Monday, December 21, 2009

Microsoft ad widget promoting SEO stuff

This is a quirky little discovery. I'm a blogger member of Unruly Media. At Unruly they provide bloggers with videos to post and be rewarded with a "pay per play" type basis.

I can't remember where I heard about them first but it was a Mr Ciaran Norris blog post that finally reminded me to go sign up.

This is an ad (not sure what counts as a 'play' in this case or how that'll effect my earnings) but I'm posting it here just to illustrate that Microsoft are pushing their SEO toolkit.

[Ad]



[Image]


The blog in question is on the MSDN domain so they're driving traffic back into their own community nevertheless the widget reminds me a little of some of the progress the people at Outbrain are making with their own blog-to-blog connection/contextual relevance/ad widgets.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Predictions for 2010

Our predictions for 2009 turned out to be a big social media hit! This was largely due to the amount of times it was discovered and read at Scribd. There's no surprise that we're using Scribd to host these thoughts again for our predictions for 2010.

Bigmouthmedia's predictions for 2010

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Google leaps on EU ruling - rushes What Browser to the limelight

Google's been pushing Chrome hard here in the UK and the Netherlands. The reason is connected to the EU's decision to force a browser choice on users - insisting that Microsoft loosen the bounds between IE and Windows.

In a post titled "Boosting user choice for browsers" Google noted,

The European Commission today announced an important decision designed to inject more competition into the crucial market for Internet browsers. Under the Commission decision, more than 100 million Europeans will soon receive an opportunity to download a new browser. On both new and old computers that run Internet Explorer, a ballot screen will pop up on their computers displaying icons of the major browser makers and allowing them to choose among them with a simple click.
Pretty big news, huh.

As it happens Google has had a stealth weaponwaiting in the wings ready for this - the What Browser? site.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Are you snoring yourself to death?

I noticed this ad on Flickr today.

In one way it's a pretty clever ad. It takes a standard square and divides it into three separate click-able areas. Each area has its own Blue Lithium tracking link. That's a good use of space. I also think it integrates well into the Flickr search results.



In another way; what the heck? Are you snoring yourself to death?

My snoring would have to be dangerous before I was willing to strap myself up like that at nights! If you fear your life is in danger unless you fasten your jaw shut then you can check out the product page here!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Foursquare improves Facebook integration

All the recent chat seems to be about Gowalla. It's understandable given their recent funding success. I'm just on Foursquare for now (heck; it only just launched up here in Edinburgh) and that's enough for me.

I noticed that some time today the mobile web version of Foursquare - I'm not talking about pretty apps for you iPhone users - got a minor upgrade with an "Send to Facebook" drop down box. This is the screen I tend to see most often as I use my Windows 6.1 X1 and the mobile Iris browser to check in remotely.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Jebus! DMCA madness with Google and Ugg boots

Just when you thought the whole Google and Ugg boot drama in the UK couldn't get any weirder we have a DMCA messy result that looks like this.

P.S. Notice the good result for the Brinkwire press release in there.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Google joins the campaign against the Digital Economy Bill

10 Downing StreetImage by Cee-Bee via Flickr

I really think this will ring an alarm bell at 10 Downing Street. Not a large one; a small one... and it’ll probably only sound in the ritual PR room.

Google’s used their new but sharp edged European Policy Blog to attack the Digital Economy Bill proposed by the British government.

Google’s legal paper filers write;

The British Government's Digital Economy bill includes ideas that worry us - as well as other Internet companies such as Yahoo, Facebook and Ebay. In particular, we are concerned about the bill's Clause 17 which, in an effort to fight piracy, would allow the Secretary of State to amend the Copyright Act to "prevent or reduce the infringement of copyright by means of the Internet" without additional legislation. All of us have joined together and written the UK government to express our opposition.


It’s pretty clear why Google objects to this creepy clause. Google likes to protect the data it has. It will use courtroom battles to try and keep that data secure and the threat of courtroom battles to dissuade people from trying to get at it.

These British proposals could slice away at those protections. A Government would find itself in the position to easily order Google to reveal, X, Y or even X in relation to Y.


Thursday, December 03, 2009

Is IKEA's new iPhone app the future of magazines?

This week we've seen some magazines present future possibilities for themselves bundled with tablets.

For example, over at TechFluff the bouncy Hermonie shows us Sports Illustrated and asks; "Would you pay money for this?"



A good question. Don't hate it just because it's American sports.

Also this week we've got IKEA gearing up to tackle a hard challenge - to try and get us interested in yet another iPhone App. What they're letting us do is surf through their entire catalogue in an App.

I've never been in an IKEA store in my life so I thought I'd check out the preview.



Pretty slick, huh? Pretty similar too.

One big difference is the size of the screen but for the IKEA catalogue - all pictures, more or less, then the iPhone is good enough.

All IKEA need to do is add a section of content; perhaps fashion tips, perhaps streamed in from a blog and even if IKEA are paying a small license fee to that content provider then their App would be a serious alternative to paying for a Home & Fashion Magazine in electronic/tablet format.

I think we'll see a lot more content packaged up like this. A good thing too.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Mystery Google is now Mystery Social

ARHG reader XSEVM points out that Mystery Google is no more. It's become Mystery Social.

In fact, if you type in "Mystery Social" as a search in the surprisingly popular engine then you get a message; "Yep. We had to change our name.™"

No prizes for guessing who might have inflicted that onto them.


The code, however, refers to Mystery Google all over the place as does the Top Internets site.

Here's the current list of 'Easter Egg' searches for the site:

  • Hello
  • Mystery Social
  • Test
  • What is Mystery Google
  • What is this
  • Gibberish
  • Google
  • Facebook
  • Poop
  • Rick Roll
  • Will you marry me
  • Bigmouthmedia Germany

Monday, November 30, 2009

Bigmouthmedia's Online Travel Report for 2009

I think this is pretty funky. It's an example of when a digital marketing agency says; "Wouldn't it be useful if we had something like [x]" and then decides, "Let's do [x]!".

In this case [x] was a digital marketing intelligence report on what's going on in the travel sector. What are the challenges? Where are the budgets going? What's going to strong next year? Lots of juicy stuff like that.

Bigmouthmedia Online Travel Report

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Google kidnapping - Thailand and back

The importance of location aware services are here today, they'll continue to grow and in the near future we'll worry about the accuracy of such when it comes to tagging our campaigns and analyzing their results.

Today it's a curio that Google can kidnap me (as I sat on a train crawling through Fife, Scotland) and drag me to Thailand. Tomorrow advertisers will be worried that people can seem to teleport across the globe in the space of minutes.


Friday, November 27, 2009

The Really Useful Guide to Social Media

If, somehow, you failed to take part in the Econsultancy and bigmouthmedia Social Media Survey you don't get it for free. You can download it here for less than £200. It's probably the most important social media business benchmark in the UK to date.

If you're not an Econsultancy member or can't talk your bean counters into splashing the cash needed for the insight - then you can check out bigmouthmedia's Really Useful Guide to Social Media. To be honest; if you're reading this blog then you're not likely to be in the intended audience for the guide but it does contain a small sample of the survey stats!

The Really Useful Guide to Social Media

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Foursquare comes to Edinburgh, Scotland

Yay. Foursquare has launched in my city - Edinburgh; in out of the way Scotland.

Here's my experience so far.



Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Tens of thousands of new links for Xbox.com but it's about the branding

This is a good reality check for any SEO. Are you obsessed with links?

Today Xbox Live integrates with Facebook, Twitter and Last.fm. This means you can make use of all three of those web based services from your Xbox console. A lot of the focus has been on the Facebook and Twitter integration but the one I'm liking the most so far is Last.fm.

It's easy to stream music from Last.fm, through my better-than-the-laptop speakers on my TV and watch while album art floats by.

On the web side of things thousands of Last.fm profile pages, tens of thousands, will now start to show when someone is listening to music in the new Last.fm/Xbox way. Yes; these are 'follow' links.


It's really not abou the SEO value from this links at all. It's all about the branding boost it'll give Xbox Live. What a way to target a key audience. What a great way to help position the console as more than just a games console but as an entertainment device.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Is Google pulling Social Search experiment after just a few weeks?

In the last hour I - and others - have been seen messages from Google stating that the Social Search experiment/Google Labs option is no longer available.

This is a search for [bigmouthmedia bjornis] which clearly shows the removal notice. The text says; "The experiment you're trying to access is no longer available. Go to experiments overview"



Google launched Social Search on the 26th of October, that's less than a month ago.

It seems most likely that this isn't a planned reduction of the social search test. It may well just be the sort of hiccup you should expect when you take part in a Google Labs experiment.

It is possible, though, that for whatever reason Google now has enough data (perhaps loads more people in the experiment than usual) and is now needing to wind it down.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Google, the end of the world and Olympics in London

The Olympics are coming to London in 2012. Not surprisingly this is known as "London 2012". The city is building places to house althetics, to facilitate the sports and is putting in a load of transport links.

What does Google make of this?

Google's increasingly rolling out onebox results here in the UK. To support it's recently enhanced movie listings service we're seeing movie onebox results more often too.

It's not always the result we want.


In this case we're getting London cinema times for the end of the world movie - 2012.

A News Corp exclusive deal with Bing makes no sense

Rupert MurdochImage via Wikipedia

As a curio I posted asking whether you've been Mocking Murdoch and it provoked rather more comments than this little blog normally gets.

My point was that News Corp was having a good share price day. I certainly don't think The City or Nasdaq watchers, etc, are digital natives capable of seeing some clever Murdoch search move that we couldn't see. I did it to suggest that some people think the move might work.

One of the suggested success tactics behind dropping News Corp content from Google that I don't think will work is an exclusive deal with Bing. Mr Michael Arrington has written about this in a way which seems to suggest he feels there's some merit to the idea.

In a nutshell; News Corp pulls its papers out of Google, sells exclusive indexing rights to Bing (wanting to beat Google, Bing agrees to this) and then, they argue, people have a reason to use Bing instead of Google.

Except, no. It's not going to work like that. If someone wants to search in general then they'll use a general search engine. If they think Google is the best general search engine then they'll use Google. If they want to search a specific newspaper then they go to that newspaper and use the search functionality there. Most people don't use the site: or source: commands.

If you wanted to search the New York Times and couldn't do it with Google wouldn't you just to straight to the New York Times' site and search there?

I'm not even sure why people would want to search the New York Times. Are they looking for a specific story by a specific journalist? If you're interested in a news story, breaking news or an old reference piece, then wouldn't you just search by subject?

Once the News Corp content is out of Google we'll find many news blogs and others like Mahalo writing about stories they'd never written about before because they know they'll now get the Google traffic related to them.

Search has never been the problem for News Corp. They're wrong to think that it is. The problem has always been Surface. Google News helps surface news stories. News Corp shouldn't worry about the index. They should worry about the discovery.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Head to Head: A Bing UK versus Google UK comparison

SHU WrestlingImage by NewEndProductions via Flickr

This is a straight forward head to head. For some time now Google UK has struggled with geo-targeting. Searches for common and garden UK terms have more frequently resulted in websites better suited to American, New Zealand and Australian audiences more frequently in the last half of the year than the first.

Now Microsoft has managed to shrug off rumours that Bing UK would be delayed and have whisked the beta tag off the search engine.

I took a random sample of 10 keywords and compared both engines to see which one did the best with geo-targeting. I’ve not selected the “from UK” radio button. In the past, on Google, you didn’t need to.

KeywordGoogleBing
[pizza in kent]3/102/10
[trampoline hire]10/108/10
[sports news]9/108/10
[blue Christmas dress]5/108/10
[coping with debt]9/1010/10
[beard trimmer]10/105/10
[city breaks]10/1010/10
[health and safety regulations]10/109/10
[birmingham car hire]10/1010/10
[buy guitar pedals]7/107/10

This makes Google UK the winner with a score of 83/100. Bing UK gets 77. It’s a close thing and, although defeated, Bing UK makes a strong debut.

The beard trimmer result, in particular, let Bing down. What happened here was that Bing’s intelligence kicked in and started to provide blended results for beard trimmer reviews and shopping options. Turns out there are far fewer UK sites reviewing beard trimmers and in Bing’s trusted reviewer database. The latter point is likely to be improved on by Bing over time.

Both engines clearly struggled with Kent – it’s in the US and in the UK. They did better with Birmingham. Search volume and user behaviour are likely to be the main reasons behind this; despite any protests from Google.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Is there far too much hype about Caffeine?

Let's begin with a key quote, from Google, about Caffeine.

A pile of coffee beans: Trader Joe's Organic F...Image via Wikipedia



“The new infrastructure sits "under the hood" of Google's search engine, which means that most users won't notice a difference in search results. But web developers and power searchers might notice a few differences, so we're opening up a web developer preview to collect feedback.”

Let's also note that Matt has kindly reassured us all that we wont' see Caffeine on more than one data center before Christmas.

Nevertheless I can see a number of national newspapers running today with "Caffeine is nearly here!" stories.

The Daily Mirror says Google Caffeine ready to bring real-time search and the Telegraph says Google Caffeine ready for roll out.

It isn't just in the UK. Good web brands are in on the act too. CNET says; Google: Caffeine search is ready to go and PC Mag say Google's 'Caffeine' Super Search Is Almost Here.

No wonder people are asking; "What does this mean for search" and "How will this impact my SEO campaign?"

For the best answer to those sort of questions, good Search professionals should be pointing back to the initial description for Caffeine. It's been announced as an under the hood change. Google said; "most users won't notice a difference in search results" - so if there is a staggering difference in search results then Google will have been caught out, they'll have publicly shown they couldn't correctly predict the result of a backend change.

It's also important to note that Caffeine may well be one small hop from bigger changes. Google's going to use the resources that Caffeine brings. Google's going to use the data that Caffeine leads to. Those changes may change the SERPs in significant ways.

In the mean time, while we wait, let's hope some of the hype begins to simmer a way and people stop making outrageous predictions based on a fancy about Caffeine.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Google supports new web advertising watchdog; digital UK gets a shake up

One of many Google signsImage by Extra Ketchup via Flickr

Here's a surprise; rather than resisting attempts regulate how it runs ads on the web – Google is backing the expanded ASA with money.

The UK's Advertising Standards Authority has, until now, limited to looking after offline advertising. It has two sets of rules; CAP for non-broadcast and CAP for broadcast. Simply put; if a brand runs a TV ad which is misleading, wrong or rude then it's the ASA that steps in to sort things out.

People can complain to the ASA if they see an ad they don't like.

Now, Google's always rejected the need to work with a body like this. Google regulates Google.

It's been announced today that the ASA has had its remit extended and extra funds to support web governance. IN other words it'll begin to regulate the ads that appear on websites. If ASA doesn't like an ad shown through AdSense or DoubleClick Exchange then it'll step in, have teeth and sort Google out.

I'm amazed Google is supporting this imitative rather than distancing itself. That's what it has been trying to do for years. News today, though, shows that Google will actually help fund the expanded ASA and tow the line for two years.

This just doesn't impact on search. I suspect search is in the headlines simply because Google is being mentioned.

This impacts affiliate marketing – affiliate networks may now find themselves being poked by ASA if the regulators don't like the banners shown on the network.

What this means for affiliates who customise their own banners and use them alongside the tracking technology providedby the affiliate networks isn't clear.

Display, of course, will be effected hugely. Networks and exchanges will have to keep a closer eye on the banners they're being used to display.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Has Google bought email spammers?

gizmo5-logoImage by Pat2001 via Flickr

Google's gone and bought Gizmo5. I know them back a few years under the name www.gizmoproject.com.

The connection is LiveJournal and Brad Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick, a coding god, started LiveJournal but left after the Six Apart deal to join Google.

I've blogged about Gizmo before - when I had a surprising email from them.

The problem was I had used my LiveJournal account to access the (at the time) beta LiveJournal messaging system - one powered by Gimzo5. LiveJournal was supposed not to pass that email address on, an address I created and used exclusively with LiveJournal but nevertheless I started to get email marketing from Gizmo.

That shouldn't have happened.

I'm not saying Gizmo5 are email spammers. I did, however, take that email as spam. It could have been a mistake from LiveJournal and they may have passed my email address on and given them the impression they could contact me.

Once I kicked up enough of a fuss the emails stopped - at least none of them made it past spam filters and to my inbox.

Google's not in the business of buying email spammers Michael Arrington sagely points out the Google Talk integration and how Gizmo5 does PSTN very well. At the back of my mind I'm thinking about whether the Gizmo5 deal is about getting Google Talk better integrated with social communities - will, for example, LiveJournal users now find themselves using Google tech for their chats?

Mocking Murdoch? Look at the share price

Lots of people are weighing in today on Rupert Murdoch' apparent suggestion that he'll pull News Corp newspapers out of Google. Of course; this may well be a bluff or an over simplification but it's been enough for thought leading bloggers to use headlines like Epic Win. I was actually over at Boing Boing for the first time in a million years to read up on the news.

Do you think he's crazy to say "Thanks but no thanks!" to all that traffic? Think he'll make more money from a much reduced impression count for his ads (perhaps trying to push premium inventory only sales) and subscription models than he'd otherwise?

Shares on News Corp are rising sharply today. Looks like investors, wheelers and dealers don't have the same view on news and content discovery as we not-so-humble digital fellows do.



Update:
How did the share price fair over the full day? It was a bit of a bumpy ride but the overall direction was - up.




Google's robots.txt lets Googlebot into mobile movies

John Campbell noticed a m.google.com result in a standard Google web search. Eagle eyes make for good SEO.


It's just a quick check to confirm that John's right and to narrow down where Googlebot has started to pick these mobile search results from. There's a way into Google's mobile movie results. The big deal, by the way, is that Google tries very hard not to include search results in search results.

It's also easy enough to spot the hole that Googlebot has crawled through. It looks like the robots.txt file on m.google.com is set up to block /movies?. Perhaps these results where on that URL structure at the past but the robots.txt doesn't block the current pattern.



Thursday, November 05, 2009

I'm in Hell?

I flew from Sweden to Norway tody as part of a mini tour of some of bigmouthmedia's offices up in the Nordics. It's been mainly training and, of course, as a business trip there's been no sightseeing whatsoever - however, just by moving from A to B you can't but help notice the view. Stockholm is very nice; in some ways it reminds me of Edinburgh but just with bigger, newer, buildings.

Tonight I'm in Trondheim. Not had much chance to see it yet - I think I touched down around 4pm and it was already dusk.

I've noticed that I'm in - or very close to - Hell, though. Tomorrow I'll be taking the train through Hell and to our office and Bjornis.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Microsoft breaking Google's rules for Windows 7 push

Over at TheNextWeb Alex Wilhelm noticed Apple bidding on [windows 7] keywords. It was a good blog post but actually this is just fairly common digital marketing tactics. Kudus to Apple for the attempt. You're not allowed a negative AdWords ad - so they can't slag Microsoft off - but they can encourage a positive view on their own product.



I can't re-create this exactly. I don't think Apple are running this ad in the UK (given that we get our own remakes of Mac vs PC TV ads I suspect we have a different Apple marketing department).

I do, however, get this on a [windows 7 download] search.


What the two searches have in common is that they both show "microsoft.com" and "microsoftstore.com" domain. A quick check on the WHOIS shows me that it really is Microsoft behind "microsoftstore.com" and not a squatter.

So what's the big deal?

Google has rules for what's an acceptable PPC/AdWords campaign... and this breaks it. Google bans "double serving". That's the same advertiser, using different sites but with a similar purpose, bidding on the same keywords and showing at the same time.

Double serving isn't always black and white. For example, a company which owns a bunch of dating sites could advertise the same sites for the same keywords if the first site was a subscription model targeted towards professionals and the second site was a free to access, targetted to 20-sometimes, with a regional flare and which made heavy use of SMS. Why? They might both be dating sites but the user experience is clearly different.

Microsoft.com and Microsoftstore.com might be different sites but the user experience here is pretty much the same experience. The student offer link (microsoft.com here in the UK) takes me through some targeting options and after telling the site that I'm not a student I end up at a page which looks like this:



The Microsoftstore.com page looks like this:



I'm not saying Microsoft are doing anything ethically wrong here. In fact, they and whoever their digital marketing agency are may be unaware of Google's double serving policy (which may cause them problems when/if they have to pick one ad or the other).

This is, however, another example of how awkward the double serving policy is and how Google don't always catch it straight away.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Blogger updates the blogger bar

Unlike many of the blogs you read - this one is Google Blogger.com blog. Heh. :) This means I have to have the Blogger bar at the top. Google builds in a search box, a next blog button and a spam report function.

Here's a sample of the old styles

Google's given the bar a much needed refresh. The Blogger brand has been dropped a notch (does the end game involve merging Blogger with Google Sites?) and the "Follow" option has been added.




I've not found "Follow" helpful at all. In fact it tends to double load Google Reader in a most unhelpful way.

I hope this is just part one of the Blogger bar refresh. If only Google would build Google Friend Connect into it and then I'd actually quite like it.

Google demotes the Google News filters

I remember when Google added the news filter options to the top right of Google News. That happened in April 2007 and I've got screen grabs of before/after there.

Here's what we get today.



Google's prone to testing this sort of thing so it's always best to do a Google News search yourself and double check you're also seeing this - but, if you are, what do you think of this?

The good news is that we've not lost the ability to sort by date or by relevance. Those options have been moved to the left strip.



This is good news because I use the filter options all the time. When I'm really checking up on a story I want to know who broke the news first - and the date filter is vital for that.

If you're wearing your search engine optimisation hat then you'll also find it incredibly useful to see how relevant Google finds a relatively small sample set of well optimised sites chasing after a wide berth of keywords. The caveat, of course, is that Google News algorithmic SEO is very different from Google Web algorithmic SEO.

So, why did Google make the change? My hunch is that they're trying to standardise the concept of 'now filter your results' across their search engines. The "show options" link now available in Google Web and this presents web filter options on the left.

I'm not so sure when Google News did this. I think it's pretty darn new as I use Google News an awful lot but perhaps not so much in the last week or so due to being happily busy with a lot of work projects; none of which are Google News marketing related.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Caution: Flickr now %45 less private

Image representing Flickr as depicted in Crunc...Image via CrunchBase

I nearly stopped using Flickr in favour of Facebook. Why? You can tag people in Facebook. Not only is that fun but it's useful too!

It's about time but Flickr has now added a "people in pictures" feature – it's on the right by the sets. You can type in a Flickr contact and add them that way, just type in a name and add them that way or you can use an email address.

The email address is the interesting bit – I've a few ways of getting your email address; I may have it from Facebook, I may have it from a random chat or a business card.

Previously I might have never guessed your Flickr username and that would have suited you as you might have used your Flickr account for personal pictures only; friends and family sort of stuff. Flickr's "people in pictures" option rumbles you now. If I have your email address and you've used it to register on Flickr then I can find you.

There's an easy solution; make sure your photostreams are locked and private if you'd prefer them to be locked and private.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Google caught talking bollocks and tweets

Marissa MayerImage via Wikipedia

Google’s announced they’ve inked a deal with Twitter so that their updates (tweets) will be included in the search engine’s results.

Why? Google says this will lead to a better set of search results. We’ll get real time data.

In the shortest blog post I’ve ever seen on the main Google blog, Marissa Mayer, Vice President of Search Products and User Experience, says; “We believe that our search results and user experience will greatly benefit from the inclusion of this up-to-the-minute data, and we look forward to having a product that showcases how tweets can make search better in the coming months.”

In other news, Bing has also signed a deal with Twitter. You can read about it a much longer blog post and enjoy sample pictures. You can even play with some of the features at www.bing.com/twitter.

And the bollocks?

Google’s always claimed they don’t time their announcements to overshadow other people’s news. It just happens that way. We’re told that these features, etc, are a long time in preparation and the search giant couldn’t time them to overlap with rival news even if they wanted too.

Really? Looks like a rushed blog post from M Mayer too me. Doesn’t look like Google’s actually coded anything with Twitter. Right now, the first thought that springs to mind (and without any careful consideration) is that Google’s trying to ride on the Twitter/Bing news coattails.

Update: I can't but help notice all the Googlers reading this blog post. "Talking bollocks" is a friendly Scottish expression! :)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

TD Search – the new face of The Search Works

Years ago I ran the a Yahoo group for TradeDoubler affiliates in the UK. I was at University at the time, paying for my tuition with a combination of SEO and Affiliate Marketing. I ran the group because, amazingly, no one would be emailed when a new merchant joined TD. As I was going to the effort to monitor that data I thought it made sense to share it with other affiliates.

I closed the group when A4U made it redundant but I’ve always had a soft spot for TD in my heart since then.

In 2007 they bought The Search Works (and The Technology Works). BidBuddy, The Search Work’s bid management system, was swiftly rebranded to TD Searchware (or just Searchware) but not TD Search. Given that TradeDoubler talk about TD Affiliate, TD Campaigns and TD integral business there was the option for The Search Works to become TD Search.

Today that’s happened. The Search Works has been rebranded as TD Search. Well; TD Search in the UK and France, at least, so perhaps Germany is excluded.

If you hit the old The Search Works homepage today you’ll get redirected to the press release (It’s a 302 redirect, guys, please remember your SEO).

Here’s a snippet;

TradeDoubler Rebrands The Search Works to TD Search in UK and France

Final step in successful integration of The Search Works into The TradeDoubler Group, delivering unrivalled, seamless search management across 19 countries

London, 20 October 2009 – TradeDoubler, the number one pan-European digital marketing company, today announced that The Search Works in the UK and France will be rebranded to TD Search, effective immediately, bringing it in line with the rest of TradeDoubler’s TD Search businesses across Europe. The rebranding is the final step in the successful integration of The Search Works into The TradeDoubler Group, following one of the largest acquisitions in the online advertising industry in July 2007.

The rebranding also paves the way for future product expansion to leverage the Group’s technology investment under a single pan-European brand. In 2010, TradeDoubler will announce a number of significant developments, including the launch of its single platform to manage holistic digital marketing programmes across the major online disciplines in search, display and affiliate. The single platform will deliver more informed budget allocation, more effective campaigns and even stronger results for customers.

I guess what TD Search represents is the attempt to offer a new agency/solution to today’s heavily digital world. The TD press release puts the focus on technology and I have to wonder whether that’ll be the future focus for TradeDoubler.

It’ll be interesting to read what trade press make of the TD Search rebranding. I know quite a few peeps from The Search Works read this blog so I’ll just close by saying that I’ve always found a re-branding done right to be healthy and energising. It really is a chance to focus on the future.

Yahoo CMO Elisa Steele defends the Y!ou ads

I quite like the eye candy of the new Yahoo TV ad. It's pretty. It has energy. It doesn't tell me why I should go to Yahoo (except to suggest it might be a funky place to visit) or what Yahoo does. Despite all that, I like it.

Industry pundits, however, have been rather more vocal in asking "What's the point?" and whereas I suspect Yahoo would want to add vidblogging to their marcoms anyway I do wonder whether I can hear some defensive tones in this one.




Had you noticed it was a different yodel at the end of the video? Hrm. Can't say I had - not because I'm deaf, just because it failed the "do I care" filter. It seems that last chat was for the employees of Yahoo rather than the external audience like myself. That's the challenge for this sort of public/private communication from Yahoo. They may call it an internal blog but, well, external people read it too.

Monday, October 19, 2009

HMVCurzon, Wimbledon and affiliate challenges

UK - London: Oxford Street - Site of Original ...Image by wallyg via Flickr

High street survival story HMV has teamed up with Curzon Artificial Eye to launch HMVCurzon. Great name.

HMVCurzon is an in-store cinema for HMV. The first one, HMVCurzon Wimbledon, is a 263 seat, three screen cinema that’ll open above the HMV store in Wimbledon.

I can see why HMV are doing this and I agree with the tactic. The products that HMV sells – games, DVDs and music – are exactly the sort of thing where the physical medium isn’t import. You download the latest games, DVDs and music these days and you don’t trek all the way to Wimbledon to buy them. You certainly don’t want shiny but fragile spinny discs to cart around the next time you move house or to ruin with grubby fingers.

What HMV are doing here is giving us a reason to visit the store. It’s about turning retail into an experience and therefore giving it a reason to be physical rather than simply virtual. HMV talk about becoming an entertainment hub.

So, HMVCurzon is a physical thing then… but does that mean it should be sloppy online?

No. Never.

The sub-brand does have a website. In fact the site informs me that they have a cafĂ©/bar and offer internet access. Perfect. It’s jolly hard to find a nice place to sit, have a beer and get online.

What I noticed – after finding out about HMVCuzon – was the lack of affiliate communication.

Now, I’ve subscribed to an HMV affiliate program somewhere. It was only few months ago that I got emails from HMV’s affiliate managers which detailed how HMV was adding DoubleClick tracking to their affiliate redirects. Another good idea as it’ll allow them to de-duplicate sales against search, other networks and even look at sales attribution (or click path analysis as DoubleClick call it).

So unless I’ve silently been kicked off the program (it happens) I should have got an email about HMVCurzon.

Here’s why.

There are dozens of entertainment blogs that should be part of the HMV affiliate program. These are the very blogs that would be fantastic social media / brand ambassadors. They could all be happily writing about the launch of HMVCurzon and throwing in their affiliate code/ads for HMV as valid attempts to monetise the news.

HMV have just launched PureHMV; a loyalty program. I’m a member. I had to pay £3 to join but now when I buy music from HMV I’ll collect points. I can spend those points at pure.hmv.com. One of the things I can spend my PureHMV points is ‘purefilm’… in other words HMVCurzon stuff.

So even simple retail affiliates have a reason to promote HMVCurzon; it’s an incentive to go shop at HMV.

It’s not just a lack of communication about HMVCurzon or PureHMV that may have some affiliates arching their eyebrows though. PureHMV is on a separate sub-domain. HMVCurzon has that different website. It’s likely that affiliates may loose out by linking to either one – the tracking code won’t drop the HMV cookie. What HMV should be doing is making it clear which sites affiliates can link to. Even if there’s no commission for PureHMV claims or HMVCurzon tickets their affiliate program should consider letting either be a valid destination for affiliate traffic.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Google buys Akamai

Okay; thank you for not just tweeting the headline for you see Google has not yet bought Akamai. There are rumours that the search giant will buy the ... well ... how to describe Akamai to people who don’t know it? It’s a giant content delivery network, a CDN of sorts.

Most people are familiar with Akamai only through email marketing when the domain sometimes appears in the sender field.

In truth Akamai’s services are far more complex than that. They have servers around the world and offer a system to large sites which allows a distributed and cached delivery system of content. This means Akamai serves the content rather than the original web server. It’s a way to manage load.

Google uses it. Here at bigmouthmedia we often debate just how heavily Google leans on Akamai.

There are a number of reasons why Google would be interested in buying Akamai over and above a move to secure a key supplier and slash costs.

Akamai works with dozens of ISPs and their system could, if tuned right, act like a giant data harvester. So many of Akamai’s big clients are the very sort of company that doesn’t want to put Google Analytics on their site. With Akamai’s reach (and a tweak or two) Google would have access to a lot more behavioural content analysis.

Video marketing – video in general – is really taking off. As video grows the need for super support structures like Akamai also grows.

Perhaps most of all are the Akamai team. They’re good. They’re really good and Google loves to buy talent.

I don’t know if I’ve called this one right – Google buys Akamai? Seems like a match in heaven. I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw this headline for real some day.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

An open and hurried response to Derek Powazek's SEO diatribe

Derek Powazek of PixishImage by Amit Gupta via Flickr

Yesterday I read Danny Sullivan’s open letter to Derek Powazek. It was the first time in ages I’ve been on Search Engine Land as my readership dropped away when the popular site swapped full RSS feeds for partial RSS feeds.

The decision to switch from full to partial RSS feeds was a business and marketing one that Danny and his team made. You could imagine that they launched Search Engine Land will full and open access in order to build up their readership (which is now at an impressive base) and then morph into a content business model to coincide with their busy conference agenda. You might call this marketing, a business plan, digital marketing, search marketing or, perhaps, even search engine optimisation.

I didn’t actually read Derek Powazek’s diatribe until Google Reader’s recommendation engine put it in my face. Now I feel as if I have to chime in.

I’m no Danny Sullivan. I don’t even have the time (I’m pleased to say) to give a full and open response to Powazek in the way that Danny has. It’s in my DNA to say something, though, so I will – quickly, between meetings and while checking my voicemail.

One of Powazek’s complains against SEO is that some of it is obvious. Don’t trust SEO consultants he says. They’ll con you.

I trust the obvious. In business the obvious is often only obvious in hindsight. Hindsight can be very costly and it makes perfect business sense to pay someone who’s fought the fight before to share their hindsight with you.

That’s obvious, right?

My main complaint with Powazek’s article is that he, like many others who chirp on against SEO, first encountered it in the late 90s or early 2000s and are now stuck there. Time freeze. There were snake oil salespeople then as there are snake oil salespeople now. The significant change in that time is how the best SEO agencies and experts have evolved.

Today we’re cutting edge. In the past SEO experts looked to the past and tried to work out keyword frequency. Today we look to the future to forecast tomorrow’s keywords. We coordinate with huge TV and radio budgets. We work with advert script writers to weigh the pros and cons of inserting a unique phrase into the dialog just so the multinational brand can optimise for it.

Today we work with fairly impressive technology. Google’s proposal to crawl AJAX based sites involves everything from headless browsers to mapping complex URLs to ‘pretty’ URLs. Why are pretty URLs important? Your search consultant will let you know.

Today we work with multivariate testing scripts to scientifically analyse the best layouts and messaging for PPC campaigns. We do this in such a way that the tests don’t leak into natural search and confuse the search engines on the actual content of the landing page or ruin the multivariate test with unassigned traffic.

That’s not “poisoning the web” – that’s working with Google to make content discoverable. That’s helping curate the web.

Helping a site migrate from one URL structure to another in a way that doesn’t leave tens of thousands of dead URLs peppering search engines, blogs and the web as a whole isn’t poisoning the web. It’s best web practise. It’s SEO.

I often think of SEO as a form of usability. Just as people can visit a site, get lost, not find the relevant content they were after and then leave the site failing to appreciate that they’ve just visited an authority on a subject – so can the search engine. In some ways SEO is about improving that search experience of the site; making sure Google (and Bing, et al) has all that it needs to judge the site fairly and accurately.

Some of what Powazek says is true. There are SEO ‘experts’ out there who recycle domains with scraped content. That is bad. That is poison. That’s not the entirety of SEO though.

Is Derek Powazek a blogger? I could write a diatribe about bloggers. I could cite all the un-verified rumours that some traffic hungry news blogs post. I could lambast bloggers for awful web design and poor English skills (look at this blog for an example!) and I could call them all blogger jerkwards.

That would be like Powazek using the phrase ‘SEO jerkwads’. It wouldn’t be fair. I’d be using the worst examples of a vibrant community to define the entire community.

If I’m going to have to come up with a summary then it’ll be this: Powazek’s stuck in the past. He needs to catch up with ethical and successful corporate search engine optimisation. He needs to consider the skill set from the top down rather than the bottom up.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Easter Eggs in Mystery Google

MysteryGoogle is a site that's doing well in the blogs today. It's even made UK trade press. It's a simple idea but quite fun. You get the search of the person before you.

Sometimes, at least. Here are a few searches to try in MysteryGoogle that don’t get normal results.

  • Hello
  • Test
  • What is Mystery Google
  • What is this
  • Gibberish
  • Google
  • Facebook
  • Poop
  • Rick Roll
  • Will you marry me
  • Bigmouthmedia Germany

Can you dig up any more?

Another dreadful Google.co.uk result - pants

Messing around with Mystery Google took me from a search for Bjornis to results for pants.

Here in the UK we don't mean pantalon when we say pants. They're not trousers. Someone should tell Google.co.uk this.


Okay, this isn't another example of Google putting US centric results into a Google.co.uk SERP. This is, however, an example of synonyms failing to be localised correctly and may hint at Google's current problem with getting good quality UK results.