this anti-virus to their Chinese users. They point to this do not crawl us help page as another explanation as to why you're seeing the captcha page.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Google showing AdWords at the bottom of the page

Google are showing AdWords at the bottom of the page - in France. Don't know if this is new as it's been aaages since I've been to France. Can't remember when this happened last in the UK or US... can't remember when I was last at the bottom of a Google page in the UK or US!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Facebook needs to improve how it works with agencies

However are social networks like Facebook going to successfully monetize? You've heard that question to death by now. It's an old subject still without a clear answer.

A significant step in the right direction would be to make it much easier for digital marketing agencies to work with social networks.

At times I can find Facebook very frustrating. Take their payment system for example. Facebook will not issue monthly invoices. They won't bill you. Not even the most simple of all finical paperwork. I had my shower replaced a few months ago and the plumber, a sole trader, was able to invoice me! Why can't Facebook do it?

Instead Facebook will only accept credit card payments. Great! You try sorting that out if you're dealing with a hundred Facebook campaigns and nearly as many individual advertisers. Imagine some of those advertisers are franchises without a central budget. It quickly becomes a maze. As someone in our finance department pointed out; "This basically minimises their work and dumps all the admin onto us."

If I'm allowed a bit of paranoia and selfishness then I'll point out the buffer effect too. The money is spent at Facebook. We pay Facebook and the money goes from out account. There could then be a gap before the client pays us... we're paying out before we get paid ourselves (not something affiliate networks do, for example). At the very least that costs us the interest the money could have been earning in the bank.

This is not how big agencies like to work. If Facebook wants to keep the interest of big advertising agencies then it needs to get with the program. Google versus Facebook? In terms of dealing with agencies Google is miles and miles ahead.


Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Super Advanced Mega Match or Google Pushing Retail Gadgets?

Another blog post. Another odd Google screen grab.

What the screen grab shows is a Google AdWord for that's been triggered by the keyword AdWords.

So is Google really pushing Gadgets that hard?

Or, if you look at the display URL you can see that the ad in Gadgets is in bold. Google's broadmatched AdWords to ad and then that's triggered the Retail Gadget AdWord advert.

Hmm. What do you think? Intended AdWord placement by Google or accidental?

Google Really Messing up in the UK

You'll have read over at SERoundtable that a recent update of Google UK seemed to flood the results with Aussi results - lots of results.

Well. Look at this; the number #1 result for 'video' is That's Korea and not the UK.

It even looks as if Google are having to run AdWords to point users to Should someone point the YouTube people at Google's geo-targeting options on the webmaster console? Of course, there is no way Google's algo should link Korea is the best destination for UK searchers.

Also... notice those two spyware ads? For and Well that's an example of a company double serving which is against Google's AdWords T&Cs.

Also... and this is important; don't click on either of those two ads; both attempt to launch an .exe (and are probably a virus/spyware). This is also against Google's T&Cs.

Not the best set of results in Google's history.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Integrating Sphinn and Friendfeed

It's actually pretty easy to intergrate Sphinn and Friendfeed. Sphinn produces a host of tailored RSS feeds. For example, to Friendfeed what you're sphinning then get your sphinns RSS from your profile page. Click on the orange RSS logo.

Then all you have to do is add that RSS as a blog entry to your Friendfeed profile.

If your followers on Friendfeed don't want to see what you're sphinning then all they need to do it hit the "Hide" link.

Hopefully this will remind me to spend time on Sphinn. Not sure it'll stop me getting frustrated when people don't sphinn stories I think are interesting and keep on sphinning "5 things you already knew about H1 tags".

Friday, July 04, 2008

The Search Blogrunners

What's your homepage? iGoogle? Mine's Blogrunner as it lets me see, at a glance, what's hot in the blogs. I really wish that Google offered something like this - a Google News for Blogs. Even better would be a Google Blogrunner that let me picked the sources or keywords I cared about as feeders and let them influence the agenda.

The rest of this post is a little bit of a boast.

Google recently asked for people's SEO recommendations. That was pretty rare.

What was also rare was that WebmasterCentral post started a thread/headline in blogrunner. Well done Susan Moskwa. I can't be %100 sure that's a Google first. It's one of the first I've noticed, though.

I noticed this because my trick question? post was also included in the blog discussion thread.

There are very few Search blogs that make Blogrunner. Here's the list of people who made this discussion:

  1. Matt Cutts
  2. Barry Schwartz @ Seach Engine Land
  3. Jennifer Laycock @ Search Engine Guide
  4. Jordan McCollum @ Marketing Pilgrim
  5. Doug Caverly @ WebPro News
  6. Jason Calacanis
  7. Barry Schwartz @ Search Engine Roundtable
  8. Andrew Girdwood
  9. Aaron Sheer @ Search Engine Watch
  10. Lisa Barone
  11. Barry Schwartz @ Search Engine Roundtable
  12. Barry Schwartz @ Search Engine Land
  13. Sarah Bird @ SEOmoz
See how influential Barry is!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Google's trick question?

I dig the fact that Google have updated their SEO page. The update includes two key areas: what an SEO might offer & useful questions to ask an SEO.

It's interesting to note that a few of these bullet points seem to edge towards suggesting that an SEO should offer a little bit more than just SEO analysis; content creation or other complementary marketing services are two suggested extras.

In particular, the question "What kind of results do you expect to see, and in what timeframe?" caught my eye.

Have you been to an SEO pitch? How much do you like that question?

I'm always keen to stress that ethical SEO is not usually quick. A common analogy is to pair SEO to a marathon and PPC to a sprint. Of course, SEO can produce results quickly if an otherwise authoritative site has some easy to fix and howling issues (like a disallow: / in the robots.txt).

What about results? Do you talk keyword positions any more? Really? Even with geographic results being increasingly common and personalised results frequent. Perhaps you talk about traffic... but then can you predict search frequencies?

A big company once asked me to predict some search frequencies for their brand term. I asked them whether they were planning another year of TV ads and whether they planned to repeat last year's aggressive London Underground poster campaign. They had no idea. It was pretty easy to point out that those offline advertising campaigns have dramatic effects on their search frequencies and I was in no position to even estimate their brand traffic until they knew more about their marketing plans for the year.

Face it; "What kind of results do you expect to see, and in what timeframe?" is a tough question to answer.

I'm glad Google's pushed it to the fore, though. SEOs who guarantee high positions, quickly, for new sites in competitive marketplaces should get caught out. They'll probably repeat their unlikely predictions whereas better educated and more ethical SEO agencies in the pitch will likely explain some of the issues around the question.'s RSS; my fault or theirs?

I'm really not sure whether this was my mistake or a yellow card for The RSS feed is one of the data streams which gets pulled into the bigmouth friendfeed and the newly set up (still in development) bigmouth tumblr account.

Imagine my distaste then when I saw a generic "Get Going with Upcoming this Summer" appear on our tumblr (where it'll make it way to twitter too).

As you can see it happened to the inspirational Brian Solis too.

As it turns out there are more than one RSS feed for your upcoming events. The RSS button on the left of your profile page is the 'combined events' stream. The RSS button on the right of the profile page is the 'events' stream.

The generic "Get Going with Upcoming this Summer" only appeared in the 'combined events' RSS feed and not the 'events' feed. Needless to say; I've switched over to 'events' from 'combined events'.

I'm not sure "Get Going with Upcoming this Summer" belongs in either though - why would anyone subscribing to an individual or company's Upcoming RSS want to get such a generic message? Imagine you've subscribed to a number of Upcoming RSS feeds? You'd get the same generic message dozens of times.