Monday, June 30, 2008

Tumblr's Pharma Spam Problem

I've rather fallen in love with Tumblr. It's just so easy. The bookmarklet is a brill way to 'bookmark' links, videos, quotes and pretty much anything.

In fact, I've started the process of putting together a big mouth tumblr. It's not that easy; I've someone working on a skin. I keep on toying with the intro text; there's so much to say it often out-weighs the summaries of posts tumblr draws in via RSS.

It's also pretty easy to see that tumblr has a spam problem. It's free, easy and quick - it'll therefore attract spammers. The screen grab on the left is the first set of results from a search and its dominated by pharma spam.

The spam's pretty easy for Google to spot. The first result there is for and that's simply a doorway page with JavaScript redirect. I'm surprised Google still lists the sub-domain in the site: search. If you think Google ranks most important pages first in the site: search then perhaps tumblr is cause to re-consider.

Five Points of LoudTwitter Etiquette for LiveJournal

My oldest surviving blog is on LiveJournal. The first post there dates from 2002. I love LiveJournal as it has a great community feel. Friends who know nothing about Search, Display or Affiliate marketing post there and I stay kept up to date with what's going on.

Recently a question that I'm seeing asked there is; "What's with all these tweets?"

There's no reason why your average LiveJournaller should know anything of Twitter and certainly not LoudTwitter.

LoudTwitter used to take each tweet you made and post it as a separate blog entry to LiveJournal. It annoyed the hell of out of me. If I wanted to subscribe to your twitter stream then I would. I didn't like it when people brought a micro-blogging activity stream into my personal space/full blog attention area that was LiveJournal.

Then LoudTwitter made one simple but huge change. Instead of posting each tweet at a time it posted all of your daily tweets into LiveJournal (or other supported blogging platform) as a summary. I find this very useful! Rather than buzzing me with micro-blog posts in a full-blog environment I'm given a handy update of what someone was up to for any given day and that's exactly what LiveJournal was supposed to do.

That said; there are some etiquette suggestions that I'd like to make!

  1. Pick a post time near midnight. Anything else is confusing and mis-leading.
  2. Turn off @ replies. They belong on Twitter and not LiveJournal.
  3. Hide the status link. They belong on Twitter and not LiveJournal.
  4. Consider leaving both the beginning text and ending text options blank. They'll quickly become cumbersome, unnecessary clutter that gets in the way of the heart of the "LJ summary"
  5. Change the Post Title occasionally to keep the LJ side of your twittering fresh.

Friday, June 27, 2008

My trolls and I

This isn't a sulk. This is an observation. I'm a lucky guy. I work for a hugely successful digital marketing agency; we have over 200 staff, nearly a dozen offices and have ranked in the best place to work for two years in a row.

Here in the UK bigmouthmedia has really strong search positions too. We do well for the vanity phrase [search engine optimisation]. I know that annoys some people.

So, I'm a lucky guy but sometimes that luck attracts detractors and I just have to live with that.

For example, if you take the time to scroll down through recent blog posts and checkout the Outbrain star ratings you'll see that lots of my posts have been given 1/5. It could be that my blog posts suck (and yeah; Spore Creature Creator to draw search engine spiders... heh!) but I'm pretty sure those posts could have been about anything and would still have been given the 1/5 mark.

I owe Mixx some time but I've had a stint of trolling there too. Look at these minus results. On that occasion I know the detractors are a set of spammers that I'd marked down myself. I started that one.

I don't care. I really don't. What's inspired this post, however, was a junior member of staff asking me what was going on. They cared. They didn't like to see it happening. I suppose that's why competitor/detractors do it. It's childish but they'd like to mess with your head.

It's a sad truth that because we've been relatively successful that we'll attract resentment from competitors. It's even sadder when you see people wasting their time on petty campaigns. I think it's true to say that some people try and make a name for themselves by being known as that guy who slags off the successful company.

This doesn't just happen to me. I've seen people sling mud at the likes of Lisa Barone and Rand Fishkin (not that I'm comparing myself to either of those two) and what elevated both of those two in my estimations of them was the mature and responsible way that they each handled the criticisms.

Often the best thing to do is to simply ignore it (I'm not ranking my own posts with Outbrain, for example) but that can be frustrating when people spin three year old half-truths or simply act annoyingly!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The I's have it

The letter "i" is hot in search. Loads of firms want to be i-this and i-that. Sounds easy... but is it? Let's try ranking agencies by the number of times they manage to use the letter I.

Five Is

  1. Site Visibility
Three Is
  1. Netizen Digital
  2. Vivid Lime
  3. Efficient Frontier
Two Is
  1. Bigmouthmedia
  2. iCrossing
  3. Equi-Media
  4. Euston Digital
  5. Golley Slater Digital
  6. Resolution Media
  7. Altogether Digital

One I
  1. Latitude
  2. Media Contacts
  3. Zed Media
  4. Greenlight
  5. DBD Media
  6. Net Media Planet
  7. Stickyeyes
  8. Sitelynx
  9. MediaCo
  10. Click Consult
  11. Harvest Digital
  12. Clicks2customers
  13. Strange Corporation
  14. Coolpink
  15. iProspect
  16. Rusty Brick
  17. I-Spy
  18. iLevel
No Is
  1. The Search Works
  2. Steak
  3. Cheeze
  4. Guava
  5. VCCP Search
  6. Propellernet
  7. Profero
  8. TBG London
  9. Tamar
  10. 77Agency
  11. Ambergreen
  12. Netrank
  13. AccuraCast
  14. NetBooster
  15. Bruce Clay
So! Well done to Site Visibility and their mad collection of Is!

Disclaimer: This list is very British cos I put it together at about midnight and used the NMA list as inspiration. Plenty of Is in inspiration.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Gmail in Germany

Remember how Google lost the right to use the name 'Gmail' in Germany and was even fined over it?

Look what happens when you try and use it anyway (while in Germany).

The text says;

We can't provide service under the Gmail name in Germany; we're called Google Mail here instead.

If you're traveling in Germany, you can access your mail at

Oh, and we'd like to link the URL above, but we're not allowed to do that either. Bummer.

For general information about Google, please visit or
Imagine not even being able to link to the alternative URL. Ouch.

Funky discoveries at SES Hamburg

Funky!, originally uploaded by Bigmouthmedia.

This car was parked around the corner from SES Hamburg. It's far too funky not to photo and blog about!

I've uploaded a host of bigmouthmedia-centric photos for the bigmouthmedia Flickr account (see how that works?) for everyone to admire.

A sponsorship lasts the length of the event but a Universal Search rich photograph of the sponsorship lasts forever!

SES Hamburg: Search Around the World

Rightyo - another go at live blogging. Today it's day #1 of SES Hamburg. Hamburg is a great city. Most of the conference is in German except for this panel and occasional presentation from myself who don't speak any German. Heck. I struggle to speak English.

Looks like a busy pane with five speakers. First up we have:

Burgio / Italy

Right. Sir. Mention SEMPO more than three times and you get -5 points.

Here's the first bullet point - Google rules (one SEMPO mention)

After Google we've got Yahoo/MSN fighting for second place. Then there's Virgilio/Alice next and the big publishing portals such as Kataweb Group, RCS and RAI (second SEMPO mention).

On the SEM/PPC front the same is true; it's all AdWords/AdSense. Yahoo's Panama is struggling to catch up and MIVA vanished. However, we're seeing people rest PPC options on sites like Facebook.

It's also the case that Italians - pushed by their agencies - are trying more social media.

Let's focus on the agencies for a while. We have the 'interactive agencies' who are moving towards web 2.0 but still forget the basic SEO. There are the 'media centers' who offer search but treat is as media purchase. There are 'in-house teams' who try and do SEO but struggle for training and resources. There are also the 'search marketing agencies' who offer the best service but many Italian businesses don't really want to pay the hefty fees that these agencies charge.

Ah... the Google story again. This seems to be a common problem. Google's Italian sales team will lure people straight into PPC and promise some level of optimisation. However, Massimo claims, they don't really deliver this.

Massimo has his hands on some Full6 research... but he's whizzing through it awfully quickly! More men than women use the internet/search in Italy and most go online at least once every day.

We see that Yahoo is by far and away the most popular second choice search engine. MSN's Live Search doesn't get a look in there.

Here's another quirky fact. 7% of Italians say they wouldn't go online to get information about something after finding out about it somewhere else.

41% of Italians will check on blogs before making a purchase. This explains the rising interest in social media in Italy.

71% of Italian users have never performed a search on a mobile. Massimo didn't translate it but I'm sure I saw a stat which said 4% of the survey respondents used the Sony PSP.

Hjorth / Europe wide

He begins with a slide showing all the languages in Europe. There are lots. That gives you the option not just to geo-target but to language-target. For example; you could target Catalan.

Let's look at character sets. Ah. Now there are only two on the map of Europe; latin and cyrillic.

Ooh. Risky jokes about there being two languages in Germany; German and Turkish.

Hjorth claims there is a German company with a link buying network which is impossible to detect. That's just wrong, though. You don't need to analysise the page to become aware of link buying trends.

We're looking at which search engines you might spend your budget on; Google, Google, Google... but let's look at some exceptions; there's Jubii in Denmark, Voila in France (but that's likely to go soon), Exalead in France and we laugh because AltaVista still lives in Sweden.

We whiz through people search engines like, skip video search engines and come to look more closely at France.

94% of France have broadband and it's fast (400Me to 450Me). Anders top tip for bringing your search campaign to France is to get the basics right. The next top tip is to really use shopping search engines; Le Guide, Kelkoo, Achter Moins Cher, etc, etc.

PR is also important in France. There aren't many PR hubs but talk to bloggers and traditional journalists.

Oh. We're looking at a screen shot from YiGG. That's a German site so I guess we've left France. If you couldn't guess... YiGG is a digg clone.

Anders is running out of time so we're whizzing through slides fast enough to cause an epileptic fit!

Kevin reminds us that we'll be able to download the slides later. Phew!

Schmidt / Asia Pacific

Let's see how quickly Erica has to run through her slides! She only has 8 minutes. Go!

She quickly confirms that Google is the biggest search engine in Germany. Great. She asks us to suspend our knowledge about Search because its all different in Apac.

Let's look at some comScore stats - 21.3b queries in Dec 2007 Apac. That's huge!

The biggest markets;

  • China,
  • Japan,
  • India,
  • Korea
Baidu has 5.2% worldwide marketshare (that compares to 62.4% for Google and 12.8% for Yahoo). Naver has 2.6% worldwide marketshare thanks to Korea.

Some other apac search engines; Duam, Empas, Soso, Sohu and Naver.

Search in Apac isn't easy. I can tell from Erica's tone of voice that she's found this out first hand! In Hong Kong, for example, users search in Chinese, then English and then in combinations of both languages.

  • Baidu has 68% (though Erica notes these stats change hugely depending on source)
  • Google has 20%
  • SoSo has 4%
  • Yahoo has 2%
  • Sohu China has 2%
Erica shows the Baidu homepage to illustrate how similar it is to Google. The claim is that the Chinese are very good at copying!

Baidu is used heavily to look for free MP3s. There's even a tab for the search on Baidu. It's also worth noting that the Chinese aren't used to paying for MP3.

Google's users tend to be more business orientated than Baidu's users. Baidu is predominately paid search. The average user in China doesn't know (or care about) the difference between a paid listing and an organic listing.

Reasons why Google may find it hard in China; just a few years back the Chinese gov was automatically redirecting traffic to China! Baidu say; "If you have an idea and are willing to pay for it - let's talk"


Yahoo is dominant in Japan. Yay for Japan. Here's the catch; the main shareholder of Yahoo Japan is not Yahoo. It's a telecom called SouthBank.

In Japan people are very used to paying for things with their mobile (cell) phone. The default engine on any DoCoMo device is Google.

  • Naver is top with 77% marketshare
  • Daum is next with 10.8% marketshare.
  • Yahoo has 4.4%
  • Then there's search engine called Google with just 1.7%
Naver was born as a 'Question & Answer' search engine and then grew from there. Naver is also very similar in appearance to Google but has a lot more paid search listings (partner; Overture).

Offline advertising is really used to drive search. It's the infamous Pontiac example again (pleas, someone ban this from SES and SMX).

Good one Erica! No rushed slides.

Kennedy / United States and Canada (SEO)

Anne must be shattered. She arrived here at 1am!

Anne starts by pointing out that Canada is bi-lingual. There's also the growing Spanish speaking market in the United States.

Anne tackles the question; if you're an European company why would you bother to try to market to Americans given the current economic climate? The answer; what about all those American living in the UK or elsewhere in Europe?

Two-thirds of Americans now shop online and e-Commerce accounts for $1 for every $10 spend across all retail channels in the US.

Anne rolls out the Enquiro eye-tracking charts. Thanks Anne. On the left we've got the golden triangle. On the right we've got the stretched out eye patterns we now associated with Universal Search.

37% of US adults use social media and 70% of teens use it every month (what do the other 30% do??)

Older people are sticky and the younger people are fickle.

There's not the same levels of concern about online privacy in the States than in Europe.

In summary; US market is still growing, universal search and social media are inspiring new tactics and businesses are eager.

Elesseily / Canada and United States (PPC)

Search is the largest online advertising medium. The US market is more than half the total PPC market... but that share is declining.

Elesseily asks; "What can we learn from North America??"

My first thought - how to spice up sports games by bringing in cheerleaders. Ah; Mona suggests multivariate testing.

True enough - not many people in the audience put their hands up for the question; "Who uses multivariate testing". Mona says that Page Zero tend to test 7 variables at once.

I guess GE are a Page Zero client as we're seeing the results of some of their multivariate testing. We can see the word "Get" is important. The conversion rates between "GE Dishwasher Parts" and "Get GE Dishwaster Parts" is significant.

Mona has a hit list of things to suggest testing
  • Headlines
  • Offers
  • Buy words
  • URL with www or without
  • Capital letters
It's also important to test your landing pages. We're going to look at NXPowerLite for this example; the old page converted at 17.9%. After the landing page revamp (designed to do better with eyetracking) and encourage people to download a free test - they had a 36.6% conversion rate. What an improvement!

Mona also plugs Andrew Goodman's book. Bet he's pleased about that!


Kevin Ryan plugs the bigmouthmedia fussball competition we're running. There are trophies, you know!

Ooh. Someone objects to me typing at the back of room. N00b!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Rare video footage of Slurp, Googlebot and MSNBot in the wild

I should admit to two things. Firstly; I've been so busy I've not posted in a while. Secondly; I've been playing with Spore's Creature Creator for about an hour.

In the process of making a whole host of test monsters I've created...



Yahoo Slurp

Not only was Yahoo Slurp the first spider I created - it looks like the best. I don't know why both MSNBot and Googlebot went so dark! The good news is that I figured out I can use the scroll wheel to re-size limbs.

I may call these 1.0, release them into the wild and then try again...

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Guardian Logo vs Google Logo

I was reading Stephen Brook's write up of comments from Google's EMEA President, Nikesh Arora, that people would pay for web content when I noticed the favicons.

I don't normally read the Guardian because they're not a client!

I think both Google and the Guardian went to the school of curvy Gs! Google's new favicon logo is on the right.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Cristina Hoole leaves PayPal for LinkedIn

I don't usually cover moves but this one looks interesting.

Cristina Hoole was once Head of Retail and Consumer PR at Visa Europe. She then then moved onto PayPal.

I know this is an HR role but we can see the 'new media' trend there; from the credit card to the dotcom.

She's moved again. I'm not sure what her job title at LinkedIn is (I assume Head of PR) but Clare O'Conner from Haymarket points out she's been given a clear European brief.

The other interesting thing to note that that Hoole will be working with LinkedIn's PR agency Chameleon PR. Chaemeleon won the LinkedIn work after it was decided the previous PR agency - Bite - had a conflict of interest. Bite was working with Facebook too.

It's a small world, isn't it?

Inspiration, Anyone? Microsoft's videos

One of the dangers of going to a lot of conferences and expos is that you begin to see the same funny videos again and again.

Last year I really enjoyed the Break Up video from Microsoft Advertising but, oh boy, did I watch it to death. If you've not seen it - here is is:

The video is so popular that Microsoft is doing a sequel.. and have produced a trailor for the sequel. A trailor for an online ad. Hmm. Makes you think! Amusingly the video is called 'Inspiration, anyone?" Here is is:

Hat tip to Mel Carson for the news!