Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Is Google running ads via Outbrain?

This could be a great success story for well funded start up Outbrain. I think Google may be running ads via their content recommendation system.

Who knows what might happen if Google are testing ads on Outbrain and they like the experience. Eric Schmidt has hinted that acquisitions are back in the air for the search giant.

Outbrain's widget is normally used to place rating stars at the bottom of blog posts. Below these stars the widget will start to make content recommendations. Those recommendations may come from the blog hosting the widget, another blog running the Outbrain widget or a lucky "premium" blog that Outbrain have added to the engine.

It's not quite a traffic exchange but if you don't mind some outbound traffic then you'll benefit from a little inbound traffic in exchange. I like it because it helps this little blog feel part of a larger blogging community.

This year Outbrain started to run ads via these recommendations. Advertisers find blogs that have genuinely said something positive or helpful about a brand or a product and then use the recommendation system to highlight those posts. Keeping it ethical Outbrain discloses those handpicked recommendations as ads.

I'm still testing them on this blog, as they're funky but any pennies generated go to charity (an option Outbrain provides for everyone). That's the source for the screen shot above which seems to show someone highlighting a pro-Chrome post. Could that be Google?

This is a valid alternative to AdSense and hugely more "social media" than the ubiquitous text banners have become. Outbrain's one to keep an eye on.

Update: Eytan Galai, Director of Finance at Outbrain, informs me that the advertiser isn't Google.

Thoughts on the new Yahoo Ad

I quite like the new Yahoo Ad. It's lively and fun.

I'm not sure what it says about Yahoo other than it's a million miles away from search - and that's probably the right direction for Yahoo.

Actually, it seems to all be about social networks (the passing on of the kiss) but Yahoo still don't have their social network worked out beyond Yahoo Messenger. I think Yahoo may have been more social back in the day of Geocities and little yellow smiles embedded into fan pages that showed you your friends were online.

The one thing I'll say about the ad is that it's very ethnic. I noticed three strong British images; the London Underground (or perhaps that's a tube station anywhere but we do have a black brolly and brief), football (with the roundball) at Tower Bridge and even a Union Jack at the end.

Makes me wonder whether we'll see this ad on UK TV. Think it'll be redubbed if it does air?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Why does Google have two ls?

Why does Google have two ls?" is a question many people are asking this morning. The answer is simple. Google is celebrating it's 11th birthday. The two ls are actually two 1s.

In something of an interesting quirk Google actually displayed its 10th birthday logo on 2 September. The wisdom of Wikipedia suggests Google became a private company on the 4 September 1998. This has left some people to ask; "When exactly is Google's birthday" and others to suggest that Google with two ls is marking the search engine's birthday on the wrong date.

Google did change its logo in the same way for it's 10th birthday. Rather than having "Googlle" it displayed "Goog10".

Friday, September 18, 2009

Disgusting Google scam loose on Twitter

I've seen some pretty annoying tweets but this one takes the biscuit. The message reads "@AndrewGirdwood Have you heard Google was hiring people to work from home? pretty cool i thought http://dwarfurl.com/1f291"

If you follow the link you'll end up on AJobWithGoogle.com

This page claims that Google is charging $2 for “work at home kits". Nonsense. Once you have your “Work at home kits" you'll get paid for posting links to Google. The exact quote is; “I get paid about $25 USD for every link I post on Google and I get paid every week"

And on the $2 shipping cost; “Google says this charge is made to cover shipping costs but also to separate the people that are serious about working with them through this program."

As readers will know I'm thoroughly against buying links. I report spam when I find it to Google. I don't understand the grassroots mindset of not reporting spam and spammers when, as an SEO professional, you find it.

Inaction can be as bad as tacit support. When professional athletics think one of their number is cheating - they make sure you know about it. I've seen Olympics with protest banners before.

That's the pride I want to see in the SEO community.

That's why hideous scams like this, designed to take money from the vulnerable, make me sick.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Facebook launches @mentions and breaks

Facebook has launched @mentions. It's a Twitter feature. It means you can use the at sign to direct a status update to someone.

You might first have trouble logging in. You might also then discover the connection breaks when you try to use the feature.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Battle for Social Media: SEO vs PR

I was invited by Communicate Magazine to take part in a debate with Abigail Harrison from PR agency thebluedoor. Since I’d been following Abigail for a while on Twitter I happily agreed. The subject of the debate was an excellent one – who is better at social media; SEO or PR agencies?

You can see the outcome of the debate over at Communicate’s website. I was asked to take the side of the SEO camp.

I’ve seen mixed responses to the debate but also a lot interest. Now I’m outside the “confines” of the debate I thought it would be useful to share some of my thoughts – thoughts that wouldn’t have been wisely shared during the debate unless I wanted to help the other side!

Today we have SEO agencies offering online PR. I can think of two recent big wins for SEO agencies (both, I think, in the auto industry) where the PR agencies have lost the pitch to someone who’s clearly a Search specialist.

There should be no content. The PR agencies shouldn’t even have to battle for these campaigns. In the debate I was trying to suggest that some/many PR agencies didn’t want to touch online in the early days – that that was symptom of them not really being online entities. I think that first half is true. It’s certainly the case that many PR agencies didn’t want to know about online issues to begin with.

That’s easily changed though, appointing the right people can re-shape an agency. Also, the role online has in our day to day life has constantly increased and the barriers to successful communication online have dropped. I don’t really think online is a scary place that PR agencies don’t like/get any more.

Please don’t ask me to draw lines of definition around “online PR” and “social media” but I do think there are some differences between the two. One such difference is that social media tends to make use of more technology than online PR – for example; widgets, apps, micro-sites, community-sites or perhaps even virals. I also think social media tends to make use of search more – for example, the content network.

So who’s really best at handling social media then?

I think the best way to answer this question is to take elements from both camps and combine them. Bigmouthmedia has an online PR and social media team. They work with our affiliate team. They work with our search teams, with our copywriters, our usability team and they work with our display team. That, I think, is the answer.

Social media shouldn’t be a land grab for two camps to squabble over. Social media is distinct enough and important enough to have experts all of its own.

Who’s best at social media? Social media specialists, that’s who.

By the way – if you’d like a free copy of the first ever/benchmark econsultancy Social Media and Online PR report then take part and join in.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Facebook's geo-ip challenge

I logged into Facebook this morning from Malta to accept some friend invites and was intercepted by this screen.

It's pretty clever. A nearly-subtle extra level of security when Facebook notices something quirky - a bit like a bank detecting a credit card being used aboard. I rarely log in to Facebook these days so don't know how common this is.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Google Classic: 30 days for results

Image and concept via Boomerang.nl.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Google Japan celebrates Doraemon's birthday 103 years too soon

Doraemon is a robot cat from a popular manga in Japan. His birthday is September the 3rd and it looks like Google Japan decided to celebrate it. According to the manga's history Doreamon won't be built until 2112.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Google Korea's does SERPs very differently

It's Google, Jim, but not as we know it. This set of SERPs from Google Korea are different. Do you know what? They may even be better laid out than the Western versions.

Most of all; I think the homepage is better and the dropdown to the left of the search box makes a heck of a lot of sense.

Google up to something with Sony?

PlayStation 3 Wireless Keypad - Close UpImage by William Hook via Flickr

This is one of those posts where I need to remind readers that this is just my personal opinion. If I had inside insight on this subject then I’d be under NDA and couldn’t/wouldn’t be writing about it.

Mashable’s Barb Dybwad recaps that Google Chrome will now be bundled with Sony Viaos.

Bing and Xbox are clearly related through Microsoft. It’s already possible to log into Messenger via your Xbox (unless, like me, you can’t sync your two accounts due to weird Microsoft rules).

Wouldn’t PlayStation be tempted to look at that flank and ensure they had something in place to protect them?

I’m not just talking about Google Talk integration with Sony’s PlayStation what about media streaming. Google has a media server. The PlayStation is, I think, the best of the consoles for watching streaming videos/api files, combine that with it’s Blu-ray abilities and the forthcoming library of on-demand movies and its pretty powerful.

Do we see a future where Google provides a cloud of data – movies, pictures, communication services and Sony provides a non-Microsoft powered device by which to access that data?

I do. Do you?