Monday, March 31, 2008

Google: With Safesearch On

File this under; "I think this is new".

Google's now telling me when safesearch is on or not for normal text SERPs. I imagine this becomes more of an issue as Universal Search ramps up and the basic web search starts to include more images and video.

alternatively, I was doing some work for a cosmetic surgery client on Friday and flicked the safesearch settings on Google Image search on and off a few times to see the difference (wow; what a difference!) and so the appearance of this safesearch banner may well be due to that!

Decentralised Profiles

I've spent the entire weekend and all of today in Edinburgh. Woo. Rare. As a result I've spent a little time tending to all the decentralised profiles bigmouth has grown over the years.

  • Flickr - With pictures from SES uploaded and some more from Norway's ski slopes to appear tonight
  • Twitter - New! I fell to Twitter during SES New York thanks to Jennifer Laycock so now bigmouth has too.
  • Upcoming - Where you can expect to find bigmouths roaming around, talking, eating popcorn and handing out teeth.
  • big clever - It doesn't look like its getting updated very often but one of the Edinburgh based teams run a branded blog!
  • delicious - Used to tag lots of external news about is; good news, comments, award wins, etc

It takes a while! We've products like FriendFeed to try and help tie all these profiles together. I don't suspect it'll take long before we start seeing corporate alternatives.

In particular, Flickr really needs help understanding that big companies might want to use it. Right now we're a set of rules within marcoms which govern the type of photographs that can get uploaded, who gets the password, etc. A Google style MCC would be nice!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Google black for Earth Hour

It's after 12 here in the UK and Google's doing something a little special... it's turned off the lights for Earth Hour.

Google's page on Earth Hour says;

On Saturday, March 29, 2008, Earth Hour invites people around the world to turn off their lights for one hour – from 8:00pm to 9:00pm in their local time zone. On this day, cities around the world, including Copenhagen, Chicago, Melbourne, Dubai, and Tel Aviv, will hold events to acknowledge their commitment to energy conservation.

So I'm not sure they've got their timing exactly right. It's after midnight. Not after 8:00pm.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Emails that harm our reputation

The SEO community is very good at rising up and defending our reputation. It is a shame we have to. Every month I hope we'll see less and less cowboy practices but each month I usually see something that annoys the heck out of me.

Yesterday I was emailed the following. The emphasis is mine. Doesn't it make you feel great to be an SEO?

I was looking at websites under the keyword New York Plastic Surgery and came across your website I see that you're not ranked on the first page of Google for a New York Plastic Surgery search.

I'm not sure if you're aware of why you're ranked this low but more importantly how easily correctable this is.

There's no reason you can't have a top three ranking for the keyword New York Plastic Surgery based on your site structure and content. You have a very nice site.

You need significantly more one way anchor text backlinks. If you're interested I can help you with this...

I'm talking about getting you ranked for ALL your keywords. Adding new backlinks on a steady and consistent basis from high PR quality websites is what produces the rankings you are looking for

The right kind of links are very critical in getting top ranking....and I can hand deliver these quality links to you.

My partners and I own 1000's websites and offer private linking to hundreds of website owners just like yourself.

I didn't send this email out to very many people but I am currently reaching out to a list of your "keyword competitors" as well. But I do favor your website because I can see your website monetizing the targeted website traffic the keyword New York Plastic Surgery can deliver.

I have your contact information and phone number. Is it ok if I give you a call?

I have a very simple way to prove that what I do works and it's risk free for you to try. Nothing beats seeing the results with your own eyes

Is it ok if I give you a call? I would love to pursue this further over the phone with you or should I go somewhere else?


Adam Ross
(480) 588-8900 ext. 600

P.S - If the tables were turned and somebody I didn't know came to me with a proposition, even one that was appealing, I would be hesitant because I would be wondering - what's the catch? What does this guy know that I don't.

But then I would think he does know something that I don't know. He does have thousands of high PR websites, he does have hundreds of thousands of pages indexed and ranking in Google Yahoo and MSN. Sites that can deliver the quality anchor text backlinks. I would also think that I need to get my website in the top rankings. And he is offering to turn key top rankings for me...on all my keywords including New York Plastic Surgery. Even keywords I'm not currently competing for. Keywords that produce traffic that's potentially worth tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions of dollars.

I emailed you because It's a win -win for both of us. Think of it this way - Who wouldn't be interested in buying money at a discount? Because that's what I'll be able to do offer you...Money at a discount.

Is it Ok to give you a call? Or you can can call me anytime at the number above?

To not receive future emails from Links Hog please reply to this email or send a message to Links Hog, 14350 87th Street, Scottsdale, AZ 85054.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

SES New York: Video Optimisation

Woo-oo. Daring stuff; am writing this straight into Blogger rather than Word. This is daring because all my howlers will be captured and because the wi-fi is super shaky. Bring on Google Gears for Blogger!

Gosh. Look at the names of the speakers: Belanger, Markel, Mauvais and Papczun. Glad I don't have to pronounce any of those.

Mr Blonde aka Markel

Mr Blonde is speaking first - people like videos. I notice that the increase in female viewers is just shy of twice the increase of male viewers. I think Mr Blonde is either Markel or Papczun; probably Markel.

ComScore stats suggest that Google is the most popular video site (YouTube). Wow. Shocking. Then it's Fox, then Yahoo, AOL, Viacom and then Microsoft.

People tend to watch news, comedy and then music. In that order. Audience doubts only 6% (as figures suggest) watch adult content.

Recommended is as it's the video version of Google Trends.

Mr Blonde explains he's pitching currently to the marketing people to show them that video is important and they should spend money in it. I reckon he's got video marketing interests.

He notes that Ask has rolled back on some of their video integration whereas Google's pushing Universal Search (gosh; flash back to Tuesday's Keynote where comScore pointed out clicks are down on Google when Universal elements are included).

Mr Blonde should be in a shampoo advert. He has great hair and keeps of flicking his fringe.

Mr Blonde recommends a video strategy as part of brand reputation management. Brittney Spears is his example of someone who might benefit from this.

So, the secret sauce:

  • Video File Metadata and page optimization
    • (Your video is found on your site by crawlers like
  • Upload Optimization
    • (Most common now. YouTube, Yahoo, AOL, etc)
  • RSS Optimization
    • (Yahoo, Blinkx, etc)
Video SEO is very labour intensive; title, description and tags are important. If you're not in a hyper competitive market then these three can sometimes be enough to move the needle - according to Mr Blonde.

Here's the next tip: once you've uploaded the video then go social; tag, rate, favourite, embed and link to your videos. He notes that manipulation is common but doesn't recommend it as you can get banned.

He recommends TubeMogul and "hotlinking" in the description field in YouTube.

Mr Blonde runs out of time and gives us a whirlwind tour of his remaining slides. I notice a lot more images of Brittney Spears. Hmm. Is it wise mentioning her on this blog? I'm going to get super-scraped now!

Mauvais from Truveo

I'm sulking because Truveo isn't using the official SES PowerPoint presentation format. I used it. The default bigmouthmedia PowerPoint format is prettier! :)

We get going with some high-brow stuff. Engage brain. Think hard.
  • Text based searching is different from video searching
Hey! Come on! It's the last presentation and I don't think I can cope with such complex ideas. I wish he'd come back to explain this point further.

The audience is asked... is video search getting any better? Let's look at people like Scour and SingingFish. In the old days these engines would look for .avi and .mpg sites. Suckers.

These days sites like Truveo, Blinkx, Yahoo and Google are better. They can, for example, look for videos in Flash sites (well, Truveo can anyway; Google can't, he says). These days these engines study things like metadata and clickthrough streams.

Ah. I was joking about coming back to discuss how text search was different from video search. D'uh. However... that's what we're doing.
  • Different format
  • Less content (millions of web pages, thousands of videos)
  • Text per record fields different (text: 1000 words, video 100 words)
  • Fields per record different (text: 5, video 50) (I'm sure Google captures more than 5 fields per text record... but, heh, that's my my opinion)
  • Other points I missed by pausing to write snarky observations...
In video search GUI the most important bit of metadata is the thumbnail. Users use this to decide whether they might want to watch the video.

Turkish Truveo user (Izlesene) is a website where Truveo captures users behavior as a way to help rank videos. If people clickback quickly then Truveo notices.

On to good stuff: How to make your video searchable
  • Create a mRSS feed for your video
  • Submit the feed to major search engines
  • Include detailed and accurate metadata
  • Populate as many fields as available
  • Update your mRSS regularly
  • Steer clear of tag spam
Ah, but what if you're using a third party service like VideoEgg or Maven?
  • Your service provider may already be integrated with video search engines
  • If they don't... suggest that they do
Oh. Great.

We're told that if we use search engines on our own sites then our own videos may be more highly ranked. I presume this is down to the way Truveo uses user data to help rank videos and therefore can rank videos with more confidence if they have some user data about them.

Papczun from DoubleClick Performics

Oh no. I just published this post... and a third speaker rushes in. DoubleClick guy says that his PowerPoint slides had been corrupted... he didn't blame Microsoft but I know he thinks it.

Oh; this guy's the Director of Natural Search at Performics. So in the "Natural"or "Organic" debate does this mean Google perfers "Natural". Anyone want to bet whether he'll be with DoubleClick this time next year or whether Google will sell Performics?

Papczun begins by showing us that video is popular. This is what he gets for missing Mr Blonde's (ah-ah; he mustbe Markel) presentation.

Roadmap to success
  • Train editors to think like video searchers
  • Encode for the right keywords
    • Title, description and keywords
    • Remove the metadata noise
  • Use keywords in filename (hyphens)
  • One video per URL (and avoid Flash and pop-ups)
  • Add tagging
  • Keep videos in one directory
  • Surround video with on-page relevant text
  • Crosslink to videos using keywordsin anchor text
  • Create an optimized video sitemap / mRSS feed
  • Upload videos to search engines
  • Add in-format metadata
He suggests having a seperate public facing sitemap for videos and putting videos as close to root as possible.

Next up is a screen shot of some guy called "Barack Obama". He looks dynamic. I think he'll go far. DoubleClick's point is that this is a live speech which was recorded and then uploaded. Google Trends showed how people heard about the speech after the event, were interested in it, searched for it and then found it online.

Papczum suggests that Universal Search is still involving. If we look at SERPs for 'Obama speech' we end up with results which include a speech from last year. That's the difference between 'a speech' and 'the speech'.

We move onto the corrupted slides; wow, PowerPoint's really made a mess of them. I'm susprirsed they show at all. Currently giant black squares dominate the slide and there's a little bit of snow noise too.

Heehee. Pictures of the drunk Hoff. I notice that 3243 people have favourited the video on YouTube. His daughter did that too him. That's why I like my xbox 360. It would never treat me like that.

Hehe. The brand management slide is also corrupted. Irony.

- fin!

SES New York: Andrew Tomkins, Chief Scientist at Yahoo

I’m sitting next to Lisa Barone and was going to try a live blogging race against her – sadly, the wi-fi is out and so we’ve agreed to draw. At least; I suggested that while Feeder blasted out from the speakers and The Lisa nodded and so I’m claiming the draw! Woot!

Instead I’ll bash this into Word and copy’n’paste over.

Andrew begins by offering us a detailed walkthrough of Yahoo’s vision of the next generation of search.

  • Internet firmly moved from a curiosity to a substrate for life
  • Content growing, changing, diversify, fragmenting
  • Searching evolving in response
  • Value migrating to ecosystem
  • Semantics of content unlocking the value in the ecosystem

I don’t even know what he means by ‘substrate for life’.

No one ever goes online just to search – he says, wrong, I think as I do! – but Andrew explains that search is a tool that people use to get what they want.

His example begins with someone coming online to book a holiday in Tuscany. They start by searching Google! They hadn’t heard of Yahoo Search yet, he says. Hee. (I said ‘hee’ – I wonder if that’s the Lisa Barone effect). Don’t worry... the searcher winds up at Yahoo Search eventually and develops an addiction to Italian coffee.

Now we’ve got the searcher looking for information on how to make those glorious espressos. Oh no! The searcher really can’t make a decision. He’s no price confidence but finally, after checking a price aggregator, makes a decision and a purchase. Oh no! Now he has a limescale problem... and starts searching again.

Boy! I’m never going on holiday with this sample searcher. What a nervous ninny!

Yahoo thinks today we’re seeing
  • Increasing migration of content online
  • New formsof mediaavailable online
  • Something I was too slow to write down

Things to notice

  • Long-running user goals
  • Search as a hub:
    • Start there
    • Return for resource discovery and at task boundaries
    • Traverse the web broadly to compete task
  • Web service integrated into the task

Gosh! I’m also sitting next to Eric from Stone Temple. Wozah!

Yahoo mentions substrate – should look this up. Oh! Perhaps I’ll twitter it.

How much content is produced each and every day?

  • Published Content: 3-4Gb
  • Professional web content: ~2Gb
  • User generated content: ~8-10Gb
  • Private text content: ~3Tb
  • Upper bound on typed content: 700Tb

Users began to dominate content creation in terms of quantity five years ago.

Private Text content includes things like emails, IMs and intranet content. Upper bound on typed content is all the stuff that people type every day – you know, at work. Yahoo notes that we’re therefore miles away from getting close to that amount online.

How much 'meta data' is produced each day?

  • Anchor text: 100M
  • Tags: 40M
  • Pageviews: 180GB
  • Reviews: 10MB

Anchor texts have been the most important signal in search for 10 years. Tags aren’t likely to change the nature of search because Yahoo expect the data amounts to plateau. By tags he means as on YouTube and delicious; not meta data tags.

The big one will be Pageviews – Toolbars are used to collect trails.

  • Content consumption is fragmenting – nobody owns more than 10% of WW of PVs. Yahoo has the most
  • No single place will own all the content.
  • Best of breed processing will operate on the web version (?)
  • Value transitions to ecosystem

Yahoo’s mocking me by showing slides too complex to blog about. He’s talking about content consumption and how it’s fragmented. They’ve... er, scraped(?) LiveJournal interests and matched it against ages. I’m glad I censored all my LiveJournal interests. The over 57s are interested in death, cheese and cats.

Arhg! Facebook slide. Andrew has shared his cell phone with everyone in the MIT group which is 22,504 users. Woah. I wonder if he gets many calls. Andrew’s point is that we’re not used to this level of access control and as we become more aware of this we’ll see stress and tension on the infrastructure.

We’re used to reading whole web pages but now, with AJAX, we’re used to a more fragmented experience. He draws the parallel with the “choose your own adventure” concept. Woot. I wonder if he’s a fellow gamer.

Now we’re looking at the search interface... and understanding that the number of publishers has increased hugely.

  • Few changes through 2005
  • Entering period of massive change to change more complex content
  • Rich media, aggregation, simple task analysis, etc
  • Moving beyond the stateless query/response paradigm
  • Personalization theory

Although the web grew hugely to begin with the paradigm stayed the same... until now. He’s cautious of the term ‘personalization’ as it’s easy to wreck with rogue data.

Andrew shows a Yahoo slide (I remember what Yahoo looks like – I still go there) and the Yahoo Assist layer. He’s showing someone searching for the movie “the game plan”. What does the searcher want? Do they want show times, trailers, reviews or something else? The top of the Yahoo search space is used to aggregate the ambiguous tasks to try and answer those questions. Not just Yahoo who’ve been trying these things... he shows Microsoft example (good move; keep Microsoft sweet) and then shows Google’s flight search.

  • Structured database power a vast majority of pages of the web
    • Certainly ecommerce catalogs
    • But also user generate content (eg blogs)
  • Content owners open to exposing structure, but don’t see how and why
  • Microformats adoption at an all-time high
  • Yet, it’s produced much more...
  • Waaah... he’s going too fast.

The Killer App

  • Wide-ranging support for semantic web standards
  • Vocabulary to surface structure and semantics
  • Community tools to evolve standards and vocabulary

What is the Killer App? Search

  • Publishers and search engines collaborate
  • Users see richer search experience
  • Accomplish their tasks faster and move effectively

Ha-ah? Want an example; let’s look at the enhanced Yelp results (I wonder if he also eats cheese steaks?). The site is similar in presentation; a mashup of images, links and textual advice. In fact there are loads; New York Times, Gawker, others...

Andrew reckons the LinkedIn example is suggestive of what might happen with ‘people search’ in the future. LinkedIn is a Yahoo partner. Didn’t know that...

  • Microformats
    • hCard, hEvent, hReview, hAtom, XFN
    • More as they get adopted
  • RDFa and eRDF markup
  • OpenSearch
    • +extensions to return structured data
  • Atom/RSS feeds
    • +extensions to embed structured data

Yahoo thinks this is the future; using microformats to prevent structured meta data about content to search engines. So what do we put in this data set?

  • dataRSS provides a common framework for embedding structured data
    • Use with RDFa, eRDF or OpenSearch
    • Preferred Vocabulary includes
      • Atom, Dublin Core
      • Creative Commons
      • FOAF, GeoRSS...
      • He’s going too fast again...

Yahoo will be announcing a set of tools and wants people to work together to agree on standards (and not let be dominated by ‘one’ Search Engine. Don’t know who that could be.)

  • Yahoo! Open search platform does not modify ranking
  • Richer abstracts may provide more information to users and draw higher quality/quantity of clicks
  • We want rich abstracts that give users a better experience
    • We don’t want misleading abstracts

So Yahoo are really announcing a new form of SEO where content owners try and get shiny and attractive abstracts into the SERPs which attract clicks. Yahoo would like them and content owners to come to an agreement with what makes a good abstract. When that agreement is in place then they’ll work together to keep the good stuff in and the bad stuff out.

In fact, anyone on the web can make use of a self-service model to upload their abstracts and then anyone interested in this can subscribe to those recommendations. Ah-ah; this sounds like Google’s Subscription Links offering.

Let’s look at the ‘whole story’

  • User needs becoming more complex
  • Content growing, changing, diversifying, fragmenting
  • Search responding by increase in sophistication
  • Value migrating to ecosystem
  • Unlock the value by enabling interoperability – expose semantics

Is the HTTP and HTML system the right model any more? Yahoo thinks... maybe not. Something more complex may be needed. As a result the value is moving to the ‘ecosystem’ and therefore the ‘quick win’ here is to expose the data content publishers may have locked away but which could be presented to the search engine.

Wow! What a long write up. I think that was the best key note yet. Andrew shared a lot of ideas and I’ve a really good vision of what Yahoo is up to now.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

SES New York: Successful Tactics for Social Media Optimization (SMO)

Rookie mistake! I didn’t get to the room early enough for the popular Successful Tactics for Social Media Optimization (SMO) track and all the power sources for my laptop are already in use. No batteries left. No choice... I’ll have to try and take notes by hand.

Hmm. Not sure my note taking went very well. I’ve lots of bullet points... but what do they mean? For this blog post I think I’ll simply list my bullet points verbatim (risky!) and see if I can remember what I was thinking when I made them. Comments below each bullet point reflect my after the track thoughts.

Update: This will come as no surprise but I've started a Twitter account.

Li Evans

  • Viagra Joke
  • Create Buzz

Okay... let’s see where Li is going with this...

  • Video Sharing

Gosh. We’re minutes into the session and I’m already wondering where we’re going... we’ve got Viagra, we’ve got the need to create a buzz and Li’s just suggested video sharing.

  • How to tie a tie

What? Tie tying? I didn’t see that one coming!

  • It’s all about links. Wow! SEO 2.0
  • Li remembers Yahoo (puts her ahead of many of yesterday’s presentations)
  • Li mentions Yahoo and doesn’t mention Microsoft. Wow!
I can’t believe how many videos of people tying ties that Li’s managed to find.
  • People respect honest reviews
  • Know your audience
  • Know how sites work
  • Know how the rules

Good stuff

  • Cheese steaks

Li used cheese steaks and Yelp as a social media example. But what the hell is a cheese steak? Logic dictates that they might be a steak covered in cheese... but, no? Surely no one would do that!?

Jennifer Laycock

  • Talking about Flickr and Twitter
  • No voice but she’s a good speaker
  • Conversation to join in
  • Shows pictures of cakes

Damn it Jennifer. I’m getting hungry now.

  • People digest images differently from how they digest text

Ha-ha! Clever! I see what she’s done there... shows pictures of cake and then talks about digesting images.

  • Shows images of Cookie Monster Cupcakes
What’s with the food teasing? Now I am hungry!
  • Shows ‘Edible Gardening’ community on Flickr. What!
  • Scrapbooking with food

Right. Jennifer’s beaten me with this food onslaught.

  • Sells cucumbers
  • Points out that you can take camera phone pictures and send them directly to Flickr
  • Li Evans takes picture of audience with her camera phone
  • Moves onto Twitter
  • Asks who’s twittering this session; people are; people are twittering that she’s asking who’s twittering this session.

I was beginning to fear an infinite loop at this stage. Thankfully Jennifer doesn’t ask whether anyone is twittering that people are twittering that Jennifer is asking whether anyone is twittering her session on twittering.

I skipped Twitter and went straight to Pownce. Tamar suggested this was a silly idea. I think she may be right. Must consider Twitter again.

  • Mr T picture shared via Twitter hooks interest from Lisa Barone

Hmm. Must re-consider Twitter.

  • Chicken Dance Elmo

Not sure why I wrote that down. An alien intervention? Anyone else remember Chicken Dance Elmo appearing – at all – in SES New York?

  • Twitter as a news source

I’m addicted to news; must re-consider twitter.

  • Retweets
  • Great shiny red shirt
  • It’s not stalking; it’s observing!

Hmm. Must reconsider Twitter.

Tamera Kremer from Wildfire

  • Cakes! Again!

Ha! Another pun no one notices... pictures of cakes and then onto

  • 4 million users at delicious
  • 100 million webpages bookmarked
  • She laughs at the mention of “A-List” bloggers

Good thing to laugh at. I’d have twittered that. Oh; if I had a twitter account.

  • Jennifer studies Tamera’s delicious screen grab closely
  • What? Has she seen a link building opportunity on the screen?

I remember studying Tamera’s delicious screen grab closely again at this point.

  • Wildfire produced a two page quick start guide for delicious
  • Boosted their clients’ delicious participation ten fold
  • Note to self; must delicious tag Lisa’s coverage of Lyndsay’s Orion Panel

William Flaiz from Avenue A | Razorfish

  • Note to self; AA | R have Apple has a client and are owned by Microsoft. How oddly cool!
  • Flaiz headlines with: Be Part of the Community

Got to agree with Flaiz here – social media is about being part of the community and not trying to trick or manipulate it. I hope the audience take this home.

  • Can tell this is a presentation from a big agency; it has a circle diagram in it

I think I need to get a circle diagram into one of my next presentations.

  • Screen grab includes the ‘share’ widget for blog posts
  • Note to self; consider the widget for this blog
  • Flaiz suggests social bookmarking positive and neutral mentions of clients’ brand and products.

Ooh. Isn’t this a controversial thing to suggest?

  • Flaiz suggests that this tactic can be used to push negative mentions of clients’ brand and products off the top of the SERPs.

Oooh. This certainly is a controversial thing to suggest... especially from an agency the size of Avenue A | Razorfish. I wonder if there were any journalists in the room?

  • Warns about using wikis and editing your own profile
  • Doesn’t warn people off editing your own profile and suggests avoiding using marketing talk instead

Wow. I would never have imaged that Avenue A | Razorfish would come to SES and be so bold.

  • Shows Search Engine Strategies profile on Wikipedia
  • Doens’t understand how the nofollows are added

Ah yes. I remember this. William noted that Wikipedia was supposed to be adding nofollow to the links but that he still sees Wikipedia in the backlinks. I can explain that; a) only new links in Wikipedia have nofollow on them and older links which pre-date that ruling are still followed and b) Yahoo SiteExplorer and Google’s Webmaster Console link reports include nofollow links anyway.

  • Photobucket of a can of soup
  • Byebye bees viral
  • Avenue A | Razorfish have a blog

That’s a blog I’m going to dig up and add to Google Reader. I do rate Avenue A | Razorfish as one of thought leaders within the ‘big digital agency’ landscape.

  • Be Social. Bee Social?

Flaiz’s final slide was simply “Be Social” but I think we should have had a final homage to the vanishing bee viral and concluded with “Bee Social” instead!

Update: This will come as no surprise but I've started a Twitter account.

SES New York: Social Media Marketing: What is it and What is it Good for?

The session kicks off with a Wikipedia definition of social media marketing; just to make sure everyone in the audience has a basic understanding of the subject. This is a new track to SES.

I think there’s been a change of speaker. Rather than Paul Beck the Senior Partner, World Wide, Executive Director, Interactive Marketing & Advertising, Ogilvy we’ve a Mr Beland instead. He’s also from Ogilvy.

Conn Fishburn from Yahoo

Yahoo refer to the Rise of the People. When you talk about social media you have to talk about the people. Later on, Conn reminds us that the kipper app has always been people.

  • If the web were a country it would be the third largest in the world.
  • 800m people use the internet every month.
  • This figure is expected to rise by 2b by 2011.
Conn makes one of my favourite social media points; the new economy is culture.

Fishburn proffers the Nicholas Negroponte quote

If I werre to do the MIT MediaLab over again, I wouldn't make it so much about the technologies per se. I would make it more about culture, about the cultures behind any technology that adopts it, adapts it and makes it useful and interesting."

We’ve seen this before at the Igniting Viral Campaigns track. It’s a good quote to have brought to SES. It clearly has traction here.

Yahoo share their definition of social media
  • Media made by and for users in communities
  • A business model in which “our customers are our suppliers”
  • An advertising system in which people articulate their interests and passions and share marketing messages with each other
  • A new approach to solving hard problems in networked information systems (flickr)
  • Platforms, systems, and applications that connect media, technology, and people together into a processing and value-creation network
Beland from Ogilvy.

I like the part where he explains that Ogilvy stopped to debate whether social media marketing was something significant enough to include in their 360 degree view of their marketing and advertising services.

Beland shares some stats on the sources of information that people trust. The top three are:
  • Recommendations from consumers – 78%
  • Newspapers – 63%
  • Consumer opinions posted online – 61%
  • Traditional sources continue to decline.
Ogilvy notes how like minded people in similar situations tend to cluster together. Beland shares some social media strategy steps.
  • Listening as a disciplined marketing practice
    1. Passive listening (who, what when where and to whom – why?)
    2. Active listening = engagement (transparency, commitment, context/value proposition)
  • Advocacy as a deliberate marketing channel
    1. Measure, impact and activate audience’s propensity to recommend the brand
  • Unlock and unleash content for wider distribution
    1. Earned media to accompany paid plans – enable and encourage audience to share content
Jory Des Jardins from BlogHer

Jory tackles brands’ fear of social media head on. A brand’s biggest fear is often that if they engage in the social media sphere that people may say something negative.

We have the Review Myth;
“If I release my brand to the blogosphere, all hell will break loose. One nasty thing said about my product and poof – I’ve committed brandicide”

Jory illustrates how this is the wrong mindset. Avoidance is not a valid strategy. She notes that it is not always about what the bloggers are saying – it’s that they are talking about it. Just by being discussed by bloggers brands can build up a buzz about their products.

Bloggers have credibility issues too, sometimes, she notes.

Brands will tend to get credit for trying to connect with bloggers. The BlogHer recommended approach is a no strings approach. Don’t give books to bloggers, for example, and insist that they write a positive review in exchange – or even that they write a review. Simply give the bloggers a copy of the book and see what happens – if you’ve picked the right bloggers then you’ll get some reviews.

Finally, Des Jardins suggests that if ‘touchy feely’ isn’t in your DNA that you engage in the social media landscape in a defensive way.

Chris Winfield from 10e20

Wow. Chris has some cracking PowerPoint templates! So sexy. If you read the 10e20 blog then this won’t come as a surprise to you!

Chris is here to take the audience through the basics of social bookmarking and share some case studies. He’s had some cracking success in driving tens of thousands of hits to his clients.

No surprises as to Chris’ top three recommendations;
  • Delicious
  • Stumble Upon
  • Digg
Don Steele from Comedy Central

Don starts by checking with the audience that everyone’s heard of Comedy Central. For a second I toy with playing the dumb foreigner card and denying I’ve heard of them (for that matter; MTV? Who are they?). Fortunately my common sense wins that debate and I maintain my silence.

A key part of Comedy Central’s social media strategy is to ensure that fans have their environments. They have a very savvy audience and Don notes that, “Our audience lives online so we must understand how and where to speak with them”

The four tenants of Comedy Central’s digital media planning are:
  • Discoverable
  • Branded
  • Portable
  • Smart
Amusingly Steele briefly discusses the death of the media plan and lists all the sites (like the Daily Kos) where the Comedy Central sometimes buys Display Advertising. Next slide; the Social Media Plan – and it is all the same people. Phew. The ‘media plan’ is saved!

A key take away for me is that Comedy Central is atomic enough to buy media and plan social media on sites where ad buyers who might be interested in purchasing inventory from them. For example; the Comedy Central buys ads on Perez Hilton because that’s a blog which interests ad buyers.

Steele ends with a social media algorithm:
CC Programming + (On Advertising + Search) * Social Media Efforts = Smart Digital Strategy

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Did SEMPO choke at SES New York?

Day One SES New York and SEMPO have kindly put on an open bar; it’s tucked in between the SES Awards/Speaker Event and the Pub Crawl.

I had a nice glass of white wine when I walked in. In no time at all I dropped my business card into a bucket waved at me by a SEMPO employee (part time) – it’s a chance to win something (money off at Starbucks, I think) and, of course, for SEMPO to find out whether they could recruit me into their organisation. I wasn’t alone. I was with – let’s name no names – one or more UK agencies. The SEMPO rep asked why we weren’t already part of SEMPO UK.

It was interesting to see that myself and ‘one or more’ UK agencies both listed the same reason why we’re not in SEMPO UK. In particular we don’t agree with some of the business practises carried out by ‘significants’ in SEMPO UK.

For me I strongly detest those agencies who consider keywords to be their own IP and who will not share them with their clients – this, right now, is common in SEMPO UK. This wasn’t just my opinion as ‘one or more’ agencies with me agreed.

SEMPO started to hold the presentation. They begin by congratulating the current officers and point out that Gord Hotchkiss has stepped down. I’ve not met Gord but he’s one of my favourite bloggers. He’s smart. It’s a loss to SEMPO not to have him.

Chris Boggs speaks for SEMPO and he’s a good speaker. He begins by addressing whether SEMPO is too American focused. He denies it. He gives reasons why SEMPO has some US specific interests. Minutes later he’s making embarrassed jokes as to why his SEMPO re-cap is... you guessed it, American focused.

I’ve taken a picture of the presentations used but I couldn’t but help notice there is _no_ SEMPO UK. There’ a SEMPO Eastern Europe, though. There’s a ‘working group’ in SEMPO for the UK. Amazingly there’s nothing for Germany.

The whole thing reminded me of my SEMPO review I did last year where I noted that SEMPO had made some progress but SMA had struggled. Let’s continue that research into Press Releases and see how well SEMPO has done in pushing the word in 2007. The following graph looks at mentions of the word ‘SEMPO’ in Google News over different years.

So it does look like SEMPO had a better year this year (although, really, Google News added more sources likely to mention SEMPO which is why the count went up).

Finally, it's worth noting that one of my favourite Agency Gossip rags Agency Spy poked fun at the recent iCrossing/SEMPO press release today.

I suspect we’ll see changes at SEMPO UK this year and continue to see conflict SEMPO over the next few years.

Monday, March 17, 2008

SES New York - Search Around the World - Asia and Latin America

Here's a quick write up of Day One, Track One, Session One and Part One of 'Search Around the World'. We had Kevin Ryan as moderator and it was a bloomin' popular session.


Motoko Hunt of AJPR kicked off the first session with an introduction to search marketing in Japan.

The top three internet properties in Japan are:

  • Yahoo with 42.6 million users,
  • Google with 27.1
  • Rakuten with 27.0
Google just edged into second place last year. However, these figures represent all internet traffic and if we look at search then it begins to look very different. Only 6% of Yahoo’s visitors engage in search whereas 74% of Google’s do.

I’m not sure how many people in the audience had heard of Rakuten but there’s a big portal in Japan. In fact, they own Linkshare which is one of the big three affiliate networks in the US. Linkshare also operates in the UK but isn’t yet on many affiliate’s radar yet – although that could suddenly change sometime this year.

Motoko talked about the QR code which has started to appear in banners. The QR code is actually a white squared filled with black dots – and as the description suggests it is beginning to replace the barcode.
  • QR codes can be scanned with a cell/mobile phone and users can then redeem coupons and discounts.
I heard about the QR code some months ago and I still think my first thoughts on it are the most exciting - this could be wonderful news for TV and poster advertisers. The QR code represents a possible mechanism to try attribute some ROI (or ROAS) to broadcast advertising.

Motoko also talked about the inevitable keyword selection headaches that the Japanese language represents. We’ve everything from the lack of spaces, to different ways of saying the same thing and all the way to the same way of saying different things! For example, the letters R and L are written the same as are the letters B and V. Motoko’s example showed how the word “Vote” is the same as “Boat” after being translated to Japanese.


Next up we had T.R. Harrington of Darwin Marketing who talked about China. Harrington used fortune cookies to illustrate typical fallacies about china and noted that he had been in China for four years and hadn’t once seen a fortune cookie.

One of Harrington’s observations was on the differences between western and Chinese media content. There are much less channels in China than in the States, for example, and very little is shown in cinema – it seems only natural that the Chinese are going online to find this content.

Harrington suggested that Google’s marketshare has levelled out in China and that Baidu has about 70% of the audience. Baidu shows the PPC results above the Organic results and there’s only a small note to distinguish the two.
  • Only 3% of Baidu users knew when they were clicking on paid ads or not
User Generated Content is significant in China. In particular bulletin board systems (BBS) are popular, users ask advice and post recommendations in large numbers.
  • Every day Baidu serves over 12 million BBS searches
  • 70m BBS users in China
T.R. talked about some of main differences between Baidu SEM and Google.
  • No impression data from Baidu. You can’t calculate your clickthrough rates
  • Baidu’s API has been in development for over a year – when it launches it will not be as sophisticated as that offered by Google et al
Instant Messaging and online gaming (RPGs and coffee break games rather than gambling) are both very popular in China.
  • IM penetration in China is twice that of the US
  • Multiple profiles are common

Latin America

Alicia Morga the CEO of Consorte Media discussed the Hispanic and Latin American markets. She compared the Latin American market to water... it’s there, growing and building and going unnoticed until it is too late.

The Hispanic market is large and growing in the States.
  • 20m US Hispanics online today
  • 20% growth in the last 6 months
  • Spend to exceed $1 trillion by 2010
Morga talked about the nuances of languages. A Spaniard sometimes uses different terminology from a US Hispanic or someone from Latin America. One approach for marketers is to look at the age demographic as a 20 year old US Hispanic is much more likely to use “Spanglish” than a 60 year old Mexican.
  • Latin American keyword purchases in SEM are currently about 1/10th of the cost of the US English equivalent.
Alicia also made what may have been the most controversial comment on the season – that sometimes the best results can be achieved with Spanish language creatives but with English language landing pages. Now, ‘best results’ in this scenario includes business costs and especially the need to pay for translations.


Anton Konikoff the CEO of Acronym Media gave us a tour of Singapore. He suggested that search marketing in Singapore is about 2 to 4 years behind that in the US. Until 2007 it was only possible to buy inventory on Yahoo on a CPM basis.
  • Four official languages in Singapore: English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil
  • 75% of the population are ethnic Chinese
Konikoff noted that a common media mistake is to treat the Chinese demographic in Singapore like mainland Chinese. They and their culture is very different – as an example, Badiu is a very small player in Singapore. English is the popular language, with both business and education being done in English.
  • 91% of residents are internet users
  • 75% broadband penetration
  • 50% users spend more than 20 hours online every month


Erica Schmidt from Isobar talked about Australia and kicked off by discussing the Aussie culture and how important it was for marketers to understand it, share the Oz sense of humour and be able to laugh at themselves.

The top four internet properties in Australia
  • – 7.8%
  • – 3.0
  • – 2.6
  • MySpace – 2.1%
NineMSN and are both Microsoft. Erica didn’t touch on this but it’s worth pointing out that the ‘Nine’ from NineMSN comes from a TV channel partnership.

Erica suggested that Australia was about 2 years behind the US in terms of sophistication. There may be a number of reasons for this.
  • The Australian population is highly concentrated in a small geographic area – this significantly reduces the impact of local advertising
  • Broadband penetration is awful – most internet access is via dial-up
Another issue marketers face in Australia are the privacy concerns there. Only 17% of users had confidence in online privacy and this acts as significant hurdle for online transactions – many Aussies are reluctant to share their credit cards with a site. The knock on effect is that many traditional retailers do not have e-commerce websites and run brochure sites only.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Click Spam

I've safely landed in New York for SES. One of the first things I do after I arrive at the Hilton New York is check Gmail.

One of my honey pots picked up a spam email. I'm seeing this sort of thing more and more. The spammer can be pretty confident that if thet target clicks through to Google (don't click on URLs in spam emails!) that they'll click on the intended URL.

The goal here isn't just to drive traffic. Well; I suppose that depends on how smart the spammers are! What they're trying to do is show Google's algorithm that there is a traffic demand/search frequency for their n-grams, that people click on their URL and that they must therefore by the authority.

I imagine emails like this will really annoy Google. Less carefully staged emails might result in people clicking on paid ads and that'll upset people. This is also a type of spam that will be hard to report. Some users may struggle to tell the difference from a spam designed for search and other spam - or, perhaps, between spam and an unexpected email sent because the user legally gave someone permission to contact them.

Monday, March 10, 2008

What Facebook Germany looks like - and problems

Hopefully this isn't another 'me too' post about the launch of Facebook Germany.

I thought it would be fun to see the choice Germans face when they log into Facebook today. Pick your language.

I'm not actually in either of the bigmouthmedia German offices. I'm in Gatwick, London, England (oh! why am I flying the day the 'storm of the winter' hits the south cost?) and am on a T-Mobile hotspot.

I've already touched on Google's problems with these 'annoying' hotspots with confusing IP geolocation so I thought I should point out that sites like Facebook are equally effected...

... except, well, does Facebook has less of an excuse? I've never had a German ad shown to be at Facebook. My profile clearly says I'm United Kingdom based. Is that language option box a compromise between my profile and my current IP address? I suspect not... I suspect Facebook is simply checking by IP geolocation this week.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Google Gap?

Look at the odd gap between the blue web bar and the first search listing. Anyone able to recreate that for searches for [armagnac]?

How big? (mouth media)

One of the 'wows' I got at SES London this year was at how large bigmouthmedia had become. Gosh. We were just a small company back when I started. How we've grown!

I was very aware of the fact that I was to do a case study for my session and in my experience SES audiences don't really come to listen to rivals go on about how well they've done. I wanted to share a little something else - so I touched on some of the challenges of working with large clients and working in a large company.

Remember; this my personal blog so when I use expressions like "big enough to cope, small enough to care" that's not an official bigmouthmedia strapline or boiler plate. That's me being as cheesy as I like! (I like to be cheesy.)

What "big enough to cope, small enough to care" means to me is good communication and a real desire to learn. Every day we have bigmouths who read SEOMoz, SEOBook, Search Engine Land, WebProNews as well as Brand Republic, SEO Chicks, New Media Age, etc. Every day we dig up a whole host of blog posts or news articles that'll interest others elsewhere in the agency. The trick is to be able to share this information as widely as possible... without spamming people.

Here are some of the tricks we use

  • Email groups - we've one just for sharing breaking news
  • Intranet - can't stress how important a company wide intranet is, you need a place to store, sort and coordinate information. We began with a wiki and have grown into something rather more hardcore!
  • Teams - we operate in teams. You've got to have people close to your work who can brain storm with you
  • Skype or VOIP - The image with this blog post is my Skype. I need to make good use of groups with sensible names. I also don't put every bigmouth into my Skype (I'd be swamped if I did!) people who I'm working with currently stay in the connected panel. I'm afraid I'm especially good at pruning 'external contacts' to keep that list down
  • Internal conferences - it is very good practise to, once and a while, collect up all your affiliate managers from around the world and run an internal conference. Certainly make a point of regular meetings of departments within the same country (so that means London, Manchester and Edinburgh for bigmouthmedia UK)
  • Knowledge Bank - make sure there's a central pool for people to collate intelligence. When I download SES or SMX presentations they go into the Knowledge Bank. The bigmouths who attended the conference then produce a summary of which presentations/PDFs are worth reading if time is short - and why
  • RSS - bigmouths use Google Reader's Share feature to easily swap stories with one another

Once the infrastructure is in place to help facilitate good communication and if you've hired the right people - you'll find that communication/information exchanges then happen naturally.

Bigmouths gain notice and credit for finding interesting stories and sharing with the right people and teams. This encourages people to do it. You also gain notice for querying whether the blog post/news article/forum discussion might be wrong or right. However, it takes experience to know how to pace a conversation.

For example, I recently sent around a screen grab of a really bad (I thought) PPC Creative. It looked like pigeon English was being used to promote a big pan-European brand. Other bigmouths disagreed, though, and some wondered whether the choice of wording was to tie in with an offline marketing campaign. There was a quick exchange of ideas over email but that then quickly moved to a Skype text group chat between the key debators (as there was no reason to 'spam' everyone else).

I still can't fathom why the (rival) PPC agency choice that particular phrase but what I am certain about was that the screen grab of 'quirky' ad was shown to the right people and then the correct, select group, debated it further. It takes infrastructure and processes to allow for the possibility of the debate but then it takes experience to know how to conduct it. The debates themselves are very good - this is how agencies stay ahead of the game and experts stay experts.

Monday, March 03, 2008 bought for $75m

TNS bought Compete for $75m.

Wow. I wonder if Alexa is valued at $75m.

TNS have a product called 6th dimension which is a large marketing intelligence panel of about 1m million users in the States. I imagine they'll merge/integrate into that.

I can only hope that Compete's normal service via continues as normal. It may just have been a branding tool (which worked very well, given how TechCrunch backed it) so I guess there's a risk that the service there will be cut back a bit or, more likely, we don't see any new developments to draw our attention.

I also note the lack of news on about the deal. Nothing in the blog yet - which explains why TechCrunch and the SEM blogs haven't yet picked up on this.

Update: Ah. Here it is's blog post. Looks like I was right about the 6th Dimension tie in.